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Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Various Composers - Great Works for Flute and Orchestra (Sharon Bezaly)


Information

Composer: Carl Nielsen; Charles Tomlinson Griffes; Carl Reinecke; Cécile Chaminade; Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky; Francis Poulenc; Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov
  1. Nielsen - Concerto for Flute and Orchestra, FS 119: I. Allegro moderato
  2. Nielsen - Concerto for Flute and Orchestra, FS 119: II. Allegretto, un poco
  3. Griffes - Poem for Flute and Orchestra: Andantino
  4. Reinecke - Concerto for Flute and Orchestra in D major, Op. 283: I. Allegro molto moderato
  5. Reinecke - Concerto for Flute and Orchestra in D major, Op. 283: II. Lento e mesto
  6. Reinecke - Concerto for Flute and Orchestra in D major, Op. 283: III. Finale. Moderato
  7. Chaminade - Concertino for Flute and Orchestra, Op. 107: Moderato
  8. Tchaikovsky - Largo and Allegro for two flutes and strings (adapted by Ernest Sauter for solo flute and strings)
  9. Poulenc - Flute Sonata (orch. Lennox Berkeley): I. Allegro malinconico
  10. Poulenc - Flute Sonata (orch. Lennox Berkeley): II. Cantilena. Assez lent
  11. Poulenc - Flute Sonata (orch. Lennox Berkeley): III. Presto giocoso
  12. Rimsky-Korsakov - The Flight of the Bumblebee (arr. Kalevi Aho, dedicated to Sharon Bezaly): Presto

Sharon Bezaly, flute
Residentie Orkest Den Haag
Neeme Järvi, conductor
Date: 2013
Label: BIS
http://bis.se/label/bis/great-works-for-flute-and-orchestra

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Review

Bezaly in The Hague for concertante flute works

The adjective ‘great’ in the title of this disc perhaps needs some qualification in one or two cases but without question the concerto that Nielsen wrote in 1926 merits the supreme artistry that Sharon Bezaly brings to it, both in terms of deft, discerningly harnessed virtuosity and in her supple, sinuous shaping of the music. Neeme Järvi and the Residentie Orkest Den Haag astutely etch in the lively, spicy instrumental context and commentary for a performance that has a real sparkle and strength. The other substantial work here is Carl Reinecke’s D major Concerto of 1908, which in its tone makes amends for the fact that Brahms never wrote a concerto for flute. The gorgeous Concertino of 1902 by Cécile Chaminade offers potential both for effervescence and for endearing lyricism, Bezaly demonstrating here that she would have swept the board in the Paris Conservatoire’s competition for which the piece was written.

Far less well known is the little Largo and Allegro that Tchaikovsky wrote in his early twenties, originally for strings and two flutes but here done in an arrangement for one flute by Ernest Sauter: it is scarcely a masterpiece but intriguingly harbours traits that were to be manifested more fully in maturity. A shadowy, reflective, airy Poem of 1918 by Charles Griffes contrasts with the genial Flute Sonata by Poulenc, in Lennox Berkeley’s orchestration, and Kalevi Aho’s delightful arrangement of Rimsky-Korsakov’s Flight of the Bumble Bee ensures that this showcase for Bezaly’s radiant talents ends with a buzz.

-- Geoffrey Norris, Gramophone

More reviews:
http://www.musicweb-international.com/classrev/2013/Oct13/Great_flute_BISSACD1679.htm
http://www.musicweb-international.com/classrev/2013/Dec13/Great_flute_BISSACD1679.htm
http://www.allmusic.com/album/great-works-for-flute-orchestra-mw0002554164
https://www.amazon.com/Great-Works-Orchestra-Sharon-Bezaly/dp/B00D9DSVZQ

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Sharon Bezaly (born 1972) is a flutist. Bezaly was born in Israel, but lives presently in Sweden. She has been an international star since 1997, when she began her solo flute career. She made her solo debut at 13 with Zubin Mehta and the Israel Philharmonic, and has appeared with leading symphony and chamber orchestras in Japan, China, Israel, Central and Western Europe, England, North and South America, Australia and Scandinavia. Her flute was made by Muramatsu Flutes out of 24-karat gold. Bezaly has released 24 award-winning CDs with the Swedish record company BIS.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sharon_Bezaly
http://sharonbezaly.se/

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Cécile Chaminade - Piano Works (Eric Parkin)


Information

Composer: Cécile Chaminade
  1. Pierrette (Air de Ballet), Op. 41 (Allegretto)
  2. Contes blues, Op. 122: No. 2 in G major (Andante sostenuto)
  3. Minuetto, Op. 23 (Allegro)
  4. Danse créole, Op. 94 (Allegretto)
  5. Sérénade, Op. 29 (Moderato)
  6. Air de Ballet, Op. 30 (Allegro)
  7. 6 Romances sans paroles, Op. 76: 1. Souvenance (Andantino)
  8. 6 Romances sans paroles, Op. 76: 3. Idylle (Allegro moderato)
  9. 6 Romances sans Paroles, Op. 76: 6. Meditation (Lento)
  10. 6 Pièces humoristiques, Op. 87: 4. Autrefois (Andante - Allegro vivo - Tempo I)
  11. Guitare, Op. 32 (Allegretto)
  12. Sous le masque, Op. 116 (Allegro capriccioso)
  13. Suite for solo piano, Op. 20b: 2. Pas des Sylphes (Intermezzo. Andate - Più mosso, quasi - Allegretto - Andante - Tempo I)
  14. 6 Études de concert, Op. 35: 2. Automne (Lento - Con fuoco - Tempo I)
  15. La lisonjera (L'Enjôleuse), Op. 50 (Moderato molto capriccioso)
  16. Air à danser, Op. 164 (Ben tranquillo)
  17. 5 Airs de Ballet (from Callirhoë), Op. 37b: 2. Pas des Écharpes (Troisième Air de Ballet)
  18. Toccata, Op. 39 (Presto)
  19. 6 Feuillets d'Album, Op. 98: 4. Valse Arabesque (Allegro vivo capriccioso ben cantando)
  20. Lolita (Caprice espagnol), Op. 54 (Allegro vivo)

Eric Parkin, piano
Date: 1990
Label: Chandos
https://www.chandos.net/products/catalogue/CHAN%208888

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Review

''Instead of writing an indifferent symphony or quartet which no one wants and which you'd have to wait ages to hear performed,'' I remember a trenchantly clear-headed professor of composition saying, ''why not a piece of good light music? It takes every bit as much skill, and it'd give a damn sight more enjoyment to more people.'' Such sound advice is only too rarely followed, and there is in general a regrettable tendency to look down the nose patronizingly at composers who, however gifted, make no intellectual demands but set out only to please or charm. One such was Cecile Chaminade, about whom dictionaries are often sniffy, referring offhandedly to her ''salon music''—though besides her numerous piano pieces she in fact wrote an opera, a ballet, a symphony with chorus, several orchestral suites and a Concertstuckfor piano and orchestra rather oddly labelled as ''in C sharp and D flat''.

If her music reveals some genes from Chopin and Schumann, well, there are worse models; and her melodic fluency, harmonic invention, freedom of key movement and pianistic resource are by no means to be derogated. There is distinctive charm here in, for example, the Serenade and the Meditation, but everything is not merely pretty or mild-mannered: there is considerable variety—agreeably teasing rhythms inGuitare, effectively written climactic passages (as in the habanera-like Danse creole and the Valse arabesque), real bravura in the well-known Automne and brilliance in the Toccata and the middle section of Autrefois. It would be hard to find a more sympathetic interpreter than Eric Parkin, who catches Chaminade's lyrical grace without lapsing into sentimentality and perfectly judges the delicate rubato required. The recorded piano tone is excellent, though ideally a more intimate acoustic than the empty Maltings at Snape might have been appropriate.

