Friday, March 31, 2017

British Light Music Classics, Volume III.

From my collection.
Bought in 2011.
First listen: 17-2-2014.
Second listen: 17-3-2014
Third listen: 31-3-2017.
Label: Hyperion. 
CD 3 from 4.
Recording dates: August 1999.
Recording venue: St. Jude on the Hill, Hampstead Garden Suburb, London.
Recording engineer: Tony Faulkner.
Running time: 78:50.
Classical relevance to me: Well worth having.

Montmartre by Haydn Wood.
Melody on the move, by Clive Richardson, arr. Ronald Hanmer.
In the party Mood, by Jack Strachey.
The Girl from Corsica, by Trevor Duncan.
Soldiers in the Park, Lionel Monckton.
Valse Septembre, by Felix Godin, arr. Adolf Lotter.
Miss Melanie, by Ronald Binge.
Pink Lady Waltz, Ivan Caryll.
Portrait of a Flirt, by Robert Farnon.
Siciliano, by Harry Dexter.
In a Persian Market, by Albert Ketelbey.
Theatreland, by Jack Strachey.
Songe d'Automne, by Archibald Joyce.
Alpine Pastures, by Vivian Ellis. arr. Sidney Torch.
Little Serenade, by Ernest Tomlinson.
Woodland Revel, by George Melachrino.
Lady of Spain, by Tolchard Evans. arr. Fred Hartley/Ken Warner.
Smiles, then Kisses, by Charles Ancliffe.
On a Spring Note, by Sidney Torch.
Music everywhere, "Rediffusion March", by Eric Coates.

The New London Orchestra, Ronald Corp.

None of these works lack compositional skills. They are composed with as much care as serious works. One that made me start a little was The Girl from Corsica, composed by Trevor Duncan. He creates some pretty exotic sounds, very unusual as to compare on what is on this CD. Nice. Siciliano by Harry Dexter is another one that made me grin from ear to ear, as it was trotting out of my speakers. You will be startled by "In a Persian Market", by Ketelbey, as a bunch of singers from a jolly choir, blare out a incomprehensible text.  Did not like that though! Nobody warned me about this. Not cool.
Songe d'Automne by Archibald Joyce is another fine surprise, a haunting melody indeed. The recording and performance are first rate.

Klughardt, August. (1847-1902) Symphony No. 4 & Violin Concerto.

From my collection.
Bought in 2012.
First listen: 27-10-2012.
Second listen: 2-11-2012.
Third listen: 31-3-2017.
Label: CPO.
Recording dates: March 2009.
Recording venue: Anhaltisches Theater, Dessau, Germany.
Recording engineer: Jürgen Rothe.
Running time: 77:51.
Classical relevance to me: Essential.

Works performed:
Violin concerto, opus 68 in D major.
Symphony No. 3, opus 37, in D major.

Performed by:
Anhaltisches Philharmonie, Dessau, Golo Berg.

I am a staunch admirer of Klughardt's music, and this disc only affirms my alliance to him. There are influences from Schubert, Schumann, and even Beethoven in his music, but primarily he is much his own man. The Violin concerto was premiered in October 1895, and was a huge success. It received many performances in Europe, with ecstatic accolades from public and critics alike. The solo and orchestral parts are closely and skillfully woven together throughout the concerto, without one of the two playing its way into the foreground. Longer orchestral passages are lacking, and there is no expansive solo cadenza as usual.  Klughardt's design in this violin concerto is a very independent one, and stands well amongst other concertos in his time. Romantic in nature, elegant, almost like a tone poem, it paints with soft colours the contours of a pastoral scene, peaceful, and emitting a love for life. Every movement carries the word moderato, and so it is. There is no stress, just an invitation to listen and feel happy. This is how it feels. It is well written, and performed in a symbiotic agreement between soloist and orchestra. Mirjam Tschopp is a fine violinist, with a sensitive bowing technique, who captures all the finer nuances of the concerto. Well accompanied by an orchestra that knows his aim and integrates fully. 
Actually one could say the same of the Symphony too. He wrote the work in 1879 and was premiered already in the same year. It was again received with so much enthusiasm and applauded after every movement for a long time, that Klughardt must have felt overwhelmed. It was liked like the Violin concerto by public and critics alike. Nothing but praise. It was kept in the repertoire for a long time.
He pursued in this third symphony a new orientation in expression and stylistics. It's a cheerful work, radiating with zest for life. Animated,, lively, graceful, and powerful in a way. For a starter the symphony opens with an extensive sonata movement, which is the messenger of much promise. All the things above are brought vividly to the foreground. Quite a success actually.
However like many composers of his time, he was more or less totally forgotten, until the label Sterling and CPO picked his music up again, for which I am very grateful.
The recording is very good, has much detail, a tight bass line, and good sound stage.

Svendsen, Johan Severin. (1840-1911) Symphonic Works. CD 1.

From my collection.
Bought in 2010.
First listen: 25-2-2010.
Second listen: 7-11-2011.
Third listen: 31-3-2017.
Label: CPO.
DC 1 from 3.
Recording dates: June 1997.
Recording venue: Reformatu Baznica, Riga.
Recording engineer: Vilnis Kaksis.
Running time: 68:36.
Classical relevance to me: This performance is of interest.

Works performed:
Symphony No. 1, opus 4 in D major.
No. 2, opus 15 in B flat major.

Works performed by:
Latvian National SO, Terje Mikkelsen.

We all think that Svendsen wrote 2 Symphonies, but that is not quite true.  His wife Sarah threw the manuscript of No. 3 which was completed after a long time working on it, into the fire in a fit of jealousy. The idea that the product of somebody's painstaking labors might go up in flames and smoke to satisfy personal revenge is just too horrible to imagine, and yet that is what happened.
So we have to do with two symphonies that survived such base motives to destroy it. For all I know she might have burnt all the efforts of his labors.
Anyway Mikkelsen's take on Svendsen is a mixed blessing for me. While he delivers workmanship performances, a bit robust and a tad deficient on detail and commitment, taken as a whole there is enough to enjoy. But be aware that there are better performances around as the present set. Mikkelsen does not really get to the heart of Svendsen's Symphonies, because the playing tends to be matter of fact, rather than to plunge emotionally and spiritually into background and motives of both scores. It keeps it's distance from the listener. It is by all means a enjoyable ride, but there is so much more in these beautiful works as is coming out.
The recording offers a lot of details and depth, but the acoustic is rather dry, and has in the second symphony some problems with keeping the timpani and basses from getting boomy. Not much, but enough to notice. Furthermore I would have liked the technician to keep away from the buttons while recording. In an ideal situation he would have set all to rights before starting. As it is he modifies the orchestral balance in the first symphony, and is adding reverb to the second symphony. Both changes are startling to my ears. Most of you will not hear this, so there's the comfort.

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Krenek, Ernst. (1900-1991) Symphony No. 4,and Concerto Grosso, opus 25.2.

From my collection.
Bought in 2011.
First listen: 3-5-2011.
Second listen: 30-3-2017.
Label: CPO.
Recording dates: February/March 2006.
Recording venue: Grosser Sendesaal des NDR Landesfunkhaus, Niedersachsen, Germany.
Recording engineer: Helge Martensen.
Running time: 57:24.
State of the art recording. (Symphony No. 4)
Classical relevance to me: Interesting as a representative of free atonality.

Works performed:

Symphony No. 4, opus 113, (1947) World premiere recording.
Concerto Grosso, opus 25.2. (1924)

Performed by:

NDR Radiophilharmonie Hannover, Alun Francis.

