Saturday, March 17, 2018

Juon, Paul, (1872-1940) The String Quartets, CD 1.

New acquisition.
Purchase year: 2018.
First listen: 17-3-2018.
Label: CPO.
CD 1 from 2.
Recording dates: January 2014.
Venue: Studio I, Radiostudio Zurich.
Engineer: Andreas Werner.
Playing time: 69:35. (CD 1)

Works on this CD:
SQ opus 5 in D major.
Opus 11 in B minor.

Performed by:
Sarastro Quartett.

If someone would ask me what is there to like about the music of Juon, I would say, its sheer balance, melodiousness, and the tightly knit musical arguments. But also its perky spirit, charm and deftness of technique. He illuminates the music with an extraordinary musical world of his own. The music is enriched by subtle changes of colour and sublime articulation. It has an overwhelmingly positive and impressive argument behind every note. Such is the concentration that you cannot escape to be enthralled. It is tremendously compelling on every level. This clarity of detail in his writing demands respect, and lets you experience the context in a logical way. Also a deeply sensuous tone, with a beautiful narrative, thus the overall effect is conversational rather than dramatic. It sounds almost like a extension of the music by Johannes Brahms equally compelling.  The music surrounds you with a thick layer of warmth, there is no way out of it , and even after the music dies out, the warmth will be there for a long time.
The performance is sublime, and so is the intimate recording.

Two items I ordered today.

The samples sounded gorgeous, so I took my chances.

I was rather curious after different renditions of these works.

Friday, March 16, 2018

Hartmann, J.P.E. (1805-1900) Symphonies.

From my collection.
Purchase year: 2010.
First listen: 25-6-2010.
Second listen: 15-3-2018.
Label: Dacapo.
Recording dates: April/May 1996.
Venue: Danish Radio Concert Hall.
Engineer: Jørn Jacobson.
Playing time: 69:11.

Works on this CD:
Symphony No. 1 in G minor opus 17. (1836)
Symphony No. 2 in E major opus 48 (1848)

Performed by:
The Danish National Radio SO, Thomas Dausgaard.

From a compositional standpoint these symphonies are mature and musically strong works in every respect, without flaws whatsoever. Melodically inventive, with a huge creative input, scoring sublimely for every instrument in the orchestra. Hartmann knew how to keep such a structure together, plus there is an easy grace and flow in the music that endeared it to me right away.  I was amazed how much detail is written in both symphonies, and how much I heard due to the excellent engineering by Jørn Jacobson. Sunny music, with a small dose of drama, but predominantly it has a free flowing outlook created by a composer who also was a perfect orchestrator.
Romantic symphonies with a slight hint to modernity, and maybe to Mendelssohn.
Hartmann was forgotten by the Danish and utterly ignored and neglected in his lifetime and all this despite the fact that he was one of the best composers they had in their realm he is still almost forgotten.
Very much recommended.

Joubert, John. (1927-) Symphony No. 1, opus 20 (1955)

From my collection.
Purchase year: 2010.
First listen: 26-3-2010.
Second listen: 15-3-2018.
Label: Lyrita.
Recorded in: 1995.
Venue: Not mentioned.
Engineer: Not mentioned.
Playing time: 31:17.

Works on this CD:
See heading.

Performed by:
London PO, Vernon Handley.

The annoying habit of Lyrita to leave out technical info about their releases is irritating me no end.
This said I was heartily glad of finally hearing this gorgeous symphony again. I knew it was good, but it took me again by surprise how good it really is.
Joubert is a musical enigma to me. I could not really lay the finger on the music and say well it sounds like this or that. It rather eluded me, although that did not hinder me in enjoying the music thoroughly. Joubert is a creative and excellent orchestrator, and so this symphony leaves quite an impression. The tonality is a bit stretched but not that much. The music has a strong technical element that is always keeping me on my toes, but sentimentality has no place in his notes, thus the emotional impact is delivered with a blow in the last movement, totally unexpected. Were the other movements can sound forlorn and bare in expression, a sense of loneliness is creeping in, coherently delivered, but ultimately it has a grave demeanor. The last movement breaks away the technical chains and will hit you with notes that are laden with a yearning for warmth and compassion. I found it to be bizar at first after the first three movements, but after a while it began to make sense to me.
A state of the art recording, and a sublime performance.

Lambert, Constant. (1905-1951. Miscellaneous works.

From my collection.
Purchase year: 2010.
First listen: 12-6-2010.
Second listen: 15-3-2018.
Label: Hyperion.
Recording dates: December 2004.
Venue: Clothworkers Hall, University of Leeds, England.
Engineer: Phil Rowlands
Playing time: 62:52.

