Saturday, April 29, 2017

Schumann, Georg. (1866-1952) Chamber Music. Piano Quartet & Cello Sonata.

From my collection.
Bought in November 2016.
First listen: 15-12-2016.
Second listen: 7-2-2017.
Third listen: 29-4-2017.
Label: CPO.
Recording dates: October 2013 & April 2014.
Recording venue: BR Studio München, Germany.
Recording engineer: Ulrike Schwarz.
Running time: 71:49.
Classical relevance to me: Essential.

Works performed: 
Piano Quartet, opus 29 in F minor.
Sonata for Cello & Piano, opus 19 in E minor.

Works performed by:
Münchner Klaviertrio.

A composer who stands with both feet in the Late romantic tradition. He inserted some modernity into his compositions, but basically you hear Brahms extended. I see that as a compliment, for if you can equal Brahms you are good, and Schumann certainly is. I tasted his chamber music before by another CPO recording so I knew what I bought. And it only strengthened my opinion of him. He inserts more passion, dares to step further out of line, and gets some wonderful harmonies as a result. The romantic impact of his writing is having a major influence in the music. Just sample the second movement of the opus 29, and you will know why. But also the second movement of opus 19 will do. I personally have a penchant towards this work with its fine sonorities. I like listening to his music, it is as if Brahms lived much longer, but that is not to say that Schumann copies, far from it. He simply belongs to a long line of composers that kept to the old ways, shunning new fangled modernity.
The recording is good, and the performance is superb. Well worth listening.

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

From my collection.
Bought in February 2014.
Label: CPO.
First listen: 24-2-2014.
Second listen: 29-4-2017.
Recording dates: October 2008.
Recording venue: Kirche Marthalen, Germany.
Recording engineer: Not named.
Running time: 58:02.
Classical relevance to me: Essential.


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


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

Felix Weingartner is a late romantic composer,  firmly rooted in the Classical Romantic tradition. It has some modernisms but never in an extreme way. Logically structured, and extremely clear and lucid in their projection of musical content. All his works are on a academic and intellectual level, and rich in expression. His music is very concentrated in content and demands rigorous attention to the score. Rhythmically it needs a precise approach and a good quartet balance, for Weingartner always writes in such a way that if played by a less experienced ensemble his SQ will sound like utter chaos.  I have been an admirer of his music, since I collected his wonderful Symphonies, they made quite an impression on me, and still do. So naturally from there I went to the SQ, which give me the same satisfaction as the orchestral works, being thoroughly romantic in nature. He is not adding new enhancements to the genre, but his tonality has certainly new elements, and those are the cherries on the cake. The imprint of the music is melancholy, bitter at times, but ultimately beautiful composed pieces with deep messages of spirituality and emotional growth.. And I wonder, why these SQ are not repertoire pieces. True enough, Weingartner was not a man who was liked much, and reading about his life, that's quite understandable, but it should not distract from the music, which is unmistakable excellent.  The performances are reference, and the recordings are very good too. 

Friday, April 28, 2017

Klenau, von Paul. (1883-1946) String Quartets No. 1,2 & 3.

From my collection.
Bought in 2011.
First listen: 4-2-2011.
Second listen: 28-4-2017.
Label: Dacapo.
Recording dates: February-March 2008.
Recording venue: Mariendalskirken, Frederiksberg, Danmark.
Recording engineer: Preben Iwan.
Running time: 70:11.
Classical relevance to me: Essential.
Reference performance.
State of the Art recording.
Top recommendation for the first SQ.

Works performed:
SQ No. 1 in E minor. 1911.
SQ No. 2, 1942.
SQ No. 3. 1943.

Works performed by:
Sjælland String Quartet.

The first SQ is a work that is almost out of this world. A deeply emotional work, but without the dynamic passion, but rather of a ethereal nature. This is an extremely well composed SQ, just listen to the second movement, Adagio, (mit tiefer ruhiger Empfindung). It is quite hard to write such an empfindlichkeit into the music, but Kenau succeeded in that, almost 10 minutes long. Everyone of those four movements are gems of the purest nature, all of them have an inevitable shine and intrinsic harmony that captures your imagination in a jiffy. One of the best SQ I have heard from that time. It is clearly rooted in the Classical Romantic tradition. And thus it's hard to come down in reality again! I only wished he wrote more of them in that tradition.
SQ 2 & 3 are twelve tone works, which is quite a different way of composing music.  Mind you it's Klenau's own distinctive technique, which he developed at the beginning of the 1930's. There is of course a technical story behind it, but it is not my place to elucidate on this, others might do better.
And although I admire the technical construction of the music, as music as such it holds no interest to me. I rather hear it as from afar, no emotional bonding, neither connection through reason. I simply acknowledge it but do not really register. There are some moments of great beauty as in the second movement of No. 2, but as quickly it dissolves. Several of those episodes in both works, but it's when the unsettling dissonances appear that I get upset.
It is perfectly performed and recorded, and very much recommended for the first Quartet. The other two are to remote for me to have an opinion about that cuts any wood.

Busch, William. (1901-1945) Orchestral Works.

From my collection.
Bought in 2010.
Label: Lyrita.
Warning: CD-R copy.
First listen: 10-3-2010.
Second listen: 27-3-2014.
Third listen: 28-4-2017.
All technical info is absent, either in booklet or on the CD.
Production date 2007.
Running time: 51:51.
Classical relevance to me: Essential.


Cello Concerto. (1940-41)
Piano Concerto. (1937-8)


Raphael Wallfisch, Cello.
Piers Lane, Piano.
Royal PO, Vernon Handley.

It was some four years ago, that I bought a bunch of Lyrita cd's, out of the blue. I saw some interesting names and dates, and since the price was low, I decided to take the plunge with some unknowns on the list. William Busch was one of them. A name I never saw or heard before, and thus the adventure began with him. It was the first from the pile I bought that I played. My first impression of his music is that it is honed and disciplined, but never is there a hint in intellectual contrivance. They called him a distinctive and minor composer in the 1980 edition of Grove. To describe his music I would say that it is extremely economical almost to the point of starkness. But his music is distinctly English, with this typical Pastoral blending over the music. There are of course some continental influences, him being from German heritage, but predominantly English, since he was born there. And imbedded in all this is his great friend and teacher Alan Bush, (not related) that gave him at least part of this continental influences.  There is no waste of notes with William, every note counts, and cannot be taken out without leaving a substantial hole in the music. Melodies in abundance, lyricism as long as the music stretches, flamboyant,, this all giving the background for his music. There is much dialogue between soloist and orchestra in both concertos, which gives much pleasure listening at. Maybe not great music, but well worth to have and to hear. Just think Finzi, some Bax, and the spikiness of say Arthur Benjamin, another composer that has been neglected. 

It is well performed. The recording is top notch.

Brian, Havergal. (1876-1972) Orchestral works. Symphony No. 11&15.

From my collection.
Bought in 2010.
Label: Naxos.
First listen: 26-6-2010.
Second listen: 29-3-2014.
Third listen: 28-4-2017.
Label: Naxos. Previously released on Marco Polo.
Recording dates: 1993 & 1997
Recording venue: National Concert Hall, Dublin.
Recording engineers: Chris Craker, and Dave Harries.
Running time: 77:10.
Classical relevance to me: Well worth having.


