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Pierre's Tuesday Blog

La Chronique du Disque (June 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 June

Bernstein/American Portraits
[Store Purchase]

In Canada, Dollarama is a chain of “dollar stores”, where there are thousands of items for sale for a single price – one dollar. If you can live with the, er, quality of the items, it makes so much sense to shop at those stores for disposable items that many supermarkets sell for so much more. As I was killing time one day, I spent a few minutes combing through their CDs, and stumbled onto this one. Though there are many titles here I already own (how many versions of the overture to Candide do you own?) the short Halil for flute and orchestra and this “medley” of West Side Story favourites made the one dollar investment worth it. Geoffrey Simon and Sir Neville Marriner aren’t necessarily my go-to guys for that repertoire, but they do a fine job. Can’t beat the deal! A for SQ, A for OI.

Franck, C.: Psyche (Excerpts) / Faure, G.: Pavane / Ravel, M.: La Valse (Paray) (1953)

The Detroit Symphony under Paul Paray, at their apex, were probably the best French repertoire combination anywhere. Many of Paray’s recordings from the 1050’s were for Mercury records, and I believe this NAXOS Historic release may be a remastered version of one such recording. The repertoire is right in their wheel-house. Ravel’s La Valse is given a very spirited read, and the selections of Franck’s symnphonic poem Psyche (rare recordings available) is given a thorough performance. I like the Faure Pavane, but this is where the audio dynamics seemed to hit the wall for me. I’ve acquired other titles from this fine series, but the remastering here could have been better. B+ for SQ, A- for OI.

Mahler: Orchesterlieder

Since taking over the Montreal Symphony, Kent Nagano has made a number of recordings on several labels, and the local Analekta label seems to have been the recipient of most of them. In these pages, I presented the Rachmaninov Fourth reconstruction, and this Mahler disk (recorded at the MSO’s new hall) probably dates from the same period. Many of Mahler’s song cycles are, shall we say, gender agnostic, as I have heard them recorded both by mezzo or contralto (Maureen Forrester being a personal favourite) and by men, and all of these cycles (if I’m not mistaken) have been recorded by both. It is interesting to hear the Kindertottenlieder sung by a man – Mahler, who had the misfortune of iosing a daughter, sets these Ruckert songs equally well for a man as for a woman. Christian Gerhaher's voice and interpretation are up to the challenge, and Nagano and his orchestra are in familiar territory. Worth the purchase! A for SQ, A for OI.

GUILMANT, Felix-Alexandre: Allegro assai from Sonata No. 1 D minor

Alexandre Guilmant is part of the French organ renaissance of the late 19th-early 20th century, and this recording provides a taste of the compositions by the French master. This is music in the vein of Franck, Saint-Saens and Widor, though it is to my ears more rooted to the romantic than some of the more interesting and at-times daring works of his contemporaries. Honest work, honest performance. A for SQ, A- for OI.

TCHEREPNIN, N: Le Pavillon d' Armide

While still a student at the Conservatoty in St-Petersburg, Nikolai Tcherepnin wrote possibly his most famous work, the ballet Le Pavillon d'Armide. Two years later, Tcherepnin conducted the ballet at the premiere performance of Diaghilev's legendary Ballets Russes in Paris. This Marco Polo recording of the ballet explains why it was so successful at that time - a fine mix of traditional and modern lines, which no doubt made Pavlova and Nijinsky look spectacular! A good performance of a somewhat neglected treasure. A for SQ, A for OI.

June 28 2013, "I Think You Will Love This Music Too" will feature a new podcast "Bellissima!" at its Pod-O-Matic Channel . Read more June 28 on the ITYWLTMT Blogspot blog.
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Updated Jun-25-2013 at 10:31 by itywltmt

Classical Music , Recorded Music