Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Marenzio, Luca. (c.1553-1599) Sesto Libro Madrigali, 1594. ( L'arte del Madrigale, CD 2.)

New acquisition.
Bought: September 2016.
First listen: 31-1-2017.
Label: Glossa.
CD 2 from 9.
Recording dates: February 2001.
Recording venue: Chiesa della BV Maria del Monte Carmelo al Colletto, Roletto, Italy.
Recording engineer: Davide Ficco.
Running time: 54:07.
Classical relevance: Essential.

Works performed:
See heading.

Works performed by:
La Venexiana.

The first CD of this set I heard in September 2016, so I somehow lost my bearings on this set, because I forgot about it after September, due to a great influx of  CD'S. Selecting some sets to be heard in my office, I stumbled over this box in my listening room. As being always interested in Italian Madrigali, I decided to start listening again, and what a good decision that was.
Marenzio is a great musical poet and a painter of the finer details in Madrigali. This CD proves that point abundantly. The sensual texts, brought in luscious tones out on this CD, is amazing and totally convincing. The soloists are vocally so entwined, that it actually becomes one body of singers, uttering one message. It is no mean feat, if every soloist in his or her own right, succumbs to the greater aim of sounding like one body, and yet keep a vocal distinction that blends and stands out at the same time. Harmonious and perfectly balanced Venexiana convinces with every note sung. I can hardly think of a better way to perform the hugely talented Luca Marenzio.
Well worth to stand next to Claudio Monteverdi.
The recording is all what one could wish for, as perfectly done as this performance.



Bach, J.S. Complete Organ Works, The Brilliant edition, (Stefano Molardi) CD 2.

New in my collection.
Added to my collection: January 2017.
First listen: 31-1-2017.
Label: Brilliant.
CD 2 from 15.
Recording dates: April/May 2013.
Recording venue: Stadtkirche "Zur Gotteshilfe", Waltershausen, Germany.
Recording engineer: Simone Bellucci.
Running time: 73:31.
Classical relevance: As yet unsure.

Works performed:
BWV 532/613-617/720/527/721/596/528/550.

Performed by:
Stefano Molardi.

Instrument:
T.H.G Trost Organ. (1722-?1741) 
Modified meantone.
Pitch A=466 Hz at 15 degrees celsius.

As with the previous CD, the same impression. I cannot detect any personality or interpretative individuality in the music. It all sounds rather flat and uninvolving. He plays all the notes, but that is about all. There are really no exceptions in all what is played here. No highs or lows, just a middle of the road recording. I begin to wonder why Molardi, such a distinguished musician, choose to play the complete works by Bach, when he is clearly not ready for them.
But I promised I would listen to this box, and I will.
The organ sounds fabulous, and there are no complaints about the sound. There is more action noise as on the first disc.




Friday, January 27, 2017

Kancheli, Giya.(b.1935) Miniatures for Violin and Piano.

New in my collection.
Arrived: January 2017.
First listen: 27-1-2017.
Label: Brilliant.
Recording dates: October 2015.
Recording venue:Auditorium San Rocco, Senigallia (Ancona) Italy.
Recording engineer: Luca Ricci.
Running time: 54:07.
Classical relevance: For all Kancheli admirers, essential.

Works performed:
See heading.

Performed by:
Andrea Cortesi, Violin.
Marco Venturi, Piano.

I am a great admirer of this composer, and am steadily collected all of his works, excluding vocal works. This disc with miniatures is fantastic. 
It is drenched in melancholy and passion unashamedly much of it. And the way in which this is done borders on perfection. Even the composer thought this when writing about the performance:
To Andrea and Marco,

>Your performance and particularly your interpretation made an indelible impression on me. The breathing, the freedom, and the inspiration I heard are impossible to convey with the notes on the staff. I think that you managed to catch exactly what I could only dream of!<

And thus it is. It's a first recording too, so that makes it rather special. This is music you simply have to experience, it dives deep, and surfaces for a while in lightness and gaiety, then getting melancholy, and the notes float somewhere into your own personal impression.
Lucca Ricci made a beautiful recordings, so all around this is very recommendable.






Bach, Johann Sebastian. (1685-1750) The Complete Organ Works. (the Brilliant release. (Stefano Molardi) CD 1.

New in my collection.
Arrived: January 2017.
First listen: 27-1-2017.
Label: Brilliant.
CD 1 from 15.
Recording dates: April/May 2013.
Recording venue: Stadtkirche "Zur Gotteshilfe"Waltershausen, Germany.
Recording engineer: Simone Bellucci.
Running time: 77:38.
Classical relevance: As yet not sure.

Works performed:
BWV 543/736/525/767/735/526/541.

Works performed by:
Stefano Molardi.

Instrument used:
T.H.G.Trost Organ. (1722-?1741) Waltershausen.
Applied pitch.
Modified meantone temperament.
Pitch: A=466 Hz at 15 degrees celsius. 

The first thing which I can say safely, is that the organ is a fantastic instrument and well suited to Bach's Organ music. Furthermore the recording by Simone Bellucci is excellent. The booklet only gives info about the organs used in this set with pictures of the instruments. Extensive liner notes are available at Brilliant for download. It's in outlook a basic set, nothing to get exited about.
As to Molardi playing Bach, well that is food for discussion. On a technical level Molardi is well up the task before him. His musical integrity is a factor in this recording to respect. Whether or not he is the man to record Bach is another question and one which is not easily answered. My first reaction to what I have heard is neither favourable nor dismissive. It is as if these performances have little personality, or for that matter an individual stamp that marks the style of Molardi. Not entirely faceless, but neither does it inspire enthusiasm as I have in other sets. The dynamics he applies are adequate, but rather stiff in the loins if it comes to musical expression, almost static even. It is simply unclear where Molardi wants us to go. Sure it is well delivered, but it does not thrill me. Matter of fact then? Yes a bit, but that's not the whole issue.
It is certainly Bach that will please many, but can it hold it's own against all competition? For now I am still sceptical, and will see what's awaits me further on in this set. None of the pieces struck me as memorable, but maybe I simply have to hear it more than once.
The instrument is fantastic, and is well recorded.