His Symphony is composed in free atonality, with some tonal elements of design. That pretty much sums up Krenek as a composer. Serialism, jazz influences, 12 tone technique, it's all there, be it in different strengths. I like what I hear, but more in a technical sense as really relating to it. I find that to be more the case with Hans Werner Henze, who more or less composes in the same way, but with a totally different outcome. I have more affinity with Henze's idiom. Now Krenek is as far I want to go in this style. His symphony pushes all the right buttons for me, but his Concerto Grosso bores me no end, apart from some really beautiful episodes, short as they are. Emotionally there is no gain. And that goes for both works. But this sometimes brutal and robust way of writing is appealing in a rudimentary way. I would not want it on my listening menu every week, but once in awhile I need this for my musical bearings.  This said my ears would be more attuned to Henze for this need. The symphony is recorded in demonstration class, the Concerto is a notch or two down that ladder. The performance is a concentrated one, in which Francis finds the right amount of intensity to keep things flowing without unnecessary interruptions. The changing of keys is done magnificently, and the tight grip on the orchestra keeps it away from chaos which is always lurking with free tonality.

Carwithen, Doreen. (1922-2003) Orchestral works. Top recommendation.

From my collection.
Bought in 2010.
First listen: 23-2-2010.
Second listen: 10-4-2014.
Third listen: 30-3-2017.
Label Chandos.
Recording dates: May 1996.
Recording venue: Blackheath Concert Halls.
Recording engineer: Ralph Couzens.
Running time: 57:35.
Classical relevance to me: Essential.
Reference performance.
State of the art recording.

Works performed: 

ODTAA. ( One damn Thing after Another) Overture.
Concerto for Piano and Strings.
Bishop Rock.
Suffolk Suite.

Performed by:

Howard Shelley, Piano.
London SO, Richard Hickox.

[ She is mostly remembered of being the wife of William Alwyn, but as a composer she was forgotten quickly because she was a woman, despite the fact that all her compositions were awarded with prizes Publishers were not interested in a female composer.]

There's a gal to surprise you, and how! She is more than a match to the male counterparts, and much better looking too! Her music is like a thunderbolt, that crashes in with such force, depositing a very pleasant currency to run through your body, that makes your mind positively explode with joy. So, there you have it, prime music in a very distinctive manner. The Female touch, sensitive, prone to large surges of passion of some considerable duration. It pushes many buttons in my musical senses, some of them even unknown to me.  Well with the overture ODTAA opening the disc, she delivers her calling card with flying colours. There is no doubt that this work, short in duration has a lengthening effect on your musical intellect. For you sense there is creative intellect at work. A woman that knows exactly where to go with her inspiration. Its a gasping matter that takes 8 minutes before you can close your mouth again. Its followed by a work that distributes the powerful message evenly over three movements, the Allegro assai being the rhythmical foreplay towards the Lento movement. It bashes your senses around, as if apples falling from a tree, ripe and ready to be eaten. So delicious that you might overeat yourself, but who cares for tummy ache, if the pleasure in eating them is so tantalizing. There are some magical pearls between 9:00 and 10:21, that are gripping you forcefully, only to be slashed free from it, by the powerful entry of the piano. Masterly done. And O, boy the Lento movement. Just image Arvo Part, and you have the musical image for what comes. Its as if its floating inches above ground, music that seems to be free of restrictions, or borders, not touching anything but itself. And all of a sudden the tone hardens into some sort of passionate admonition as not to get lost in the undescriptive, but soon it sinks again into this untouchable atmosphere, that envelops you like a cloth of the finest silk, which you barely feel.  The third movement is back on earth, with a very decisive musical motif, that washes away all remnants of what has gone before. A brilliant piece!
Bishop Rock, really rocks. It brings you back in the same realm as the ODTAA overture, brilliantly scored, and full creativity, with a positive drive.
Suffolk Suite was a commissioned piece for a youth orchestra with limited possibilities. She has listen to them before writing this piece, and although it's kept simple in structure, it boosts some gorgeous melodies. I especially loved the Suffolk Morris jig, you can not keep your feet from tapping along, and when this lament on the clarinet comes by, you positively are going to cry some wee tears. Don't worry, you soon get back to feet tapping. Its thoughtfully scored,.... how to make out of little a lot. Goes to show what a fine and sensitive female composer she was.
The performance is first rate, and the recording demonstration class.

Leigh, Walter. (1905-1942) Orchestral Works.

From my collection.
Bought in 2010.
First listen: 4-4-2010.
Second listen: 30-3-2017.
Label Lyrita. (Warning: This is a CD-R. A burned copy, not pressed)
Recording dates: August 1975 & March 1980.
Recording venue: Walthamstow Assembly Town Hall, London & Kingsway Hall, London, England.
Digital remastering engineer: Simon Gibson.
Running time: 51:33.
Classical relevance to me: Well worth having.

Works performed:
Overture: Agincourt. (1937)
Concertino for Harpsichord and String orchestra. (1934)
Music for String orchestra. (1931-32)
A Midsummer Night's dream, Suite for small orchestra. (1936)
The Frogs. (1936)
Jolly Roger-Overture. (1933)

Performed by:
Trevor Pinnock, Harpsichord.
London PO & New Philharmonic Orchestra, Nicholas Braithwaite.

Walter Leigh was unfortunately killed in action near Tobruk in 1942, so we will never know how he might have turned out in the end. I am curious after a sketch he made of a symphony but never got the finish it. What he left us are mainly pieces written for amateurs, in which he shows great versatility and remarkable powers of adaption to any given challenge posed by amateur musicians. They called him not for nothing a craftsman composer. He was however not hampered by this fact, thus his creativity knew no bounds, and although he did not go for self expression, he made a mark in musical history, be it a small one, but enough to remember him, and what he might have become, would he had lived a full life.
What we have in essence is light weight pastoral jolly music, composed to please musicians and listeners alike. Nothing earth shattering but pleasant any day, and prone to boost your mood in a jiffy. It is well performed by all, and the recording is top notch.

Jacob, Gordon. (1895-1984. Symphony No 1 & 2. Top recommendation

From my collection.
Bought in 2010.
First listen: 7-4-2010.
Second listen: 30-3-2017.
Label: Lyrita. (Warning: This is a CD-R, so a burned copy)
Recording dates: Not mentioned.
Recording venue: Not mentioned.
Recording engineer: Not mentioned.
Running time: 66:25.
Reference performance.
State of the Art recording.
Classical relevance to me: Essential.

Works performed:
Symphony No. 1. (1929) Première recording. 
Symphony No. 2 (1945).

Works performed by:
London PO, Barry Wordsworth.

[What you must know about this label is that all re-releases of this company are CD-R, so not pressed but burned. They come with a guarantee of 35 years. Any CD-R in this time getting unplayable will be replace free of charge. ]

Gordon Jacob is not a composer well known. He is one of many of his generation that got lost in the multitude of events that took place between 1900 and 1950. The event that had a profound impact on his life and music was of course WW 1, and also WW 2.  In the first WW he lost his 22 year old brother Anstey, and so you will hear that both works are drenched in memories thereof.
He survive in captivity (1917).
We have two unique masterworks unfolding beautifully under the hands of Barry Wordsworth. Both works are tonal, and masterly orchestrated. I have listened with much pleasure to this technical accomplishment, for it is full with all the memories of one man, translating for many that did not survive the horror. Every movement counts, every note is full with emotion, and all is gorgeously translated in gripping melodies, and heart wrenching harmonies. I have also a recording of the second symphony done by Douglas Bostock, which is also highly recommendable.
State of the Art sound.
The booklet omits all info about recording dates, venue and engineer. Considering that the CD-R goes for full price, it's a omission not appreciated.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Mortelmans, Lodewijk.. (1868-1952) Orchestral Works. Top recommendation.

From my collection.
Bought in 2014.
First listen: 18-2-2014.
Second listen: 29-3-2017.
Label: Hyperion.
Recording dates: September 2008.
Recording venue: Koningin Elisabethzaal,  Antwerp, Belgium.
Recording engineer: David Hinitt.
Running time: 66:46.
Reference performance and State of the Art recording.
Classical relevance to me: Essential

Works performed: 
Homeric Symphony (1898)
Morning Mood. (1922)
Myth of Spring. (1895)

Performed by:
Royal Flemish Philharmonic, Martyn Brabbins.

