Sunday, December 29, 2013

Very authentic Beethoven on Spotify

Beethoven was a revolutionary composer. He composed music that searched the outer limits of instruments and musicians. In the 21st century, Ludwig van’s music is less of a challenge for professional symphony orchestra’s or Bechstein, Bösendorfer, Steinway and Fazoli players…

Luckily, there are a couple of recordings that give you a glimpse of the new and revolutionary in Beethoven’s works, where you hear that the instruments *had* to evolve, because the composers wanted more of them than they could give.

That feeling is what Alexander Lubimov gives on his recording of Beethoven’s „Waldstein” and „Moonlight” sonata. He uses a copy of an 1802 Erard pianoforte for this purpose and as Allmusic writes about this performance:

„Where one might expect power, smoothness, and a rich, rounded tone from a modern concert grand, the sound of this pianoforte is slightly muted in soft passages, clangorous at its loudest, and even a little buzzing in its overtones. Nowhere are these qualities more shocking than in the first movement of "Moonlight," where the music takes on a remote and antique quality, reminiscent perhaps of a cimbalom or harpsichord in certain notes”.

Finally, I picked the (in)famous recording of Beethoven’s Eroica Symphony by Jordi Savall and Le Concert des Nations. Be prepared for a shock. Clanking drums and sharp attacks make this performance an auditive experience that makes this music sound fresh and exciting again…

Ludwig van Beethoven
-Piano sonata no 21 in C-major „Waldstein” op. 53
-Piano sonata no 14 in c sharp minor „quasi una fantasia” Moonlight sonata op. 27 no. 2
Alexander Lubimov, 1802 Erard (copy)
-Symphony no 3 in E-flat major „Eroica” op. 55
Le Concert des Nations, Jordi Savall, conductor.

(HTTP link)

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Bach advent cantata and baroque Christmas with Emma Kirkby on Spotify

We are not quite blessed with the survival of Advent cantata’s by Johann Sebastian Bach.
The music of BWV 71a, 186a are lost, 147a we only know because some of the music was re-used in the famous BWV 147 cantata (for a completely different feast in July!) and BWV 141 was actually written by Georg Philip Telemann… Fortunately, the cantata that was written for the 4th Sunday in Advent and had it’s world premiere on December 22 1715, exactly 298 years ago…!
Combined it with a very fine Chrismas CD from Emma Kirkby. Besides two Chrstmas cantatas form Alessandro Scarlatti (yes, daddy of…) she sings a reconstructed aria from BWV 147a.
Hope you enjoy the music!

Johann Sebastian Bach, Cantata „Bereitet die Wege bereitet die 
Bahn” BWV 132 (1st performance: December 22, 1715 - Weimar)

Ingrid Schmithüsen, soprano 
Yoshikazu Mera, Counter-tenor:
Makoto Sakurada, tenor
Peter Kooy, bass
Bach Collegium Japan,
Masaaki Suzuki, conductor
(recorded 1997)

Philipp Friedrich Böddecker - Natus est Jesus (1651)
Alessandro Scarlatti - Non Sò Qual Più M'ingombra (1716)
Johann Pachelbel - Cannon & Gigue
Johann Sebastian Bach - Offne Dich Mein Ganzes Herze from BWV 61
Air from 3nd suite
Bereite Dir, Jesu noch ist so die Bahn from BWV 147a
Alessandro Scarlatti - O Di Betlemme, Altera Poverta Venturosa
Arcangelo Corelli - Concerto Grosso In G Minor, Op. 6 No. 8 ('Fatto Per La Notte Natale’, published 1714, one year after Corelli’s death)

Emma Kirkby, soprano
London Baroque
Charles Medlam, conductor

(recorded 2000)
(HTTP link)

Saturday, December 21, 2013

The Rise of the North Italian Violin Concerto: 1690-1740 - La Serenissima on Spotify

Here is a sexy project with the most un-sexy name possible:
"The rise of the North Italian violin concerto"...

Perhaps it's because the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) funded the research Adrian Chandler, leader of Baroque period group La Serenissima, to investigate the origins of the 18th century violin in the Northern cities of Italy. Especially with the change in violin making around Cremona in that period (Amati, Stradivarius, Guarneri) in mind.

Nevermind the rather academic title of this series, this is awesome music making, with an interesting selection of 17th and 18th century concerto's for violin and violin accompanied vocal works.
I've put all 3 CD's of this series in one playlist, which makes almost 4 hours of listening pleasure...

Works played:

Navara: Sinfonia/Sonata à 5 in C
Anonymus: Laudate pueri Dominum à voce sola et 5 strumenti, RV Anh 30
Mhairi Lawson (soprano)
Legrenzi: 3 Balletti e Correnti à 5 from Op 16
Navara: Sinfonia/Sonata à 5 in a
Albinoni: Concerto Op. 2 No. 8 for 2 violins, 2 violas, cello & continuo in G major
Valentini: Concerto XI à 6 con quattro violini obligati in a, Op 7
Vivaldi: Concerto, Op. 3 No. 3 'Con Violino Solo obligato', RV 310
Concerto, Op. 3 No. 10 'Con quattro Violini e Violoncello obligato', RV 580
Concerto for violin, strings & continuo in Bb, RV370
Arias for soprano, strings & continuo from La costanza trionfante degl’amori e de gl’odii, RV706
Mhairi Lawson (soprano)
Concerto for violin, 2 violoncellos, strings & continuo in C, RV561
Concerto for strings in E minor, RV 134
Concerto senza cantin for violin, strings & continuo in D minor, RV243
Arias for soprano, strings & continuo from La fida ninfa, RV714 Mhairi Lawson (soprano)
Concerto for violin, strings & continuo in Eb, RV254
Locatelli: Concerto da chiesa in C, Op. 4, No. 11 Concerto in F major Op. 4 No. 12
Sammartini, G B: Concerto à più stromenti for 2 violins, 2 oboes, 2 horns, 2 trumpets, strings & continuo in Eb, J73
Tartini: Violin Concerto in Bb major, D117
Vivaldi: Concerto for Multiple Instruments in F RV569
Concerto for violin, 2 oboes, bassoon, 2 horns, timpani, strings & continuo in D, RV 562a

