Friday, May 30, 2014

Guillaume de Machaut. ( c.1300-1377) Sacred and Secular Music. Vol. 1-3. Ensemble Gilles Binchois, Dominique Vellard.

Today for the last time I have played the complete set, and it was a pleasure to do so.

See for review CD 1, 24-102013, CD 2, 25-10-2013, CD 3, 1-11-2013.

Recommended.



Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Graupner, Christoph. (1683-1760) Concertos, Overtures & Sonatas. Concertos for Chalumeaux

New Acquisition.
Bought in May 2014.
First listen: 24-5-2014.
Label: Challenge Classics.
Recording dates: November 2011.
Recording venue: Stift St. Florian bei Linz an der Donau, Austria.
Recording engineer: Bert van der Wolf.
Running time: 74:41.
Second Rerun. 


Works performed:
Concerto a 2 Chalumeaux, 2 Violins, Viola, and Harpsichord.
Sonata for Harpsichord and Violino. GWV 709 and 711.
Overture for 3 Chalumeaux, 2 Violins, Viola, and Harpsichord.
Overture for 2 Cornetti, Tympani, 2 Chalumeaux, 2 Violins, Viola, Bassoon and Harpsichord.

Performed by:
Ars Antiqua Austria, Gunar Letzbor.

Second time around, and I must say it gets better, and some minor criticisms I had vanish in the light of the beautiful music. Still first time listeners need adapting, to the sometimes aggressive attack of the violins, totally unnecessary and uncalled for.




Buxtehude, Dietrich. (c.1637-1707) Complete Organ works. CD III.

New Acquisition.
Bought in May 2014.
First listen: 8-5-2014.
Label: Brilliant. Jewel box with 6 hard to remove discs.
Recording dates: 2011.
Recording venue:The Church of the Saint, Antonio Abate, in Padova, Italy.
Recording engineer: Alessandro Simonetto.
Running time: 71:56.
Second Rerun.

CD III.

Performed by: Simone Stella.

Well what has been a huge improvement is the fact that the organ is better recorded, in the sense that its more in your speakers as behind of it. In disc 1 and II we got too much church and to little organ, this has now be redressed fortunately. The sonorities of the organ sound much better, and the many colours which this organ can produce, are there in most glorious sound. Its getting a firm treatment from Stella.  I hear clearly the small pipes, never overbearing but well integrated into the whole of this organ. what a wealth of detail. Lets hope it stays that way. A pity that Simonetto did not hear that earlier. Although I want to stress that that does not mean that the first two discs are unpalatable, far from it. But disc III simply sounds better, that's all.
The praeludium in C "Prelude, Fugue and Chaconne with which this disc starts, made me sit up as a soldier at attention, the sound, the playing of Stella, that worked like a charm. Apart from it being a fine piece, the Zanin organ made me almost rejoice with jubilant cries.Track 7 holds the Praeambulum in A minor, another firm favourite, almost out of words as to describe my joy. Stella plays it in a slow tempo, thus allowing the full exposure of the wonderful composition, it simply blossoms under his hands. And what  follows is the serene Ciaccona in E minor, I always get soft in my heart when hearing it. And another ravishing Toccata in G (manualiter) done with vigorous energy. Perfect. "War Gott nicht mit uns diese zeit", is ravishingly done, the spiritual depth of it is amazing. Well you know by now, this is how Buxtehude can sound under the hands of this wonderful artist.


The Spirits of England & France, Volume IV. Missa Caput. an anonymous English Mass setting from c. 1440, interspersed with the story of the Salve Regina.

Bought in 2013.
First listen: 14-11-2013.
Label: Hyperion/Helios.
Recording dates: July 1996.
Recording venue: Not mentioned.
Recording engineer: Tony Faulkner.
Running time: 68:02.
Second Rerun.

It was a few months ago, that I bought in one sweep 16 Helios Hyperion CD'S. The more you bought, made the discount increase. And since there was the need to catch up, with the old music section in that respect, so I finally decided to browse their Helios catalogue. This CD is one of them I bought.
As in the previous instalment with this series, there is not a blemish to be found, but lots of praise to be heaped. Gothic Voices, assembled a slightly different group of singers for Volume IV, but without compromising the harmony in the choir, which is a good thing for the continuity of one's impression.
This anonymous Mass is a fine evocation of its time, mixed with the story of the Salve Regina, tastefully done. One has to remember that it was the most revered mass in the 15th century, and has survived in more than seven manuscripts. This work had a massive influence on composers like Ockeghem and Obrecht, and was used as a model for their own masses. And as a added bonus we get some 15th century carols no less, which are done is a very genial and friendly way. You can not go wrong with this series, for it is well performed and recorded, and a massive enrichment for your collection. Recommended.






Monday, May 26, 2014

Richard Arnell (1917-2009) : Landscapes and Figures, for orchestra (1956)

Arnell, Richard. ( 1917-2009) Piano Concerto, opus 44. (1946) [NEW ACQUISITION]

New Acquisition.
Bought in May 2014.
First listen.
Running time: 32:37. ( Piano Concerto)
Label Dutton.
Recording dates: September 2006.
Recording venue: Henry Wood Hall, Glasgow.
Recording engineer: Dexter Newman.
Assistant engineer: Dillon Gallagher.
Producer: Michael Ponder.


Performed by: 
David Owen Norris, Piano.
Royal Scottish National Orchestra, Martin Yates.

By now I bought all orchestral music recorded from this composer, including his complete numbered and unnumbered Symphonies, a couple of Ballets, a Violin and Piano Concerto, and some overtures and other small scaled works. I bought them rather quickly, for I realized soon how totally unique this composer is. I wanted to have all, and pronto. And I take my time going through his small but powerful oeuvre, for every piece of music is a wonder as such, and has so much to say, so much to discover, that more as one work a time is not possible for me, lest I might get overwhelmed. To strong words you think, well, after the first Symphony I knew that I could not even find words enough to describe my adoration, and yes, again a absolute word with a absolute meaning. This guy shoots up like a rocket amongst the very greats. He should in rights belong to the pantheon of revered composers, but the fact that he is almost forgotten safe for the diligence of Dutton, has hit me hard in all my senses. I can not redress this, but I can acknowledge his greatness by playing his music, and tell you about it, in the hope that some of you will get so curious and rush to the shops to buy at least one piece of his wonderful music. In the latest batch of CD'S I bought is also the disc with the piano concerto, and do not ever think that this music will lead you into the realm of "I have heard this before"category, for the chance of this is slight, because Arnell does not copy, he is an original, and this concerto defies all known concepts of well established parameters. It was commissioned by the Columbia Broadcasting System, at the instigation of his friend and champion Bernard Herrmann, and it was widely played by amongst Moura Lympany and Ross Pratt. But after 1951 it failed to find a champion and only half a century later it was picked up by the present pianist, who declares it a "Marvelous piece".  The concert is slightly odd, and in score it might look a bit out of joint, but when the colours of orchestra and piano come together you have pure magic. The creativity leaps out at you, with its fresh vigorous darts of beautiful invention, piercing every fibre of your emotional being. Its outlines are very clean, it has a strong tonal feeling, an almost Neo-classical clarity, with some amazing passages. Not a note is familiar, yet its content will speak volumes. Normally I would say I am an admirer, now I will say I am a fan, and as we all know that word comes from fanatic, and this I am. [Ridentem dicere verum quid vetat]  ( what prevents me from speaking the truth with a smile)
The performance and recording is beyond reproach.   




