Friday, May 31, 2013

New Acquisition, Friedrich Gernsheim.

First listen, 

Symphony No 3, opus 54 in C minor.

Philharmonisches staatsorchester Mainz, Hermann Baumer.

Label:CPO, recorded in 2012.

See also my review of the First Symphony this month.


Well, well, who would have thought that Gernsheim Symphonies would be recorded a second time. Clearly CPO thought that they had something to say to replace the already existing recording on Arte Nova made in 2007. 
And frankly they did make a statement not to be overheard, for in interpretation and sound this is a far better choice. That is not to say that the recording could not be better, it could, would they have chosen a better venue, but apart from this quibble of mine, the recording is far superior to the older registration. I just am very critical of these things. But this is a very convincing performance of the third symphony, where you are constantly are reminded of all the things Brahms did not compose, but Gernsheim did instead. Broad sweeping melodies, deeply romantic, and far reaching in its emotional impact, they overcome you as huge cathedrals of notes in the most perfect way. To hear all the details of these very dense compositions is a marvel, and Baumann makes sure that his orchestra keeps open and lucid in its quest for a sound picture that inhabits all what Gernsheim meant to be there.
Recommended. 






New Acquisition... Ludovit Rajter, Orchestral Works

New Acquisition, bought in May 2013, First listen.

  • Divertimento for Orchestra 1932.
  • Suite Symphonique 1933.
  • Suite from the Ballet "Pozsonyi Majalis"  ( Das Pressburger Manifest 1938/1954)
  • Sinfonietta per grande orchestra, 1993.
  • Impressioni rapsodiche.
Janacek PO, David Porcelijn.

Label: CPO, recorded in 2009.

I am utterly stunned! Let me put it this way, I needed to take every piece in, and pause for a while, to head for another piece of this great composer. For he is great! And I am not saying this lightly, for that would be unbelievable if said too many times, but by Jove he really is a forgotten master. That he is forgotten is due to his somewhat questionable attitude during WW II, but what happened at that time is not clear at all, and from the info that is available he needs the benefit of the doubt. Anyway the man and the music is what I am interested in, and I am not judging about his political stance. His compositions are all tonal, melodic, sometimes daringly modern, provocative, jazzy, a man of many styles, and a firm grasp of all influences that were around at that time. A very able orchestrator, he stunned me into respect listening to his ballet, so beautifully crafted with all the magic of Tiaras and tuile. But what am I saying, all the pieces on this CD have their intrinsic merit, and speak volumes in expression and emotional insight. I am certainly going to find of him what is recorded, although I fear there will be little around. Therefore I applaud CPO for standing up for this composer, and also David Porcelijn, who has grown into a very able conductor, and made many applaudable recordings for CPO, many of which I bought. On par with other greats on that label, he trained this fine orchestra into a able body of musicians that aid his quest for giving Rajter a identity in the musical world. 
I hope for more of this composer, and in the meantime I will cherish this excellent recording, which comes in very good sound too.




New acquisition, Jean Xavier Lefevre.

New acquisition, bought in May 2013, First listen.

Jean Xavier Lefevre (1763-1829)
Quartets for Clarinet and String Trio.


  • Quartet in E flat major/ in B flat major/ in C major/ in C minor.
Eduard Brunner, Clarinet.
Ana Chumachenco, Violin.
Wen Sing Yang, Cello.
Hariolf Schlichtig, Viola.

Label Tudor, recorded in 2005.

Lefevre is a composer that sank away into history due to pressure of other greater composers, ( Mozart and Beethoven among them). That was not his fault, and certainly not a fault of the music he composed, for I can safely label him as a minor master, who wrote very fine music, that is enjoyable and deserves to be heard at any rate. He was a master on the clarinet, and did a lot to perfect the instrument. In his time he was well known, and revered all over the world, through which he travelled a lot. Little is known about him and the information that is known, comes from an American scholar who wrote a dissertation about him going by the name of Dave Rex Harman.
In this case Tudor gives us a very informative booklet, that needs to be applauded too.
The musicians in this recording give a stunning performance that brings this excellent music close to your heart, in the high quality sound we are used to on Tudor classics. The writing for the clarinet had me in awe several times, but make no mistake, the other instruments have well written parts too.
Highly recommended.





Thursday, May 30, 2013

On my to order list






New acquisition, Adrien Francois Servais, Orchestral works for Cello...

New acquisition bought May 2013.


  • Souvenir de Spa, opus 2.
  • Fantasie et Variations brillantes sur la Valse de Schubert, intitulee le Desir, opus 4.
  • Grande Fantasie sur des Motifs de L'opera "Le Barbier de Seville" de Rossini, opus 6.
  • Concerto en Si mineur pour le Violoncelle.
Wen-Sinn Yang, Cello.
Munchner Rundfunkorchester, Terje Mikkelsen.

Label CPO. recorded in 2009.

He is by far the greatest cello composer that ever lived, the Paganini on this instrument, who also invented the fixed pin under the instrument that made playing on the cello a lot easier. Not many  cello players in the world can play his fiendishly difficult compositions, with its impossible, "Long chained staccatos, Arpeggios in a impossible fast tempo, and legato spiccato in up bow and down bow, etc, etc. It made me dizzy just to image the left hand going at breakneck speed over the strings, and the bowing matching this feat. He is almost forgotten, only cello players know him, but quickly want to forget him too, for most of them realize they will never play his works. The ones that can are numbered, and Yang is one of them, although he also runs into some difficulty when confronted with some of those Arpeggios in opus 6, a momentary lapse in concentration, and he almost failed, was it not for his technical skills. The orchestra is a marvel too, follows faithfully, with a less difficult task as the one for the cellist. State of the Art sound.
Servais works are romantic, melodious, entertaining, and stunning in its form. Not a moment of boredom. The opus 2 is a work of great beauty but you need a break after hearing this, it possibly the most advanced piece Servais ever wrote.