La Serenissima: Adrian Chandler (violin, director); Sarah Moffatt, Simon Kodurand, Jane Gordon, George Crawford, Emilia Benjamin (violin); Peter Collyer (alto viola); Alfonso Leal, Katherine McGillivray (tenor viola); Gareth Deats (violoncello); Peter McCarthy (double bass); Eligio Quinteiro (theorbo, baroque guitar); Robert Howarth (harpsichord, organ)
Recorded 2005 & 2006
(HTTP link)

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Menahem Pressler goes solo again...

Before he formed the Beaux Arts trio in 1955, pianist Menahem Pressler had a solo and concerto career. Between 1950 and 1953, he recorded many LP’s for the American MGM label and one of them is Mendelssohn’s first piano concerto in g minor, opus 25. Conductor was the man who is more famous for the conductors he moulded, lectured and formed, than for his own conducting; Hans Swarowsky.
Oa. His pupils were (hold your breath): Claudio Abbado, Albert Rosen, Jesus Lopez-Cobos, Bruno Weil, Mariss Jansons, Giuseppe Sinopoli and Zubin Mehta… The recording was issued in Europe on the subscription label Concert Hall MMS (see picture below)

Sixty(!) years later the now almost (december) 90 year old Pressler renews his solo career with two brand new CD’s on the BIS (sadly not on Spotify yet) and „La Dolce Volta” label. 
From that last CD I picked the six Beethoven Bagatelles from op. 126.
Hope you will enjoy them!

Mendelssohn: Piano concerto in g minor op. 25
Menahem Pressler, Piano
"Vienna opera orchestra"
Hans Swarowski, conductor
Beethoven: Six Bagatelles op. 126
Menahem Pressler, Piano
(HTTP link) 

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Serendipity Mozart on Spotify; Miami String Quartet plays KV 387

Serendipity find… While searching for the much praised Miami String Quartet recording of Saint-Saens and Faure quartets (unfortunately not on Spotify yet), I found this unaffected „let-the-music-speak-for-itself” version of Mozart’s G major quartet KV 387. Perfect evening music!
Hope you will like this performance too…

Mozart: Sting Quartet no 14 in G Major, KV 387
Miami String Quartet
(HTTP link)

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Classical Christmas music kick-off on Spotify....

Here is the kick-off for the classical Christmas period, with two recordings that hopefully will outshine Wham and Slade in your living room (pretentious elitist classical prick that I am :-)

-l'Enfance du Christ by Hector Berlioz (1850)

Anthony Rolfe-Johnson (Récitant), Anne Sofie von Otter (La Vierge Marie), Gilles Cachemaille (Joseph), José van Dam (Hérode), Jules Bastin (Le Père de Famille),
Monetverdi Choir,
Orchestre de l'Opera de Lyon, conducted by John Eliot Gardiner.
Recorded 1988

A 1970 Deutsche Grammophon recording of German and French (Adolphe Adam!) Christmas songs;
and a fine 1988 Erato recording of Hector Berlioz’s Christmas oratorio L’Enfance du Christ.

-Schlaf wohl, du Himmelsknabe du, by Daniel Schubart (1786)
-Weihnachtslied "Es senkt sich hehr und leise", WoO 73 by Carl Reinecke (1880)
-Minuit, Chrétiens "O holy night" by Adolphe Adam (1847)
-Christmas Oratorio, BWV 248: no 59, Ich steh an deiner krippen hier by Johann Sebastian Bach (1734-1735)
-Ich steh' an deiner Krippen hier, BWV 469, by Johann Sebastian Bach (1736)
-An das Christkind "Nun zieht mit seinem hellen Schein," EHWV 131 by Engelbert Humperdinck (1905)
-Sacred Songs (12), Op. 137: no 3, Uns ist geboren ein Kindelein by Max Reger (1914)
-Sacred Songs (12), Op. 137: no 10, Christkindleins Wiegenlied by Max Reger (1914)
-Neue Kinderlieder (5), Op. 142: no 3, Maria am Rosenstrausch by Max Reger (1915)
-Marien Kind im stalle, by Armin Knab  (around 1910)
-Krippenlieder, Op. 49: no 3, O Seht das liebe Kind, by Joseph Haas (around 1920)
-Vater unser (9), Op. 2: Zu uns komme dein Reich, by Peter Cornelius (1853/5)
-Euch ist heute der Heiland geboren, by Hermann Reutter (1955)
-Geistliche Gesänge (10), Op. 22, Book 1: no 3, Der Hirten Lied am Krippelein, by Carl Loewe (1828)

Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau, Baritone
Jörg Demus, Piano.
Recorded 1970

Spotify player below:
Http link above… :-)

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Tribute to Tatiana Tchekina

Yesterday I heard the sad news that pianist Tatiana Tchekina had died in a car crash. Her husband an music partner violinist Oleh Krysa, survived the crash with minor, physical, injuries…

