Friday, February 28, 2014

Weinberg, Mieczyslaw. (1919-1996) Orchestral Works.

Bought in 2012.
Label Chandos.
First listen.
Recording dates: August 2009 and August 2010.
Recording venue: Concert Hall, gothenburg, Sweden.
Recording engineer: Torbjorn Samuelsson.
Running time: 49:53. ( Plenty of room for another work of 30 minutes!!!)

Symphony No. 3, opus 45. (1949-50, revised 1959)
Suite No. 4 from "The Golden Key", opus 55d. (1954-64)

Gothenburg SO, Thord Svedlund.

Both works belong to a period, in which Weinberg's thoughts were more approachable.  The third Symphony is one of my favourites especially the third movement which must be the best Weinberg ever wrote. Almost too beautiful to describe. The work as a whole has a translucence that amazes me every time I hear it. It keeps the work flowing. Its full with the gimmicks that Weinberg always had in its sleeve. You hear this back in the final movement, very well done.
The Suite No. 4 has always been a been a firm favourite of mine, ever since I first heard this composer. Its such a balletic work, danceable, and so much opportunities to make a perfect ballet out of it. From beginning to end....Yummy! absolutely adorable, just sample the second movement, it will melt your heart.
Superb recording and performance.

Lajtha, Lazlo. (1892-1963) Orchestral Works. Volume VII.

Bought in 2011.
Label: Marco Polo.
First listen.
Recording dates: October 1996.
Recording venue: Ferenc Liszt Concert Hall, Pecs, Hungary.
Recording engineer: Laszlo Dobos.
Running time: 64:52.

Symphony No 8, opus 66.
Symphony No. 9, opus 67.

Pecs SO, Nicolas Pasquet.

One could say that Lajtha is one of the most significant 20th Century Hungarian composers, that emerged from this country. Not that it is seen this way by the so called experts, but according to his oeuvre, and the quality thereof I say he is, as countless others will do also. If you can not hear this, then another passion is in order methinks to follow. :)
His eighth Symphony is said to be one of the most beautiful musical creations to have reached humankind, and it had a devastating effect on the listeners when premiered in 1961 in Paris. And all is true!  Its a work that goes from light to utter darkness. There is no happy end in this work. You sense the joy of light, but are soon plunged into a merciless tragedy of inhumanity. And that really sums up this symphony. The work was written when Soviet troops crushed the 1956 Hungarian revolution. That's why there is such a tragic lament like atmosphere over the work. The second movement has already a profound and darkly coloured mood, sinister almost. The tone may be relaxed, but don't let it fool you, because you will hear sounds that are frightening.  The third movement only deepens this, its getting more agitated and is filled with shocking fortes and powerful percussion. Utter bleakness, terror, heart wrenching screams. It ends in a eerie scream of Violins. And then the bells of doom get in, which is really announcing an end, but still there is a another movement. This movement sounds like Dante's inferno! From the first movement "Heaven"we fall in the Fourth  movement that describes terror. Ethereal pianissimos, and painful fortissimos.  Its almost like a veritable dance of death. There are some points of light, but soon crushed by an orchestra that screams at you. In my ears this is yet another masterwork of Lajtha. His powerful message, and the way he has orchestrated this work is a work of great and creative art. Just listen when the solo violin comes in at 5:25- 7:35 aided by bells, spine chilling! 
The ninth symphony was premiered in 1963, also in Paris, two and a half month after the composers death, and will convince you of the fact what a great composer he was. The premiere was a immense success. It is said that the ninth was written under the shadow of imminent death, but I think and also others think this not to be true, Lajtha could not have foreseen his early death, well maybe only by a premonition. The first movement is going from heavy rumblings to ethereal murmurings. Desolate is a term that hits me hard especially around 4:00-5:25  a solo by a violin yet again, telling of pain.
There is some orchestration that has me in its grasp, a bewildering array of instruments, and eerie percussion. Loud percussion, like thunder and extreme lightning. And always this opening up of heaven, a longing towards and upwards. I even hear at places Gregorian chant, although this beautiful melody quickly fades.
The second movement Lento, keeps you moving in two different worlds, on the one side, purity and beauty, that tells you of a world to come, a world outside of time and space. Such ethereal moments, it took my breath away many a time. Between 3:00 and 5:15 you will hear absolute bliss, as again between 6:20 and 10:06 . And then a world where melodies turn into crude expression, frightening even, and gives you a sense of evil and anxiety, the world as we know it, with wars, sickness and the tyranny of man.
The third movement is an ever increasing architectural building. As if the composer wants to embrace the whole world, its after all a good thing that the symphony closes with a ecstatic Stretta coda. A worthy close.
The performance is first rate, and the recording is very good.

Haydn, Joseph. (1732-1809) Divertimentos for Wind instruments.

Bought in 2013.
Label: Warner. Box, 4 CD'S. Cardboard sleeves, slimline. (Original Teldec recordings)
First listen: CD 3 & 4.
Recording dates. 1980 & 1981.
Recording venue: Doopsgezinde Kerk, Haarlem, The Netherlands.
Recording engineer: Is not named.
Recording producer: Heinrich J. Weritz. 
Running time CD 3:  71:20. CD 4: 75:22.

Divertimentos for Wind instruments.

Consortium Classicum.

I remember from some time ago, between 1982 and 1985, all the Divertimentos Haydn wrote were released on CD by Teldec. I know this because I bought them in that time. Over 20 CD's if I remember correctly, so this box under review now, has just a tiny part of his oeuvre. I bought this box, for I seem to have lost those recordings somehow, and lament the fact that Warner saw no reason to release the rest of these recordings. For they are most excellent in performance and sound. The late Dieter Klockner who was the creative dynamo in this ensemble died some time ago, leaving a legacy that has almost no equal in the wind instruments literature. I know that every human has to go back to its creator, but you wish some would take their time doing this. Anyways.
I have listened to CD 3 & 4, because the music is infectious listening material, gorgeously written , highly melodious, and happy compositions. Haydn, notwithstanding the enormous amount of music he wrote for Wind instruments, managed to keep the quality of the music at a high level. And coupled with an outstanding performance and recording, its a treat to be able to dive into the realm of sweet sounding wind instruments. A true ode to this ensemble and Dieter Klockner.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Poot, Marcel. Belgian composer. (1901-1988) Orchestral works. Anthology of Flemish Music.

Bought in 2010.
Label: Marco Polo.
First listen.
Recording dates: October 1994.
Recording venue: Mosfilm Studio, Moscow, Russia.
Recording engineers: Edvard Shakhnazazian, Vitaly Ivanov.
Running time: 56:53.

Symphony No. 6. (1978)
Pygmalion, Suite.
Symphonic Allegro.
Cheerful Overture.

Moscow SO, Frederic Devreese.

Marcel Poot, is one of the best composer Belgium ever brought forth, there are more of course, and many we did not even hear off,  but since Poot got some exposure on a few CD'S recorded by Marco Polo, the interest in him increased, but its ardour is almost out of breath, for nowadays one hears absolutely nothing from him anymore. Which is a pity, for the few works I have from him impressed me mightily, and if you are so inclined it might even sway you over to his camp. This is the second CD with works from this composer, and its content is strong, beginning with the excellent 6th Symphony, one of his best if I might add. Tonal, based on classical models,( freely adapted) with a late romantic flavour, spiced with some yummy modernity, yet never offending, but in service of the work as a whole. Its in three movements, and there is no weak link in melody or scoring, its a perfect little masterwork, overlooked, but not to overhear, once you have this music in your player. Its a powerful and rhythmically strong work.
The Pygmalion Suite comes from a ballet, which had its first performance in 1957, and is a very visual work, in creating images connected to the choreography it should have, yes, that visual it is. I could easily see the Prima dance her way through this music. The first movement is brilliant in its scoring, with some dreamlike scenes in it, well the awakening of Galathea and subsequent Dances and scenes of love, easily leads you in such fantasies. But then the script that was written by Reno Jonglet has all the elements to make a good ballet. The sarabande is delicious, so tender and lovingly done, as if the Prima is whispering sweet nothings in your ear. And on the notes of the harp she merrily dances her pirouettes.  Gaily and lightly and ever so probing into the core, of the balletic mood. Perfect. Dance of Galathea, Despair and Death of Pygmalion, is very well expressed in the music, and a haunting picture to match, and the pain of what is to come. The despair is tangible. 
The other small pieces for orchestra are prime examples how well Poot could orchestrate.


