Friday, July 31, 2015

Hugo Alfvén - Orchestral Works (Neeme Järvi)


Information

Composer: Hugo Alfvén

CD1:
  1. Upsala-rapsodi (Swedish Rhapsody No. 2), Op. 24
  2. Symphony No. 1 in F minor, Op. 7: I. Grave. Allegro con brio
  3. Symphony No. 1 in F minor, Op. 7: II. Andante
  4. Symphony No. 1 in F minor, Op. 7: III. Allegro, molto scherzando
  5. Symphony No. 1 in F minor, Op. 7: IV. Allegro, ma non troppo
  6. Drapa, Op. 27 (for large orchestra)
  7. Andante religioso

CD2:
  1. Midsommarvaka (Swedish Rhapsody No. 1), Op. 19
  2. Symphony No. 2 in D major, Op. 11: I. Moderato
  3. Symphony No. 2 in D major, Op. 11: II. Andante
  4. Symphony No. 2 in D major, Op. 11: III. Allegro
  5. Symphony No. 2 in D major, Op. 11: IV. Preludio. Adagio
  6. Symphony No. 2 in D major, Op. 11: Fuga. Allegro energico

CD3:
  1. Dalarapsodi (Swedish Rhapsody No. 3), Op. 47
  2. Symphony No. 3 in E major, Op. 23: I. Allegro con brio
  3. Symphony No. 3 in E major, Op. 23: II. Andante
  4. Symphony No. 3 in E major, Op. 23: III. Presto
  5. Symphony No. 3 in E major, Op. 23: IV. Allegro con brio
  6. Den förlorade sonen (The Prodigal Son), ballet suite: Gånglåt från Leksand - Sonens gånglåt
  7. Den förlorade sonen (The Prodigal Son), ballet suite: Polska från Orsa
  8. Den förlorade sonen (The Prodigal Son), ballet suite: Drottningens av Saba festmarsch
  9. Den förlorade sonen (The Prodigal Son), ballet suite: Polketta
  10. Den förlorade sonen (The Prodigal Son), ballet suite: Steklåt
  11. Den förlorade sonen (The Prodigal Son), ballet suite: Polka
  12. Den förlorade sonen (The Prodigal Son), ballet suite: Final

CD4:
  1. En skärgårdssägen (A Legend of the Skerries), Op. 20
  2. Symphony No. 4 in C minor "Från havsbadet" (From the Outermost Skerries), Op. 39

CD5:
  1. Bergakungen (The Mountain King), ballet suite, Op. 37: Besvärjelse (Invocation)
  2. Bergakungen (The Mountain King), ballet suite, Op. 37: Trollflickans dans (Sorceress´s Dance)
  3. Bergakungen (The Mountain King), ballet suite, Op. 37: Sommarregn (Summer Rain)
  4. Bergakungen (The Mountain King), ballet suite, Op. 37: Vallflickans dans (Herdmaiden´s Dance)
  5. Symphony No. 5 in A minor, Op. 54: I. Lento - Allegro non troppo
  6. Symphony No. 5 in A minor, Op. 54: II. Andante
  7. Symphony No. 5 in A minor, Op. 54: III. Lento - Allegro - Presto molto agitato
  8. Symphony No. 5 in A minor, Op. 54: IV. Finale. Allegro con brio
  9. Elegy, Op. 49 (from Gustav II Adolf)

Christina Högman, soprano (Symphony No. 4)
Claes-Håkan Ahnsjö, tenor (Symphony No. 4)
Royal Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra
Neeme Järvi, conductor
Date: 1988 (CD1, CD2), 1989 (CD3), 1991 (CD4), 1993 (CD5)
Label: Brilliant Classics (original recorded by BIS)
CD1 http://bis.se/index.php?op=album&aID=BIS-CD-395
CD2 http://bis.se/index.php?op=album&aID=BIS-CD-385
CD3 http://bis.se/index.php?op=album&aID=BIS-CD-455
CD4 http://bis.se/index.php?op=album&aID=BIS-CD-505
CD5 http://bis.se/index.php?op=album&aID=BIS-CD-585

---------------------------------------------------------------------------

Review

My very first impressions of Alfvén, some thirty years ago, were not promising. They were founded on his First Swedish Rhapsody (Midsommarvaka) and at a time when I was keen on the ‘Great Symphonies’: Bruckner, Mahler, Tchaikovsky. That cheesy wince-making tune at the start sounded far too ‘Disney’ and ‘Swiss Family Robinson’ for me. Possibly less censorious now, I can appreciate the many charming episodes in this attractive piece. Järvi imparts an eagerness and bubbling high spirits that make it irresistible. Listen to the blatant brass at 11.03. Rustic fun and great entertainment which you will love if you like the Chabrier, Smetana, Enescu. Weinberger, de Falla or Rimsky.

However the core of this set comprises five extremely substantial symphonies. His first three are from what was for him a fecund decade: 1897-1907. The Straussian Fourth dates from just after the end of the Great War. The Fifth, with which he struggled for many years, was written between 1942 and 1953.

The First Symphony is in four movements as also are the Third and the Fifth. It is a prepossessing work, serious, mysterious, gangling, romantic, Lisztian and nationalistic. It has a tramping third movement and a chirpy finale - not everything is ‘sturm und drang’. It is here given a spirited performance.

The Second Symphony is in four movements with the finale being divided between a Prelude and a Fugue. Järvi gives this sea-inspired work a wonderful outing. Every emphatic moment is given with something approaching vengeful violence. The breadth of the sea-swell in the Stockholm Archipelago is suggested by the glum andante. The allegro (III) scuds along with a Berlioz-like macabre élan. The Symphonie Fantastique is surely a presence here as also is the thunderous dancing impact of Beethoven 5 and 7. In the diptychal finale Alfvén lifts his material out of the merely academic with a piercing angst in the prelude. Village piper voices are evoked during the fugue. The final five minutes achieve a glowing grandeur with a chorale rising above the fugal figuration. Surging Schumann-like lightning strikes by the strings counter the formidable tragic thunder of the full brass.

The Third Symphony is more compact than the other two. It was written in Italy at Sori Ligure and so joins the extensive catalogue of Scandinavian works inspired by Mediterranean scenes: Nielsen Helios, Sibelius Nightride, Peterson-Berger Symphony 2, Nystroem Sinfonia Del Mare. The first movement lacks the gravitas we find in the other two symphonies. The spirit of the rhapsodies is in the ascendant. There is a Dvořákian second movement with a sentimental theme that drifts close to 'There's no place like home'. The Presto is a thing of feathery spindrift and this is followed by a joyful post-horn allegro. This is a work is full of high spirits and lightness of heart - more in the image of the Goldmark Rustic Wedding or Ludolf Nielsen’s suites than the typically louring Scandinavian nature-psychological drama.

The Fourth Symphony is dedicated to ‘mother in deepest gratitude’ was premiered at the Royal Academy Stockholm on 4 November 1919. It is luxuriant and over-long but has a memorable profile; a dramatic piece with a great sense of narrative direction. What an imaginative stroke to use two vocalising voices as prominent rapporteurs in the orchestral ‘wash’. There are of course other examples of the use of vocalise including Nielsen's Espansiva, Hamilton Harty's The Children of Lir, Delius's Song of the High Hills, the Gliere Concerto for coloratura soprano, Medtner's Sonata-Vocalise (soprano and piano - recorded by Chandos), Vaughan Williams' Pastoral and John Foulds' Lyra Celtica soprano and orchestra and recorded by Warner).

