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Pierre's Tuesday Blog

La chronique du disque (April 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 April

Freni / Vickers - Verdi: Otello
[In-Store Purchase]

In many ways this is a sign of the times; I do most of my music acquisition on-line nowadays, as I would have to get out of my way to find a record store with a good enough CM section for me to browse. The local HMV used to have a portion of one rack dedicated to CM. Today, HMV carries almost a 50-50 blend of music CDs and DVDs, and an HMV I recently visited didn’t even have a CM section anymore… But what it did have was a clearance of releases from the excellent EMI Classics Operas series (on sale for 2 for $10!) though it had a very limited selection., I picked up two, including a re-issue of the excellent Karajan recording of Otello with Jon Vickers singing the title role. The re-issue is excellent, and the package comes with a CD-ROM containing the full libretto with translation. Great value, great performance. A for SQ, A for OI.

An Evening of Magic: Chuck Mangione Live at the Hollywood Bowl
[Torrent Disk 1 Disk2 ]

Chuck Mangione falls somewhere between a guilty pleasure and nostalgia in my music collection. This double-LP set, reissued to CD, has been in my personal collection for almost 30 years, and the magic and electricity of the concert is fully captured on disc. Mangione by now is working with his quartet (Grant Geissman, Charles Meeks, James Bradley Jr. and Chris Vadala), and he's joined on stage by a full complement of strings and winds assembled among local musicians. Though he has released a number of live as well as studio recordings, this one stands out (with Land of Make Believe) as a great “you had to be there” moment. Great fun! A for SQ, A- for OI.

BALAKIREV: Symphony No 2 / Russia

Off eMusic this month, I downloaded two NAXOS recordings of the orchestral music of Mily Balakirev, the lerader oif the late 19th century quintet of composers closely associated with St-Petersberg (Rimsky, Mussorgsky, Borodin and Cesar Cui being the other four). I gather from listening to the two symphonies I downloaded (the second being featured on this particular recording) that Balakirev must have been more compelling a person than a composer in the symphonic form; I believe Borodin’s symphonies are far superior, but you be the judge! A- for SQ, B+ for OI.

CUI: Suites Nos 2 and 4 / Le Flibustier

Speaking of the “Mighty Handful”, Cesar Cui is probably the one name we forget from the quintet (sometimes, I surprise myself swapping him out for Glazunov when I recall the members of the group…) This intriguing release of two of Cui’s orchestral suites is my “find” of the month. Cui’s music sounds more “Western” than “Russian” – it is so refined – and so different from the music of his mates – especially Mussorgsky and Rimsky. Well worth the download! A- for SQ, A- for OI.

Khachaturian Concerto For Violin & Orchestra

Igor Oistrakh’s violin prowess pales in comparison to that of his famous father, but this vintage recording of Khatchaturian’s concerto shows him in great, and at times brilliant, form. The Khartcahturian concerto is one of those pieces that falls in and out of vogue, and is viewed by some as overrated. However, it does stack up against concertos (especially Western concertos) of the second half of the 20th century. The performance I downloaded is a poor digital transfer – I’m sure there are better re-issues of this recording. In spite of it, the work by Goosens and the Philharmonia comes through as a solid job, and the soloist is strong. A- for SQ, A- for OI.

May 3rd 2013, "I Think You Will Love This Music Too" will feature a new podcast "You Call That a Symphony?" at its Pod-O-Matic Channel . Read more May 3rd on the ITYWLTMT Blogspot blog.

Updated Apr-30-2013 at 10:36 by itywltmt

Classical Music , Recorded Music