View RSS Feed

Pierre's Tuesday Blog

La chronique du disque (October 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 October

Avi Avital - Bach
[Gift - More on DG Website]

A colleague at work received this CD as a gift from her father and she "re-gifted" it to me on my birthday because, in her words, "this got annoying after awhile". I believe she refered to the distinctive sound of the mandolin, which (in excess) can start to weigh on people's nerves. Thusly, this is probably not something I would have picked up for myself... Having said that, I'm glad I did get to taste this record. Mr. Avital plays his mandolin with great energy, and the accompaniment by the Potsdam chamber players is well in place (though not HIP by any stretch). Where I have my reservations is in the choice of music - not that Mr. Bach is a stranger to re-roling solo instruments for his concertos. The first two selections on this record are most often heard as keyboard concerti, and in their reconstructed originals for violin and oboe. The mandolin versions, though well done, don't add anything new to these concertos. Maybe Mr. Avital should have explored more of the Bach repertoire for lute as John Williams and Julian Bream have done for the guitar... The less heard BWV 1034 sonata was my favourite on this recording because it is less heard... For mandolin fans and for Bach collectors. A for SQ, B+ for OI.

DEBUSSY, C.: Orchestral Works, Vol. 2 (Markl) - Nocturnes / Clair de lune / Pelleas et Melisande-symphonie

This month, I mused quite a bit on the music of Debussy here and elsewhere and it's only fitting that I have some Debussy on my acquisitions this month. I acquired this disc specifically for the Marius Constant "symphony" adapting music from Pelléas et Mélisande. The remaining titles are, for the most part, orchestrations of piano works by Andre Caplet and Michael Jarrell - Caplet's Clair de Lune stands up very nicely against the more heard Stokowski orchestration. The album is completed by the mystic Nocturnes for orchestra. I like the overall atmosphere and play under Jun Markl. I should probably look at the rest of the 9-disc set... A for SQ, A for OI.

André Caplet & Claude Debussy & Henri Tomasi & Jean Absil & Marius Constant: French Saxophone - 20th Century Music for Saxophone & Orchestra


More Debussy, Constant and Caplet in this quite compelling recording of 20th century French compositions for saxophone and orchestra. In an earlier chronique, I reviewed a recording of Milhaud’s Scaramouche, and am so pleased to hear a recording that takes us beyond this oft-heard "standard" of the saxophone concertante repertoire. Soloist Dominique Tassot has the merit of not only playing with conviction pieces from a sometimes neglected repertoire - a great example of the saxophone as a lyrical reed instrument rather than as a jazz implement. A- for SQ, A for OI.

BERLIOZ: Lelio, ou Le Retour a la vie / La Carnaval romain / Helene

Lélio ou le retour à la vie is supposed to be a sequel to Symphonie Fantastique – including a few references to the well-known idée fixe of the latter. However, this is where the connection ends – Lélio is a piece that gives a great deal of importance to both the spoken and the sung word. The narration (by Berlioz) is autobiographical, and sheds light into the frame of mind of the composer as he wrestles with his despair and emotions. The work also makes substantial use of other works (notably his Tempest fantasy and La Mort d'Orphée) to provide the musical elements to this lyric monodrama. The work is, thus, broken in flow by the spoken word, and the disconnected nature of the musical selections (unlike the unique flow of the Symphonie) makes this a piece that leaves the listener unsure of what he heard (albeit the music Berlioz uses is very much in the style and colour of the composer). The filler pieces, including the Roman Carnival, are well done. A- for SQ, B+ for OI.

Schoenberg: Pelleas und Melisande - Erwartung

Finnish conductor (and one-time Toronto Symphony Music Director) Jukka-Pekka Saraste invites us into the soul of Arnold Schoenberg in a pair of pieces that date to the early neo-romantic Arnold of Verklarte Nacht rather than the twelve-tone zelot of Pierrot Lunaire... Where Schoenberg and Debussy agree in their mutual depictions of the Maeterlinck play is that spasmodic rhythms and at times dissonent chords can convey both infatuation and despair. Schoienberg's tone poem is as lyrical at times as it can be harsh at others. A strong study in free-form from a then emerging artist. The other piece with voice is also quite well done. For under $1 Canadian, you can't go wrong! A for SQ, A- for OI.

November 2nd, 2012, "I Think You Will Love This Music Too" will feature a new podcast "In Memorian: Maurice Ravel" at its Pod-O-Matic Channel. Read more November 2nd on the ITYWLTMT Blogspot blog.

Updated Oct-30-2012 at 12:45 by itywltmt

Classical Music , Recorded Music