Friday, October 30, 2015

French Organ Masters from Louis XIII to Louis Philippe. Disc 8. (Organ and Fortepiano)

New acquisition.
Bought in December 2014.
First listen.
Label: Radio France.
Disc 8 from 8.
Recording dates: 1987/2000/2013.
Recording venues: Bordeaux. Musee de la Musique Paris. Toulouse, La Daurade. Dole.
Recording engineers: Not named.
Running time:  70:11.
Classical relevance:  CD 8. Mildly interesting.

Michel Corrette, Josse Francois Joseph Benaut, Claude Balbastre, Jean Jacques Beauvarlet Charpentier, Armand Louis Couperin, Guillaume Lasceux, Gervais Francois Couperin, Alexandre Pierre Francois Boely.

Performed by:
Olivier Baumont on the Dom Bedos organ (1748)
Fortepiano organise Erard Freres (1791)

Andre Isoir on the Jean Boizard organ. (1714) Saint Michel en Thierache.

Francois Menissier on the Riepp Callinet Stiehr organ. (1754-1788-1830/56)  and the Poirier Lieberknecht (1862-64).

Ensemble Gilles Binchois, Dominique Vellard.

The final disc of this box, holding many different composers, some good, and some not so good. Much of the material on this disc is mediocre, and some pieces are more than excellent. It is not so important that I name the mediocre ones, for you will hear that for yourself.  I regret that this otherwise fine box is closed with the uneven addition of bread writers. There is some refinement, but to my ears some composers should have been omitted from this anthology. I had one go at it, but it does not invite to repeat the doubtful pleasure. The sound is good as are the performances. To many compositions to write down, but if interested let me know, and I will provide the details.
The composers and their works that need mentioning are:

JJB Charpentier, both his Fugas played on a fortepiano organise are special. The instrument is and the Fugas are. Well written and played by Olivier Baumont. 

JFJ Benaut. I like both the short works on this disc, calm and refined. Especially the Voix Humaine, tendrement is well paced and intense in expression.

AL Couperin. Two pieces of perfectly written music.

APF Boely. The most serious and conservative composer on this CD. The quality of the music is much better as all the rest, but a little monotone, and therefore rather off putting in the department of concentration. Better not listen in one go, unless you are wide awake and full of energy.

The Music of the Habsburg Empire. Disc 9. "Rome".

New acquisition.
Bought in January 2015.
First listen.
Label: Pan Classics.
CD 9 from 10.
Recording dates: February 2008. Live recording.
Recording venue: Brucknerhaus, Linz, Austria.
Recording engineer: Not named.
Running time: 53:00.
Classical relevance: Interesting.

Works and composers.

Johann Caspar Kerll. (1627-1693)
Toccata VIII in G, for Organ.
Canzona VI in G, for Organ.

Alessandro Stradella. (1639-1682)
Sinfonia in d for Violin and BC.
Passacaglia de Monsieur Muffat.
Toccata for Harpsichord solo.

Carlo Ambrogio Lonati. (c.1645-1710?)
Ciaccone from the XII Sonata for Violin solo and Basso. (Salzburg 1701)

Performed by:
Ars Antiqua Austria, Gunar Letzbor.

The works of Kerll for Organ are always excellent, so in this case they are too. Both works are played by an unnamed organist and he or she is doing well. No mention of the instrument used. The booklet is a chaos and defective in giving adequate information. Kerll's music is known for its plethora of wide ranging ideas and dignified dissemination. All of this is clearly audible.

Stradella Sinfonia in d for Violin and BD (Organ) is a very worthwhile piece. It has all the elements Stradella was famous for. Very elegant music and an attractive score to boot.
The passacaglia de Monsieur Muffat is a soothing piece for stressed nerves, played on a unnamed Lute by Hubert Hoffmann. A fine interpretation. Clear melodic lines.

Lonati is a for me totally unknown composer, so I was pleasantly surprised by a substantial composition from his hands. There are clear stylistic elements cultivated to the North of the Alps. Northern virtuosity coupled with Italian warmth. Very well written and thus beautiful music.

And the end of this CD we get another piece by the hands of Kerll. A canzona in G. Kerll's writing for the organ is as always excellent.

No noise of the audience, a clear recording, all participants are at their best, so this is a very successful cd in this box. 

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Rode, Pierre. (1774-1830) Complete Violin Concertos, Volume 4. World Premiere Recordings.

New acquisition.
Bought in October 2015.
First listen.
Label: Naxos.
Recording dates: May-June 2012.
Recording venue: Volkshaus Jena. Germany.
Recording engineer: Matthias Middelkamp.
Running time: 73:08.
Classical relevance: Essential if you like Violin Concertos..

Works performed:

Violin Concerto No. 2 in E major, opus 4.
No. 8 in E minor, opus 13.

Variations on "Nel cor piu non mi sento"
Introduction and Variations on a Tyrolean Air.

Performed by:
Jena PO, Nicolas Pasquet.
Friedemann Eichhorn, Violin.
Cadenzas by the soloist.

The Variations on Nel... is beautifully poised and paced. Both Violin and orchestra have superb scores in which virtuosity and sweetness go hand in hand in a refined style.
The Violin concerto No. 8 is a melodious match made in heaven. The second movement will please many, for it is not very demanding on your ears, but friendly invites you into some creative debate on the merits of melodic magic. Rode is a master in conjuring up such fine moods. But virtuosity gets a chance too in the third movement Allegro spirito, although forget about the add on in the form of moderato con spirito, for it all spirito and not moderate. Friedemann excels himself in displaying a wealth of details and dancing elegantly through the score.
The second Violin concerto has a movement called Siciliano, which can move even the hardest character inclined towards classical music into a frenzy of enthusiasm. There is a certain melancholy strain that pulls like a muscle through the heart of the music. Early romanticism is pulling some strings as well. Friedemann is producing a warm tone, full of sweetness but not too much.
The Rondo has a nice tilt to it, hopping from one note to another sporting a dancing agility beyond believe. Really an amazing concerto.
The Tyrolean air has some nice moments, but is easily forgettable. Its nice music of little consequence.
Rode his prime core are Violin concertos, and he wrote for no other instrument. Suits me fine, for he produced 13 of the most beautiful concertos in his time, and far ahead of its time too.
The performance and recording are superb.

Volume 4 of 5.
Very recommendable!

Vieuxtemps, Henri. The Complete Violin Concertos. Disc 2. Violin Concerto No. 3 & 4. {Best Buy 2015}

Third rerun.

I never so much enjoyed the Violin concertos from Vieuxtemps as in these performances. Everything ticks in the right boxes. Soloists, orchestra, conductor, recording engineer, the inspirator of this project, Augustin Dumay, and above all the fabulous composer Vieuxtemps was. For me they are reference recordings so that's why I voted them Best Buy 2015.
See first review with all the details.

First review of disc 2.

Reference set.
Digipack with 3 cd's.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Stoltzer, Thomas. (c.1480-85-1526?) Four German Psalms and instrumental works.

New acquisition.
Bought in October 2015.
First listen.
Label: SEON.
Disc 8 from 85.
Recording dates: 1974.
Recording venue: Pfarrkirche Moos, Bavaria.
Recording engineer: Dieter Thomsen.
Running time: 73:25.
Classical relevance: Interesting.

Work performed:
See heading.

Performed by:
Capella Antiqua Munchen, Konrad Ruhland.