They recorded several, preliminary 20th century, works together, of which I have made this small selection:

Erwin Schulhoff: Allegro Impetuoso
Erwin Schulhoff: Violin sonata op. 7
Karol Szymanowski: Three Caprices of Paganini (20, 21, 24) op. 40
Alfred Schnittke: Trio for violin, cello and Piano (with Torleif Thedéen on cello)

Spotify HTTP Link:
(fifty-five minutes)

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Spotify music player and Boris Gilburg

Here it is. It’s big, it’s bold, it’s ugly, but it’s also functional,
the Spotify music player…

Let’s be frank, I don’t like this massive design. In my original post’s I only used Spotify HTTP links and thought that was sufficient, but eating my own dogfood I noticed that these links did not always work smoothy. So, from now on I’m going to use the Double Dutch approach and give you both the HTTP link and Spotify widget to share music.

Like this new recording of 2013 Queen Elisabeth competition winner Boris Giltburg. This pianist already had put out some fine CD’s, but the new one surpasses them al in the core (Rachmaninov, Liszt) and not-so-core (Grieg) repertoire. Giltburg dashes through:

Rachmaninov - Piano sonata no 2 in b-flat minor op 36 (1931 revision)
Grieg - Piano sonata in e minor op 7
Liszt - Piano sonata in B minor.

on the new „Orchid classics” label.

For the people who want the HTTP link, here is is:
(one hour twelve minutes dashing piano playing)

And hope you will like Giltburg's playing too! :-)

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Forgotten CDs Shanghai Quartet and Chung Trio

There have been *so* many fine CD’s been produced the last three decades, and still so many *are* being produced, it’s logical older CD’s tend to be a bit forgotten. Like these two CD’s from 1994 and 1995 respectively.
The Shanghai quartet finest CD was the Delos recording with the a minor quartet of Mendelssohn and a very fine performance of the only finished quartet by Edward Grieg, the g minor quartet op 27.
It pairs well with a CD from an other Asian based chamber music ensemble, the Chung trio.
Featuring star violinist Kyung-wha, pianist/conductor Myung-whun and cellist Myung-wha, they rarely perform together, but when they do, they make a first class ensemble. The CD contains the first piano trio’s by Mendelssohn and Brahms, the latter in the composer’s later reworking.
Enjoy them again! :-)

                          (two hours and eight minutes chamber music on the highest level…)

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Groovy Goovy Gouvy

Recently, Dutch music selecter Frank de Munnik alerted me on the existence of one „Théodore Gouvy”, a 19th century composer who was literally torn between the struggle of Germany and France. Born as a child of French speaking parents in te Sarre region, 1819, he fell under Preussian government. He could attain French citizenship in 1851 and fell under German control again after the Franco - Preussian war of 1870. His musical studies were in Paris and… Berlin.
Although he had critical acclaim, Berlioz was an admirer, he never made it to „the big league” of 19th century composers. Gouvy died in 1891.
I picked three works of Gouvy that shows his qualities as a composer; the groovy, the goofy and the pathos.  
First, the early piano trio op. 18 from 1847, played by the Voces Intimae trio on authentic instruments. Gouvy must have had a marvelous cellist in mind when he wrote this, as the cello part is remarkably active in this trio…!
Then a remarkable Serenade from 1885, with music ranging from echoes of Louis Moreau Gottschalk in the Scherzo and pre-cartoon sound-effects in the first movement, sounding like a 19th century Raymond Scott!
Finally, the original French version of Gouvy's oratorio „Odipe à Colone” from 1881, of which the premiere and subsequent success became his biggest success in life. The choir in this recording is a bit „overenthousiast” in their fiery performance sometimes, but they surely render this oratorio based on a text by Soiphocles with panache and passion.
Hope you will like these discoveries as much as I did…!

Théodore Gouvy (1819-1891)

-Piano trio no 2 in a minor op. 18: Voces intimate trio (on authentic instruments)
-Serenade no 2 in F major op. 84: Markus Bronnimann, flute - Kreisler Quartet - Ilka Emmert, double-bass
-Oedipe a Colone, oratorio op 75: Christa Ratzenböck, Vinzenz Haab, Stephen Roberts, Joseph Cornwell, Kantorei Saarlouis, La Grande Societe Philharmonique, Joachim Fontaine

                            (Two hours twenty-one minutes French-German-French music)

Friday, November 29, 2013

Concerto Copenhagen concert Doelen Rotterdam November 30th

Saturday November 30th 2013,  I’ll be going to a Concert in the „Doelen” Concert hall in Rotterdam with Concerto Copenhagen (Lars Ulrik Mortensen conducting and playing harpsichord of course:-) supported by Trevor Pinnock, Marieke Spaans and Marcus Mohlin on harpsichord.
It’s been almost 20 years since I’ve seen Trevor Pinnock playing, so very curious!
The program, with a bit of Bach and a flood of Vivaldi is as following:

Bach - Concerto for 4 harpsichords in a BWV1065
Vivaldi - Concerto for strings in e RV134
Vivaldi - Concerto for strings in G ‘Alla Rustica’ RV151
Bach - Concerto for 3 harpsichords in d BWV1063
Vivaldi - Concerto for strings in g RV157
Bach - Concerto for 3 harpsichords in C BWV1064

A couple of years ago Pinnock and Mortensen recorded all of Bach’s harpsichord concerto’s with the English concert, and I picked those recordings on the playlist recreation of the concert. For the Vivaldi pieces I took several baroque bands, the sharp L’arte dei Suoni, the mellow Collegium Musicum 90 and the firm Modo Antiquo.

