Sunday, December 27, 2015

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Jean Sibelius - Kuolema; King Christian II (Leif Segerstam)


Information

Composer: Jean Sibelius
  1. Overture in A minor, JS 144
  2. Kuolema, incidental music, JS 113: 1. Tempo di valse lente - Poco risoluto
  3. Kuolema, incidental music, JS 113: 2. Moderato (Paavali's Song: 'Pakkanen puhurin poika')
  4. Kuolema, incidental music, JS 113: 3. Moderato assai - Moderato (Elsa's Song: 'Eilaa, eilaa') - Poco adagio
  5. Kuolema, incidental music, JS 113: 4. Andante (The Cranes)
  6. Kuolema, incidental music, JS 113: 5. Moderato
  7. Kuolema, incidental music, JS 113: 6. Andante ma non troppo
  8. Two Songs from Twelfth Night, Op. 60: Kom nu hit, Död! (Come Away, Death!)
  9. Two Songs from Twelfth Night, Op. 60: Hållilå, uti storm och i regn (Hey, Ho, The Wind And The Rain) (orch. Kim Borg)
  10. Kung Kristian II, incidental music, Op. 27: Elegie
  11. Kung Kristian II, incidental music, Op. 27: Musette
  12. Kung Kristian II, incidental music, Op. 27: Menuetto
  13. Kung Kristian II, incidental music, Op. 27: Sången om korsspindeln ('Fool's Song of The Spider')
  14. Kung Kristian II, incidental music, Op. 27: Nocturne
  15. Kung Kristian II, incidental music, Op. 27: Serenade
  16. Kung Kristian II, incidental music, Op. 27: Ballade

Pia Pajala, soprano
Waltteri Torikka, baritone
Turku Philharmonic Orchestra
Leif Segerstam, conductor
Date: 2014
Label: Naxos
http://www.naxos.com/catalogue/item.asp?item_code=8.573299

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Review

ARTISTIC QUALITY: 9 / SOUND QUALITY: 7

It has become trendy to play Sibelius’ incidental scores more or less complete, rather than as he revised isolated numbers or grouped them into suites. I am not personally convinced that this is wise; Sibelius knew what he was doing, but it very much depends on the score. King Christian II works perfectly well, and the single vocal number, “Fool’s Song of The Spider,” has plenty of character. The music itself includes some of the most gloriously lyrical moments in all of Sibelius, especially when the Nocturne is as sumptuously played as it is here.

Kuolema (“Death”) gave us the Valse triste, played with hypnotic slowness Segerstam and the Turku strings. The remainder of the score strikes me frankly as dull, at least until we get to the last couple of movements, where things perk up (at least a bit). The Two Songs from Twelfth Night are well sung by baritone Waltteri Torikka, and very atmospheric. Texts and translations are also included in the booklet–not something to be taken for granted these days. Finally, the Overture in A minor is a brief chip off of the workbench that Sibelius threw together for the premiere of the Second Symphony. It’s fun, and typically Sibelius, but the music goes nowhere and ends very oddly.

Segerstam’s conducting, as you might have noticed, is lovingly shaped, occasionally a bit slow, but always attentive the music’s colors and moods. The engineering is odd though: the brass at the start of the Overture are backwardly placed, and the strings have a metallic edge. Still, if you haven’t already sprung for the BIS complete edition, this disc offers a sensible way to plug a few gaps in your Sibelius collection.

-- David Hurwitz, ClassicsToday

More reviews:
http://www.gramophone.co.uk/review/sibelius-kuolema-king-christian
http://www.musicweb-international.com/classrev/2015/Sep/Sibelius_incidental_8573299.htm
http://www.classical.net/music/recs/reviews/n/nxs73299a.php
http://www.theguardian.com/music/2015/may/28/sibelius-kuolema-king-christian-iiturku-philharmonic-segerstan-pajala-torikka-cd-review
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/music/classicalcdreviews/11649468/Sibelius-Kuolema-King-Christian-II-review-vivid-realism.html
http://www.naxos.com/reviews/reviewslist.asp?catalogueid=8.573299&languageid=EN

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Jean Sibelius (8 December 1865 – 20 September 1957) was a Finnish violinist and composer of the late Romantic period. His music contributed to the development of a feeling of national identity in Finland where he is now celebrated as the country's greatest composer. Sibelius is mostly known for his seven symphonies, the violin concerto and the tone poems such as Finlandia. He almost completely stopped composing after 1920s and did not produce any large-scale works in his last thirty years.

***

Leif Segerstam (born 2 March 1944 in Vaasa, Ostrobothnia, Finland) is a Finnish conductor, composer, violinist, violist and pianist, especially known for his 285 symphonies, along with his other works in his extensive œuvre. Segerstam has conducted in a variety of orchestras since 1963, and widely known through his recorded discography.

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Saturday, December 19, 2015

Jean Sibelius - Pelléas et Mélisande (Leif Segerstam)


Information

Composer: Jean Sibelius
  • (01-10) Pelléas et Mélisande, incidental music, JS 147
  • (11) Musik zu einer Szene
  • (12) Valse lyrique, Op. 96a
  • (13) Autrefois - Scène pastorale, Op. 96b
  • (14) Valse chevaleresque, Op. 96c
  • (15) Morceau romantique sur un motif de Monsieur Jakob von Julin, JS 135/a

Pia Pajala, soprano (6, 13)
Sari Nordqvist, mezzo-soprano (13)
Turku Philharmonic Orchestra
Leif Segerstam, conductor
Date: 2014
Label: Naxos
http://www.naxos.com/catalogue/item.asp?item_code=8.573301

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Review




The complete incidental music to Pelléas et Mélisande isn’t so different from the familiar suite–there’s a song for Mélisande, but otherwise it’s pretty much the same, with no annoying fragments, fillers, and bits of pantomime or stage business. Segerstam’s performance here is simply gorgeous. Granted, he’s sometimes a bit slow, appropriately so in Mélisande’s death scene, but the playing has such beauty and concentration that it works hypnotically. The opening prelude (later called “At the Castle Gate”) gains real majesty in this interpretation; and has the spinning wheel scene ever sounded quite this sinister? Don’t be fooled by the brevity of the movements: this is a major work. Segerstam knows it, and plays it like one. 

The couplings range from the light and fluffy (the triptych Valse Lyrique, Autrefois, Valse chevaleresque, which Mrs. Sibelius detested) to the unusual. Try the luscious little Morceau romantique sur un motif de Monsieur Jakob von Julin: the title is almost as long as the music. It’s a delightful waltz that Sibelius wrote for a children’s hospital benefit concert, and what a great encore it would make. Musik zu einer Szene was revised as Op. 45/2, the Dance-Intermezzo. I frankly prefer this original, which at more than six minutes is over twice as long, and far more varied in mood (sound clip). If you know the revision, this will surprise you. As with Pelléas, the performances are simply as fine as they can be. The two ladies sing well, however briefly, the whole production is sumptuously recorded, and Naxos includes the sung texts with English translations. Classy.