Concert Overture: "For Valour" (1902-06)
Comedy Overture: "Doctor Merryheart. (1911-12)
Symphony No. 11. (1954)
Symphony No. 15. (1960)


RTE National SO, Tony Rowe and Adrian Leaper.

Brian is never an easy ride and certainly not in the case of the boisterous "For Valour" which reminded me of Edward Elgar's "In the South" and that was before I read the booklet, so it was pretty obvious. In essence I find it to be a good piece, but a bit to restless for its own good. It's dynamics are outrageous especially in the closing measures.
The Comedy overture is relatively an easy piece. It's is well scored, and gives quite a bright picture of Doctor Merryheart. I liked this work a lot.
Symphony No. 11 is work in which Brian shows yet again how well he orchestrates, and although I like what I hear it does not really leave an indelible impression. I find the moments were he incorporates a rest from all the turmoil the best phases in this composition.
No 15 in one movement begins quite boisterous like the Concert overture, and it seems that he will continue in the same technical stance which he took in No, 11, and he does. There are not many places where spirituality has a role, but orchestral brilliance is a permanent resident. And for me that's the essence of what I hear.
The recording is quite good, with huge dynamics well processed, and a reasonably good sound stage. As to the performance I cannot be definitive really, for I have little comparison. But it's accomplished and disciplined. 

Gram, Peder. (1881-1956) Orchestral Works, Vol II.

From my collection.
Bought in 2011.
First listen: 5-2-2011.
Second listen: 28-4-2017.
Label: Dacapo.
Recording dates: 2007.
Recording venue: Musikhuset, Sønderborg, Danmark.
Recording engineer: Claus Byrith.
Running time: 64:58.
Classical relevance to me: Essential.

Works performed:

Avalon, opus 16. (1917) for Soprano and Orchestra.
Symphony No. 2, opus 25. (1925)
Symphony No. 3 in E minor, opus 35. (1954)

Performed by:

Andrea Pellegrini, Soprano.
Danish PO, Matthias Aeschbacher.

Although Peder Gram was in his time a huge influence in the Danish musical scene as a composer and active participant in musical affairs, he is now forgotten in both capacities, as many I might add. Time is never fair, even to the greatest of talents, and what was once huge, is now dust, as in life, so in music. Peder Gram is a very interesting composer, which you will notice quite clearly in his second Symphony for small orchestra. The work as a whole is an all embracing and warm work, but within the structure there is a fully functioning micro cosmos that harbours in itself a lot of melody lines, functioning harmonically in the total structure of the work. There are so many things going on at the same time, with so many intricate details, that before you know it, you missed the passage altogether. And even though the notes are all very clearly in front of you, and even though it sounds simple, it nevertheless will let you sink away into forgetfulness if you do not pay close attention on what is going on. Gram needs careful listening. And what a fine filigree mastery comes from his hands, one micro cosmos after another, as a juggler that keeps many balls in the air, without apparent effort. He is a melodious composer, but one that does it different from all the others. His style is late romantic, with some modernity in it, be it marginally. I consider both works as essential to have, and thereby understanding his place in the heritage from Danish music much better. . This orchestra and conductor, brings out the very nature of the music in a clear vision.

As a side note I must mention, that I did not care much for the opus 16, with a soprano who made me shudder. And the third movement in the second Symphony gives us again 2;34 of unnecessary vocal contributions. My personal opinion of course. I simply think that the soprano is not adding anything, rather spoiling the composition. Thank God its short.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Concerti curiosi.

From my collection
Bought in February 2017.
First listen: 9-2-2017.
Second listen: 27-4-2017.
Label: Signum.
Recording dates: August 2010.
Recording venue: St. Andrew's Church, Toddington, Gloucestershire,England.
Recording engineer: Adrian Hunter,
Running time: 62:23.
Classical relevance: Will worth acquiring.

Composers and works on this CD:

Pietro Domenico Paradies.(1707-1791) Concerto for harpsichord organ & strings.
Anton Reichenauer. (1694-1730) Concerto à 5 for Oboe.
Johan Daniel Berlin. (1714-1787) Sinfonia à 5 for Cornet.
Johann Christoph Pepusch. (1667-1752) Concerto for Four violins.
Johann Wilhelm Hertel. (1727-1789) Concerto No. 3 for Trumpet.
William Croft. ( 1678-1727) Sonata for four violins and BC.
Pietro Baldassari. (c.1683-after 1768) Sonata for Cornett and strings.

Performed by:
Charivari Agréable, Kah-Ming Ng. (authentic period instruments)

A first encounter with this well praised ensemble. They seem to be very famous including their conductor. Despite this I never heard of them or their leader in crime. This disc attracted me because of some unknown composers and works I never heard before. Well to be honest I never heard any of the works. So a novice to the compositions I was surprised by some fine music, not the best that was on offer at the time, but nevertheless worthwhile to record. Pepusch striked me as one of the better composers in the line up. His concerto for four violins is well written and of immediate interest. Berlin's concerto for Cornett was nice, but this instrument was rather loudly recorded, as was the trumpet in the concerto by Hertel. There is  some uneven trumpet playing in the first movement . It's a natural trumpet and they are hard to play anytime. The engineer clearly made a judgement error in placing the soloists to much forward. They tend to dominate the concertos. Baldassari's concerto is better balanced, but pleasant is different. I loved Croft his sonata, it has its quality and is well played.
As to the level of this ensemble I think it's adequate, but their quality as praised in the booklet is overdone, as least in the context of this CD. The acoustic did not help, being rather hard on the ears, and the recording balance was neither ideal. So a mixed blessing really. 

Schmidt, Franz. (1874-1939) The String Quartets. Top recommendation.

From my collection.
Bought in 2010.
First listen: 18-5-2010.
Second listen: 27-4-2017.
Label: Nimbus.
Recording dates: April 1995.
Recording venue: Concert Hall of the Nimbus Foundation, England.
Recording engineers: Technicians of Nimbus.
Running time: 77:53.
Classical relevance: Essential.
Reference performance.
Top recommendation.

Works performed: 
SQ in A major. (1925)
SQ in G major. (1929)

Works performed by:
Franz Schubert Quartet, Wien.

