Wednesday, April 30, 2014


Ballet Masterpieces, The World's favourite Ballets and Ballet Suites. "Giselle" by Adolphe Adam, with additions by Frederic Burgmuller.

From my collection.
Bought in 2010.
Label: Decca. Box with 35 cd's.
First listen: 2-3-2010. CD 1. CD 2: 3-3-2010.
Recording dates: 1986.
Recording venue: Henry Wood Hall, London.
Recording engineer: Stanley Goodall.
Running time: 62:53.
Second run of this complete set.




Performers.
Orchestra of the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, Richard Bonynge.

O, yes, the mighty Ballet box in the second rerun. The first maiden voyage started as late as in 2010 and ended in July 2013. That is not going to happen again. This time I will get through this box this year. Ballet always makes me extremely happy. Classical dance and music is simply in my blood, genes, and on all other places. I was looking forward to this project, and begin straight away with a favourite of mine. Giselle belongs deservingly to the standard repertoire of every company, for the visual aspect is stunning, where prima and corps de Ballet have all a demanding yet grateful task, a feast for eye and ear. A delicious meal for me! I will indulge. The man that recorded so much ballet music, always in performances that take your breath away, is present in this rendering of Giselle, and a perfect interpretation he gives us. This dull Wednesday is brightened up so much, that my heart leaps many a great stride.  The recording is detailed and has a deep stage, there is nothing that you will miss. 






Lumieres Box. CD 29. Beethoven, Ludwig van. The Late String Quartets.

From my collection.
Bought in 2012.
Label: Harmonia Mundi. Box 29 cd's and one CD-ROM with texts.
First listen:13-6-2013.
Recording dates: 2007 & 2008.
Recording venues: Oji Hall, Tokyo, and American Aca. of Arts, New York.
Recording engineers: Brad Michel and Sara Clerk.
Running time: 71:50.

Works.
String Quartet in B flat major, No. 13, opus 130.
String Quartet in F major, No. 16, opus 135.

Performers.
Tokyo String Quartet.

Well why not, lets play the last disc too of this set, since disc 28 went so well, with this ensemble. This time they tackle some heavyweights by this composer. These are no easy works to perform, and although I am pleased with what I am hearing, they do not totally satisfy me in terms of warmth, commitment and attention to details. I distinctly had a feeling that as a interpretation they are detached, academically played. Sort of technical wisecracks. Somewhere on the road they left the emotional side, and made it more an exercise in perfect accumulating in playing the notes in the right order. And at times I had the feeling that somebody left the door of the refrigerator open.  As much as I admire the technical prowess of the musicians, somehow I got the impression that Beethoven died in the process. Even the third movement of the F major left me with a empty heart. Definitely not my Beethoven, despite the perfect performance I heard before of the opus 18, No. 6. 
The sound overall is good.




Lumieres Box. CD 28. Mozart/Haydn/Beethoven. The Great classical Quartets.

From my collection.
Bought in 2012.
First listen: 10-6-2013.
Running time: 80:15.
Label: Harmonia Mundi. Box with 30 cd's.

Composers, Works, Performers, Technical info.

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.
String Quartet in B flat major, No, 17 K.458. "The Hunt".
Recording dates: 2010.
Recording venue: Teldec Studios, Berlin.
Recording engineer: Tobias Lehmann.

Joseph Haydn.
String Quartet in D minor, opus 76, No. 2. "Fifths".
Recording dates: 1998 is probably the date.
Recording venue: Omitted.
Recording engineer: Omitted.

Performers of both Quartets.
Jerusalem Quartet.

Ludwig van Beethoven.
String Quartet in B flat major, opus 18, No. 6.
Recording dates: 2006-2007.
Recording venue: Fisher Center, New York.
Recording engineer: Brad Michel.

This is another resounding success in the Lumieres box. I was not aware how good the Jerusalem Quartet was but rest assure now I know. They almost play in a authentic style, with a minimum amount of vibrato, and legato lines that do not go on forever. There is such an overflowing amount in detail and careful phrasing, that on occasion I got goosebumps. They work so well together that you get the impression they are one instrument. Lively, fresh as a spring trot through the fields of elysium. And beautiful recorded too. As far as non authentic performances go, this is top notch.


The performance of the Beethoven came as a surprise too. Again so much amazing detail emerges through the hands of the Tokyo Quartet, that it had me listening in close attention. They certainly add quite a musical dimension to the work, that I do not hear that often. Just listen to the painstakingly prepared second movement, or the lively third movement. They make you heart jump. Really very well done. Recorded sound is excellent too.







Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Foerster, Josef Bohuslav. (1859-1951) The Complete String Quartets. World Premiere Recordings.

Bought in 2011.
Label Supraphon  SU 4050-2. ( 2 CD'S)
First listen: 13-2-2014.

Recording dates:  February, March, June 2009.
Recording venue: Evangelical Church, At Jacob's ladder, Prague.
Recording engineer: Jan Lzicar.
Running time: CD 1: 71:00-CD 2: 61:40.
This set with the SQ was made possible by a generous grant, from "Jurg Vollenweider". Bless this guy, for investing his money in such a worthwhile project. We need more of such kind souls.

Works.
1) SQ No. 1 in E major, opus 15. (1888)
2) SQ No. 2 in D major, opus 39. (1893)
3) SQ No. 3 in C major, opus 61. ( 1907, rev 1913)
4) SQ No. 4 in F major, opus 182. (1943-44)
5) SQ No. 5 in G major, "The Vestec" sine op. (1951)
6) The Prayer for SQ, sine op. (1940)
7) Memory for SQ and harp, sine op. (1901)
8) String Quintet, opus 3. (1886)
9) Allegro giocoso for SQ, sine op. (1894)

Performers.
Stamic Quartet.
Jana Bouskova, Harp.
Jiri Hudec, Double bass.

Foerster's inclined to chamber formations owing to his nature, in which the lyrical, introspective aspect always prevails. The first SQ is dedicated to Tchaikovsky, a composer Foerster admired. You will also hear snippets of melodies that have a strong imprint by Smetana, a composer that Foerster idolised. And of course a lot of Dvorak is in all of his SQ, But Foerster found an ideal blending of all influences, and put his personal stamp on it. Not to long ago I engaged in a excellent set with Foerster's solo piano works, played by Patricia Goodman on Brilliant, financed by crowdfunding, see in my blog for the reviews, that made quite an impression on me, in terms of the music and the dedicated playing. In these SQ I meet with the same intensity and musical depth, that so amazed me in the piano works. You cannot get around him really, certainly not if Dvorak is also on your diet. And he is able to make some pretty unusual statements, just listen to the beginning of the third movement of the SQ No. 5, being Foerster's final work, dedicated to his second wife "Olenka". Foerster goes back to his roots here, to the long standing tradition of Czech music. The work remained unfinished deliberately, as the composer himself said, to symbolize one's path in life, which does not close with physical departure from the world. And with this I end my review too, just mentioning that the performance and recording are top notch. An essential set to have.



Francaix, Jean. (1912-1997) Orchestral works.

Bought in 2011.
Label Hyperion.
First listen: 24-2-2014.
Recording dates: November 2002.
Recording venue: Ulster Hall, Belfast.
Recording engineer: Simon Eadon
Running time: 57:29.

Works.
Les Malheurs de Sophie, 1935.
Concertino for Piano and Orchestra in F major, 1934.
Les Bosquets de Cythere, 1946.

Performers.
Ulster Orchestra, Thierry Fischer.
Philippe Cassard, Piano.

I took me some time before I reach this one in my listening pile, but finally I have reached it, and as always with Francaix its a pleasure to listen at his sublime orchestration so apparent in Les Malheurs de Sophie, an absolute delightful work, that charms the hell out of you. Not a moment the creativity slackens, it simply bubbles out of his mind in a constant flow.  Both works that follow, will make your ears ring with joy, for this tapestry of sublime notes makes a colourful carpet. The sound is of demonstration class. And to be honest, to get better performances of these works would be in vain, these are the best.


Lumieres Box. CD 27. Telemann-Mozart-Haydn-Stamitz. Chamber music.

From my collection.
Bought in 2012.
First listen: 5-6-2013.
Label: Harmonia Mundi. Box with 30 cd's.
Running time: 62:34.

Works and Performers and technical info.