-- David Hurwitz, ClassicsToday

More reviews:
http://www.gramophone.co.uk/review/sibelius-pell%C3%A9as-et-m%C3%A9lisande-jedermann-two-serious-melodies
http://www.classical-music.com/review/sibelius-pell-et-m-lisande-conducted-leif-segerstam
http://www.musicweb-international.com/classrev/2015/Jul/Sibelius_incidental_8573299.htm
http://www.musicweb-international.com/classrev/2015/Aug/Sibelius_Pelleas_8573301.htm
http://www.musicweb-international.com/classrev/2015/Sep/Sibelius_incidental_8573299.htm
http://www.classical.net/music/recs/reviews/n/nxs73301a.php
http://www.audaud.com/2015/09/sibelius-pelleas-et-melisande-complete-incidental-music-music-for-a-scene-valse-lyrique-autrefois-scene-pastorale-valse-chevaleresque-morceau-romantique-pia-pajala-sop-sari-nordqvist-m/
http://www.allmusic.com/album/sibelius-pell%C3%A9as-et-m%C3%A9lisande-mw0002856495
http://www.amazon.co.uk/Melisande-Segerstam-Nordqvist-Philharmonic-Orchestra/dp/B0101BK87C
http://www.naxos.com/reviews/reviewslist.asp?catalogueid=8.573301&languageid=EN

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Jean Sibelius (8 December 1865 – 20 September 1957) was a Finnish violinist and composer of the late Romantic period. His music contributed to the development of a feeling of national identity in Finland where he is now celebrated as the country's greatest composer. Sibelius is mostly known for his seven symphonies, the violin concerto and the tone poems such as Finlandia. He almost completely stopped composing after 1920s and did not produce any large-scale works in his last thirty years.

***

Leif Segerstam (born 2 March 1944 in Vaasa, Ostrobothnia, Finland) is a Finnish conductor, composer, violinist, violist and pianist, especially known for his 285 symphonies, along with his other works in his extensive œuvre. Segerstam has conducted in a variety of orchestras since 1963, and widely known through his recorded discography.

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Jean Sibelius - Jedermann (Leif Segerstam)


Information

Composer: Jean Sibelius
  • (01-17) Jedermann (Jokamies/Everyman), incidental music, Op. 83
  • (18) Two Serious Melodies, for violin & orchestra, Op. 77: No. 1 Cantique (Laetare anima mea)
  • (19) Two Serious Melodies, for violin & orchestra, Op. 77: No. 2 Devotion (Ab imo pectore)
  • (20) In memoriam, Op. 59

Pia Pajala, soprano (6-8)
Tuomas Katajala, tenor (5)
Nicholas Söderlund, bass (8, 9)
Cathedralis Aboensis Choir (5, 9, 10, 17)
Mikaela Palmu, violin (18, 19)
Turku Philharmonic Orchestra
Leif Segerstam, conductor
Date: 2014
Label: Naxos
http://www.naxos.com/catalogue/item.asp?item_code=8.573340

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Review

ARTISTIC QUALITY: 8 / SOUND QUALITY: 9

Sibelius never made a suite out of his incidental music to Hofmannsthal’s Jedermann (Everyman), and for good reason. There’s nothing here that works independently of the play. The individual tracks range in timing from eleven seconds to thirteen minutes. There are four tiny initial movements, a series of songs requiring three soloists (soprano, tenor, and bass), a brief Allegro molto, and then a whopping sequence nearly half an hour long.

Much of the music is athematic, and aside from being exceptionally slow it’s also exceptionally repetitious. You could make the case that Sibelius is anticipating much contemporary music–Arvo Pärt at his droopiest has nothing on this – but what would be the point? And it has to be said that Segerstam and his Turku players make a meal of it. The performance is gorgeous, unflinchingly dark and anguished, and if you’re going to do it at all you might as well revel to the max in the music’s wrist-slitting despondency.

The couplings are particularly well chosen. The Two Serious Melodies, Op. 77, for violin and orchestra, are lovely, virtually unknown, and positively riotous after Jedermann. In memoriam is a funeral march inspired by the more lugubrious music of Liszt, and it too sounds almost uplifting here despite Segerstam’s measured tempo. It was smart of Naxos and Segerstam to find all of Sibelius’ most miserable music and stick it on one convenient CD, with wonderfully apt cover art so that you know exactly what you’re in for. If you feel depressed, your life is a mess, and you’re sunk in an abyss of despair, by all means try this disc. It will convince you that you have a long way to go before you hit bottom.

-- David Hurwitz, ClassicsToday

More reviews:
http://www.gramophone.co.uk/review/sibelius-pell%C3%A9as-et-m%C3%A9lisande-jedermann-two-serious-melodies
http://www.musicweb-international.com/classrev/2015/Oct/Sibelius_Jedermann_8573340.htm
http://www.naxos.com/reviews/reviewslist.asp?catalogueid=8.573340&languageid=EN

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Jean Sibelius (8 December 1865 – 20 September 1957) was a Finnish violinist and composer of the late Romantic period. His music contributed to the development of a feeling of national identity in Finland where he is now celebrated as the country's greatest composer. Sibelius is mostly known for his seven symphonies, the violin concerto and the tone poems such as Finlandia. He almost completely stopped composing after 1920s and did not produce any large-scale works in his last thirty years.

***

Leif Segerstam (born 2 March 1944 in Vaasa, Ostrobothnia, Finland) is a Finnish conductor, composer, violinist, violist and pianist, especially known for his 285 symphonies, along with his other works in his extensive œuvre. Segerstam has conducted in a variety of orchestras since 1963, and widely known through his recorded discography.

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Jean Sibelius - Belshazzar's Feast (Leif Segerstam)


Information

Composer: Jean Sibelius
  • (01) Overture in E major, JS 145
  • (02) Scène de Ballet, JS 163
  • (03-13) Belshazzar's Feast, JS 48
  • (14) Die Sprache der Vögel (The Language of the Birds): Wedding March, JS 62
  • (15) Cortège, JS 54
  • (16) Menuetto, JS 127
  • (17) Processional, Op. 113, No. 6

Pia Pajala, soprano
Turku Philharmonic Orchestra
Leif Segerstam, conductor
Date: 2014
Label: Naxos
http://www.naxos.com/catalogue/item.asp?item_code=8.573300

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Review




This releases continues Segerstam’s so far excellent survey of Sibelius’ complete incidental music coupled to other rare works. Belshazzar’s Feast works better in its complete form than many other such pieces: it has eleven short movements, including “Song of the Jewish Girl” setting the familiar lament “By the waters of Babylon.” A couple of the dances return at the end giving the work a semblance of form, and there are a few extra bits that didn’t make it into the more familiar suite, such as the exotic number simply marked “Allegretto”. In short, this is worth hearing.

The remaining items also are of unusual interest. The Overture in E major and Scène de Ballet both date from 1891 and comprise Sibelius’ earliest orchestral works. Both are worth hearing, not so much because they sound like the later composer (they have moments), but because despite their immaturity, they still don’t sound like anyone else. Scène de Ballet, in particular, features very curious scoring for castanets and suspended cymbal, while the overture is a surprisingly big work–almost twelve minutes–with some attractive if relatively anonymous melodic invention.

The Wedding March is all that Sibelius wrote as incidental music to play called The Language of the Birds. Its date, 1911, signals a fully mature piece, and the music is not really a march at all–more a miniature tone poem with some of the harmonic strangeness of The Bard and the Fourth Symphony, which come from the same period. You might feel that the Cortège also needs a new name: it’s actually an ebullient Polonaise in triple time, and again, surprisingly substantial. This music found a later home in both the Scènes historiques and The Tempest.

