Thursday, June 30, 2016

Arnold Bax - Symphonies (Vernon Handley)


Information

Composer: Arnold Bax

CD1:
  1. Symphony No. 1 in E flat major: I. Allegro moderato e feroce - Moderato espressivo - Tempo I
  2. Symphony No. 1 in E flat major: II. Lento solenne
  3. Symphony No. 1 in E flat major: III. Allegro maestoso - Allegro vivace ma non troppo presto
  4. Symphony No. 3: I. Lento moderato - Allegro moderato
  5. Symphony No. 3: II. Lento
  6. Symphony No. 3: III. Moderato - Più mosso - Tempo I
CD2:
  1. Symphony No. 2 in E minor and C major: I. Molto moderato - Allegro moderato
  2. Symphony No. 2 in E minor and C major: II. Andante - Più mosso - Poco largamente
  3. Symphony No. 2 in E minor and C major: III. Poco largamente - Allegro feroce - Meno mosso
  4. Symphony No. 4: I. Allegro moderato
  5. Symphony No. 4: II. Lento moderato - Più mosso (Allegro moderato)
  6. Symphony No. 4: III. Allegro - Allegro scherzando
CD3:
  1. Symphony No. 5: I. Poco lento - Allegro con fuoco
  2. Symphony No. 5: II. Poco lento - Molto tranquillo - Tempo I
  3. Symphony No. 5: III. Poco moderato - Allegro - Lento - Tempo I (Allegro)
  4. Symphony No. 6: I. Moderato - Allegro con fuoco
  5. Symphony No. 6: II. Lento, molto espressivo - Andante con moto
  6. Symphony No. 6: III. Introduction. Lento moderato - Poco più vivo
CD4:
  1. Rogue's Comedy Overture
  2. Tintagel
  3. Symphony No. 7: I. Allegro - Poco meno mosso - Tempo I
  4. Symphony No. 7: II. Lento - Più mosso. In Legendary Mood - Tempo I
  5. Symphony No. 7: III. Theme and Variations: Allegro
CD5:
  1. Interview with Vernon Handley by Andrew McGregor: Introduction
  2. Interview with Vernon Handley by Andrew McGregor: Bax and Vaughan Williams
  3. Interview with Vernon Handley by Andrew McGregor: Bax and his musical influences
  4. Interview with Vernon Handley by Andrew McGregor: First Symphony
  5. Interview with Vernon Handley by Andrew McGregor: Second Symphony and Third Symphony
  6. Interview with Vernon Handley by Andrew McGregor: Fourth Symphony
  7. Interview with Vernon Handley by Andrew McGregor: Fifth Symphony
  8. Interview with Vernon Handley by Andrew McGregor: Sixth Symphony
  9. Interview with Vernon Handley by Andrew McGregor: Seventh Symphony
  10. Interview with Vernon Handley by Andrew McGregor: Epilogue

BBC Philharmonic Orchestra
Vernon Handley, conductor
Date: 2002-2003
Label: Chandos
http://chandos.net/details06.asp?CNumber=CHAN%2010122

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Review

Vernon Handley’s Bax symphony cycle represents a landmark achievement

Enthusiasts have long clamoured for a Bax symphony cycle under the baton of the composer’s doughtiest champion, but even they could hardly have imagined that it would appear in one fell swoop – and from the same company that has already given us a sumptuous, if admittedly uneven, series under Bryden Thomson. Hats off, then, to the BBC Manchester Music Department (and executive producer Brian Pidgeon, in particular, for pushing the project through) and to Chandos for its foresight, courage and sheer enterprise. 

Let me say straight away that superlatives are in order here, though even seasoned Baxians will, I suspect, be startled by the propulsive vigour and sinewy strength of these performances. In its uncompromising thrust and snarling tragedy, Handley’s account of the First Symphony packs an almighty punch, yet at the same time he quarries more detail from Bax’s darkly opulent orchestration than I would ever have thought possible. In the symphony’s closing pages the motto theme’s sanguine tread is soon snuffed out, as Handley exposes the shredded nerve-ends of this music as never before. Listen out for the hair-raising shriek of E flat clarinet cutting through the texture at fig N (7'07"), those thrillingly ascending horns and numbingly powerful final chord (which brings the only fff marking in the whole movement – so typical of Handley’s concern for the long-term scheme). 

As for its wild and brooding successor, this painstaking newcomer generates less heady sensuality than either the Thomson or Myer Fredman’s pioneering Lyrita version (6/71 – nla), but there’s ample compensation in the chaste beauty and enviable authority of Handley’s conception. Spectacle is never pursued for its own sake, while the slow movement acquires an unexpected nobility. Above all, Handley is scrupulously attentive to the astonishing thematic unity and innumerable contrapuntal and harmonic felicities that bind together the progress of this extraordinary canvas. Throughout, the the BBC Philharmonic respond with such eager application that it’s easy to forgive some very slight loss of composure in the build-up to the symphony’s cataclysmic pinnacle. 

There can be no reservations whatsoever about Handley’s Third, an interpretation which strikes me as by far the finest we’ve had since Barbirolli’s legendary 1943-44 world première recording with the Hallé (Dutton, 9/01). Even more than the admirable David Lloyd-Jones on Naxos (2/00), Handley displays an unerring grip and rapt instinct. Bax’s iridescent textures shimmer and glow as they should, bass-lines stalk with reassuring logic and solidity (a salient feature of the entire set) and these exemplary artists distil all the poetry and mystery one could desire in the ravishing slow movement and epilogue (the latter will haunt you for days). I was also deeply moved by Handley’s tender, utterly unforced handling of the first movement’s Lento moderato secondary material (itself sublimely well integrated into the overall structure). This is, quite simply, a glorious performance of a glorious work. 

The delights continue with the Fourth, Handley’s previous recording of which (with his trusty Guildford PO on Concert Artist, 2/65 – nla) is comprehensively outflanked by this bracing remake. If you’ve ever regarded the Fourth as something of a loose-limbed interloper in the Bax canon, Handley will make you think again, such is the muscular rigour he locates in this lovable creation. At the same time, I revelled in the playful affection, rhythmic bite and pagan splendour of both outer movements (terrific brass) – and what eloquence and passion Handley draws from the BBC Philharmonic in the dappled seascape of the central Lento moderato. 

Revelations abound, too, in the Fifth. Like Lloyd-Jones before him (Naxos, 7/00), Handley plots a superbly inevitable course through the first movement, albeit with even greater snap, polish and emotional clout (sample the brazen fervour in and around the recapitulation at 4 before 38, or 12'15"). At the start of the slow movement (an unforgettable inspiration) the glinting brilliance and sheen of the orchestral playing really do take the breath away, as does the richness of the lower strings in the first subject (the violas truly cantabile as marked). An errant trumpet at 1 after 38, or 7'41", notwithstanding, the finale is stunning, its whirlwind Allegro a veritable bevy of cackling demons; indeed, I don’t think I’ve ever heard Handley sound quite so feisty and uninhibited in the studio. 

