Monday, March 31, 2014

Lumieres, Music of the Enlightenment. Music from the 18th Century. French Harpsichord Music. CD 1.

From my collection.
Bought in 2012.
Label: Harmonia Mundi. Box 30 cd's.
CD 1.
First listen: 19-6-2012.
Recording dates: 1992-1993-1994.
Recording venues: Musee d'Art et 'd'Histoire de Neuchatel. Musee des Beaux Arts de Chartres.  Salle 'd Orgue du CNSMD de Paris. ( Cite de la Musique, La Villette, Paris)
Recording engineer: Michel Pierre.
Running time: 81:16.

Works.

Francois Couperin. (1668-1733)
Vingt Cinquieme ordre.
Vingt Sixieme ordre.
Sixieme ordre.
Performer.
Christophe Rousset, Harpsichord.

Jean Philippe Rameau. (1683-1764)
Pieces de Clavecin en Concerts.
Premier Concert.
Cinquieme Concert.
Performers.
Christophe Rousset, Harpsichord.
Ryo Terakado, Violin.
Kaori Uemura, Viola da Gamba.

Some 2 years ago when I bought this box, I was a little apprehensive, because many works in this box are not complete, but rather taken of complete sets. Normally I would not buy such a set, but it contained so many things I did not have in those interpretations, and probably would never buy them in that guise. So great variety in performers and artists, which all had in common the quality of performance and recording. This is throughout the set outstanding, yes all 30 CD'S.  I did not play 2 cd's in the set, the numbers 19 and 20, having Le Nozze di Figaro on it.. I am simply not adapted to listen to opera, it bores the shit out of me, and I am allergic to screaming sopranos. This set is however for those that like this kind of music outstanding, never hesitate listening to it. 
So back to CD 1. No complaints here. Almost 82 minutes of delicious Harpsichord music by two greatnesses in this field. I have different complete sets of this music, but am heartily glad I have some samples of other musicians as the ones I have.  Christophe Rousset, is a master on the instrument, and has a very relaxed way of playing both Couperin and Rameau. A lucid and well defined line, which does not obscure one single detail, and carries a virtual joie de vivre, throughout. The added Violin and Viola da Gamba in Rameau adds extra spice to the diet. I simply love what I hear. It will be a second journey through this box, and I am very much looking forward to it. Last time it took me two years, I now plan to go through this box in a few months. Watch me, I will!
Excellent sound!





Mother's Finest - Baby Love, this is what got me going 25 odd years ago, just wanted to share.

My favourite funk song ever, some 25 odd years ago! Enjoy, and play it loud.




Th

Rheinberger, Josef. (1839-1901) Chamber Music. Disc 6

From my collection.
Label: Thorofon. Box 6 cd's.
First listen: 26-6-2013. 
Recording dates: 1989.
Recording venues: Studio TMA, Berlin and Kammermusiksaal Philharmonie Berlin.
Recording engineers: Stefan Schiske, and  U. Ruscher.
Running time: 74:40.

Works.
Sonate No.1, opus 77, and No. 2 opus 105, for Violin and Piano.
Sextett, opus 191b, for Piano, Flute, Oboe, Clarinet, Bassoon, and Horn.

Performers.
Hans Malle, Violin.
Horst Gobel, Piano.
Orchester Akademie des Berliner Philharmonischen Orchesters.

The last disc of this set, and regretting the fact that I do not have more Chamber music by Rheinberger. A real treat they are. Both Sonatas belong to the very best this composer produced. Well rounded and melodious music, with excellent writing for piano and violin. 
I have some misgivings about the works for diverse instruments like the opus 191b. Not that they are bad works, but stylistically they do not always go down well with me. The creativity is spread thin over all the instruments, and somehow, my mind is processing them as background music. Undeservingly of course, for I have yet to hear a work by Rheinberger that is missing out on quality, so I guess its a very personal thing. The quality of sound is excellent, as are the performances. 




Saturday, March 29, 2014

Berkeley, Lennox. (1903-1989) Orchestral Works.

From my collection-bought in 2010.
Label: Lyrita.
First listen: 11-9-2010.
Recording date: 1975-1978.
Recording venues and engineers: Not mentioned apart from Symph. No 2. Engineer: Simon Gibson.
Running time: 62:03.

Works.
Symphony No 1, opus 16. (1940) and No. 2, opus 51. (1956/7-rev 1976)

Performers.
London PO, Norman Del Mar & Nicholas Braithwaite.

Being a huge admirer of Lennox Berkeley's music is due to this CD. I was so impressed by the first two Symphonies, that all the later work, which is more modern, fell perfectly in place for me. As far as I know Lennox never dived into atonality, although tonality was widely stretched. 
The first Symphony goes back to 1936, when he started the first sketches of the work, and completed it in 1941. Berkeley conducted the premiere at the proms of 1943.  Its a very broad work, very melodic, and solemn, and with some wartime drama in it, especially in the Lento movement. I find it to be a masterly constructed work, in which signs of his emerging modernism come to the surface in many instances.
Symphony No. 2, is also a broad work, but more robust, and wayward. Berkeley is widening his views, and walks slowly into a more modern sound. The third movement has a ethereal power, almost a tone poem on its own.  Its a marvelous follow up of the first. The sound and performance are first rate.




Brian, Havergal. (1876-1972) Orchestral works.

From my collection.
Bought in 2010.
Label: Naxos.
First listen: 26-6-2010.
Recording dates: 1993 & 1997
Recording venue: National Concert Hall, Dublin.
Recording engineers: Chris Craker, and Dave Harries.
Running time: 77:10.

Works.
Concert Overture: "For Valour" (1902-06)
Comedy Overture: "Doctor Merryheart. (1911-12)
Symphony No. 11. (1954)
Symphony No. 15. (1960)

Performers.
RTE National SO, Tony Rowe and Adrian Leaper.

It was a long time ago I played this CD, and it is a pleasant return. For here is a composer, that is melodically quite palatable, which is not always the case. No extremes, but music that gets the time to unfold, and does not need close attention to grasp the essence. I found it to be a easy ride, well maybe apart from the boisterous "For Valour" which reminded me of Edward Elgar's "In the South" and that was before I read the booklet, so it was pretty obvious.  So full marks for this CD. Just one small observation: I found the performances a bit underpowered, as if both conductors had troubles to push the music forward. It is not that sharply etched as I would like to hear this, but its a minor quibble really. The recording is good.




Rheinberger, Josef. (1839-1901) Chamber Music, CD 5.

From my collection.
Label: Thorofon. Box with 6 cd's.
First listen: 19-6-2013.
Recording dates: 1989 and 1991.
Recording venue: Kammermusiksaal, Philharmonie, Berlin and Studio Wedemark.
Recording engineer: J. Rummel and U. Ruscher, (opus 38) B. Hanke, (opus 92 & 178)
Running time: 76:44.

Works.
Piano Quartet, opus 38.
Sonata, opus 92 for Cello and Piano.
Sonata, opus 178 for Horn and Piano.

Performers.
Orchester-Akademie des Berliner Philharmonischen Orchesters. (opus 38)
Thomas Ruge, Cello and Horst Gobel, Piano. (opus 92.
Bernhard Krug, Horn, and Horst Gobel, Piano. (opus 178)

All the pieces on this CD are well balanced in their interpretation. Musicians realize that harmony between the players is of utmost importance to make the music work. There is actually very little to add to this. Rheinbergers music should have a fixed place in the repertoire, for it would enrich our understanding of his music and better understand the music that was composed at the same time. Apart from that, the quality of the music is that good, that his name should be mentioned in one go with that of Brahms. They augment each other. The recording is very good.








Friday, March 28, 2014

New in the order list....

I missed the fourth Symphony of Natanael Berg, and do not have the impression that CPO will continue this series, so I ordered this inexpensive Sterling disc. The samples sounded good. In general of all Sterling cd's I bought none were duds. On the contrary.



Berg, Carl Natanael. (1879-1957) Orchestral Works, Volume I.