Sibelius used bits of the Menuetto in the King Christian II music, but this larger orchestration from 1894 is absolutely delightful. What a great encore this would make in concert. Segerstam concludes the program with the Processional, Op. 113, No. 6, a piece that eventually found its way into the composer’s collection of Masonic music (yes he wrote some, even if no one knows it). It’s suitably dignified and brings the program to a very satisfying close.

As with previous releases in this series, the performances are just about as good as it gets. Segerstam plays all of the music with evident care and invests it with plenty of character. He has the Turku Philharmonic responding to his every whim, and if some of these “chips off of the master’s workbench” remain rather “chippy,” well, that’s the composer’s fault. At least they leave us wanting more. Pia Pajala is the attractive soprano soloist in her single song, and the engineering is rich, warm, and atmospheric. Worth your time and attention, no doubt about it.

-- David Hurwitz, ClassicsToday

More reviews:
http://www.gramophone.co.uk/review/sibelius-belshazzars-feast
http://www.musicweb-international.com/classrev/2015/Jul/Sibelius_incidental_8573299.htm
http://www.musicweb-international.com/classrev/2015/Aug/Sibelius_Pelleas_8573301.htm
http://www.musicweb-international.com/classrev/2015/Sep/Sibelius_incidental_8573299.htm
http://www.theguardian.com/music/2015/jul/19/sibelius-belshazzars-feast-cd-review-turku-philharmonic-segerstam
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/music/classicalcdreviews/11696860/Sibelius-Belshazzars-Feast-review-considerable-strength.html
http://www.allmusic.com/album/sibelius-belshazzars-feast-overture-in-e-sc%C3%A8ne-de-ballet-wedding-march-cort%C3%A8ge-menuetto-processional-mw0002852344
http://www.amazon.co.uk/Sibelius-BelshazzarS-Philharmonic-Orchestra-Segerstam/dp/B00XWDKN9U
http://www.naxos.com/reviews/reviewslist.asp?catalogueid=8.573300&languageid=EN#170098

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Jean Sibelius (8 December 1865 – 20 September 1957) was a Finnish violinist and composer of the late Romantic period. His music contributed to the development of a feeling of national identity in Finland where he is now celebrated as the country's greatest composer. Sibelius is mostly known for his seven symphonies, the violin concerto and the tone poems such as Finlandia. He almost completely stopped composing after 1920s and did not produce any large-scale works in his last thirty years.

***

Leif Segerstam (born 2 March 1944 in Vaasa, Ostrobothnia, Finland) is a Finnish conductor, composer, violinist, violist and pianist, especially known for his 285 symphonies, along with his other works in his extensive œuvre. Segerstam has conducted in a variety of orchestras since 1963, and widely known through his recorded discography.

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Enjoy!

Friday, December 18, 2015

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart; Franz Schubert - Sonata for 2 pianos; Fantasia for 4 hands (Murray Perahia; Radu Lupu)


Information

Composer: Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart; Franz Schubert
  1. Mozart - Sonata for 2 pianos in D major, K. 448/375a: I. Allegro con spirito
  2. Mozart - Sonata for 2 pianos in D major, K. 448/375a: II. Andante
  3. Mozart - Sonata for 2 pianos in D major, K. 448/375a: III. Allegro molto
  4. Schubert - Fantasia for piano 4 hands in F minor, D. 940

Murray Perahia, piano
Radu Lupu, piano
Date: 1985
Label: Sony Classical

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Review




Murray Perahia and Radu Lupu first teamed up on disc in 1984 with the Mozart D major sonata and Schubert Fantasia, setting benchmark standards for sharply honed and tonally cultivated piano ensemble playing. The gorgeous engineering gains warmth and amplitude in this new transfer for Sony's Masterworks Expanded Edition series. Likewise, the not-inconsiderable Mozart-Busoni and unhyphenated Mozart fillers yield sonic improvement. My list of all the wonderful things that transpire through the pianists' sublimely synchronized fingers, minds, and hearts would take longer to read than for you to listen to this disc all the way through.

Where do I start? The effortless, impeccably calibrated runs tossing back and forth in the Mozart sonata's first movement? The exquisitely scaled dynamics, acute harmonic and linear cogency, and split-second timing of transitions and phrase endings in the Schubert? Or the pianists' mutual sixth sense for divining perfect tempos? Two-piano mavens familiar with Busoni's retooling of the Mozart F minor Fantasia for Mechanical Organ will notice that Perahia and Lupu rightly restore passages from Mozart's original score that Busoni cut (notably in the finale). If you love the piano, you need this disc. [2/21/2004]

-- Jed Distler, ClassicsToday

More reviews:
http://www.gramophone.co.uk/review/mozart-piano-sonata-k448-schubert-fantasie-d940
http://www.amazon.com/Mozart-Sonata-K-448-Schubert-Fantasia/dp/B00000260M

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Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (27 January 1756 – 5 December 1791) was a prolific and influential composer of the Classical era. Born in Salzburg, Mozart showed prodigious ability from his earliest childhood and composed from the age of five. Till his death in Vienna, he composed over 600 works, many acknowledged as pinnacles of symphonic, concertante, chamber, operatic, and choral music. Mozart is among the most enduringly popular of classical composers.

***

Murray Perahia (born April 19, 1947 in New York to a family of Sephardi Jewish origin) is an American concert pianist and conductor. Since 1973, Perahia has recorded exclusively for Columbia Masterworks, now Sony Classical. He is loved for his warm, gentle, smooth and lyrical qualities of playing.

***

Radu Lupu (born November 30, 1945) is a Romanian concert pianist. Lupu's concert appearances and recordings for Decca, though not frequent, consisting of a limited repertoire, have been consistently acclaimed. Although trained in the Russian pianistic tradition, he is particularly noted for his interpretations of the great 19th century German and Austrian composers.

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Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart; Joseph Haydn - Great Mass in C minor; Te Deum (Ferenc Fricsay)


Information

Composer: Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart; Joseph Haydn
  1. Mozart - Mass in C minor, K. 427 - "Große Messe": 1. Kyrie
  2. Mozart - Mass in C minor, K. 427 - "Große Messe": 2a. Gloria: Gloria in excelsis Deo
  3. Mozart - Mass in C minor, K. 427 - "Große Messe": 2b. Gloria: Laudamus te
  4. Mozart - Mass in C minor, K. 427 - "Große Messe": 2c. Gloria: Gratias agimus tibi
  5. Mozart - Mass in C minor, K. 427 - "Große Messe": 2d. Gloria: Domine Deus
  6. Mozart - Mass in C minor, K. 427 - "Große Messe": 2e. Gloria: Qui tollis
  7. Mozart - Mass in C minor, K. 427 - "Große Messe": 2f. Gloria: Quoniam tu solus
  8. Mozart - Mass in C minor, K. 427 - "Große Messe": 2g. Gloria: Jesu Christe
  9. Mozart - Mass in C minor, K. 427 - "Große Messe": 2h. Gloria: Cum Sanctu Spiritu
  10. Mozart - Mass in C minor, K. 427 - "Große Messe": 3a. Credo: Credo in unum Deum
  11. Mozart - Mass in C minor, K. 427 - "Große Messe": 3b. Credo: Et incarnatus est
  12. Mozart - Mass in C minor, K. 427 - "Große Messe": 4a. Sanctus: Sanctus
  13. Mozart - Mass in C minor, K. 427 - "Große Messe": 4b. Sanctus: Benedictus qui venit
  14. Haydn - Te Deum in C major, Hob. XXIIIc/1