The bass ostinato that launches the Sixth picks up where the epilogue of the Fifth left off. Handley steers a taut course through this stormy first movement, though in some ways Norman Del Mar’s recording (Lyrita, 5/67 – nla) got closer still to the essence of Bax’s driven inspiration (warts and all, it evinces a lean hunger that remains compelling). Under Handley, the succeeding Lento has a gentle radiance that is very affecting, more semplice than molto espressivo and less indulgent than some may like (then again, that’s not this conductor’s way). However, it’s in the innovatory finale where Handley pulls ahead of the competition, cannily keeping some power in reserve for the clinching return of the introductory material at fig 34, or 11'05", and locating a transcendental wonder in the epilogue (suddenly the finale of Vaughan Williams’s Sixth has never seemed closer). 

Coming to Handley’s Seventh so soon after Lloyd-Jones’s enjoyable Naxos version (A/03) reinforced for me the difference between the convincing and utterly convinced. This is wonderfully wise and characterful music-making, the first movement in particular sounding for all the world as if it was set down in a single take. There’s bags of temperament about this performance, as well as an entrancing freedom, flexibility and purposefulness that proclaim an intimate knowledge of and (more crucially) total trust in the composer’s intentions. If you love the Seventh, you’ll adore what Handley makes of it, I promise. The BBC Philharmonic respond with unflagging spirit and tremendous body of tone, and not even the occasional ‘noise off’ can break the spell. 

A majestic Tintagel and rollicking account of the 1936 Rogue’s Comedy Overture complete the feast. Disc five houses an hour-long conversation about Bax the symphonist between the conductor and BBC presenter Andrew McGregor. Now and again, I found myself hankering after a slightly tighter focus (and in No 2 there are a couple of intriguing departures from my copy of the miniature score – the published parts apparently constitute something of a textual minefield and are full of such tiny inconsistencies); otherwise, Stephen Rinker’s engineering does fabulous justice to Bax’s rivetingly imaginative and highly individual orchestration (particularly towards the lower end of the spectrum). 

Truth to tell, I’m still reeling from the impact of this magnificent set; its insights are copious, Chandos’s layout is ideal (with none of the symphonies split between discs) and the price is tempting, too. All involved deserve our heartiest gratitude, and I can guarantee that Handley’s Bax will continue to reward, excite and stimulate for many years to come.

-- Andrew Achenbach, Gramophone


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Arnold Bax (8 November 1883 – 3 October 1953) was an English composer, poet, and author. His prolific output includes songs, choral music, chamber pieces, and solo piano works, but he is best known for his orchestral music. In addition to a series of symphonic poems he wrote seven symphonies and was for a time widely regarded as the leading British symphonist.

***

Vernon Handley (11 November 1930 – 10 September 2008) was a British conductor, known in particular for his support of British composers. Handley is much revered for his enthusiastic and untiring championship of British music, including many lesser known, unfashionable or relatively neglected composers whose artistic reputations and popularity he often helped to revive.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vernon_Handley

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Arnold Bax - In Memoriam; Concertante for piano left hand; The Bard of the Dimbovitza (Margaret Fingerhut; Vernon Handley)


Composer: Arnold Bax
  1. In Memoriam
  2. Concertante for piano left hand & orchestra: I. Allegro moderato
  3. Concertante for piano left hand & orchestra: II. Moderato tranquillo
  4. Concertante for piano left hand & orchestra: III. Rondo. Allegro moderato
  5. The Bard of the Dimbovitza: 1. Gypsy Song
  6. The Bard of the Dimbovitza: 2. The Well of Tears
  7. The Bard of the Dimbovitza: 3. Misconception
  8. The Bard of the Dimbovitza: 4. My Girdle I Hung on a Tree-top Tall
  9. The Bard of the Dimbovitza: 5. Spinning Song

Margaret Fingerhut, piano (2-4)
Jean Rigby, mezzo-soprano (5-9)
BBC Philharmonic Orchestra
Vernon Handley, conductor
Date: 1998
Label: Chandos
http://chandos.net/details06.asp?CNumber=CHAN%209715

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Review

A feast for Baxians everywhere. The glorious tune that dominates the 1916 tone-poem In Memoriam will be familiar to many enthusiasts from its use in Bax’s 1948 film score for David Lean’s Oliver Twist, and to hear it at last in its original surroundings is both a moving and thrilling experience. It had long been assumed that the 32-year-old composer never got round to scoring this deeply felt elegy (originally entitled In Memoriam Padraig Pearse and one of a series of works – including the Elegiac Trio, another In Memoriam for cor anglais, harp and string quartet, What the Minstrel told us for piano, and the Harp Quintet – directly inspired by the tragic events of the Easter Rising), so it gives me even greater pleasure than usual to report that Vernon Handley and the BBC Philharmonic do full justice to Bax’s opulent yet iridescent sound world, with its strong echoes of The Garden of Fand and Nympholept.

Next, we jump forward more than three decades to 1949 to the Concertante for left-hand piano and orchestra, written for Harriet Cohen after a domestic accident the previous year had left her right hand disabled. Though not top-drawer Bax, it remains an immensely appealing creation, boasting a first movement which eventually develops an unexpectedly brooding intensity (and whose tender piano writing at 5'28'' seems to cast a wistful glance back to the wondrous epilogue of Winter Legends) and a central Moderato tranquillo in the composer’s sweetest lyrical vein (which is certainly saying something). Perhaps the rondo finale is a little too foursquare and thematically deficient to provide an entirely satisfying conclusion, but for the sake of that lovely slow movement the Concertante is a work well deserving of its belated revival here. Margaret Fingerhut is the deftest and most sympathetic of soloists, while Handley partners with his customary mastery.

The five orchestral songs that make up the cycle The Bard of the Dimbovitza originally date from 1914, but the 37-minute sequence was not heard in its entirety until April 1921. After the Second World War, Bax revised the work, altering the order of the songs and further paring down the (already comparatively restrained) orchestration. These attractive settings of poems taken from a once-popular volume allegedly based on Romanian folk-songs contain not a hint of local colour but are purest Bax, the harmonic idiom and overall mood strikingly similar to his Enchanted Summer from 1910 (though without that work’s more ornate trappings). Jean Rigby vividly characterizes the dialogue in the last two songs (‘My girdle I hung on a tree-top tall’ and ‘Spinning Song’), whilst bringing plenty of drama to the almost operatic scena that is ‘The Well of Tears’. Less than a minute into this same number and we encounter material borrowed from Bax’s earlier 1908 tone-poem, Into the Twilight, and there’s a repeated ‘sigh’ at 2'29'' in the last song (to the words ‘And did thy tears make glad thy countenance?’) which touchingly anticipates a phrase in the Third Symphony’s central Lento.

