View RSS Feed

Pierre's Tuesday Blog

La Chronique du disque (August 2012)

Rate this Entry
En français

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 August

MILHAUD: Scaramouche / VILLA-LOBOS: Descobrimento do Brasil
[eMusic Purchase]
For a few years now, Brazil’s Roberto Minczuk has been Music Director of the Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra. However, before Mr. Miczuk took on the position, his predecessor Hans Graf led the orchestra on this CBC recording of Brazilian-inspired Saudades do Brasil by Darius Milhaud and some works by Villa-Lobos. Milhaud’s Scaramouche in a version for Saxophone and orchestra coimpletes the disc. Orchestra and soloist Jeremy Brown do a good job on the work, though it is nothing special when compared to other recordings already available. Nice, but nothing spectacular. A- for SQ, B+ for OI.

David Oistrakh Plays Lalo: Symphonie Espagnole
[eMusic Purchase]
Lalo’s Symphonie Espagnole is a standard of the violin and orchestra repertoire, and I had high hopes for this download of a vintage performance with David Oistrakh and the Philharmoina under Jean Martinon. Oistrakh approaches the work as he does everything: poised, clear articulation and great sense of rythim. The accompaniment by Martinion appears to be fine, but I was really disappointed with the Sound Quality here – the sound from the orchestra is somewhat muddled, lacking the depth of moiré modern recordings. B for SQ, B+ for OI.

LALO: Cello Concerto in D minor / Cello Sonata
[eMusic Purchase]
Staying with Lalo, here is a NAXOS recording which features cellist Maria Kliegel in Lalo’s other oft-performed concertante piece (his cello concerto), coupled with a pair of chamber works for cello and piano. If Saint-Saens’ cello concerti (and most notably his first concerto) are the class of the genre in the French repertoire, nobody seems to have told Mr. Lalo, as his concerto is as thoughtful and refined as his countryman’s. The complementary pieces as well done (I really like the Russian songs). I don’t get why people as so down on NAXOSA- for SQ, A- for OI.

Coleridge-Taylor: Legend, Romance in G, Violin Concerto, Harrison: Bredon Hill
London Philharmonic Orchestra
[eMusic Purchase]

Samuel Coleridge-Taylor is a contemporary of Elgar and has the distinction of being of African heritage. A prolific composer, this disc presents a set of concertante pieces for violin and orchestra, including his violin concerto in G, performed by Lorraine McAslan. The works have a very distinct texture, a mix of the post-Victorian sound that made Elgar famus, but with rythms that are reminiscent oif the naïve Jazz that will come to prominence after Cloridge-Taylor's death. The Violin Concerto doesn’t follow the form of Elgar’s or otrher great 19th century concerti, soliciting the violin constantly, and not really providing much contrast in styles between movements – do not read here that I disliked it, just that it isn’t “traditional” in its approach. The short concertante work by Julius Harrison that completes the disc fits well with the remainder of the selections. Worth a listen! A- for SQ, A- for OI.

Haydn - The Seven Last Words, Hob. III/50-56
[Torrent Download]

There are a number of settings of Haydn’s “sonatas” that depict the seven last words of Christ on the Cross (Hob. XX). There is a setting for solo piano, a setting for chorus and orchestra and this more popular setting for string quartet (which is also found in the Hoboken catalog in volume III dedicated to string quartetrs as nos. 50 – 56. The download I made of this performance by the Emerson SQ specifically omits the “prologue” and “epilogue” as stand-alone tracks, making this consistent with the initial performances in 1786. I must admit I was a bit surprised by the works – I expected somber music, matching the somber nature of the circumstance depicted. But this is Haydn after all, and Haydn presents these sonatas the Haydn way… I can’t say this is cheerful music, but it is not strictly gloomy… And the quartet dispatches the works with surguical precision. A- for SQ, A for OI.

August 31st, 2012, "I Think You Will Love This Music Too" will feature a new podcast "Concluding the Beethoven Project" at its Pod-O-Matic Channel. Read more August 31 on the ITYWLTMT Blogspot blog.

Updated Sep-12-2012 at 02:32 by itywltmt

Classical Music , Conductors , Recorded Music