Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Hector Berlioz - Symphonie Fantastique (Charles Münch)


Information

Composer: Hector Berlioz
  1. Symphonie Fantastique, Op. 14: I. "Rêveries. Passions" (Daydreams. Passions)
  2. Symphonie Fantastique, Op. 14: II. "Un bal" (A Ball)
  3. Symphonie Fantastique, Op. 14: III. "Scène aux champs" (Scene in the Fields)
  4. Symphonie Fantastique, Op. 14: IV. "Marche au supplice" (March to the Scaffold)
  5. Symphonie Fantastique, Op. 14: V. "Songe d'une nuit de sabbat" (Dreams of a Witches' Sabbath)

Boston Symphony Orchestra
Charles Münch, conductor
Date: 1962
Label: High Definition Tapes Transfer (originally recorded by RCA)
http://www.highdeftapetransfers.com/products/berlioz-symphonie-fantastique-boston-symphony-orchestra-charles-munch

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

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Frédéric Chopin; Ignacy Jan Paderewski; Karol Szymanowski - Music for Piano & Orchestra (Elżbieta Wiedner-Zając)


Composer: Frédéric Chopin; Ignacy Jan Paderewski; Karol Szymanowski
  1. Chopin - Rondo à la Krakowiak, in F major, Op. 14
  2. Paderewski - Polish Fantasy, Op. 19
  3. Szymanowski - Symphonie concertante, Op. 60 (Symphony No. 4): I. Moderato
  4. Szymanowski - Symphonie concertante, Op. 60 (Symphony No. 4): II. Andante molto sostenuto
  5. Szymanowski - Symphonie concertante, Op. 60 (Symphony No. 4): III. Allegro non troppo, ma agitato ad ausioso

Elżbieta Wiedner-Zając, piano
Silesian Philharmonic Symphony Orchestra
Mirosław Jacek Błaszczyk, conductor

Date: 2009
Label: DUX

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

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Georges Bizet - Symphony in C; Roma (Louis Frémaux)


Information

Composer: Georges Bizet
  1. Symphony in C major: 1. Allegro vivo
  2. Symphony in C major: 2. Andante - Adagio
  3. Symphony in C major: 3. Scherzo (Allegro vivace)
  4. Symphony in C major: 4. Finale (Allegro vivace)
  5. Roma: 1. Andante tranquillo - Allegro agitato (Une chasse dans la Forêt d'Ostie)
  6. Roma: 2. Scherzo. Allegretto vivace 
  7. Roma: 3. Andante molto (Une Procession)
  8. Roma: 4. Finale. Allegro vivacissimo (Carnaval à Rome)
  9. Roman Carnival Overture, Op. 9

City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra
Louis Frémaux, conductor
Date: 1974
Label: Klavier (original on EMI)

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

Review

Astonishingly, this seems to be only the third complete recording of Roma to be issued in this country. It is a work which had a long and chequered history, with its roots in a kind of programmatic symphony (later destroyed) that Bizet composed while spending his Prix de Rome at the Villa Medici, but the definitive form not receiving its first performance until five years after his death. Not altogether surprisingly, it is somewhat uneven, but it contains enough vitality, colour and invention, not to speak of Berliozian touches of unusual harmony, to make its comparative neglect regrettable. The present performance differs from Its predecessors initially in the internal balance between constituent instrumental lines sometimes for the better—really pianissimo slithering chromatics in the introduction, for example and less obtrusive punctuating chords at cadential points in the Andant—and sometimes for the poorer—at the opening of the Andante (which is taken slowly), the purely supporting lower strings should be much quieter than the melodic line in the firsts. Like Mansourian (Le Chant du Monde/Harmonia Mundi), Gardelli has all his first violins play the florid part starting 20 bars from the end of the Andante, which Fremaux allotted to a soloist. The biggest difference between the versions affects the finale, a carnival movement with markings of giocoso, con fuoco and finally (in very odd Italian) con furio. Fremaux caught its high spirits well, the Russians are really boisterous (though their sound is too coarse for a French view of levity), but Gardelli's idea of carnival is much more decorous and never catches fire.

This sobriety of approach is still more apparent in the delicious youthful Symphony, where competition is already keen. Leaving aside Beecham's elegant classic recording for EMI (though he had an indifferent oboist in the Adagio), Fremaux's well-shaped but slightly over-resonant version, and Marriner's exhilarating reading (Decca), with brilliant violins (also sure-footed and eloquent in their highest register) and Neil Black's beautiful oboe solo, there is the absolutely stunning performance by the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra (DG), where every detail makes its effect and the balance is perfect, and which has a wonderful springy freshness and virtuosity. (The fugue in the Adagio is marvellously crisp and pointed.) The present performance is efficient enough, but sparkle is sadly lacking: there is no mischief in either of the outer movements (the first taken at a comfortably bourgeois pace, and even the finale tame); and it is somehow significant that, alone of all the current versions except Doudarova's, Gardelli changes Bizet's B naturals in the folky tune above the drone in the Trio of the Scherzo to respectably conventional B flats. Tut, tut!

-- Lionel Salter, Gramophone

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

Georges Bizet (25 October 1838 – 3 June 1875) was a French composer of the romantic era. Best known for his operas in a career cut short by his early death. Carmen, his final work, has become one of the most popular and frequently performed in the entire opera repertoire.

***

Louis Frémaux (born August 13, 1921, Aire-sur-la-Lys, France) is a French conductor. He was noted for being the principal conductor of the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra from 1969 to 1978 and Sydney Symphony Orchestra from 1979 to 1982.