So here is the playlist of the concert on the 30th, hope you will enjoy it! :-)

                  (de Doelen Rotterdam, november 30th, fifty-five minutes (hoping for some encores!!))

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Dutch Delight!

Here are two new CD’s from two up-and-coming-if-they-are-not-already-arrived-yet-pianists
Diara van der Bercken and Hannes Minnaar. Diara does Handel, Hannes Bach, or rather, music inspired by Bach.

Diara van der Bercken acquired some fame in the Netherlands by driving (yes, you read it right) her piano through Amsterdam, while playing George Frederick Handel and was hung up 50 ft from the ground by a crane *doing the same*. As the october issue of the Gramophone stated in a review of the Handel CD; this is all rather apropos and I hope you can concentrate on the „musical affection and an immaculate virtuosity” that was mentioned along the first remark in that magazine!

Hannes Minnaar was the first Dutch Pianist that made it to the top 3 of the toughest piano competition in the World; the Queen Elisabeth competition in Brussels, 2010. Not with the usual suspects Rachmaninov or Prokofiev but, and it also shows his musical quirkiness, the 5th piano concerto of Camille Saint-Saens (see video below). On his new CD, just on Spotify, he plays music by Liszt, Busoni, Vaughn-Williams and.. hé! Rachmaninov. But this time with arrangements of, or inspired by works of, Johann Sebastian Bach. Everything is transparent and clear here, gently whispering in the pianissimo passages... Four stars from the Guardian and many more from the Dutch press urges you to take a listen, I hope…! :-)

Daria van der Bercken in Handel:

Keyboard Suite, HWV 428 in D minor
Keyboard Suite, HWV 427 in F major
Keyboard Suite, HWV 432 in G minor
Air in G minor, HWV467
Keyboard Suite, HWV 435 (Chaconne) in G major
Keyboard Suite, HWV 434 in B flat major: Minuet
Mozart: Allemande, from Suite, K399

The playlist of the Bach CD by Hannes Minnaar can be found H*E*R*E <--

                                  (two hours twenty-three minutes spine shivering moments)

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Máš rád Brahmse? The Czech Philharmonic in three decades...

Central in this playlist is the very fine Brahms 2nd piano concerto performance by Ivan Moravec and, with a very important contribution, the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra, conducted by Jiri Belohlavek. „Here both soloist and conductor go for the gusto” wrote Victor Carr in his review for classics today, unashamedly romantic and with that special Czech orchestral sound, of which Vaclav Talich (1883-1961) was the founder. He can be heard at the start of the list with a work written in 1903 by the Czech composer Vitezslav Novak. After Talich an other Czech master, cellist Milos Sadlo (1912-2003) in two cello gem’s from Antonin Dvoak, the Rondo in g minor op 94 and the tone picture for cello and orchestra called Silent Woods. Vaclav Neumann conducts. Mas rad Brahmse? Yes, very much indeed!
Hope you will enjoy this Czech playlist… !

-Vitezslav Novak, Slovacko Suite op 32
  Czech Philharmonic Orchestra, Vaclav Talich (1957)
- Antonin Dvorak, Rondo in g minor op 94 & Silent woods op 68
 Milos Sadlo, Cello,  Czech Philharmonic Orchestra, Vaclav Neumann (1976)
- Johannes Brahms, Piano Concerto no 2 in B flat Major op 83
 Ivan Moravec, piano, Czech Philharmonic Orchestra,  Jiri Belohlavek (1988)

                                        (One hour thirty-two minute Czech sounds)

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Utrecht Bach Cantata Services... BWV 79

Since many years, the first Sunday evening of the month is Cantata-time during the Bach Cantata services at the Geertekerk in Utrecht. Amateur orchestra and choir, pro-appeal, with young professional soloists in the solo parts. And a nice atmosphere...! No Christian lectures or anything like that, but a short intro about the cantata and rehearsing the final chorus, as you may sing along at the end. And, surprising, many young people who join in! This Sunday (November 3rd) Bach’s Cantata no 79 is on the playlist and as a preparation I’ve made a playlist and put it on Spotify. Performers are the Amsterdam baroque orchestra and Choir, Ton Koopman, conducting…

Gott der Herr ist Sonn und Schild BWV 79

Choir, strings, oboes, horns, timpani, bassoon, basso continuo

Sandrine Piau, soprano - Bogna Bartosz, alto – Klaus Mertens, bass

1- Chorus: “Gott der Herr ist Sonn und Schild”

2- Aria (Alto): “Gott ist unsre Sonn und Schild”

3- Chorale:“Nun danket alle Gott”

4- Recitative (Bass): “Gottlob, wir wissen den rechten Weg zur Seligkeit”
5- Aria (Soprano, Bass): “Gott, ach Gott, verlass die Deinen nimmermehr”
6- Chorale: Erhalt uns in der Wahrheit”


Thursday, October 31, 2013

Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra, November 1st 2013 concert (Kodaly, Rachmaninov, Brahms)

November 1st (said I survive Halloween :-) ) There is a concert by the Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra I will be going to. Nice program, and bringing a friend with me who never has been to a classical concert before. Curious what he will think of it…  So, I made a Spotify list for the program and added two more items, one from the pianist that evening; Masataka Goto and the conductor Andrés Orozco-Estrada. The program is:

Kodály Galánta-dances

Rachmaninov Paganini-Rhapsody 
Second Symphony in D major

For Kodaly I picked the awesome rendering of Ivàn Fischer and the Budapest Festival Orchestra; The Paganini variations -> Rafael Orozco, piano and the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra with Edo de Waart. For Brahms two I took the new Gewandhausorchester recording with Riccardo Chailly.
To show off the capabilities of the performers:

Chopin Nocturne in B major op.62 no1 - Masataka Goto, Piano
Mahler Symphony no1 in D major - Niederösterreichisches Tonkünstlerorchester, Andrés Orozco-Estrada (and that, ladies and gentleman is really a good recording…!)