I have in my possession two Marco Polo CD'S with works of Flemish masters, amongst the composers is also Mortelmans. Now I always had a great hunger after unknown composers, so this CD is right in my alley. And as it is it happens to be, it is a CD with 3 great works of art, very great works. Singlehandedly this composer reinvents the romantic symphony all over again. The quality of these works is so great and significant, that in a nutshell I was overpowered by a strong urge yet again to applaud and standing up after the CD ended. Now how weird is that huh? The older one gets the more prone to silly gestures, or not?
I knew Mortelmans was better as some of the others of the Flemish masters I heard, including Benoit, but that he stands with head and shoulders above them all was a devastating surprise. With right one can say that the Symphony places him on a height as high as a king on a throne. His orchestration is of a order that I hardly comprehend, let alone fully understand. I have kept my ears in a high energy modus, just to get all the info at the right place, but it will take me several hearings more, to hum all without a failure. His melodic artistry is a color book with pastel shades, carefully applied, it lets every note shine as if a precious pearl. Not a second of boring gestures, all fits as tight as a glove. To compare him with other composers is useless, he is an entity on his own. He evokes a world that encompasses all what mankind can feel and paint and sculpture. And that does not even say what I feel when listening to his music. A tonal wonder.
Buy it!

Lambert, Constant. (1905-1951) Tiresias & Pomona-Ballets.

From my collection.
Bought in 2010.
First listen: 30-5-2010.
Second listen: 29-3-2017.
Label: Hyperion.
Recording dates: April 1998.
Recording venue: Leeds Town Hall, England.
Recording engineer: Mike Clements.
Running time: 74:02.
Classical relevance to me: Reference performance and recording. Essential.

Works performed:
Pomona, a ballet in one act. (1927)
Tiresias, a ballet in three acts. (1950/51)

Performed by:
English Northern Philharmonia, David Lloyd-Jones.
Michael Cleaver, Piano.

I am a great admirer of Constant Lambert's ballet scores. He was really good in writing for this genre, and is quite unique in it's musical expression. The Neoclassical style with French musical leanings suits the modern ballet, and the way Lambert is fusing all kinds of musical influences of his time together is exhilarating and deeply interesting. It has a refreshing modernity that is captivating and challenging at the same time. The scores are bubbling with creativity, and at every turn something new is freshly invented. It is also nice to know that Dame Margot Fonteyn dance in 5 performances of Tiresias. What is hardly known is, that Fonteyn and Lambert had a passionate relationship for quite some time, when she still was very young. That probably instilled in him a love for ballet. And we are the beneficiaries today in getting such fine music. 
All in all this is a reference recording and performance for me, for all the right things come together in a fruitful way.

Halvorsen, Johan. (1864-1935) Orchestral Works Volume 2.

From my collection.
Bought in 2010.
First listen: 26-10-2010.
Second listen: 5-4-2011.
Third listen: 29-3-2017.
Label: Chandos.
Recording dates: August/September 2009.
Recording venue: Grieghallen, Bergen, Norway.
Recording engineer: Ralph Couzens.
Running time: 75:50
Classical relevance to me: Essential. Reference performance.

Works performed: 
Suite Ancienne, opus 31a.
3 Norwegian Dances, for Violin and orchestra.
Air Norvégien. opus 7, for Violin and orchestra.
Veslemøy's Song.
Symphony No. 2, "Fatum", in D minor.

Performed by:
Marianne Thorsen, Violin.
Bergen PO, Neeme Järvi.

All works except the Symphony are elegant and refined works, well scored, brimful with memorable melodies, and perfectly fitting into the Norwegian idiom, with such representatives like Edvard Grieg, Johan Svendsen, and Christian Sinding. The content is picturesque, and aimable in its expression. This is what you typically expect and rightly so. However when confronted with the second symphony you can forget about all the things I wrote. For there you meet a composer of a very robust character, were a different kind of refinement is prevalent. It's scoring is also unusual in that it holds much more power, with an imagery that is pushing its ideas out in a rhythmically insistent way. The melodic ideas are bold too, as if no bars are in place, and the devil rides this wagon. It goes where the fancy takes him. Not afraid to open doors with some violence, and slamming them in the same fashion. In the sparse leisurely moments we have some magical colours, be it that this is also played with some orchestral power in place. The energy never stops. Reminds me of the slogan: "Angry young men". In the third movement there is some notion of this picturesque finery  as met in the other works, and the dialog between strings and winds is soothing. It has almost a Spring mood. The last movement shakes you out of this melodic high in a jiffy, and the composer enters with bold steps and lots of energy. It's a bloody marvelous work! The performance matches all requirements, and the recording is amazing in it's clarity and details. The acoustics of the Bergen hall tends to favour the lower regions of the orchestra, which means that you have to have very good equipment to keep it all in the picture. Bass heavy.
Nevertheless, recommended.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Dvorak, Antonin. (1841-1904) and Suk, Josef. (1874-1935) Orchestral Works.

From my collection.
Bought in 2012.
Label: Supraphon.
First listen: 31-1-2012.
Second listen: 12-5-2015.
Third listen: 28-3-2017.
Recording dates: 1980 and 1982.
Compilation date: 1991-1999
Recording venue: Smetana Hall of the Municipal House, Prague.
Recording engineers: Vaclav Zamazal and Vaclav Roubal.
Running time: 67:36.
Classical relevance to me: Essential, a mood changer:)


Antonin Dvorak.
Festival March. Polonaise in E flat major.
Polka in B flat major.
Prague Waltzes,
Waltzes opus 54. 1-8. (arr by J. Burghauser)

Josef Suk.

Fantastic Scherzo for Orchestra, opus 25.


Prague SO, Jiri Belohlavek.

One could safely say it's filled with happy carefree music, music composed for occasions. Who doesn't know the delightful waltzes, opus 54, with their infectious melodies that stay with you for days after hearing them, or the fine Polka with its finely chiseled harmonies. The Scherzo by Suk is a matching piece of blatant happiness. Whatever the music does to you, this performance will bring you good cheer. All sounds effortless and relaxed, and is recorded in the warm acoustics of the Smetana house, directed by a fine conductor.  Would have wished to hear more detail as it is.
The world gets sunny in an instant when the A major waltz slides into your ears ever so gently.
The Scherzo from Suk is a bit more serious, despite the fact that the composer thought it a mere trifle and minor composition. It's none of those things.

Madetoja, Leevi. (1887-1947) Orchestral Works, Volume 5.

From my collection.
Bought in April 2015.
First listen:30-4-2015.
Second listen: 12-5-2015.
Third listen: 28-3-2017.
Label: Alba.
Recording dates: August 1998, August 2002, August 2004.
Recording venue: Madetoja Hall, Oulu Music Centre, Finland.
Recording engineer: Antti Karvonen, Antti Kettunen.
Running time: 73:10.
Classical relevance to me: Interesting.

Works performed:

Kullervo Overture, opus 15.
Vainamoinen Sows the Wilderness, opus 46.
Little Suite, opus 12.
Autumn, opus 68.
Okon Fuoko Suite II, compiled by Arvo Volmer.

Performed by:

Tuomas Katajala, Tenor.
Kirsi Tiihonen, Soprano.
Tuula Fleivik, Viola Solo.
Oulu Sinfonia, Arvo Volmer.

When I bought this disc, I was well aware of two works on this cd I might not like, opus 46 for orchestra and tenor, and opus 68 for orchestra and soprano, and sure enough for me they were duds from the highest level. I find opus 46 highly uninteresting, and opus 68 was a serious attempt to take my life on this earth. Kirsi Tiihonen is a dramatic soprano, who featured primarily in Wagner operas, and this you can hear. Her vibrato works out like a perpetuum mobile, it never stops, and there is more vibrato as actual notes in the score. The music is great, but they should have chosen a totally different soloist, so guess what, both works are a big no no for me. So many good sopranos, and they hire this woman, who will be a great Brunhilde, but a poor interpreter of serious music.