Abel, Carl Friedrich. (1723-1787) 6 Symphonies opus 7.

Second rerun of this disc.
You will find if interested the complete review of this disc in the month January 2017.
As yet there is no usable images of this disc.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Zipoli, Domenico. (1688-1726) Complete Organ Works. (Famous Organ Music from Europe) CD 5.

From my collection.
Bought in April 2016.
First listen: 20-12-2016.
Second listen: 26-1-2017.
Label: Ars Musici.
CD 5 from 10.
Recording dates: May 1998.
Recording venue: Parish Church in Riva Valdobbia, Italy.
Recording engineer: Roberto Chinellato.
Running time: 78:27.
Classical relevance: Up to now the best recording and performance I heard of Zipoli's organ works. So in that sense essential.

Works performed:
See heading.

Works performed by:
Lorenzo Ghielmi.
Canto fermo:
Angelo Corno/Enrico De Capitani/ Giorgio Merli/ Alessandro Riganti.


Instrument used. ( Very little info I could find)
It's a modern instrument in true Italian Style, but no building dates.
This instrument has a "contra octave (the octave below bottom C) and is built on a base that stretches 16 feet.
Builders are: Carlo Dell'Orto and Massimo Lanzini.

I love Zipoli's organ works very much, but could not find a recording that satisfied my wishes, well, until now that is. I was surprised by the wonderful sound of this organ, and the right tempi in which Ghielmi plays. I often encounter playing that puts you to sleep in no time, but not here. Alert playing, detailed, and the church giving a good resonance in which the instrument blooms. Ghielmi is a fine organist who gets all the essentials of this composer. One would wish for more organ works, but he did not write more.
All is in proportion, stretching into the wonderful contributions of the Canto Fermo, all of them excellent singers. It comes in a box with 10 CD'S, not all of them good, but for this CD alone worth the price.



Gade, Niels W. (1817-1890) Chamber Works, Volume I.

New acquisition.
Bought in January 2017.
First listen: 26-1-2017.
Label: CPO.
Recording dates: January 2013.
Recording venue: Knudsens in Holstebro, Denmark.
Recording engineer: Morten Mogensen.
Running time: 62:23.
Classical relevance: An essential addition to the Gade's discography.

Works performed:
String sextet in E flat major, opus 44.
Early version of the 1st movement of opus 44.
Piano trio in F major, opus 42.

Performed by:
Ensemble MidtVest.

I for one, am very glad about CPO'S intention to record all of Gade's chamber music. Especially when it comes in such good performances. An ensemble unknown to me, but by what I hear they are on the top of their game. For the first time I am truly satisfied with what I hear, for much of the existing recordings are not wholeheartedly into Gade's music, so I consider this release as an essential one. The musicians on this disc are dedicated to the music, so much is clear from the start, when the first notes of the opus 44 are coming out of my speakers. Ensemble MidtVest is well suited to the music and to each other, for the internal balance is really amazing. Gade's music shines throughout the 63 minutes. As a composer he is much underrated, and there have always been more down raters as admirers. Especially his symphonies had to suffer by this treatment,  to say nothing about his chamber music. I for one always heard  the quality in Gade's music, and never wavered from my opinion. Maybe Gade was not predisposed towards excessive virtuosity, but despite of this, he is an essential composer in his own right. And thus I can only say good things about what is presented in this first volume. Full blooded romantic music, well written and full of interest. As an example you may take the second movement of the Sextet, a scherzo, going over in a very fine Allegro non troppo. Masterly how this ensemble is treating every nuance, so deservingly. To say nothing about the heartfelt Andantino following the already highly charged expectations of the second movement. This is a gorgeous sextet, and well worth your attention.
The early version of the first movement of opus 44 is as good as the new one, so it is a big question mark, why he replaced it. To my ears there was certainly no need. But it's good to have them both.
The piano trio in F major is a work of charm, and lightness of thread, very classical in expression, but with some added beauty added to it, that keeps it flowing and of interest.  The first movement has a invigorating touch to it, energetic and poetic at the same time, full of fine melodious turns. This Allegro animato crosses the street to the second movement Allegro molto vivace. I found that a bit unexpected, but it has a bubbly appearance that gets the better of you, thus the swing of it all prepares you for the third movement Andantino, a much deserved rest in this fun work that develops into the only serious undertone in the opus 42. A bit melancholy even, a feeling of missing out on things happening around you. A touch of isolation. There is a certain joy in the finale movement Finale: Allegro con fuoco, as if it is a race for the first flowers of spring, and you wonder who might have them first. In other words this work is a mood changer, being full of gaiety.  As a first volume in this series this promises much, and I see that volume II  and III is already on the market, so it is on my to order list.




Gernsheim, Friedrich. (1839-1916) The piano Quintets..

New acquisition.
Bought in January 2017.
First listen: 26-1-2017.
Label: CPO.
Recording dates: December 2013.
Recording venue: SWR, Rosbaud Studio, Baden-Baden, Germany.
Recording engineer: Robert Müller.
Running time: 58:52.
Classical relevance: As a Collector of Gernsheim music, essential.

Works performed:

Quintet for Piano, 2 violins. Viola, and cello No. 1 opus 35 in D minor, and No. 2, opus 63 in B minor.

Performed by:
Gémeaux Quartet.
Oliver Triendl, Piano.

