MEGA has deleted a lot of my files and it's hard for me to know which ones that need to be re-uploaded.
So, if you find an expired link and want a re-up, please leave a comment. Just not too many requests at once.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Charles-Valentin Alkan - Etudes Op. 35 (Bernard Ringeissen)


Information

Composer: Charles-Valentin Alkan
  1. 12 études dans tous les tons mineurs, Op. 39: No. 12 in E minor (Le Festin d’Ésope. Allegretto senza licenza quantunque)
  2. 12 études dans tous les tons mineurs, Op. 39: No. 3 in G minor (Scherzo diabolico. Prestissimo)
  3. 12 études dans tous les tons majeurs, Op. 35: No. 1 in A major (Allegretto)
  4. 12 études dans tous les tons majeurs, Op. 35: No. 2 in D major (Allegro)
  5. 12 études dans tous les tons majeurs, Op. 35: No. 3 in G major (Andantino)
  6. 12 études dans tous les tons majeurs, Op. 35: No. 4 in C major (Presto)
  7. 12 études dans tous les tons majeurs, Op. 35: No. 5 in F major (Allegro barbaro)
  8. 12 études dans tous les tons majeurs, Op. 35: No. 6 in B flat major (Allegramente)
  9. 12 études dans tous les tons majeurs, Op. 35: No. 7 in E flat major (L'incendie au village voisin. Adagio)
  10. 12 études dans tous les tons majeurs, Op. 35: No. 8 in A flat major (Lento - Appassionato)
  11. 12 études dans tous les tons majeurs, Op. 35: No. 9 in C sharp major (Contrapunctus. Amplement)
  12. 12 études dans tous les tons majeurs, Op. 35: No. 10 in G flat major (Chant d'amour - Chant de mort. Adagio)
  13. 12 études dans tous les tons majeurs, Op. 35: No. 11 in B major (Posément)
  14. 12 études dans tous les tons majeurs, Op. 35: No. 12 in E major (Andando)

Bernard Ringeissen, piano
Date: 1990
Label: Marco Polo
http://www.naxos.com/catalogue/item.asp?item_code=8.223351

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Review

Alkan came from the great nineteenth-century tradition of composer pianists that included Chopin. Liszt, Schumann, Brahms and Busoni. For a time he shared the lavish praise heaped upon these giants of the keyboard, but in 1848 rejected the life of a travelling virtuoso and spent many years as a virtual recluse. His reinstatement as a composer of remarkable depth and sensitivity has been gradual, but is by no means complete. With a pianist of Ringeissen's calibre, this new Naxos series is a substantial step towards wider recognition.

The first two items prepare us for the sheer technical brilliance that practically all Alkan's works demand. Both are clearly intended to wow the audience, and succeed in doing so without virtuosity becoming an end in itself: this is far more impressive stuff than mere pianistic fireworks - Le Festin d'Esope, a rich feast of 25 variations on an original theme that sounds very like the nursery song Baa baa black sheep, develops in many unexpected ways. Childish thoughts are quickly set aside for a thoroughly adventurous treatment of the innocent theme; even humour - not a conspicuous component of romantic piano music - is not absent: several of these variations raise a genuine smile.

The second, Scherzo diabolico, comes closer to Liszt's energetic concert studies but, devilishly difficult though it undoubtedly is, adds up to considerably more than keyboard gymnastics. It is, however, in the 12 Etudes in all the major keys that we encounter Alkan at his most innovative and powerful. There are occasional echoes of Chopin but, needless to say, these are not studies in the same sense as those by Czerny or Bergmuller, though all of the first nine address specific aspects of technique. As a coherent cycle the Etudes test the interpretative resources of a mature recitalist on all fronts, from expressive cantabile to the dramatic metrical changes in the dramatic No, 12 in E flat major, a challenge calmly and creditably met on this record. The scores were scrupulously written and meticulously marked by the composer, and Ringeissen intelligently avoids creating additional hurdles by conspicuously parading his virtuosity. The playing is neat and observant and we are left with a convincing exploration of the mind of a remarkable musical personality.

-- Roy Brewer, MusicWeb International

More reviews:
http://www.classical-music.com/review/alkan-2
http://www.gramophone.co.uk/review/alkan-piano-works-2
http://www.amazon.com/Alkan-Piano-Music-Volume-Etudes/dp/B00005NUOR

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Charles-Valentin Alkan (30 November 1813 – 29 March 1888) was a French composer and pianist. At the height of his fame in the 1830s and 1840s he was, alongside his friends and colleagues Frédéric Chopin and Franz Liszt, among the leading pianists in Paris, a city in which he spent virtually his entire life. His music requires extreme technical virtuosity, reflecting his own abilities. Busoni ranked Alkan with Liszt, Chopin, Schumann and Brahms as one of the five greatest composers for the piano since Beethoven. For much of the 20th century, Alkan's work remained in obscurity, but from the 1960s onwards it was steadily revived.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charles-Valentin_Alkan

***

Bernard Ringeissen (born 15 May 1934 in Paris) is a French classical pianist. He studied with Marguerite Long and Jacques Février. He has performed widely and served on competition juries in many countries. He teaches in Rueil-Malmaison, and gives master-classes at the Salzburg Mozarteum and at the International Summer Seminar in Weimar. His recordings include the complete piano works of Camille Saint-Saëns and of Igor Stravinsky, and many works by Charles-Valentin Alkan, Frédéric Chopin, Claude Debussy (with Noël Lee) and the Russian masters.

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Charles-Valentin Alkan - Recueil d'impromptus (Laurent Martin)


Information

Composer: Charles-Valentin Alkan
  1. Recueil d'Impromptus, Op. 32: Première recueil: 1. Vaghezza
  2. Recueil d'Impromptus, Op. 32: Première recueil: 2. L'amitié
  3. Recueil d'Impromptus, Op. 32: Première recueil: 3. Fantasietta alla moresca
  4. Recueil d'Impromptus, Op. 32: Première recueil: 4. La foi
  5. Recueil d'Impromptus, Op. 32: Deuxième recueil: 1. Andantino
  6. Recueil d'Impromptus, Op. 32: Deuxième recueil: 2. Allegretto
  7. Recueil d'Impromptus, Op. 32: Deuxième recueil: 3. Vivace
  8. Recueil d'Impromptus, Op. 32: Deuxième recueil: 4. Andante
  9. Salut, cendre du pauvre!, in B flat major, Op. 45
  10. Alleluia, in F major, Op. 25
  11. Rondeau chromatique, in B minor, Op. 12
  12. Variations sur un Thême de Steibelt, in E major (after Concerto-Orage), Op. 1
  13. Super flumina Babylonis, paraphrase on "Psalm 137" in G minor, Op. 52

Laurent Martin, piano
Date: 1992
Label: Marco Polo
http://www.naxos.com/catalogue/item.asp?item_code=8.223657

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Review

Marco Polo's much appreciated commitment to the Alkan cause continues with two more issues of piano music performed by Laurent Martin. The first disc contains music that, to my mind, will be more appropriate to the Alkan connoisseur rather than the first-time explorer—the main works of interest undoubtedly being the two sets of Impromptus, Op. 32 (each containing four pieces) dating from 1848–9. Although these are undoubtedly a long way from the complexities of the Grand Sonate composed two years earlier (they are, as Ronald Smith has commented ''relaxed, uncomplicated pieces designed more for private enjoyment than public exposure'') the Impromptus, nevertheless, have an unmistakable Alkanesque tang which naturally lifts them out of the run-of-the-mill salon-style of their day.