Hope you like the music, and if you have a chance (and are in the neighborhood of Rotterdam) come too! :-)

                                                 (two hours twenty-three minutes pre-fun)

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Jerome Rose, virtuoso pianist

On page 106 of the Gramophone magazine October issue, there is a one-page advertisement of
 "I play the piano". It's not the website that attacked my attention, but the names attached to that webstite; Michel Beroff, Jean Marc Luisada, Jaques Rouvier and one Jerome Rose. Jerome who? "Professor at the New York Mannes College". Eh, ok...  I started to google and one record kept on popping up when you filled in the name of the pianist —> „The Vox Liszt recordings" <—.
Are they on Spotify? Yes... And wow, there was some awesome amount of virtuosity in Liszt's Etudes transcendante! Unfortunately, his later records show the same daredevil approach as the early Vox record, but seem to go a bit overboard, damaging structural integrity (as can be heard in the Liszt concerto included, but on the other hand, some old world charm there in the slow part…!). What I found very successful was his recording of Chopin's 3rd sonata, dating somewhere from the 80’s. Hope you will enjoy this selection! Click the link, and if Spotify does not start automatically then, click on the big square on the left.

-Franz Liszt 12 Etudes transcendante
-Franz Liszt Piano concerto no 1 with the Budapest Philharmonic Orchestra, Ricco Saccani conducting
-Frederyk Chopin Piano Sonata no3 b minor op. 58

(one hour fifty-four minutes thunderous piano sounds…)

Monday, October 28, 2013

How about those Red Sox...?

Ok, we Dutch people are opportunists, half of America is watching the Baseball world series, and „normally” people in the Netherlands couldn't care less… But… it’s in the news now, because a young Dutch player (Aruban, but that’s just a sleight detail :-) called Xander Bogaerts is playing for the Red Sox… 
Good opportunity to hear some music about and from Boston! First, a piece about Boston from the Russian, sorry American composer Vernon Duke. Then, music „from” Boston in the form of the Boston Modern orchestra Project. They play Alan Hovhaness pastoral Saxophone concerto and Arthur Berger’s Gorecki like Prelude Aria & Waltz. Except that Gorecki was 12 years old at the time Berger wrote this... Further, a nice pie(r)ce by David Lang called *Pierced* and finally „the other” Boston orchestra, the Boston Philharmonic Orchestra, conducted by the Charismatic Benjamin Zander playing Stravinsky’s Petrushka.
Now watch those finals again, go Red Sox! :-)

-Vernon Duke, Hommage to Boston (1945). Scott Dunn, Piano

-Alan Hovhaness, Concerto for Soprano Saxophone and Strings Op.344 (1980) 
Boston Modern Orchestra Project - Kenneth Radnofsky, soprano saxophone

-Arthur Berger, Prelude Aria & Waltz (1945). Boston Modern orchestra Project, Gil Rose

-David Lang, Pierced! (2008) - Boston Modern orchestra Project, Gil Rose

-Igor Stravinski, Petruska (1911) - Boston Philharmonic Orchestra, Benjamin Zander.

(one hour- thirty minutes Red-Hot-sounds!) 

Johann Christian Bach (and his life story in music)

Last Saturday, I heard an excellent program on Dutch NPR Radio 4 about the life of Johann Christan Bach, Johann Sebastian's youngest son.
The missing link between Händel (from whom he learned how to please the English audiences) and Mozart (who played piano with him on his knee and was a lifelong friend). The program still can be heard on the website of the Dutch radio, but beside the fact you have to hear the spoken parts on repetitional listening, most items only are movements form the complete works. So, in a healty "do-it-yourself-mode", I made my own playlist, only changing two performances who were not on Spotify, and making the instrumental items complete. 
It actually makes a fine morning or let's-play-this-at-work playlist... :-) 

 -Bach, Johann Christian: Ouverture in D Major, "La calamità" - Netherlands Charmber Orchestra, David Zinman

-Bach, Johann Sebastian: Suite BWV.816 in G Major, "French suite no 5" - Andrei Gavrilov,  Piano

-Bach, Carl Philipp Emanuel: Concert concerto for cello Wq.170 in a minor - Rapahel Walfish, Cello. Scottish ensemble, Jonathan Morton 

-Händel, Georg Friedrich: Acis and Galatea HWV.49a ; Act I - aria, "Love in her eyes sits playing" Ian Bostridge, tenor & Anthony Robson, hobo. Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment Harry Bicket

-Abel, Carl Friedrich: Ouverture for Orchestra, op.1, nr.2 in C Major - Il Fondamento, Paul Dombrecht

-Gluck, Christoph Willibald: Orfeo ed Euridice ; Mélodie (Arr.) - Yuja Wang, Piano

-Pergolesi, Giovanni Battista: Stabat Mater - Emma Kirkby, Soprano & James Bowman Countertenor, Academy of Ancient Music, Christopher Hogwood

-Mozart, Wolfgang Amadeus Piano concerto nr.12, KV.414 in A Major - Murray Perahia,  Piano (and conductor) English Chamber Orchestra 

