Saturday, March 30, 2013

Muzio Clementi.
Complete Sonatas for Violin, flute, cello, & Piano.
Label: Brilliant, 8 CD'S. Recorded in 2007.
CD 2.
Sound 5 out of 10.
Performance: 7 out of 10.

See previous review of CD 1.


  • 6 Sonatas, opus 4, Nos. 4/5/6.
  • 3 Sonatas, opus 5, Nos. 1/2/3.
  • 2 Sonatas, opus 6, Nos. 1/2.


The music is beautiful, let that be a fact, and its lovely finally hearing it, but as I mentioned previously when reviewing CD 1, the recording sounds as if it was made shortly after WW II. This incredibly stupid engineer butchered the studio recording. These days you can with very simple equipment, get very good sound results, without any deep understanding, but only good ears, and a penchant for understanding the software. Clearly in both cases this guy failed, and that makes me quite angry. Probably there was never a post production, or lets listen after one or two takes to the results. What a shame. We are in need of better recordings. I doubt that I will ever play them again. Not recommended.




From my collection, box bought in 2002.

Franz Schubert.
Complete Piano music for four hands.
Yaara Tal & Andreas Groethuysen, piano's.
Label: Sony. 7 CD'S.
CD 2. Recorded in 1993.
Sound & Performance: 8 out of 10.



  • Introduction, Four Variations on a original Theme and Finale in B flat major. D. 603.
  • Divertissement a l'hongroise in G minor. D. 818.
  • Six polonaises, D. 824.
See also the review of CD 1.

The second CD of this set is much better as No. 1 in regards of emotional content and commitment. They still hammer out the notes somewhat, probably their trademark, tenderness is far from them, its all about power and asserting oneself.  That pays dividends of course,  lucidity, clear headedness  no cluttering, everything nicely pinpointed to the comma. But I keep insisting on more warmth, involvement on a different plane, and not just letting logic rule the day.
Anyway, recommended with caution. 





From my collection, bought in 2008.

Nikolai Medtner.
Piano sonatas, (Complete), Piano works.
Played by, Hamish Milne.
Label CRD Records, licensed by Brilliant.
Box, 7 CD'S. Recorded between 1977-2000.
CD 1, recorded in 1977.
Sound: 8 out of 10.
Performance: 9 out of 10.



  • Primavera. ( Spring Tale) Forgotten melodies Second cycle, opus 39, no. 3.
  • Meditation, opus 39, no. 2.
  • Fairy Tales in E flat major, opus 26, No. 2.
  • Fairy Tale in f minor, ( Ophelia's Song), opus 14, No. 1.
  • Fairy Tale in e minor, ( March of the Paladin), opus 14, No. 2.
  • Fairy Tale in G major, opus 9, no. 3.
  • Fairy Tale in D minor.
  • Fairy Tale in C sharp minor, opus 35, No. 4. 
  • Three Hymns in Praise of Toil, opus 49. No. 1: Before work, No. 2: At the Anvil, No. 3: After work.
  • Elegy, opus 59, No. 2.
  • Dithyramb, opus 10, No. 2.

Not so long ago as others, this box in my collection reappeared in my listening que again, and by what I hear I can be happy about that, for Hamish Milne, is a excellent pianist and a erudite musician, who is elegant in his playing and prone to attach the right mood to every piece. Apart from this we have to realize that Medtner is no household name in the classical world, and I wonder why people are so limited in their knowledge in regards to other composers, there is after all more then Beethoven and Brahms.








Friday, March 29, 2013

Carl Nielsen.

Piano Pieces.
Anne Oland, Piano.
CD 8. Recorded in 1992-1993.
Sound: 8 out of 10.
Performance: 8 out of 10.

See previous posts of this box.

Five Piano pieces opus 3.
Symphonic Suite, opus 8.
Humoresque Bagatelles, opus 11.
Festive prelude.
Drommen om Glade Jul. ( The dream of Silent Night)
Chaconne, opus 32.
Theme with variations, opus 40

Apart from the fact that Anne Oland, is hitting the keys with too much force, as if she wants to hammer out the notes, and puts to much stress on certain crossings, her interpretations speaks in all the right colours. But some pieces would benefit from a more relaxed approach, to get some more poetic murmurings along the lines, it is alas not her vision, but I can live with what I hear. She is a very competent piano player.



Send to me by a friend from Scotland, it was not his favourite amongst the available performances.
Thank you John.




Mozart.
Complete Symphonies.
The English Concert. Trevor Pinnock.
CD 11.
Performance: 9 out of 10.
Sound: 9 out of 10.

See also other reviews of this box in previous posts.


  • Symphony No. 40 in G minor.
  • Symphony No. 41 in C major, "Jupiter".