The first set are all titled and reasonably straight-forward, in so far as Alkan ever wrote a straightforward piece. Of these, the second, ''L'amitie'' (which sounds like a revivalist hymn taken at full gallop) and the third, entitled ''Fantasietta alla moresca'' are perhaps the most interesting. The second set is schematic and is the product of Alkan's encounter with the Basque dance, Zoricico in 5/4 rhythm. Description is best left to Smith again, who says ''Had Grieg and Bartok conspired to write a Chopin mazurka for quintupeds they might have produced something like the first impromptu''. His description of the third as sounding like ''a catchy, five-legged rumba'' is also spot on!

Salut, cendre du pauvre! (''Hail, ashes of the poor!'') is a characteristically dark and sombre piece with hymn-like outer passages and a central climax replete with drum-effects in the low registers, whilst the short Alleluia is an imposing study in massive, sonorous chords, played at the extremities of the keyboard. Alkan's penchant for translating passages from the Old Testament into piano music can be heard in the highly effective concert piece,Super flumina Babylonis, a dramatic paraphrase on Psalm 137. The remaining items on the disc, the Rondeau chromatique, Op. 12 and the Variations on a theme from Steibelt's Orage Concerto, Op. I (a recently rediscovered manuscript) are, as the opus numbers imply, extremely early works dating from Alkan's youth. Both are typical display pieces of their time; effective and impressive enough as the products of a teenager, but lacking the individuality of the Alkan to come.

The second disc, which is devoted to the Esquisses, needs little description. These perfect little miniatures (48 in all) may not be Alkan at his most demonstrative in terms of technical display but they certainly rank among his more important works. The breadth of mood encompassed in these sketches is exceptionally wide: some are miniature studies ''Le Staccatissimo'', ''Le Legatissimo'' ''La Poursuite'' and ''Toccatina'' are examples—whilst others, ''Le Frisson'', ''Le Premier Billet Doux'' and the marvellous ''Delire'', are effectively tiny mood paintings. Some look back in style (''Fuguette'', ''Duettino'' or ''Petit Prelude a 3'') while others are courageously forward-looking most notably ''Les Soupirs'' which anticipates Debussy, and ''Les Diablotins'' with its outrageous tone clusters. Needless to say, the Esquisses are essential listening for both newcomers and veterans to Alkan's music alike.
Laurent Martin has already proved himself a fine interpreter of Alkan's piano music and these two discs are further evidence of this. His sharply etched and beautifully crafted account of the Esquisses is particularly recommendable. The recorded sound of both is good, if perhaps a trifle hard in places.

-- M. Stewart, Gramophone
reviewing this disc, couple with Alkan's Esquisses by Laurent Martin

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Charles-Valentin Alkan (30 November 1813 – 29 March 1888) was a French composer and pianist. At the height of his fame in the 1830s and 1840s he was, alongside his friends and colleagues Frédéric Chopin and Franz Liszt, among the leading pianists in Paris, a city in which he spent virtually his entire life. His music requires extreme technical virtuosity, reflecting his own abilities. Busoni ranked Alkan with Liszt, Chopin, Schumann and Brahms as one of the five greatest composers for the piano since Beethoven. For much of the 20th century, Alkan's work remained in obscurity, but from the 1960s onwards it was steadily revived.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charles-Valentin_Alkan

***

Laurent Martin (born 12 September 1945 in Lyon) is a French classical pianist. He studied piano at the Paris Conservatoire with Joseph Benvenuti and Monique Haas. He continued his studies with Germaine Audibert and Pierre Sancan. Martin is now recognized as a leading advocate and expert on less known French Romantic composers. His discography exceeds 41, with a fair share of premier recordings.
https://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Laurent_Martin_(pianiste)
http://www.laurentmartinpianiste.com/

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Friday, November 18, 2016

Charles Villiers Stanford - Piano Concerto No. 2; Concert Variations (Margaret Fingerhut)


Information

Composer: Charles Villiers Stanford
  1. Piano Concerto No. 2 in C minor, Op. 126: I. Allegro moderato
  2. Piano Concerto No. 2 in C minor, Op. 126: II. Adagio molto - Più mosso (quasi andante)
  3. Piano Concerto No. 2 in C minor, Op. 126: III. Allegro molto - Largamente e sostenuto
  4. Concert Variations on "Down Among the Dead Men", Op. 71: Introduction - Thema. Allegro vivace
  5. Concert Variations on "Down Among the Dead Men", Op. 71: I. Tranquillo
  6. Concert Variations on "Down Among the Dead Men", Op. 71: II. Poco più mosso
  7. Concert Variations on "Down Among the Dead Men", Op. 71: III. Poco meno mosso
  8. Concert Variations on "Down Among the Dead Men", Op. 71: IV. Presto
  9. Concert Variations on "Down Among the Dead Men", Op. 71: V.
  10. Concert Variations on "Down Among the Dead Men", Op. 71: VI. Poco a poco più sostenuto
  11. Concert Variations on "Down Among the Dead Men", Op. 71: VII. Intermezzo
  12. Concert Variations on "Down Among the Dead Men", Op. 71: VIII. Andante tranquillo
  13. Concert Variations on "Down Among the Dead Men", Op. 71: IX.
  14. Concert Variations on "Down Among the Dead Men", Op. 71: X.
  15. Concert Variations on "Down Among the Dead Men", Op. 71: XI. Lento
  16. Concert Variations on "Down Among the Dead Men", Op. 71: Finale. Allegro moderato e deciso

Margaret Fingerhut, piano
Ulster Orchestra
Vernon Handley, conductor

Date: 1989
Label: Chandos

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Review

Enterprising Chandos and Vernon Handley again! What chance otherwise would most of us have to become acquainted with Stanford's Second Piano Concerto? And is it worth it? Yes, even if—as always—one is left with ambivalent feelings about what one has heard. It is very obvious, as Lewis Foreman's characteristically informative and scholarly note points out, that Stanford began work on this concerto shortly after he had conducted the British premiere of Rachmaninov's C minor Concerto at the 1910 Leeds Festival. If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery then Rachmaninov should have blushed scarlet If he ever heard the opening of this work!

Thereafter the music pursues its romantic and cultivated way, with echoes of Liszt and Tchaikovsky, too, and pre-echoes, dare I say it, of the Warsaw Concerto. It is a very pleasing, attractive and not very original work, let down by an overlong and empty finale. But it deserves to be performed, like so much of the neglected British repertoire recorded in recent years. Gramophone reviewers continually draw attention to these works, but do our orchestral managements ever take a risk with them? Do they even read record reviews? Or are they utterly convinced that the British public today will only go to hear what it knows it likes or what is 'hyped'? Perhaps they are right, I fear.