Georg Philipp Telemann. (1681-1767)
Sonata prima in A major.
Freiburger Barock Consort.
Recording dates:  2010.
Recording venue: Teldec Studios, Berlin.
Recording engineer: Tobias Lehmann.

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. (1756-1791)
String Quartet in C major, K. 157
Recording dates: 2008.
Recording venue: Teldec Studios, Berlin.
Recording engineer: Rene Moller.

Joseph Haydn. (1732-1809)
String Quartet in C major, opus 33/3.
Recording dates: 2003.
Recording venue: Doopsgezinde Gemeente, Haarlem, The Netherlands.
Recording engineer: Tobias Lehmann.
Jerusalem Quartet.

Carl Stamitz. (1745-1801)
Oboe Quartet in D major, opus 8.
Recording dates: 1996.
Recording venue: St. Andrew Church, Toddington, Gloucestershire, England.
Recording engineer: Tony Faulkner.
Paul Goodwin, Oboe.
Terzetto.

Well I can be very brief about the content of this disc. Its bloody marvelous. Every concerto is treated royally to a excellent performance, and recording. One of the absolute highlights of this fabulous set.
Recommended.



Frescobaldi, Girolamo. (1583-1643) Complete edition. CD 15. Canzoni alla Francese.

Bought in 2013.
Label: Brilliant. 15 CD'S.
First listen: 13-3-2014
Recording dates: July 2010.
Recording venue: Villa Beatrice d'este, Baone & Chiesa S. Bernardino, Verona.
Recording engineers: Matteo Costa & Gabriele Robotti.
Running time: 64:32.

Works.
Recercari et Canzoni Francesi fatte sopra diversi oblighi, Libro I.
Canzoni ala Francese in Partitura, Libro IV. (Venezia, A. Vincenti, 1645)
Fioretti del Frescobaldi.

Instruments.
Harpsichord: Luigi Patella 2005, after G.B Giusti.
Organ: Francesco Zanin 2002.

Performer.
Roberto Loreggian.

A worthy close of this complete edition, and worth every penny I invested into it, which was a mere trifle. I only was a tad critical of one disc, but in the light of the whole project, its not even worth mentioning. Production values and sound recordings have been exemplary. The performances are top notch, it does not come any better like this, -and if- it will be at a much higher price. Roberto Loreggian is in his field, a authorian, with none of the scholastic behaviour, like his colleague Sergio Vartolo, who also recorded a complete edition of Frescobaldi's music on the label Tactus. I am not saying that this set is a bad one, but compared to Loreggian you meet a different composer. Me, sampling through them gave me an uneasy feel, so I opted for the above set. Loreggian's  playing shows an interest in the free flowing style, and none of the straightjacket attitude some of those scholarly fellows possess. Recommended, but not without saying....sample the Tactus edition too. Afterall this is only my personal opinion.




Saturday, April 26, 2014

New acquirements.

Since JPC de was so friendly to block my account some months ago, I ordered this time with Amazon UK the following items.

Slowly getting the Dutton recordings in.









Frescobaldi, Girolamo. (1583-1643) Complete Edition CD 14. Il primo libro delle fantasie a Quattro. Milano 1608.

From my collection.
Bought in 2014.
First listen: 13-3-2014.
Label: Brilliant. Box with 15 cd's.
Recording dates: 2010.
Recording venue: Villa Beatrice d'Este, Barone.
Recording engineers: Matteo Costa, and Gabrielae Robotti.
Running time: 79:48.

Performer.
Roberto Loreggian, Harpsichord Luigi Patella 2005, after G.B. Giusti, 17th Century.

Almost at the end of this big box for the second time in the same year. Thats something of a record with me. That has in great part to do with the fact that what is on offer here, invite repeated listening. There are hardly negative points to find in this project, added to this the immense pleasure the musicians have in bringing Frescobaldi's music on the map again, it makes you getting back at any of the CD's. One after this to go, and then it will land in my dedicated CD storage room. We will see when it resurfaces again.
Meanwhile Loreggian is making a huge effort to present us with some fine harpsichord music written or completed in 1608.  The instrument gives us a clean and lucid picture, of some attractive music. I would have preferred a harpsichord with some more warmth in its expression and breath to give the notes a bit more time to unfold. As it is though I happily go along with what I hear. Sound is very good. Grab this box, as long as it is available.  






Thursday, April 24, 2014

Grainger, Percy. (1882-1961) The Grainger Edition, Volume 1. Orchestral Works.

From my collection.
Bought in 2010.
First listen: 4-3-2010.
Label: Chandos.
Recording dates:1996.
Recording venue: New Broadcasting House, Manchester, England.
Recording engineer: Don Harridge.
Running time: 72:28.

Works.
The Duke of Marlborough, Fanfare.
Colonial Song.
English Dance.
Sheperd's Hey.
There were Three Friends.
Fisher's Boarding House.
We were Dreamers.
Harvest Hymn.
Blithe Bells.
Walking Tune. (Wind band variation.)
Suite "In a nutshell".
Green Bushes.

Performers.
BBC Philharmonic, Richard Hickox.

Now I never have been in my life a admirer of Grainger's music. The context of it rather eludes me. He is like a watery soup of many English composers, and there is hardly any taste. This of course is a very personal opinion, based on my listening. They call him a original voice, well this he certainly is, but its a voice that does not appeal to me. I bought on the cheap a few volumes of this series, and that was quite enough. I give him to his credit that he orchestrates well, and that here and there I enjoy a few titbits, but not enough to buy more of this fellow. This first CD in this series underlines my negative feelings, and although I tried several times to make head and tail of his compositions, I cannot. And I hide positively when he vocal works are on the table, I rather eat dry bread for the rest of my life, as partaking on this particular meal, but then I can say this of all English vocal compositions save for Frank Bridge (1879-1941) which delightful orchestral works I listen to some time ago, which contained also Vocal/Orchestral works, and to my utter astonishment I loved it.  You may find in the search function of my blog 2 reviews of this box, ( CD 5 and 6) on 5-3-2014 and 6-3-2014.
The music on this disc is well recorded and performed. Artistically it is a success, and I am heartily glad that Chandos recorded a complete set of all his works, to be bought for a very low price. For there are many lovers of his music........




Francaix, Jean. (1912-1997) Ballet music.

From my collection.
Bought in 2010.
First listen: 17-3-2010.
Label Hyperion.
Recording dates: 2004.
Recording venue: Ulster Hall, Belfast.
Recording engineer: Simon Eadon.
Running time: 62:49.

Works.
Le Roi Nu, Ballet in 12 movements, after Andersen's The Emperor's New Clothes.
Les Demoiselles de la Nuit, a ballet in 16 movements, for cats in two scenes after a libretto by Jean Anouilh.

Performers.
Ulster Orchestra, Thierry Fischer.

Do not expect anything less then orchestral perfection of Francaix. The score for both ballets are magnificent. There was never quite such a composer, that combined such elegance with a luscious style, behaving in the most perfect manner. In this Francaix is unique, for I heard and seen many ballets, but these compositions are in a positive way the odd ones out. Every movement is packed with novelties, expressed in a way that is quite beyond any composer, and only attributable to this very orchestrator par excellance. There is not much I can add, to this, save the fact that it is a delightful musical journey, with so many colours as you encounter in a circus from the olden days. It even has some of this theatrical outpourings so well know from the Berlin theatrical scene of the roaring twenties, in which a certain absurdity in expression was a trade mark. It also shares some alliance to Shostakovich, in the way the music is written down, not wanting to compare these composers, but merely pointing towards a similarity in writing down notes. Demonstration class sound, and utter gorgeous performances.



d' Erlanger, Frederic. (1868-1943) * Cliffe, Frederic. (1857-1931) "The Romantic Violin Concerto", Volume 10.

From my collection.
Bought in 2011.
First listen: 31-1-2011.
Label: Hyperion.
Recording dates: 2010.
Recording venue: BBC Hoddinott Hall, Cardiff.
Recording engineer: David Hinitt.
Running time: 69:45.

Works.

Frederic d' Erlanger.
Violin Concerto in D minor, opus 17. (1902)
Poeme in D major. (1918, orchestrated c.1926)

Frederic Cliffe.
Violin concerto in D minor. (1896)

Performers.
Philippe Graffin, Violin.
BBC National Orchestra of Wales, David Lloyd Jones.