This opulent score, with Strauss and Tchaikovsky intermittently the models, opens magically. The music is forthright but refined - creating the effect of bubbles rising de profundis into sunlight. The vocalising singers are strong although there is a moment when the demands on the soprano left a hard edge to her voice. This is rewarding music racked with the turbulence of the waves - a Tristan-like vision such as we find in Boughton's Queen of Cornwall or Bax's Tintagel in which nature is illustrated but also serves as a metaphor for erotic love. It is a shame that Bis indexed the episodes rather than tracking each separately.

The work has been recorded by Westerberg with Söderström (Bluebell in their ABCD series) and there is also a long gone Swedish Society Discofil LP in which Nils Grevillius directs the Stockholm Philharmonic. The soloists are Gunilla ap Malmborg and Sven Vikstrom. That recording was made on 7 December 1962. No doubt it will be reissued one day but nothing as yet.

Delving yet deeper you will find a comprehensively documented three CD archival set from Phono Suecia (PSCD 109) which in which ‘Alfvén conducts Alfvén’. The first disc is especially fascinating for an historic 1947 radio broadcast of the Fourth Symphony in which the soprano part is taken by Birgit Nilsson.

Legend of the Skerries is a mood picture in sound without distinctive tunes but with an almost palpable shimmering and gurgling atmosphere. It is the oceanic equivalent of Holst's Egdon Heath or Bax's Northern Ballad No. 2 - two works memorable for their indomitable scene-setting rather than their melodic resource. Alfvén's drenched colour scheme runs the pantone from aquamarine to viridian.

This is the only complete commercial recording of the Fifth Symphony. It is a work that seems to have cost Alfvén dear for he struggled to complete it from 1942 until 1960 the year of his death. About the same length as the Fourth, the Fifth is serious - lacking anything of the light theatre about it. Harsh and violent times raged around Sweden's borders. The first movement was completed in time for the composer's seventieth birthday. That movement was later recorded and issued on LP with Legend of the Uttermost Skerries by Swedish Society Discofil (SLT 33186) conducted by the redoubtable Stig Westerberg. The entire symphony was premiered under Carl Von Garaguly in 1953. The composer worried away at the score revising it incessantly.

Louring drama suffuses the first movement which, as with the other symphonies, is the longest of the four. The andante and parts of the third movement deploy light-hearted woodwind material reminiscing about dances in the perpetual Scandinavian twilight. There are some extremely inventive eldritch effects in the allegro central segment of the third movement. The long finale reels in ‘sturm und drang’. There is a touch of the Mahlerian ländler about the last five minutes of the finale. You will hear and read many remarks by musicologists on Alfvén's Straussian/Wagnerian style. It is true that he ‘paints’ with a rich late romantic palette but this is oxygenated by the ozone of the strand and the chill of the mountain heights.

The suite from Prodigal Son had its premiere to mark the composer's 85th birthday. As with the Third Symphony the spirit is lighter and rustic with closer parallels to the rhapsodies than to most of the symphonies. Country dancing and the polka play a major part in the proceedings offset by a grand sentimental theme at 1.18 tr. 11. The village fiddler, a role neatly assumed by leader Karl-Ove Mannberg, takes a bow in the finale. The Saba march is complete with ringing alla turca-isms, the brass are blatant and bells up.

The Bergakungen suite is more emotionally varied and dramatic than the Prodigal Son suite. Its soul-mates are the First and Second Symphonies rather than the Third and the rhapsodies. The second movement is very Straussian. Those avian shrieks and pealing harp figures suggest Strauss at one moment and Mahler the next. They are so richly decked that parts of this might almost be by the mature Zemlinsky as in the Seejungfrau. Of the four movements only the final one breaks the tormented romantic mood with a concert lollipop in the shape of the dashing Vallflickans dans.

There are three Swedish Rhapsodies by Hugo Alfvén with the most famous being the first the Midsommarvaka.

The Uppsalarasodi starts seriously. The gravity is rather Brahmsian but with nationalistic infusions including some pompous cortege moments. The music shares some of the uncomplicated pictorial character of Smetana inter-cut with active fast music bubbling along in the manner of the Academic Festival Overture. There is some lovely fruity fanfaring at the very end of the piece.

The Third Rhapsody is the Dalarapsodi from 1931. Like the Fourth Symphony this recording is subdivided not into tracks but with index points a practice now abandoned by the record industry. I have never had a player that allowed access of index points (I wonder how many modern CD players have this facility). It is a slight shame that Bis have not reallocated index entries to track-markers. The composer declared a programme for the piece. It involves a shepherdess gazing down from the high summer pastures to the village far below and imagining the dancing (4:30), church-going and merriment. Straussian storm-clouds boil up at 6.23 but predominantly this is music of distanced contentment. A discursive piece with many blazingly exuberant and poetically reflective moments, it ends in calm.

The 1908 Drapa conjures through harp and fanfares the court of King Oscar II. A glowing romantic-melancholy theme for strings rises to heights of considerable grandeur. It has just a hint of nobilmente about it. A lovely piece - lovingly shaped by Järvi.

The Andante Religioso again draws on Alfvén's facility for string themes. It has a strong Scandinavian wistfulness woven into its radiant progress. A delightful piece, drawn from the Revelation Cantata, Beecham would have seized on it if only he had known.

The final CD ends with the tremblingly oneiric and contentedly restful Elegy from Gustav II Adolf - another natural ‘if only’ for Beecham.

For those needing a modern digital recording there is practically no competition. That said it would be an uphill battle to produce a better version than this any way. The closest we come to this is from Naxos but it uses a mixture of orchestras and currently is incomplete. Peter Sundkvist and Niklas Willén are the conductors. We only await the Fourth and Fifth but, as far as I am aware, the Fourth has not yet been recorded. The Naxos details are :

Symphony No.1 in F minor Swedish Rhapsody No. 2 Uppsala Royal Scottish National Orchestra 8.553962

Symphony No. 2 National Symphony Orchestra of Ireland 8.555072

Symphony No. 3 Royal Scottish National Orchestra 8.553729

If by any chance you have come to regard Järvi as a deliverer of routine recordings in massed quantity let this set be a lesson to you. When these recordings were made there was not a single one of them where he lets the tension or imagination slip from his hand.

The extensive notes drawn together from the individual issues made between 1988 and 1993 are by Stig Jacobsson and very good they are too.

Alfvén is a fascinating composer and I am pleased to have been surprised by the strength of the music-making here. It is such a pity that the four volumes of Alfvén's autobiography (1946, 1948, 1949, 1952 - I Första satsen (Ungdomsminnen) II Tempo furioso; III I Dur och Moll; IV Final) have never been translated into English.

This is a great bargain for the enquiring music-lover - exceptional performances and recording quality; five discs for the price of three.

-- Rob Barnett, MusicWeb International

More reviews:
http://www.classicstoday.com/review/review-16255/
http://www.classical.net/~music/recs/reviews/b/bis01478a.php
http://www.allmusic.com/album/hugo-alfv%C3%A9n-symphonies-nos-1-5-swedish-rhapsodies-mw0001423359
http://www.amazon.co.uk/Alfven-Complete-Symphonies-Hugo/dp/B001716JR4
http://www.amazon.com/Hugo-Alfven-Symphonies-Swedish-Rhapsodies/dp/B001716JR4

---------------------------------------------------------------------------

Hugo Alfvén (May 1, 1872 – May 8, 1960) was a Swedish composer, conductor, violinist, and painter. Alfvén became known as one of Sweden's principal composers of his time. His music is in a late-Romantic idiom with skillful and colorful orchestration. Alfvén toured Europe as a conductor throughout his life, and also a talented watercolorist painter.

***

Neeme Järvi (born June 7, 1937) is an Estonian conductor. He made over 400 recordings for labels such as BIS, Chandos and Deutsche Grammophon and best known for his interpretations of Romantic and 20th century classical music.

---------------------------------------------------------------------------

FLAC, tracks
Links in comment
Enjoy!