The variations on Down among the dead men is the sort of work I imagine Stanford could have written standing on his head. It, too, is worth an airing and there ought to be room for it somewhere. That somewhere, I suspect, is the gramophone library, for the concert-going and record-collecting public seem to be separate groups, at least where British music is concerned. Those who like to explore will enjoy this disc, which is beautifully recorded, with excellent performances by Margaret Fingerhut and the Ulster Orchestra


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Charles Villiers Stanford (30 September 1852 – 29 March 1924) was an Irish composer, music teacher, and conductor. Some regarded Stanford, together with Hubert Parry and Alexander Mackenzie, are responsible for a renaissance in music from the British Isles. In 1882, aged 29, he was one of the founding professors of the Royal College of Music, where he taught composition for the rest of his life. From 1887 he was also Professor of Music at Cambridge. His students included Gustav Holst, Ralph Vaughan Williams and many more. His composite style is conservative and his music was eclipsed in the 20th century by that of Edward Elgar as well as former pupils.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charles_Villiers_Stanford

***

Margaret Fingerhut (born 30 March 1955) is a British classical pianist. A fascination with exploring lesser-known repertoire is reflected in her eclectic recital programmes and also in her recordings. Her discs on the Chandos label include works by Bainton, Bax, Berkeley, Bloch, Dukas, Falla, Grieg, Howells, Leighton, Moeran, Novák, Stanford, Suk and Tansman, as well as several pioneering collections of 19th century Russian and early 20th century French piano music.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Margaret_Fingerhut

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Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Charles Villiers Stanford - Music for Violin and Piano (Paul Barritt; Catherine Edwards)


Information

Composer: Charles Villiers Stanford
  1. Violin Sonata No. 1 in D major, Op. 11: I. Allegro
  2. Violin Sonata No. 1 in D major, Op. 11: II. Allegretto moderato - Tempo di minuetto - Tempo I
  3. Violin Sonata No. 1 in D major, Op. 11: III. Allegretto
  4. Caoine 'A Lament', Op. 54 No. 1
  5. Five Characteristic Pieces, Op. 93: 1. Cavatina and Scherzino
  6. Five Characteristic Pieces, Op. 93: 2. Capriccio
  7. Five Characteristic Pieces, Op. 93: 3. In a gondola
  8. Five Characteristic Pieces, Op. 93: 4. Arabesques
  9. Five Characteristic Pieces, Op. 93: 5. L'Envoi
  10. Violin Sonata No. 2 in A major, Op. 70: I. Allegro comodo
  11. Violin Sonata No. 2 in A major, Op. 70: II. Adagio molto
  12. Violin Sonata No. 2 in A major, Op. 70: III. Prestissimo
  13. Violin Sonata No. 2 in A major, Op. 70: IV. Allegretto - Animato

Paul Barritt, violin
Catherine Edwards, piano
Date: 1999
Label: Hyperion
http://www.hyperion-records.co.uk/dc.asp?dc=D_CDH55362

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Review

Before he left Dublin to study at Cambridge, the teenage Stanford (at the time an aspiring fiddler) was fortunate enough to experience a wealth of fine chamber music played by such luminaries of the day as Vieuxtemps, Alfredo Piatti, Joseph Joachim (who would often stay at the family home, and whose Beethoven and Bach left a profound impression on the young Charles) and the Austrian violinist Ludwig Straus. Straus (later a great favourite of Queen Victoria’s, by the way) was a stalwart of many a recital that Stanford helped put on for the Cambridge University Musical Society, and the 24-year-old composer’s engaging First Violin Sonata bears a dedication to him. It is an enormously fluent and stylish achievement, full of striking invention (the eventful finale especially so), strongly indebted to Beethoven, Schumann and Brahms, yet already a big advance on his own First Symphony of the previous year.

Unlike the First Sonata, its substantial four-movement successor was never published. It was probably written in 1898 and may have been intended for Enrique Fernandez Arbos (the Professor of Violin at the Royal College of Music, to whom Stanford subsequently inscribed his Op. 74 Concerto). By now, Stanford had well and truly assimilated the three Brahms sonatas, and the German master’s influence is most keenly felt in the tumbling lyricism of the opening Allegro comodo (and its richly coloured E major second subject in particular). From deceptively simple beginnings, the slow movement grows into an impassioned outpouring, while the uncomplicated Scherzo acts as necessary respite before the high drama of the finale (which unexpectedly sets out in the minor).

Completed in October 1893, the deeply-felt, seven-minute ‘Caoine’ (‘A Lament’) is the first of the six Op. 54 Irish Fantasies, a collection which drew high praise from George Bernard Shaw (he particularly relished ‘the entire absence of professorial spirit proper to genuine Irish violinism’). Stanford’s mastery of the miniature is further demonstrated in the Five Characteristic Pieces, Op. 93 (1905), each of which is an exquisitely cut gem in its own right but which together also form a most satisfyingly contrasted sequence (towards the end of the last piece, ‘L’envoi’, the piano even wistfully quotes the main theme from the opening ‘Cavatina and Scherzino’).

As on their two previous Hyperion releases of music by Howells and Ireland (3/94 and 11/96), Paul Barritt and Catherine Edwards forge an exemplary alliance. Not only is their playing consummately refined and joyously articulate, they bring plenty of panache and dedication to this immensely attractive repertoire. The engineering is vividly truthful, and Jeremy Dibble’s booklet-essay is a masterclass in itself! Recommended without reservation.

-- Andrew Achenbach, Gramophone

More reviews:
BBC Music Magazine PERFORMANCE: ***** / SOUND: *****
http://www.classical.net/music/recs/reviews/h/hyp67024a.php
https://www.amazon.co.uk/Stanford-Barritt-Catherine-Hyperion-CDH55362/dp/B00ARL9QY8

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Charles Villiers Stanford (30 September 1852 – 29 March 1924) was an Irish composer, music teacher, and conductor. Some regarded Stanford, together with Hubert Parry and Alexander Mackenzie, are responsible for a renaissance in music from the British Isles. In 1882, aged 29, he was one of the founding professors of the Royal College of Music, where he taught composition for the rest of his life. From 1887 he was also Professor of Music at Cambridge. His students included Gustav Holst, Ralph Vaughan Williams and many more. His composite style is conservative and his music was eclipsed in the 20th century by that of Edward Elgar as well as former pupils.

***

Paul Barritt was born in Belfast, Northern Ireland. He studied with Jaroslav Vanecek at the Royal College of Music in London and subsequently with Orrea Pernel, Sandor Végh and Salvatore Accardo. Barritt has a varied repertoire comprising the standard classical violin concertos but also encompassing works for violin and orchestra by Martinu, Frank Martin, Lutoslawski, Takemitsu, Schnittke and Poul Ruders. As well as giving violin and piano recitals and recordings, and frequent chamber music concerts, he regularly appears as soloist and director with the ECO. Barritt plays a Sanctus Serphim violin made c1737.