Note: The artwork is a remarkable painting by David Emile Joseph de Noter, "Lady drinking tea".
A very beautiful woman depicted here.



New acquisition, Christian Sindings, Violin Concertos....

New Acquisition, bought in May 2013.


Violin Concerto No. 1/2/3.
Legends, opus 46.
Romance opus 100.
Suite opus 10.
Abendstimmung, opus 120.

NDR Radiophilharmonie Hannover, Frank Beermann,

2 CD'S
Label CPO, Recorded in 2004-2007.

Some time ago I bought my first works of Christian Sinding, his Symphonies, fine late romantic works of great melodic beauty, and some small piano works, and a few chamber music compositions. So it was time something was added to this small collection, and CPO came to my aid, with a budget release of the works above. No hesitation in buying them, albeit the Violinist Andrej Bielow, was unknown to me. Well I was pleasantly surprised by Bielow's technical qualities, for they are quite spectacular. He has a steady bow, and a virtuous style of playing, without being a show off. His love for the music is very clear, when you hear his PPP playing, involving and very intimate. A shining star, bright but never obtrusive.  This orchestra is one of the best in Germany, and Beermann is a very able conductor, I have many of his recordings with this orchestra.
I played the first disc, with the Violin concerto No 1 and 3, plus the opus 46 and 100. Beautifully recorded, the music is lyrical and highly romantic, with sweeping melodies, and intimate pastures. Its the kind of music that will never disappoint, and it fits almost every mood. It draws you in the moment the Violin starts playing. The Violin is well placed before the orchestra, never sharp, the front to back stage is impressive, and the detail amazing. Recommended.




New Acquisition Friedrich Gernsheim, Symphonies....

New Acquisition, bought May 2013.

Symphony No 1, opus 32 in C minor
Symphony No. 3, opus 54, in C minor.

Philharmonisches Staatsorchester Mainz, Hermann Baumer.

Label: CPO, recorded in 2012.


I remember keenly the day when I ordered the Symphonies of Friedrich Gernsheim in May 2007, on the label Arte Nova 7432163635-2, performed by Staatsphilharmonie Rheinland Pfalz, conducted by Siegfried Kohler.
I loved this late romantic music with its big gestures, and finely chiselled melodies, the sheer sweep of emotions, blowing you out of your shoes at times. And in some ways I was not disappointed by this first complete recording, for the orchestra was a good one, the conductor very able, but the muffled recording was a huge let down. You have to understand that Gernsheim's music is very densely written, so above all it needs a open and lucid recording. Otherwise a lot of the details will go amiss. You need the complete picture to make sense of the melodies, and this the Arte Nova recording does not give. But there was no alternative, until now. CPO did find it in their might to record all four symphonies, and by hearing the first Symphony I applaud this venture most fervently. Hermann Baumer and his orchestra are up to Kohler, as good I would say, but the recording is far superior to the Arte Nova disaster. Tempi are perfect, interpretation is marvellous, and the recording lets you hear all the detail that's Gernsheim wrote into the First Symphony, a elaborate work of almost 45 minutes. Of course there are some minor shortcomings in this recording too, but that has everything to do with the problematic venue in which it is recorded. the engineer Stephan Reh installed a lot of mics, and altered the setup of the orchestra, and as a whole it works, apart from some shrill flutes in the finale, and some shrill Violins in the first movement, quickly corrected though.
Gernsheim is a very able composer that is well worth anyones attention, and I can safely recommend this new recording.



New Acquisition Franz Anton Hoffmeister, Chamber music.

Notturnos ( Quintets) for Oboe, Violin, 2 Violas, Horn & Bassoon.

Nos. 1/2/4/5/6.

Musicians: 
Simon Fuchs, Oboe.
Primoz Novsak, Violin.
Michel Rouilly, Viola 1.
Katja Fuchs, Viola 2.
Jacob Hefti, Horn.
Manfred Sachs, Bassoon.

Label: Tudor Classics.
Recorded in 2003, Super Audio CD, Hybrid. (SACD)

New acquisition bought in May 2013.

Hoffmeister is not a unknown name for me, I have quite some of his compositions, and they are always entertaining and well written. But in the classical world he plays a minor role these days, and he is seldom played in the concert halls. Many of his calibre are, so there is no shame in this, but its a pity nevertheless, for these Notturnos makes clear to one, that he was a very gifted composer, and he is treated with great respect on this Tudor recording, made by musicians who clearly love this music. Not often does one encounter such fine interpretations, and such dedicated and fine musicians. Coupled with State of the Art sound, it is a resounding success in my ears. I loved every minute of his music, and it kept me at attention without much difficulty. Recommended!

Note: Must make mention of the beautiful cover art, The beautiful Misses Murray, painted by Sir Henry Raeburn (1815), modern girls very pretty, well captured.





Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Mendelssohn's Chamber Music, Volume VI.

From this fine box Volume VI.


  • String quartet A Major, opus 13.
  • Sharon Quartet.
  • Recorded 2001, by Brilliant.

  • Piano Quartet in B minor, opus 3.
  • The Schubert Ensemble of London.
  • Recorded in 1996, by ASV.
  • Licensed by Brilliant.