From my collection.
Bought in 2011.
Label: CPO.
First and second listen: 1-4-2011 and 2-2-2013.
Recording dates: February 2007.
Recording venue: Ludwigshafen Philharmonie, Germany.
Recording engineer: Teje van Geest.
Running time: 60:52.

Works.
Symphony No 1 "Alles endet was entstehet".
Symphony No. 2. "Arstiderna" Symphony Four Seasons.

Performers.
Deutsche Staatsphilharmonie Rheinland Pfalz, Ari Rasilainen.

Highly romantic and very colourful. This is how you could describe Berg his music, were it not for the fact that his orchestral music is much more complex and has a much wider scope, as to deserve only the epithet Romantic and colourful. I think these works belong to the very best what was written at the time. The first Symphony is actually a synthesis between a symphony and a symphonic poem. It has a clear form, and is ebullient in its expression. It is sprinkled with so many fine details, that I fall from amazement in wonderment.  So much joy in the first three movements. Playful dancing rhythms, shades of light, hope and despair, love awakens at every corner, this is romanticism par excellance.
Folksy melodies pervade here and there, and creating a mood of lighthearted cheerfulness, but then all this ends in the fourth movement, and crushes all hope. Some cutting dissonances describe the catastrophe of the Titanic, happening while he was writing this symphony, the mood suddenly turns dark, and grief pervades the music, utter and deep grief. Beauty dies. I think this is one of the best Swedish Symphonies I ever heard.
The second Symphony is about the seasons, not especially original, but this is composed to bring a smile on your face, and so you should take this in. For it is a very cheerful work, full of optimism, and friendly goodwill. Decorative and entertaining, all is depicted in a natural way, with exceptional orchestral sound. You feel so much elated by these positive sounds of nature, that this work could even cheer up  a victim of the music of Alan Pettersson. LOL.
You have all in this work, from rousing Waltz rhythms, towards captivating,  fresh and youthful spring tunes, Summer warmth, and brilliant sunshine, Autumn storms, and a very poetic transition into winter weather. I am impressed more as I expected, and consider Berg one of the greats, next to say Atterberg and Stenhammar. The recording is excellent, as is the performance.





   

Britten, Benjamin. (1913-1976) Orchestral Works. Disc 5.

New Acquisition.
Bought in March 2014.
Label: EMI. Box 8 cd's.
First listen.
Running time: 72:17.
Disc 5.

Works.

Symphonic Suite from Gloriana, opus 53a.
Recording dates: November 1994.
Recording venue: Philharmonic Hall, Liverpool.
Recording engineer: Mike Clements.
Performers.
Royal Liverpool PO, Takuo Yuasa.

I read a review on Musicweb, in which the reviewer had some problems with the conductor, not being able to convince in his interpretation. He talks about "little room to breathe, no sense of flexibility", but I tend to disagree. I think the works gets a good run for the money, and neither inflexibility nor room to breathe are things I find back in what Yuasa does. On the contrary, just listen to the Pavane, or the Galliard for that matter, to hear how much breathing room it gets, or the beautifully phrased second movement, The Lute Song, almost a walk on thin ice, as if the music lifts from this earth.  The Lavolta movement dances most gaily, great fun that one!. Apart from all this, by what I hear, its a difficult work to perform, due to its complexity in structure and musical styles. I enjoyed this performance immensely. Mike Clements gave us a good recording, as per usual.

Cello Concerto, opus 68.
Recording dates: March 1987.
Recording venue: No. 1 Studio Abbey Road, London.
Recording engineer: Mike Clements.
Performers.
Steven Isserlis, Cello.
City of London Sinfonia, Richard Hickox.

The Cello concerto is a fine but very complex work. But I always have some grumbles about the beginning, which to my ears is very clumsy, and Isserlis does not take away this impression. There's a strange lethargic atmosphere in this first movement, as if the intent to do good is there, but somehow it does not connect on all levels.  Maybe its just me, but I miss the clear lines, and fixation on the musical details. Its a bit unsteady. The Presto inquieto, is just that, but the corners taken are rounded instead of razor sharp, and so it gets to diffused.  The Adagio gets even more detached, and its as if it is floating above reality, quite an eerie tone. I simply do not connect with this interpretation. 

Men of Goodwill. (Variations on a Christmas Carol for Orchestra.)
Recording dates: May 1983.
Recording venue: Orchestra Hall, Minneapolis.
Recording engineer: Michael Sheady.
Performers.
Minnesota Orchestra, Neville Marriner. 

This is a fun work, well orchestrated, and it cheers you up no end. Maybe not the greatest work Britten ever wrote, but good enough for me.












Rheinberger, Joseph. (1839-1901) Chamber music. Disc 4.

From my collection.
Label: Thorofon: Box with 6 cd's. 
First listen: 4-3-2012.
Recording dates: 1981 and 1989.
Recording venues: Studio, opus 80, Walldorf, Germany & Great Hall of Cooper Union, New York.
Recording engineers: Torsten Wintermeier, (opus 112 and opus 93) John Kilgore, (opus 139)
Running time: 73:00.
Disc 4.

Works.
Piano Trio, opus 112.
Theme with variations, for String Quartet, opus 93.
Nonett, opus 139.

Performers.
Gobel Trio Berlin. (Opus 112)
Sonare Quartet. (Opus 93)
Bronx Arts Ensemble, New York. (Opus 139)

Well this is a change in performing, pitted against the Piano Trios I listen to yesterday, being the opus 121 and 34. Performances that were too bold and aggressive, and so robbing the music of their charm. None of this in the opus 112, its an example of how these works should be performed. Not a overbearing piano, hammering the music to kingdom come, but a well balanced performance. What a relief. For the opus 112 is a beautiful work, that blossoms when handled carefully, and this the musicians do this time. Very happy with this. A shame that the first two Piano trios were not performed this way, it would have been unbeatable. But it is as it is. The Variations are done in a very thoughtful way, almost contemplative in character, a very enjoyable work. Rheinberger is very good at these small pearls. The performance is excellent.
The Nonett is a work that did not leave much of a impression with me, maybe the performance was a bit lacklustre, or maybe its just pretty music?  I really don't know. Understand me well, I am not saying its a bad work, but I did not feel more as it being pretty music. The recording throughout is good. With a big thumbs up for the Piano Trio.







Thursday, March 27, 2014

Busch, William. (1901-1945) Orchestral Works.

From my collection (2010)
Label: Lyrita.
First listen: 10-3-2010.
All technical info is absent, either in booklet or on the CD.
Production date 2007.

Works.
Cello Concerto. (1940-41)
Piano Concerto. (1937-8)

Performers.
Raphael Wallfisch, Cello.
Piers Lane, Piano.
Royal PO, Vernon Handley.

It was some four years ago, that I bought a bunch of Lyrita cd's, out of the blue. I saw some interesting names and dates, and since the price was low, I decided to take the plunge with some unknowns on the list. William Busch was one of them. A name I never saw or heard before, and thus the adventure began with him. It was the first from the pile I bought that I played. My first impression of his music is that it is honed and disciplined, but never is there a hint in intellectual contrivance. They called him a distinctive and minor composer in the 1980 edition of Grove. To describe his music I would say that it is extremely economical almost to the point of starkness. But his music is distinctly English, with this typical Pastoral blending over the music. There are of course some continental influences, him being from German heritage, but predominantly English, since he was born there. And imbedded in all this is his great friend and teacher Alan Bush, (not related) that gave him at least part of this continental influences.  There is no waste of notes with William, every note counts, and cannot be taken out without leaving a substantial hole in the music. Melodies in abundance, lyricism as long as the music stretches, flamboyant,, this all giving the background for his music. There is much dialogue between soloist and orchestra in both concertos, which gives much pleasure listening at. Maybe not great music, but well worth to have and to hear. Just think Finzi, some Bax, and the spikiness of say Arthur Benjamin, another composer that has been neglected. 


  

Britten, Benjamin. (1913-1976) Orchestral Works. CD IV.

New Acquisition.
Bought March 2014.
Label: EMI. Box, 8 cd's.
First listen.
Recording dates:  1988-1990-1991.
Recording venue: Uranienborg Church, Oslo.
Recording engineer: Arne Akselberg.
Running time: 70:10.

