Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Florent Schmitt - Oriane et le Prince d'amour; In Memoriam; Ronde burlesque (Pierre Stoll)


Information

Composer: Florent Schmitt
  1. Oriane et le Prince d'amour, Op. 83
  2. In Memoriam, Op. 72
  3. Ronde burlesque, Op. 78
  4. Légende, Op. 66 (for viola & orchestra)

Eckart Schloifer, viola (4)
Staatsphilharmonie Rheinland-Pfalz
Pierre Stoll, conductor

Date: 1987
Label: Cybelia


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Dmitri Shostakovich - Symphony No. 13 "Babi Yar" (Kirill Kondrashin; BRSO - 1980)


Composer: Dmitri Shostakovich
  1. Symphony No. 13 in B flat minor, Op. 113 - "Babi Yar": 1. Babi Yar (Adagio)
  2. Symphony No. 13 in B flat minor, Op. 113 - "Babi Yar": 2. Humour (Allegretto)
  3. Symphony No. 13 in B flat minor, Op. 113 - "Babi Yar": 3. In the Store (Adagio)
  4. Symphony No. 13 in B flat minor, Op. 113 - "Babi Yar": 4. Fears (Largo)
  5. Symphony No. 13 in B flat minor, Op. 113 - "Babi Yar": 5. Career (Allegretto)

John Shirley-Quirk, bass
Bavarian Radio Symphony Chorus' Men
Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra
Kirill Kondrashin, conductor

Date: 1980
Label: Philips

Kirill Kondrashin is the conductor who conducted the premier of Shostakovich's 13th symphony on 18 December 1962 with the Moscow Philharmonic and bass soloist Vitaly Gromadsky, after Evgeny Mravinsky refused to conduct the work.

John Shirley-Quirk is the bass soloist in the Western premier of this symphony on 14 September 1971 with Charles Groves conducting the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic.

This recording, which is made in 1980, has some text lines that censored in Kondrashin's previous Melodiya performances.

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Monday, June 29, 2015

Ferruccio Busoni - Piano Works (Geoffrey Douglas Madge)


Information

Composer: Ferruccio Busoni

CD1:
  • (01-24) 24 Preludes, Op. 37, BV 181
  • (25-26) 2 Tanzstücke, Op. 30a, BV 235a
  • (27) Vierte Ballettszene, Op. 33a, BV 238
CD2:
  • (01-03) Racconti fantastici, Op. 12, BV 100
  • (04-05) Variationen und Fuge in freier Form über Fr. Chopin's C-moll Präludium (Op. 28 No. 20), Op. 22, BV 213
  • (06-11) Macchiette Medioevali, Op. 33, BV 194
  • (12-17) 6 Stücke, Op. 33b, BV 241
CD3:
  • (01-07) Elegien, BV 249
  • (08-12) Suite Campestre, Op. 18, BV 81
  • (13) Variationen und Fuge in freier Form über Fr. Chopin's C-moll Präludium (Op. 28 No. 20), Op. 22, BV 213 (2nd Version)
CD4:
  • (01) Fantasia contrappuntistica, BV 256
  • (02) Choral-Vorspiel und Fuge über ein Bachsches Fragment, BV 256a
  • (03) Nuit de Noël, BV 251
  • (04-07) Indianisches Tagebuch I, BV 267
  • (08) Fantasia nach J.S. Bach, BV 253
CD5:
  • (01) Sonatina, BV 257
  • (02) Sonatina seconda, BV 259
  • (03-07) Sonatina ad usum Infantis, BV 268
  • (08) Sonatina in diem nativitatis Christi MCMXVII, BV 274
  • (09) Sonatina brevis. In signo Joannis Sebastiani Magni, BV 280
  • (10) Sonatina super Carmen (Kammer-Fantasie über Bizets "Carmen"), BV 284
  • (11-13) 3 Albumblätter, BV 289
  • (14) Notturni. Prologo, BV 279
  • (15) Perpetuum mobile, BV 293
CD6:
  • (01-04) An die Jugend, BV 254
  • (05-11) 5 Kurze Stücke zur Pflege des Polyphonen Spiels, BV 29
  • (12-13) Prélude et étude en arpèges, BV 297
  • (14-16) Toccata, BV 287

Geoffrey Douglas Madge, piano
Date: 1987
Label: Philips

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Thursday, June 25, 2015

Ernest Bloch - Symphony in C sharp minor; Poems of the Sea (Dalia Atlas)


Information

Composer: Ernest Bloch
  1. Symphony in C sharp minor: I. Lento - Allegro agitato ma molto energico
  2. Symphony in C sharp minor: II. Andante molto moderato
  3. Symphony in C sharp minor: III. Vivace
  4. Symphony in C sharp minor: IV. Allegro energico e molto marcato
  5. Poems of the Sea: I. Waves (Poco agitato)
  6. Poems of the Sea: II. Chanty (Andante misterioso)
  7. Poems of the Sea: III. At Sea (Allegro vivo)

London Symphony Orchestra
Dalia Atlas, conductor
Date: 2011
Label; Naxos
http://www.naxos.com/catalogue/item.asp?item_code=8.573241

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Review

The LSO play Bloch’s Symphony in C sharp minor marvellously and Dalia Atlas conducts it with understanding and conviction. She is of the opinion ‘that this is Bloch’s greatest and best work’; I shall further quote her in describing it as ‘a large-scale neo-romantic symphony, written when the composer was only 20 and scored for a Mahlerian-sized orchestra in the perfect neo-romantic form customary at the time. Like the symphonies of Mahler, Bruckner, Richard Strauss and others the work reveals exceptional depth and maturity. Without searching for external influences, Bloch attempted solely to express his innermost self.’

The richness and colour of the orchestration are very striking indeed. The first movement is too long but well structured; the slow movement is agreeably lyrical; the scherzo, opening tellingly with trumpet fanfares, is ‘virtuosic’. The finale includes a fugue and closes with a triumphant march, taken from the second movement, but then concludes quietly and tranquilly.

All in all it is undoubtedly impressive, when played with such conviction and so well recorded too. But in the end, I ask, is it really a masterpiece as Dalia Atlas seems to suggest? I fear not. Although it is in many ways rewarding to listen to and interesting to study, it is, for me, not a memorably great work.