Lloyd, George. (1913-1998) Symphony No. 5.

Bought in 2011.
Label: Lyrita. 3 CD'S.
First listen.
Recording dates, venue, engineer: Not mentioned.
Running time CD II: 57:34.

Symphony No. 5 in B flat. (1947-1948)

Philharmonia Orchestra, Edward Downes.

As the Symphony No 4 before, the fifth is another master work. For me Lloyd is a giant. His way of handling his music, in a late romantic style, ideas and melodies, is a melting pot of very individual treats, which in their very nature are so different from what I have heard so far in my life. It is very difficult, almost impossible for me to describe what the music is about. It is expertly orchestrated, melodious, warm and committed, involving, bursting with unique novelties, and I admire its capabilities to steer you right to the heart of the music. He evokes many images and paints in many colours. Lloyd as a composer should be very high up the ladder in the classical world, but alas he is not. Another baffling mystery for me. Instead of recording yet another cycle of Beethoven Brahms and Bruckner, how about the complete symphonies of Lloyd, or Goossens, or, or, or........Naxos maybe?
Excellent sound and performance.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Bal*kan Cycles of Life. CD II. Honey and Blood. Summer and Autumn. Dialogue of the music of the peoples of the Balkans, and the Gypsies and the Sephardic Diasporas.

New acquisition.
Bought in February 2014.
First listen. CD II.
See for all the technical data and other info CD I review, (21-2-2014

Zapjevata sojka ptika-Ramizem. (Bosnia and Turkey)
Doana Olteniasca. Instr, Gypsies, Romania.
Segelj el uram isten. Marriage song, Gypsy, Romania.
Selfo, improvisation on a Clarinet. Albania and Greece.
Godini ludi mladi. Macedonia.
Gidem dedim aman, Roumelia.
Hermoza muchachica, Sefarade.
Koniali, Greece, Turkey.
Elment a ket lany, Hungary.
Dok Zulfunu meyoana gel. Tanburi Mustafa Cavus ( Ottoman)
Intro & Slivensko Paidushko Horo. Tracie Bulgaria.
Yasemi Mou. Egypt.
Remembering Dijon, Serbia.
De man daje mol te piau, Gypsy, Romania.
A csitari hegyek alatt, Gypsy, instrumental.
Ah! sto cemo. Bosnia.

As said with the first CD, this should be in everyones collection. Its a journey through times and cultures, and it will enhance our knowledge of historical happenings. Perfect performances and recordings

Avshalomoff, Aaron. (1895-1964) Orchestral works. Volume I.

Bought in 2010.
Label: Marco Polo.
First listen: 15-9-2010. Second listen: 1-11-2012.
Third listen.
Recording dates: May 1997.
Recording venue: Mosfilm Studios, Moscow, Russia.
Recording engineer: Not named, but probably Vitaly Ivanov.
Running time: 66:53.

Flute Concerto. (1948)*
Symphony No. 1. (1940) **

Nadine Asin, Flute.
Moscow SO, David* and Jacob** Avshalomov.

I recently listened to some other orchestral music from his hands, and I told of his uniqueness. He fused together Chinese and Western music together in a very organic way, with the stress on the Chinese side of music. And he was very successfully in this, as no other composer I know. Now to say he was known, is a gross understatement, if, then only by the multitude of Chinese friends, who revered him as the true master he is, and I agree with them. In the West, nobody was really interested in this fusion of cultural opposites. Sure there were some attempts by famous names, but to no avail, he stayed a nobody for them. That is the loss of all that let him go as a non entity, but for those that truly see his worth its a gift from above. For me it is. I enjoy his music profusely, and am always hungry for those sounds. Highly melodious, emitting a calm and serenity that is so akin with the Chinese way of life. Amongst these people he wrote his best works, the Flute concerto germinated in China, and was finally penned down in Hollywood, of all places. It is quite robustly orchestrated, without getting vulgar, and is rather lucidly serene. In the scoring for orchestra three Trombones, Tuba with a pairs of Horns and trumpets are finely incorporated. It has all the dreamlike music you expect, and a tapestry of hugely engaging melodies really caress your ears. Extremely beautiful.
Symphony No. 1 was written in Shanghai around 1940, and also premiered in this city, to great acclaim. The fine Lento opening sets the tone for the whole work, with an engaging Oboe, giving the melody. The scoring is again deeply couched in Chinese sounds, the sounds that make me very happy.
The second movement is almost a Zen exercise, what a gorgeous concept.
The performance is first rate, and is the sound. Highly recommended.

Halvorsen, Johan. (1864-1935) Orchestral Works, Volume 4.

Bought in 2012.
First listen.
Label: Chandos.
Recording dates: September 2010 and August 2011.
Recording venue: Grieghallen, Bergen Norway.
Recording engineer: Ralph Couzens.
Running time:: 72:53.

Norwegian Rhapsody No. 1 and 2.
Norwegian Bridal procession. 
Passacaglia, opus 20, No. 2, Duo for Violin and Viola.
Dance Scene from Queen Tamara, Oriental Character Piece for Orchestra.
Symphonic intermezzo from The King, from the music, opus 19, to the play Kongen.
Norwegian Festival overture, opus 16, for orchestra.
Norwegian Fairy Tale Pictures.

Melina Mandozzi, Violin.
Olze Klava, Viola.
Bergen PO, Neeme Jarvi.

Already the Fourth volume of delightful music by Halvorsen, wonderfully orchestrated, especially opus 37, which is a magical wonder in music. Romantic music, colourful, fairytale esque, a CD full of tone paintings, done with a enormous creative effort. All the pieces are gems. I collected all previous releases, and none of them disappointed me in the slightest. Not to be missed, if you like the follow up of Edvard Grieg.
Demonstration class sound, and performance.

Weinberg, Mieczyslaw. (1919-1996) Orchestral Works.

Bought in 2011.
Label: Chandos.
First listen.
Recording dates: August 2011.
Recording venue: Concert Hall, Gothenburg, Sweden.
Recording engineer: Torbjorn Samuelsson.
Running time: 70:55.

Symphony No. 20, opus 150. (1988)  [Premiere recording]
Cello Concerto, opus 43, in C minor. (1948)

Claes Gunnarsson, Cello.
Gothenburg SO, Thord Svedlund.

Somehow I connect better to his Symphonies as to his SQ, as if his sound world is more complex in his musical structure, and its desperation is better addressed as with his SQ, which to me are often devoid of movement, and this lingering into desperate moods gets more to me, as with his symphonies. The emotional content is far clearer and more precise. 
His opus 150 work is yet again, a journey into gloomy moods, which is his trademark, one must never forget. The first movements intro Adagio menno moso is devastatingly beautiful, as it is again 4:00 into the fifth movement also Lento, menno moso, the same lines are reunited, the same message, even more powerfully expressed. At 5:39 this culminates into a timpani roll, that makes darkness definitive, and at 6:00 falls away into oblivion, and wanders the earth in desperation slightly elevated by Violins at about 7:15. And the intro of the bells at 11:00 minutes is a wonderful surprise. I like it!
The first movement of the Cello concerto dedicated to Rostropowitsch, Adagio, is one of the most gorgeous movement Weinberg ever wrote. Such gentle and uncharacteristic sounds from Weinberg had me in awe. The second movement, Moderato Lento has quite a exotic ring to it, with its seductive lament by the Cello, producing mesmerizing melodies, and is reminiscent of thoughts about Spring approaching in the last minute 5:25  drifting into it even further at 5:35... The third movement is a vigorating  one, with molto appassionato tilt to it. Some very nice writing for the Cello here, almost virtuosic. This concert has a more optimistic outlook as most of his works.
Sound is very good, apart from some bumping noises coming from the cellist, quite loud in the third movement. Fine performance too.

