Monday, May 30, 2016

Reynaldo Hahn - Œuvres pour ensembles (Ensemble Initium; Nicolas Chalvin)


Information

Composer: Reynaldo Hahn
  • (01-07) Le Bal de Béatrice d’Este
  • (08-10) Concerto provençal
  • (11-13) Sérénade
  • (14-19) Divertissement pour une fête de nuit

Ensemble Initium
Orchestre des Pays de Savoie
Nicolas Chalvin, conductor
Date: 2015
Label: Timpani
http://timpani-records.com/1c1231.php

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Review

Reynaldo Hahn is best known for his songs, his operettas and his relationship with Marcel Proust: the two were lovers between 1894 and 1896, remaining close friends after their separation; ‘Everything I have ever done has always been thanks to Reynaldo,’ Proust wrote, which is quite a statement. This collaboration between Ensemble Initium and the Orchestre des Pays de Savoie adds considerably to our understanding of both the man and his achievement with a group of works for wind ensemble and orchestra, composed between 1905 and 1944.

It might seem clichéd to say that Hahn, like his one-time lover, was in search of lost time, but his music, which has genuine charm, is at once retro and timeless. Few of the modernist developments of the 20th century seemingly impinged upon his style, which owes much to Massenet (his teacher) and something to Duparc, though the taut, closely woven Sérénade, written during his wartime exile in Monaco, nods in the direction of neo-classical astringency.

Elsewhere, though, a playful fondness for allusion and formal experimentation is very much in evidence. The Divertissement – strikingly scored for wind, piano and string quartet – and Le bal de Béatrice d’Este evoke the atmosphere and music of Vienna and Renaissance Italy respectively. Concerto provençale places the structure of a Baroque concerto grosso at the service of an über-Romantic depiction of trees in the south of France. The performances are all wonderfully idiomatic. The Concerto’s slow movement is breathtakingly done, though the farandole finale could do with a bit more spark. Balance, however, is sometimes a problem, with the Concerto’s soloists too far forward and the Divertissement’s string quartet, formed by the Savoie orchestra’s section leaders, sounding distant. But it’s a fine achievement overall, sensuous and elegant in equal measure. Very enjoyable.

-- Tim Ashley, Gramophone

More reviews:
http://www.musicweb-international.com/classrev/2015/June/Hahn_divertissement_1C1231.htm
http://www.musicweb-international.com/classrev/2015/Aug/Hahn_divertissement_1C1231.htm
https://www.amazon.co.uk/Hahn-Divertissement-Ensemble-Initium-Orchestre/dp/B00U2U9VZS

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Reynaldo Hahn (August 9, 1874 – January 28, 1947) was a Venezuelan, naturalised French, composer, conductor and music critic. Best known as a composer of songs, he wrote in the French classical tradition of the mélodie. As a conductor Hahn specialised in Mozart. For many years he was the influential music critic of the leading Paris daily, Le Figaro.

***

Founded in 2005 at the Paris Conservatory in the chamber music class of Maurice Bourgue, the Ensemble Initium is above all a wind octet of young professional musicians who furthered the practice of their instruments with the best present-day representatives of the French schools of woodwind and brass

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Reynaldo Hahn - Le Rossignol éperdu (Billy Eidi)


Information

Composer: Reynaldo Hahn

CD1:
  • (01-30) Le Rossignol éperdu: Première Suite
CD2:
  • (01-06) Le Rossignol éperdu: Orient
  • (07-15) Le Rossignol éperdu: Carnet de voyage
  • (16-23) Le Rossignol éperdu: Versailles

Billy Eidi, piano
Date: 2014
Label: Timpani

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Review

‘Le rossignol éperdu’ is to Hahn what Lieder ohne Worte is to Mendelssohn and Lyric Pieces to Grieg. It is a set of 53 short piano pieces, the earliest composed in 1899 when Hahn was in his mid-twenties, and completed in 1911. They were published in 1912 in four suites: Première Suite, Orient, Carnet de voyage and Versailles. The nightingale of the title is ‘éperdu’, translated variously as ‘bewildered’, ‘distracted’, ‘ecstatic’ or, in Timpani’s opaque booklet, ‘distraught’. The late Alistair Londonderry in his superior booklet-notes for Earl Wild’s 2001 world premiere recording suggests that ‘Perhaps this nightingale is all of these things. The collection can also be seen as a travel journal kept by a sensitive and sentimental melancholic.’ ‘Bewildering’ certainly describes the range of poets, paintings and places that inspired Hahn, as well as the sheer variety of these ‘poèmes pour piano’ (the work’s subtitle), the longest of which (No 3, ‘Douloureuse rêverie dans un bois de sapins’) lasts just over seven minutes in the hands of Billy Eidi, the shortest (No 14, ‘Portrait’) a mere 37 seconds.

Hahn’s unique musical style is a deft amalgam of Massenet (his teacher), Fauré and even Debussy (of whom, however, Hahn was not an admirer), with nods along the way to Mendelssohn, the clavecinistes (‘Les noces du duc de joyeuse’) and others. Each number on its own is an exquisite gem and to hear a handful at a time is delightful; but I wonder if Hahn is best served by having the four suites presented in two lengthy tranches (disc 1 of 30 numbers, 73'36"; disc 2 of 23 numbers, 57'42"), despite the sensitive playing of Eidi (a French pupil of Magda Tagliaferro and a specialist in French Romantic keyboard music). That said, I like his version every bit as much as Wild’s, both of them well recorded with appropriate intimacy.

-- Jeremy Nicholas, Gramophone

More reviews:
ClassicsToday ARTISTIC QUALITY: 8 / SOUND QUALITY: 8
http://www.musicweb-international.com/classrev/2015/Mar/Hahn_rossignol_2C2229.htm

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Reynaldo Hahn (August 9, 1874 – January 28, 1947) was a Venezuelan, naturalised French, composer, conductor and music critic. Best known as a composer of songs, he wrote in the French classical tradition of the mélodie. As a conductor Hahn specialised in Mozart. For many years he was the influential music critic of the leading Paris daily, Le Figaro.

***

Billy Eidi (born 1955) is a French pianist of Lebanese origin. He studied in Paris under Magda Tagliaferro, Jacques Coulaud and Jean Micault. He is currently a professor at the Conservatoire à Rayonnement Régional (CRR) in Paris and the Conservatoire National Supérieur de Musique (CNSM) in Lyon. Eidi has particularly championed the romantic repertoire (often with less performed works and composers) as well as 20th century French music.