I have other recordings of the German psalms recorded more recently as the present recording, and they differ hugely in ways of interpretation, which is normal I guess considering this 1974 recording.
The choir is a large one, the dynamics are more present, thus the ebb and flow I find a bit disruptive. Sometimes it's either loud or soft and nothing in between. Intimacy is not the key of these interpretations, it's more frontal and confronting.  Some technical issues too! The first Psalm, "Erzurne Dich nicht", suffers from a bad recording. The spatial separation between voices is a disaster, it's like a massive wall of sound, and somewhere in the editing things went wrong too, be it in the original recordings or the remastering. You will hear that if you have a discerning ear. Psalm 12 also suffers from this, although I can hear they redirected the microphones to get the sound they desired. Not quite happening, but when Psalm 13 comes out of my speakers things are right. The choir sounds as it should. I keep having problems with the massive addition of all kind of instruments, they do not always compliment the music. I can hardly understand the German, textual clarity is far from ideal. So although as a whole one can derive pleasure from what Ruhland did, I cannot say that this is a recording I will return to very often. I love Stoltzel's music, but I have far better interpretations of his music, and this one is ruled out by them. It is not that I am massively disappointed in what this choir does, but it's outdated, and does not have the sparkle this music needs. Recording is decent after the first three items on this disc. Do not expect too much, and it will fall in place.

Disc 8 from the big SEON box

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Deprez, Josquin. (c.1440-1521) Missa: La, Sol Fa Re Mi, and other miscellaneous works.

New acquisition.
Bought in October 2015. 
First listen.
Label: SEON.
CD 7 from 85.
Recording dates: April and October 1972.
Recording venue: Church in Moschenfeld, Bavaria.
Recording engineer: Dieter Thomsen.
Running time: 73:19.
Classical relevance: Quite interesting.

Works performed as in Heading:
Additional works,
Tu solus qui facis Mirabilia.
Sanctus de Passione.
Miserere mei, Deus.
Qui velatus facie fuisti.
Absalon fili mi.
Planxit autem David.
Inviolata integra et casta es Maria.

Performed by:
Capella Antiqua Munchen, Konrad Ruhland.

It is the first time that I hear this Missa with added instruments, and although it is quite a novelty, I prefer the Missa without the instruments. The choir is large, it is something to get accustomed to, for this is the choir and it will not get smaller. So the volume that is produced is louder, less intimate, but essentially as effective as other interpretations I have heard. Not so much in the Missa, but certainly in the miscellaneous works on this cd.  Most of them done without instruments, and then you hear, especially when they sing at a lower volume, how beautiful the voices are, and how perfectly they blend with each other and the music of Desprez.  And the spiritual essence is clearly audible, what is sadly missing from the Missa. I am floating on a cloud of forgetfulness when they intone the Tu solus. The choir sings it beautifully and is less attached to the roots of reality. The basses blend well with the tenors, and the females never overdo their volume, unobtrusive they mingled. The pace is well chosen. Listen with the production dates in mind, and then enjoy, for there is enough to find from those early pioneers in old music. The result required a lot of effort for everyone involved and this you hear.

CD 7 from 85.

Eggert, Joachim Nikolas. (1779-1813) Orchestral Work. World Premiere Recordings. Vol. 1.

New acquisition.
Bought in October 2015.
First listen.
Label: Naxos.
Recording dates: November 2009 & October 2015.
Recording venue: Gavle Concert Hall, Sweden.
Recording engineer: Sean Lewis.
Running time: 66:20.
Classical relevance: Important enough.

Works performed:
Mohrene. (The Moors in Spain) Incidental Music, Overture.
Svante Sture, Incidental Music. (1812)
Symphony No. 1 in C major. (c.1804-05)
Symphony No. 3 in E flat major. (1807)

Performed by: 
Gavle SO, Gerard Korsten.

Eggert is a transitional composer. You can hear a avalanche of different composers in his music, like Haydn Mozart, Beethoven, Mendelssohn and even Schumann, still he retains such a unique voice, that it baffles me at times. What he has to say is startling and evocative. He shows himself to be a composer with a forceful drive behind his writing and quite a talent for orchestrating in a somewhat unusual way. He has a distinct liking for percussion and march like themes, not superficial ones, but superb written. His melodies are firm and strong and foreshadowing many composers to come. Eggert's boldness stands out more as say Beethoven, which goes to show that Eggert deserves a place among them. In other words, you cannot bypass Eggert, he is a force to be reckoned with, for he is a vital piece of the musical heritage. 
The most striking piece must be the Third Symphony, which is vigorous, bold, energetic, colourful, and some excellent string writing is making this a piece to remember, although the third movement will stay forever in my mind. A massive Fugue, masterfully done. This came as a big surprise, and it alone warrants the purchase of this disc. There are no fixed melodies throughout his work, for he is changing the tune every 30 seconds and never or seldom repeats anything, so alert you must be. The first Symphony has a bit more Haydn and early Beethoven on board. again very originally scored, with a clever use of timpani, very effective, "(first movement). As said he likes marches and the timpani at the same time which you will hear frequently. Melodies are always cleverly applied.
The Moors in Spain-Overture is a short but well thought out beginning of this disc.
Svante Sture, is not of much consequence, apart from a few movements like Marche and Chorale. This works suffers, because it is taken out of the context. Still some nice moments with fine brass writing.
The recording by Sean Lewis, a man of years is excellent. The performance is superb.

The first release of a series of two.

Rode, Pierre. (1774-1830) Violin Concertos.

New acquisition.
Bought in October 2015.
First listen.
Label: Naxos.
Recording dates: June 2011.
Recording venue: Volkshaus Jena, Germany.
Recording engineer: Matthias Middelkamp.
Running time: 76:27.
Classical relevance: Important enough.

Works performed:
Violin concerto, No. 1 in D minor, opus 3.
No. 5 in D major, opus 7.
No. 9 in C major, opus 17.

Performed by:
Jena PO, Nicolas Pasquet.
Friedemann Eichhorn, Violin.
Cadenzas written by the soloist.

Rode is certainly a composer to be reckoned with. He is not a middle of the road composer with little or no consequence, but rather a progressive and virtuosic man, who was able to adapt to the times with an original voice no less.. His works are virtuosic, but never go too far in it. Rode is a creative man, and has a penchant for fine melodies. Clear cute compositions no false sentiments here, but a rather creative mind at work. The Violin concertos are pretty advanced for their time, and therefore it was a pity he was virtually neglected, until Naxos decided to record all 13 Violin concertos. They have only one volume to go, and then they are finished with this project which used more than 10 years to prepared, and producing clean scores to performed. Lots of research went into this. And was it all worth the effort is the next question? I think yes. His roots comes from the likes of Viotti, and he points clearly towards Paganini. That in itself means quite a lot to me. It is lighthearted music couched in serious compositional styles. It's quality not quantity. It is all done in great taste, and excellent musicianship. The sound is very good, save for some unclear sound picture in the first movement in the first concerto of this disc. Why not a first try recording to hear if everything is in place, instead of, let's go, and we adjust during recording. After 8 minutes or so is all okay, still!
The Violinist marvels through this music with great virtuosity, and this excellent orchestra follows suit, with a conductor I did not know.

The third cd in a series of 5.

Laudiomo Jesu. Laude of the 15th and 16th Century.

New acquisition.
Bought in October 2015.
First listen.
Disc 6 from 85.
Label: SEON
Recording dates: October 1978.
Recording venue: Eching Church Bavaria, Germany.
Recording engineer: Teije van Geest.
Running time: 50:49.
Classical relevance: Very interesting, considering the recording dates.

Performed by:
Niederaltaicher Scholaren, Konrad Ruhland.

A very interesting journey through the 15th and 16th century. I must say that the Laudes are very well sung. some are with and some without instrumental accompaniment. Of course I would have like them without, so voices only. But we have to accept the fact that in the time of composition, instruments were invariably used when this music was performed. The harmony in the choir is amazing well rehearsed as they are by Ruhland.  In my opinion they are well worth hearing. The sound is superb.

