Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Colorful compositions: Szymanowski, Schönberg, Gubaidulina

Here is a “sort of virtual concert” with works where sound color occupies an important place. 
Szymanowski’s World War one violin concerto is perfumed with fragrant instrumentation, rhapsodic in form and has, in my opinion, one of the most hypnotic endings of any concerto I’ve ever heard.
Arnold Schönberg’s 5 orchestral pieces from 1909 are the starting point of
Klangfarbenmelodie”, the technique of separating a melody over several instruments. 
Although presented as a single piece, Gubaidulina’s 2nd violinconcerto is divided into five episodes. In each of them the high register, symbolizing the sky and the low register, symbolizing hell with instruments like trombones, tubas - including three Wagnerian tubas - and double bassoons, oppose each other. In this struggle between light and shadow, with the orchestra playing the role of fate, “divine unity" is symbolized by unison, achieved in the transition from the fourth to the fifth episode. 

Karol Szymanowski (1882-1937)
Violin concerto no 1 op 35 (1916)
Rosanne Philippens , violin, 
Nationaal Jeugd Orkest 
Xian Zhang, conductor
(Muziekgebouw aan 't IJ, Amsterdam, live, september 2014)

Arnold Schönberg (1874-1951)
Fünf Orchesterstücke op 16 (1909)
City of Birmingham Orchestra
Simon Rattle, conductor
(Warwick Arts Centre, England, 1987)

Sofia Gubaidulina (born 1931)
Violin concerto no 2 “in tempus praesens” (2006-7)
Simone Lamsma, violin
Netherlands Radio Philharmonic Orchestra
Reinbert De Leeuw, conductor
(Concertgebouw, Amsterdam, live, oktober 2011)

(web player link)

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Mozart Piano Trios on Spotify

You can exist as a chamber music ensemble for years (in the case of the Gryphon trio, 25 years!), make recordings that receive exuberant reviews in, let’s say the Gramophone Magazine: 

“But if you want the complete Mozart trios, this new set matches the classic Beaux Arts in polish and sensitivity, and surpasses it in beauty of violin tone and, inevitably, in quality of recording”

Or, over the top exuberant reviews in, let’s say, Classics today:

“Specifically, what the Gryphon Trio brings to these pieces is flow–that sense of effortless forward momentum that characterizes all of Mozart’s (and just about everyone else’s, come to think of it) best work. (10 out of 10)

And still remain virtually unknown… 

Is it because these players are from Canada? Or is it they are represented on a small label rather than the glam and marketing budget of a major label? Anyway, I came across these recordings on Spotify and was hooked. This is one of the finest set of Mozart chamber works I have encountered in a while. Artur Schnabel once famously said, “Mozart piano sonatas are too easy for children and too difficult for adults”. Well, the same counts for many of these works and the “naturalness” of playing by the Gryphon’s suits the music so well…! 
Hope you will be inspired by these performances too! 

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756-1791)

Track 01- 03 Divertimento for Piano, Violin and Cello in B flat major, K 254 (1776) 
Track 04- 12 Trio for Piano and Strings no 1 in G major, K 496 (1786)
Track 13- 15 Trio for Piano and Strings no 2 in B flat major, K 502 (1786)
Track 16- 18 Trio for Piano and Strings no 3 in E major, K 542 (1788)
Track 19- 21 Trio for Piano and Strings no 4 in C major, K 548 (1788)
Track 22- 30 Trio for Piano and Strings no 5 in G major, K 564 (1788)

Gryphon trio:
Annalee Patipata Nakoon, violin
Jamie Parker, piano
Roman Borys, cello
Recorded 2006.
(Webplayer link)

Friday, March 2, 2018

Your name is Katalin Kertész? And you play violin? Then you must be related to…

…István Kertész! And yes she is.