This is a demonstration class recording. The ambiente fits so perfectly around the violin, and gives the orchestra such a depth, that hardly anything escapes you. And there is a lot to enjoy. Truly romantic this music is. It will embrace you, with its haunting melodies, and the gorgeous adagio's, in the best tradition of the romantic concerto. The Violin is such a apt instrument to convey feelings of passion and the urge to express this whether your are the performing musician, or the one that is listening to the music. It will satisfy both. For the technical demands are high for the violinist, and the sense of the listener has to be attuned to what the music has on offer. The  concerto by d' Erlanger is in the context of all existing violin literature one, that can easily hold its place with the ones that are considered the greats. If the first movement does not convince you, the second one will no doubt plunge you in admiration. Its one of the best romantic Adagio movement I've heard so far.
And the quirky Allegro Molto that follows, gets you spirits up in no time. A fine conversation the Violin has with the orchestra. d'Erlanger did well in scoring so equally well for both participants. Lyrical, melodious, inventive, I consider this a great concerto! The poem could be a Fourth movement to the Violin concerto, for it goes on in the same vein.

I have some Orchestral works by Cliffe, and admire this composer very much. His Violin concerto is a powerful piece of overwhelming beauty, that grasps you the moment the first movement starts.  His melodious skills, which he already showed in his orchestral works, I have heard, are build together in music that has such an deep emotional message, that it easily conforms to whatever emotional experience you had in your own life. It fits itself around your personality, the fact that this music can do that shows you how perfectly it is conceived. Just let the second movement cover you in all its beauty, its such a charmer, with very pretty soloistic accents, spread all over it.
The Lento intro of the third movement is awesome, I have no other word for it. Its almost a lament, that quickly goes over in the most optimistic tunes you can imagine. The same power as in the first movement pops up again and frames the composition with some inspiring melodies, and perfect harmonies. If you love this Romantic violin series by Hyperion, this is a disc you really want, nee, need! The performance is all what you want. Big kudos to performers and sound engineer.




Frescobaldi, Girolamo. (1583-1643) Complete Edition. CD 13. Il Primo Libro di Recercari. fatti sopra diversi oblighi in partitura. Roma 1615. Second Rerun.

Bought in 2013.
Label: Brilliant.
First listen: 12-3-2014.
Recording dates:  July 2009.
Recording venue: Chiesa  di S. Caterina, Treviso.
Recording engineers: Matteo Costa & Gabriele Robotti.
Running time: 65:00.

Instrument.
Anonymous 18th Century organ in the Church of the Annunciation of the BVM Casatico di Marcaria (MN), restored in 2005, by Marco Fratti.

Performer.
Roberto Loreggian. 

A fine sounding organ, soft in the higher registers, warm and insistent in the lower, total harmony in sound and presentation. This marvelous organ is putty in the hands of Loreggian. He gets sounds out of it that give your ears something to do. This set of organ compositions are a balm to your senses, and well composed too. The Zanin organ he normally uses has a somewhat nervous character, but nothing in this organ resembles that. Anonymous the builder may be, but he obviously knew what he was doing, and I am glad it was restored. Another pearl in the crown of this set. Go forth and buy this inexpensive release.




Beethoven, Ludwig van. (1770-1827) Sonatas for Piano. [The Classical Sonata] Lumieres Box CD 26

From my collection.
Bought in 2012.
First listen: 5-6-2013.
Label: Harmonia Mundi, Box with 30 cd's.
Recording dates:  2005 & 2006.
Recording venue: Teldec Studios, Berlin, Germany.
Recording engineer: Philipp Knop and Julian Schwenkner. 
Running time: 69:28.

Works.
Sonata in F minor, No. 1, opus 2.
In D minor, No. 17, "The Tempest", opus 31, No. 2.
In E flat major, No. 21, "Waldstein, opus 53.

Performer.
Paul Lewis.

These are very cleanly played interpretations, with not too much lingering around, or too much romanticism. Lewis his approach is rational, all technical expertise, but little in the department of emotion. His tempos are swift though not hurried, at least for me. His way of handling some of Beethoven's most famous sonatas is certainly not everyones cup of tea. He brings back the music to its proportions, no grand gestures on a magnificent grand piano, but a careful working out of themes and melodies in a reserved manner. And in this there is much to admire, for a clean execution of music that is often over romantically played is a relieve to my ears. And in this one finds the masterful scoring of these sonatas in a easy and admiring way. The first movement of the Waldstein will make you decide whether you like this interpretation or not. I do, very much so.
State of the art recording.


Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Frescobaldi, Girolamo. (1583-1643) CD 12. Il Primo libro di Capricci.

Bought in 2013.
Label: Brilliant. Box 15CD'S. 1 CD-ROM, with full text.
First listen:11-3-2014.
Recording dates: May 2009.
Recording venue: Chiesa di  S. Caterina, Treviso.
Recording engineer: Matteo Costa & Gabriele Robotti. 

Works.
Il Primo Libro di Capricci.

Performers.
Roberto Loreggian, Organ.
Silvia Frigato, Soprano.

Instrument.
Francesco Zanin (1998) Chies Auditorium di S Caterina, Treviso,

Primarily Organ works, apart from the Capriccio XI con Obligato di cantar la quinta parte, which has a soprano added. Loreggian plays on a well known organ, and it sounds as always good. He makes the most of these pieces, in playing them quite vigorously, but also in a somewhat free flowing style. Loreggian leaves at times little breathing room, and that makes it tiring to listen to, and by his insistent tempi the solemnity of the pieces suffer. It does not help that the compositions are primarily written in the high register of the organ. The part of the soprano is of no value to the piece, it could have been left out in my opinion.  I do find this CD a wonderful rendition, but I would not advise to listen to the whole CD in one go. And to the engineer I would say, place the microphones a little further away from the instrument. 


Lumieres. CD 25. The Classical Sonata. Mozart, Wolfgang Amadeus. (1756-1791)

From my collection.
Bought in 2012.
First listen: 24-5-2013.
Label: Harmonia Mundi, Box with 30 cd's.
Recording dates: 2003-2004-2010.
Recording venues: Teldec Studios, Berlin,  Stolberger Saal, Koln, Air Studios, Lyndhurst Hall, London.
Recording engineers: Tobias Lehmann, Brad Michel.
Running Time: 70:40.

Works.
Sonata in E flat, K. 282.
             in C major, K. 330.
             in F major, K. 332.
             in C minor, K. 457.

Performer.
Andreas Staier.

Its a pleasure to hear these sonatas on a original instrument, and so bring out the colours that are so abundantly in Mozart's piano sonatas. I heard them often on a grand, but I do not get a thrill from that. Staier is a quick fingered fortepiano player, that is well aware of the fact that the clearer the lines are, the more harmonious the music will sound. Well recorded throughout.





Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Haydn, Joseph. (1732-1809) Piano Sonatas. Lumieres Box. CD 24.

From my collection.
Bought in 2012.
First listen: 23-5-2013.
Label: Harmonia Mundi, Box with 30 cd's.
Recording dates: 2001& 2007.
Recording venues: Salle Modulable de L'IRCAM, Paris, and Teldec Studios, Berlin.
Recording engineers: Jacques Drillon and Julian Schwenkner.
Running time: 68:37.

Works.
Sonata in C minor, No.33, in D major, No.39, in C major, No. 60, in E flat major, No. 62.

Performer.
Alain Planes, Piano.

Well apart from the fact that it is not played on a Fortepiano of its time, there is really not much to criticize about this performance. The playing is a bit flat and short on expression, and it is missing the bite of an authentic instrument. He is aware of the style in which it should be played, so there is little use of the pedals, and vibrato is kept to a minimum. The recording has a natural ambiente, intimate, yet a tad restrained in expression. Haydn's music and genius comes through, even on a modern instrument.



Finzi, Gerald. (1901-1956) Orchestral Works.

From my collection.
Bought in 2010.
First and second listen: 22-2-2010 and 16-3-2010.
Label: Chandos Classics.
Recording dates: 1986 and 1999.
Recording venues: Philharmonic Hall, Liverpool, and Watford Colosseum. England.
Recording engineers: Ralph Couzens.
Digital remastering: Rachel Smith.
Running time: 72:07.

