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Pierre's Tuesday Blog

La chronique du disque (March 2013)

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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 March

Hindemith, P.: Kammermusik No. 7 / Rheinberger, J.G.: Organ Sonata No. 7 (Biggs) (1952, 1957)

In keeping with our Tuesday Blog Organ theme, I have acquired a NAXOS Classical Archives recording featuring American organist E. Power Biggs in a pair of works: the first is an organ concerto by Paul Hindemith, the other is a modern-sounding late 19th century organ sonata by Joseph Rheinberger. Sometimes, I have found recordings from that series to have sound issues, but not this one. This is a re-edition of an old Columbia Masterworks mono recording from 1957, and both the performances and the sound have been nicely preserved. E. Power Biggs is not everybody’s cup of tea shall we say, but he comes through as a thoughtful interpreter. I quite enjoyed this! A for SQ, A- for OI.

Schubert Franz - Complete Symphonies, Ricardo Muti & Wiener Philharmoniker

Riccardo Muti is, in my book anyways, a solid conductor, and he is solid in many facets of the orchestral repertoire. His Brilliant Classics complete Schubert is quite strong – I relished the short Rosamunde Suite, he does justice to the more infamous pages (The Unfinished, the Great C Major) and he provides a very thoughtful interpretation of the lesser-played symphonies. The Vienna Philharmonic responds well to the Italian conductor, in a repertoire that is certainly in their wheel-house. Worth listening. A for SQ, A- for OI.

Dvořák: Legends, American Suite

This disc features two works by Antonin Dvořák that were originally written for the piano and later orchestrated. The Legends are a set of 10 miniatures for two pianos (therefore a lot in the vein of the Slavonic Dances) but much more lyrical, as they are mnore song-like than dance-like. The “American” suite, a contemporary of the New World Symphony, is not very American at all – the usual Dvorak underlying thread of folk music doesn’t appear here to use American folk motifs, but rather the usual Slavic fare. Vernon Handley, who I associate with English music, leads spirited performances from the West Australian Symphony. A- for SQ, A- for OI.

IBERT: Macbeth / Golgotha / Don Quichotte

Jacques Ibert was a prolific composer for the theatre and cinema. His best-known theatre score was music for Eugéne Labiche's Un chapeau de paille d'Italie, which Ibert later reworked as the suite Divertissement. Ibert wrote the music for more than a dozen French films, and for American directors he composed a score for Orson Welles' 1948 film adaptation of Macbeth. This score is featured in this Marco Polo recording of some of his film music. The other two scores pre-date the Macbeth by more than 15 years: Don Quichotte (Georg Wilhelm Pabst, 1932), and Golgotha (Julien Duvivier, 1935). The latter fim was part of the typical Good Friday TV Movie line-up on French-Canadian television in the 1960s and 70s. The crucifixion sequences with assorted theremin-generated mood effects is something that stood out in a reclusive corner of my memory, and is quite evident in the performance. A protege of Ernest Ansermet, conductor Adriano (yes, just a first name, like Fabio or Prince…) is featured here conducting. Should we hold in suspicion musicians bearing but a single name? Maybe the performances sounded better because I did… A for SQ, A for OI.

Choral Concert: Oxford Girls' Choir - FAYRFAX, R. / REDFORD, J. / HENRY V / LAMBE, W. / TAVERNER, J. / PRESTON, T. (Heavenly Voices)

Richard Vendome conducts the Oxford Girls’ Choir and male and female soloists in a collection of choral repertoire, dominated by sacred titles of either renaissance or renaissance-inspired origin. The titles and the mood stemming from these selections is very a propos for this time of year, and the care taken in these renditions is to be commended. This is my favourite acquisition this month! A for SQ, A for OI.

March 29 2013, "I Think You Will Love This Music Too" will feature a new podcast "The Cross" at its Pod-O-Matic Channel . Read more March 29 on the ITYWLTMT Blogspot blog.

Updated Mar-26-2013 at 10:46 by itywltmt

Classical Music , Recorded Music