Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Debussy, Claude. (1862-1918) Orchestral Works.

From my collection.
Bought in November 2015.
First listen: 15-12-2015.
Second listen: 28-2-2017.
Label: Alpha.
CD 2 of 5.
Recording dates: February 2012.
Recording venue: Concertgebouw Brugge, Belgium.
Recording engineer: Markus Heiland.
Running time: 76:53.
Classical relevance: Essential.

Works performed:

Prelude a'apres-midi d'faune.
La Mer.
Images.

Performed by:

Anima Eterna Brugge, Jos van Immerseel.

I cannot say that I have ever heard it better as on this CD. Such a myriad of details coming out of this state of the art recording, that I am utterly surprised by what is all hidden in other performances, and what Immerseel conjures up out of his orchestra. As for the interpretations of these well known works, it gives you a much deeper insight into the compositions by Debussy. These are truly revelatory images of Debussy sound world as I have never heard them before. The ebb and flow, the magic, it hangs as a gossamer curtain over this musical adventure, for that it honestly is.....The impressionism is a feature that comes naturally out of what you hear, unforced and spiritual to the very essence. Magnificent. Even if you already have prime recordings of this music, no matter, these ones you need too. This all said, it is difficult for me, however good the performance and recording to keep my attention to the music of Debussy. I tend to wander off quite easily. Still magnificent music.

But...this is the performance to have.




Grieg, Edvard. (1843-1907) Complete Symphonic Works, Volume I.

From my collection.
Bought in August 2016.
First listen: 4-10-2016.
Second listen: 28-2-2017.
Label: Audite.
Recording dates: October 2010.
Recording venue: Philharmonie, Köln, Germany.
Recording engineer: Mark Hohn.
Running time: 73:22;
Classical relevance: A fresh new look on familiar works.

Works performed:
Symphonic Dances, opus 64.
Peer Gynt Suite No. 1 & 2.
Funeral March in memory of Rikard Nordraak.

Performed by:
WDR Sinfonieorchester Köln, Eivind Aadland.

It is quite something for me to buy 5 volumes of Grieg's Orchestral output, when I already have quite a few recordings in my collection of almost all, what I now bought anew. But the samples told me, that all was slightly different, and since they were at 50% off the price, I just decided to try them. And now the first CD made its entrance, and all in all I think it was a wise thing to buy them. I had to get used to the tempi, some to slow, some much faster as I was used to. No sentimentality in Aadland's performances, no added warmth, but rather bare bones Grieg, with a lot more details in the orchestral image as what I am used too, in all other recordings I have.  So a slight chill is over all the works on this disc, but that actually suits Grieg. Of course I was looking for teardrops in The Death of Äse, but there was no drama, no heart rending emotion,  but a clean cut statement, followed by a ravishing Anitra's Dance, with much inner detail previously unheard. The Arabian dance was also a discovery as I now got the folkloristic tinge behind it all. Peer Gynt's homecoming had very dry timpani, that made a powerful statement. The funeral March had that too, but that I never knew in other recordings I have.  And the somewhat undercooled statement of this performance in all works appealed to me greatly.

Something to know about the recording.

It is a State of the Art recording, this is quite clear to me, but it is not quite what it should be.
The engineer misjudged a acoustical situation and did not correct this or just partly, which was a wrongheaded decision. The CD starts with the Symphonic Dances opus 64, a beautiful work. But if I play this on my normal volume, the top frequencies, including the Violins, Flutes and part of the Brass are so hard, and the flutes are so sharp, that it almost damaged my ears. Especially in the first movement,  "Allegro moderato e marcato" the Flutes are razor sharp and piping your ears with painful results. It reoccurs throughout all the movements, so I had to lower the volume considerably, which resulted in missing details galore. Now the situation is a bit better in the opus 46/55, but still there are ackward moments of unpleasantness. I do not encounter that often, State of the Art recordings with these kind of faults. That the engineer did not hear this is beyond me. There were so many Diplom engineers and editing specialists involved in this recording, and still they manage to muddle the whole thing. 



Haydn, Joseph. (1732-1809) The Complete Symphonies. The Hogwood collection. CD 7.

From my collection.
Gifted to me in 2013.
First listen: 12-11-2013.
Second listen: 28-2-2017.
Label: L'oiseau-Lyre.
CD 7 from 32.
Recording dates: October 1990.
Recording venue: Walthamstow Assembly Hall, London, England.
Recording engineer: Not specifically mentioned for CD 7.
Running time: 75:57.
Classical relevance: Essential.

Works performed:
Symphony No. 6-8.

Performed by: 
Academy of Ancient Music, Christopher Hogwood.

Three Symphonies with a name to it, made famous by it's fabulous orchestration for winds especially. Haydn has a fine sense for catching melodies, and writing fetching solo parts for winds and violins alike, with the odd cello or bass added. In the case of Le Matin-Le Midi- & Le Soir he made sure that we would never forget them, even long after hearing these works. You simply need one or two notes to have the aha effect, and anticipating what is coming. Hogwood makes sure that the impression you get, is a lasting one in terms of performance. I am constantly surprised by the amount of details he unearths. 
The recording is very good.




Monday, February 27, 2017

Second rerun: Klughardt, August. Symphony No. 4, and other works.

See first review of this disc: February, 22th 2017.

Halvorsen, Johan. (1864-1935) Nielsen, Carl. (1865-1931) Violin concertos.

New acquisition.
Bought in February 2017.
First listen: 27-2-2017.
Label: Naxos.
Recording dates: August/September 2016.
Recording venue: Malmö Concert Hall. Sweden.
Recording engineer: Tim Handley.
Running time: 62:00.
Classical relevance to me: In two minds.

Works performed:
Halvorsen:
Violin Concerto, opus 28.
Romance.

Nielsen:
Violin concerto, opus 33.

Performed by:
Henning Kraggerud, violin.
Malmö SO, Bjarte Engeset.

Technically this is a very good performance. Kraggerud gets out what is possible, which is a lot, and there is no way to fault him. The orchestra follows faithfully and adequately, with quite some energy behind to back this violinist in the best possible way. But to say that what I hear is the best I ever heard, well no. Musically it is a bit uninvolving. It is not enough to play both violin concertos to perfection, it has to grip you and it certainly does not grip me. It is a personal thing if it comes to the amount of emotion you want to feel, but for me it is in short supply on this disc. My involvement is on the surface and as soon as there is an opening to go deeper, the gap is closed immediately by more technical brilliance. The Halvorsen concerto is certainly worth the effort of recording it, but it is not a masterwork perse. There are some fine melodies, and beautiful filigree details which Kraggerud brings gorgeously out of the score. But it's hard to keep your attention close to the work, due to the lack of personal involvement. And this also fits on the other works on this CD. And what's more, I think that the recording balance is not what I am used to from the likes of Tim Handley. As such the sound is detailed, has a good front to back stage, more than enough depth, but notice that the timpani are placed behind the celli and basses, and this muddles the sound up and obscures detail in the crescendos. It is even boomy at times. All upper frequencies are spot on, but I feel the lower instruments out of synch. The total sound is strange to say the least. Could be the acoustics of course of the Malmö Hall? 
A bit disappointed I am.



Friday, February 24, 2017

Second rerun. Vladimir Jurowski & Felix Woyrsch. Orchestral works.

See first review February 6th 2017.

See first review February 7th 2017.

