Monday, February 20, 2017

Haydn, Joseph. (1732-1809) (Almost) Complete Symphonies. The Hogwood Edition, CD 6.

From my collection.
Gifted to me in 2013.
First listen: 16-10-2013.
Second listen: 20-2-2017.
Label: L'Oiseau-Lyre.
CD 6 from 32.
Recording dates: January 1992.
Recording venue: Walthamstow Assembly Hall, London, England.
Recording engineer: Not specifically named for this recording.
Running time: 57:31.
Classical relevance to me: Essential.

Works performed:
Symphony No. 33 in C major. (1764)
No. 36 in E flat major. (1765)
No. 108 in B flat major. Partita. (1759-1760)

Performed by:
Academy of Ancient Music, Christopher Hogwood.

Finally i am bowed over to Hogwoods vision on how to perform Haydn's Symphonies. Not in the least because he corroborated with a eminent scholar Professor James Webster of Cornell University in Ithaca in the state of New York. Having read a lot about his research into Haydn and the performance practice, and now hearing the result, I am finally come to the conclusion, that even I do not totally go with the tempi, the instruments used, and the way it is interpreted is sound and just.
Hogwood is such a stickler for details, and this orchestra plays all so perfectly, that the result is a super balanced and well articulated piece of musical excellence. At first when playing this set I was blinded by other performances I have, in terms of tempi and phrasing, and the use of winds in certain symphonies, that I tended to see Hogwoods vision as wrongheaded, but the wrongheadedness was mine alone. Next time read more!
All works on this CD are written in the major key and are optimistic in character as Haydn's works often are. And again there are so many felicitous bits of melodies, with big elements of surprise, that I can do none other as marvel at the result that Haydn achieved yet again, to instill all three works with his characteristically turn of genius. 
The recording is top notch. No hooting of the Horns anymore.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

The Purcell Brothers, Daniel (c.1664-1717) and Henry (1659-1695) Chamber music. (Second rerun)

From my collection.
Bought in February 2017.
First listen: 14-2-2017.
Second listen: 18-2-2017.
Label: Christophorus.
Recording dates: October 2006.
Recording venue: Studio Gärtnerstraße, Berlin-Lankwitz, Germany.
Recording engineer: Henri Thaon.
Running time: 58:54.
Classical relevance for me: For those that like the instrument a good acquisition.

Works performed:
Compositions for recorder, cello and Harpsichord.

Performed by:
Ensemble Mediolanum.

I knew some of the music, but I never heard anything by this ensemble. But you do not have to have any worries about the artistic part. It is well played and performed. Dedicated musicians play popular music of it's time. It does not demand a huge amount of concentration to enjoy what's on offer. Simply but effective music to leisure away the time in a pleasant way. There are solo pieces for Harpsichord by Daniel Purcell which are very good, and some pieces by Henry Purcell for Recorder and BC. A fine CD to start the listening day with.
The recording is excellent, and apart from a few moments of uneasiness with the high pitch of the recorder all is okay.

Clemens Deus Artifex. Music at the Court of Pope Clement. (1342-1352)

From my collection.
Bought in November 2016.
First listen: 16-12-2016.
Second listen: 18-1-2017.
Third listen: 18-2-2017.
Label: Ligia.
Recording date: April 2011.
Recording venue: Abbaye Saint-Robert de La Chaise-Dieu, France.
Recording engineer: Eric Baratin.
Running time: 51:02.
Classical relevance for me: Essential.

Works performed:
A polyphonic office Hymn performed in the presence of Clement VI (Avignon-14th Century) 
A Proper of Assumption day.

Works performed by:
La Main Harmonique, Frédéric Bétous.

I am quickly becoming a admirer of this ensemble with only male voices. Not only are both countertenors a marvel, but tenor and bass are of a high standard too. Andrés Rojas and Frédéric Bétous are counters that have the right height and do not need to overstretch their voices, it flows easily out of their throats. And that is not always a given thing to most counters. so no worries on that score at all. They all blend marvelously together, and their diction of old latin is amazing, so perfectly demonstrated by the Introït-Gaudeamus, with has a nice Byzantine hum in the background, very impressively sung. And from there on it's all as it should be. Singing of a high calibre, high notes met with ease, perfectly balanced, and dynamics well judged. The recording seamlessly integrates the acoustic with the voices. A big plus. Be aware that in Sequence: Area Virga, the volume goes considerably up, so if you are slowly nudged into a relax mode, this one will shake you out of it within milliseconds.😄

Ordering this one.

Came with a strong recommendation, and since I like violin concertos....

Friday, February 17, 2017

Bach, J.S. The Complete Organ works. (Aeolus Edition) CD 4.

