Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Janacek intimate letters with Lada Valesova on Spotify

Lada Valesovà was an unknown name to me, but came my way via this tweet. That Dumka recording is not on spottily yet (hèllo Avie…!), but it made me listen to the cd below, called Intimate Letters.  Lada studied at the Guildhall School of Music & Drama, London, where she now lectures. In the past she won the admiration of artists like Georg Solti and Mstislav Rostropovich and performed @ Wigmore hall in London.
The first item from the Janáček „in the mist cycle” passed by with a gentle nod, but the second and third caught my attention. Active, crisp phrasing and a clear feeling for the idiom of this music. Second Janáček cycle on the recording is the posthumus „Intimate studies”, a collection of short pieces ranging from 1876 till 1928.

The remainder of the recording is filled by works of other Tsjech composers; the tragically short lives Pavel Haas (classy suite), Bohuslav Martinu (short hommages to popular culture) and the son-in-law of Antonin Dvorak, Josef Suk (hyper-romantic in the cycle „spring”), all played with panache and guts.

Hope you will enjoy this recording as well!

Leoš Janáček (1854 – 1928)
-In the Mist, piano cycle in four movements (1911/1912)
-Intimate Studies (1876/1928)
Pavel Haas (1899 – 1944)
-Suite for Piano Op. 13 (1935)
-Allegro moderato (1938)
Bohuslav Martinů (1890 – 1959)
-Film en Miniature H.148 (1925)
-Spring (1921)
Josef Suk (1874 – 1935)
-Spring, piano cycle in five movements (1902)

Lada Valešová - Piano

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Wednesday, September 24, 2014

RIP Christopher Hogwood...

RIP Christopher Hogwood.

For me, the man of this recording, complete Mozart Symphonies, first complete recording on authentic instruments...

Complete track list: -->Click Here <--

(Complete Symphonies of WA Mozart)

Monday, September 22, 2014

Dordrecht Bach festival piano and violin sonatas BWV 1014 - BWV 1019

This week, the Bach festival Dordrecht started, with numerous concerts devoted to Johann Sebastian and his sons divided all over the beautiful 17th century inner city of Dordrecht, in the Netherlands. Numerous shops in the city participate in this festival, including Chocolate shop N’Joy, who produced a special set of chocolates for this festival (see picture below :-)

Not as populair as the solo sonatas and partitas for violin, are Bach’s sonatas for Harpsichord and violin. Not „violin and harpsichord” as two of the three voices are for harpsichord, and in fact these works are actually triosonatas-for-two-instruments.
That these works can also can be played on piano and violin, show pianist Enrico Pace and violinist Frank Peter Zimmermann, who recorded this fine set in 1995.


Johann Sebastian Bach
Sonata No. 1 in B minor, for violin and piano, BWV 1014
Sonata No. 2 in A major, for violin and piano, BWV 1015
Sonata No. 3 in E major, for violin and piano, BWV 1016
Sonata No. 4 in C minor, for violin and piano, BWV 1017
Sonata No. 5 in F minor, for violin and piano, BWV 1018
Sonata No. 6 in G major, for violin and piano, BWV 1019

Enrico Pace, Piano
Frank Peter Zimmermann, Violin

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Bach Chocolates from N'Joy

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Early 20th century masterpieces on Spotify

Dutch Avro radio program „Licht op 4” (light at 4, four being the National classical music channel in the Netherlands) just completed „the week of the starting listener”. Aimed at the starting classical music lover, they played „easy” classical music (bits, of course :-) and with the audience made a Spotify play list (bits, of course :-) for those who wanted to hear the music again.  What I would love is that the Avro will take this up and will continue this concept with the „not so easy” playlist, or even the „this will acquire some hardship” playlist…  As a follow up for the easy list I made the „Ietwat Lastige Lijst”, (the somewhat difficult list), with early 20th century works by Mahler, Schönberg, Szymanowski and Prokofiev. Tho bits, and two complete pieces… 

One of my composition teachers, Henk Alkema, once told me that he heard the Adagio of Mahler’s 10th symphony played on his car stereo and he had to pull his car from the road, because he was so emotionally charged that he could not get himself driving safely with this music on the speakers… 

Schönberg’s small piano pieces op. 11, written in 1908 were the first compositions that had no tonal basics. Pianist/composer Ferrucio Busoni „reconstructed" the second of the three piano pieces, making it audible that however faint, some tonality could be found back in these piece again…

Karol Szymanowski was a Polish composer who around world war one made beautiful colorful compositions. His first violin concerto from 1916 almost seems to defy the fact a terrible war was going on.

One war later, Sergei Prokofiev actually did the opposite, and wrote a symphony with drum rolls and marches, very much a „war symphony” with overtones of a victory (premiere was in januari 1945) to come.

So, hope you will like this selection… :-)

Gustav Mahler (1860-1911) Symphony no 10 in f#minor (1911 completed by Derreck Cooke in 1960)
Movement 1, Adagio
Berliner Philharmoniker, Sir Simon Rattle, conductor

Arnold Schönberg (1874-1951) Piano piece op. 11 no 2 (1908), arranged by Ferrucio Busoni (1910)
Daniel Barenboim, piano

Karol Szymanowski (1882-1937) Violin concerto No 1 op. 35 (1916)
Nicola Benedetti, violin
London Symphony Orchestra, Daniel Harding, conductor.

