Friday, December 9, 2016

Mendelssohn, Felix. (1809-1847) Violin Concertos.

New acquisition.
Bought in December 2016.
First listen: 9-12-2016.
Label: Naxos.
Recording dates: August/September 2010 & December 2011.
Recording venues: Hankasalmi Church, Jyväskylä,  Finland & Clara Wieck Auditorium, Sandhausen, Germany.
Recording engineers:  Sean Lewis and Günther Appenheimer.
Running time: 66:41.
Classical relevance: If a admirer of Tianwa Yang, essential.

Works performed:
Violin Concerto in E minor, opus 64 & in D minor.
Violin sonata in F minor, opus 4.

Works performed by:
Tianwa Yang, Violin.
Romain Descharmes, Piano.
Sinfonia Finlandia Jyväskylä, Patrick Gallois.

It so happens that I am an admirer of Tianwa Yang, who is called master of the Violin" which she really is. The ease and agility with which she plays is nothing short than amazing. The female counterpart of Paganini would be a more apt title for this lady. There are many excellent violinists, but there are only a few exceptional, thus Yang certainly belongs to the last group. I already enjoyed her CD'S with music of Pablo de Sarasate, so this acquisition was really unavoidable. Now the Mendelssohn Violin concertos are often recorded, and many are pristine in performance, but when you listen to Yang, you hear immediately what you are missing with other interpretations. Yang's bowing is sublime, the phrasing an intimate concoction of poetical rhyming, her precision and surefootedness a thing to impress, the shaping of Mendelssohn attractive melodies as if she was born to it. The synergy she has with the music she plays, puts her in a cosmos of her own, and if she does not get a good partner in crime to perform with, the whole thing falls apart. Happily not so with the Sinfonia Finlandia, which is steered with submissive supportive strength to Yang, and so creates a symbiosis that makes the music into a miracle to hear. The colours she gets out of her Violin is nothing short of amazing, and the breathtaking ease and speed with which she dashes of the notes makes me wonder if a human can do this at all. But look at her hands, wonderful long fingers very bendable, and able to play anything. A revelatory performance.
As to the recording of the violin concerto in E minor. As such it is a good recording, which gets a bit muddy at the side of the cellos and woodwinds. There is not enough depth to sustain the short little details that makes these concertos so tantalizing to listen to. Yang's violin tone is beautifully captured though. The Concerto in D minor recorded in the same church is a perfect example of I heard what went wrong in the E minor and hereby it is corrected. Perfect depth, all the detail you need, and Yang's violin wonderfully integrated into the musical spectrum. And at the same time this is the best interpretation I ever heard from the D minor, so sensuous, drawing you into this concerto. I had a hard time adapting to the next piece, after this sumptuous meal of magic. The Violin sonata in F minor is a beautiful piece, well written and melodiously as seductive as the previous concerto, but right at the start Yang comes in with too much volume, and make the Adagio introduction overblown for this intimite work. The piano is to bold also, an approach that this piece can hardly stomach. It is beautifully played and both musicians get out what is in the notes, but the chamber music element is a concerto element, which is misjudging the intent of the piece. But that is a minor quibble really, must be said, but must not detain you from buying it. It is well captured in the recording. 

Nielsen, Carl. (1865-1931) The Complete Orchestral Works. CD 2, Symphonies No. 3 and 4. The Membran Edition.

From my collection.
Bought in 2012.
First listen: 15-11-2012.
Second listen: 9-12-2016.
Label: Membran.
CD 2 from 10.
Recording dates: January & August 2000.
Recording venue: Liverpool Hall.
Recording engineer: Not mentioned.
Running time: 79:53.
Classical relevance: A worthwhile set any time!

Works performed:
Symphony No. 3, opus 27 & No. 4, opus 29.

Works performed by:
Royal Liverpool PO, Douglass Bostock.

