Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Marx, Joseph. (1882-1964) Orchestral works.

From my collection.
Bought in 2010.
First listen: 26-8-2010.
Second listen: 28-8-2010.
Third listen: 30-11-2016.
Label: CPO.
Recording dates: March 19-21, 2007.
Recording venue: ORF Kulturhaus, Studio 6. Austria.
Recording engineer: Anton Reininger.
Running time: 63:06.
Classical relevance: Extremely relevant.

Works performed:
Eine Frühlingsmusik.
Feste im Herbst.

Performed by:
Radio Symphonieorchester Wien, Johannes Wildner.

Despite the fact that this composer was almost singlehandedly responsible for putting Austria on the cultural map again after WWII, and the fact that he was one of the most important composers in his time, who had an unique and masterful way of composing modern romantic music, yet at the same time, taking his inspiration from the past, he was nevertheless trampled on by ignoranti and uninformed  idiots who shout whatever is in vogue. And thus an unique human being and composer was forgotten, and thus it will stay that way. It's simply the reality of this time, and misinformed individuals. You may read this all on Wikipedia if interested.
Scriabin and Debussy are for me the prime influences in this music. A dream world of magnificent proportions, with the immense colours Scriabin would use, and the waves of endless sound from Debussy. Put together and you have Marx, but he has unmistakingly his own sound. A great orchestrator, you have to take a lot in when listening, for it's brimful with so many ideas and so many changes of tone, melody, and rhythm, that I would not advise you to listen to all three works at the same time, for the moment surely comes that your mind is simply to full. Feste im Herbst is his last work, and the following 18 years it was all silence. Thus that work is too my ears an absolute masterwork, that doesn't know its equal. He thought this his last word in music and his musical testament to the world at large. And there is no better way to go as in such a manner Marx choose.
The recording is first rate, an excellent soundstage, front to back, and a myriad of details.
An absolute must.

Weber, Carl Maria von. (1786-1826) & Hindemith, Paul. (1895-1963) Orchestral Works.

From my collection.
Bought in 2010.
First listen: 22-2-2010.
Second listen: 16-3-2010.
Third listen: 30-11-2016.
Label: Chandos.
Recording dates: 28-30 April 1989.
Recording venue: St Jude's Church, Central Square, London.
Recording engineer: Ralph Couzens.
Running time: 60:55.
Classical relevance: Worth having.

Works performed:
von Weber.
Der Freischutz.
Der beherrscher der Geister.

Symphonic metamorphoses on Themes of Carl Maria von Weber.

Performed by:
The Philharmonic, Neeme Järvi.

Weber's overtures are great fun and are extremely well written, and do shine in the hands of this orchestra and Järvi as their conductor. Weber virtually crossed every emotional road there is to travel, and did this in a very short time, concise and energetically pushing his way through the crevices of the human heart, mostly in a positive way. I enjoyed the performance, for Järvi  has a tendency to bring out all felicitous details, and coaxes a very fine pianissimo out of the strings, as well as banging you on your head with a witty crescendo. Gets full marks from me, and is excellently recorded.
I have practically all orchestral works by Hindemith, but forgot about this one. It is a totally different beast of a composition, but fits in the context admirably. Hindemith made a feast of the notes he scribbled down, and knitted the whole thing together with gorgeous melodies and sumptuous harmonies. His counterpoint is something that keeps me in respectful awe for his capabilities. Full of surprises this one. And more than a bit better recorded as the Weber pieces.
The performance does honour to the composer, a CD not to be missed, although it's a few years old already, it can stand up to the competition any time.

Kalliwoda, Johann Wenzel. (1801-1866) Orchestral Works.

From my collection.
Bought in 2012.
First listen: 24-10-2012.
Second listen: 2-11-2012.
Third listen: 30-11-2016.
Label: CPO.
Recording dates: January 24-27, 2009.
Recording venue: Deutschlandfunk, Kammermusiksaal, Germany.
Recording engineer: Michael Morawietz.
Running time: 67:41.
Classical relevance: Worthwhile.

Works performed:
Concert Overture No. 17, opus 242.
Symphony No. 2, opus 17 & 4, opus 60.

Works performed by:
Die Kölner Akademie, Michael Alexander Willens.

It is a good thing to have the Kalliwoda symphonies recorded. In general he gets little attention, and that is not deserved, for the quality of the music is such that it warrants repeated listening. He writes catchy melodies, rhythmically and energetic. He does not give you the chance to get bored, by giving input that keeps your interested and alert. Not that it is earth shaking in its result, but it makes fine listening nevertheless.
It is well performed by this orchestra, but I have some issues with Willens concerning the placing of the musicians during the recording sessions. It is recorded in three days, and the engineer clearly did not remember where the microphones were when he started recording, for we get a different sound stage with every work. Willens does not change the placement of instrumentalist in the overture, which sounds good and balanced, not perfectly but reasonable. In the second symphony he rearranges the first Violins more to the right, divided them unevenly, including timpani and some brass. Result is a emphasis on the right channel, and left is undernourished. Not a wise nor sensible decision. In the fourth symphony he came to his senses, and rearranged the whole orchestra, so that both channels get an even share of the sound. The engineer made this the best of the recordings. but the orchestral colours go all awry, and the outlay makes no sense at all. Now I know Willens to be individualistic personality, for this is not the only recording he approached in such a way, but I tend to disagree with him more as to agree, so I will sample in a thorough way the next recording that awakens my interest.  

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Smetana, Bedřich. (1824-1884) Má Vlast. TOP RECOMMENDATION

From my collection.
Bought in 2010.
First listen: 20-3-2010.
Second listen: 29-11-2016.
Label: Chandos.
Recording dates:  January 1993/March 1994/May 1994.
Recording venue: Detroit Symphony Orchestra Hall.
Recording engineers: Dan Dene & Bob Schafer.
Running time: 72:22.
Classical relevance: Reference performance. Top recommendation.

Works performed:
See heading.

Works performed by: Detroit SO, Neeme Järvi.

No one doubts that Má Vlast is a masterwork, but when you hear it is such a good performance your heart leaps forward in exaltation. I did not even remember this first time when I played it, how good the performance was. It gathered dust in abundance and was recently dug out of it's dusty residence, which happens when you are a avid collector.
It is amazing how much detail Järvi gets out of this music, and his perfect control of the dynamics in this orchestra. The strings are sweet, almost like Karajan did, the brass controlled in a very precise way, no one steps out of line. The music sounds like a seamless dream, and the colours Järvi gets are amazing and sublime in it's execution. It's sophisticated, well balanced, precise, alert, even to the tiniest of details, this well drilled orchestra performs on a very high level. Gorgeous pianissimos, punchy crescendos, it's all there in abundance. Plenty of colours, magical moments, and a genuine feel of nature throughout. Descriptive in all the images it evokes. 
Tempi are well judged as are the dynamics. The whole performance feels right in every quarter.
This is why I make it a top recommendation.
The recording is very good to State of the Art. The work is recorded in three sessions, and you hear the sound difference in all of them. So meaning, always excellent, but the last two movements are State of the Art. A funny experience. It all fits nicely together though.