But not István Kertész the conductor…! Of course the “is she related to” question popped in my mind, so I wrote a mail to the quartet’s website. The anewer revealed that she is related to a István Kertész, the primarius of the renown and pioneering Festetics Quartet. They were one of the first string quartets playing on “authentic instruments”, just like the Kertész Quartet, by the way. But what does these trivialities matter, the Kertész Quartet made a splendid recording of an unknown Bohemian composer named Wenzel Heinrich Veit. Fine music, compared in this review to Ludwig Spohr, but with enough own voice to be recommended by me. To fill the playlist I found two recordings by the Festetics Quartet that drew praise from Classics today (Haydn, Emperor quartet) and the Gramophone (Haydn’s last, unfinished d minor quartet from 1803) and fit nicely between the two Veit quartets. Hope you will like this playlist as much as I did the last couple of weeks ;-)   

Wenzel Heinrich Veit (1806–64)

Tracks 01-04 Quartet No. 1 in D Minor, Op. 3 (1834)

Joseph Haydn (1732-1809)

Tracks 05-08 Quartet No. 62 in C major, Op. 76, No. 3 in (1798)
Tracks 09-10 Quartet No. 68 in D minor, Op. 103 (1803)

Wenzel Heinrich Veit (1806–64)

Tracks 11-14 Quartet No. 2 in E Major, Op. 5 (1835)

Kertész Quartet (in the Veit quartets)
Katalin Kertész, Eleanor Harrison, violin 
Nichola Blakey, viola; 
Tatty Theo, cello
(on authentic instruments)

Festetics Quartet (in the Haydn quartets)
István Kertész, Petőfi Erika, violin
Péter Ligeti, viola
Rezsö Pertorini, cello
(on authentic instruments)
(Webplayer link)

Kertész Quartet 

Sunday, February 4, 2018

Lifelong friend of van Beethoven, Antonin Reicha (1770-1836)

Recently I have heard two CD’s from the “little” composer Antonín Rejcha (also known als Anton Reicha of Antoine Reicha 1770-1836, “lifelong friend of van Beethoven”) that took me by surprise. One with chamber music and one with piano works. Fine and original music, reminding me of Carl Philip Emanuel Bach in the keyboard works. The Quintet and quartet are part of a 3 CD box, with different performers, of which the first CD with Quartor Girard stands out. Coupled them together and *just listen*, I would say.
The music and performances gave me much pleasure :-)  

Antonín Rejcha (1770-1836)

-Tracks 01-04 String Quintet (with two violas) in F Major, Op. 92 No. 1 (c 1819)

Quatuor Girard
Hugues Girard : Violin
Agathe Girard : Violin
Odon Girard : Viola
Lucie Girard : Cello 
Tanguy Parisot (viola)

Antonín Rejcha (1770-1836)

-Track 05 Harmonie No.20 from Practische Beispiele (1803)
(Adagio Fantaisie 1. Un poco allegretto - Fantaisie 2. Allegro - Fantaisie 3. Allegretto - Fantaisie 4. Allegro vivace - Fantaisie 5. Adagio di molto - Fantaisie 6. Allegro)

-Tracks 06-08 Grande Sonate (c.1805) in C major

-Track 09 Capriccio No.7 from Practische Beispiele (1803) 
(Allegro assai - Un poco più lento - Tempo I - Un poco più lento - Tempo I)

-Track 10-12 Sonata on a Theme of Mozart (c.1805) in F major 
(Variations sur la 'Marche des Prêtres' du Second Acte de La Flûte enchantée de Mozart)

-Track 13 Fantaisie sur un seul accord
No.4 from Practische Beispiele (1803) Allegro - Presto - Tempo I - Tempo II

-Track 14 Étude, Op.97 No.1 in E minor 
(from Étude dans le genre fugué pour le piano-forte [...] à l'usage des jeunes compositeurs (?1815-17))

Ivan Ilic piano

Antonín Rejcha (1770-1836)

-Tracks 15-18 String Quartet in E Major, Op. 95 No. 1 (1824)

Quatuor Girard

(Webplayer link)

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Lost Generation composers from the Netherlands (1944-1967)