Ignacy Jan Paderewski - Orchestral Works (Roland Bader)


Information

Composer: Ignacy Jan Paderewski
  1. Manru, opera, Op. 20: Ouverture
  2. Manru, opera, Op. 20: Prelude, Act 3
  3. Manru, opera, Op. 20: Gipsy March
  4. Fantasy from opera "Manru" for orchestra (arr. Walter Rabl)
  5. Menuet célèbre, Op. 14 No. 1
  6. Mélodie, Op. 16 No. 2
  7. Cracovienne fantastique (Krakowiak), Op. 14 No. 6
  8. Chant d'amour (Album de mai), Op. 10 No. 2
  9. Melody (Chants du voyageur), Op. 8 No. 3

Kraków Philharmonic Orchestra
Roland Bader, conductor
Date: 1995
Label: Koch Schwann

---------------------------------------------------------------------------

Review

Ignacy Jan Paderewski is better remembered today as a pianist and a statesman than as a composer. Things are changing slowly, as several recent CDs of his music testify. This newcomer explores the sideways of Paderewski’s symphonic production, gathering together orchestral arrangements of pianistic miniatures–among them the famous Menuet Op. 14, excerpts from the long-forgotten opera Manru, and the pastoral, Dvorakian Overture, tinged with Polish folk elements. The heroic, quasi-Wagnerian Prelude and the exciting Gipsy March from Manru are both vibrant, colorful advocates for a resurrection of the complete work. Less so the lengthy Fantasy arranged by Walter Rabl, no matter how skillfully it summarizes the themes from the opera. The lovely miniatures line up like encores at the end of the program, each one a perfect example of Paderewski’s heady melodic charm. The performances are impassioned and solid, but not always as polished as one could wish with this refined music, particularly in the Overture, where the excellent Antoni Wit on Naxos (coupled with the Piano Concerto and the Fantaisie polonaise) outclasses Roland Bader and the Cracow Philharmonic. Abundant resonance spoils the spacious sound recording. Let’s hope the symphony Polonia and the opera Manru will be among the next releases in the ongoing Paderewski series from Koch or Naxos.

-- ClassicsToday

---------------------------------------------------------------------------

Ignacy Jan Paderewski (18 November [O.S. 6 November] 1860 – 29 June 1941) was a Polish pianist and composer, politician, and spokesman for Polish independence. He was a favorite of concert audiences around the globe. His musical fame opened access to diplomacy and the media. He was the prime minister and foreign minister of Poland in 1919, and represented Poland at the Paris Peace Conference in 1919.

***

Roland Bader (born 24 August 1938) is a German choral conductor and music director. He is the principal guest conductor of the Kraków Philharmonic Orchestra and the Opera Krakowska since 1980s, officially authorized as representative for their guest performances in Germany and Switzerland.

---------------------------------------------------------------------------

FLAC, tracks
Links in comment
Enjoy!

Hugo Wolf; Hans Pfitzner; Richard Strauss - Orchestral Works (Otmar Suitner)


Information

Composer: Hugo Wolf; Hans Pfitzner; Richard Strauss
  1. Wolf - Penthesilea, symphonic poem: 1. Aufbruch de Amazonen nach Troja
  2. Wolf - Penthesilea, symphonic poem: 2. Der Traum Penthesileas vom Rosenfest
  3. Wolf - Penthesilea, symphonic poem: 3. Kämpfe, Leidenschaften, Wahnsinn, Vernichtung
  4. Pfitzner - Das Käthchen von Heilbronn, incidental music to Heinrich von Kleist's play, Op. 17: Prelude to Act 3
  5. Pfitzner - Das Käthchen von Heilbronn, incidental music to Heinrich von Kleist's play, Op. 17: Melodram
  6. Pfitzner - Das Käthchen von Heilbronn, incidental music to Heinrich von Kleist's play, Op. 17: Ouvertüre
  7. Strauss - Fantasy on "Die Frau ohne Schatten", Op. 65

Juliane Koren; Frank Lienert (5)
Staatskapelle Berlin
Otmar Suitner, conductor
Date: 1980 (7), 1983
Label: Berlin Classics

---------------------------------------------------------------------------

Review

"... Wolf's Penthesilea is in three movements. 1. Aufbruch der Amazonen nach Troja; 2. Der Traum Penthesileas vom Rosenfest; 3. Kämpfe, Leidenschaften, Wahnsinn, Vernichtung. The whole 30 minute tone poem (recorded previously by Otto Gerdes on DG) operates at the ramshackle and bombastic level of Smetana's (non-Ma Vlast) tone poems somewhat modernised. It is interesting to hear what Wolf made of such an ambitious project but the results pass muster as pleasant rather than transfixing.

Pfitzner's incidental music to Heinrich Kleist's Käthchen von Heilbronn is much more promising. The Prelude to Act 3 is placed first. This music is a cut or five above the Wolf and much more successful as a piece of music: German late-romanticism written away from the ‘disturbing’ winds of Zemlinsky's and Schrecker's expressionistic saturation. The Melodram movement has the lovers speaking over the music. Juliane Koren plays Käthchen and Frank Lienert takes the role of Ritter vom Strahl. The voices are completely credible in their ecstatic dialogue and the music floats and radiates away in the background. The suite ends with the Ouverture at 12.48 running together moments of romantic fanfarery, with Weberian scherzos and lush string interludes. The music is predominantly soft-focus romantic.

Lastly [..] comes Strauss's Fantasy for Large Orchestra - Die Frau ohne Schatten Op. 65. This plays for 20.24. It stands tall in the company of its disc-mates with its gruff call to arms and its shining string choirs and French horn huzzas at 18.02. It operates largely at the level of a contented scena for strings. ..."

-- Rob Barnett, MusicWeb International
reviewing EDEL CLASSICS 0002442CCC / SUITNER 80th Anniversary Special Edition

---------------------------------------------------------------------------

Hugo Wolf (13 March 1860 – 22 February 1903) was an Austrian composer of Slovene origin, particularly noted for his art songs, or Lieder. He wrote hundreds of lieder and brought to this form a concentrated expressive intensity which was unique in late Romantic music. His most famous instrumental piece is the Italian Serenade (1887), originally for string quartet and later orchestrated. The symphonic poem Penthesilea is written in 1883-1885 after the advice of Franz Liszt.

***

Hans Pfitzner (5 May 1869 – 22 May 1949) was a German composer and self-described anti-modernist. His best known work is the post-Romantic opera Palestrina. Pfitzner's music, which was respected by contemporaries such as Gustav Mahler and Richard Strauss, combine Romantic and Late Romantic elements with extended thematic development, atmospheric music drama, and the intimacy of chamber music.

***

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, along with Gustav Mahler, represents the late flowering of German Romanticism.

***

Otmar Suitner (16 May 1922 – 8 January 2010) was an Austrian conductor who spent most of his professional career in East Germany. He was the Music Director at the Berlin State Opera (of which the orchestra is Staatskapelle Berlin) from 1964 to 1990.

---------------------------------------------------------------------------

FLAC, tracks
Links in comment
Enjoy!