Works.
Simple Symphony, opus 4.
Variations on a theme of Frank Bridge, opus 10.
Prelude and Fugue, opus 29.
Lachrymae, opus 48a.

Performers.
Norwegian Chamber Orchestra, Iona Brown.
Lars Anders Tomter, Viola.

You get some full blooded performances here. Simple Symphony gets a stop and start treatment. From one extreme to another, and it works well. Its also a bit in the character of the composition of course. Brown plays all her cards, and a rather resonant recording accentuates the sound of the strings. The tempi are taken at breakneck speed, so you have to sit tight for this one. The opus 4 is one of the best pieces Britten wrote, and it abundantly shows how great his talent was.
The Variations gets a royal treatment, with just enough bravoura to keep it right on track. A lot of propulsion from the orchestra, Brown adds to the music, this fastidious attitude, to get every note right on time at its designation, and so score the maximum effect. 
The Prelude did not do much to me, its a rather incoherent work. Its has some great passages though, but as a composition in toto I did not find much favour with it.
The Lachrymae is a masterwork, and it is played with due honours. Everyone that owns music by Britten should have at least this piece. Very moving!






Rheinberger, Josef. (1839-1901) Piano trios.

From my collection.
Label: Thorofon. Box 6 cd's.
First listen: 19-3-2013.
Recording dates: 1991.
Recording venue: Studio Wedemark. Germany.
Recording engineers: H. Konig & B. Hanke.
Running time: 73:15.
CD III.

Works.
Piano trio No. 1, opus 34 & No. 3, opus 121.

Performers.
Gobel Trio Berlin.

Again beautiful music. Rheinberger was a productive composer, and he could write fast, the ideas just popped out of his head, in a very workmanlike way. The inspiration was always at hand. These Piano Trios are full blooded romantic works, and thats the way the musicians take their positions. Not always successful as it seems to me. Take for instance the first movement of No. 3 "Allegretto amabile". It should be played amabile, but instead a rough appassionato is crashing in with full force, and all the beautiful details are somewhat obscured by this aggressive way of playing. The Allegretto part is rather hurried, so I kind of missed the essence of it. For a great part Horst Gobel is to blame, he drives the music to excessive heights. His playing is excellent, but I think he rather overstepped the boundaries. The second movement "Romanze Andantino"  gets a harsh treatment too, and again the finer details of the work are obscured. And this goes on in the other two movements too. The Finale "Con moto" is again maniacally driven, and does not give room to unfold in a natural way. The insistent pounding of Gobel on his instrument  takes the charm of this work. A pity, for the music is amazingly beautiful.
No 1 gets a lighter treatment, although all the tempo indications are pointing towards how the third was played, well maybe they mixed it up:)
But still there are some critical notes to crack. Gobel is too much on the foreground, so there is not really a playing together, but rather everyone defends his own castle. There are also some ensemble hiccups, especially with the Cello, several times he almost missed the beat, and also some sloppy bowing. But, despite all what I said, I am happy to have these works in such good performances and sound. One cannot always have all as perfect as one would like.




Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Bruch, Max. (1838-1920) Swedish and Russian Dances.

From my collection.
Label: CPO
First listen: 14-11-2012.
Recording dates: 2003-2004.
Recording venue: SWR Studio Kaiserslautern, Germany.
Recording engineer: Rudolf Anslinger & Rainer Neumann.
Running time: 58:22.

Works.
Suite after Russian Folk Melodies, for large orchestra, opus 79b.
Serenade after Swedish Melodies, for String orchestra, op. posth.
Swedish Dances No 1 & 2 opus 63 .

Performers.
SWR Rundfunkorchester Kaiserslautern, Werner Andreas Albert.

These compositions by Bruch belong to the more successful side of his career as a composer. They are well orchestrated, and there is not a lazy note running around. Captivating melodies, sumptuous harmonies, flavoured with a plethora of nature images, and pastoral life in the country. Bruch took good care of the many opportunities to orchestrate it all in a perfect way, not missing an opportunity to make quite a show out of it. The orchestra puts this music in a pleasant musical frame. The sound is good, but at certain places the orchestra is too forward and so gains a aggressive tone, that is not akin to the music.


Bush, Geoffrey. (1920-1998) Orchestral Works.

From my collection.
Bought in 2010.
First listen: 13-4-2010.
Second listen: 26-3-2014.
Third listen: 1-6-2017.
Label: Lyrita.
Running time: 79:07.
Relevance to me: Essential.

Works.

Overture Yorick. (1949)
Recording dates: August 1976.
Recording venue: Kingsway Hall, London.
Recording engineer: John Dunkerley.
New Philharmonic Orchestra, Vernon Handley.

What an absolute delightful and jolly work, full of musical gimmicks, and good humour, and so well performed and recorded. I had forgotten about this, being almost 3 years ago I have listen to it, and reminded me yet again how well Bush orchestrates. State of the Art recording.


Music for Orchestra. (1967) in 4 movements.

Recording dates: January 1972.
Recording venue: Walthamstow Assembly Hall.
Recording engineer: James Lock.
London Philharmonic Orchestra, Vernon Handley.

This is a well written composition, that gives all the instruments a thorough workout, packed in infectious melodies, and some quirky harmonies that brighten up whatever mood you are in. The orchestration is again quite remarkable.  State of the Art recording.


Symphony No. 1. (1954).

Recording dates: August 1978.
Recording venue: Kingsway Hall, London.
Recording engineer: James Lock.
London SO, Nicholas Braithwaite.

Bush spend two years in writing this Symphony, and was completed in 1954. The opening of this work is rather quiet, but also creating expectancy.  Dissonance creeps in along its way, and a certain harshness seems to disrupt the musical argument, only to be put to rest by the lower strings, but not before announcing in the last measure some unquietness.  [ Look at the stream, there are rocks in its way. Does it slam into them out of frustration? It simply flows over and around them and moves on. Be like the water, and you will know what harmony is]

The second movement has some desperate cries in them, and gives credence to this argument by using the percussion in a harassing way, yet comfort is always close by.
The third movement starts very solemnly, but soon goes over in a sprightly Allegro di molto, with some pastoral sprinklings over it. Rhythmically its all very precise, and well worked out. Eventually the outlook gets very optimistic.. State of the Art recording.

Symphony No. 2. ( The Guildford) (1957)

Recording dates: January 1994.
Recording venue: Watford Town Hall.
Recording engineer: Trygg Tryggvason.
Royal PO, Barry Wordsworth.

The first movement is called in by a drumroll, and aided by woodwinds, as if the royal family walks into parliament. And in some ways it is, for it was commissioned to celebrate the 700th anniversary of the granting of a Royal Charter to the city of Guildford. Its a more complex work as the first Symphony, and it has a distinct jubilant atmosphere about it, so it rather sounds festive as anything else. Which is fine by me, when the first movement hurriedly floats by, in light but decisive rhythmical steps.  Many moments of wonderment in and around the music, quite complex at times. There is some great scoring for brass, and the work has so many wonderful unifying elements.

And this urgency without being hurried at all is pervading all the movements, which gives a harmonious drive to the musical argument. Its a great symphony and well recorded too.



Britten, Benjamin. (1913-1976) Orchestral Works. Disc III.

New Acquisition.
Label: EMI. Box, with 8 cd's.
First listen.
Running time: 74:29.

Works.
Piano Concerto, opus 13. (Live recording)
Leif Ove Andsnes, Piano.
City of Birmingham SO, Paavo Jarvi.
Recording dates: October 1997.
Recording venue: Symphony Hall, Birmingham.
Recording engineer: Mike Clements.

What a different sound comes from this orchestra when instead of Rattle, Jarvi is the conductor. I recognized the old sound of the Birmingham's, from before Rattle, so I am quite please with this recording. Its live and recorded in October, so some coughing between the movements is quite clearly audible. I find it an electrifying performance, in which Andsnes finds the right tone and propulsion to set it off as a blazing fire, and Jarvi following in this trail, by putting up his passion to make the music even brighter. Good sound, with a good depth and plenty of detail. I am pleased! I could have done without the applause though.