Back to the fine part of this cd, starting with the Kullervo Overture. Now we might all say and refer to Sibelius for this, but stop right there, because there is actually no comparison in order here. His take is much more complex in orchestration, and his soundscapes are far denser as Sibelius his compositions. That is not to say that there are too many notes in this work, but simply that it walks a different path. The Little Suite is a work full of gaiety and mystery, magical moments, with a gorgeous second movement. Very impressive.
The Okon Fuoko Suite is a well thought out work, with technical demands for the musicians on a very high level. Volmer compiled this suite from the 80 minutes of the original score, of which Madetoja only took 14 minutes. Volmer did not add things from himself, but used what Madetoja wrote, so some 7 minutes of added music. All is well orchestrated, more of a technical feat, and less emotional. I admire the music, but it does not really warm my cold hands at this particular fire. The recording is good to very good. that has to do with the different recording years. 

Zador, Eugene. (1894-1977) Orchestral Works, Volume II.

From my collection.
Bought: April 2015.
First listen: 29-4-2015.
Second listen: 30-4-2015.
Third listen: 28-3-2017.
Label: Naxos.
Recording dates: September 2011.
Recording venue: Studio 6, Hungarian Radio, Budapest.
Recording engineer: Peter Aczel.
Running time: 68:21.
Classical relevance to me: Worthwhile to acquire.

Works performed:

Elegie and Dance. (1954)
Oboe Concerto. (1975)
Divertimento for Strings. (1954)
Studies for Orchestra. (1969)

Performed by:

Laszlo Hadady, Oboe.
Budapest SO, Mariusz Smolij.

The second instalment released by Naxos from this composer, who is largely unknown and will suffer that fate after these recordings. I have no trust whatsoever that he will be the toast of town of the so called classical experts in the field. So for the happy few I would say. That Zador is a versatile and creative composer we know from the first volume in this series, and from thereon there is no disappointment in terms of music that doesn't have a high standard, for everything that is recorded so far shows clear signs of a excellent grasp of counterpoint and a knack for ideas and melodic lines. His palette is a rich one, and the musical food tasty to a point of ecstatic heights. A lot of Hungarian overtones in the music, all of which is orchestrated in a genial fashion. The cd starts with Elegie and Dance. The Elegie is ravishing in its beauty and meditative to a point of extreme harmony in all matters. A powerful yet pastoral movement, very romantic in its demeanor. In all his works he creates a broad landscape of orchestral colours, thoroughly tonal, with just a few overtones of neo-classical influences. But basically its traditional, with a bit of tiptoeing into another field across the road. My favorite pieces are the Elegie of course, and his last orchestral piece, Studies for Orchestra. In the last piece you can hear the fabulous counterpoint.

The recording is really very good, like volume I, save for some close miking in the oboe concerto, and the divertimento for strings. That can be a little too loud at times. But minor quibbles that are, sound and performance is superb. Recommended.

Paderewski, Ignacy Jan. (1860-1941) Symphony in B minor. (Polonia) opus 24.

From my collection.
Bought in 2011.
First listen: 8-3-2011.
Second listen: 28-3-2017.
Label: Hyperion. (Helios)
Recording dates: January 1998.
Recording venue: Greyfriars Church Edinburgh, Scotland.
Recording engineer: Philip Hobbs.
Running time: 74:21.
Classical relevance to me: Mildly interesting.

Works performed:
See heading.

Works performed by:
BBC Scottish SO, Jerzy Maksymiuk.

A very long Symphony, and it would even be longer if Paderewski would have composed the intended Scherzo. I am glad he did not. This work is often performed with cuts in the score to the first and third movement. Normally I would not understand such drastic measures, but in this case I am more lenient as I would have been otherwise. For to my ears it is too long. At times the music is lingering on in a late romantic fashion, but comprehension is dwindling along the road, and the mind wanders off, to do other things. Normally I can sit listening concentrated of what is going on, but the problem with this work is that almost nothing is happening, apart from being nice music. It has not sufficient impact on me I am sorry to say. I appreciate the effort but it could have done in half the time, and the work would have been stronger for it. I liked it, but I will not return to it.
The recording is good, the performance also. Listen to samples before you buy.

Friday, March 24, 2017

Holbrooke, Josef. (1878-1958) Symphonic Poems. Top recommendation.

From my collection.
Bought in 2011.
First listen: 1-4-2011.
Second listen: 24-3-2017.
Label: CPO.
Recording dates: August 2008.
Recording venue: Konzerthalle "C.P.E. Bach, Frankfurt/Oder, Germany.
Recording engineer: Matthias Schurz.
Running time: 56:26.
Classical relevance to me: Absolutely essential.

Works performed:
Amontillado, Dramatic overture, opus 123.
The Viking, Poem No. 2 for orchestra, opus 32.
Three blind mice, Symphonic variations on an old English air, opus 37, No. 1.
Ulalume, Poem No. 3 for orchestra, opus 35.

Performed by:
Brandenburgisches Staatsorchester, Frankfurt, Howard Griffiths.

Did you ever had the urge to applaud ferociously after listening to a CD? No? Well today this happened to me, and for the fun of it I shouted loudly Bravo!
Josef Holbrooke is an unknown composer to most of us. Even I did not hear of him. By chance I found a CD with his works on CPO, but after listening once it gathered dust, as so many of my huge piles of CD'S. I am going through these piles to single out the ones that I already played more as once, and put them in the listening queue, for the last time. Holbrooke however had just one play, but I decided to make this the last CD of today. I can tell you that I fell from amazement into admiration, and felt like being on an adventurous expedition. 
This man writes music that captures your imagination in one sweep of a few notes. He is so deliciously different from any English composer I know, that it is utterly refreshing to dip my senses into what Holbrooke has to offer, and that is much. His writing style is unique, for I could not find comparisons in other composers from his time. His writing for Brass is amazing, his awareness in applying dynamics is devastatingly beautiful, and the way he is putting everything together utterly unique!
Never mind which piece you take first, it all bears the same stamp. Surprise after surprise, harmonies beyond believe, and melodies that will haunt you through the day and weeks to come.
His is a tonal world, with some appropriate modernness, but always in perfect synch.  I will forthwith try to find more recordings of his work, and am grateful for any pointer towards them.
You get State of the Art sound with capital letters! This orchestra is fully up to the task, and Griffiths is enjoying himself immensely.
You can find through Wikipedia all the info you need about this composer and his works.
For me to say, go get this CD.

Röntgen, Julius. (1855-1932) Orchestral Works. Symphony No. 8 & 15.

From my collection.
Bought in 2009.
First listen: 30-7-2009.
Second listen: 23-11-2009.
Third listen: 24-3-2017.
Label: CPO.
Recording dates: March/October 2006.
Recording venue: Großer Sendesaal des Landesfunkhausen, Niedersachsen, Germany.
Recording engineer: Björn Brigsne.
Running time: 69:29.
Classical relevance to me: Essential.

Works performed:
Symphony No 8 in C sharp minor.
No 15 in F sharp minor.
Variationen über eine Norwegische Volksweise.

Performed by:
NDR Radiophilharmonie, David Porcelijn.
Carmen Fuggiss, soprano.

Julius Röntgen is without a doubt my number 1 composer from Dutch soil. Whatever this man is composing, it's always worthwhile. Of all the CD'S I have with his music, not one of them disappoints. The richness with which he writes is couched in a warm romantic idiom, without getting overly sentimental. The sweetness is just a tinge on the tongue, just right to get a good taste. As a orchestrator he might be seen as one of the very best, and if it comes to catchy tunes, and satisfying melodies, he is your man. He can go deep, and comes up as quickly, just to show that on the surface there are also gems to be got. A brilliant composer who shows his genius immediately in the 8th symphony. It is in one movement and fluently written, encompassing all moods and emotions. He uses a soprano in this work, and she sings without words, and little vibrato. Well integrated into the framework of this symphony, she adds a welcome addition to the faery like moments in the Lento. She is perfectly woven into this work, thank God I would say. One of Röntgen's best works.
The 15th symphony is a bit more earthbound, but not so much as to say it's robust. Again all the means he commands out of his creative mind is given in the service of projecting a well balanced work so characteristically in his oeuvre. It's a colourful trip through what is possible in the hands of a master. A great work. The variations are unashamedly romantic in character, and the sweetness is as nourishing as honey. Pastoral in many places, but not without one or two wake up calls. Is a well balanced work, expertly written. 
The sound is almost State of the Art, and the performance is certainly a reference one.