I have come to the end of this box for the second time round, and my overall impression is that it is a essential purchase for Mozartians. These interpretations are a milestone in musical history, admittingly there are more contenders, but lets just say Pinnock belongs to that list too. The sound throughout has been exemplary, and the interpretations never less then revealing. 
Both works on this CD get very a competent treatment. Tempi are well judged, and all the beauty that's in it comes out.







Rued Langgaard.

The Symphonies, and other Orchestral music.

Danish National Orchestra, Vocal ensemble, Choir, conducted by Thomas Dausgaard.
Label: DaCapo. 7 CD'S.
CD 7.
Sound: 9 out of 10.
Performance: 8 out of 10.

See also older reviews of this box.


  • Drapa, ( On the Death of Edvard Grieg)
  • Sphinx, Tone painting for orchestra.
  • Radio Danmark, Fanfares for orchetra.
  • Res Absurda, for Choir and orchestra.
  • Symphony No. 15, ( The Sea storm), for Bass baritone solo, Male chorus, and orchestra.
  • Symphony No. 16, ( Sun deluge).

A CD which rounds up the remaining works of this composer, and a highly disturbing yet in some ways satisfying journey. I heard things which I do not wish to hear again, and others that beg for re-listening. Never was I more convinced that Langgaard had no talent for incorporating Choir and solo voices into a orchestral work, for he uses them as a percussive weapon to batter your ears with, and they have done some damage to mine. When I listen to it, words like ugly and disproportionate comes to mind, and yes I really mean that. I may be biased here, for I rarely like orchestral works where a choir or solo voices are required. I dislike with all my heart the eight Symphony by Mahler, for me a bombastic monstrosity. And I could name a few more by other composers. But I am diverting.....
Drapa, on the death of Edvard Grieg, has its very short moments of contemplation, but honestly its a jubilant work, and somehow that strikes me as all wrong. Well composed, but for the wrong occasion.

Sphinx is a well written work too. But boy, a work with immense combat power, there is a drive behind it all, very determined to strike hard and merciless, really staggering and amazing at the same time. 

Hvidbjerg Drapa, is almost a nuclear explosion of orchestral overkill,  and its a pretty impressive composition. The Choir element is this work is disturbing and unnecessary. 

Radio Danmark,  is a short and angry piece. A confronting hard piece, which knows no mercy. Like it though.

Res Absurda, I dislike so much, that it will never punish my ears again. Ugly it is.

Symphony No. 15 and 16,  are both fine works, that incorporate so many mood changes, and so many shifts of key, that it will need many repeated listening's, before I get the hang of them. These works and all others on this CD, are different from all the other works in this box, in that there is a marked tendency for displaying power and aggressiveness. Why is a riddle to me, but there it is.
Nevertheless, as a whole this box was a exploration of pleasure, well most of the time, and in a little while I will revisit the box for the second time.












From my collection, bought in 2008.

Muzio Clementi. ( 1752-1832)
Sonatas for Violin, flute, cello, and piano. ( Complete)
Label Brilliant.  8 CD'S. Recorded in 2007.
CD 1.
Sound: 6 out of 10.
Performance 7 out of 10.

Pietro Spada, Piano.
Vincenzo Bolognese, Violin.
Gianni Biocotino, Flute.
Andrea Bergamelli, Cello.



  • 3 Sonatas for Piano and Violin, opus 2, Nos.  1-3-5.
  • 3 Sonatas for Piano and Violin, opus 3, Nos. 4-5-6.
  • 6 Sonatas for Piano and Violin, opus 4, Nos. 1-2-3.

When this box was released I bought it right away, for these works are rarely recorded, and since I rate Clementi fairly high, it was a no brainer at that time.  I played it 2 times through, and decided that although fairly competent, this could be done much better. On authentic instruments to begin with. And hire a competent engineer for the chap that did these recordings should be banned from a recording studio forever. A man by the name of Giovanni Fomari made a pretty bad mess of it!  And although it improves a little along the way, this studio recording is simply a shame on any ones curriculum. Just listen to the first movement of this CD and you know what I mean.
So I have to see it in the light of musical merit. Clementi delivered  fine sets of music for divers combinations, that could run alongside any other composer of rank and name. Tuneful, melodious, and yes inventive too. In this sense I enjoy them, until better recordings come along, to convince me to lay this set aside forever. These are by no means bad musicians, they all have earned their status by now, they were just treated to a  bad  recording engineer. 
And for the record, the booklet is an affront, unbelievable that Brilliant thought 2 pages of info without being info is appropriate. 



Thursday, March 28, 2013

Haydn.
Complete Pianotrios, CD 10.
Sound: 8 out of 10.
Performance: 8 out of 10.
Van Swieten Trio.



See other reviews of this box in earlier postings.



  • In C major, E flat major, Eb major, Eb major.
  • Hoboken XV, 27/28/29/30.