Friday, October 23, 2015

French Organ Masters from Louis XIII to Louis Philippe. CD 7.

New acquisition.
Bought in December 2015.
First listen.
Label: Radio France.
CD 7 from 8.
Classical relevance: Essential.

Works, composers, performers, instruments and recording dates:

Michel Corrette. (1707-1795)
Concerto for Organ, opus 26, No. 3 and No. 6.
Noel-Tous les Bourgeois de Chartres.
Fabio Bonizzoni, plays on the Jean Boizard organ 1714, Saint Michel en Thierache., and also conducts Ensemble La Risonanza. Recorded in 2002.

Louis Claude Daquin. (1694-1772)
Nouveau Livre de Noels. Paris 1757.
Olivier Baumont plays on the Jean Boizard organ.
La Symphonie du Marais, Hugo Reyne.
Recorded in 2002.

Claude Balbastre. (1724-1799)
Troisieme Suite de Noels.
Olivier Baumont plays on the Moucherel-Montbrun Organ, (1741) Cintegabelle, recorded in 2000, and the Dom Bedos Organ, (1748) Bordeaux. Recorded in 2013.

Another success out of this fantastic box. Both works from the composers Corrette and Daquin are fun works, in which the use of registers is very creative. Bonizzoni is a wizard if it comes to Corrette, and he squeezes every ounce of merit out of the notes.  Corrette was considered a virtuosic, and this I am more than willing to believe, I hear this very fact coming from my speakers.Never heard these works before, but after hearing them I am craving for more. Wish that the archives of Radio France would even open up more. Daquin's variations were very popular in his time, and I guess they should still be, judging by what he has to offer. They are marvelously written. The concertos are powerhouses, energetic, animated, indeed very appealing music. Refined, creative, rich in melodies. Both composers have the ability to bind you quite quickly to what they have to say.
Balbastre is almost the opposite. His music is played on two different organs I never heard before. Judging from the pictures they look gorgeous and indeed they sound gorgeous. The French have a lot of fine organs in their country, if there was not this could be perfect. :)
Balbastre has a more contemplative stance. Virtuosity and flashy aspects are missing from his works. The pace is quiet, he excels more in small clusters of melodies, effective in a sort of hushed way. Draws me in at a certain level. The organ is a marvel to hear.
The Concerto I am afraid is a ponderous affair apart from the third movement, Gavotte 1 and 2. I cannot find many redeeming factors in this concert apart from the Gavottes. What there is is well played but it failed to move me. Maybe Balbastre is a lesser composer that Daquin or Corrette, or I simply heard the lesser of his works. Anyways the organ sounds fine.

Do try this fine box.

The Music of the Habsburg Empire. CD 8 "Venice".

New acquisition.
Bought in January 2015.
First listen.
Label: Pan Classics.
CD 8 of 10.
Recording dates: February 2005.
Recording venue: Museum Behnhaus, Lubeck, Germany.
Recording engineer: Cees Snellink.
Running time: 67:57.
Classical relevance: Interesting music, often never recorded before.

Works and composers:
Antonio Vivaldi.
Sonata in C for Violin, Oboe, and obbligato Organ. RV 779.
Augeletti vuoi col Canto, Aria-Largo from Lungi dal vago volto, Cantata for Soprano, Violin and Organ. RV 680.

Venetian ballads composed by Sigr, Hasse, And all the celebrated Italian Masters, 1735.
Canzonette da Battello from Raccolta dei Gondolieri.

Marco Antonio Ferro. (c.1600-1662)
Sonata for Violin and Theorbo. (Venice 1649)

Marc Antonio Ziani. (1653-1715) 
Alma redemptoris mater, for Soprano Violin and organ.

Tomaso Albinoni. (1671-1750)
Sonata for Oboe and BC. (Organ)
Giovanni Battista Lampugnani. (1708-1788)
Bel Piacer Saria d'une Core. ( Venetian Ballads) 1735.

Performed by Ars Antiqua Austria, Gunar Letzbor.
Andrea Mion, Oboe.
Radu Marian, Soprano.
Norbert Zeilberger, Organ.

The Vivaldi concerto RV 779 has some really beautiful moments, for Oboe and Organ. This organ gives the work something very special. The sustained notes at certain passages add greatly to its effect. A stunning third movement, Largo ma cantabile, instantly a favourite with me. Overall well done and recorded.
Vivaldi's Cantata Augeletti has a delicate tone well known by this composer. Radu Marian has some high notes to deliver and she manages that quite admirably. She has a good grasp of the text used and feels her way into this work. The organ as a BC adds greatly to its warmth and presence.

The anonymous ballads are in general well sung by Radu Marian with her fine somewhat brittle voice. Only natural vibrato, so that's a huge plus in my book. Melodious and charming pieces, Nothing noteworthy but of curiosity value very interesting.

Ferro's sonata is nice and well presented here. It has more value than a forgettable ditty, and is worth your attention. The organ gets in unannounced, but is very welcome and adds to the weight of the sonata. Tis not of much consequence though. 

Ziani's Alma Mater is well enough sung, with just enough expression to make it interesting. Not much spiritual depth found here, but again the organ gets a hearty welcome. Just that little extra. 

Albinoni's Oboe concerto is a fine one, but then he is like Vivaldi a composer of consequence.
Seductively played.

Lampugnani's  Venetian Ballads are well sung by Radu Marian in a delicate way, which is sort of her trademark. I never heard of this composer, and by the quality of the music I doubt very much we will see more of him on cd. Although I might be wrong. Gladly so I'd say.
The music will not ruffle your hair in any way, but it's nice enough.

All is recorded in good sound, and the performances exceeded my expectations, but I am afraid that there is some applause at the end of this disc, wholly unwelcome but nevertheless present.

French Flute Music. CD 2 from the Accent Recordings 1979-2003. Hotteterre, Jacques Martin. (1674-1763) Premier and Deuxieme Livre de Pieces pour la Flute Traversiere avec la Basse (1715)

New acquisition.
Bought in October 2015.
First listen.
Label: Accent.
Disc 2 from 11.
Recording dates: January to May 2000.
Recording venue: Vereenigde Doopsgezinde Kerk, Haarlem, The Netherlands.
Recording engineer: Adelheid and Andreas Glatt.
Running time: 63:31.
Classical relevance. Essential authentic performances.

Works performed:
Opus 2, Premier Livre, Suite No. 1, in D major, No. 2, in G major, No 5, in E major.
Opus 5, Deuxieme Livre, No. 4 in B minor, and No.1 in G minor.

Performed by:
Barthold Kuijken, Traverso Flute.
Robert Kohnen, Harpsichord.
Wieland Kuijken, Viola da Gamba.

Hotteterre is not a composer who is not known to all, neither is he often recorded, so it's a treat that the Accent recordings are re-released with his complete opus 2 and 5, of which I played the first part on CD 2. The Suites are beautiful no doubt about that, especially in such good performances and such excellent sonics. The music is galant and of great melodic charm with an emphasis on the so called "Beau Chant". They entertain in a pleasant way brimful with musical surprises. Hotteterre was a highly respected virtuoso, pedagogue and composer, and since he is the Father of French Flute Music, he lets you hear why he carried such a accolade of praise.

A very desirable set. Get it before it gets OOP.

Dufay, Guillaume. (c.1400-1474) Movements from the Ordinary of the Mass-Motets and Secular Works. Disc 5 of the SEON box.

New acquisition.
Bought in October 2015.
First listen.
Label: SEON.
Disc 5 of 85.
Recording dates: April 1974.
Recording venue: The Church in Niederaltaich, Bavaria.
Recording engineer: Dieter Thomsen.
Running time: 45:11.
Classical relevance: Interesting option.