  • Konzertstuck for Clarinet, Basset Horn & Piano in F major, opus 113.
  • Rainer Schumacher, Clarinet.
  • Gerhard Albert, Basset Horn.
  • Roland Keller, Piano.
  • Recording date unknown, by Bayer Records.
  • Licensed by Brilliant.
See previous reviews of CD 1-5.

It must be said, all three works are remarkable in performance and sound, and all three belong to the very best this composer wrote. The opus 113 gives me great pleasure by its sheer virtuosity and perfect balance between all three instruments. One could do a lot worse than having these performances. All in all I can recommend them safely. For they are very good indeed.








Saturday, May 25, 2013

Schubert's Dances for Piano solo, Volume five, the last one....

There are actually too many pieces on this disc to name them all. Dances Ecossaises, Minuets, Landlers, Galopp's and what not. All thoroughly delighted works. I really did enjoy revisiting this box enormously, and can and will recommend it most fervently. The outlay is minimal, the pianist a master in this repertoire, and fine sound throughout, so honestly what are you waiting for huh?

See also previous reviews of this box.





Friday, May 24, 2013

Tchaikovsky's ballet "Eugen Onegin"

CD 32 from this box.

See also previous reviews from this box.

Also recorded in 1986 with the same orchestra as the "Nutcracker", it has the same felicities and the same shortcomings. Apart from that, the three movements recorded here, belong to the fixed repertoire of every ballet company, and rightly so. 









Tchaikovsky's "Nutcracker"

From this box CD 31 & 32.
Recorded in 1986,

Berliner Philharmoniker, Simon Bychkov.

I am nearing the end of this gigantic box of 35 CD'S, and I get all sentimental about it, I know I will soon return to it, and play it all over again.
This time a warhorse among the famous ballets, and it rightly is famous, for its a gorgeous bundle of lovely melodies, waltzes Pas de Deux and what not. This orchestra and conductor is a rare combination if it comes to ballet music. The Berliners are a top orchestra, and in 1986 there was something else that would have me attracted to it. It was the orchestra Herbert von Karajan left behind at his untimely death. Almost all musicians from Karajan's time were still there, and Karajan's sound still in full force. I was stunned hearing this recording, what a feast!
The string sound, Karajan's trademark is unaltered and they sing as in the days of the undisputed master. They simply play the score perfectly, and the sound is scrumptious. 
Now Bychkov was never one of the in crowd, and as a conductor he did not leave much of a mark in the musical world. That is not to say he is a bad conductor, far from that, but his approach towards this ballet left me at times unmoved. Where the orchestra shines its due to the orchestra and not to the conductor. He is rather polite in the proceedings, and that is his downfall, a gentleman's approach. That makes the music a bit face and lifeless. But fair is fair, it can compete with quite some performances around, and due to its orchestra outshine them easily. Take for example the Pas de Deux, from act 2, or the gorgeous The Prince and the Sugarplum fairy, you have to hear it to believe it, magical! The Apotheose, which ends the ballet had me almost moved to tears. I feel so connected with ballet music, it does that sometimes to me. Recommended with all my might. 











Mozart Sonatas.......

From the Lumieres Box, CD 25.


  • Sonatas K. 282/330/332/457.
Andreas Staier, Fortepiano.

Well this was an amazing experience, Staier being my favourite pianist in the authentic world, he never ceases to startle me every time afresh.  The recordings were made in 2003, 2004, & 2010, with different instruments which are alas, not identified in the booklet. All of them have a distinctive sound, and I like them. Bundled together are some of Mozart's best piano sonatas, and therefore its a powerful statement of music and musician. All is very detailed and well considered, and you simply feel that its at its right place in the context. I would especially like to single out the F major sonata K. 332, which is played on a warm instrument, that belies its age, and gives the music so much cachet. This instrument is a example and a statement! Authentic instruments can sound that good.
The recording is excellent, and the performance beyond reproach. 











Tchaikovsky's "Swan lake"

CD 29 & 30 from this box, recorded in 1992.

See also previous reviews of this box.



I return with pleasure to my ballet box, to enjoy the fine orchestration and beautiful melodies Tchaikovsky worked out of his creative brain. For me he is the best ballet composer to date.
We have here a fine interpretation by The Orchestre Symphonique de Montreal, with Charles Dutoit at the helm.
As a whole this performance does justice to the score, but it takes Dutoit a while before he ignites the orchestra in a full blown extravaganza that pays due homage to the score.
The Pas de Deux in the first act has some fine writing for the Violin, seductively played by Chantal Juillet, and also in the Swans Dance,  second act, and the Pas de Deux  in the third act. She is a force that makes a favourably stance on the music in question.
Dutoit is a conductor that takes the view from a distance, and sometimes that makes the music a bit uninvolving, but at other places he lashes out, like in the Hungarian, Russian Dance, Spanish Dance & the Neapolitan Dance. So well played, that it makes you dance in the chair. He observes carefully all the tiny details in the orchestration, so all in all this was a successful venture. At the beginning the sound is a bit bright, but that gets better track 5, and then its fantastic. 









Haydn's Piano Sonatas

From the Lumieres box

CD 24.

Joseph Haydn
Piano sonatas No. 33/39/60/62.

Alain Planes, Piano.
Recorded on Harmonia Mundi in 2001 & 2007.

Planes is a excellent pianist, he keeps the notes open, does not use the pedals very often and has a lucid approach. A fine sounding piano too. Now, I like what I hear, although at times its a bit technical and somewhat devoid of the emotion behind the music. But I prefer my Haydn on an authentic instrument, for one reason alone, the modern piano doesn't sound like the Haydn I want to hear. That is my only quibble with this recording fine as it may be. Still I will return with pleasure to this interpretation, for it has a lot to go for.





Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Schubert, Dances for Piano solo, Volume 4.

Franzl Schubert.


  • 12 Waltzes, 17 Landler, and 9 Ecossaisen, opus 18. D. 145.
  • German Dance in C sharp minor and Ecossaise in D flat, D 643.
  • Three Minuets, each with two Trios, D 380.
  • From 12 Ecossaises D. 781 Nos,2-12.
  • From 30 Minuets with trios D. 41 Nos. 13-18, 20-23.
Michael Endres, Piano.
Recorded in 1997.



See also previous reviews of CD 1-3



Perfect renderings, highly recommended.




Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Miaskovsky's ongoing cycle of Symphonies.

CD 12 from this box!
See also previous reviews of his Symphonies.


  • Symphony No 12, opus 11.
  • No. 13, opus 36.
  • Slav Rhapsody, opus 71.

If you describe any given Symphony or Orchestral work composed by Miaskovsky, you will have to use the same words and phrases over and over again, no matter which work you listen to. For they all unite one common emotion, that binds all creativity together.  It is a narrow path to walk when defining the very essence of his music, and yet his scope is unending. Its as width as it is deep, and harbours every conceivable emotion known to men. Describing it best, is to imagine a river, sometimes quietly meandering, but always with the knowledge that its quiet meandering can change any moment into wild and furious lashes, followed by melancholy stretches of despair, turning into a magical world on its own, keeping you suspended for some time, and then released again in any of these descriptions. Ultimately its sheer timelessness makes you listen in awe at so much ingenuity and depth of expression.
The Slav Rhapsody is for me a religious work, always a bit of axis, majestic and all embracing, with a pastoral spirituality.
Sound as always is good!




Beethoven Trio in C minor

Beethoven


  • Trio in C minor, opus 1, No. 3, for Piano, Violin & Cello.
Daniel Sepec, Violin.
Jean Guihen Queyras, Cello.
Andreas Staier, Fortepiano.
Recorded in 2006. Disc 23 from this box

See also previous reviews of this box.

Well I can be short on this interpretation of this trio. Marvellous!!!!!! And a perfect recording too. Staier is amazing as are his partners. Its probably one of the best performances I ever heard.





Giacomo Meyerbeer's Ballet....

Les Patineurs. (Arr by Constant Lambert)

National PO, Richard Bonynge.

CD 28 from this box.

See also previous reviews of this box.

What a charming little work this is, full of smiles and happiness. The "Pas de Deux is a small marvel and very well orchestrated."A very condensed picture of well defined ballet. Gorgeously recorded and performed.











Haydn's Symphonies, a ongoing pleasure.....

See also previous reviews of CD 1 & 2.

CD 3.

  • Symphony No. 27/32/37/107.
Actually there is very little to add in terms of interpretation or recording, that's all top notch.
The second movement of Symphony No. 27 in G major, and the third movement of Symphony No 37, are ravishingly beautiful, and aim right at your heart. the orchestration is masterly done.





 

Sweelinck's Organ works, Volume 5.

From this box CD 5.
See also previous reviews of CD 1-4.

Tracks 1-7 Bader Organ ( 1643) St Walburgchurch Zutphen (NL)
Played by Bert Matter. Recorded in 2000.

Tracks 8-10 Schnittger Organ (1687) St-Ludgerichurch Norden ( G).
Played by Vincent van Laar. Recorded in 2000.


Sweelinck's music is beyond reproach, the only thing that could let you down is the performance. It does a little in both recordings. The Bader Organ is recorded with a echo that goes well over 8 seconds, and that rather blurs the impact of all details, and a very untidy presentation. Matter is a solid organist but with little imagination in this instance.
In that respect the Schnittger organ has a better recording, but again van Laar lacks the zest and enthusiasm for the music, and that makes it a rather boring listening at times. But on the basis of this I will not dismiss them, for that they are far too valuable. And its the first disc, that gets less of my admiration, so the score is still good.





Saturday, May 18, 2013

Mendelssohn's String Quartet's....

Mendelssohn.


  • String Quartet in E flat Major, opus 12.
  • String Quartet in F minor, opus 80.
  • 4 pieces for String quartet, opus 81.
Sharon Quartet.
Original Brilliant recording 2002.



I think whatever interpretation you have of these SQ, the performance of the Sharon Quartet will make you to consider this extra investment, which is by the way marginal, since it is a super budget box. They have such a integrated and intimate and warm balance together, that it is earthbound and at the same time ethereal, a rare combination. Take for instance the second movement of the F minor, ravishingly beautiful, and the following Adagio, which makes your heart glow. Absolutely recommended my friends. For this CD only I might add! The sound is top notch! 









Schubert's delightful Dances for solo Piano, Volume III.

CD III from this box.

  • 17 German Dances, D. 366.
  • Galop and eight Ecossaisen, D. 735.
  • German Dance, D. 722.
  • Three German Dances, D. 971.
  • Two German Dances, D. 769.
  • Two German Dances D. 841.
  • Three German Dances, D. 973,
  • Twelve German Dances from Vienna, D. 128.
  • 36 Original Dances, opus 9, D. 365.
As I stated before in earlier reviews, the music and performance is gorgeous, a delight to listen too.
Perfect sound too!




Friday, May 17, 2013

Mendelssohn, String Quartets

CD III
String Quartet in E minor, opus 44, No. 2.
String Quartet in E flat major, opus 44, No. 3.


