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Friday, September 30, 2016

Richard Strauss - Eine Alpensinfonie (Frank Shipway)


Information

Composer: Richard Strauss
  • (01-22) Eine Alpensinfonie, Op. 64
  • (23) Symphonische Fantasie aus "Die Frau ohne Schatten"

Sao Paulo Symphony Orchestra
Frank Shipway, conductor
Date: 2012
Label: BIS
http://bis.se/conductors/shipway-frank/strauss-eine-alpensinfonie

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Review

PERFORMANCE: ***** / SOUND: *****

With the finest Alpine Symphony peaks occupied by Bernard Haitink’s Concertgebouw Orchestra (and LSO), Herbert von Karajan’s Berlin Philharmonic and Seiji Ozawa with the Vienna Philharmonic, it looked as if Frank Shipway and his Brazilians were less well equipped for scaling the Straussian heights. Not at all. The night opening is evocatively veiled, the mountain theme especially, and moves organically to its spiritual sunrise. Throughout there’s a natural sense of pace between vigorous clambering and spacious nature panoramas. Shipway moulds his strings to suit every situation, full of appropriate portamentos and swooning glissandos – the last, as the light dies, is especially fine – and pulling out the tonal stops as the Epilogue proudly masses. Clearly projected woodwind are capped by a lovely oboist who stammers amazement on the summit before a fierce but proud central climax. All this in a sound-picture which keeps just the right distance in a piece made for SACD spaciousness; it’s as fine as Andris Nelsons’s recent Birmingham ascent.

There are connections between this orchestral work and the opera Strauss was working on around the same time, the massive fairy-tale Die Frau ohne Schatten. In the composer’s own ‘symphonic fantasia’, though, there is nothing of the nightmarish darkness of the Alpine Symphony’s eerie pre-storm calm. Never mind; Shipway once again shapes the lyric interlude of Act I to perfection and makes the later torrents as noble as he can. I’d be very happy to hear more Strauss from this remarkable team.

-- David Nice, BBC Music Magazine

More reviews:
http://www.gramophone.co.uk/review/strauss-alpensinfonie-symphonic-fantasy-on-die-frau-ohne-schatten
http://www.musicweb-international.com/classrev/2013/Mar13/Strauss_Alpensinfonie_BISSACD1950.htm
http://www.classicalcdreview.com/MC414.html
http://www.classicstoday.com/review/shipways-bad-day-in-the-alps/
https://www.amazon.com/Eine-Alpensinfonie-Op-Symphonische-Fantasie/dp/B008S87SYW
https://www.amazon.co.uk/Strauss-Alpensinfonie-Symphony-Shipway-BIS1950/dp/B008S87SYW

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Richard Strauss (11 June 1864 – 8 September 1949) was a leading German composer of the late Romantic and early modern eras. He is known for his operas, lieder, tone poems and other orchestral works. Strauss was also a prominent conductor throughout Germany and Austria. Strauss was also a prominent conductor throughout Germany and Austria. Along with Gustav Mahler, Strauss represents the late flowering of German Romanticism after Richard Wagner, in which pioneering subtleties of orchestration are combined with an advanced harmonic style.

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Frank Shipway (9 July 1935 – 6 August 2014) was a British conductor. He earned a scholarship to The Royal College of Music to study piano and later switched to conducting. He was further trained in conducting by John Barbirolli and helped by Herbert von Karajan. Shipway contributed to several classical music compilations. He also conducted four significant recorded performances that are highly regarded in the classical music community: Mahler's 5th, Shostakovich's 10th, Strauss' Alpine Symphony and Tchaikovsky's 5th.