Performed by: 
Capella Antiqua Munchen, Konrad Ruhland.
There is no mentioning who plays all the instruments in this recording.

One must as by necessity remember the time in which this performance was recorded, because some things may surprise you, if you have no knowledge of these recordings. For their time these are very capable interpretations, but some things struck me as odd, considering the present knowledge we have how this should be performed. Ruhland undoubtedly gives us a very authentic reading of the works on this disc, but I doubt that you would hear the added instruments in newer recordings. And that's precisely the odd thing, it sounds really nice, but unconnected to the compositions. Needless to say that it did not draw me in the music as such, but I admire what I hear. Dufay in a way that I did not heard before, but I guess this interpretation is also a possibility, why not. The sound is good, although it lets you hear the recording year, a bit fuzzy in the voices at times. Ruhland is a force to be reckoned with so much is clear to me, and in his ongoing quest at that time, this must have been a landmark. That is probably the reason why Wolf Erichson supported him throughout. My attention during the music was wandering, I could not keep focused on what was on offer, still I enjoyed it. A time capsule! 

The Moosburg Gradual of 1360. Christmas Cantiones. Disc 4 from the SEON box.

New acquisition.
Bought in October 2015.
First listen.
Label: SEON.
Disc 4 from 85.
Recording dates: 1977-1980.
Recording venue: Eching and Landshut, Bavaria.
Recording engineer: Dieter Thomson.
Running time: 61:42.
Classical relevance: Essential purchase.

Performed by:
Capella Antiqua Munchen & Niederaltaicher Scholaren, Konrad Ruhland.
Authentic instruments used.

These Cantiones are a first time with me, never heard them before and my only excuse is really that I have a lot to listen too, so it may be forgiven that I missed the Moosburg Gradual from 1360 no less! Of what I heard I would say, it's magnificent. The sheer variation and the enthusiastic devotion of both choir and conductor opens a mirror that hold many insights into the music practice of that age. Not knowing this music, is a major gap in one's knowledge. Christmas music in pristine recordings, and well informed performances are always a treat. There is a lot to be learned and enjoyed in this ongoing journey by the likes of Ruhland, for I notice that I became quite curious of what he will present next. So far it was nothing short of joy. Voices and instruments sound as coming straight from the 14th century.

You could do far worse than buying this particular recording.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Vasks, Peteris. The Seasons, Works for Piano solo.

New acquisition.
Bought in October 2015.
First listen.
Label: Wergo.
Recording dates: September 2009. Live recordings.
Recording venue: Great Guild Hall, Riga, Latvia.
Recording engineer: Andris Uze.
Running time: 59:54.
Classical relevance: Within his oeuvre essential.

Works performed:
Gadalaiki-The Seasons, Composed in 1980-1981-1995-2008.
Vasaris Vahara Muzika-Summer evening Music. (2009).

Performed by:
Vestard Shimkus.

Vasks his music is inspired by two things; God and Nature. Both elements are always on the foreground, albeit in some of his profane works something else peeps around the corner, a hard hitting modernity not unlike what Arvo Part was composing in his early years. The piano works on this disc are of the Nature/God side. Meaning that it is often spiritual, and when not, Nature is kicking in with some force, but he keeps everything tightly in balance here. You get very easily draw into these works, for to my ears they are very beautiful, even though some passages that are really too loud for the likes of me. When applied, at a certain moment in Spring music it ruins for me the level of meditation which I acquired earlier on. I cannot imagine what made him notate ffff, but he did. White scenery with which the music starts is highly serene and ushers you in a contemplative mood. It's a dreamy piece of great beauty. Spring music is full of energy and has a powerful face on the outset, ist brilliantly emotional and goes very deep into your awareness. I admire the writing and all in all it's one of the best pieces Vasks wrote for piano, just a pity of those last bars in the conclusion. Green scenery is a lively almost dasant piece, painting the lush growth of nature as if awakening from a deep slumber. There is much energy and propulsion in it. It's a loud but distinct voice, never overdoing it, never mind the ff. There is no fine weaving of tone clusters, that is reserved for the very last bars of this piece. Autumn music starts very softly ppp. Believe it or not but the staccato playing reminded me strongly of music played in Persia on the Tar. The melodies are for me distinctly from that region. That is a miracle in itself if you can get that out of a piano.  There is a sense of searching in this work, trying to find the right direction, getting lost at times, at one point there is even a hint of hesitation. In the soft passages expression gets at a gorgeous peak, the louder passages fff confuse me a little. He hammers the short notes out of the instrument and that adds greatly to the eeriness that permeates this work. But it's beautiful nevertheless. 

Summer evening Music.
What the title describes is what you get. It has warmth and strong pulsating passion, which can be very soft and relaxing. The cycle is well played and superb recorded even at ffff. It is a live recording, but no sound comes from the audience and no applause is recorded either, and that's a huge plus in my book. For the rest this music is absolute bliss.

A very successful recording of these works.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

French Organ Masters, from Louis XIII to Louis Philippe. CD 6. Divertissement.

New Acquisition.
Bought in December 2014.
First listen.
Label: Radio France.
Box with 8 cd's.
Recording dates: 1987, 1996, 2002.
Running time: 66:06.
Classical relevance: to my ears essential.

Composers and works:
Jean Francois Dandrieu. (1682-1738)
Pieces de Clavecin, Premier Livre (1724); Deuxieme Livre, (1728)
Pieces for Organ:  Noels, Suite in G and in D.
Noel: Une Bergere Jolie.

Louis Claude Daquin. (1694-1772)
Premier Livre de Pieces de Clavecin, (Paris 1735) Troisieme Suite.
Quatrieme suite, "La Plaisirs de la Chasse", Divertissement, (Extraits) 

Jean Philippe Rameau. (1683-1764)
Grand Dialogue, "Hippolyte et Aricie" Overture. Transcription, Michel Alabau.

Instruments and performers:

Olivier Baumont.
Harpsichord: Benoist-Stehlin 1750, Recorded in Saint Quentin. (1987)
Jacques Goermans (1774). Recorded Saint Michel en Thierache. (2002)

Andre Isoir.
Jean Boizard organ (1714) Recorded in  Saint Michel en Thierache. (1987)

Michel Alabau.
J.E. Isnard organ (1774) Recorded in the Saint Maximin la Sainte-Baume, 1987.

La Simphonie du Marais, Hugo Reyne. Recorded in 2002.

Another disc filled with luminaries of that era. The works and performances do not disappoint in any way. The novelty level of all the works peaks at a fixed height since disc 1. Dandrieu with his Noels is impressive. There is a daredevil attitude in the scoring. The virtuosity is dripping from the keys, and the clever use of the registrations impress hugely. Andre Isoir shows his virtuosic side too, at full effect. I like his no bars stop me attitude, and the clarity in which he throws off note after note, is to be reckoned with. I like his style. Olivier Baumont will charm you out of your pants. His has some beautiful instruments at hand, on which he plays like a God. Dandrieu and Daquin are fine composers who impress with their unbounded creativity. Les Plaisirs is a fun piece and well played by La Symphonie du Marais. Daquin writes in a very daring way, always throws surprises at you. The Suite in D by Dandrieu is again magnificently played by Andre Isoir on the Boizard Organ. A short but powerful work. A selective but very effective use of the registers.
Rameau's Grand dialogue, played by Michel Alabau on the Isnard organ is an impressive composition. I had no idea how Rameau would sound on the organ, but now I know. And what I heard I liked. My only quibble is that the playing has too much tempo, the notes do not get the time to unfold.
All is recorded in fine sound. Chapeau!

A magnificent box full of goodies.

Vieuxtemps, Henri. Complete Viol Concertos. No 1 and 2,

Third rerun.