-Bach, Johann Christian: La clemenza di Scipione ; Ouverture - Hanover Band Anthony Halstead

-Bach, Johann Christian: Concert for oboe and orchestra nr.3 in F Major (never mind the lousy tagging of Challenge classics on Spotify, it's the F-major concerto...) - Pauline Oostenrijk, oboe. Nieuw Sinfonietta Amsterdam, Jaap ter Linden

-Bach, Johann Christian: Introitus und Kyrie der Totenmesse - Koor van de Nederlandse Bachvereniging & Orkest van de Nederlandse Bachvereniging, Jos van Veldhoven

-Bach, Johann Christian Symphony op.18 nr.2 in B flat Major - Netherlands Charmber Orchestra, David Zinman

-Bach, Johann Christian: Orfeo ed Euridice ; Act I - aria, "La legge accetto" - Philippe Jaroussky, Countertenor. Cercle de l'Harmonie, JérémieRhorer

-Bach, Johann Christian Symfonie (Sinfonia) op.6 nr.6 in g minor - Netherlands Charmber Orchestra, David Zinman

-Mozart, Wolfgang Amadeus: Sonata for piano nr.11, KV.331 in A Major, "Alla Turca" - Alicia de Larrocha, Piano

(three hours twenty-five minutes of eighteen-century sounds) 

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Authentic Stuff Beethoven Strauss Ravel Barber !

HIP. Nope, not something groovy or fashionable, but a shortcut for "Historically informed performances". The Authentic Stuff... With the knowledge of then, performing the classics today.

In the case of Ronald Brautigam and Beethoven's fouth piano concerto authenticity is not in the instruments; modern piano and orchestra are used. But the version of this concerto is the one where Beethoven himself made adjustments for a live performance in 1808, making the piano part more brilliant and ready for a piano with an extra octave. Surprisingly little recorded.  

If you think of "authentic stuff", you are maybe thinking of "Baroque music" on period instruments, but in recent years performers found out that later music, even Strauss, Ravel and Barber (I heard an authentic Schoenberg once...) can be played on intruments from the early 20th century... In the case of Ravel it has a profound influence on the sonorities, but even Johann Strauss Blue Danube sound fresh again in the hands of Jos van Immerseel and Anima Eterna. Finally, an authentic performance of a very inauthentic adagio for strings by Samuel Barber, as the original was a movement for string quartet...

Hope you will enjoy this HIP pick!


-Ludwig van Beethoven: Piano concerto no 4 G-Major op 58
Version with adjustments Beethoven made for a 1808 performance
Ronald Brautigam  - Piano 
Norrköping Symphony Orchestra
Andrew Parrot

-Johann Strauss Jr. Walzer op. 314 "An der schönen blauen Donau"

-Maurice Ravel: Bolero & Rhapsodie Espagnole
Anima Eterna Brugge
Jos van Immerseel

-Samuel Barber: Adagio for strings
The Smithsonian chamber players
(on gut strings!!)

(one hour twenty-eight minutes HIP sounds)

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

An actual concert program... Beethoven, Schoenberg and Mozart.

In the excellent facebook group called "Elitist Classical Music Pricks", there was an announcement of a concert with, to say the least, a wondrous stew of programming... 
On october 18th, 2013 the National Philharmonic of Ukraine performed in sequence: 

Beethoven - Wellington's Sieg overture op 92
Schoenberg - Piano concerto op. 42
Mozart - Symphony no 41 in C-major KV 551 "Jupiter"

It reminded me of  Belgian comics anti-hero Guust Flater favorite sandwich;
Anchovies, strawberry jam and-some-fine-whipped-cream... :-)
With some imagination, I can think of the relationsip "war" in Schoenberg's wartime written concerto and Beethoven's "Slacht bei Vittoria", but what -By Jupiter- Mozart has to do with that... 

Well, never afraid to tray anything new, here is a re-creation of that same program again...!
As I could not find any recording by the National Philharmonic of Ukraine, the pick fell on the Cincinatti Symphony orchestra under Erich Kunzel in Wellington's Sieg and live recordings by the New York Philharmonic under their new principal conductor Alan Gilbert in Schoenberg and Mozart, with Emanuel Ax as soloist in the Piano Concerto. 
Well enjoy this wonderous program and tell me what you think of it. 
Ever heard an equal weird program live? Tell me!

(One hour four minutes Beethoven - Schoenberg - Mozart stew...)

Sunday, October 20, 2013

So Classical, it's classic... 002 Mozart and Beethoven (plus Emil)

Some works are so well known... they actually aren't performed anymore...! 
I don't know if this is the case outside the Netherlands, but I've never seen "Eine kleine Nachtmusik" on any announcement or concert list... 
So, unashamed, I'll put it on the second "So classical, it's classic" list in-a-good-old-fashoned-vibrato-rich performance by Karl Böhm and the Wiener Philharmoniker. 

Some... conductors are (were?) so well known, yet seldom seem to attrack attention of the present day classical audiences. Ok, in the case of Herbert von Karajan not live, as he is no longer a-live, (although SO much filmed, I think with hologram techniques these days death is no longer an obstruction to conduct :-) but his once mythical status as glam-star on record has somehow been re-evaluated in recent years. What remains are some very polished, and in the case of his 1962 Berliner Philharmoniker recording of Beethoven's Eroica symphony, turbodynamic driven performances. To my ears still one of the best Karajan on record...

As an extra, a 1957 recording of Rudolf Kempe and the Wiender Philharmoniker with a featherlight Donna Diana overture by Emil von Reznicek. 
Hope you enjoy the re-encounters again! :-)

(one hour seven minutes familiar sounds...)