Bate, Stanley. (1911-1959) Concerto for Viola & Orchestra. Bell William Henry. (1873-1946. Concerto for Viola and Orchestra. Top recommendation.

From my collection.
Bought in May 2014.
First listen: 6-6-2014.
Second listen: 24-2-2017.
Label: Dutton.
Recording dates: July 2008.
Recording venue: The Colosseum, Town Hall, Watford
Recording engineer: Dexter Newman.
Assistant engineer: Dillon Gallagher.
Running time: 74:54.
Classical relevance to me: TOP RECOMMENDATION.

Works performed:
Stanley Bate.
Concerto for Viola and orchestra (1944-1946)

Ralph Vaughan Williams.
Romance.

William Henry Bell.
Concerto for Viola and Orchestra. "Rosa Mystica" (1916)

[World premiere recordings]

Performed by:
Roger Chase, Viola.
BBC Concert Orchestra, Stephen Bell.

This Concerto by Stanley Bate should be a classic, and a obligatory one for a viola player in his or her repertoire.  A piece of great beauty as there ever was one.  It bears a dedication to Ralph Vaughan Williams and truth be told, it has many elements of VW  in the score.. Also not uncommon to this composer is virtuosity, bravoura, and an element of great force, but it's primarily a work that harbours many colours and moods. Philosophical and spiritual, intellectual and aesthetically of a high standard. For me this is a magical realm, where all elements of the exceptional come together.  The first movement makes you sit up by its ethereal beauty, and its magical detail that shares with you a world of mysterious bypaths. The third movement has almost a  Paganiniana allure, while the last movement plunges you back into the idiom of the first movement.  There was a broadcast of this concerto in 1947, but after that it was never heard again until now. Which if you allow me, is a British shame, to let go such a distinguished composer. If you like VW, this concerto will become a treasure to you, no doubt about that. It is already for me. This little titbit from Vaughan Williams with the title "Romance" is an orchestration by Roger Chase, the principal Viola player on this disc. And very nicely it is done.
The concerto written by Bell can be put in the same category as the Bate concerto. The description also fits on this work, and has a marvelously written first movement. It has such power and expression that I got quite overwhelmed by all the moods prevalent in it. Being on such a height it is difficult to get back into the second movement "Adagio" were all the turmoil is gone and a pastoral scene takes over and slips easily in the final part with an almost Wagnerian explosion of colour, but never in the lush way as done by Wagner, but with a certain restrain which makes it aesthetically attractive. The wealth of small instrumental additions to the orchestral colours, sometimes barely audible, make it a feast for your ears. It truly deserved my top recommendation.
You also get State of the Art sound. It's utterly amazing how good a recording can sound. This one belongs high up.




Torelli, Giuseppe. (1658-1709)The Original Brandenburg Concertos, Concerti Musicali, opus 6 (1698) & Sonata a 4 in A minor, G 46.

New acquisition.
Bought in February 2017.
First listen: 24-2-2017
Label: Signum.
Recording dates: April 2008.
Recording venue: St Andrew's Church, Toddington, Gloucestershire, England.
Recording engineer: Adrian Hunter.
Running time: 62:30.
Classical relevance to me: Essential.

Works performed:
See heading.

Works performed by:
Charivari Agréable, Kah Ming Ng.

I am happy that a disc surfaced with music by Giuseppe Torelli, which is a rarity, for he is almost forgotten or neglected. Quite an important composer, revered by many. His music was used in compositions by J.S. Bach and Johann Gottfried Walther, just to name a few. There is no reason I could find, why he is hardly recorded or performed. As a composer his compositional standard is high and his technical skills without doubt up to scratch. So this disc is doubly welcome if only to hear the music he composed. It is rather fascinating to know that these Brandenburg concertos were written a quarter of a century before J.S. Bach put his mind to it. As such Torelli's opus 6 are also masterworks, there is no doubt in my mind about it. It is a virtual joy to hear what Torelli did in the opus 6. Creative in melodies, elegant in their bearing, harmonious, and well written. It is a pity therefore that this ensemble is not quite up to scratch. Don't get me wrong though. Charivari Agréable is technically a top ensemble, but academic in the extreme. Historically well informed they play as a well oiled machine, but rather mechanical. In all their authenticity they miss the sunny side of the music. Formal and strict come to mind, inflexibility, a rather conservative approach if it comes to tempi, and a certain inflexibility in applying them. Technically they deliver a pristine performance, but rather straightforward...so very English. The Ïtalianate character is lost on them. Still since there is not an influx of recordings with the music by Torelli, so I keep this one close to heart. The info in the booklet is clear and wholly understandable, but due for missing pages, and wrong binding, it gets muddled up quite a bit.
The recording is excellent. Recommended with some caution then!




Thursday, February 23, 2017

Second rerun: Johann Wenzel Kalliwoda-Louis Spohr-Max Bruch-Dora Pejačević.

See first review February 3th.  2017

See first review, February 3th. 2017

See first review, February 3th 2017

See first review, February 6th. 2017

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Graener, Paul. (1872-1944) Orchestral Works III. TOP RECOMMENDATION.

New acquisition.
Bought in February 2017.
First listen: 22-2-2017.
Label: CPO.
Recording dates: April 2001-October 2012.
Recording venue: BR Studio 1, Munchen, Germany.
Recording engineers: Peter Urban & Winfried Messmer.
Running time: 63:43.
Classical relevance to me: Top recommendation.

Works performed: 

Klavierkonzert, opus 72.
Symphonietta, opus 27, für Streichinstrumente und Harfe. (Uta Jungwirth, Harfe.)
Drei Schwedische Tänze, opus 98.
Divertimento für kleines orchester, opus 67, dedicated to Clemens von Franckenstein.

Works performed by:

Münchner Rundfunkorchester, Alun Francis.
Oliver Triendl, Piano.

So far as I know I have collected all CPO recordings with the music by Paul Graener, a composer that belongs to my top 25 composers of all time. I have a good reason to put him there, although in retrospect he is not known to many, but the ones that know him keep Graener close to their hearts. I am one of them.
Graener's compositional work was deeply rooted in the tradition and adhered to the late romantic sound ideal, with input from some stylistic influences of more recent date. But few know that Jon Leifs from Iceland and Juozas Gruodis studied with Graener.
The piano concerto, opus 72 was composed in Leipzig and was printed in 1925, and premiered in 1925. The was dedicated to Ludwig Neubeck. He was dismissed from all his functions and imprisoned by the Nazis in 1933 and subsequently took his life during the same year. This is one of the best piano concertos I ever heard, without a shadow of a doubt. It is the creation of a master in composition. Just listen to the second movement "Adagio". If that does not break you heart, nothing will. It is such an emotionally laden work, in that it pours forth torrents of anguish and despair, and ultimately in the last movement a spiritual balance, that is as striking as it is amazing in it's concept. I was totally awestruck by this outpouring of Graener's genius. Such a beautiful piece of music.
The symphonietta was dedicated to his son Heinz who died in London at the age of eight. His dead had a profound impact on Graener, and it shows in this well written concert. It's emotional turmoil is devastatingly real and near, and grabs you immediately. There is so much sadness and being lost in limbo, that you are moved to the very core of your heart. A composer that is able to express all his grief in such effective and understandable music, is a miracle as such.
Opus 98, Drei Schwedische Tänze is a piece suffused with folk melodies, and although the structure of the music is kept simple, there is nothing simple in the writing. Al three movements have the names of Swedish provinces, and are a joy to listen to.
The Divertimento is a form of old which Graener revived again as some other composers did in his time, especially Paul Juon, amongst others. Five beautiful movements in a somewhat lighter vein as the other works on this disc.
A disc to sit in my display cabinet of most honored composers and music. A stunning experience, to be able to get to know Paul Graener,  and his music.
The recording is State of the Art. The performance does all honour to orchestra and conductor. Oliver Triendl is in his element in the piano concerto, and I am sure he got out of it what was in there, till the last drop.
Recommended!