-- Lionel Salter, Gramophone


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Cécile Chaminade (8 August 1857 – 13 April 1944) was a French composer and pianist, one of the relatively few women composers of her time to achieve great popularity. She was a regular on British concert stages and a big hit in America. Chaminade was relegated to obscurity for the second half of the 20th century, her piano pieces and songs mostly forgotten. The Flute Concertino in D major, Op. 107 is her most popular piece today.

***

Eric Parkin (born 1924 in Stevenage, Hertfordshire, England) is an English pianist. Parkin studied at Trinity College of Music in London. His teachers were the distinguished Anglo-French pianist Frank Laffitte and Professor George Oldroyd. He made his debut in London in 1948. Eric Parkin’s musical sympathies are wide, ranging from J.S. Bach through the Classical and Romantic repertoire to much 20th century repertoire. Parkin has recorded many albums for Chandos.

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Monday, September 26, 2016

Cécile Chaminade - Piano Works Vol. 3 (Peter Jacobs)


Information

Composer: Cécile Chaminade
  1. 3 Préludes mélodiques, Op. 84: No. 3 in D minor
  2. Pièces romantiques, Op. 55c: 3. Rigaudon
  3. Les sylvains, Op. 60
  4. Valse-ballet "Sixième valse", Op. 112
  5. 6 Pièces humoristiques, Op. 87: 3. Inquiétude
  6. Arabesque, Op. 61
  7. Troisième valse brillante, Op. 80
  8. Piano Sonata in C minor, Op. 21: 1. Allegro appassionato
  9. Piano Sonata in C minor, Op. 21: 2. Andante
  10. Piano Sonata in C minor, Op. 21: 3. Allegro
  11. Album des enfants, Op. 126 (deuxième série): 1. Idylle
  12. Album des enfants, Op. 123 (première  série): 5. Gavotte
  13. Album des enfants, Op. 123 (première  série): 4. Rondeau
  14. Album des enfants, Op. 123 (première  série): 9. Orientale
  15. Album des enfants, Op. 126 (deuxième série): 2. Aubade
  16. Album des enfants, Op. 126 (deuxième série): 9. Patrouille
  17. Album des enfants, Op. 126 (deuxième série): 10. Villanelle
  18. Album des enfants, Op. 123 (première  série): 10. Tarentelle
  19. Poèmes provençales, Op. 127: 3. Le passé
  20. Sérénade espagnole, Op. 150
  21. Quatrième valse, Op. 91
  22. Cortège "Fragment", Op. 143

Peter Jacobs, piano
Date: 1995
Label: Hyperion
http://www.hyperion-records.co.uk/dc.asp?dc=D_CDH55199

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Review

It is symptomatic of the present day that, when many people find contemporary music browfurrowing, if not repellent, there should be a ready market for music from an earlier age that makes no bid for profundity but is undemandingly agreeable. Cecile Chaminade's works are enjoying something of a comeback, with recordings now available not only of her voluminous piano output (from Eric Parkin on Chandos as well as the more wholesale Peter Jacobs) but of her piano trios and Flute Concerto; and her craftsmanship, talent for graceful melodic inventiveness, easy natural charm and effective keyboard writing are indisputable even by those whose tastes are for more elaborate or more solid fare.

This latest volume from Peter Jacobs offers eight of her children's pieces of Opp. 123 and 126 — small but far from the conventional pap so often palmed off on children, as is shown by the scintillating Tarantelle (which is not all that easy!). There are more substantial concert works here too: the emotional Le passe, the once very popular Sèrenade espagnole which Kreisler took up, and the immensely engaging Troisieme Valse brillante. Since Chaminade is usually thought of as a miniaturist, however, the big eye-opener here is a relatively early C minor Sonata which, if not a masterpiece, reveals that as well as knowing her Chopin and Schumann she had a firm sense of form and an enviable abundance of ideas; the lyrical Andante is unexpectedly thoughtful, and the spirited finale goes well beyond Norman Demuth's rather patronizing remark that she was "nearly a genius who knew what and how to write for pianists of moderate ability" — which perhaps is best exemplified here in a brilliant D minor Prelude that sounds harder than it is.

As in the previous volumes (9/92 and 11/94), Peter Jacobs shows himself to be fluent, clean-fingered, elegantly delicate where required, and able to invest the music with fine nuances of tone and pace — an ideal interpreter of Chaminade.

-- Lionel Salter, Gramophone [11/1996]

More reviews:

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Cécile Chaminade (8 August 1857 – 13 April 1944) was a French composer and pianist, one of the relatively few women composers of her time to achieve great popularity. She was a regular on British concert stages and a big hit in America. Chaminade was relegated to obscurity for the second half of the 20th century, her piano pieces and songs mostly forgotten. The Flute Concertino in D major, Op. 107 is her most popular piece today.

***

Peter Jacobs (born August 17, 1945 in London) is an English pianist. Jacobs was educated at the Royal Academy of Music in London, where he studied piano with Alexander Kelley and harmony with Eric Fenby. Jacobs has etched out a career built largely on the performance of works by lesser-known and neglected English and French composers of the late 19th and 20th centuries. He has made numerous recordings for several labels, including Hyperion, Olympia, Continuum, Priory Records UK, and Altarus.
http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Bio/Jacobs-Peter.htm

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Cécile Chaminade - Piano Works Vol. 2 (Peter Jacobs)


Information

Composer: Cécile Chaminade
  1. Arlequine, Op. 53
  2. Pièce romantique, Op. 9 No. 1
  3. 6 Romances sans paroles, Op. 76: 5. Chanson bretonne
  4. Divertissement, Op. 105
  5. 6 Pièces humoristiques, Op. 87: 5. Consolation
  6. Passacaille, Op. 130
  7. Nocturne, Op. 165
  8. Scherzo-Valse, Op. 148
  9. 6 Pièces humoristiques, Op. 87: 2. Sous bois
  10. Étude symphonique, Op. 28
  11. Élégie, Op. 98
  12. Gigue, Op. 43
  13. Au pays dévasté, Op. 155
  14. Pastorale, Op. 114
  15. Libellules, Op. 24
  16. Valse tendre, Op. 119
  17. Tristesse, Op. 104
  18. 6 Études de concert, Op. 35: 5. Impromptu
  19. 6 Études de concert, Op. 35: 6. Tarantelle

Peter Jacobs, piano
Date: 1993
Label: Hyperion
http://www.hyperion-records.co.uk/dc.asp?dc=D_CDH55198

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Review

Hyperion's first volume of Jacobs playing Cecile Chaminade's piano music (9/92) must have received a rapid endorsement from CD buyers, since it has very quickly been followed by this second volume, which I confess to finding even more attractive than its predecessor.

Chaminade made no pretence at writing lofty music that made intellectual demands on the listener. Instead she concentrated on music that is conventionally harmonic, richly melodic, highly resourceful, and always thoroughly relaxed and relaxing. Nothing here shows off the warmth of her lyrical style better than the aptly named Poeme romantique, Op. 7 No. 1, which is just one of the pieces here that immediately impress. The melody is in the left hand, with quaver accompaniment in the right, a similar feature occurring also in the much later ''Sous bois'' from the Pieces humoristiques, Op. 87. At the bottom of Chaminade's style there is something undeniably Chopinesque, or indeed Lisztian in the case of the delightful ''Consolation'' from the same Op. 87 set. There is plenty of variety about Chaminade's music, too, with lots of engaging twists and some especially energetic passages in the Gigue, Op. 43 and the ''Tarantella'' from Op. 35.