Goossens, Eugene. (1893-1962) Orchestral works.

Bought in 2011.
First listen.
Label ABC Classics. Box 3 CD'S.
Recording dates: March & November 1996.
Recording venue: Perth concert Hall, Australia.
Recording engineers: Karl Akers, and Chris White.
Running time: 79:55.

Symphony No. 1, opus 58. (1940)
Oboe Concerto, opus 45. (1927)
Tam O'Shanter, opus 17a. (1919) Scherzo after Burns.
Concert pieces, opus 65. (1958) for Two Harps, Oboe, Cor Anglais.

West Australian SO, Vernon Handley.
Joel Marangella, Oboe. and Cor Anglais in opus 65.
Jane Geeson and Sebastien Lipman, Harps.

First and foremost I am grateful that Vernon Handley, the conductor, wrote a most excellent booklet about Conductor/Composer Eugene Goossens, for it illustrates what musical society can do, to hurt a musician being in such a way, that it is a devastating discovery to learn, of their total ignorance, and cultural barbarism. In this case I am not exaggerating my words, I will take some remarks from this booklet to illustrate this.
Goossens was primarily known in his time as an excellent conductor, and he was much praised for it. Few knew that he was also composing, and even less knew, that he was writing music, that should have left an indelible imprint. Let me just take a entry from the music Bible, The new Grove dictionary, and I quote: "His music, we are told has a singular unmemorabilty, and its eclecticism could not cover a lack of melodic invention and inner conviction. Well, well, what a idiot this guy must have been, to write these lines. I was dumbfounded after taking these words in. And furthermore, due to some political and almost criminal goings on in Australia they accused him of bringing in illicit material to Australia, which was almost proved to be a setup, they destroyed his successful career in Australia, and the conservative Australian society turned him from principal deity of their musical establishment to a shamed pornography-possessing outcast. I almost got sick reading this. No wonder one gets desperate with human beings. All his life he was accused of the fact that his music was old fashioned and riddled with eclecticism. As if eclectic music is something of a disease, another dumb headed notion.  And I could go on quite easily with all the hurt that they conferred upon his weak shoulders. But instead I will now concentrate on his music. He is a fantastic composer, even further he is as good as any composer of his time. A late romantic composer who did not shun modernity, and fused the two together in a sublime way. He was taught by Stanford, another fact that raised him in my estimate, for Stanford is also a unjustly neglected composer, that gave me so much good music. Goossens, is truly eclectic, but boy how original did he do that, you hear many influences, yet the sound is wholly Goossens. The sound he creates has so much colour, that hearing it, it splashes out at you, in ever returning geniality. His mighty Symphony No 1 is a powerhouse of brilliant ideas, brimful with wit, and well analyzed creativity, in which every note has a purpose. Very impressive movements, well built, and creatively scored. 
The Oboe concerto is a brilliant work too, so perfectly attuned to the Oboe, and so perfectly scored for orchestra, that it leaps out at you, after which there is no choice than to admire its content, and sheer musicality.
Tam O'Shanter is a fun piece, done by many composers, but this one takes the subject a step further as most, and delights in the myriad details
The Concert piece is another brilliantly scored work. A strong almost exotic and sensual work, very seductively scored with woodwinds gorgeously integrated into the compositions framework. It reminded me somewhat of a Dukas's " A Apprentice sorcerer". The same magic weaved into the music. The Chorale is a small wonder of invention, seductively supported by Harps, almost celestial breezes. Both harpists and Oboe/Cor anglais have a magnificent role in this movement. And they perform beautifully. The Perpetuum mobile e burlesca, the last movement, is a wonder of composition, the argument is so clearly and lucidly stated, with determent power behind it, the Violins that emerge gloriously out of this, as if he is building a sky with all its eccentricities. Marvelous. 
The recording are of demonstration class, and the guidance by Vernon Handley is a virtual blessing. I for one am grateful for the attention he lavished on Eugene Goossens, a master in his art.

British Light Music, Volume IV

Bought in 2011.
Label: Hyperion.
First listen.
Recording dates: April 2002.
Recording venue: St. Jude on the Hill, Hampstead Garden Suburb, London.
Recording engineer: Julian Millard.
Running time: 77:51.

Marching Strings, Marshall Ross. (Top of the form)
Jaunting Car, from The Ring of Kerry, Peter Hope.
High Heels, Trevor Duncan.
Dance of an Ostracised Imp, Frederic Curzon. (Funny title)
Keltic Lament, from A Keltic Suite, opus 29, John Foulds.
Rhythm on rails, Charles Williams, BBC Morning Music.
By the Sleepy Lagoon, Eric Coates.
Jamaican Rumba, Arthur Benjamin.
In a Monastery Garden, Albert W. Ketelbey.
(Some very silly artificially produced bird sounds in this one) Made me laugh for quite some time. And then again some very silly singing too, O, dear. Sweet as syrup music, not really my thing, its too cluttered.

A quiet Stroll, Charles Williams.
Demoiselle Chic, Parisian Sketches No. 1, Percy Fletcher.
Cavalcade of Youth, Jack Beaver, The Barlows of Beddington.
Elizabethan Masque, Fredric Bayco. Very beautiful!
Shepherd Fennel's Dance, Henry Balfour Gardiner.
Thrills, Charles Ancliffe.
The doge's March, from The Merchant of Venice, Frederick Rosse.
Petite Suite de Concert, opus 77, Samuel Coleridge Taylor.

The New London Orchestra, Ronald Corp.

Well that was fun on the Wednesday morning, apart from Ketelbey's overly sweet and sentimental of music. Light music, well composed, and highly digestible. I would love more of this music. And I am heartily glad, Hyperion decided to make a few well produced discs, to let us hear the wealth of British light music. Fine recording and performance.

Disc four of this box.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Alwyn, William. (1905-1985) Orchestral works.

From my collection.
Bought in 2011.
Label: Naxos.
First listen:  19-4-2011. Second listen: 2-2-2013..
Third listen.
Recording dates: June 2007 and June 2011.
Recording venue: Liverpool Philharmonic Hall, England.
Recording engineer: Phil Rowlands.
Running time: 58:19.

Violin Concerto.
Miss Julie Suite, Arr. by Philip Lane.
Fanfare for a Joyful occasion.

Lorraine McAslan, Violin.
Royal Liverpool PO, David Lloyd Jones.

Alwyn's Violin concerto is a beautiful romantic work, and rhapsodic in nature. The melodic ideas are spreading out in a free flowing way, almost as a improvisatory exercise. There are contemplative parts, but also bravura, and concentrated loveliness in all its movement. It warms your heart. Its first commercial recording was in 1993, after a long neglect, and still awaits its professional public concert performance. This is incomprehensible to me. Why should the BBC say in 1943 no to a performance, while we clearly have one of the best compositions from Alwyn on offer.  Something must have been wrong with their ears, no doubt. Its lovingly played by McAslan, who finds the right mood and tempi, and her bowing is impeccable. This concerto should be core material for the concert hall. 
Miss Julie is a well orchestrated work, with many surprises, going places you will not expect, exhilarating and vividly performed. The Arrangement by Philip Lane is a work of art.
The fanfare has some pretty nifty writing for percussion, its a fun piece, well scored. 

Atterberg, Kurt. (1887-1974) Piano Concertos.

From my collection.
Bought in 2009.
First listen: 13-11-2009, Second listen: 27-9-2010.
Third listen.
Label: CPO.
Recording dates: March 2000.
Recording venue: Grosser Sendesaal Hannover, Germany.
Recording engineer: Helge Martensen.
Running time: 54:53.

Rhapsody for Piano and orchestra, opus 1.
Concerto for Piano and orchestra, opus 37 in B flat minor.
Ballad and Passacaglia, opus 38.. On a theme in the Swedish Folk tone.

Love Derwinger, Piano.
Radio-Philharmonie Hannover des NDR, Ari Rasilainen.

