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Pierre's Tuesday Blog

La chronique du disque (March 2012)

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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 March

To begin, a pair of acquisitions in memory of a pair of solid soloists

Rachmaninoff - Complete Preludes - Alexis Weissenberg (1970), (1990)
[Torrent Download]

This early 1970’s recording of the complete preludes by Rachmaninoff feature Alexis Weisenberg in top form. Only maybe the hardest core piano lovers or Rach lovers would recognize all 24 of these preludes, though most of us only immediately recognize the op. 3 no. 2 prelude in C sharp and its other-worldly chords. I must say that Weisenberg does all of these great justice, I think at times in spite of the material, which I personally find rather uneven to my ears. I like this recording quite a bit. A- for SQ, A for OI.

Musiques Royales à Notre Dame (VOX Reissue)
[eMusic Purchase]

Recently, we lost consummate trumpeter Maurice André. When I fished around for something by him, I stumbled onto this recording of French-renaissance music for trumpet, organ and brass. Mouret’s Rondeau, well-known to PBS viewers as the theme to Masterpiece Theatre has a very regal sound when played at a slower pace, which is what André does. The remainder of the Mouret suite is delightful, and so are the other pieces by Delalande and Lully. Period-ish music played by a veritable master of the baroque trumpet. This is a reissue of an old analog disk, and I wish more care would have been taken… B+ for SQ, A- for OI.

Haydn, Rosetti, Turner & Vivaldi: Works for 2 Horns and Chamber Orchestra
[eMusic Purchase]

I don’t know about you, but I sure love the sound of the French Horn. It’s probably one hard instrument to master, but when it comes to brass instruments, nothing comes close… The concerto repertoire is decent – not great – but to hit an album of “double concertos” for horn – I just had to go and download it. Haydn is a go-to composer for the instrument, but how about Vivaldi? His double concerto for horns has the majesty of his double concerto for trumpet, whilst having an air of nobility that works a lot better for me. And the short concertante piece - or tone poem – by one of the soloists (Kerry Turner) is quite good, a bit of a throwback to the late 19th century. I liked this! A- for SQ, A for OI.

Widor, C.-M.: Violin Sonatas Nos. 1 and 2 / Suite Florentine / Cavatine / Romance
[eMusic Download]

In the past few weeks, I have written much about – and played some – Widor on the blogs, and this very interesting recording of chamber music for violin and piano came my way. These are very French chamber pieces, quite aligned with the late-romantic, early contemporary period – we must remember Widor trained many of these composers as an academic, so that should not be surprising. As much as Widor’s organ music can be heavy-handed, his chamber music is light-handed and even at times very daring. I liked his sonatas as performed here by Janet Packer, but liked some of the “single movement” works a lot more. A great discovery! A- for SQ, A- for OI.

GUILMANT: Organ Symphony No. 2 / WIDOR: Organ Symphony No. 3 / FRANCK: Choral No. 2
[eMusic Purchase]

As I teased last month, I acquired the second of the two-disk set of French organ and orchestra works recorded by Ian Tracey and Yan-Pascal Tortellier, and I was not disappointed. The disk is as good as the first one: the Guilmant second symphony is, I think, a better piece than the first, and Tracey’s Franck Chorale is on the money. I liked the Widor symphony (this one for organ and orchestra), but I must say it reminded me too much of Saint-Saens’ if you ask me… Imitation is, of course, the best form of flattery, and that still holds true in music! A for SQ, A- for OI.

March 30, 2012, "I Think You Will Love This Music Too" will be adding a new montage "Serene Beethoven" to its Pod-O-Matic Podcast. Read our English and French commentary March 30 on the ITYWLTMT Blogspot blog.

Updated Mar-27-2012 at 10:35 by itywltmt

Classical Music , Recorded Music