The joy of Spotify, finding, at random, a CD you heard on the radio many years ago and now can re-listen. Dutch “lost generation” composers, too modern for the pre- WW2 audience, too “not avant-garde” for the post-WW2 audience.  Hendrik Andriessen (1892-1983) is the father of better known composer Louis Andriessen. Henk Badings (1907-1987) was, although never a serialist, also a pioneer on electronic music. Léon Orthel (1905 - 1985) was a student of Paul Juon and Curt Sachs, was for 30 years piano teacher at the Royal conservatory in the Hague and composition teacher in Amsterdam. Marius Flothuis (1914-2001) was, besides composer, also a world famous musicologist and from 1955 to 1974 artistic leader of the Concertgebouworchestra, Amsterdam. Hope you will enjoy it! 
“nicked” the tracklist from the Discogs website.

Concerto Per Organo E Orchestra (1950)
Composed By – Hendrik Andriessen
Organ – François-Henri Houbart

1 I Introductie En Passacaglia
2 II Toccata

Concert Voor Harp En Klein Symphonieorkest (1967)
Composed By – Henk Badings
Harp – Ellen Versney

3 I Lento
4 II Grave
5 II Presto

Scherzo Per Orchestra, Opus 38 (1957)
Composed By – Léon Orthel (so not Flothuis, as is stated on the Spotify playlist!)
6 Scherzo Per Orchestra, Opus 38 (1957)

Concert Voor Fluit En Orkest, Opus 19 (1944)
Composed By – Marius Flothuis
Flute – Raymond Delnoye

7 I Introduzione, Tango E Walzer
8 II Rondo
9 III Variazioni

Het Brabants Orkest
Marc Soustrot, conductor
Recorded 1999

(Webplayer link)

Thursday, December 28, 2017

An amazing color photo of Franz Liszt plus Beethoven on his favorite instruments

A playlist of a remarkable series of Beethoven Symphonies transcribed by Franz Liszt, played on a 1837 Erard and 1867 Blüthner piano, two of Franz Liszt favorite piano’s. 

But first a photo of Franz Liszt a few months before his death in 1886, enhanced and colored by Brazilian computer wizard Marina Amaral. Franz Liszt has never come closer to me, suddenly he looks me in the eyes and the composer becomes a real *person*.

As a worthy complementary, the above mentioned series on authentic Liszt pianos. The series a received “good, with some reservation” review on Classics Today and Classical Net, and ravingly positive reviews on the Classical MusicGuardian and the Gramophone
Well, here for you to try… 
Hope you will enjoy it!

Ludwig van Beethoven, transcribed for piano by Franz Liszt 

Track 01-05 Symphony, S 464: no 6 in F major    
Track 06-09 Symphony, S 464: no 2 in D major    
Track 10-13 Symphony, S 464: no 7 in A major   
Track 14-17 Symphony, S 464: no 1 in C major    
Track 18-21 Symphony, S 464: no 3 in E flat major    
Track 22-25 Symphony, S 464: no 8 in F major    
Track 26-29 Symphony, S 464: no 4 in B flat major    
Track 30-33 Symphony, S 464: no 5 in C minor    
Track 34-37 Symphony, S 464: no 9 in D minor    

Yury Martynov, 
1837 Erard and 1867 Blüthner piano
(Webplayer link)

Sunday, December 17, 2017

The best Christmas album ever on Spotify, Boston Pops Christmas Party

Ok, RCA Read Seal LSC 2329. *The* ultimate Christmas album. One of the best known albums, also by the Boston Pops Orchestra (more about them, here) and Arthur Fiedler. Not to many words now for this 1959 album, just enjoy the playlist ;-) For more detailed info (about soloists etc), click here

Track 01 A Christmas Festival
Track 02 White Christmas
Track 03 Sleigh Ride
Track 05 Winter Wonderland
Track 06 Parade Of The Wooden Soldiers
Track 07 Hansel And Gretel: Dream Pantomine
Track 08 Sleigh Ride
Track 09 The Nutcracker: Dance Of The Sugar-Plum Fairy
Track 10 Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer
Track 11 Santa Claus Is Comin' To Town
(Webplayer link)