This is the last CD of this box, the third complete rehearing of this set, and it has been a pleasure, in terms of performance and sound. The artistic merit is outstanding, and from a standpoint of authenticity a major success. Vividly performed, with the details a authentic performance allows, and which is by all standards the sound Haydn most likely heard, and for him I hope in equally good interpretations. 


We will see, if in my lifetime I will return again to them, I sincerely hope so. My buying habits have gone down considerably, I do not double up any more, but only acquire what is unknown to me. I have a pretty heavy load of unplayed CD'S, which piles shrinks thanks to the buy stop. What is there is mainly orchestral from 1800 till 2013 onward, so I needed to take out of my collection, baroque music and some earlier specimen of that art. And that gladdens my heart, being able to take things to the player that haven't been heard for many years.










Mozart. Complete Symphonies, CD 10.
Sound: 10 out of 10.
Performance: 8 out of 10.

See for more info and reviews other previous postings from this set.

  • Symphony No. 38 in D major. "Prague".
  • Symphony No. 39 in E flat major.
  • The English Concert, Trevor Pinnock.

I have been as a rule absolutely positive about this set and continue to be so, yet I take issue with Pinnock over his tempi in both works. The intro of No. 38 is disturbingly slow, and the integrity is heavily compromised, it simple falls apart at your feet. These tempo fluctuations occur as a constant throughout the work, for the second movement suffers in this respect too, somehow Pinnock did not have his wits together on this one. The Adagio of No. 39 has no power to convince and is like tea that did not capture the flavour, because the bag was taken out to quickly. On the other hand, the last movement is taken at a breakneck speed. Now I like it fast, but this is a tad absurd. So let me put it this way, I heard better.








Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Some very exciting acquisitions, from the label Toccata, which are on sale with JPC de.







Rued Langgaard.

The Symphonies.
Danish National Symphony Orchestra
Danish National Vocal Ensemble
Danish National Choir
Conducted by Thomas Dausgaard.
Label: DaCapo. Box 7 CD'S.
CD 6.
Sound: 8 out of 10.
Performance: 9 out of 10.



  • Symphony No. 12, "Helsingeborg".
  • Symphony No. 13 "Belief in wonders"
  • Symphony No. 14, "The morning", for Choir and Orchestra.

Again a composer that is almost unknown to classical music lovers, and undeservingly so. This happens to many composers that should actually be in the very front seats, but there you go, that's the world's conception of what ought to be great and what not.
But this is a extraordinary composer, for you can not like nor compare him with another composer, past and present. His musical signature is unique; meaning, he devised single handed, a sound that has no comparisons. I have come fairly far in my survey of Langgaard, and already know, that listening to him will be a very long affair, for you are not able to comprehend in one go what the essence is. His stamp is of the sort that defies explanation, but rather forces you to listen, and even then its difficult to write down what it is all about. I admit I cannot. Its tonal, very well orchestrated, late romantic, colorful, exotic at times, sumptuous, and many more of these epitaphs could be applied.
I very much urge anyone to try these works, there is so much to discover.




 
Mozart.

Complete Symphonies ( Semi)
The English Concert, Trevor Pinnock.
Label:  Archiv, box, 11 CD'S.
CD 9.
Sound and Performance 10 out of 10.


  • Symphony No 32 in G major.
  • Symphony No. 34 in C major.
  • Symphony no. 35 in D major "Haffner".
  • Symphony No. 36 in C major, " Linz".

A collection of beautiful symphonies, in fine performances, which I think are essential to any Mozart admirer. I can not stress enough to listen to the secondary and third melody lines, for they make for you the image and intent of the works much clearer. Just don't follow slavishly the lead melody, it will bring great rewards.

See also other postings of this box.








Shostakovich.

Complete SQ, and Piano Quintet, opus 57.
Sorrel Quartet.
Martin Roscoe, Piano.
Label: Chandos, 6 CD'S.
CD 6.
Performance & Sound, 10 out of 10.



  • Piano Quintet, opus 57, in G minor.

This is a work beyond time, and conception of space. Its as if it exists only in mid air, beyond the restrictions of this world, pointing to a horizon far beyond our reach. This is the impression of the first two movements of which the "" Fugue" is taken the greatest credit of getting you of this material plane of listening. The 11:00  that it lasts are made of such thin layers of conciousness, that its almost a total shock to land in the earthy "Scherzo allegretto" were notes are shooting  around your ears, and you are awake again. The Intermezzo lento"  is like walking over a thin layer of ice, such a delicate pizzicato on the strings, that attunes so perfectly to a floating melody on the first Violin, with the Cello underpinning it with subtle substance. Pure bliss.
The "Finale. Allegretto"  getting us back to earth, with powerful treads, demystifying in a very deliberate way, with remnants of the dream passing before us, yet at the same time this movement tells us what solace a dream can give, and how painful it is is the sever the lines that holds us there. In a nutshell, this is a master work, with no but's and if's.