Bruch, Max. (1838-1920) Swedish and Russian Dances.

From my collection.
Bought in 2012.
Label: CPO
First listen: 14-11-2012.
Second listen: 26-3-2014.
Third listen: 29-11-2016.
Recording dates: 2003-2004.
Recording venue: SWR Studio Kaiserslautern, Germany.
Recording engineer: Rudolf Anslinger & Rainer Neumann.
Running time: 58:22.
Classical relevance: Essential if you like his music.


Suite after Russian Folk Melodies, for large orchestra, opus 79b.
Serenade after Swedish Melodies, for String orchestra, op. posth.
Swedish Dances No 1 & 2 opus 63 .


SWR Rundfunkorchester Kaiserslautern, Werner Andreas Albert.

These compositions by Bruch belong to the more successful side of his career as a composer. They are well orchestrated, and there is not a lazy note running around. Captivating melodies, sumptuous harmonies, flavoured with a plethora of nature images, and pastoral life in the country. Bruch took good care of the many opportunities to orchestrate it all in a perfect way, not missing an opportunity to make quite a show out of it. The orchestra puts this music in a pleasant musical frame. But as a side note I clearly am of the opinion that most of the tempi are too slow, and thus makes the music almost lethargic at times. Sort of a drowsiness comes over it all. Albert doesn't do the music a service by such a stance. The sound is good, but at certain places the orchestra is too forward and so gains a aggressive tone, that is not akin to the music. You will meet that in the opus 79b, flutes, trumpets and high strings can give you a nasty start. This is corrected in the Serenade, but here again the orchestra is placed in front of you, very loud indeed. So watch your volume after opus 79b. But in general there is enough depth and detail in the sound stage but it would have been easy to make it even better.

Taneyev, Sergey Ivanovich. (1856-1915) & Korsakov, Nikolay Rimsky. (1844-1908) Orchestral works.

From my collection.
Bought in 2010.
First listen: 19-3-2010.
Second listen: 9-4-2011.
Third listen: 29-11-2016.
Label: Chandos.
Recording dates:  February 2008.
Recording venue: Royal Concert Hall, Glasgow.
Recording engineer: Ralph Couzens.
Running time: 64:53.
Classical relevance: Essential.

Works performed: 
Rimski Korsakov.
Fantasy on Russian Themes, opus 33.

Suite de Concert, opus 28.

Works performed by:
Lydia Mordkovitch, Violin. 
Royal Scottish National Orchestra, Neeme Järvi.

I have to say right at the start that I am a huge fan of the late Lydia Mordkovitch, who died in December 2014, and is much lamented by me. This disc reminded me again what a passionate artist she was, and how easily she played a ravishing pianissimo, and a thundering crescendo with as much ease as filling a glass of water. A force of nature, and a sublime violinist, one of the last from an old tradition.
Two pieces on this CD which prove my point abundantly. The fantasy by Rimski-Korsakov is one of my favourites in the genre, and is a showcase for the talents of Mordkovitch. Just listen at these hushed notes in the first movement, and the fire in the third movement. All the elements to make her shine, and grace RK. I for one am immediately intimidated by the colours she paints.
Taneyev's piece is a more difficult work to approach, and can very easily fail when played by someone who doesn't understand the nature of this piece. It would not be Taneyev if he would not surprise you with his erratic way of writing, a sort of an modernism that escapes me at times. But this said, it is undoubtedly one of Taneyev's best pieces, and gives Mordkovitch many possibilities to shine. I am always spellbound when listening to her. Järvi is a very sensitive accompanist, and his orchestra follows him and her at every turn, never interrupting the flow of Mordkovitch art. They merge as one body, and the result is magical every step of the way.
The recording is very good as can be expected from Chandos.

Taneyev, Sergei Ivanovich. (1856-1915. Symphonies No. 1 & 3.

From my collection
Bought in March 2010.
First listen: 22-3-2010.
Second listen: 15-12-2010.
Third listen: 28-11-2016.
Label: Chandos.
Recording dates: June 2004.
Recording venue: Grand Hall of Moscow, Russia.
Recording engineers: Maria Soboleva & Igor Veprintsev.
Running time: 63:48.
Classical relevance: Music you must first sample before buying.

Works performed:
See heading.

Works performed by:
Russian State SO, Valeri Polyansky.

Far be it from me to say that the orchestral music from Taneyev is second rate, but neither can I say that it is top rate music. I keep having difficulty with his erratic way of composing. For me it sounds after a composer that tries to find a certain balance but gets there rarely. Moments of exaltation are there, but often is sounds like run of the mill music, with strange harmonies, and funny twists of a phrase. I must say first that the performance is very good. Polyansky keeps the adrenaline flowing by adopting swift tempi, and utilizing all details to emerge on the foreground. The recording sounds perfectly in the louder passages, but the softer parts are a bit lifeless and miss the punch. That's a acoustical problem.
The first Symphony has not many moments of distinction. The second movement reminds me strongly of Tchaikovsky, and here and there some others pop up, but essentially this work is a bit faceless. 
The Third Symphony is much better conceived and has an unity that is missing in the first. The balance and structural coherence is apparent already in the first movement. The shaping of melodies that leave some kind of an impression is clearly formed by a tighter control of the orchestral possibilities.  I like the second and third movement best, but as the first this work leaves me dissatisfied as a whole.

Rufinatscha, Johann. (1812-1893) Orchestral Works. Volume I.

From my collection.
Bought in 2011.
First listen:22-4-2011.
Second listen: 17-2-2014.
Third listen: 28-11-2016.
Label: Chandos.
Recording dates: November 2010.
Recording venue: Studio 7, New Broadcasting House, Manchester.
Recording engineer: Stephen Rinker.
Running time: 71:08.
Classical relevance: Listen before you buy.


The Bride of Messina, Overture.
Symphony No. 6 in D major.


BBC Philharmonic, Gianandrea Noseda.

When I first played this music, I could not make head or tail of it, and I am still very much in two minds about it. As the excellent booklet states, little is actually known about him. A talented guy that went to Vienna at some time in his emerging career, and became part of Brahms circle, which was quite a thing, because it was known that Brahms did not suffer musical fools, so there must have been something that the grand old man heard in him. Do I hear it too? Well yes I do, but on a whole it does not leave as much an impression as I would like. It is well written, especially in the many well build details, and the merging of all the beautiful melodies. But the knitting together is the tricky thing, and as much as I might admire the music, if that merge is not balanced, it will leave you with some blanks. And it does with me, craving for this one unifying element, that will let me say, yes, finally, that makes me warm inside. But as it is, I admire the excellent musician in him, but am astounded at the fact that all those myriad of details do not merge into a unifying whole. There, I said it twice.  Its partly because Rufinatscha never allows a melody to unfold, but hops from one idea to another in the nick of time.  What Chandos almost never does, but in this instance they did, writing a short summary on the back of the CD, and putting some stress on the words rich, dramatic, lyrical, ambitious strong in content, unfettered, etc. Well yes, agreed, but what is the result of it all? When this CD was released in 2011, I thought there would be more of this composer, as this is volume I, but until now, nothing was released as a follow up. I must admit that I am still curious if the compositions are all the same, or maybe different things are in store for us? As it is, I applaud the effort from the composer, and Chandos for recording it in very good sound, but it still leaves me unsatisfied as to the content of the music. Excellent performance.