Henryk Wieniawski - Violin Concertos (Gil Shaham)


Information

Composer: Henryk Wieniawski; Pablo de Sarasate
  1. Wieniawski - Violin Concerto No. 1 in F-sharp minor, Op. 14: 1. Allegro moderato
  2. Wieniawski - Violin Concerto No. 1 in F-sharp minor, Op. 14: 2. Preghiera. Larghetto
  3. Wieniawski - Violin Concerto No. 1 in F-sharp minor, Op. 14: 3. Rondo. Allegro giocoso
  4. Wieniawski - Violin Concerto No. 2 in D minor, Op. 22: 1. Allegro moderato
  5. Wieniawski - Violin Concerto No. 2 in D minor, Op. 22: 2. Romance. Andante non troppo
  6. Wieniawski - Violin Concerto No. 2 in D minor, Op. 22: 3. Allegro con fuoco - Allegro moderato (à la Zingara)
  7. Wieniawski - Legende, Op. 17: Andante - Allegro moderato - Tempo I
  8. Sarasate - Zigeunerweisen, Op. 20: Moderato - Lento - Un peu plus lent - Allegro molto vivace

Gil Shaham, violin
London Symphony Orchestra
Lawrence Foster, conductor
Date: 1991
Label: Deutsche Grammophon
http://www.deutschegrammophon.com/en/cat/4318152

---------------------------------------------------------------------------

Review

The two Wieniawski violin concertos have been the province of ltzhak Penman until now, but Gil Shaham, who has already proved his mettle in Paganini, provides fine modern recordings of both the D minor, and the relatively unfamiliar op. 14. Why this work should be less often played is inexplicable. Its first movement has a touch of melodrama, it is true, but listen to the lyrical theme stealing in magically (at 4'41") on Shaham's bow and you will immediately be won over; even if he is made to leave the tune all too soon in favour of Paganinian pyrotechnics, he returns even more winningly (at 6'17"). His playing is no less ravishing in the slow movement Preghiera, the phrasing meltingly long-breathed. Then comes the dancing finale, which has much jaunty charm and is played with easy panache and great rhythmic sparkle. 

The Second Concerto, with its restless opening mood, has a splendidly shaped exposition from Foster and the LSO, full of temperament and fire, so that the soloist is able to make a simple entrance with great effect and take up the melodic line spontaneously. He begins the Romance with a comparable innocence and plays very beautifully. The gipsy finale is enormously dashing, and the orchestra matches Shaham's exuberance. The Légende has another disarmingly attractive tune, followed by a livelier middle section; the reprise here is most touching.

For an encore we are given the famous Sarasate Zigeunerweisen. After a passionate flourish from the LSO strings, Shaham introduces the first languorous gipsy theme with real ardour and is then more beguilingly relaxed—but with glorious tone—in the big tune which follows, finally bursting into a closing cascade of fireworks in the brilliant finale, taken zestfully fast. He is balanced forwardly in this Abbey Road No. 1 Studio recording, but that is fair enough in such repertoire. The orchestral tapestry is bold and fully in the picture. Lawrence Foster's accompaniments are distinguished, following the soloist very closely indeed and giving him marvellous support. [12/1991]

-- Gramophone

More reviews:
http://www.amazon.com/Wieniawski-Violin-Concertos-Nos-Henri/dp/B000001GFF

---------------------------------------------------------------------------

Henryk Wieniawski (10 July 1835 – 31 March 1880) was a Polish violinist and composer. Wieniawski was considered a violinist of great ability and wrote some very important works in the violin repertoire, including two technically demanding violin concertos.

***

Gil Shaham (born February 19, 1971) is an American violinist of Jewish descent. His playing is marked by a warm, flowing tone allied with a strong and comprehensive technique. Shaham plays a Stradivarius , the 1699 "Countess Polignac".

---------------------------------------------------------------------------

FLAC, tracks
Links in comment
Enjoy!

Henryk Górecki - Symphony No. 3 (David Zinman)


Information

Composer: Henryk Górecki
  1. Symphony No. 3 "Symphony of Sorrowful Songs": I. Lento - Sostenuto tranquillo ma cantabile
  2. Symphony No. 3 "Symphony of Sorrowful Songs": II. Lento e Largo - Tranquillissimo
  3. Symphony No. 3 "Symphony of Sorrowful Songs": III. Lento - Cantablile semplice

Dawn Upshaw, soprano
London Sinfonietta
David Zinman, conductor
Date: 1992
Label: Nonesuch

---------------------------------------------------------------------------

Review

This album, which catapulted Polish composer Henryk Gorecki to into the international spotlight, takes texts born in pain and turns them into statements of affirmation through the use of music that ebbs and flows in mystic minimalism. The clear voice of soprano Dawn Upshaw, singing the Polish texts, is a large part of the success of this particular recording, but the music, contemporary without either dissonance or movie-music mawkishness, clarifies and uplifts the words. This is a moving and essential element of the modern repertoire.

-- Sarah Bryan Miller

http://www.amazon.com/Gorecki-Symphony-No-Opus-36/dp/B000005J1C

---------------------------------------------------------------------------

Henryk Górecki (December 6, 1933 – November 12, 2010) was a Polish composer of contemporary classical music. After composed serialist works in 1950s and 1960s, by the mid-1970s he changed to a less complex sacred minimalist sound, exemplified by the transitional Symphony No. 2 and the hugely popular Symphony No. 3. The 1992 recording of the 3th Symphony with Dawn Upshaw and David Zinman became a worldwide commercial and critical success, selling more than a million copies.

***

David Zinman (born 9 July 1936 in New York City, United States) is an American conductor and violinist. He worked with Pierre Monteux as assistant. Zinman is best known for his works with Baltimore Symphony Orchestra and Tonhalle Orchester Zürich.

---------------------------------------------------------------------------

FLAC, tracks
Links in comment
Enjoy!

Henry Litolff - Concertos Symphoniques Nos. 3 & 5 (Peter Donohoe)


Information

Composer: Henry Litolff
  1. Concerto symphonique No. 3 in E flat major "National Hollandais", Op. 45: I. Maestoso
  2. Concerto symphonique No. 3 in E flat major "National Hollandais", Op. 45: II. Presto
  3. Concerto symphonique No. 3 in E flat major "National Hollandais", Op. 45: III. Andante
  4. Concerto symphonique No. 3 in E flat major "National Hollandais", Op. 45: IV. Allegro vivace
  5. Concerto symphonique No. 5 in C minor, Op. 123: I. Allegro maestoso
  6. Concerto symphonique No. 5 in C minor, Op. 123: II. Largo
  7. Concerto symphonique No. 5 in C minor, Op. 123: III. Intermède (Scherzo). Vivace
  8. Concerto symphonique No. 5 in C minor, Op. 123: IV. Allegro

Peter Donohoe, piano
BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra
Andrew Litton, conductor
Date: 2000
Label: Hyperion
http://www.hyperion-records.co.uk/dc.asp?dc=D_CDA67210

---------------------------------------------------------------------------

Review

GRAMOPHONE EDITOR’S CHOICE

Litolff’s intricate and absorbing Third and Fifth Piano Concertos‚ masterfully played

Volume 26 in Hyperion’s engrossing if uneven ‘Romantic Piano Concerto’ series completes Peter Donohoe’s magisterial survey of Litolff’s five piano concertos (sadly‚ the First is lost). Litolff’s dauntingly capacious and ambitious structures accommodate every possible style‚ looking forwards and backwards Janus­style‚ yet reaching out in the strange almost Alkanesque oddity of the Fifth Concerto’s last two movements towards a more personal and distinctive style. Admired by Tchaikovsky‚ Liszt and Berlioz (though with some telling reservations)‚ Litolff enjoyed a hectic career (part idyll‚ part drama and novelistic intrigue according to the pianist Marmontel) which is mirrored in writing of a formidable intricacy. So even if claims that he was ‘the English Liszt’ and that his development sections are similar to late Beethoven seem far­fetched‚ the sheer energy and resource of Litolff’s writing are absorbing.