Listening to the atmospheric music of the Poems of the Sea, inspired by Walt Whitman, which acts as a coupling, one discovers an evocative magic, a feeling of inspiration, missing in the symphony. This too is played very well indeed.

-- Ivan March, Gramophone

More reviews:
http://www.musicweb-international.com/classrev/2013/Oct13/Bloch_symphony_8573241.htm
http://www.allmusic.com/album/ernest-bloch-symphony-in-c-sharp-minor-poems-of-the-sea-mw0002564591
http://www.theguardian.com/music/2013/nov/17/bloch-symphony-c-sharp-minor-review
http://www.classicstoday.com/review/finally-another-bloch-symphony-c-sharp-minor/
http://www.amazon.com/Bloch-Symphony-sharp-minor-Poems/dp/B00E3ISHMI

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Ernest Bloch (July 24, 1880 – July 15, 1959), born in Geneva to Jewish parents, was a 20th-century Swiss-born American composer. He was mostly known for his compositions on Jewish subjects such as Baal Shem and Schelomo, although he also wrote music in many other styles.

***

Dalia Atlas (born 1933 in Haifa, Israel) is a classical orchestral conductor. She has a rich repertoire includes about 750 scores and recorded more than twenty CD's. Atlas is a noted champion of Ernest Bloch's music, being the founder and the Head of "The Ernest Bloch Society in Israel" as well as "Honorary Vice President" of the "Ernest Bloch International Society", London, UK.

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Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Charles Villiers Stanford - Piano Concerto No. 3; Cello Concerto (Malcolm Binns; Alexander Baillie)


Information

Composer: Charles Villiers Stanford
  1. Cello Concerto in D minor: 1. Allegro molto moderato - Cadenza
  2. Cello Concerto in D minor: 2. Molto adagio
  3. Cello Concerto in D minor: 3. Allegretto non troppo
  4. Piano Concerto No. 3 in E flat major, Op. 171 (orch. Geoffrey Bush): 1. Allegro moderato
  5. Piano Concerto No. 3 in E flat major, Op. 171 (orch. Geoffrey Bush): 2. Larghetto - Scherzando - Adagio - Cadenza
  6. Piano Concerto No. 3 in E flat major, Op. 171 (orch. Geoffrey Bush): 3. Allegro

Alexander Baillie, cello (1-3)
Malcolm Binns, piano (4-6)
Royal Philharmonic Orchestra
Nicholas Braithwaite, conductor

Date: 2007
Label: Lyrita

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Review

This is the one I have been waiting for. From the moment that the rumour mill hinted that a Lyrita recording of these two ‘lost’ works was on the cards, I have been impatient to get to grips with them.

Ever since finding a copy of ‘The Music Review’ for February 1964 I have been aware that Stanford wrote a Third Piano Concerto. What Frederick Hudson in his ‘A Catalogue of Works of Charles Villiers Stanford’ does not hint at is the existence of a Cello Concerto. He does not explore the ‘early’ works in any detail. However a brief examination of Grove reveals a number of concerted works that have been lost, suppressed or ignored. There is an early Rondo for Cello and Orchestra, a ‘Zero’ Piano Concerto written in 1874 and a Violin Concerto from the following year. However Grove does mention the present Cello Concerto. It is dated 1880 and suggests that the slow movement was the only part to have been given a performance some four years later. It is unpublished.

I have long been a fan of Stanford’s Second Piano Concerto, having first heard it in the Lyrita recording produced on vinyl back in 1985. It has become one of my ‘Desert Island Discs’. I have introduced the work to a number of people who have invariably been impressed. My usual ‘spiel’ before playing the work is to tell them that if this work had been by Rachmaninov it would have been featured at a thousand concerts worldwide every year. The fact that it is by an Irishman who has a reputation for being as ‘dry as dust’ has ensured that it has been roundly ignored by virtually all the movers and shakers in the musical world.

In 1993 Stanford enthusiasts were able to hear the First Piano Concerto in G major which had been written in 1894. Although not as satisfying and downright romantic as its successor it was a great find. It is certainly a lighter-weight work, yet it is full of good tunes and attractive working out of the material. It never tires or bores the listener.

So it was with considerable apprehension that I loaded the Third Concerto in Eb into the CD player. Would it fulfil my expectations?

The short answer is that it did! There will be ample time in the coming months for reviewers to produce a detailed analysis of this Concerto: to decide its relative merits and demerits. However at this stage I want to make three statements about this work. Firstly we are lucky to be able to approach this work in the early years of the 21st century. If this recording had been released in the 1950s, 1960s or 1970s it would have been ridiculed. It is a romantic work: Stanford certainly wears his heart on his sleeve. It is possible to note a dozen influences and references all of which would have led critics of a previous generation to dismiss the work as derivative. Scratch the surface and we find Brahms, Rachmaninov, Rubinstein and a host of others. Bearing in mind that this work was composed in 1919 there are no nods to serialism, jazz or neo-classicism. This is retro music and rightly so. It only since Chandos began to release the Stanford Symphonies and other orchestral works that we have been able to appreciate the composer for what he is. He is not dry as dust: he is not hidebound by musical pedantry – but a great romantic with a Capital R who was never afraid to write a good tune or to tug at the heart strings. Stanford’s music is warm-hearted as well as being well written and formally sound.

Secondly, the present Third Piano Concerto is a great work. To me it is not quite as successful as the Second, but it is only fair to point out that I have known the latter work for twenty years: the former I have listened to twice. The Third Concerto is full of good tunes. The balance of ‘first’ and ‘second’ subjects in the opening movement is absolutely perfect. There is a surprising depth in the enigmatic middle movement and a splendid closing ‘allegro’. There are moments in this work that bring tears to the eyes: much of the piano’s musings can only be described as ‘heart-easing.’ This is a lovers’ concerto as well as a flamboyant display of technical virtuosity.

Thirdly, we have to thank the late and great Geoffrey Bush for realising this work for the present generation. The original existed only in a two-piano version. Bush brought his skill as a composer and as an enthusiast for the music of Stanford to bear on this concerto. It is a huge success and has been 100% worthwhile.