These quartets belong to the top in their genre. Not well known but masterworks nevertheless. Taught no less by Bruckner, this composer lived through the decadence of his time. Johannes Brahms received the musical outpourings of Schmidt's academic years, with approval. And he even received tuition from a forgotten master Robert Fuchs, who disliked the modern music even more as himself. Schmidt is one of the forgotten composers, and I mean totally forgotten. He did not follow the twelve tone serial technique, but looked instead for new ways in tonality, for which I praise him. He has a close tie with tradition, technically and harmonically, and as such he was a guardian of the legacy of Bruckner and Brahms. In many ways you could compare him with Max Reger. To conclude his music is firmly couched in the Classical Romantic tradition of the nineteenth century, and he almost never strayed from that point of view. And out of this he wrote two of the best SQ I ever heard. A master in kontrapunkt, he knitted together the most wonderful strings of notes one can imagine. Take the second movement of the A major, with the wonderful pizzicatos that generate a rhythmic drive out of this world, in which a gorgeous melody develops.  Powerful, yet gentle, poetic, yet lucidly realistic, this work does not stand in the shadow of any other composer, and should be part of the SQ literature with high praise.
The Molto tranquillo of the G major with a fine underlining yearning cello, gives you a very eerie feeling, so picturesque of the time in which it was written. Followed by a melancholy Adagio, that travels through the innermost of your emotions. Carefully modulated, this ensemble brings a harmony that captures the very spirit and spirituality of this movement. Think of the paintings of Klimt, the age also of Sigmund Freud, and you get quite a good picture. A time of radical change, in which Schmidt was a steady representative of a musical heritage betrayed by many. He was so not avant garde as many of the composers around him. Instead he is a very individual composer, who actually succeeded in creating a new tonality, and these SQ are a perfect example of that. Out of one tradition, totally different and alternative angles can arise, or so you will, interpretations from the same roots. He is an intellectual, and certainly philosophical in his approach, for me that is a fact, for his music arises out of an acute awareness of his time and what was happening around him, culturally, musically, and politically. He paints a picture of his time in all three respects. The performance I rate as reference, the music gets a top recommendation, and the recording matches the music. The very awareness of the music from this time is certainly brought into your home by this ensemble.

New acquisitions....

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Guido, Giovanni Antonio. (c.1675-after 1728) Le Quattro Stagioni, opus 3. Complete.

From my collection.
Bought in February 2017.
First listen: 22-2-2017.
Second listen: 26-4-2017.
Label: Divine Art.
Recording dates: April 2004.
Recording venue: New College Oxford, England.
Recording engineer: David Lefeber.
Running time: 66:05.
Classical relevance to me: Very interesting recording.

Works performed:
See heading.

Works performed by:
The Band of instruments, Roger Hamilton.
Caroline Balding, Violin.

Composer and performers were totally unknown to me. I was attracted by this composer because of the title of his opus 3. Of course Vivaldi comes to mind right away, and curious after his take on the Seasons, I ordered this CD. Guido is and remains a mysterious figure. Little is known of him. His origins appears to be Genoese where he was born in about 1675. He ended up in France and made a name for himself. The opus 3 must be dated around 1716-1717 and carries a dedication to Adrien Maurice de Noailles, Comte d'Ayen.  Be that as it may, Guido delivered a fine set of concerti. It does not have the quality of Vivaldi, but they are interesting anyway. Melodious creative little gems brought boldly forward by the Band of instruments. Solid performances and bit stiff in the loins, and somewhat rigid in tempi. It misses the Joi de vivre, and tends to be more serious as it should be. But on the whole this recording gives enough pleasure to be a keeper in my collection. Not that there is any alternative to this recording. The playing is expertly done, as is the recording. A fine documented booklet tells us what is known about Guido, which is as said before not much. A perfect presentation as a whole.

Deutsch, Max. (1892-1982) A film Symphony in 5 acts.

From my collection. 
Bought in 2011.
First listen: 25-3-2011.
Second listen: 9-4-2014.
Third listen: 26-4-2017.
Label: CPO.
Recording dates: 2002.
Recording venue: Ludwigshafen, Philharmonie.
Recording engineer: Axel Sommerfeld.
Running time: 74:04.
Classical relevance to me: Essential

Works performed:

Der Schatz, A Film Symphony.

Performed by:

Staatsphilharmonie-Rheinland Pfalz, Frank Strobel.

I never saw the film for which this music was intended, but as a fact, this music really does not need the film to blossom. The music is so good, that it is a monument in itself.  This is the first film Symphony ever written, made for a silent film by Georg Wilhelm Pabst, who was a major figure in the German silent film world. What I have seen of him, is artistically of a high level, and so is this music. Deutsch has created to my ears a masterwork, that calls up so many images, without images, that I fall from one surprise in another in this 74:00 minutes long work, and never a boring moment, mind! A score masterly put together from a composer that has long been forgotten, but who was so wise as to give this score into the hands of others shortly before he died, so it may survive, although it was badly damaged. The restoration was a lot of improvisation, for in part it had to be re-scored from fragments. As I listen to it I feel that this music is intended as authentic art music, and so it is. As a sidenote it is interesting to know that during the composition Deutsch was in close contact with his friend and fellow composer, Ferruccio Busoni, who was greatly intrigued by this art form, and its creative process. We are lucky that Deutsch was in his tonal phase, for later he began to experiment in the realm of atonal music. The film was restored in 1999, and so the music was. It has been a great success in the cinemas. Great performance. The recording is very detailed with a good front to back image.

Klenau von, Paul. (1883-1946) Orchestral Works.

From my collection.
Bought in 2011.
First listen: 2-2-2011.
Second listen: 24-2-2011.
Third listen: 26-4-2017.
Label: Dacapo.
Recording dates: May 1999.
Recording venue: Odense Concert Hall.
Recording engineer: Knud Esmarch.
Running time: 69:08.
Classical relevance to me: Worthwhile having.

Works performed:
Symphony No. 1 in F minor. 1908.
Symphony No. 5, Triptikon. 1939.
Paolo und Francesca. Symphonic fantasy after Dante's Inferno Canto V.

Performed by:
Odense SO, Jan Wagner.

Paul von Klenau is another composer in a long list of Danish composers who was not much appreciated in his land of Birth, Danmark. Reasons are not given. He turned to Germany for his education and was well respected for his compositions and his aptitude as a conductor. So no wonder he remained for a long time in Germany to conduct and compose.
I like the music of Klenau, but some compositions more than others.
To start with this monumental first symphony, that carries in his bowels many references to Bruckner, especially the first three movements. He employs a large orchestra specifying eight French horns, four Tubas, two Harps, as well as a bass drum and other percussion. Also an Organ makes his way into the proceedings. Not that it gets in any way thunderous. All is integrated with much attention to the orchestral balance. As a whole the symphony is holding its ground. Sometimes there are episodes which are fascinating, but also stretches where boredom sets in. A romantic work, somewhat out of proportion.
What a difference if one reaches the fifth symphony. A clear headed lucid affair of great beauty. He sets out a goal and sticks to it, with an absolute stunning outcome. Modernism without stepping out of the romantic tradition or tonal palette. A short composition but very effective in keeping your attention, as is the symphony fantasy, that is composed in the same fashion. This is how I like Klenau, a romanticus that keeps ugly things away, and conjures a world of great musical beauty.
The recording could have been better. The lower frequencies are getting a bit boomy if the orchestra goes into a loud phase. Not enough air around the percussion, and so preventing the depth, which is the cause of this uneasy recording detail.  
As a performance I have no complaints, it's excellent.  The booklet gives almost no attention to the last two works on this disc, which I find strange to say the least.

Reesen, Emil. (1887-1964) Orchestral Works.

From my collection.
Bought in 2011.
First listen: 24-1-2011.
Second listen: 24-2-2011.
Third listen: 26-4-2017.
Label: Dacapo.
Recording dates: June 2006.
Recording venue: Symfonien, Aalborg, Denmark.
Recording engineer: Claus Byrith.
Running time: 67:29.
Classical relevance to me: Well worth having.