Few pianists of any nationality could approach‚ let alone top‚ Peter Donohoe’s blistering virtuosity in these works. His performances throughout are as rock­steady as they are dazzling‚ sweeping aside torrents of notes with both affection and an imperious authority. Hear him in the fugal cadenza of the Fifth Concerto’s finale‚ in the exultant whirl which opens the Third Concerto’s finale‚ or (to recall for a moment Litolff’s most popular work) in his ferocious clip through the Scherzo of the Fourth Concerto‚ and you can only marvel at such unfaltering command‚ ideally complemented by Andrew Litton and the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra. The recordings are even more successful in terms of sound and balance than on Volume 14 (4/97)‚ and Jeremy Dibble’s superb notes are a major asset. The Fifth Concerto receives its first recording‚ and this is an invaluable issue for lovers of intriguing repertoire and piano­playing of pulverising mastery.


More reviews:

---------------------------------------------------------------------------

Henry Litolff (5 February 1818 – 5 or 6 August 1891) was a piano virtuoso, composer of Romantic music and music publisher. His most notable works were the five concertos symphoniques, essentially symphonies with piano obbligato. The first one, in D minor, is lost.

***


Peter Donohoe (born 18 June 1953) is an internationally renowned virtuoso classical pianist. Donohoe exclusively signed with EMI Records in 1988, beginning a relationship that lasted until 1993, producing a major collection of CDs largely towards 20th century composers. Since 1993, he has made many recordings on a freelance basis with Deutsche Gramophon, Hyperion, Chandos, BMG, Warner and Naxos.

---------------------------------------------------------------------------

FLAC, tracks
Links in comment
Enjoy!

Henri Vieuxtemps - Music for Viola and Piano (Roberto Diaz; Robert Koenig)


Information

Composer: Henri Vieuxtemps
  1. Viola Sonata in B flat major, Op. 36: 1. Maestoso - Allegro
  2. Viola Sonata in B flat major, Op. 36: 2. Barcalla. Andante con moto
  3. Viola Sonata in B flat major, Op. 36: 3. Finale scherzando. Allegretto
  4. Elegie, Op. 30
  5. Capriccio for viola solo, Op. posth. 9
  6. La Nuit ("Night" from Felicien David's "Le désert")
  7. Allegro & Scherzo in B flat major (Unfinished Viola Sonata), Op. posth. 14: 1. Allegro con fuoco
  8. Allegro & Scherzo in B flat major (Unfinished Viola Sonata), Op. posth. 14: 2. Scherzo. Grazioso - Trio I - Trio II

Roberto Diaz, viola
Robert Koenig, piano
Date: 2001
Label: Naxos
http://www.naxos.com/catalogue/item.asp?item_code=8.555262

---------------------------------------------------------------------------

Review

ARTISTIC QUALITY: 8 / SOUND QUALITY: 9

Impressive playing from the Philadelphia Orchestra’s first chair violist Roberto Diaz marks this generally fine recording of works by Henri Vieuxtemps. In the B-flat major viola sonata, the best-known work here, Diaz and his accompanist Robert Koenig take the reflective Maestoso preface quite sedately. They’re slower than Nobuko Imai and Roger Vignoles on Chandos, for example, but Diaz’s cavernous tone, especially in the lower registers, is denser and weightier, ideally suited to the music’s serious mood. Later, the main sonata allegro brings effective dynamic contrasts, especially in the second theme, and Koenig is careful to match Diaz’s sensitive con melancholia phrasings during the ensuing Barcarolla.

Although the duo could have managed greater dramatic contrast in the brief animato section part way through, Koenig highlights it later in the reprise, where it’s heard as an accompaniment to the main theme. Both players attack the finale with relish, yet the viola’s taxing figurations are never overshadowed, even when the piano writing becomes similarly complex. The Op. 30 Elegie gets an eloquent performance too, and Diaz’s superbly virtuosic reading of the Capriccio for solo viola isn’t bettered on disc. The 24-bit engineering (produced, incidentally, by guitarist Norbert Kraft) is top-drawer, and Diaz is on masterful form throughout.

-- ClassicsToday

More reviews:
http://www.musicweb-international.com/classrev/2002/Sept02/vieuxtemps.htm
http://www.amazon.com/Vieuxtemps-Music-Viola-Sonata-Unfinished/dp/B000069KG6

---------------------------------------------------------------------------

Henri Vieuxtemps (17 February 1820 – 6 June 1881) was a Belgian composer and violinist. He occupies an important place in the history of the violin as a prominent exponent of the Franco-Belgian violin school during the mid-19th century. He is also known for playing upon what is now known as the Vieuxtemps Guarneri del Gesu, a violin of superior workmanship. The instrument was later played by noted violin masters like Yehudi Menuhin, Itzhak Perlman and Pinchas Zukerman.

***
Roberto Díaz (born in Chile, and grew up in Atlanta, Georgia) is currently the president/director of the Curtis Institute of Music, of which he is an alumnus. From 1996 to 2006 he held the position of principal violist of the Philadelphia Orchestra. He currently plays on a 1600 Antonio & Girolamo Amati viola once owned by William Primrose.

---------------------------------------------------------------------------

FLAC, tracks
Links in comment
Enjoy!

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Henry Purcell - Instrumental Music (Thomas Hengelbrock)


Information

Composer: Henry Purcell
  1. The Fairy Queen, semi-opera, Z. 629: I. Prelude in G minor - Hornpipe in G minor 
  2. The Fairy Queen, semi-opera, Z. 629: II. Air in B major - Rondeau in B major
  3. The Fairy Queen, semi-opera, Z. 629: III. Overture in D major
  4. The Fairy Queen, semi-opera, Z. 629: IV. Prelude in C major - Entry Dance in C major - Dance for the Fairies in G major
  5. The Fairy Queen, semi-opera, Z. 629: V. Overture in G major - Air in G major - Prelude in G minor
  6. The Fairy Queen, semi-opera, Z. 629: VI. Hornpipe in D minor
  7. The Fairy Queen, semi-opera, Z. 629: VII. Symphony (Canzona - Largo - Allegro - Adagio - Allegro)
  8. Dido and Aeneas, opera, Z. 626: I. Overture in C minor - Air in C minor - The Triumphing Dance in C major
  9. Dido and Aeneas, opera, Z. 626: II. Ritornelle in D minor - Air, Dance in D minor
  10. Dido and Aeneas, opera, Z. 626: III. Echo Dance of Furies in F major
  11. Dido and Aeneas, opera, Z. 626: IV. The Sailors' Dance in B major
  12. Dido and Aeneas, opera, Z. 626: V. The Witches' Dance in B major
  13. Dido and Aeneas, opera, Z. 626: VI. Chacony
  14. King Arthur, semi-opera, Z. 628: I. Overture in D minor - Air in D minor - Overture in D major
  15. King Arthur, semi-opera, Z. 628: II. Symphony in G minor - Air in G major - Hornpipe in G minor
  16. King Arthur, semi-opera, Z. 628: III. Air in D minor - Air in A minor - Song tune in A minor
  17. King Arthur, semi-opera, Z. 628: IV. Symphony in C major - Trumpet tune in C major
  18. King Arthur, semi-opera, Z. 628: V. Frost Dance in C minor - Hornpipe in G major
  19. King Arthur, semi-opera, Z. 628: VI. Passacaglia in G minor
  20. Abdelazer, incidental music, Z. 570: I. Overture in D minor
  21. Abdelazer, incidental music, Z. 570: II. Rondeau in D minor
  22. Abdelazer, incidental music, Z. 570: III. Air in D major - Air in G major
  23. Abdelazer, incidental music, Z. 570: IV. Minuett in G major - Air in G minor
  24. Abdelazer, incidental music, Z. 570: V. Jigg in G minor
  25. Abdelazer, incidental music, Z. 570: VI. Hornpipe in B major - Air in G minor

Freiburg Baroque Orchestra
Thomas Hengelbrock, violin & conductor
Date: 1991
Label: Deutsche Harmonia Mundi

---------------------------------------------------------------------------

Review

At first glance, this disc has a somewhat bizarre look to it. One is familiar enough with extractions of instrumental numbers from Abdelazer or The Fairy Queen, but a suite from Dido and Aeneas, Purcell's only through-composed opera? The eyebrows rise a further notch when closer inspection reveals the CD to contain instrumental versions of vocal originals. But fear not; this imaginatively put-together collection not only works a treat in artistic terms, it also has historical precedent on its side. Collections of instrumental ayres from Purcell's stage works first began to appear just a few years after the composer's death, and matters of coherent tonal and dramatic organization usually came ahead of fidelity to operatic ordering or context then, just as they do here. It means that what we get is well over an hour's worth of some of Purcell's best orchestral music, ranging from imposing multi-sectional overtures to charmingly simple airs to theatrical coups such as the Frost Dance from King Arthur. (Thomas Hengelbrock also has the odd coup of his own up his sleeve, including a modulating harpsichord cadenza to take us straight from the Dido Witches' Dance into that old favourite, the Chacony in G minor!)

