Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Weber, Carl Maria von. (1786-1826) Piano Works. CD 1.

From my collection.
Bought in September 2016.
First listen: 15-9-2016.
Second listen: 25-10-2016.
Label: Oehms.
CD 1 from 2.
Recording dates: January/February 2004.
Recording venue: Funkhaus Köln, KvB saal, Germany.
Recording engineer: Barbara Valentin.
Running time Disc 1: 76:31.
Classical relevance: Essential.

Works performed on Disc 1:
Piano Sonatas No. 1-3.

Performed by: 
Michael Endres.

I am admiring Endres ever since he recorded Schubert's sonatas and those from Mozart. They were showered with critical acclaim, and this with good reason. He might not be a household name, but he sure is one of the best pianists we have. And this is apparent with the fine music on this disc, not readily associated with Weber. Precious few people heard this side of Weber. These are highly dramatic piano works, and still in the shadow of his opera works. A colourful romanticism, that can be heard throughout these very virtuosic works. Endres who wrote also the concise booklet tells us that he thinks the Weber's piano works deserve a place next to Schubert, despite the fact that they are totally different, and I am inclined to agree with him. These works took me by surprise by their sheer virtuosity and an overflow of musical ideas, brilliantly worked out in these powerful sonatas. They are in dire need of a renaissance!
Audacious and pianistically challenging, these works make a profound impact on me, and no doubt on more people who take the effort to listen to them. A composer that has the key to shadow and brighten every single note into brilliancy, never stepping into the mediocre, but heightening these sonatas with every breath his creative journey into superb works of art.
I am duly impressed with the performances, they are highly polished but played with such force, that it leaves me breathless at his flawless technique. This man is a magician. 
Barbara Valentin made state of the art recordings! Two cd's for 4 euros, this everyone can afford. Its you best spend 4 euros this year, take my word for it!

Ockeghem, Johannes. (c. 1410-1497) Missa Caput. Parisian Machicotage for the Mandatum Ritual.

New acquisition.
Bought in October 2016.
First listen: 25-10-2016.
Label: Glossa,
Recording dates: August 2004.
Recording venue: Sint Pauluskerk, Antwerp, Belgium.
Recording engineer: Jo Cops.
Running time: 58:52.
Classical relevance: Essential.

Works performed:
See heading.

Performed by:
Graindelavoix, Björn Schmelzer.

Unusual is the first thing that comes to mind. Fascinating is the second predominant feeling. Sung by professional and semi professional singers, and creating a very authentic sound, probably a very common performing practice in Ockeghem's time. However that may have been, to hear this music brought to the foreground by Graindelavoix is a revelation to me, and the truth of this very organic interpretation rings in my ears with every note. The Byzantine background is very audible.
It has a raw tinge to it all, musicality is more important as the technical perfection of every note, and that suits me fine. The meaning and intent of the Missa Caput has never been more clear to me, thus with eyes closed one steps into a world long forgotten but becomes so real when listening to Graindelavoix. In all respects Schmelzer is a valuable musician, driven and highly motivated to get every ounce of discovery out of the music for centuries hidden. For me this one counts as a reference interpretation. As for the recording that is nearly State of the Art. All wishes fulfilled, I am waiting with eagerness on the Cypriot Vespers by Jean Hanelle of the same ensemble which I ordered some days ago. It's hard to understand the technical essay by Schmelzer in the booklet, added the fact that all the French is not translated, and the Dutch text is a classic textbook disaster, one quickly gets lost in a labyrinth of intellectual humbug. Better read some excellent essays on the internet, which will lead to a better understanding.


Locatelli, Pietro Antonio. (1695-1764) Complete Edition. CD 2. Trio Sonatas.

New acquisition.
Bought in October 2016.
First listen.
Label: Brilliant.
CD 2 fro, 21.
Recording dates: November 2011 & January 2012.
Recording venue: Westvestkerk, Schiedam, The Netherlands.
Recording engineer: Peter Arts.
Running time: 45:39.
Classical relevance: So far it is really good, well worth investigating.

