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Pierre's Tuesday Blog

La Chronique du disque (June 2012)

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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.
My acquisitions for June

Ambroise Thomas : Mignon
[1937 and 1945 performances]

Hugh Canning writes, “In the years after its premiere at the (old) Opéra-Comique in 1866, Ambroise ThomasMignon clocked up hundreds of performances, almost challenging Gounod’s Faust as one of he most popular French operas of the 19th century before Carmen. By the second half of the 20th century, this enchantingly tuneful and sweetly sentimental work had all but disappeared from the repertoire.” Montreal-born conductor Wilfrid Pelletier has a fond place in his heart for this opera – hearing it for the first time in person provided a life-changing experience. Associated with the Met as a conductor for 33 years, we have at least two performances of Mignion under his baton – a re-issued and remastered version from 1945 and an earlier version from 1937. From a performance standpoint, both have their merits – the ensemble for the 1945 recording has a few more recognizable names – but the recorded product remains technologically dated. Depending on where the singers are on the stage they are at times loud and at other times hard to hear – the later remastrered release is somewhat better in that regard, but not by much. The poor sound quality does affect the overall impression, though at times Pelletier and his orchestra transcend the technical difficulties. This is a recording for the opera enthustasts, who mean to discover an opera that has only had a few stagings in the last decade. C+ for SQ, B- for OI.

Show Boat
[eMusic purchase]

In 1927, Jerome Kern and Oscar Hammerstein II premiered their adaptation of Edna Ferber’s novel, Show Boat, in what is viewed by many as the first major Broadway production of its kind, a fore-runner of ambitious works like West Side Story and Sweeney Todd. This recording is based on the the joint British Opera North/Royal Shakespeare Company production of 1989, which – in trun – follows the 1946 revival production of the work. It’s all there: the great songs, the great musical interludes, performed by an all-British cast backed up by the National Symphony Orchestra of London. Willard White may not be Paul Robeson, but his Ol’ Man River is on the mark. Love this! A for SQ, A for OI.

[eMusic purchase]

Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau passed away last month, and I could not resist acquiring one oif his many recordings of the Schubert quintessential lieder cycle as only he can sing it, accompanied by his longtime pianist, Gerald Moore. The performance is identified as “***, 1955”According to Gramophone , Fischer-Dieskau has made seven recordings with varying pianists, and this recording may have been his first of the lot (first of three with Moore at the piano). DFD’s masterful mix of timbre, projection and emotion make this “his” song cycle – nobody comes close, and this digitally remastered version of the original is all that, and more! A- for SQ, A for OI.

Louis Vierne: Complete Organ Symphonies
[Torrent download]

This year is the 75th anniversary of the passing of both Charles Marie Widor and Louis Vierne, the men who helped redefine French Organ repertoire with the introduction of the “Organ Symphony”. Mr. Widor wrote ten, and Vierne 6, and all 6 are presented in this set, performed on three of Aristide Cavaille-Coll’s organs in Rouen, Toulouse and Paris. Ben Van Oosten proves to be solid ion these expansive works, playing the three organs with equal panache. The download also includes two more sets of disks – the complete Suites and more organ works by Vierne. Worth the time to download! A- for SQ, A- for OI.

The Voice of the Sparrow: The Very Best of Edith Piaf
[Torrent Download]

Her voice was moulded by a hard life and hard love. Edith Piaf has a unique voice and is a unique songstress which marked war-time and post-war French popular song with hits such as l'hymne a l'amour and Je ne regrette rien. This album chronicles Piaf through the years, with just enough remastering for the recordings to maintain their nostalgic sound. A keeper. B+ for SQ, A for OI.

June 29nd , 2012, "I Think You Will Love This Music Too" will be adding a new montage "The Powers of Two" to its Pod-O-Matic Podcast. Read our English and French commentaries June 29 on the ITYWLTMT Blogspot blog.
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Updated Jun-26-2012 at 12:30 by itywltmt

Classical Music , Recorded Music