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Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Various Composers - Great Works for Flute and Orchestra (Sharon Bezaly)


Information

Composer: Carl Nielsen; Charles Tomlinson Griffes; Carl Reinecke; Cécile Chaminade; Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky; Francis Poulenc; Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov
  1. Nielsen - Concerto for Flute and Orchestra, FS 119: I. Allegro moderato
  2. Nielsen - Concerto for Flute and Orchestra, FS 119: II. Allegretto, un poco
  3. Griffes - Poem for Flute and Orchestra: Andantino
  4. Reinecke - Concerto for Flute and Orchestra in D major, Op. 283: I. Allegro molto moderato
  5. Reinecke - Concerto for Flute and Orchestra in D major, Op. 283: II. Lento e mesto
  6. Reinecke - Concerto for Flute and Orchestra in D major, Op. 283: III. Finale. Moderato
  7. Chaminade - Concertino for Flute and Orchestra, Op. 107: Moderato
  8. Tchaikovsky - Largo and Allegro for two flutes and strings (adapted by Ernest Sauter for solo flute and strings)
  9. Poulenc - Flute Sonata (orch. Lennox Berkeley): I. Allegro malinconico
  10. Poulenc - Flute Sonata (orch. Lennox Berkeley): II. Cantilena. Assez lent
  11. Poulenc - Flute Sonata (orch. Lennox Berkeley): III. Presto giocoso
  12. Rimsky-Korsakov - The Flight of the Bumblebee (arr. Kalevi Aho, dedicated to Sharon Bezaly): Presto

Sharon Bezaly, flute
Residentie Orkest Den Haag
Neeme Järvi, conductor
Date: 2013
Label: BIS
http://bis.se/label/bis/great-works-for-flute-and-orchestra

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Review

Bezaly in The Hague for concertante flute works

The adjective ‘great’ in the title of this disc perhaps needs some qualification in one or two cases but without question the concerto that Nielsen wrote in 1926 merits the supreme artistry that Sharon Bezaly brings to it, both in terms of deft, discerningly harnessed virtuosity and in her supple, sinuous shaping of the music. Neeme Järvi and the Residentie Orkest Den Haag astutely etch in the lively, spicy instrumental context and commentary for a performance that has a real sparkle and strength. The other substantial work here is Carl Reinecke’s D major Concerto of 1908, which in its tone makes amends for the fact that Brahms never wrote a concerto for flute. The gorgeous Concertino of 1902 by Cécile Chaminade offers potential both for effervescence and for endearing lyricism, Bezaly demonstrating here that she would have swept the board in the Paris Conservatoire’s competition for which the piece was written.

Far less well known is the little Largo and Allegro that Tchaikovsky wrote in his early twenties, originally for strings and two flutes but here done in an arrangement for one flute by Ernest Sauter: it is scarcely a masterpiece but intriguingly harbours traits that were to be manifested more fully in maturity. A shadowy, reflective, airy Poem of 1918 by Charles Griffes contrasts with the genial Flute Sonata by Poulenc, in Lennox Berkeley’s orchestration, and Kalevi Aho’s delightful arrangement of Rimsky-Korsakov’s Flight of the Bumble Bee ensures that this showcase for Bezaly’s radiant talents ends with a buzz.

-- Geoffrey Norris, Gramophone

More reviews:
http://www.musicweb-international.com/classrev/2013/Oct13/Great_flute_BISSACD1679.htm
http://www.musicweb-international.com/classrev/2013/Dec13/Great_flute_BISSACD1679.htm
http://www.allmusic.com/album/great-works-for-flute-orchestra-mw0002554164
https://www.amazon.com/Great-Works-Orchestra-Sharon-Bezaly/dp/B00D9DSVZQ

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Sharon Bezaly (born 1972) is a flutist. Bezaly was born in Israel, but lives presently in Sweden. She has been an international star since 1997, when she began her solo flute career. She made her solo debut at 13 with Zubin Mehta and the Israel Philharmonic, and has appeared with leading symphony and chamber orchestras in Japan, China, Israel, Central and Western Europe, England, North and South America, Australia and Scandinavia. Her flute was made by Muramatsu Flutes out of 24-karat gold. Bezaly has released 24 award-winning CDs with the Swedish record company BIS.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sharon_Bezaly
http://sharonbezaly.se/

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Cécile Chaminade - Piano Works (Eric Parkin)