Hector Berlioz. (1803-1869) Symphonie Fantastique. & Le Carnaval Romain.

From my collection.
Bought in 2015.
First listen: 11-12-2015.
Second listen: 28-11-2016.
Label: Zig-Zag territoires.
CD 1 from 5.
Recording dates: May 2008.
Recording venue: Concert Hall Brugge, Belgium.
Recording engineer: Andreas Neubronner.
Running time: 69:00.
Classical relevance: Essential.

Take a deep breath, for if you ever thought you knew this "Symphonie Fantastique" you are going to get in a state of shock, to hear, how Berlioz really intended the work to sound. And that included no "Bells"in the last movement, but rather two Erard piano's with all dampers removed. A excellent essay in detail explains how and why, and I strongly suggest you read this. Immerseel his orchestra is certainly big enough for the task, and he is also eminently up to the job himself, for what he brings in the forefront is an orchestra that is not out for cheap effects, which you could manage quite easily, for Berlioz gave enough opportunities, but rather to let you hear the myriad of details that otherwise eludes us just because all the added romantic dynamics overblow much of the finer details. He keeps the tempi at quite a slow rate, and he strips the work of all the romantic nonsense in orchestration, and so manages to create  for me a work perfect in execution, and delivering a composition that has you in fetters at every note. Sure if you have your favourites amongst the multitude performances gracing our shores, it's hard to come down this adrenaline trip, and confront a approach that has nothing in common with what is already recorded, but once your ears are attuned to this performance you will not be able to suppress at least your admiration for what Immerseel did on authentic instruments. And in my case, this one is at once No. 1 in my estimation, without throwing away my previous recordings of it. I really think it is a necessary interpretation to have.

The sound is glorious, underpinning the superb brass of this orchestra, and the fine pppp playing of the Violins. A virtual success.  The only down point of this recording are the slow tempi, that robs certain parts of all the excitement. Yes, in my view it's all too slow. But still essential to have.

Sunday, November 27, 2016

New Acquisition. Kaminski, Heinrich. (1886-1946) Orchestral works.

From my collection
Bought in September 2014.
First listen: 26-9-2014.
Second listen: 26-11-2016.
Label: CPO.
Recording dates: February 2010.
Recording venue: Robert-Schumann Saal, Düsseldorf, Germany.
Recording engineer: Stephan Reh.
Running time: 53:22.
Classical relevance: Essential.

Works performed:

Orchestral version of the String Quintet in F sharp major.
(Arr. Reinhard Schwarz-Schilling.)

Performed by:

Deutsche Kammerakademie Neuss, Lavard Skou Larsen.

Well, well, even more forgotten, than many a composer I encountered. I just stumbled by accident on this cd, and thought that the samples warranted the purchase, and I was not wrong, not wrong at all. Now there is actually a lot to tell about this composer, and the booklet offers a detailed account written by Eckhardt van den Hoogen, which is excellently translated into english by Susan Marie Praeder in 10 pages, which I am unable to reproduce in a concise review, too much is crammed into these pages. But I can tell you about the music. The F sharp major quintet is simply said a masterpiece, overlooked and ignored as so often with works that threaten the order of what connaisseurs tell you what should be remembered and what not. A pupil of Kaminski orchestrated the piece for String orchestra and that was non other as Schwarz-Schilling, a composer that is high on my list as one of the top 20th century composers. (Two Naxos cd's with his music are available).

Schwarz-Schilling put definitely his own stamp on the music, and very successful it is. It's a work of rare beauty and cogency of expression. There are some cantabile lines that are breathtaking. Brightly coloured pictures emerge, it's almost a Concerto Grosso, a gripping work, carefully avoiding tonal dissonances. The source of energy of this music is less in the rhythmic element, but more so in the melodic content. It was in its time well received, and in this time it is well received by me. He was twice forgotten, the third time around with this recording, and he will sink into oblivion again, but not without me having listened to this masterwork.
A fine performance. The recording is state of the Art.

Atterberg, Kurt. (1887-1974) & Rangström Ture. (1884-1947) String Quartets.

From my collection.
Bought in August 2016.
First listen: 27-8-2016.
Second listen: 19-10-2016.
Third listen: 26-11-2016.
Label: CPO.
Recording dates: November 2009.
Recording venue: Petruskirche, Stockholm.
Recording engineer: Stephan Reh.
Running time: 61:56.
Classical relevance: Essential to have, especially when you like Atterberg's Symphonies.

Works performed:
Kurt Atterberg.
String Quartet opus 11.
String Quartet, opus 2/opus 39.

Ture Rangström.
String Quartet, Un notturno nella Maniera di E. TH. A Hoffmann

Performed by:
Stenhammar Quartet.

Well after many years of contemplating this part of Atterberg's oeuvre I finally bought this interpretation, for the sound samples made me more than curious after the whole result of the Stenhammar Quartet. And I must say I am pretty impressed, more so as I expected. I say from my standpoint these are reference recordings and near perfectly recorded. Tempi are well chosen, and every phrase has deep meaning to it. The way this Quartet colours the music is astonishing to say the least. Also the precision with which they execute every melody without fault is a feat of technical brilliance and leaves nothing to be desired whatsoever.  Atterberg at it's finest, a worthy addition to his orchestral works. Rangström is a man to to reckoned with also, his music is as mesmerizing as Atterberg's and has a deepness of thought that keeps lingering in your ears. Another kind of brilliance but as effective in portraying the musical argument.  A short work, but devastatingly beautiful.  Tonal music, a bit stretched but not too much so. Brilliantly conceived.
Recommended. No need to hold back.

Wetzler, Hermann Hans. ( 1870-1943) Orchestral works.

From my collection
Bought in January 2014.
First listen: 28-1-2014.
Second listen: 26-11-2016.
Label CPO.
Recording dates 2008.
Recording venue: Lukaskirche Dresden, Germany.
Recording engineer: Stephan Reh.
Running time: 54:32.
Classical relevance: Essential.


Visionen, opus 12, in six movements.
Assisi. Legend for Orchestra, opus 13, in six movements.


Robert Schumann Philharmonie, Frank Beermann.