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Friday, November 11, 2016

Charles Ives - Universe Symphony; Orchestral Set No. 2; The Unanswered Question (Gerhard Samuel)


Information

Composer: Charles Ives
  1. Universe Symphony (completed by Larry Austin)
  2. Orchestral Set No. 2: I. An Elegy to our Forefather
  3. Orchestral Set No. 2: II. The Rockstrewn Hills Join in the People's Outdoor Mee
  4. Orchestral Set No. 2: III. From Hanover Square North, at the End of a Tragic Day
  5. The Unanswered Question (I & II)

Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music Percussion Ensemble (1)
Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music Chamber Choir (1)
Cincinnati Philharmonia Orchestra
Gerhard Samuel, conductor

Date: 1993 (2-5), 1994 (1)
Label: Centaur


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Thursday, November 3, 2016

Charles Koechlin; Albéric Magnard; Charles-Marie Widor - Chansons Bretonnes; Cello Sonatas (Mats Lidström; Bengt Forsberg)


Information

Composer: Charles Koechlin; Albéric Magnard; Charles-Marie Widor
  1. Magnard - Cello Sonata in A major, Op. 20: I. Sans lenteur
  2. Magnard - Cello Sonata in A major, Op. 20: II. Sans faiblir -
  3. Magnard - Cello Sonata in A major, Op. 20: III. Funèbre
  4. Magnard - Cello Sonata in A major, Op. 20: IV. Rondement
  5. Koechlin - Chansons bretonnes sur d'anciennes chansons populaires, Op. 115 - Book III: I. La chanson du Pilote
  6. Koechlin - Chansons bretonnes sur d'anciennes chansons populaires, Op. 115 - Book III: II. Merlin au berceau
  7. Koechlin - Chansons bretonnes sur d'anciennes chansons populaires, Op. 115 - Book III: III. La conversation de Merlin
  8. Koechlin - Chansons bretonnes sur d'anciennes chansons populaires, Op. 115 - Book III: IV. Le faucon
  9. Koechlin - Chansons bretonnes sur d'anciennes chansons populaires, Op. 115 - Book III: V. Le rossignol
  10. Koechlin - Chansons bretonnes sur d'anciennes chansons populaires, Op. 115 - Book III: VI. L'enfant suppose
  11. Koechlin - Chansons bretonnes sur d'anciennes chansons populaires, Op. 115 - Book III: VII. L'épouse du Croise
  12. Koechlin - Chansons bretonnes sur d'anciennes chansons populaires, Op. 115 - Book III: VIII. Le page de Louis XIII
  13. Koechlin - Chansons bretonnes sur d'anciennes chansons populaires, Op. 115 - Book III: IX. La marche d'Arthur
  14. Widor - Cello Sonata in A major, Op. 80: I. Allegro moderato
  15. Widor - Cello Sonata in A major, Op. 80: II. Andante con moto
  16. Widor - Cello Sonata in A major, Op. 80: III. Allegro vivace

Mats Lidström, cello
Bengt Forsberg, piano
Date: 2000
Label: Hyperion
http://www.hyperion-records.co.uk/dc.asp?dc=D_CDA67244

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Review

An out-of-the-way programme, maybe, but the music isn’t uninteresting or second rate, and Lidström and Forsberg’s established expertise in performing French music makes for an issue that’s well worth exploring. They’ve already recorded the first two books of Koechlin’s Chansons Bretonnes for Hyperion (8/98), but were unaware that he had left a third set until his son presented them with a copy. Koechlin uses the simple, often modal, folk material most imaginatively, to create a series of miniature character pieces; intense, declamatory movements alternating with evocations of an austere medieval world. 

Of the two sonatas, the Widor is by some way the more ingratiating and decorative. Its predominately lyrical style, with subtle, shifting harmonies and elaborate piano writing, put me in mind, oddly, of Rachmaninov, but a Rachmaninov where the sombre melancholy is replaced by bright, positive feelings, especially in the rhapsodic finale. Bengt Forsberg is extremely impressive here, combining virtuosity in the Lizstian tradition with playing of extreme delicacy. 

The Magnard Sonata of 1910 is a slightly more familiar work; it’s been recorded several times. Its complex harmonic idiom, with constantly changing tonality and elaborate counterpoint, demands the listener’s close attention, and Lidström and Forsberg make everything as clear as can be. They’re adept at finding just the right tone for each passage – a good example is the way the tempestuous Scherzo (sans faiblir is Magnard’s instruction) transforms into the more inward but still anguished Funèbre third movement. In the contrasting consolatory section of this funeral march, Mats Lidström produces the most beautiful soft tone, starting very tentatively, then blossoming into greater intensity.

-- Duncan Druce, Gramophone

More reviews:
http://www.classicstoday.com/review/review-9471/
https://www.amazon.com/French-Cello-Music-Alberic-Magnard/dp/B00009NJ1S

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Charles Koechlin (27 November 1867 – 31 December 1950) was a French composer, teacher and writer on music. He was a political radical all his life and a passionate enthusiast for such diverse things as medieval music, The Jungle Book of Rudyard Kipling, Johann Sebastian Bach, film stars (especially Lilian Harvey and Ginger Rogers), traveling, stereoscopic photography and socialism. Koechlin was enormously prolific. Despite his lack of worldly success, Koechlin was apparently a loved and venerated figure in French music.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charles_Koechlin

***

Albéric Magnard (9 June 1865 – 3 September 1914) was a French composer. Magnard became a national hero in 1914 when he refused to surrender his property to German invaders and died defending it. Magnard's musical style is typical of contemporary French composers, but occasionally, as in the four completed symphonies, certain passages foreshadow the music of Gustav Mahler. His use of cyclic form and occasional incorporation of chorale earned him the nickname of "French Bruckner.".  

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Charles-Marie Widor (21 February 1844 – 12 March 1937) was a French organist, composer and teacher. Widor wrote music for a wide variety of instruments and ensembles (some of his songs for voice and piano are especially notable) and composed four operas and a ballet, but only his works for organ are played with any regularity today. The organ symphonies are his most significant contribution to the organ repertoire. His students included Louis Vierne, Marcel Dupré, Darius Milhaud, Edgard Varèse, ...

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Mats Lidström (born 1959, Stockholm) is a Swedish cellist, recording artist, chamber musician, composer, teacher and publisher. His first teacher was Maja Vogl in Gothenburg. He then went on to study at the Juilliard School (New York) with Leonard Rose. Lidström plays the "Grützmacher" Rocca (Giuseppe Rocca 1857). He appears on EMI, Deutsche Grammophon, Decca, BIS, Hyperion, Musica Sveciae, Opus 3, Caprice Records (sv), as well as on his own label CelloLid.com
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mats_Lidstr%C3%B6m

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Charles Koechlin; Gabriel Pierné - Chansons Bretonnes; Cello Sonatas (Mats Lidström; Bengt Forsberg)