Information

Composer: Cécile Chaminade
  1. Pierrette (Air de Ballet), Op. 41 (Allegretto)
  2. Contes blues, Op. 122: No. 2 in G major (Andante sostenuto)
  3. Minuetto, Op. 23 (Allegro)
  4. Danse créole, Op. 94 (Allegretto)
  5. Sérénade, Op. 29 (Moderato)
  6. Air de Ballet, Op. 30 (Allegro)
  7. 6 Romances sans paroles, Op. 76: 1. Souvenance (Andantino)
  8. 6 Romances sans paroles, Op. 76: 3. Idylle (Allegro moderato)
  9. 6 Romances sans Paroles, Op. 76: 6. Meditation (Lento)
  10. 6 Pièces humoristiques, Op. 87: 4. Autrefois (Andante - Allegro vivo - Tempo I)
  11. Guitare, Op. 32 (Allegretto)
  12. Sous le masque, Op. 116 (Allegro capriccioso)
  13. Suite for solo piano, Op. 20b: 2. Pas des Sylphes (Intermezzo. Andate - Più mosso, quasi - Allegretto - Andante - Tempo I)
  14. 6 Études de concert, Op. 35: 2. Automne (Lento - Con fuoco - Tempo I)
  15. La lisonjera (L'Enjôleuse), Op. 50 (Moderato molto capriccioso)
  16. Air à danser, Op. 164 (Ben tranquillo)
  17. 5 Airs de Ballet (from Callirhoë), Op. 37b: 2. Pas des Écharpes (Troisième Air de Ballet)
  18. Toccata, Op. 39 (Presto)
  19. 6 Feuillets d'Album, Op. 98: 4. Valse Arabesque (Allegro vivo capriccioso ben cantando)
  20. Lolita (Caprice espagnol), Op. 54 (Allegro vivo)

Eric Parkin, piano
Date: 1990
Label: Chandos
https://www.chandos.net/products/catalogue/CHAN%208888

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Review

''Instead of writing an indifferent symphony or quartet which no one wants and which you'd have to wait ages to hear performed,'' I remember a trenchantly clear-headed professor of composition saying, ''why not a piece of good light music? It takes every bit as much skill, and it'd give a damn sight more enjoyment to more people.'' Such sound advice is only too rarely followed, and there is in general a regrettable tendency to look down the nose patronizingly at composers who, however gifted, make no intellectual demands but set out only to please or charm. One such was Cecile Chaminade, about whom dictionaries are often sniffy, referring offhandedly to her ''salon music''—though besides her numerous piano pieces she in fact wrote an opera, a ballet, a symphony with chorus, several orchestral suites and a Concertstuckfor piano and orchestra rather oddly labelled as ''in C sharp and D flat''.

If her music reveals some genes from Chopin and Schumann, well, there are worse models; and her melodic fluency, harmonic invention, freedom of key movement and pianistic resource are by no means to be derogated. There is distinctive charm here in, for example, the Serenade and the Meditation, but everything is not merely pretty or mild-mannered: there is considerable variety—agreeably teasing rhythms inGuitare, effectively written climactic passages (as in the habanera-like Danse creole and the Valse arabesque), real bravura in the well-known Automne and brilliance in the Toccata and the middle section of Autrefois. It would be hard to find a more sympathetic interpreter than Eric Parkin, who catches Chaminade's lyrical grace without lapsing into sentimentality and perfectly judges the delicate rubato required. The recorded piano tone is excellent, though ideally a more intimate acoustic than the empty Maltings at Snape might have been appropriate.

-- Lionel Salter, Gramophone


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Cécile Chaminade (8 August 1857 – 13 April 1944) was a French composer and pianist, one of the relatively few women composers of her time to achieve great popularity. She was a regular on British concert stages and a big hit in America. Chaminade was relegated to obscurity for the second half of the 20th century, her piano pieces and songs mostly forgotten. The Flute Concertino in D major, Op. 107 is her most popular piece today.

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Eric Parkin (born 1924 in Stevenage, Hertfordshire, England) is an English pianist. Parkin studied at Trinity College of Music in London. His teachers were the distinguished Anglo-French pianist Frank Laffitte and Professor George Oldroyd. He made his debut in London in 1948. Eric Parkin’s musical sympathies are wide, ranging from J.S. Bach through the Classical and Romantic repertoire to much 20th century repertoire. Parkin has recorded many albums for Chandos.