If you love your Brahms, Gernsheim is a must. Not that he copies Brahms, but he emulates the same genre in a different but recognizable way. It is a shame that Gernsheim's reputation as a musician is wiped out by the event of the first WW, and the Nazi regime by obliterating him totally from the viewer's eye. Out of sight out of mind so to say. He did not like the new German school, and in my opinion he was right in his stance. He followed the path of Brahms and his fellow composers and thus became one of them. And it must be said both were great friends.
In the first quintet you can clearly hear how alike Brahms and Gernsheim were, as he almost travels the same path as Brahms F minor quintet, but without slavishly copying it. Gernsheim has always been his own man in shaping melodies and create fine harmonies. But he has the same warmth and passion, a fine sense of applying the right dynamics, and at the same time insert the necessary passion that sinks you deep in the prevailing emotion. Just let yourself be swept away by the fourth movement, "Allegro con brio" and you will know what I am talking about.  It's really a fine and rewarding work.
The second quintet was written in the year of Brahms dead 1897. One could say that the choice of B minor was probably a tribute to Brahms. It is a deeply moving work, which shows why Gernsheim as a composer must be revived and become a permanent figure in our awareness of a musician that fully deserves to be amongst those we revere. ( In this CPO must be applauded for they singlehandedly put Gernsheim music on the map again)
The first movement of the B minor, "Molto moderato" is such an impressive introduction, it immediately sets the mood of the piece in a framework of Brahmsian splendour, as if the master is at work, through one of his best followers. But Gernsheim always write in a different way yet akin to Brahms his oeuvre. I can not stress enough that Gernsheim is a master in his own right, which comes out splendidly in this work. This movement is followed by a very graceful "Adagio" that wrings out every ounce of musical perception. The ebb and flow is perfectly embedded in a stream of passionate waves of passion. Amazing writing for the strings! All in all I think this CD is a worthy follow up of the many Gernsheim discs already released. The works get a fine performance, and the recording does not disappoint either.





Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Song of Songs. Choir music from the Renaissance.

New acquisition.
Bought in January 2017.
First listen: 25-1-2017.
Label: Harmonia Mundi USA.
Recording dates: March 2008.
Recording venue: St. Jude on the Hill, Hampstead Garden Suburb, London. England.
Recording engineer: Brad Michel.
Running time: 77:41.
Classical relevance: A welcome addition to my collection.

Composers on this disc:

Jacob Clemens non Papa.
Giovanni Pierluigi de Palestrina.
Francisco Guerrero.
Nicolas Gombert.
Orlande de Lassus.
Tomas Luis de Victoria.
Jean Lhéritier.
Rodrigo de Caballos.
Sebastián de Vivanco.

Performed by:
Stile Antico.

This is the second CD in my collection by Stile Antico. At first I had to get used to the dynamics they apply, and the style in which it is recorded.  But also the fact that six women are in this choir made me at first apprehensive, for together they can destabilize a choir quite easily even if there are an equal amount of men, and does not always mean that the choir balance will be even and harmonious. There are enough examples were the music is ruined by this. I have personal experience, in this specific matter. But I was pleasantly surprised when listening to "Music for Compline" the first CD I bought. There was more loudness as I am used to or liked, but it was so carefully balanced, that it never diminish my pleasure, or damaging my ears in the process of listening. So I was confident in acquiring a second helping from this ensemble, and I was not disappointed, no, not at all. For even more as with the previous recording, the balance was well integrated into the structure of the music. I needed no persuasion to like it very much. This is truly wonderfully performed, and recorded. Even the fact that I have much of the music in other recordings, did not hold me back buying it, for Stile Antico adds many things to the music that with others lay dormant. This choir listens carefully to each other as not to overpower their neighbour, and so add to the consistency in dynamics, shading and tempi. Well balanced.
Recommended.





Taylor, Samuel Coleridge. (1875-1912) & Haim, Paul Ben. (1897-1984) Clarinet Quintets.

New acquisition.
Bought in January 2017.
First listen: 25-1-2017.
Label: Naxos.
Recording dates: May 2016.
Recording venue: Studio Britz, Berlin, Germany.
Recording engineer: Andreas Stoffels.
Running time: 62:08.
Classical relevance: I would say essential.

Works performed:
Clarinet Quintet in F minor, opus 10. (Coleridge Taylor)
Clarinet concert, opus 31a.

Performed by:
Klaus Hampl, Clarinet.
Quartetto di Roma.

This is easily one of the best Naxos cd's I heard in some time. Two composers that are high on my list if it comes to acquiring their music. The quintet from Coleridge Taylor is an absolute gem. It is such a melodious work and so well crafted that I listened in amazement, and I truly mean that. Taylor was an extremely talented composer who died when he was just 37. Cut down in the middle of his creative life due to a lung infection. After listening to this Quintet you wonder what fine works could have come from his hands, would he have lived a full life.
Ben-Haim is a composer who had my attention since I bought a CD with orchestral music on the label CPO. His clarinet quintet is a beautiful piece too. There is no musical stress in this work, and it is thus quite harmonious and melodious, and also extremely well written. There is true magic in the third movement "Thema con variazione". I connected with the composition as a whole through this well crafted movement. Ben Haim is in his own way a force to be reckoned with.
A good decision to couple both works, for they are complementary to each other. 
The performance could not be better, and the recording is well done.
A firm recommendation.


Some additional CD'S I ordered.





Bach, Johann Sebastian. (1685-1750) Organ Works. Famous Organ works from Europe CD 4.

From my collection.
Bought in April 2016.
First listen: 19-12-2016.
Second listen: 25-1-2017.
Label: Ars Musici (Membran)
CD 4 from 10.
Recording dates: October 2003.
Recording venue: Martinikerk, Groningen, The Netherlands.
Recording engineer: Jan Willem van Willingen.
Running time: 73:13.
Classical relevance: Interesting.

Works performed:
Sarabande con Partite in C major, BWV 990.
(Senza Nomine 1-12)
O, Mensch, bewein dein Sünde Groß, Choralbearbeitung, BWV 622.
Passacaglia in C minor, BWV 582.
Sonata in G major, BWV 530.
Praeludium et Fuga in E flat major, BWV 552.
Allemande/Courante/Aria Variata/Partita ultima-Giguetta. (No BWV numbers attached)

Works performed by:
Andreas Liebig on the Arp-Schnitger Organ.


I did not know this 54 year old organist, who was born in Germany, and seems to be equally at ease with modern and old organs/music. This recording is in a super budget box by Membran, and seems to my ears one of the better recordings that I have heard. Done on a organ I know very well, the church being in the city where I was born.
Liebig keeps the music flowing, with even tempi. Not overly sentimental, but lucid interpretations, with details clearly spaced out. His evenness makes the music very expressive, and he keeps the embellishments to a minimum. The Passacaglia is masterly done, a very convincing interpretation. The deeply contemplative introduction makes my spine tingle. All in all what he does he does well, I really like his approach. The Senza Nomine 1-12 is a beacon of rest, his concentrated effort is impressive.
As to the recording, apart from some high stops which are unpleasantly piping at times, (not often) the recording is detailed and gets a lot of the ambient of the Martini church. 
The recording is good.