From my collection.
Bought in November 2014.
First listen: 4-12-2014.
Second listen: 17-2-2017.
Label: Aeolus.
Box with 21 cd's, and a beautiful booklet added.
Recording dates: April 2008.
Recording venue: Ebersmunster, Eglise Abbatiale Saint Maurice, France.
Recording engineer: Christoph Martin Frommen.
Running time: 74:02.
Classical relevance to me: Essential performance.
Instrument: Andreas Silbermann, (1732)

Works performed:

Alla Breve, BWV 589.
Canzona in d-Moll, BWV 588.
Fantasia super "Christ lag in Todesbanden" BWV 695.
Pastorale in F-Dur, BWV 590.
Fantasia in C-Dur, BWV 570.
Nun freut euch, lieben Christen g'mein, BWV 755.
Wir Christenleut, BWV 710.
Fantasia in C, BWV 1121.
Fuga sopra il Magnificat, BWV 733.
Erbarm dich mein, O Herre Gott, BWV 721.
Wer nur den Lieben Gott lässt walten, BWV 691, and 690.
Vater unser im Himmelreich, BWV 737.
Partite diverse sopra, "Ach, was soll ich sünder machen" BWV 770.

Performed by Ewald Kooiman.

There are some beautiful works on this disc, especially the first 5 of them, such contemplative compositions, carefully dozed in volume, and played in a lucid way on this beautiful organ. To take for example the Pastorale, which elates me no end.  So far this journey through this box warranted the expenditure, for you get truly a unique insight into Bach's oeuvre and state of the art recordings of the Silbermann organs. Ewald Kooiman is an experienced musician who clearly knows where to go with his view. Again I noticed how much he plays in the Baroque style, and never or seldom oversteps this boundary if the piece does not ask for it. You may clearly hear this in the Fantasia in C, a good specimen in what you may expect. I think in all honesty that no Bach admirer can ignore this set.

Reznicek, Emil Nikolaus von. (1860-1945) Symphony No. 1 in D minor & Four Songs of Prayers and Repentance after the Words of the Holy Scripture.

From my collection.
Bought in November 2014.
First listen: 20-11-2014.
Second listen: 31-3-2015.
Third listen: 17-2-2017.
Label: CPO.
Recording dates: May 2006.
Recording venue: Konzerthalle Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach, Frankfurt/Oder, Germany.
Recording engineer: Stephan Reh.
Running time: 68:50.
Classical relevance to me: Essential.

Works performed:

Symphony No. 1 in D minor, "Tragic".  (55:06)
Four Songs of Prayer and Repentance after the Words of the Holy Scripture. (11:44)

O, wie ist die Barmherzigkeit des Herren so Groß.

Willst du Gottes Diener sein.
Alles, was aus der Erde Stammt.
Tod, wie bitter bist du.

Performed by:

Brandenburgisches Staatsorchester Frankfurt, Frank Beermann.
Marina Prudenskaja, Mezzo-Soprano.

I have been a keen admirer of the works written by Emil Nikolaus von Reznicek from the moment I heard a few of his symphonies. To learn about this composer, you cannot revert to the booklet, for the overlong piece about this composer is a essay of empty rhetorics, to boost Eckhardt van der Hoogen his ego, but is ultimately a lot of German BlaBla. Better to listen to the music. This long symphony has no specific program, but is rather four movements separate, and each a mikrokosmos. A planet with four large satellites so you will. A late Romantic composer, one could say that "Tragic" is an apt word to describe the Symphony's many melodic entities perfectly adapted to this mood. That is not to say that there are no happy moments throughout, not at all, its just a clever concoction of many different emotions. The writing is of a amazing quality, and shows how good a composer he really is. Using the very best of Mahler and Bruckner, he brings the music to a totally new realm, with the lightness at times of a Mendelssohn. A fascinating journey through a great work of art, really great. And well performed too. Beermann of course is a very experienced conductor in the fields of the unknowns, so he made this venture into a success, for by no means is this an easy work to perform.

The Four Songs are a different kettle of fish altogether, and normally I would not buy this as a separate. As songs they are perfectly written and Prudenskaja does not disappoint, iow, she does not scream the ears from your head. The text is fine too, and it's almost on the same level as the Four letzte lieder by Strauss. Hmmm, enjoyed this more as anticipated. 

Haydn, Joseph. (1732-1809) Complete Symphonies. (The Hogwood edition) CD 5.

From my collection.
Gifted to me in 2013.
First listen: 21-5-2013.
Second listen: 17-2-2017.
Label: L óiseau-Lyre.
CD 5 from 32.
Recording dates: June 1991.
Recording venue: Walthamstow Assembly Hall, London, England.
Recording engineer: Not specifically named for this recording.
Running time: 65:34.
Classical relevance to me: Essential.

Works performed:
Symphonies-17/19/20/25 all in major keys.
 No. 17/19/20 composed between 1759-1760.
No. 25 composed in 1762.

Performed by: 
Academy of Ancient Music, Christopher Hogwood.

Haydn seldom disappoints in his symphonies, and there is almost never a dull moment. The brilliant orchestration keeps you alert, for there are unexpected things bubbling to the surface. Many such moments in all 4 symphonies. I am a bit confused as to the tempi Hogwood is applying, or rather his interpretation of tempo movements. A Presto or a Molto, can be in speed different in each symphony. But that is of course his choice and I respect that. For I enjoy what I hear more and more as I progress in this box. I guess one has to grow in Hogwood's vision to fully understand his choices.
The recording is superb. All details are floating in the air, as clear as a bell. The stage image is near perfect.