Saturday, May 24, 2014

Hammerschmidt, Andreas. (1611/12-1675) Four Suites from the Collection "Erster Fleiss" Part One 1636.

New Acquisition.
Bought in May 2014.
First listen.
Label: Ars Musici.
Recording dates: January 1986.
Recording venue: Roquemaure, Eglise Paroissiale. France.
Recording engineer: Klaus L. Neumann.
Running time: 51:41. ( Rather short)

Music performed:
Suite in D for 5 Gambas, and in G.
Suite in G for Winds.
Suite in C for Strings, ( Gambas and Winds) 

Performed by: 
Hesperion XX, Jordi Savall.

I did not know this recording made in 1986 by Hesperion XX, so it came as a total surprise when I saw it in the release list of May for a budget price. And since I am a great admirer of this ensemble I took the plunge and bought it. Now the fine thing about Jordi Savall's interpretations is that you are seldom disappointed, and in this case that is a fact too. Hammerschmidt is not a household name, since most of us never heard of the fella, but this CD will do its utmost to convince you that there is life in this composer, that makes it worth acquiring it. The well written booklet tells us, that Hammerschmidt was born in Brux in Bohemia, not into a musical family. There is no record of who taught him the principles of music, Guesses enough, like Christoph Schreiber an organist, or Christoph Demantius a cathedral cantor. In 1635 he succeeded Schreiber as organist at the St Peter's church in Freiberg. His works are not difficult to perform, and thus appealed to many.  He earned quite a lot of money with selling his music, and through this he became quite famous. He was praised by the likes of no other than Heinrich Schutz and Johann Rist, and his work was broadly distributed.  But he was also involved in town, forest and property management which gave him additional income. He seems to have been a hot headed person, according to some anecdotes.  His greatest output is no doubt church music.  The music recorded on this disc was in his time immensely popular, and was reprinted many times over. And you understand why, listening to what is on offer here. Easily accessible music, which avoids repetition due to the creativity Hammerschmidt applied to the dances. It is well performed and recorded, and worth every penny. The playing time is short, but the booklet is an example of thoroughness. 



Graupner, Christoph. (1683-1760) Concertos, Overtures & Sonatas. Concertos for Chalumeaux

New Acquisition.
Bought in May 2014.
First listen.
Label: Challenge Classics.
Recording dates: November 2011.
Recording venue: Stift St. Florian bei Linz an der Donau, Austria.
Recording engineer: Bert van der Wolf.
Running time: 74:41.

Works performed:
Concerto a 2 Chalumeaux, 2 Violins, Viola, and Harpsichord.
Sonata for Harpsichord and Violino. GWV 709 and 711.
Overture for 3 Chalumeaux, 2 Violins, Viola, and Harpsichord.
Overture for 2 Cornetti, Tympani, 2 Chalumeaux, 2 Violins, Viola, Bassoon and Harpsichord.

Performed by:
Ars Antiqua Austria, Gunar Letzbor.

My friend Rego at GMG was somewhat critical of this recording and performance. I can in some places understand why he thought that way, but I do not think its that dramatic. First of all, its wonderful to have this Chalumeaux music by Graupner, not that often recorded, and secondly one has to take into account that the producers did their utmost to record it in a fitting venue. The acoustic is a question of taste, and I do not necessarily agree with Bert van der Wolf in his reasoning about the the "Room that communicates the Baroque Philosophy with an overwhelming visual and auditive illusion." Its a tad cold, uninvolving, but rich in detail, and a bit too much reverberation at times, to feel comfortable to the last ounce. Furthermore the Violins tend to harden up, due to the stress the musicians put on the first notes, and secondly because the dynamics hardening up the tone. caused by the fact that one of the microphones is too close for comfort. I find the tempi to be precise, and fitting to the movements. The playing in general is excellent. If you have listened to the first concert, you will find no fault in the speeds with which it is played. Thoughtful and well considered, this is music making of a very high calibre. I can without reserve recommend this!




Friday, May 23, 2014

Buxtehude, Dietrich ( c. 1637-1707) Second Rerun, Disc II. Simone Stella on a Zanin Organ

See previous review 7-5-2014 in search box.
To put the volume up a notch or two, it somehow betters the tangibility of the sound. It takes basically my criticism back to a minor grumble.
Very much recommended.





Arnell, Richard. (1917-2009) Ballet Music. Second Rerun

New Acquisition.
Bought in May 2014.
First listen: 14-5-2014.
Label: Dutton.
Recording dates: 2008.
Recording venue: Colosseum Town Hall, Watford. England.
Recording engineer: Dexter Newman.
Running time: 66:17.

Works performed:
The Great Detective, opus 68. (1953)
The Angels, opus 81. (1957)
[Both ballets are first CD recordings]

Performed by:
BBC Concert Orchestra, Martin Yates.

Arnell never became one of the very greats as a composer, the reason for this cannot be fathomed, certainly not if you experience the genius that this man brought about. Dutton has recorded a lot, and I am in the process of buying it all, this CD being one of them. A composer who wrote ballet music of a kind that was already 50 years outdated, yet that is not because it lacked modernity, but because it carried a recognizable melody and has numerous beautiful harmonies. His orchestral skills are fabulous, already heard in his first and sixth Symphony, which I reviewed recently, but even more so in these gorgeous ballets. I can truly say that I am awe struck. I knew he would not disappoint me, but this far exceeded my expectations.The Great detective is a comedy ballet, and it shows in the music, but also in the titles of the music. Commissioned by the Sadler's Wells Theatre ballet, it was performed in 1953, with a choreography by Margaret Dale. Its a witty and fast ballet, that has a musical surprise in every movement, and not a common one, but one that will delight and amuse you at the same time. Not to have heard this ballet is doing yourself short by a long measure. And although the ballet was mercilessly panned by the reviewers, what do they know, it was warmly received by a very enthusiastic first night audience, and rightly so. Its splendid ballet music of a kind you do not hear anymore, oozing with sparkles and wit. Don't miss out on this one.

Although The Angels is a ballet too, listening to it, you cannot come to agree with this, for in content and way of writing this is a Symphony. It is elaborately scored for a large orchestra, and although it was composed in such a way, that John Cranko could write a choreography for it, its in all intent and purposes a  Symphony and is structured as such. Again it was not well received  when premiered, but its a masterwork nevertheless. The Roundelay ( Andante con moto-molto espressione) is one of the most beautiful movements I ever heard. Its a involving, compelling and an emotional powerhouse of a movement. A wonderful romantic score, and it can easily stand alongside all his other symphonies. I am impressed, mightily. 
Dexter Newman delivered a state of the art recording, and the performance leaves no wishes open. A real winner. 