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Saturday, May 28, 2016

Arnold Schoenberg - Gurrelieder (Seiji Ozawa)


Information

Composer: Arnold Schoenberg

CD1:
  1. Gurre-Lieder - Part I: 1. Orchestral Prelude
  2. Gurre-Lieder - Part I: 2. Waldemar: Nun dämpft die Dämmerung
  3. Gurre-Lieder - Part I: 3. Tove: O, wenn des Mondes Strahlen
  4. Gurre-Lieder - Part I: 4. Waldemar: Ross! Mein Ross!
  5. Gurre-Lieder - Part I: 5. Tove: Sterne jubeln
  6. Gurre-Lieder - Part I: 6. Waldemar: So tanzen die Engel
  7. Gurre-Lieder - Part I: 7. Tove: Nun sag ich dir zum ersten Mal
  8. Gurre-Lieder - Part I: 8. Waldemar: Es ist Mitternachtszeit
  9. Gurre-Lieder - Part I: 9. Tove: Du sendest mir einen Liebesblick
  10. Gurre-Lieder - Part I: 10. Waldemar: Du wunderliche Tove!
  11. Gurre-Lieder - Part I: 11. Voice of the Wood-dove: Doves of Gurre
CD2:
  1. Gurre-Lieder - Part II: 12. Waldemar: Herrgott, weisst du, was du tatest
  2. Gurre-Lieder - Part III: 13. Waldemar: Erwacht, König Waldemars Mannen wert!
  3. Gurre-Lieder - Part III: 14. Peasant: Deckel des Sarges Klappert
  4. Gurre-Lieder - Part III: 15. Waldemar's Men: Gegrüsst, o König
  5. Gurre-Lieder - Part III: 16. Waldemar: Mit Toves Stimme flüstert der Wald
  6. Gurre-Lieder - Part III: 17. Klaus the Jester: Ein seltsamer Vogel
  7. Gurre-Lieder - Part III: 18. Waldemar: Du strenger Richter
  8. Gurre-Lieder - Part III: 19. Waldemar's Men: Der Hahn erhebt den Kopf
  9. Gurre-Lieder - Part III: 20. Orchestral Prelude
  10. Gurre-Lieder - Part III: 21. Speaker: Herr Gänsefuss, Frau Gänsekraut
  11. Gurre-Lieder - Part III: 22. Mixed Chorus: Seht die Sonne

Jessye Norman, soprano
Tatiana Troyanos, mezzo-soprano
James McCracken, tenor
Kim Scown, tenor
David Arnold, baritone
Werner Klemperer, narrator
Tanglewood Festival Chorus
Boston Symphony Orchestra
Seiji Ozawa, conductor

Date: 1979
Label: Philips


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Review

ARTISTIC QUALITY: 9 / SOUND QUALITY: 8

This recording of Schoenberg’s Gurrelieder was made at Boston’s Symphony Hall in April, 1979. A distinguished cast of soloists headed by James McCracken (Waldemar), Jessye Norman (Tove), and Tatiana Troyanos (Wood Dove) joined the Boston Symphony Orchestra and Tanglewood Festival Chorus under Seiji Ozawa. Philips’ original LP issue sounded good but inevitably suffered near melt-down at Schoenberg’s gigantic climaxes. This drawback has been largely overcome in these newly-remastered CDs. Only at very high playback levels are you likely to find the brass too strident or the chorus sopranos edgy, although the sound is still generally top-heavy. However, it’s more likely you’ll get a call from your neighbours before reaching that point, and this transfer conveys not just the gigantism of the score but also the ambience of the recording location with palpable realism.

Ozawa’s account sometimes can be a little short on imagination, though. Compare the orchestral prelude to Waldemar’s first song, or the impressionistic strands of orchestration in the song of the wood-dove (Troyanos sings it beautifully!) to the Decca recording by Chailly and you’ll hear a wealth of inner detailing that Ozawa often paints over too hastily. Chailly is somewhat better at layering Schoenberg’s terraced orchestration so everything is audible, but Ozawa’s Wild Hunt at the beginning of Part 3 is especially well managed. The orchestra rips into the horrific passage following Waldemar’s “today the dead ride abroad” outburst with awesome power. There’s a heady feeling of catharsis, too, about Ozawa’s final chorus. Gurrelieder rarely fails here, but the trumpets blaze magnificently as the chorus intones “behold the sun”, clinching a performance that’s seldom as thoughtfully managed as Chailly’s, but that’s often more exciting at crucial moments.


More reviews:

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Arnold Schoenberg (13 September 1874 – 13 July 1951) was an Austrian composer, leader of the Second Viennese School. Schoenberg was known early in his career for simultaneously extending the traditionally opposed German Romantic styles of Brahms and Wagner. Later, his name would come to personify innovations in atonality that would become the most polemical feature of 20th-century art music. In the 1920s, Schoenberg developed the twelve-tone technique, an influential compositional method of manipulating an ordered series of all twelve notes in the chromatic scale.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arnold_Schoenberg

***

Seiji Ozawa (born September 1, 1935) is a Japanese conductor, best known for his 29 years tenure as music director of the Boston Symphony Orchestra (1979-2002). He was also the principal conductor of the Vienna State Opera from 2002 to 2010. Ozawa has been an advocate of 20th-century classical music, giving the premieres of a number of works including György Ligeti's San Francisco Polyphony in 1975 and Olivier Messiaen's opera Saint François d'Assise in 1983.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Seiji_Ozawa

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Anton Webern; Alban Berg; Arnold Schoenberg - Orchestral Works (Herbert von Karajan)


Information

Composer: Anton Webern; Alban Berg; Arnold Schoenberg
  1. Webern - Passacaglia for orchestra, Op. 1
  2. Berg - Lyric Suite for orchestra: 1. Andante amoroso
  3. Berg - Lyric Suite for orchestra: 2. Allegro misterioso
  4. Berg - Lyric Suite for orchestra: 3. Adagio appassionato
  5. Berg - 3 Pieces for orchestra, Op. 6: 1. Praeludium
  6. Berg - 3 Pieces for orchestra, Op. 6: 2. Reigen
  7. Berg - 3 Pieces for orchestra, Op. 6: 3. Marsch
  8. Schoenberg - Variations for orchestra, Op. 31: Introduktion. Mäßig, ruhig
  9. Schoenberg - Variations for orchestra, Op. 31: Thema. Molto moderato
  10. Schoenberg - Variations for orchestra, Op. 31: Variation I. Moderato
  11. Schoenberg - Variations for orchestra, Op. 31: Variation II. Langsam
  12. Schoenberg - Variations for orchestra, Op. 31: Variation III. Mäßig
  13. Schoenberg - Variations for orchestra, Op. 31: Variation IV. Walzertempo
  14. Schoenberg - Variations for orchestra, Op. 31: Variation V. Bewegt
  15. Schoenberg - Variations for orchestra, Op. 31: Variation VI. Andante
  16. Schoenberg - Variations for orchestra, Op. 31: Variation VII. Langsam
  17. Schoenberg - Variations for orchestra, Op. 31: Variation VIII. Sehr rasch
  18. Schoenberg - Variations for orchestra, Op. 31: Variation IX. L'istesso tempo; aber etwas langsamer
  19. Schoenberg - Variations for orchestra, Op. 31: Finale. Mäßig schnell

Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra
Herbert von Karajan, conductor
Dates: 1972 (5-7), 1973 (2-4), 1974 (1, 8-19)
Label: Deutsche Grammophone
http://www.deutschegrammophon.com/en/cat/4577602

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Reviews

ARTISTIC QUALITY: 10 / SOUND QUALITY: 8

These performances, from a 1970’s 4-LP set of Second Viennese School composers, are some of Herbert von Karajan’s finest. Here we find the conductor’s particular idiosyncrasies (extreme dynamic contrasts, emphasis on sonority over movement) perfectly suited to the music (as opposed to works in which he hasn’t a clue, i.e., Schumann symphonies). As some of these works near the century mark, there are still many who find them difficult and impenetrable. Karajan sheds light by bringing all the varied motifs to the surface while maintaining a coherent balance. This is especially so in the Schoenberg Variations, a piece that can sound drearily academic. But here we are consistently compelled to keep listening for the next ingenious orchestral effect. What’s more, Karajan finds real feeling in this music, a quality that is conspicuously absent from Pierre Boulez’s Erato recording, however brilliantly played by the Chicago Symphony.

The Berg Three Pieces for Orchestra is played with a ferocity not found in most interpretations, even James Levine’s excellent Metropolitan Opera Orchestra performance on Sony Classical. The final brass flourish is amazingly detailed. The chilling sound of the Berlin strings in the three Lyric Suite pieces is reminiscent of Bernard Herrmann’s music for the film Psycho. In Webern’s Passacaglia the orchestral timbres are brightly lit and fully fleshed out–from the hushed solo flute in the beginning to the snarling brass at the climax. The original set also included the best-ever performance of Webern’s Six Pieces for Orchestra. So far Deutsche Grammophon has not seen fit to include it in its “Originals” series. Has it been consigned to oblivion? Let’s hope not. The sound, significantly more transparent than on the previous remastering, is not hi-fi in the modern sense, but perfectly suits the character of the performances and makes a terrific impact. Even if you are not new to this music, and especially if you are, this is a must-have.

-- Victor Carr Jr., ClassicsToday

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ARTISTIC QUALITY: 10 / SOUND QUALITY: 8

Remember Herbert von Karajan? Perhaps it was inevitable that after his death his reputation would fall into something of an eclipse, but given the size of his discography the classical music world’s shortness of memory is rather breathtaking. Make no mistake: he was a great conductor, though not necessarily in the repertoire he recorded most frequently. But thanks to Arkivmusic.com’s “on demand” program, some of his best titles remain available to a new generation of collectors. Here is one.

Karajan reportedly felt so strongly about his recordings of the Second Viennese School that he agreed to finance them himself when DG balked at picking up the tab. These are great performances, to be sure. Indeed, there may be some others that are comparable, but none are superior. The Berg pieces never have sounded so decadently beautiful, nor the Webern so passionately intense, or the Schoenberg so, well, just plain listenable. The Berlin Philharmonic strings make their usual luscious sounds, but here the winds, brass, and even percussion rise to the occasion as well. And sonically these were always some of Karajan’s best efforts. Essential, then, and a perfect way to get to know these three composers on a single disc.

-- David Hurwitz, ClassicsToday

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More info & reviews:
http://www.amazon.com/Webern-Passacaglia-Schoenberg-Variations-Orchestra/dp/B000031WYL

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Arnold Schoenberg (13 September 1874 – 13 July 1951) was an Austrian composer, leader of the Second Viennese School. Schoenberg was known early in his career for simultaneously extending the traditionally opposed German Romantic styles of Brahms and Wagner. Later, his name would come to personify innovations in atonality that would become the most polemical feature of 20th-century art music. In the 1920s, Schoenberg developed the twelve-tone technique, an influential compositional method of manipulating an ordered series of all twelve notes in the chromatic scale.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arnold_Schoenberg

***

Anton Webern (3 December 1883 – 15 September 1945) was an Austrian composer and conductor. Along with his mentor Arnold Schoenberg and his colleague Alban Berg, Webern comprised the core among those within and more peripheral to the circle of the Second Viennese School. Webern's compositions are concise, distilled, and select; just thirty-one of his compositions were published in his lifetime.

***

Alban Berg (February 9, 1885 – December 24, 1935) was an Austrian composer. He was a member of the Second Viennese School with Arnold Schoenberg and Anton Webern, and produced compositions that combined Mahlerian Romanticism with a personal adaptation of Schoenberg's twelve-tone technique. He is considered to have brought more "human values" to the twelve-tone system, his works seen as more "emotional" than Schoenberg's.

***

Herbert von Karajan (5 April 1908 – 16 July 1989) was an Austrian conductor. He was principal conductor of the Berlin Philharmonic for 35 years. He is generally regarded as one of the greatest conductors of the 20th century. He made a large number of recordings and was the top-selling classical music recording artist of all time, having sold an estimated 200 million records. He was admired and also criticized for his over polished sound of the orchestras he conducted.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Herbert_von_Karajan

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Arnold Schoenberg - Transfigured Night; Pelleas und Melisande (Herbert von Karajan)


Information

Composer: Arnold Schoenberg
  1. Verklärte Nacht, Op. 4: 1. Grave
  2. Verklärte Nacht, Op. 4: 2. Molto rallentando
  3. Verklärte Nacht, Op. 4: 3. Pesante - Grave
  4. Verklärte Nacht, Op. 4: 4. Adagio
  5. Verklärte Nacht, Op. 4: 5. Adagio
  6. Pelleas und Melisande, Op. 5: Die Achtel ein wenig bewegt - zögernd
  7. Pelleas und Melisande, Op. 5: Heftig
  8. Pelleas und Melisande, Op. 5: Ciff. 9: Lebhaft
  9. Pelleas und Melisande, Op. 5: Ciff. 16: Sehr rasch
  10. Pelleas und Melisande, Op. 5: Ciff. 33: Ein wenig bewegt
  11. Pelleas und Melisande, Op. 5: Ciff. 36: Langsam
  12. Pelleas und Melisande, Op. 5: Ciff. 43: Ein wenig bewegter
  13. Pelleas und Melisande, Op. 5: Ciff. 50: Sehr langsam
  14. Pelleas und Melisande, Op. 5: Ciff. 55: Etwas bewegt
  15. Pelleas und Melisande, Op. 5: Ciff. 59: In gehender Bewegung
  16. Pelleas und Melisande, Op. 5: Ciff. 62: Breit

Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra
Herbert von Karajan, conductor
Recording dates: 1973 (1-5), 1974 (6-16)
Label: Deutsche Grammophon
http://www.deutschegrammophon.com/en/cat/4577212

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Review

Reference Recording: Karajan’s Luscious Schoenberg

Herbert von Karajan. Remember him? Considering how much he recorded, he gets remarkably little mention nowadays—but at his best, as here, he was amazing. He reportedly paid for these recordings himself because he believed in the importance of preserving the masterworks of the Second Viennese School, and the effort shows. Of course, his approach to string playing was uniquely rich, sensual, and so out of fashion in these days of vibratoless “authenticity”—but Karajan new personally what the truly authentic style in this music should have been, and this is it.