This is the Freiburg Baroque Orchestra's second recording, and like the C. P. E. Bach disc which came out last year (4/91) it's brimful of personality. The striking vigour of these performances puts one in mind of Reinhard Goebel, but the eccentricities that are at once that musician's strength and his weakness are here replaced by uncomplicatedly ebullient playing which nevertheless misses not a single interpretative trick, whether in imparting vital rhythm to a dance movement or lending sweetness to a tender air. Hengelbrock's exciting young group responds to these demands with a joie de vivre that is quite infectious, and the result is a thoroughly enjoyable disc that you'll just want to play over and over again. An orchestra to watch.

-- Lindsay Kemp, Gramophone

---------------------------------------------------------------------------

Henry Purcell (10 September 1659 – 21 November 1695), was an English composer. Although incorporating Italian and French stylistic elements into his compositions, Purcell's legacy was a uniquely English form of Baroque music. He is generally considered to be one of the greatest English composers; no other native-born English composer approached his fame until Edward Elgar.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Henry_Purcell

***

Thomas Hengelbrock (born 9 June 1958 in Wilhelmshaven) is a German violinist and conductor. He is the founder and director of the Balthasar-Neumann-Chor and the Balthasar-Neumann-Ensemble. In 1985 he cofounded the Freiburger Barockorchester where he worked as a violinist and a conductor. Since 2011, he has been the principal conductor of the NDR Symphony Orchestra.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thomas_Hengelbrock


---------------------------------------------------------------------------

FLAC, tracks
Links in comment
Enjoy!

Henry Litolff - Concertos Symphoniques Nos. 2 & 4 (Peter Donohoe)


Information

Composer: Henry Litolff
  1. Concerto symphonique No. 2 in B minor, Op. 22: I. Maestoso
  2. Concerto symphonique No. 2 in B minor, Op. 22: II. Scherzo
  3. Concerto symphonique No. 2 in B minor, Op. 22: III. Andante
  4. Concerto symphonique No. 2 in B minor, Op. 22: IV. Rondeau. Allegretto
  5. Concerto symphonique No. 4 in D minor, Op. 102: I. Allegro con fuoco
  6. Concerto symphonique No. 4 in D minor, Op. 102: II. Scherzo. Presto
  7. Concerto symphonique No. 4 in D minor, Op. 102: III. Adagio religioso
  8. Concerto symphonique No. 4 in D minor, Op. 102: IV. Allegro impetuoso 

Peter Donohoe, piano
Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra
Andrew Litton, conductor
Date: 1996
Label: Hyperion
http://www.hyperion-records.co.uk/dc.asp?dc=D_CDA66889

---------------------------------------------------------------------------

Review

Hyperion’s Romantic Piano Concerto series is surely one of the most absorbing and enterprising of current recording projects. Now up to Vol. 14, it shows no signs of becoming stale and, as this marvellous issue demonstrates, there is still a wealth of rare and often previously unrecorded repertoire waiting to be rediscovered.

Henry Litolff (1818-91) wrote five Concertos symphoniques of which four survive. As their title suggests these works are symphonic in conception, and the addition of a Scherzo (placed second, after late-Beethoven) to the classical concerto model, and the large orchestral resources, replete with four horns and three trombones, underline their symphonic weight. (Nevertheless, Berlioz’s view of these works not as concertos, but rather as symphonies with piano obbligato, seems to me to overstate the case.)

Peter Donohoe offers the first recording of the Second Concerto (1844), and he is authoritative and commanding. He produces a characteristically full tone which suitably complements the fullness of the orchestral writing, yet his brilliant articulation of the rondo finale shows that he can be as glittering and effervescent as he can be majestic.

It is the Fourth Concerto (1851-2), however, which is most striking. The Scherzo, with its sprightly gait and colourful orchestration is justly famous and usually performed separately. It is good, therefore, to be able to hear it in context, framed by an imposing first movement and a lovely Andante religioso slow movement followed by a full-scale sonata-structured finale. Again Donohoe’s playing is an almost perfect balance of bold assertiveness, lively animation and subtle delicacy. In certain passages one might wish for a slightly more caressing tone, or a little more open affection, but this does not detract from what is a hugely impressive achievement.
The Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra create a wonderful sound and, as one has come to expect from Hyperion, the recording and presentation are first-class.

-- T. Parry, Gramophone

More reviews:
http://www.classical-music.com/review/litolff-0
http://www.musicweb-international.com/classrev/2003/Jan03/Litolff.htm
http://www.amazon.co.uk/Litolff-Concertos-Symphoniques-2-4/dp/B000002ZY8
http://www.amazon.com/The-Romantic-Piano-Concerto-Vol/dp/B000002ZY8

---------------------------------------------------------------------------

Henry Litolff (5 February 1818 – 5 or 6 August 1891) was a piano virtuoso, composer of Romantic music and music publisher. His most notable works were the five concertos symphoniques, essentially symphonies with piano obbligato. The first one, in D minor, is lost.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Henry_Litolff

***

Peter Donohoe (born 18 June 1953) is an internationally renowned virtuoso classical pianist. Donohoe exclusively signed with EMI Records in 1988, beginning a relationship that lasted until 1993, producing a major collection of CDs largely towards 20th century composers. Since 1993, he has made many recordings on a freelance basis with Deutsche Gramophon, Hyperion, Chandos, BMG, Warner and Naxos.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peter_Donohoe_(pianist)
http://www.peter-donohoe.com/en/home

---------------------------------------------------------------------------

FLAC, tracks
Links in comment
Enjoy!

Henri Vieuxtemps - Salon Pieces; Voices of the Heart (Philippe Koch; Luc Devos)


Information

Composer: Henri Vieuxtemps
  1. 6 Morceaux de salon, Op. 22: 1. Morceau brillant de salon
  2. 6 Morceaux de salon, Op. 22: 2. Air varié
  3. 6 Morceaux de salon, Op. 22: 3. Rêverie
  4. 6 Morceaux de salon, Op. 22: 4. Souvenirs du Bosphore
  5. 6 Morceaux de salon, Op. 22: 5. Tarentelle
  6. 6 Morceaux de salon, Op. 22: 6. L'Orage
  7. Voix du cœur, Op. 53 (Op. posth. 7): 1. Tendresse
  8. Voix du cœur, Op. 53 (Op. posth. 7): 2. Décision
  9. Voix du cœur, Op. 53 (Op. posth. 7): 3. Mélancolie
  10. Voix du cœur, Op. 53 (Op. posth. 7): 4. Barcarolle
  11. Voix du cœur, Op. 53 (Op. posth. 7): 5. Rêve
  12. Voix du cœur, Op. 53 (Op. posth. 7): 6. Interrogation
  13. Voix du cœur, Op. 53 (Op. posth. 7): 7. Souvenir
  14. Voix du cœur, Op. 53 (Op. posth. 7): 8. Pourquoi?
  15. Voix du cœur, Op. 53 (Op. posth. 7): 9. Thème et variations

Philippe Koch, violin
Luc Devos, piano
Date: 1999
Label: Cypres

---------------------------------------------------------------------------

Review

The reputation of Henri Vieuxtemps comes to us via the history books as a leading violinist of the nineteenth century. Yet he took composing seriously and in turn was taken seriously as such during his lifetime. While still in his teens he was gaining some fame in respect of both activities. Schumann heard him play in Leipzig and wrote a review comparing him to Paganini. Vieuxtemps was then only 15 and within weeks he was playing in London where Paganini was already wowing the public. Vieuxtemps was hugely impressed by the great man’s playing but this proved to be mutual. Paganini heard Vieuxtemps and declared a great career ahead. Less than two years later in 1836 he had completed his first violin concerto (now published as No. 2). When in Paris in 1841, Berlioz heard the work and publicly wrote that Vieuxtemps was developing skills as a composer equalling his playing virtuosity.