Schwantner, Joseph. (b.1943) Orchestral Works. Second Rerun.

New Acquisition.
Bought in May 2014.
First listen: 8-5-2014.
Label: Naxos.
Recording dates: 2010-2011.
Recording venues: Laura Turner Hall, RCA studio A, Nashville.
Recording engineer: Tim Handley.
Running time: 68:00.

Works performed:
Concertino for Percussion and Orchestra. (1994)
Morning's Embrace (2005)*
Chasing Light. (2008)*

* World premiere recordings.

Performed by:
Nashville Symphony, Giancarlo Guerrero.
Christopher Lamb, Percussion.

Ever since I bought music by this composer on Hyperion, I was looking for more, and recently I stumbled over this CD. Listening to it, my positive opinion about Schwantner has increased considerably. On this CD three works, each of them a gem. The Concerto was written especially for the percussionist, who must be an artist par excellance,, for its a difficult work for this instrument for which you need a pretty amount of stamina. But he does wonderful in this creative concerto. Its beautifully written for the instrument, and also for the orchestra I might add. I enjoy percussion, and in this instant I enjoyed it thoroughly. Both other works were written out of admiration for nature's Sun rising in rural New Hampshire. Both works are highly enjoyable, written in a melodically and harmonious way. No hard modernistic contrast here, but simply fine music. He is one of the few 20th century composer I really enjoy. The recording is "State of the Art", what else with Tim Handley I could say! The orchestra performs well.



Berg, Natanael. (1879-1957) Orchestral Works. [Swedish Composer Series]

New Acquisition.
Bought in May 2014.
First listen: 8-5-2014.
Label: Sterling.
See recording dates and venue and engineer under the works.
Running time: 75:15.

Works performed:

Suite from Birgitta. (1940) in three movements. [World Premiere Recording]
Recording dates: 1991.
Recording venue: Stockholm Concert Hall, Sweden.
Recording engineer: Ian Cederholm.
Performed by:
Royal Stockholm PO, Per Borin.

Piano Concerto in C sharp minor. (1931) [World Premiere Recording]
Recording dates: 1977.
Recording venue: Musikaliska akademiens Konsertsal, Stockholm, Sweden.
Recording engineer: Ola Keyving.
Performed by:
Jacob Moscovicz, piano.
Swedish Radio SO, Stig Westerberg.

Symphony No. 4, : Pezzo Sinfonico"(1918) [First Complete Recording]
Recording dates: 1976.
Recording venue: Musikaliska akademiens Konsertsal, Stockholm, Sweden.
Recording engineer: Knut Lundqvist.
Swedish Radio SO, Goran W. Nilson.

I am, I must admit a great admirer of this composer who is utterly forgotten, and have the first three Symphonies and some other works by him for some time. [Already reviewed them on my blog]. In the case of the Fourth Symphony I had no other choice as this Sterling CD. And that's not such a bad choice actually.
The Suite is based on the life of the Saint Birgitta, a saint considered very important in Sweden. She seems to have been a very complex person who could be inconsiderate and egocentric, though she was also a visionary and  physically close to earth. To get a feel of her he spent some time in the convents Djursholm and Vadstena, and he even obtained a audience with the Pope in 1952. The opera as a whole though had no success, despite various attempts. The orchestral Suite consist of some of the interludes from the opera, and very pretty they are. Fine filigree music, mysterious, the magic lies like a  thin veil over the music, and it certainly speaks to my imagination. Lucky for me the fourth movement which is omitted in this recording includes a chorus, well I am not sad about it, not being recorded. The sound and performance is good.

I must say, that I do not get the vibes listening to the piano concerto. The recording is a bit rough, as is the playing of the soloist, and there is no real merging of minds in this performance.  Add to this that Berg was not really enthusiastic about solo concertos, and one might well understand why he did not put his heart in it. Despite all this, the piano concerto was well received, even though it sounds a bit outdated, and a watering down of previous much better composed piano concertos. There is some nomadic wandering through the keys, which makes me feel uneasy, the concerto being in the C sharp minor key. It has some short episodes of beauty in it, especially the third movement, but on the whole this is not something to repeat. Funny enough the pianist plays this part really good.
The sound is a bit bright, and the piano a tad boomy. The performance varies in quality, let it suffice to say, it can be easily done better, and the result might be more pleasing.

Now the Symphony is in my ears a small masterwork. The music alternates between mild, lyrical warmth and whirling rhythmic vitality. Overall the music is clear and easily grasped, and he does not fall victim to pathos laden emotions, but keeps the music happy. Its elegant, impressionistic, relaxed and certainly melodic. Its music with a clear sign of the composer. This work has become the most frequently performed work of Natanael Berg. In 1950 he even made his own gramophone recording of the Finale.
The sound is really good, considering the dates it was recorded.




William Lawes, Consort Sets in Five and Six Parts, performed by Hesperion XXI, Jordi Savall. [Fourth Rerun]

I cannot stress enough how beautiful this set is, both in interpretation and recording. See also my review 8-5-2014.



The Spirits of England and France, Volume III. Second Rerun.

Bought in September 2013.
First listen: 16-10-2014.
Hyperion Helios  CDH 55283.
Recording date: 23-25 March 1995.
Recording venue not named.
Recording engineer: Philip Hobbs. 
Running time: 66:42.

Binchois and his contemporaries. 

Catherine King, Margaret Philpot, Rogers Covey Crump, Paul Agnew, ao.


Its actually a normal thing to praise the efforts of the Hyperion label. For there are not many classical music companies that so conscientiously follow the path of excellence, in the choosing of artists, engineers, venues, music, all packed in a ethical credo, never to succumb to mediocrity.
And yes this CD can be lined up in the same praise, for praise is due to Volume III in this series.
I was delighted to see that Shirley Rumsey and Christopher Wilson were also part in this recording, both fine musicians in their own right.
I loved all the music presented here, many composer I did not hear before, and only one track I found to be quite overpowering in the singing was Leonel Power's  "Gloria". The sheer volume the singers produced fell raw on my ears. Gothic Voices, maintain a flow in their singing, that cuts seamlessly into the music itself, as if they embody what they sing. Being one with the music, means that it will sound effortlessly and so it does. The dynamics within a group of singers has to be in balance, I cannot stress that enough, otherwise it gets a fuzzy chaos, that will neither produce clarity of line, or a correct rhythm to match. The sound is absolutely gorgeous, with just enough air around the voices, that almost makes it, as if they are floating in mid-air. 





Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Altre Folia 1500-1750. Third Rerun

This CD is giving me much pleasure, the necessary relaxation after putting a new roof on my kitchen.



Buxtehude, Dietrich. Complete Organ works, Second Rerun, Disc I.

See review 6-5-2014. 
I really enjoy these performances, even better as the first time.

Disc 1.


Saturday, May 17, 2014

The Spirits of England and France, Volume II. New Acquisition. Songs of the Trouveres.