Apart from the fine writing for Violin, we tend to forget how well he wrote for the orchestra too. I am constantly amazed by it. The orchestra is always discreet in following the soloist, but you will not miss a detail in the orchestra, how softly it may sound. I think that the conductor deserves at least some of the laurels for this. Both soloists in the concertos are amazing, both technical and in interpretation.  

First review of disc 1.

For me reference interpretations.

De Lalande, Michel Richard. Symphonies pour les soupers du Roy. CD 4.

Second rerun.

Excellent stuff.

First review of disc 4.

Reference performances.

Gregorian Chants. Sequences. CD 3 from the SEON box.

New acquisition.
Bought in October 1995.
First listen.
Label: SEON.
Box with 85 cd's.
Recording dates: December 1980.
Recording venue: Church in Niederaltaich, Bavaria.
Recording engineer: Gunther Appenheimer.
Running time: 47:50.
Classical relevance: Essential.

Performed by:
Capella Antiqua Munchen, Konrad Ruhland.

The same excellence for this choir as on cd 1 and 2. The singing is inspired by a well informed conductor, so in my reckoning this is Gregorian chant optima forma. We owe Ruhland in fact a huge debt for his endeavour to get at the heart of this kind of music.
Sound is excellent, and the performance...well it could not be better in my ears.

From the big SEON box.

Vivaldi, Antonio. Chamber music and Vocal Works. CD 19 & 20. The Recordings by Christopher Hogwood.

New acquisition.
Bought in May 2015.
First listen.
Label: L'oiseau-lyre.
Box with 20 cd's.
Recording dates CD 19: June 1980. CD 20:  1975-1980.
Recording venues: St. Jude's Hampstead, (Garden Suburb) London & Henry Wood Hall, London.
Recording engineers: Adam Skeaping, Nicholas Parker, John Dunkerley,
Running time CD 19: 53:37. CD 20: 69:12
Classical relevance: Essential.

Works performed:
CD 19.
Trio Sonata "La Folia", RV 63.
Concerto per Flautino, RV 443.
Concerto in A major in due cori con Flauti Obligati, RV 585.
Cantata : Amor, hai Vinto" RV 651.
Cantata: "Nulla in mundo pax Sincera, RV 630.

Performed by:
RV 63 & 443.
Michael Copley, Sopranino recorder.
Clare Shanks, Baroque Oboe.
Christopher Hogwood, Harpsichord.

Concerto in A major.
Performed by:
Amsterdam Loeki Stardust Quartet.

Vocal Works performed by:
Emma Kirkby, Soprano.
Academy of Ancient Music, Christopher Hogwood.

Works performed:
CD 20.
Stabat Mater, RV 621.
Nisi Dominus, RV 608.
Gloria in D major, RV 589.

Performed by:
James Bowman, Counter tenor.
Emma Kirkby and Judith Nelson, sopranos.
Carolyn Watkinson, Contralto.
Choir of the Christ Church Cathedral Oxford, Simon Preston.

CD 19.

All works on this disc are superb, there is not a speck of criticism I have. It was also my first encounter with the Loeki Stardust Quartet, and it did not disappoint me, not being much of a Flute fan. Michel Copley on the Sopranino recorder is a marvel too. A very precise performer, and pleasantly recorded. The vocal contribution were known to me, for I bought these CD'S on release quite some time ago. She is still my number one Soprano. She still sounds fresh as a daisy in the morning dew, a unique performer with a lovely smile and sweet character. Sound is superb.


After so many years I hear James Bowman again, for these recording were already in my possession on release some time ago. I know them well for I played it over and over again, especially the Stabat Mater, which holds many memories for me. I admired James Bowman's voice, especially after that disaster called Rene Jacobs, a fine conductor, but a terrible counter. I could follow the Stabat Mater closely this time with the score in my hands, and know by a fact that he follows the notes perfectly. I also  noticed that my knowledge of  the quality of voices was greatly complimented by all performances I heard with counters, and came to the conclusion that Bowman's voice is good, but not as perfect as I thought back then. That does not mean that I did not enjoy hearing him again, on the contrary I was emotionally touched in the same way as many years ago. His sound is somewhat hollow, and comes from far.  Not always a perfect pitch, and sometimes wobbly in holding his tone. Not so much that it irritates but I notice it now. His pronunciation could be better, he throws them up from the back of his throat, thus the hollow sound, so clarity is a bit at a loss. By now there are better recordings of both the Stabat Mater and Nisi Dominus. But I treasure these recording not only for sentimental reasons, but because in his time this was reference material, and also because good memories are attached. Sound is not as good as we normally expect from this label, but fairly acceptable. At least it's clear.
Nisi Dominus is a powerhouse of concentrated emotion, a tremendous performance of great beauty. Voice is again a bit unsteady and again not always perfect on pitch, but his musical integrity is superb.
Gloria in D major, is still the best interpretation I know of. Two of my favourite sopranos bundled together in what I think the best "Laudamus Te" I ever heard. I could play that part over and over again. The choir was at it's top to, with boy trebles as I never heard them afterwards, with Simon Preston leading it. Sadly after his moving on this choir sank back in relative obscurity. I cannot imagine a better performance of this work.
Sound is perfect.

One of the best Vivaldi set around, and I certainly recommend it.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Gregorian Chant. Hymni. CD 2 from the SEON box.

New acquisition.
Bought in October 2015.
First listen.
Label: SEON
Box with 85 cd's.
CD 2.
Recording dates: 1978.
Recording venue: Pfarrhof Reuth in Aicha vorm Wald, Bavaria.
Recording engineer: Dieter Thomsen.
Running time: 43:21.
Classical relevance: To my ears essential.

Performed by:
Capella Antiqua Munchen, Konrad Ruhland.

What I said about the first disc in this box (19-10-2015) goes in equal measure for this recording. The Hymni are sung magnificently, diction is superb, choir balance is one I admire hugely. There is a warmth in the singing that makes the emotional bubble burst, but never too much or too jubilant. This choir has a deep awareness of the text they sing, that very obvious, for they understand every syllable and it's meaning. Just goes to show research is everything, ignorance is disaster. Just 83 cd's to go, peanuts really:)
The recording is excellent.
Could not find the original cover from this cd. 

Monday, October 19, 2015

Vieuxtemps, Henri. Complete Violin Concertos. No. 5/6/7.

Third rerun.

I am glad that my fellow members from GMG recommended this complete set, for it's a pleasure to hear Vieuxtemps as he is performed here. No undue and added glitter, but played as they should, as the composer would have wanted it.

See previous review.

First review of this disc.

These are really excellent performances and well recorded.

Part, Arvo. Choral Works and Chamber Music. CD 3.

New acquisition.
Bought in October 2015.
First listen.
Label: Erato/Warner.
Slimline box with 3 cd's.
The booklet is not worth mentioning.
CD 3.
Recording dates: May-September 1996 & November 1993.
Recording venue: Abbey Church, Milton Abbey School, Blandford Forum, Dorset.
Recording engineers: Geoff Miles & Mike Hatch.
Running time: 69:30.
Classical relevance: Essential.

Works performed:
Beatus-Statuit ei Dominus.
Missa Syllabica.
Beatus Petronius.
Magnificat Antiphons.
De Profundis.
Cantate Domino.
Spiegel im Spiegel.

Performed by:
Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir, Tonu Kaljuste.