 With hindsight this may seem an exaggerated claim, but what impressed Berlioz and others about Vieuxtemps’ compositions was the attempt to elevate the violin/orchestra form to something more than just a vehicle for violinistic display. Paganini was, of course, the leading exponent of that sort of thing but Vieuxtemps attempted works of more symphonic pretension. His ambition probably outstripped his compositional powers. Nevertheless, several recent recordings are testimony to a revival of interest in these works. You can hear them for yourself - see review of three of the concertos here.

This disc presents a genre in which Vieuxtemps is perhaps more naturally at home. I was not relishing the prospect of sitting through a string of 15 light salon pieces for violin and piano lasting nearly ninety minutes; yes, it’s a generous disc. Once stuck in though, I found myself enjoying each and looking forward to the next one. The numbers are carefully arranged so that there is contrast– in mood, tempo, texture and technique - and this helped carry me along.

 In turn, there is contrast between the two sets. The Six Morceaux are the work of a young man whilst the Voix de Coeur have a certain swan-song character, being written shortly before the composer’s death. The earlier pieces are, on average, significantly longer than the later ones. As so often with composers, maturity carries greater conciseness, concentration and simplicity. Overall, what brings interest to these pieces relative to all the violin salon trivia written in the nineteenth century is greater musical interest, refusal to rely on violinistic display and a lack of sentimentality. Some might think the music benefits from a certain French sophistication.

 Most of the pieces consist of tune and contrasting counter-tune. This sometimes gives an impression that we are being launched into a sonata-form movement. The fact that such promise is not fulfilled is probably no bad thing for I suspect Vieuxtemps’ powers of development might not easily sustain such an enterprise. However, some pieces are skilfully wrought. The Tarantelle in the first set has a second, contrasting lyrical tune but Vieuxtemps keeps the dance rhythm pounding along across the seam between the melodies.

 The second set, Voices of the Heart, has an air of ruminative melancholy about it. In fact it was the piece, Melancolie, that impressed me most of all. Untypically it is monothematic; the whole thing being steadily built out of a four note motto building to a moving climax.

 In playing these works, many violinists might be tempted into a sentimental salon style and to try to exaggerate the technical difficulties. Philippe Koch, ably accompanied by Luc Devos, resists such temptations. I was impressed by the clean simplicity he brought to the pieces. This certainly helps to focus on the musical content. Some players could easily wreck the music with schmaltzy playing; I bet they do. These may not be Paganini-style display pieces but there are difficulties. For example, one of Vieuxtemps’ violin fingerprints is a sudden leap into the stratospheric heights above the stave to strike a note high up on the E string. Koch hits these with impeccable accuracy and no attempt to show off.

-- John Leeman, MusicWeb International

---------------------------------------------------------------------------

Henri Vieuxtemps (17 February 1820 – 6 June 1881) was a Belgian composer and violinist. He occupies an important place in the history of the violin as a prominent exponent of the Franco-Belgian violin school during the mid-19th century. He is also known for playing upon what is now known as the Vieuxtemps Guarneri del Gesu, a violin of superior workmanship. The instrument was later played by noted violin masters like Yehudi Menuhin, Itzhak Perlman and Pinchas Zukerman.

***

Philippe Koch (born in Liège, Belgium) is the concertmaster of the Orchestre Philharmonique du Luxembourg. He is the grandson of violinist Henri Koch (10 July 1903 - 2 June 1969). Philippe Koch founded the Trio Koch, with his daughter Laurence (violin) and his son Jean-Philippe (piano), taking a close interest in the development of contemporary music.

---------------------------------------------------------------------------

FLAC, tracks
Links in comment
Enjoy!

Hector Berlioz; Maurice Ravel - Les nuits d'été; Shéhérazade (Régine Crespin)


Information

Composer: Hector Berlioz; Maurice Ravel; Claude Debussy; Francis Poulenc
  1. Berlioz - Les nuits d'été, Op. 7: 1. Villanelle
  2. Berlioz - Les nuits d'été, Op. 7: 2. Le spectre de la rose
  3. Berlioz - Les nuits d'été, Op. 7: 3. Sur les lagunes
  4. Berlioz - Les nuits d'été, Op. 7: 4. Absence
  5. Berlioz - Les nuits d'été, Op. 7: 5. Au cimetière (claire de lune)
  6. Berlioz - Les nuits d'été, Op. 7: 6. L'île inconnue
  7. Ravel - Shéhérazade: 1. Asie
  8. Ravel - Shéhérazade: 2. La flûte enchantée
  9. Ravel - Shéhérazade: 3. L'indifférent
  10. Debussy - Trois chansons de Bilitis, L. 90: 1. La flûte de Pan
  11. Debussy - Trois chansons de Bilitis, L. 90: 2. La chevelure
  12. Debussy - Trois chansons de Bilitis, L. 90: 3. Le tombeau des Naïades
  13. Poulenc - Banalités: Chanson d'Orkenise
  14. Poulenc - Banalités: Hôtel
  15. Poulenc - La courte paille: 6. Le Carafon
  16. Poulenc - La courte paille: 3. La reine de coeur
  17. Poulenc - Chansons villageoises: 2. Les gars qui vont à la fête
  18. Poulenc - Deux poèmes de Louis Aragon: 1. "C"
  19. Poulenc - Deux poèmes de Louis Aragon: 2. Fêtes galantes

Régine Crespin, soprano
Orchestre de la Suisse Romande, cond. Ernest Ansermet (1-9)
John Wustman, piano (10-19)
Date: 1963 (1-9), 1967 (10-19)
Label: Decca
reissued on Decca Legends series
http://www.deccaclassics.com/us/cat/4609732

---------------------------------------------------------------------------

Review

These performances represent one of the unchallenged peaks in the history of French song on disc. Since the day they were issued in 1963, Régine Crespin’s Berlioz and Ravel have set the standard by which all others are measured, and if you’ve only room in your collection for one version of these pieces, then this is it. Fabulously remastered, the performances have come up sounding like new. In fact, I would go so far as to say that this is one of the finest recordings of the human voice ever made. Crespin is perfectly balanced against the orchestra and sounds almost as if she were in your listening room with you–it’s that tangible. Nothing stands between you and her incomparable way with the text of each song. For students of French singing, this disc is a veritable master class! Ernest Ansermet’s contribution is as distinguished as Crespin’s. He knows the music inside out. The Debussy and Poulenc songs with piano are on the same high level as the two orchestral works. Stunning.