The Cello Concerto in D minor is quite a different work to the Piano Concerto of 1919. The former work was written when the composer was 28 years old and nods to Dvořák. Lewis Foreman in his excellent programme notes writes that “Stanford (at that time) was to all intents and purposes a pan-German composer with regional accent, though that accent was not yet Irish.”

Stanford has an excellent understanding of the relationship between the soloist and the orchestra. At no time in this work does it threaten to overpower the cellist. In fact it acts much more as an accompanist than as a competitor. The most obvious thing about this composition is the seeming cornucopia of tunes. The cello part just keeps unfolding and expanding before our ears. The first movement is in sonata form, but there is no sense of the inevitable or the obvious. Each statement of each theme is perfectly balanced and timed. I believe that this first movement is the true heart of the work. The second movement is perhaps a ‘ballad:’ it is written as ‘molto adagio.’ This is beautiful music. I cannot care a jot that critics will play ‘hunt the allusion’. It is a truly wonderful exploration of slow and reflective material. Just accept that there is little in the way of ‘Celtic’ twilight here – it is more Lough Neagh or the Wicklow Hills or some ancient Irish legend seen through the eyes of a German!

Mr Foreman, rightly I think, sees the last movement as a precursor of Stanford’s later closing movements where he used Irish dance rhythms. Of course it is also easy to see this music as an Anglo-Irish response to the great contemporary Slavonic Dances by Dvořák.

On two hearings I am impressed. The Cello Concerto in D minor may not be a masterpiece: it may not rival Elgar's later work but it is a fine essay using a musical language that was close to hand. I hope that as this work becomes better known it will join that very small repertoire of fine British Cello Concertos that have a permanent place in the heart of all enthusiasts of British music.

I need hardly add that the playing on this disc is stunning. The sound quality is beholden to no-one and the programme notes are extremely helpful.

This CD is a must for all enthusiasts of Stanford’s music. I guarantee that it will not disappoint: in fact it will inspire you and make you want to explore the music of this Great Man in much more detail. And that can be no bad thing!

-- John France, MusicWeb International

More reviews:
http://www.musicweb-international.com/classrev/2007/Sept07/Stanford_SRCD321.htm
http://www.gramophone.co.uk/review/stanford-cello-concerto-piano-concerto-no-3
http://www.classicalsource.com/db_control/db_cd_review.php?id=5259
http://www.allmusic.com/album/sir-charles-villiers-stanford-piano-concerto-no-3-cello-concerto-mw0001946087

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Charles Villiers Stanford (30 September 1852 – 29 March 1924) was an Irish composer, music teacher, and conductor. Some regarded Stanford, together with Hubert Parry and Alexander Mackenzie, are responsible for a renaissance in music from the British Isles. In 1882, aged 29, he was one of the founding professors of the Royal College of Music, where he taught composition for the rest of his life. From 1887 he was also Professor of Music at Cambridge. His students included Gustav Holst, Ralph Vaughan Williams and many more. His composite style is conservative and his music was eclipsed in the 20th century by that of Edward Elgar as well as former pupils.

***

Malcolm Binns (born 29 January 1936 in Nottingham) is a British classical pianist. Binns is a noted authority on British piano music. His recordings include the first complete recording of the Beethoven sonatas on original instruments. He has appeared with many other orchestras and conductors internationally and performed on numerous BBC radio broadcasts.

***

Alexander Baillie (born 6 January 1956) is an English cellist. Baillie frequently appears as a concerto soloist all around the world. He has made a significant contribution to contemporary music, having premiered various works such as Penderecki's Cello Concerto No. 2 in 1992. In addition, Baillie is a regular conductor of the Marryat Players in Wimbledon.

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Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Arnold Bax - Chamber Music (Nash Ensemble)


Information

Composer: Arnold Bax
  1. Nonet for flute, oboe, clarinet, harp, string quartet & double bass: I. Molto moderato - Lento
  2. Nonet for flute, oboe, clarinet, harp, string quartet & double bass: II. Allegro - Lento espressivo
  3. Oboe Quintet: I. Tempo molto moderato - Allegro moderato - Tempo primo
  4. Oboe Quintet: II. Lento espressivo
  5. Oboe Quintet: III. Allegro giocoso - Più lento - Vivace
  6. Elegiac Trio for flute, viola & harp
  7. Clarinet Sonata: I. Molto moderato
  8. Clarinet Sonata: II. Vivace - Pochittino meno posso (Lento)
  9. Harp Quintet

The Nash Ensemble
Date: 1995
Label: Hyperion

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Review

GRAMOPHONE EDITOR'S CHOICE / CRITICS' CHOICE

How marvellous it is after all these years to be able to welcome a truly first-rate modern recording of Bax’s Nonet. What a bewitching creation it is, overflowing with beguiling invention and breathtakingly imaginative in its instrumental resource (the sounds created are often almost orchestral). Bax worked on the Nonet (which began life as a violin sonata) at the same time (1929-30) as he was composing his Third Symphony and, as Lewis Foreman observes in his exemplary booklet-note, there are striking similarities between the two works: compare, for example, the rhythmic pungency of the opening of the Nonet’s second movement with the first half of the symphony’s finale. The Nash Ensemble (under the direction of Ian Brown) give a masterly, infinitely subtle reading – a worthy successor to the classic 1937 recording with the Griller Quartet and distinguished colleagues (now beautifully refurbished by Dutton Laboratories).

The remainder of the disc brings comparable pleasure. The delightful Oboe Quintet (written for Leon Goossens in 1922) receives immensely characterful treatment, especially the jaunty, Irish-jig finale (such sparkling, richly communicative playing!). The same is true of the lovely Harp Quintet, which is essayed here with a rapt intensity and delicious poise to outshine a rival Chandos offering with the English Quartet (the excellent harpist, Skaila Kanga, is common to both performances). In the hands of these stylish artists, the Elegiac Trio possesses a delicacy and gentle poignancy that are really quite captivating; indeed, the present account came as something of a revelation to this writer (until now I had never rated this piece very highly in the Bax chamber music canon).