Bought in September 2013.
First listen: 1-10-2013
Label: Hyperion Helios CDH 55282.
Recording engineer: Tony Faulkner.
Recording date: 15-17 December 1994.
Recording venue: Not named.
Running time: 61:59.


Performed by:
Emma Kirkby, Soprano.
Margaret Philpot, Alto.
Rogers Covey Crump. Leigh Nixon, Tenors.
Henry Wickham, Baritone.
Gothic Voices, Christopher Page.


Aeons ago I bought Volume I of this series, listen to it, and thought it a fine disc, and forgot all about the rest that followed. Until I did some browsing through the Helios catalogue, the budget label of Hyperion, and found 4 volumes from the same series, and since I was ordering about 17 CD of the catalogue, and listening through the samples I decided to buy them too. Especially when I saw that some of my favoured singers were there, and also of the quality of the music of course! Browsing through the booklet quickly told me, that Christopher Page did not write for the uninformed, his essay being quite scholastic and hard to understand without extensive background knowledge, which is a pity, for many will miss out on explanatory info. So, reading through it I think I understood most of it, and quickly went to the music, which I might say, and in this I concur with the music critics is a fabulous disc. Not least because of Tony Faulkner's state of the art recording. I have to my knowledge never heard a recording by him, which could be qualified as bad. This one is amazing, clear, detailed, lots of air around the singers, and a perfect reverb. 
Emma Kirkby, Margaret Philpot, Rogers Covey Crump, what can one wish more, then this triumvirate, that gives us what is a near perfect performance.  Christopher Page has put together a band of instrumentalist that fits perfectly with the singers. Every song on this disc is a gem. I could sing praises without end, but the best way is to buy them yourself, listen and relax. My unqualified recommendation. Super disc!



Friday, May 16, 2014

Buxtehude, Dietrich. (c. 1637-1707) Complete Organ Works. Vol, VI, played by Simone Stella on a Francesco Zanin Organ 2006, Padua.

New Acquisition.
Bought in May 2014.
First listen.
Label: Brilliant, Jewel box with 6 cd's.
Recording dates: 2011.
Recording venue: The Church of St. Antonio Abate, Padova, Italy.
Recording engineer:  Alessandro Simonetto.

The last disc in this series and by and large it was a fine journey through Buxtehude's musical creativity. There were three minor criticisms, not serious in themselves but two of them irritating at least. The Jewel box is a abhorrence, a flimsy affair from which it is difficult to get the discs out. That could have been a cardboard box, so much easier. I would have paid the extra costs. Secondly the first 2 cd's are differently recorded as the last 4. The organ is more distanced, more in the middle of the church so to say. Not that you lose details but the sense of connecting with the music is less felt. Thirdly I really would have welcomed different organs, since there are so many beautiful instruments in Italy, and it would have increased the interest of people more informed in this particular idiom. The Zanin organ however is a good instrument, with enough colours in it to fascinate. The booklet is effective not elaborate. 
On the last disc there are many favourites of mine, to begin with the first Magnificat primi tono, BUX WV 203 and Nun bitten wir den Heiligen Geist, BUX WV 208-209, all three prime examples of what Buxtehude can do, and which Stella perfectly emulates. I also like his restrained use of power in the Praeludium in D minor, BUX WV 140, this pulling in and out of dynamics makes me marvel at it. And its actually valid for all the pieces on this cd. I have found no lapses in the technical side of Stella's playing, neither have I heard musical decisions that were unwise, or not appropriate. So I heartily recommend this set for beginners and those that already own a few complete interpretations. Stella may surprise you in a thing or two. Brilliant did and is doing a good job, at bringing out unknown and known repertoire in such good performances.







Guillaume de Machaut. Sacred and secular music and poems of the master. CD III. Le Jugement du Roi de Navarre. Second Rerun.

Bought in October 2013.
First listen: 1-11-2014.
Recording dates: October 1994.
Recording venue: Eglise de Grancey le Chateau, Cote d Ór.
Recording engineer: Dominique Matthieu. 
Running time: 65:25.

Musicians:

Anne-Marie Lablaude, Voice.
Brigitte Lesne, Voice, Harp & percussion.
Akira Tachikawa, Voice..
Dominique Vellard, Voice, gittern.
Emmanuel Bonnardot, Voice, Fiddle, Rebec.
Pierre Hamon, Recorders, Flutes, and Bagpipes.
Randall Cook, Fiddle, Recorder.
Jean Paul Racodon, Reader.

The only problem I have with CD II & III is the reader that recites the poems. He shows no restraint in declamation, in what he perceives the hidden emotions of Machaut, and if that is the case then please spare me this torture. In most of the cases he behaves, but if he goes over the top he goes over head and tail. Well, apart from this minor intrusion, the third disc is as wonderful as the rest, fine texts, Machaut wrote passionate poems, well composed music, and pristine performances of all involved. This three far box has been an unequivocal success. Well recorded. More of this please!






Guillaume de Machaut. "Le Vray remede d'amour". Second Rerun.

Bought in October 2013.
First listen: 25-10-2013.
Label: Brilliant, licensed by Cantus records.
Box 3 CD'S, plus one CDROM, with full text in translations.
CD II.
Recording dates: October 1988.
Recording venue: Eglise Saint-Martin de la Motte Ternant, Cote-d'Or.
Recording engineer: Dominique Mathieu.
Running time: 68:25.

Singers and instrumentalists:

Anne Marie Lablaude, Voice.
Brigitte Lesne, Voice, Harp,& percussion.
Dominique Vellard, Voice & Gittern.
Emmanuel Bonnardot, Voice & Fiddle.
Pierre Hamon, Recorders, Flute, & Bagpipes.
Randall Cook, Fiddle.
Jean Paul Racodon, Reader.

Again a very successful follow up of the first discs. Poems of Machaut, interspersed with music, a combination that worked well, apart from "Mon Cuer, ma soeur  which begins well", but some acted emotion overwhelmed the message of the poem, Racodon made this a huge disgrace for his trade by spoiling the last 10 lines with his drama queen behaviour. But apart from that, perfect,
Nothing but praise for all participants, a well thought out project, that pays huge dividends in musical terms. I like the text of Machaut's poems, a very passionate guy it seems, and he knew his way with words, as well as women, it seems. Very well recorded too.




Guillaume de Machaut. (c.1300-1377) Sacred and Secular Music. Second Rerun.

Bought in October 2013.
First listen. (CD I) 24-10-2013.
Label: Brilliant, licensed from Cantus records.
Box: 3 CD'S & one CDROM with full text in English, German, French, Spanish.
Recording dates: September 1990.
Recording venue: Collegiale Saint-Martin de Champeaux, Seine et Marne, France.
Recording engineer: Dominique Matthieu.
Mass Transcription: Leo Schrade, revised by Dominique Vellard.
Plainchant transcriptions: Marie-Noel Colette.

Messe de Notre dame, with the Gregorian propers of the Mass of the Assumption, 14th century.

