Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Father and son Kantorow in Saint-Saens

Having watched the semi-finals of the Queen Elisabeth violin competition in Brussels, I noticed that the conductor there was Jean-Jacques Kantorow. As he was a solo-violinist for many years, he was a perfect accompanist for all the candidates in that contest. Almost at the same time someone attended me to a new CD by his piano playing son Alexandre Kantorow, who performed three of the five piano concerto’s bij Saint-Saens. Very fine performances and the not so often recorded third receives the best and most convincing performance I have ever heard! I thought it would be a nice idea to combine Jean-Jacques Kantorow’s recording of violin works by Saint-Saens with the new recording of him and his son.

Track 01-03 Piano Concerto No. 3 in E flat major, Op. 29 (1869)
Track 04-06 Violin Concerto No.3 in B minor, Op.61 (1880)
Track 07-08 Piano Concerto No.4 in C minor, Op. 44 (1875)
Track 09 Caprice d’après l’Étude en forme de Valse, Op.52 (for violin and orchestra, 1872)
Track 10 Caprice andalous, Op.122 (for violin and orchestra, 1904)
Track 11 Prélude from ‘Le déluge’, Op.45 (1875)
Track 12-14 Piano Concerto No.5 in F major, Op. 103, ‘L’Égyptien’ (1896)

Tapiola Sinfonietta
Alexandre Kantorow, piano (Tracks 01-03, 07-08 and12-14)
Jean-Jacques Kantorow, violin (Tracks 04-06, 09,10 and 11)
Jean-Jacques Kantorow, conductor (Tracks 01-03, 07-08 and 12-14)
Kees Bakels, conductor (Tracks 04-06, 09,10 and 11)
(Spotify Webplayer link)

Sunday, April 28, 2019

Do we need another Brahms cycle...?

“Oh, why do we need the X’st cycle of… (fill in)” is an often heard complain when people discuss a symphony or concerto cycle by a well known composer. In the days that CD boxes were 20 to 50 euro’s, I could understand that criticism, but with Spotify, a well played, well recorded cycle is often very much welcomed by me. Especially when as well played as this Brahms cycle by the WDR symphony orchestra under Jukka-Pekka Saraste. Symphony no’s 1 and 3 already caught my attention around Christmas 2017, when I found them on Spotify and a while ago I discovered that the complete cycle was online. Just listen for yourself. Fine music making, new details and musicians who really put their heart in this music. 

Johannes Brahms (1833-1897)

Track 01-04 Symphony no 1 in C minor, Op. 68 (1855-1876)
Track 05-08 Symphony No. 2 In D Major Op. 73 (1877)
Track 09-12 Symphony no 3 in F major, Op. 90 (1883)
Track 13-16 Symphony No. 4 In E Minor Op. 98 (1885)
Track 17-26 Variationen über Ein Thema von Haydn Op. 56a (1873)
Track 27 Academic Festival Overture Op. 80 (1880)
Track 28 Tragic Overture, Op. 81 (1880)

WDR Sinfonieorchester Köln
Jukka-Pekka Saraste, conductor
(if you want the weblink for this playlist)

Jukka-Pekka Saraste

Saturday, December 15, 2018

German Christmas music from the 17th Century

For those who want a serene playlist of German Christmas music from the 17th century, this is the place! The Margaretha Consort recently recorded this CD, that has played many times on my computer. Conductor, gamba player Marit Broekroelofs wrote the liner notes that can be read here:


1 Praeludium for Organ in G minor by Franz Tunder 
 Gerrit Hoving (Organ) 
2. Nun komm der Heiden Heiland by Michael Praetorius 
3. O Jesu, nomen dulce by Heinrich Schütz 
4. In dulci jubilo by Michael Praetorius 
Written: by 1619; Germany 
5. Maria durch ein Dornwald arr by Frank Wakelkamp 
6. Puer natus in Bethlehem by Michael Praetorius 
Written: by 1619; Germany 
7. Nobilissime Jesu by Alberich Mazak 
8. Heute ist Christus der Herr geboren, SWV 439 by Heinrich Schütz 
Written: 1632; Germany 
9. Teutsch Et in terra by Michael Praetorius 
10. Illibata ter beata by Petrus Hurtado 
11. Vater unser im Himmelreich by Hans Leo Hassler 
12. Quem pastores by Michael Praetorius 
13. Es ist ein Ros entsprungen by Michael Praetorius 
14. Wie schön leuchtet der Morgenstern by Johann Hermann Schein 
15. Vom Himmel hoch da komm ich her, WV 69 by Heinrich Scheidemann 
16. Veni, veni, Emmanuel, Traditional, arr by Frank Wakelkamp

Margaretha Consort
Conductor:  Marit Broekroelofs

Hope you will enjoy it!
(Webplayer link) 

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Young, snobbish classical loiterers

Found this cartoon and had a good laugh…

(Click for larger image)

Well, it is horrible to hear Beethoven over a pair of crappy Tanoy speakers outside, but what do young snobbish classical loiterers listen to? To op 101, the sophisticated A-Major sonate by Richard Goode? The highlight of his complete sonatas set! 

Or the ultimate vintage vinyl of the 1944 Furtwangler Eroica on Urania? One of the holy grails for classical collectors. Issued in 1953, but drawn from the market when Furtwangler found out this radio recording was issued without his consent. One of the most intense Eroica’s ever produced. 

Maybe they go for one of the finest recent Beethoven 4th piano concerto recordings, Pierre-Laurent Aimard with “the father of all Hipsters” Nikolaus Harnoncourt? 

You tell me! :-)

Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1828)

Tracks 01-03 Piano sonata no 28 in A-Major op 101. 
Richard Goode, piano

Tracks 04-07 Symphony No.3 E-flat major
Wilhelm Furtwängler and Wiener Philharmonic Orchestra
December 1944, Musikverin Saal, Vienna

Tracks 08-10 Concerto for Piano no 4 in G major, Op. 58 
Pierre-Laurent Aimard 
Chamber Orchestra of Europe,
Nikolaus Harnoncourt, conductor
(Webplayer link)

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

You want to hear organ music on the Dutch radio? Well, forget it, buy a CD...!!

It was around 2004 when one of the most anti-radio verdicts was stated by then Avro program manager Ad ’s-Gravesande. After banning organ music from the classical PBS station radio 4 he was asked where organ lovers should go to after the ban he replied: “let them buy a CD” …

Weird, because “Dutch organ culture” was the winner of a public query in the search of the penultimate Dutch music culture. I remembered this ban, just after I heard one of the finest organ players of the Netherlands, Piet Kee, had died at the age of 90, last week

In the 1990’s he recorded a couple of splendid organ CD’s for the Chandos Chaconne label. The one I always liked best was the one with the 1743/1750 Weingarten organ. An organ filled with myths, stories and unique stops, as can be heard in the last two tracks of this CD. 

As a tribute to Piet Kee, this playlist:

Johann Pachelbel (1653-1706)

1. Ciacona d-moll
2. Präludium d-moll
3. Fantasie g-moll
4. Ciacona f-moll

Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750)

5. Prelude in f-minor BWV 534
6. Fuge in f-minor BWV 534

Johann Gottfried Walther (1684-1748)

7. Jesu, meine Freude (Variationen)

Johann Michael Bach (1648-94)

8. In dulci jubilo

Nicolas Antoine Lebègue (1631-1702)

9. Les cloches

Franz Xaver Murschhauser (1663-1738)

10. Variations on Laßt uns das Kindlein wiegen

Piet Kee, Organ
(webplayer link)

Friday, June 8, 2018

The early days of the Marco Polo label

Belgian composer Charles Auguste de Bériot had a successful career, but a rather sad life. After difficulties getting his new style of violin playing accepted in the 1820’s, he enjoyed succes with his many violin concerto’s. He declined an offer to lecture in Paris, but started to teach in Brussels, where he founded the Belgian violin school, where his pupil Henri Vieuxtemps and Eugene Ysaye are the best known examples of. After a couple of years he lost his eyesight and became blind. His left arm was paralyzed and cut off (!) to relief him from the pain. Brrr….
Of his concerto’s, no 7 and no 9 are played most often, but I have a weak spot for no 8, composed in 1856. 