His Verklärte Nacht is almost suffocatingly decadent, and phrased as a single, 30-minute long arch of melody. It’s not for those on a low calorie aural diet, that’s for sure. The “transfigured” closing pages are especially magical, but that might be said of the whole performance. Similarly, Pelleas is so lovingly phrased, so beautiful and purposeful in its progress, that the music’s intense chromaticism never degenerates into mere timbral sludge (as it so often can). Each episode is fully characterized and richly colored, and you always get the sense that something is “happening,” even if you’re not sure exactly what (then again, the characters in this story are just as clueless as we are).

Does anyone listen to this music frequently? Perhaps not, but when you do, you might as well go for broke, as Karajan does here.

-- David Hurwitz, ClassicsToday


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Arnold Schoenberg (13 September 1874 – 13 July 1951) was an Austrian composer, leader of the Second Viennese School. Schoenberg was known early in his career for simultaneously extending the traditionally opposed German Romantic styles of Brahms and Wagner. Later, his name would come to personify innovations in atonality that would become the most polemical feature of 20th-century art music. In the 1920s, Schoenberg developed the twelve-tone technique, an influential compositional method of manipulating an ordered series of all twelve notes in the chromatic scale.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arnold_Schoenberg

***

Herbert von Karajan (5 April 1908 – 16 July 1989) was an Austrian conductor. He was principal conductor of the Berlin Philharmonic for 35 years. He is generally regarded as one of the greatest conductors of the 20th century. He made a large number of recordings and was the top-selling classical music recording artist of all time, having sold an estimated 200 million records. He was admired and also criticized for his over polished sound of the orchestras he conducted.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Herbert_von_Karajan

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Arnold Schoenberg; Franz Schubert - Transfigured Night; String Quintet (Hollywood String Quartet)


Information

Composer: Arnold Schoenberg; Franz Schubert
  1. Schoenberg - Verklärte Nacht, for string sextet, Op. 4: Sehr langsam (Stanza 1)
  2. Schoenberg - Verklärte Nacht, for string sextet, Op. 4: Etwas bewegter (Stanza 2)
  3. Schoenberg - Verklärte Nacht, for string sextet, Op. 4: Schwer betont (Stanza 3)
  4. Schoenberg - Verklärte Nacht, for string sextet, Op. 4: Sehr breit und langsam (Stanza 4)
  5. Schoenberg - Verklärte Nacht, for string sextet, Op. 4: Sehr ruhig (Stanza 5)
  6. Schubert - String (Cello) Quintet in C major, D. 956 (Op. posth. 163): 1. Allegro ma non troppo
  7. Schubert - String (Cello) Quintet in C major, D. 956 (Op. posth. 163): 2. Adagio
  8. Schubert - String (Cello) Quintet in C major, D. 956 (Op. posth. 163): 3. Scherzo (Presto) - Trio (Andante sostenuto)
  9. Schubert - String (Cello) Quintet in C major, D. 956 (Op. posth. 163): 4. Allegretto

Alvin Dinkin, viola (1-5)
Kurt Reher, cello
Hollywood String Quartet
Felix Slatkin, violin
Paul Shure, violin
Paul Robyn, viola
Eleanor Aller Slatkin, cello
Date: 1950 (1-5), 1951 (6-9)
Label: Testament


***

This is the premier recording of Schoenberg's Verklärte Nacht for string sextet and the composer himself wrote the liner notes for LP release:

At the end of the Nineteenth Century the foremost representatives of the Zeitgeist (Spirit of the times) in poetry were Detlev von Liliencron, Hugo von Hofmannsthal and Richard Dehmel. But in music, after Brahms' death, many young composers followed the example of Richard Strauss by composing 'programme' music. This explains the origin of Verklärte Nacht: it is "programme" music, illustrating and giving musical expression to the poem from "Weib und Welt" by Richard Dehmel.

However, my composition was perhaps somehow different from other illustrative compositions, first by not being for orchestra, but for a chamber group; second, because it does not illustrate any action or drama, but was restricted to portray nature and to express human emotions. It seems that, due to this attitude, my composition has gained qualities which can satisfy even if one does not know what it illustrates; or, in other words, it can be appreciated as "pure" music. Thus, perhaps, it can make you forget the poem which many people today might call repulsive.

Nevertheless, much of the poem deserves appreciation because of its highly poetic presentation of the emotions aroused by the beauty of nature, and for the distinguished moral attitude in dealing with a staggeringly difficult human problem.

Promenading in a park on a clear, cold moonlight night, the wife confesses a tragedy to the man in a dramatic outburst. She had married a man whom she did not love. She was unhappy and lonely in this marriage, but forced herself to remain faithful, and finally, obeying the maternal instinct, she is now with child from the man she does not love. She even had considered herself praiseworthy for fulfilling her duty toward the demands of nature. A climactic ascension expresses her self-accusation of her great sin. In desperation she now walks beside the man with whom she has fallen in love, fearing his sentence will destroy her. But "the voice of a man speaks, a man whose generosity is as sublime as his love."

The first half of the composition ends in E flat minor of which, as a transition, only B flat remains, in order to connect with the extreme contrast in D major.

Harmonics, adorned by muted runs, express the beauty of the moonlight and introduce, above a glittering accompaniment, a secondary theme which soon changes into a duet between violin and 'cello. This section reflects the mood of a man whose love, in harmony with the splendour and radiance of nature, is capable of ignoring the tragic situation: "The child you bear must not be a burden to your soul."

Having reached a climax, this duet is connected by a transition with a new theme. Its melody, expressing the "warmth that flows from one of us into the other," the warmth of love, is followed by repetitions and elaborations of preceding themes. It leads finally to another new theme which corresponds to the man's dignified resolution: this warmth "will transfigure your child" so as to become "my own." An ascension leads to a climax, a repetition of the second part of the man's theme.

A long coda section concludes the work. Its material consists of themes of the preceding parts, all of them modified anew, so as to glorify the miracles of nature that have changed this night of tragedy into a transfigured night.