Some typically lustrous Chandos engineering adorns this valuable triptych of recorded premieres, and the issue as a whole must receive the heartiest of welcomes.

-- Andrew AchenbachGramophone


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Arnold Bax (8 November 1883 – 3 October 1953) was an English composer, poet, and author. His prolific output includes songs, choral music, chamber pieces, and solo piano works, but he is best known for his orchestral music. In addition to a series of symphonic poems he wrote seven symphonies and was for a time widely regarded as the leading British symphonist.

***

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.

***

Vernon Handley (11 November 1930 – 10 September 2008) was a British conductor, known in particular for his support of British composers. Handley is much revered for his enthusiastic and untiring championship of British music, including many lesser known, unfashionable or relatively neglected composers whose artistic reputations and popularity he often helped to revive.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vernon_Handley

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Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Richard Wagner - Orchestral Music (Herbert von Karajan)


Information

Composer: Richard Wagner
  1. Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg: Vorspiel (1. Akt)
  2. Tannhäuser: Ouvertüre & Venusberg-Bacchanale
  3. Lohengrin: Vorspiel (1. Akt)
  4. Lohengrin: Vorspiel (3. Akt)
  5. Der fliegende Holländer: Ouvertüre
  6. Tristan und Isolde: Vorspiel & Liebestod

Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra
Herbert von Karajan, conductor
Date: 1974
Label: EMI


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Review

ARTISTIC QUALITY: 9 / SOUND QUALITY:  9

These are splendid Wagner performances, full of guts and devoid of the fussiness and overly smooth legato that so often make Karajan’s recordings a chore. I have always preferred his Berlin EMI recordings to his DG efforts, on the whole. There are times when the Berlin Philharmonic sounds like a different orchestra, with brass that don’t all lump together (check out the opening of The Flying Dutchman or the Tannhäuser Overture), and climaxes that benefit from more-than-usual bite.

Karajan begins with a noble but fluid Meistersinger Prelude, whips the Venusberg Bacchanal into a fine if silly-sounding lather (Wagner’s fault, not Karajan’s), adds a noble Lohengrin Prelude, and concludes with a marvelously lush Prelude and Liebestod from Tristan und Isolde. It goes without saying that the strings play magnificently throughout, but they are much better balanced against the rest of the ensemble than was Karajan’s wont, and EMI’s remastered sound has great richness and immediacy. No Wagner collection should be without this disc.

-- David Hurwitz, ClassicsToday

http://www.musicweb-international.com/classrev/2004/Apr04/Wagner_Karajan.htm
http://www.operatoday.com/content/2005/10/the_karajan_col.php
https://www.amazon.com/Wagner-Orchestral-Music/dp/B0001O3YG2

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Richard Wagner (22 May 1813 – 13 February 1883) was a German composer, theater director, polemicist, and conductor who is primarily known for his operas. He revolutionized opera through his concept of the Gesamtkunstwerk ("total work of art"), by which he sought to synthesize the poetic, visual, musical and dramatic arts, with music subsidiary to drama. His composition are noted for their complex textures, rich harmonies and orchestration, and the elaborate use of leitmotifs.

***

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.

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Sunday, June 26, 2016

Ludwig van Beethoven - Symphony No. 3 ''Eroica''; Coriolan Overture (Jordi Savall)


Information

Composer: Ludwig van Beethoven
  1. Symphony No. 3 in E-flat major, Op. 55, "Eroica": I. Allegro con brio
  2. Symphony No. 3 in E-flat major, Op. 55, "Eroica": II. Marcia funebre. Adagio assai
  3. Symphony No. 3 in E-flat major, Op. 55, "Eroica": III. Scherzo. Allegro vivace
  4. Symphony No. 3 in E-flat major, Op. 55, "Eroica": IV. Finale. Allegro molto - poco andante - Presto
  5. Ouverture to Collins' tragedy "Coriolan", Op. 62

Le Concert des Nations
Jordi Savall, conductor
Date: 1994
Label: Auvidis Fontalis

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Review

There is not so much a world of difference between these two performances of the Eroica Symphony as an intergalactic space. Barbirolli’s unashamedly modern-sounding 1967 BBC SO recording has a plain-spoken grandeur about it and as stately a pace in the opening Allegro con brio as any on record. (Barbirolli is even slower here than Klemperer in his 1959 stereo remake). Jordi Savall, by contrast, uses instruments of the period, and after two bee-sting opening chords races along at the speed of the printed metronome marking: 60 bars a minute. (As opposed to Barbirolli’s 42. The ideal here is probably 52, Toscanini’s usual pace and Szell’s in his superb 1957 Cleveland recording.)

There is a real sense of burgeoning excitement at the start of Savall’s performance; and the sound of the orchestra really does conjure up the sense of one being transported back to some dusky Viennese concert room c1805 where the musicians are as dangerous a crew as the militias roaming the mud-filled streets outside. Yet as the musical arguments begin to multiply and deepen, so the performance gets more garbled. For all Savall’s skill in moulding and modifying the pulse, there’s a jauntiness about parts of the first movement development section which muddles and trivializes the music. Barbirolli, by contrast, dull at first, tends to get further under the skin of the first movement the longer it goes on. The huge coda is superbly ‘produced’ on the orchestra. Its climax (the real one at bar 671, not the one most conductors aim at shortly before that) is unerringly placed: a properly terrific consummation.

Trevor Harvey began his review of the Barbirolli recording in these columns in March 1968 with the words, “I cannot remember that I have ever been so moved by a performance of the Marcia funebre”. That is a subjective judgement which I cannot say I share, not least because the BBC SO, inadvertently or at Barbirolli’s behest, do not colour the music in any special way. Again, in the Marcia funebre, the Savall performance is astonishing for the mood it conjures. The drum (calf skin head, hard sticks) is fierce and seductive, an instrument of war that suggests also the soft thud of death. Savall’s brass are similarly remarkable, at once brazen and mellow-sounding. The horn section alone – Thomas Muller, Raul Diaz and Javier Bonet – deserves an award for the way the players colour and characterize this astonishing music.

There is no disguising the fact that Savall’s thinking about tempo is controversial. It is all very modern: post-modern, even. (After Savall, conductors like Norrington and Gardiner sound distressingly ‘safe’.) It is typical of Savall that though he conducts very quick, very earthy, very exciting accounts of the Eroica’s Scherzo (those horns again!) and finale, he still slows up pretty massively for the finale’s oboe-led Poco andante at bar 348. It is a performance, none the less, that I shall hang to for the sonic profile alone. The Auvidis recording is first-rate: warm and immediate.

To hear Barbirolli conjuring up ‘period’ atmosphere you have to go to the fill-up on the present disc, Barbirolli’s own Elizabethan Suite, arrangements of music by Byrd, Bull and Farnaby. Not in any way ‘authentic’ but fascinating none the less. In the Eroica, the EMI engineers have opened up the Abbey Road Studio No. 1 acoustic so as to give the performance the maximum amount of air and space. The result is very grand and a bit chilly. You will need to scroll on to the Elizabethan Suite to catch any real hint of that special warmth and depth of sound which was always so treasurable a feature of Barbirolli’s conducting.