Ensemble Gilles Binchois, Dominique Vellard.

Singers Mass:
Andreas Scholl, counter.
Gerd Turk, Tenor.
Emmanuel Bonnardot, Baritone.
Jacques Bona, Bass.

Singers propers:
Dominique Vellard Vellard, Tenor.
Herve Lamy, Tenor.
Philippe Balloy, Baritone.
Willem de Waal, Baritone.
Jacques Bona, Bass.


First thing I have to say is, that we have a excellent essay in the booklet about the music, the choices in recording that are made, and a thorough explanation about the historic background of the music. Well written, and understandable for all. Furthermore the CDROM contains full text, translated by Jose Carlos Cabello, who also wrote the booklet. Full marks for all this. In the booklet photo's of the main body of singers, and furthermore all the data you need. In this, Brilliant did a brilliant job, in making this reissue a success, and well they did. The Cantus recordings are perfect, and the performance will surprise you. I have heard some interpretations of this mass, but I can pretty much state without corroding the truth, that this performance is near perfect, at least to my ears.
It was written around 1360-62, and maybe this mass is used while King Charles was crowned on 19 May 1364. And for a tempo, which is very important, they took a moderate pace, which allows easy comprehension of the text and free movement of polyphonic lines, and which will make it simple to follow the rhythmic exchange between voices. The propers that were added makes this work complete and they fit well into the context, at least I enjoyed and understood this work better as in any other interpretation before.
As for the singers? Well I do not think there is any reason to complain, for Vellard assembled a body of singers, that give us a near pristine interpretations. I was charmed, impressed and frankly overwhelmed by what reached my ears. A resounding recommendation my friends!
The price will not break the bank, and its worth every penny.





Thursday, May 15, 2014

Repeating the pleasure of listening to William Lawes, third rerun.

See review 8-5-2014.


A real pleasure to listen. A favourite.








New Acquisition. Buxtehude, Dietrich. (c 1637-1707) Complete Organ Works, Volume V.

New Acquisition.
Bought in May 2014.
First listen.
Label: Brilliant, jewel box with 6 cd's.
Recording dates: 2011.
Recording venue: The Church of St. Antonio Abate, Padova, Italy.
Recording engineer: Alessandro Simonetta.
Running time: 71:20.

Performed by:
Simone Stella.

Just one work to convince you of the quality  you find in this set would be the "Praeludium" in F sharp minor, Bux WV 146. I sums up better what I mean, than more words could explain. The recording and performance are excellent.



Benjamin, Arthur, Orchestral Works. Second Rerun.

See review 13-5-2014.

The only thing that is really disturbing still, is the closeness of Violin and Viola, and the nervous playing of both soloists.



Arnell, Richard. (1917-2009) Orchestral Works.

New Acquisition.
New composer in my collection.
Bought in May 2014.
First listen: 7-5-2014.
Label: Dutton.
Recording dates: August 2008.
Recording venue: Henry Wood Hall, Glasgow.
Recording engineer: Dexter Newman.
Running time: 57:00.
Second Rerun.

Works:
Sinfonia quasi Variazioni, opus 13. (1941)
Symphony No. 1, opus 31. (1943)
Symphony No. 6, "The Anvil" opus 171. (1992-94)

World Premiere Recordings

Performed by:
Royal Scottish National Orchestra, Martin Yates.

Richard Arnell, was already for a long time on my radar, thus I decided this year to collect all orchestral works by him, save for a few very modernists works that is. Arnell's sound world is tonal, with modernist tendencies, but always within in certain boundaries. He is a excellent orchestrator taught by, amongst others John Ireland. When Arnell was forced to sit out the war in America, he struck a friendship with Bernard Herrmann, who played his works on a regular basis. Beecham was also a staunch supporter of Arnell, and did his bit to further Arnell's career by performing his works. Arnell is a multi talented composer, who wrote a lot of works, including ballets, which recordings I bought too. The Sinfonia, opus 13 is in five movements around 17 minutes in total, it has some punchy rhythms and its orchestral fabric is very clean. Some beautiful driving ostinati in the wind section. The work is a expressive build up of orchestral delights and is a happy composition, which reminded me of Prokofiev's first Symphony. I am impressed. The first Symphony sounds like a chamber symphony, but it should have been dubbed a  classical symphony by what I hear, or rather Neo classical, it somehow comes close to Stravinsky's sound world. He was no doubt influenced by his Symphony in C. It has the same clean cut Neo classical style. And that made a huge impression on me too. You can certainly hear what a fine composer he is.
His sixth symphony, is a work based on earlier compositions, but a lot of modern things are added. The Anvil plays quite a part in this work, it symbolizes the power that burst out of it. It has also mysterious elements, cleverly worked out on the violins, and timpani in the background, aided by a percussive piano, with violins going up and down the scales. A very eerie atmosphere, but beautifully done though! The conclusion a Lento, is consolidating and bringing together all dis- harmonies into a finite answer of great lucidity. What tranquility, and a perfect realization of wholeness, Arnell produced.  Great music from a great composer. I am so looking forward to what is still in store for me!
The recording is perfect, as can be expected from Dutton, and the performance leaves no wishes open.





Some extra things I added to my small order list.......

On with my Dutton exploration.



Lawes, William. (1602-1645) *Consort Sets in Five & Six Parts*

New Acquisition.
Bought in May, 2014.
First listen: 8-5-2014, both cd's.
Label: AliaVox. 2 cd's.
Recording dates: 2001-2002.
Recording venue: Collegiale du Chateau de Cardona. ( Catalogne) 
Recording engineer: Nicolas Bartholomee.
Recording assistant: Nicolas de Beco.
Running time: CD 1, 55:52.  CD 2, 59:46.
[Best buy 2014]

Performed by:
Hesperion XXI, Jordi Savall.

Reading the introductory note by Jordi Savall, makes all I can write about William Lawes futile. But I will try anyway, after all a bit more praise did not harm anyone I guess.
William Lawes died young. This happens more often as we tend to think. Genius is not a constant dweller on this earth, and so when Lawes died aged 43, the world was deprived of a composer that could have written, another or more sets of masterworks, like on the present recording. And yes he is innovative, showed an excessive amount of creativity, poetry, passion, boldness, discipline, a great musical expression, a fine grasp of counterpoint and harmony, virtuosity, spirituality, intensity, so yes he is and was a pretty remarkable composer, and he certainly belongs in the pantheon of greats. If any, these works will prove it with ease to you. But where would we be if not Hesperion XXI existed? 
For the music truly gets a royal treatment, and by what I have heard from Lawes so far, this set is outside of the boundaries to be bettered any day. They are most perfectly executed and bear the sign of ultimate excellence.  Indeed it is so addictive that I played both CD'S in one go, and still it left me with a urge to start all over again. This is certainly a set to have and to hold. The recording could not be better. The booklet is art in itself, as always with the AliaVox recordings. An easy to follow explanation of life and music, written by David Pinto. Even if you are not skilled in musical matters, most of it you will understand. Recommended with some insistence. 