Works performed:

Grønlandsk Folketone.
Polkina fra Gudindernes Strid.
Trianon, Suite I gammel stil.
Variationer over et tema af Fr Schubert.
Agnethe og havmanden.
Jeg gik mig ud en sommerdag.

Works performed by:
Aalborg SO, Bo Holten.

Reesen was a very versatile composer, who had a perfect command of all genres in his time. And I mean that in the broadest sense. Still on this CD modernity is hardly an issue, for all the compositions on this disc are perfectly adaptable to all lovers of tonal Danish music. Nothing to upset you, but the chance to hear a composer that adapts well in the given circumstances. He was not much appreciated in his own country, but as so many before him and after got a huge following in Germany. There was an enormous appetite for Scandinavian music, and certainly when it came in quality/quantity as with Reesen. Orchestrating came easily and quickly at his aid when necessary, or to help his friend Carl Nielsen orchestrating for him. He could call Knudåge Riisager for 2 hours and fight with him, and orchestrate at the same time a complicated piece!  The outcome in both cases was phenomenal.
It's a mix of light classical music and more ambitious pieces, but they all share the high quality of scoring. Reesen makes everything sound as if they were masterpieces in their own right, and many of them are. I was quite impressed by Himmerland, a perfect example of what he was capable of.
Anyways he was much respected by his fellow composers, and a large group of loyal followers in his lifetime, but that did not stop people to forget him totally. Electronic music made its first steps into the world at 1964, and so his music was seen as obsolete. But, let that not deter you from sampling his music, you might be pleasantly surprised.
The recording is pretty good as is the performance.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Taneyev, Sergei Ivanovich. (1856-1915) String Trios. Top recommendation.

From my collection.
Bought in November 2013.
First listen: 8-11-2013.
Second listen: 25-4-2017.
Label: Hyperion
Recording dates: 19-19 Januari 2008.
Recording venue: Potton Hall, Suffolk, England.
Recording engineer: Simon Eadon.
Running time: 67:29.
Classical relevance to me: Essential.
Reference performance.
State of the Art Recording.
Top recommendation.

Works performed:

String Trio in E flat major, opus 31.

In B minor
In D major.

Works performed by:
Leopold String Trio.

It will be hard finding better performances of these trios. They are of such excellence that I doubt one could do better.  Lately I was re-listening some of his String Quartets, and curious after the trio's so I got this one out of one of the piles in my listening room.  When Tchaikovsky read the score of the D major he was astonished by Taneyev's skill. Sad to know than that it only had one performance in his lifetime, and remained unpublished until 1956. I can hardly imagine that such well crafted music was so utterly ignored! The E flat major opus 31 is a substantial work. The third movement is surely one of the best this composer ever wrote. The B minor on which Taneyev worked in 1913 was almost his last composition and so seen as his swansong in the genre. He did not live to finish the work and when it was finally published in 1940  the editors did some dubious reconstruction on the composition. It is a sombre and troubled work, at least that is the feeling when listening to it. Nevertheless, this is top drawer Taneyev and all admirers could not possibly do without this Hyperion recording. Truly an exceptional disc.

Richafort, Jean. (c.1480-c.1547) Requiem. Top recommendation.

From my collection.
Label: Harmonia Mundi.
First listen: 17-2-2014.
Second listen: 25-4-2017.
Recording dates: July 2000.
Recording venue: Eglise Saint-Sylvain a Saint Sauvant, Saintonge, France.
Recording engineer: Markus Heiland.
Running time: 60:53.
Classical relevance to me: Essential.
Top recommendation-Performance.
State of the Art sound.


Requiem ( In memoriam Josquin Desprez) for six voices.
1) Laetamini in Domino, for 4 voices.
2) Sufficiebat nobis paupertas, for 4 voices.
3) Salve Regina, for 5 voices.
4) Ne vous chaile mon coeur, for 4 voices.
5) Tru tru trut avant, for 3 voices.
6) Il n'est si douce vie, for 4 voices.


Huelgas Ensemble, Paul Van Nevel.

He is without doubt one of the most important polyphonist of the first half of the 16th century. All the works on this CD are witness to that. Yet despite him being famous in his time, and despite the fact that he wrote a large amount of works, little is known about him and his life. Just a few facts are known, the rest is a blank.  The music is extremely beautiful, such fine writing for the voices, a delicacy that amazes me. The flow of his music is so organic, and is sung so naturally, that is almost seems to me, as if they flow in midair. As if not touched by the vulgarity of life, but rather falling from above over us mortals by a gesture of grace by God. The performance is perfect, there is no doubt about that, as is the performance. The choir has such a balance, that you got the impression that they are floating mid-air touching heaven in all its spiritual glory. Dynamics are carefully judged. A constant flow, each voice not upsetting the other, one voice, a sublime utterance. I cannot stress enough how good it actually is, and that it is also a necessity for anybody liking this kind of music, to have it forthwith. I doubt you get it any better as with this ensemble.

Gade, Niels W. (1817-1890) Chamber Works, Volume I.

From my collection.
Bought in January 2017.
First listen: 26-1-2017.
Second listen: 25-4-2017.
Label: CPO.
Recording dates: January 2013.
Recording venue: Knudsens in Holstebro, Denmark.
Recording engineer: Morten Mogensen.
Running time: 62:23.
Classical relevance to me: An essential addition to the Gade's discography.

Works performed:
String sextet in E flat major, opus 44.
Early version of the 1st movement of opus 44.
Piano trio in F major, opus 42.

Performed by:
Ensemble MidtVest.

I for one, am very glad about CPO'S intention to record all of Gade's chamber music. Especially when it comes in such good performances. An ensemble unknown to me, but by what I hear they are on the top of their game. For the first time I am truly satisfied with what I hear, for much of the existing recordings are not wholeheartedly into Gade's music, so I consider this release as an essential one. The musicians on this disc are dedicated to the music, so much is clear from the start, when the first notes of the opus 44 are coming out of my speakers. Ensemble MidtVest is well suited to the music and to each other, for the internal balance is really amazing. Gade's music shines throughout the 63 minutes. As a composer he is much underrated, and there have always been more down raters as admirers. Especially his symphonies had to suffer by this treatment,  to say nothing about his chamber music. I for one always heard  the quality in Gade's music, and never wavered from my opinion. Maybe Gade was not predisposed towards excessive virtuosity, but despite of this, he is an essential composer in his own right. And thus I can only say good things about what is presented in this first volume. Full blooded romantic music, well written and full of interest. As an example you may take the second movement of the Sextet, a scherzo, going over in a very fine Allegro non troppo. Masterly how this ensemble is treating every nuance, so deservingly. To say nothing about the heartfelt Andantino following the already highly charged expectations of the second movement. This is a gorgeous sextet, and well worth your attention.
The early version of the first movement of opus 44 is as good as the new one, so it is a big question mark, why he replaced it. To my ears there was certainly no need. But it's good to have them both.
The piano trio in F major is a work of charm, and lightness of thread, very classical in expression, but with some added tonal beauty, that keeps it flowing and of interest.  The first movement has a invigorating touch to it, energetic and poetic at the same time, full of fine melodic turns. This Allegro animato crosses the street to the second movement Allegro molto vivace. I found that a bit unexpected, but it has a bubbly appearance that gets the better of you, thus the swing of it all prepares you for the third movement Andantino, a much deserved rest in this fun work that develops into the only serious undertone in the opus 42. A bit melancholy even, a feeling of missing out on things. A touch of isolation. There is a certain joy in the finale movement Finale: Allegro con fuoco, as if it is a race for the first flowers of spring, and you wonder who might have them first. In other words this work is a mood changer, being full of gaiety.  As a first volume in this series this promises much, and I see that volume II  and III is already on the market, so it is on my to order list. The sound is perfectly suited to the music. Perfect.