I am a huge admirer of his symphonies, and other orchestral works, but the works for piano and orchestra, although beautiful in themselves do not belong to my most favourite works, composed by Atterberg. They are quite expansive in their construction and sometimes overbearingly romantic, with a lot of bravoura in them. The expression of the works can be vehement, and the movements to long. It can linger on for minutes, without upsetting the fabric of your mind, but there are many places in the music I admire, as a whole however, these works do not convince me. The second movement of the opus 37, is a point in case, it runs very deep, and surfaces as quickly again like a stream that has little movement. As such no problem, but it has been done much better. To me is does not sound unified, as the booklet tells me. On the whole these are fine sounding works, but they will not go down with me as exceptional pieces, as his Symphonies are.  I make a positive exception for the opus 38, this work is at times very beautiful. The orchestra is at times a bit muffled in sound, while the piano is ideally placed. Overall a good sound. As to performance, it strikes me as good.

Lloyd, George. (1913-1998) Symphonies.

Bought in 2011.
Label: Lyrita. Box 3 CD'S.
First listen.
Recording dates: Not mentioned.
Recording venue: Not mentioned.
Recording engineer: Not mentioned.
Running time: 60:02.

Symphony No. 4 in B. (1945-1946)

Philharmonia Orchestra, Edward Downes.

The sound world of Lloyd is a special one. Thoroughly British, yet its hard to find a comparison. Maybe Moeran and Bax, and undoubtedly there will be more influences. He composed the Fourth symphony in a thoroughly romantic style, building up beautiful architectural movements, expertly scored, with a deeper message. Never heard something quite like this, and thats saying a lot, for I heard thousands of Symphonies in my life. This symphony lasts 60 minutes, his symphonies are always long, but never boring not in a long stretch. That has basically to do with the fact that he is a fine orchestrator, and knows exactly how to get effects without bombast. I must say that I was pleasantly surprised at the quality of music produced. This will mean I have to collect more of his works, although, Lyrita is not a cheap label, so that will take some time. The recording is first rate, as is the performance. There was no technical data provided, that was the only drawback in the otherwise fine booklet.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Francaix, Jean. (1912-1997) Orchestral works.

Bought in 2011.
Label Hyperion.
First listen.
Recording dates: November 2002.
Recording venue: Ulster Hall, Belfast.
Recording engineer: Simon Eadon
Running time: 57:29.

Les Malheurs de Sophie, 1935.
Concertino for Piano and Orchestra in F major, 1934.
Les Bosquets de Cythere, 1946.

Ulster Orchestra, Thierry Fischer.
Philippe Cassard, Piano.

I took me some time before I reach this one in my listening pile, but finally I have reached it, and as always with Francaix its a pleasure to listen at his sublime orchestration so apparent in Les Malheurs de Sophie, an absolute delightful work, that charms the hell out of you. Not a moment the creativity slackens, it simply bubbles out of his mind in a constant flow.  Both works that follow, will make your ears ring with joy, for this tapestry of sublime notes makes a colourful carpet. The sound is of demonstration class. And to be honest, to get better performances of these works would be in vain, these are the best.

Reincken, Johann Adam. (?1643-1722) Complete Harpsichord and Organ Music, Volume III..

New acquisition.
Bought February 2014.
Label: Brilliant. Box 3 CD'S.
First listen.
See for all info about recording and technical data my review from CD 1 on 22-2-2014.

Chorale Fantasia, "Was kann uns kommen and fur Not". for Organ.
Suite No. 4 in C, No. 2 in C, No. 3 in C for Harpsichord.
Dutch nightingale, for Harpsichord
Toccata in G for Harpsichord.

Simone Stella, Organ and Harpsichord.

I am repeating a waterfall of praise on all three disc. This is already a top 10 box 2014 for me. The beauty of the label Brilliant is that they constantly surprise you with their recordings, like with the complete solo piano music by Foerster which I bought at the end of 2013. And since they have a multitude of good musicians at their command, and as it seems enough funds, they turn out many a surprise. I hope they keep up the good work. The opening Chorale on this disc is an amazing piece from Reincken. And as a even more critical note as I uttered with CD II, charge us an euro more, and give us good, informative booklets. I know you can do it, have many examples of that in my collection. Excellent recording!

Weinberg, Mieczyslaw. (1919-1996) String Quartets. Volume VI. Conclusion.

New acquisition.
Bought in February 2014.
Label: CPO.
First listen.
Recording dates: 2008/2009.
Recording venue: Koln, Studio Stollbergstrasse, Germany.
Recording engineer: Arnd Coppers.
Running time: 74:51.

SQ No. 2, opus 3/145.
SQ No. 12, opus 103.
SQ No. 17, opus 146.

Quatuor Danel.
Marc Daniel and Gilles Millet, Violins.
Vlad Bogdanas, Viola.
Guy Danel, Cello.

The last CD in this series, and a fine conclusion it is. The Danel Quatuor is a excellent ensemble, that have shown no weaknesses in performing these difficult works. Weinberg like Shostakovich is a composer that is not easy to access, at least for me, because his music is drenched in melancholy and has a tendency to make you contemplative to such a depth, that it is hard to get out of that emotion. I had to learn that the hard way, at one time even dismissing these works, while reasoning with myself, why I felt so deeply immersed, and to get out at a instant when required. I will not repeat this process in explaining, but it worked for me, after which I could resume listening to these wonderful quartets.
As said, these works will make you seldom happy, yet his compositions are very transparent, and even carry sun rays into the context, some absurd writing carries the day at times. But you have to be prepared to walk into regions of your mind engendered by this music, that you would rather avoid. Not doing it, means that you will never enter or understand the full meaning of this music: which carries a message, far beyond what the notes tell you. And the outcome is different for every individual. If you are already gloomy, then avoid these works. Your sunny mood must be unquenchable.  I enjoy them.
Superb recording.  I find the artwork repulsive!

Weingartner, Felix. (1863-1942) String Quartets. Volume III.

New acquisition.
Bought in February 2014.
Label: CPO.
First listen.
Recording dates: October 2008.
Recording venue: Kirche Marthalen, Germany.
Recording engineer: Not named.
Running time: 58:02.

String Quartet No. 2, opus 26 in F minor.
String Quartet No. 4 opus 62, in D major.

Sarastro Quartet.
Ralph Orendain and Roman Conrad, Violins.
Hanna Werner Helfenstein, Viola.
Stefan Bracher, Cello.

Felix Weingartner is a late romantic composer, in the most extreme sense. There is absolutely nothing modern in his music, and I am heartily glad for this, because this kind of music is still needed. I have been an admirer of his music, since I collected his wonderful Symphonies, they made quite an impression on me, and still do. So naturally from there I went to the SQ, which give me the same satisfaction as the orchestral works, being thoroughly romantic in nature. He is not adding new elements to the genre, but they are enjoyable works nevertheless. And so wonderfully played by this Quartet. Their imprint is melancholy, bitter at times, but ultimately beautiful composed pieces. And I wonder why these SQ are not repertoire pieces for all the SQ over the world. True Weingartner was not a man who was liked much, and reading about his life, that's quite understandable, but it should not distract from the music, which is unmistakable excellent. Fine recordings.

Reincken, Johann Adam. (? 1643-1722) Complete Harpsichord and Organ Music. Volume II.

New acquisition.
Bought in February 2014.
Label: Brilliant. Box 3 CD'S.
First listen.
Recording dates: 2012.
See for all other info, technical or other, review of the first CD: 22-2-2014.
( Just type the name of the composer in the search box top left of the blog page)

Toccata in G minor.
Suite No. 1 in C, No.6 in F, No. 8 in B flat.
Fugue in G minor.
Partite diverse sopra I'Aria: Schweiget mir von Weiber nehmen, altrimente chiamata la Meyerin.

Simone Stella.

I wrote in my earlier review in quite complimentary terms, and have no choice but to continue with my praise. The second disc is as perfect a delight as CD I. What comes to me first is the enormous rest in the playing, no hurrying but long contemplative lines, that unfold in all their colours. Not slow, but simply time enough to let you hear all the details. Fine instruments, very good recording. Good enough booklet info. I would have loved more details in a less academic style. Record companies still have to learn to keep things simple, write in terms a layman can understand. Most of them are.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Foerster, Josef Bohuslav. (1859-1951) Complete Piano music, Volume IV.