Klughardt, August. (1847-1902) Orchestral Works. Symphony No. 4, and Drei Stücke opus 87.

New acquisition.
Bought in February 2017.
First listen: 22-2-2017.
Label: CPO.
Recording dates: April/December 2011.
Recording venue: Stadthalle Zerbst/Anhalt, Katharina Saal, Germany.
Recording engineer: Stephan Reh.
Running time: 53:48.
Classical relevance to me: Essential.

Works performed:
Symphony No. 4 in C minor, opus 57.
Drei Stücke opus 87.

Performed by:
Anhaltische Philharmonie Dessau, Antony Hermus.

Another CD with music from August Klughardt in my collection, and a most welcome one, since I am an admirer of him  when the first cd with his music was released on the Sterling label. He is an ace in kontrapunkt, and an very able orchestrator. This all leads to interesting orchestral works, that never outlast its welcome. From beginning to end these romantic works fascinated me. I am always surprised in what Klughardt is able to write down.  A composer that was highly regarded, and should still be in everyone's collection. That his work is forgotten does not mean that there was any reason for it, on the contrary, his compositions are of a geniality that escaped many a composer before or after him. The Fourth symphony is a monumental work, that has a happy outlook, brimful with clear emotional outpourings, cleverly and without undue sentiment put together. It is dedicated to his friend the Hereditary Prince Friedrich von Anhalt in the most heartfelt admiration. This work has my admiration too. The opus 87 is not as monumental as his Fourth symphony, but of a lighter vein, albeit not less in the orchestral skills displayed. Dedicated to Baroness Julie von Cohn-Oppenheim. She was the daughter of the court banker Moritz von Cohn. He and she contributed generously to the arts in the city of Dessau. She died only 5 months after Klughardt.
The three movements are dances, light in character but weighty in creative ideas, quite unlike anything I heard from this composer. Especially the third dance "Tarantelle" is a marvel in orchestration, and had me in raptures.
The performance by this orchestra is extremely good, well instructed by Antony Hermus, a rising star in my book. The recording is almost State of the Art, but some minor imbalance in the upper frequencies made me decide against that. Maybe it's the acoustics of the venue that hardens the violins and brass a bit up.




Bach, J.S. The Complete Organ Works. Aeolus Edition. CD 5. Second rerun.

From my collection.
First listen: 15-12-2014.
Second listen: 22-2-2017.
Label: Aeolus.
CD 5 from 19.
Extensive booklet, with pictures of the organ, and thorough explanation of the works.
No stops mentioned from the organs.
Recording dates: October 2008.
Recording engineer: Christoph Martin Frommen.
Running time: 74:53.
Classical relevance to me: Essential.

Instrument used: Johann Silbermann organ (1745) Wasselonne, Protestant Church, France.


Works performed:

Praeludium in g-Moll, BWV 535.
Fuge in g-Moll, BWV 535.

Chorale der Neumeister Sammlung.


Der tag, der ist so freudenreich, BWV 719.
Wir Christenleut, BWV 1090.
Das alte Jahr vergangen, BWV 1091.
Herr Gott nun Schleuss den Himmel auf, BWV 1092.
Herzliebster Jesu, was hast du verbrochen, BWV 1093.
O, Jesu, wie ist dein Gestalt, BWV 1094.
O, Lamm Gottes, unschuldig, BWV 1095
Christe, der du bist Tag und Licht, BWV 1096.
Ehre sei dir, Christe, BWV 1097.
Wir glauben all an einen Gott, BWV 1098.
Aus tiefer not schrei ich zu dir, BWV 1099.
Allein zu dir, Herr Jesu Christ, BWV 1100.
Ach Gott, und Herr, BWV 714.
Ach Herr, mich armen Sunder, BWV. 742.
Durch Adams Fall ist ganz verderbt, BWV 1101.
Du Friedefurst, Herr Jesu Christ, BWV 1102.
Erhalt uns, Herr bei deinem Wort, BWV 1103.
Vater unser in Himmelreich, BWV 737.

Concerto BWV 571.

Durch Adams fall, BWV 705.

Performed by:

Ewald Kooiman.

Its is a utter delight to return to this box, for we get Bach in colours and shadings not often heard. We have an excellent Bach interpreter, we have the beautiful Silbermann Organs, we have Frommen as a engineer, and we have inspiration and dedication from all involved. The project will never be repeated by Kooiman for he died unexpectedly in 2009, and a great loss that is. For me these recordings are a bit of a home coming, be it in a different land with organs unfamiliar with, in the sense that I am used hearing Bach on North German organs, but the stamp of authenticity given by Kooiman is prevalent above all else. He has created the basis for this set, and his pupils followed it up in the same vein as projected by him.

I simply love the Chorals from the Neumeister collection, and they are done gorgeously. This is a set you should listen at, and I have very little to say as just that. It will change your view on Bach in a favourable way. 



Guido, Giovanni Antonio. (c.1675-after 1728) Le Quattro Stagioni, opus 3. Complete.

New acquisition.
Bought in February 2017.
First listen: 22-2-2017.
Label: Divine Art.
Recording dates: April 2004.
Recording venue: New College Oxford, England.
Recording engineer: David Lefeber.
Running time: 66:05.
Classical relevance to me: Very interesting recording.

Works performed:
See heading.

Works performed by:
The Band of instruments, Roger Hamilton.
Caroline Balding, Violin.

Composer and performers were totally unknown to me. I was attracted by this composer because of the title of his opus 3. Of course Vivaldi comes to mind right away, and curious after his take on the Seasons, I ordered this CD. Guido is and remains a mysterious figure. Little is known of him. His origins appears to be Genoese where he was born in about 1675. He ended up in France and made a name for himself. The opus 3 must be dated around 1716-1717 and carries a dedication to Adrien Maurice de Noailles, Comte d'Ayen.  Be that as it may, Guido delivered a fine set of concerti. It does not have the quality of Vivaldi, but they are interesting anyway. Melodious creative little gems brought boldly forward by the Band of instruments. Solid performances and bit stiff in the loins, and somewhat rigid in tempi. It misses the Joi de vivre, and tends to be more serious as it should be. But on the whole this recording gives enough pleasure to be a keeper in my collection. Not that there is any alternative to this recording. The playing is expertly done, as is the recording. A fine documented booklet tells us what is known about Guido, which is as said before not much. A perfect presentation as a whole.





Monday, February 20, 2017

Bate,Stanley. (1911-1959) Arnell, Richard. (1917-2009) Chisholm, Erik. (1904-1965) Orchestral Works. [All works are World Premiere Recordings]

From my collection.
Bought in June 2014.
First listen: 10-7-2014.
Second listen: 15-12-2014.
Third listen: 20-2-2017.
Label: Dutton.
Recording dates: September 2009.
Recording venue: Henry Wood Hall, Glasgow.
Recording engineer: Dexter Newman.
Running time: 74:15.
Classical relevance to me: Essential.

Works performed:


Stanley Bate.

