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

George Enescu - Works for Violin & Piano (Remus Azoitei; Eduard Stan)


Information

Composer: George Enescu

CD1:
  • (01-10) Impressions d'Enfance, Op. 28
  • (11) "Torso" Sonata in A minor: Moderato
  • (12-14) Violin Sonata No. 2 in F minor, Op. 6
CD2:
  • (01-03) Violin Sonata No. 3 in A minor "dans le caractère populaire roumain", Op. 25
  • (04) Ballade
  • (05) Impromptu concertant
  • (06) Andante malinconico
  • (07) Tarantelle
  • (08) Hora Unirei
  • (9-11) Violin Sonata No. 1 in D major, Op. 2

Remus Azoitei, violin
Eduard Stan, piano
Date: 2005 (CD1), 2006 (CD2)
Label: Hänssler

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Review

A touch of racy Romanian fire in this appealing violin-and-piano repertoire

Like Béla Bartók, Romanian composer-violinist-pianist George Enescu wrote violin music from a fairly early age, even earlier in fact: both the Ballade and Tarantella that feature on the second disc of this admirable survey are the products of a prodigiously gifted 14-year-old. Both are world premiere recordings, forming part of a sequence of unusual short pieces that includes a racy Hora Unirei from 1917 (like an offbeat waltz), a playful Impromptu concertant (1903) and a brief but harmonically pungent Andante malinconico that Enescu wrote for a sight-reading competition just four years before he died. All five miniatures showcase the refined but vibrant performing style of Remus Azoitei, a distinctive player whose sound world echoes Enescu’s own, as did Sherban Lupu’s on an earlier, somewhat less comprehensive survey of Enescu violin works (Electrecord, 8/01), which included the uncompleted Caprice roumain for violin and orchestra which Enescu had been working on between 1925 and 1949.

Azoitei’s pianist Eduard Stan is memorably supple in terms of both rhythm and touch, vital attributes in the last and greatest of the violin works, the Third Sonata, with its tricky transitions, complex but spirited dance sequences and fiery climaxes, especially in the finale. Other partnerships have triumphed here too, not least Yehudi and Hepzibah Menuhin, Lupu and Valentin Gheorghiu, and Christian Ferras with Pierre Barbizet, but Azoitei and Stan combine temperament, mastery of idiom and executive elegance in a very special way. They shape the music beautifully, so that what in some hands sounds like mere extended improvisation (a desirable attribute admittedly) also parades discernable form.

The five larger works all come off exceptionally well. Regarding the folky and atmospheric Impressions d’enfance I’ve previously written in these pages of Sherban Lupu’s “quietly sighing bow, like the breathy frame favoured by certain jazz saxophonists…and his mastery of gypsy-style devices”. Azoitei’s playing is less “breathy” but no less sweet; like Lupu, he gives the impression of controlled rhapsodising, and so does his pianist. The earliest larger-scale work here is the First Sonata, another teenage essay, confident and fitfully memorable though predictably derivative, with Schumann coming most often to mind. Carl Flesch described the Second Sonata (1899) as “one of the most important works of all sonata literature, whose neglect is totally unjustifiable”. Flesch died in 1944 and it’s sad to relate that even nowadays this attractive Sonata, with its discernible echoes of César Franck, is hardly more familiar than it was then. Yes it is a fine piece, one that Enescu himself recorded (with Lipatti), but the Third is a must-have masterpiece that the Torso Sonata in A minor (1911), a work that approaches Chausson’s Poème in scale and expressive power, clearly anticipates. Again, the performances are richly responsive and tastefully phrased, the recorded sound excellent. So if the repertoire appeals, no need to look any further: this is a first-rate collection, although Lupu is also worth searching out, maybe as a supplementary purchase, especially for that orchestral Caprice roumain.