Works.
Cello Concerto, opus 40, in A minor.
Prelude, opus 25, for String Orchestra.
Romance, opus 11, for String Orchestra.
Concerto for Small Orchestra and Solo Violin.

Performers.
Tasmin Little, Violin. 
Raphael Wallfisch, Cello.
Royal Liverpool PO, Vernon Handley. (Cello Concerto)
City of London Sinfonia, Richard Hickox.

Knowing Finzi as a lover of slow dreamy movements, this cello concerto will come as a shock to some. I was one of them. The first movement is a wildly constructed Allegro moderato. A broad orchestrated work, with some dissonant cello notes around 12:00, that really defines all what you hear. It almost sounds like an angry protest. He completed it in 1955, a year before his death, so I think, knowing he would die, this movement is a reflection of his mind. Its brilliantly done, in which the cello and orchestra alike have a busy 15 minutes, and will demand the utmost of both parties. And sure enough Finzi steps into his comfortable slippers, and delivers a Andante quieto that beats all harsh memories from sight. From one extreme into the other. What a turbulent digestion this work must have been for Finzi. The other three works are in the well known tradition of British composition style. Pastoral and mildly colourful. The Molto sereno, second movement of the Concerto, is one of the most beautiful pieces Finzi wrote, and as you know him. Marvelously orchestrated. The sound is first class as is the performance.





Enna, August. (1859-1939) Orchestral Works.

From my collection.
Bought in 2012.
First and second listen: 26-10-2012 and 1-11-2012.
Label CPO.
Recording dates: 2004-2005.
Recording venue: Grosser Sendesaal des NDR Landesfunkhaus Niedersachsen. Germany.
Recording engineer: Helge Martensen.
Running time: 78:18.

Works.
Fairy Tale: Symphonic pictures.
Hans Christian Andersen:  Eine Festouverture.
Symphony No. 2 in E major.

Performers.
NDR Radiophilharmonie Hannover, Michael Hofstetter.

August Enna is totally forgotten. This Danish composer was very famous mainly for the many operas he wrote. He was renown for it in a large part of the world, and he also wrote quite a few operettas, that were loudly applauded, and often performed. Orchestral music was not really his forte, but he had to write some, for he was already considered as a factory for operas only. He thought that it would harm his reputation, if he would write only vocal works. For me that is no problem, I dislike opera anyways, and operettas I only enjoy in small doses. When Niels Gade read some of his scores, praise was easily forthcoming and this settled Enna's reputation and introduction to whatever concert hall. Listening to the works of this CD, he was not influenced by Gade at all. He quickly outgrew the old man's music, and developed his own distinctive style.
So where does that leave the music of Enna? He fits well in the tradition of his time. You get melodious music, with all the characteristics you would expect from Scandinavian music. And it can hold its position amongst the multitude of music from his time. So that is a pre, if you want your music to be listen to. But he is an odd duck in the pond. He music is very mood conscious, and out of this Enna creates some haunting episodes in all his works. The Fairly tale has all the elements to charm, with a fair amount of magic, a sprinkling of Edvard Grieg, and some oriental influences that could have come from Carl Nielsen. Its almost a Symphony in its conception with four movements and a clear narrative. A beautiful piece!
Enna was a fervent admirer of the fairy tales by Andersen, hence this overture. If this can be linked to any of the tales Andersen wrote, remains unclear to my ears. Let me put it like this: You could easily apply this to any of his stories, so strong is the narrative language. Its a very colourful and at the same time powerful work,  a tone painting almost, in this Enna shows that he had a masterful hand in scoring images through notes. Also a fine piece.
Enna's first Symphony is lost, which is a pity, for what comes before, always tells something of what comes after. Niels Gade seems to have liked it very much. Anyways, Symphony No. 2 in E major is a impressive work. Its a formal composition, in which one has to find the merits by closely listening to it. There is some extraordinary glittering orchestral writing that includes two harps. The work shows a assurance in its close chromatic harmony, which is giving us much more as the purely formalistic side of this work. Its technically a demanding work, no doubt about it, and in this performance the harmonious joys overrule any misgiving one might have, it not being a wholly creative accomplishment.  I think its on par with what I have heard so far from this time. I only wished he would have written more in the orchestral vein.
The performance is excellent as in the recording.














Lumieres box. CD 23, "A Tre", The Keyboard Trio. Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven.

From my collection. 
Bought in 2012.
First listen: 22-5-2013.
Label: Harmonia Mundi. Box 30 cd's.
Running time: 72:14,

Works.
Joseph Haydn. (1732-1809)
Trio in C major, No. 43. Hob. XV:27.
Performers.
Erich Hobarth, Violin.
Christophe Coin, Cello.
Patrick Cohen, Pianoforte.
Recording dates: 2001.
Recording venue: Salle de Musique de la Chaux de Fonds, Switzerland.
Recording engineer: Jean Golaz.

If you needed convincing that the approach of the music done with authentic instruments necessary, this may well be the recording that will bowl you over. For there is a structural balance in all departments, which makes it a pleasure to savour all the details clearly audible. Its a crisp performance, in which the pleasure of music making is totally convincing. Excellent sound too.

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. (1756-1791)
Trio in C major, K. 496.
Performers.
The Mozarteum Players. 
Stanley Ritchie, Violin.
Myron Lutzke, Cello.
Steven Lubin, Pianoforte.
Recording dates: 1990.
Recording venue: State University of New York.
Recording engineer: Elite Recordings Inc.

Its a fine performance, everything is taken at a leisurely tempo, and so with unfolds the music in all its glory, showing the colours in a non offending way. Sound is very good. Played on authentic instruments.

Ludwig van Beethoven, (1770-1827)
Trio in C minor, opus 1, No. 3.
Performers.
Daniel Sepec, Violin.
Jean Queyras, Cello.
Andreas Staier, Fortepiano.
Recording dates: 2006.
Recording venue: Teldec Studios Berlin.
Recording engineer: Tobias Lehmann.

With these musicians you will almost always get a good performance, and so it is. Authentic instruments add a whole new dimension to the music, which was after all originally composed for the range and possibilities of the instruments at that moment. Its a question of dynamics, and shadings, and details that distinguishes it from modern instruments, it simply sounds more at ease. Especially in the sense of dynamics there is a big difference, which defines or ruins the work.  Well this performance gave me much pleasure, the lyrical side made me enjoy the sun outside much more. Perfect sound.






Frescobaldi Girolamo. ( 1583-1643) Complete Edition. CD 11. Arie Musicali-Book II.

Bought in 2013.
Label: Brilliant. Box, 15 CD'S.
First listen: 8-3-2014
Same technical info as on disc 10. see review 7-3-2014.
Running time: 61:24.
Second rerun.

Works.
Arie Musicali Book II

Performers.
Modo Antiquo, Bettina Hoffmann.


As Book I, Book II is a worthy follow up. I thoroughly enjoyed what I heard. The ensemble is very good, and all the lines seem to come together. As for the history of these pieces you can find ample info on Google if interested. It is interesting anyway to dive in the life of this composer, it was quite adventurous. Good sound.






Friday, April 18, 2014

Music of the Enlightenment. (18th Century) "A Tre" From the Sonata to the Classical Trio. CD 22.

From my collection.
Bought in 2012.
First listen: 12-4-2013.
Label: Harmonia Mundi. Box with 30 cd's.
CD 22, Running time: 80:39.

Works and Performers.

Kuhnau, Johann. (1660-1722)

Frische Clavier Fruchte.

John Butt, Harpsichord.
Recording dates: 1991.
Recording venue: Skywalker Sound LucasArts Entertainment  Company, Nicasio (USA)
Recording engineer: Tony Faulkner.

It is not mentioned what kind of Harpsichord Butt is using, but its a fine one, well balanced and not overbright. The works are delightful. Indeed Frische Fruchte. It is well performed and recorded, and an utter delight to hear on Good Friday.

Mondonville, Jean-Joseph. (1711-1772)

Pieces de Clavecin avec Voix et Violon, opus 5.
1) Paratum cor meum.
2) In Domino Laudabitur.

Judith Nelson, Soprano.
Stanley Ritchie, Violin.
William Christie, Harpsichord.
Recording dates: 1980.
Recording venue: Notre Dame des Anges, Lurs.
Recording engineer: Jean Pontefract.