Kancheli, Giya.(b.1935) Miniatures for Violin and Piano. World Premiere Recordings.

From my collection.
Arrived: January 2017.
First listen: 27-1-2017.
Second listen: 25-4-2017.
Label: Brilliant.
Recording dates: October 2015.
Recording venue:Auditorium San Rocco, Senigallia (Ancona) Italy.
Recording engineer: Luca Ricci.
Running time: 54:07.
Classical relevance for me: For all Kancheli admirers, essential.

Works performed:
See heading.

Performed by:
Andrea Cortesi, Violin.
Marco Venturi, Piano.

I am a great admirer of this composer, and am steadily collected all of his works, excluding vocal works. This disc with miniatures is fantastic. 
It is drenched in melancholy and passion unashamedly much of it. And the way in which this is done borders on perfection. Even the composer thought this when writing about the performance:
To Andrea and Marco,

>Your performance and particularly your interpretation made an indelible impression on me. The breathing, the freedom, and the inspiration I heard are impossible to convey with the notes on the staff. I think that you managed to catch exactly what I could only dream of!<

And thus it is. It's a first recording too, so that makes it rather special. This is music you simply have to experience, it dives deep, and surfaces for a while in lightness and gaiety, then getting melancholy, and the notes float somewhere into your own personal impression.
Lucca Ricci made a beautiful recordings, so all around this is very recommendable.

Fasch-Telemann-Bach, J.L.-Zelenka. Suites and Overture. (CD 2 Top recommendation)

From my collection. 
Bought in February 2017.
First listen: 2-3-2017.
Second listen: 25-4-2017.
Label: Erato-Veritas.
CD 2 from 2.
Recording dates: January 1991.
Recording venue: Reformierte Kirche, Arlesheim, Switzerland.
Recording engineer: Hartwig Paulsen.
Running time: 69:40.
Classical relevance to me: Well worth having. Top recommendation.

Composers and works performed:

Johann Friedrich Fasch. (1688-1758)
Suite in C major.

Georg Philipp Telemann. (1681-1767)
Suite "La Musette" in G minor.

Johann Ludwig Bach. (1677-1731)
Suite in G major.

Jan Dismas Zelenka. (1679-1745)
Overture a 7 concertanti in F major.

Performed by:
Freiburger Barockorchester, Thomas Hengelbrock.

CD 2 of this set offers four composers, all in their  artistic prime. On the first CD we have the suites of Johann Bernhard Bach, which performance I found too formal, as if in a straightjacket.
Fortunately this is the other way around on CD 2. The playing is inspired and alert, beginning with the wonderful suite by Fasch. He is always a pleasure to listen to, for being an excellent orchestrator, his writing for Oboes and Bassoon is exemplary and quite unique. Catchy melodies, and beautiful harmonies I say! This suite is a marvel.
Telemann's suite in G minor has a lot to show for too. It is a very approachable work, light on its feet, but full with surprising melodies and also some expert scoring for winds. Nice bass lines in the Musette movement.
Johann Ludwig Bach's suite in G major was new to me. Never heard it before. This suite starts with a very breezy overture, almost lightweight in expression but not in content. Again as with the others some good scoring for winds, and plenty of fine melodies.
Zelenka needs no praise, the man is as famous as he ever could be. A master in his trade shows his mastery in the Overture in F major. A fine example of what he was capable of. Much admired by J.S. Bach.
The recording is top notch as is the performance.

Monday, April 24, 2017

Bach, Johann Bernhard.(1676-1749) Orchestral Suites, 1-4.

From my collection.
Bought in February 2017.
First listen: 17-2-2017.
Second listen: 24-4-2017.
Label: Erato Veritas.
CD 1 from 2.
Recording dates: December 1990 & January 1991.
Recording venue: Reformierte Kirche, Arlesheim, Switzerland.
Recording engineer: Hartwig Paulsen.
Running time: 74:22.
Classical relevance to me: Well worth having.

Works performed:
See heading.

Works performed by:
Freiburger Barockorchester, Thomas Hengelbrock.

Apart from the fact that J.B. Bach was a second cousin from Johann Sebastian Bach, and well respected by him, and the fact that his musical worthiness was acknowledged by the great master, makes the acquisition of this music worthwhile. There is not really that much music of him, which survived the ages. Regrettable, because what he has to offer is excellent, the suites confirm this impression in many ways. There are Italian influences all over these suites and well integrated into the scores. As it is, the suites form a fascinating counterpart to J.S. Bach's suites. A greater compliment can not be given.
As for the performances, it is all cleanly executed, with no real highs or lows, a bit safe, no ventures into a more lively style of music making. It's very academic and straight faced. The tempi are adequate, but I would have liked a bit more liveliness in all movements. Phrasing throughout is very good, due to a tight discipline.
The recording is good and clear as a bell. Not exceptional.    

Mennin, Peter. (1923-1983) Orchestral Works.

From my collection.
Bought in 2012.
First listen: 25-10-2012.
Second listen: 1-11-2012.
Third listen: 24-4-2017.
Label: Naxos.
Previously released on Delos.
Recording dates: November 1994 & January 1995.
Recording venue: Seattle Opera House, USA.
Recording engineers: John Eargle & Al Swanson.
Running time: 57:37.
Classical relevance to me: Well worth having.

Works performed:
Moby Dick, Concertato for Orchestra.
Symphony No 3 & 7.

Works performed by:
Seattle Symphony, Gerald Schwarz.

This music will not be to everybody's liking. Not that it is bad music, but it's austerity is a constant element, and I feel that the technical accomplishment is by far greater as the emotional content. This would certainly fit to the seventh symphony, quite modern with some striking dissonances, and wayward notes to unsettle you. There are moments of great beauty, but they are short in measure. His musical rhetoric is certainly sober and intense which in turn can be perfectly fitted to the Concertato and the third symphony, in its structure both works are easier to grasp. My feeling is of a rather complex orchestrator, which by definition does not necessarily mean that there is also emotional impact. There are long stretches of spiritual coherence, but brutality is never far away, I guess that this is his austere passion and abstract message. Whether you will like what you hear or not is a question of sampling the music. Carefully crafted scores? Well yes they are, but nevertheless the Seventh symphony left me rather cold, although I admired his orchestral skills. If you like sober rhetoric music with some powerful statements, Mennin is the man to go for.
The recording is rather good, although a bit dark in the lower instruments, a little more brightness might have lifted the more austere moments above board.
The fact that he wrote nine symphonies is a tantalizing thought, and I must admit that I am rather curious after them,.... and at the same time not.
The performances are superb.

Irgens-Jensen, Ludvig. (1894-1969) Symphony in D minor, and other orchestral works.