This is without doubt another tremendous discovery for me. Never before did I see this composer mentioned, and some research into him showed that hardly anything is recorded from his compositions, worse he is wholly unknown, and forgotten. His voice is one that has an entirely new sound, tonal, but totally different to what I heard so far, and believe me, it is much what passed my ears. He is a painter in sound, and evokes so much of what he has seen, in such wondrous melodies, which encompass a imagination that was wholly unknown to me. Sure, you hear remnants of Richard Strauss in his music, but so cleverly disguised that you only hear the slightest hint of it. You have constantly the colourful brushes from his tonal palette that gets you into a world, which holds and keep you in astonishment. A orchestrator pur sang, he puts all the accents where they should be, and does not set a foot wrong. The WOW factor is clearly on call all the time.  Beermann clearly studied the scores well, for it is carefully executed, with astonishing attention to detail and structure is given. The recording is almost State of the Art.  The orchestra founded in 1833 plays on a very high level.

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

From my collection.
Bought February 2014.
Label CPO.
First listen: 21-2-2014.
Second listen: 26-11-2016.
Recording dates: December 2011.
Recording venue: Grosser Sendesaal, Hannover, Germany.
Recording engineer: Martin Lohmann.
Running time: 61:33.
Classical relevance: Essential.

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, yes this cruel the 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 almost the best that is possible. This orchestra and conductor believe emphatically in this music, this you will most certainly hear.

Friday, November 25, 2016

New Acquisition. Jadassohn, Salomon, (1831-1902) Symphonies No. 1 & 2.

From my collection.
Bought in March 2015.
First listen: 3-3-2015.
Second listen: 9-3-2015.
Third listen: 27-3-2015.
Fourth listen: 25-11-2016.
Label: CPO. 
CD 1 from 2.
Recording dates:  January 2010 & May 2013.
Recording venue: Konzerthalle "Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach" Frankfurt. (Oder)
Recording engineers: Andreas Ruge & Holger Urbach.
Running time CD I,  59:27.
Classical relevance: Essential.

Works performed:
Symphony No. 1, opus 24 in C major.
Symphony No. 2, opus 28 in A major.
Cavatina for Violin and Orchestra, opus 69.

Performed by:

Brandenburgisches Staatsorchester, Frankfurt an der Oder, Howard Griffiths.
Klaudyna Schulze, Broniewska, Violin.

After hearing some of his Chamber music I always hoped that one day they would record his orchestral works, amongst them his four Symphonies, although I certainly did not expect CPO to pick this up, but they did, and for this they deserve huge plaudits. I was truly amazed at Jadassohn's writing, and expected the same amount of creativity with his Symphonies, and lo and behold, I was not disappointed. Of course one must keep in mind that Jadassohn composed after three models he found the epitome of good taste in melody and contrapunt, and working with that he devised highly original works, in which you may hear  Schumann, Mendelssohn, Brahms, Gernsheim, but in such a way, that  he keeps his own personal stamp.  Music that was lost for a long time, lingering in Russian faults after the second WW, and nearly ruined by a water flood.

The first Symphony is despite the fact that Mendelssohn is his inspiration a very original work. The way Jadassohn works out his melodies, drawn from Mendelssohn, absolutely, but his scoring is a creative surge of genius, and a highly enjoyable one. Not a moment of boredom, but instead invigorating music. The second Symphony lets you hear Schumann and Mendelssohn combined, with a touch of Schubert, and like with his first Symphony, he combines it all in his own remarkable way. It kept me firm at the lesson, for Griffiths is giving us tightly controlled interpretations, with plenty of rhythmic drive, and a huge insight in the finer details of the music. It's a feast to hear this orchestra at work. I am highly surprised at the recording but above all the music that Jadassohn wrote.
I am afraid that the Cavatina for Violin and orchestra is ruined by the first violinist of this orchestra. This thoroughly romantic piece is played in one legato line of almost 9 minutes, and therefore the sweetness of the music gets almost unbearable. Furthermore is the tonal expression of the music almost zero, despite the fact that she plays on a Giovanni Battista Guadagnini from 1763, A missed chance, but whatever, at least we have both Symphonies in superb interpretations.
The recordings are really very good.

Kabalevsky, Dmitri. Symphonies No. 3 & 4.

From my collection.
Bought in September 2015.
First listen: 13-10-2015.
Second listen: 25-11-2016.
Label: CPO.
Recording dates: 2001/2002.
Recording venues: Symphony No. 3, Athanasius Kirche, ( 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: Essential.

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.

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  state of the art and the performance first rate.

L'École du Nord. Organ music.

New acquisition.
Bought in November 2016.
First listen: 25-11-2016.
Label: Ligia.
Recording dates: October 2013.
Recording venue: Saint John's Church, Belfort.
Recording engineer: Eric Baratin.
Running time: 75:23.
Classical relevance: Well worth having.

Works from:
Jan Pieterszoon Sweelinck.
Hieronymus Praetorius.
Heinrich Scheidemann.
Matthias Weckman.
Franz Tunder.
Dietrich Buxtehude.
Georg Böhm

Performed by:
Jean-Charles Ablitzer.

Marc Garnier Organ. (1978-1984.
Tuning: A=467 Hz at 17 degrees celsius.
Modified Mesotonic Temperament.

The organ is a new one. But made after the principles of the Northern style German organs, as known to the composers on this disc. Did they succeed? Yes, from all what I have heard of original instruments, this comes really very close, and if no one would have told me, I might not have heard the difference. A tremendous job and so successfully done. The sound is exactly as I expected, full with just enough warmth, detailed, clear, and when needed, punch in abundance. This is my first confrontation with Ablitzer, but he may stay, for he is a gifted organist with a very poetic strain in his performance, and warmth in his approach, never losing sight of of the multitude of important details. Just listen to Georg Böhm's Partita sur le Choral-Ach wie nichtig, ach wie Flüchtig- such a poise, and a steady but calmly flowing line. But also Dietrich Buxtehude,-In Dulci Jubilo and the Praeludium in g- made quite a impression on me. Thumbs up then. I will seek more of this organist.
It is well recorded, would have liked a bit more openness in the higher registers, but these are minor quibbles.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

I combined a few CD'S to order....

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

From my collection.
Bought in February 2014.
First listen: 23-2-2014.
Second listen: 24-11-2016.
Label: CPO.
Recording dates: May 2010.
Recording venue: Stadthalle Osnabrück. Germany.
Recording engineer: Stephan Reh.
Running time: 63:14.
Classical relevance: Well worth acquiring.


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 things 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, that's all. He did not live long but has quite a substantial oeuvre, of which little is performed today. Is it worth your attention? Certainly!  The recording is good, especially in the solo concertos. The Symphony sounds good too, but I think that the timpani started to be a little boomy. A detail that I did not expect from engineer Stephan Reh, but maybe it's an acoustical issue. The rest of the orchestral parts sounded extremely good.  The performance from the soloists as well of the orchestra are exemplary, and the booklet gives much info about time and composer. Little is known of him and he died really young.