  • The English String Quartet.
  • Recorded in 1988.
  • Label: Meridian Records, licensed by Brilliant.
Surprising well performed, and a excellent interpretation to boot!  The recording is fine too!
Sprightly, well chosen tempi, with very lucid lines, and well dosed effects. Warm and committed these players are. Recommended!













Schubert's complete String Quartets...

String Quintet D 956 in C major. (Michael Sanderling, Cello.)
Overture for String Quartet D 8a in C minor.
Movement ( Fragment) D. 3, version for String Quartet.

CD 3.
See also previous reviews of CD 1 & 2.



The String Quintet is a well known masterwork, the first movement makes that abundantly clear, and the following second movement tops that by a few levels. The C minor like D. 3 are short but potent works, with much promise in them. Nothing of this would ever work, if not for dedicated musicians, and I assure you, they are on this recording. Seldom does one hear such pure interpretations, clear lines, warmth, perfect ensemble cohesion. 


Thursday, May 16, 2013

Schuberts Dances for Piano.

Complete Dances for Solo Piano.
Volume II


  • Twenty Waltzes, opus posth. 127 D 146.
  • Twelve "Graz"Waltzes, opus 91 D. 924.
  • Eight Ecossaises, D. 529.
  • Twelve German Dances, opus Posth.  D. 790.
  • Waltz in G, D. 979.
  • From: 30 Minuets with Trios, D. 41, Nos. 1-8, 11-12
Michael Endres, Piano.

See also previous review of CD I.

Every note that goes through the hands of Endres is a bullseye. He has the ultimate gift of having a natural understanding of the music by Schubert. He is one of the few, for to bring off these pieces successfully, one has to have an affinity with the music, and Endres clearly is one of them, who even makes a tiny morsel of Schubert's piano music vibrate. Every piece is balsam to my ears, and gives joy to my heart.




Sergei Rachmaninov, Complete Piano works, Volume II

The Complete Solo Piano Music.
Volume II.


  • Morceaux de Salon, opus 10.
  • Moments Musicaux, opus 16.
Howard Shelley, Piano.
Recorded in 1985.

See also previous review of CD 1.

Well about performance and recording I can be very short, its near perfect. Out of opus 16 the "Andante cantabile in B minor" is a heartbreaking melody that gets you at your throat right away. Such a deeply felt emotion, never fails to draw me in, as all the other fabulous pieces do. 





Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Mendelssohn's complete chamber music, Volume III

Viola Sonata in C minor.
Clarinet Sonata in E flat major. 
String Quartet in D major, opus 44, No. 1.

Label: Brilliant, licensed Bayer Records, first two works. Recorded in 1978.
Label: Brilliant, licensed Hungaroton Records, last work Recording date unknown.


  • Ulrich Koch, Viola.
  • Rainer Schumacher, Clarinet.
  • Roland Keller, Piano.
  • Bartok Quartet.
See also previous reviews of CD 1 & 2.

The Viola Concerto is an odd duck in Mendelssohn's pond, somehow the writing in this work seems to miss a proper balance, and the musicians react in a similar way, unbalanced, as if the instruments are not communicating with each other, also due somewhat to the close recording, so take care with the volume. The music is pleasant enough, but I do not think it will ever win a deep place in my heart.

The Clarinet Sonata however is a resounding success. Very well performed with lots of feeling, and a real touch of excellence. Schumacher knows exactly how to put volume to good use, and he never overstates or overplay the piece. In this case the recording is very good, and as a ensemble it all works better.

The String Quartets are randomly divided over all the discs, and it starts out with the opus 44. I have some interpretations in my collection, so I did some quick comparison, and can say that these are very pleasant performances that sit well in this configuration with the Bartok Quartet. The other SQ are performed by different ensembles, the Bartok's are only used for this SQ. They start off well in the first movement, fast if they have too, lingering when they must. Some highly detailed and lively fiddling going on here. They sure sit on top of things. Sound is good too.











Franz Schubert's SQ...complete recordings.

Complete String Quartets, Volume II.


  • SQ D 804, in A minor.
  • SQ D 18, in G minor.
  • Overture D 470. ( Fragment)
See also the previous review of CD I


This set can hold its place on the top level with ease.  It has a authority that cannot be questioned, at least in my ears. I realize that it is my personal interpretation of what I hear, but I am confident that out of the many years of classical music  listening, some credit can be given to my knowledge. D 804 is one of the well known SQ Schubert wrote, everyone will recognize the first movement, which is superb projected by the Leipzigers, the sustained approach, keeps the lines very tight, and that is the case throughout this CD. They let you hear a lot of details that I did not hear before in other interpretations, about which I did a lot of thinking as to why. It has all to do with the dynamics, and the way the musical lines are shaded. Its all masterly done.  D. 18 is a short SQ in which all felicity is packed in just 17 minutes, powerfully portrayed to the very limits of what it can hold.
The last piece, D 470 is a beautiful fragment of 0:43 minutes, that makes you hunger for more.
Well recorded. A word about the booklet is in order though. I was always under the impression that MDG was a conscientious record label, but this is a undernourished affair, and could with ease be better done as they did.  




Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Howard Howard, Symphonies No. 3 & 6

Hanson.

Complete Symphonies.
CD 2.

  • Symphony No. 3.
  • Symphony No. 6
  • Fantasy Variations on a theme of Youth.
Seattle Symphony, Gerard Schwarz. Symphony No. 3.
New York Chamber Symphony, Symphony No. 6 & Fantasy.
Carol Rosenberger, Piano.
Recordings 1989-1990.