Works performed:
Trio sonata opus 8, No. 7-10.

7-9 for two violins and BC.
10 for Violin, cello and BC.

Performed by:
Ensemble Violini Capricciosi.

The second CD from this box, and my admiration for this ensemble grows considerably. Again this amazing BC, so present and a constant drive for the music. Infectious playing, and musically as satisfying as a wee dram of single malt. There is so much to discover of which I was oblivious. I have plenty of Locatelli in my collection every bit as good, but this ensemble adds something new. As if unearthing compositions never heard before. The technical standard is impeccable, and the unison amongst the musicians is near perfect. And what fun the opus 8 are!
The recording fits around it all, with a warm and detailed ambiance. I start to be very content with this box.

English Renaissance Madrigals. CD 2 from this box.

From my collection.
Bought in September 2016.
First listen: 5-9-2016.
Second listen: 25-10-2016.
Label: ERATO
CD 2 from 6.
Recording dates: May 1987.
Recording venue: Abbey Road Studio, London, England.
Recording engineer: Mark Vigars.
Running time: 55:19.
Classical relevance: For me essential, highly recommended.

Composers on disc 2.
Thomas Morley.
Thomas Weelkes.
John Wilbye.
John Bennet.
Orlando Gibbons.
Thomas Tomkins.
John Ward.
Thomas Vautor.

Performed by:
The Hilliard Ensemble.

Absolutely wonderful singing. A choir to hug tightly. Such a shame that it does not exist anymore with the present singers, for it was an unique combination. It some ways it goes unchallenged to the present day. The booklet is not much of a addition, composers and works mentioned, and a short but well informed essay by Simon Heighes. He managed to squeeze all relevant information into a few pages. I could say much about the music and how it is performed, but I rather invite you to listen to them. The price for the set will not set you back one inch but will make you richer beyond expectation.
The sound is excellent and captures the choir well. Well focused and detailed.

Friday, October 21, 2016

Vanhal, Johann Baptist. String Quartets. Second and last rerun.

From my collection
Bought in October 2106.
First listen: 18-10-2016.
Second listen: 21-10-2016.
Label: CPO.
Recording dates: March 2009.
Recording venue: Kammermusikstudio des SWR Stuttgart, Germany.
Recording engineer: Friedemann Trumpp.
Running time: 78:34.
Classical relevance: A nice add on when you like the Haydn Quartets.

Works performed:
SQ in C minor, opus 1, No.4.
In G major.
In A major, opus 33, No. 2.
In E flat major.

Performed by:
Lotus String Quartet.

This unknown Quartet has three Japanese ladies, and for good measure a second violinist from German origin. The list of prizes is impressive, as is their list of quartets with which they studied, amongst them the Melos Quartet, Amadeus Quartet, LaSalle Quartet, and with Rainer Schmidt of the Hagen Quartet. Apart from the music, their way of playing is analytical and clear headed, with very precise playing, and some beautiful phrasing. Their bowing technique is impressive, and the sound they produce seductive, but rather anaemic, bleak, with little warmth. This precise technical playing leaves almost no room for emotions, and as a consequence a sameness in all the quartets is emerging, resulting in unconcentrated listening. at my side of the speaker. This is a pity, for Vanhal's music is by all standards as fine as Joseph Haydn is wont to produce, although in this present recording you might not hear this, for it needs more creative and devil dare playing as this Quartet is producing, and not such a polite interpretation as this. The performance has it's merits, certainly, but I cannot escape the thought that it can be done much better.  The recording is well balanced save one aspect. The first violinist is a tad to prominently placed, and the tone can be a bit grating. I have listened to this recording on my near field monitors, and they are quite critical in terms of balance, and the total picture. This recording favours the high frequencies too much to be pleasant on the ear.