Violin Concerto, opus 15.
Ida Haendel, Violin.
Bournemouth SO, Paavo Berglund.
Recording dates: June, 1977.
Recording venue: Guildhall, Southampton. 
Recording engineer: Neville Boyling.

What a wonderful opening in the first movement, the hushed woodwinds, and the delicate notes of the Violin.  Haendel puts in a restrained passion, which is redhot nevertheless.  A good start!
An what passion gets out in the Vivace movement, has me sitting on the edge of my seat. This is quite some performance And then the Passacaglia movement, wow....Absolutely gorgeous. This fusion between the soloist and orchestra is near perfect.Fine sound too.

Young Apollo, opus 16.
Peter Donohoe, Piano, Felix Kok, Jeremy Ballard, Violins, Peter Cole, Viola, Michal Kaznowski, Cello.
City of Birmingham SO, Rattle.
Recording dates: April 1982.
Recording venue: Cheltenham Town Hall.
Recording engineer: Michael Sheady.

I like the music, especially the solo parts in it, Donohue being quite a passionate musician, lets the fire shoot from his fingers, to great effect, join by the Violins in funky glissandos, and the cello in the meantime pounds the rest of the music. For once I also like the orchestra part in it, I guess Rattle cannot spoil that much in 7 minutes. Good sound, fine music. I needed that after the somewhat disappointing second cd of this set. 





Holmboe, Vagn. (1909-1996) Complete String Quartets. CD 7.

From my collection.
Label: Dacapo: Box, 7 cd's.
First listen.
Recording dates: 1999-2000.
Recording venue: Danish Radio Studio 2.
Recording engineer: Peter Bo Nielsen.
Running time: 71:03.

Works.
SQ No 16, opus 146. (1981)
No 18, "Giornata", opus 153. (1982)
Svaerm, opus 190b. (1992)
Quartetto Sereno, opus 197. (op. posth)

Performers.
The Kontra Quartet.

The last CD from this box. It was a interesting journey, and I enjoyed them all, albeit sometimes with difficulty. Holmboe's sound world is at times a bleak one, and the landscape is barren most of the time. No warm and intimate feelings, but cold and rational is the message. Sometimes it comes closer to one, and this could be describe as a spark of a scanty fire, but it does not get coal enough to produce more heat. So the atmosphere is a cold one. Still there is a message I suppose, even if it does escape me at times. I will re-listen this box in due time, and remember that a few of them came closer to my heart, as others that left me stone cold. I think that Holmboe was not out to please his listeners here, but rather make a very personal statement, of which meaning he was the only one privy.  Be it as it may, the last disc contained SQ with actually some emotion that was recognizable to me, and can you believe it, some cheerfulness. Threw me off my rocker for a while. Surprises, surprises. Well gone now, to the rest of the music, to warm my cold bones.





Tuesday, March 25, 2014

New Acquisition. Karayev, Kara. (1918-1982) Ballet Suites.

New Acquisition.
Bought in March 2014.
Label: Naxos.
First listen.
Recording dates: September 2012.
Recording venue: Blackheath Concert Hall, London.
Recording engineer: Mike Clements.
Running time: 69:22.

Works.
The Seven Beauties. (1953)-Ballet Suite.
The Path of Thunder. (1958)-Ballet Suite No. 2.

Performers.
Royal PO, Dmitry Yablonsky.

When first introduced to Karayev's music, also on a Naxos CD, I was overwhelmed how colourful this composer is painting his music, and what opulence of creativity emerged from his mind. And now these absolutely fabulous ballets. And what kind of ballets! You can put him right away on the same level as the most famous of composers that composed for ballet. His imagination knows no bounds, his melodies are made to caress the feet of a prima. Needless to say the music made it into the Kirov repertoire, how else I would think. Karayev seems to have an aptitude for thinking in choreographies, such is his imagination, that the notes fly out of his pen as the steps of a dancer. What a immense pleasure it is to listen to this music. A great composer, and already very well liked by me. This goes immediately into my top ten recordings of 2014. Demonstration class recording, and a sublime performance.



McTee, Cindy. (b.1953) Orchestral Music. [New Acquisition]

New Aquisition.
Bought in March 2014.
Label: Naxos.
First listen..
Recording dates: Live, 2010-2012.
Recording venue: Orchestra Hall, Max Fisher, Detroit.
Recording engineer: Matthew Pons.
Running time: 66:43.

Works.
Circuits. (1990)
Symphony No. 1. (Ballet for Orchestra) [2002]
Einstein's Dream. (2004)
Double Play. (2010)

Performers.
Detroit SO, Leonard Slatkin.

Another composer that is totally new for me. The samples gave me enough encouragement to buy this CD, and well into it, I do not regret getting it. For me she has a truly unique voice, her roots being firmly in what was before, and her modernity akin to the limits to which I would be prepared to listen. The rhythms, the shaping of melodies, the musical kinship to some of Hovhaness his compositions, especially in the second movement of Symphony No. 1, all this and much more, has me firmly by the throat. There is a concentration in what she does, a well dosed use of effects, a determination to mould the music into surprising elements of experimental sounds, and get away with it too!  There is coherence in all this, and a steady determination of argument is pervading every note. There is not a single work on this CD that did not please me, however far her modernity would go. She is keeping away from crossing into atonal territory, and that suits me rather fine. For it would mean that I had to abandon the music, as it is, with all the jazzy sounds it gets into my rhythm. The recording is of demonstration class as is the performance. But then Slatkin being married to the composer, he could not do less than perform excellently, otherwise what punishment would await him:).  The booklet with explanations about the music from McTee are of little use, so you have to make your own images of the music. 




New Acquisition. Sierra, Roberto. (b.1953) Orchestral Works.

New acquisition.
Bought in March 2014.
Label: Naxos.
First listen.
Recording dates: 2012.
Recording venue: Live: Laura Turner Hall, Schermerhorn Symphony Center, Nashville, Tennessee.
Recording engineer: Gary Call.
Running time: 55:35.

Works.
Fandangos. (2000)
Sinfonia No. 4. (2008-2009)*
Carnaval. (2007)*

* World Premiere Recordings.

Performers.
Nashville Symphony, Giancarlo Guerrero.

A new composer for me. And one that keeps quite close to the classical settings, sprinkled with a healthy dose of modernity, but not so much as to disturb your feelings for harmony and melody. He is a colourful composer, with bright views and a perception for the exotic.  A lot of Spanish musical influences, even with some jazzy tones here and there. Pleasant well crafted and scored music.  The work that opens this CD, Fandangos is one of the works that I like very much, as well as Carnaval. He puts all his effort in these compositions, and it pays dividends to score in a very precise way. The Sinfonia I liked a lot too, but I found the 4th movement overstretching the argument. It could have been shorter and made it to a better finish. All in all though I am quite happy with this music. It is well recorded and performed.


Catalani, Alfredo. (1854-1893. Orchestral works.

New acquisition.
Bought in March 2014.
First listen.
Recording dates: 2011-2012.
Recording venue: Osr, Studios, Rome.
Recording engineer: Piero Schiavoni.
Running time: 54:48.

Works.
Track 4 and 5.
Contemplazione. (1878)
Il Mattino "Sinfonia Romantica". (1874)  World Premiere Recording.

Performers.
Orchestra Sinfonica di Roma, Francesco La Vecchia.

Contemplazione is a tranquil work, orchestrally well balanced, and in its very nature a  romantic work. Its sounds like heaven is opening bit by bit, with colourful streaks, such a optimistic work. There is some fine scoring that comes out of the hands of a composer that has an ear for harmonies that enhances warmth to a level of transcendental level.
Il Mattino is truly romantic work, its beginning is nothing short of magical, with a see through scoring for strings, expectant of glorious things to come, again a very positive outlook.  Mendelssohn very much comes to the foreground in much of the music, yet it distinctly has a quality on its own. Catalani knits together some pretty fine melodies. A pleasure to listen too. Something that will cheer you up no end. Recommended. Fine sound and a idiomatic performance.