Peter Jacobs has made an admirable job of selecting the contents of this second collection, not only to highlight the charm and richness of this varied output but also to avoid any duplication of Eric Parkin's Chandos collection. The Chaminade enthusiast thus now has three extended CD collections with few duplications. As for Jacobs's style, it is marvellously relaxed, enabling him to catch all the charm, warmth and lyricism of the music. One is left feeling the urge to try the pieces at the piano oneself, whilst recognizing that one would never match Jacobs's artistry. That, I suppose, is just as it should be.

-- Andrew Lamb, Gramophone

More reviews:

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Cécile Chaminade (8 August 1857 – 13 April 1944) was a French composer and pianist, one of the relatively few women composers of her time to achieve great popularity. She was a regular on British concert stages and a big hit in America. Chaminade was relegated to obscurity for the second half of the 20th century, her piano pieces and songs mostly forgotten. The Flute Concertino in D major, Op. 107 is her most popular piece today.

***

Peter Jacobs (born August 17, 1945 in London) is an English pianist. Jacobs was educated at the Royal Academy of Music in London, where he studied piano with Alexander Kelley and harmony with Eric Fenby. Jacobs has etched out a career built largely on the performance of works by lesser-known and neglected English and French composers of the late 19th and 20th centuries. He has made numerous recordings for several labels, including Hyperion, Olympia, Continuum, Priory Records UK, and Altarus.
http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Bio/Jacobs-Peter.htm

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Cécile Chaminade - Piano Works Vol. 1 (Peter Jacobs)


Information

Composer: Cécile Chaminade
  1. Chaconne, Op. 8
  2. 6 Pièces humoristiques, Op. 87: 4. Autrefois
  3. 5 Airs de Ballet (from Callirhoë), Op. 37b: 1. Pas des Amphores (Deuxième Air de Ballet)
  4. Poèmes provençales, Op. 127: 2. Solitude
  5. Romance in D major, Op. 137
  6. L'Ondine, Op. 101
  7. 6 Études de concert, Op. 35: 1. Scherzo in C major
  8. 6 Études de concert, Op. 35: 2. Automne
  9. Thème Varié in A major, Op. 89
  10. Sérénade in D major, Op. 29
  11. 6 Romances sans paroles, Op. 76: 1. Souvenance
  12. 6 Romances sans paroles, Op. 76: 2. Élévation
  13. Étude mélodique in G flat major, Op. 118
  14. Étude pathétique in B minor, Op. 124
  15. La lisonjera (L'Enjôleuse), Op. 50
  16. Valse romantique, Op. 115
  17. Poèmes provençales, Op. 127: 4. Les Pêcheurs de nuit
  18. Deuxième valse, Op. 77
  19. Étude scholastique, Op. 139

Peter Jacobs, piano
Date: 1991
Label: Hyperion
http://www.hyperion-records.co.uk/dc.asp?dc=D_CDH55197

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Review

RECORDING OF THE MONTH

For too long Cécile Chaminade’s charming, enchanting music lay forgotten, languishing below the musical radar because of two unforgivable sins. First, she composed only slight, tuneful and undemanding salon pieces and, second, she was a woman. Therefore, in the eyes of the music establishment she was beyond the pale; most dictionaries and books, either ignoring her existence or including only the briefest, supercilious entries.
Now through this recording originally released by Hyperion in 1991 we have the opportunity of assessing the undeniable worth of these exquisitely crafted little compositions. In addition there are two other volumes in the Hyperion series as well as recordings like Anne Sofie von Otter’s 2001 recital of Chaminade songs accompanied by Bengt Forsberg on DG 471 331-2. The same disc also includes five pieces for violin and piano.

Chaminade, born in Paris, was something of a musical prodigy, writing sacred music at the age of eight. Bizet, no less, noted her talent and advised her parents to ensure she had a formal musical education. But of course women were not allowed into the Paris Conservatoire; however, she was able to study piano with Le Couppey and with Savard for counterpoint, harmony and fugue and violin under Martin Marsick, a pupil of Joachim, plus composition with Benjamin Godard.

During her long life - she died in Monte Carlo in 1944 - Chaminade produced some 350 works including a comic opera, a ballet, a choral symphony (Les amazons), chamber and orchestral music and about one hundred songs. But the area in which she excelled and was the most productive was the short lyric piano piece, many of which became very popular bringing her considerable success and fame in France Britain and the USA.
As I listen to a CD, I habitually mark numbers that particularly impress me for comment in my review. On this occasion I was so charmed, that I found that I had marked practically every one of its nineteen pieces. So I will just restrict myself to mentioning just a half dozen or so.

The best known of this set is probablyAutomne.Conceived in the Romantic etude tradition of Chopin and Liszt with something, too, of an early Fauré nocturne, this gem at nearly seven minutes, the most substantial of all the numbers here, is beautifully evocative of autumnal serenity and melancholic nostalgia but not without a central stormy turbulence. I was attracted to the three Études: theÉtude mélodiquehas a most disarming Schumann-like tune while theÉtude pathétiqueis correspondingly passionate, vehement even. TheÉtude scholastiqueis hardly academic, more of a lampoon of the strict routines demanded by the conservatories; written in the Baroque style, the piece is quite a brilliant toccata with its fast triplets giving it the feel of a gigue. There are hints of Brahms and Elgar.Pêcheurs de nuit(‘Fishermen at night’) is another imposing piece. Barcarolle-like it has a sense of the sinister and the tragic as well a heroic swagger. Two lovely piecesRomance in DandSolitude,the second of Chaminade’sPoèmes provençales, and reminiscent of material used by Poulenc, are redolent of sweet melancholy.

Norman Demuth , in his study of French piano music was one of the few commentators who did have something of value to say about Chaminade, "she was nearly a genius in that she knew exactly what and how to write for pianists of moderate ability ... we wish every writer for the piano had her innate gifts and could be equally musicianly in their own ways". But ofElévation(‘Exaltation’) he was scathing, calling it ‘dreadful’. Surely a rather harsh and dismissive judgement based on the evidence of the delicacy and refinement of Peter Jacobs’s reading which reveals a charming and innocent little confection.

But I am being carried away, mentioning well over those half dozen pieces, and I must also mentionL’Ondinethe little tone picture of the water nymph, a limpid and rippling enchantment.

An undemanding and tuneful collection that will enchant all but the strictest classicists and the hardest-hearted.


More reviews:

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Cécile Chaminade (8 August 1857 – 13 April 1944) was a French composer and pianist, one of the relatively few women composers of her time to achieve great popularity. She was a regular on British concert stages and a big hit in America. Chaminade was relegated to obscurity for the second half of the 20th century, her piano pieces and songs mostly forgotten. The Flute Concertino in D major, Op. 107 is her most popular piece today.

***

Peter Jacobs (born August 17, 1945 in London) is an English pianist. Jacobs was educated at the Royal Academy of Music in London, where he studied piano with Alexander Kelley and harmony with Eric Fenby. Jacobs has etched out a career built largely on the performance of works by lesser-known and neglected English and French composers of the late 19th and 20th centuries. He has made numerous recordings for several labels, including Hyperion, Olympia, Continuum, Priory Records UK, and Altarus.