Symphony No. 3. (1940)

Richard Arnell.

Prelude-"Black Mountain", opus 46. (1946)
Robert Flaherty-Impressions, opus 87. (1958)

Erik Chisholm.

Pictures from Dante, (after Dore). (1948)
Paradiso.

Performed by:

Royal Scottish National Orchestra, Martin Yates.

In my opinion one of Stanley Bates best Symphonies, this war time composition pulls out so much beauty of this composer, that especially in the second movement goosebumps ripple my skin. But the first movement also has a mix of real time realism mixed with ethereal spiritual inklings, with some beautiful scoring everywhere in the music, and this is something that is a constant in the whole work, which will not leave you untouched. The third movement starts with insistent violins and brass, sort of an emergency call, take up your strength and fight. A march like tempo steers into bravery and defiance towards aggression and oppression. A mighty machinery is unleashed for it, and that is what you hear in the Presto beginning; very effectively I might add. Again the scoring is pretty awesome, that leads to a combative conclusion, with even a fugato in the bargain, and you hear the return of motives from the earlier movements, finely integrated into this last movement. The closing chords are awe inspiringly effective.

 The Prelude the "Black Mountain" by Richard Arnell, is a impressive short work, a power packed energizer, with some pretty fine scoring. Impressionistic and moody opening with slow chords on the cellos and basses divisi, never heard it quite like that, but boy is that beautiful! 
Robert Flaherty must have meant a lot to Arnell, for this work is one of the most beautiful compositions I heard so far from him. Effectively it's a set of Symphonic variations, and has some American influences in it, like a bit of Copland and probably Virgil Thomson, and even more, but let's leave that aside, and instead admire the music Arnell wrote. It has many moods and emotions, imagine beauty and beyond that, a almost untouchable serenity, a wealth of details, one better as the other in ever increasing steps of genius, ending with some strokes on the harp into bliss! This is awfully gorgeous!
Erik Chisholm is a different kettle of fish altogether, and his pictures from Dante, sound to me like the title music of the film Ben Hur, or Spartacus with the heroic Kirk Douglas., a clash of an orchestra in extremis, that finds only relieve at the very end of the piece in a lamenting almost wailing manner. Never heard it before, and absolutely interesting, going over in Paradiso so tranquil, and I rather like that more, although I could again relate this music to any given Hollywood film about the lives and works of Jesus Christ. That's not a criticism, but rather a pointer towards the mood and peculiar approach. His orchestration is at all times creative, and the way he handles the melodic content, too, certainly if you imagine that he uses a very large orchestra. I have to get more into this composer!  Amazing a Scottish hell and heaven. Must be a turbulent place there!

The performances and recording (state of the Art) as always is superb.







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

From my collection.
Bought in 2014.
First listen: 24-3-2014.
Second listen: 20-2-2017.
Label: Dutton.
Recording dates: August 2012.
Recording venue: Glasgow Royal Concert Hall.
Recording engineer: Dexter Newman.
Running time: 74:16.
Classical relevance to me: Interesting.

Works.

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

Georgy Catoire.

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

Performers.

Royal Scottish National Orchestra, Martin Yates.

Blumenfeld was a great unknown to me, I never heard of him before, not even a mention somewhere from one of his fellow composers to whom he must have been known. He was born in the Southern Ukraine on the 19 April 1863, and studied with Rimski Korsakov, also close friends with Anton Rubinstein. He worked as a conductor, and taught Piano as a appointed professor.  Quite renown as a concert pianist and pedagogue, and was and many besides him, an admirer of Wagner, but that was not much appreciated by the majority of his colleagues. Blumenfeld wrote primarily piano music, solo or in combinations. This Symphony in C minor is his most ambitious work, and by what I have heard, also a work of great quality. Blumenfeld carries the heritage of Russian nationalism into this Symphony, and as a first Tchaikovsky comes to mind, but also Borodin and some Glinka too. He keeps his own voice, and this medium large scale work has many surprising melodies, and tonal shifts. There is also some pointed refinement in his orchestral writing, in the secondary melodies, which are very much supportive in the leitmotiv. Though barely audible, they nevertheless give a strong supporting role to the work as a whole. Listen carefully and you might find the tinkling of a harp, or some high pitched calls from the high woodwinds. Beautifully done. An outstanding work, worth your attention.

Georgy Catoire is by Chamber music aficionados, known through his excellent chamber music. I have a CPO recording that gave me much pleasure, so seeing this Dutton recording prompted me to order this previous unpublished and unrecorded Symphony in C minor. You will meet the same rigorous attention to detail as in his chamber music. Every note is carefully considered, so you can also say that this only Symphony by Catoire is like Blumenfeld's C minor Symphony, his most ambitious work.  Its larger in its conception, and the scale is grander and more cosmopolitan as Blumenfeld's. I do not find as many direct comparisons towards his music, albeit he is Russian like Blumenfeld, it seems that Catoire more or less escapes this Russian influence. But to name some influences I would say that Glazunov comes first and foremost, and maybe some Borodin, but it is all mixed in such a decisive way, that leaves little room for more than a mention.  It has a Russian atmosphere over it yes, but not overwhelmingly as the booklet states. Traces of Wagner are certainly there in the more expansive orchestral evocations. Not something I really appreciate, but well integrated into the total fabric of the work. The overall orchestration is lush and powerful, and has great expressive power. Its a great work, and deserves to be better known. The performances are superb, as is the recording. It must be noted however that in the first three movements of the Blumenfeld Symphony, the brass is a tad to prominent, instead being in the depth of the orchestra. Is corrected in the last movement. Catoire's work sounds top notch from beginning to end. Recommended. 





Haydn, Joseph. (1732-1809) (Almost) Complete Symphonies. The Hogwood Edition, CD 6.

From my collection.
Gifted to me in 2013.
First listen: 16-10-2013.
Second listen: 20-2-2017.
Label: L'Oiseau-Lyre.
CD 6 from 32.
Recording dates: January 1992.
Recording venue: Walthamstow Assembly Hall, London, England.
Recording engineer: Not specifically named for this recording.
Running time: 57:31.
Classical relevance to me: Essential.

Works performed:
Symphony No. 33 in C major. (1764)
No. 36 in E flat major. (1765)
No. 108 in B flat major. Partita. (1759-1760)

Performed by:
Academy of Ancient Music, Christopher Hogwood.

Finally i am bowed over to Hogwoods vision on how to perform Haydn's Symphonies. Not in the least because he corroborated with a eminent scholar Professor James Webster of Cornell University in Ithaca in the state of New York. Having read a lot about his research into Haydn and the performance practice, and now hearing the result, I am finally come to the conclusion, that even I do not totally go with the tempi, the instruments used, and the way it is interpreted is sound and just.
Hogwood is such a stickler for details, and this orchestra plays all so perfectly, that the result is a super balanced and well articulated piece of musical excellence. At first when playing this set I was blinded by other performances I have, in terms of tempi and phrasing, and the use of winds in certain symphonies, that I tended to see Hogwoods vision as wrongheaded, but the wrongheadedness was mine alone. Next time read more!
All works on this CD are written in the major key and are optimistic in character as Haydn's works often are. And again there are so many felicitous bits of melodies, with big elements of surprise, that I can do none other as marvel at the result that Haydn achieved yet again, to instill all three works with his characteristically turn of genius. 
The recording is top notch. No hooting of the Horns anymore.