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

FLAC, tracks
Links in comment
Enjoy!

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Gabriel Pierné - Piano Quintet; Violin Sonata (Jean Hubeau; Olivier Charlier)


Composer: Gabriel Pierné
  1. Piano Quintet in E minor, Op. 41: 1. Moderato molto tranquilo
  2. Piano Quintet in E minor, Op. 41: 2. Sur un rythme de Zortzico
  3. Piano Quintet in E minor, Op. 41: 3. Lent - Allegro vivo ed agitato
  4. Violin Sonata in D minor, Op. 36: 1. Allegretto
  5. Violin Sonata in D minor, Op. 36: 2. Allegretto tranquillo
  6. Violin Sonata in D minor, Op. 36: 3. Andante non troppo - Allegro un poco agitato

Jean Hubeau, piano
Olivier Charlier, violin (4-6)
Quatuor Viotti (1-3)
Date: 1983
Label: Erato

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

Gabriel Pierné (16 August 1863 – 17 July 1937) was a French composer, conductor, and organist. He succeeded César Franck as organist at Saint Clotilde Basilica in Paris from 1890 to 1898. As a conductor, he conducted the world premiere of Igor Stravinsky's ballet The Firebird. Pierné wrote several operas and choral and symphonic pieces, as well as a good deal of chamber music.

***

Jean Hubeau (22 June 1917 – 19 August 1992) was a French pianist, composer and pedagogue. He studied composition with Paul Dukas and piano with Lazare Lévy at Paris Conservatory. He then taught there from 1957 to 1982, trained many students such as Jean-Yves Thibaudet and Olivier Charlier.

***

Olivier Charlier (born 17 February 1961 in Albert, Somme), is a French violinist. He has taught at Paris Conservatory since 1981. He plays on a violin by Carlo Bergonzi 1747.

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

FLAC, tracks
Links in comment
Enjoy!

Friday, July 3, 2015

Franz Liszt - Faust Symphony (Leonard Bernstein)


Information

Composer: Franz Liszt
  1. Eine Faust-Symphonie in drei Charakterbildern, S. 108: I. Faust
  2. Eine Faust-Symphonie in drei Charakterbildern, S. 108: II. Gretchen
  3. Eine Faust-Symphonie in drei Charakterbildern, S. 108: III. Mephistopheles
  4. Eine Faust-Symphonie in drei Charakterbildern, S. 108: Chorus mysticus

Charles Bressler, tenor
Choral Art Society
New York Philharmonic Orchestra
Leonard Bernstein, conductor
Date: 1960
Label: Sony Classical

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

Review

Leonard Bernstein’s Boston recording of Liszt’s Faust Symphony has for so long been regarded as the reference recording of the work that we’re apt to forget that there’s an earlier version that he made with the New York Philharmonic for Sony back in the 196os. He clearly loved the piece, and offhand I can’t think of another conductor of similar stature who actually recorded it twice. Bernstein even devoted an entire televised “Young People’s Concert” to discussing it, much more for the benefit of the adults in the audience I should think.

In the telecast, Bernstein spoke somewhat disparagingly of the revised ending with chorus, which he nonetheless recorded both times. Liszt’s admittedly perfunctory original instrumental conclusion is almost never played nowadays, and for those who are curious you can hear it below in Argenta’s Decca recording with the Paris Conservatory Orchestra (sound clip). In this Sony performance, Charles Bressler sings the tenor solo very sincerely and sweetly, and Bernstein plays the music with typical conviction, never mind any misgivings he might have had. It seems the only possible conclusion to such an imposing piece.

In short, this earlier recording is every bit as fine as Bernstein’s later, Boston version, and it has the not inconsiderable advantage of being about two minutes quicker in every movement. There’s very little difference between the two performances in the fast music, as a comparison of the first movement’s initial allegro reveals (sound clips). Rather, the difference stems from Bernstein’s greater willingness to indulge the slower and gloomier music in the Faust movement, Gretchen’s innocent allure, and the broader tempo for the closing chorus at the end of Mephistopheles. Sonically there is very little to choose between the two recordings: they are both very good.

Frankly, I am amazed that Sony decided to reissue this recording at all since the work has never been that popular, but I am very glad that they did. Get it while you can. It is, after all, Liszt’s greatest orchestral work, and the more you come to know the music the better it sounds. Bernstein was right to lavish on it so much time and attention.

-- David Hurwitz, ClassicsToday
reviewing SONY 88697 857572

More reviews:
http://www.musicweb-international.com/classrev/2011/Aug11/Liszt_Faust_88697857572.htm
http://www.arkivmusic.com/classical/album.jsp?album_id=65687

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

Franz Liszt (October 22, 1811 – July 31, 1886) was a Hungarian composer, virtuoso pianist, conductor, teacher and Franciscan tertiary. Liszt gained renown in Europe for his virtuosic skill as a pianist and in the 1840s he was considered to be the greatest pianist of all time. Liszt was one of the most prominent composers of the "New German School" and the inventor of Symphonic Poem genre.

***

Leonard Bernstein (August 25, 1918 – October 14, 1990) was an American composer, conductor, author, music lecturer, and pianist. His fame derived from his long tenure as the music director of the New York Philharmonic, from his conducting of concerts with most of the world's leading orchestras, and from his composition. He was also the first conductor to give numerous television lectures on classical music.

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

FLAC, tracks
Links in comment
Enjoy!