It should not be forgotten that this work, at its first performance in Vienna, was hissed and caused riots and fist fights. But it soon became very successful.

-- Arnold Schoenberg, 1950

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Review

This 1950 recording remains the finest version of Schoenberg’s Verklärte Nacht yet recorded, at least in the original sextet version. The composer himself contributed the notes to the original release and endorsed the interpretation, and Schoenberg was notoriously cranky and difficult to please. He insisted that the ensemble play the work for him privately before agreeing to give the recording his seal of approval.

The Hollywood String Quartet was an amazing ensemble. Composed of studio musicians, they specialized in contemporary music, and allied amazing versatility with strict classical training to achieve a stunning degree of ensemble precision and virtuosity. Perhaps that fact that the players (conductor Leonard Slatkin’s parents among them) were all studio musicians inspired them to work harder to be taken seriously. One of their sterling qualities was superb intonation, a critical factor in their success in playing highly chromatic music such as this, and one which prevents the music from turning into a murky sludge of slithery harmonies. The moment when the music achieves its “transfigured” key of D major is just spellbinding.

This performance of Schubert’s Quintet is also one of the great ones. Ideally paced (especially in the Adagio) and perfectly balanced between vigor and effortless lyricism, the interpretation is wholly idiomatic. The scherzo, for example, has the necessary rugged, rustic quality (sound clip), but it also demonstrates the players’ ability to “play hard” without sacrificing beauty of tone or ensemble balance. Recorded in 1951, a year after the Schoenberg, the sonics in both works have held up very well. Although dated, nothing comes between the listener and a visceral experience of the performances. This is unquestionably one of the great chamber music recordings. No serious collection should be without it.

One additional point: Roger Norrington likes to cite, as “evidence” for his spurious claim that string players in the early 20th century avoided vibrato, Schoenberg’s comparison of excessive vibrato to the braying of a billy goat. Aside from the fact that Schoenberg’s remarks, in context, mean something very different from what Norrington says they do, his endorsement of this performance belies any suggestion that he had an issue with vibrato. Not only do the Hollywood players employ it generously and audibly, the use of the technique actually contributes to the purity of intonation that is such a hallmark of their ensemble sound. The notion that vibrato, correctly used, adversely effects intonation is in fact false, and this disc proves it.

-- David Hurwitz, ClassicsToday

More reviews:

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Arnold Schoenberg (13 September 1874 – 13 July 1951) was an Austrian composer, leader of the Second Viennese School. Schoenberg was known early in his career for simultaneously extending the traditionally opposed German Romantic styles of Brahms and Wagner. Later, his name would come to personify innovations in atonality that would become the most polemical feature of 20th-century art music. In the 1920s, Schoenberg developed the twelve-tone technique, an influential compositional method of manipulating an ordered series of all twelve notes in the chromatic scale.

***

Hollywood String Quartet was an American string quartet founded by violinist/conductor Felix Slatkin and his wife cellist Eleanor Aller in 1939 and disbanded in 1961. The Hollywood String Quartet is considered to be the first American-born and trained classical music chamber group to make an international impact, mainly through its landmark recordings. The Quartet sound has been acclaimed for its clarity of texture due in part to their excellent intonation.

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Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Alexander Scriabin; Alexander Nemtin - Preparation for the Final Mystery (Vladimir Ashkenazy)


Information

Composer: Alexander Scriabin; Alexander Nemtin

CD1:
  • (01-14) Nuances, ballet (from Scriabin's late piano pieces, orchestrated by Nemtin)
  • (15-22) Preparation for the Final Mystery - Part I. Universe
CD2:
  • (01-06)  Preparation for the Final Mystery - Part II. Mankind
CD3:
  • (01-11) Preparation for the Final Mystery - Part III. Transfiguration

Alexandre Ghindin, piano (Nuances)
Alexei Lubimov, piano (Preparation)
Thomas Trotter, organ (Preparation)
Anne-Kristiina Kaappola, soprano (Preparation)
St. Petersburg Chamber Choir (Preparation)
Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin
Vladimir Ashkenazy, conductor
Date: 1996 (Nuances), 1997 (Preparation)
Label: Decca

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Review




Around 1903 Scriabin first conceived the idea of Mysterium, a seven day and seven night spritual/artistic experience incorporating music, poetry, visual effects, dancing, and chanting. Preparation for the Final Mystery was meant to usher his audience into the cosmic awareness necessary for Mysterium. Scriabin worked on Preparation mainly during 1912-13. He died in 1915, leaving 53 pages of sketches. Based on his intimacy with Scriabin's style, and using Scriabin's one thousand-line text as a guide, composer Alexander Nemtin (1936-1999) embarked on a realization of the work. The result is a massive three-part composition (1.Universe 2.Mankind 3.Transfiguration) for orchestra, wordless chorus and soloists, organ, piano obbligato, and even a "light keyboard". The project occupied Nemtin for more than 26 years, ironically becoming his life's work.

Of course, the main question is, "Does it sound like Scriabin"? Well, yes and no. The tone cluster that opens Universe (part one) resembles Tippett, but this soon resolves to the chord (based on fourths and augmented intervals) familiar from Prometheus and the late sonatas. (Reminiscences of Prometheus and the Poem of Ecstasy are ubiquitous.) Nemtin is a late 20th century composer and aspects of his own personality do appear despite his desire to act merely as a musical "medium". (The grand conclusion to the work sounds more like Schnittke than anyone else.)

It's questionable whether Scriabin would have actually completed such an expansive work, given that the late piano sonatas and orchestral works demonstrate an increasing concentration of thematic material into shorter forms. Consequently, much of "Preparation" sounds like filler. In many passages harmonic sequences and motifs are repeated seemingly endlessly, then interrupted by impressive orchestral flourishes, but not always soon enough to prevent ear fatigue. On the other hand, Ashkenazy and his assembled forces perform this music as if they believe in every bar. For those enthralled by Scriabin's cosmology, Preparation will be an ecstatic, mystical experience. Devotees of Scriabin's late harmonic style will find much to fascinate. Others may find themselves driven batty by more than two and one half hours of endless unresolved cadences.

Nemtin's 1975 Nuances is a ballet based on orchestrations of Scriabin's late piano miniatures. The beguiling melodies, delicate orchestration, and brevity of these pieces feel like a light dessert after a very heavy meal (except that the ballet comes first on the discs, so maybe it's an appetizer). The recorded sound throughout is very detailed and atmospheric, with a wide dynamic range. Whatever one's reservations about the success of Nemtin's reconstruction, it would be hard to disagree that the performance itself is exemplary.