Saturday, February 18, 2017

The Purcell Brothers, Daniel (c.1664-1717) and Henry (1659-1695) Chamber music. (Second rerun)

From my collection.
Bought in February 2017.
First listen: 14-2-2017.
Second listen: 18-2-2017.
Label: Christophorus.
Recording dates: October 2006.
Recording venue: Studio Gärtnerstraße, Berlin-Lankwitz, Germany.
Recording engineer: Henri Thaon.
Running time: 58:54.
Classical relevance for me: For those that like the instrument a good acquisition.

Works performed:
Compositions for recorder, cello and Harpsichord.

Performed by:
Ensemble Mediolanum.


I knew some of the music, but I never heard anything by this ensemble. But you do not have to have any worries about the artistic part. It is well played and performed. Dedicated musicians play popular music of it's time. It does not demand a huge amount of concentration to enjoy what's on offer. Simply but effective music to leisure away the time in a pleasant way. There are solo pieces for Harpsichord by Daniel Purcell which are very good, and some pieces by Henry Purcell for Recorder and BC. A fine CD to start the listening day with.
The recording is excellent, and apart from a few moments of uneasiness with the high pitch of the recorder all is okay.



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.
Third listen: 18-2-2017.
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 for me: 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.😄



Ordering this one.

Came with a strong recommendation, and since I like violin concertos....










Friday, February 17, 2017

Bach, J.S. The Complete Organ works. (Aeolus Edition) CD 4.

From my collection.
Bought in November 2014.
First listen: 4-12-2014.
Second listen: 17-2-2017.
Label: Aeolus.
Box with 21 cd's, and a beautiful booklet added.
Recording dates: April 2008.
Recording venue: Ebersmunster, Eglise Abbatiale Saint Maurice, France.
Recording engineer: Christoph Martin Frommen.
Running time: 74:02.
Classical relevance to me: Essential performance.
Instrument: Andreas Silbermann, (1732)

Works performed:

Alla Breve, BWV 589.
Canzona in d-Moll, BWV 588.
Fantasia super "Christ lag in Todesbanden" BWV 695.
Pastorale in F-Dur, BWV 590.
Fantasia in C-Dur, BWV 570.
Nun freut euch, lieben Christen g'mein, BWV 755.
Wir Christenleut, BWV 710.
Fantasia in C, BWV 1121.
Fuga sopra il Magnificat, BWV 733.
Erbarm dich mein, O Herre Gott, BWV 721.
Wer nur den Lieben Gott lässt walten, BWV 691, and 690.
Vater unser im Himmelreich, BWV 737.
Partite diverse sopra, "Ach, was soll ich sünder machen" BWV 770.

Performed by Ewald Kooiman.


There are some beautiful works on this disc, especially the first 5 of them, such contemplative compositions, carefully dozed in volume, and played in a lucid way on this beautiful organ. To take for example the Pastorale, which elates me no end.  So far this journey through this box warranted the expenditure, for you get truly a unique insight into Bach's oeuvre and state of the art recordings of the Silbermann organs. Ewald Kooiman is an experienced musician who clearly knows where to go with his view. Again I noticed how much he plays in the Baroque style, and never or seldom oversteps this boundary if the piece does not ask for it. You may clearly hear this in the Fantasia in C, a good specimen in what you may expect. I think in all honesty that no Bach admirer can ignore this set.


Reznicek, Emil Nikolaus von. (1860-1945) Symphony No. 1 in D minor & Four Songs of Prayers and Repentance after the Words of the Holy Scripture.

From my collection.
Bought in November 2014.
First listen: 20-11-2014.
Second listen: 31-3-2015.
Third listen: 17-2-2017.
Label: CPO.
Recording dates: May 2006.
Recording venue: Konzerthalle Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach, Frankfurt/Oder, Germany.
Recording engineer: Stephan Reh.
Running time: 68:50.
Classical relevance to me: Essential.

Works performed:

Symphony No. 1 in D minor, "Tragic".  (55:06)
Four Songs of Prayer and Repentance after the Words of the Holy Scripture. (11:44)

O, wie ist die Barmherzigkeit des Herren so Groß.

Willst du Gottes Diener sein.
Alles, was aus der Erde Stammt.
Tod, wie bitter bist du.

Performed by:

Brandenburgisches Staatsorchester Frankfurt, Frank Beermann.
Marina Prudenskaja, Mezzo-Soprano.

I have been a keen admirer of the works written by Emil Nikolaus von Reznicek from the moment I heard a few of his symphonies. To learn about this composer, you cannot revert to the booklet, for the overlong piece about this composer is a essay of empty rhetorics, to boost Eckhardt van der Hoogen his ego, but is ultimately a lot of German BlaBla. Better to listen to the music. This long symphony has no specific program, but is rather four movements separate, and each a mikrokosmos. A planet with four large satellites so you will. A late Romantic composer, one could say that "Tragic" is an apt word to describe the Symphony's many melodic entities perfectly adapted to this mood. That is not to say that there are no happy moments throughout, not at all, its just a clever concoction of many different emotions. The writing is of a amazing quality, and shows how good a composer he really is. Using the very best of Mahler and Bruckner, he brings the music to a totally new realm, with the lightness at times of a Mendelssohn. A fascinating journey through a great work of art, really great. And well performed too. Beermann of course is a very experienced conductor in the fields of the unknowns, so he made this venture into a success, for by no means is this an easy work to perform.

The Four Songs are a different kettle of fish altogether, and normally I would not buy this as a separate. As songs they are perfectly written and Prudenskaja does not disappoint, iow, she does not scream the ears from your head. The text is fine too, and it's almost on the same level as the Four letzte lieder by Strauss. Hmmm, enjoyed this more as anticipated. 




Haydn, Joseph. (1732-1809) Complete Symphonies. (The Hogwood edition) CD 5.

From my collection.
Gifted to me in 2013.
First listen: 21-5-2013.
Second listen: 17-2-2017.
Label: L óiseau-Lyre.
CD 5 from 32.
Recording dates: June 1991.
Recording venue: Walthamstow Assembly Hall, London, England.
Recording engineer: Not specifically named for this recording.
Running time: 65:34.
Classical relevance to me: Essential.

Works performed:
Symphonies-17/19/20/25 all in major keys.
 No. 17/19/20 composed between 1759-1760.
No. 25 composed in 1762.

Performed by: 
Academy of Ancient Music, Christopher Hogwood.

Haydn seldom disappoints in his symphonies, and there is almost never a dull moment. The brilliant orchestration keeps you alert, for there are unexpected things bubbling to the surface. Many such moments in all 4 symphonies. I am a bit confused as to the tempi Hogwood is applying, or rather his interpretation of tempo movements. A Presto or a Molto, can be in speed different in each symphony. But that is of course his choice and I respect that. For I enjoy what I hear more and more as I progress in this box. I guess one has to grow in Hogwood's vision to fully understand his choices.
The recording is superb. All details are floating in the air, as clear as a bell. The stage image is near perfect.



Bach, Johann Bernhard.(1676-1749) Orchestral Suites, 1-4.

New acquisition.
Bought in February 2017.
First listen: 17-2-2017.
Label: Erato Veritas.
CD 1 from 2.
Recording dates: December 1990 & January 1991.
Recording venue: Reformierte Kirche, Arlesheim, Switzerland.
Recording engineer: Hartwig Paulsen.
Running time: 74:22.
Classical relevance to me: Well worth having.

Works performed:
See heading.