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Saturday, September 24, 2016

Carl Nielsen - Symphonies Nos. 3 & 5 (Leonard Bernstein)


Information

Composer: Carl Nielsen
  1. Symphony No. 3, Op. 27 "Sinfonia espansiva": I. Allegro Espansivo
  2. Symphony No. 3, Op. 27 "Sinfonia espansiva": II. Andante Pastorale
  3. Symphony No. 3, Op. 27 "Sinfonia espansiva": III. Allegretto Un Poco
  4. Symphony No. 3, Op. 27 "Sinfonia espansiva": IV. Finale. Allegro
  5. Symphony No. 5, Op. 50: I. Tempo Giusto - Adagio Non Troppo
  6. Symphony No. 5, Op. 50: II. Allegro - Andante Un Poco Tranquillo

Ruth Guldbaek, soprano (1-4)
Niels Moller, tenor (1-4)
Royal Danish Orchestra (1-4)
New York Philharmonic Orchestra (5, 6)
Leonard Bernstein, conductor

Date: 1962 (5, 6), 1965 (1-4)
Label: Sony Classical


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Review

ARTISTIC QUALITY: 10 / SOUND QUALITY: 7

They're still talking about Bernstein's "Espansiva" in Denmark, and with good reason. While better known for his Mahler, Bernstein's advocacy of Nielsen arguably achieved just as much, alerting music lovers beyond Denmark of a composer of international stature. Not all of Bernstein's Nielsen was equally good. His Second and Fourth symphonies are nowhere near as fine as these two, which are stunning. The "Espansiva" has all of the openhearted warmth that Nielsen requires. Bernstein's tempo in the finale is a touch slow, but grand and celebratory. The sonics were good for their day, and they still sound well.

Bernstein's reading of the Fifth is also magnificent. For sheer excitement it has never been surpassed, particularly in the second movement, which is wildly uninhibited and urgent. In the first movement, outstanding work from the solo clarinet meets a pretty terrifying snare drum cadenza at the climax. Only the sonics, which relegate the timpani to the rear of--somewhere--let the show down a bit, but the drive and communicativeness of the music-making ultimately win the day. This is a great recording, plain and simple, now available "on demand" from Arkivmusic.com.

-- David Hurwitz, ClassicsToday

More reviews:

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Carl Nielsen (9 June 1865 – 3 October 1931) was a Danish musician, conductor and violinist, widely recognized as his country's most prominent composer. Although his symphonies, concertos and choral music are now internationally acclaimed, Nielsen's career and personal life were marked by many difficulties, often reflected in his music. Nielsen maintained the reputation of an outsider during his lifetime, both in his own country and internationally. It was only later that his works firmly entered the international repertoire.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carl_Nielsen

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

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Thursday, September 22, 2016

Carl Nielsen - Symphonies Nos. 4-6; Little Suite; Hymnis Amoris (Herbert Blomstedt; Ulf Schirmer)


Information

Composer: Carl Nielsen

CD1:
  1. Symphony No. 4, Op. 29 - "The Inextinguishable": 1. Allegro
  2. Symphony No. 4, Op. 29 - "The Inextinguishable": 2. Poco allegretto
  3. Symphony No. 4, Op. 29 - "The Inextinguishable": 3. Poco adagio quasi andante
  4. Symphony No. 4, Op. 29 - "The Inextinguishable": 4. Allegro
  5. Symphony No. 5, Op. 50: 1a. Tempo giusto
  6. Symphony No. 5, Op. 50: 1b. Adagio non troppo
  7. Symphony No. 5, Op. 50: 2a. Allegro
  8. Symphony No. 5, Op. 50: 2b. Presto
  9. Symphony No. 5, Op. 50: 2c. Andante un poco tranquilo
  10. Symphony No. 5, Op. 50: 2d. Allegro
CD2:
  1. Symphony No. 6 - "Sinfonia Semplice": 1. Tempo giusto
  2. Symphony No. 6 - "Sinfonia Semplice": 2. Humoreske
  3. Symphony No. 6 - "Sinfonia Semplice": 3. Proposta Seria
  4. Symphony No. 6 - "Sinfonia Semplice": 4. Theme & Variations
  5. Little Suite, Op. 1: 1. Präludium
  6. Little Suite, Op. 1: 2. Intermezzo
  7. Little Suite, Op. 1: 3. Finale
  8. Hymnis Amoris, Op. 12: 1. Amor mihi vitam donat
  9. Hymnis Amoris, Op. 12: 2. Amor est dolor meus
  10. Hymnis Amoris, Op. 12: 3. Amor est pax mea

Barbara Bonney, soprano (CD2 8-10)
John Mark Ainsley, tenor (CD2 8)
Lars Pederson, tenor (CD2 10)
Michael W. Hanson, baritone (CD2 10)
Bo Anker Hansen, bass (CD2 10)
Copenhagen Boys' Choir (CD2 8-10)
Danish National Choir (CD2 8-10)
Danish National Symphony Orchestra, cond. Ulf Schirmer (CD2, 8-10)
San Francisco Symphony Orchestra, cond. Herbert Blomstedt

Date: 1988
Label: Decca
http://www.deccaclassics.com/us/cat/4609882

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Review

ARTISTIC QUALITY: 8 / SOUND QUALITY: 8

This is the second of two Double Decca “twofers” that contain Herbert Blomstedt’s celebrated second complete cycle of the six Carl Nielsen symphonies. The first disc features Symphonies Nos. 4 and 5, while Symphony No. 6, Little Suite for Strings, and a terrific 20-minute choral work titled Hymnus Amoris occupy disc two. The latter two works were borrowed from a separate Decca CD, never released domestically, that also contained a truly second-rate Fourth Symphony conducted by Ulf Schirmer. It was smart of Decca to include the two most successful performances from that release with the symphonies, making this reissue set by far the best value in a complete Nielsen symphony cycle–despite the fact that you can find slightly better performances of Symphonies 4 and 5. Specifically, both Sir Alexander Gibson (Chandos) and Paavo Berglund (RCA) drive home the final section of the Fourth Symphony with far greater momentum than does Blomstedt, and in the Fifth Symphony, both Leonard Bernstein (Sony) and Rafael Kubelik (EMI) allow their snaredrummers to “duke it out” against the orchestra with more vehemence during the famous first movement ad libitum cadenza. However, these are small shortcomings, especially when you throw in Decca’s generally stellar sonics, and the extra music. There’s also some glorious singing in the Hymnus Amoris–particularly from Barbara Bonney and John Mark Ainsley. All things considered, this is the way to go.

-- ClassicsToday

More reviews:
http://www.musicweb-international.com/classrev/2004/Sept04/Nielsen_Blomstedt.htm
http://www.amazon.com/Nielsen-Symphonies-Blomstedt-Francisco-Orchestra/dp/B00001X5A0

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Carl Nielsen (9 June 1865 – 3 October 1931) was a Danish musician, conductor and violinist, widely recognized as his country's most prominent composer. Although his symphonies, concertos and choral music are now internationally acclaimed, Nielsen's career and personal life were marked by many difficulties, often reflected in his music. Nielsen maintained the reputation of an outsider during his lifetime, both in his own country and internationally. It was only later that his works firmly entered the international repertoire.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carl_Nielsen

***

Herbert Blomstedt (born July 11, 1927 in Springfield, Massachusetts) is a Swedish conductor. Blomstedt is most noted for his performances of German and Austrian composers, and also as a champion of Scandinavian composers. He served as chief conductor of the Dresden Staatskapelle (1975-1985), San Francisco Symphony (1985-1995), and Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra (1998–2005), in the process making many well-regarded and awarded recordings.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Herbert_Blomstedt

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Carl Nielsen - Symphonies Nos. 1-3; Aladdin (Herbert Blomstedt)