Janáček, Leoš. (1854-1928) Orchestral Works. Reference recording (Performance) Top recommendation.

From my collection.
Bought in 2010.
First listen: 17-3-2010.
Second listen: 24-3-2017.
Label: Hyperion.
Recording dates: June 2004 & January 2005.
Recording venue: Caird Hall, Dundee, Scotland.
Recording engineer: Simon Eadon.
Running time: 59:54.
Classical relevance to me: Essential for the last 3 works of this CD.

Works performed:
The Eternal Gospel, Legend for Soprano, tenor, chorus and orchestra.
The Ballad of Blaník.
The Fiddler's child, ballad for Violin and orchestra.
The excursions of Mr. Brouček, Suite for orchestra.

Performed by:
BBC scottish SO, Ilan Volkov.
Elizabeth Layton, Violin.

When I bought this CD in 2010, the works performed were new to me. Now after almost 7 years of gathering dust, I familiarize myself again with 3 fantastic works. I forgot how good they are, and what a wealth of creativity from the hands of this composer. It does not matter which work you choose to listen to, it is apparent that these are not simply easy going pieces, but they are extraordinarily wrought into masterworks. As simple as that. I was utterly stunned by the Fiddler's Child, and blown away by The Excursions....The writing is sublime, the pacing perfect, and the expression beyond believe. The best Janácek I have heard so far. Would love more of this. But all falls and stands with the orchestra and soloists, so I am happy to say that think them reference performances. Furthermore it is a State of the Art recording. Very much recommended.
I did not sample the Eternal Gospel, this configuration is not for me I am afraid.

Rózsa, Miklós. (1907-1995) Orchestral Works, Volume I.

From my collection.
Bought in 2010.
First listen: 24-4-2010.
Second listen: 8-3-2011.
Third listen: 24-3-2017.
Label: Chandos.
Recording dates: January 2008.
Recording venue: Studio 7, New broadcasting House, Manchester, England.
Recording engineer: Stephen Rinker.
Running time: 74:46.
Classical relevance to me: Well worth having.

Works performed:

Overture to a Symphony Concert, opus 26a. (1956, revised 1963) to Eugene Zador.
Three Hungarian Sketches, opus 14. (1938, revised 1958) for full orchestra.
Tripartita, opus 33. (1971, revised 1972) for orchestra.
Hungarian Serenade, opus 25. (1932, revised 1946) for small orchestra.

Performed by: 
BBC Philharmonic, Rumon Gamba.

I always admired Rózsa for his unbridled artistry, and genius of orchestration. No doubt he belonged to the best of them in his time. There is not a single work that falls below this high level of creativity. His works are always propulsive, energized to the max, and brimfull the picturesque ideas. His music is at times raw and uncensored, driven and unrelenting, but knows as much pastoral and spiritual moments. Never boring, always surprising, and technically perfect. The overture dedicated to Eugene Zador, whom I admire also, and of which I have several CD'S, is stunning in it's conception, and I am sure Zador would have loved it. I think it is the strongest work on this disc. But then I love all what is on offer. Rarely he steps out of tonality. A bit stretched here and there but not much.
The recording is of Chandos quality, so very good. The performance could not be better.

Smetana, Bedřich. (1824-1884) Incidental music from his Operas. Volume II.

From my collection.
Bought in 2010.
First listen: 24-3-2010
Second listen: 11-3-2011.
Third listen: 24-3-2017.
Label: Chandos.
Recording dates: October 2008.
Recording venue: Studio 7, BBC Broadcasting House, Manchester, England.
Recording engineer: Stephen Rinker.
Running time: 72:33.
Classical relevance: Well worth having.

Works performed:
See front booklet.

Performed by: BBC Philharmonic, Gianandrea Noseda.

I bought this CD together with other Chandos CD'S in a sale, which does not occur on a regular basis. Chandos keeps out of the way in discounting the price of their productions. This time I was lucky I guess. Well Smetana's incidental music from his many operas. I do not listen to opera, but I am quite happy to listen to the instrumental music out of these works. And this disc is full of it. I almost never heard any of the music, so after all the years of gathering dust, they were still new to me. I like the sublime writing, so full of joy, drama, and reference to lost and gained love. All lovingly played by this orchestra in fine Chandos sound. One day I must get the other volumes of this series. 73:00 minutes is a long stretch, but I took it all in one gulp, and reckoned that this was a tad to much in one hearing, for my thoughts kept wandering. Nothing to do with the quality of the music, probably the mesmerizing effect of the notes.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Vecchi, Orazio. (1550-1605( Requiem. Ruben's funeral and the Antwerp Baroque.

New acquisition.
New release 2017.
Bought in March 2017.
First listen: 23-3-2017.
Label: Glossa.
Recording dates: February 2016.
Recording venue: Church of Saint Rémi, Franc-Waret, Belgium.
Recording engineer: Alexandre Fostier.
Running time: 67:00.
Classical relevance to me: Essential.

Works performed:

Orazio Vecchi.
Requiem-Missa pro defunctis.
The Libera me Domine a 8, at the end of the requiem was written by Paolo Bravusi. (1586-1630)
( in: Missae senis et octonis vocibus: Phalèse II, Antwerp 1578)

George de la Hèle. (1547-1586)
Kyrie a 6.
Sanctus a 6.
Agnus Dei a 6 & 7.
From Missa praeter rerum seriem; in: Octo missae, Plantin, Antwerp 1578.

Pedro Ruimonte, (1565-1627)
Agnus Dei (a 5&6) from: Missa ave virgo sanctissima; in: Missae sex IV.V.VI. Vocum, Phalèse II Antwerp 1604.

Duarte Lobo. (c.1565-1646)
Agnus Dei (a 4&5)
From: Missa Dum aurora; in: Liber LL missarum, Plantin, Antwerp 1639.

Performed by:
Graindelavoix, Björn Schmelzer.

A new release from Graindelavoix, and as per usual a good one. This ensemble gets a lot of positive reviews, but also attracts conservatives if it comes to performance practice. It's good for the intellectual balance I guess, but in the end your ears decide. My ears and musical knowledge say that it is good to have a refreshing wind blowing through the quarters of old. There are many ways in which to perform renaissance music, for neither of us know how it was performed. The singing of this ensemble is impeccable, they cannot be flawed in any way in the balance they create, the dynamics they apply, or the way they sing these works. This and much more is perfect.
As to the compositions on this CD, Schmelzer has some sensible things to say in how and why, essential reading before listening I might add. It is also a good idea to look on Wikipedia and read about all 4 composers on this disc. It is necessary for the preparation in understanding the music. I found some very useful information that helped me considerably to make loose ends meet.
As to the performance, well it's breathtaking. The total harmony and fluency, coupled with a state of the art recording, creates a virtual heaven of pure music. Every single voice blends, yet they melt into one sound, but every voice is distinguishable. The acoustics of the church give it a spiritual boost, and adds warmth and a sense of deep commitment. Should you have this recording. Absolutely, unless you disagree with all that Schmelzer stands for.
Firmly recommended.

Winter, von Peter. (1754-1825) Orchestral works.

From my collection.
Bought in 2012.
First listen: 25-10-2012.
Second listen: 1-11-2012.
Third listen: 23-3-2017.
Label: CPO.
Recording dates: January 2009.
Recording venue: BR München, Studio 1, Germany.
Recording engineer: Not mentioned.
Running time: 56:08.
Classical relevance to me: Well worth having.