Works performed by:
Freiburger Barockorchester, Thomas Hengelbrock.

Apart from the fact that J.B. Bach was a second cousin from Johann Sebastian Bach, and well respected by him, and the fact that his musical worthiness was acknowledged by the great master, makes the acquisition of this music worthwhile. There is not really that much music of him, which survived the ages. Regrettable, because what he has to offer is excellent, the suites confirm this impression in many ways. There are Italian influences all over these suites and well integrated into the scores. As it is, the suites form a fascinating counterpart to J.S. Bach's suites. A greater compliment can not be given.
As for the performances, it is all cleanly executed, with no real highs or lows, a bit safe, no ventures into a more lively style of music making. It's very academic and straight faced. The tempi are adequate, but I would have liked a bit more liveliness in all movements. Phrasing throughout is very good, due to a tight discipline.
The recording is good and clear as a bell. Not exceptional.    



Thursday, February 16, 2017

Ballet Gala-CD 34&35 from Ballet Masterpieces-The World's favourite ballets and Ballet suites.

From my collection.
Bought in 2010.
First listen: CD 34. 6-6-2013, Second listen: 16-2-2017.
First listen: CD 35. 10-6-2013. Second listen: 16-2-2017.
Label: DECCA.
CD 34&35 from 35.
Recording dates: June 1988.
Recording venue: Henry Wood Hall, London, England.
Recording engineer: Stanley Goodall.
Running times: 64:26&64:10.
Classical relevance to me: Essential.

Composer, arrangers and works on CD 34&35.

Leon Minkus, arr. Peter March. Grand pas-Paquita.
Cesare Pugni, arr. Peter March. Pas de quatre.
Jacques Offenbach. Le Papillon.
Leon Minkus, arr. Peter March. Pas de Deux-Don Quixote.
Riccardo Drigo, arr. John Lanchbery. Pas de Deux-Le Corsaire.
Daniel François Esprit Auber. Pas classique 
Les Rendez-vous arr. Constant Lambert. 
Riccardo Drigo. arr Peter March. Pas de Deux-Diane et Actéon.
Domenico Scarlatti. arr. Vincenzo Tommasini.-The Good humoured Ladies.
Ambroise Thomas-Françoise de Rimini.

Performed by:
English Chamber Orchestra, Richard Bonynge.

A marvelous close of this box with 35 CD'S of goodies, all arrangements done in good taste with here and there a piece, that goes a bit over the top. Especially the arranger Peter March has a hand in this. John Lanchbery is adding his bit with a tad too much bombast in his arrangements. but it's all above board, although not always effective.  The sound is good, but I expected a bit more bloom from this hall, and a bit more effort from the engineer to get that. Altogether I heard better sound from this source. It will take some time before I return to this box, but another one is lined up with 10 CD'S also on the label DECCA, with little or no overlap. Looking forward to that.




Verdi, Giuseppe. Ballet Music. (Ballet Masterpieces, The World's favourite ballets and Ballet Suites). CD 33.

From my collection.
Bought in 2010.
First listen: 4-6-2013.
Second listen: 16-2-2017.
Label: DECCA.
CD 33 from 35.
Recording dates:  May 1986 & June 1988.
Recording venue: Teatro Comunale di Bologna, Italy.
Recording engineer: John Pellowe & Colin Moorfoot.
Running time: 65:40.
Classical relevance to me: Absolutely essential.

Works performed:
Otello-Ballet Music.
Don Carlos-"La peregrine" (Solo violin Giovanni Adamo)
Aida-Marcia e Ballabile.
Macbeth- Ballet music.
I vespri siciliani-Le quattro Stagioni.

Performed by:
Orchestra del Teatro Comunale di Bologna, Riccardo Chailly.

What a joy to dip into this fine box again. In fact my desert island choice, would that ever happen.
Verdi's ballet music is colourful, extrovert, and dynamically riveting. One has to admire the writing skills of this opera composer. None of those works will ever enter my player, but his ballet music, well that is top notch, and the very best in the field. Pride of place is for "I vespri siciliani-Le Quattro Stagioni". What a wonderful piece of ballet music, that has my enthusiasm all over the place, with it's gorgeous turns of melodies and the perfect harmony between all the instruments. This piece belongs to the top what this box has to offer. Added to this the state of the art recording and a magnificent performance of this orchestra and conductor, what could be said more in the sense of praise. For ballet lovers this box is an absolute must, no doubt about it.
Heartily recommended.





Haydn, Joseph. (1732-1809) The complete Symphonies. The Hogwood edition. CD 4.

From my collection.
Gifted to me in 2013.
First listen: 4-6-2013.
Second listen: 16-2-2017.
Label: Lóiseau-Lyre.
CD 4 from 32.
Recording dates: June 1991 & January 1992.
Recording venue: Walthamstow Assembly Hall, London, England.
Recording engineer: Not specifically mentioned.
Running time: 54:21.
Classical relevance for me: Essential

Works performed:
Symphony No. 3-14-15.

Works performed by:
The Academy of Ancient Music, Christopher Hogwood.

The second listening session is going much better as the first. I have still some reservations about tempi and the sameness of all menuets in the symphonies, but on a whole I am more satisfied with the results as a whole.
All three symphonies on this disc are composed between 1759 and 1760, so they are stylistically in the same league. I certainly enjoy all three works, and sometimes Haydn adds something special in terms of melodies or fine harmonies. In this respect I found the "Andante moderato" of the third Symphony rather special, as well as the first, third and fourth movement of No. 15. When you are well on your way to musical slumberland, these movements will make you sit up again. It did with me. The recorded sound is generally good, but at certain moments the horns were a bit hooty. Something which happens rather often with the Decca engineers, in the named venue.




Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Mahler, Gustav. (1860-1911) Symphony No. 2 "Resurrection".

From my collection.
Bought in 2008.
First listen: 11-11-2008.
Second listen: 15-2-2017.
Label: Brilliant.
Licensed from Denon.
CD 2& 3 from 15.
Recording dates: March 1985.
Recording venue: Alte Oper, Frankfurt, Germany.
Recorded by: Denon.
Running time: 85:00.
Classical relevance for me: A flawed performance.

Works performed:
See heading.

Works performed by:
Radio-Sinfonie-Orchester-Frankfurt, Eliahu Inbal.
Helen Donath, Soprano.
Doris Soffel, Alto.
Chorus of Norddeutscher Rundfunk, Hamburg, Werner Hagen.
Dale Warland Singers.

This is a mixed blessing, but in the end a very flawed performance of the second symphony. Let me first point out the good things. The orchestra is perfect, well drilled by Inbal, the recording by Denon is State of the Art, and there it stops. For enjoying the orchestral skill, it also highlights the problems caused by conductor and soloists. Inbal is harnessing the orchestra tightly and keeps them from letting the music flow freely. No emotional outbursts, free of any from of sentiment, the warmth is barely registering on the surface. So it's a technical performance, and this I could enjoy, well I do, safe for the fact that Inbal is an audible part of Mahler's score. Not a little bit, but irritatingly so, especially there where silence is a necessary commodity, Inbal hums his heart out, not even in tune. His urging the orchestra on, does not come from his hands but with all the might of his voice and body. This for me ruins the most intimate parts of the music and as a whole leaves me angry that the engineers did not stop this. Furthermore I find both soprano and alto a vocal disaster. Doris Soffel is spreading out a heavy vibrato, and munches the words, while Helen Donath would be fine, be it for the shrill top notes and also like Soffel the vibrato. They are in competition of who is screaming the loudest, or adding the most vibrato.
The choir is good enough, but the Dale Warland singers were the odd ones out. It did not fit.
This will not land again in my player, thus I can not recommend this recording, there are better ones out there.