Jadassohn, Salomon. (1831-1902) Symphony No 3 & 4. Cavatine for Cello & Orchestra.

From my collection
Bought in March 2015.
First listen: 5-3-2015.
Second listen: 27-3-2015.
Third listen: 24-11-2016.
Label: CPO. 
CD 2 from 2.
Recording dates: January 2010 & May 2013.
Recording venue: Konzerthalle CPE Bach, Frankfurt an der Oder.
Recording engineers: Andreas Ruge & Holger Urbach.
Running time CD II: 68:02.
Classical relevance: For me essential, and maybe for you too?

Works performed: 

Symphony No. 3, opus 50 in D major.
Symphony No. 4, opus 101, in C minor.
Cavatine for Cello & Orchestra, opus 120.

Works performed by:

Brandenburgisches Staatsorchester, Frankfurt, Howard Griffiths.
Thomas Georgi, Cello.

As with disc 1, I find that disc 2 is a complete success in terms of the music performance and recording. Griffiths keeps the tempi high with good reason, what otherwise would be too sweet to stomach, now gets a flair that pushes the music beyond its capabilities. Symphony No 3 has many influences by Schumann and Brahms, while in No 4 Dvorak and Brahms pops up. But the genius about these pieces is, that despite the influences of said composers, the music sounds totally original, for he might take some ideas of them, the way he reworks them in his own fabric is unique, and gives him a good position between all the composers of his time. And let's be honest ,all composers influenced each other in some sort of way, and we never make a point of that. Another composer with which he has much in common is Theodore Gouvy, I especially heard that in both symphonies. It's totally lovable music, well written, with melodic lines that enchant and keep your firm at the music. My reaction was when finished with this cd, lets play them all again, right away. And that's the best compliment I can give the music. 

The recording is very good!

d'Albert, Eugen. (1864-1932. Symphony No. 4.

From my collection.
Bought in January 2013.
First listen: 31-1-2013.
Second listen: 24-11-2016.
Label: CPO.
Recording dates: December 2007.
Recording venue: Stadthalle Osnabrück, Europasaal, Germany.
Recording engineer: Simon Böckenhoff.
Running time: 66:56.
Classical relevance: Worthwhile but sample first.

Works performed:
Seejungfräulein, opus 15, for Soprano and Orchestra.
Symphony No. 4 in F major for large orchestra.

Performed by:
Anna Kasyan, Soprano.
Osnabrücker Symphonieorchester, Hermann Bäumer.

This CD I reviewed in my pre-blog time, so this is the first on my blog, although I heard this CD before. Not that I could remember much of it. For it took me almost a full three years before attempting this music again. I guess too many CD'S at the time, and not enough time, as with any collector.
Anyways, if you like your music dreamlike, with not too many outbursts, that d'Albert is your man. He almost writes with the intention of the likes of Bruckner and Mahler, but curiously enough this Symphony has the lightness and gaiety of a Mendelssohn, and Bruch in its more optimistic mood.
Most of the writing has a lightness over it that denies the age in which it is written, and the serious strains he lets you hear in his SQ for example, makes the symphony a mystery for me. There is no seriousness in it, neither something else, it simply flows, and finds it's way without being obtrusive or in any way disconcerting, simply music without pretensions but beautiful nevertheless.  Sensual music someone even called it. And that hits the nail on it's head I guess. If this sounds a bit confusing, then I would agree, but this is the way I express my confusion. 
It is well conceived and with a purpose, but that purpose escapes me for now. More listening is demanded.
Opus 15 made an impression on me! After 2 minutes of singing my ears began to hurt, and I aborted it forthwith. Ughhh, not my cup of tea.
The performance of the symphony is exemplary, and the recording superb. A slight reservation though....when the trumpets and flutes combine in an outburst of sound, it is a bit grating on the ears. Apart from this, lots of detail, and depth in the sound stage.

Gilles, Jean. (1668-1705) Requiem & Motet "Cantate Jordanis incolœ" CD 1.

New acquisition.
Bought in November 2016.
First listen: 24-11-2016.
Label: Ligia.
CD 1 from 3.
Recording year: 2008.
Recording venue: St, Pierre-des-Chartreux, Toulouse, France.
Recording engineer: Eric Baratin.
Running time: 68:10.
Classical relevance: Essential for your collection.

Works performed:
See heading.

Works performed by:
Les Passions-Orchestre Baroque de Montauban.
Chœur de Chambre les éléments, Jöel Suhubiette.
Jean-Marc Andrieu, Conductor.

Anne Magouët, Soprano.
Vincent Lièvre-Picard, Counter tenor.
Bruno Boterf & Jean-François Novelli, Tenors.
Alain Buet, Baritone.

First of all this is magnificent music and made quite some impression on my senses, both emotionally and intellectually. I never even heard of him, until I saw some mention of Gilles in a booklet about french music of his time. Never followed this up though. Then I saw that the label Ligia had a sale and this box was among the list, so I ordered with some trepidation, for I am overly critical of vocals and the way it is performed (sung) and the voices used. I did not have to worry for this is a performance of grace, passion and pathos. Maybe a bit too heavy on the passion and pathos, but it also enhances the emotional impact, which in this performance is considerable. The singing can be forward and loud, as the passion and pathos is near romantic ideals. But the total impact is utterly rewarding despite the fact that the singing is sometimes over the top, especially with the choir and one of the tenors. Choir balance is fantastic though, and about the instrumentalists nothing but praise. Textual clarity is superb, and the recording ambiance is very good. Tempi are brilliantly chosen as is the pitch.  So we get warm and committed singing, sometimes exuberant in its expression, but also with beautiful intimate moments. 
The Requiem is one of the finest I ever heard. Accomplished and very well written. The Motet following is no less of a fine work, that gave me the same amount of musical pleasure.
The text in the booklet is well translated into English, but the Latin text is not. All else is only in French including the performers info, which is a real pity. Why the French think that this is not so important for non French speaking people is beyond me.
A set which no one can afford to be without.

Castillon, Alexis de. (1838-1873) Piano Trios, opus 4 & 17.

New acquisition.
Bought in November 2016.
First listen: 23-11-2016.
Label: Ligia.
Recording dates: Not mentioned.
Recording venue: Palazzetto Bru Zane, Venice, Italy.
Recording engineer: Eric Baratin.
Running time: 62:40.
Classical relevance: Well worth buying.

Works performed:
See heading.

Works performed by:
Trio Nuori.