Monday, January 23, 2017

Organs from Ostfriesland. Gothic-Renaissance-Baroque. CD 1.

From my collection.
Bought in April 2016.
First listen: 26-4-2016.
Second listen: 23-1-2017.
Label: Membran. (Originally: Ars musici)
CD 1 from 10.
Recording dates: May/June 1989.
Recording places: 
Rysum (1457)
Uttum (c.16th century 1660)
Westerhusen (1642-1643)
Norden (1686-1694).
Marienhafe (1710-1713)
Weener (1710-1782
Recording engineer: Erik Sikkema.
Running time: 69:48.
Classical relevance: Essential.

Composers on this disc.
Dietrich Buxtehude.
Claude Goudimel.
Jan Pieterzoon Sweelinck.
Samuel Scheidt.
Conrad Paumann.
Adam Lliborgh.
Paul Hofheimer.
Heinrich Isaac.
Hans Leo Hassler.
Johann Sebastian Bach.
Georg Bohm.

Performed by Harald Vogel.

Music is partly from under recorded composers and therefore doubly welcome. Vogel makes all the music shine, and adds his supreme excellence to all composers. What a fabulous organist he is.
No booklet in this box, but most of the details are on the sleeve. A very good start of this box.
The sound is state of the art. All the organs are presented in the best possible way. Recommended.


Boismortier, Joseph Bodin de. (1689-1755) Second rerun.

I played this set for the second time, and it strengthens my favourable opinion. This is actually quite good.
For the complete reviews please use the search function of my blog.


Friday, January 20, 2017

I keep seeing things I want to order.

I am collecting the Symphonies by Louis Spohr. I missed this release in the list of new budget CPO label.




Thursday, January 19, 2017

Bach, Carl Philipp Emanuel. (1714-1788) The Complete Organ Works, and for Organ and Strings.

New acquisition.
Bought in January 2017.
First listen: 19-1-2017.
Label: Ligia.
CD 2 from 2.
Recording dates: October/December 1998.
Recording venue: Eglise-St-Louis, Vichy.
Recording engineer: Eric Baratin.
Running time: 80:05.
Classical relevance: Essential.

Works performed:
See heading.

Works performed by:
Olivier Vernet, Organ.
Instrument: 
Bernard Aubertin (1991)
Tuning: á= 440Hz.
Temperament: Kirnberger III.

Orchestre D'Auvergne, Arie van Beek.

I enjoyed this twofar very much. For one Olivier Vernet is doing his utmost to make these works shine. He is very alert in pointing out the finer notes in the score, without blowing it out of proportion, what could be easily done on this Aubertin Organ, when I look at the registers. Yet due to his approach you never feel that this organ is new, but at once feel comfortable. Aubertin is an organ builder with his heart and ears in the right place. As for the music, well it has substance, and is well crafted. There is not a single work with irritating weaknesses.
As to the recording, I think they allowed a bit too much echo in this church. Ideally it should be 2 seconds maximum, but this church is giving 4-5 seconds. The volume gets a bit to wide, and due to the echo a bit fuzzy. You hear this when the orchestra comes in. Eric Baratin was probably not able to do anything about it.  Arie van Beek is clearly aware of this for he does his utmost to keep the dynamics within reason. Notwithstanding this issue, the recording is otherwise quite good. The organ sounds like a charm.



Boismortier, Joseph Bodin de. (1689-1755) Œuvre Cinquantième de Mr Boismortier 1734. Transition Baroque.

New acquisition.
Bought: January 2017.
First listen: 19-1-2017.
Label: Ligia.
CD 2 from 2.
Recording dates: September 2013.
Recording venue: La Chapelle de l'Abbaye de Pontlevoy, France.
Recording engineer: Eric Baratin.
Running time: 62:38.
Classical relevance: Essential.

Works performed:
Six sonates dont la dernière est en trio pour les violoncelles, bassons ou violes avec la basse.

Performed by:
Claire Giardelli, Claire Gratton, Violoncelles.
Marie Hervé, Basson.
Laure Vovard, Clavecin.
Jean-Louis Charbonnier, Basse de viole.

Extra ordinary fine in music and execution. I really enjoyed what I heard. such a perfectly matching ensemble making music on such a high level is a treat any time. Boismortier wrote superb solo parts in these sonatas, especially for the bassoon, and gave the harpsichord also a lot to do. Both cello players on this disc are a marvel. Together they had a lot of fun between them, and this you can hear. The experience of all musicians involved pay huge dividends. There is a harmony that is beguiling. No faults can be found here.
The recording is almost state of the art. The booklet for a change with Ligia is well written and all is translated into English, a relief, after all those Ligia discs that are mostly in French.
Recommended.




Abel, Carl Friedrich. (1723-1787) Six Symphonies, opus 7.

New acquisition. 
A free gift from JPC de.
First listen: 19-1-2017.
Label: CPO.
Recording dates: March 2015.
Recording venue: Deutschlandfunk Kammermusiksaal, Köln, Germany.
Recording engineer: Uwe Walter.
Running time: 62:02.
Classical relevance: Well worth acquiring.

Works performed:
See heading.

Works performed by:
La Stagione Frankfurt, Michael Schneider.

Abel wrote nice symphonies. He published six collections of them. Opus 7 is the third of these collections, and originated sometime between 1763 and 1767.
The fun thing is that Abel used folk music throughout the opus 7, mostly in a rondo form, which was unusual, but he achieves thereby his own individual musical language. Most of the melodies are memorable and quite inventive. Do not make the mistake of thinking these works simplistic, for when it comes to the structure of the works, the compositions on the contrary are extremely intricate, with some excellent part writing, mostly in the middle voices. Melodious as well as harmonious.
The performance is as I am used to from earlier recordings of this ensemble and conductor in the same field. Alert it is, and in depicting the details, most excellent. Tempi are well judged.
Recording is very good.


( There is not as yet a image of this CD, but as soon as I spot it, or someone else I will post it)

Added a few CD'S to my JPC order...




Wednesday, January 18, 2017

A free and new CD from JPC de for the custom....