That just leaves the engaging Clarinet Sonata, a work that has fared well in the recording studio over the last few years. Suffice to report, Michael Collins and Ian Brown are compelling advocates, and theirs is a performance to set beside (if not supersede) those of Emma Johnson and Malcolm Martineau and Janet Hilton and Keith Swallow.

Beautiful sound and expert balance throughout. This treasurable Hyperion release will certainly figure in my “Critics’ choice” at the end of the year.

-- Andrew Achenbach, Gramophone

More reviews:
http://www.classical-music.com/review/bax-15

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Arnold Bax (8 November 1883 – 3 October 1953) was an English composer. His musical style blended elements of romanticism and impressionism, often with influences from Irish literature and landscape. His orchestral scores are noted for their complexity and colorful instrumentation. He is best known for his symphonies and tone poems.

***

The Nash Ensemble of London is an acclaimed English chamber ensemble. It was founded by Artistic Director Amelia Freedman in 1964, named after the Nash Terraces around the Academy. The Ensemble has given premier performances of more than 200 works.

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Monday, June 22, 2015

Charles Villiers Stanford - Irish Rhapsodies (Vernon Handley)


Information

Composer: Charles Villiers Stanford

CD1:
  1. Irish Rhapsody No. 1 in D minor, Op. 78
  2. Irish Rhapsody No. 2 in F minor, Op. 84 "Lament for the Son of Ossian"
  3. Irish Rhapsody No. 3 for cello & orchestra, Op. 137
  4. Irish Rhapsody No. 4 in A minor, Op. 141 "The Fisherman of Loch Neagh and what he saw"
CD2:
  1. Irish Rhapsody No. 5 in G minor, Op. 147
  2. Irish Rhapsody No. 6 for violin & orchestra, Op. 191
  3. Clarinet Concerto in A minor, Op. 80: 1. Allegro moderato
  4. Clarinet Concerto in A minor, Op. 80: 2. Andante con moto, ma più tranquillo
  5. Clarinet Concerto in A minor, Op. 80: 3. Allegro moderato
  6. Concert Piece for organ & orchestra, Op. 181
  7. Oedipus Rex, incidental music, Op. 29: Prelude

Raphael Wallfisch, cello (CD1 3)
Lydia Mordkovitch, violin (CD2 2)
Janet Hilton, clarinet (CD2 3-5)
Gillian Weir, organ (CD2 6)
Ulster Orchestra
Vernon Handley, conductor

Date: 1986-1991
Label: Chandos

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Review

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

Stanford was a prolific composer with a magnificent technical command of the orchestra, and all the music here sounds extremely well. Some of the pieces, notably the Clarinet Concerto and the Fourth and Sixth Rhapsodies – the latter with solo violin – are compelling indeed, though they are hardly known in our concert life. With a distinguished array of soloists, committed playing from the Ulster Orchestra and richly sonorous sound, these discs will give much pleasure.

-- Terry Barfoot, BBC Music Magazine

More reviews (different issue):

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Charles Villiers Stanford (30 September 1852 – 29 March 1924) was an Irish composer, music teacher, and conductor. Some regarded Stanford, together with Hubert Parry and Alexander Mackenzie, are responsible for a renaissance in music from the British Isles. In 1882, aged 29, he was one of the founding professors of the Royal College of Music, where he taught composition for the rest of his life. From 1887 he was also Professor of Music at Cambridge. His students included Gustav Holst, Ralph Vaughan Williams and many more. His composite style is conservative and his music was eclipsed in the 20th century by that of Edward Elgar as well as former pupils.

***

Vernon Handley (11 November 1930 – 10 September 2008) was a British conductor, known in particular for his support of British composers. Handley is much revered for his enthusiastic and untiring championship of British music, including many lesser known, unfashionable or relatively neglected composers whose artistic reputations and popularity he often helped to revive.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vernon_Handley

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Sunday, June 21, 2015

Dmitri Shostakovich - Symphony No. 4 (Kirill Kondrashin; RCO - 1971)


Composer: Dmitri Shostakovich
  1. Symphony No. 4 in C minor, Op. 43: 1. Allegretto poco moderato
  2. Symphony No. 4 in C minor, Op. 43: 2. Moderato con moto
  3. Symphony No. 4 in C minor, Op. 43: 3. Largo - Allegretto

Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra
Kirill Kondrashin, conductor

Date: 1971
Label: RCO Live
This is tracks 2-4 from the 1st disc of "Anthology of the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra" Volume 4.
http://www.allmusic.com/album/anthology-of-the-royal-concertgebouw-orchestra-vol-4-live-the-radio-recordings-1970-1980-mw0001392356

***

Kondrashin conducted the premier of Shostakovich's 4th symphony in 1961. He made the first recording in 1962 for Melodiya (here) with the Moscow Philharmonic (there is another recording with the same orchestra on Melodiya (here), part of the complete symphonies box set, listed as recorded in 1966, sounded like the 1962's performance to my ears, but better remastered). The second recording of this symphony Kondrashin made is with the Staatskapelle Dresden in 1963 (here), a mono radio broadcast but the sound is fairly good with deep bass, just a little muddy (ClassicsToday's review).

So, this 1971's recording with the Concertgebouw is the 3rd (or 4th) recording of Kondrashin's DSCH 4 and the only one made in the West (so far released). It has the best sounding, has one of the best orchestras, and has Kondrashin in his peak. Compare to other recordings listed above, it's truly "definitive in every way".