This composer is a great unknown to many of us classical music lovers, and I am not surprised anymore of discovering such fine composers that have been ignored in the large amount of good offers in that area. Now he is compared or it is said of him that he is the French Robert Schumann. Such a epitaph is not fitting and does no justice to the extraordinary talent of Castillon.  He is an altogether different beast in musical matters, and this you will quickly hear. A gentle and easy going man, that is out to impress, not by pomp and circumstance but by finely chiseled compositions that will charm anyone out of his  mood, and make it better. It all fits together in these melodious piano trios. It's meandering through your senses in such an easy going way, that you do not notice the passing of time, but feel encapsulated as in a dream. And the awakening is crude when the music stops, the warmth gone, and the protective layer undone. 
In that respect he is unique and original and deserves a permanent place in the collections of anyone that cares about music.
The recording is very good, with a fine intimate sense around the instruments. Even in this there is a harmony hard to escape. The performance could not be better.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Beethoven, Ludwig van. (1770-1827) The complete Symphonies. CD 1.

New acquisition.
Bought in November 2016.
First listen: 23-11-2016.
Label: ZigZag territories.
CD 1 from 6.
Recording dates: December 2005.
Recording venue: Concertgebouw Brugge, Belgium.
Recording engineer: Bert van der Wolf
Running time: 63:40.
Classical relevance: If it comes to authentic performances this set must rank high.

Works performed: 
The Creatures of Prometheus, Overture in C major, opus 43.
Symphony No. 1&2.

Works performed by:
Anima Eterna, Jos van Immerseel.

Now to hear these symphonies at a pitch between 435 and 448 Hz, is unusual as they are normally played at a pitch of between 415-430. There is a lot of thinking and logic behind the choosing of the pitch, and in this case I understand their reasoning. The booklet is in fact brimful with useful info, also in perfect Dutch, and is a must read. Not that I agree with all what is said, but it is perfectly valid. About the music nothing needs to be said, after all these are warhorses every classical music lover knows.
So I am commenting on the performance as I hear it. As to the tempi indicated in the movements they are strict to the letter, but in some instances it was not entirely what I was used to, by the likes of David Zinman, or Gardiner or Hogwood. In some instances I would have loved a little bit more pressure on the kettle, and some tighter tempi, but in other instances I found myself completely happy with the tempi, so we have to compromise and look at the musical merit, and that is without doubt the greatest asset of the set. I had to redefine my bearings as far as this music is concerned, but once adapted I enjoyed myself thoroughly. It is not the last word in terms of performance practice, but it's pretty close to perfection. So for me this is an excellent start of the first disc, and I am looking forward to the other 5 discs.
And then the sound...... it is very good, but....
When listening to the overture and the symphony No. 1 I thought, well it sounds good, but something was missing, until the last movement of the first Symphony started "Finale: Adagio-Allegro molto e vivace". Suddenly the sound stage opened up and we had a perfect front to back image with air around the instruments. Somebody has been sleeping while recording. It is not dramatic but very noticeable. The difference in sound is from good to top notch. After this the second symphony sounds perfect.
I am very happy to have bought this set, so much recommended by my musical friends.

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

From my collection.
Bought in February 2014.
First listen:21-2-2014.
Second listen: 23-11-2016.
Recording dates: December 2010.
Recording venue: Munchen, BR Studio 1. Germany.
Recording engineer: Almut Telsnig.
Running time: 63:08.
Classical relevance: Interesting composers and works.


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.
Münchner 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. It's my favourite concerto form. 

So, we finally have a recording of two of his four Violin concertos. Let's 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. 
As to these Violin concertos I can say, that first of all it's  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 it's the other way around. I had a big grin on my face listening to it. Absolutely delightful! The recordings are top notch, but it has to be said that the first movement of the Violin concerto No. 1 was used to align the microphones. It places the Violin to forward. After this it's all topnotch.
The performance of orchestra and soloists is outstanding.😊

Cantem Nadal. Noël Baroque Occitan. Folkloristic Christmas Music.

New acquisition.
Bought in November 2106.
First listen: 23-11-2016.
Label: Ligia.
Recording dates: March 2009.
Recording venue: Chapelle Saint Baptiste, Toulouse, France.
Recording engineer: Eric Baratin.
Running time: 63:16.
Classical relevance: Great fun this music.

Works performed:
See heading.

Works performed by:
La Mounède. (Instrumentalists and Traditional singers.)
Les Passions. (Singers and instrumentalists)
Les Sacqueboutiers.

My first Christmas CD this year, and a fun one at that. This disc is about discovering a musical heritage, simple and beautiful melodies to please your ears and heart alike. In that sense this budget priced CD has everything going for it. It is a mix of all kind of traditional instruments, and manners of singing. Folkloristic music of a very decent level, that needs to be heard and will put a smile on everyone's face. Good natured performances, and a lot of fun instruments, and folksy voices. There is no reason for letting this pass for the festive season. The sound is good, not as detailed as I would wish but that's me, nitpicking. The only drawback for me, is this French chauvinism of keeping everything worth while to know in the french language, and no need to translate texts or info into another language, God forbid. Many small French labels have no pretension at being sold outside their borders.
This said and warned I still recommend it for the music and the season. Afterall Christmas song texts are about the birth of Christ, and I say Amen to that. 

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Desprez, Josquin. (1450-55-1521) Masses.

New acquisition.
Bought in November 2016.
First listen: 20-11-2016.
Label: Ligia.
Recording dates: August 2011.
Recording venue: L'Église de Javols (Lozère, France)
Recording engineer: Jean Marc Laisne.
Running time: 65:00
Classical relevance: Nice performance, but it will no add more as you already might know.

Works performed:
La sol fa re mi.

Performed by:
Metamorphoses Biscantor, Maurice Bourbon. 

It came with the Ligia order some days ago, and I was just curious what this to me unknown French singers would do with Desprez. Well it's a mixed blessing actually. The voices are good, but not exceptional. Very earthbound I have to say, and missing the spiritual depth this music needs. There is not much nuance or fine detailing in the singing, and the dynamics are sometimes badly chosen, but the choir balance is okay. Intimacy is missing, and the choir sounds bigger as it is due to the recording, that gives too much ambient info, and causing the sound to be fuzzy at times. Furtheron in the recording the sound is modified in a good sense, but that took them quite some time to hear this, which is a pity, and does not contribute to the success of the composition. So overall this is a pleasant interpretation, but it will not replace or come near to existing recordings already on the market, it simply has not enough class, and is a bit matter of fact. And another example of not thinking outside the box, the French editors of the booklet did not find it necessary to give the text of the masses, but filled the booklet with silly and useless info. A so called interview with Josquin and the director of this ensemble, dear o dear, what a puberal exercise....The layout of the booklet is very tasteful, that's the other side of  my criticism.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Panufnik, Andrzej. (1914-1991) Symphonic Works, Volume 8.

From my collection.
Bought in 2016.
First listen: 23-5-2106.
Second listen: 17-11-2016.
Label: CPO.
Recording dates: January & June 2013.
Recording venue: Konzerthaus Berlin, Grosser Saal, Germany.
Recording engineer:  Not mentioned.
Running time: 66:15.
Classical relevance: For those collecting the volumes, essential.