Rheinberger, Josef. (1839-1901) Chamber Music, CD II.

From my collection.
Label: Thorofon. Box 6 cd's.
First listen: 4-3-2012.
Recording dates: 1991.
Recording venue: Studio, opus 80, Walldorf, Germany, and Konzertsaal der Hochschule fur Musik, Berlin.
Recording engineer: Horst Gobel.
Running time: 65:58.

Works.
String Quartet, No. 1 in C major, opus 89 & No. 2 in F minor, opus 147.

Performers.
Camerata Quartet.

There is not that much one can say about the music by Rheinberger, apart from the fact, that in my ears it is perfect harmony. There is a sense for clarity and balance, quite unusual, but ever so impressive. Rheinberger is a craftsman, and he was very much despised by this megalomaniac called Wagner, another reason for disliking the arrogance of this man. If Wagner would have had just a ounce of the genius of Rheinberger, it would lift him far above the works that he actually composed. 
The performance is perfect, as is the recording.



 

Monday, March 24, 2014

NEW ACQUISITION. Catalani, Alfredo. (1854-1893) Orchestral works.

NEW ACQUISITION.
Label: Naxos.
First listen.
Recording dates: 2011-2012.
Recording venue: OSR Studios Rome & Auditorium de Via Conciliazione, Rome.
Recording engineer: Piero Schiavoni.
Running time: 54:48.

Works.
I listen to the first three works on this CD.

1) Ero e Leandro, Symphonic Poem. (1884)
2) Scherzo. (1878)
3) Andantino. (?1871) World Premiere recording

Performers.
Orchestra Sinfonica di Roma, Francesco La Vecchia.

A first again today. Never heard the works before, so for me its also a premiere. The first three works on this CD are romantic in nature, with little modernity in it. He was certainly not a active member in promoting or the  furtherance of a new Italian musical idiom. Long warm lines, especially in the strings, he aims to please, and in this he is right on target. I like this music, its has a certain flair, and smells like the Pini di Roma, colourful, and all embracing. I find the works well orchestrated. It never shuns bold statements, just listed to the closing measures of Ero e Leandro. Quite a mark, and a fine close of this work.
The Scherzo is work of a certain gaiety and lightness, with some stress on the string writing. Melodic and at places boisterous, it has a almost Mendelssohnian tendency.  Like it! The recording is a bit reverberant, almost 4 seconds. A bit distracting. 
The Andantino has traces of Mendelssohn's "A midsummer nights Dream", mixed with some Brahmsian pizzicato's and funny enough some Tchaikovskian traces. It strikes me that Catalani shows no real voice of his own, but seeks rather elsewhere for inspiration, but he does that in a cunning way, without intentional plagiarism. Again nice music.  




NEW ACQUISITION. Blumenfeld, Felix. (1863-1931) Catoire, Georgy. (1861-1926) Orchestral Works.

NEW ACQUISITION
Label: Dutton.
First listen.
Recording dates: August 2012.
Recording venue: Glasgow Royal Concert Hall.
Recording engineer: Dexter Newman.
Running time: 74:16.

Works.
Felix Blumenfeld.
Symphony in C minor, opus 39. (ca.1905-06)

Georgy Catoire.
Symphony in C minor, opus 7. (ca.1895-98) (World premiere recording)

Performers.
Royal Scottish National Orchestra, Martin Yates.

Blumenfeld was a great unknown to me, I never heard of him before, not even a mention somewhere from one of his fellow composers to whom he must have been known. He was born in the Southern Ukraine on the 19 April 1863, and studied with Rimski Korsakov, also close friends with Anton Rubinstein. He worked as a conductor, and taught Piano as a appointed professor.  Quite renown as a concert pianist and pedagogue, and was and many besides him, an admirer of Wagner, but that was not much appreciated by the majority of his colleagues. Blumenfeld wrote primarily piano music, solo or in combinations. This Symphony in C minor is his most ambitious work, and by what I have heard, also a work of great quality. Blumenfeld carries the heritage of Russian nationalism into this Symphony, and as a first Tchaikovsky comes to mind, but also Borodin and some Glinka too. He keeps his own voice, and this medium large scale work has many surprising melodies, and tonal shifts. There is also some pointed refinement in his orchestral writing, in the secondary melodies, which are very much supportive in the leitmotiv. Though barely audible, they nevertheless give a strong supporting role to the work as a whole. Listen carefully and you might find the tinkling of a harp, or some high pitched calls from the high woodwinds. Beautifully done. An outstanding work, worth your attention.
Georgy Catoire is by Chamber music aficionados, known through his excellent chamber music. I have a CPO recording that gave me much pleasure, so seeing this Dutton recording prompted me to order this previous unpublished and unrecorded Symphony in C minor. You will meet the same rigorous attention to detail as in his chamber music. Every note is carefully considered, so you can also say that this only Symphony by Catoire is like Blumenfeld's C minor Symphony, his most ambitious work.  Its larger in its conception, and the scale is grander and more cosmopolitan as Blumenfeld's. I do not find as many direct comparisons towards his music, albeit he is Russian like Blumenfeld, it seems that Catoire more or less escapes this Russian influence. But to name some influences I would say that Glazunov comes first and foremost, and maybe some Borodin, but it is all mixed in such a decisive way, that leaves little room for more than a mention.  It has a Russian atmosphere over it yes, but not overwhelmingly as the booklet states. Traces of Wagner are certainly there in the more expansive orchestral evocations. Not something I really appreciate, but well integrated into the total fabric of the work. The overall orchestration is lush and powerful, and has great expressive power. Its a great work, and deserves to be better known. The performances are superb, as is the recording. Recommended. 








Fete du Ballet. A compendium of Ballet Rarities. CD 10. Massenet, Jules. (1842-1912)

From my collection.
Label: Decca. Box, 10 cd's.
First listen.
Recording dates: December 1969, May 1971, January 1975, September 1976.
Recording venue: Kingsway Hall, London.
Recording engineer: Not named.
Running time: 80:56.

Works.
Le Cid-Ballet music.
Entr'acte  (Act. V)-Valse . (Act. III) Le roi de Lahore.
Meditation. Thais. (John Georgiadis, Solo Violin)
Scenes Alsaciennes.
Scenes Dramatiques.
March des Princesses. Cendrillon.

Performers.
London SO, National PO,  Richard Bonynge.

This is a worthy close of this box. Massenet's ballet music is top notch. So near to what Tchaikovsky wrote, with the same inbred sense for the finer details of classical ballet. Meditation, is a piece that opens up your heart, and what wonderful choreography's are written for it. The very essence of what ballet music is about comes out of the piece conceived by the genius of Massenet.  The 80 minutes of ballet music is a virtual joy to listen too, and I look forward to the 35 box with all the other ballet music, which will be on my listening list this year. And then the whole shebang starts anew. 
These are wonderful recordings.




Rheinberger, Josef. (1839-1901) The Chamber Music, CD I.

From my collection.
Label: Thorofon. Box 6 cd's.
CD I.
Second listen.
Recording dates: 1989.
Recording venue: Studio Opus 80, Walldorf, Torsten Wintermeier.
Recording engineer: Horst Gobel.
Running time: 62:28.

Works.
String Quintet in A minor, opus 82.
Piano Quintet in C major, opus 144.

Performers.
Sonare Quartet.
Horst Gobel, Piano.

When listening to the Chamber works by Rheinberger, you realize that he is on the same level as Johannes Brahms. His melodic creativity matches the great master in all aspects, and we should treat him accordingly. Just listen the the second movements of both works, and you will be quickly convinced that he is indeed what I say he is. Heart wrenching, floating on deeply felt emotions, brought to the surface on this world, and so give us a handle to recognize what is in ourselves. His broad view gives us a clear picture, and this picture draws you in, and makes you part of the journey Rheinberger is undertaking, to further our view of the images he creates out of his musical wand. Really perfect music in every sense. Wonderful performances and recording. highly recommended.