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Thursday, June 18, 2015

Dmitri Shostakovich - String Quartets Nos. 7 & 8; Piano Quintet (Borodin Quartet; Sviatoslav Richter)


Information

Composer: Dmitri Shostakovich
  1. String Quartet No. 7 in F sharp minor, Op. 108: I. Allegretto
  2. String Quartet No. 7 in F sharp minor, Op. 108: II. Lento
  3. String Quartet No. 7 in F sharp minor, Op. 108: III. Allegro
  4. String Quartet No. 8 in C minor, Op. 110: I. Largo
  5. String Quartet No. 8 in C minor, Op. 110: II. Allegro molto
  6. String Quartet No. 8 in C minor, Op. 110: III. Allegretto
  7. String Quartet No. 8 in C minor, Op. 110: IV. Largo
  8. String Quartet No. 8 in C minor, Op. 110: V. Largo
  9. Piano Quintet in G minor, Op. 57: I. Prelude. Lento
  10. Piano Quintet in G minor, Op. 57: II. Fugue. Adagio
  11. Piano Quintet in G minor, Op. 57: III. Scherzo. Allegretto
  12. Piano Quintet in G minor, Op. 57: IV. Intermezzo. Lento
  13. Piano Quintet in G minor, Op. 57: V. Finale. Allegretto

Sviatoslav Richter, piano (9-13)
Borodin Quartet
Mikhail Kopelman, violin
Andrei Abramenkov, violin
Dmitri Shebalin, viola
Valentin Berlinsky, cello

Date: 1978
Label: Melodiya (distributed in Western countries by EMI)


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Monday, June 8, 2015

Clara Schumann - Piano Works (Konstanze Eickhorst)


Composer: Clara Schumann
  1. Soirées Musicales, Op. 6: 1. Toccatina
  2. Soirées Musicales, Op. 6: 2. Notturno
  3. Soirées Musicales, Op. 6: 3. Mazurka
  4. Soirées Musicales, Op. 6: 4. Ballade
  5. Soirées Musicales, Op. 6: 5. Mazurka
  6. Soirées Musicales, Op. 6: 6. Polonaise
  7. Scherzo No. 1 in D minor, Op. 10
  8. Scherzo No. 2 in C minor, Op. 14
  9. Pièces fugitives, Op. 15: 1. Larghetto
  10. Pièces fugitives, Op. 15: 2. Un poco agitato
  11. Pièces fugitives, Op. 15: 3. Andante espressivo
  12. Pièces fugitives, Op. 15: 4. Scherzo
  13. Variations on a theme by Robert Schumann in F sharp minor, Op. 20
  14. Romance in A minor, Op. 21 No. 1
  15. Romance in B minor, Op. posth.

Konstanze Eickhorst, piano
Date: 1986
Label: CPO
https://www.jpc.de/jpcng/cpo/detail/-/art/Clara-Wieck-Schumann-1819-1896-Klavierwerke/hnum/5863079

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Clara Schumann (née Clara Josephine Wieck; 13 September 1819 – 20 May 1896) was a German musician and composer, considered one of the most distinguished pianists of the Romantic era. She exerted her influence over a 61-year concert career, changing the format and repertoire of the piano recital and the tastes of the listening public. Her husband was the composer Robert Schumann, and ogether they encouraged Johannes Brahms. She was the first to perform publicly any work by Brahms and later premiered some other pieces by him.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clara_Schumann

***

Konstanze Eickhorst (born 6 May 1961, in Bremen) is a German pianist. Eickhorst was a pupil of Karl-Heinz Kämmerling in Hanover and Vlado Perlemuter in Paris. Eickhorst won the IX Clara Haskil (1981) and IV Géza Anda (1988) competitions. A member of the Linos Ensemble, she has been active at an international level as a soloist and a chamber musician, and has recorded for CPO. She teaches at the Musikhochschule Lübeck. She has chaired the European Piano Competition at Bremen since 2007 and is in addition a member of the artistic organising committee.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Konstanze_Eickhorst

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Sunday, June 7, 2015

Clara Schumann - Complete Songs (Dorothea Craxton)


Information

Composer: Clara Schumann
  1. 3 Lieder, Op. 12: 1. Er ist gekommen
  2. 3 Lieder, Op. 12: 2. Liebst du um Schonheit
  3. 3 Lieder, Op. 12: 3. Warum willst du and're fragen
  4. Die gute Nacht
  5. 6 Lieder, Op. 13: 1. Ich stand in dunkeln Traumen
  6. 6 Lieder, Op. 13: 2. Sie liebten sich beide
  7. 6 Lieder, Op. 13: 3. Liebeszauber
  8. 6 Lieder, Op. 13: 4. Der Mond kommt still gegangen
  9. 6 Lieder, Op. 13: 5. Ich hab' in deinem Auge
  10. 6 Lieder, Op. 13: 6. Die stille Lotosblume
  11. 6 Lieder aus Jucunde, Op. 23: 1. Was weinst du Blumlein (2nd version)
  12. 6 Lieder aus Jucunde, Op. 23: 2. An einem lichten Morgen (2nd version)
  13. 6 Lieder aus Jucunde, Op. 23: 3. Geheimes Flustern
  14. 6 Lieder aus Jucunde, Op. 23: 4. Auf einem grunen Hugel
  15. 6 Lieder aus Jucunde, Op. 23: 5. Das ist ein Tag
  16. 6 Lieder aus Jucunde, Op. 23: 6. O Lust, O Lust
  17. Der Abendstern
  18. Am Strande
  19. Ihr Bildnis (1st version of Op. 13 No. 1)
  20. Volkslied
  21. Sie liebten sich beide (1st version of Op. 13 No. 2)
  22. Loreley
  23. O weh des Scheidens
  24. Mein Stern
  25. Beim Abschied
  26. Das Veilchen
  27. Der Wanderer
  28. Der Wanderer in der Sagemuhle
  29. Walzer

Dorothea Craxton, soprano
Hedayet Djeddikar, fortepiano
Date: 2009
Label: Naxos
http://www.naxos.com/catalogue/item.asp?item_code=8.570747

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Review

The available selection of Clara Schumann's songs has been increasing, which is all to the good; they reveal a composer whose thinking was closely connected with that of her husband, who had the talent to keep up with what he was doing, and whose musical language in the realm of the art song kept developing even as Robert turned away from the genre. This Naxos release takes an unusual approach: it is, essentially, a historically authentic performance of the songs. Swiss-German pianistHedayet Djeddikar uses an 1828 Stein piano owned by Clara Schumann herself, and the accompaniments take on the subtle colors made possible by fortepiano performance. Djeddikar has an especially nice way with Schumann's treatment of the upper register in the accompaniment, which adds a fantastic, melancholy, or playful note depending on the circumstances. Soprano Dorothea Craxton tries for an intimate vocal approach to match the piano and the charming sonic ambiance of the Schumannhaus in Zwickau. This is a good idea in principle, but Craxton's sound has little support in her upper register. She sounds fine in small doses, especially in limpid pieces like "Die gute Nacht" from the Four Songs by Friedrich Rückert, Op. 12. But over the course of the entire program of 29 songs the shaky intonation at crucial moments may result in aural fatigue. This release is a classic example of an original approach awaiting other performers to come along with improved execution. Texts and translations (into English only) are available only online.