Franz Schubert.

Complete Piano music for four hands.
Yaara Tal & Andreas Groethuysen, Piano.
Label: Sony, 7 CD'S.
CD 1. Recorded in 1993.

Performance 7 out of 10. Sound 10 out of 10.


  • Overture in F major. D 675
  • Eight variations on a theme from Herold's opera "Marie"in C major, D 908.
  • Rondo in D major, D 608.
  • Trois Marches Heroiques, D. 602.
  • Fantasie in F minor, D 940.

When I bought this set in 2003 very cheaply, my hopes were high indeed, because of the excellent reputation of this duo. Sony delivers a perfect sound picture, no complains there, but.....
In 2003 it failed to move me, and that's not because the music is second rate, but rather the hard headed and very rational approach they take. Very detailed, almost like a surgeon's cut, but without emotion this is getting nowhere. Now 10 years later this still stands. Although I appreciate the fact that I hear everything pinpointed to the comma, I miss the emotion. So a second rehearing did not bring better news to my ears, alas. Listen before you buy.








Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Shostakovich.


  • Complete SQ.
  • Sorrel Quartet.
  • Label Chandos, 6 CD'S.
  • CD 6.
  • Sound and Performance 10 out of 10.

String Quartet No. 1, opus 49 in C major.
String Quartet No. 12, opus 133 in D flat major.
Piano Quintet, opus 57 in G minor.


Could one say, this is perfect music? And would that be a personal opinion, or would it be valid for all? Be it as it may, for me the SQ are perfect music, and no, I will not go into my definition of perfection, for I am not sure that I would be able or clever enough.
A sublime conception and implementation of notes into a perfect structure that encompasses all boundaries of definition. This music you must undergo, be drawn into, to suffer, to feel, and to emerge triumphant. I am sure that not many deserve such a elogium, but in my view it is apt to confer it on this composer.
Such perfection.

See other reviews in this blog regarding this box.





Miaskovsky.


  • Complete Symphonies, and other Orchestral works.
  • State Symphony Orchestra, Evgeny Svetlanov.
  • Label: Warner Classics, 16 CD'S.
  • CD 9. 
  • Sound: 7 out of 10.
  • Performance: 9 out of 10.


Symphony No. 24, opus 63,
Symphony No. 27, opus 85.

One thing is very clear, and I knew this when I started listening to this set in May 2009, that this composer is a great and forgotten master, who can easily stand next to all the known greats. Only history knows why he is not played anymore in concert halls, or recorded. Its certainly not the quality of the music, for there is no discussion about that. Any better as this it hardly gets. The more I must be grateful that Warner somehow managed to lay there hands on the recordings Svetlanov made, over a period of many years, and it was clearly a love affair between both artists. 

No. 24 starts with a beautiful fanfare of brass, and the first melody that emerges from that tells you, that ahead lies genius. The energy build up in brass and strings is so alike what Bruckner does, that it had me blown out of my chair several times, so perfectly it is done. But the Pastoral elements soon overtakes, and brings in a  perfect balance, a circle of magical sounds.

The second movement is almost beyond description, such is the ethereal content, which has you in its grips in no time. A floating island of melancholy, a yearning, well almost a plea for peace and fulfillment. This emotion is coming from deep down, and again the majesty and grandeur of Bruckner comes to mind. A apotheosis, a revelation of man's deepest fears, but also odd enough, happiness. Faith comes knocking at the door. This must surely count as one of the finest movements Miaskovsky ever wrote.

The third movement is a amalgam of what came before packed in a dense orchestration. There is a determination, a hankering towards a overwhelming light and the warmth thereof, optimism at the very end. Its also culmination of intense joy. Marvelous.  

No. 27, starts very solemnly with pulsating notes from the winds, and goes quickly over in a "Agitato" with some glorious brass, its a pull and push affair between these two extremes. The scoring is amazing and the contrasts of moods staggering. And out of a few simple notes emerges a melody that turns your heart into jelly. Rachmaninoff  with his forlorn melancholy, and the brilliant scoring of Rimsky Korsakov, came willingly into the color palette, to play a important part.

The second movement is again a very solemn feast for the brass section and winds. They carry the melody line so gracefully into a melancholy mood, followed by some luscious string playing, to give some solace. Tchaikovsky is never far away, and I refer in this instance to the 6th Symphony, or Eugen Onegin.

A March tempo introduces a triumphant mood in the third movement, accelerating into a presto, that seems to make out huge waves in which melody and mood come and go, sometimes with force and passion, sometimes bombastic and almost  with imperial colors in ever returning circles.

See also earlier reviews of this composer.





Mozart.