Haim-Ben, Paul. (1897-1984) Orchestral Works.

From my collection.
Bought in September 2014.
First listen: 29-9-2014.
Second listen: 15-2-2017.
Label: CPO.
Recording dates: June 2008.
Recording venue: Grosser Sendesaal, NDR, Hannover, Germany.
Recording engineer: Helge Martensen.
Running time: 57:37.
Classical relevance for me: Well worth acquiring.

Works performed:

Symphony No. 1.
Fanfare to Israel.
Symphonic Metamorphoses on a Bach Chorale, "Wer nun den lieben Gott lasst walten".

Performed by:

NDR Radiophilharmonie Hannover, Israel Yinon.

I saw the name pop up here and there, but never actually followed it up, by listening to the music. When I was browsing through a list of cheap cd's this one popped up, so I thought lets give it a chance. The samples were promising, and I am glad that the investment paid off. And I mean in a musical sense, for the physical cd was already very cheap. Its not so easy after a first hearing to define the music, in other words, its difficult to describe. The booklet refers to Mahler, but frankly apart from some technical similarities there is hardly anything that makes me turn in that direction. The work was premiered in 1941, at the beginning of WWII, with atrocities already happening, so of course you can hear the anxiety in the music about this. That said, the music is tonal, with some modernity in the way of writing, and my impression is that it represents, at least for me, a musical prayer, with long lines of deep contemplation, but also some horrifying moments, often hammered out by timpani, in quite a forceful way, interlaced with moments of deep serenity, To my ears this is a Romantic work, with a profound message. The tonal palette is one that comes close to some other composers I know, yet it is also markedly different. You get quickly aware of this by the way he connects the subject matter together, and moulding it into a melodic outburst that is truly unique. I guess in the following replays I will have more to say about this work.

I like the way in which the climax builds up in Fanfare to Israel, very cleverly done. The Symphonic Metamorphosen is a work that is carefully positioned, considering the base material. He really handles the Chorale with respect, and yet makes it his own, and turns it into a wonderfully conceived work. I am certainly going further in my exploration of this composer. The performance is very good, as expected with such a fine conductor. The recording is very good and detailed with an excellent front to back image, but it needed a lot of volume, to get good results. And I mean a lot!



Grandi, Alessandro. (1586-1630) Motetti a cinque voci. 1614.

New acquisition.
Bought in February 2017.
First listen: 15-2-2017.
Label: Divine Art.
Recording dates: May 2007.
Recording venue: St Mary de Haura, Shoreham by the sea, West Sussex, England.
Recording engineer: David Lefeber.
Running time: 79:00.
Classical relevance for me: Recommendation, with some side notes.

Works performed:
See Heading.
Added bonus tracks from the documentary "Fallen".
Composers:
Lodovico Agostini.
St Catherine of Bologna.
Josquin Desprez.
Giaches de Wert.

Performed by:
Musica Secreta.

This disc is filled with beautiful music, no doubt about it. Whether it should be performed as it is, is a question of some debate. All the music is probably composed for male voices, thus the fact that it is performed all by females, is not necessarily something to get happy about. That has nothing to do with the quality of the voices, but more with the fact that it all sounds not quite right. Especially the high pitched voices of Tessa Bonner, and Deborah Roberts, will tire your ears pretty quickly, with the added bonus of a kind of sameness in the music that lets your mind wander after 6 or 7 tracks. I therefore advice not to listen to the whole disc in one go. Truth be said, that the recording is also at fault be it to a lesser extent, for when the sopranos are lashing out, even if it is ever so gently, the high pitched tones tend to penetrate your eardrums in a less than acceptable way. If not for these drawbacks this disc would get a top recommendation from me, for artistically all is above board and well done. Remains for me to say, that I rather have all the music sung by less oppressive sopranos, and more males as a backbone.
A mixed blessing then.




Tuesday, February 14, 2017

The Purcell Brothers, Daniel (c.1664-1717) and Henry (1659-1695) Chamber music.

New acquisition.
Bought in February 2017.
First listen.
Label: Christophorus.
Recording dates: October 2006.
Recording venue: Studio Gärtnerstraße, Berlin-Lankwitz, Germany.
Recording engineer: Henri Thaon.
Running time: 58:54.
Classical relevance: For those that like the instrument a good acquisition.

Works performed:
Compositions for recorder, cello and Harpsichord.

Performed by:
Ensemble Mediolanum.

I knew some of the music, but I never heard anything by this ensemble. But you do not have to have any worries about the artistic part. It is well played and performed. Dedicated musicians play popular music of it's time. It does not demand a huge amount of concentration to enjoy what's on offer. Simply but effective music to leisure away the time in a pleasant way. There are solo pieces for Harpsichord by Daniel Purcell which are very good, and some pieces by Henry Purcell for Recorder and BC. A fine CD to start the listening day with.
The recording is excellent, and apart from a few moments of uneasiness with the high pitch of the recorder all is okay.




Friday, February 10, 2017

Nielsen, Carl. (1865-1931) Symphonies No. 5&6. CD 3.

From my collection.
Bought in 2012.
First listen: 4-12-2012.
Second listen: 10-2-2017.
Label: Membran, licensed from Classico.
Recording dates: August 1999 & January 2001.
Recording venue: Concert hall, Liverpool, England.
Recording engineer: Not mentioned.
Running time: 66:49.
Classical relevance: Essential.

Works performed:
See heading.

Works performed by: 
Royal Liverpool PO, Douglas Bostock.
Nicolas Cox, Clarinet.
Graham Jones, Side drum.

Both symphonies are by no means easy works to listen to or to understand. You could not call them melodious, or full with nice harmonies. Both works are tough cookies and for many hard to digest. I am a bit in the middle with this. I admire the technical skill Nielsen puts into these works, but that does not make them easily approachable for me. They are not of a cuddly nature. The music does not give you rest, it eats energy and is a sucker for constant concentrated attention. No slackening of both things is allowed. If you steer away for a moment you will loose your bearings and wander into resentment for lack of understanding the musical argument. It is well put together, but there is a pressure in it's modernity, that makes you to aware of the music, and the only points of enjoyment are those, when you hear the parts for timpani or winds, cleverly constructed to impress, but not to charm. So what I want to say is this, I miss emotional warmth. Instead I get a cold shoulder at best. In a sense I will never love them, but I like them immensely.
The recording is quite amazing, such depth and detail, even the softest tones are clearly audible.
The orchestra has a brass section that always captures my attention, for its incredibly good. As a performance this one must rank at a high place and is certainly a contender for your attention. Bostock is an versatile conductor who keeps a firm grip on what is going on. Just sample the chaos in the second movement of the fifth symphony. If you can keep the music together at that place, you count in my book as a perfect performer.
It is a pity that this box and its performances are largely ignored, which is undeserved. It is in all respects a top set, and cheap too, and it's properly licensed. So what are you waiting for?



Haydn, Joseph. (1732-1809) Complete Symphonies, CD 3. (The Hogwood collection)

From my collection.
Gifted by a friend in 2013.
First listen: 21-5-2013.
Second listen: 10-2-2017.
Label: L'oiseau-Lyre.
CD 3 from 32.
Recording dates, venues, engineers: To much bother in the booklet to find out.
Running time: 65:18.
Classical relevance: Essential

Works performed:
Symphonies No. 27/32/37/107.