-- David Hurwitz, ClassicsToday

More reviews:
http://www.allmusic.com/album/berlioz-les-nuits-d%C3%A9t%C3%A9-ravel-sh%C3%A9h%C3%A9razade-mw0001398342
http://www.amazon.com/Berlioz-Nuits-Sheherazade-Debussy-Poulenc/dp/B00000JXZ4

---------------------------------------------------------------------------

Hector Berlioz (11 December 1803 – 8 March 1869) was a French Romantic composer, best known for his compositions "Symphonie fantastique" and "Grande messe des morts" (Requiem). Berlioz made significant contributions to the modern orchestra with his "Treatise on Instrumentation". Although neglected in France for much of the 19th century, the music of Berlioz has often been cited as extremely influential in the development of the symphonic form, instrumentation, and the depiction in music of programmatic and literary ideas.

***

Maurice Ravel (7 March 1875 – 28 December 1937) was a French composer, pianist and conductor. He is often associated with impressionism along with Claude Debussy. Ravel was an exceptionally skilled orchestrator, as in his well known 1922 version of Mussorgsky's Pictures at an Exhibition. His best known works include Boléro (1928), Gaspard de la nuit (1908), Daphnis et Chloé (1912).

***

Régine Crespin (23 February 1927 – 5 July 2007) was a French singer. She started her career singing roles in the dramatic soprano and spinto soprano repertoire, then went on to sing a wider repertoire. In the early 1970s Crespin began performing roles from the mezzo-soprano repertoire. Throughout her career she was widely admired for the elegance, warmth and subtlety of her singing, especially in the French and German operatic repertories.

---------------------------------------------------------------------------

FLAC, tracks
Links in comment
Enjoy!

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Henri Vieuxtemps - Ballade et Polonaise; Rêverie; Romances (Philippe Koch; Luc Devos)


Composer: Henri Vieuxtemps
  1. Ballade et Polonaise, Op. 38
  2. 3 Romances sans paroles, Op. 7: 1. Chant d'amour. Andante
  3. 3 Romances sans paroles, Op. 7: 2. Desespoir. Allegro
  4. 3 Romances sans paroles, Op. 7: 3. Souvenir. Allegretto
  5. 4 Romances sans paroles, Op. 8: 1. Hilarité. Allegro ma non troppo
  6. 4 Romances sans paroles, Op. 8: 2. Innocence. Moderato
  7. 4 Romances sans paroles, Op. 8: 3. Barcarolle. Andantino
  8. 4 Romances sans paroles, Op. 8: 4. Air Savoyard. Allegro moderato
  9. 6 Morceaux de salon, Op. 22: 3. Rêverie
  10. Souvenir d'Amérique, variations on "Yankee Doodle", Op. 17
  11. 3 Feuille d'album, Op. 40: 1. Romance
  12. 3 Feuille d'album, Op. 40: 2. Regrets

Philippe Koch, violin
Luc Devos, piano
Date: 1991
Label: Ricercar
http://www.arkivmusic.com/classical/album.jsp?album_id=35554&album_group=14

---------------------------------------------------------------------------

Henri Vieuxtemps (17 February 1820 – 6 June 1881) was a Belgian composer and violinist. He occupies an important place in the history of the violin as a prominent exponent of the Franco-Belgian violin school during the mid-19th century. He is also known for playing upon what is now known as the Vieuxtemps Guarneri del Gesu, a violin of superior workmanship. The instrument was later played by noted violin masters like Yehudi Menuhin, Itzhak Perlman and Pinchas Zukerman.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Henri_Vieuxtemps

***

Philippe Koch (born in Liège, Belgium) is the concertmaster of the Orchestre Philharmonique du Luxembourg. He is the grandson of violinist Henri Koch (10 July 1903 - 2 June 1969). Philippe Koch founded the Trio Koch, with his daughter Laurence (violin) and his son Jean-Philippe (piano), taking a close interest in the development of contemporary music.
https://www.philharmonie.lu/en/opl/musiker/philippe-koch

---------------------------------------------------------------------------

FLAC, tracks
Links in comment
Enjoy!

Henri Herz - Piano Concertos Nos. 3, 4 & 5 (Howard Shelley)


Information

Composer: Henri Herz
  1. Piano Concerto No. 3 in D minor, Op. 87: I. Allegro moderato
  2. Piano Concerto No. 3 in D minor, Op. 87: II. Andantino sostenuto
  3. Piano Concerto No. 3 in D minor, Op. 87: III. Finale. Allegro (con fuoco ed appassionato)
  4. Piano Concerto No. 4 in E major, Op. 131: I. Allegro moderato
  5. Piano Concerto No. 4 in E major, Op. 131: II. Andante cantabile
  6. Piano Concerto No. 4 in E major, Op. 131: III. Rondeau russe. Allegro vivace
  7. Piano Concerto No. 5 in F minor, Op. 180: I. Allegro moderato
  8. Piano Concerto No. 5 in F minor, Op. 180: II. Andantino
  9. Piano Concerto No. 5 in F minor, Op. 180: III. Finale. Allegro agitato

Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra
Howard Shelley, piano & conductor
Date: 2004
Label: Hyperion
http://www.hyperion-records.co.uk/dc.asp?dc=D_CDA67537

---------------------------------------------------------------------------

Review

Note-spinning to charm the birds from the trees and set the feet tapping

Following his earlier superb recordings of Herz’s Piano Concertos Nos 1, 7 and 8 (8/04), Howard Shelley continues with Nos 3-5 in Vol 40 of Hyperion’s ever-expanding ‘Romantic Piano Concerto’ series. As before, whatever sparkles and delights is here in super-abundance, and a more stylish or scintillating advocate than Shelley would be hard to imagine. Clearly Herz could charm the birds out of the trees, his brilliant confections cost him little effort and, presumably, like Saint-Saëns, he wrote music as an apple tree produces apples.

In the Third Concerto, Mendelssohnian flourishes lead to one virtuoso flight after another, each designed to make ears waggle and eyes start out of the head. The finale’s fierce octave play and following fugue will appeal to those with more adventurous expectations, but there are enough decorative asides to console those addicted to a more conservative, salon style. The dazzling photo-finish would tax the fingers of even the most dextrous virtuoso and the orchestra, too, goes out in a blaze of martial splendour.

The Fourth Concerto is all bustle and hyperactivity, the pianist’s aimiable opening gestures soon ambushed by some savagely intricate demands, while the Rondo russe finale, complete with sleighbells, conforms to popular notions of an exotic foreign dance. In the Fifth Concerto Herz is back in minor-key drama without ever overstepping accepted notions of social propriety. So here, magnificently performed and recorded, is music to set heads nodding and feet tapping, the epitome of art which scorns profundity and elevates pianistic acrobatics to a high and elegant plane.

-- Bryce Morrison, Gramophone

More reviews:
http://www.classicstoday.com/review/review-12870/
http://www.musicweb-international.com/classrev/2006/May06/Herz_345_CDA67537.htm
http://www.classical.net/~music/recs/reviews/h/hyp67537a.php
http://www.allmusic.com/album/the-romantic-piano-concerto-vol-40-herz-piano-concertos-nos-3-5-mw0001553469
http://www.amazon.com/Herz-Piano-Concertos-Henri/dp/B000EXZGRK

---------------------------------------------------------------------------

Henri Herz (6 January 1803 - 5 January 1888) was a pianist and composer, Austrian by birth, and French by domicile. Herz was a celebrated pianist, traveled worldwide, including tours in Europe, Russia, Mexico, South America, and in the United States of America between 1846–50, where he concertized all the way to San Francisco. Herz composed many pieces including eight piano concertos.

***

Howard Shelley (born 9 March 1950) is a British pianist and conductor. He made many recordings for Chandos, Hyperion and EMI, including Rachmaninov's complete piano music and concertos. In 1985 Howard Shelley made his professional debut as a conductor. 

---------------------------------------------------------------------------

FLAC, tracks
Links in comment
Enjoy!