  • Complete Symphonies. ( Semi complete)
  • The English Consort, Trevor Pinnock.
  • Label: Archiv. Box, 11 CD"S.
  • CD 8.
  • Sound and Performance 10 out of 10.


Symphony No. 29 in A major.
Symphony No. 28 in C major.
Symphony No. 33 in B flat major.

These works ask more attention, because of their intricate and multiple melody lines. Now these are important, not just to follow the obvious melody on top of them, but also the secondary and third melody lines. That way you"ll find out how finely structured all three symphonies are, and how complete the melodic picture gets. Every one of these works is a gem, in which all the creative genius of Mozart went in. Everything that warrants Mozart place in the pantheon of the greats, can be found here. To describe all the content is beyond me, its really a case of listening, and maybe even much more as one or two times, to find what is there to discover. I would say that Pinnock interpretation is a must, next to Hogwood. Playing them next to each other you instantly understand why. A fine bunch of musicians, and a conductor that loves Mozart. Recommended.






Mozart.


  • The unbelievable Mozart, Vol. 1-7.
  • Consortium Classicum.
  • Label: MDG. 7 CD'S.
  • CD 7.
  • Sound: 9 out of 10
  • Performance 10 out of 10.

Adagio KV 484a in B flat major for 2 clarinets and 3 bassett horns.
Serenade KV 370a, "Gran Partita" in B flat major, arr for Strings and winds by Franz Gleissner.


Two very unusual works, I mean, KV 484, for this instrumentation!  Not often do we encounter such unusual scoring, but there is a lot of fun. I like the sound of the Bassett horn, and they are here in very capable hands I must say. Vigorous playing, and some very fine Mozartian detail.
The serenade in a different scoring as the original. The compositional strength of the piece is such, that this arrangement works, and very good it does. It made me appraise the piece in a new light, and with Mozart that's always a adventure. I have come to the end of this fine box, and a pleasant run through it was. Sound is excellent throughout, and frankly, to find better performances or even alternative recording would be a waste of time. This is it, if you want these works. Highly recommended.






New acquisitions on my to order list. Toccata is a specialist label, and there is a sale at JPC de.





Joseph Haydn. Complete Piano Trios.


  • In D major, G major, F sharp minor, G major.
  • Hoboken XV, 24/25/26 & 32.
  • Box with 10 CD'S.
  • Label Brilliant.
  • Van Swieten Trio.
  • Authentic instruments used.
  • CD 9.
  • Sound 7 out of 10.
  • Performance 8 out of 10.


Somehow all the works on this CD sound more closer to Haydn's emotional core, for they have passion written in them, not the free and easy go around, but more flesh to the bones, that adds to the gravity of the pieces, and also lets you hear the other side of the composer. Compared to the earlier pieces in Hoboken XV, there is a marked difference. Take for instance the second movement "Andante", of the first trio, or the "Andante" of the G major Hob. 32, I could go on really. They have this finality in its concept, letting you hear that this must be trinkets, gems maybe that pored out in a frenzy of inspiration. The G major, No. 25, boosts a "Rondo in the Gypsies Style", which made me laugh. Although its a wonderful piece, I could not find the gypsy in there, and I doubt very much that he had the genuine article before his nose. Much more likely a circus artist that posed as one. The sound is good, as is the performance, for me its a treat when performed on authentic instruments, and the ones used on this recording are most excellent.





Monday, March 25, 2013


  • Johann Strauss II, The complete orchestral edition.
  • Label: Naxos. 52 CD'S.
  • CD 18..
  • Sound: 9 out of 10.
  • Performance 8 out of 10.
  • Slovak State Philharmonic Orchestra, Kosice, conducted by Alfred Walter.

There is no doubt at all, that this gigantic undertaking in recording all the orchestral works from Johann Strauss II, is of great significance. All compositions were bundled up in Austria, in some vault, that only a few knew about.  The scores where revised, completed, and cleaned of all the errors, that in itself was already something that never happened before, and by what I read was really needed. Once done the recordings started, and that was a massive undertaking too. they did not take well known orchestra's, for obviously they were to expensive to record. Instead they went to Eastern Europe and took some orchestra's that had a good reputation. But all the orchestras and conductors had to grow into this project, and in the early recordings this is noticeable, in untidy ensemble playing, some in adequate conducting, outright errors in performance, misjudging tempi, forgotten accents, and some nasty recording in a few instances. Should that deter you from buying this box? No, not at all. For this is the only complete box you will find, and for a very good price. And to less trained ears all will sound perfect. I simply hear too much, that is my error.
The present CD 18, is well done, with some very nice music on it. I especially liked the "Grand Duchess Alexandra", Waltz, opus 181, and the "Patronesses Waltz, opus 264. Walter is approaching both works with great care, and particularly finds the nice spots to accentuate. He died a few years ago unfortunately, and this is his legacy on which he might be proud.