Information

Composer: Carl Nielsen

CD1:
  1. Symphony No. 1 in G minor, Op. 7: 1. Allegro orgoglioso
  2. Symphony No. 1 in G minor, Op. 7: 2. Andante
  3. Symphony No. 1 in G minor, Op. 7: 3. Allegro comodo
  4. Symphony No. 1 in G minor, Op. 7: 4. Allegro con fuoco
  5. Symphony No. 2, Op. 16 - "The Four Temperaments": 1. Allegro collerico
  6. Symphony No. 2, Op. 16 - "The Four Temperaments": 2. Allegro comodo e flemmatico
  7. Symphony No. 2, Op. 16 - "The Four Temperaments": 3. Andante malincolico
  8. Symphony No. 2, Op. 16 - "The Four Temperaments": 4. Allegro sanguineo
CD2:
  1. Symphony No. 3, Op. 27 - "Espansiva": 1. Allegro espansivo
  2. Symphony No. 3, Op. 27 - "Espansiva": 2. Andante pastorale
  3. Symphony No. 3, Op. 27 - "Espansiva": 3. Allegretto un poco
  4. Symphony No. 3, Op. 27 - "Espansiva": 4. Finale - Allegro
  5. Maskarade, opera: Overture
  6. Aladdin, concert suite: 1. Oriental Festive March
  7. Aladdin, concert suite: 2. Aladdin's Dream and Dance of the Morning Mist
  8. Aladdin, concert suite: 3. Hindu Dance
  9. Aladdin, concert suite: 4. Chinese Dance
  10. Aladdin, concert suite: 5. The Marketplace at Ispahan
  11. Aladdin, concert suite: 6. Dance of the Prisoners
  12. Aladdin, concert suite: 7. Negro Dance

Nancy Wait Kromm, soprano (CD2 2)
Kevin McMillan, baritone (CD2 2)
San Francisco Symphony Chorus (CD2 10 & 12)
San Francisco Symphony Orchestra
Herbert Blomstedt, conductor

Date: 1988, 1989
Label: Decca
http://www.deccaclassics.com/us/cat/4609852


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Review

ARTISTIC QUALITY: 10 / SOUND QUALITY: 10

This is the first of two Double Decca reissues containing Herbert Blomstedt's justly praised second cycle of the complete Nielsen Symphonies. Disc one of this convenient gatefolding "twofer" contains Symphonies Nos. 1 and 2, while Symphony No. 3, the Maskarade Overture, and the highly infectious Alladin Suite (complete with optional wordless chorus) occupy the second disc. Blomstedt directs all three symphonies with just the sort of unfussy naturalness and rhythmic thrust that Nielsen's music demands. They are, one and all, outstanding performances. The Alladin Suite originally was coupled to Blomstedt's equally celebrated account of Grieg's Peer Gynt Suites. Like Grieg, Nielsen distilled his symphonic suite from a larger body of incidental music. Alladin's colorful melodies and evocative harmonies really do capture the mythical world of the Arabian Nights, and the work deserves to be much better known. Add to this mix the superb playing of the San Francisco Symphony, along with top drawer sonics from Decca, and the result is a Nielsen cycle that earns the highest possible recommendation.

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Carl Nielsen (9 June 1865 – 3 October 1931) was a Danish musician, conductor and violinist, widely recognized as his country's most prominent composer. Although his symphonies, concertos and choral music are now internationally acclaimed, Nielsen's career and personal life were marked by many difficulties, often reflected in his music. Nielsen maintained the reputation of an outsider during his lifetime, both in his own country and internationally. It was only later that his works firmly entered the international repertoire.

***

Herbert Blomstedt (born July 11, 1927 in Springfield, Massachusetts) is a Swedish conductor. Blomstedt is most noted for his performances of German and Austrian composers, and also as a champion of Scandinavian composers. He served as chief conductor of the Dresden Staatskapelle (1975-1985), San Francisco Symphony (1985-1995), and Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra (1998–2005), in the process making many well-regarded and awarded recordings.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Herbert_Blomstedt

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Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Carl Maria von Weber - Sonatas for Piano and Violin; Piano Quartet (Alexander Melnikov; Isabelle Faust)


Information

Composer: Carl Maria von Weber
  • (01-03) 6 Sonates progressives, for piano & violin obbligato, Op. 10 - No. 6 in C major
  • (04-05) 6 Sonates progressives, for piano & violin obbligato, Op. 10 - No. 3 in D mino
  • (06-07) 6 Sonates progressives, for piano & violin obbligato, Op. 10 - No. 4 in E flat major
  • (08-11) Piano Quartet in B flat major, Op. 8
  • (12-14) 6 Sonates progressives, for piano & violin obbligato, Op. 10 - No. 2 in G major
  • (15-16) 6 Sonates progressives, for piano & violin obbligato, Op. 10 - No. 5 in A major
  • (17-19) 6 Sonates progressives, for piano & violin obbligato, Op. 10 - No. 1 in F major

Alexander Melnikov, piano
Isabelle Faust, violin
Boris Faust, viola (08-11)
Wolfgang Emanuel Schmidt, cello (08-11)
Date: 2011
Label: Harmonia Mundi

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Review

Regular duo partners Faust and Melnikov record the sonatas

In the terminology of the time, these six Weber ‘progressive’ sonatas of 1810 are ‘for piano with violin obbligato’, but, if the piano does tend to take the upper hand, there would be some strange lacunae if the violin stopped playing. Here we are a long way from Der Freischütz and even further from Euryanthe and Oberon, all completed in the 1820s, but Weber’s originality and Romantic leanings are already in evidence. This is all the more true of the B flat Piano Quartet of 1809, harking back to Classical models in certain respects but, in the slow movement particularly, striving for a mode of expression that would come to fruition in the operas.

The piano-writing in the sonatas is already prescient of the effervescent fun that Weber would have in the F minor Konzertstück of 1821. The publisher who commissioned the sonatas rejected them because they were insufficiently dull, according to Weber; and when they eventually saw the light of day they were still described as being for amateurs. These would need to be advanced, agile amateurs, given the dazzle of some of the passagework, but – perhaps even more important – they would also need to have a developed aptitude for interpretation to bring out the music’s diverse characteristics and spirit in a way that the performers on this disc so entertainingly and perceptively do. Alexander Melnikov, with exuberance and sensitivity, plays a fortepiano of about 1815, and Isabelle Faust (on a Stradivarius) is his lithe, discerning and thoroughly engaging companion.

-- Geoffrey Norris, Gramophone

More reviews:
http://www.musicweb-international.com/classrev/2013/Feb13/Weber_Faust_HMC902108.htm
http://classicalsource.com/db_control/db_cd_review.php?id=10797
http://www.thestrad.com/cpt-reviews/weber-six-sonatas-op-10-piano-quartet-in-b-flat-major-op-81/
http://www.limelightmagazine.com.au/Review/345049,weber-violin-sonatas-piano-quartet-faust-melnikov.aspx
http://audaud.com/2012/12/weber-piano-quartet-in-b-flat-major-6-sonatas-isabelle-faust-violinboris-faust-viola-wolfgang-emanuel-schmidt-cello-alexander-melnikov-fortepiano-harmonia-mundi/
http://www.amazon.com/Weber-Violin-Sonatas-Nos-1-6-Quartet/dp/B009SCVJ6K

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Carl Maria von Weber (18 or 19 November 1786 – 5 June 1826) was a German composer, conductor, pianist, guitarist and critic, one of the first significant composers of the Romantic school. His operas greatly influenced the development of the Romantic opera in Germany. His composition for piano influenced composers such as Chopin, Liszt and Mendelssohn. His compositions for woodwind instruments occupy an important place in the musical repertoire. His orchestration has also been highly praised and emulated by later generations of composers.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carl_Maria_von_Weber

***

Alexander Melnikov (born 1973) is a Russian pianist. Known for his often-unusual musical and programmatic decisions, Alexander Melnikov discovered a career-long interest in historically-informed performance practice at an early age. Melnikov’s association with the label Harmonia Mundi arose through his regular recital partner, violinist Isabelle Faust.

***

Isabelle Faust (born 1972 in Esslingen) is a German violinist. She won First Prize in the 1993 Paganini Competition in Genoa, Italy. Since 1996, she has performed on the "Sleeping Beauty" Stradivarius violin of 1704, on loan from Landesbank Baden-Württemberg. Faust has won multiple awards for her recordings, mostly on Harmonia Mundi.

