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...)