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Pierre's Tuesday Blog

La chronique du disque (november 2012)

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The rules will be kept simple: here’s what I found, here’s where I found it, here’s a couple of sentences about it and (possibly) some opinions.

Not unlike Olympic Figure Skating, I will provide two sets of marks (letters A to D) on sound quality (SQ) and on overall impression (OI). These grades are entirely subjective, but here are some guidelines:

  • About “sound quality”: my point of reference is my iPod (160 GB iPod Classic) with standard earbud-type earphones. I ride the buses here in the National Capital Region; buses and work are where I do most of my iPod listening, so this gives you an idea of the ambient noise… When it comes to sound quality, a good grade means I hear the music clearly, good recording pick-up, acoustically pleasing.
  • About “overall impression”: my point of view varies widely. It may be jaded by other performances I have heard or own (comparisons will be identified if they apply), but a good grade means I heard conviction, virtuosity, and I enjoyed it.
My acquisitions for November


Liszt: The Complete Années de pèlerinage
[eMusic ]

Années de pèlerinage is a compilation of three books worth of piano pieces inspired by Liszt’s travels, primarily in Switzerland and Italy. Louis Lortie recorded a complete set of these works as part of his large Liszt project for Chandos a few years back, and – as most of his recordings in this series – it does not disappoint. His Dante Sonata stands out for me in that set: pensive and pianistic. Worth listening! A for SQ, A for OI.


Elliott Carter - NOUVEL ENSEMBLE MODERNE
[eMusic]

Elliott Carter left us earlier this month, and it prompted me to purchase this fine disc of some of his late works (Carter was still active until the end, and will have a posthumous premiere of one of his works in the new year!) by one of the two main contemporary ensembles in Montreal, Lorraine Vaillancourt’s Nouvel Ensemble Moderne. Carter supplied the liner notes (click here) and the recording won a local award in 2002. The selections use different combinations of instruments, and is capped by a flawless performance of his clarinet concerto. Avant-Garde music that is quite accessible to the uninitiated! A for SQ, A for OI.


D'Indy - Saint-Saëns - Chausson
[eMusic]

Vincent d’Indy’s Symphony on French Mountain Airs is a mainstay of the Late-Romantic French piano and orchestra repertoire (along, say, with Franck’s Symphonic Variations). Ernest Ansermet left us almost 34 years ago now, but his Orchestre de la Suisse Romande still retains its French flair, and it oozes in this performance. The other works include here the rarely heard Saint-Saens Symphony no. 2, and a pleasant piece by Ernest Chausson that isn’t his poème for violin and orchestra! A for SQ, A- for OI.


LA RONDINE
[eMusic]

La Rondine is not considered a great Puccini opera - not the least of which by Puccini himself. However, it distinguishes itself from the remainder of his output as being a “lighter” opera – not truly tragic, not truly comic, in fact more of an attempt at a Lehar-style operetta. The version I downloaded is from a live performance by the Bologna Community Theatre, under a good Puccini conductor – Francesco Molinari-Pradelli. This is not only an unremarkable performance, the sound quality is atrocious. I usually can get over less-than-ideal sound, but here it’’s so bad that you can’t really judge the performance… I will say D for SQ, No grade for OI.


Bach (Wendy Carlos) - Switched-On Classical Boxed Set [4 CDs]
[Torrent]

Wendy (to some of us, Walter) Carlos is a true pioneer of electronic music, and his experiments with Robert Moog’s analog Rube Goldberg-like Synthesizer provided not only a new spin on the music of Bach, but also unleashed that very same music to millions of unsuspecting listeners. In 1999, Carlos released the Switched-On Boxed Set, a lavishly produced 4-CD boxset comprising Switched-On Bach, The Well-Tempered Synthesizer, Switched-On Bach II and Switched-On Brandenburgs. The albums have been remastered by Carlos and include some bonus tracks. These recordings are very Late 60’s-Early 70’s in sound. I will not say that this music sounds dated, but rather that is sits within an era that gave us like-minded albums like Joy, Popcorn and the Masters in Philadelphia, precursors of the Hooked on Classics series of the early 1980’s (thoiugh those, if you recall, featured the Royal Philharmonic and not synthesizers...). A great walk down memory lane. A- for SQ, A- for OI.

November 30 2012, "I Think You Will Love This Music Too" will feature a new podcast "They Left Us in 2012" at its Pod-O-Matic Channel. Read more November 30 on the ITYWLTMT Blogspot blog.
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Updated Nov-27-2012 at 11:31 by itywltmt

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Classical Music , Recorded Music

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