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Terence Judd, Shine gone wrong...

Darn...! WiFi connection on my macbook is broken :-( There goes the portable Spotify player... 
But at the same time, being the optimist I am, it's also an oppertunity. In the days before Spotify (heck, in the stone age time before Youtube!) I swapped live bootleg files from all over the world. After about 11 gig of unplayed files I stopped, but kept it stored for apocalyptic times... So, confronted with Wifilossity, I randomly picked a file unplayed since august 3rd 2005; Tchaikovski's piano concerto played by one Terence Judd. Wow. Maybe not perfect, but thrilling, exciting and exploding in the finale. Who is this guy, and why don't we hear more from him?? Well that is... becouse he comitted suicide at the age of 22... 

Terence Judd won the 1978 Tchaikovski Piano competition in Moskow (where the bootleg came from) and fell in to depression. Electro shock therapy (fashionable those days) made things worse, and after frying his brain Terence was convinced he was Jesus and should find some planets to live on for him and his sister, as can be read in this interview Jessica Duchen had with Diana Judd. In 1979 he bought a one way train ticket and was found later near the cliff's of Beachy Head, Sussex. Shine gone wrong, as Jessica writes...

I went to my "big" computer and found that Chandos has issued a better sounding "official bootleg" of the Tchaikovski and equal exciting Prokofiev 3 concerto with the Moscow Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Alexander Lazarev that can be found on Spotify. 
What could have been doesn't count here, what's left is rewarding enough to be heard and enjoyed...

(fifty-eight minutes of excitement…)

Friday, October 18, 2013

The Szymanowski Quartet in the Amsterdam Muziekgebouw aan het IJ. Setlist...!

On October 5th 2013, the Polish Szymanowski Quartet gave a concert in the Amsterdam "Muziekgebouw aan het IJ". The spectacular looking Muziekgebouw is the second concert hall in the Dutch capital, nearby the Amsterdam Central railwaystation (opposed to the "harder to find" south-side Concertgebouw). As a preperation to that concert, I made a Spotify list of all the works played there. The focus of that concert were 20th century works (or arrangements) for string quartet, by Polish composers.
This was the setlist:

Karol Szymanowski String quartet nr. 2 (1927)
Witold Lutoslawski String quartet (1965)
Krzysztof Penderecki String quartet nr. 3 (2008)
Mieczysław Weinberg String quartet nr. 13 (1976)
Karol Szymanowski Nocturne and Tarantella (arr. originally 1915)
The Szymanowski Quartet itself only recorded the arrangement of the Nocturne and Tarantella, so I had find other recordings for the different works played on the concert. 
Szymanowksi's second quartet is more raw and folky than his first quartet en the Goldner Quartet express that "edge" in their Naxos recording. 
Lutoslawski made his score aleatoric and the classic La Salle Quartet recording still has the sense of *discovery* attached to the work. 
Penderecki's third quartet is a far cry from his earlier sound explorations (or explosions, to my ear :-) from the 1960's. "New Spirituality" is now the credo... The string quartet is nicknamed "Leaves of an unwritten diary" and the Apollon Musagete Quartet make the most of it, I think...
Mieczysław Weinberg worked most of his life in the Soviet Union, but was born and breed in Poland. His op 118 quartet was written in 1976 and can be seen as a lamento for his collegue Dimitri Shostakovich. The recording is part of the complete cycle on CPO by the Quartor Danel. 
Finally Karol Szymanowski op 28 Nocturne and Tarantella by is played here in an arrangement the Szymanowski Quartet made themselves. A smashing throw out at the end of the concert...! As a bonus, here is a link where you can hear Szymanowski play two of his own Mazurka's, recorded for the Polish radio, 1935. 
Hope you will enjoy this program of not-too-familiar works.

(one hour and twenty minutes playing time)

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Two words and an exclamation mark...

Sometimes two words and an exclamationmark can be very sufficient 
to describe a playlist you just found on spotify. 


Decca exploring their SXL LP catalogue on 2 CD boxes, 53 CD's...

Extensive track lists can be found:

Playlist for box 1 (Decca sound - analogue years 1954-1968)

Playlist for box 2 (Decca sound - analogue years 1969-1980)

(Sixty-one hours of spine shivering sounds... :-)

Sandwich Stuff 001 (Mozart and Schumann, new records)

In classical concert programming, "the sandwich" is a good old formula. A concerto (for solo instrument and orchestra) is "sandwiched" between an overture and a symphony. Never change a winning team, so I have stolen that recipie to share two new and one older recordings with you. 
For the overture I picked Mozart's Nozze di figaro, played by Wiener Philharmoniker and conducted by Claudio Abbado (recorded 1994), as a connection to his new Schumann record (see below). 
Then, from the same composer Mozart's 21st piano concerto in shining C-Major KV 467, nicknamed "Elvira Madrigan", (a movie actually nobody has ever  seen, if you ask around...  :-) played by the "Gramophone young artist of the year" Jan Lisiecki. What I love about this recoring is the interplay between soloist and conductor (and a backround as Mozart pianist as well!) Christian Zacharias. As a spicy extra between both C-Major works is the overture from Robert Schumann's opera Genevova, maiden-is-rescued-by-night-in-nick-of-time, followed by his second symphony, op 61. Both are live recordings, made in the Vienna Musikverein in 2012 by the Orchesta Mozart and conductor Claudio Abbado. It's actually the first time Abbado has put a Schumann symphony on record in his 55 years career, amazing. Especially when you hear how fresh this work sounds in the hands of the aged (born in 1933!) maestro.
Hope you will enjoy these works!