Works performed:
Sinfonia No. 1 in D major.
Ouverture à grand Orchestre opus 24 in C minor.
From: Six Entr'Actes, No. 3/5/6.
Sinfonia O opus in D major. "Schweriner".

Performed by:
Münchner Rundfunkorchester, Johannes Moesus.
Soloists in the Entr'Actes:
Christiane Dohn, Flute.
Jürgen Evers, Oboe.
Michael Weigel, Bassoon.

He was one of the most productive and versatile composers of all times. His name was famous throughout Europe, from Russia to France, and from Italy to England. He was elevated to the nobility. His burial cortege was like a royal funeral procession. But none of this could keep Peter von Winter from quickly and completely falling into oblivion.
Was that deserved? No, of course not, but it happened anyway.
He was considered in the 19th century as on equal footing with the likes of, Bach, Handel, Haydn, Gluck, Mozart, Beethoven and Weber. And do I think this to be true? Well his music is distinguished by a characteristically captivating swing and a colourful orchestration. All is finely balanced in tone colour and transparently instrumented, a brilliant orchestrator, his work has a unifying outlook, and a blending of instinctive and formal sureness, which you find throughout the works on this disc. If you need sampling, just go to the entr'Actes, which is brilliantly written, and a demonstration work of how good a composer he actually was. This stream of quality writing is part and parcel of his compositions. A unique voice? Yes, but not without its influences from the named composer earlier in this review. You will only notice this in the technical part, melodically and emotionally, this is prime von Winter.
The recording is good, with enough detail, and a good stage image. The orchestra could have done with smaller forces, but they do a perfectly good job.

Hristić, Stevan. (1885-1958) & Slavenski, Josip. (1896-1955) Orchestral Works.

From my collection.
Bought in 2011.
First listen: 1-3-2011.
Second listen: 11-1-2013. 
Third listen: 23-3-2017.
Label: CPO.
Recording dates: March 1988.
Recording venue: Großer Sendesaal, Hannover, Germany.
Recording engineer: Manfred Kietzke.
Running time: 58:42.
Classical relevance to me: Well worth having.

Works performed:

Hristić, Stevan.
The Legend of Ohrid, Orchestral suite from the ballet.

Slavenski, Josip.
Balkanophonia, opus 10.

Performed by:
NDR Radiophilharmonie Hannover, Moshe Atzmon.

Two composers from the former Yugoslavia, who are the opposites in musical expression. But interesting nevertheless. The Legend is a masterpiece in every respect, and based on a folk story. This ballet is a type of symphonized romanticist ballet. You will hear influences of the Russian school, mostly Rimski Korsakov. And it is this influence which gives the music it's magical character. It is divided in four suites, and was hugely popular in his time, which I understand and agree. It's a fine work from beginning to end, and well worth hearing.
Josip Slovenski's Balkanophonia is a different kettle of fish altogether. He is considered one of the most important composers of Yugoslavia, and this composition is seen as one of the very best he wrote, although it was a work from his youth. To me however it sounds more like a technical exercise, brilliantly written, but to chaotic and to modern for me. Melodically it does not impress me very much for this kind of modernity is lost on me. Too fuzzy and wayward for my perception.
A composer whose expressiveness possesses elemental power and is bold in his search for new expressive possibilities, close to folklore expressionism of a Bartok type. I find Bartok far more appealing as Slovenski's quest. 
The performance can be a bit rough and ready, but does not lack in expression. The idiom is simply not everydays food for a German orchestra. The recording is quite good.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Vranický, Pavel. (1756-1808) Symphonies.

From my collection.
Bought in 2012.
First listen: January & February 2012.
Second listen: November 2012.
Third listen: 22 & 23-3-2017.
Label: Supraphon. (2 CD'S)
Recording dates: 1988 & 1990.
Recording venues: Rudolfinum, Prague & Domovina Studio, Prague.
Recording engineer: Zdeněk Zahradnik.
Remastered by: Oldřich Slezák, ADK Studio, Prague, 2006.
Running time: 55:40 & 56:25.
Classical relevance to me: Well worth having.

Works performed: 
Symphony in D major, opus 53. c.1805.
In C minor, sine, opus. c.1800.
In D major, opus 36. c.1800.
In C major, opus 11. c.1790.

Performed by:
Dvořák Chamber Orchestra, Bohumil Gregor.

A composer that doesn't come often on my path, but back in 2012 I bought this twofar, and liked it, but further as that it did not go. Today I stumbled over it, and decided to re-listen it, for I could not remember how it sounded. Well first of all, the acoustics of the Rudolfinum is spacious with a reverb of about 5 seconds, which gives this concert hall a powerful feedback. A chamber orchestra gets as big as a full blown orchestra, and you simply have to acclimatize. This done, there is some nice listening time ahead.
Vranický is not the greatest composer around. His music is a bit derivative. His style clearly belongs to the Viennese classicism as represented by Haydn, Mozart and young Beethoven. And this is most evident in his symphonies, for you meet all three of them on a regular basis. But the genius about Vranický is that he works very inventively and creatively with the material at hand, and so cooks up works that hold both pleasure and melodic surprises, for it is all well written. So he can be markedly original in some instances, and as such he has his own individual style. And what comes out, I like enormously. He does not write blockbusters, but what comes out of his pen is rewarding nevertheless. The performances are remarkably good, and the recording is able to hold a tight focus on the music, without being too much bothered by the reverb. 

Haydn, Joseph. (1732-1809) The Complete Symphonies. (almost) CD 13. The Hogwood edition.

From my collection.
Gifted to me in 2013.
First listen: 2-4-2014.
Second listen: 22-3-2017.
Label: L'oiseau-Lyre.
CD 13 from 32.
Recording dates:  During 1989.
Recording venue: Walthamstow Assembly Hall, London, England.
Recording engineer: Not specifically mentioned.
Running time: 65:20.
Classical relevance to me: Essential.

Works performed:
Symphony No. 35 in B flat major.
No. 38 in C major.
No. 39 in G minor.

Works performed by:
The Academy of Ancient Music, Christopher Hogwood.

Enjoyed all three symphonies. Each of them has a few treats and tricks that will surprise you. What stayed most with me is the excellent brass playing, and the first and last movement of the Symphony No 39. Especially the first movement kept playing through my head over and over again. These punctuated rhythms kept pounding repeatedly through my head, without stopping.
That's Haydn for you. Always insistent😁

d' Erlanger, Frederic. (1868-1943) * Cliffe, Frederic. (1857-1931) "The Romantic Violin Concerto", Volume 10. Top recommendation.

From my collection.
Bought in 2011.
First listen: 31-1-2011.
Second listen: 24-4-2014.
Third listen: 22-3-2017.
Label: Hyperion.
Recording dates: 2010.
Recording venue: BBC Hoddinott Hall, Cardiff.
Recording engineer: David Hinitt.
Running time: 69:45.
Classical relevance to me: Essential. Reference performance, and top recommendation.


Frederic d' Erlanger.

Violin Concerto in D minor, opus 17. (1902)
Poeme in D major. (1918, orchestrated c.1926)

Frederic Cliffe.

Violin concerto in D minor. (1896)


Philippe Graffin, Violin.
BBC National Orchestra of Wales, David Lloyd Jones.

This is a demonstration class recording. The ambiente fits so perfectly around the violin, and gives the orchestra such a depth, that hardly anything escapes you. And there is a lot to enjoy. Truly romantic this music is. It will embrace you, with its haunting melodies, and the gorgeous adagio's, in the best tradition of the romantic concerto. The Violin is such a apt instrument to convey feelings of passion and the urge to express this whether your are the performing musician, or the one that is listening to the music. It will satisfy both. For the technical demands are high for the violinist, and the sense of the listener has to be attuned to what the music has on offer. The  concerto by d' Erlanger is in the context of all existing violin literature one, that can easily hold its place with the ones that are considered the greats. If the first movement does not convince you, the second one will no doubt plunge you in admiration. Its one of the best romantic Adagio movement I've heard so far.