Bought in 2013.
Label: Brilliant.
First listen.
Recording dates:  Between 2010-2013.
Recording venue: Sound Studio HAMU, Prague.
Recording engineer: Ondrej Urban.
Running time: 58:02.

Esquisses de danse, opus 48. (1906)
Music for my young son, opus 72. (1908-09)
Memories of Youth. (1942)
Petite esquisses. (1908)
Moment musicale. (1892)
Allegretto Capriccioso (1892)
Spring Mode, opus 4. (1887)
Allegro and Scherzo, opus 5. (1885)
March for the National Youth front. (1939)
Wiegenlied,. ( Unpublished.
Zuckerpuppe tantz. ( Unpublished)

Patricia Goodson, Piano.

Let me just say this in advance before I get to the music. Patricia Goodson, is a pianist, with very sensitive fingers, who makes the softest passages like touching silk, and hammers out passion when required, in such a delicate way, that images appear before my eyes, as if transported back to Foerster's time and age. You need a poetic insight, and the ability to caress feeling into the keys, and then it will tell a story of a musician who becomes for a brief moment the interpreter of a composers emotions and imaginary world.  This is what happens when listening to what she does with this music. Just listen to "Moments of Youth" or the Molto moderato of "Music for my young son". And then the very precise rhythmic tempi of the "Petites esquisses, the lucid refinement is amazing, and the consequent following through of keeping the lines very clear, pays off in a shower of finely attuned melodies. I applaud this approach for it brings Foerster very close. And  I absolutely adore "Spring Moods" with  movements such as "Tempo di Valse" always a delightful surprise , where it is heading, and the "Allegretto grazioso" grazioso indeed. I was constantly thinking back of composers like, Suk, Fibich, Dvorak, but, and this may sound strange, of Jean Sibelius. Not many people know of his piano works, but I assure you, there are uncanny similarities. This box will have a very special place in my collection, for its perfectly attuned to my moods and feelings. Together with a box of SQ by the same composer, ( on Supraphon)  that I reviewed recently, and also blew my socks off.
The sound on this Brilliant box is very good, not too forwardly placed, enough air around the piano, plus I wonder what brand this piano is? I think it would sound fabulous on a Bosendorfer, my favourite instrument.
Thus my friends, rush to the shops and go buy this fine set of Foerster's piano music, there is everything to gain and nothing to lose. The booklet gives adequate info about works, and Foerster's life. The rest one can google.

Westerhoff, Christian. (1763-1806) )Orchestral works.

New acquisition.
Bought in February 2014.
Label: CPO
First listen.
Recording dates: May 2010.
Recording venue: Stadthalle Osnabruck. Germany.
Recording engineer: Stephan Reh.
Running time: 63:14.

Clarinet Concerto No. 5.
Concerto for Clarinet and Bassoon & Orchestra.
Symphony in E flat major.

Sebastian Manz, Clarinet.
Albrecht Holder, Bassoon.
Symphonieorchester Osnabruck, Hermann Baumer.

I must admit, I never knew about this composer, let alone that I ever heard music by him. This CD was priced down, and so I thought I could take a chance with it. Its typical music of its time, nothing to get over excited about, but the music has some noteworthy issues. The parts written for Clarinet are highly virtuosic, and I mean really virtuosic, sort of Paganini, but then on the Clarinet. The orchestra follows a conventional pattern, but still there are some thing that surprised me in the scoring. clearly this fellow had some creative ideas in his sleeve.  The Symphony has some inventive scoring, but it did not rock my boat that much, nice music, thats all. He did not live long but has quite a substantial oeuvre, of which little is performed today. Is it worth your attention? Certainly! And for the low price you have some pretty music, that can serve as dinner, but also as a background to a snack. The recording is good, and the performance strikes me as fitting to the challenges of the music.

Burgmuller, Norbert. (1810-1836) Staehle, Hugo. (1826-1848) Orchestral Works. [German Romantic Series, Volume II] World Premiere Recordings.

New acquisition.
Bought in February 2014.
Label: Sterling.
First listen.
Recording dates: August-September 2001.
Recording venue: Opernhaus Kassel, Germany.
Recording engineer:  Alfredo Hakobian.
Running time: 74:25.

Burgmuller: Symphony No 1, opus 2. (1833)

Staehle: Symphony No. 1. (1844)

Orchester des Staatstheaters Kassel, Marc Piollet.

Two composers that only enjoyed a very short time on this earth, and produced in terms of music very little. Still both produced an outstanding Symphony, both had a lot of promise in them. Both were taught by Louis Spohr in the same school in Kassel.
Lets begin with Burgmuller, a composer of exceptional quality. Would he have lived longer, its almost certain that he would have gained a worthy place next to Beethoven. He was reckoned  a most promising talent, but alas he died without leaving much of a oeuvre behind. And somehow his music never found appreciation despite the fact that it was performed by none less than Robert Schumann, who praised the First symphony. Its a extra ordinary fine work, written on the height of his powers, and it all sounds so effortlessly. It feels a bit like the Romantic "Sturm und Drang". Some minor influences of Beethoven, Burgmuller shows astonishing maturity and inspiration.
Staehle did not live much longer, and he too produced a fine Symphony, but the shadow of Beethoven is hanging over the work, like a unmistakable but very blue cloud. Its meant in the most positive sense.  The second movement "Adagio cantabile" makes that point clear right away. But also traces from Mendelssohn can be found in the tumultuous third movement.  So a bit less originality as with Burgmuller, but still a fine work, well worth reviving, although its a bit in the conservative style. Considering his age, the works show maturity and a good grasp of orchestral writing.
Its a fine recording, and the performance will charm many a listener.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

After the Reincken I could not resist this set by Simone Stella anymore, my fourth set.

O, well when you have such a marvelous musician, who plays so gorgeous, how could any music lover resist his take on Buxtehude. Well I cannot, I admit. My name is Harry, and I am addicted to good music and ditto performance.
Hi Harry. :)

Reincken, Johann Adam. (c.1643-1722) Complete Harpsichord and Organ Music.

New acquisition.
Bought February 2014.
Label: Brilliant. Big box-3 CD'S. Not slim line, alas.
First listen.
Recording dates: May & October 2012.
Recording venues: Pieve di Sant'eusebio, Bassano del Grappa, Vincenze. ( Harpsichord)
                              Church of Sant Antonio, Abate, University College Don Mazza, Padua. (Organ)
Recording engineer: Alessandro Simonetto.
Running time: CD I, 56:01.

Balletti: Partite diverse in E minor.*
Suite No. 7 in G.*
Suite No. 5 in E minor.*
Toccata in A.*
Chorale fantasia, "An Wasserflussen Babylon"**

Simone Stella, Harpsichord* and Organ.**

Harpsichord by William Horn, after Johannes Ruckers, Antwerp 1638.
Organ by Francesco Zanin in the Church of Sant Eusebio, Bassano del Grappa.

Let me just fall immediately through the door by saying, "Essential Purchase". There is in my ears no discussion about this. Did not hear them any better, this Dutch master is a marvel to listen to. A pupil of Sweelinck, and no doubt he also learned quite a bit from Heinrich Scheidemann, the works on the first CD had me flabbergasted, by its sheer richness of compositions, and the inherent quality of it, but also, and this must be said, by this multi talented musician going by the name of Simone Stella. I have heard many recordings with him, especially on the Brilliant label, that made me aware of the fact that we have a genius here, who can express himself on Harpsichord and Organ alike, and produce music in its most glorious colours. Reincken would have marveled at his playing I am sure, as much as Reincken admired young mister Bach, when he played something  for the already old grumpy master. In many ways I was reminded of Buxtehude, brothers in music, a composer that has my admiration also. What a wealth of music they created.
You can of course discuss in detail about the influences in Reincken's music, but for me that would be a waste of time. I rather listen, and so I suggest you do the same. You will be surprised, at least as much as I am right now.
The recording is first rate, as are the instruments. Well you know already about the performance.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Balkan Spirit. Esprit des Balkans.


Bal*Kan, Voices of Memory, Honey and Blood, Cycles of life. Dialogue of the Music of the peoples of the Balkan and the Gypsy and Sephardic Diaspora..