Hanson occupies his own unique musical world made up by many influences. In that sense he reminds me strongly of another greatness of his time, the composer Hovhaness. They share this great magical power to combined long lines of melodic inventiveness, and so develop a unique insight in what creativity can do when unleashed by such great spirits, truly blessed. The traversing through this musical picture knows no limits or boundaries, the fiesta is endless in form and construction. Hanson is a juggler of sorts, he keeps many balls into the air, and maintains his equilibrium throughout. Astounding is the term that comes to my mind. The second movement breaths the grandeur of the likes of Elgar and the strength of Vaughan Williams. The warmth, almost Brahmsian in nature and depth, especially when the timpani hits the same beat as in the first Symphony by that master. What a superb orchestrator Hanson is.
The third movement has a doom laden energetic intro, again on the timpani, but is quickly soothed by some jolly chattering flutes, still, the mighty strides of powerful notes are still emerging, with Sibelius coming out of the fog, to make quite some impression. But its always Hanson that has his hands on the wheel. The fourth movement brings all the above movements together in a central clash of orchestral writing of superlatives.  The writing for brass is especially impressive.

The Fantasy is a very slow and emotion laden affair with a almost pastoral hue over it. Very English! Romantic and sentimental, powerful and aggressive at times, modern yet romantic in nature.  Did not  find the piano as a percussion instrument very convincing, but thats my personal impression. Again Sibelius seems to be the influence here, handled in a very unique way.

The sixth Symphony holds 6 short movements, all powerfully embedded with vigour and energetic movement, which is quite a palette of what could be done with an orchestra, and brilliantly orchestrated for full effect. A kaleidoscope of emotions.

The performances are perfect, and a recording that offers both detailed and warm sound. Recommended.












Haydn's Symphonies No 10, 11, 18.

Joseph Haydn.
Complete Symphonies. (semi complete)
Box 32 CD'S
CD 2.

See also previous review of CD 1.


  • Symphony No. 10 in D major.
  • Symphony No. 11 in E flat major.
  • Symphony No. 18 in G major.
The Academy of Ancient Music, Christopher Hogwood.

Most of us know the Symphonies of Haydn, but did not hear them all, so this I would think would be a very good cheap introduction and maybe a definitive one, for that these performances belong in the very top is clear when you hear them, and of course the performers speak volumes too. Hardly any period performance band can top what is on offer here, so in all directions, this could be the one. For me it is, although I have 2 other sets which I treasure too. The three symphonies on offer here are charming works, and offer a lot of melodious insight into the world of Haydn. Well played, although I wish Hogwood would push the orchestra a bit more in the case of some tempi. But that's a minor quibble. You hear a myriad of details that makes you sit up quite attentively. Fine sound too.






Vivaldi, The complete Sacred Music.

Vivaldi.

CD 3, from this box.


  • Dixit Dominus. RV 595, for 2 Sopranos, Alto, five part choir, orchestra.
  • Domine ad Adiuvandum. RV 593, for Soprano, two four part choirs, orchestra.
  • Credidi propter quod, RV 605, for five part choir, orchestra.
  • Beatus Vir, RV 598, for 2 Sopranos, Alto, four part choir, orchestra.
  • Beatus Vir, RV 597, for 2 Sopranos, Alto, Tenor, 2 basses, two four part choir, two orchestras.

Susan Gritton, Catrin Wyn-Davies, Sopranos.
Catherine Denley, Contralto.
Charles Daniels, Tenor.
Neal Davies, Michael George, basses.
Choir of the King's Consort, and consort, Robert King.
Recorded in 1997.

See also previous reviews of CD 1 & 2.

Needless almost to say that this box is a milestone in the recording history, and a huge compliment to the genius of Vivaldi. Never before these works are recorded with so much love and attention. For there are no flaws to find, neither in performance or recording. Robert King is in this field the leading conductor worldwide, and this is not to be denied, whatever is said about him. Recently he performed in my home town with most of this consort that is also the performing choir on these recordings. I was not able to attend, but I heard it was a huge success, and so it should be.
The soloists on this CD are all well versed into this composer, and get the best out of it, together with a well disciplined choir and orchestra, coupled with a lucid recording, that lets you hear the myriad details abound.




Monday, May 13, 2013

Mendelssohn's Chamber Music.

Mendelssohn..

From my collection.

Complete Chamber Music.
CD 2 of this box.
Brilliant..licensed from Claves Records.
Recorded in 1985.

Claude Starck, Cello.
Christoph Eschenbach, Piano.


  • Cello Sonatas, opus 45 & 58.
  • Lieder ohne worte, Andante, opus 109.
  • Variations concertantes, opus 17.
I must confess that I did not hear these works until I bought this box in 2007. They contain the same quality as most of his works, with some fine melodies. The lyrical flow is soothing and utterly calming to the nerves. It did me some good in the morning to listen to them, and I really like them. This Claves recording is somewhat muffled, that does not mean its bad, but the dark hues dominate these light works, and that's not the intent of the compositions. Its somewhat heavy on the feet so to say. Claude Starck I know of old, and he is a musician of the old school, as is Christoph Eschenbach on the piano. So in that respect they fit together. Werther they are the musicians to play these works remains a question mark for me. For although they plod along nicely, something is clearly missing. Heavy clouds and dark thoughts come to me, while it should be the other way around. Starck is responsible for this, for Eschenbach keeps his playing lucid, while Starck accentuates the heaviness with his deep legato lines. So its a interpretation alright, but it does not convince me entirely. So I will be on the lookout for something more akin for me. Recommendations are welcomed of course.