Information

Composer: Charles Koechlin; Gabriel Pierné
  1. Pierné - Cello Sonata in F sharp minor, Op. 46: 1. Lent
  2. Pierné - Cello Sonata in F sharp minor, Op. 46: 2. Animez très peu – Calme
  3. Pierné - Cello Sonata in F sharp minor, Op. 46: 3. I Tempo (Mouvet. de début) 
  4. Pierné - Cello Sonata in F sharp minor, Op. 46: 4. Animé
  5. Koechlin - Cello Sonata, Op. 66: 1. Très modéré
  6. Koechlin - Cello Sonata, Op. 66: 2. Andante quasi adagio
  7. Koechlin - Cello Sonata, Op. 66: 3. Final: Allegro non troppo
  8. Koechlin - Chansons bretonnes sur d'anciennes chansons populaires, Op. 115 - Book I: 1. La Prophétie de Gwene'hlan
  9. Koechlin - Chansons bretonnes sur d'anciennes chansons populaires, Op. 115 - Book I: 2. Le Seigneur Nann et la Fée
  10. Koechlin - Chansons bretonnes sur d'anciennes chansons populaires, Op. 115 - Book I: 3. Le Vin des Gaulois
  11. Koechlin - Chansons bretonnes sur d'anciennes chansons populaires, Op. 115 - Book I: 4. Azénor-la-Pâle
  12. Koechlin - Chansons bretonnes sur d'anciennes chansons populaires, Op. 115 - Book I: 5. Les laboureurs
  13. Koechlin - Chansons bretonnes sur d'anciennes chansons populaires, Op. 115 - Book I: 6. Saint-Eflam et le Roi Arthur
  14. Koechlin - Chansons bretonnes sur d'anciennes chansons populaires, Op. 115 - Book II: 1. Les trois Moines rouges
  15. Koechlin - Chansons bretonnes sur d'anciennes chansons populaires, Op. 115 - Book II: 2. Alain-le-Renard
  16. Koechlin - Chansons bretonnes sur d'anciennes chansons populaires, Op. 115 - Book II: 3. Le baron Jaouioz
  17. Koechlin - Chansons bretonnes sur d'anciennes chansons populaires, Op. 115 - Book II: 4. Notre-Dame du Folgoat
  18. Koechlin - Chansons bretonnes sur d'anciennes chansons populaires, Op. 115 - Book II: 5. Iannik Skolan
  19. Koechlin - Chansons bretonnes sur d'anciennes chansons populaires, Op. 115 - Book II: 6. La Ceinture de Noces

Mats Lidström, cello
Bengt Forsberg, piano
Date: 1997
Label: Hyperion
http://www.hyperion-records.co.uk/dc.asp?dc=D_CDA66979

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Review

The present two artists are certainly doing their bit in enlarging the recorded repertoire of the cello. After their highly praised disc of Godard and Boellmann (Hyperion, 9/96) they have turned their attention to two near-contemporaries born in the 1860s, both pupils of Massenet: Pierne famous for succeeding Cesar Franck at the organ of Ste Clotilde and for directing the Orchestre Colonne for many years (and conducting the premiere of Stravinsky’s Firebird), Koechlin (who incidentally taught Cole Porter) for his vast output and his belated crush (in his late sixties) on film stars, particularly Lilian Harvey. The latter composer is represented by two attractive works – a set of Breton folk-song arrangements, which range from the simple and melancholy (“La prophetie”) to the capricious (“Alain-le-Renard”) or the archaic (“Les trois moines rouges”, treated in organum), and which allow Lidstrom to display his tonal range from robust (“Le vin des Gaulois”) to a thread of sound (“Le seigneur Nann et la fee”), and a short sonata from over a decade earlier, written in 1917. Despite being written in wartime, for much of the work the prevailing mood is one of contemplative tranquillity (which calls forth some ravishing soft playing from the cellist), though the central movement has an extremely complex piano part in a free atonality that continues into the agitated finale. Pierne’s big sonata is a rhapsodic, largely ecstatic work in one continuous movement that nevertheless divides into four sections, the material of the long slow first returning after a yearningly sensual Animez: the sonata culminates in an imaginative finale with moments of brilliance. The performance here is an eloquent one by both players, who are to be congratulated on their very sensitive subtlety; and the recording is strikingly truthful.

-- Lionel Salter, Gramophone


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Charles Koechlin (27 November 1867 – 31 December 1950) was a French composer, teacher and writer on music. He was a political radical all his life and a passionate enthusiast for such diverse things as medieval music, The Jungle Book of Rudyard Kipling, Johann Sebastian Bach, film stars (especially Lilian Harvey and Ginger Rogers), traveling, stereoscopic photography and socialism. Koechlin was enormously prolific. Despite his lack of worldly success, Koechlin was apparently a loved and venerated figure in French music.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charles_Koechlin

***

Gabriel Pierné (16 August 1863 – 17 July 1937) was a French composer, conductor, and organist. He succeeded César Franck as organist at Saint Clotilde Basilica in Paris from 1890 to 1898. As a conductor, he conducted the world premiere of Igor Stravinsky's ballet The Firebird, at the Ballets Russes, Paris, on 25 June 1910. Pierné wrote several operas and choral and symphonic pieces, as well as a good deal of chamber music. His discovery and promotion of the work of Ernest Fanelli in 1912 led to a controversy over the origins of impressionist music.

***

Mats Lidström (born 1959, Stockholm) is a Swedish cellist, recording artist, chamber musician, composer, teacher and publisher. His first teacher was Maja Vogl in Gothenburg. He then went on to study at the Juilliard School (New York) with Leonard Rose. Lidström plays the "Grützmacher" Rocca (Giuseppe Rocca 1857). He appears on EMI, Deutsche Grammophon, Decca, BIS, Hyperion, Musica Sveciae, Opus 3, Caprice Records (sv), as well as on his own label CelloLid.com

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Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Charles Koechlin - Music for Saxophone (David Brutti)


Information

Composer: Charles Koechlin

CD1:
  • (01-05) Sonatine, Op. 194 No. 1, for sorpano saxophone & piano
  • (06-09) Sonatine, Op. 194 No. 2, for sorpano saxophone & piano
  • (10) Monodie No. 9 (from 12 Monodies, Op. 213), for alto saxophone
  • (11) Le repos de Tityre (from 11 Monodies pour instrument à vent, Op. 216), for soprano saxophone
  • (12-35) 24 Duos, Op. 186, for two saxophones
CD2:
  • (01-15) 15 Etudes, Op. 188
  • (16-22) 7 Pièces (from15 pièces pour cor et piano, Op.180), for tenor saxophone & piano
CD3:
  • (01) Epitaphe de Jean Harlow, Op. 164
  • (02-07) Septuor pour instruments à vent, Op. 165
  • (08) Op. 165bis: I. 'La vie s'ouvre devant toi' (for wind septet)
  • (09) Op. 165bis: II. 'Va librement' (for eleven wind instruments)
  • (11-15) Sonatine, Op. 194 No. 1, for soprano saxophone & chamber orchestra
  • (16-19) Sonatine, Op. 194 No. 2, for soprano saxophone & chamber orchestra

Duo Disecheis
David Brutti, saxophone; Filippo Farinelli, piano
Mario Caroli, flute
Artem Saxophone Quartet
David Brutti; Davide Bartelucci; Francesco Ciocca; Massimo Valentini
Orchestra Citta Aperta, cond. Filippo Farinelli

Date: 2012
Label: Brilliant Classics

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Review

As an old man Charles Koechlin wrote: "One of the most dreadful diseases of our day is the desire to be modern", but he was no starchy conservative. Far from it, in fact - Koechlin counted among his friends virtually all the leading French musicians of his day, old and young, adventurous and less so, and acknowledged and even assimilated all the trends. He was a big fan of the burgeoning Hollywood film industry - witness the many works or movements named after popular actresses - and became president of the Popular Music Federation in France. 
  
He also wrote a fair bit for Adolphe Sax's recently-invented instrument, praising it in his academic writing as "a timbre that no other can replace". All such solo works in his corpus are brought together on this new bargain-priced triple CD from Brilliant Classics, one of a wave of recent releases featuring this most underrated of French composers' music. 
  