-- Richard Osborne, Gramophone

More reviews:
http://www.musicweb-international.com/classrev/2016/May/Beethoven_sy3_AVSA9916.htm
https://www.amazon.com/Beethoven-Sinfonia-Symphony-Coriolan-Overture/dp/B000003IHX

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Ludwig van Beethoven (baptized 17 December 1770 – 26 March 1827) was a German composer. A crucial figure in the transition between the Classical and Romantic eras in Western art music, he remains one of the most famous and influential of all composers. His best-known compositions include 9 symphonies, 5 piano concertos, 1 violin concerto, 32 piano sonatas, 16 string quartets, his great Mass the Missa solemnis and an opera, Fidelio.

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Jordi Savall (born August 1, 1941) is a Catalan conductor, viol player, and composer. He has been one of the major figures in the field of Western early music since the 1970s, largely responsible for reviving the use of viol family instruments (notably the viola da gamba) in contemporary performance and recording. His characteristic repertoire features Medieval, Renaissance and Baroque music, and occasionally Classical and even Romantic periods. Savall's discography includes more than 100 recordings, on EMI Classics, Astrée, and his own label, Alia Vox.

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Saturday, June 25, 2016

Antonio Vivaldi - The Four Seasons; 3 Violin Concertos (Giuliano Carmignola)


Information

Composer: Antonio Vivaldi
  • (01-03) Concerto in E major, Op. 8, No. 1, RV 269 "La Primavera"
  • (04-06) Concerto in G minor, Op. 8, No. 2, RV 315 "L'estate"
  • (07-09) Concerto in F major, Op. 8, No. 3, RV 293 "L'autunno"
  • (10-12) Concerto in F minor, Op. 8, No. 4, R. 297 "L'inverno"
  • (13-15) Concerto in E flat major, RV 257
  • (16-18) Concerto in B flat major, RV 376
  • (19-22) Concerto in D major, RV 211

Giuliano Carmignola, violin
Venice Baroque Orchestra
Andrea Marcon, conductor
Date: 1999
Label: Sony Classical


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Review

As sharply focused as any Four Seasons in the catalogue and better played than most. But be sure to batten down the hatches for Carmignola’s ‘Winter’

Vivaldi’s Four Seasons, like nature’s, come and go in their various moods and meteorological vicissitudes. We’ve had ochre sunsets from Louis Kaufmann, Harnoncourt’s Breughel-style rusticity and the provocative Nigel Kennedy, to mention but a scant few. Giuliano Carmignola’s primary claim on our attentions (this is his second shot at the piece) is, aside from a delightfully woody-sounding baroque instrument, a keen narrative flair. Furthermore, he knows the musical period, understands principles of embellishment and doesn’t hesitate to enrich his performances with added colour and rhythmic thrust.

‘Spring’ arrives in rude high spirits, toying with birdsong (slowly at first then speeding up) and with thunder thrashing between violin desks. The violas’ ‘barking dog’ is worryingly prominent (that is if you don’t like dogs) and the finale contrasts a swelling legato against sparkly solo passagework. The ‘impetuous weather’ of ‘Summer’ has power enough to keep the National Grid up and running and I loved the diverse winds of the multi-faceted opening Allegro of ‘Autumn’ and the way the harpsichord holds its own in the second and third movements. The cruel weathers of ‘Winter’ inspire the expected bursts of virtuosity while the Largo’s raindrops unexpectedly seep through to the busy bass line (most versions don’t allow for the leak). Varieties of plucked continuo help fill out textures and Carmignola himself plays with immense brilliance.

The three additional violin concertos are all said to be first recordings and reveal a rather different aspect of Vivaldi’s style. Generally speaking, they sound more formal than the Four Seasons, almost pre-classical in RV257’s opening Andante molto e quasi allegro and with sideways glances at Rameau in the opening of RV211 (which also includes a brief first-movement cadenza). Dance rhythms again predominate.

Great sound, by the way, full and forward and with every instrumental strand given its proper due. Thinking in terms only of the Four Seasons, good rivals are so plentiful that comparative discussion becomes less a question of ‘who gets it right’ than how you like your birds and storms. There are countless period-instrument options and almost as many that use modern instruments but take heed of period performing practice. Up to now, my own favourites have been Il Giardino Armonico and Harnoncourt’s Concentus Musicus Wien, but I see no reason why this new version shouldn’t join their hallowed ranks. It certainly deserves to.

-- Rob Cowan, Gramophone

More reviews:
ClassicsToday, reviewed by David Vernier ARTISTIC QUALITY: 10 / SOUND QUALITY: 10
ClassicsToday, reviewed by David Hurwitz ARTISTIC QUALITY: 10 / SOUND QUALITY: 10
https://www.amazon.com/Antonio-Vivaldi-Concertos-Carmignola-Orchestra/dp/B000051Y3D

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Antonio Vivaldi (4 March 1678 – 28 July 1741) was an Italian Baroque composer, virtuoso violinist, teacher and cleric. He is recognized as one of the greatest Baroque composers, and known mainly for composing many instrumental concertos, for the violin and a variety of other instruments, as well as sacred choral works and more than forty operas. His best-known work is a series of violin concertos known as The Four Seasons.

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Giuliano Carmignola (born 1951 in Treviso) is an Italian violinist. He studied with his father, and then with Luigi Ferro, Nathan Milstein, Franco Gulli and Henryk Szeryng. In 1973, he was awarded a prize in the International Paganini Competition in Genoa. His recording releases have won many important awards such as Diapason d'Or and Choc du Monde. He plays the Stradivarius Baillot of 1732.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Giuliano_Carmignola

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Arcangelo Corelli - Concerti Grossi Op. 6 (Trevor Pinnock)


Information

Composer: Arcangelo Corelli

CD1:
  • (01-07) Concerto grosso in D major, Op. 6, No. 1
  • (08-11) Concerto grosso in F major, Op. 6, No. 2
  • (12-16) Concerto grosso in C minor, Op. 6, No. 3
  • (17-20) Concerto grosso in D major, Op. 6, No. 4
  • (21-24) Concerto grosso in B flat major, Op. 6, No. 5
  • (25-29) Concerto grosso in F major, Op. 6, No. 6
CD2:
  • (01-06) Concerto grosso in D major, Op. 6, No. 7
  • (07-12) Concerto grosso in G minor, Op. 6, No. 8 - "fatto per la notte di Natale"
  • (13-18) Concerto grosso in F major, Op. 6, No. 9
  • (19-24) Concerto grosso in C major, Op. 6, No. 10
  • (25-30) Concerto grosso in B flat major, Op. 6, No. 11
  • (31-35) Concerto grosso in F major, Op. 6, No. 12

The English Concert
Trevor Pinnock, conductor
Date: 1987
Label: Deutsche Grammophon
http://www.deutschegrammophon.com/en/cat/4594512


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Review

Here is a wish—recently expressed in these pages come true! The English Concert have followed their superb recording of Corelli trio sonatas ( 419 614-2AH, 6/87) with an equally definitive CD of the Concerti grossi. By now this group must qualify as veterans of the early-music revival—they have made many important recordings (not least of which is the recent Gramophone Award-winning Haydn Nelson Mass), toured widely and through it all maintained a relatively stable personnel of the very best English players. This recording represents yet another important brick in the edifice of the revival of early orchestral music.