(one hour twenty minutes playing time)

Abbado talking about the above Schumann live recording

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

So Classical, it's classic!... 001

Here are three "classic" classical records. Weird enough each with it own little flaws; Edward Elgar's cello concerto was better played by other cellists, than Jaqueline du Pre's 1965 recording. "Von Fremden Länden" and "Wichtiche Begebenheit" from Robert Schumann's Kinderszenen, played by Daniel Barenboim in 1979, is more Daniel than Robert. Too pounderous... And the 1981 recording of Brahms fouth symphony, conducted by Carlos Kleiber can seem a bit straightforward on first hearing. But the emotionally charged du Pre, backed up by Sir John Barbirolli and the London Symphony orchestra is unchallenged in utter expression and expressive depth. It is said that Mislav Rostopovich dropped the concerto off his repertoire after hearing this recording, as he had nothing to add anymore... At the time of the Schumann recording, Daniel Barenboim had already dropped his then handicapped wife Jacqueline du Pre (as mercilessly is depicted in the brilliant movie Hillary and Jackie), but nothing of that can be heard in his recording of the Kinderszenen. Lightweight playing on a heavy Steinway at a time when he was technically an musically at his peak. Kleiber and the Wiener Philharmoniker make Brahms human again. No autumn colours here, but a shining spineshivering sound... There are so many details in this recording that *work*, so many fine moments; it's never boring or really superficial. There was always a complain that with 39 minutes, the CD version made it only half-a-CD, but with Spotify, that is no longer a problem :-)
Hope you enjoy this classic pack!

(one hour, twenty-eight minutes of fine performances... :-)

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Long Tracks 01 (Glazounov, Brahms (and a little Handel and Bach co-operation)

So, you do not have a paid Spotify account. Love Handel and listen to, let's say, the concerti grossi. Outch, every track or so THERE IS SOMEONE SHOUTING IN YOUR EAR.  YOU NOTICE THAT COMMERCIALS ARE COMPRESSED TO DEATH IN SPOTIFY AND BLAST MERCILESSLY TROUGH THE SPEAKERS...
Arn't there any l--o--n--g tracks out there that embrace complete works, so you can take a breath before any commercial? Well, you have to move to the romantic age for that (no biggie classical or baroque files found so far) yet, lucky for *you*, there are some very fine over twenty minute tracks of complete works on spotify...
To start with, one by one of my favorite violinists; Ida Haendel. She is not so well known by the general classical audience, war and other worldevents hampered her career. In an interview she blamed it on her cheeckbones (not pretty enough), but vinyl collectors don't mind and on ebay some spectacular prizes are paid for her records. Here is a 1965 recording she made for Supraphon of Glazounov's 1902 a-minor violin concerto. Note the variation in vibrato and flow that make her an opposite of, lets say, Hillary Hahn in this work. The Prague Symphony orchestra and conductor Vàslav Smetàcek are following in her footsteps; some fine wind playing in the orchestra...! And what about Handel, you might think after the opening above...? Well, Hungarian born pianist Andras Schiff tackles Johannes Brahms variations on a tune by Handel with style and sense for structure. The twenty-six minutes of Brahms fiddling, eh, playing around with Handel are followed by thirty-four minutes of Max Reger's labour of love on a theme by J.S. Bach. Followed at the end by a fuge, as you would have guessed when both Bach and Reger were involved. Fine performance again, lesser known than his Mozart or Hiller variations (... and Fuge).
Hope you will enjoy these three tracks!

(one hour, twenty-two minutes playing time)

Monday, October 14, 2013

Welcome and... Sunrise! Wake up music...

Hello all!!

What surprised me was, that there were so few blog's that tackled classical music finds on Spotify.
Since I was pounded with Spotify gift cards for my birthday (knowing nothing else to put on the wishlist...) I started to explore the hu-mung-us amount of classical music content on the stream service. What I also found were shady companies that used smartly tagged third rate performances to generate some income, but polluted the search function on Spotify severely. So, started to make my own playlists and expected to find blogs that had already made some more for me. Uh... nope. There were two other blogs; great initiative, but a bit of "throw it over the fence" approach with 72 hs lasting playlists (and for some reason stopped making new ones) and who I found via the Gramophone magazine forum. Latter is a nice blog, but still no "real" program of collected pieces. Now you should know I'm a bit of a classical music elitist prick, so have my own rules for playlists... I really dislike short pieces stashed together, as you hear it on Dutch radio 4 or even BBC 3 these days. So, if possible, it's complete works, plus curiosity and interesting performances take the lead here... :-) Enough talk, music now...! Here is my first playlist, for all you earlybirds out there, of sunshine music.

The young Dutch Matangi string quartet kick off with a radiant B-flat quartet by Joseph Haydn, op 76 no 4, then an overture by a contemporary of van Beethoven named Andreas Jacob Romberg (1767-1821) played by the Hofer Symphoniker (no, never heard of them before, but Germany has about a hundred of these fine but unknown orchestras) conducted by Luca Bizozerro, followed by a frenetic c minor Quartetsatz from Franz Schubert by the Belcea quartet and finally the second serenade in A flat major, conducted by Bernard Haitink and played by the London Symphony Orchestra. Weird about that CD (can you still call a playlist on Spotify a CD? Well, nevermind:-) is that Brahms third symphony which it is paired with is played lackluster and rather boring, while the second serenade sparkles and is one of the best performances I know...
So, enjoy the music and good morning to you all!

(one hour and eight minutes of music...)