Saturday, March 22, 2014

Haydn, Joseph. String Quartets, CD X. Opus 77, N0 1/2/3.

Bought in 2013.
Label: Naive: Box 10 cd's.
CD 10.
First listen.
Recording dates: March 1989.
Recording venue: Vienne??
Recording engineers: Morio and Michael Bernstein.


Works.
See above.

Performers.
Quatuor Mosaiques.

The opus 77 SQ are fabulously performed and recorded. I am no through this box, and can safely say that I will not but another cycle of these quartets, for they are in every aspect perfect.


Friday, March 21, 2014

Britten, Benjamin. (1913-1976) Orchestral Works. CD II.

New acquisition.
Bought in March 2014.
First listen.
Running time: 75:59.

Works.
Canadian Carnival, opus 19.
Recording dates: April 1982.
Recording venue: Cheltenham Town Hall.
Recording engineer: Michael Sheady.
Wesley Warren, Trumpet.
City of Birmingham SO, Simon Rattle.

Diversions, opus 21, for Piano left hand, and orchestra.
Recording dates: July 1990.
Recording venue: Butterworth Hall, Warwick Arts Center, University of Warwick.
Recording engineer: Mike Clements.
CBSO, Rattle.

Scottish Ballad, opus 26.
Peter Donohoe & Philip Fowke, Pianos.
All participants as opus 19.

An American Overture, opus 27.
Occasional Overture, opus 38.
Recording dates: May 1984.
Recording venue: Butterworth Hall.
Recording engineer: Michael Sheady.
CBSO, Rattle.

The building of the House, opus 79.
Recording dates: July 1990.
Recording venue: Butterworth Hall, Warwick Arts Center, University of Warwick.
Recording engineer: Mike Clements.
CBSO, and Choir Rattle.

I do not think that any of the works on this CD, belongs even near to Britten's genius, all second tier works, at least for me. And when you get such lacklustre performances as with Rattle, my enthusiasm sunk near Sub Zero. No wonder I had all my life an aversion against Rattle, the man that effectively murdered the beautiful sound and track record of the Berliner Philharmoniker. I know the CBSO a fine orchestra, but that was before Rattle. This is so not my thing. Plodding monstrous performances.
These works should have been destroyed by Britten.
Remember when reading, that it is my personal opinion.  Ducks and hides somewhere safe:):):)



Thursday, March 20, 2014

Second rerun. New acquisition. Pasquini, Bernardo. (1637-1710) Sonate per Gravicembalo.

Second rerun.
See for all info my review 19-3-2014.

The last CD, this afternoon, before I start my workout.
I think this is a fine example of Pasquini's art.
Very much recommended.



New Acquisition. Yamada Kazuo. (1912-1991) Orchestral Works. [Japanese Classics]

New acquisition.
Bought in March, 2014.
Label: Naxos.
First listen.
Recording dates: May 2007.
Recording venue: Studio 5, Russian State TV & Radio Company, Kultura, Moscow.
Recording engineers: Alexsander Karasev & Gennady Trabantov.
Running time: 55:06.

Works.
A song of Young People. -Little Symphonic Poem- (1937)
Kiso, ( Old Japanese Melody), opus 12. (1939)
Symphonic Suite, "India" ( Spellbinding) 1940.
Grand Treasure, opus 20. (1944)

Performers.
Russian PO, Dmitry Yablonsky.

He seems to have been a very influential composer and conductor in Japan, but to be honest I never heard of him, but then again that goes for all composers in the Japanese Classic series. He was taught by the same teacher as Mahler, and it is known that Yamada revered Mahler, and stated that he was of a major influence in his life. The booklet tells me that there are many musical hints towards Mahler, but to my ears they are hard to find, if at all. Only in the opus 20, I hear some small fragments, but thats about it. Yamada incorporates much musical content of his own country in his music, which seems logical of course. The first two works are perfectly scored, in my ears real masterworks. Vigorous, always moving, powerful statements, in a rhythmic language, that makes a devastating impression. Modernity within tonality, with an unmistakable Japanese flavour. I like the use of the brass, and woodwinds. Their language is spoken in such a way, that it brings perfect harmony in its tranquility and its insistent musical arguments, and so make a solid basis for all other statements within the music. I am on the basis of the first two pieces mightily impressed.
I was however very much looking forward to the ballet Yamada also wrote. There are no Japanese ballets I ever heard, so this is a first for me. The first movement is a powerhouse of sounds, loud and detailed in its writing. Not the tip toeing around, which you may associate with classical ballet, but more like the dancing of two giants, stamping their feet in great vigour. It was  requested by Yaoko Kaitani, a pupil of no less than Anna Pavlova, who played a crucial role in establishing Japanese   classical ballet. The second movement of this ballet is of a lighter vein, but still the orchestral parts are emitting a constant surge of power, hardly contained by some relaxing notes, and even the notes in themselves are already telling of a certain nervousness, while contemplating an onslaught. 
The third movement of about 1:16, gives us a short respite, but you tumble fastly into the fourth movement, which again utters great vigour and power, with very sharp pinpointed details, and tells of a determination, and bring the musical arguments to a close with resounding cymbals. Not a ballet for the weak hearted amongst us. But boy do I love this piece! A adrenaline trip........ 
It cannot be said, that Yamada gives you time to recuperate, for he is moving constantly. His opus 20, contains small fragments of Mahlers idiom, but not that much, that it made me  think constantly of him in the run of this work. He is very much his own man, and the way he moulds the orchestral parts, comes not even close to Mahler, two totally different beasts. Yamada makes me conjuring up an image of a tree, in which I like to climb for my own pleasure and sit high to enjoy the scenery. He then comes around and starts shaking this tree so insistently, that I tumble down within no time, but not being angry about that at all. The musical scene is as beautiful.
The recording is of demonstration class!! And the performance is a thumbs up for this Russian orchestra.






New Acquisition. de Sica, Manuel. (b.1949) Orchestral Works.

New Acquisition.
Bought in March 2014.
Label: Brilliant. 
First listen.
Recording dates: May 2013.
Recording venue: Centro di Produzione Musicale della Filarmonica Toscanini.
Recording engineer: Matteo Costa.
Running time: 79:10.

Works.
In memoriam for Strings.
Kojiki for Harp and Strings.
Concerto for Violin and Strings.
Una Breva Vacanza, for Violin and Strings.
Filmusic, for Piano and Strings.
Il Giardino dei Finzi Contini, for Orchestra.

Performers.
Floraleda Sacchi, Harp.
Maristella Patuzzi, Violin.
Anna Serova, Violin.
Michelangelo Carbonara, Piano.
Marco Attura, Piano.

Filarmonica Arturo Toscanini, Flavio Emilio Scogna.

This is factually music in the light genre, and most would do well as film music. He seems to make no division between absolute music and applied music. Be it as it may, for me most of it is applied music, and I have some issues with the term "absolute music". I think it will be hard to give a definitive definition of it. I certainly could not attempt such a task. Sandro Cappelletto wrote the rather over the top eulogium on this composer, and creates a overblown personality, as if he is forcefully praising him into heaven. The only true thing is that he tells us that Henry Mancini, and [Bruno Maderna] were very important to De Sica. Mancini is indeed the prime inspirator behind the music, but Maderna? I do not think so. He also tries to convince us that Alban Berg and Bela Bartok is a perceptible influence in this music by De Sica, but I have to disagree, this music does not even touch the likes of both composers. So where does that leaves us with the music of De Sica? Easy listening music with a thin layer of classical influences! Is it worth your time and money? Well I certainly find it soothing to the mind, after a hectic episode. The Concerto for Violin and strings clearly tries to make the easy listening into a more classical concerto, and at times it goes into that realm, but often enough it lapses back into easy listening notes. The writing for the violin is pretty good though. So in the end that is what you hear. We get descriptions of the work in the booklet, but it does not say much, and I certainly cannot relate the music to these descriptions. Taken on its own and forgetting about the hyperbole, I like listening to it. It does not make demands on you, and it creates a soothing emotion, that could be comforting. The performance is as good as it gets, and the sound by the much used engineer, Matteo Costa is good. Sample before you buy.