Maria Stader (soprano); Hertha Töpper (soprano); Ernst Haefliger (tenor); Ivan Sardi (bass); Chor der St. Hedwig's-Kathedrale; Radio-Symphonie-Orchester Berlin (1-13)
NDR Chor; RIAS Kammerchor; Radio-Symphonie-Orchester Berlin (14)
Ferenc Fricsay, conductor
Date: 1959 (1-13), 1961 (14)
Label: Deutsche Grammophon
http://www.deutschegrammophon.com/en/cat/4636122

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Review

ARTISTIC QUALITY: 9 / SOUND QUALITY: 8

These performances, now 40-ish years old, are still delightfully fresh; and frankly, despite all of the scholarship that has gone on since and the subsequent recordings to come out of all that study, these remain at the top of the list. Ferenc Fricsay’s Classical sense was unbeatable and he leads with elegance, appropriate lightness, and weight (when needed), and commits no gaffs of overused rubato or other such “Romantic” ideas. This Mass is arguably Mozart’s greatest–left unfinished at his death, the edition used here is H.C. Robbins Landon’s 1956 reconstruction. The “Kyrie” has great piety, the “Gloria” exults. The “Quoniam” trio–a great show-off piece–practically dances. One might argue that the chorus and orchestra are a bit hefty, but Fricsay only plays on their heft when he wants to. The soloists are very fine, with Maria Stader’s perfect oratorio style and bright sound just right for her big solos. The Haydn Te Deum is presented in a live performance; this nine-minute piece is too little-known. It’s a joyous work from late in Haydn’s life (1800), beginning with what sounds like a college football fight-song and ending with a fabulous double-fugue–and it receives a rousing performance. This CD is a must-own. 

-- Robert Levine, ClassicsToday

More reviews:
http://www.amazon.co.uk/Mozart-Mass-No-18-Great-Minor/dp/B00004R7X3
http://www.amazon.com/Mozart-Great-Mass-minor-Haydn/dp/B00004R7X3

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Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (27 January 1756 – 5 December 1791) was a prolific and influential composer of the Classical era. Born in Salzburg, Mozart showed prodigious ability from his earliest childhood and composed from the age of five. Till his death in Vienna, he composed over 600 works, many acknowledged as pinnacles of symphonic, concertante, chamber, operatic, and choral music. Mozart is among the most enduringly popular of classical composers.

***

Ferenc Fricsay (9 August 1914 – 20 February 1963) was a Hungarian conductor. From 1960 until his death, he was an Austrian citizen. He was known for his interpretations of the music of Mozart and Beethoven, as well as that of his teachers Bartók and Kodály. He conducted without a baton, but with extreme clarity and precision. From the 1950s until his death, he recorded for the Deutsche Grammophon.

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Thursday, December 17, 2015

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart - Violin Sonatas Nos. 18, 21, 24 & 35 (Hilary Hahn; Natalie Zhu)


Information

Composer: Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
  1. Violin Sonata No. 24 in F major, K. 376: 1. Allegro
  2. Violin Sonata No. 24 in F major, K. 376: 2. Andante
  3. Violin Sonata No. 24 in F major, K. 376: 3. Rondo (Allegretto grazioso)
  4. Violin Sonata No. 18 in G major, K. 301: 1. Allegro con spirito
  5. Violin Sonata No. 18 in G major, K. 301: 2. Allegro
  6. Violin Sonata No. 21 in E minor, K. 304: 1. Allegro
  7. Violin Sonata No. 21 in E minor, K. 304: 2. Tempo di minuetto
  8. Violin Sonata No. 35 in A major, K. 526: 1. Allegro molto
  9. Violin Sonata No. 35 in A major, K. 526: 2. Andante
  10. Violin Sonata No. 35 in A major, K. 526: 3. Presto

Hilary Hahn, violin
Natalie Zhu, piano
Date: 2004
Label: Deutsche Grammophon
http://deutschegrammophon.com/en/cat/4775572

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Review

Arthur Grumiaux's elegant and mellifluous readings of Mozart's violin sonatas set one kind of standard for these elegant and mellifluous works. Hilary Hahn, who has come to terms so brilliantly with such diverse repertoire at such an early age proves that, still in her musical youth, she can challenge sterling interpretations of Mozart as well. Her performances with Natalie Zhu reveal a mastery of the bold gesture (as in the first movement of the Sonata, K 376) and the flowing line (as in the slow movement of the Sonata, K 301). The interpretive forest doesn't obscure the trees: nuances abound in the simplest phrases (and occasionally even single notes evoke worlds of expression), without ever seeming the least bit fussy on the contrary, they appear as natural as breathing. Her violin (it's not clear whether she's still playing a Vuillaume) sounds stentorian in the most commanding phrases, occasionally making an almost instantaneous connection between ear and gut. Aggressiveness of this kind might overwhelm the sonatas did not her readings invariably take such sensitive account of the music's subtleties. As it is, her tone simply lifts her to full equality with Zhu's bright and sonorous partnership, and it's captured by the bright and sonorous recorded sound. But the duo explores darker regions as well, darker than Grumiaux may have dared in the Sonata, K 304; and they appear fully prepared to thread their way through the more labyrinthine complexities of the Sonata, K 526. A promotional DVD providing visual as well as auditory fragments of the program (might a full DVD be forthcoming?) reveals that Hahn and Zhu apply their myriad subtle brush strokes with almost none of the swaying and swooning in which other young musicians so frequently indulge, perhaps to create a (disingenuous?) visual impression of the responses their musicianship simply cannot evoke

When all's said and done, though, Grumiaux still lurks disturbingly in the background. His straightforwardness (compare his readings of Bach, for example, to Milstein's later, more nuanced, ones) maintains a standard of purity that Hahn and Zhu may not even have been trying to challenge; in that regard, and in that regard alone, Hahn can't quite match Grumiaux. A critic once referred to Szymon Goldberg's "walking-on-eggs" style in Mozart, and Hahn's isn't that either. But her performances, while wholly her own, equal or surpass any I've heard. And the stirring recorded sound adds an extra measure of urgency to an already urgent recommendation. Essential.

-- Robert Maxham, FANFARE

More reviews:
http://www.gramophone.co.uk/review/mozart-violin-sonatas-k301-k304-k376-and-k526
http://www.musicweb-international.com/classrev/2005/Oct05/Mozart_Hahn_4775572.htm
http://www.classical.net/music/recs/reviews/d/dgg775572a.php
http://www.allmusic.com/album/mozart-violin-sonatas-k-301-304-376-526-mw0001842787
http://www.amazon.com/Violin-Sonatas-301-304-376/dp/B0009JAENU

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Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (27 January 1756 – 5 December 1791) was a prolific and influential composer of the Classical era. Born in Salzburg, Mozart showed prodigious ability from his earliest childhood and composed from the age of five. Till his death in Vienna, he composed over 600 works, many acknowledged as pinnacles of symphonic, concertante, chamber, operatic, and choral music. Mozart is among the most enduringly popular of classical composers.

***

Hilary Hahn (born November 27, 1979) is an American violinist. In her active international career she has performed throughout the world both as a soloist with leading orchestras and conductors and as a recitalist. She also has built a reputation for championing contemporary music. She started her recording career in 1996 and has released 16 albums on the Deutsche Grammophon and Sony labels.