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Carl Maria von Weber; Gioachino Rossini - Clarinet Concertos (Charles Neidich)


Composer: Carl Maria von Weber; Gioachino Rossini
  1. Weber - Clarinet Concerto No. 1 in F minor, Op. 73: 1. Allegro
  2. Weber - Clarinet Concerto No. 1 in F minor, Op. 73: 2. Adagio ma non troppo
  3. Weber - Clarinet Concerto No. 1 in F minor, Op. 73: 3. Rondo (Allegretto)
  4. Weber - Concertino for Clarinet and Orchestra in E flat major, Op. 26: Adagio ma non troppo
  5. Weber - Concertino for Clarinet and Orchestra in E flat major, Op. 26: Andante
  6. Weber - Concertino for Clarinet and Orchestra in E flat major, Op. 26: Allegro
  7. Rossini - Introduction, Theme and Variations in E flat major: Introduzione (Andante sostenuto)
  8. Rossini - Introduction, Theme and Variations in E flat major: Tema (Allegretto)
  9. Rossini - Introduction, Theme and Variations in E flat major: Var. I (Più mosso)
  10. Rossini - Introduction, Theme and Variations in E flat major: Var. II
  11. Rossini - Introduction, Theme and Variations in E flat major: Var. III
  12. Rossini - Introduction, Theme and Variations in E flat major: Var. IV (Largo minore - Più mosso - A tempo)
  13. Rossini - Introduction, Theme and Variations in E flat major: Var. V (Maggiore)
  14. Weber - Clarinet Concerto No. 2 in E flat major, Op. 74: 1. Allegro
  15. Weber - Clarinet Concerto No. 2 in E flat major, Op. 74: 2. Romanza (Andante)
  16. Weber - Clarinet Concerto No. 2 in E flat major, Op. 74: 3. Alla Polacca

Charles Neidich, clarinet
Orpheus Chamber Orchestra
Date: 1991
Label: Deutsche Grammophon
http://www.deutschegrammophon.com/en/cat/4358752

More info & reviews:
http://www.amazon.com/Clarinet-Concerti-1-2-Concertino/dp/B000001GH6


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Carl Maria von Weber (18 or 19 November 1786 – 5 June 1826) was a German composer, conductor, pianist, guitarist and critic, one of the first significant composers of the Romantic school. His operas greatly influenced the development of the Romantic opera in Germany. His composition for piano influenced composers such as Chopin, Liszt and Mendelssohn. His compositions for woodwind instruments occupy an important place in the musical repertoire. His orchestration has also been highly praised and emulated by later generations of composers.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carl_Maria_von_Weber

***

Gioachino Rossini (29 February 1792 – 13 November 1868) was an Italian composer who wrote 39 operas as well as sacred music, chamber music, songs, and some instrumental and piano pieces. His best-known operas include the Italian comedies Il barbiere di Siviglia (The Barber of Seville) and La Cenerentola (Cinderella), and the French-language epics Moïse et Pharaon and Guillaume Tell (William Tell). A tendency for inspired, song-like melodies is evident throughout his scores, which led to the nickname "The Italian Mozart" Until his retirement in 1829, Rossini had been the most popular opera composer in history.

***

Charles Neidich (born 1953, New York City) is an American classical clarinetist, composer, and conductor. Neidich has gained worldwide recognition as one of the most mesmerizing virtuosos on his instrument. With a tone of hypnotic beauty and a dazzling technique, Mr. Neidich has received unanimous accolades from critics and fellow musicians both in the United States and abroad. He has been influential in restoring original versions of clarinet works and bringing them before the public.

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Sunday, September 18, 2016

Carl Maria von Weber - Symphonies; Bassoon Concerto (Jean-Jacques Kantorow; Jaakko Luoma)


Information

Composer: Carl Maria von Weber
  1. Symphony No. 2 in C major, J. 51: I. Allegro
  2. Symphony No. 2 in C major, J. 51: II. Adagio, ma non troppo
  3. Symphony No. 2 in C major, J. 51: III. Menuetto - Trio. Allegro
  4. Symphony No. 2 in C major, J. 51: IV. Finale. Scherzo Presto
  5. Andante e Rondo Ungarese, for bassoon and orchestra, J. 158: Andante
  6. Andante e Rondo Ungarese, for bassoon and orchestra, J. 158: Allegretto ungarese
  7. Concerto in F major, for bassoon and orchestra, J. 127: I. Allegro ma non troppo
  8. Concerto in F major, for bassoon and orchestra, J. 127: II. Adagio
  9. Concerto in F major, for bassoon and orchestra, J. 127: III. Rondo. Allegro
  10. Symphony No. 1 in C major, J. 50: I. Allegro con fuoco
  11. Symphony No. 1 in C major, J. 50: II. Andante
  12. Symphony No. 1 in C major, J. 50: III. Scherzo - Trio. Presto
  13. Symphony No. 1 in C major, J. 50: IV. Finale. Presto

Jaakko Luoma, bassoon (5-9)
Tapiola Sinfonietta
Jean-Jacques Kantorow, conductor
Date: 2009
Label: BIS
http://bis.se/composer/weber-carl-maria-von/weber-the-symphonies

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Review

There is little that can be done for Weber’s gauche, mindless early symphonies, written when he was 21. They are all sparks and bombast, with colorful surfaces but virtually no content. Single woodwinds (there are no clarinets) generally carry the tunes, passing them around the section, while strings offer some relief; brass join in for consistently loud, fanfare-like tutti. The general consensus has been to play the symphonies as fast as possible (to get them over with?). Kantorow does that too, and his 40-piece orchestra, playing modern instruments with all the snap, sparkle, and tonal panache of period practice—more so than Roy Goodman’s period-instrument Hanover Band—makes the most of the symphonies, aided by BIS ’s usual sensational recorded sound. Luoma’s bassoon stands out among the winds; Roger Norrington’s London Classical Players have better-balanced wind soloists, but the overall performances are not as precise. The Second Symphony opens this disc, beginning with a stunning two-bar fanfare; unfortunately, it never does anything with it, making the 10-minute Allegro seem endless. As if the composer immediately recognized the problem, the following three movements whiz by in a mere eight minutes. After the “final” coda and a pause, two brief pp notes from bassoon and low strings bring the proceedings to a close. Haydn did everything better, including jokes and false endings.

Concerted pieces always inspired the best from Weber: three for clarinet, three more for piano, one each for oboe and French horn. These two for bassoon are the cream of that instrument’s repertoire (there also was a kid named Mozart). Playing a bassoon built in 2000 by Wilhelm Heckel—I don’t know if he is related to the creator of the heckelphone—Luoma sails through both works with the greatest of ease, producing consistently lovely tones. Whatever happened to that grumpy old instrument that was so difficult to play?

The First Symphony comes last, probably so that its Presto finale, the most successful movement of the eight, can wind up the disc with a bang. As fine as the CD is, SACD opens up the sound, giving it more life. Trumpets and strings gain clarity and presence, which makes the winds recede slightly from the spotlight. Surround sound adds an airy feeling, but doesn’t alter the basic sound. If you must have Weber’s symphonies, this is certainly the disc to get, especially so given the bonus bassoon works. But the others mentioned also include marvelous bonuses: Melvyn Tan plays the fortepiano Konzertstück with Norrington, and Anthony Halstead plays a natural horn in the Horn Concertino with Goodman.