Anton Rubinstein (no relation to the pianist) was one of the most important Russian composers and pianists, according to the 19th century critics. Yet he was outshined by his pupil Piotr Ilich Tchaikovsky. Both men had a rocky relationship, but always stayed in touch, or went to parties together, as this unique 1890 phonograph recording shows. Nope, not a hoax, in the house of Julius Block Rubinstein and Tchaikovsky can be heard speaking and whistling (!).
Anton Rubinstein’s last symphony, his Symphony no 6 was written in 1886. 

Alexander Borodin wrote his piano quintet in Italy, 1862, when his fiancee, the pianist Yekaterina Protopopova, was there for the recovery of a disease. The 28 year composer would meet with Balakirev soon after the couple returned and this fine quintet was the last work of his early period. 

Charles-Auguste de Bériot (1802-1870)
Tracks 01-02 Violin Concerto No. 8 in D major, Op. 99 (1856)

Takako Nishizaki, violin
RTBF Symphony Orchestra; Alfred Walter; 
Rec: 14 to 19 July 1986;

Anton Rubinstein (1824- 1894)
Tracks 03-06 Symphony No. 6 in A Minor, Op. 111 (1886)

Philharmonic Hungarica
Gilbert Varga, conductor
Recorded in Marl, FRG from 16th to 18th July, 1986

Alexander Borodin (1833-1887)
Tracks 07-09 Quintet in C Minor for Two Violins, Viola, Cello and Piano (1862)
Ilona Prunyi, piano
New Budapest Quartet
Recorded 1991
(Webplayer link)

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Remember the days when you went broke buying full-price CD’s?

A closet full of CD’s. Full price CD’s, all bought around 1995. That is what I saw in a house in Leiden, the Netherlands. At 22 euro per CD, this collection costed the owner tens of thousands of Euro’s. And now all sold for one euro per CD, only 20 years later…

And I remembered that as a student I bought 2 CD boxes that made me broke at that time. 99 Dutch guilders (around 45 euro) for a double CD with Messiaen and 88 guilders for Mahler 7. 
And now, for 10 euro per month, I can share these CD’s (and many, many more) with you.

Much has changed…

Fine performances, by the way. The Dutch composer Diepenbrock was a close friend of Mahler and Richard Strauss, who met each other regular.

Odd enough, the 1976 Quatuor pour la fin du temps with siegfried Palm and Aloys Kontarsky was replaced in the re-issue of my original 1987 CD with the 1969 performance below. But that groundbreaking record is a good replacement. 

Hope you will enjoy this cheap playlist ;-)

Alphons Diepenbrock (1862-1921)
Track 01 Im grossen Schweigen (1905)

Håkan Hagegård, Baritone

Gustav Mahler (1860-1911)
Track 02-06 Symphony no 7 in e minor (1904-1905)

Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra
Riccardo Chailly, conductor

Rec 1994

Olivier Messiaen (1908-1992)
Track 07-16 Turangalîla-Symphonie (1946-48)
Peter Donohoe, Piano 
Tristan Murail, Ondes Martenot
City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra 
Simon Rattle, conductor
Rec 1986

Track 17-24 Quatuor pour la fin du temps (1940)
Gervase de Peyer, Clarinet
William Pleeth, Cello 
Erich Gruenberg, Violin
Michel Béroff, Piano

Rec 1969

My copy of Mahler 7