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Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart - Violin Concertos (Arthur Grumiaux)


Information

Composer: Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

CD1:
  • (01-03) Violin Concerto No. 1 in B flat major, K. 207
  • (04-06) Violin Concerto No. 3 in G major, K. 216
  • (07-09) Violin Concerto No. 4 in D major, K. 218
  • (10) Adagio for violin & orchestra in E major, K. 261
  • (11) Rondo for violin & orchestra in C major, K. 373
CD2:
  • (01-03) Violin Concerto No. 2 in D major, K. 211
  • (04-06) Violin Concerto No. 5 in A major, K. 219
  • (07-09) Sinfonia concertante in E flat major, K. 364

Arthur Grumiaux, violin
Arrigo Pelliccia, viola (K. 364)
London Symphony Orchestra, cond. Colin Davis
New Philharmonia Orchestra, cond. Raymond Leppard (K. 261 & K. 373)
Date: 1961-1967
Label: Philips
http://www.deccaclassics.com/us/cat/4383232

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Review

The Belgian violinist Arthur Grumiaux made his debut in 1940 and established himself after the war as a consistently fine player with a wide repertory whose recordings show not only his mastery of the instrument but also unfailingly good taste—and lest anyone thinks that last phrase implies a lack of personality, we should remember that it was one which Haydn chose to praise Mozart. These performances of the five standard violin concertos, the Sinfonia concertante and a couple of other pieces were admired when they came out on LP, and still earn praise for their crispness, lightness and eloquence. Grumiaux was also fortunate in his partner in the Sinfonia concertante, for Pelliccia is also an expert Mozartian and they give a performance of this beautiful piece that is expressive but still avoids self-indulgent romanticism. In the solo concertos, too, Grumiaux plays cadenzas that suit the music in length and style.
Both Sir Colin Davis and Raymond Leppard are sympathetic partners in this repertory, and since the playing of the two London orchestras is no less satisfying, this issue scores all round artistically. The 1960s recordings do not sound their age, and indeed are pleasing save for a little tape hiss and, it must be said, an excess of bass that hardly suits the style of this translucent music. However that is a small price to pay when so much else is admirable, and Grumiaux's fine tonal palette is well caught.

-- Christopher Headington, Gramophone

More reviews:
http://www.amazon.co.uk/Mozart-Complete-Concertos-Wolfgang-Amadeus/dp/B000004166
http://www.amazon.com/Mozart-Concertos-Complete-Wolfgang-Amadeus/dp/B000004166
http://www.classicstoday.com/review/review-6205/
http://www.musicweb-international.com/classrev/2001/Aug01/MozartVC_Grumiaux.htm

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Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (27 January 1756 – 5 December 1791) was a prolific and influential composer of the Classical era. Born in Salzburg, Mozart showed prodigious ability from his earliest childhood and composed from the age of five. Till his death in Vienna, he composed over 600 works, many acknowledged as pinnacles of symphonic, concertante, chamber, operatic, and choral music. Mozart is among the most enduringly popular of classical composers.

***

Arthur Grumiaux (21 March 1921 – 16 October 1986) was a Belgian violinist. His playing often brought comparisons to another great Belgian violinist Eugène Ysaÿe and also to Pablo de Sarasate of Spain. Grumiaux's playing was included on over 30 recordings, nearly all under Philips. He owned the "Rose" Guarneri del Gesu of 1744, "Ex-General Dupont" Stradivarius of 1727 and a Jean-Baptiste Vuillaume from 1866 (now known as ex-Grumiaux).


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Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart - Symphonies Nos. 35, 40 & 41 (George Szell)


Information

Composer: Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
  1. Symphony No. 35 in D major "Haffner", K. 385: I. Allegro con spirito
  2. Symphony No. 35 in D major "Haffner", K. 385: II. Andante
  3. Symphony No. 35 in D major "Haffner", K. 385: III.  Menuetto - Trio
  4. Symphony No. 35 in D major "Haffner", K. 385: IV. Finale. Presto
  5. Symphony No. 40 in G minor, K. 550: I. Molto Allegro
  6. Symphony No. 40 in G minor, K. 550: II. Andante
  7. Symphony No. 40 in G minor, K. 550: III. Menuetto. Allegretto - Trio
  8. Symphony No. 40 in G minor, K. 550: IV. Finale. Allegro assai
  9. Symphony No. 41 in C major "Jupiter", K. 551: I. Allegro vivace
  10. Symphony No. 41 in C major "Jupiter", K. 551: II. Andante cantabile
  11. Symphony No. 41 in C major "Jupiter", K. 551: III. Menuetto. Allegretto - Trio
  12. Symphony No. 41 in C major "Jupiter", K. 551: IV. Finale. Molto Allegro

Cleveland Orchestra
George Szell, conductor
Date: 1960-1967
Label: Sony Classical

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Review

ARTISTIC QUALITY: 10 / SOUND QUALITY: 7

After more than 10 years, these 1960s-vintage recordings receive their second incarnation in Sony Classics’ “Essential Classics” series. Listeners who already have the original disc, issued in 1991, will find little reason to “upgrade” to this one, despite the claim of digital remastering. Sure, you get some more “hall” sound (the old Severance Hall was fairly dry anyway) along with the same analog hiss and low-frequency congestion (especially in the timpani rolls in the first movement of the Haffner Symphony), but there is no quantum leap in reproduction quality. However, if you don’t yet own these recordings, you must, for they have long been regarded among the best.

Szell’s readings bridge the old and new “authentic” worlds of classical period performance. Tempos are brisk but not robotic. You get the precision of Toscanini with the warmth of Walter. Note, for instance, how in the first movement of the G minor symphony, when the violins enter with their famous two-note “theme” Szell adds the slightest touch of tasteful ritardando without losing any sense of momentum. The ensemble is literally perfect with elegant solo playing from the vaunted wind section. But pride of place goes to the reading of the Haffner Symphony, especially in the last movement where Szell presides over a true “presto” and absolutely breathtaking string playing. This movement itself is worth the price of this “essential” budget disc.

-- ClassicsToday
reviewing Sony Classical - 89834

More reviews:
http://www.amazon.com/Mozart-Symphony-No-Essential-Classics/dp/B00005YNH6
http://www.amazon.com/Mozart-Symphonies-Nos-Essential-Classics/dp/B00000276J

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Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (27 January 1756 – 5 December 1791) was a prolific and influential composer of the Classical era. Born in Salzburg, Mozart showed prodigious ability from his earliest childhood and composed from the age of five. Till his death in Vienna, he composed over 600 works, many acknowledged as pinnacles of symphonic, concertante, chamber, operatic, and choral music. Mozart is among the most enduringly popular of classical composers.

***

George Szell (June 7, 1897 – July 30, 1970) was a Hungarian-born American conductor, widely considered one of the twentieth century's greatest conductors. He is remembered today for his long and successful tenure as music director of the Cleveland Orchestra, and for his recordings of the standard classical repertoire.