-- Victor Carr, ClassicsToday

More reviews:
http://www.gramophone.co.uk/review/scriabinnemtin-mysterium
http://www.musicweb-international.com/classrev//2000/Oct00/scriabinmystery.htm
http://classicalcdreview.com/mysterium.htm
http://www.allmusic.com/album/scriabin-preparation-for-the-final-mystery-mw0001840750
http://www.amazon.com/Scriabin-Preparation-Mystery-Alexei-Lubimov/dp/B00002R2SQ

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Alexander Scriabin (6 January 1872 [O.S. 25 December 1871] – 27 April [O.S. 14 April] 1915) was a Russian composer and pianist. Independently of Arnold Schoenberg, Scriabin developed a substantially atonal and much more dissonant musical system. He is considered by some to be the main Russian Symbolist composer.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alexander_Scriabin

***

Vladimir Ashkenazy (born July 6, 1937) is a Russian-born pianist and conductor of Icelandic and Swiss citizenship. His piano playing is bright and incisive, with clear articulation. Ashkenazy has recorded a wide range of piano repertoire, both solo works and concerti. Midway through his pianistic career, Ashkenazy branched into conducting and steadily increased his activity.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vladimir_Ashkenazy

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Alexander Scriabin - Symphonies; Symphonic Poems (Evgeny Svetlanov)


Information
  1. Symphony No. 1 in E major, Op. 26: I. Lento
  2. Symphony No. 1 in E major, Op. 26: II. Allegro dramatico
  3. Symphony No. 1 in E major, Op. 26: III. Lento
  4. Symphony No. 1 in E major, Op. 26: IV. Vivace
  5. Symphony No. 1 in E major, Op. 26: V. Allegro
  6. Symphony No. 1 in E major, Op. 26: VI. Andante
  7. Rêverie, Op. 24

Olga Alexandrova, mezzo soprano
Andrey Salnikov, tenor
Moscow Radio Large Choir; Lyudmila Ermakova, choirmaster
Russian State Symphony Orchestra
Evgeny Svetlanov, conductor
Date: 1996
Label: Warner Classics


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Information
  1. Symphony No. 2 in C minor, Op. 29: I. Andante
  2. Symphony No. 2 in C minor, Op. 29: II. Allegro
  3. Symphony No. 2 in C minor, Op. 29: III. Andante
  4. Symphony No. 2 in C minor, Op. 29: IV. Tempestoso
  5. Symphony No. 2 in C minor, Op. 29: V. Maestoso
  6. Le Poème de l'extase, Op. 54

Vladimir Zikov, trumpet
Ales Barta, organ
Russian State Symphony Orchestra
Evgeny Svetlanov, conductor
Date: 1996
Label: Warner Classics


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Information
  1. Symphony No. 3 in C minor "Le Divin Poème", Op. 43: Introduction. Lento
  2. Symphony No. 3 in C minor "Le Divin Poème", Op. 43: I. Luttes (Struggles). Allegro
  3. Symphony No. 3 in C minor "Le Divin Poème", Op. 43: II. Voluptés (Delights). Lento
  4. Symphony No. 3 in C minor "Le Divin Poème", Op. 43: III. Jeu divin (Divine Play). Allegro
  5. Le Poème du Feu "Prométhée", Op. 60 

Peter Izotov, piano
Ales Barta, organ
Moscow Radio Large Choir; Lyudmila Ermakova, choirmaster
Russian State Symphony Orchestra
Evgeny Svetlanov, conductor
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Alexander Scriabin (6 January 1872 [O.S. 25 December 1871] – 27 April [O.S. 14 April] 1915) was a Russian composer and pianist. Independently of Arnold Schoenberg, Scriabin developed a substantially atonal and much more dissonant musical system. He is considered by some to be the main Russian Symbolist composer.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alexander_Scriabin

***

Evgeny Svetlanov (6 September 1928—3 May 2002) was a Russian conductor, composer and though less well-known, a pianist. Svetlanov was particularly noted for his interpretations of Russian works – he covered the whole range of Russian music. He was principal conductor of the USSR State Symphony Orchestra (now the Russian State Symphony Orchestra) from 1965 to 2000.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yevgeny_Svetlanov

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Monday, May 23, 2016

Alexander Scriabin - Early Piano Works (Stephen Coombs)


Information

Composer: Alexander Scriabin
  1. Piano Sonata in E flat minor: I
  2. Piano Sonata in E flat minor: II
  3. Piano Sonata in E flat minor: III
  4. Valse in F minor, Op. 1
  5. Valse in G sharp minor
  6. Valse in D flat major
  7. Variations on a theme by Mlle Egorova
  8. Nocturne in A flat major
  9. 2 Nocturnes, Op. 5: No. 1 in F sharp minor
  10. 2 Nocturnes, Op. 5: No. 2 in A major
  11. Sonate-fantaisie in G sharp minor, Op. posth.
  12. Fugue in E minor
  13. Canon in D minor
  14. Mazurka in B minor
  15. Mazurka in F major
  16. Etudes in D sharp minor, Op. 8 No. 12
  17. 2 Pieces for left hand, Op. 9: 1. Prelude in C sharp minor
  18. 2 Pieces for left hand, Op. 9: 2. Nocturne in D flat major
  19. Allegro appassionato, Op. 4

Stephen Coombs, piano
Date: 2000
Label: Hyperion
http://www.hyperion-records.co.uk/dc.asp?dc=D_CDH55286

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Review

A subtle‚ stimulating exploration of early Scriabin well­played and beautifully recorded

Stephen Coombs’s ‘The Early Scriabin’ follows his previous Hyperion recitals of Russian music by Arensky‚ Bortkiewicz‚ Liadov and Glazunov‚ but any suggestion that he has moved on to more familiar territory is triumphantly rebuffed in a programme of fascinating rarities played with a touching sensitivity and affection.

Coombs’s accompanying essay – a mine of information and research lucidly and stylishly presented – tells the history of such oddities as the sombre D minor Canon and E minor Fugue (their titles essentially alien to Scriabin’s precociously romantic and far­reaching sensibility; to a composer happy to admit that at nine years old he already ‘knew love in the fullest sense of the word’) or the complex provenance of the masterly E flat minor Sonata. How intriguing‚ too‚ to hear a radically richer second version of the D sharp minor Etude‚ Op 8‚ and to note the subtle indirection of Scriabin’s writing in the first of his two Nocturnes‚ Op 5. He also tells us that Scriabin’s genius received short shrift from the academic ancien régime; allowing him to graduate in piano but not in composition – a chilling reminder of the short­sightedness of too many teaching establishments.