New acquisition. Britten, Benjamin. (1913-1976) Orchestral Works. CD I.

New Acquisition.
Bought: March 2014.
Label: EMI. Box, 8 cd's.
First listen.
Recording dates: January 1989.
Recording venue: Philharmonic Hall, Liverpool.
Recording engineer: Mike Clements.
Running time: 63:18.

Works.
Sinfonia da Requiem, opus 20.
Four Sea Interludes and Passacaglia from "Peter Grimes", opus 33.
The Young Person's Guide to the Orchestra, opus 34.

Performers.
Royal Liverpool PO, Libor Pesek.

Most of us know these works well, so there is no need to explain the content in detail, after all for the uninitiated we have internet these days. I bought this box, primarily for the last two discs, on which is recorded the ballet "The Prince of the Pagodas". Its unabridged, contrary to the recording Britten himself made. Some of the works in this set I already have, but the low price of the box made me go for it anyways.  I can tell you, that Libor Pesek is a gentleman at leisure, for he conducts in a very thoughtful way, in which rushed tempi have no place, he rather lets the music unfold on it own, and give room to the contemplative side of Benjamin Britten. That approach pays its dividends. A lot of detail that could be obscured in fast tempi, come to light quite vividly in this performance. True enough, one has the tendency to push and sparkle the music a bit more as Pesek does, but all in all it gives pretty much pleasure. Not a definitive performance, but one that sits comfortably next to many others. The recording Mike Clements made is detailed and gives the orchestra a lot of depth. A very natural sound.



Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Balkan. Ete: Rencontres, Amour,& Mariage.Atomne: Memoire, Maturite & Voyage. CD II

Bought in 2014.
Label: AliaVox. Book with 3 cd's.
Third listen.
First and second listen: 26-2-2014 & 13-3-2014. See reviews and technical info.

And I said last evening, perfect music to play before going to bed.



New Acquisition. Pasquini, Bernardo. (1637-1710) Sonate per Gravicembalo.

New acquisition.
Bought March 2014.
Label: Chandos Chaconne.
First listen.
Recording dates: August 2002.
Recording venue: Villa Beatrice, Baone. (Padua) Italy.
Recording engineer: Matteo Costa.
Running time: 75:37.

Works.
Sonate per Gravicembalo.

Performers.
Roberto Loreggian, Harpsichord * Spinet.
Francesco Ferrarini, Cello.

Instruments.
Cello: Italian (School of Milan) late 18th century.
Harpsichord: Riccardo Pergolis, copy of Giovanni Battista Giusti, Lucca, late 17th century.
Spinet: Riccardo Pergolis, copy of Honofrio Guarracino, Naples 1663.

Tuning.
quarter comma meantone, Pitch: A=415 Hz.

I heard a little about Pasquini, and maybe a fragment of music came my way, apart from that it draws a blank on me. But the more than excellent booklet tells me a lot. He was a adolent admirer of Palestrina, and he had a warm connection with the music by Frescobaldi. He was also a keyboard virtuoso. And a lot of his fame is based on his playing these instruments.  So what does that mean in practical terms? Beautiful music in fact! The musical history behind it, and the rather scholastic text in the booklet makes it impossible for me, to make a comprehensive review, so I refer back to the almighty internet, were all the info is available. There is a fine balance in the music, it does not force itself upon you, but rather blends with your mood. Loreggian shows us again what a fine musician he is, whether he plays on a harpsichord, spinet or organ. Its easy on the ear, but not simple in structure and content. The place where it is recorded and the engineer are the same as the Label Brilliant is using on their recordings, the latest of them being the box with Frescobaldi's music. 



Badings, Henk (1907-1987) [Dutch composer series] Orchestral Works.

Bought in 2012.
Label: CPO.
First and Second listen: 21-3-2012 & 17-4-2012.
Recording dates: August 2008.
Recording venue: Concert Hall of the Janacek Philharmonic Orchestra.
Recording engineer: Jaroslav Stranavsky.
Running time: 68:01.

Works.
Symphony No 3. (1934)
Symphony No. 10. (1961)
Symphony No. 14. Symphonisches Triptychon. [Flaemische] (1968)

Performers.
Janacek PO, David Porcelijn.

Bading almost taught himself to write music before he was confronted with the fact that he still had to learn a thing or two about orchestrating His teacher in this was Willem Pijper, but he also remained his own teacher, acquiring his own composing style through more self study. Pijper concluded that he had all the skills a good composer needed, and this was proven to be true. He wrote more than thousand works, stating himself, that he was virtually overflowing with ideas. The sound and his technique are close to classical examples from the past, and despite its modernity it never oversteps tonality. A very recognizable style. It does not mean that he shuns experiments, because he incorporates all kinds of new developments from his time. Yet, despite the fact that he was very popular, these days he is a big unknown in the concert halls and also with CD releases. So for this we again have to be grateful for CPO, for the Dutch composers series. His music is powerful and very driven, but when contemplative in the slower movements he touches a strain that makes you sit up. He writes economically, very much controlled from a technical standpoint, with tight rhythms, and sharp corners. There are many deep insights, but a real programmatic basis is absent. Almost every trick in orchestral writing Badings shakes out of his sleeves, and turn them into great effect. Even in his chaos there is method. Beautiful long lines coupled with quickly changing motifs. I like his music. The recording is very good, as is the performance.




Haydn, Joseph. String Quartets. CD 9. Opus 76, N0. 2/3/6.

Bought in 2013.
Label: Naive. Box, 10 cd's.
CD IX. 
First listen.
No technical info supplied.

Quatuor Mosaiques.

Opus 76 was published in 1799 bears a dedication for Count Joseph Erdody. The English musicologist Rosemary Hughes described the six Quartets as "Songs of Experience and they truly are.
There is a certain perfection over them, written in a very assured style, with a flow that comes near to what I call the ultimate musical valhalla.  Its a positive thing that one can actually feel, this balance in music, that makes your heart leap. But what would we be without musicians that are able to give what the composer intended. Just occasionally one encounters a notion of two disciplines that meet at a perfect spot in the middle of the sublime. The recording present is just that. And no less than 10cd's of that happy cocktail, which after listening makes you delirious with bubbling joy. I think you know by now, that this set is not to be missed in your collection.



Fete du Ballet. A compendium of Ballet Rarities. CD VI.

From my collection.
Label: Decca, Box with 10 cd's.
First listen.
Recording dates: November 1962, December 1983, June 1988.
Recording venues: Decca Studio 3, West Hampstead, Kingsway Hall, Henry Wood Hall, London.
Recording engineer: Not mentioned.
Running time: 78:23.

Works.

1)       The Good humoured Ladies, by Domenico Scarlatti, arr. Vincenzo Tommasini.
2)       Guillaume Tell-Ballet Music, by Gioachino Rossini.
3)       La Favorite-Ballet Music, by Gaetano Donizetti.
4)       Les Troyens-Ballet Music, by Hector Berlioz.
5-18) Mam'zelle Angot, Act 1 & II, by Charles Lecocq, arr. Gordon Jacob.

Performers.
English Chamber Orchestra.
London SO.
National PO, Richard Bonynge.

I am pretty happy about the fact that Presto Classical send me a replacement disc, for there is some fine ballet music on this disc, especially Lecocq's, Mam'zelle Angot ballet, which I never heard before.
I came to expect nothing less than excellence from this box, and so it is. All the pieces on this cd are well performed and recorded. This kind of music always lifts my spirits, and draws me in an instant into the world of ballet. I kind of needed that this morning.






Remember my faulty ballet disc with techno music on it?

