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Pierre's Tuesday Blog

La Chronique du Disque (December 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.

My Suggestions for December

HOLMBOE / GRONDAHL: Trombone Concerto / HYLDGAARD: Concerto Borealis / JORGENSEN: Romance / Suite
This past March, I commented on a disc of all-French trombone concertos, and today I turn to a disc of all-Danish concertante works for the trombone. As I wrote then, I find it refreshing to hear a different instrument to the usual suspects in concerto repertoire (piano, violin, and other brass instruments, like the horn and trumpet: “the trombone has a lot of range, and under capable hands can surprise”. As for the French disc, this Danish disc provides great moments for the trombone to shine, though no one concerto stands out for me. This was quite enjoyable! SQ = A, OI = A-.

MARKEVITCH: Le Nouvel Age / Sinfonietta in F Major
Last month, we spent a post listening to Dimitry Markevitch, the renowned cellist and musicologist, and made a thinly-veiled reference to his older brother, Igor. Although we remember Igor mostly for his work as a conductor, Igor did study under Nadia Boulanger and in 1929 he was “discovered” as a composer by none other than Serge Diaghilev. He produced at least one major work per year during the 1930s and was rated among the leading contemporary composers of the time, even to the extent of being hailed as "the second Igor", after Stravinsky. In recent years, the NAXOS label undertook to record all of Markevitch’s music, and I believe this album is the first on the series. The Sinfonietta is a very modern-sounding work, quite lyrical yet true to the avant-garde. This is great stuff, and you wonder why Markevitch essentially gave up composing after suffering a serious illness. I’ll probably get some more of this music! SQ = A-, OI = A.

6 Violin Sonatas, Op. 27
In his day, Eugene Ysaye was regarded as "The King of the Violin", or, as Nathan Milstein put it, the "tsar". Ysaye was the didicatee of Franck’s Violin Sonata in A and Chausson’s Poème. Ysaye was also a rather prolific composer, not only for his instrument, but he even composed an opera in the Belgian dialect of Walloon. Amomng his more notable compositions is a set of six sonatas for solo violin, each dedicated to a comtemporary violinist, indicative of their style and essentially explores the evolution of styles and tendencies in violin performance. This disc provides the complete set. These are quite inventive ! SQ = A-, OI = A-.

Joseph Szigeti, Vol. 4
The dedicatee of the first of Ysaye’s sonatas was the Hungarian violinist Joseph Szigeti, who is remembered not only for his mastery of the Bach sonatas and partitas, but also for having worked closely with composers of his era – notably Bela Bartok and Igor Stravinsky. On this vintage recording, we hear Szgeti accompanied by Stravinsky in a set of duets for violin and piano. Also, a performance of Ernest Bloch’s violin concerto accompanied by Mendelberg and his Concertgebouw orchestra. I did say this was a vintage recording, right? SQ = B+, OI = A-.

Chopin: Piano Works [Nocturnes - Waltzes - Ballades - Scherzi]
Our final suggestion this year is another re-issue, this one by pianist Tamas Vasary, part of his mid-60’s Chopin series. This volume provides the complete Nocturnes and Waltzes. The nocturnes as a set are, in my opinion, among the best “complete” set available. The Waltzes are good, though I’m still partial to the ANda set, or even the Tharaud set we reviewed in April. The digital remastering does still convey the warmth of these performances, some of which I own in their analogue originals. SQ = A-, OI = A-.

January 2nd 2015, "I Think You Will Love This Music Too" will feature a new podcast " Felix Mendelssohn: Symphonies 1 & 5 " at its Pod-O-Matic Channel . Read more on our blogs in English and in French.