From my collection.
Bought in 2012.
First listen: 20-1-2012.
Second listen: 24-1-2012.
Third listen: 24-4-2017.
Label: CPO.
Recording dates: May 2009.
Recording venue: The Lighthouse, Poole, Dorset, England.
Recording engineer: Phil Rowlands.
Running time: 66:47.
Classical relevance to me: Essential.

Works performed:
Symphony in D minor. (Original version) 1942.*
Air. (1959).* 
Passacaglia. (1928)

* World Premiere Recordings.

Performed by:
Bournemouth SO, Bjarte Engeset.

It was some time ago that this disc was in my player. I had forgotten how special this composer was, so this was a reminder of that fact. Now the first two works are among the peaks of 20th century Norwegian orchestral music. I have a hard time to determine if that is so, for this I lack the necessary knowledge of all the music around that time. But I can affirm that this music does deserve a place in Norwegian classical music, for it is extremely beautiful and easy to approach. Basically it is very romantic music, broad spectrum warmth with considerable emotional depth, although the second WW and his horrors were at the basis of this music. This fact is hard for me to accept, for the music certainly does not bring this message about. It is simply a stunning and fascinating work, orchestrated with great skill. The Passacaglia is a work that was much admired by the likes of Stravinsky,  and Toscanini. After listening to it I share that admiration. It is a well conceived orchestral piece, that has a lot of expression and a invigorating content.
Phil Rowlands made a fine recording of it, and the performance is a matching partner.

Børresen, Hakon. (1876-1954) Orchestral Works. [Romantic composer series from Denmark]

From my collection.
Bought in 2011.
First listen: 12-2-2011.
Second listen: 4-4-2014.
Third listen: 24-4-2017.
Label: Dacapo.
Recording date: October 1996.
Recording venue: Symfonien, Aalborg, Denmark.
Recording engineer: Niels Larsen.
Running time: 76:09.
Classical relevance to me: Essential


Symphony N0. 2 in A major, opus 7, "The Sea". (1904)
Symphony N0. 3 in C major, opus 21. (1927)


Aalborg SO, Owain Arwel Hughes.

We all underestimate this pupil from Johan Svendsen, with whom he took 4 years of tuition to learn the trade of composing. And listening to both Symphonies I come to the conclusion, that he is one who can stand with perfect justification amongst the ranks of Svendsen, Stenhammar, Grieg, Sibelius and Nielsen. I have heard enough from Scandinavian composers to say this with confidence.

The Second symphony "The Sea", has as an inspiration The Skagen, a large sea, at the Northernmost tip of Denmark. It was dedicated to Johan Svendsen.
A complex and extremely beautiful work, that delivers what he wanted to describe.  This guy is a super romantic composer, who was not fazed by modernity, and he ignored it, much to my joy. I would have been perfectly happy if modernity would stop with the music Borresen composed. He shows me, how much there was and still is to say in terms of romantic music. I got the constant impression that every movement of this Symphony is a Tone Poem, with a beginning, middle part, and a firm closing. His aptitude in scoring is quite remarkable, and the way the music is constructed has me in constant awe....
The Third symphony was the last major Symphony he wrote. He dedicated it to the orchestra of the Royal Theatre, this work brings all the best features of Børresen orchestral works together, it is in my ears a masterwork. The instrumentation is sublime, and the many dazzling melodies, has me again listening in awe. He stays true to his Nordic tradition and his romantic ideals, and you could also say that this work is the crowning of all his orchestral works. Why this composer is overlooked and forgotten, is a mystery to me, he should be revered for his huge contribution in classical music. 
The recording is top notch, and the performance can hardly be bettered. 

Rubinstein, Arthur. (1829-1894) Cello Sonatas No.1&2.

From my collection.
Bought in 2012.
First listen: 2-2-2012.
Second listen: 5-2-2012.
Third listen: 24-4-2017.
Label: Hyperion.
Recording dates: January 2008.
Recording venue: Potton Hall, Suffolk, England.
Recording engineer: Simon Eadon.
Running time: 70:55.
Classical relevance to me: Worthwhile.

Works performed:
Cello Sonata No. 1 in D major, opus 18.
No. 2 in G major, opus 39.

Performed by:
Jiří Bárta, Cello.
Hamish Milne, Piano.

Always kept an eye on the music by Arthur Rubinstein. I collected over the years some of his music, and most of it I found quite invigorating, and liked, his very individual style, to be found in many of his compositions. It is a pity that most of his 200 opus numbers are totally forgotten. Of course he does not deserve that, but then many composers went down that road. There is some orchestral as well as chamber music recorded, and most of it I have, including these wonderful cello sonatas on Hyperion which I had quite forgotten. Even I forget composers.
Two fine musicians adopted the cello sonatas, and really, quite well performed they are. Romanticism at its highest level is the name of the game, and he was quite adept in it. These are no slight compositions, but clearly belong to the best works in this genre ever composed. Every movement is expressive and soaked in yearning melodies, in themselves a well of creativity, which pours out in abundance, overflowing almost...
Rubinstein was in his early twenties when composing the first sonata, and it's a fairly substantial work. Only very experienced musicians can bring this off successfully. The second sonata is more ambitious in its content. The Brahmsian elements are there,  in abundance, and on the same level altogether. It's a rich and full hearted work of great gravitas. 
The recording is a warm one, with just enough air around the instruments to make it a very intimate listen.

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Stenhammar, Wilhelm (1871-1927) String Quartets No. 3-6. Top recommendation.

From my collection.
Bought in 2013.
First listen: 13-12-2013,
Second listen: 22-4-2017.
Label: CPO. 2 discs.
Recording dates:  2006-2007.
Recording venue: Jar Kirke, Oslo, Norway.
Recording engineer: Geoff Miles.
Running time: 113:57.
Classical relevance to me: Essential.
State of the Art recording.
Top recommendation performance.

Works performed:
String Quartets 3-6.

Works performed by:
Oslo String Quartet.

I never knew Stenhammar's SQ before I bought this set. And after hearing them, I should be heartily ashamed of myself. Ignoring top notch SQ is not my style, and no style at all. They are romantic in mood, and as deep in spiritual content. Every note is naturally polished to a shine that it easily outruns your expectations. For they are far better as you might imagine. Such are the ways of the world, that these works never rose out of their obscurity, until BIS and CPO started to record them, and even that is no guarantee that they will eventually rise to the status they should have. Well...they did it for me in these wonderful renditions by the Oslo SQ . They seem to have a natural feel for this music, and they emulate to the highest degree the genius Stenhammar was. 

Despite that Stenhammar is recorded in reasonable quantities and qualities, he is compared to say Sibelius or Nielsen a great unknown. Stenhammar is a perfectionist, and in this case it makes him as good a composer as Sibelius is. The SQ are unusual in their structure and modern without being out of focus with the past.  I am amazed how much power Stenhammar conjures out of every movement, and the rhythmic propulsion that he engenders. But all said and done, I am almost put out of breath by the SQ, so good they actually are. Nothing is as it was done before or after, he is truly an unique voice in the big Scandinavian landscape. These works are a highlight in the genre, and belong to the best that was ever composed.
Strongly recommended.

Herzogenberg, Heinrich von. (1843-1900) The Complete Violin Sonatas.