Schubert's Dances for Piano solo. ( Complete)

From my Collection.

Franz Schubert.

Complete Dances for Solo Piano.
Performer: Michael Endres.
Label: Capriccio.
Recorded in 1997. Box: 5 CD'S.
Bought and played last in 2007.

CD 1.

  • 34 Valses sentimentales, opus 50. D. 779
  • Minuet in C sharp minor. D. 600
  • German Dance, in C sharp with trio in A. D. 610.
  • Twelve German Dances, D. 420.
  • Twelve Ecossaises, D. 299.
  • Sixteen Landler and two Ecossaises, D. 734.
  • Six German Dances, D. 820.
  • Twelve Waltzes, D. 969.
  • Two Landler, D. 980.
  • From Twelve Landler, D. 681, No. 5 & 12.
Michael Endres is a reference Schubert interpreter. Schubert is literally in his fingers, and the way he makes these compositions sound, is nothing short then utterly amazing. He keeps such a open structure, and puts so much gaiety into the process, that you can not help yourself rejoicing in his artistry and Schubert's creativity. None of the works on CD 1 will disappoint you, they are all little gems, in their microcosmos. Endres is mostly overlooked in the classical world, but he is a force to be reckoned with, certainly if you know the brilliance of the sonates he also recorded on the same label, which will land soon in my player. If you look at the low price of this box, and the excellence of recording and interpretation, then for me the choice is quickly made. The info in the booklet could be better, but Hans Christoph Worbs gives us a concise but good insight into the structure and provenance of the Dances. Recommended.




Saturday, May 11, 2013

The complete Solo Piano Music of Sergei Rachmaninov.

From my collection.


Rachmaninov.
Complete Solo Piano Music.
Label: Hyperion, 8 CD.S. Recording dates from 1978-1991.
Performed by Howard Shelly.
CD 1, recorded in 1982-1983.
Bought in 2010, played in 2010 & 2011 complete.


  • Morceaux de Fantasie, opus 3.
  • Preludes, opus 25.

Who will not recognize the first movement from opus 3, "Elegie in E flat minor" a unforgettable milestone in his oeuvre, and a powerful entrance into this composers world. I never fails to move me, as the Prelude No. 5 in G minor, as powerful a statement and so near to Chopin's world.  And who could possibly want more, as these performances, for they are a lasting answer in interpretation and sound. Shelly defined Rachmaninov's music anew, and made the most convincing answer to date. There is no doubt in my mind that this will be a hard task to follow by a performance with more insight. He is extremely detailed and his pianism is a marvel. The shades he evokes are right into the soul of this composer. Very much recommended.




Mendelssohn's Chamber music. (Complete)

Mendelssohn.
Complete Chamber Music.
Label: Brilliant, with music licensed from ASV, Meridian Records, Bayer Records, Claves Records.
Recording dates from 1978-2002.
Box: 10 CD'S.

CD 1.

  • Violin Sonata in F major. (1838) in F major, (1820) in F minor, opus 4, (1825)
Joan Berkhemer, Violin.
Kyoko Hashimoto, Piano.
Recorded in 2002 in the Netherlands.
Original Brilliant recording.

Mendelssohn is by all accounts a fine composer, and in my books his place is high and secure, amply proven by these wonderful recordings of his Violin Sonatas, if needing prove of his mastery!
The music in itself is melodic and lyrical and very much life affirming, helped by a fine recording, and it must be said by excellent interpretations. Berkhemer lets the music unfold on its own, with Hashimoto as a very able partner, for Mendelssohn gave equal measure in the writing to both of them. Its a treat to hear this, and very much recommended. Very cheap in purchase, I would say go for it. My listening notes from 2007 proclaims excellence to the set as a whole, so I am in for a fine journey.





Franz Schubert's String Quartets complete. Volume 1

Schubert.

Complete String Quartets.
Label: MDG, Recording dates 1995-1996.
Box: 9 CD'S.
Bought in 2006, played in 2006.
CD 1.


  • String Quartet D 887, in G major.
  • String Trio D 471.
  • String Fragment D2c.
Performed by: Leipziger Streichquartett.

Already 7 years ago, it seems like a lifetime, when I dipped my toes in these interpretations. Reading my listening notes from then, I am somewhat critical of the deliberate tempi, too slow at times, but that does not bother me anymore. For I think I finally cracked the door to understand better what I am confronted with. To start with the sound; its fantastic, very natural, and open, detailed and very alert, not overbearing at all in the climaxes, and magical in the PPP sections, with a superb control of all strings involved. A quartet that is attuned to perfection, and how well that sounds. Nothing but praise here. But the real star in all this is of course the composer. His SQ are something of an eye opener if it comes to defining  Schubert as a man and spiritual being. Just listening to his heavenly length SQ in G major D 887, brings this home quite forcefully. The first movement is a grand gesture of magnificence in all its facets, and defines the work as a whole. Note for note beauty unfolds, and for almost 22 minutes we get a palette of musical colours that is astounding in every respect. The following second movement "Andante un poco mosso" is topping all what came before, by miniaturizing all the highlights that came before, and from there to dive in the third movement "Scherzo Allegro moderato" a lively dance around all the ideas that so willingly come from Schubert's  pen.  And what mighty exclamation ensues from the fourth movement "Allegro Assai" very precise and with a determined push, he reaches musical Valhalla. A true masterwork.
No less is the String Trio in B flat major, a short but excellent work, it which he shows that a lot can be packed in just under 12 minutes, a miniature of shades, bright lights, and sprightly sunshine. Simply gorgeous. The fragment D2c is just 1:03 minutes long, but what a promise is in that short piece, and what a pity that he did not go on, with this idea.
The Leipziger Streichquartett is a force to be reckoned with, for they deliver near perfect performances, earned itself, and rightly so, a "Diaspason 5 prize" which in the classical world means a lot. Their playing shows a concentration and a ear for detail, that is amazing, as well as their perfect balance in forte and pianissimo passages, that makes me go think into revelry of the highest order.