-- Rob Cowan, Gramophone

More reviews:
http://www.musicweb-international.com/classrev/2014/Nov14/Enescu_violin_98035.htm
http://www.amazon.com/George-Enescu-Complete-Works-Violin/dp/B00JS29MF0
http://www.classicalsource.com/db_control/db_cd_review.php?id=4572
http://www.thestrad.com/cpt-reviews/enescu-complete-works-for-violin-and-piano-vol-1-violin-sonata-in-a-minor-torso-violin-sonata-no-2-in-f-minor-impressions-denfance-op-28/
http://www.allmusic.com/album/george-enescu-complete-works-for-violin-piano-vol-2-mw0001872659

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George Enescu (19 August 1881 – 4 May 1955) was a Romanian composer, violinist, pianist, conductor, and teacher, regarded as one of the greatest composers of the 20th century and Romania's most important musician. Many of Enescu's works were influenced by Romanian folk music. Although primarily performed as violinist, Enescu was also a very fine pianist and conductor. He was a noted violin teacher, with Yehudi Menuhin, Christian Ferras, Ivry Gitlis, Arthur Grumiaux, Serge Blanc, Ida Haendel and Joan Field were among his pupils.

***

Remus Azoitei is a Romanian violinist who now lives in London. He is violin professor at the Royal Academy of Music and Artistic Director of the Enescu Society in London. performs on a violin made by Niccolo Gagliano in 1735. Azoitei and pianist Eduard Stan recorded together the first ever entire repertoire for violin and piano by George Enescu.

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George Enescu - Piano Trio; Piano Quintet; Aria and Scherzino (Remus Azoitei; The Schubert Ensemble)


Information

Composer: George Enescu
  1. Piano Quintet in A minor, Op. 29: I. Con moto molto moderato -
  2. Piano Quintet in A minor, Op. 29: Andante sostenuto e cantabile
  3. Piano Quintet in A minor, Op. 29: II. Vivace, ma non troppo -
  4. Piano Quintet in A minor, Op. 29: L'istesso tempo
  5. Piano Trio in A minor: I. Allegro moderato
  6. Piano Trio in A minor: II. Allegretto con variazioni. Allegretto moderato
  7. Piano Trio in A minor: III. Andante - Vivace amabile
  8. Aria and Scherzino (ed. Scherban Lupu): Aria. Lent (in D minor)
  9. Aria and Scherzino (ed. Scherban Lupu): Scherzino. Assez vif (in B minor)

The Schubert Ensemble
Simon Blendis violin
Alexandra Wood violin
Douglas Paterson viola
Jane Salmon cello
Peter Buckoke double-bass
William Howard piano
&
Remus Azoitei, violin (8, 9)
Date: 2012 (5-7), 2013
Label: Chandos
http://chandos.net/details06.asp?CNumber=CHAN%2010790

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Review

All of the works on this disc have been recorded before, though not often. The Piano Trio in A Minor, in a performance by the Brancusi Trio on Zig-Zag Territoires, received strong recommendations from Radu Lelutiu, Peter Rabinowitz, and yours truly, all in 35:6, and subsequently made Rabinowitz’s 2012 Want List.

This new recording of the Trio featuring members of the estimable Schubert Ensemble, a group whose virtues I’ve extolled in prior issues, gives the Brancusi a good run for its money. I have to confess that in auditioning the Brancusi’s CD for review, the overly resonant piano, which Lelutiu mentioned, didn’t particularly register with me. But now that I’m able to compare it to this new Chandos recording, I realize what Lelutiu meant. The Schubert’s players in this new release are better balanced, resulting in a sound that’s more pellucid. I wouldn’t necessarily say that the Schubert’s performance is better than the Brancusi’s, but, as noted in all three reviews, Enescu’s A-Minor Trio (1911–1916) represents a break from his earlier works, and its harmonic densities and contrapuntal textures are more audibly penetrated by Chandos’s clearer, more transparent recording.