Wednesday, May 14, 2014

New Acquisition. "Altre Follie". (1500-1750)

New acquisition.
Bought in May 2014.
First listen7-5-2014.
Label: AliaVox.
Recording dates: 2005.
Recording venue: Collegiale du Chateau de Cardona. (Catalogne)
Recording engineer: Nicolas de Beco.
Running time: 77:15.
Second Rerun.

Works:
Folias by:
Antonio de Cabezon.
Alonso Mudarra.
Vincenzo Buffo.
Alessandro Piccinini.
Andrea Falconiero.
Bernardo Storace.
John Playford.
F. Corbetta/ C. Sanz.
Arcangelo Corelli.
Joan Cabanilles.
Henrico Albicastro.
Santiago de Murcia.
Antonio Vivaldi.

Performed by:
Hesperion XXI, Jordi Savall.

This is a delightful disc with Folias, expertly played and recorded. A pleasure to listen to. Much can be said about Folias, but it is too much to write down in this review, so I refer you to Google, and type the word Folia. There is much to know and read about that subject, but most important one should listen to this disc. Recommended. A great way to discover the art of Folia.



Ordered today all orchestral works by Richard Arnell, and two other CD'S.

I am so looking forward to them.






And 2 others




Arnell, Richard. (1917-2009) Ballet Music.

New Acquisition.
Bought in May 2014.
First listen.
Label: Dutton.
Recording dates: 2008.
Recording venue: Colosseum Town Hall, Watford. England.
Recording engineer: Dexter Newman.
Running time: 66:17.

Works performed:
The Great Detective, opus 68. (1953)
The Angels, opus 81. (1957)
[Both ballets are first CD recordings]

Performed by:
BBC Concert Orchestra, Martin Yates.

Arnell never became one of the very greats as a composer, the reason for this cannot be fathomed, certainly not if you experience the genius that this man brought about. Dutton has recorded a lot, and I am in the process of buying it all, this CD being one of them. A composer who wrote ballet music of a kind that was already 50 years outdated, yet that is not because it lacked modernity, but because it carried a recognizable melody and has numerous beautiful harmonies. His orchestral skills are fabulous, already heard in his first and sixth Symphony, which I reviewed recently, but even more so in these gorgeous ballets. I can truly say that I am awe struck. I knew he would not disappoint me, but this far exceeded my expectations.The Great detective is a comedy ballet, and it shows in the music, but also in the titles of the music. Commissioned by the Sadler's Wells Theatre ballet, it was performed in 1953, with a choreography by Margaret Dale. Its a witty and fast ballet, that has a musical surprise in every movement, and not a common one, but one that will delight and amuse you at the same time. Not to have heard this ballet is doing yourself short by a long measure. And although the ballet was mercilessly panned by the reviewers, what do they know, it was warmly received by a very enthusiastic first night audience, and rightly so. Its splendid ballet music of a kind you do not hear anymore, oozing with sparkles and wit. Don't miss out on this one.

Although The Angels is a ballet too, listening to it, you cannot come to agree with this, for in content and way of writing this is a Symphony. It is elaborately scored for a large orchestra, and although it was composed in such a way, that John Cranko could write a choreography for it, its in all intent and purposes a  Symphony and is structured as such. Again it was not well received  when premiered, but its a masterwork nevertheless. The Roundelay ( Andante con moto-molto espressione) is one of the most beautiful movements I ever heard. Its a involving, compelling and an emotional powerhouse of a movement. A wonderful romantic score, and it can easily stand alongside all his other symphonies. I am impressed, mightily. 
Dexter Newman delivered a state of the art recording, and the performance leaves no wishes open. A real winner. 





New Acquisition. Estampies & Danses Royales. Le Manuscrit du Roi. ca. 1270-1320.

New Acquisition.
Bought in May 2014.
First listen: 7-5-2014.
Label: AliaVox.
Recording dates: 2007.
Recording venue: Monestir de Santes Creus. ( Catalogne)
Recording engineer: Manuel Mohino.
Running time: 72:12.
SECOND RERUN.


Performed by:
Hesperion XXI, Jordi Savall.

This is a wonderful collection of music from a manuscript of a King. The title of the CD tells you what to expect, and I am not disappointed, as Savall seldom does. Its breathtakingly mysterious and vibrantly beautiful. It is one of the earliest surviving collections of medieval instrumental music and preserved thanks to a written source dating from the period. The performances and sound recording are first class. A wonderful journey through time, from a time so far away from us, yet the music speaks. I also like to mention the gorgeous booklet adorned with pictures and very useful info. As always this is without any doubt the best what could be produced in the classical world. An example for all.  Recommended.


Pierre de La Rue. (1452-1518). Missa De Feria & Missa Sancta Dei genetrix.

Bought in 2013.
First listen:22-10-2013.
Hyperion Helios CDH55296.
Recording dates: 14-16 September 1997.
Recording venue: Unknown.
Recording engineer: Philip Hobbs.
Running time: 65:35.
SECOND RERUN

Gothic Voices, Christopher Page.
Catherine King Alto.
Steven Harrold, .Julian Podger ,Leigh Nixon, Tenors.
Stephen Charlesworth, Donald Greig, Baritones.

It happens not often that the Gothic Voices disappoint, so I was not afraid that this composer, not the easiest of the bunch to perform, would turn out bad. And it did not. The well balanced choir make it a feast, and my only regret is that I miss the bass line, I am fond of them in this kind of music. It lends weight and warmth to the compositions. But the two Baritones do fine, so it just a very personal thing I miss. Both piece on this disc are complex and a hard job for every singer, for these choir works are densely scored and not for the faint hearted
.  The contrasts are great, and the running up and down the scales makes me dizzy sometimes. But marvelous performance and ditto sound. Another resounding success by the Gothic voices. Recommended. 









Tuesday, May 13, 2014

New Acquisition. Benjamin, Arthur. (1893-1960) Orchestral works.

New Acquisition.
Bought in May 2014.
First listen.
Label: Dutton.
Recording dates: 2011.
Recording venue: RSNO Centre, Henry Wood Hall, Glasgow.
Recording engineer: Dexter Newman.
Running time: 67:29.

Works performed:
Violin Concerto. (1931) World Premiere.
Romantic Fantasy for Violin, Viola & Orchestra. (1936)
Elegy, Waltz and Toccata, (Viola Concerto) 1943. World Premiere Recording in this version.

Performers:
Lorraine McAslan, Violin.
Sarah-Jane Bradley, Viola.
Royal Scottish National Orchestra, John Gibbons.