Mondonville's music is a pleasure to listen too, and the instrumentalists are superb, but Judith Nelson, however much I admire her, was not good at voice during this recording, especially in the Paratum, her voice is unsteady, almost losing control over the top notes, and adding some funny vibrato, which is not natural to her timbre. In Domino fares much better, the top notes are most of the time clean, although she seems short of breath at times, and her effortless singing of the old days is definitely over. There is some strain in the singing, and she has trouble to keep her voice steady, despite the fact that she is really trying. O, well. Good sound and recording.

Mozart, Wolfgang Amadeus. (1756-1791)

1) Sonata in F major, K. 376.
2) Sonata in G major, K. 379.

Chiara Banchini, Violin.
Temenuschka Vesselinova, Fortepiano.
Recording dates: 1993.
Recording venue: Burgmattsaal, Waldenburg,  Germany.
Recording engineer: Pere Casulleras. 

Nice enough music, but this performance doesn't really get at me. Its too much matter of fact to be enjoyable. Good sound though.

















Thursday, April 17, 2014

Frescobaldi, Girolamo. (1583-1643) Complete edition. CD 10. Primo Libro d'Arie Musicali [Second Rerun]

Bought in 2013.
Label: Brilliant.
First listen:7-3-2014
Recording dates: September/October 2007.
Recording venue: Oratorio San Francisco, Poverino, Florence.
Recording engineer: Matteo Costa.
Running time: 59:44.
Second rerun

Works.
Primo Libro d'Arie Musicali, per cantarsi nel gravicembalo e tiorba, Firenze, Giovanni Battista Landini, 1630.
Arie musicali-Book I.

Performers.
Modo Antiquo, Bettina Hoffmann.

Never heard these works before, but its a pleasant surprise, they are very likable, and presented in a friendly yet passionate way, never breaking the boundaries, in the sense that it gets overbearing. The soprano's keep their vibrato in check, and imbue the works with just enough character to make them highly attractive. The instrumental accompaniment is discreet, and very well done. No complains here.
A fine recording.






Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Casella, Alfredo. (1883-1947) Orchestral works.

Bought in 2010.
Label: Chandos CHAN 10605.
First listen: 12-2-2014.
Recording dates: November 2009 and January 2010.
Recording venue: Studio 7, New Broadcasting House, Manchester, England.
Recording engineer: Stephen Rinker.
Running time: 76:58.

Works.
1) Symphony No. 2, opus 12. (1908-10)
2) Scarlattiana, opus 44. (1926)* 

Performers.
Martin Roscoe, Piano.* 
BBC Philharmonic, Gianandrea Noseda.

A fascinating composer. One of his teachers was Faure, and influences in his music can be heard from Debussy and Ravel, but also Mahler, and Martucci. But whatever may be the case he was a composer who very much stood on his own feet in the musical scene of his time. What I think is fascinating is,
that the first two movements of the symphony start with a ostinato, rhythmic ostinato first movement, and the second movement a driving ostinato. They so shaped the rest of the movement, but also propels them immediately  into the right mood. The finale is a cauldron of heat and steam, and combines darkness doom laden melodies with rhythmic brutality  Almost a dance of the bad witches, fascinating though. Macaber too.The epilogue movement, ( Adagio mystico) begins like a Mahlerian dance, with some deft writing for the strings, but throughout the whole movement Mahler is speaking, although not in his contemplative style, but in a ever changing cycle of constantly changing rhythms and a certain brutality, like you hear often from this composer, always restless, never lingering too long on a certain motive. Its a massive work, emotionally, and is an astonishing feat for a composer that young. And technically very well written! It certainly evokes many images in my head.
And again the characteristic ostinato rhythms are applied throughout Scarlattiana, a melodious work, with a few small dissonances but never disturbing the flow of this music. A lot of colour and fine melodies. Music very much of its time, Casella takes a important place on the stage, albeit in a sense he is a forgotten composer too. He is a piece of the musical puzzle, and I am surprised how many times I see Martucci walking by, as a constant shadow. Doesn't do him any harm:)
The Chandos recordings are top notch, as are the performances, a class better as the Naxos recordings, good as they are. 


Franck, Eduard. (1817-1893) Piano trios.

From my collection.
Bought in June 2013.
First and second listen, 10-7-2013 and 24-12-2013.
Label: Audite 92.567 SACD/Hybrid.
Running time: 76:47.
Recorded in September 2008.
Recording venue: Grosser Saal der Musikhochschule Lubeck.
Recording engineer: Stephan Reh.




  • Piano Trio in E minor, opus 11 & D major, opus 58.


Christiane Edinger, Violin.
Lluis Claret, Cello.
Klaus Hellwig, Piano.


A few months ago I started listening to this composers Sonatas for Violin, also on Audite 91.553, a twofar with some really satisfying music on it, played by Christiane Edinger & James Tocco.
I was genuinely impressed by his craftsmanship, and his innate feeling for beautiful melodies, and his cantabile in all he writes. It presented to me a technical and tonal mastery beyond what I heard before, even in the likes of Mendelssohn, and Schumann, two composers with which he is compared, and rightly so. But apart from that, Eduard Franck has a unique voice, and shapes his music in a way no other composer to my knowledge does. And this comes out gloriously in his Piano trios. The first movement of the opus 11 took my breath away, the last two movements of the opus 58, made it stop for a few seconds. His unique approach and the way he writes make you gasp, more than once, believe me. I have heard quite some chamber music in my lifetime, but none that had such an effect on me. This is music that should not be far away from your player, for it provides some serious consolation. Very attractive music, I would go as far as proclaiming them masterworks. But what would good music be, if not likewise good performers play it?  And a good sound perspective?
Both these things are honoured in a way that needs applauding, and many encores in this time honoured institution that proclaims ones appreciation. 








Draeseke, Felix. (1835-1913) Orchestral Works.

Bought in 2010.
Label: CPO 999.581 2.
First listen:12-2-2014.
Recording dates: December 1997 and September 1998.
Recording venue: Grosser Sendesaal des Landesfunkhauses Niedersachsen des NDR, Hannover.
Recording engineer: Manfred Kietzke.
Running time: 54:58.

Works.
1) Symphony No. 3, opus 40 in C.
2) Funeral March opus 79 in E minor. ( In Memory of the German soldiers who fell in battle in Africa.)

Performers.
Radio-Philharmonie Hannover des NDR, Jorg Peter Weigle.

The third symphony is a magnificent work, plain and simple, a masterwork forgotten. Romantic in its core, with some leanings towards the late romantic, this is a powerful exclamation of a unjustly forgotten composer. The work is so tightly written, that not a note in this work of 46 minutes could be taken out, without serious consequences. The harmony and balance Draeseke achieves is quite remarkable. Everything is at its right place, and in its concept this is a perfectly written symphony. I really enjoyed this one enormously. This recording is an important milestone and one of the most successful and most powerful accomplishments of the Symphonic German literature, and a thoroughly innovative one. As simple as that!  He is a slumbering giant amongst forgotten composers. And a fascinating man as well. 
The funeral March really goes beyond the mere title of the work. It escapes all conventional forms, and is lifted into the realms of ethereal sounds, that convey and strengthen one's resolve to remember. Its a well written piece, beautifully crafted. The recording is one of the best I heard in my life, its remarkable in its bloom and detail, it simply feels right in all departments. The orchestra plays like Gods, assembled from a realm beyond our grasp. Divine I would say. Recommended.






Lumieres. Music of the Enlightenment. ( 18th century) : A tre: The Baroque Trio Sonata. Disc 21.

From my collection.
Bought in 2012.
First listen: 12-4-2013.
Running time: 80:55.

[ I omitted disc 13-20 from my listening que, for it consist mainly of operas, which is not really my thing as you all know, to wit: Rameau, Castor et Pollux, (3 cd's), Gluck, Orfeo ed Euridice, ( 2 cd's) Mozart, Le Nozze, (3cd's)]

CD 21.

Works and performers.

Antonio Vivaldi. (1678-1741)
Sonata in C minor. RV 53. 

Georg Philipp Telemann. (1681-1767)
Sonata in A minor. TWV 41:a3
Paul Goodwin, Oboe.
Nigel North, Archlute.
Susan Sheppard, Cello.
John Toll, Harpsichord.
Recording dates: 1992 and 1995.
Recording venues: Boxgrove priory Chichester and Forde Abbey, Chard, Somerset.  England.
Recording engineers. Tony Faulkner and Reiner Kuhl, Gotz Burki.