From my collection.
Bought in 2013.
First listen: 28-8 & 12-12-2013.
Second listen: 23-1-2014.
Third listen: 22-4-2017.
Label: CPO.
2 CD'S.
Recording dates:  October 2008 & January 2009.
Recording venue: Studio Gärtnerstrasse in ?, Germany.
Recording engineer: Eckhard Glauche.
Running time: 47:54 & 52:46.
Classical relevance to me: Essential.

Works performed:
Violin Sonatas No. 1-3.
Phantasie, opus 15.
Legenden opus 62.

Works performed by:
Christian Altenburger, Violin and Viola.
Oliver Triendl, Piano.

I am a great admirer of Herzogenberg's music, and this twofar is no exception. Wonderful idiomatic works, full of his usual creativity, and this enormous wealth of rich romantic melodies. The construction may seem simple, but the tone is of a youthful tempestuousness with a classicistic character. Close to what Brahms would have done actually, and no less in musical quality. Opus 15 bears some traces of Schumann, but is very skilfully composed by Herzogenberg. The same can apply to the Legenden, in which all the compositorial qualities of Herzogenberg come together in a wonderful evocation of colourful exuberance. Deep into the romantic ideal of Brahms, it is a very satisfying work. And that goes for all the music on this twofar.
The recording as well as the performance are without a doubt the ones you are looking for. Perfect.

Friday, April 21, 2017

Foerster, Josef Bohuslav. (1859-1951) The Complete String Quartets. World Premiere Recordings. Top recommendation.

From my collection.
Bought in 2011.
Label Supraphon  SU 4050-2. ( 2 CD'S)
First listen: 13-2-2014.
Second listen: 29-4-2014.
Third listen: 21-4-2017.
Recording dates:  February, March, June 2009.
Recording venue: Evangelical Church, At Jacob's ladder, Prague.
Recording engineer: Jan Lžičař.
Running time: CD 1: 71:00-CD 2: 61:40.
Classical relevance to me: Essential.
This set with the SQ was made possible by a generous grant, from "Jurg Vollenweider". Bless this guy, for investing his money in such a worthwhile project. We need more of such kind souls.


1) SQ No. 1 in E major, opus 15. (1888)
2) SQ No. 2 in D major, opus 39. (1893)
3) SQ No. 3 in C major, opus 61. ( 1907, rev 1913)
4) SQ No. 4 in F major, opus 182. (1943-44)
5) SQ No. 5 in G major, "The Vestec" sine op. (1951)
6) The Prayer for SQ, sine op. (1940)
7) Memory for SQ and harp, sine op. (1901)
8) String Quintet, opus 3. (1886)
9) Allegro giocoso for SQ, sine op. (1894)


Stamic Quartet.
Jana Boušková Harp.
Jiři Hudec, Double bass.

Foerster's inclined to chamber formations owing to his nature, in which the lyrical, introspective aspect always prevails. The first SQ is dedicated to Tchaikovsky, a composer Foerster admired. You will also hear snippets of melodies that have a strong imprint by Smetana, a composer that Foerster idolised. And of course a lot of Dvorak is in all of his SQ, But Foerster found an ideal blending of all influences, and put his personal stamp on it. Not to long ago I engaged in a excellent set with Foerster's solo piano works, played by Patricia Goodman on Brilliant, financed by crowdfunding, see in my blog for the reviews, that made quite an impression on me, in terms of the music and the dedicated playing. In these SQ I meet with the same intensity and musical depth, that so amazed me in the piano works. You cannot get around him really, certainly not if Dvorak is also on your diet. And he is able to make some pretty unusual statements, just listen to the beginning of the third movement of the SQ No. 5, being Foerster's final work, dedicated to his second wife "Olenka". Foerster goes back to his roots here, to the long standing tradition of Czech music. The work remained unfinished deliberately, as the composer himself said, to symbolize one's path in life, which does not close with physical departure from the world. And with this I end my review too, just mentioning that the performance and recording are top notch. An essential set to have.

Famous organ music from Europe. Transylvanian organ music. CD 10

From my collection.
Bought in April 2016.
First listen: 5-1-2017.
Second listen: 21-4-2017.
Label: Ars Musici. (Membran)
Recording dates:  October 1988.
Recording venue: Mediasch (Media), Zeiden (Codlea), Hermannstadt (Sibiu)
Recording engineer: Valeriu Tiberiu Borcoman.
Running time: 50:16.
Classical relevance for me: Most on this disc essential

Instruments used:
At Transylvanian organs, no mention of dates or who build them.
All works played by Horst Gehann.

Composers and works:

Valentin Greff Bakfark (1507-1576)
Fantasia VI 4 vocum.

From the Organ Tabulature by Daniel Croner (1681)
8 movements.

Anonymous organ book around 1800.
Preludio in A, and in G, the last one enhanced by Horst Gehann.

So far all these pieces found my favour and I liked them very much. Well played and recorded on superb organs. Most of the music I did not know, thus it was a nice tour.

The rest of the composers:
Rudolf Lassel, Waldemar von Baußnern, Franz Xaver Dressler. Horst Gehann, are outside my interest field, so I did not listen to them, well a bit to Lassel, which was after 4 minutes quite enough.
If I consider the low price of this box, it is worth your investment, even more so if you are interested in the 19th century or 20th century organ music.  Throughout the box the sound and playing is quite good. Interpretations are not always up to scratch. That is the case with Georg Muffat on CD 2, a performance one should forget.

Famous Organ Music from Europe. CD 7

From my collection.
Bought in April 2016.
First listen: 23-12-2016.
Second listen: 21-4-2017.
Label: Ars Musici. ( Membran)
Recording dates: August 2000.
Recording venue: Cathedral in Brussels, Belgium.
Recording engineer: Manuel Mohino.
Running time: 
Classical relevance to me.: Quite interesting.

Instrument used:
Grenzing Organ: 1997-2000.

Works, composers and performers.

Peeter Cornet (c.1562-1633)
Fantasia primi toni.

Franz Tunder. (1614-1667)
Komm, Heiliger Geist, Herre Gott.
Organist: Jean Ferrard.

Both works are fine examples of its time, and well played and performed. Especially the work of the composer Peeter Cornet was new for me. I liked it very much. And Tunder is always a welcome guest.

Nicolas de Grigny. (1672-1703)
Offertoire sur les jeux from: Mass.

Johann Sebastian Bach. (1685-1750)
Praeludium and Fugue in E minor, BWV 523.
Organist: Xavier Deprez.

Well played but a bit rough at the edges, and missing the nuances in Bach.

Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy. (1809-1847)
Sonata, opus 65.
Organist: Jozef Sluys.

Not bad, but it made little impression on me. Sluys lingers too much and is rather heavy handed.

César Franck. (1822-1890) 
Chorale No. 1 in E major.
Organist: Stanislas Deriemaeker.

No, no, Franck deserves a better interpretation and they are plentiful around. This is a mediocre performance. Stolid, turgid, and away from the spiritual essence. Little or no expression.

Philippe Boesmans (1936)
Fanfare II
Organist: Bernhard Foccroulle. 

This is not for me. A modern piece without anything to like

[Second rerun only the first four composers.]