New acquisition.
Bought February 2014.
Label: Alia Vox. ( 3 CD'S)
First listen.
Recording dates:  January, June, September 2013.
Recording venue: 1)  Collegiale de Cardona et au Monastere de Sant Pere de Casserres. (Catalogne) 2) Cite de la Musique, Paris.
Recording engineer: Manuel Mohino.
CD 1.

Music in the widest variety from the Balkan.
CD 1.
Creation: Universe, encounters & Desires.
Birth, Dreams & Celebrations.

Hesperion XXI, and many musicians  Jordi Savall.

Jordi Savall is unique in the musical classical and folk world. The gigantic project he embarked on some time ago, to concentrate on classical folk music, from the Balkan, and other regions, has culminated into the set presently in my possession. And I have only one thing to say about it.

Humperdinck, Engelbert. (1854-1921) String Quartets & Piano Quartets.

New acquisition.
Bought February 2014.
Label: CPO
First listen.
Recording dates: December 2007.
Recording venue: Grunwald, August everding Saal. 
Recording engineer: Jorg Moser.
Running time: 79:24.

1) String Quartet in C major. (1919/20)
2) Piano Quartet in G major. (1875)
3) Menuet in E flat major for Piano Quintet. (1872)
4) String Quartet movement in E minor. (1873)
5) String Quartet movement in C minor, opus 38. (1876)
6) Notturno for Violin & String Quartet in G major.

Andreas Kirpal, Piano.
Lydia Dubrovskaya, Violin.
Diogenes Quartet.

If we think of Humperdinck as a composer, what comes to mind is his famous opera Hansel und Gretel, and on this piece his fame and wealth is based solely. To write your best piece very early in your life, and being unnoticed afterwards is a sad thing at best. Yet this is what Humperdinck was confronted with. He came to be known as being a Wagner epigone. His oeuvre has fallen into oblivion a long time ago, and just occasionally some of his chamber music finds a way in concert halls.
He learned the trade under Ferdinand Hiller and Josef Rheinberger, and in the same time acquainted
Wagner which he admired, as many composers beside him. But he also became a close associate, thus his admiration was considerable. He was admired as a teacher, and he taught musicians like Siegfried Wagner and Carl Schuricht.  And although his chamber music accounts for only a small portion of his oeuvre, we should not underestimate the significance of this music. Popular catchiness, melodious, and frankly, well written too. Romantically light fare, but it does not lack quality. 80 minutes of joy, I would define this musical journey.
It gets a royal treatment by these musicians, and a matching recording. Worthwhile to have.

Gemmingen, von Ernst. (1759-1813). * Sperger, Johann Matthias. (1750-1812) Orchestral works.

New acquisition.
Bought in February 2014.
First listen.
Recording dates: December 2010.
Recording venue: Munchen, BR Studio 1. Germany.
Recording engineer: Almut Telsnig.
Running time: 63:08.

Ernst von Gemmingen
1) Violin Concerto No 1 in A major. (Cadenzas by Kolja Lessing)
2) Violin Concerto No. 2 in C major. (Cadenzas by Kolja Lessing.

Johann Matthias Sperger.
Sinfonia in F, Arrival Symphony. (As opposed to the Farewell Symphony by Haydn) 

Kolja Lessing, Violin.
Munchner Rundfunkorchester, Ulf Schirmer.

Never heard of Ernst von Gemmingen? Well me neither, and frankly only the cognoscenti knew about him, and I was not one of them, despite my extensive knowledge of the history of the Violin concerto. Its my favourite concerto form. 
So, we finally have a recording of two of his four Violin concertos. Lets not compare them, to Mozart, (easily done) but see them in their own merit. We know very little about this man, and we have only these concertos to compose a picture of him. What we know is that he came of a family of knights no less, from Northern Wurttemberg, and this is traced back to 1612. How that is linked to his eventuel emerging musical talent I have no clue. The booklet gives some explanation to it, but that would take up to much space to explain. Google is very patient :) 
As to these Violin concertos I can say, that first of all its very pleasant music, melodious with some inkling of romanticism in it,.....yes this early! The orchestral parts are rather common, and the merit is in the writing for the Violin which is extra ordinary good, for a self taught composer. The works came out of his hands when already 40 years of age, so they are not the product of youthful exuberance, but rather carefully crafted works. He knows this trade and is capable. This writing is to be admired, and is by me. I like these concertos, which do not have the ambition to be the best in the trade, but may well serve as splendid examples of their time. The Cadenzas written by Lessing are quite good, tasteful, and never pulled over the top. Fine concertos. Now 3 and 4 need to be recorded CPO! Get on with it :)
Sperger we know a little better being a double bass player by trade, and according to all what is written about him a very good one too. He was born in Feldsberg, Lower Austria, (today's Valtice, Czechia), and he studied Bass with Pichlberger and Albrechtsberger. Of the first teacher/composer I have some recordings. This Symphony recorded on this CD is a funny counterpart to Haydn's Farewell Symphony. With Haydn, the musicians leave the stage one by one, with Sperger its the other way around. I had a big grin on my face listening to it. Absolutely delightful! The recordings are top notch, as are the performances.

Leduc, Jacques. (b.1932) Orchestral works.

New acquisition.
Bought in February 2014.
Label: Cypress.
First listen.
Recording dates: October 1996.
Recording venue: Conservatoire Royal de Liege. Belgium.
Recording engineer: Nicolas Bartholomee.
Running time: 43:01.  ( That's not much)

Overture d'ete, opus 28. (1968)
Symphony, opus 29. (1969)
Le Printemps, opus 25, Esquisse Symphonique.

Orchestre Philharmonique de Liege et de la Communaute Francaise, Pierre Bartholomee.

For me a unknown Belgian composer, and the first CD I have with his compositions. When sampling this CD, I immediately felt some connection with it, and listening now, I can affirm this sentiment. Very rhythmical, pushing tempi,  very clear musical lines, tonal, but a little stretched, yet never disturbingly so. Its modern, but has its roots in the classical tradition.  The music is build in blocks of quickly changing melodies and tempi, nothing stays very long in the same place, but when, a lyrical melody comes out of the mist, what beauty emerges! The Passacaille is a prime example, all the characteristics stay the same, yet the music is heightened to a level, on which harmony comes together in myriad details. The art of minimalism, and maximum gain, thats Leduc.
I really like it.  You hear some Debussy, though not as much as the writer of the booklet wants us to believe. This guy is very much a original and a welcome one, I might add,.... so I could not find a comparison that would cut wood.  The writing is an academic treatise, and as lucid as a muddy pond, a lot of words, most of which passed by unnoticed. I condensed my own lines out of it.
The recording is up front, loud, (take care when the flutes come in) and extremely detailed, a very good recording actually. As to the performance, I have absolutely no complaints. Just a short playing time, I admit, that bugs me.

Woyrsch, Felix. (1860-1944) Orchestral Works.

New acquisition.
Bought February 2014.
Label CPO.
First listen.
Recording dates: December 2011.
Recording venue: Grosser Sendesaal, Hannover, Germany.
Recording engineer: Martin Lohmann.
Running time: 61:33

Hamlet Overture, opus 56, to Shakespeare's Hamlet.
Symphony No. 2, opus 60 in C major.

Oldenburgisches Staatsorchester. Thomas Dorsch.