And the quirky Allegro Molto that follows, gets you spirits up in no time. A fine conversation the Violin has with the orchestra. d'Erlanger did well in scoring so equally well for both participants. Lyrical, melodious, inventive, I consider this a great concerto! The poem could be a Fourth movement to the Violin concerto, for it goes on in the same vein.

I have some Orchestral works by Cliffe, and admire this composer very much. His Violin concerto is a powerful piece of overwhelming beauty, that grasps you the moment the first movement starts.  His melodious skills, which he already showed in his orchestral works, I have heard, are build together in music that has such an deep emotional message, that it easily conforms to whatever emotional experience you had in your own life. It fits itself around your personality, the fact that this music can do that shows you how perfectly it is conceived. Just let the second movement cover you in all its beauty, its such a charmer, with very pretty soloistic accents, spread all over it.

The Lento intro of the third movement is awesome, I have no other word for it. Its almost a lament, that quickly goes over in the most optimistic tunes you can imagine. The same power as in the first movement pops up again and frames the composition with some inspiring melodies, and perfect harmonies. If you love this Romantic violin series by Hyperion, this is a disc you really want, nee, need! The performance is all what you want. Big kudos to performers and sound engineer.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Dohnanyi, von Ernst. (1877-1960) Piano Concertos 1 and 2.

From my collection.
Bought in 2010.
First listen: 24 and 31 of June 2010.
Second listen: 9-4-2014.
Third listen: 21-3-2017.
Label: Chandos Classics.
Recording dates: 2001 and 2004.
Recording venue: Studio 7, New Broadcasting House, Manchester, England.
Recording engineer: Stephen Rinker.
Running time: 72:25.
Classical relevance to me: Well worth having.


Piano concerto N0.1, opus 5 in E minor, and N0. 2, opus 42 in B minor.


Howard Shelley, Piano.
BBC Philharmonic, Matthias Bamert.

Dohnanyi was never a modern composer, but he stood more in the post Brahmsian tradition, and lived quite happily there until the end of his life. Not so much a anachronism, as a composer that kept to a tradition that had enough possibilities, and he used it wisely. Dohnanyi was a romantic composer by heart, and these piano concertos tell a truly committed story. His music can stand alongside such luminaries like Rachmaninoff,  Korngold or even Richard Strauss, without having to be embarrassed about what he produced, even at that time this romantic idiom was totally outdated, as Kodaly and Bartok would like us to believe. Well I do not believe, and so am enjoying these pillars in the romantic tradition, played with passion and commitment, and recorded in a warm yet detailed acoustic.  His style is less connected with his birth country Hungary, but has a cosmopolitan twist, that is much broader as a nationalistic background. The very basis however for these piano concertos is Brahms all the way, and to match or improve on his concertos is an act of excellence in itself.  He could say new things in a time honoured language, and for this I am grateful. Recommended.

Nielsen, Carl. (1865-1931) Orchestral Works. The Nielsen Edition. CD 7.

From my collection.
Bought in 2012.
First listen: 22-3-2013.
Second listen: 21-3-2017. 
Label: Classico.
CD 7 from 10.
Recording dates: August 2005, opus 57 & November 1996, opus 43 and Serenata in vano.
Recording venue: Pardubice (Czech Republic) opus 57. Opus 43 and Serenata, unknown.
Recording engineers: Unknown.
Running time: 60:11.
Classical relevance to me: Essential.

Works performed:
Concerto for Clarinet and Orchestra, opus 57. (TOP RECOMMENDATION)
Wind quintet opus 43.
Serenata in vano, for Clarinet, bassoon, horn, cello and double bass.

Performed by:
Opus 57.
John Kruse, Clarinet. 
Cecile Boiffin, Side drum.
Czech Chamber PO, Douglas Bostock.

Scandinavian Chamber players.
Opus 43 and Serenata in vano.

I was totally boiled over by the clarinet concerto, which is perfectly performed and recorded in State of the Art sound. John Kruse's tone is velvety and warm. He plays with a lucidity that took my breath away, and this orchestra made the feast complete. Enough for me to label it a top recommendation, for its interpretation leaves nothing to wish for. From such an unknow quartier emerges a wonderful recording. The side drum is well played in the third movement, very alert, scrumptious even. All in all it is well projected as a whole. 
The Wind Quintet is a well written piece, with many fine variations along the road, and perfectly played and projected by a for me unknown band. But the Serenata in vano took the cake in every respect. Such a sensuous introduction, in a magical setting, as if started in Arabia. It made me think of his Aladdin Suite, the same sort of musical content. For me one of the best pieces Nielsen wrote for winds. And the double bass
The recording is top notch, but do not play it too loud, it gets rough at the edges at times. 

Haydn, Joseph. (1732-1809) The complete symphonies [Well almost] The Hogwood edition. CD 12.

From my collection.
Gifted to me in 2013.
First listen: 27-3-2014.
Second listen: 21-3-2017.
Label: L'oiseau-Lyre.
CD 12 from 32.
Recording dates: November 1988 & April 1989.
Recording venue: Walthamstow Assembly Hall, London, England.
Recording engineer: Not specifically mentioned.
Running time: 69:39.
Classical relevance to me: Essential.

Works recorded:
Symphony No. 30 in C major, : Alleluja".
No. 31 in D major, "Hornsignal".
No. 34 in D minor.

Performed by:
The Academy of Ancient Music, Christopher Hogwood.

Another success without end. Three gorgeous symphonies placed behind each other. I seem to enjoy more and more what is on offer in this box. And why should I wonder about that, these being almost perfect performances. You will be hard pressed to find better interpretations on authentic instruments. As rigorous as Hogwood is, in reaching for perfection, musicality is always the prime goal.
And in being thus inclined you get such wonderful contributions from the Horn in symphony No. 31. Frankly I have not heard this so good as on the present recording. And that goes for all three works, each of them the best Haydn could produce. But what would that matter if not having a perfect presentation? Well on that score Hogwood satisfies any possible craving, for they are lacking in none, and you get what's in it, a maximum treatment in Haydn's genius.
The recording is absolutely top notch.

Biber, Heinrich Ignaz Franz. (1644-1704. The Mystery sonatas, part 2. CD 2.

New acquisition.
Bought in March 2017.
First listen: 21-3-2017.
Label: Brilliant.
CD 2 from 5.
Recording dates: 2016.
Recording venue: Westvestkerk, Schiedam, The Netherlands.
Recording engineer: Peter Arts.
Running time: 61:48.
Classical relevance to me: Essential.

Work performed:
The Crucifixion.
The glorious mysteries.

Performed by:
Igor Ruhadze, Baroque violin.
(Ruhadze plays on two fantastically sounding violins, to know: David Tecchler, Rome,  1706, and a C. Jacobs, Amsterdam 1693)
Ensemble Violini Capricciosi. ( On authentic instruments)
Vaughan Schlepp, Harpsichord.
Felicity Goodwin, Organ.
Nika Zlatarić, Baroque cello.
Regina Albanez, Theorbo.

CD 2 is amazingly recorded, and for my money this is a reference recording. Not the only one, but one of them. I have more interpretations in my collection, so I have a reference in that respect. It's the total harmony and synthesis of this ensemble that makes the day. Such well informed playing, just putting into this interpretation what it needs, letting the music speak for itself. So do not expect flashy details, but be surprised by elegant playing, rigorous attention to detail, and excellent ensemble play. All of the musicians are on the top of their game. Ruhadze is without doubt one of the great Baroque violinists around these days. This kind of Biber has my votes full hundred procent.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Froberger, Johann Jacob. (1616-1667) The Complete music for Harpsichord and Organ. CD 11. Partitas from secondary sources, (VI)

New acquisition.
Bought in 2016.
First listen: 20-3-2017.
Label: Brilliant.
CD 11 from 16.
Recording dates: March 2016.
Recording venue: Saletta Acustica Eric James Pove del Grappa, Vicenza, Italy.
Recording engineer: Alessandro Simonetto.
Running time: 52:13.
Classical relevance to me: Essential.