Today arrived by post from Presto Classical, the replacement disc No. 6 from the ballet box, Fete du Ballet. Even though it was bought several years ago, they replace it without any discussion, free of cost. After the drama I had with JPC de this was a refreshing thing to happen. I have to transfer most of my business to them, due to the fact that JPC blocked my profile, including my email, yes they did, how silly can they be.  JPC did not even redress all the errors they made, let alone look into what actually happened. When I started buying with them a long time ago, there service was exemplary, but somehow this situation has changed to the worse. They discard a customer that has brought a lot of business to them, but that did not even count with them. They told me that they had a little internal discussion with all the chums from JPC, and decided to block me, and my email, for lo I might give a written reaction to their decision. No, no we cannot have that.  I am still flabbergasted.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Balkan, Cycles of Life. CD I. Creation: Univers, Rencontres & Desirs. Printemps: Naissance, Reves & Celebrations

Bought in 2014.
Label: AliaVox. Book with 3 cd's.
CD I. Third listen.
See review on 21-2-2014 & 6-3-2014.



Wonderful evening music. 




Bartok,, Bela. (1881-1945) Piano concertos No. 1-3.

From my collection.
Label: Warner Apex.
First listen.
Recording dates: April 1996.
Recording venue: Italian Cultural Institute, Budapest.
Recording engineer: Eberhard Sengpiel.
Running time: 76:30.

Works.
Piano concertos 1-3.

Performers.
Andras Schiff, Piano.
Budapest Festival Orchestra, Ivan Fischer..

I always had a weak spot for the piano concertos by Bartok. The decisive way in which they are composed and their rigorous adherence to a pulsating rhythm, plus the very precise and economical way in which they are written, makes me reach out for them. The mix of late romanticism with modernity, and the rational way of bringing those two extremes together, is very attractive, to say the least. There is a lot of music that bubbles out in its enthusiasm, and challenges me in many ways. 
If you like Bartok, then you are in for a treat, for these performances are top notch, and the recording is sublime. The leaflet inside only gives timings and technical info, but then again the price is budget.


Fete du Ballet. A compendium of Ballet Rarities. CD IX. Drigo, Riccardo. (1846-1930)

From my collection.
Label: Decca. Box 10 cd's.
First listen.
Recording dates: April 1964, June 1988, August/September 1987.
Recording venue: Kingsway Hall, & Henry Wood Hall, London.
Recording engineer: Not mentioned in the booklet.
Running time: 78:57.

Works.
1)        Pas de Deux. La Esmeralda.*
2)        Pas de Deux. Le Corsaire.*
3)        Pas de Deux. Diane et Acteon.**
4-17)  La Flute Magique.***

Performers.
English Chamber Orchestra.**
London SO.*
Orchestra of the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden.***
All conducted by Richard Bonynge. (b. 1930)

Until now, apart from disc 6, which CD contained House music, this box has been a resounding success with me, in terms of performances and sound. The art to bring ballet music to life, meaning you getting a mental picture of a ballet company actually dancing, is done is a overwhelming realistic way by the conductor. His lifelong passion with ballet music paid off very handsomely.  
Not many conductors understand the knowledge that is needed to lift as it were this genre to the heights needed. And this is never a problem with the orchestras Bonynge is using, plus his own artistry.  Yet when googling him, in all what is written about him, you rarely read anything about his passion for ballet music. This I find strange.
The sound throughout is excellent.








Haydn, Joseph. String Quartets. CD VIII. Opus 76, N0. 1/5/4.

Bought in 2013.
Label: Naive. Box 10 cd's.
First listen to this performance.
No info about: recording dates/venue/engineer.

Performers.
Quatuor Mosaiques.

As I said before, one cannot fault this complete set of Haydn's SQ. All details are absolutely correct, the bowing is pretty spectacular, the symbiosis between musicians is amazing, and the recording leaves no wishes open. I did not hear better performances of the opus 76. So this box lands in my nominees for best buy ever.



British Light Music Classics, Volume IV.

Bought in 2013.
Label: Hyperion. Box, 4 cd's.
First listen: 26-2-2014. See also review, and all info about content and technical issues.

Normally I am not much into light classical music, but the pieces on all 4 discs are delightful, and not run of the mill compositions. The performance is committed, and all is well recorded. And the end of the CD there is a piece written by Samuel Coleridge Taylor, called Petite Suite de Concert, opus 77, and stands out from the rest, by being not really lightish at all. I found it to be a gem amongst all the other ones. This box was very cheap, so if you are so inclined to like this kind of music, your money will be well spend.


Monday, March 17, 2014

JPC de Drama part II, The final chapter. Profile deleted.

After years of having had a good relation with JPC, and me spending very large sums with them, they deleted my account today, and refuse to send items to me ever. You may ask yourself, what I have done? Well basically what the bank told me to do, after JPC refused to tackle the problem that did occur last Friday. Since there was free shipping I put in a large order, and added twice a extra item. What happened then was kind of strange, because with the two items I added, the amount doubled, instead of counting up, while both items I ordered extra were not more than 30 euro's. What basically would have been a order of 135 euro, became thrice the amount. My bank called me on Monday morning telling me that an attempt was made, to charge my credit card with 3 separate charges, totalling about 350 euros. They found this strange and they were right. So I informed JPC to address this issue pronto, and so to unblock my  credit card. They informed me, that this was not in their might, because the charging of credit cards is done by a different firm, and that I myself had to ask the bank to redress the error JPC made. I told them I had no dealings with that firm but with them, but they send me formal emails, without helping me with the issue. So I was pissed, and told them that my bank would take the matter in their hands, which they did, and as a result of this they blocked my account. This is what you get, when questioning their service, which they pride themselves on. I do business with a lot of retailers, but I have never encountered such a treatment. I am utterly shocked by this. Just to let you know. 

British Light Classics. Volume III.

From my collection.
Label: Hyperion. Box with 4 cd's.
First listen: 17-2-2014, see for all details this review.

Its a pleasure to come back to this series put together by Hyperion. I am sure there is much more in this genre worth to record, but as it is we must be content with this superb set. There are two pieces on this CD that stand head and shoulders above the other compositions, to boot, The Girl from Corsica by Trevor Duncan, and the hauntingly beautiful Songe d'Automne, by Archibald Joyce. The last one is really getting at me....somehow.






Sunday, March 16, 2014

Balkan CD III. Hiver: Spiritualite, Sacrifice, Exil, & Mort. (Re) conciliation.

Bought in 2014.
Label: AliaVox. Book with 3 cd's.
CD III.
Recording dates: June 2013.
Recording venue: A la Cite de la Musique, Paris.
Recording engineer: Manuel Mohino.
Running time: 79:01.

As I told before, this is a pretty amazing set of music produced by Jordi Savall, and the musicians he brought together. There is absolute symbiosis, in music and personalities. That results in music, that oversteps boundaries between people, their culture, and history. A lot is covered in this set. A wide variety of different styles in and around the Balkan. The colour is overwhelming as well as the atmosphere that is created by this musical marriage. You would never divorce which such riches. It covers all known emotions, perfectly depicted in instrumental and vocal compositions. This is music that invites dancing, singing, drinking, loving, a togetherness in harmony and well being. Buy it, you'll love it all the way!


Fete du Ballet. A compendium of Ballet rarities. CD VIII. Auber, Daniel Francois Esprit. !782-1871) Pas Classique-Marco Spada.

From my collection.
Label: Decca: 10 cd's.
CD VIII, running time: 74:13.
First listen.
Recording dates: April 1964 & August 1972.
Recording venue: Kingsway Hall, London.
Recording engineer: Not mentioned.

Works.
See above.

Performers.
London SO, Richard Bonynge.

This ballet music by Auber was unknown to me. Somehow I never heard this before. So I am eternally thankful that Decca decided to release all they had on 2 separate boxes. One with 35 CD'S and this one. It pretty much covers almost all there is in terms of ballet music. Almost, for the ballet music of Britten, to name one, is not included. I already ordered it from another label, and awaiting it with eagerness. What's on this CD is top ballet music. Auber knew how to write a few good tunes, and how well he orchestrated it. With some pretty amazing scoring for woodwinds, especially the flute. Its a whirlwind of a ballet, and overall pretty impressive. Good sound too.


Both images are from the ballet reviewed here.




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

New acquisition. Bought in October 2016. First listen: 25-10-2016. Second listen: 21-10-2017 Label: Brilliant. CD 2 from, 21. Recordin...