Sergei Prokofiev (1891-1953) Symphony no. 5 in Bb-Major op. 100
Los Angeles Philadelphia Orchestra, André Previn, conductor.

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Monday, September 15, 2014

Franz Berwald Sixten Ehrling on Spotify

Studying musicology, one of the absolute joy’s of the Utrecht University was the library’s record collection. While CD’s already replaced LP as the core carrier of canned music, there were still a large amount of recordings that only could be found in the vinyl format. Browsing through the collection I found a Decca record with a composer and conductor never before heard of; 
„The Sinfonie Singulière (1845) composed by Franz Berwald (1796-1868), played by the London Symphony Orchestra conducted by Sixten Ehrling”. Performance en composition amazed me. Was this a symphony from the 1840’s? Original and daring harmonies, structural novices and fines orchestration flowed through my headphones, and the rendition by Ehrling was superb. I tried to find to record on CD, but to my amazement it was not re-issued yet. Shortly after finding this record, the Gramophone magazine had a top 10 list of „LP’s that should be put on CD”, and guess what, this record peaked at no 1…
Finally not Decca, but a tiny label called „Bluebell” issued this LP on CD, and recently I was glad to find out they also made this record available on Spotify. Give this remarkable symphony a listen…!

Franz Berwald (1796-1868)

Symphony no 3 in C-Major, Sinfonie Singulière (1845)
Symphony no 4 in Eb-Major, Sinfonie Naïve (1845)

London Symphony Orchestra, Sixten Ehrling

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Friday, September 12, 2014

Anna Clyne Night ferry and Mason Bates Alternative Energy on Spotify

„Modern music” is sometimes still applied for compositions of the 1960’s or 70’s… 
But what is really „modern” is the sense of music from *now*, this period, the 2010’s? 
A youtube video let me listen to this production; two young composers who are composers-in-residence at the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and each got one of their works recorded by, no less, conductor Riccardo Muti.
The two works are very different. „Night Ferry” by Anna Clyne (b. 1980, London) is a well written 22 minute orchestral piece with literary references, that are not literally audible in the piece. She discusses the background of this composition in this excellent article. 
The „Alternative energy” by Mason Bates (b. 1977, Richmond) on the other hand is a *very* literal description of energy's recent history and future, spanning four movements and hundreds of years. Modern music gone Disney, was my first thought, but even if the first movement is Copland meets John Adams in the wrong era, the last two movements contains a well woven combination of electronics (mixed at Skywalker studio’s…!) and orchestra, that intrigue enough to give it an extra listen. More about the piece, here.

Anna Clyne (b. 1980) Night Ferry, for orchestra (2012)
Mason Bates (b. 1977) Alternative Energy, for orchestra and electronics (2011)

Chicago Symphony Orchestra
Riccardo Muti, conductor

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Anna Clyne & Mason Bates

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Cor de Groot Beethoven piano concerto no 5 and others on Spotify

Together with Hans Henkemans, Cor de Groot was the finest Dutch pianist of the 1950’s.
Below is an article that appeared on now defunct Andante label, which could be traced back on archive.org

'Now that I have heard Cor de Groot, I can die in peace', Emil von Sauer is reported to have said after hearing de Groot in the final stages of the 1936 Vienna Piano Competition. The apparently effortless technical command and scrupulous attention to phrasing and sonority in the present performances are certainly indicative of a major artist. Although he built an impressive career after the Second World War, appearing in concert throughout the world as well as recording extensively for Philips, de Groot was forced to withdraw from the concert platform in 1959 due to a paralysis in his right hand attributable to what would later become identified as repetitive strain injury. His hand did subsequently recover and he made periodic radio appearances until 1989, one of which, an appropriately brooding and dark-hued performance of the Dohnányi F sharp minor Rhapsody, has already been released on APR and provides ample evidence of de Groot's undiminished powers. While out of action, he devoted his attention to composition, including works for the left hand alone - other composers, such as Jan Felderhof and Maurice Karkoff, also wrote pieces for the left hand with de Groot in mind - as well as teaching and working for the Dutch Broadcasting Corporation. In fact, he was instrumental in setting up a sound archive for the corporation, of which many of his own performances, along with those of Mengelberg, form a significant part.

Masculine performances, recorded by Philips in the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam in a timespan between 1950 and 1954. As a bonus, the famous live recording Cor de Groot made with Willem Mengelberg in Beethoven’s 5th piano concerto, this time with the Concertgebouw Orchestra.

Hope you will enjoy the performances! 

Ludwig van Beethoven:

Piano Concerto No.5 in Eb major Op.73
Hague Philharmonic Orchestra, Willem van Otterloo, Conductor
(rec. november 23, 1953 Concertgebouw, Amsterdam)

Piano Concerto No.3 in C minor Op.37
Piano Concerto No.1 in C major Op.15
Piano Concerto No.2 in Bb major Op.19
Vienna Symphony Orchestra, Willem van Otterloo, Conductor

Piano Sonata No. 17 in D minor Op.31/2 Tempest
Piano Sonata No. 18 in Eb major Op.31/3

Piano Concerto No.4 in G major Op.58
Vienna Symphony Orchestra, Willem van Otterloo, Conductor
(rec between 1950 and 1954)

Piano Concerto No.5 in Eb major Op.73
Concertgebouwouworchestra, Willem Mengelberg, Conductor
Live Concertgebouw, May 9, 1942

(HTTP link for four hours and eight minutes music...)