And yet another composer that has gone unnoticed, and is totally erased from the memory of the musical world at large. Unknown and unloved, the worst fate any composer can meet. Sometimes that happens already when still living. That was his fate. He writes in the classical romantic manner, as if  directly descended from the likes of Beethoven, Brahms and Bruckner. A man that staunchly follows the tradition and proudly so. Listen to the quality of his compositions its hard to understand why the music industry, broadcasters and media totally ignored him, as if he was a musical dinosaurus. He faced total oblivion, this cruel this world can be. And just because the new generation were so fixed on musical innovation, that they fail to see the beauty around them. Woyrsch  came from an ancient noble family from Southern Bohemia that had been resident in Troppau from about 1500. He was a self taught composer, primarily because he was dissatisfied with the teachers he could get. He jokingly remarked that he studied counterpoint with the likes of Palestrina, Gabrieli, Lotti, Lasso, Sweelinck, Schutz, Hassler, and many more. Not a bad score in that time. But he also took all he could from Bach. And I could go on, he just read a lot of scores to understand the technique of composing.  He has known his moments, being a short time named a leading German composer, he became that overnight when performing his Passion Oratorio, opus 45.  He wrote 6 Symphonies, five SQ and a lot of chamber music. In his symphonies he had to fight against a legacy of well written works by others, and this was by no means an easy thing to do.  To write then Symphonies that are wholly your own, and unique, is almost an impossible task for any composer.  Both the works on this CD were enthusiastically received, and applauded. You have to think, Brahms foremost, Mahler as a good second, Schumann for the lyrical part, and also a dash of Bruckner. This is all put together in such a way that we are not forced to rewrite the music history, but his music is certainly an artistic achievement in their own right, and I am persuaded that his works successfully prolong the tradition of Johannes Brahms and Anton Bruckner. The compositional level is high and is certainly enriched with personal and accessible powers of expression. Its simply sweet and melodious music, that will enrich your musical collection. The recording is first rate, as is the performance.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Guerrieri, Agostino. (c.1630-c.1684) Sonatas opus 1.

New acquisition.
Bought February 2014.
Label: CPO.
First listen.
Recording dates: July 2008.
Recording venue: Hans-Rosbaud-Studio des SWR Baden-Baden.
Recording engineer: Norbert Vossen.
Running time: 59:58.

Sonatas opus 1.

Parnassi musici, on Authentic instruments.

Agostino Guerrieri's collection Sonate di Violino a per Chiesa & anco Aggionta per Camera was published in five part books in 1673 by Francesco Magni Gardano of Venice. It is Guerrieri's Opus 1 and as far as can be ascertained the only work of his that was ever published.
The titles of all the sonatas contain personal names; dedications of this kind often paid tribute to patrons or sponsors of the composer.
Although I never heard of the composer, I immediately liked what I heard, such tuneful and intimate music, perfectly performed by Parnassi musici, of which ensemble I have many recordings. The recording is also exemplary. You can easily find on divers sites samples of this music. Try it, its worth the effort.

Tansman, Alexandre. (1897-1986.) Orchestral works, Volume III.

Bought in 2011.
Label: Chandos.
First listen.
Recording dates: November 2007, March 2008.
Recording venue: Robert Blackwood Hall, Monash University, Melbourne, Australia.
Recording engineer: Jim Atkins.
Running time: 70:30.

Symphony No. 2. (1926) Premiere recording
Quatre Mouvements pour Orchestre (1967-68)
Symphony No. 3. (1931) Premiere recording.

Melbourne SO, Oleg Caetani.

What a relief after the Fourth symphony by Charles Ives. The music by Tansman is of a different caliber and to my ears significantly more rewarding. In its musical context it can be as unsettling as Ives his music, but at least there is a harmonious structure, that keeps you on you aural tracks, and no chance of riding off the rails. This said, I am an enormous admirer of Tansman's music, and have almost all volumes in this Chandos series. He is a composer that incorporates all musical styles, from baroque over to Stravinsky and sometimes beyond, just listen to the Quatre Mouvements pour orchestre and you know what I mean.  The introduction Notturno , Lento is pretty eerie, and as far reaching in its modernity as Ives.  Some dynamic climaxes, jazzy syncopations and some very modern woodwind fugatos are blaring out of my speakers. But it is bones and flesh, instead of senseless experiments, just for the sake of it all, as Ives sometimes does, certainly in his Fourth symphony. 
Tansman's music is like a glass of bubbling champagne, a constantly shifting of moods and emotions, cleverly packed into some pretty intriguing scoring. An adventurous ride, a magical and rewarding journey. And if you get such fine recordings and performances the circles is full. The booklet is excellent.

Ives, Charles. (1874-1954) Orchestral Works.

Bought in 2011.
Label: Hyperion.
First listen.
Recording dates: January 2006.
Recording venue: Eugene McDermott Concert Hall, Morton H. Meyerson Symphony Center, Dallas.
Recording engineer: Andres Villalta.
Running time: 78:25.

Symphony No. 1 & 4.
Central Park in the Dark.

Dallas SO, Andrew Litton.

Nobody will ever doubt, that Ives first Symphony, although written in his youth and under pressure of his very conservative teacher Horatio Parker, is a amazing and extremely beautiful work of the highest level to which music can aspire.  The second movement, Adagio molto (sostenuto) is a small wonder of harmony and internal balance. Sure Ives incorporated many European influences, but does one bother? Not me, if such a work, is so gorgeous. And again true, listen to his 4th Symphony one would never have guessed this is the same composer. Would I have wished that all his Symphonies were written like the first symphony? Yes, absolutely. But alas they are not, and we have to turn our ears quite another way, and our senses will have to stomach music that is diametrically opposed to the first symphony. The first is a deeply felt romantic work, the fourth symphony has different goals, as a pointer towards what is coming. In my opinion Ives had some pretty weird ideas about music, its context, and the future, but then, since when is that a negative. What I am probably saying is this, when you come down from a romantic high, do not plunge right away into his modern works, this might cause some headaches. Just forget about the first, and then one day walk into the fourth. The aural sensation is totally different but as rewarding, but your mindset has to be according to his wills and whiles. Both works have their unique colours, and both are couched into a context with a profound message. The message is his ability to show what was and what lies ahead. Was and ahead, two key words with Ives. Werther I would have liked him to stay at what was, is another question and not here or there. The Fourth is a different ball-game. With a choir the first movement begins, well a few bars into the work, and this is for me, a meal with a bitter taste, for I think its structurally a wrong choice, but as you know I am biased in this. Tonality is stretched widely, and dives into atonality many a time, and as much as I try to understand the message, this is not the way I would like music to go. For me there is no unity, in the first two movements, no harmonious balance, which I find in Henze his modern works, but chaos instead, without a purpose.  For me this part of the  composition is a boat sinking fast, and no matter what repairs are undertaken, its going nowhere but down. Maybe I do not understand the message correctly, but then is there a message beyond tinkering for the fun of it with notes, and place them randomly, to create a chaos small children like to create with their lego?  As told I hear the worth of Ives his compositions in the first symphony, but in my view the fourth first two movements are degrading the composers worth terribly. To every one his own I guess. I like Central Park in the dark, a work I can relate to, in all its modernity.
The recording is excellent, and the performance of the first is pristine. As to the fourth I would not know, apart from the third movement, Fugue: Andante moderato con moto, which is showing Ives at its best, and in a recognizable form.

Martinu, Bohuslav. (1890-1959) Piano Concertos. Volume II.

Bought in 2011.
Label: Naxos.
First listen.
Recording dates: May, 2009.
Recording venue: The House of Arts, Zlin, Czech Republic.
Recording engineer: Otto Nopp.
Running time: 74:45.

1) Piano concerto No. 4. "Incantation".
2) Piano concerto No. 1, in D major.
3) Piano concerto No. 2.

Giorgio Koukl, Piano.
Bohuslav Martinu, PO, Zlin, Arthur Fagan.

These are big boned piano concertos with a lot of muscles and inherent power. The  sheer energy this music has, plus Koukl who is playing them in a matching way, makes for invigorating listening. There is hardly a place to rest so the Andante of the piano concerto No. 1 comes as a relieve, being beautifully done, with some fine wind writing. A lovely melody, and some very sensitive playing, though Koukl has enough problems to contain his predilection to hammer the notes out, he is less poetic as needed, and more powerful as is good for the works, not helped by a very bright recording, done by the likes of Otto Nopp, which I know from the early beginnings of Marco Polo and Naxos labels. He and Hubert Geschwandtner made some pretty ghastly recordings. I will not go as far as to say this one is too, but its miles away from a fine recording. For me all is too matter of fact, the music should speak for itself, but the musicians insist of bashing the bolts out of the machinery, and they succeed, for most of what I hear, is cold and technical. Despite the fact that the solo piano music also done by Koukl is first rate, this recording is a raw deal, and food hard to digest, at least for me. 
So enter at your own peril, you have been warned. This is not for the soft hearted, but has to be approached with some nerves of steel. Mine were severely stretched I am afraid.