Most of us collectors have a set of these symphonies, and some have even multiple sets. That's all good, I belong to them with a few sets, and this is one of them. To my ears a set that deserves to be high on anybody's list. For what is basically a low budget box, holds excellent interpretations of Nielsen's orchestral works in good to excellent sound quality. And make no mistake about this orchestra and conductor, for both belong to the top ensembles in the world, and Bostock as a conductor has quite a reputation if it comes to superb performances. He is a multi talent if it comes to known but also unknown composers. I have many recordings to testify that.
The performances of Symphony No 3 & 4 are top notch. Swift furious passionate and very precisely executed, with some of the best brass I ever heard from an English orchestra. With the third symphony comes an alternative movement, the second movement, but instead of the voices of a Tenor and a Soprano we get the blessings of a Clarinet and Trombone, far preferable to the one with voices. they add nothing to my ears, thus the harmonies of both clarinet and trombone do much more good. I am happy he recorded the alternative.
A very strong performance of the Fourth symphony, hammers Nielsen world into shape, and makes this a powerful statement that will linger long afterwards. Bostock is creating a wonderful chaos, and brings all the orchestral lines back into shape as if nothing has happened. Bostock understands the genius of Nielsen in a unique way, and he has a powerful instrument in the Liverpool musicians whose machinery is buzzing with pleasure.

Bach, J.S. The Complete Organ Works. CD 3. (The Aeolus Edition)

From my collection. 
Bought in November 2014.
First listen: 27-11-2014.
Second listen: 9-12-2016.
Label: Aeolus.
CD 3 from 19.
Recording date: April 2008.
Recording venue: Eglise abbatiale Saint Maurice, ( Ebersmunster)
Instrument: Andreas Silbermann (1732)
Recording engineer: Christoph Martin Frommen.
Running time: 75:45.
Classical relevance: Essential. Reference recording and performance.

Works performed:

Fantasie in c Moll, BWV 537.

Fuge in c Moll, BWV 537.
Allein Gott in der Hoh. sei ehr, BWV 715, and 717.
Herr Jesu Christ, dich zu uns wend, BWV 726.
Ach Gott und Herr., BWV 714.
Herzlich tut mich verlangen, BWV 727.
Fantasia und Imitation, BWV 563.
Fantasia super, Jesu, meine Freude, BWV 713.
Jesu, meine zuversicht, BWV 728.
In Dulci Jubilo, BWV 729.
Liebster Jesu, wir sind hier, BWV 730 & 731.
Partite diverse sopra, O, Gott du frommer Gott, BWV 767.
Fantasia in c Moll, BWV 562.
Partite diverse sopra, Christ, der du bist der helle Tag, BWV 766.

Performed by:

Ewald Kooiman.

For those that enjoy Kooiman's playing style, this set is a must. 

It is some kind of a novelty that I hear all of Bach's organ works on Silbermann Organs. Being used to basically North German instruments, it takes some sort of a adaption, to find the genius in these works again. In most of Bach's works I enjoy this sound, but there are pieces that do not lend themselves to this opulence, notably the work "Allein Gott in der Hohe, sei ehr, BWV 715". That needs adjustment, but it is far and wide between, for hearing "Ach Gott, und Herr BWV 714" is heart rendering, and so well suited to the instrument. And I could go on, for this set has many moments of sheer bliss, the more so for the recording, which is almost the best I ever heard in regard to the instrument. 

Tchaikovsky, Pyotr Ilyich.(1840-1893) The Sleeping Beauty, Ballet Music in 3 acts. Meyerbeer, Giacomo.(1791-1864. Les Patineurs Ballet music in one act. (Ballet Masterpieces on DECCA)

From my collection.
Bought in 2010.
First listen: CD, 26: 18-4-2013, Second listen: 6-12-2016.
First listen: CD 27:  23-4-2013. Second listen: 6-12-2016.
First listen: CD 28: 26-4-2013.  Second listen: 9-12-2016.
Label: DECCA.
CD 26/27/28/ from 35.
Recording dates: Les Patineurs (January 1973. The Sleeping beauty (March 1977)
Recording venues: Kingsway Hall, London England.
Recording engineers: Michael Woolcock: Les Patineurs. Richard Beswick: The Sleeping Beauty)
Running time:  73:37-69:48-52:51.
Classical relevance: Essential for all ballet admirers.

Works performed:
See heading.
Les Patineurs is an arr by Constant Lambert.

Performed by:
National Philharmonic Orchestra, Richard Bonynge.

We all know the music belonging to The sleeping beauty, a masterwork by Tchaikovsky. We are less informed about Meyerbeer's "Les Patineurs". also ballet music of a high level, short granted, but powerful nevertheless and an unmissable piece in the repertoire.
We get fine performances with all the nuances we could wish for, ballet music pur sang, performed by an orchestra and conductor that have been the reference in these matters for a long time and will be long after my life will be ended. There is absolutely no doubt about this. Bonynge's name stood for ballet music, he was the sole representative of the genre and his recording label knew this well. Not for nothing has he recorded so much music in this genre. His live performances and recordings have always been a great success even to this day.  The man is still alive and for me a living icon.
As to the recordings...they are excellent, but in the sleeping beauty I missed details that were a bit cluttered, not much but enough to miss a few things. I did not know the engineer Richard Beswick, and although the recording is almost faultless, his experience did not reach that far that he got the ultimate out of the Kingsway Hall. Les Patineurs recorded by Michael Woolcock, also unknown to me, is a picture of clarity.