-- James Manheim, AllMusic


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Clara Schumann (née Clara Josephine Wieck; 13 September 1819 – 20 May 1896) was a German musician and composer, considered one of the most distinguished pianists of the Romantic era. She exerted her influence over a 61-year concert career, changing the format and repertoire of the piano recital and the tastes of the listening public. Her husband was the composer Robert Schumann, and ogether they encouraged Johannes Brahms. She was the first to perform publicly any work by Brahms and later premiered some other pieces by him.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clara_Schumann

***

Dorothea Craxton graduated from the Staatliche Musikhochschule in Cologne with the Artists’ Diploma and continued her studies with Anna Reynolds and Barbara Schlick. She has appeared as a soprano in numerous oratorio and concert performances of ancient music, as well as contemporary music, including premières, and in chamber music. She gives regular Lieder recitals and in recent years has given particular attention to the work of women composers of the romantic period—especially Clara Schumann and Fanny Hensel—both published and unpublished songs.

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Saturday, June 6, 2015

Charles Koechlin - Music for Chamber Ensembles (Ensemble Initium; Ensemble Contraste)


Information

Composer: Charles Koechlin
  • (01-12) Paysages et Marines, Op. 63b
  • (13-21) Deux Sonatines, Op. 194
  • (22-27) Septuor à vents, Op. 165
  • (28-31) Sonate à sept, Op. 221

Ensemble Initium
Édouard Sabo, flute
Armel Descotte, oboe (28-31) & oboe d'amour (13-21)
Hélène Gueuret, oboe (22-27)
Guillaume Deshayes, English horn
François Lemoine, clarinet
Cédric Carcelès, saxophone
Frank Sibold, bassoon
Stéphane Bridoux, French horn
&
Ensemble Contraste
Johan Farjot, piano & harpsichord
Arnaud Thorette, violin
Mathilde Borsarello-Herrmann, violin (13-21; 28-31)
Maria Mosconi, viola
Raphaël Aubry, viola (13-21)
Antoine Pierlot, cello
Gauthier Herrmann, cello (13-21)

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Review

'... Michel Fleury's remarks on Koechlin in the Timpani booklet bear the title 'Open Air Music', alluding to the idea that Koechlin was an 'outdoor' kind of composer. Certainly in this splendid recording nature's big, bold canvases are very much in evidence, nowhere more so than in the retrospective Paysages et Marines ('Landscapes and Seascapes'), one of Koechlin's key works. The spirited Wind Septet is also available on the Brilliant Classics triplex (9266), where it suffers quite severe distortion towards the adrenalised end, microphones unable to cope with a combination of volume and high pitches. Timpani's engineers show Brilliant how it should be done. The two French chamber ensembles Contraste and Initium, one wind-based, one strings, give elegant, expressive readings of some of Koechlin's most imaginatively scored works.'

-- Byzantion, MusicWeb International

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Charles Koechlin (27 November 1867 – 31 December 1950) was a French composer, teacher and writer on music. He was a political radical all his life and a passionate enthusiast for such diverse things as medieval music, The Jungle Book of Rudyard Kipling, Johann Sebastian Bach, film stars (especially Lilian Harvey and Ginger Rogers), traveling, stereoscopic photography and socialism. Koechlin was enormously prolific. Despite his lack of worldly success, Koechlin was apparently a loved and venerated figure in French music.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charles_Koechlin

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Charles Gounod - Symphonies Nos. 1 & 2 (Michel Plasson)


Information

Composer: Charles Gounod
  1. Symphony No. 1 in D major: I. Allegro molto
  2. Symphony No. 1 in D major: II. Allegro moderato
  3. Symphony No. 1 in D major: III. Scherzo. ma non troppo presto
  4. Symphony No. 1 in D major: IV. Finale. Adagio - Allegro vivace
  5. Symphony No. 2 in E flat major: I. Adagio - Allegro agitato
  6. Symphony No. 2 in E flat major: II. Larghetto (non troppo)
  7. Symphony No. 2 in E flat major: III. Scherzo. Allegro molto
  8. Symphony No. 2 in E flat major: IV. Finale. Allegro leggiero assai

Orchestre National du Capitole de Toulouse
Michel Plasson, conductor
Date: 1979
Label: EMI

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Review

Though I was well aware that Gounod had written symphonies, I have to confess that this is the first time I am conscious of their having come my way. My ancient edition of Grove dismissed them as "of no importance". That, at least, was a promising indicator, since such words are commonly applied to unpretentious and utterly charming music. Thus it turns out.

The First Symphony has been labelled as the model for the youthful Symphony in C of Bizet, who indeed was encouraged by Gounod himself to accept a commission to arrange the work for piano duet. The similarities of style are certainly striking, and though this was clearly a case of pupil outclassing the master, the Gounod work has plenty to offer in the same captivating style. The Second Symphony is a little weightier, with a solemn opening and a touch of Beethoven to add to the shades of Schubert and Mendelssohn; but the solemnity never lasts for long before the sparkle bursts through again.

Michel Plasson, already noted for his Rachmaninov, Offenbach, Saint-Saëns and Massenet interpretations, now shows a similar feel for Gounod's transparent melodic lines, keeping the music moving along when the shifts of rhythm might in other hands produce a stodgy effect, and making the most of the frequent surges from momentary solemnity to renewed gaiety. His Toulouse orchestra serves him admirably, particularly in the important woodwind contributions. EMI's recording is especially successsful in creating a spacious but crisp sound. Music of no importance it may be, but the record makes a diverting and persuasive case for it.