The sound of this modern organ is not really my thing. Although it sounds nice enough, it clearly is missing the sound I like in authentic organs. The recording is good though.
Of all the organists on this CD I liked most Jean Ferrard, and Xavier Deprez. Foccroulle is of course the best performer, but in this case I could not determine, for I really disliked the Boesmans piece. The rest is interesting but not exceptional.

Famous Organ Music from Europe, on the reconstructed Organ by Johann Andreas Silbermann. CD 6.

From my collection.
Bought in April 2016.
First listen: 22-12-2016.
Second listen: 21-4-2017.
Label: Ars Musici. (Membran box)
CD 6 from 10.
Recording dates: July 2002.
Recording venue: Benediktinerkirche St Georg, Villingen.
Recording engineer: Daniel Scheidegger.
Running time: 76:19.
Classical relevance to me: A valuable recording and for me essential.

Works and composers and performers on this disc 6.

Louis Nicolas Clérambault (1676-1749)
Suite du Premier Ton.
Organist: Christian Schmitt.

To my ears a most satisfying and excellent performance. Schmitt plays with a certain urgency and so keeps the music exciting and interesting. His narration is fluently and he has a very clean uncluttered tone. The recording is nothing short of amazing.

Johann Ulrich Steigleder. (1593-1635)
From the Tabulature Book, "Dass Vatter unser...".
Organist: Christoph Bossert.

A composer I did not know, it's new in my collection and a premiere hearing for me. A composition with a rich tone to it.  Pre Bach, it already has quite a weight to it, and a musical maturity that amazes me. It is played in the manner of a Toccata 4 vocum. A very impressive it is. It is a constant flow of pure melodic music that carries a lot of expression. The urgency with which Bossert plays this piece is invigorating and spot on! The recording is amazing too.

Juan Bautista José Cabanilles. (1644-1712)
Pasacalles de Primo Tono.
Organist: Christoph Bossert.

A nice contemplative piece, with long lines, in which the composer takes its time to colour the melodies. It is meant to stimulate your soul into a spiritual mood. And that works. Again impressive performance and recording.

Nicolas de Grigny. (1672-1703)
Veni Creator Spiritus.
Organist: Marc Schaefer.

A fine composition by Grigny, a composer I admire and love. By now I have a lot of his music. Apart from the inherent quality of his music, he has a good promotor in Marc Schaefer, who finds the right balance in giving this music just that extra push to make it extremely accessible. The Ebb and Flow is marvelously portrayed, and one is quickly immersed in this wonderful musical work created by Grigny. Well recorded too.

Marc Schaefer (1934)
Organist: Marc Schaefer.

Melodic and tonal piece. Not much in the sense of being a composition of great worth, but nice enough and well played. The stops he is using are great fun, and the harmonies thus created makes for a pleasant listen. And that's all, at least for me. Well recorded.

Jean Adam Guillaume Guilan. (c. before 1702-1739?)
Suite du Troisième Ton.
Organist: Hans Musch.

I like the music by Guilan, always did, and have already a sizable collection of his music, be it that it is divided over many discs in my collection. A composer that did not enjoy a long life, but created in his short life beautiful organ pieces. They are well played by Musch, an organist I did not encounter before. But than that is applicable to all organists in this box. Again played with some urgency but without losing grip on the melodic content. What a rich era it was for this instrument. Very enjoyable. I like the registrations used. Well recorded.

Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750)
Pièce d'Orgue.
Très vitement-Gravement-Lentement.
Organist: Stephan Rommelspacher.

A organist that I have never encountered before. It is well played but less to my liking. In Bach it is more critical how you present the music. Impressive yes, but I like my Bach differently.
Good recording.

My final opinion about this CD is, that it's one of the best recordings in this box, almost State of the Art. As to the interpretation of the works, most excellent. A very enjoyable 76 minutes of well presented organ music. The Organ is a wonderfully reconstructed instrument. It sounds fantastic.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Bach, CPE. (1714-1788) The Complete Organ Works, concertos for Organ and Strings.

From my collection.
Bought in 2016.
First listen:  CD 1: 10-1-2016. Second listen: 20-4-2017.
First listen: CD 2: 19-1-2017. Second listen: 20-4-2017.
Label: Ligia.
Recording dates: October/December 1998 & June 2014.
Recording venue: Temple de Bouclier Strasbourg & Eglise St. Louis, Vichy, France.
Recording engineer: Eric Baratin.
Running time CD 1:  79:40. CD 2: 80:05.
Classical relevance to me: Essential

Works performed:
See heading.

Works performed by:
Olivier Vernet,  Organ.

Instrument used: CD 1.
Dominique Thomas (2007)
Tuning a 415 Hz at 18 degrees.
Temperament: Tempérament au cinquième de coma.

Bernard Aubertin (1991) CD 2.
Tuning: á= 440Hz.
Temperament: Kirnberger III.

Orchestre D'Auvergne, Arie van Beek.

First review of CD 1.First of all I have to say that the recording is top notch and that the organ is well placed and sounds gorgeous. A modern organ, but with a fine sound. Vernet takes care not to overblow the music, but carefully applies the volume and expression to match it's character. The organ is a well balanced instrument. Not often I encounter an organ that has all the characteristics of an old instrument, but this one has. As to the music I think that there is plenty to enjoy, some of his organ compositions are brilliantly conceived and highly virtuosic. As to the melodic content, even there is a lot to be happy about. He was a creative composer, open to innovation, and by that caused quite a stir in his time, and still does really.

First review of CD 2.
I enjoyed this twofar very much. For one Olivier Vernet is doing his utmost to make these works shine. He is very alert in pointing out the finer notes in the score, without blowing it out of proportion, what could be easily done on this Aubertin Organ, when I look at the registers. Yet due to his approach you never feel that this organ is new, but at once feel comfortable. Aubertin is an organ builder with his heart and ears in the right place. As for the music, well it has substance, and is well crafted. There is not a single work with irritating weaknesses.
As to the recording, I think they allowed a bit too much echo in this church. Ideally it should be 2 seconds maximum, but this church is giving 4-5 seconds. The volume gets a bit to wide, and due to the echo a bit fuzzy. You hear this when the orchestra comes in. Eric Baratin was probably not able to do anything about it.  Arie van Beek is clearly aware of this for he does his utmost to keep the dynamics within reason. Notwithstanding this issue, the recording is otherwise quite good. The organ sounds like a charm.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

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

From my collection.
Bought in November 2016.
First listen: 23-11-2016.
Second listen: 16-1-2017.
Third listen: 19-4-2017.
Label: Ligia.
Recording dates: Not mentioned.
Recording venue: Palazzetto Bru Zane, Venice, Italy.
Recording engineer: Eric Baratin.
Running time: 62:40.
Classical relevance to me: Well worth having.

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 an 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 negative 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.

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

From my collection.
Bought in November 2016.
First listen: 20-11-2016.
Second listen: 12-1-2017.
Third listen: 19-4-2017.
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 to me: Nice performance, but it will not add more info about this composer as you already might know.

Works performed:
La sol fa re mi.

Performed by:
Metamorphoses Biscantor, Maurice Bourbon. 

Well this performance is 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. Of course moments of beauty are spattered around but not in a coherent manner. 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 compositions. 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.

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 ...