Works performed:
See heading.

Works performed by:
Simone Stella.
Instrument: William Horn after Ioannes Ruckers, 1638.

Since I will not repeat myself in all the 16 CD'S I just say that to me they are perfect, all of them. Interpretation and sound are right in my ally, and although I will acquire Bob van Asperen's take on Froberger, these Brilliant recordings will be for me the first on the list.
Perfectly recorded. Recommended.

Langgaard, Rued. (1893-1952) The Complete Symphonies. CD 2.

From my collection.
Bought in 2013.
First listen: 4-3-2013.
Second listen: 20-3-2017.
Label Dacapo.
CD 2 from 7.
Recording dates:  Between 1998-2008.
Recording venue: Danish Radio Concert Hall.
Recording engineer: Jan Oldrup.
Running time: 68:00
Classical relevance to me: Essential.

Works performed:
Symphony No. 2, (Awakening of the Spring) For Soprano solo and Orchestra.
No. 3, (The Flush of Youth-La Melodia) for Piano solo, Orchestra and Choir.

Performed by:
Inger Dam-Jensen, Soprano.
Per Salo, Piano.
Danish National SO-Vocal ensemble and Choir. Thomas Dausgaard.

After a long time I came back to these recordings. And after listening for the second time I came to the conclusion that I find them to be exceptionally good. This composer is simply bubbling  over with gorgeous melodic ideas that keep tumbling over each other like an unstoppable waterfall. I liked every single note, one by one. The richness of his scoring does not lead to a mass of sound, but to a perfect tonal harmony, of which I think you will not find in the same manner with other composers of his time. All what one can imagine as musical expression Langgaard delivers with ease. It was for me a revelation all over again. I heartily disliked the first Symphony, but 2 and 3 are in my ears masterworks. For me it was a pity that I could not play the third movement of Symphony No. 2, for singing like this, is too offensive for my ears. Did not like the soprano and her shrill voice. But I had enough quality in the first two movements to cover the defect in the third movement.
Symphony No 3 has a solo piano in it and well it is played by Per Salo, brilliant even. The choir comes in, in the last movement of this symphony and is well integrated into the score, so it did not greatly bother me. The portrayal of Langgaards genius is perfectly translated by the forces involved. The recording is good, my only quibble is, be it a minor one, that the timpani gets a bit boomy at times, it simply does not spread out in the acoustics of the hall, but apart from that it's easy on the ear, with good detail. All very easy on the ear. 
I will return to this CD.

Bridge, Frank. (1879-1941) Orchestral works. Volume 5 & 6.

From my collection.
Bought in 2013.
First listen: 5-3-2014.
Second listen: 20-3-2017.
Label: Chandos. 
CD 5 from 6.
Recording dates: October 2004.
Recording venue: Brangwyn Hall Swansea 
Recording engineer: Ralph Couzens.
Running time: 68:17.
Classical relevance to me: Essential.


Suite for Strings H.93. (1909-10)
The Hag, H14. (1902) for Baritone and orchestra.*
Two Songs of Robert Bridges, H65. (1905-06), for Baritone and Orchestra.*
Two intermezzi from : Threads, H151. (1921/1938)
Two old English Songs, arr. for String orchestra. H119. (1916)
Two Entr'actes (1906/1926)
Valse intermezzo a cordes, H.17. (1902) No. 2 from "Four pieces for String orchestra", assembled and arranged by Paul Hindmarsh.
Todessehnsucht H. 181. (1932-1936) Arrangement for String orchestra of "Komm, Süßer Tod", BWV 478 from Schemelli's "Musicalisches Gesang Buch".*
Sir Roger de Coverly. ( "A Christmas Dance"), H.155. (1922/1939)


Roderick Williams, Baritone.
BBC National Orchestra of Wales, Richard Hickox.
Premiere recordings *

I have grown into a staunch admirer of this composer, for I think he has almost no equal amongst British composers. A very original voice, and a highly talented orchestrator to booth. What he writes is solid and perfectly conceived. Even the vocal works find favour with me, and you may call that unique with me! Already on the fifth disc, and again its filled with top compositions, every one of them. The Suite is a very English affair in the best tradition, it has devastatingly beautiful melodies, a piece that should belong to the performance repertoire, for it charms you in an instant. The Hag was a surprise for me, not because the Baritone sings perfectly, but listen to the orchestration! 2:25 of top Bridge. Did not expect that, and my ears are still ringing with bliss, and from this I went to the Songs of Robert Bridges, a equally well sung project, just two very sweet pastoral songs, that will have great effect on lovers alike, with a romantic inclination. The Two intermezzi are great fun, especially the Tempo di Valse movement, a merry go round, very well scored. Two Old English Songs, is more or less a Suite for string orchestra, and sweet it is. Perfect string writing. And I could say the same of the Two Entr'actes, albeit they have a somewhat robuster scoring, but carries the same loveliness. And what beauty unfolds with the Valse intermezzo a cordes, perfectly arranged by Paul Hindmarsh. You could easily score it for ballet, you can see the Prima dancing gaily.  

Todessehnsucht, is a profound statement of such beauty, that surely this must take its place in musical history. I was deeply moved by it, Bridge did a perfect job, in scoring this in such a sensitive way, That one is still with me!
Roger de Coverley is a corker, a instant liker as there ever was one. Again the scoring has me floored, something that happens on a regular basis with me, with this music.


From my collection.
Bought in 2013.
First listen: 6-3-2014.
Second listen: 20-3-2017.
Label: Chandos.
CD 6 from 6.
Recording dates:  October 2004.
Recording venue: Brangwyn Hall, Swansea.
Recording engineer: Ralph Couzens.
Running time: 61:14.
Classical relevance to me: Essential.


1) Blow out, you Bugles*
2) Adoration *
3) Where she lies Asleep.*
4) Love went a-riding*
5) Thy hand in mine*
6) Berceuse**
7) Mantle of Blue, for high voice and orchestra.
8) Day after day**
9) Speak to me my Love**
10) Berceuse.
11) Chant d'espérance, No. 2 from Trois <Morceaux d'orchestre. Premiere recording.
12) Serenade.
13) The Pageant of London. Premiere recording, for Wind orchestra.
14) A Royal night of Variety, Epilogue for Orchestra. Premiere recording.


Sarah Connolly, Mezzo-soprano.**
Philip Langridge, Tenor.*
Roderick Williams, Bariton.
Alban Gerhardt, Cello.
BBC National Chorus and Orchestra of Wales, Richard Hickox.

This is very special! All my life I hated this kind of singing, especially the English style of late romantic singing, but, Bridge is the exception on the rule. First his compositions are sublime, and there must be some secret ingredient, why I like these works so much, for my rationale is awol in this case. Sure I have some criticisms too, but in the light of me liking these pieces, and my relation with vocal contributions it's only to be expected. Langridge is a fine Tenor, but, in almost all the songs he has a vibrato that is slightly too much of the good thing, and at times very obtrusive. In that respect Connolly does better, being more discreet with it, although it's there. Minor grumblings. The purely orchestral parts on this CD are prime Bridge to, and it's such a fine close of this box. Demonstration class sound, and as to the performances, the late Richard Hickox may be rightly proud on this accomplishment. I am looking forward to his last recording on Chandos, Eugene Goossens orchestral Works, Volume II. Hickox planned to record all of Goossens neglected work, and that tragically has come to an end  in a sudden death. I lament this, and the death of a excellent conductor.

Tartini, Giuseppe.(1692-1770) The Complete Violin Concertos. CD 20-29.

New acquisition. (2017) First listen: 18-20-4-2018 Label: Dynamic. CD 20-29 from 29. Recording dates: 2004/2005/2006/2007/2008.2009/2010...