-- Gramophone [8/1980] Reviewing original LP

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Charles Gounod (17 June 1818 – 17 October or 18 October 1893) was a French composer. Gounod is best known for his operas Faust and Romeo et Juliette and for his Ave Maria (1859). Though his reputation began to fade even before he died, he is still generally regarded as a major figure in nineteenth century French music. Stylistically, he was a conservative whose influence nevertheless extended to Bizet, Saint-Saëns, and Massenet.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charles_Gounod

***

Michel Plasson (born 2 October 1933, Paris, France) is a French conductor. Plasson was principal conductor of the Orchestre et Chœurs du Capitole de Toulouse from 1968 to 2003 and now has the title of "Honorary Conductor", or conductor emeritus. Plasson's recordings were mainly made for EMI/Virgin, and focused upon works by French composers.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Michel_Plasson

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Thursday, June 4, 2015

Charles Ives - Holidays Symphony; Three Places in New England (Eugene Ormandy)


Information

Composer: Charles Ives
  1. A New England Holiday Symphony: I. Washington's Birthday
  2. A New England Holiday Symphony: II. Decoration Day
  3. A New England Holiday Symphony: III. The Fourth of July
  4. A New England Holiday Symphony: IV. Thanksgiving and Forefather's Day
  5. Three Places in New England (Orchestral Set No. 1): I. The "St. Gaudens" in Boston Common (Col. Robert Gould Shaw and his Colored Regiment)
  6. Three Places in New England (Orchestral Set No. 1): II. Putnam's Camp, Redding, Connecticut
  7. Three Places in New England (Orchestral Set No. 1): III. The Housatonic at Stockbridge

Temple University Concert Choir
Philadelphia Orchestra
Eugene Ormandy, conductor
Date: 1974
Label: RCA

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Review


Reference Recording: Ormandy Celebrates Ives’ Holidays

Eugene Ormandy was a surprisingly dedicated Ives conductor, at least on disc, and a very good one too. This version of Three Places in New England was, if memory serves, the first of Ives' original scoring for full orchestra, and it's quite fine. As to be expected, the Philly players sound terrific, and Ormandy seems to be enjoying himself (he was never noted for his sense of humor). The performance of the Holidays Symphony also stands with the very best; for many years this was the only way to get all four tone poems on disc, with Thanksgiving and Forefather's Day being a particular novelty. The sound is gratifyingly clear and clean for an RCA/Philadelphia production, save for some slight congestion at the entry of the chorus in Thanksgiving. Part of the Japanese RCA Ormandy edition, and now available on demand from Arkivmusic.com, this disc represented a major contribution to the Ives discography when it first came out back in the 1970s, and its qualities haven't diminished at all in the decades since.

-- David Hurwitz, ClassicsToday

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Charles Ives (October 20, 1874 – May 19, 1954) was an American composer. He is one of the first American composers of international renown.and regarded as an "American original", though his music was largely ignored during his life. He combined the American popular and church-music traditions of his youth with European art music, and was among the first composers to engage in a systematic program of experimental music, with musical techniques including polytonality, polyrhythm, tone clusters, aleatoric elements, and quarter tones, foreshadowing many musical innovations of the 20th century.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charles_Ives

***

Eugene Ormandy (November 18, 1899 – March 12, 1985) was a Hungarian-born conductor and violinist who became internationally famous as the music director and conductor of the Philadelphia Orchestra. The maestro's 44-year-long association with the Philadelphia is one of the longest enjoyed by any conductor with a single orchestra. Under his baton, the Philadelphia had three gold records and won two Grammy Awards. Ormandy's many recordings spanned the acoustic to the electrical to the digital age. From 1936 until his death, Ormandy made hundreds of recordings with the Philadelphia Orchestra, spanning almost every classical music genre.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eugene_Ormandy

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Bohuslav Martinů - Piano Concertos (Emil Leichner)


Composer: Bohuslav Martinů

CD1:
  1. Piano Concerto No. 1 in D major, H. 149: I. Allegro moderato
  2. Piano Concerto No. 1 in D major, H. 149: II. Andante -
  3. Piano Concerto No. 1 in D major, H. 149: III. Allegro
  4. Piano Concerto No. 2, H. 237: I. Allegro moderato
  5. Piano Concerto No. 2, H. 237: II. Poco andante
  6. Piano Concerto No. 2, H. 237: III. Poco allegro
  7. Piano Concertino, H. 269: I. Allegro moderato (comodo)
  8. Piano Concertino, H. 269: II. Lento
  9. Piano Concertino, H. 269: III. Allegro
CD2:
  1. Piano Concerto No. 3, H. 316: I. Allegro
  2. Piano Concerto No. 3, H. 316: II. Andante poco moderato
  3. Piano Concerto No. 3, H. 316: III. Moderato. Allegro
  4. Piano Concerto No. 4 "Incantations", H. 358: I. Poco allegro
  5. Piano Concerto No. 4 "Incantations", H. 358: II. Poco moderato
  6. Piano Concerto No. 5 in B flat major "Fantasia concertante", H. 366: I. Poco allegro risoluto
  7. Piano Concerto No. 5 in B flat major "Fantasia concertante", H. 366: II. Poco andante
  8. Piano Concerto No. 5 in B flat major "Fantasia concertante", H. 366: III. Poco allegro

Emil Leichner, piano
Czech Philharmonic Orchestra
Jiří Bělohlávek, conductor
Date: 1989
Label: Supraphon

More info & reviews:
http://www.supraphon.com/en/catalogue/on-line-database/detail/?idtitulu=652
http://www.amazon.com/Martinu-Piano-Concertos-Bohuslav/dp/B0000262OH

Leichner's traversal is very famous and mentioned a lot in reviews of other recordings of Firkusny and Koukl, but I can't find a review of this 2-discs album. I can't even find information or images of the pianist. Very confusing.


