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Pierre's Tuesday Blog

La Chronique du Disque (March 2015)

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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.

Programming Note - In order to program an additional selection from the Podcast Vault for Holy Week next week, I am holding my monthly Chronique du Disque a week early.

My Suggestions for March

Joseph Haydn - Organ Concertos

Ton Koopman was featured here earlier this month as organist, and he is back today as both soloist and conductor of his Amsterdam Baroque Orchestra in a set of concertos for organ (and organ with violin) by Joseph Haydn. We have come to appreciate Haydn in very specific genres (especially in quartets and symphonies), and his concertante repertoire is far less voluminous – which doesn’t mean he doesn’t have a good sense of “balance” between soloist and orchestra. Think of his trumper concerto, for example. This is a style and repertoire that Koopman excels in, and from that standpoint alone, this is a worthwhile acquisition. SQ = A-, OI = A.

Couperin & Clérambault: La musique d'orgue en France au XVIIIe siècle (Mono Version)

Over the last year, I have acquired a good number of titles from the Bibliothèque Nationale de France’s home collection of vinyl transfers. At times, I wish the collection offered a broader selection of works, but what it does provide is usually pretty good. Couperin is probably a French Baroque composer of some repute, but I had never heard of Clérambault. Both composers offer some rather complex and forward-looking music, which stands up quite well with what their German counterparts were up to at the time. Of course, Madame Alain is fully vested in these interpretations. I just wish the BNF did a better job of providing information – for example, I have no idea which instrument or venue is being featured. My sound quality grade takes into account a few pops and hisses, though I subjectively believe the overall transfer is OK. SQ = B+, OI = A-.

Buxtehude - Complete Organ Music (Vogel)

To complete our organ selections for the Lenten season, I unearthed this "complete" set of organ works by Dietrich Buxtehude, performed by Harald Vogel on several Baroqie and Classical period instruments. Buxtehude's organ catalog numbers about 100 pieces, split almost equally between chorals and other "secular" works (toccatas, preludes, etc.). Maybe it's because of the fact I listend to these non-stop, but I didn't find much tangible difference in approach between the chorals and non-chorals... The chorals are very good, and stand well against those of his contemporaries, but the more "organistic" works are far less ambitious than, say, Bach's or the French pieces heard on the MCA album - they are nonetheless charming in their own way. Worthwhile download if you ask me, and well done by Vogel. SQ = A, OI = A-.

Pierné & Vierne: Quintettes pour piano

Sometimes I get pointers from other CM enthuisiasts about some recordings, and this acquisition is the direct result of such a recommendation. This ATMA recording groups a pair of 20th century French piano quintets, featuring Canadian pianist Stéphane Lemelin and the Quebec City-based Arthur-Leblanc quartet. These works are coloured by the First World War – Louis Vierne lost his son to that war, and the pain and anguish he felt are in open display in this quintet. As most ATMA releases, the sound quality is top notch and the interpretations are on mark. SQ = A, OI = A.

Antonio Vivaldi - L'Estro Armonico Op. 3

In the early days of CDs, many ensembles “licenced” their recordings for distribution on several “budget-priced” labels. Of course, NAXOS came along and appropriated many of the artists that would partake in that form of “out of the box” thinking, but this was the bread-and-butter of many labels – Point Classics and other such distributors were more than happy to oblige. This recording of Vivaldi’s L’Estro Armonico has been oft-licenced by such distributors, but this is not a refklection on the quality of the performance! Good on the Camarata Romana to have believed in these enough that they hit the pavement and sought a wider distribution. These are not “historical” performances (a la Koopman earlier), but unapologetic old-school mid-century performances. I quite enjoyed this! SQ = A-, OI = A-.

March 27, 2014, "I Think You Will Love This Music Too" will feature a new podcast "Organ Concertos" at its Pod-O-Matic Channel . Read more on our blogs in English and in French.