This CD is literally filled with magnificent works. all of them are perfect, it's simply a assembly of Part's greatness. His Choral works are always infused with his Orthodox faith, and since that's mine too, I understand his musical world. I could write a lot why I think these works are so good as I think them to be, but that would defeat the object, and merely covers it with too many words, while his music as no other needs to be listen to instead of explained. It greatly helps if you know where he comes from and what his creed is. To understand Orthodox christianity is to understand Arvo Part.
His deep faith and his and use of the melodies in that church makes for the unfathomable spirituality.
It transforms your environment in which you are listening into an atmosphere where silence and balance are predominant. 
The only chamber music work, Spiegel im Spiegel, is a masterwork, although I think there are better performances around as what Tasmin Little lets us hear.
In some of the choral works, the microphones are driven to the max, and sometimes over it, with minimal distortion, which surprised me a little with an engineer like Geoff Miles.
The composer was present when the Choir works were recorded.
For the rest the sound is superb, as are the performances.

This 3 far slimline box is a excellent introduction to Arvo Part's music.

Christmas Music from the Old Hungary.

New acquisition.
Bought in October 2015.
First listen.
Label: Oehms.
Recording dates: August 2006.
Recording venue: WAR studio, Wien. Austria.
Recording engineers: Elisabeth and Wolfgang Reithofer.
Running time: 72:49.
Classical relevance: A christmas CD to have and hold.

Works performed:
Too much to write down.

Performed by: 

Clemencic Consort, Rene Clemencic.

Most of these Christmas pieces stem from the realm of Hungarian Folk Music, and are very rich in character. It goes from simple minimal structures to complicated compositions. I think we have to say a big thank you for composers like Bartok and Kodaly to keep this musical heritage alive, and so be a living tradition. Anyways, it is something special, to listen to music that might be new, but could easily be old. The dating of the works poses a problem throughout the tradition. Monophonic mixed with polyphonic melodies, from the middle ages to the Baroque. That sums it up basically. This Christmas music is quality time, very well performed and recorded. A big yes to this performance.

A very original CD with pretty unknown Christmas music.

French Flute Music. The Accent Recordings, 1979-2003. Disc 1.

New acquisition.
Bought in October 2015.
First listen.
Label: Accent.
Slimline box with 11 cd's.
Booklet gives almost no info about composers, only a rather long story about the performers. All technical info is available, including what instruments are used and their tuning.
CD 1.
Recording dates: May 1979.
Recording venue: St. Stephanus Church, Melsen. Belgium.
Recording engineers: Adelheid and Andreas Glatt.
Running time: 53:02.
Classical relevance: Essential for Traverso playing.

Works and composers:

Michel Pignolet de Monteclair. (1667-1737)
Deuxieme concert pour la Flute Traversiere. (1724) 6 movements.

Michel Blavet. (1700-1768)
Sonata, opus 2, No. 2. (1732) 5 movements.

Jean Pierre Guignon. (1702-1774)
Sonata opus 1, No. 8. (1737) 4 movements.

Joseph Bodin de Boismortier. (1689-1755)
Sonata opus 91, No. 2 in G minor. (1741) 3 movements.

Jean Marie Leclair. (1697-1764)
Sonata opus 9, No. 7 in G major. (1738) 4 movements.

Performed by:
Barthold Kuijken, Traverso.
Robert Kohnen, Harpsichord.
Wieland Kuijken, Viola da Gamba.

This CD is an overview of the variety of French Baroque Flute Music. It brings together by five composers from the era of Louis XV. The works are primarily made up of brief stylised dance movements and convey a feeling of superior courtly elegance.

I like the music and the clear cut recording. I simply love the sound of the authentic instruments. Artistically this is a great success and still as fresh in its interpretation as back in 1976.
You will be hard pressed to get better recordings as the present one, and I doubt very much if you succeed in finding better interpretations from the authentic point of view. An eclatant success and meant to please your ears and musical soul.
A good start into this box full of goodies.

CD 1 from 11. A promising journey full of good surprises.
All well produced Accent recordings.

Paschale Mysterium. Gregorian Chant. From the SEON recordings. CD 1.

New acquisition.
Bought in October 2015.
First listen.
Label: SEON.
Box with 85 cd's.
CD 1.
Extensive and well made hardcover book, ( 260 pages) with an exclusive interview with Wolf Erichson. No info about the composers, apart from some short info on the sleeves about the origin of the music. Nothing whatsoever about the composers. Details about recordings, dates and venues, plus technical info. All recordings are remastered in 20 bit.
Recording dates: January 1976.
Recording venue: Pharrhoff Reuth, Aicha vorm Wald, Bayern. (Bavaria).
Recording engineer: Dieter Thomsen.
Remastering 20 bit: Marcus Herzog & Stephan Schellmann.
Running time: 49:31.
Classical relevance: Essential, out of historical interest and because they are really reference recordings for their time.

Works performed:
See header lines.

Performed by:
Capella Antiqua Munchen, Konrad Ruhland.

This compilation of Gregorian Chant is culled from various historical periods. The Chants presented here serve as an exemplary liturgy for the Holy week, the period from Palm Sunday to Easter Sunday.

Somewhat greater forces as I am use too when listening to Gregorian chants. But then they were recorded in 1976, thus at that time there was extensive research into the origins, but no recordings of real consequence. This one is. Ruhland put a lot of knowledge into these performances, and that is clearly audible. Contrary for what I expected I was surprised with a clarity in this choir that is still a rare thing to behold. Clarity, intimacy, pronunciation as clear as a bell, excellent dynamics, perfect balance between the voices, that engenders a unity I hardly encountered from recordings of those days. Very well done. I enjoyed this one with relish. The recording is also a marvel, perfect reverberation, placing is superb, just enough air around the choir. I would say this is a very good start into this box. Many of this choir and conductor will follow.

Disc 1 from 85. A good start.

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Vivaldi, Antonio. Cello Sonatas. CD 18 from the Christopher Hogwood box.

New acquisition.
Bought in May 2015.
First listen.
Label: L'oiseau-Lyre.
Box with 20 cd's.
Recording dates: February 1987.
Recording venue: Studio 1, Abbey Road, London.
Recording engineer: John Dunkerley.
Running time: 70:51.
Classical relevance: Essential.

Works performed:
Cello Sonatas.

Performed by:
Christophe Coin, Cello.
Members of the Academy of Ancient Music, Christopher Hogwood.

A beautiful tone, sensible tempi, and the phrasing is sublime. The instruments used are a major asset and brings to the fore all the right sonorities. No modern instruments for me if it comes to Baroque music and beyond. Vivaldi at his best. Sound and performance are superb.

A necessary acquisition for anyone that loves his Vivaldi authentic.

The Music of the Habsburg Empire. CD 7 "Spain".

New acquisition.
Bought in January 2015.
First listen.
Label: Pan Classics.
Box with 10 cd's.
Recording date: CD 7.  November 2009.
Recording venue: Brucknerhaus, Linz.
Recording engineer: Not named.
Running time: 57:31.
Classical relevance: Depends on what you expect.

Nicola Matteis. (1677-1737)
Kaiser Leopold. (1640-1705.
Caspar Sanz. (1640-1710)
Giovanni Maria Pagliardi. (1637-1702)
Johann Adam Losy von Losinthal. (1645-1721)
Antonio Maria Viviani. (c.1639-1683)

Performed by Ars Antiqua Austria, Gunar Letzbor.