So new that there is no image yet, but as soon as it will be I post it.

The music is from: 
Carl Friedrich Abel. (1723-1787) 
6 Symphonies, opus 7.

Performed by:
La Stagione Frankfurt, Michael Schneider.
Recording date March 2015.

Clemens Deus Artifex. Music at the Court of Pope Clement. (1342-1352)

From my collection.
Bought in November 2016.
First listen: 16-12-2016.
Second listen: 18-1-2017.
Label: Ligia.
Recording date: April 2011.
Recording venue: Abbaye Saint-Robert de La Chaise-Dieu, France.
Recording engineer: Eric Baratin.
Running time: 51:02.
Classical relevance: Essential.

Works performed:
A polyphonic office Hymn performed in the presence of Clement VI (Avignon-14th Century) 
A Proper of Assumption day.

Works performed by:
La Main Harmonique, Frédéric Bétous.

I am quickly becoming a admirer of this ensemble with only male voices. Not only are both countertenors a marvel, but tenor and bass are of a high standard too. Andrés Rojas and Frédéric Bétous are counters that have the right height and do not need to overstretch their voices, it flows easily out of their throats. And that is not always a given thing to most counters. so no worries on that score at all. They all blend marvelously together, and their diction of old latin is amazing, so perfectly demonstrated by the Introït-Gaudeamus, with has a nice Byzantine hum in the background, very impressively sung. And from there on it's all as it should be. Singing of a high calibre, high notes met with ease, perfectly balanced, and dynamics well judged. The recording seamlessly integrates the acoustic with the voices. A big plus. Be aware that in Sequence: Area Virga, the volume goes considerably up, so if you are slowly nudged into a relax mode, this one will shake you out of it within milliseconds.😄




Charpentier, Marc-Antoine. (1643-1704) Beata est Maria. Motets for Three men's Voices

From my collection.
Bought in November 2016.
First listen: 15-12-2016.
Second listen: 15-12-2016.
Third listen: 18-1-2017.
Label: Ligia.
Recording dates: September 2011.
Recording venue: Abbatiale de l'Abbaye-École de Sorèze. (Dans le Tarn-Midi Pyrénées), France.
Recording engineer: Eric Baratin.
Running time: 56:30.
Classical relevance: Very worthwhile to have.

Works performed:
See heading.

Works performed by:
Les Passions, Orchestre Baroque de Montauban, Jean Marc Andrieu.
Voices:
Vincent Lièvre-Picard, Counter tenor.
Sébastien Obrecht, Tenor.
Jean Manuel Candenot, Bariton.

I never heard these pieces before, of which Charpentier wrote a lot, over 400 I read in the booklet. If they are all like the present ones than we definitively need them on CD. The duets are a pleasure for your ears. The countertenor is a marvel of softness and intergrates fantastically with the other singers. No sharp edges, but a round sound. Just perfect. The blend between them is near perfect, and they listen to each other very carefully and so keeping the right balance in tempi and dynamics. They all give their own colour to the compositions, and in this you hear how perfectly they match. It is well recorded in an acoustically superb place.  Quite worthwhile to have and to hold. 


Ockeghem and Compère.... Music in the Time of Anne de France/Anne de Beaujeu/Anne de Bourbon. TOP RECCOMENDATION

From my collection.
Bought in November 2016.
First listen: 14-12-2016.
Second listen: 18-1-2017.
Label: Ligia.
Recording dates: July 2009.
Recording venue: Église Saint-Pierre des Chartreux, Toulouse, France.
Recording engineer: Thierry Bardon.
Running time: 64:00.
Classical relevance: Essential. Reference interpretation.

Composers on this disc:
Johannes Ockeghem (1420-1497)
Loyset Compère. (1445-1518)
Alexander Agricola. (1445-1506)
Johannes Ghiselin-Verbonnet. (1491-1507)

Performed by: 
Le Main Harmonique, Frédéric Bétous.

This CD came with a large order of Ligia discs, and it took me some time before it landed in my player, but it was worth the wait, even more than that. La Main Harmonique is not an unknown ensemble to me, but they did nevertheless surprise me in many aspects of this recording. The quality of music is no point of discussion, but it can be when the performance is below par, which happens quite often. More so as many may think. The voices of this group are so good, that they bring with their vocal excellence a rest and contemplative element in the performance, that positively sends you towards a mental balance, which in turn makes you more than merely receptive of the many felicities in the music and text. It was a creative time at the court of Anne, were all the talented composers, writers poets and painters collaborated to create a cultural heritage of which we reap the fruits to this day. The immense pleasure it gave me in listening to those wonderful voices, with such inspiring music, made my day. When the music ended I was devastated that it would not go on forever. It is well recorded in this beautiful church, and acoustically near perfect. The sound is well captured, in a warm ambiance.
Recommended.


My first order in the year 2017, always a pleasure.










Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Mare- Charpentier, Antoine. (1643-1704) Cantica Nativitatis 1676, Motets and Oratorios. .

From my collection.
Bought in November 2016.
First listen: 14-12-2016.
Second listen: 17-1-2017.
Label: Ligia. 
Recording dates:  2004.
Recording venue: Saint Ouen Les Vignes, France.
Recording engineer: Eric Baratin I guess. He is not named.
Running time: 60:11.
Classical relevance: Worth acquiring.

Composers on this Disc:
Henry Du Mont, Louis Couperin, Gaspard Le Roux.

Participating in different parts
Attente et réjouissance.
Naissance et Adoration.
Épiphanie.
Chandeleur.

(Vocal and instrumental works)

Performed by:
Ensemble....in Ore mel...
Organ and direction: Olivier Vernet.

Instrument:
An anonymous 18 century organ.
Restored in 1992-4.
Tuning: 420 Hz.
Unequal temperament.

A fine disc with music that delights throughout and never disappoints. There is not a moment of boredom, but a constant supply of fresh invigorating music, well performed and sung by two excellent sopranos, ( Catherine Greuillet and Noémi Rime), and a thunderous but well within limits the Bass François Bazola, all aided by an instrumental group of enthusiasts. 
The Alma redemptoris Mater for two Sopranos is a musical marvel, movingly sung, as are all the other pieces. Very much liked the Organ contributions of Olivier Vernet. The instrument is a fine one. The sound is pretty good.