The second disc I bought with Benjamin's music, and unlike the first disc I bought and instantly liking it, this one is going to be more difficult to absorb, for several reasons. 
The Violin Concerto, recorded for the first time, is not a easy work. I mean its all tonal, but there are so many ideas, that surface from Benjamin's bubbling mind, that as a whole is not cohesive, but rather chaotic, tumbling from one melody into another, never a moment of rest or contemplation. There is a Stravinskian tendency in the music that does not go well with the nature of this composer, at least thats my opinion.  The urgency that is in every movement can be unsettling, and there is no clear argument stated, but its rather a wild ride on a dangerous highway, exhilarating but afterwards one feels exhausted. Another rather disturbing element is the recording. Now I know Dexter Newman to be a very good engineer, but in this case he blundered massively. The Henry Wood Hall is acoustically one of the best venues in the world, but still he manages to put the Violin so forward, that it definitely pops out of the speaker in a painful way. It also has a boxy sound at times. Clear it is, but its a error of judgement to record in such a way. The Orchestra is also forwardly recorded, so it all gets pushy and on your nerves. It must be said that there is an enormous depth in the orchestral stage, and all details are clearly heard. In that respect its superb. 
The Romantic Fantasy is an equally challenging work and starts with a Lento, that is clearly taken too fast, and has a aggressiveness in its tone, ( Violin and Viola) that  robs the work of its charm, which is due both to the way it is played, and also, though less, by being too forwardly recorded. In the loud passages there is hardly any air around the instruments. The orchestral depth without doubt is superb. Both soloists in this Fantasy are technical fully able. I was not really warming to the first movement, but the second movement has beautiful elements in terms of melody, and Benjamin manages to insert some points of interest that keep lingering, and so it goes over in the third movement, where speed seems more important as keeping the work in its natural element. Both soloists want to show their technical capability and this is to be applauded but in the case of all three works, its clearly overdone.. I think that the music is robbed of its charm and intent. It has enough propulsion as if needing it to be giving it more zest by pushing the music out of its context. So despite admiring the music of Benjamin, I think he is badly treated here. I would have liked to be more positive, so not used to the fact that Dutton delivers bad quality, but in this case there are many lapses of judgements, in terms of the interpretation as well as in recording decisions. Its a pity, so I will lay this one aside, and get back to it, when time has healed my shattered senses. Take note, that this is my very personal opinion, which should not detract you from this recording.








Buxtehude, Dietrich. (c.1637-1707) Complete Organ Works. Volume: IV.

New Acquisition.
Bought in May 2014.
First listen.
Label: Brilliant. Small jewel box with 6 cd's. 
Recording dates: 2011.
Recording venue: The Church of St. Antonio Abate, Padova, Italy.
Recording engineer: Alessandro Simonetto.
Running time: 68:35.

Performer:
Simone Stella.

This I think is a valuable addition to all the recordings that exist of Buxtehude's organ works. It may be that it is a missed chance not to play them on different organs throughout Italy, of which they have many, but on the other hand it is a unique opportunity to hear this organ from top to bottom. For Buxtehude plunges all registers, and thus this organ shows what it can, and that is a lot. Every single piece Buxtehude wrote is a marvel, and so they sound on this cd. For the price of a single full price cd, you get six of the same quality, so I think that is a great deal, especially when you get such beautiful interpretations. I eagerly await the announced complete works of Walther, a composer almost forgotten, apart from organ aficionados. The organ sounds good. Its well in perspective and gives all details in a lucid way.




Monday, May 12, 2014

New Acquisition. Isabel I, Reina de Castilla. Luces y Sombras en el Tiempo de la Primera gran Reina del Renacimiento. 1451-1504. Second Rerun.

New Acquisition.
Bought in May 2014.
First listen: &-5-2014.
Label: AliaVox.
Recording dates: 2004.
Recording venue: Colegiata del Castillo de Cardona. ( Cataluna) 
Recording engineer: Nicolas de Beco.
Running time: 77:43.

Performed by:

Montserrat Figueras,  Arianna Savall, Sopranos.
Begona Olavide, Mezzo. 
La Capella Reial de Catalunya.
Hesperion XXI, Jordi Savall.

The music on this disc is an overview of the life and times of Isabella I of Castile. Most of the pieces on this disc were originally composed in direct connection with one or another of historical events. The music comes from various Iberian sources of the late 15th and early 16th century, at the transition from the medieval world into the Renaissance. And this you clearly hear, what actually makes for a wonderful mix of music, that highlights all the colours of that transition. Its a joy to hear this, especially if you get such good performances in state of the art sound. All participants work well together, and this turns the project into a unified whole that speaks over the ages and tells us a accurate story of the reign of Isabel, a remarkable woman.
The booklet is a dream, lucid informative, and adorned with fine pictures.





Thursday, May 8, 2014

Berg, Natanael. (1879-1957) Orchestral Works. [Swedish Composer Series]

New Acquisition.
Bought in May 2014.
First listen.
Label: Sterling.
See recording dates and venue and engineer under the works.
Running time: 75:15.

Works performed:

Suite from Birgitta. (1940) in three movements. [World Premiere Recording]
Recording dates: 1991.
Recording venue: Stockholm Concert Hall, Sweden.
Recording engineer: Ian Cederholm.
Performed by:
Royal Stockholm PO, Per Borin.

Piano Concerto in C sharp minor. (1931) [World Premiere Recording]
Recording dates: 1977.
Recording venue: Musikaliska akademiens Konsertsal, Stockholm, Sweden.
Recording engineer: Ola Keyving.
Performed by:
Jacob Moscovicz, piano.
Swedish Radio SO, Stig Westerberg.

Symphony No. 4, : Pezzo Sinfonico"(1918) [First Complete Recording]
Recording dates: 1976.
Recording venue: Musikaliska akademiens Konsertsal, Stockholm, Sweden.
Recording engineer: Knut Lundqvist.
Swedish Radio SO, Goran W. Nilson.

I am, I must admit a great admirer of this composer who is utterly forgotten, and have the first three Symphonies and some other works by him for some time. [Already reviewed them on my blog]. In the case of the Fourth Symphony I had no other choice as this Sterling CD. And that's not such a bad choice actually.
The Suite is based on the life of the Saint Birgitta, a saint considered very important in Sweden. She seems to have been a very complex person who could be inconsiderate and egocentric, though she was also a visionary and  physically close to earth. To get a feel of her he spent some time in the convents Djursholm and Vadstena, and he even obtained a audience with the Pope in 1952. The opera as a whole though had no success, despite various attempts. The orchestral Suite consist of some of the interludes from the opera, and very pretty they are. Fine filigree music, mysterious, the magic lies like a  thin veil over the music, and it certainly speaks to my imagination. Lucky for me the fourth movement which is omitted in this recording includes a chorus, well I am not sad about it, not being recorded. The sound and performance is good.

I must say, that I do not get the vibes listening to the piano concerto. The recording is a bit rough, as is the playing of the soloist, and there is no real merging of minds in this performance.  Add to this that Berg was not really enthusiastic about solo concertos, and one might well understand why he did not put his heart in it. Despite all this, the piano concerto was well received, even though it sounds a bit outdated, and a watering down of previous much better composed piano concertos. There is some nomadic wandering through the keys, which makes me feel uneasy, the concerto being in the C sharp minor key. It has some short episodes of beauty in it, especially the third movement, but on the whole this is not something to repeat. Funny enough the pianist plays this part really good.
The sound is a bit bright, and the piano a tad boomy. The performance varies in quality, let it suffice to say, it can be easily done better, and the result might be more pleasing.