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Deutsche Barock Weihnacht. CD 3. Miscellaneous works for Christmas time.

New acquisition.
Bought in October 2016.
First listen: 8-12-2016.
Label: Ricercar.
CD 3 from 7.
Recording dates: Between 1982-2010.
Venues and engineers: Not named.
Running time: 67:54.
Classical relevance: Nice Christmas music.

Composers on this disc:
Johann Herman Schein, Heinrich Schütz, Nicolaus Bruhns.

Works performed by:
Chœur de Chambre de Namur.
La Fenice, Jean Tubéry.

The music will bring you in a Christmas mood, no doubt about that. Fine and competent performances and sound.  Some impressive soloistic contributions. I loved Nicolaus Brühns "Nun komt der Heiden Heiland" a composition for Organ, and performed by Bernard Foccroulle. Superb.

Rota, Nino. (1911-1979) Respighi, Ottorino. (1879-1936) Malipiero, Gian Francesco. (1882-1973) Italian String Quartets.

From my collection.
Bought in October 2016.
First listen: 20-10-2016.
Second listen: 8-12-2016.
Third listen: 8-12-2016.
Label: Claves.
Recording dates:  June 1996.
Recording venue: Villa Medici, Briosco, Italy.
Recording engineer: Teije van Geest.
Running time: 61:23.
Classical relevance: For me this is an essential interpretation of these works.

Works performed: 

Nino Rota.
String Quartet (1948-1954)

Ottorino Respighi.
String Quartet in D major. (1907)

Gian Francesco Malipiero.
String Quartet No. 3 (1931) "Cantari alla Madrigalesca".

Performed by:
Nuovo Quartetto Italiano.

Without doubt, this ensemble is one of the best around, listening at their technical perfection, and a perfectly balanced sound. They are clearly well integrated and have been together for a while. In that sense all is okay. The harmonic flow is remarkable, but they raised it to a high level. The recording is good, it has a warm ambiance, without missing any detail. 
As for the works performed I can with confidence say that it will be hard to match for any other ensemble. The Rota work I never heard before, but since I am more or less on a discovery tour with this composer, it is a welcome addition to the works that are already in my possession. It is a well written work, with a beautiful second movement, and some gorgeous writing.
Respighi's SQ starts with a fine first movement, played with warmth and genuine affection. It draws you in quickly, and moves one profoundly by its beauty. Not in the least because is played with such concentration.
I bought some time ago orchestral works by Malipiero, on the label Marco Polo, but only listened once to them. But they impressed me nevertheless, and so I was curious if his SQ would match my expectations. It is in one movement. Neo classical, tonally stretched but not much. The writing has a clarity and determent focus. The melodies are worked into clear lines, with a melodic purpose emulating a musical picture, of an emotional spectrum that can be quite unsettling but also reaffirming of life. But it wanders in strange places, and sometimes gets lost in a magical conundrum of colours that puts a mist over its meaning. I have to hear this several times, before I can get this into a context. Fascinating it is though. 

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Deutsche Barock Weihnacht. CD 2.

New acquisition.
Bought in October 2016.
First listen.
Label: Ricercar.
CD 2 from 7.
Recording dates: From 1982-2003.
Recording venue and engineers not mentioned.
Running time: 70:23.
Classical relevance: Nice Christmas music for a pittance.

Composers on this disc:
Dieterich Buxtehude, Andreas Hammerschmidt, Hieronymus Praetorius, Thomas Selle, Johann Herman Schein, Samuel Scheidt.

Works performed by:
As with CD 1.
Plus: Bernard Foccroulle & Guy Penson, Organ.

A treat, to start with Buxtehude played by Bernard Foccroulle on organ, and Schein and Scheidt, played by Guy Penson. Foccroulle Buxtehude recordings on Ricercar are played on a number of fine organs, but I do not know which organ it is of this compilation. They sound marvelous though. Still available as a 5 CD set, but quite expensive. The Guy Penson recordings, (Scheidt and Schein), I could not find. As for the choir works and instrumental works they are all from mediocre to good, as are the recordings. The organ recordings are superb.