Knights, Maids and Miracles. NOX-LUX. The Spring of the Middle Ages. France & England, 1200-1300. CD 5.

New acquisition.
Bought in November 2016..
First listen.
Label: Arcana.
CD 5 from 5.
Recording dates: October 2000.
Recording venue: Abbey of Rosazzo, Manzano, Udine, Italy.
Recording engineers: Michel Bernstein and Charlotte Gilart de Kéranfléc'h.
Running time: 63:10.
Classical relevance: Essential.

Works performed:
See heading.

Works performed by:
La Reverdie.

Absolutely smashing music. I have written quite a lot about the quality of this ensemble and the music. It would fill a book of some size to tell there is to know about the origins of the music, and the performance style. I think La Reverdie made all the right choices in instruments, and created an accord between each other that makes for perfect harmony, especially in the voice material. The music from that time makes for fascinating insights. Very much recommended.





   

Passion selon Saint Jean. Anonymous 1534, from the Tenth book published by Pierre Attaingnant. World Premiere. TOP CHOICE 2016.

From my collection.
Bought in November 2016.
First listen: 14-12-2016.
Second listen: 17-1-2017.
Label: Ligia.
Recording dates: November 2004.
Recording venue: Sainte-Chapelle......
Recording engineer: Eric Baratin.
Running time: 76:02.
Classical relevance: Reference recording.

Works performed:
Good Friday Liturgy Part 1. Kyrie eleyson...Parce Famulis. (Claudin de Sermisy)
Matins, Lessons for Tenebrae (Anonymous)
The Passion according to Saint Jean. (Anonymous)

Performed by:
Les Chantres de la Sainte-Chapelle, Antoine Sicot.
With participation of Hervé Lamy, Tenor.

When I ordered this CD I did not know what to expect. But the samples sounded good to me, albeit short, so I took the risk of the small investment and was richly rewarded. This music is virtually unknown, and never before recorded. As to why is a riddle to me. This music is on such a high level, that it keep astounding me for its rich palette of creativity, and ingenuity. This is the work of someone that knew precisely how to create a effect sought for, and made a sublime composition out of it. Quite rarely do I encounter such genius, but with this CD all the rules are met, and thus I was presented with  a delightful insight into an unknown musical work.  The performance is superb. Excellent voices, well in balance, no nasty surprises but  singers that blend together to create one voice out of voices. Much research has gone into this venture in terms of the Latin pronunciation, and the performance procedure at that time. They had some basis to venture from, explained in the excellent booklet. The harmony is amazing. The Passion is to my ears a masterwork, without a shred of doubt. I urge all that have an interest in that time and music to buy this forthwith.
The recording is superb.



L'École du Nord. Organ music.

From my collection.
Bought in November 2016.
First listen: 25-11-2016.
Second listen: 17-1-2017.
Label: Ligia.
Recording dates: October 2013.
Recording venue: Saint John's Church, Belfort.
Recording engineer: Eric Baratin.
Running time: 75:23.
Classical relevance: Well worth having.

Works from:
Jan Pieterszoon Sweelinck.
Hieronymus Praetorius.
Heinrich Scheidemann.
Matthias Weckman.
Franz Tunder.
Dietrich Buxtehude.
Georg Böhm

Performed by:
Jean-Charles Ablitzer.

Instrument:
Marc Garnier Organ. (1978-1984.
Tuning: A=467 Hz at 17 degrees celsius.
Modified Mesotonic Temperament.

The organ is a new one. But made after the principles of the Northern style German organs, as known to the composers on this disc. Did they succeed? Yes, from all what I have heard of original instruments, this comes really very close, and if no one would have told me, I might not have heard the difference. A tremendous job and so successfully done. The sound is exactly as I expected, full with just enough warmth, detailed, clear, and when needed, punch in abundance. This is my first confrontation with Ablitzer, but he may stay, for he is a gifted organist with a very poetic strain in his performance, and warmth in his approach, never losing sight of of the multitude of important details. Just listen to Georg Böhm's Partita sur le Choral-Ach wie nichtig, ach wie Flüchtig- such a poise, and a steady but calmly flowing line. But also Dietrich Buxtehude,-In Dulci Jubilo and the Praeludium in g- made quite a impression on me. Thumbs up then. I will seek more of this organist.
It is well recorded, would have liked a bit more openness in the higher registers, but these are minor quibbles.




Monday, January 16, 2017

Castillon, Alexis de. (1838-1873) Piano Trios, opus 4 & 17.

From my collection.
Bought in November 2016.
First listen: 23-11-2016.
Second listen: 16-1-2017.
Label: Ligia.
Recording dates: Not mentioned.
Recording venue: Palazzetto Bru Zane, Venice, Italy.
Recording engineer: Eric Baratin.
Running time: 62:40.
Classical relevance: Well worth buying.

Works performed:
See heading.

Works performed by:
Trio Nuori.

This composer is a great unknown to many of us classical music lovers, and I am not surprised anymore of discovering such fine composers that have been ignored in the large amount of good offers in that area. Now he is compared or it is said of him that he is the French Robert Schumann. Such a epitaph is not fitting and does no justice to the extraordinary talent of Castillon.  He is an altogether different beast in musical matters, and this you will quickly hear. A gentle and easy going man, that is out to impress, not by pomp and circumstance but by finely chiseled compositions that will charm anyone out of his  mood, and make it better. It all fits together in these melodious piano trios. It's meandering through your senses in such an easy going way, that you do not notice the passing of time, but feel encapsulated as in a dream. And the awakening is crude when the music stops, the warmth gone, and the protective layer undone. 
In that respect he is unique and original and deserves a permanent place in the collections of anyone that cares about music.
The recording is very good, with a fine intimate sense around the instruments. Even in this there is a harmony hard to escape. The performance could not be better.



Thursday, January 12, 2017

Cantem Nadal. Noël Baroque Occitan. Folkloristic Christmas Music.

From my collection.
Bought in November 2106.
First listen: 23-11-2016.
Second listen: 12-1-2017.
Label: Ligia.
Recording dates: March 2009.
Recording venue: Chapelle Saint Baptiste, Toulouse, France.
Recording engineer: Eric Baratin.
Running time: 63:16.
Classical relevance: Great fun this music.

