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Pierre's Tuesday Blog

La Chronique du Disque (July 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 July

Chopin: Scherzo & Ballades

Our or selection this month in support of our "In Camara" theme is the set of eight ballades and scherzi by Frederic Chopin. Between Horowitz, Rubenstein and Ashkenazy, I don't think you can goo wrong in acquiring these pennsive one-movement works buy the Romantic Master. Rubenstein's set has unity, and approaches the ballades (as I once wrote) as one-movement sonatas. This is a re-issue of his vintage RCA set (I believe) and certainly for under $4 Canadian, well-worth the price. SQ=A, OI=A.

CHOPIN: Rondos and Variations

(My Goodness, I didn't realize until just now how this is turning into a Chopin shopping spree!) A while ago (was it last year?) I purchased one of the Idil Biret/NAXOS recordings from her excellent complete Chopin cycle. This disc presents his complete variations for piano, a series of works which is overshadowed by the many waltzes, mazurkas, polonaises, impromptus and such, but illustrate just how clever Chopin can be. The Rondos, many of them youthful works, show Chopin honing his craft. ll pieces are performed with great attention to detail and refinement. I love this. SQ=A, OI=A.

The Best of Chopin: Piano Concerto No. 1 & Piano Concerto No. 2
[Store Purchase]

Last month, I discussed how I had picked-up a CD at the Dollar Store. Here I go again, scouring the bargain bins for all of you, to demonstrate that you can sometimes find treasure where you least expect it. The MADACY label often re-issues broadcast recirdings or studio stuff from indescript performers (which is what Point Classics used to do with great success), and many MADACY compilations end up in bargain bins. This recording fits exactly that mould. I can't say that I was bowled over by the orchestral play of the Slovak Philharmonic (in fact, I found their work in the first concerto to be absolutely pedestrian), but the soloists save the day. Never heard of them, but they certainly defend these concerti quitre admirably. For a buck, this could fill a hole in your personal collection. SQ = A-, OI = B+

RACHMANINOV: Isle of the Dead (The) / Prince Rostislav / Capriccio on Gypsy Themes / The Rock

Enough Chopin - now, time to turn to our other preoccupation this summer, Sergei Rachmaninov. This disc cobines many of the smaller orchestral works by the Russian, including his two most famous tome poems, The Isle of the Dead and The Rock. Valeri Polyansky leads the Russian State Symphony in these works, that include a number of student (pre-opus numbered) works, such as the less heard student tone poem Prince Rotislav. It is unfair to ignore Rachmaninov's gifts as an orchestrator, and even the early works shine with their originality. Great job! SQ = A, OI = A.

National Arts Centre Orchestra-25th Anniversary

It was with great sadness that we all read a few weeks ago of the passing of Canada's unofficial Kappelmeister, Mario Bernardi. Maestro Bernardi, who has worked up the ranks as a recitalist and opera rehearsal pianist (not unlike Wilfrid Pelletier) to leading the Sadler's Wells Opera Company (Now, the English National Opera) in the mid-1960s. As Canada celebrated its centennial, it established the National Arts Centre in its capital city of Ottawa and - like Pelletier forty years earlier - a call for the prodigal son to return meant that Bernardi became the Arts Centre Orchestra's first permanent conductor and Artistic Director, a position he held for almost 20 years, before leading orchestras in Calgary and Vancouver (the CBC Radio Orchestra). The 25th anniversary of the Arts Centre occured twenty years or so ago, but this recording (compilations of tracks from CBC and RCA recordings) reminds us of Bernardi's skill as a conductor, and fearures long-departed friends of the Canadian Arts scene including Bernardi's succesor Franco Mannino, the couple of Pierrette Alarie and Leopold Simnoneau and Maureen Forrester. The mix of works matches the repertoire and mission of the then "chamber plus" sized orchestra, and offers both standard and Canadian repertoire works. Maestro, you will be missed. SQ = A, OI = A.

August 2nd 2013, "I Think You Will Love This Music Too" will feature a new podcast "America" at its Pod-O-Matic Channel . Read more August 2nd on the ITYWLTMT Blogspot blog.

Updated Aug-01-2013 at 15:14 by itywltmt

Classical Music , Composers , Recorded Music