Malipiero, Gian Francesco. (1882-1973) Orchestral Works. [World Premiere Recordings]

Bought in 2012.
Label: Naxos.
First listen.
Recording dates:  2009-2010.
Recording venue: Auditorium Conciliazione, Rome, Italy.
Recording engineer: Piero Schiavoni.
Running time: 79:53.

Impressioni dal Vero I, II, & III. (1910-1922)
Pause del Silenzio, I & II.

Orchestra Sinfonica di Roma, Francesco La Vecchia.

Malipiero works magic with his music, from this I frequently had to think about Respighi, also a tone painter, for this is Malipiero, foremost. I seldom get the feeling that everything is right and works right, but in this case I am awe struck. Of course I knew that I liked Malipiero, for I have more recordings with his music, but these world premiere recordings added that little extra which I did not expect. A composer who frequently stated that he liked silence, and this is actually what you hear, music that creates silence in your head and heart, but one that is a balsam to your soul. His notes caress your senses in such a way, its almost an overwhelming experience.. Yet he abhorred noise of any kind, so he had to create harmony and noiseless noise, and I think he succeeded, being a very sensitive man. And yet despite all, Malipiero did not find it difficult to compose music, that is after all also a kind of noise. He was born amongst the likes of Respighi, Casella, and  Pizzetti, the 1880 generation. And he was the most prolific one amongst them writing over 200 works. amongst them  seventeen symphonies. He simply had a constant flow of music in his head.  A highly original writer of music.
So where does that leave us with the music. These works were never performed before, and after hearing this you will be mightily impressed, for you will not hear that often such an original voice, full of colour and vigour, and clear headed passion.  He simply blows you away with his wonderful sense for tone painting. The magic he weaves with his music captivates your imagination, and travels places. The writing for strings and winds is amazing and so harmonious. You will want this music, believe me. The recording is very good, and the performance is a huge compliment for Malipiero.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Lazzari, Sylvio. (1857-1944) Orchestral Works.

Bought in 2011.
Label: Marco Polo.
First listen.
Recording dates: August 1995.
Recording venue: Mosfilm Studios, Moscow, Russia.
Recording engineers: Edvard Shakhnazarian, and Vitaly Ivanov.
Running time: 79:33.

Symphony in E flat major. (49:00)
Maritime Pictures. (30:00)

Moscow SO, Adriano.

And yet another unknown composer. I love to discover new music. There are enough people who review music on a much trodden path, but thats not really my thing. So, Sylvio Lazzari. His real names were Josef Fortunat Silvester, and he was born in Bozen, Southern Tyrol. His father was from Italy and his mother from Austria, quite a combination. He became a doctor in medicine, but decided that music was more his forte, and by what I hear, so it was. Ernest Chausson and Charles Gounod recognized his talents in a early stage, and convinced him to dedicate his life to composing. He was taught by no less a master than Cesar Franck, and Ernest Guiraud also a composer and teacher.
He is certainly influenced by Franck, as if he continued were Franck stopped. Some small influences of Richard Wagner ( almost inevitable) a bit more Chausson, its obvious, listening to his symphony, that he has its own individual style and was of a decidedly more virile temper than those he considered his masters. Its uncompromising, well constructed and mature music. It is not known when his Symphony was written, and besides that, the work did not deserve the neglect, next to those magnificent symphonies of Franck, Chausson, Dukas and Vierne. And even d'Indy is to be found in this music. Its a energetic work to say the least, thoroughly late romantic, with sweeping melodies that tell of grand emotions, and small hearts. Tenderness and masculinity, an amalgam of tender feelings, male/female. It has some modernity in it, but well integrated in the sometimes robust soundworld of Lazzari. Even Honegger said in 1942, when celebrating Lazzari's 85th birthday, "Its a work full of rich music, sounding magnificent and of powerful structure" And so it is.
The Maritime Pictures, are fabulous, no other words for it. Such a colourful scheme, and such passion written in it, it depicts in a very clear way, the sea and all what is surrounds. The writing left me stunned in admiration. The recording is very good, and its a dedicated performance. The booklet written by Adriano is exemplary.

 Sylvio Lazzari. (Real name, Josef Fortunat Silvester.)

Henze, Hans Werner. (1929-2012) Orchestral Works.

Bought in 2012.
Label: Capriccio.
First listen.
Recording dates: December 2004. (Sinfonia), March 2006, (Nachtstucke), May 2006, (Adagio)
Recording venues: Koln, Studio Stolberger Strasse. (Sinfonia) Koln, Philharmonie. (Nachtstucke and Adagio.)
Recording engineers: Christian Feldgen, Eberhard Sengpiel, Klaus Wachschutz.
Running time: 

1) Adagio, Fuge und Manadentanz, Suite from the opera Die Bassariden.
2) Nachtstucke und Arien in Five movements.
3) Sinfonia No. 8.

Claudia Barainsky, Soprano.
Gurzenich-Orchester Koln, Markus Stenz.

Henze, as I said before is an acquired taste, I do not meet many people who actually really like his music. Sure, they admire his technical skills, and an occasional piece he has written, but in reality, they do not much care. They react vehemently to his stark modernity, and the way he creates images and moods. My stance in this is, that I always have to brace myself for his powerful expression, and his way to dive into oblivion. To follow this way of thinking and understand his creativity is a challenge, but when it builds an emotional bond towards you, the rewards may be far beyond what you could possibly expect. This is what happens with me, after a few minutes in Henze's idiom. Thus I was overwhelmed by the force of "Adagio, Fuge and Manadentanz". It has some contemplative moments as opposed to aggressive slashings that take place in the first and third movements. Coherent as it is, with an unmistakable logic, its not a work to approach lightly. But the means of expression is deeply felt.
Nachtstucke is similar in character, but the music tends to be more easy on the ear. With Henze its always silence or loudness, the inbetweens are rare, still they are here, and thats a relief towards the more vehement moments. I have no patience with the Arias inserted in this piece, I think them superfluous. I simply do not like the vocal compositions in this idiom, so I'm biased. The orchestral scoring around them is superb.
Sinfonia has a softer side, and clear melody lines, and a logic that is easy to follow.
The recording is state of the art, as is the performance.

The image of my CD copy is different coming from Capriccio, but tis the same recording.

Gouvy, Louis Theodore. (1819-1898) Orchestral Works. Volume II.

Bought in 2011.
Label: CPO.
First listen.
Recording dates: March 2007.
Recording venue: Saarlandischer Rundfunk and Sudwestfunk-Musikstudio 1 des SR, Grosser Sendesaal.
Recording engineer: Manfred Jungmann.
Running time: 57:38.

Symphony No. 6, opus 87 in G minor.
Sinfonietta opus 80 in D major.

Deutsche Radio Philharmonie Saarbrucken Kaiserslautern, Jacques Mercier.

Whatever your thinking may be in regard of Gouvy's oeuvre, there is no denying that his music is of the happy sort. This music makes you happy! What I have heard so far in previous issues is that he combines the lightheartedness of Mendelssohn, the lyrical genius of Schumann, the more serious inklings from Johannes Brahms together in what ultimately defines Gouvy. All sounds so easy with him as he brightens up your day. In his time he was a celebrated composer, but also rejected in some sort of a way, by both the German and French. There is of course a reason for this, but it goes too far to explain this here. He was forgotten, and that was not right. He is an important link in the French German tradition of music making.  Therefore it is to be applauded that CPO took up this challenge to record at least all of his Symphonies and other orchestral works. Most of it I bought, and no doubt the rest will get into my collection. He is worth your attention and investment. 
The recording is most excellent, as is the performance.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

The first two Dutton recordings from a long list, I will post them when in the listening cue.

I have made a list of all the Dutton recordings I want, these are the first two, the rest I will post when I get to listening them.

On my listening menu today (24-4-2018)

J.S. Bach. Complete organ works Olivier Vernet. CD 6. Erkki Melartin. Orchestral Works. Peteris Vasks Orchestral Works ...