The A-Minor Piano Quintet, a much later work dating from 1940, had to wait almost a quarter of a century for its first performance, which took place in 1964, nine years after Enescu’s death. This relatively late score in Enescu’s catalog seems to return to the composer’s Romantic roots and to his studies with Gabriel Fauré. The French influence is strongly felt, but the music’s Gallic urbane fluency is met with an earthier Romanian robustness, resulting in a rare blend of aloof refinement and fiery passion.

Martin Anderson, who reviewed a recording of the Quintet performed by the Solomon Ensemble in 27:2, may have been right when he said that “George Enescu is the greatest 20th-century composer whose greatness is not generally recognized.” Whether that’s so or not, I can’t say—there may be other candidates equally worthy of such ranking—but Enescu’s sole Piano Quintet is, in my opinion, a masterpiece. I don’t have the Solomon version on Naxos reviewed by Anderson, but I do have Gidon Kremer’s Kremerata Baltica recording on Nonesuch, coupled with Enescu’s C-Major Octet. I’ve never been a Kremer fan; his playing is too aggressive and acerbic sounding for my taste. So, the Schubert Ensemble’s performance on this new release comes as a welcome replacement. The players find the perfect balance and blend between the music’s earlier mentioned refinement and passion.

The Aria and Scherzino is the earliest work on the disc, dating back to 1908, and it too, like the Quintet, was never performed during the composer’s lifetime. In two very brief movements lasting a combined total of five-and-a-half minutes, the piece is said to be partly inspired by Romanian folkdances and, once again, the influence of Enescu’s teacher Fauré—at least according to the album note. The folk-dance part is evident in the Scherzino , which is clearly a spirited, rhythmically propelled piece, but I’m afraid I don’t hear Fauré in the rather too schmaltzy Aria , which somehow suggests to me what Elgar’s Sospiri would sound like if it were arranged by Wolf-Ferrari for the soundtrack of a soap opera. Perhaps the reason it was never performed in Enescu’s lifetime is because he was embarrassed at having written it.

That said, Romanian-born violinist Remus Azoitei, a student of Itzhak Perlman and Julliard’s Dorothy DeLay, wrings from the solo part every last drop of tearful heartbreak in the Aria , and in the Scherzino , Azoitei springs into action with playing that’s as sprightly and flamboyant, in a good way, as it was sentimental, in a way that fit the music, in the Aria.

I can’t recall a time that the Schubert Ensemble has disappointed me, and their performances on this disc are no exception. This is a significant addition to Enescu’s chamber music discography, and a beautifully produced recording that is strongly recommended to all.

-- Jerry Dubins, FANFARE

More reviews:
http://www.gramophone.co.uk/review/enescu-piano-trio-piano-quintet
http://www.classical-music.com/review/enescu-quintet-minor-trio-minor-aria-and-scherzino
http://www.musicweb-international.com/classrev/2013/Dec13/Enescu_quintet_CHAN10790.htm
http://www.thestrad.com/cpt-reviews/enescu-piano-quintet-op-29-piano-trio-in-a-minor-aria-and-scherzino/

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George Enescu (19 August 1881 – 4 May 1955) was a Romanian composer, violinist, pianist, conductor, and teacher, regarded as one of the greatest composers of the 20th century and Romania's most important musician. Many of Enescu's works were influenced by Romanian folk music. Although primarily performed as violinist, Enescu was also a very fine pianist and conductor. He was a noted violin teacher, with Yehudi Menuhin, Christian Ferras, Ivry Gitlis, Arthur Grumiaux, Serge Blanc, Ida Haendel and Joan Field were among his pupils.

***

Remus Azoitei is a Romanian violinist who now lives in London. He is violin professor at the Royal Academy of Music and Artistic Director of the Enescu Society in London. performs on a violin made by Niccolo Gagliano in 1735. Azoitei and pianist Eduard Stan recorded together the first ever entire repertoire for violin and piano by George Enescu.