Works performed:
See heading.

Works performed by:
La Mounède. (Instrumentalists and Traditional singers.)
Les Passions. (Singers and instrumentalists)
Les Sacqueboutiers.

This disc is about discovering a musical heritage, simple and beautiful melodies to please your ears and heart alike. In that sense this CD has everything going for it. It is a mix of all kind of traditional instruments, and manners of singing. Folkloristic music of a very decent level, that needs to be heard and will put a smile on everyone's face. Good natured performances, and a lot of fun instruments, and folksy voices. There is no reason for letting this pass for the festive season. The sound is good, not as detailed as I would wish but that's me, nitpicking. The only drawback for me, is this French chauvinism of keeping everything worth while to know in the french language, and no need to translate texts or info into another language, God forbid. Many small French labels have no pretension at being sold outside their borders.
This said and warned, I still recommend it for the music . 




Desprez, Josquin. (1450-55-1521) Masses.

From my collection.
Bought in November 2016.
First listen: 20-11-2016.
Second listen: 12-1-2017.
Label: Ligia.
Recording dates: August 2011.
Recording venue: L'Église de Javols (Lozère, France)
Recording engineer: Jean Marc Laisne.
Running time: 65:00
Classical relevance: Nice performance, but it will no add more as you already might know.

Works performed:
Mass:
La sol fa re mi.
Gaudeamus.

Performed by:
Metamorphoses Biscantor, Maurice Bourbon. 

Well this performance is a mixed blessing actually. The voices are good, but not exceptional. Very earthbound I have to say, and missing the spiritual depth this music needs. Of course moments of beauty are spattered around but not in a coherent manner. There is not much nuance or fine detailing in the singing, and the dynamics are sometimes badly chosen, but the choir balance is okay. Intimacy is missing, and the choir sounds bigger as it is due to the recording, that gives too much ambient info, and causing the sound to be fuzzy at times. Furtheron in the recording the sound is modified in a good sense, but that took them quite some time to hear this, which is a pity, and does not contribute to the success of the compositions. So overall this is a pleasant interpretation, but it will not replace or come near to existing recordings already on the market, it simply has not enough class, and is a bit matter of fact. And another example of not thinking outside the box, the French editors of the booklet did not find it necessary to give the text of the masses, but filled the booklet with silly and useless info. A so called interview with Josquin and the director of this ensemble, dear o dear, what a puberal exercise....The layout of the booklet is very tasteful, that's the other side of  my criticism.


Mouton, Jean. (c.1459-1522) Anna requiescat in pace. Déploration sur la mort d'Anne de Bretagne-Motets.

From my collection. 
Bought in November 2016.
First listen: 17-11-2016.
Second listen: 12-1-2017.
Label: Ligia.
Recording dates: September/October 2002.
Recording venue: Eglise Notre Dame de Sancerre, France.
Recording engineer: Eric Baratin.
Running time: 54:15.
Classical relevance: Well worth having.

Works performed:
See heading.

Work performed by:
Ensemble Jacques Moderne, Joel Suhubiette.

It is always a treat to find music by Jean Mouton. He wrote much, but is recorded in tiny quantities. So doubly welcome is this disc, which gives us some very fine Motets, plus some instrumental  compositions. The motets are divided in equal parts for Soprano and viols or Choir and viols. The CD starts with"Quis dabit oculis nostris" in which the engineer Baratin has to find his recording balance, so he fiddles around the buttons for a full 7 minutes, before he has found this balance. Why can they not try before recording I wonder? The choir is too forward, and the voices melt together in a fuzzy warm blob of sound, with no detailing at all. He has it right, from the second track on, and delivers then a lucid well detailed and warm soundstage. So he is able, but thinks it okay to mess around before he gets there.
Just listen to this wonderful soprano in "Maria Virgo prescripte Angeli" she really sounds like a angel, so well is her voice captured. No vibrato anywhere, and a full yet detailed sound from the choir, They sing at times very earthbound. Ideally I would prefer a smaller choir for the motets, especially in the "Magnificat" but apart from that I find this a very successful performance. A very good start into the Ligia recordings I bought a week ago.
Safely recommended.



Machaut, de Guillaume. (c.1300-1370) Messe de Nostre Dame.

From my collection.
New release 2016.
Bought in April 2016.
First listen: 27-4-2016.
Second listen: 19-7-2016
Third listen: 20-9-2016.
Fourth listen: 12-1-2017.
Label: Glossa.
Recording dates: March 2015.
Recording venue: Augustine's Church, Antwerp, Belgium.
Recording engineer: Alexandre Fostier.
Running time: 72:50.
Classical relevance: Reference recording.

Works performed:
See heading.

Performed by:
Graindelavoix, Bjorn Schmelzer.

Well well, if you want to be challenged by this familiar work by Machaut, this would be the recording to do so.
In this interpretation Schmelzer is putting all his creativity into the moulding of all the individual voices, every singer is an entity in itself, and has a distinct soloistic imprint.  Artistically this is very impressive, and for me this recording is immediately promoted to a first place among my other interpretations. The focus on individual voices gives a swing to the music, and that works just fine, with many Byzantine influences, it's almost as I hear parts of the Greek Orthodox liturgy. All the singers are at the top of their trade. This is not a easy way of singing, for Schmelzer is searching for individuality in the voices which for him is above homogene ensemble singing. That they all pull it off in such a perfect way is a small miracle indeed. It brings you much closer to the heart of Machaut's music. Thus a reference recording and very much recommended.
The sound is excellent.



Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Ockeghem, Johannes. (c. 1410-1497) Missa Caput. Parisian Machicotage for the Mandatum Ritual. (Top recommendation)

From my collection.
Bought in October 2016.
First listen: 25-10-2016.
Second listen: 11-11-2016.
Third listen: 11-1-2017.
Label: Glossa,
Recording dates: August 2004.
Recording venue: Sint Pauluskerk, Antwerp, Belgium.
Recording engineer: Jo Cops.
Running time: 58:52.
Classical relevance: Essential.

Works performed:
See heading.

