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Pierre's Tuesday Blog

La chronique du disque (December 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.
Merry Christmas! Here are a handful of stocking stuffers you can purchase online if Santa didn’t deliver enough music for your holidays.

Time Out - HD Digital Remastered 2009
As highlighted in a recent discussion thread, Dave Brubeck left us in mid-December. Withoiut question, one of his most successful projects was his album Time Out of 1959 – followed in 1966 by another like-minded project Time In. Time Out contains so many of the great Brubeck standards: his own Blue Rondo, Streange Meadowlark and Kathy’s Waltz, along with the terrific Paul Desmond composition Take Five. This is a 64-bit remastering of the original master – albeit in mp3 format if downloaded from eMusic…). So many great memories! A for SQ and a rare A+ for OI.

Darius Milhaud, Le boeuf sur le toit, La création du monde
With the recent passing of Dave Brubeck, I think a look of some of Darius Milhaud’s music is in order. Milhaud helped Brubeck during his post-war music education while he furthered his music studies at Mills College in the late 1940s. In a February 2010 interview Brubeck said he attended Mills specifically to study with Milhaud, saying, "Milhaud was an enormously gifted classical composer and teacher who loved jazz and incorporated it into his work”. One of the two works featured on this album, the ballet music for La Création du Monde, has a definite “fusion” flavour. Fusion of jazz and the sounds of Brazil, the latter ooze in the ballet music for Le Boeuf sur le Toit. Milhaud is conducting his own works in this vintage reciording. B+ for SQ, A- for OI.

Coleridge-Taylor, S.: Clarinet Quintet in F Sharp Minor / 4 African Dances / Nonet in F Minor
I reviewed another recording from this somewhat neglected British composer (can we call him an African-Briton?) who made it something of a personal speciality of incorporating the idioms of Black African music into his works - none more than these African Dances. As for the Clarinet Quintet, I think it deserves better than an honourable mention along with the ones by Mozart, Weber and Brahms. A fine disc by committed musicians. A- for SQ, A- for OI.

SIBELIUS: Lemminkainen Suite, Op. 22
We rarely hear all four sections of Sibelius’ Lemminkainen suite in concert – in fact, on disc, the second section “The Swan of Tuolena” has had many takes, however. This BIS recording not only presents all four sections, but also provides “original” versions and segments as appendix. This is Sibelius at his best – if you like the larger tone poems, you will simply eat up this material! A for SQ, A for OI.

BERLIOZ: Requiem
According to Wikipedia, the bombing of Dresden by the Allies between 13 and 15 February 1945 remains a controversial Allied action of the Western European theatre of war. Not so long ago. I reviewed a large Berlioz work (Lelio). Here we have an interesting convergence of sorts: Berlioz’s treatment of the Mass of the Dead, performed as part of a larger memorial to the victims of the bombing of Dresden by Sir Colin Davis, probably one of a handful of conductors renowned for their mastery of Hector’s music. The result: a work full of colour, oddly dominated at times by overbearing brass, but coming through as being more German than French in my opinion. A fine performance by a conductor and orchestra that don’t have a long-standing relationship. A- for SQ, A- for OI.

Updated Dec-25-2012 at 14:35 by itywltmt

Classical Music , Recorded Music