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Pierre's Tuesday Blog

La Chronique du disque (Sept. 2011)

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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.
What I acquired in September

WEBER: Clarinet Concertos / Janet Hilton
[eMusic purchase]

I purchased this recording by Janet Hilton of the three Weber clarinet and orchestra concerti and concertino, with Neeme Jarvi conducting the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra. I own another recording of Ms. Hilton’s (Chandos as well), of the Nielsen clarinet concerto, and I like her clarinet: smooth, lyrical, full of virtuosity. The set of Weber works are very appropriate for her style, and she nails them. The dialog with the orchestra is just right. A fine Chandos recording, A for S.Q., A+ for O.I.

Antonin Dvorak - The Master works (40 CD)
[AvaxHome/FileSonic Download]

Two words: Mother lode. If you are looking for Dvorak orchestral, chamber, choral or operatic music to add to your collection, this is it. To name a few highlights: the complete symphonies (CDs 1 to 7), the complete concerti (CDs 8 and 9) and the complete string quartets (CDs 22-31). Visit the link for a complete breakdown of the works and artists. Many performances were digitally recorded, and some (including solid concerti from the '60s featuring Zara Nelsova and Ruggiero Ricci) are analog, but well re-mastered. The files are only MP3 format, so FLAC enthusiasts could be disappointed. My assessment of the ones I downloaded: A- for S.Q., A for O.I..

Brahms: Piano Concerto No. 3 in D Major after Violin Concerto, Op. 77
Dejan Lazic / ASO/ Spano
[eMusic purchase]

If you recall my discussion last month of the Rodrigo Aranjuez concerto adapted for the harp, you know I don't mind tasting some music that isn't quite what it was meant for... This is exactly oine of them. Pianist Dejan Lazic's re-invention of the Brahms Violin Concerto for the piano may sound like heresy, but I didn't mind it so much. Clearly, this is not for everybody (Polednice, you are warned) but it is worth listening to - though, the original remains a better work overall, no question. The handful of piano solo pieces are a fine complement to this disk. Caveat emptor! A- for S.Q., B+ for O.I.

Glass: Violin Concerto No. 2, "The American Four Seasons"
Robert McDuffie/ LPO/ Alsop
[eMusic purchase]

Philip Glass, like the harp music last month, is something to be savoured in small doses... As a physicist, I have a mathematical model (amplitude modulation of waves) that explains Glass' minimalist approach to music, and I can share that with you over (several) pints of Guiness. This concerto's subtitle is misleading - there's nothing to evoke seasons here... WHat the work does, much better than its predecessor IMHO, is provide a very "tame" thread for the soloist, as opposed to the marathon workout of the First concerto. The overextension of the soloist in the First was at times distracting to me (maybe not for others, though). Here, we can apreciate the music, and Marin Alsop is well at home in American contemporary repertoire, so Mr. McDuffie is getting first-class accompaniment. I give this A for S.Q., A- for O.I.

GOTTSCHALK: Piano Music / Cecile Licad
[eMusic purchase]

For awhile, I'd been looking for some works by the Franco-American composer Louis Moreau Gottschalk, and especially some of the works Hershy Kay used in his ballet Cakewalk. I stumbled onto this disc of piano works, featuring Cecile Licad, and I was disappointed. To begin, the works are a tad repetitive in their style, and none of them really stood out for me, save The Union, something of a piece based on American patriotic songs. Ms Licad is a technically strong pianist (I heard her live playing more showy music), and I got the distinct impression she was not particulalrly inspired by the subject matter, and gives this nothing more than a reading, without much emotional investment or conviction - though I am unsuire if that would have made any difference. Routine recording, piano sounds a little bland to my ears. B + for SQ, C+ for OI.

Quick Hits

  • SCHUBERT: Symphony No. 5 / Symphony No. 6 / Overture in C major / STOCKHOLM SINFONIETTA [eMusic purchase]. Jarvi conducts, and he rarely disappoints. I like my Klemperer versions better, though. A for SQ, B+ for OI.
  • Dominic Muldowney: Oboe Concerto / ROY CARTER, OBOE/ LONDON SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA/ MICHAEL TILSON THOMAS, CONDUCTOR [eMusic purchase]. Atmospheric, dreamy, film-ish. OK I guess. A for SQ, B for OI.
  • Luciano Pavarotti - O Sole Mio (Greatest Recordings) [Torrent download] Pavarotti sings art songs, arias, neapolitan and cross-over style songs. A nice compilation, for the hole in your Pavarotti collection. MP3 only, though. A- for SQ, B+ for OI.

September 30 2011, "I Think You Will Love This Music Too" will be adding a new montage "Three E's in Beethoven" to its Pod-O-Matic Podcast. Read our English and French commentary September 30th on the ITYWLTMT Blogspot blog.

Updated Sep-27-2011 at 13:08 by itywltmt

Classical Music , Recorded Music