Performed by:
Graindelavoix, Björn Schmelzer.

Unusual is the first thing that comes to mind. Fascinating is the second predominant feeling. Sung by professional and semi professional singers, and creating a very authentic sound, probably a very common performing practice in Ockeghem's time. However that may have been, to hear this music brought to the foreground by Graindelavoix is a revelation to me, and the truth of this very organic interpretation rings in my ears with every note. The Byzantine background is very audible.
It has a raw tinge to it all, musicality is more important as the technical perfection of every note, and that suits me fine. The meaning and intent of the Missa Caput has never been more clear to me, thus with eyes closed one steps into a world long forgotten but becomes so real when listening to Graindelavoix. In all respects Schmelzer is a valuable musician, driven and highly motivated to get every ounce of discovery out of the music for centuries hidden. For me this one counts as a reference interpretation. As for the recording that is nearly State of the Art. All wishes fulfilled. It's hard to understand the technical essay by Schmelzer in the booklet, added the fact that all the French is not translated, and the Dutch text is a classic textbook disaster, one quickly gets lost in a labyrinth of intellectual humbug. Better read some excellent essays on the internet, which will lead to a better understanding.

Top recommendation.






Gesualdo. Carlo Gesualdo da Venosa. (1566-1613. Sesto libro di Madrigali, 1611.

From my collection.
Bought in October 2016.
First listen: 20-10-2016.
Second listen: 1-11-2016.
Third listen: 8-11-2016.
Fourth listen: 11-1-2017.
Label: Glossa.
Recording dates: June/July 2012.
Recording venue: Chiesa della BV al Colletto, Roletto, Italy.
Recording engineer: Giuseppe Maletto.
Running time: 77:55.
Classical relevance: As far as Gesualdo goes this is pretty essential. A perfectly blended ensemble, and to my ears this can not be sung better as it comes here.

Works performed:
See heading.

Performed by: 
La Compagnia del Madrigale.

A new ensemble, founded recently the booklet says, but gives no date as to the beginning. But whatever, the voices on this disc are experienced and well suited to the music of Gesualdo. He did not write easy music, far from it. As a renaissance composer his polyphonic writing is complicated, and a tour de force for singers. But also your ears might suffer if it is badly performed. And I must say that I heard more bad as good recordings of his music.  A Sei voci is an ensemble I appreciate much. It is by no means easy music to approach, but some think it is, judging by bad interpretations that came my way.
I bought two volumes of this group, the present one and  Terza libro, the second instalment as far as I know in this series. As far as the singing is going I have nothing but praise to add. The voices are well blended, the female singers do not scream your ears of, and the male voices are admirable in their expression. You can hear that in every item on this disc. The recording is clear as a bell, and the ambiance in which they sing is perfectly suited for their voices. The air around them will produce a very natural recording, so in that sense all is as it should be!
A near State of the Art recording no less. A very welcome addition to my collection.





Gesualdo, Carlo Gesualdo da Venosa. (1566-1613) Terzo Libro di Madrigali, a cinque voci, 1595.

From my collection,
Bought in October 2016.
First listen: 21-10-2016.
Second listen: 8-11-2016.
Third listen: 11-1-2017.
Label: Glossa.
Recording dates: September/October/November 2015.
Recording venue: Chiesa della BV al Colletto, Roletto, Italy.
Recording engineer: Giuseppe Maletto.
Running time: 63:31.
Classical relevance: Essential.

Works performed:
See heading, plus bonus tracks.

Scipione Stella: Sento dentr'al cor mio.
Luzzasco Luzzaschi: Dolorosi martir.
Alfonso Fontanelli: Colei che già si bella.

Works performed by:
La Compagnia del Madrigale.



I have the same praise to offer as with the previous issue I played from the same composer and performers. Never before did I hear such perfect performances of Gesualdo's music as the present one, plus the other release of the 6th book. The voices are so well matched, and therefore blend harmoniously. Every syllable clear as a bell, every accent profound, the synergy is amazing, and the text is well presented with all the passionate emotion of which Gesualdo was master. Not that he controlled his passions though. Text and music go together as a glove that fits seamlessly.
The recording is State of the Art.



Knights, Maids and Miracles. Mediæval Echos of Celtic Femininity. (Insula Feminarum) CD 4.

New acquisition.
Bought in: November 2016.
First listen: 10-1-2017.
Label: Arcana.
CD 4 from 5.
Recording dates: March 1997.
Recording venue: Abbey of Rosazzo, Manzano, Udine, Italy.
Recording engineers: Charlotte de Kéranflèc'h and Klaus Neumann.
Running time: 64:15.
Classical relevance: Essential.

Works performed:
Serca (Amores) 
"Ysot ma drue, Ysot m'amie en vus ma mort, en vus ma vie"
(Gottfried von Straßburg, Tristan, c.1225)

Banflaith. (Regalitas)
"Rex ést pax populorum, cura languorum, temperies aeris serenitas maris, terre fecunditas.
(Anonymous -Ireland, De XII Abusivis seculli 8th century)

Echtrai. (Casus)
"Ni raba-sa-riam cenfer scath araile ocum"
(Tain Bó Cuailnge, 9th century.

Fisi (Visione)
"I saw a swete semly syght a blisful birde, a blossum that murnyng made & mirth of-mange". 
(Anonymous-England, 14th century)

Performed by: 
La Reverdie.

As with the previous CD'S in this box I am thoroughly enchanted by what I hear. For most people it takes some adapting to this music, but for me it sounds quite natural and unspoiled. It is after all a dip in times far away, and gives a fairly good impression of how this music might have sounded. A world so far away that it is almost a miracle to have music from that time at all. The synergy that is with La Reverdie, is beyond imagining beautiful, and feels so close to that time. The strangeness of this performing style is one that does not come easy to most listeners, but it's worthwhile to sit still and let the sound get into your system. It will not take long before it is mesmerizing you into the world it tries to portray, and it feels like a privilege to be with them. The sound is exemplary.
Recommended.




I consider this my last integral set of Bach's complete Organ music, unless.......

My last integral set, unless Christopher Herrick's Hyperion set is re-released, which I think is doubtful, or finally Ewald Kooimans ...