Works on this CD:
Romeo and Juliet, Ballet in two Tableaux.
Elegiac Blues, in memory of Florence Mills.
Piano Concerto.
The Birds Actors, Overture.
Prize Fight, Ballet in one act.

Performed by:
Jonathan Plowright, Piano.
English Northern Philharmonia, David Lloyd-Jones.

For me Lambert was a fantastic composer, who with Frederick Ashton put English ballet on the cards again. He could write beautiful ballets, and other very interesting works as heard on this CD.
Romeo and Juliet is one of his best, and I could play that over and over again. I put it on the same level as the ballets written by Tchaikovsky. Apart from the fact that he was a prolific composer, he also produce highly original compositions, in which his aptitude for brilliant orchestration is a prime element of his talent. The music is rebellious, like the piano concerto, The Birds actors, and the rumbustious aggressively modulated ballet the Prize fight. The last piece being a virtual riot, full of dissonances and a lot of timpani bashing around your ears, plus a percussive piano to boot. It is at times grotesk in expression, and for the life of me, I could not envisage a choreography for the piece, well maybe one in a Strawinskian mode. The Elegiac Blues made me smile. By no means easy pieces but entertaining at all times. He was valued by his peers and friends but a very individual man, at times totally uncommunicative and a workaholic at that. Apart from Romeo and Juliet the music did not really move me, but it was a hell of a ride.
State of the Art recording, as expected from Phil Rowlands.

Vask, Pēteris. (b.1946) Choir works with orchestra.

New acquisition.
Purchase year: 2016.
First listen: 15-3-2018.
Label: Ondine.
Recording dates: January 2007.
Venue:  St. John Church, Riga.
Engineer: Andris Ūze.
Playing time: 57:52.

Works on this CD:
Pater Noster.
Dona Nobis pacem

Performed by:
Latvian Radio Choir.
Sinfonietta Riga, Sigvards Kļava.

The scope of the music is too wide for me, too loud, and I am missing a certain quality of voices. It sounds to me unsophisticated and raw. Not well rehearsed too. The balance between the voices is uneven, the dynamics at times to loud. To me the choir simply sounds ill at ease. The female voices sling their top notes out to pain my ears. The recording is diffuse, just sample the Pater noster and you will know what I mean. No spiritual depth, no intimacy, no, these compositions by Vask do not work for me. It goes in the refusal bin and I will find a appreciative friend to give it to.

Hartmann, Emil. (1836-1898) Orchestral Works.

From my collection.
Purchase year: 2011.
First listen: 23-1-2011.
Second listen: 14-3-2018.
Label: Dacapo.
Recording dates: August/November 2005 & May 2006.
Venue: Kuhlausalen Lyngby Kulturhus, Danmark.
Engineers: Jørn Jacobsen & Lars Christensen.
Playing time: 74:21.

Works on this CD:
Nordic Folk Dances. (World premiere recording)
Hakon Jarl, Symphonic Poem, opus 40.
A carnival Feast, opus 32. (World premiere recording)

Performed by:
Copenhagen PO, Bo Holten.

The first time I played this disc was 2011, and after that it dwindled into the big heaps of CD'S, which at that time were huge, and never played it again. Now however I have done all the new releases and acquisitions and could finally address the piles that were waiting for me from 2006 onwards. That there were a lot of fine recordings I knew, but the quality of Emil Hartmann's music surprised me in a good way. Unjustly forgotten and shamefully neglected, this composer should rank high on anyone's list who loves Danish music, for Hartmann belongs up there with the greats. Just sample the beautiful Nordic Folk Songs, which are not based  on existing melodies, but came out of the unbridled fantasy of the composer. As all the works on this disc the scoring is sublime, not a note too much, but a treasure trove of delicious magical discoveries and imagery, with catchy melodies and never a boring moment to be found. He has the compositional power to amaze, like in Hakon Jarl, with well dosed drama flowing in an easy way, but with a lot of expression building towards a complete context of brilliancy.
A Carnival feast was considered as light music, and yes light it may be, but in the time it was premiered in Leipzig, audiences were wildly enthusiastic, and rightly so, for it's perfectly orchestrated, and frankly this music gladdens your heart in a jiffy.
The recording is superb, as is the performance.

Juon, Paul, (1872-1940) The String Quartets, CD 1.

New acquisition. Purchase year: 2018. First listen: 17-3-2018. Label: CPO. CD 1 from 2. Recording dates: January 2014. Venue: Studio I...