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Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart - Symphonies Nos. 38-41 (Charles Mackerras)


Information

Composer: Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

CD1:
  1. Symphony No. 38 in D major "Prague", K. 504: I. Adagio - Allegro
  2. Symphony No. 38 in D major "Prague", K. 504: II. Andante
  3. Symphony No. 38 in D major "Prague", K. 504: III. Finale (Presto)
  4. Symphony No. 39 in E flat major, K. 543: I. Adagio - Allegro
  5. Symphony No. 39 in E flat major, K. 543: II. Andante con moto
  6. Symphony No. 39 in E flat major, K. 543: III. Menuetto (Allegretto) & Trio
  7. Symphony No. 39 in E flat major, K. 543: IV. Finale (Allegro)
CD2:
  1. Symphony No. 40 in G minor, K. 550: I. Molto allegro
  2. Symphony No. 40 in G minor, K. 550: II. Andante
  3. Symphony No. 40 in G minor, K. 550: III. Menuetto (Allegretto)
  4. Symphony No. 40 in G minor, K. 550: IV. Finale (Allegro assai)
  5. Symphony No. 41 in C major "Jupiter", K. 551: I. Allegro vivace
  6. Symphony No. 41 in C major "Jupiter", K. 551: II. Andante cantabile
  7. Symphony No. 41 in C major "Jupiter", K. 551: III. Menuetto (Allegretto)
  8. Symphony No. 41 in C major "Jupiter", K. 551: IV. Molto allegro

Scottish Chamber Orchestra
Charles Mackerras, conductor
Date: 2008
Label: Linn
http://www.linnrecords.com/recording-mozart-symphonies.aspx

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Review

Thoroughly modern Mozart – cheerful playing under a great interpreter

There is no need to argue the credentials of Sir Charles Mackerras as a Mozart interpreter, so let us just say that this double CD of the composer’s last four symphonies contains no surprises – it is every bit as good as you would expect. Like many modern-instrument performances these days it shows the period-orchestra influence in its lean sound, agile dynamic contrasts, sparing string vibrato, rasping brass, sharp-edged timpani and prominent woodwind, though given Mackerras’s long revisionist track-record it seems an insult to suggest that he would not have arrived at such a sound of his own accord. And in any case his handling of it – joyously supported by the playing of the Scottish Chamber Orchestra – is supremely skilled; rarely will you hear such well judged orchestral balance, such effective marrying of textural transparency and substance. The Jupiter in particular has a wonderful bright grandeur, yet reveals details in the brilliant contrapuntal kaleidoscope of the finale that too often go unheard.

Seldom, either, will you hear such expertly chosen tempi; generally these performances are on the quick side, but rather than seeming hard-driven they exude forward momentum effortlessly worn. Nowhere is this better shown in the slow movements (even with all their repeats they never flag, yet their shifting expressive moods are still tenderly drawn), but also conspicuously successful are the slow introductions to Symphonies Nos 38 and 39 (the former ominous but alert, the latter full of intelligent anticipation with shivery violin lines falling like cold rain down the back of the neck) and the Minuet movements of Nos 40 and 39 (whose cheeky one-in-a-bar lilt does wonders for its tootly clarinet Trio).

These are not Mozart performances for the romantics out there, but neither are they in the least lacking in humanity. No, this is thoroughly modern-day Mozart, full of wisdom and leaving the listener in no doubt of the music’s ineffable greatness.

-- Lindsay Kemp, Gramophone

More reviews:
http://www.classical-music.com/review/mozart-507
http://www.bbc.co.uk/music/reviews/gxjw
http://www.musicweb-international.com/classrev/2008/Apr08/Mozart_Mackerras_ckd308.htm
http://classicalsource.com/db_control/db_cd_review.php?id=5484
http://www.theguardian.com/music/2008/feb/01/classicalmusicandopera.shopping5
http://www.musicalcriticism.com/recordings/cd-mackerras-mozart-0308.shtml
http://www.audaud.com/2008/03/mozart-symphonies-no-38-41-%E2%80%93-scottish-chamber-orchestra-charles-mackerras-conductor-%E2%80%93-linn/
http://www.allmusic.com/album/mozart-symphonies-nos-38-41-mw0001869842
http://www.amazon.com/Mozart-Symphonies-38-Through-41/dp/B0011J2R0K

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Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (27 January 1756 – 5 December 1791) was a prolific and influential composer of the Classical era. Born in Salzburg, Mozart showed prodigious ability from his earliest childhood and composed from the age of five. Till his death in Vienna, he composed over 600 works, many acknowledged as pinnacles of symphonic, concertante, chamber, operatic, and choral music. Mozart is among the most enduringly popular of classical composers.

***

Charles Mackerras (17 November 1925 – 14 July 2010) was an Australian conductor, known for his broad repertoire, expertise in Czech music, and the use of period performance practices with modern orchestras. He was a specialist in the music of Classical era and an authority on the operas of Janáček and Mozart.

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Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart - String Quintets (Talich Quartet; Karel Řehák)


Information

Composer: Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

CD1:
  • (01-04) String (Viola) Quintet No. 1 in B flat major, K. 174
  • (05-08) String (Viola) Quintet No. 2 in C minor, K. 406
CD2:
  • (01-04) String (Viola) Quintet No. 3 in C major, K. 515
  • (05-08) String (Viola) Quintet No. 4 in G minor, K. 516
CD3:
  • (01-04) String (Viola) Quintet No. 5 in D major, K. 593
  • (05-08) String (Viola) Quintet No. 6 in E-flat major, K. 614

Talich Quartet
Petr Messiereur, violin
Jan Kvapil, violin
Jan Talich Sr., viola
Evžen Rattay, cello
&
Karel Řehák, viola
Date: 1990, 1993, 1995
Label: Calliope

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Review




The five string quintets and clarinet quintet Mozart composed in his final years gush with inexhaustible expressive and structural riches, which is not to slight the earlier, lighter-gaited K. 174 quintet. Of the various Mozart Quintet cycles crowding the catalogs, a 1995 set featuring the Talich Quartet and guest violist Karel Rehak has been reissued on three discs that sell for the cost of one full price disc. The playing is all one could wish for. Listen, for instance, to the perfectly dovetailed solo entrances at the outset of the K. 515 C major Quintet, supported by rock solid yet shapely chording. Notice, too how the ensemble shades the G minor quintet’s aching chromaticism with exquisite color and expressive economy, as well as the head-to-toe clarity of the inner parts. Clarinetist Bohuslav Zahradnik’s vivid phrasing and aromatic timbre achieves a blend with the darkly focused strings that might be akin to a splash of cilantro atop goose liver pâté. Add Calliope’s excellent engineering, and you have a Mozart Quintet cycle that takes its rightful place alongside memorable versions from the Budapest and Danish Quartets. A heavenly bargain, not to be passed up. [11/14/1999]

-- Jed Distler, ClassicsToday
reviewing Calliope - 3231/3

More reviews:
http://www.amazon.com/Mozart-Complete-Quintets-Clarinet-Quintet/dp/B000026CY3

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Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (27 January 1756 – 5 December 1791) was a prolific and influential composer of the Classical era. Born in Salzburg, Mozart showed prodigious ability from his earliest childhood and composed from the age of five. Till his death in Vienna, he composed over 600 works, many acknowledged as pinnacles of symphonic, concertante, chamber, operatic, and choral music. Mozart is among the most enduringly popular of classical composers.

***

The Talich Quartet is a Czech string quartet founded in 1964 by Jan Talich, Sr. (born 1945) while still a student at Prague Conservatory, and named after his famous uncle Václav Talich, the conductor and founder of the Czech Philharmonic. It is widely regarded as a leading chamber ensemble and winner of several Grand Prix du Disque awards. They made many records for Calliope.