In fact, although this set has much to recommend it musically, it is not quite the bargain it might have been. For one thing, there is a fair amount of 'recycling', from the piano and chamber orchestra versions of the two saxophone sonatinas to the Sept Pièces, originally intended for horn. More importantly, though, the array of recording dates and venues has thrown up some inconsistencies in sound quality. There is actually quite severe distortion towards the end of the Wind Septet, where the microphones just cannot cope with a combination of volume and high pitches. There is similar loss at the end of op.165bis, and a small amount in the flute during Epitaphe. Timpani's engineers, on their virtually simultaneous recording of the Septet (1C1193), show Brilliant how it should be done. 
  
On the whole, however, considering that this release can be found on the internet, by the alert shopper, for around the same price as a single Naxos disc, these audio issues, once noted, may be worth disregarding for access to Koechlin's marvellous music, certainly until new recordings come along. After all, the aforementioned distortion only affects a few minutes' worth of music, and sound quality of the first two CDs is uniformly impressive. Capturing well both saxophone and piano is no simple task. 
  
In any case, it is hard to imagine anyone not liking Koechlin's music, whether for saxophone or any other instruments: all of the late-period pieces heard here are immensely melodic and idiomatic, uncomplicated on the surface yet expressive of a considered intelligence that writes for listeners and performers as well as self. In this way he can be compared with Saint-Saëns, to whom he came to bear a physical likeness in later years - though with a much more impressive beard. 
  
There are many highlights, such as the 24 Duos, which combine SATB instruments in various pairings. These should be required study for all saxophonists, yet they are far superior to mere didactics. Ditto the 15 Etudes, which are a collection of beautiful cameos rather than studies in the more academic sense. The 7 Pieces are even more strikingly memorable, like Koechlin's most popular Epitaphe: nostalgic, sometimes haunting works that are however "full of the visionary hope that leads to optimism, energy and joy as vital antidotes to the problems of everyday life", as annotator Robert Orledge aptly sums up the composer's music. It is worth noting that, unlike some, nowhere in any of these works does Koechlin make use of the platitudes and clichés of the jazz instrument. 
  
As the CD cover implies, star of the show on these three discs is saxophonist David Brutti, who appears as soloist, as one half of the Duo Disecheis, a quarter of the Atem Saxophone Quartet and even in the ensemble of the Orchestra Città Aperta. His tonal colourings are lustrous and luxurious, his phrasing natural and gratifying. Running a close second is Filippo Farinelli, pianist or conductor on numerous tracks. The booklet notes are in English only, but informative and well written, supplemented by detailed biographies of all performers. 
  
Of Koechlin - whose Alsace-originating name is pronounced as if spelt Kéclin (rhyming with French 'né' and nasal 'vin') - British critic Wilfrid Mellers wrote that he counts "among the very select number of contemporary composers who really matter". For 1942 this was a particularly prescient remark, and it is high time he was allowed to take his rightful place in the pantheon alongside Fauré, Debussy, Ravel and Saint-Saëns. 

-- Byzantion, MusicWeb International

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Charles Koechlin (27 November 1867 – 31 December 1950) was a French composer, teacher and writer on music. He was a political radical all his life and a passionate enthusiast for such diverse things as medieval music, The Jungle Book of Rudyard Kipling, Johann Sebastian Bach, film stars (especially Lilian Harvey and Ginger Rogers), traveling, stereoscopic photography and socialism. Koechlin was enormously prolific. Despite his lack of worldly success, Koechlin was apparently a loved and venerated figure in French music.

***

David Brutti is an Italian saxophonist. Brutti studied saxophone with Jean Marie Londeix and Marie Bernadette Charrier at Conservatoire de Bordeaux. From 2000 to 2008 David Brutti was awarded in more than fifteen international and national competitions. In 2001 with the pianist Filippo Farinelli he formed the “Duo Disecheis” an ensemble devoted to contemporary and XX century music. Brutti has recorded for Radio France, Radio 3, Rai Trade, Cam Jazz, Artesuono, Materiali Sonori, Warner Chappell, Parco della Musica Records, Label Bleu, and since 2010 he is a Brilliant Classics artist.

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Charles Koechlin - Music for Saxophone & Piano (Federico Mondelci; Kathryn Stott)


Information

Composer: Charles Koechlin
  • (01-16) 15 Etudes for Saxophone and Piano, Op. 188
  • (17-22) Pieces for Saxophone and Piano, Op. 180

Federico Mondelci, saxophone
Kathryn Stott, piano
Date: 2001
Label: Chandos
https://www.chandos.net/products/catalogue/CHAN%209803

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Review

The two works here are both offered as premiere recordings, though the Pieces of Op. 180 are also known in a longer original version for horn. Koechlin was an exceptionally prolific composer but never fully appreciated in his own lifetime, and earned his living from other branches of the music profession. His work is unmistakably French in style and, despite the clear influence of both his teacher Fauré and other celebrated fellow countrymen, Koechlin developed a highly individual voice through his unique blend of tonality, atonality and modality. The 15 Études, the more substantial of the two works, contain some hauntingly beautiful passages, with long flowing lines and delicious harmonies, but was surely not intended to be heard as a complete composition and, whereas a shorter suite would emphasise the beauty, this full version rather outstays its welcome. The Seven Pieces introduce a new colour by employing a tenor saxophone in place of the more usual alto for some sections and, since all the movements are similar in both mood and tempo the change of timbre and tessitura is most effective. Federico Mondelci has a warm, mellifluous tone which suits the predominantly lyrical nature of this repertoire perfectly and, partnered by the sensitive playing of Kathryn Stott, makes clear his obvious passion for these pieces.

-- Tim Payne, BBC Music Magazine


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Charles Koechlin (27 November 1867 – 31 December 1950) was a French composer, teacher and writer on music. He was a political radical all his life and a passionate enthusiast for such diverse things as medieval music, The Jungle Book of Rudyard Kipling, Johann Sebastian Bach, film stars (especially Lilian Harvey and Ginger Rogers), traveling, stereoscopic photography and socialism. Koechlin was enormously prolific. Despite his lack of worldly success, Koechlin was apparently a loved and venerated figure in French music.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charles_Koechlin

***

Federico Mondelci is an Italian saxophonist. His principal studies were at the Conservatorio Statale di Musica ‘G. Rossini’ in Italy and later with Jean-Marie Londeix at the Bordeaux Conservatoire, France. Mondelci has represented Italy on several occasions in the World Saxophone Congress. In Italy, he has performed as soloist and as a conductor with major orchestras. In recent seasons, Mondelci has been a frequent guest in Germany and Russia.

***

Kathryn Stott (born 10 December 1958) is a British classical pianist who performs as a concerto soloist, recitalist and chamber musician. Her specialities include the English and French classical repertoire, contemporary classical music and the tango. She teaches at the Royal Academy of Music and Chetham's School of Music, and has organised several music festivals and concert series.