***

The Schubert Ensemble of London (formed 1983 in London) is a popular quintet with an unusual makeup: a standard piano quartet with the addition of a double bass player. The current membership of the group is as follows: William Howard (piano), Simon Blendis (violin), Jane Salmon (cello), Douglas Paterson (viola), and Peter Buckoke (double bass).

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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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Various Composers - The Legacy of Dinu Lipatti


Information

CD1:
  • (01-06) Bach - Partita for keyboard No. 1 in B flat major, BWV 825
  • (07) Bach - Nun komm der Heiden Heiland, chorale prelude, BWV 599 (arr. Busoni)
  • (08) Bach - Ich ruf zu dir, Herr Jesu Christ, chorale prelude, BWV 639 (arr. Busoni)
  • (09) Bach - Chorale: Jesu bleibet meine Freude (from Cantata BWV 147) (arr. Hess)
  • (10) Bach - Siciliana (from Sonata No. 2 for flute & harpsicord, BWV 1031) (arr. Kempff)
  • (11) Scarlatti - Sonata for keyboard in E major, K. 380 (L. 23) "Cortège"
  • (12) Scarlatti - Sonata for keyboard in D minor, K. 9 (L. 413) "Pastorale"
  • (13-15) Mozart - Piano Sonata No. 8 in A minor, K. 310
  • (16) Schubert - Impromptu for piano in G flat major, D. 899 No. 3 (Op. 90 No. 3)
  • (17) Schubert - Impromptu for piano in E flat major, D. 899 No. 2 (Op. 90 No. 2)
CD2:
  • (01-03) Schumann - Piano Concerto in A minor, Op. 54
  • (04-06) Mozart - Piano Concerto No. 21 in C major, K. 467
CD3:
  • (01-03) Grieg - Piano Concerto in A minor, Op. 16
  • (04-06) Chopin - Piano Concerto No. 1 in E minor, Op.11
CD4:
  • (01-04) Chopin - Piano Sonata No. 3 in B minor, Op. 58, CT. 203
  • (05) Liszt - Années de pèlerinage II - Italie, S. 161: 5. Sonetto 104 del Petrarca
  • (06) Ravel - Miroirs: 4. Alborada del Gracioso
  • (07) Brahms - 16 Waltzes for piano 4 hands, Op. 39: Nos. 1, 2, 5, 6, 10, 14 & 15
  • (08-10) Enescu - Piano Sonata No. 3 in D major, Op. 24 No. 3
CD5:
  • (01-14) Chopin - 14 Waltzes
  • (15) Chopin - Etude No. 17 in E minor, Op. 25 No. 5
  • (16) Chopin - Etude No. 5 in G flat major, Op. 10 No. 5
  • (17) Chopin - Barcarolle in F sharp major, Op. 60
  • (18) Chopin - Nocturne No. 8 in D flat major, Op. 27 No. 2
  • (19) Chopin - Mazurka No. 32 in C sharp minor, Op. 50 No. 3

Dinu Lipatti, piano
Philharmonia Orchestra; Herbert von Karajan (Schumann Op. 54)
Lucerne Festival Orchestra; Herbert von Karajan (Mozart K 467)
Philharmonia Orchestra; Alceo Galliera (Grieg Op. 16)
Tonhalle-Orchester Zürich; Otto Ackermann (Chopin Op.11)
Nadia Boulanger, piano (Brahms Op. 39)
Date: 1937-1950
Label: EMI

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Dinu Lipatti (1 April [O.S. 19 March] 1917 – 2 December 1950) was a Romanian classical pianist and composer whose career was cut short by his death from causes related to Hodgkin's disease at age 33. Lipatti's piano playing was, and is, widely appreciated for the absolute purity of his interpretations, at the service of which he used a masterful pianistic technique.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dinu_Lipatti

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Wednesday, December 16, 2015

George Enescu - Piano Sonata No. 1; Suite No. 2 (Matei Varga)