Coombs’s performances are‚ for the most part‚ what painters call ‘low in tone’‚ and even when you wish for greater voltage in‚ say‚ the nightmarish equestrian finale of the Sonata (a quality relished by Bernd Glemser in his recent Naxos disc‚ 7/01) you can hardly wish for more gently persuasive accounts of the Waltzes or the A flat Nocturne‚ a bland Fieldian offering‚ though even here convention hardly disguises an already distinctive voice. He is much less dazzling and rhetorical than‚ for example‚ Leon Fleisher in the Prelude and Nocturne for the left hand (Sony‚ 10/93 – nla) but‚ conversely his playing suggests a subtly characterful and communing alternative. On the other hand he makes a full­blooded as well as finely graded assault on the cadenza just before the return of the principle idea in the Allegro appassionato so that‚ all in all‚ this record is a most impressive achievement‚ as beautiful in sound as it is endlessly thought­provoking.

-- Gramophone

More reviews:
BBC Music Magazine PERFORMANCE: ***** / SOUND: *****
http://www.musicweb-international.com/classrev/2015/June/Scriabin_early_CDH55286.htm
http://www.allmusic.com/album/the-early-scriabin-mw0001561567
http://www.amazon.com/Early-Piano-Works-A-Scriabin/dp/B000OQF58C

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Alexander Scriabin (6 January 1872 [O.S. 25 December 1871] – 27 April [O.S. 14 April] 1915) was a Russian composer and pianist. Independently of Arnold Schoenberg, Scriabin developed a substantially atonal and much more dissonant musical system. He is considered by some to be the main Russian Symbolist composer.

***

Stephen Coombs (born Birkenhead, July 11, 1960) is an English pianists. Aside from standard repertoire, he has become particularly well known for his interpretations of works by lesser-known late-Romantic composers. Coombs has achieved acclaim for his recordings in the massive Hyperion series The Romantic Piano Concerto.

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Alexander Scriabin - Piano Sonatas (Marc-André Hamelin)


Information

Composer: Alexander Scriabin

CD1:
  1. Piano Sonata No. 1 in F minor, Op. 6: I. Allegro con fuocoso
  2. Piano Sonata No. 1 in F minor, Op. 6: II. [crotchet = 40]
  3. Piano Sonata No. 1 in F minor, Op. 6: III. Presto
  4. Piano Sonata No. 1 in F minor, Op. 6: IV. Funèbre
  5. Piano Sonata No. 2 in G sharp minor "Sonata-Fantasy", Op. 19: I. Andante
  6. Piano Sonata No. 2 in G sharp minor "Sonata-Fantasy", Op. 19: II. Presto
  7. Piano Sonata No. 3 in F sharp minor, Op. 23: I. Drammatico
  8. Piano Sonata No. 3 in F sharp minor, Op. 23: II. Allegretto
  9. Piano Sonata No. 3 in F sharp minor, Op. 23: III. Andante
  10. Piano Sonata No. 3 in F sharp minor, Op. 23: IV. Presto con fuoco
  11. Fantaisie, Op. 28
  12. Piano Sonata No. 4 in F sharp major, Op. 30: I. Andante
  13. Piano Sonata No. 4 in F sharp major, Op. 30: II. Prestissimo volando
CD2:
  1. Piano Sonata No. 5, Op. 53
  2. Piano Sonata No. 6, Op. 62
  3. Piano Sonata No. 7 "Messe Blanche", Op. 64
  4. Piano Sonata No. 8, Op. 66
  5. Piano Sonata No. 9 "Messe Noire", Op. 68
  6. Piano Sonata No. 10, Op. 70
  7. Sonate-Fantaisie in G sharp minor, Op. posth.

Marc-André Hamelin, piano
Date: 1995
Label: Hyperion
http://www.hyperion-records.co.uk/dc.asp?dc=D_CDA67131/2
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Review

PERFORMANCE: ***** / SOUND: *****

Along with Robert Szidon (mid-price DG, but on three discs), Marc-André Hamelin’s complete Scriabin sonata collection is the most complete available (Ashkenazy on Decca and Taub on Harmonia Mundi omit the Fantaisies), though it inexplicably places the early Sonate-Fantaisie at the very end of an otherwise chronological survey. Yet Scriabin’s ten sonatas, despite their modest length individually, are hardly a cycle of works to listen to from beginning to end, with their intense exploration of heightened emotion and their other-worldly theosophical associations. Marc-André Hamelin rises to the challenges of this music with complete mastery. But his is more than a purely technical triumph (though the effortlessness of his playing has to be heard to be believed). Whether in the almost Brahmsian writing of Sonata No. 1, the heroicism of Nos 4 and 5, or in the visionary sound-world of No. 10, Hamelin draws the listener in through his acute shaping of every phrase and by achieving that almost impossible balance between languid, static ecstasy and momentous energy that characterises Scriabin’s mature music. Hyperion’s recorded sound is typically clean and warm.

-- Matthew Rye, BBC Music Magazine

More reviews:
http://www.gramophone.co.uk/review/scriabin-complete-piano-sonatas
http://www.musicweb-international.com/classrev/2015/June/Scriabin_sonatas_CDA67131.htm
http://www.amazon.com/Complete-Sonatas-Alexander-Nikolayevich-Scriabin/dp/B00000300U

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

Alexander Scriabin (6 January 1872 [O.S. 25 December 1871] – 27 April [O.S. 14 April] 1915) was a Russian composer and pianist. Independently of Arnold Schoenberg, Scriabin developed a substantially atonal and much more dissonant musical system. He is considered by some to be the main Russian Symbolist composer.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alexander_Scriabin

***

Marc-André Hamelin (born September 5, 1961) is a Canadian pianist and composer. He is admired for his virtuoso technique and the ability to make extremely difficult music sound effortless. He has made recordings of a wide variety of composers with the Hyperion label and well known for his attention to lesser-known composers.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marc-Andr%C3%A9_Hamelin

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Alexander Scriabin; Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky - Piano Concertos (Nikolai Demidenko)


Information

Composer: Alexander Scriabin
  1. Tchaikovsky - Piano Concerto No. 1 in B flat minor, Op. 23: 1. Allegro non troppo e molto maestoso - Allegro con spirito
  2. Tchaikovsky - Piano Concerto No. 1 in B flat minor, Op. 23: 2. Andantino simplice - Prestissimo - Andantino simplice
  3. Tchaikovsky - Piano Concerto No. 1 in B flat minor, Op. 23: 3. Allegro con fuoco - Molto meno mosso - Allegro vivo
  4. Scriabin - Piano Concerto in F sharp minor, Op. 20: 1. Allegro
  5. Scriabin - Piano Concerto in F sharp minor, Op. 20: 2. Andante - Allegro scherzando - Adagio - Allegretto - Tempo I
  6. Scriabin - Piano Concerto in F sharp minor, Op. 20: 3. Allegro moderato

Nikolai Demidenko, piano
BBC Symphony Orchestra
Alexander Lazarev, conductor
Date: 1994
Label: Hyperion
http://www.hyperion-records.co.uk/dc.asp?dc=D_CDH55304