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Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Charles Koechlin - Organ Works (Christian Schmitt)


Information

Composer: Charles Koechlin
  1. Choral in F minor, Op. 90bis
  2. Deux Vocalises, Op. 212bis: Vocalise I. Allegretto ben moderato
  3. Deux Vocalises, Op. 212bis: Vocalise II. Adagio
  4. Choral 'Final du Requiem', Op. 161
  5. Sonatine, Op. 107 No. 3: Large et sostenu
  6. Sonatine, Op. 107 No. 3: Allegretto scherzando
  7. Sonatine, Op. 107 No. 3: Allegro - solide (style fugué - pour un final du Sonatine)
  8. Quatre Chorals, Op. 98: Moderato allant et bien lié
  9. Quatre Chorals, Op. 98: Un peu plus calme (que I) et très expressif
  10. Quatre Chorals, Op. 98: Très Adagio
  11. Quatre Chorals, Op. 98: Offertoire
  12. Pièce pour orgue, Op. 226
  13. Fugue, Op. 133 No. 2
  14. Adagio pour Grand-orgue, Op. 201
  15. Sonatine, Op. 107 No. 2: Pastorale - Fanfare (Clair, joyeux)
  16. Sonatine, Op. 107 No. 2: Allegro vivace (non troppo)
  17. Sonatine, Op. 107 No. 2: Calme et doux
  18. Sonatine, Op. 107 No. 2: Andante (non troppo lento)
  19. Sonatine, Op. 107 No. 2: Andante quasi Adagio
  20. Adagio, Op. 211
  21. Sonatine, Op. 107 No. 1: Allegretto
  22. Sonatine, Op. 107 No. 1: Allegretto
  23. Sonatine, Op. 107 No. 1: Pastorale (Allegro moderato - Quasi Allegretto)
  24. Fugue modale, Op. 204b

Christian Schmitt, organ
Date: 2011
Label: CPO
https://www.jpc.de/jpcng/cpo/detail/-/art/Charles-Koechlin-1867-1950-Orgelwerke/hnum/1230609

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Review

I’ve been aware of Charles Koechlin for a very long time, having played flute pieces of his for almost as long as I can remember. It’s only relatively recently however that his name seems to have been cropping up more in the CD catalogues, with fascinating and remarkable works such as the piano cycle Les Heures Persanes showing previously little known aspects of the composer. Organist Christian Schmitt has here recorded a representative sample of organ works by Koechlin, and as many of these are première recordings this disc will add considerably to our supply of Koechlinalea. 
  
Koechlin himself was more of a pianist than an organist, and the conventional nature of earlier works such as the Choral in F minor develops into further extremes of contrapuntal extremity as evidenced by the later opus numbered Choral Final du Requiem, which pushes canonic techniques into a labyrinthine elegy. If you like Hindemith’s organ sonatas, then the three Sonatines which Koechlin wrote during 1928-29 occupy comparable melodic and harmonic territory. Koechlin’s fascination and deep study of Bach comes through strongly in the Finale of Sonatine III, and the first and second of these pieces contrast with the rest of the programme in also having lighter Pastorale movements. There is also a good deal of melodic charm in the Quatre Chorals, produced as a by-product of the composer’s own composition classes. 
  
This programme contains what is apparently Koechlin’s last work, the eccentric Pièce pour orgue, Op. 226, which shows the composer exploring the essence of his own expressive palette in what the booklet notes describe as “sketchy textures.” More monumental is the extended Fugue Op.133 II originally written for “a symphonic string apparatus”, and with seemingly impossible chromatic lines. More gentle and improvisatory is the Adagio pour Grand-orgue Op.201, which nonetheless builds a remarkable structure in which one can become totally immersed.
  
The recently rebuilt 1950s Marktkirche organ is a tremendous instrument, and very well suited to this music. A more nasal French sound might arguably be more appropriate, but whether consciously or not the organ sound here points to the universality of Koechlin’s expressive world and to my ears is both appropriate and highly enjoyable. The CPO recording is very rich and deep even in plain stereo. As an SACD multi-channel experience it really is of demonstration quality. This is one of those inspiring releases which anyone keen on organ music and 20th century repertoire should have around. The organ music of Charles Koechlin should hold no fears for anyone attracted by the romantic worlds of Widor and Duruflé, and indeed it often harks back to more ancient worlds in its sometimes antique style and use of the models of Bach. This organ sound is woodsmoke and nostalgia to me, and has restored my faith in its qualities as a truly expressive instrument. Superbly performed and produced with useful booklet notes, it is one of the nicest organ recordings I’ve heard for a long time. 

-- Dominy Clements, MusicWeb International

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Charles Koechlin (27 November 1867 – 31 December 1950) was a French composer, teacher and writer on music. He was a political radical all his life and a passionate enthusiast for such diverse things as medieval music, The Jungle Book of Rudyard Kipling, Johann Sebastian Bach, film stars (especially Lilian Harvey and Ginger Rogers), traveling, stereoscopic photography and socialism. Koechlin was enormously prolific. Despite his lack of worldly success, Koechlin was apparently a loved and venerated figure in French music.

***

Christian Schmitt (born 1976 in Erbringen) is a German organist. He studied church music and concert performance (with distinction) in Saarbrücken and organ with James David Christie (Boston) and Daniel Roth (Paris). Christian Schmitt concertizes around the globe. He is an instructor at the Bach International Academy in Stuttgart and teaches at the Saar College of Music. Schmitt’s discography comprises more than thirty-five CD recordings featuring solo performances and live recordings for all the member radio stations of the German ARD network.

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Charles Koechlin - Chamber Music (Christoph Keller; Philippe Racine)


Information

Composer: Charles Koechlin

CD1:
  • 01-04 Viola Sonata, Op. 53
  • 05-16 Paysages et Marines, for piano, flute, clarinet, 2 violin & cello, Op. 63b
CD2:
  • 01-13 L'ancienne maison de campagne, Op. 124
  • 14-28 4 Nouvelles sonatine, Op. 87
  • 29 Danses pour Ginger Rogers, Op. 163: 2. Danse lente
CD3:
  • 01-09 L'album de Lilian, 1st serie, Op. 139
  • 10-17 L'Album de Lilian, 2nd serie, Op. 149
  • 18-24 Vers le Soleil, 7 monodies for ondes martenot, Op. 174
  • 25 Stèle Funéraire, for piccolo, flute & alto flute, Op. 224

Christoph Schiller, viola (CD1, 1-4)
Kiyoshi Kasai, flute (CD1 5-16)
Elmar Schmid, clarinet (CD1 5-16)
Alexandru Gavrilovici, violin (CD1 5-16)
Urs Walker, violin (CD1 5-16)
Patrick Demenga, cello (CD1 5-16)
Christoph Keller, piano (CD1, CD2)

Kathrin Graf, soprano (CD3 1, 6, 7, 9)
Daniel Cholette, piano (CD3 1-14, 16, 17), harpsichord (CD3 15)
Christine Simonin, ondes martenot (CD3 15, 18-24)
Philippe Racine, piccolo, flute & alto flute (CD3 4, 6-8, 10, 12, 14 16, 25)

Date: 1988 (CD1), 1989 (CD2, CD3)
Label: Accord

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Review

Perhaps dreams - restful and restless - are common to all music. Certainly they play a crucial part in Koechlin's creative apparatus.