Excellent performances, a pleasure to listen too. Good sound.

Johann Sebastian Bach. (1685-1750)
Sonata Sopr'il Soggetto Reale, from the Musical Offering, BWV 1079, for Flute, Violin and BC.
Janet See, Flute.
John Holloway, Violin.
Jaap ter Linden, Cello.
Davitt Moroney, Harpsichord.
Recording dates: 1987.
Recording venue: Salle Adyar, Paris.
Recording engineer: Jean Pontefract.

Beautifully done, no complaints here either. Good sound too.

CPE. Bach. (1714-1788)
Sonata in F major, Wq 154, for Two Violins and BC.

JCF. Bach. (1732-1795)
Sonata in A major, for two Violins and BC.
London Baroque.
Recording dates: 1994 and 1995.
Recording venues: ST. Martin's Church, East Woodhay, Berkshire. England, and The Cobbe Foundation, East Clandon, Surrey, England.
Recording engineers: Nicholas Parker and  Michel Pierre.

As before, beautifully performed and recorded. This disc turns out very well.

Johann Schobert. (1740?-1767)
Sonata in F major., opus XVI, No. 4, for Fortepiano, Violin and Cello.
Chiara Banchini and Veronique Mejean, Violins.
Philipp Bosbach, Cello.
Luciano Sgrizzi, Fortepiano.
Recording dates: 1988.
Recording venue: Paroisse de 'l Oratoire, Geneve.
Recording engineer: Pere Casulleras.

Nothing but praise here too, the fortepiano shines virtually.












Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Dietrich, Albert. (1829-1908) Orchestral works.

Bought in 2010.
Label: CPO 777 314 2. (2CD'S)
First listen12-2-2014.
Recording dates: March 2007. ( Live recording)
Recording venue: Staatstheater, Oldenburg.
Recording engineer: Axel Sommerfeld.
Running time: 42:47. CD II.

Works.
1) Violin Concerto, opus 30 in D minor.
2) Introduction & Romance, opus 27, for Horn and Orchestra.

Performers.
Elisabeth Kufferath, Violin.
Marie Luise Neunecker, Horn.
Oldenburgisches Staatsorchester, Alexander Rumpf.

Albert Dietrich is a romantic composer, and makes quite a dash with this Violin concerto, full of yearning, and glowing feelings. Its a well composed piece, wholly of its time, and is packed full with beautiful melodies. It can hold its own among the multitude of Violin concertos. It has its structural weaknesses, but that never distracts from the music. We get a excellent performance from Elisabeth Kufferath, a violinist I never heard before, but by what she delivers, I can say, that she is quite good in what she does with this violin concerto. The Introduction is quite a show piece for the Horn, and I liked it very much! Its gorgeous music, and very well played by Marie Luise Neunecker. The slow first measures tell of a loving dedication to the instrument.
Dietrich studied under Moscheles, Rietz, and Hauptman. but also studied History and aesthetics. A good friend of Schumann and Brahms and was well respected in the musical world. 
As a composer he is forgotten, but remember, Brahms held his music in great regard, so werther the forgetting part was warranted is a question answered here quite convincingly, NO. Until this day the Violin concerto has always been a repertoire piece in Germany.
The live recording is a good one, audience I could not hear. Its a clear, well defined sound you get.







Casella, Alfredo. (1883-1947) Orchestral Works.

From my collection.
Bought in 2012.
First and second listen: 29-1-2012 and 2-11-2012.
Label: Naxos.
Recording dates: 2011.
Recording venues: Auditorium de Via Conciliazione, Rome and OSR Studios, Rome.
Recording engineer: Piero Schiavoni.
Running time: 69:58.

Works.
Suite in C major, opus 13, in three movement.
War Pages, opus 25bis, version for Orchestra, in four movements.
Concerto, opus 61. (1937), in three movements.

Performers.
Orchestra Sinfonica di Roma, Francesco La Vecchia.

Casella is a composer whom I admire for his versatility and the many moods he conjures up, seemingly without any effort. His musical creativity never gets at a standstill, and the endless flow of ideas and themes that capture your imagination are constantly emerging from his pen. Thus it is with the three works of different times in which his style changed. It begins with the beautifully conceived Suite in C major. Its lovely. Soothing lines of harmony, intriguing depths of mystery. You feel at ease with this work. The scoring is pretty amazing, as I come to expect from Casella. 

War pages is a clear statement of war scenes, well scored, and fitting to the headings of each movement. A fine piece.

The concerto was a commission requested by the concertgebouw Orchestra, and according to Casella his best orchestral work. From a technical standpoint this may be true, but I disagree with it for creative reasons. My personal stance of course. But I love this work, for its imagination, the beautiful scoring for the first and second violins, and the wholeness of the work. It fits tightly together, and the economical approach leaves no room for more or less notes.  He is a composer that mixes late romanticism with a more modern language, but keeping within the tonal palette. 
The performance is very good as is the recording. A fine addition to the Chandos recordings.







Beethoven, Ludwig van. (1770-1827) Symphony No. 9. Lumieres. Music of the Enlightenment. (18th Century) Disc 12.

From my collection.
Bought in 2012.
Label Harmonia Mundi. Box with 30 cd's.
First listen: 13-11-2012.
Recording dates: 1998.
Recording venue: Arsenal de Metz.
Recording engineer: Jean Martial Golaz.
Running time: 62:29.
Disc 12.

Works.
Symphony N0. 9, opus 125, in D minor.

Performers.

Melanie Diener, Soprano.
Petra Lang, Mezzo.
Endrik Wottrich, Tenor.
Dietrich Henschel, Bass.

La Chapelle Royale, Collegium Vocale,
Orchestre des Champs-Elysees, Philippe Herreweghe.

I like this performance on authentic instruments, and a fresh look on how this work was possibly performed. The reduced forces makes for a very lucid orchestral orchestral sound picture. Were normally all desks are clogging together and were details are not to be heard anymore, all this is avoided by Herreweghe's careful approach in terms of dynamics. There is a lot of delicious solo playing to be heard, thus I hear things which I never heard before. There is a whole kind of different awareness towards Beethoven, when things are brought back to the perspective of his time. I would have liked a bit more urgency in the third movement. Herreweghe is slowing down at certain parts to score more tonal effect, but this is also hampering the flow of the melody. Also some let down with the intensity of the violins to stress a argument. But these are minor personal points which I would have liked performed differently. So far so good. I am always a little anxious concerning the ode of joy movement, to be precisely, the choral and soloistic contributions. Beethoven thought about a instrumental ending of this work, and I so wish he would have done that, well at least two alternatives to choose from, but alas we have to do with the vocal ending.  The instrumental part is somewhat weakly defined in this performance. Meaning that the emotional impact is detached, and only when the timpani come in at 5:30, and the Tenor starts his part, that it gets more presence. But I guess it has to be this way to keep the score lucid. This cannot be said from the choir, that sings on the top of their voices, and it doesn't sound very nice to my ears. Why this has to be so loudly sung is beyond me, less stress would open up the different voices instead of getting a massive blast of distorted sound. There are moments of excellence though as around 12:00 till 15:00. And that, more or less, goes also for the soloists. The tenor thinks at times that he is a Heldentenor, and the Mezzo, makes a pretty ugly wobble in her voice by adding some pushy vibrato.
The sound is excellent, as is the performance, save for some criticism I left behind.







Frescobaldi, Girolamo. (1583-1643) Complete Edition. CD 9. Il Primo libro dei madrigali a cinque voci. Pietro Phalaesio, Anversa, 1608. Second Rerun

Bought in 2013.
Label: Brilliant.
First listen: 7-3-2014.
Recording dates: April 2008.
Recording venue: Oratorio San Francesco, Poverino, Florence.
Recording engineer: Matteo Costa.
Running time: 41:36.  [A bit short]
Second Rerun.


Works.
Secular Cantatas.

Performers.
Modo Antiquo, Bettina Hoffmann.