Over the years The English Concert have developed an unmistakable 'sound', probably quite inseparable from their Englishness. The courtly traditions of Purcell that Handel later assimilated and projected—a curiously successful mixture of gravitas and wit—are central to their approach to other repertory of the era, just as echoes of the French court—the delicacy and dance-like qualities so revered—colour the interpretations of La Petite Bande (Deutsche Harmonia Mundi/EMI). There is, I suppose, a case to be made for the internationalism (and hence the adaptability of the music to different interpretations) of Corelli's Op. 6 in that it was a selection of orchestral movements assembled posthumously and first published in Amsterdam rather than in his native Italy. But the sophistication and discernment of the original auditors, the Roman aristocracy, is reflected in every movement irrespective of whether they were ever performed in the order we know them today. And the grandeur and fire, not to mention the conviction and precision, with which The English Concert imbue their performances seems to me ultimately more resonant of Corelli's conception of these works than the highly mannered and often almost mincing rendition by La Petite Bande.

Of course, listening to 12 concertos, one after another, is hardly what the composer expected or intended—just as Monteverdi probably would have been quite astounded that anyone would wish to perform or listen to his entire Marian Vespers cycle in a sitting—but the exercise does forcefully drive home the powerful sense of the composer's breadth of imagination and technique. In the course of these works one encounters a rich panoply of concertino and ripieno ensemble textures—simple alternation of the same phrase between forces, orchestra accompaniments that are sometimes sustained and at other times function as musical punctuation (and, indeed glosses on the concertino text), polyphonic and homophonic tutti textures and often in quick succession. Trevor Pinnock at the harpsichord is always alert to the exigencies of Corelli's palette of ensemble colour—not to mention those of metre and tempo—and Simon Standage, the leader and first violin soloist, is adept at taking his cues.

The concertino playing of Standage, Micaela Comberti and Jaap Ter Linden (whose cello obbligatos in Nos. 1, 8 and 11 fairly fly!) is technically and stylistically never in question. Standage's cadential elaborations (as in the Grave of No. 3 and at the end of the first Allegro of No. 5) and transitional ones (for example, the Adagio of No. 12)—indeed those of Pinnock and the theorbist Nigel North in the Grave of No. 2 and elsewhere are extremely tasteful, as too is his ornamentation in the Adagio of No. 9, if a trifle cool by Italian standards. Standage and Comberti play, as always, in complete mutual sympathy, giving moments of exhilaration such as in the electrifying upward bariolage of the first Allegro of No. 4. In fact, the second, dancing Allegro of this D major Concerto contains the most marvellous passages of written-out trills, chromatically suspended one from the other between the two violins, and exquisitely placed by the players. The fashion now—to many listeners' delight and relief—is towards using more vibrato, though (as in the Preludio of No. 10) it is applied with great discernment.

These performances have a wonderful sweep, conveying a grandeur of conception that too often eludes other ensembles. One of Pinnock's greatest strengths is his ability to fuse a large-scale conception with perfection of detail. Even his command of silence (as in the opening Adagio of No. 4) is eloquent. If the fast movements often seem almost too fast (as in the Vivace of No. 3), they are never messy, and so powerful is their energy that the listener is occasionally catapulted headlong to the end of what are relatively short movements. The English Concert never descend to sentimentalism (of the sort one encounters in modern performances such as that of the Cantilena ensemble on Chandos) and instead project a lively and sincere love of the music. These are truly inspired performances that should give great pleasure to all who listen to them and which surely merit the commendation of their peers.

-- Gramophone


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Arcangelo Corelli (17 February 1653 – 8 January 1713) was an Italian violinist and composer of the Baroque era. . His music was key in the development of the modern genres of sonata and concerto, in establishing the preeminence of the violin, and as the first coalescing of modern tonality and functional harmony. Corelli composed 48 trio sonatas, 12 violin and continuo sonatas, and 12 concerti grossi. His concerti grossi have often been popular in Western culture.

***

Trevor Pinnock (born 16 December 1946) is an English harpsichordist and conductor. He is best known for his association with the period-performance orchestra The English Concert which he helped found and directed from the keyboard for over 30 years in baroque and early classical music. Since his resignation from The English Concert in 2003, Pinnock has continued his career as a conductor, appearing with major orchestras and opera companies around the world.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trevor_Pinnock

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Thursday, June 23, 2016

Aram Khachaturian; Camille Saint-Saëns; Ernest Chausson - Works for violin & orchestra (Leonid Kogan; David Oistrakh)


Information

Composer: Aram Khachaturian; Camille Saint-Saëns; Ernest Chausson
  1. Khachaturian - Violin Concerto in D minor: I. Allegro con fermezza
  2. Khachaturian - Violin Concerto in D minor: II. Andante sostenuto
  3. Khachaturian - Violin Concerto in D minor: III. Allegro vivace
  4. Saint-Saëns - Havanaise, Op. 83: I. Allegretto e lusinghiero
  5. Saint-Saëns - Havanaise, Op. 83: II. Allegro
  6. Saint-Saëns - Havanaise, Op. 83: III. Allegro, ma non troppo
  7. Chausson - Poème, Op. 25
  8. Saint-Saëns - Introduction & Rondo capriccioso in A minor, Op. 28: Andante
  9. Saint-Saëns - Introduction & Rondo capriccioso in A minor, Op. 28: Allegro, ma non troppo
  10. Saint-Saëns - Introduction & Rondo capriccioso in A minor, Op. 28: Più Allegro

Leonid Kogan, violin (1-6)
David Oistrakh, violin (7-10)
Boston Symphony Orchestra
Pierre Monteux, conductor (1-6)
Charles Münch, conductor (7-10)
Recording dates: 1958 (1-6), 1955 (7-10)
Label: RCA


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Reviews

'... This was made two days after Leonid Kogan's American debut and reminds us what a superb artist he was. The first movement gets a flowing, glittering performance with the violin perfectly balanced with the orchestra. This is a slightly more atmospheric sound balance than on the Prokofiev and probably owes much to the spacious acoustic of Symphony Hall in Boston. The slow movement manages to maintain the surface sheen of the rest yet also be searching and lyrical. Kogan seems completely at home with the whole piece, standing him in good stead for the energetic and tuneful last movement. This was the first time Pierre Monteux had conducted this work which was by a composer with whom he was not usually associated. You would never know. If you don't know this work, or own a recording of it, this is a fine opportunity to acquire it now.'