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Bohuslav Martinů (December 8, 1890 – August 28, 1959) was a Czech composer of modern classical music. In the early 1930s he found his main font for compositional style, the neo-classical as developed by Stravinsky. With this, he expanded to become a prolific composer, who wrote almost 400 pieces, included 6 symphonies, 15 operas, 14 ballet scores and a large body of orchestral, chamber, vocal and instrumental works. He is compared with Prokofiev and Bartók in his innovative incorporation of Central European ethnomusicology into his music.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bohuslav_Martin%C5%AF

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Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Arnold Bax; Frederick Delius; Frank Bridge - English Spring (Mark Elder)


Information

Composer: Arnold Bax; Frederick Delius; Frank Bridge
  1. Bax - Spring Fire: I. In the Forest before Dawn
  2. Bax - Spring Fire: II. Daybreak and Sunrise
  3. Bax - Spring Fire: III. Full Day
  4. Bax - Spring Fire: IV. Woodland Love - Romance
  5. Bax - Spring Fire: V. Maenads
  6. Delius - Idylle Printemps
  7. Delius - The March of the Spring
  8. Bridge - Enter Spring
Hallé Orchestra
Mark Elder, conductor
Recording: 2011
Label: Hallé

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Review

RECORDING OF THE MONTH

We sometimes complain about miscellany programmes where there is no link or perhaps only a tenuous nexus. There can be no such complaint here with a well-proportioned and rigorously-arranged sequence linked by Spring, the English nationality of the three composers, musical style to some extent and by the origins of the music in the 1910s and 1920s.

The vernal theme is assertively established by the five movement, Swinburne-inspiredSpring Fireby Arnold Bax. This is early Bax at his most ecstatically impressionistic. It’s a masterly piece the mood of which is reflected in the words of Swinburne’s Atalanta in Calydon:-

Come with bows bent and with emptying of quivers,
Maiden most perfect, lady of light,
With a noise of winds and many rivers,
With a clamour of waters, and with might;

And Pan by noon and Bacchus by night,
Fleeter of foot than the fleet-foot kid,
Follows with dancing and fills with delight
The Maenad and the Bassarid;

This brilliantly orchestrated world, all dewy and luxuriant undergrowth, is first evoked through a memorable drip-tick ostinato spun with wispy tendrils and birdsong. Not for the last time you might think of Ravel’s Daphnis. The images are in part those of a classical Mediterranean never-never land. Bantock’s much laterPagan Symphonyhas the same mise-en-scène but Bax’s work is expressed through more diaphanous textures. It’s all greenswards peopled with fauns, nymphs and satyrs. The effects are breathtakingly beautiful with listeners perhaps recalling the Presentation of the Rose (Rosenkavalier) as well as Miaskovsky Symphony 13 and 14 in the fourth movement and Rimsky’s Russian Easter Festival in the finale. The languorous spell cast by this discursive music is full of wood magic but is by no means entirely sleepy. The whooping triton horns of the last movement recall the lusty tidal race of Bax’s own Fourth Symphony with its glittering waves and dazzling amethyst–green combers. Overall though this work leans more towards the sensuous pictorial Bax of the Third Symphony, Tintagel, Nympholept, The Happy Forest and Fand than the Nordic Bax of the Fifth Symphony and Winter Legends.

Elder has known this score for at least a decade. I recall going to the Proms in July 1996 and seeing him give one of his earliest accounts. Before that the performance history of this Henry Wood-dedicated work – in some ways Bax’s Symphony No. 0 (though there is also a 00, I believe) – began in “recent times” with Leslie Head’s Kensington Symphony Orchestra on 8 December 1970. Then, after a long pause, Norman Del Mar and the BBCSO in October 1983 and October 1984 around the Bax Centenary; 1983 was a transformational year though concert performances remain rare birds. Two years later came the only other recording - which still sounds very good – from Handley (Chandos CHAN 8464). Andrew Davis has also conducted the piece. This HalleSpring Firerecording was taken down at a concert and some applause has been included. The other recordings on this disc were made in a studio.

Frank Bridge’s music travelled a long way. From the almost Stanfordian Isabella and Piano Quintet to the expressionism and dissonance of the String Quartets 3 and 4 and Piano Trio No. 2. Enter Spring is a work in the midst of a transition but this does not stop it being a confident and towering masterwork of the English Musical Renaissance. A swinging and weighty momentum gradually emerges from whispered intimations. It’s a lucid and succinct construct with a chilly ozone-rich air invigoratingly gusting through its pages. The recording here is of exemplary clarity and the performance is deeply sympathetic.

Am not so sure about ripping the Delius Spring movement from the company of the other North Country Sketches but it is well done and its ‘skirl’ reminded me of the “Scotch snap” in Bax’s Northern Ballad No. 1. The Idylle de Printemps is monothematic but what a theme! We know from Sleigh Ride and Hassan that he could write catchy themes – this is another, superbly treated. It reflects the genius of a young man in sophisticated light music.

The helpful liner-notes are by Lynne Walker and Calum Macdonald.

None of these works is mainstream so although enthusiasts will know many or all of them, others will be able to make impressive discoveries. A great showcase for neglected British rarities from early in the last century. A winner on all counts.

-- Rob Barnett, MusicWeb International

More reviews:
http://www.musicweb-international.com/classrev/2012/Feb12/English_Spring_CDHLL7528.htm
http://www.classical.net/music/recs/reviews/h/hal07528a.php
http://www.allmusic.com/album/english-spring-mw0002177576
http://www.amazon.co.uk/Bax-Delius-Bridge-English-Spring/dp/B004V7V4AS

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Arnold Bax (8 November 1883 – 3 October 1953) was an English composer. His musical style blended elements of romanticism and impressionism, often with influences from Irish literature and landscape. His orchestral scores are noted for their complexity and colorful instrumentation. He is best known for his symphonies and tone poems.

***

Frederick Delius (29 January 1862 – 10 June 1934) was an English composer who forged a unique version of the Impressionist musical language of the early twentieth century. Rather than creating his music from the known possibilities of instruments, Delius "thought the sounds first" and then sought the means for producing these particular sounds.

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Frank Bridge (26 February 1879 – 10 January 1941) was an English composer, perhaps most highly regarded today for his chamber music. His early works are in a late-Romantic idiom, but later pieces showing the influence of the Second Viennese School, Maurice Ravel and Alexander Scriabin.

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Mark Elder (born 2 June 1947) is a British conductor. He is the music director of the Hallé Orchestra in Manchester, England. He has recorded for record labels such as Hyperion, Chandos, as well as for the Hallé Orchestra's own label. Elder also has written on music for The Guardian and other newspapers.

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