This ensemble was new to me, and a pleasant surprise. At first when the Sopranos came in I had some misgivings, but this quickly passed, and I greatly enjoyed these Secular Cantatas. The choir is well behaved and balanced, and no one is allowed to put too much stress on their contribution. I can not emphasize enough how important balance in a choir is. Frescobaldi shows himself to be a man of his times, so these cantatas are recognizable to me. It is well recorded and performed. Another plus for this box.


Monday, April 14, 2014

Coates, Eric. (1886-1957) Orchestral Works.

From my collection.
Bought in 2010.
First listen: 4-3-2010.
Second listen: 14-4-2014.
Third listen: 11-4-2017.
Label: Lyrita. (Warning: this is a burned copy, not a pressed one) CDR.
Recording dates: 1993.
As per usual in these reissues, no info about engineers and venues.
Running time: 76:19.
Classical relevance to me: Well worth having.

Works.

Suite: The Three Men. (1935)
Concert Valse: Dancing Nights. (1932)
Two Symphonic Rhapsodies. (1933)
Idyll: Summer Afternoon.
Ballet: The Enchanted Garden. (1946)
Concert Valse: Footlights. (1939)
Suite 4 Centuries. (1942)
March: London Bridge. (1934)

Performers.

London PO, Barry Wordsworth.

To begin with, the sound is top notch, and the interpretation leaves no wishes open. Coates was a master in light music. And by no means one you easily forget. What he wrote is expertly done, and in light music that's high art too. Beautiful tunes, flirtations with music of his times, made the musical critics dropping him from their sight.  This was however no problem for him, because his music was played anyway, despite the humbugs of critics, who think they are experts, but they turn out to be old farts, with nothing else on their mind as to break down a composer or two. And radio did his career tons of good, people started to listen to him through the wire. He also wrote a lot of fine tunes for films, notably the "Dambusters". Fine contrapuntal skills he displays throughout his music, almost effortless. His music oozes joie-de-vivre and a certain nonchalance, he can be energetic, but also dreamlike, write ballet music, or as easily a march, in which he was as adept as say Elgar or Walton.  Music that will lift your spirit. I like Coates his music. 





Frescobaldi, Girolamo. (1583-1643) Complete Edition. "Il Secondo libro di Toccate". CD VIII. Second Rerun.

Bought in 2013.
Label: Brilliant. Box 15 CD'S. plus 1 CD-ROM, with full text and info.
CD VIII, running time: 67:31.
First listen:  6-3-2014.
Recording dates: November 2008.
See for all data CD 7 review, [5-3-2014] Instruments and performers and venues are the same.


Works.
Il Secondo Libro di Toccate. Roma 1637.

Like CD VII, this one is a follow up, and just adds up to the excellence of this set. However recording wise, we get a bit more of the mechanical action from the organ, in itself not a problem for me, but it can distract from the playing. 


Saturday, April 12, 2014

Frescobaldi, Girolamo. (1583-1643) Il Secondo libro di Toccate, CD VII

Bought in 2013.
Label: Brilliant. Box, 15 CD'S. 1 CD-ROM, with full text.
First listen:5-3-2014
Recording dates: November 2008.
Recording venue: Villa Beatrice d'Este, Baone {Harpsichord] & Chiesa di S. Barbara, Mantova. [Choir and Organ]
Recording engineer: Matteo Costa & Gabriele Robotti.
Running time: 60:18.


Works.
Il Secondo Libro di Toccate.
Canzone, Versi d' Hinni, Magnificat, Gagliarde, Correnti et altre Partite d'intavolatura di Cembalo e Organo, Roma. [1637]

Instruments.
Harpsichord: Luigi Patella, 2007, after G.B. Giusti, XVII century.
Organ: Graziadio Antegnati, [1565]

Performers.
Roberto Loreggian, Organ and Harpsichord.
Schola Gregoriana Scriptoria, Dom Nicola M. Bellinazzo.

CD 7 is like CD 6 a resounding success in every respect. The performances are near perfect, and the instruments used, especially the organ are fabulous. This is prime Frescobaldi, that makes my ears and heart happy. Just find the samples and listen, you will I believe agree.




Friday, April 11, 2014

Lumieres. Music of the Enlightenment. (18th century) Haydn, Joseph. (1732-1809) and Mozart, Wolfgang Amadeus. (1756-1791) Symphony: The Monuments of Classicism. CD 11.

From my collection.
Bought in 2012.
First listen: 6-11-2012.
Second rerun.
Label: Harmonia Mundi. Box with 30 cd's.
Recording dates: 2004 and 2006.
Recording venues: H. Rosbaud Studio Baden-Baden and Tirol Saal, Congress, Innsbruck. Germany.
Recording engineers: Ute Hesse, and Rene Moller.
Running time: 65:55.

Works.
Joseph Haydn.
Symphony N0. 92, "Oxford"in G major.

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.
Symphony N0. 41, "Jupiter" in C major.

Performers.
Freiburger Barockorchester, Rene Jacobs.

The Haydn symphony is first of all a masterwork. It can degrade easily into a master disaster by a bad performance. Not so here, although some will have issue with the robustness of the interpretation, but that did not bother me. Jacobs was never much of a singer, but as a conductor he has staying power. The tempi are sensible, all repeats are done, all details observed and milked for their merit. The more powerful parts of this symphony are done with a certain reckless attitude, that fits the context well. Again its totally opposite of what Hogwood does. Jacobs is not polite, but more like a rugged character, that throws Haydn frontal at you, and I like that. Energetic and exhilarating. Recording is excellent. This recording shows again that you need multiple performances of Haydn's Symphonies.

Wohoo, Mozart coming in at full force. I never heard this Allegro vivace so vigorous as Jacobs take. This guy is passionate to make his mark right in the beginning. The timpani sound like thunderclaps.
This keeps you awake! Amazing detail surfaces, due to a superb recording. The drive behind it, I really like that, a true Vivace, close to the ideal.  I love my Hogwood and Pinnock interpretations, but this one tops them both. The whole symphony is well laid out, and the tempi Jacobs is using are spot on. The last movement, Molto allegro is just that, and he drives this orchestra to the limits. A perfect performance. In this one needs also multiple sets of Mozart's Symphonies. Your wallet will not like that. Sound is of demonstration class.






Foerster, Bohuslav Josef. (1859-1951) Complete Solo Piano Works. Volume IV

Bought in 2013.
Label: Brilliant.
First listen: 23-2-2014.
Recording dates:  Between 2010-2013.
Recording venue: Sound Studio HAMU, Prague.
Recording engineer: Ondrej Urban.
Running time: 58:02.

Works.
Esquisses de danse, opus 48. (1906)
Music for my young son, opus 72. (1908-09)
Memories of Youth. (1942)
Petite esquisses. (1908)
Moment musicale. (1892)
Allegretto Capriccioso (1892)
Spring Mode, opus 4. (1887)
Allegro and Scherzo, opus 5. (1885)
March for the National Youth front. (1939)
Wiegenlied,. ( Unpublished.
Zuckerpuppe tantz. ( Unpublished)

Performer.
Patricia Goodson, Piano.

Let me just say this in advance before I get to the music. Patricia Goodson, is a pianist, with very sensitive fingers, who makes the softest passages like touching silk, and hammers out passion when required, in such a delicate way, that images appear before my eyes, as if transported back to Foerster's time and age. You need a poetic insight, and the ability to caress feeling into the keys, and then it will tell a story of a musician who becomes for a brief moment the interpreter of a composers emotions and imaginary world.  This is what happens when listening to what she does with this music. Just listen to "Moments of Youth" or the Molto moderato of "Music for my young son". And then the very precise rhythmic tempi of the "Petites esquisses, the lucid refinement is amazing, and the consequent following through of keeping the lines very clear, pays off in a shower of finely attuned melodies. I applaud this approach for it brings Foerster very close. And  I absolutely adore "Spring Moods" with  movements such as "Tempo di Valse" always a delightful surprise , where it is heading, and the "Allegretto grazioso" grazioso indeed. I was constantly thinking back of composers like, Suk, Fibich, Dvorak, but, and this may sound strange, of Jean Sibelius. Not many people know of his piano works, but I assure you, there are uncanny similarities. This box will have a very special place in my collection, for its perfectly attuned to my moods and feelings. Together with a box of SQ by the same composer, ( on Supraphon)  that I reviewed recently, and also blew my socks off.
The sound on this Brilliant box is very good, not too forwardly placed, enough air around the piano, plus I wonder what brand this piano is? I think it would sound fabulous on a Bosendorfer, my favourite instrument.
Thus my friends, rush to the shops and go buy this fine set of Foerster's piano music, there is everything to gain and nothing to lose. The booklet gives adequate info about works, and Foerster's life. The rest one can google.