Works performed:
Violin Concerto. (1971)
Cello Concerto. (1991)
Piano Concerto. (1961/72/83)

Performed by:
Alexander Sitkovetsky, Violin.
Raphael Wallfisch, Cello.
Ewa Kupiec, Piano.
Konzerthausorchester Berlin, Lukasz Borowicz.

As far as I know, this is the last volume in the series wholly dedicated to Panufnik.  Volume 8 with three solo concertos, all widely contrasting in musical content, and modernity. It starts with the Violin concerto, a work of great beauty, something I came to expect from this composer after 7 volumes of his music. From beginning to end it captures your imagination, and never lets you go, not till the last note sounded. A perfect performance, and one of his best concertos. The Cello concerto is a work that is more extrovert, and disharmonious, with some unsettling tone shifts. It has many moments of beauty, but it did not hold my attention all the time. Too little musical development to keep my interest on the work. But I liked it nevertheless.  The piano concerto poses more problems for me, finding it a work that lacks balance, not in all places, but generally speaking I am put off by the predominant jazzy influences, which brings an unrest to the structure that shakes the whole work. Hardly any moments of spiritual rest, but an upbeat tempo, which I found rather ugly. I realize this is a very personal thing, but then again I have to share my thoughts. 
All in all a fine Violin concerto, a Cello concerto that still holds enough interest for me, but the Piano concerto is a unborn child. 
This series has been a constant joy, despite some misgivings I have about Volume 8. I am a great fan of his music, and will be that, even after this slightly disappointing encounter with this Piano concerto. CPO has to be applauded for releasing his music, and for those that want to venture into his music, all 8 volumes are budget priced at JPCde.
The recording is state of the art, and the performance is excellent.

Mouton, Jean. (c.1459-1522) Anna requiescat in pace. Déploration sur la mort d'Anne de Bretagne-Motets.

New acquisition.
Bought in November 2016.
First listen: 17-11-2016.
Label: Ligia.
Recording dates: September/October 2002.
Recording venue: Eglise Notre Dame de Sancerre, France.
Recording engineer: Eric Baratin.
Running time: 54:15.
Classical relevance: Well worth having.

Works performed:
See heading.

Work performed by:
Ensemble Jacques Moderne, Joel Suhubiette.

It is always a treat to find music by Jean Mouton. He wrote much, but is recorded in tiny quantities. So doubly welcome is this disc, which gives us some very fine Motets, plus some instrumental  compositions. The motets are divided in equal parts for Soprano and viols or Choir and viols. The CD starts with"Quis dabit oculis nostris" in which the engineer Baratin has to find his recording balance, so he fiddles around the buttons for a full 7 minutes, before he has found this balance. Why can they not try before recording I wonder? The choir is too forward, and the voices melt together in a fuzzy warm blob of sound, with no detailing at all. He has it right, from the second track on, and delivers then a lucid well detailed and warm soundstage. So he is able, but thinks it okay to mess around before he gets there.
Just listen to this wonderful soprano in "Maria Virgo prescripte Angeli" she really sounds like a angel, so well is her voice captured. No vibrato anywhere, and a full yet detailed sound from the choir, They sing at times very earthbound. Ideally I would prefer a smaller choir for the motets, especially in the "Magnificat" but apart from that I find this a very successful performance. A very good start into the Ligia recordings I bought a week ago.
Safely recommended.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Tcherepnin, Alexander Nikolayevich. (1899-1977) Orchestral Works. CD I.

From my collection.
Bought in 2010.
Label: BIS.
First listen: 4-3-2014,
Second listen: 16-11-2016.
Recording dates: January 1999.
Recording venue: Victoria Concert Hall, Singapore.
Recording engineer: Hans Kipfer.
Running time: 75:17.
Classical relevance: Reference recordings and performances.

Works. CD 1.

Symphony No 1 in E major, opus 42. (1927)
Symphony No. 2 in E flat major, opus 77. (1947-1951)
Piano Concerto, No. 5, opus 96. (1963)


Noriko Ogawa, Piano.
Singapore SO, Lan Shui.

What I like in this composer, is his logical build up of the music. Straightforward, lucidly scored, with a strong rhythmic sense, placed into the music in a very economical way. No waste notes so to say!

Tcherepnin has its own voice, there is no one quite like him, and that fact alone makes him for me very interesting. He combines many stylistic elements, from many cultural musical backgrounds, without falling into the trap of sounding like any of the given inspirations. He is mostly tonal, albeit stretched to the limit at times. His music has a forward thrust that makes you want to run after it. Not that it is easy to define where your going after, but the adrenaline is in constant supply, and keeps you on your toes.  His first Symphony is a powerhouse of all the things I mentioned, tightly constructed, emitting a sort of see through coolness, but a cold environment that is pleasant to the senses. It's like time and music are frozen on the spot, but one has a clear outlook at what's beyond. I like it very much.
The Piano concerto, has the same kind of coolness, and this very logical build up of crystal clear notes. A very deliberate tempo in the first movement, almost majestic, and very grand, distanced even. Again a  friendly freezing atmosphere. Ogawa keeps the textures very open, softly staccato playing, not putting too much stress on the keys, the music simply doesn't need that.
The second movement is like a Ice palace, icicles everywhere, reminded me of the film Doctor Zhivago, were the lovers go to a house in the middle of nowhere, and outside as inside, all is frozen in a sort of magical way, with a enormous silence around them. Beautiful.
The third movement is a jolly ride in a sleigh over the frozen landscape, with the driver standing up, and using his whip every so slightly to push the horse to an even faster speed, just to go back to a trot, as easily. Again crystal clear playing, orchestra and soloist keep the landscape very open. Such images, I am wondering myself about this. But they emerge from me, just like that.
The second symphony is a different animal, the first movement introduction being almost balletic in nature, with a faster dancing lilt later on, almost a waltz. Less technical, it has a friendly outlook, that will involve you in the bustle of optimistic thoughts. The second movement is a trip to fairy land, ethereal at moments, a fine filigree of melodic fragments floating by. 
The third movement is a bustle again of dialogue, between all desks in the orchestra, fiercely arguing at times, but always in a friendly manner. The outlook of the music is less straight faced, but aims more to a harmonic balance. Rhythmically a very exciting movement.
The Fourth movement opens a bit dissonantly, as if dipping its feet in cold water, and shying away from it, because its too cold. Then it's like a fire starts crackling, and the warmth is enveloping the listener.  The sound is of demonstration class. And the performance is utterly convincing.

Bridge, Frank. (1879-1941) Orchestral Works. CD1.

From my collection.
Bought in September 2013.
First listen: 9-9-2013,
Second listen: 16-11-2016.
Bought in September 2013.
Label: Chandos.
CD 1 from 6.
Recording date: November 2000.
Recording venue: Brangwyn Hall, Swansea
Recording engineer: Ralph Couzens.
Playing time: 75:17.
Classical relevance: Essential in regard to this composer.

Enter Spring, Rhapsody.

Isabella, Symphonic Poem after Keats.