Starts well with music by Matteis, followed by music from none less than Der Kaiser Leopold, and he is writing in quite a nice way. From his hands a sarabande for Violin, Harpsichord and soprano, she is singing a aria by Euridice. She has a nice voice, thank God. Caspar Sanz, follows with a delightful piece for Guitar and a bit of percussion. Never heard of him. Der Kaiser comes next with two arias from Orfeo, "Por mas que he Buscado" and "Moriste ninfa bella" quite well done by a Tenor and Soprano. Ganz fills in delightful intermezzos from "Instructions de Musica sobra la Guitarra EspaƱola )1674) Very good at times. Der Kaiser seconds him on the vocal side, "Deidades del Abismo" aria Orfeo for Tenor and BC. Well done too. Pagliardi composed a few vocal works based on popular operas at that time, delightfully sung by a good soprano. Not always the case in this complete box. Baffled by a composer called Losinthal, who?, composing out of the blue a Ciaccona for guitar, nicely done but of no consequence. Viviani wrote a potpourri with music based on popular operas, a thing quite often done when creativity was at an all time low with some composers. It's not bad at all. The same soprano as in all other pieces by the name of Radu Marian. She tends to harden up a bit when the high C's come in, but all in all she is doing quite well, thank you. The Tenor, not named anywhere is quite good too. All ends with "La dia Spagnola" a piece written by Matteis. He is the most substantial composer on this cd. After the disaster of disc 6 this one is a virtual balm on the open wound. Sound is good, noises at a minimum also a blessing, although clapping must be in the DNA of engineers to let that through.

Friday, October 16, 2015

French Organ Masters from Louis XIII to Louis Philippe.

New acquisition.
Bought in December 2014.
First listen.
Label: Radio France.
Box with 8 cd's.
Classical relevance: Essential.

Composers, works, instruments, recording dates.

Louis Marchant. (1669-1732)
Premier Livre. (Edition 1740)
Recorded in 2011.
Instrument: J.F. Lepine (1752)
Place: Cathedral Saint Sacerdos,de Sarlat.
Performed by: Frederic Desenclos.

Magnificent playing and a full blooded recording to boot. Truly fine music in a perfect setting. The playfulness and good cheer of the music is invigoratingly uplifting. Desenclos can makes bold statements with refinement that blows me out of my chair, but when needed he delves deep into the more spiritual episodes. He plays with great taste and authority and wholly in the spirit of Marchant's time. There is a freedom of expression that is quite remarkable. Marchant was admired as a fine Church composer, despite the fact that most of his works have a profane character. He must have had a lot of credit to take the opposite side of the spiritual mind to the world full of glitter and new discoveries. The Organ has a gorgeous tone and is well tuned. A recording after my heart.

Louis Nicolas Clerambault. (1676-1749)
Suite du 2 ton. (1710) alternee avec le Chant du Benedictus, au choeur.
Recorded: 1993.
Instrument: Jean Boizard (1714)
Place: Saint Michel en Thierache.
Performed by: Jean Boyer, Organ.
Les Demoiselles de Saint Cyr, Emmanuel Madrin.

The two suites are brilliant in their vivacity, spirit and delicate phrases. Music that has all the freedom of it's time, sounds as a new discovery. Clerambault is an irrepressible force, with a powerful voice to boot. The organ is well suited to Clerambaults demands, finely tuned into a balanced instrument. The singing is of great beauty, and the recording suits all parties involved well.

Louis Antoine Dornel. (1685-1765)
Suite for Organ.
Sonata and trio, No. 6. ( Livre 1713)
Recorded: 1997.
Organ: As in Clerambault.
Performed by: Gilles Harle.
Les Symphonie de Marais, Hugo Reyne.

Dornel is a name and a composer almost forgotten. Not because of the quality of his music for he is equal to Clerambault. He simply was unfortunate as so many before and after him. A talented organist he wrote in a broad range. A fine composer who very effectively applied a clear rhythm and distinctive tone to his music. Well thought out melodies, more serious in character as the other two composers on this disc. His use of the registers is intriguing, phenomenal and what not. The Organ is again well recorded and sounds glorious under the hands of Harle, and the Symphonie du Marais has a place of honour too.
The whole box is a musical marvel and I just wonder why none of my classical friends bought this set. It's a excellent selection of the many fine recordings Radio France made over the years, and it should by right in everybody's collection.  

One of the best boxes with organ music I bought in the last year.

Sterkel, Johann Franz Xaver. (1750-1817) Symphonies.

Second rerun and last one.

Although I find it to be very interesting music, with strong ties to Beethoven, I must make a selection of the music I play 3 or 4 times, and music that is heard after just 2 times. Sterkel is a point in case a two timer. Nothing wrong with that, glad I have heard this composer, but there are more pressing recordings ahead of me.
See previous review.

First review of Sterkel's music.

If you want to know where Beethoven got his inspiration, or so you will his special sound, Sterkel is the man to go to.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Vasks, Peteris. Mate Saule. Works for Mixed Choir.

New acquisition.
Bought in September 2015.
First listen.
Label: BIS.
Recording dates: May 2000.
Recording venues: Riga Cathedral, Latvia and the Reformation Church Riga, Latvia.
Recording engineer: Marion Schwebel.
Running time: 66:11.
Classical relevance: Essential, but only if you are into modern choir singing.

Works performed:
Three Poems by Czeslaw Milosz. (1994)
Zemgale. (1988) 
Mate Saule. (1975)
Madrigals. (1975)
Litene. (1993)
Dona nobis Pacem. (1996)

Performed by: 
Latvian Radio Choir, Sigvards Klava and Kaspars Putnins.
Aivars Kalejs, Organ.

I knew beforehand that I would have problems stomaching this CD with choir music by Peteris Vasks. I am not a natural if it comes to choir singing, let alone modern choir compositions. I knew that I would not like all, and maybe not the greatest part, so some personal impressions did not come as a surprise. And it started right at the beginning with the Three poems. It is sung in English and starts with a very pastoral song called Window. I liked it very much, for it had a perfect balance in text and music. The second song however had me directly on the wrong footing. This fiercely dramatic song makes use of various forms of expression-aleatoric/sonoristic, and that combination did not go down well. The chaos and aggressive tone had me in the curtains in seconds. The third song calmed me down, for it had the same balance as in the first song. But I knew I was off on a wrong start, and that indeed this would be a mixed blessing, as this is a mixed choir. :)
Zemgale talks about the history of the Latvians. The region of Zemgale suffered more than any other part in Latvia by violence. This you clearly find in the composition, very spiritual, but also violent clashes that disrupted my equilibrium totally. Great sorrow and intense expressions of pain, but the ensuing explosions of the voices is not my thing, in fact I abhor it. So when the music goes from p to ppp all is well, but the fortes are too much for my nerves.  And these recurring glissandos up and down the scale, get annoying after the uptenth time that they appear. The effect gets rather grotesque.
Mate Saule is a work of Peteris youth and written in one afternoon. The expression of the piece is pure diatonicism, and its effect is not always to my liking. I am in doubt if I like this melancholy work.
Madrigals, The greater part of this work I like. although I keep having problems with the harsh writing, which is a part of this work.
Litene is a work that gets an avalanche of glissandos, so many in fact that I was close to stopping this work. They get tiresome after a short while. The text by Uldis Berzins does not cut wood with me if it comes to the context of the music versus words. As long as the choir has the field with clear lines all is well, but boy this is a totally modern work, with an aggressiveness that hurts all my senses. For me this modernity is way out of line with what I have heard so far by him. But then I knew this. Still I wanted to get a complete picture of his oeuvre and so it is. My conclusion is that this work goes under in chaos and a modernity that doesn't fit Vasks as I perceive him. All his work which is related to faith is a different kettle of fish, like the Dona Nobis Pacem a work of peace in which I recognize Vasks as I know him. The spiritual power is prevalent and the balance is also there. At times the organ is really too loud and not nice to hear.
This disc is indeed a mixed blessing, and much that I like but more I dislike. I will however try again, and get a better picture, if possible. The recording is superb as is the performance.
I have a later recording of the last piece from the same forces (2007) on the label Wergo. Very curious about that one.

For me not the best one from Vasks

Pejacevic, Dora. Violin Sonatas.

Second rerun.

Dora Pejacevic is a desert Island choice for me, for I could not do without her music. I pretty much have all they have recorded of the music she composed, and none of those disc I want to be without.
So as far as Female composers go she is number 1 for me.