-- Tony Duggan, MusicWeb International
reviewing RCA Victor Living Stereo 0902663708 2, couple with Prokofiev's "Alexander Nevsky" by Fritz Reiner

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'... feature the great virtuoso David Oistrakh, and the disc is worth having for these 20-plus minutes alone. Munch was one of Heifetz's few regular collaborators on disc, and Oistrakh's more gentle temperament must have meshed well with the maestro. On evidence here, it was a successful partnership. Both works feature incredible, warm playing from everyone involved. You'll love it. Buy this with confidence.'

-- Brian Wigman © 2014, Classical Net
reviewing RCA Gold Seal 09026-60683-2, couple with Chausson's "Symphony in B flat major, Op. 20" by Charles Münch

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Aram Khachaturian (6 June 1903 – 1 May 1978) was a Soviet Armenian composer and conductor. He is considered one of the leading Soviet composers and the most renowned Armenian composer of the 20th century. His music combined Armenian, Caucasian, Eastern Europe and Middle East folk music with established musical traditions of Russia.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aram_Khachaturian

***

Camille Saint-Saëns (9 October 1835 – 16 December 1921) was a French composer, organist, conductor and pianist of the Romantic era. His best-known works include his concertos for violin, piano and cello, his 3rd symphony, Danse macabre and The Carnival of the Animals. Saint-Saëns was a musical prodigy, making his concert debut at the age of ten. He held only one teaching post for less than five years. His students included Gabriel Fauré.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Camille_Saint-Sa%C3%ABns

***

Ernest Chausson (20 January 1855 – 10 June 1899) was a French romantic composer who died just as his career was beginning to flourish. Chausson left behind only 39 opus-numbered pieces.  The quality and originality of his compositions are consistently high, and several of his works continue to make occasional appearances on programs of leading singers, chamber music ensembles and orchestras.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ernest_Chausson

***

Leonid Kogan (November 14, 1924 – December 17, 1982) was a preeminent Soviet violinist during the 20th century. He is considered to have been one of the greatest representatives of the Soviet School of violin playing. Kogan was the first Soviet violinist to play and record Berg's Violin concerto. Kogan used two Guarneri del Gesù violins: the 1726 ex-Colin and the 1733 ex-Burmester, and used French bows by Dominique Peccatte.

***

David Oistrakh (September 30 [O.S. September 17] 1908 – October 24, 1974) was a renowned Soviet classical violinist. He is considered one of the preeminent violinists of the 20th century and the dedicatee of numerous violin works, including both of Dmitri Shostakovich's violin concerti, and the violin concerto by Aram Khachaturian. Oistrakh's playing was not so much marked by brilliance, but by richness, lyricism, roundness of tone.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/David_Oistrakh

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Aram Khachaturian; Sergei Taneyev - Violin Concerto; Suite de concert (David Oistrakh)


Information

Composer: Aram Khachaturian; Sergei Taneyev
  1. Khachaturian - Violin Concerto in D minor: I. Allegro con fermezza (Cadenza by D. Oistrakh)
  2. Khachaturian - Violin Concerto in D minor: II. Andante sostenuto
  3. Khachaturian - Violin Concerto in D minor: III. Allegro vivace
  4. Taneyev - Suite de concert, Op. 28: I. Praeludium. Grave
  5. Taneyev - Suite de concert, Op. 28: II. Gavotte. Allegro moderato
  6. Taneyev - Suite de concert, Op. 28: III. Maerchen (Fairy Tale). Andantino
  7. Taneyev - Suite de concert, Op. 28: IV. Tema con variazione
  8. Taneyev - Suite de concert, Op. 28: V. Tarantella. Presto

David Oistrakh, violin
Philharmonia Orchestra
Aram Khachaturian, conductor (1-3)
Nikolai Malko, conductor (4-8)
Date: 1954 (1-3), 1956 (4-8)
Label: EMI


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Review

The great Raymond Chandler once had his careworn knight errant Philip Marlowe describe Khachaturian as "imitating a tractor factory. He called it a violin concerto. I call it a broken fan belt." Anyone care to remind me which of the novels that came from. Given that I regard Chandler very highly I wish I could agree with Marlowe. As it is I think it is one of Marlowe’s less pungent and miscalculated witticisms – clever-ish but off the mark. At the time – mid-1940s wartime USA the concerto was playing with every major and minor state orchestra. The USA (stars and stripes) and USSR (stars and hammers and sickles) were for a few years locked in alliance and everything seemed possible.

The Khachaturian is an extremely attractive piece which taps into the Armenian’s usual exotically sinuous folk-roots in the Andante sostenuto. The outer movements are driven along on a blast of rhythmic energy and in the finale a hiccupping Russian dance – nothing ethnic about this dance.

This version which majors on the voluptuous was one of three works recorded at the Kingsway Hall in 1954 by the composer with the Philharmonia. The others were excerpts from Gayaneh and the Masquerade Suite. You can hear all of them if you can track down the 1993 Khachaturian instalment in the EMI Composer in Person series on CDC 555035.

This is a satisfying performance and far from being unvirtuosic but there are more hothouse performances including a fierily excellent one from Leonid Kogan on Russian Revelation if you can find it.

The Reger-expansive suite by Taneyev was written for Leopold Auer. It is a classic performance that has been repeatedly reissued so you may have it in other couplings. I first came across it on LP But a little more recently as part of EMI’s mid-1990s Matrix series in which it formed volume 20 (EMI 5 65419 2) with the Rostropovich/Sargent Miaskovsky Cello concerto. The Suite makes for a discursive and pleasing ramble without being pungently Russian in feeling. Malko, whose superb recordings of the first and last Prokofiev symphonies should be better known, is a sure and temperamental orchestral guide. The orchestra is very nicely placed in relation to the soloist. This registers strongly in the Keel Row-reminiscent Tarantella finale in which the ripely singing solo counterpoints deliciously with the Massenet-style percussion.

The well pitched and interesting liner-notes are by Tully Potter. These are supplemented with some a couple of session photos and the cover sports a reproduction of the front sleeve of the first LP issue of the Khachaturian.

This disc offers a Khachaturian Violin Concerto not short of fireworks but with the emphasis on the voluptuous and the languid and a classic version of the rare Taneyev Suite.