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BBC MUSIC MAGAZINE'S BEST OF THE YEAR

PERFORMANCE: ***** / SOUND: *****

It is something of a major achievement when one manages to hear afresh such an over-familiar work as Tchaikovsky’s First Piano Concerto. But this is exactly what happens with Demidenko. He has a rare ability to project poetic resonances in the music that are so often overlooked by other pianists. In doing this, he can occasionally be wilful with some of Tchaikovsky’s precise phrasing and dynamics, and the tempo in the Allegro con spirito section of the first movement may seem a little too expansive. But I’d wager that the composer himself would have approved of a performance that eschews bombast and demonstrates such a creativity of approach. Lazarev and the BBC Symphony Orchestra offer sterling support throughout, and the beautifully balanced recording allows one to hear much fascinating inner detail. Similar qualities abound in the performance of Scriabin’s youthful and sometimes Chopinesque concerto. It’s a work that doesn’t deserve to languish in comparative obscurity, and Demidenko gives as convincing an account of the solo part as Ashkenazy on a much admired Decca release. Here one can savour the full range of Demidenko’s pianism, from the dreamy reflectiveness of the magical coda of the slow movement to the powerfully triumphant chords that bring the work to an impressive close.

-- Erik Levi, BBC Music Magazine

More reviews:
http://www.gramophone.co.uk/review/tchaikovskyscriabin-piano-concertos
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Alexander Scriabin (6 January 1872 [O.S. 25 December 1871] – 27 April [O.S. 14 April] 1915) was a Russian composer and pianist. Independently of Arnold Schoenberg, Scriabin developed a substantially atonal and much more dissonant musical system. He is considered by some to be the main Russian Symbolist composer.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alexander_Scriabin

***

Nikolai Demidenko (born July 1, 1955, Aniskino) is a Soviet-Russian-born classical pianist. 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 as well as neglected works of well-known composers.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nikolai_Demidenko

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Saturday, May 21, 2016

Alexander Scriabin - Piano Sonatas Nos. 2, 5 & 9; Etudes; Preludes (Sviatoslav Richter)


Information

Composer: Alexander Scriabin
  1. 24 Preludes, Op. 11: No. 2 in A minor
  2. 24 Preludes, Op. 11: No. 3 in G major
  3. 24 Preludes, Op. 11: No. 5 in D major
  4. 24 Preludes, Op. 11: No. 9 in E major
  5. 24 Preludes, Op. 11: No. 10 in C sharp minor
  6. 24 Preludes, Op. 11: No. 11 in B major
  7. 24 Preludes, Op. 11: No. 12 in G sharp minor
  8. 24 Preludes, Op. 11: No. 15 in D flat major
  9. 24 Preludes, Op. 11: No. 16 in B flat minor
  10. 24 Preludes, Op. 11: No. 17 in A flat major
  11. 24 Preludes, Op. 11: No. 18 in F minor
  12. 24 Preludes, Op. 11: No. 24 in D minor
  13. 6 Preludes, Op. 13: No. 1 in C major
  14. 6 Preludes, Op. 13: No. 4 in E minor
  15. 4 Preludes, Op. 37: No. 1 in B flat major
  16. 4 Preludes, Op. 37: No. 2 in F sharp major
  17. 4 Preludes, Op. 37: No. 3 in B major
  18. 4 Preludes, Op. 37: No. 4 in G minor
  19. 4 Preludes, Op. 39: No. 3 in G major
  20. 4 Preludes, Op. 39: No. 4 in A flat major
  21. 2 Pieces, Op. 59: 2. Prelude
  22. 5 Preludes, Op. 74: No. 1 Douloureux, déchirant
  23. 5 Preludes, Op. 74: No. 3 Allegro drammatico
  24. 5 Preludes, Op. 74: No. 4 Lent, vague, indécis
  25. Piano Sonata No. 2 in G sharp minor "Sonata-Fantasy", Op. 19: 1. Andante
  26. Piano Sonata No. 2 in G sharp minor "Sonata-Fantasy", Op. 19: 2. Presto
  27. 8 Etudes, Op. 42: No. 2 in F sharp minor
  28. 8 Etudes, Op. 42: No. 3 in F sharp major
  29. 8 Etudes, Op. 42: No. 4 in F sharp major
  30. 8 Etudes, Op. 42: No. 5 in C sharp minor
  31. 8 Etudes, Op. 42: No. 6 in D flat major
  32. 8 Etudes, Op. 42: No. 8 in E flat major
  33. Piano Sonata No. 5 in F sharp major, Op. 53
  34. Piano Sonata No. 9 "Black Mass", Op. 68
  35. 3 Pieces, Op. 52: 1. Poem in C major

Sviatoslav Richter, piano
Date: 1972
Label: Music & Arts

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Review

ARTISTIC QUALITY: 10 / SOUND QUALITY: 6

This all-Scriabin recital recorded live in Warsaw in October, 1972 captures the legendary Sviatoslav Richter in staggering form. He opens with a judiciously varied selection of Preludes, whose laser clarity and jaw-dropping digital control make most mortal pianists sound thick as a brick. The pianist takes incredible chances with the Second Sonata’s whirlwind finale, and easily transcends the knottier passages sprinkled throughout the Op. 42 Etudes. Granted, Richter’s ethereal trills in the Ninth Sonata don’t possess Horowitz’s jackhammer intensity, but few pianists match Richter’s light-fingered speed in the demanding Fifth Sonata, where he achieves miracles of color and dynamic shading largely through finger and hand balance, with little sustain pedal. A few wrong notes don’t matter in playing of this magnitude. The sound is not particularly alluring, but non-specialists will find it perfectly listenable. If you want more incisive engineering, go to Richter’s Prague Scriabin Second and Fifth on Praga, also from 1972, or the mesmerizing 1962 Fifth on Deutsche Grammophon. No Richter or Scirabin buff should be without this disc, newly reissued in Music & Arts’ mid-price Merit line.

-- Jed DistlerClassicsToday

More info & reviews:
http://www.amazon.com/Richter-Warsaw-The-Scriabin-Recital/dp/B008K1PWLS

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Alexander Scriabin (6 January 1872 [O.S. 25 December 1871] – 27 April [O.S. 14 April] 1915) was a Russian composer and pianist. Independently of Arnold Schoenberg, Scriabin developed a substantially atonal and much more dissonant musical system. He is considered by some to be the main Russian Symbolist composer.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alexander_Scriabin

***

Sviatoslav Richter (March 20 [O.S. March 7] 1915 – August 1, 1997) was a Soviet pianist known for the depth of his interpretations, virtuoso technique, and vast repertoire. He is considered one of the greatest pianists of the 20th century. Richter probably had the largest discography but he disliked the recording process, and most of Richter's recordings originate from live performances.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sviatoslav_Richter

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