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Monday, September 26, 2016

Cécile Chaminade - Piano Works Vol. 3 (Peter Jacobs)


Information

Composer: Cécile Chaminade
  1. 3 Préludes mélodiques, Op. 84: No. 3 in D minor
  2. Pièces romantiques, Op. 55c: 3. Rigaudon
  3. Les sylvains, Op. 60
  4. Valse-ballet "Sixième valse", Op. 112
  5. 6 Pièces humoristiques, Op. 87: 3. Inquiétude
  6. Arabesque, Op. 61
  7. Troisième valse brillante, Op. 80
  8. Piano Sonata in C minor, Op. 21: 1. Allegro appassionato
  9. Piano Sonata in C minor, Op. 21: 2. Andante
  10. Piano Sonata in C minor, Op. 21: 3. Allegro
  11. Album des enfants, Op. 126 (deuxième série): 1. Idylle
  12. Album des enfants, Op. 123 (première  série): 5. Gavotte
  13. Album des enfants, Op. 123 (première  série): 4. Rondeau
  14. Album des enfants, Op. 123 (première  série): 9. Orientale
  15. Album des enfants, Op. 126 (deuxième série): 2. Aubade
  16. Album des enfants, Op. 126 (deuxième série): 9. Patrouille
  17. Album des enfants, Op. 126 (deuxième série): 10. Villanelle
  18. Album des enfants, Op. 123 (première  série): 10. Tarentelle
  19. Poèmes provençales, Op. 127: 3. Le passé
  20. Sérénade espagnole, Op. 150
  21. Quatrième valse, Op. 91
  22. Cortège "Fragment", Op. 143

Peter Jacobs, piano
Date: 1995
Label: Hyperion
http://www.hyperion-records.co.uk/dc.asp?dc=D_CDH55199

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Review

It is symptomatic of the present day that, when many people find contemporary music browfurrowing, if not repellent, there should be a ready market for music from an earlier age that makes no bid for profundity but is undemandingly agreeable. Cecile Chaminade's works are enjoying something of a comeback, with recordings now available not only of her voluminous piano output (from Eric Parkin on Chandos as well as the more wholesale Peter Jacobs) but of her piano trios and Flute Concerto; and her craftsmanship, talent for graceful melodic inventiveness, easy natural charm and effective keyboard writing are indisputable even by those whose tastes are for more elaborate or more solid fare.

This latest volume from Peter Jacobs offers eight of her children's pieces of Opp. 123 and 126 — small but far from the conventional pap so often palmed off on children, as is shown by the scintillating Tarantelle (which is not all that easy!). There are more substantial concert works here too: the emotional Le passe, the once very popular Sèrenade espagnole which Kreisler took up, and the immensely engaging Troisieme Valse brillante. Since Chaminade is usually thought of as a miniaturist, however, the big eye-opener here is a relatively early C minor Sonata which, if not a masterpiece, reveals that as well as knowing her Chopin and Schumann she had a firm sense of form and an enviable abundance of ideas; the lyrical Andante is unexpectedly thoughtful, and the spirited finale goes well beyond Norman Demuth's rather patronizing remark that she was "nearly a genius who knew what and how to write for pianists of moderate ability" — which perhaps is best exemplified here in a brilliant D minor Prelude that sounds harder than it is.

As in the previous volumes (9/92 and 11/94), Peter Jacobs shows himself to be fluent, clean-fingered, elegantly delicate where required, and able to invest the music with fine nuances of tone and pace — an ideal interpreter of Chaminade.

-- Lionel Salter, Gramophone [11/1996]

More reviews:

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Cécile Chaminade (8 August 1857 – 13 April 1944) was a French composer and pianist, one of the relatively few women composers of her time to achieve great popularity. She was a regular on British concert stages and a big hit in America. Chaminade was relegated to obscurity for the second half of the 20th century, her piano pieces and songs mostly forgotten. The Flute Concertino in D major, Op. 107 is her most popular piece today.

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Peter Jacobs (born August 17, 1945 in London) is an English pianist. Jacobs was educated at the Royal Academy of Music in London, where he studied piano with Alexander Kelley and harmony with Eric Fenby. Jacobs has etched out a career built largely on the performance of works by lesser-known and neglected English and French composers of the late 19th and 20th centuries. He has made numerous recordings for several labels, including Hyperion, Olympia, Continuum, Priory Records UK, and Altarus.
http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Bio/Jacobs-Peter.htm

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