  • Ballet Master Pieces, The World's favourite ballets and ballet suites.
  • Label Decca. Box containing 35 CD'S , recordings dates from 1961 till 1992. 
  • From this box CD 24.
  • Recorded in 1984.
  • Performance: 10 out of 10.
  • Sound: State of the Art.
The Firebird.
Igor Stravinsky.
Detroit Symphony Orchestra, Antal Dorati.

Since I am a ballet addict, and since this music comes first on my list of necessary things to take to my desert Island, its quite normal that I rank this box as high as I can. Decca assembled the finest artists and orchestra's to produce outstanding interpretations of every ballet, with matching state of the art sound. There is nothing to compare to Decca's effort, and I doubt very much that this will ever occur again.
The Firebird is a artistic master piece, despite misgivings when it was first performed. Antal Dorati makes it a feast to listen too, all the magic he captures without fail, he knows exactly when to hush the volume, and when to put stress of all the beautiful accents. The sound is stunning too, and heightens the pleasure considerably. Another pearl in the crown of this fantastic box.



Good morning to all of you that might read this blog.


  • Mozart.
  • Complete (Semi) Symphonies.
  • Label: Archiv, 11 CD'S.
  • Recorded 1994.
  • Sound 10 out of 10.
  • Performance 10 out of 10.
  • CD 7.

  • Symphonies 24/25/30/31.


Today I go back to an old favourite of mine, of which music I do not have to say that much, for Mozart's Symphonies are well know, to anyone frequenting classical music. His compositions keep your mind very much alert, for all the musical surprises he has to offer, and I refer in this case to the present disc containing amongst others No 25 in G minor, K 183, with its astonishing first movement, "Allegro con brio". Its as famous as say the first movement of Beethoven's Fifth Symphony, and as powerful I might add. The string writing is brilliant, and it surely belongs to Mozart's very best. But others are No. 31, "Paris", equally to No 25 in grandeur and musical stamina. Performed by The English Consort, under the baton of Trevor Pinnock, and in its own right top of the bill.
See also other postings in this blog regarding this specific box.







Saturday, March 23, 2013

Good morning all, quote for the day.


You cannot dream yourself into a character; you must hammer and forge yourself one. 

Friday, March 22, 2013

DIMITRI SHOSTAKOVICH ( 1906-1975)

The complete SQ.


  • CD 5.
  • String Quartet No. 5, opus 92, in B flat major.
  • String Quartet No. 15, opus 144, in E flat minor.
  • Sorrel Quartet. ( All women quartet)
  • Box containing 6 CD'S.
  • Label: Chandos, recording date 2004.
  • Sound and performance: 10 out of 10.

The String quartet was to become for Shostakovich a lifelong commitment, a semi autobiographical medium for the expression of his most intimate feelings. And this is precisely what you hear, as if you wander in his mind, and experience his emotion. I could not in a better way explain what I feel when playing the SQ, Although his Symphonies are pretty hefty too, the SQ remain the ultimate of what Shostakovich was as a human, and as composer. He pretty much amazes you at almost every note he writes, contemplative,  highly spiritual, always tonal, and with a creative genius that astounds me ever so often.
Desert island music, most definitively.





HOWARD HANSON ( 1896-1981)

The complete Symphonies and other Orchestral works.
CD 1 from 4.


  • Label: Delos, recording date 1988.
  • Sound: 8 out of 10.
  • Performance: 9 out of 10.



  • Symphony No 1 in E minor "Nordic"  (29:19)
  • Symphony No. 2 "Romantic". ( 28:20)
  • Elegy in Memory of Serge Koussevitsky. ( 13:37)

  • Seattle Symphony, conducted by Gerard Schwarz.

Again a composer that is not well known and actually little recorded too, so its a comfort we have such fine performances as the above, for without a doubt, orchestra and conductor are well matched, with a detailed and warm sound in the recording.
Thoroughly romantic in nature are both Symphonies, with plenty of fine memorable melodies and tunes that stay with you. Big sound waves, that will drown you in luscious notes, from which you can conclude that Hanson had a clear understanding of instruments and how to score for all desks. In both Symphonies there is a leitmotiv, which glow will capture you the moment you enter both first movements, there is simply no escape.  Despite the dense scoring, which is a trademark of Hanson, Schwarz keeps it wonderfully lucid, and it gets at times lighthearted and life affirming. 
The Elegy is a moving piece, but it did not grab me that much, although its harmonically rich, with a deep emotional spirituality.



Carl Nielsen ( 1865-1931)

Symphonies and other Orchestral works.

CD 7.


  • Concerto for Clarinet and Orchestra, opus 57.
  • John Kruse, Clarinet, Cecile Boiffin, Side drums.
  • The Czech Chamber PO, conducted by Douglas Bostock.
  • Recording date unknown but fairly recent.
  • Sound: 8 out of 10.
  • Performance:  8 out of 10.