Performed by:
The Academy of Ancient Music, Christopher Hogwood.

Hogwood's is a mild approach and very thoughtful too, and a stickler for details. Well balanced performances, well recorded and articulated. After the first hearing of the complete set they have grown on me and towards me. The pleasure is all mine in listening to Hogwood's take. No criticisms at all apart from some minor sound issues. In both the 27& 32 the bottom end of the orchestra is a bit blurred. Basses, celli and timpani tend to be boomy. In No. 37 it is no issue anymore. No 107 has some shrillness in the winds.



Nielsen, Carl.(1865-1931) Complete Chamber music for Winds.

New acquisition.
Bought in February 2017.
First listen: 10-2-2017.
Label: CPO.
Recording dates: January 2013.
Recording venue: Heart,  Henning museum of Contemporary Art, Danmark.
Recording engineer: Preben Iwan.
Running time: 51:35.
Classical relevance: Well worth having.

Works performed:
The Mist is rising, for Flute & Harp.
Serenata in vano, for Cello, Double bass, Clarinet, French Horn & Bassoon.
Fantasy Pieces opus 2, for Oboe and Piano.
The Children are playing for Flute solo.
Fantasy piece, for Clarinet and piano.
Faith & Hope are playing for Flute and viola.
Canto serioso for French Horn and piano.
Quintet opus 43 for Flute Oboe, Clarinet, French Horn & Bassoon.

Performed by:
Ensemble Midtvest.

I came somewhat as a surprise, that Nielsen his chamber music is of such a high level. I heard here and there a few things from him, but never lingered long enough to grasp what was on offer. This disc has certainly changed that. Every one of the works on this disc is a gem. All works differ in instrumentation and length, it's a bit like unity through diversity. Lyrical as such with some unorthodox music that will tickle your ears in a pleasant way. I think the music is imaginative and interesting.
There is also a lightness of touch in all that this ensemble does. And since they control the dynamics very carefully, it is all sparkle and lightness. The music has a substantial message though. Flawless counterpoint which makes it a fluent traversal through some fine chamber music. The recording and performance reflects the quality of the music.





Thursday, February 9, 2017

Mendelssohn, Felix. (1809-1847) Violin Concertos.

From my collection.
Bought in December 2016.
First listen: 9-12-2016.
Second listen: 9-2-2017.
Label: Naxos.
Recording dates: August/September 2010 & December 2011.
Recording venues: Hankasalmi Church, Jyväskylä,  Finland & Clara Wieck Auditorium, Sandhausen, Germany.
Recording engineers:  Sean Lewis and Günther Appenheimer.
Running time: 66:41.
Classical relevance: If a admirer of Tianwa Yang, essential.

Works performed:
Violin Concerto in E minor, opus 64 & in D minor.
Violin sonata in F minor, opus 4.

Works performed by:
Tianwa Yang, Violin.
Romain Descharmes, Piano.
Sinfonia Finlandia Jyväskylä, Patrick Gallois.

It so happens that I am an admirer of Tianwa Yang, who is called master of the Violin" which she really is. The ease and agility with which she plays is nothing short than amazing. The female counterpart of Paganini would be a more apt title for this lady. There are many excellent violinists, but there are only a few exceptional, thus Yang certainly belongs to the last group. I already enjoyed her CD'S with music of Pablo de Sarasate, so this acquisition was really unavoidable. Now the Mendelssohn Violin concertos are often recorded, and many are pristine in performance, but when you listen to Yang, you hear immediately what you are missing with other interpretations. Yang's bowing is sublime, the phrasing an intimate concoction of poetical rhyming, her precision and surefootedness a thing to impress, the shaping of Mendelssohn attractive melodies as if she was born to it. The synergy she has with the music she plays, puts her in a cosmos of her own, and if she does not get a good partner in crime to perform with, the whole thing falls apart. Happily not so with the Sinfonia Finlandia, which is steered with submissive supportive strength to Yang, and so creates a symbiosis that makes the music into a miracle to hear. The colours she gets out of her Violin is nothing short of amazing, and the breathtaking ease and speed with which she dashes of the notes makes me wonder if a human can do this at all. But look at her hands, wonderful long fingers very bendable, and able to play anything. A revelatory performance.
As to the recording of the violin concerto in E minor. As such it is a good recording, which gets a bit muddy at the side of the cellos and woodwinds. There is not enough depth to sustain the short little details that makes these concertos so tantalizing to listen to. Yang's violin tone is beautifully captured though. The Concerto in D minor recorded in the same venue is a perfect example of I heard what went wrong in the E minor and hereby it is corrected. Perfect depth, all the detail you need, and Yang's violin wonderfully integrated into the musical spectrum. And at the same time this is the best interpretation I ever heard from the D minor, so sensuous, drawing you into this concerto. I had a hard time adapting to the next piece, after this sumptuous meal of magic. The Violin sonata in F minor is a beautiful piece, well written and melodiously as seductive as the previous concerto, but right at the start Yang comes in with too much volume, and make the Adagio introduction overblown for this intimate work. The piano is to bold also, an approach that this piece can hardly stomach. It is beautifully played and both musicians get out what is in the notes, but the chamber music element is a concerto element, which is misjudging the intent of the piece. But that is a minor quibble really, must be said, but must not detain you from buying it. It is well captured in the recording. 



Graener, Paul. (1872-1944) Orchestral Works, Volume I.

From my collection.
Bought in January 2014.
Label: CPO.
First listen: 27-1-2014.
Second listen: 9-2-2017.
Recording dates: January 2009.
Recording venue: Grosser Sendesaal, NDR Hannover, Germany.
Recording engineer: Martin Lohmann.
Running time: 66:29.
Classical relevance: Essential.

Works on this CD.


1) Comedietta, opus 82.

2) Variationen über ein Russisches Volkslied, opus 55.
3) Musik am Abend, opus 44.
4) Sinfonia breve, opus 96.

Performers.

NDR Radiophilharmonie, Hannover, Werner Andreas Albert.

Paul Graener is a composer largely forgotten, not because his works are bad, but because of his political choices during WW II, even though he distanced himself from the regime. He had a British passport, of which the Germans had no knowledge. The fact that he helped and supported many Jews to survive was not acknowledged afterwards, they only saw his participation in the regime as a cultural music attache. And thus he was shunned by society. I am not going to say whether that was right or wrong, but his music should not suffer this neglect. 

His music was well received internationally, and is very worthwhile to listen to. In fact I would say that, were there not his unfortunate choices in life, he might have been a tower in musical history, for his works certainly are of a very high level. So give him a chance, his music is worth the time you spend with it. There was not a moment that my attention wavered from what I heard, on the contrary I found a composer that gave me a great amount of joy, and I am happy CPO decided to record his orchestral work, already in the second volume, They also released a disc with chamber music too. 
The music is tonal, and late romantic in tone, and has a unique musical voice, which I did not encounter before. The recording is State of the art, played by a fine orchestra. they clearly enjoyed the music under the guidance by a very good conductor.
Recommended.



Koechlin, Charles. (1867-1950) Piano Works Volume I. ....des Jardins enchantés.

New acquisition. Bought in June 2017. First listen: 27-6-2017. Label: Hanssler Classics. Recording dates: December 2007. Recording venu...