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Various Composers - Russian Cello Sonatas (Truls Mørk)


Information

Composer: Sergei Rachmaninov; Nikolai Myaskovsky; Dmitri Shostakovich; Igor Stravinsky; Sergei Prokofiev

CD1:
  1. Rachmaninov - Cello Sonata in G minor, Op. 19: I. Lento - Allegro moderato
  2. Rachmaninov - Cello Sonata in G minor, Op. 19: II. Allegro scherzando
  3. Rachmaninov - Cello Sonata in G minor, Op. 19: III. Andante
  4. Rachmaninov - Cello Sonata in G minor, Op. 19: IV. Allegro mosso
  5. Rachmaninov - Vocalise, Op. 34 No. 14
  6. Rachmaninov - Two Pieces for cello and piano, Op. 2: I. Prélude in F major (Comodo)
  7. Rachmaninov - Two Pieces for cello and piano, Op. 2: II. Danse orientale in A minor (Andante cantabile)
  8. Myaskovsky - Cello Sonata No. 1 in D major, Op. 12: I. Adagio - Andante
  9. Myaskovsky - Cello Sonata No. 1 in D major, Op. 12: II. Allegro passionato
CD2:
  1. Shostakovich - Cello Sonata No. 2 in D minor, Op. 40: I. Allegro non troppo
  2. Shostakovich - Cello Sonata No. 2 in D minor, Op. 40: II. Allegro
  3. Shostakovich - Cello Sonata No. 2 in D minor, Op. 40: III. Largo
  4. Shostakovich - Cello Sonata No. 2 in D minor, Op. 40: IV. Allegro
  5. Stravinsky - Suite Italienne for cello & piano: I. Introduzione
  6. Stravinsky - Suite Italienne for cello & piano: II. Serenata
  7. Stravinsky - Suite Italienne for cello & piano: III. Aria
  8. Stravinsky - Suite Italienne for cello & piano: IV. Tarentella
  9. Stravinsky - Suite Italienne for cello & piano: V. Minuetto e finale
  10. Prokofiev - Cello Sonata in C major, Op. 119: I. Andante grave
  11. Prokofiev - Cello Sonata in C major, Op. 119: II. Moderato
  12. Prokofiev - Cello Sonata in C major, Op. 119: III. Allegro, ma non troppo

Truls Mørk, cello
Jean-Yves Thibaudet, piano (CD1)
Lars Vogt, piano (CD2)
Date: 1994 (CD1), 1996 (CD2)
Label: Virgin

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Review

On first hearing this disk, one is struck by the beauty of the cello tone throughout. On second hearing, one notes that the Rachmaninov and Shostakovich works stand out clearly. On third hearing, this distinction evaporates and one realizes that the quality of all the works on the disk is first rate, that the Miaskovsky, Stravinsky, and Prokofiev works are equally worth the attention, and that the Shostakovich and Rachmaninov works are merely more familiar.

The Rachmaninov work was written at the time of the Second Concerto between the First and Second Symphonies, and is clearly, in my opinion, an unsuccessful sketch for a symphony. As Brahms before him did with his Op. 34, Rachmaninov turned a failed symphony into a successful chamber work. However, in the final analysis the work is a little too symphonic to be great chamber music just as it is not quite symphonic enough to be a great symphony. This performance is somewhat on the crisp side; the Harrell and especially the Ma performances, which are more lyrically Romantic, are more enjoyable in the slower movements, but this only further emphasizes the distance between the original symphonic concept and this sonata arrangement. Both approaches are valid, and the work is fine enough that you’ll want to hear it played several different ways.

Those who hold to the view that Stravinsky retired from composing in 1913 point to the ballet Pulcinella (1920) and the Suite Italienne arranged from it as proof, claiming that the work is not even an arrangement of music (purportedly) by Pergolesi, but simply Pergolesi copied out with wrong notes. What is most amazing is how durable and engaging the Stravinsky work is in its orchestral, cello and piano, violin and piano, and, eventually, violin and cello versions. I have several versions of the originals by Wassenaer, but I’d rather hear the Stravinsky versions any time, wrong notes or no.

Giovanni Battista Pergolesi (1710 - 1736) wrote one sensationally popular opera, then fell ill from consumption. While in hospital he wrote his well known Stabat Mater and then died at the age of 26. To satisfy the market for his scant repertoire of original music, some marvelous sonatas by an amateur musician, one Unico Wilhelm van Wassenaer, published anonymously in Holland after being performed by the violinist Carlo Ricciotti, were ascribed by an Italian publisher to Pergolesi. They sold very well, and only recently has their complicated genesis come to light. Hence, Pulcinella and the Suite Italienne are in fact after Wassenaer, not Pergolesi. The rumor that Suite Italienne was commissioned by Gregor Piatigorsky is, so far as I can discover, not correct.

Prokofiev’s sonata is one of his last works in which his style became very introverted and ruminative. This change in style led to charges that others were writing his music for him, as those who did not understand the music felt it was of lower quality. Due to diminishing energy, Prokofiev relied on students and friends to copy out full scores from his shorthand musical notes, but the power and originality of the music are all Prokofiev. The route to understanding late Prokofiev lies through Mahler.

The Shostakovich work on the other hand is a very early work, melodic and accessible, rich with his pre-war optimism, but not his abrasive quirkiness. From its first performance it was acclaimed a masterpiece, and was even recorded on 78 RPM records, an all-but-unheard of honor for a modern chamber work at the time. In contrast, the Sonata No. 1 was never heard outside Russia.

The composer-approved Rostropovich versions of the Prokofiev and Shostakovich works are in old Soviet-era analogue sound and it is a pleasure to have these excellent digital versions as well.

Prokofiev met Miaskovsky in school and the two men remained fast friends for life. Their music diverged considerably in style with Miaskovsky writing more conservatively, but with an individual flavor. Their music also diverged in quality, with the starkly original Prokofiev clearly the greater talent. Miaskovsky’s music in general suffers from probably unconscious borrowings from other music he has heard, but when he has enough original material, as here, the result is a fine work that can hold its own in this concert, certainly well worth hearing.

-- Paul Shoemaker, MusicWeb International

More reviews:
http://www.gramophone.co.uk/review/rachmaninovmiaskovsky-cello-sonatas
http://www.classical-music.com/review/rachmaninovmiaskovsky
http://www.classical-music.com/review/shostakovichstravinskyprokofiev

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Truls Mørk (born 25 April 1961 in Bergen) is a Norwegian cellist. Mørk's discography includes an award-winning recordings of the Shostakovich Cello Concertos and of Bach's Suites for Solo Cello. He has recorded for such labels as Virgin Classics and Harmonia Mundi. He performs on a rare Domenico Montagnana cello (Venice, 1723), whose scroll was made by Stradivarius.