-- James H. North, FANFARE

More reviews:
http://www.musicweb-international.com/classrev/2010/Apr10/Weber_symphonies_bissacd1620.htm
http://www.allmusic.com/album/weber-the-symphonies-bassoon-concerto-andante-e-rondo-ungarese-mw0001406063
https://www.amazon.com/Symphonies-C-M-Von-Weber/dp/B002AS45R4

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Carl Maria von Weber (18 or 19 November 1786 – 5 June 1826) was a German composer, conductor, pianist, guitarist and critic, one of the first significant composers of the Romantic school. His operas greatly influenced the development of the Romantic opera in Germany. His composition for piano influenced composers such as Chopin, Liszt and Mendelssohn. His compositions for woodwind instruments occupy an important place in the musical repertoire. His orchestration has also been highly praised and emulated by later generations of composers.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carl_Maria_von_Weber

***

Jean-Jacques Kantorow (born 3 October 1945 in Cannes) is a French violin virtuoso and conductor. Since the 1970s he has been noted for his solo performances in a very wide range of repertoire and as a chamber music performer. His recordings have won many awards. He plays a Stradivarius attributed violin, the ‘ex-Leopold Auer’, dated 1699. In the 1980s he began a separate career as conductor.

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Carl Maria von Weber - Overtures (Wolfgang Sawallisch)


Information

Composer: Carl Maria von Weber
  1. Euryanthe, opera, Op. 81: Overture
  2. Der Beherrscher der Geister (The Ruler of the Spirits), Op. 27
  3. Abu Hassan, opera, J. 106: Overture
  4. Jubel-Ouvertüre, Op. 59
  5. Der Freischütz, opera, Op. 77: Overture
  6. Preciosa, incidental music, Op. 78: Overture
  7. Oberon, opera, J. 306: Overture

Philharmonia Orchestra
Wolfgang Sawallisch, conductor
Date: 1958
Label: EMI


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Review

This album, recorded in 1958, has held up well over the years. True, the stereo sound is somewhat dated, but the performances are wonderful and more than compensate for the slightly tubby bass. Not all of Weber’s overtures are included, for that Chandos (Järvi) gets the nod, but the most popular ones are here. Among the many merits found on this recording is the way Sawallisch has found the unique personality of each piece, the way he has illuminated Weber’s mastery of orchestration. What a pity the overtures to Peter Schmoll, Silvana, and Turandot were not included. Recorded in the days of LP, time constraints may have been a deciding factor for their exclusion.

The same seven overtures are presented on a Capriccio disc with Gustav Kuhn leading the Staatskapelle Dresden. Surprisingly, the 1985 digital sound isn’t as revealing or as immediate as EMI’s 1958 analog, although the bass on the Capriccio is more naturally rendered. Kuhn’s performances have their moments, but they seem more restrained than Sawallisch’s. A better bet is Karajan’s (DG) of Weber’s overtures preceded by Berlioz’s orchestration of Invitation to the Dance. The 1972 sound is warmer than EMI’s, although there is more resonance. Only six of the overtures are included (five are duplicates of Sawallisch’s choices) and the overture to Peter Schmoll is included. The most striking difference between the EMI and the DG discs is the smooth and elegant playing by the Berlin Philharmonic under Karajan; Sawallisch’s performances are exuberant and very often exciting. Which to choose? If you want Invitation to the Dance and Peter Schmoll, go with Karajan. If you want Jubel and Preciosa and exciting performances, pick the Sawallisch. I wouldn’t want to be without either one.

-- David L. Kirk, FANFARE

More reviews:

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Carl Maria von Weber (18 or 19 November 1786 – 5 June 1826) was a German composer, conductor, pianist, guitarist and critic, one of the first significant composers of the Romantic school. His operas greatly influenced the development of the Romantic opera in Germany. His composition for piano influenced composers such as Chopin, Liszt and Mendelssohn. His compositions for woodwind instruments occupy an important place in the musical repertoire. His orchestration has also been highly praised and emulated by later generations of composers.

***

Wolfgang Sawallisch (26 August 1923 – 22 February 2013) was a German conductor and pianist. Sawallisch has been acclaimed as an interpreter of the music of Richard Strauss. As a pianist, he accompanied a number of prominent singers in lieder, including Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau, Dame Elisabeth Schwarzkopf and Dame Margaret Price. He has also been acclaimed for his interpretations of the symphonies of Anton Bruckner.

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Friday, September 16, 2016

Carl Maria von Weber - Piano Concertos; Konzertstück (Nikolai Demidenko)


Information

Composer: Carl Maria von Weber
  1. Piano Concerto No. 1 in C major, Op. 11: I. Allegro
  2. Piano Concerto No. 1 in C major, Op. 11: II. Adagio
  3. Piano Concerto No. 1 in C major, Op. 11: III. Presto
  4. Piano Concerto No. 2 in E-flat major, Op. 32: I. Allegro maestoso
  5. Piano Concerto No. 2 in E-flat major, Op. 32: II. Adagio
  6. Piano Concerto No. 2 in E-flat major, Op. 32: III. Rondeau. Presto
  7. Konzertstück in F minor, Op. 79: I. Larghetto affettuoso - attacca:
  8. Konzertstück in F minor, Op. 79: II. Allegro passionato - attacca:
  9. Konzertstück in F minor, Op. 79: III. Tempo di Marcia - attacca:
  10. Konzertstück in F minor, Op. 79: IV. Più mosso - Presto giojoso

Nikolai Demidenko, piano
Scottish Chamber Orchestra
Charles Mackerras, conductor

Date: 1994
Label: Hyperion
http://www.hyperion-records.co.uk/dc.asp?dc=D_CDA66729

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Review

This trilogy represents a breath of fresh air and a delight to hear amongst the repertoire of romantic piano concertos generally. Only over the last decade has an interest been shown in recording these works. One good early (1993) recording has appeared in turn on a number of budget labels from ZYX Classics to VOX with Hamburger Symphoniker under Köhler and can be used as a benchmark for this Hyperion version. It is understandable that someone like Mackerras with a deep interest in the romantic masters would find the recording of these sumptuous works irresistible.

Weber was only basically educated in music by his father before sending him to Michael Haydn in Salzburg for more serious study. Weber became an excellent pianist and undertook tours throughout Germany, His own piano music was of a standard comparable with that of the great Beethoven and although he could have followed Mozart as a model, he explored new directions and was equally imaginative in his compositions such as the ones found here. As the CD notes state, he took advantage of his gift for pearling runs and athletic leaps, thirds and sixths, octaves and glissandi. He exploited to the full his enormous long-fingered hand-stretch of around a twelfth. Thus as the composer Julius Benedict remembers,"Weber produced the most startling effects of sonority and possessed the power to elicit an almost vocal quality of tone."

The First Concerto opens with a bouncy and uplifting theme that yields interesting elements of surprise. The flow is melodic and Schubertian in parts yet more progressive. A chamber orchestral scoring is provided to carry the romantic Adagio, and a lovely dancing cross-rhythm runs through the Presto finale. One is aware of Mozartian and Beethovenian characteristics in some of the passages.

The Second Concerto pays homage to Beethoven’s Emperor Concerto. An admirer of Beethoven, Weber bought a copy of the score in 1811 and wrote this concerto in the same key a year later. He likewise includes a partially muted string Adagio in B major plus a lively galloping closing rondo in 6/8 time. Called‘a gem’by Benedict I find this work with its stately opening equally impressive as Beethoven’s concerto with interesting dialogue between soloist and orchestra. In the first movement a hint of Invitation to the Dance appears and as does a passage he must have remembered later when composing Der Freischütz. The beautifully composed and lovely Rondo: Presto is played by Demidenko and Mackerras with much panache (tk6).

The Konzertstück is a structured concerto with four seamless movements. It contains emotive ideas – parting, lament, misery, consolation, reunion and jubilation. A slow introduction is followed by a brilliant Allegro passionato (with Adagio bridge), a heavy-beat march and a lively Presto finale.

Nikolai Demidenko is first rate with his interpretation and certainly has the edge over Maria Littauer. (I cannot speak in relation to any other recordings.) His subtle phrasing and enjoyable glissandos are charming. Both soloist and conductor are well matched and sense each other’s subtleties. The recording is not as crisp as the spectacular recently released Saint-Saëns concerto set but the balance is good.