Tedesco Castelnuovo, Mario. (1895-1968) Shakespeare Overtures Volume I.

From my collection.
Bought in 2010.
First listen: 15-9-2010.
Label: Naxos.
Recording dates: 1994.
Recording venue: WASO Studios, Perth, Australia.
Recording engineers: Karl Akers and Chris White.
Running time: 65:07.

Works.  [World Premiere recordings]
Julius Ceasar.
The Taming of the Shrew.
Antony and Cleopatra.
A Midsummer's Night Dream.
The Tragedy of Corolianus.
Twelfth Night.

Performers.
West Australian SO, Andrew Penny.

When I heard these works the first time, it did not impress me at all. Somehow I had the feeling that the music was going nowhere. A cross between serious and light music, a hybrid that does not quite work the way it should. There are plenty of nice melodies, and sometimes there is even a theme that gets back at you. But the orchestration is neither flesh nor fish.  It leaves you unfulfilled. I doubt that Shakespeare would have found a tune in it to dance on. I had to grin a little when I read on the back of this CD, that the compositions "are some of the 20th century most dramatic and tuneful orchestral works". Complete hyperbole of course. What I will say is this, its pretty music, but it did not prompt me to buy Volume II. The sound is more than acceptable. The performance seems a little lacklustre.








Frescobaldi, Girolamo. (1583-1643) Fiori Musicali. ( Venezia 1635) CD VI. Second Rerun.

Bought in 2013.
Label: Brilliant. 15 CD'S, and 1 CDROM with full text.
First listen: 5-3-2014
Recording dates: June 2008.
Recording venue: Chiesa di St. Tomaso, Cantuariense, Verona.
Recording engineer: Matteo Costa.
Running time: 78:04.
Second Rerun.
Instrument used: Bonatti Organ (1716)

Works.
Messa della Domenica.
Messa della Apostoli.
Messa della Madonna.

Performers.
Roberto Loreggian, Organ.
Fabiano Ruin, Tromba barocca.
Schola Gregoriana Scriptoria, Dom Nicola M. Bellinazzo.

See my review from 5-3-2014.



Thursday, April 10, 2014

Chabrier, Emmanuel. (1841-1894) Orchestral Works. CD II.

From my collection.
Bought in 2010.
First listen: 4-11-2010.
Label: Brilliant, licensed from EMI.
Recording dates: 1987.
Recording venue: Toulouse, Malle aux Grains.
Recording engineer: Daniel Michel.
Running time: 70:47.

Works. Selective listening, omitting the vocal parts altogether.
Gwendoline
1) Overture.

Larghetto for Horn and Orchestra.
Habanera.
Valse Romantiques.
No. 1, Tres vite.
No. 2, Mouvement Moderne de Valse.
No. 3, Anime.

Performers.
Orchestre National du Capitole de Toulouse, Michel Plasson.

The orchestral parts are  bloody marvelous. Such life affirming gaiety. See review (9-4-2014) for some more details.  I omitted listening to the Legende de Gwendoline, A la Musique, and La Sulamite. That's not for the likes of me I am afraid. Excellent sound and performance. 









Lumieres. Music of the enlightenment. (18th century) Haydn, Joseph. (1732-1809) Mozart, Wolfgang Amadeus. (1756-1791) Symphony: Orchestral performance. Disc 10.

From my collection.
Bought in 2012.
Label: Harmonia Mundi. Box with 30 cd's.
First listen: 27-10-2012.
Recording dates: 2001-2005.
Recording venue: Teldec Studios Berlin, and Paulussaal, Fribourg en Brisgau.
Recording engineers: Tobias Lehmann, Rene Moller.
Running time: 72:34.

Works.

Haydn.
Symphony No 6, "Le Matin" in D major.
Symphony No 7, "Le Midi"   in C major.
Performers.
Freiburger Barockorchester, Petra Mullejans.

Mozart.

Symphony No. 31, "Paris" K. 297 in D major.
Freiburger Barockorchester, Gottfried Goltz.


I really enjoyed the performances of the Haydn symphonies, and as compared to the Hogwood
interpretation I even find them to be much better. The tempi are better judged, the orchestra sounds more spontaneous, the brass is raspy as it should be, all individual details are much better to the foreground. They are warmer in their approach without getting over the limits of authentic performance practice. Great fun as opposed to Hogwoods formality. Mullejans is on the right track with her approach, and I wish she recorded the complete set too. Great sound and ditto performance.

Mozart's Symphony gets a royal treatment too. The certain rawness that is apparent in this interpretation, adds to its charm. Tempi are well judged, details are observed meticulously.  The melodic content of Mozart genius is well served by this orchestra. There is a openness and expectation in what I hear, that even though I know this work well, it sounds brand new to me.
Very good sound too.






Carwithen, Doreen. (1922-2003) Orchestral works.

From my collection.
Bought in 2010.
First listen: 23-2-2010.
Label Chandos.
Recording dates: 1996.
Recording venue: Blackheath Concert Halls.
Recording engineer: Ralph Couzens.
Running time: 57:35.

Works. 
ODTAA. ( One damn Thing after Another) Overture.
Concerto for Piano and Strings.
Bishop Rock.
Suffolk Suite.

Performers.
Howard Shelley, Piano.
London SO, Richard Hickox.

[ She is mostly remembered of being the wife of William Alwyn, but as a composer she was forgotten quickly because she was a woman, despite the fact that all her compositions were awarded with prizes Publishers were not interested in a female composer.]




There's a gal to surprise you, and how! She is more than a match to the male counterparts, and much better looking too! Her music is like a thunderbolt, that crashes in with such force, depositing a very pleasant currency to run through your body, that makes your mind positively explode with joy. So, there you have it, prime music in a very distinctive manner. The Female touch, sensitive, prone to large surges of passion of some considerable duration. It pushes many buttons in my musical senses, some of them even unknown to me.  Well with the overture ODTAA opening the disc, she delivers her calling card with flying colours. There is no doubt that this work, short in duration has a lengthening effect on your musical intellect. For you sense there is creative intellect at work. A woman that knows exactly where to go with her inspiration. Its a gasping matter that takes 8 minutes before you can close your mouth again. Its followed by a work that distributes the powerful message evenly over three movements, the Allegro assai being the rhythmical foreplay towards the Lento movement. It bashes your senses around, as if apples falling from a tree, ripe and ready to be eaten. So delicious that you might overeat yourself, but who cares for tummy ache, if the pleasure in eating them is so tantalizing. There are some magical pearls between 9:00 and 10:21, that are gripping you forcefully, only to be slashed free from it, by the powerful entry of the piano. Masterly done. And O, boy the Lento movement. Just image Arvo Part, and you have the musical image for what comes. Its as if its floating inches above ground, music that seems to be free of restrictions, or borders, not touching anything but itself. And all of a sudden the tone hardens into some sort of passionate admonition as not to get lost in the undescriptive, but soon it sinks again into this untouchable atmosphere, that envelops you like a cloth of the finest silk, which you barely feel.  The third movement is back on earth, with a very decisive musical motif, that washes away all remnants of what has gone before. A brilliant piece!
Bishop Rock, really rocks. It brings you back in the same realm as the ODTAA overture, brilliantly scored, and full creativity, with a positive drive.
Suffolk Suite was a commissioned piece for a youth orchestra with limited possibilities. She has listen to them before writing this piece, and although it's kept simple in structure, it boosts some gorgeous melodies. I especially loved the Suffolk Morris jig, you can not keep your feet from tapping along, and when this lament on the clarinet comes by, you positively are going to cry some wee tears. Don't worry, you soon get back to feet tapping. Its thoughtfully scored,.... how to make out of little a lot. Goes to show what a fine and sensitive female composer she was.
The performance is first rate, and the recording demonstration class.



















Telemann, Georg Philipp. (1681-1767) A Portrait. CD 5. Works for Alto recorder and BC.

New acquisition. Date of purchase: October 2017. First listen: 18-12-2017. Label: Ricercar. CD 5 from 7. Recording dates: October 1996 ...