Now the Symphony is in my ears a small masterwork. The music alternates between mild, lyrical warmth and whirling rhythmic vitality. Overall the music is clear and easily grasped, and he does not fall victim to pathos laden emotions, but keeps the music happy. Its elegant, impressionistic, relaxed and certainly melodic. Its music with a clear sign of the composer. This work has become the most frequently performed work of Natanael Berg. In 1950 he even made his own gramophone recording of the Finale.
The sound is really good, considering the dates it was recorded.











Buxtehude, Dietrich. (c.1637-1707) Complete Organ works. CD III.

New Acquisition.
Bought in May 2014.
First listen.
Label: Brilliant. Jewel box with 6 hard to remove discs.
Recording dates: 2011.
Recording venue:The Church of the Saint, Antonio Abate, in Padova, Italy.
Recording engineer: Alessandro Simonetto.
Running time: 71:56.

CD III.

Performed by: Simone Stella.

Well what has been a huge improvement is the fact that the organ is better recorded, in the sense that its more in your speakers as behind of it. In disc 1 and II we got too much church and to little organ, this has now be redressed fortunately. The sonorities of the organ sound much better, and the many colours which this organ can produce, are there in most glorious sound. Its getting a firm treatment from Stella.  I hear clearly the small pipes, never overbearing but well integrated into the whole of this organ. what a wealth of detail. Lets hope it stays that way. A pity that Simonetto did not hear that earlier. Although I want to stress that that does not mean that the first two discs are unpalatable, far from it. But disc III simply sounds better, that's all.
The praeludium in C "Prelude, Fugue and Chaconne with which this disc starts, made me sit up as a soldier at attention, the sound, the playing of Stella, that worked like a charm. Apart from it being a fine piece, the Zanin organ made me almost rejoice with jubilant cries.Track 7 holds the Praecambulum in A minor, another firm favourite, almost out of words as to describe my joy. Stella plays it in a slow tempo, thus allowing the full exposure of the wonderful composition, it simply blossoms under his hands. And what  follows is the serene Ciaccona in E minor, I always get soft in my heart when hearing it. And another ravishing Toccata in G (manualiter) done with vigorous energy. Perfect. "War Gott nicht mit uns diese zeit", is ravishingly done, the spiritual depth of it is amazing. Well you know by now, this is how Buxtehude can sound under the hands of this wonderful artist.




Schwantner, Joseph. (b.1943) Orchestral Works.

New Acquisition.
Bought in May 2014.
Label: Naxos.
Recording dates: 2010-2011.
Recording venues: Laura Turner Hall, RCA studio A, Nashville.
Recording engineer: Tim Handley.
Running time: 68:00.

Works performed:
Concertino for Percussion and Orchestra. (1994)
Morning's Embrace (2005)*
Chasing Light. (2008)*

* World premiere recordings.

Performed by:
Nashville Symphony, Giancarlo Guerrero.
Christopher Lamb, Percussion.

Ever since I bought music by this composer on Hyperion, I was looking for more, and recently I stumbled over this CD. Listening to it, my positive opinion about Schwantner has increased considerably. On this CD three works, each of them a gem. The Concerto was written especially for the percussionist, who must be an artist par excellance,, for its a difficult work for this instrument for which you need a pretty amount of stamina. But he does wonderful in this creative concerto. Its beautifully written for the instrument, and also for the orchestra I might add. I enjoy percussion, and in this instant I enjoyed it thoroughly. Both other works were written out of admiration for nature's Sun rising in rural New Hampshire. Both works are highly enjoyable, written in a melodically and harmonious way. No hard modernistic contrast here, but simply fine music. He is one of the few 20th century composer I really enjoy. The recording is "State of the Art", what else with Tim Handley I could say! The orchestra performs well.




Borgia Dynasty. Church and Power in the Renaissance. CD. I. Paths of power: The origins and expansion of a Dynasty, (ca. 1238-1492)

New Acquisition.
Bought in May 2014.
First listen.
Label: Alia Vox. Book, with 3 cd's and one DVD.
CD, I., Running time: 71:05.
Recording dates: 2000*2004*2009.
Recording venue: Collegiata di Cardona, Nella Chiesa di Franc-Waret, Belgium, Monastero di Santa Maria del Parral di Segovia.
Recording engineers: Manuel Mohino, Nicolas de Beco, Aline Blondiau.

Part I. "The Origins and Rise of the Borgia Family"

Muslim Valencia, Mowachah Billadi Askara Min abdi Llama.
Ductia. Instr.
Saltarello-Guillaume Dufay/Jordi Savall.
Da pacem-Gilles Binchois.
Deserts d'Amichs, de bens e de Senyor. (rec)
Rondeau (instrumental) "Ce Jour"-Guillaume Dufay/Jordi Savall.
Strambotto caccia-Correno  multi cani. Anonymous.
Zappay lo campo (instr) Anonymous.
Ave Maris Stella-Guillaume Dufay.
Makam Muhayyer "Kume usulus Duyek-Acemler, War Turkisch March.

Part II, "The Demise of the Three Cultures and the Conquest of Power": The Vatican.

Exultet caelum cum laudibus-Anonymous.
Adoramus te-Anonymous.
Viva, viva Rey Fernando-Anonymous.
Miserere nostri/Vexilla regis-Anonymous.
La Gran dolor (rec)-Ausias March.
El Cervel mi fa (instr)-Anonymous.
Patres nostris peccaverunt-Johannes Cornago.
De Tous biens plaine-Haine van Guizeghem/Josquin Des Prez.
Anonymous Ottoman-Taksim & Dance.
Viva el Gran Rey Don Fernando-Carlo Verardi.
Lamento per la morte di Lorenzo II Manifico-Heinrich Isaac.
Romance: La Rosa enflorece-Anonymous Sefardi.

Performed by:
La Capella Reial de Catalunya
Hesperion XXI, Jordi Savall.

You get a book with 394 pages, in 6 languages, adorned with beautiful pictures, a thorough and well written essay about the period, so you will be the wiser after reading the book and hearing the music. AliaVox is the only label that does it in such a lavish way. And they are consequent in this. Only this fact is a reason to acquire such a set. What you get is a fascinating journey in music and a better understanding of the history around it. For me its a spiritual travel, an expedition into the world of the Borgias. There is beauty, ugliness, spiritual enlightenment, violence, birth, dead, as a matter of fact, life!  The music is for me not to be explained, its something to undergo, to immerse yourself in. The rewards are enormous, intellectual and emotional, when walking through the realms of a time past. These performers make it alive again, in spirited and well informed interpretations, that colours your life for the duration of a cd, and even afterwards it lingers. A great set, worth your money and time.
The sound as always is great!




The Leiden Choirbooks Volume III. (De Leidse Koorboeken) Second rerun.

A second rerun of Volume III. The Leiden Choirbooks. Disc 1 & 2. As lovely as with the first hearing. You might read the first review I...