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Pierre's Tuesday Blog

La chronique du disque (october 2011)

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En français:

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 October

STRAUSS, R.: Rosenkavalier (Der) Suite / Symphonic Fantasy on Die Frau ohne Schatten / Symphonic Fragment from Josephs Legende (Falletta)
[eMusic purchase]

I purchased this disk because I was intrigued by the two "lesser known" suites it contains. The point of reference, clearly, is the Rosenkavalier suite, and at the first audition you can tell Strauss is not well-suited for the Buffalo Philharmonic sound and Ms. Falleta. She does, however, give it a solid read - call it Diet Strauss, all the taste, half the calories. Strauss is the kind of composer that fits into the grand German tradition, and is usually played with full body (think of Böhm, or Kempe, or even Karajan). All the notes are there, all the subtlety is there, but it just doesn't have the panache and weight of a typical German interpretation. This approach is applied to the three suites in this fine digital recording. I give it an A- for SQ, and a B for OI.

Berlioz: Vocal Works with Orchestra
[eMusic purchase]

When one thinks of Berlioz and song, Les Nuits d’été come to mind immediately. This recording does not include this famous set of songs, but some of the disparate selections are often found as filler for recordings of Les Nuits. Zaïde is a lovely piece, and so is the fine duet Sara la baigneuse. The choral works are also very good, including the rarely recorded le ballet des ombres, an early Berlioz work that he (thankfully) unsuccessfully destroyed. Camberling is in his element, excellent digital recording. A for SQ, A for OI.

Olivier Messiaen: Turangalila Symphony /Seiji Ozawa & Toronto Symphony Orchestra (2008)
[AvaxHome download]

I was pleased to find this almost 45-year old recording of this work of symphonic excesses. Turangalîla-Symphonie was commissioned by the BSO and premiered under the direction of a young Leonard Bernstein in 1949. This recording features Bernstein’s protégé Seiji Ozawa, nearing the end of his short tenure with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, in what is the first North-American recording of the work. Although not stated explicitly, it is a known fact that Mr. Messiaen was present for the recording, if only because his wife and sister-in-law are the piano and ondes Martenot soloists, respectively. This repertoire is Ozawa’s bailey wick, and even as an up-and comer, his command of the work is nothing short of awesome, and the analogue recording at the old Massey Hall stands the test of time. A for SQ, A for OI.

Alessandro Marcello, Oboe Concerto In D Minor
[eMusic purchase]

I downloaded this set of mostly baroque-era oboe concertos, as I was looking for the Marcello and Cimarosa works. The addition of the Bellini concerto was a pleasant surprise. The different soloists are good – though I still like my Holleger recording of the Albinoni oboe concerto better. This is not a HIP recording, but rather an old-school, big sound performance featuring Louis de Froment and the orchestra he led for all those years, the RTL Symphony of Luxemburg. A nice addition to your oboe repertoire. A- for SQ, A- for OI.

Glenn Gould - The Young Maverick
[Torrent download]

Before his recording debut in 1955 (and for some years after), Glenn Gould was a regular featured artist on CBC radio. This set of six CDs is a compilation of restored and re-mastered broadcast recordings made by Gould between 1952 and 1957. The set breaks down as follows: 2 CDs of Bach, 3 CDs of Beethoven and a finl disc dedicated to the Second Viennese School. Among the featured works are Beethoven’s piano concerti now 1 to 3, the Schönberg piano concerto and the 24 June 1954 performance of the Goldberg Variations. This is a young Gould, without the eccentricities and already displaying the pianistic power that he has come to represent. These are not really just for the Gould aficionado – these are a window into burgeoning interpretive genius. The sound quality betrays the origin of the recordings, but the interpretations transcend that. B for SQ, A for OI.

Quick Hits:
  • Robert Johnson - The Complete Recordings (Torrent download): The Blues, played by the uncontested grand daddy of the genre. Recorded in dreary hotel rooms in the deep South in the early 1930’s. Johnson is not a great singer, but he is an awesome guitarist, and hearing these standards played by the man himself is worth the price of admission. B for SQ, A- for OI.
  • Dialogues with My Shadow JOHN BRUCE YEH (eMusic purchase): A whole album of clarinet solo music can make for dry listening, especially when the focus is contemporary repertoire. I’m glad I challenged myself to listen to this recording. To my untrained ear, Mr. Yeh seems a fine clarinettist, and he delivers the works with conviction. It’s a better experience the second time around, trust me. Solo clarinet is probably hard to record cleanly, but the interpretations stand out. B+ for SQ, A for OI.

PROGRAMMING NOTE: The next instalment of Pierre's Tuesday Blog will be posted exceptrionally next MONDAY October 31st. Shut the drapes, and get the candy ready!

October 28 2011, "I Think You Will Love This Music Too" will be adding a new montage "Beethoven 'Number One' Montage" to its Pod-O-Matic Podcast. Read our English and French commentary October 28st on the ITYWLTMT Blogspot blog.

Updated Oct-30-2011 at 22:18 by itywltmt

Classical Music , Recorded Music