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Pierre's Tuesday Blog

La Chronique du Disque (Summer 2014)

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For those unfamiliar with our monthly recordings review - If Sound Quality (SQ) and Overall Impression (OI) grades need further context, feel free to visit earlier posts in this series.

Since we have a "bonus Tuesday" this month, I thought I would catch up with the "collector" portion of my blog, and suggest some titles I acquired over the Summer.

Vaughan Williams: Symphonies & Other Orchestral Works / Sir Adrian Boult
This month on ITYWLTMT, I have programmed some "ninth symphonies", however one composer who didn't make the cut was RVW who indeed has composed nine symphonies (though some people may not realize it...) We often hear the Sea and London Symphonies, and even the somewhat dissonent Fourth, but how about the others... This EMI box set presents the complete set (and other works as filler, including the concerto for two pianos and some orchestral suites) under the able baton of Sir Adrian Boult, who of course had a long-standing collaboration with theh composer. Boult recorded two RVW symphony cycles, the first (in MONO for DECCA) was under the composer's supervision. These are given the full treatment, and the filler pieces received equal care. A great addition to anybody's collection. SQ = A-, OI = A.

R. Strauss: Ein Heldenleben, Op. 40 (Stereo Version)

This is not the first time that I've downloaded (and suggested) a purchase from the series of digitized vinyl releases from the Bibliotheque Nationale de France. As it turns out, scant details are available as to which version of the at least four Karajan recordings this is, but my bet is on the 1959 DG recording (the first of his three stereo versions), which some argue is the best of his Heldenlebens. As was the case for my other samplings of this series, the vinyl transfer is impeccable, and the dynamic range it renders is excellent. For under a dollar (two tracks for 49 cents each) this is a steal! SQ = A-, OI = A-.

Corigliano: Concerto for Piano and Orchestra; Ticheli: Radiant Voices; Postcard

This is an older recording of the Corigliano piano concerto featuring Canadian pianist Alain Lefevre (who has been featured in these pages several times). Lefevre is at home in contemporary repertoire, and I've seen some reviewers call this a "reference" performance. The concerto itself doesn't stray too far off into "experimental fare", making it a modern yet very accessible piece. The filler material, from Californinan Frank Ticheli, is worth listening to as well. A fine recording of American contemporary music. SQ = A-, OI = A-.

Honegger: Symphony No. 4; Pastoral d'été; Prélude, Arioso et Fughette; Concertino

Doing some background work for upcoming podcasts, I searched for recordings by Humgarian pianist Tamás Vásáry, and stumbled onto this recording. Those familiar with Vásáry the pianist might be surprised (and perhaps, like me, somewhat skeptical) to find him as a conductor, and even more as a conductor of mostly unfamiliar works of the none-too-popular Arthur Honegger. We know of Pacific-231 which, maybe, suggests Honegger is somewhat of a "loud mouthed" symphoniuc composer, but this collection of orchestral works performed by a modest-sized orchestra (the Bournemouth Sinfonietta) presents a very refined composer, and I would say the piano concertino in this album (with Vásáry as soloist) is a rare gem. A very nice surprise! SQ = A, OI = A.

KROMMER: Clarinet Concertos Opp. 35, 36 and 91

Next week's PTB will feature clarinet works, including a performance of the Krommer clarinet concerto, op. 36. Franz Krommer was a prolific compser, with at least three hundred published compositions however of all this output, yet that concerto is probably his best known work and - quelle surprise - it is one of several works for the instrument. This NAXOS release features three of Krommer's half a dozen or so concertos for clarinet, and two of the featured works are for two solo clarinets. Soloist and conductor Kalman Berkes has many recordings of classical clarinet works on this record label, and he leaves a very good impression. I enjotyed this a lot! SQ = A-, OI = A-.

September 19, 2014, "I Think You Will Love This Music Too" will feature a new podcast "Bruckner Dressed to the Nines" at its Pod-O-Matic Channel . Read more on our blogs in English and in French.