Subtle, imbued with tragic feeling as befits the time of its composition, is Koechlin's potently charged Viola Sonata. It is of the most melancholic beauty in the first and third movements straddling a divide between Howells' chamber music of that period and Bax's own viola sonata of 1922. A contemporary madness plays over the scherzo. The passion of the times boils over in the finale but ultimately subsides into profound resignation and consolation. The two instruments have roles primus inter pares and this is further signified by the title which is sonata for piano and viola. It is dedicated to Milhaud who premiered it in Paris in 1915 with Jeanne Herscher-Clément.

Les Paysages et Marinesis a sequence of twelve often gentle pieces, none longer than 2:23 and many much shorter. It was originally for piano solo. The present chamber ensemble version was made in the last year of Koechlin's life - a sentimental journey no doubt. These encompass the restful, the smiling and the easygoing with a 'swing', a subtle affection in the manner of Debussy but always unclouded: paragons of instrumental clarity.Le chant du chèvrieris predictably Pan-like and classical. Koechlin effortlessly crystallises mood and ambience.

Both L'Ancienne maison de campagne and Quatre Nouvelles Sonatines relate to childhood but from the vantage point of adulthood. L'Ancienne maison de campagneis a set of thirteen pieces each titled. Only La Vieille Fontaine makes free with stark ringing Pierrot-style cut-glass discords. The other pieces mix memories of long distant piano lessons, the clip of folksong, the sway of lapping impressionism (as inEn ramant sur le lac) - all sharply etched moods. For me the most impressive of this vivid cycle is the tolling unshaded gleam of Les Collines et la vie tranquille where a Mediterranean warmth slows the pulse almost as much as the equally strong Reliques de deuil.

Then come the four Nouvelles sonatines. Folksy - even pretty - dances alternate with echoing shards of 18th century figuration - as in the finale of sonatine 3. Often more reflective material is used with the composer delighting in slow chordal decay and a slightly quicker-paced right-hand melodic line. Koechlin's mastery with material related to popular and local sources is comparable with that of another fine composer, Ronald Stevenson. These four little sonatas are innocent yet far from simple-minded pieces.

CD2 ends with the Danse Lente from Danses pour Ginger - yes another film tribute to go with so many others; this time to Ginger Rogers. The Danse is one of five pieces written when having written to Lilian Harvey she showed no interest whatsoever in his music. The Danse Lente has the honeyed and unhurriedly mellifluous tread of Satie's Gymnopédies and of Ravel's Mère l'Oye. Here is a discovery awaiting the seeker after atmospheric music for television or film productions.

The two sets of L'Album de Lilian date from 1934 and 1935. These are phantasmal, warmly bathed fantasies, curvaceous: lush without cloying. Most are inspired by Lilian Harvey's films eleven of which are alluded to. None of the individual movements last more than five minutes and most less than two. The First Set is almost ecstatically expressed - a revelling in delight. The only nightmare discontinuity comes with a lurch and a grating gear-change in the harshest of discords inPleurs. Its arrival is preceded by music of melting beauty variously allocated between piano solo, piano with flute and soprano with flute and piano. And yet the final piece - just after Pleurs- returns to delight and to the easy curve characteristic of Poulenc's most accessible and irresistibly sentimental songs. It sounds as if it might have escaped from operetta. The preceding pieces are frankly heart-warming. Several use the soprano for vocalise, leaving the impression of Bliss's Rhapsody and of comparable pieces by Koechlin's young protégé, Darius Milhaud. What an impression the film actress Lilian Harvey must have made on this 67 year old composer to have drawn from him such music! The second Lilian set runs to eight pieces - there are nine in the first – and is not as sentimental as the first.. Once again the various pieces deploy different permutations of instruments. The second piece Habanera Creole gives us a very impressionistic slant on a Cuban evening. Barcarolle Monégasqueis a lilting chiming seascape falling away into the silence of distance. La Voyage Chimérique sounds a wild note - the song of satyrs and Pan worship. This conveys a world as strange and distant as Holst's Humbert Wolfe song Betelgeuse. Yet more otherworldly is the Sicilenne de Rêve for harpsichord and onde martenot - the latter an instrument also much favoured by Jolivet. The ethereal ondes contrasts with gentle asides from the harpsichord. Les jeu de Clownis a miniature for grotesques with a touch of the dissonance encountered in Pleurs. Le Prière de l'Homme is reverential, slow stepping, concordant, a barely moving cortège through some hallowed sacred place.

Vers le soleil is a suite for Ondes Martenot solo. The banal and ululating potential of the instrument is kept under control with an intriguing armoury of crooning nostalgia and ethereal piping. This seven movement suite was written in 1939 on the sea voyage back from Morocco to France. It only suffers from irritating gurgling - in the manic manner of the score for Forbidden Planet- in the unnamed piece (tr. 22). From Les Sirènes with its eerie crooning to John Foulds' almost contemporaneous Lyra Celtica (vocalising soprano and orchestra) is but a very short step. The Final piece bids the listener a fond and brief farewell with more supernal piping.

CD3 closes with the subdued lamenting of Stèle funéraire for three flutes à tour de rôle.This is an elegy for Koechlin's friend, Paul Dommel. It was written in the last year of the composer's life. The ever-sensitive flautist Philippe Racine in succession plays alto flute in G, piccolo, bass flute and back to alto flute. It is for most of its duration profoundly subdued.

The notes to this set are by Michel Fleury and Philippe Racine – yes, the flautist. Each emphasises the role that beauty and dreams play in this music as well as providing us with the usual factual context.

The booklet provides the sung text of the welcome and farewell songs from the first set ofL'Album de Lilian.

Koechlin is gradually emerging into the sunlight and his subtle, sensitive and masterly music can well stand the exposure. This three disc set at Accord’s economic price – distributed by Discovery in the UK - merits the attention of all Koechlin fans who missed the CDs when issued individually. It will also please those coming to the composer for the first time.

-- Rob Barnett, MusicWeb International

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Charles Koechlin (27 November 1867 – 31 December 1950) was a French composer, teacher and writer on music. He was a political radical all his life and a passionate enthusiast for such diverse things as medieval music, The Jungle Book of Rudyard Kipling, Johann Sebastian Bach, film stars (especially Lilian Harvey and Ginger Rogers), traveling, stereoscopic photography and socialism. Koechlin was enormously prolific. Despite his lack of worldly success, Koechlin was apparently a loved and venerated figure in French music.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charles_Koechlin

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Christoph Keller (born 1950 in Glarus, Switzerland) is a Swiss pianist. He studied piano principally with Sava Savoff at the Conservatory and Music Academy of Zurich. Keller has enjoyed an international career as a pianist since 1971. He has performed in most European countries, in Japan, the USA and Venezuela. Keller has made over 30 CDs. numerous radio and TV recordings, and participated in the film ‘Solidarity Song’ by Larry Weinstein. His recordings have been given awards such as the ‘Grand Prix du Disque’ and the ‘Diapason d’or’.

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Philippe Racine (born 1958 in Switzerland) is a Swiss flutist. He studied music in Basel and Paris. Racine has established a reputation as a brilliant and innovative flutist among music lovers of the traditional classical repertoire, and is also an intense and dynamic advocate of contemporary music. He has also dedicated himself to improvised music, pop and Jazz-Rock. Since 1993 he has been teaching the flute at Zurich University Of The Arts.

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