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Various Composers - Russian Piano Works (Boris Berezovsky)


Information

Composer: Modest Mussorgsky; Sergei Rachmaninov; Anatoly Lyadov; Nikolai Medtner; Mily Balakirev
  1. Mussorgsky - Night on Bald Mountain (transcr. Konstantin Tchernov)
  2. Rachmaninov - Etudes-Tableaux, Op. 39: No. 3 in F sharp minor (Allegro molto)
  3. Rachmaninov - Etudes-Tableaux, Op. 39: No. 4 in B minor (Allegro assai)
  4. Rachmaninov - Etudes-Tableaux, Op. 39: No. 7 in C minor (Lento)
  5. Rachmaninov - Etudes-Tableaux, Op. 39: No. 9 in D major (Allegro moderato. Tempo di marcia)
  6. Lyadov - 3 Morceaux, Op. 57: 1. Prélude (Moderato)
  7. Lyadov - 4 Morceaux, Op. 40: 2. Prélude (Allegretto)
  8. Lyadov - 4 Prélude, Op. 39: 4. Allegro impetuoso
  9. Medtner - 4 Fairy Tales, Op. 34: 2. Allegro cantabile e leggiero
  10. Medtner - 2 Fairy Tales, Op. 20: 1. Allegro con espressione
  11. Medtner - 4 Fairy Tales, Op. 34: 3. Allegretto tenebroso
  12. Medtner - Romantic Sketches for the Young II, Op. 54: 2. Scherzo "Tale" (Allegro vivace)
  13. Medtner - 6 Fairy Tales, Op. 51: 1. Allegro molto vivace al rigore di tempo e sempre leggierissimo
  14. Balakirev - Islamey, oriental fantasy (Presto con fuoco)

Boris Berezovsky, piano
Date: 1995
Label: Teldec

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Review

Following his recent dazzling but provocative – even cavalier – Ravel recital (Teldec, 3/95), Boris Berezovsky makes a formidable return to home territory. And in this most imaginative programme he displays a superabundance of technique in the most comprehensive sense of the term, and, for the greater part, the sort of emotional commitment that is second nature to the greatest Russian pianists.

His selection from the Op. 39 Etudes continues the legend commenced by his two previous Teldec Rachmaninov recitals (9/92 and 7/94) and confirms that he is among this composer’s most powerful and eloquent interpreters. In No. 3 in F sharp minor Berezovsky’s romantic freedom and richness of expression are several removes from other more conventional approaches. His rubato is pained and ecstatic and the music seems to move across an immense emotional and dynamic spectrum within its brief but intricate space. What drama he achieves too, in the great funeral elegy of No. 7 (lugubre and lamentoso), complementing a hair-raising advance to the dissonant and audacious climax with a rare finesse in the central triple piano and legatissimo reminder of the Russian liturgy. And it is this finesse which makes every bar of the Liadov Preludes memorable, whether in the ultra-Russian memory of Chopin in No. 1, or the octave storms of No. 3 (where the parallel with Scriabin’s Etude, Op. 8 No. 9 is remarkably close).

Medtner’s dark-hued Fairy Tales, too, find a potent and ideal interpreter both in malignant antics (the “Wood goblin”, Op. 34 No. 3) and subtle and elusive attributes (the Romantic Sketch: the perfect encore to keep an audience guessing). The recital is framed by two towering feats of virtuoso pianism. Mussorgsky’s Night on the Bare Mountain, arranged by Konstantin Tchernov, is as pulverizing an experience as is was at Berezovsky’s Wigmore Hall recital – allegro feroce, indeed! And Balakirev’s Islamey is tossed off at breakneck speed, its sadistic, madcap difficulties resolved like so much child’s play. I have to admit an occasional longing for a complementary glamour and character here, but in its stunningly imperious way this performance is unrivalled.

The recordings are close and airless, the accompanying notes inadequate, but there are excellent photographs of all five composers, and no piano buff should miss an awe-inspiring addition to this 27-year-old artist’s rapidly expanding discography.

-- Bryce Morrison, Gramophone

More reviews:
BBC Music Magazine PERFORMANCE: ***** / SOUND: *****
http://www.amazon.co.uk/Boris-Berezovsky-Mussorgsky/dp/B000000SP2
http://www.amazon.com/Plays-Mussorgsky-Rachmaninoff-Liadov-Medtner/dp/B000000SP2

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Boris Berezovsky (born January 4, 1969, in Moscow) is a Russian virtuoso pianist. He studied at the Moscow Conservatory with Eliso Virsaladze and privately with Alexander Satz. Berezovsky works regularly as a soloist with famous orchestras, conductors and chamber partners. He has made a considerable number of records for Teldec, and now Mirare.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boris_Berezovsky_(pianist)

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Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart - String Quartets Nos. 14-23 (Quatuor Mosaïques)


Information

Composer: Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

CD1:
  • (01-04) String Quartet No. 14 in G major "Spring", K. 387
  • (05-08) String Quartet No. 15 in D minor, K. 421 (K. 417b)
CD2:
  • (01-04) String Quartet No. 17 in B flat major "The Hunt", K. 458
  • (05-08) String Quartet No. 16 in E flat major, K. 428 (K. 421b)
CD3:
  • (01-04) String Quartet No. 18 in A major, K. 464
  • (05-08) String Quartet No. 19 in C major "Dissonance", K. 465
CD4:
  • (01-04) String Quartet No. 22 in B flat major "Prussian 2", K. 589
  • (05-08) String Quartet No. 20 in D major "Hoffmeister", K. 499
CD5
  • (01-04) String Quartet No. 21 in D major "Prussian 1", K. 575
  • (05-08) String Quartet No. 23 in F major "Prussian 3", K. 590

Quatuor Mosaïques
Erich Höbarth, violin
Andrea Bischof, violin
Anita Mitterer, viola
Christophe Coin, cello
Date: 2003 (box set)
Label: Naïve
http://www.naive.fr/oeuvre/mozart---les-quatuors-dedies-a-haydn--les-quatuors-prussiens--hoffmeister

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Review

An impeccable end to an outstanding series: precision and instinct perfectly matched

The Mosaïques’ recording of the 10 mature Mozart Quartets is completed by this release‚ so it’s time to salute an outstanding achievement. Apart from the clear‚ rich sound of the period instruments and the precise‚ beautiful tuning‚ what impresses about this Mozart playing is the care for detail‚ the way each phrase is shaped so as to fit perfectly into context while having its own expressive nuances brought out clearly. This often leads the quartet to use more rubato‚ to make more noticeable breathing spaces between sentences than many other groups do.

In the first movements of both these quartets‚ for instance‚ the Mosaïques adopt a very similar tempo and tone to the Quartetto Italiano‚ but the Italians aren’t so rhythmically flexible; though the music is beautifully shaped‚ we move continually onwards at a steady pace‚ drawing attention to the overall effect. But with the Mosaïques we’re made to listen to and appreciate the significance of each detail as it unfolds. With this approach there might be a danger of sounding contrived‚ but even when adopting a mannered style‚ as in the Minuet of K499‚ the Mosaïques retain a strong physical connection with the music’s natural pulse – by comparison the Quartetto Italiano here seem a trifle heavy and humourless. The slow movements of both quartets are taken at a flowing pace‚ making possible an unusual degree of expressive flexibility‚ achieved without any sense of hurry. All repeats are made‚ including those on the Minuet’s da capo in K499. This means that the expansive K499 lasts more than 36 minutes. The longer the better‚ as far as I’m concerned.

-- Gramophone

More reviews:
http://www.amazon.com/Mozart-String-Quartets-Quatuor-Mosaiques/dp/B0000CNTK4

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Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (27 January 1756 – 5 December 1791) was a prolific and influential composer of the Classical era. Born in Salzburg, Mozart showed prodigious ability from his earliest childhood and composed from the age of five. Till his death in Vienna, he composed over 600 works, many acknowledged as pinnacles of symphonic, concertante, chamber, operatic, and choral music. Mozart is among the most enduringly popular of classical composers.

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Quatuor Mosaïques is an Austrian string quartet, founded in 1987 by four members of the Concentus Musicus Wien, playing on historical musical instruments. The Quatuor’s discography includes works by Arriaga, Beethoven, Boccherini, Boëly, Haydn, Jadin, Mendelssohn, Mozart and Schubert. Their Haydn recordings have received critical acclaim, including several Gramophone Awards.

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