When some time I heard Volume 4 of this set, I was immediately enchanted by this magical world Bridge creates with his music, sort of  Debussy and Ravel combined, with a dash of Tchaikovsky, and some pastoral sprinklings from Delius,  By no means all the influences, but enough to get a picture of what is awaiting you. Bridge is a painter of sounds, not colourful joyous ones, but more the kind of simmering hot summer colours, with lazy thoughts, and no movement or undue action. It does not mean that there is no lively music, but the genius comes out, in these quiet episodes depicting the images described.  He knows how to handle the orchestra. He is a composer that sits comfortably behind his easel and paints in a contemplative way. You should listen to him in small doses, and always remember that it takes at least three listenings before you grasp the essence of what Bridge is trying to say. You might be quickly bored if you listen all at the same time, and when that happens you have missed the message. Anyways Britten thought him to be a very good composer, and in general he was like a lot by the musical establishment. With a perfect good reason I say. I like him too. The sound picture is amazingly full, and detailed. You will not miss the tiniest detail. 

Kabalevsky, Dmitri. (1904-1987) Symphony 1 and 2. Disc 1.

From my collection.
Bought in September 2015.
First listen: 8-10-2015.
Second listen: 16-11-2016.
Label: CPO.
CD 1 from 2.
Recording dates: 2001.
Recording venue: Grosser Sendesaal des NDR, Landesfunkhauses.
Recording engineer: Bjorn Brigsne.
Running time: 45: 30. Disc 1.
Classical relevance: Worthwhile, especially if you like this composer.

Works performed:

Symphony No. 1 in C sharp major, opus 18.
Symphony No. 2 in  C minor, opus 19.

Performed by: 

NDR Radiophilharmonie, Eiji Que.

Dmitri Kabalevsky is known for many small things he composed, but hardly anyone knows about his Symphonies. His reputation in the West was smeared with all kind of political horror stories of which no one knows what is the truth and what not. And of course his music was the biggest sufferer in this charade. The question is should we remember this composer? And my answer is a full and heartily meant yes! True he wrote a lot of propaganda music, to the glory of socialism/communism, but always in a tasteful manner. You can separate the composer from the political figure he was in those times, and we should do that, in order to appreciate him fully. Now many will say that his Symphonies, apart from the Fourth, are neither flesh or fish, just pleasant and grotesque utterances of a Bolshevik, but that's so far from the truth, that if becomes ironical, and utter nonsense.  It is true that not to many melodies in the first two symphonies will stay afloat in your mind after hearing them, for the notes pass in quick succession without lingering long enough to make some sort of an impression, but they impress nevertheless.They impress because of the melodic creativity, and the masterful scoring for the orchestra. The C sharp major of the first Symphony gives Kabalevsky ample opportunity  to play around with slightly going off the key, almost tumbling off. That's quite an eerie sound spectre he gets by doing that. When you think that it is going off into an harmonious end, it slightly wavers the other way. I like that very much. His feel for the right rhythm is quite remarkable. The building up of the score, is a marvel to me.

The second Symphony often derided by critics because of the so called formalism, is despite this unjust conclusion a composition that has a clear leitmotiv, so a begin/middle and a well defined end. 
The cohesion is very much on the surface here, and again Kabalevsky makes this into a marvelous tone poem. Its persuasive, genial, friendly and a very pleasant listen, nothing that ruffles your hair, but enough to get a smile on your face.
The sound is  almost state of the art. And the performance is as good as one can expect.

Knights, Maids and miracles, The Spring of Middle Ages. CD 1. Specvlvm Amoris, Lyrics from Mediaeval love from Mysticism to Eroticism

New acquisition.
Bought in November 2016.
First listen: CD 1. 16-11-2016.
Label: Arcana.
CD 1 from 5.
Recording dates: March 1992.
Recording venue: The Church of St. Vigilio, Col San Martino, Treviso, Italy.
Recording engineer: Pere Casulleras.
Running time: 51:30
Classical relevance: Pretty much essential in this line of music.

Works performed:
See heading.

Works performed by:
La reverdie.

When I ordered this set I expected the best one could have in Mediaeval music on the market, and I was not disappointed. I read good reviews, and other classical friends made me aware of this ensembles quality and excellence. It is a journey quite literally back in time, and one has the feeling that this is exactly the way it was performed. I sounds to my ears very authentic. Of course we know nothing at all, or very little, how things were done in that time in all aspects, but nevertheless I can imagine it was like this, and that's all that matters in the end. Voices and instrumentalists are excellent, and the texts of this first CD are very spicy indeed, you never have to guess what the meaning is, that is very clear. Well its part of every age and time, so I lean back and enjoy the ride!
The recording is very good, clear as a church bell. The soundstage is amazing.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

David, Johann Nepomuk. (1895-1977) Orchestral Works.

From my collection.
Bought in February 2016.
First listen: 18-5-2016.
Second listen: 15-11-2016.
Original release date: 2014.
Label: CPO
Recording dates: February and March 2011.
Recording venue: Grosser Sendesaal ORF Funkhaus, Vienna.
Recording engineer: Andreas Karlberger.
Running time: 59:54.
Classical relevance: Very interesting new music.

Works performed:
Symphony No. 1, opus 18, written between 1936/37.
Symphony No. 6, opus 46, written between 1954-1966.

Performed by:
ORF Radio-Symphonieorchester Wien, Johannes Wildner.

A composer new to my collection. This is my very first encounter with his music. To begin with, one hears large chunks of influences by Anton Bruckner, Johannes Brahms and Carl Nielsen. That said, he made his own unmistakable music out of those influences, surprising, weird at times, chaotic and then again tightly structured, but never without astonishing you with yet again a musical technicality that takes your breath away. and in the meantime he will impress when he lingers longer over a few notes as expected, for David moves fast, he is not a stickler, but an overflowing well of ideas that have to be pushed out in great speed and at great length. So you have to take in a lot in a short time. But there is always an underlying coherence that keeps the threads together, and you are able by those lines to follow all the melodies, even though all may sound like a big heap of notes. In the quieter passages Mahler looks around the corner, albeit be it a short pleasure. David truly stands in the Austrian heritage, and made the most of it. Do not expect unsettling passages for all is tonal, a tad stretched granted, but never too much. He is a brilliant orchestrator to boot. It's a warm musical all embracing world, in which a touch of magic is part of the fabric. There you may hear what an expert grasp he has on all the instruments. Monumental, brick by brick build into fine works. David knows perfectly well where he wants to go. To my ears he is a genius. Especially the sixth, has all the astonishing features that defines David. It has a fine structure in which so many things are happening at the same time. Restless it wanders, never outstaying it's welcome. Sort of a organized chaos with logic in it. It opens up a colourful world and presents puzzling fiestas.
Highly interesting.
The recording is superb as is the performance. The booklet is a scholarly exercise, dry as old bread, and totally incomprehensible to most, but I never saw it differently with CPO. Better listen instead of reading I say.

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 ...