  • Wind Quintet, opus 43.
  • Sound: 8 out of 10
  • Performance: 8 out of 10
  • Serenata in Vano, for Clarinet, bassoon, horn, cello, and double bass.
  • Sound: 10 out of 10
  • Performance: 10 out of 10
  • Scandinavian Chamber Players.
  • Recording date 1996.
  • Label: Classico.Box with 10 CD'S, Ultra budget price.


The first thing you notice in the clarinet concerto is, that the sound is very forward, and that goes for the solo instrument, as well as the orchestra. But there is a good front to back stage sound image, with lots of detailing, you simple have to lower your volume a little bit, and all is well. The sound is warm and committed and the soloists are both high grade performers, as is the Czech ensemble. 
I always had some trouble with this rather modernistic concerto Nielsen wrote, for although its tonal, its widely stretched anyhow. I like the work, but the love is not yet there. :)
From a technical standpoint its a excellent composition, emotionally it doesn't grab me as yet.

  • Wind Quintet.
A lucid recording, well played with a little more warmth, but that has to do with the genial writing Nielsen applied here, no experimenting but highly accessible music. The ensemble is well up to the job. Melodically there is enough to discover, but it is a case of really listening, for its a attention grabber. 


  • Serenata in Vano.
Well balanced and evenly played in a fine acoustic.  A warm and engaging composition, very majestic in its demeanor, with a pastoral twist to it. A short but impressive work.



   

  • Francesco Antonio Rosetti  (Alias Franz Anton Rosler, ca 1750-19792)
  • Concerto in G major, first printing, Amsterdam ca 1783, scored for Pianoforte, 2 flutes, 2 horns, strings and basso continuo. 
  • Ernst Wilhelm Wolf ( 1735-1792)
  • Concerto No. 1 in G major, first printing Breslau 1781, scored for Pianoforte, strings and BC.
  • Johann Gottlieb Naumann ( 1741-1801)
  • Concerto in B flat major, first printing Darmstadt c. 1793, scored for Pianoforte, 2 flutes, 2 oboes, 2 horns, strings and BC.


Christine Schornsheim, Pianoforte.
Berliner Barock-Compagny.
Recorded 2000. Label: Capriccio.
3 discs, containing various works.
Disc 3, duration: 48:37.
Sound: 8 out of 10.
Performance 10 out of 10.

These concertos are played on authentic instruments. And that's a wonderful experience. You really get a feel for its time and musical heritage in so far as you hear this music as the people in those times did. Although, about the tuning of instruments there is always discussion. However, all three composers are only known to the cognoscenti amongst classical music lovers, and that is really a shame for the music is friendly and highly accessible for even the least trained. All three composers belonged to the very top of their time, the more so it is strange, that they are so little played and recorded. Well the 3 far is cheap, and well worth your investment, if you like music from that era. Wonderful melodies, lots to discover. Take the plunge!




Today I inserted a CD in my player from a box I wrote earlier about.


  • Joseph Haydn
  • Complete Piano trios.
  • CD 8, Playing Time 65:11.
  • Piano trios Hoboken XV, 21/22/23/31
  • In C major, E flat major, D minor, & E flat minor.
  • Label Brilliant, recorded between 2000-2002. Box with 10 CD'S.
  • Performers: Van Swieten Trio.
  • Bart van Oort, Fortepiano, Franc Polman, violin, Jaap ter Linden, cello. Played on authentic instruments.
  • Performance: 8 out of 10.
  • Recording: 7 out of 10.
It is well played, perfectly in line with their provenance, and pleasant to listen too. Haydn is never far from perfection, he shapes his melodies well.







Mozart


  • The unbelievable Mozart.
  • Volume. 1-7. First recordings
  • Consortium Classicum
  • Label: MDG, 7 CD'S.
  • Sound quality:10 out of 10
  • Performance: 10 out of 10
  • Recorded between 1990-2005.
  • Total time 55:42. ( CD 6)
Consortium Classicum is a ensemble with musicians that earned their keep by delivering pristine recordings to the world, with as a pivotal member the renown Clarinettist Dieter Klocker. He has been around for quite a time, and he was really a household name for me. This box contains works that have been reconstructed, composed in consort, found on a dusty attic, lain aside being Mozart unworthy, or whatever reason you can imagine. But in my opinion they give you hours of pleasure, because the spirit and genius of Mozart hoover over it, and as such is highly recommendable. True it will not shake da house, but when early out of your bed, and in need of some soothing music, this box will do nicely.
Today in my player:
  • CD 6.
  • Serenade after KV 614 by Johann Christian Stumpf in E flat major, for s clarinets, 2 horns, 2 bassoons, and double bass ad lib.
  • Fragments KV 384, reconstructed by Eberhard Buschmann, for 2 oboes, 2 clarinets, 2 horns, 2 bassoons, and double bass ad lib.
  • Nonet after KV 428, by Johann Simon Hermstedt in E flat major, for flute, 2 oboes, 2 clarinets, 2 horns, 2 bassoons, and double bass.