Out of my collection

I took the following boxes out of my collection for re-listen and looking forward to it.






The Mendelssohn I bought in 2007, and it contains some very good recordings, including some licensed recordings from the label ASV. 10 CD'S listening pleasure. Released on Brilliant.







The Schubert box highly praised for its excellence, which I bought and played last in 2006, is a treat in itself. 9 CD'S that will make me smile and delight. I am looking forward to this one especially.




Bought this fine 5 CD box in 2007, and always thought Endres to be a top interpreter of Schubert's music. I also have the sonatas played by him and rate them very highly, Will get to them later.


This 8 CD'box holds some of the most remarkable interpretations of Rachmaninoff's solo piano music, which I bought and played in 2010 and 2011. I needed to come back to it, to reaffirm my alliance, and to enjoy some prime Rachmaninoff.

Nikolai Medtner's Piano Works, last CD from this box.

Medtner.
CD 7.


  • Two Pieces for two Pianos, opus 58. ( Boris Berezovsky, second pianist)**
  • Sonatina in C minor.**
  • Moment Musical in C minor. Gnomenklage, opus 4, No. 3.**
  • Prelude in E flat major, opus 4, No. 4.**
  • Sonata Skazka in C minor, opus 25, No. 1.**
  • Sonata Reminiscenza, opus 38, No. 1. *
  • Sonata Idylle in G major, opus 56. *
* Geoffrey Tozer, Pianist, Recorded in 1991-1997.
** Hamish Milne Piano. Recorded in 2000

The last CD of the box, and brimful with wonderful music. I could not pinpoint what I like better, for I like all in equal measure. Geoffrey Tozer, is also a remarkable musician, in that he has a real fine tuned feel for Medtner, his playing is elegant and refined, and robust in a detailed way. The opus 58 is well done too. The recording throughout is most excellent. This box is a resounding success and i would heartily like to recommend this box, you will not regret it. Medtner will grow on you.







Friday, May 10, 2013

Heinrich Kaspar Schmid. Third time around.

Its wild, in the mode of Brahms, its contemplative and sentimental like Dvorak and Brahms together, it has a totally different line on its own, which is yet hard to define, but Richard Strauss comes to mind, and some Martinu too. So I am still in different minds about what I hear, but I feel that I come much more attached to what I hear.

Late Chamber Works.

See earlier reviews for the works that are played.





Muzio Clementi, The last disc of this set.

Clementi.

Sonatas for Piano, Flute & Cello.
Disc 8. Duration 36:04.

Opus 32, 1-3.
Opus 31.

A disc short on music, but then again this box was extremely cheap. In the sense of musical worth, its a resounding success, for this music is far more interesting that you might imagine. Its is well written, from a technical standpoint, but also from an emotional angle. So out of those thoughts this should be a worthwhile acquisition, and it is. Performance and sound are far below par, one could say that both participants have been dreaming, and put on the automatic controls, for it is a disgrace for performers, engineers and recording company. Such recent recordings, and such a massive disappointment, well these days thats a rare occurrence. The booklet could be deemed another offending factor, in that it is barely explaining anything at all. The music is the only reason to get this, for to my knowledge there is no other complete recording of these works.





Medtner CD 6 partly relisten.

I needed to re-listen to three works on CD 6, especially the very beautiful Sonata.


  • Etude in C minor.
  • I loved thee, opus 32, No. 4.
  • Sonata minacciosa, opus 53, No. 2.
How deeply felt is the last work, and what power emerges out of Milne's fingers. He has a true understanding of Medtner's music, for he rarely hits a note the wrong way. The technical demands are enormous, a difficult piece to play. 








Thursday, May 9, 2013

Medtner, Piano works.

Disc 6 from this box.


  • Forgotten melodies, Second Cycle, opus 39.
  • Two Skazki, opus 48.
  • Etude in C minor.
  • I loved thee, opus 32, no. 4.
  • Sonata minacciosa, opus 53, No. 2.
Hamish Milne, piano.
Recorded in 1998.

See also previous reviews of this box.


Its always a pleasure to return to this box and to his music. Not a blemish on these recordings, very good representatives of Medtner's music. Not a single work I dislike. Recommended.








Muzio Clementi's Sonatas for Piano, flute & Cello.

Clementi.

3 Sonatas opus 21, Nos 1-3
3 Sonatas, opus 22, Nos 1-3.

Recorded in 2007. (54:30)

See also my previous reviews of this box.


My opinion as voiced in the other reviews still stands. Nothing to add or to correct.
Buy it for the music.






Wednesday, May 8, 2013

On my order list.



Heinrich Kaspar Schmid, A hard nut to crack.

This is my second time playing this disc, and although I find new angles, I am convinced that the true genius of this composer still has to emerge for me. I know its there, my ears have to find it.

See also the first review of this composer including all the info of the works.




Saturday, May 4, 2013

Some bargains I found, samples were really very good, so its on my order list.





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...