First review of this disc.

My absolute favourite female composer.

Pichl, Vaclav. (1741-1805) Symphonies.

Second rerun.

It's every bit as good as I stated in my first review. Nothing to add.

First review of this disc.

One of the finest from this series.

De Lalande, Michel-Richard. Symphonies pour les Soupers du Roy. CD 2.

Second rerun.

Well I cannot add more as in my review of disc one, apart from excellent.

First short review of CD 2.

Go in the search function for CD 1 with more info about performance.

I absolute must buy, this box will satisfy all expectations.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Vasks, Peteris. Orchestral Works.

New acquisition.
Bought in September 2015.
First listen.
Label: Telarc.
Recording dates: July 1996.
Recording venue: Basilique de Notre Dame, Abbey Bonne Esperance, Vellereille les Brayeux, Belgium.
Recording engineer: Jack Renner.
Classical relevance: Essential listening if you like this composer.

Works performed:
Musica Dolorosa.
Voices, Symphony.

Performed by:
I Fiamminghi, Rudolf Werthen.

One eternal theme with endless variations. This is how I would describe Vasks music. It is always difficult to explain what you actually hear, especially with the likes of Vasks, Tavener, Kancheli and Part. Part of the problem lies in the fact that his music is       actually endless,because it's a continuous process of evolving sound patterns. The intent and goal is always the same. He is repeating over and over again the same clear message in ever changing forms but always depicting the tragedy of mankind's folly and the pain and devastation inflicted on human life and nature. Joy is a rare visitor, sorrow is prevalent, almost mourning. When there is a ray or glimmer of joy, it's brief and fast in its coming and going. The good thing is that I always get totally immersed in the spiritual spirals Vasks creates. His thoughts and convictions are close to mine, so I feel much affinity with him, in how he expresses his emotions. This said, I admire every single work on this CD, and although he explains his music always in the same jargon, with only a variation in dedication or why the piece was written, but all in all he is as much lost in explaining his music as I am. It is almost impossible to write about his music without falling into the same phrases and platitudes.  And actually one should listen to his music instead of writing long essays into the meaning of his compositions.
The interpretation is very good, and the sound is superb.

A very fine disc, from my almost complete collection.

Kahn, Robert. (1865-1951) Complete Piano Trios. CD 1 & 2.

Third rerun.

Robert Kahn's Piano Trios are easily my favourite items bought this year. Little did I expect of the music when I bought them, but how fast that changed when I heard opus 35. Brahms thought the world of Kahn, so why not do the same and follow in his footsteps?

First review of disc 1
First review of disc 2.

Some really fascinating chamber music. Don't miss out on this one.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Kabalevsky, Dmitri. Symphonies No. 3 & 4.

New acquisition.
Bought in September 2015.
First listen.
Label: CPO.
Slimline box with 2 cd's.
Recording dates: 2001.2002.
Recording venues: Symphony No. 3, Athanasiuskirche, ( Symphony No. 3 and the Grosser Sendesaal des NDR Landesfunkhauses, ( Symphony No. 4. No city names added.
Recording engineer: Bjorn Brigsne, Symphony No. 3 and Martin Lohmann, Symphony No. 4.
Running time: 61:00.
Classical relevance: Very important.

Works performed: 
Symphony No. 3, opus 22 in B flat minor for Orchestra and mixed Choir.
"Requiem for Lenin".

Symphony No. 4, opus 54 in C.

Works performed by:
NDR choir and the Choir of the Hungarian Radio.
NDR Radiophilharmonie, Eiji Oue.

(First time listening to the Symphonies of Dmitri Kabalevsky)

If we just forget for the sake of the argument the namesake of this Symphony and its dedication, then there remains a really good symphony, for he did not compose garbage notes for comrade Lenin. Kabalevsky is not the man to smear his reputation by delivering less than excellence, and so it is. It is not at all clear that he willingly dedicated this symphony or that he was forced by circumstances. No text was added in the booklet, but then we all know that propaganda language is rarely of interest. You can hear in this work how Kabalevsky matured in his compositional style. He is constantly growing at such a rate, that it is always a surprise what comes next. The change in writing can differ hugely from earlier works, and it is so in the third Symphony. His excellence in orchestration is clearly heard throughout the work. The Hungarian choir sings well and brings the effect the words need, to the music. There is no lashing out of screaming sopranos thank God. So in the context of the music this is all acceptable.
After listening to the Fourth Symphony I can affirm that this is the best of the four.
Kabalevsky is a composer with a distinctive style, not wholly comparable with others in his sphere. But what he did in the Fourth is to my ears wholly unique.
The work is drenched in musical comments by the likes of Prokofiev. Shostakovich and Tchaikovsky, but in such a clever way, that it made me gasp more than one time, in fact it kept me gasping for the whole 41 minutes of this work. It takes some expertise and compositional cunning to make this work fly, but he did it effortlessly. It's Kabalevsky talent that enables him to merge all elements so cleverly. Unbelievably good. 
The second movement is surely one of the finest Kabalevsky wrote, the way he mingles Thaikovskian strings with Shostakovian woodwinds is something to marvel at.
The third movement sports bouncing motives all over the place at a quick rate, much like Prokofiev use to do, but with some added spice in the form of sounds from the hands of Rimski-Korsakov. The colours you get are amazing.
The fourth movement begins in a dark mood, almost elegiac in style. It meanders a little before it gets a fast stream with aggressive waterfalls.  To write such a work, and to keep your own identity must be something of a miracle. The use of percussion is cleverly done and effective in its use. 
A glorious finale powerful and melodically as sound as a clear bell, as the strings enter yet again that bears Tchaikovsky influence.
The sound is excellent and the performance first rate.

Very much recommended, these are fine Symphonies.

Part, Arvo. The Sound of Arvo Part. CD 2.

New acquisition.
Bought in September 2015.
First listen.
Label: Erato/Warner.
Slim line box with 3 cd's.
CD 2.
Recording dates: June 200o.
Recording venue: Estonia Concert Hall, Tallinn.
Recording engineer: Maido Maido.
Running time: 73:04.
Classical relevance: Essential.

Works performed:
Symphony No. 3.
Silouans Song.
Festina Lente.
Cantus in Memoriam Benjamin Britten.

Performed by:
Estonian National SO, Paavo Jarvi.

All the works on this CD I know, heard them before in other performances. But as such the performers on this CD are new to me, and quite a challenge to compare with the recordings  I already have in my collection. All works on this CD are contemplative without real dissonances. The mood is deeply spiritual, and the art of silence and minimal effort to blow things out of proportion are the rule in all compositions. There is not a single note in this recording I dislike, nor deranging the mood, out of bounds with the spiritual prevalence, in terms of disrupting the eternal flow of being. Paavo Jarvi captures the mood well, but is more earthbound as it should be in this music. It does not always lift off, but he keeps it firmly rooted to reality, as if he is afraid to let go, and let the music do the job. Too much conductor not enough Part. This is not a major criticism but more as I perceive the interpretation. Let me be clear, I love what I hear, also the works I can compare to other recordings, so I would not want to be without it. The music belongs  to the second phase in Parts oeuvre in which I feel more comfortable. To take just one work to compare, it will have to be the third symphony of which I have a recording by Paavo's father, Neeme Jarvi. This interpretation on the label DGG, has the spirituality I miss somewhat in Paavo Jarvi take. No earthbound roots, but Neeme lets it flow into the realms of being untouchable by reality, and reaches quite easily the upper layers of consciousness. This DGG recording had me in raptures the first time I heard it, and does again after hearing it for the uptenth time. Its also state of the art sound. But I am happy with both interpretations. 
The sound on the Erato disc is very good.

This set is well worth your money. It has all the important works one needs to make a image of the music.


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 ...