This Hyperion disc was first released in 1994.

The adequate notes are provided in English, French and German with a focus more on the pieces than the composer’s background.

-- Raymond J Walker, MusicWeb International

More reviews:

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Carl Maria von Weber (18 or 19 November 1786 – 5 June 1826) was a German composer, conductor, pianist, guitarist and critic, one of the first significant composers of the Romantic school. His operas greatly influenced the development of the Romantic opera in Germany. His composition for piano influenced composers such as Chopin, Liszt and Mendelssohn. His compositions for woodwind instruments occupy an important place in the musical repertoire. His orchestration has also been highly praised and emulated by later generations of composers.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carl_Maria_von_Weber

***

Nikolai Demidenko (born July 1, 1955, Aniskino) is a Soviet-Russian-born classical pianist. Demidenko studied at the Moscow Gnessin School with Anna Kantor and at the Moscow Conservatoire under Dmitri Bashkirov. In addition to a vast amount of the standard Germanic and Russian repertory, he is a specialist of Frédéric Chopin and a noted champion of the works of neglected composers, such as Carl Maria von Weber and Nikolai Medtner, as well as neglected works of well-known composers.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nikolai_Demidenko

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Carl Maria von Weber - Piano Sonatas (Garrick Ohlsson)


Information

Composer:

CD1:
  1. Piano Sonata No. 1 in C major, Op. 24: 1. Allegro
  2. Piano Sonata No. 1 in C major, Op. 24: 2. Adagio
  3. Piano Sonata No. 1 in C major, Op. 24: 3. Menuetto: Allegro - Trio: Poco ritenuto
  4. Piano Sonata No. 1 in C major, Op. 24: 4. Rondo: Presto
  5. Piano Sonata No. 2 in A flat major, Op. 39: 1. Allegro moderato con spirito ed assai legato
  6. Piano Sonata No. 2 in A flat major, Op. 39: 2. Andante: Ben tenuto
  7. Piano Sonata No. 2 in A flat major, Op. 39: 3. Menuetto capriccioso: Presto assai
  8. Piano Sonata No. 2 in A flat major, Op. 39: 4. Rondo: Moderato e molto grazioso
  9. Aufforderung zum Tanz (Invitation to the Dance), Op. 65
CD2:
  1. Piano Sonata No. 3 in D minor, Op. 49: 1. Allegro feroce
  2. Piano Sonata No. 3 in D minor, Op. 49: 2. Andante con moto
  3. Piano Sonata No. 3 in D minor, Op. 49: 3. Rondo: Presto
  4. Piano Sonata No. 4 in E minor, Op. 70: 1. Moderato
  5. Piano Sonata No. 4 in E minor, Op. 70: 2. Menuetto: Presto vivace ed energico
  6. Piano Sonata No. 4 in E minor, Op. 70: 3. Andante (quasi allegretto) consolante
  7. Piano Sonata No. 4 in E minor, Op. 70: 4. Prestissimo
  8. Rondo brillante, Op. 62
  9. Momento capriccioso, Op. 12

Garrick Ohlsson, piano
Date: 1988
Label: Hyperion (original on Arabesque)
http://www.hyperion-records.co.uk/dc.asp?dc=D_CDD22076

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Review

Weber's four sonatas were overdue for a new CD recording, and they have found a fine and sensitive interpreter in Garrick Ohlsson. He is a pianist who can touch extremes, which suits Weber's dramatic temperament; he is also thoughtful, with an elegant sense of form. The latter quality is important, since Weber, never really at home in sonata form, likes to make his own structures, and asks of his performers that they shall understand the point of them—which is sometimes overtly or covertly dramatic—and not try to force them into conventional forms. He also, perhaps paradoxically for one of the great pianists of the age, reminds listeners from time to time that he was the father figure of romantic orchestration. A true Weber pianist needs to keep his antennae a-quiver.

Ohlsson is first rate. In the First Sonata, he has the sense of fantasy which the opening movement demands (though why does he clip the even semiquaver phrasing so drily?). He opens not with a great crash of tone on the diminished sevenths that so uncannily anticipate Chopin's Revolutionary Study, but almost coolly: it works in the context of his quite light but well-conceived reading of the movement (I wish he had taken the repeat). In the Adagio he opens with beautifully lucent tone, turning to the second subject (which is in much the manner of some of Weber's guitar songs) with nice rubato and sensuous warmth of tone. He takes the Minuet slower than its Allegro marking would warrant, but justifies this by bringing out a latently sinister feeling: I doubt if Weber would have complained. The finale is taken at breakneck speed, with a beautifully even, pearly sound. Ohlsson uses a modern Bosendorfer, and who is to object?

This intelligent variety of manner and of approach distinguishes the other three sonatas. The Second Sonata opens not with the grandiose sweep of many performances—and it can take that approach, too—but with a reflective quality that is actually implied by much else in the movement, including some of the markings (passionato, leggiermente, con molt' affetto and so on). It is a reading that prepares well for the contrasts of the Andante, a solemn, considered reading here, and the Minuet, which goes at scherzo pace. The finale returns to a more plaintive, gentle manner. The tempo is only moderato, and this balances beautifully the opening movement, and the two central movements between them.

The Third Sonata opens, as Weber asks, Allegro feroce: this is a tense, urgent piece of playing (and again, it is good to have the repeat). The Andante con moto requires of the pianist a real range of keyboard sonorities, implying as it does such a variety of instrumental, even orchestral textures: Ohlsson handles this with great sensitivity and intelligence. The recording engineers, quick to catch what he is doing, only let him down in the Chopinesque trio in the scherzo of the last of the four sonatas. This work Ohlsson plays, with, I think, something less than the desperate, death-haunted urgency which the music surely implies. He is sensitive with it, and responds to the work's almost monothematic nature (the obsessive descending scale), but I have heard performances which bring out more affectingly the music's possessed quality.

However, these are distinguished performances, by a pianist of true romantic temper, of four works that have had more than their share of misunderstanding from performers and critics alike. Ohlsson also gives nimble accounts of two little jeux d'esprits, and of the famous Invitation to the dance. For all the charm and elegance of Berlioz's indispensable orchestration (a pity that Glinka's is lost), I continue to prefer the original. It has a point, in its solo virtuosity, and is a fascinating harbinger of much that was to be explored by Schumann and Liszt, among many other of the great romantics. Ohlsson plays it most winningly.

-- John Warrack, Gramophone

More reviews:
http://www.classical-music.com/review/weber-complete-piano-sonatas
http://www.amazon.com/Weber-Complete-Sonatas-Garrick-Ohlsson/dp/B004K4T6DE
http://www.amazon.com/Weber-Complete-Carl-Maria-von/dp/B000000T72

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Carl Maria von Weber (18 or 19 November 1786 – 5 June 1826) was a German composer, conductor, pianist, guitarist and critic, one of the first significant composers of the Romantic school. His operas greatly influenced the development of the Romantic opera in Germany. His composition for piano influenced composers such as Chopin, Liszt and Mendelssohn. His compositions for woodwind instruments occupy an important place in the musical repertoire. His orchestration has also been highly praised and emulated by later generations of composers.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carl_Maria_von_Weber

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Garrick Ohlsson (born April 3, 1948 in New York) is an American classical pianist. Ohlsson was the first American to win first prize in the International Frédéric Chopin Piano Competition, in 1970. Ohlsson is an avid chamber musician and has collaborated with the Cleveland, Emerson, Takács and Tokyo string quartets, among other ensembles. Ohlsson possesses an unusually vast repertoire that ranges over some eighty concertos. He is also known for his exceptional keyboard stretch (a 12th in the left hand and an 11th in the right).

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