Thursday, March 21, 2013

Mozart


  • Complete Symphonies (Semi complete)
  • The English Concert, conducted by Trevor Pinnock.
  • Symphony No 20-23 & 27.
  • Box with 11 CD.
  • Playing CD 6.

I do not have to tell about the music itself, everybody who likes its Mozart will know these works well. Witty creative, melodious, crafty, surprising, elegant, stylish, and so on, it all fits on these works. No 27 is a bit more mature, somewhat grander in conception, but all applies to it equally.
The question is werther this performance is any better as the other authentically performed interpretations, that are on the market? Well no really, they have differences in execution, tempi, and phrasing, but apart from that all available recordings are in their own way acceptable. I have recently finished the Christopher Hogwood box with 19 CD'S, which I enjoyed without measure. I loved the way he handled Mozart, and its outcome. Flexible well rounded interpretations, that left nothing to be desired.
Pinnock is different! He has a tighter ensemble, and his strings are marvellously detailed and crisp. Sometimes his tempi are better judged, and the inner movements, secondary melody lines better to the fore. But these are really minor quibbles, fact is, that I could not live without this set, for its a hell of a ride any day. 
Sound is very good, as is the info in the booklet. A huge advantage of the Hogwood set is that it is more or less complete, but that in itself should not keep you away from the Pinnock set.







  • Nikolai Miaskovsky ( 1881-1950)
  • Symphony No 26, opus 79.
  • State Symphony Orchestra of the Russian Federation, conducted by Evgeny Svetlanov.
  • From the Complete Symphonies, 16 CD'S.
  • CD 8
  • Warner Music.
Miaskovsky is not every ones bread and butter, but if you like his sound world, then you are in for a real treat. Colossal monumental works with a majestic grandeur that eludes many of his compeers. In some ways he comes near Bruckner. His is a emotional sweep in all areas of Human emotions, it travels the whole gamut, and it touches many a hidden area in what one can feel, and in what music translates.
No 26 must belong to the very best this composer wrote, for when the first movement starts "Andante  sostenuto", you know right away that something special is going to happen. Yes, it steps in with pastoral sounds, which preludes the intricate weaving of notes in a comprehensive piece of intrinsic power. From begin to end Miaskovsky keeps the tension at the same level, without falling back in musical platitudes. A marvellous work. 
(As a side note to Ray, let me know what you think of the work)
The sound is very good throughout, and I could not imagine a better orchestra nor conductor, that would bring this to this level of success. Seldom performed, this is the only available complete set of his Symphonies.


Some would say, this kind of music is a waste of time or money, and for some that may even be true, and although my world would not crumble, if I would not have it, still it is a welcome part of my musical diet, and there is enough nourishment in it to sustain me for some pleasant hours to come. That said, its in a few ways exceptional. First of all the composer is one I never heard of before, and secondly the music is played on Authentic instruments, which is not a common thing to do, because that has some obvious drawbacks for most listeners. In my case I applaud the use of them, because they represented the sound world of the composer, and as such gives a better insight into the musical culture of that time. And it is well recorded too, Massimo Palumbo plays on a Fortepiano by Felix Gross, Vienna 1812, & Leopoldo Saracino plays on a Guitar by Geatano Guadagnini, 1820. Its recorded in 2002, and the box contains 8 CD'S which comprise his complete works in this genre. If you want music pleasant to your ears, and use as background music, this will do fine. Moreover it is recorded on the Brilliant label, and therefore extremely cheap to purchase.


  • CD 8 with the following works:
  • Gran Duo in A major, opus 63.
  • Grande Marche composee sur Agthe in C major, opus 161
  • Grande Marche de Ries, in D major, opus 168.
  • Fantasie composee sur diffrents motifs de Fiorella musique de Auber in A major.
  • Solo in D major, opus 207, No. 1.





Haydn's piano trios

Haydn's Piano trios is not every ones meat. For one thing they are in some ears boring and long winded, and to little action. It takes a true listener, with patience and dedication to see the great value. There are a few interpretations, modern and authentic, Haydn can carry both with ease, so whatever choice you make, it will be okay.


  • Today I have CD 7 in the player.

  • In A major, G minor, B flat major, G major.
  • Hoboken XV, 18/19/20
  • Hoboken XVI, 6.

Van Swieten Trio.






Koechlin, Charles. (1867-1950) Piano Works Volume I. ....des Jardins enchantés.

New acquisition. Bought in June 2017. First listen: 27-6-2017. Label: Hanssler Classics. Recording dates: December 2007. Recording venu...