Information

Composer: George Enescu
  1. Piano Sonata No. 1 in F sharp minor, Op. 24 No. 1: I. Allegro molto moderato e grave
  2. Piano Sonata No. 1 in F sharp minor, Op. 24 No. 1: II. Presto vivace
  3. Piano Sonata No. 1 in F sharp minor, Op. 24 No. 1: III. Andante molto espressivo
  4. Pièces impromptues, Op. 18: VI. Choral: Moderato, non troppo lento
  5. Pièces impromptues, Op. 18: VII. Carillon nocturne: L’istesso tempo (Moderato, non troppo lento)
  6. Suite No. 2 in D major, Op. 10: I. Toccata
  7. Suite No. 2 in D major, Op. 10: II. Sarabande
  8. Suite No. 2 in D major, Op. 10: III. Pavane
  9. Suite No. 2 in D major, Op. 10: IV. Bourrée

Matei Varga, piano
Date: 2008
Label: Naxos
http://www.naxos.com/catalogue/item.asp?item_code=8.572120

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Review

The rediscovery of Eastern European repertoires from the first half of the 20th century continues to yield treasures, and here is a new set. Romanian composer George Enescu remains mostly known for his Romanian Rhapsodies (2) for orchestra, but between the world wars he was known, respected, and followed all over Europe, by Ravel among others. Enescu's little-heard piano music has been recorded in toto by Luiza Borac, but those wanting a single disc at the attractive Naxos price would do well to pick up this selection of diverse works recorded by the young Romanian American Matei Varga. Enescu's models were the French impressionists, but his voice is unique, with a dedication to sheer knotty complexity that was alien to French music. The Choral from the Pièces Impromptues, Op. 18, makes a good place to start: it develops a large structure in an unbroken arc from the chorale-like material stated at the beginning. The same sense of the long line is present in the first movement of the Piano Sonata No. 1, Op. 24/1, composed in 1924; its tempo indication, Allegro molto moderato e grave, gives an idea of its constantly shifting harmonies and tempi. It's an extraordinary piece that copies no school, constantly surprises the listener, and yet seems to hang ineluctably together. The Suite No. 2 in D major, Op. 10, partakes of the neo-Baroque strain present in the music of Debussy and Ravel, but again is entirely different in effect, with dense harmonic complications enveloping the stately Sarabande and Pavane. The folk strain in Enescu's music is only hinted at (in the sonata's last two movements), but it is well known from elsewhere, and this fine recording, with a pianist fully on top of the rather punishing and never showy virtuosity required by Enescu's music, is likely to whet the listener's attention for more of it. With top-notch engineering from New York's Patrych Sound Studios, this is a standout among Naxos' discs seeking the revival of lost national repertories.

-- James Manheim, AllMusic

More reviews:
http://www.naxos.com/reviews/reviewslist.asp?catalogueid=8.572120&languageid=EN
http://www.amazon.com/Piano-Sonata-No-Suite/dp/B0040MF252

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George Enescu (19 August 1881 – 4 May 1955) was a Romanian composer, violinist, pianist, conductor, and teacher, regarded as one of the greatest composers of the 20th century and Romania's most important musician. Many of Enescu's works were influenced by Romanian folk music. Although primarily performed as violinist, Enescu was also a very fine pianist and conductor. He was a noted violin teacher, with Yehudi Menuhin, Christian Ferras, Ivry Gitlis, Arthur Grumiaux, Serge Blanc, Ida Haendel and Joan Field were among his pupils.

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Matei Varga (born in Bucharest in 1980) is a Romanian pianist. Varga is a prizewinner of numerous international competitions, among them the Maria Canals Competition in Barcelona, the Porto International Piano Competition, and the George Enescu Competition in Bucharest, where he was also awarded a special prize for the best performance of Enescu’s Piano Sonata, Op. 24.
http://www.classicalconnect.com/Matei_Varga/2711
http://www.naxos.com/person/Matei_Varga/106436.htm
http://www.mateivarga.com

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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.

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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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