-- Rob Barnett, MusicWeb International

More info & reviews:
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Aram Khachaturian (6 June 1903 – 1 May 1978) was a Soviet Armenian composer and conductor. He is considered one of the leading Soviet composers and the most renowned Armenian composer of the 20th century. His music combined Armenian, Caucasian, Eastern Europe and Middle East folk music with established musical traditions of Russia.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aram_Khachaturian

***

Sergei Taneyev (November 25 [O.S. November 13] 1856 – June 19 [O.S. June 6] 1915) was a Russian composer, pianist, teacher of composition, music theorist and author. Taneyev's specialized field of study was counterpoint, and he was one of the greatest of contrapuntalists. Taneyev's compositions reveal his mastery of classical composition technique, but many of them were considered "most dry and laboured in character".
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sergei_Taneyev

***

David Oistrakh (September 30 [O.S. September 17] 1908 – October 24, 1974) was a renowned Soviet classical violinist. He is considered one of the preeminent violinists of the 20th century and the dedicatee of numerous violin works, including both of Dmitri Shostakovich's violin concerti, and the violin concerto by Aram Khachaturian. Oistrakh's playing was not so much marked by brilliance, but by richness, lyricism, roundness of tone.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/David_Oistrakh

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Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Aram Khachaturian - Piano Concerto; Dance Suite (Dora Serviarian-Kuhn; Loris Tjeknavorian)


Information

Composer: Aram Khachaturian
  1. Piano Concerto in D flat major: 1. Allegro maestoso
  2. Piano Concerto in D flat major: 2. Andante con anima
  3. Piano Concerto in D flat major: 3. Allegro brillante
  4. Waltz for wind band
  5. Polka for wind band
  6. Dance Suite: 1. Caucasian Dance
  7. Dance Suite: 2. Armenian Dance
  8. Dance Suite: 3. Uzbek Dance
  9. Dance Suite: 4. Uzbek March
  10. Dance Suite: 5. Lezghinka

Dora Serviarian-Kuhn, piano (1-3)
Armenian Philharmonic Orchestra
Loris Tjeknavorian, conductor
Dates: 1995
Label: ASV


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Review

Easily the finest account of Khachaturian’s Piano Concerto since Moura Lympany’s pioneering recording under Fistoulari (Decca, 3/53 – nla), this new version on ASV is the one to have. Dora Serviarian-Kuhn and her Armenian compatriot, Loris Tjeknavorian are in every way first-class: both identify naturally with the sinuous oriental flavour of the melodic lines and understand – as did Lympany and, in America in 1946, William Kapell (RCA, 5/95) – that the outer movements need above all to convey thrusting vitality. (Remember that the first Moscow performance – which delighted the composer – was by the Russian virtuoso, Lev Oborin.) Here there is plenty of drive and rhythmic lift in the outer movements. But what primarily makes this performance memorable is Serviarian-Kuhn’s sense of fantasy, so that her various cadential passages, for all their brilliance, are charismatically quixotic rather than just bravura displays. The recording projects the piano with a bright, clean treble and the orchestral sound is somewhat lean-textured, which adds an appropriate edge to the reading.

The opening movement of the Piano Concerto (unlike the corresponding movement in the Violin Concerto) is not Khachaturian at his best, and can too easily sound inflated, as it does in the very romantic performance on Decca by Alicia de Larrocha and Raphael Fruhbeck de Burgos. The effect is compounded by sumptuous orchestral sound (provided by the Decca engineers) and the glowing pianistic colours that Larrocha has so readily to hand. The musicians are very wayward at the beginning, and although there is no doubt that their slow movement is evocative and sultry, it reflects more southern landscapes than the composer would have expected, and the flexotone wails like a banshee. The finale is agreeably jaunty, but the Armenian performance has much more dash.

-- Ivan March, Grammophone


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Aram Khachaturian (6 June 1903 – 1 May 1978) was a Soviet Armenian composer and conductor. He is considered one of the leading Soviet composers and the most renowned Armenian composer of the 20th century. His music combined Armenian, Caucasian, Eastern Europe and Middle East folk music with established musical traditions of Russia.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aram_Khachaturian

***

Dora Serviarian-Kuhn (born Beirut, Lebanon) is regarded as a leading interpreter of the Khachaturian Piano Concerto, having played it throughout the world more than any other living pianist. Serviarian-Kuhn has appeared with orchestras in the United States, Asia, and Latin America. She created and is executive producer of Khachaturian, a feature-length documentary film on the life and music of Aram Khachaturian, which won the Best Documentary award at the 2003 Hollywood Film Festival.

***

Loris Tjeknavorian (born 13 October 1937) is an Iranian Armenian composer and conductor. He is one of the most celebrated cultural figures in Armenia and Iran. As one of the leading conductors of his generation, he has led international orchestras throughout the world and made some 100 recordings with RCA, Philips, EMI, ASV, and others.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Loris_Tjeknavorian
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Monday, June 20, 2016

Aram Khachaturian; Mikhail Ippolitov-Ivanov - Orchestral Works (Loris Tjeknavorian)


Information

Composer: Aram Khachaturian; Mikhail Ippolitov-Ivanov
  1. Khachaturian - Gayaneh, ballet: Sabre Dance
  2. Khachaturian - Gayaneh, ballet: Dance of the Young Maidens
  3. Khachaturian - Gayaneh, ballet: Mountaineers' Dance
  4. Khachaturian - Gayaneh, ballet: Lullaby
  5. Khachaturian - Gayaneh, ballet: Lezghinka
  6. Khachaturian - Masquerade, incidental music: Waltz
  7. Khachaturian - Masquerade, incidental music: Nocturne
  8. Khachaturian - Masquerade, incidental music: Mazurka
  9. Khachaturian - Masquerade, incidental music: Romance
  10. Khachaturian - Masquerade, incidental music: Galop
  11. Khachaturian - Spartacus, ballet: Variation of Aegina and Bacchanalia
  12. Khachaturian - Spartacus, ballet: Scene and Dance with Crotalums
  13. Khachaturian - Spartacus, ballet: Adagio of Sprtacus and Phrygia
  14. Khachaturian - Spartacus, ballet: Dance of Gaditanae and Victory of Spartacus
  15. Ippolitov-Ivanov - Caucasian Sketches, suite No. 1, Op. 10: 1. In a Mountain Pass
  16. Ippolitov-Ivanov - Caucasian Sketches, suite No. 1, Op. 10: 2. In a Village
  17. Ippolitov-Ivanov - Caucasian Sketches, suite No. 1, Op. 10: 3. In a Mosque
  18. Ippolitov-Ivanov - Caucasian Sketches, suite No. 1, Op. 10: 4. Procession of the Sardar

Armenian Philharmonic Orchestra
Loris Tjeknavorian, conductor
Date: 1991
Label: ASV


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Review

I used to say ''no one plays the Gayaneh 'Sabre Dance' like the Russians''. Now I must qualify that and say instead—like the Armenians. For Khachaturian was himself Armenian, and so is the conductor, Loris Tjeknavorian, who showed his natural affinity for the music of his compatriot with a complete analogue RCA recording (4/77) of the original score of Gayaneh, which urgently needs a CD issue (it is incomparable in its field). Certainly on the present recording the ''Sabre Dance'' bursts into the room with explosive impetus and bite. The Sabre dancers are closely followed by the young maidens who come in as if the sabres were being flourished directly behind them, and hard on their heels come the Mountaineers who obviously have the Abominable Snowman in hot pursuit. With the brilliant recording projecting everything in burnished primary colours the effect is exhilarating, yet a shade wearing, so that the haunting ''Lullaby'' provides a welcome respite. But not for long, as the ''Lezghinka'' immediately develops a similar, almost frenetic thrust (rather more here than in the composer's own recording).

The Masquerade Suite has comparable spirit and gusto but some of its charm evaporates in consequence—notably in the ''Waltz'', with the ebullient closing ''Galop'' suggesting a circus band in an agreeably vulgar manner. The music from Spartacus is comparably vibrant and energetic, and although the famous ''Adagio of Spartacus and Phrygia'' opens with a beguiling aura of romantic anticipation, the climax develops great Slavonic ardour, and one wishes the recording were a shade more sumptuous to increase the opulence of the justly famous, expansive string climax.

Ippolitov's Caucasian Sketches are little more than picture postcards with sinuous sub-Rimsky-Korsakov eastern melodies. Tjeknavorian makes the most of the oriental atmosphere thus generated, but cannot disguise the fact that the hit number, the spectacular closing ''Procession of the Sardar'' is head and shoulders above the rest in memorability. It is played with great elan and here Brian Culverhouse's brightly lit recording comes fully into its own.

-- Ivan March, Gramophone

More reviews:
http://www.amazon.com/Khachaturian-Spartacus-Gayaneh-Masquerade-Aram/dp/B0000030SQ

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Aram Khachaturian (6 June 1903 – 1 May 1978) was a Soviet Armenian composer and conductor. He is considered one of the leading Soviet composers and the most renowned Armenian composer of the 20th century. His music combined Armenian, Caucasian, Eastern Europe and Middle East folk music with established musical traditions of Russia.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aram_Khachaturian

***

Loris Tjeknavorian (born 13 October 1937) is an Iranian Armenian composer and conductor. He is one of the most celebrated cultural figures in Armenia and Iran. As one of the leading conductors of his generation, he has led international orchestras throughout the world and made some 100 recordings with RCA, Philips, EMI, ASV, and others.

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Aram Khachaturian; Dmitri Kabalevsky - Masquerade Suite; The Comedians (Kirill Kondrashin)


Information

Composer: Aram Khachaturian; Dmitri Kabalevsky; Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky; Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov
  1. Khachaturian - Masquerade suite: Waltz
  2. Khachaturian - Masquerade suite: Nocturne
  3. Khachaturian - Masquerade suite: Mazurka
  4. Khachaturian - Masquerade suite: Romance
  5. Khachaturian - Masquerade suite: Galop
  6. Kabalevsky - The Comedians, Op. 26: Prologue
  7. Kabalevsky - The Comedians, Op. 26: Comedian's Galop
  8. Kabalevsky - The Comedians, Op. 26: March
  9. Kabalevsky - The Comedians, Op. 26: Waltz
  10. Kabalevsky - The Comedians, Op. 26: Pantomime
  11. Kabalevsky - The Comedians, Op. 26: Intermezzo
  12. Kabalevsky - The Comedians, Op. 26: Little Lyrical Scene
  13. Kabalevsky - The Comedians, Op. 26: Gavotte
  14. Kabalevsky - The Comedians, Op. 26: Scherzo
  15. Kabalevsky - The Comedians, Op. 26: Epilogue
  16. Tchaikovsky - Capriccio italien, Op. 45
  17. Rimsky-Korsakov - Capriccio espagnol, Op. 34: Alborada
  18. Rimsky-Korsakov - Capriccio espagnol, Op. 34: Variazioni
  19. Rimsky-Korsakov - Capriccio espagnol, Op. 34: Alborada
  20. Rimsky-Korsakov - Capriccio espagnol, Op. 34: Scena e canto gitano
  21. Rimsky-Korsakov - Capriccio espagnol, Op. 34: Fandango asturiano

RCA Victor Symphony Orchestra
Kirill Kondrashin, conductor
Date: 1958
Label: RCA


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Review

"United in this lively and attractive recording are three big Ks of Soviet music – Kabalevsky, Khachaturian and Kondrashin." So opens the liner notes written for the LP release of half this disc. Kondrashin? Apparently RCA was attempting to capitalize on the conductor's collaboration with Van Cliburn. Whatever. I, for one, am pleased that this disc has finally been issued.

Years ago I heard Kondrashin's "Capriccios" on a Quintessence LP. I loved it and it has remained a paradigm in my mind. Others have come close to his excitement, but none met it. In fact, Kondrashin out Stokowski's Stokowski! The strings have a Russian sound that only Kondrashin could have gotten out of this ad hoc orchestra. My God! The tambourine player at the close of Tchaikovsky's 'italien' should have been credited. Then there's the solo violin in Rimsky's Capriccio! Then, again, there are the castanets. I am happy to report that this CD recaptures the excitement and Slavic essence I remembered. Maybe you can go home sometimes.

I recall that my dad had the LP of the Kabalevsky and Khachaturian pieces, the reproduced cover recalls memories. If Kabalevsky's name doesn't ring any bells, perhaps Khachaturian's does because you have heard the Gayaneh Suite or Spartacus. If you are familiar with Khachaturian's Suites you will know what to expect in these pieces, too. There is a Russian flavor to the music, though this is not Shostakovich by any means. The music is lighter and has references, at times, to Russian folk tunes. Anyway, they are fun. The "Pantomime" in The Comedians is wonderful, memorable even. I may prefer Stokowski's recording of the Masquerade, but that is monaural and not available on CD at the time.

The transfers are excellent, the sound belies its age. This is just plain fun. Buy and enjoy an evening of pleasant listening.

-- Robert Stumpf II © 1999, Classical Net


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Aram Khachaturian (6 June 1903 – 1 May 1978) was a Soviet Armenian composer and conductor. He is considered one of the leading Soviet composers and the most renowned Armenian composer of the 20th century. His music combined Armenian, Caucasian, Eastern Europe and Middle East folk music with established musical traditions of Russia.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aram_Khachaturian

***

Dmitri Kabalevsky (30 December [O.S. 17 December] 1904 – 14 February 1987) was a Russian composer. He was a prolific composer of piano music and chamber music; many of his piano works have been performed by Vladimir Horowitz. He is probably best known in the West for the "Comedians' Galop" from The Comedians Suite, Op. 26 and his third piano concerto.

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Kirill Kondrashin (6 March [O.S. 21 February] 1914 – 7 March 1981) was a Russian conductor. He was the artistic director of the Moscow Philharmonic Orchestra from 1960 to 1975 and premiered Shostakovich's Symphony No. 4 and No. 13 during this period. He left the Soviet Union in December 1978 while touring in the Netherlands and sought political asylum there. Kondrashin took the post of Permanent Guest Conductor of Amsterdam's Concertgebouw Orchestra in the same year and remained in that position until his death.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kirill_Kondrashin

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