Thursday, November 26, 2015

Overture concert and symphony a la Française on Spotify

In concert programming, the “sandwich”, an overture, followed by a concerto and closed with a symphony is a proven succes. Also makes a nice Spotify playlist where you can combine you own armchair concerthall together :-)
For this playlist I’ve chosen three French works from the 19th century:

Camille Saint-Saens 1872 Le Rouet d'Omphale (Omphale's Spinning Wheel) is one of the composers symphonic poems based on Greek mythology. Rather more an atmospheric than a literal description of story about Hercules travesty adventures…  The performance of this piece by Charles Dutoit is a long time favorite, with fine playing by the Philharmonia Orchestra. 

For Édouard Lalo’s 1874 “Violin Concerto” (called “Symphonie” Espangole) I had two choices in digital recordings; the secure and firm Sarah Chang and the playful, more imaginative Christian Tetzlaff. Both versions had their own merits, but the “symphony” factor, in this case the magnificent playing by the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra, conducted by Libor Pesek, made me go for the Tetzlaff version. Thrilling musicality :-)

The three movement 1890 symphony in B-flat Major is an underrated masterpiece, composed by Ernest Chausson. Cyclic in form, just as in Cesar Franck’s better known symphony, but darker in tone and especially the forward looking harmonies. Sibelius is not far away in this work. Although the BBC Symphony Orchestra is a British Orchestra, the “sound” conductor Yan Pascal Tortelier  elicits is idiomatically French. Fine listening experience. 

Hope you will enjoy this French “concert at home” playlist…!

Camille Saint-Saens (1835-1921)
Le Rouet d’Omphale op 31
Philharmonia Orchestra
Charles Dutoit, conductor

Édouard Lalo (1823-1892)
Symphonie Espagnole in d minor op 21
Christian Tetzlaff, violin
Czech Philharmonic Orchestra
Libor Pesek, conductor

Ernest Chausson (1855-1899)
Symphony in Bb Major op 20
BBC Symphony Orchestra
Yan Pascal Tortelier, conductor
(HTTP link)

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Freiburg Baroque Orchestra on Spotify Fux Freiburger Barockorchester

Recently, I’ve been further convinced of the awesomeness of the Freiburg Baroque Orchestra, and this is the reason why…
The music of Johann Joseph Fux is well written, well woven and can drive my roommates more insane than any of my grindcore, industrial of dubstep collection :-) It can be mindblowingly dull sometimes, when the performers just don’t give something extra. Scrolling through several CD’s on spotify, the agreeable (and dull) Fux versions of Suites and Overtures flowed through the loudspeakers, nice but unnoticeable. Enter the Freiburg Baroque, two or thee phrases and whoom, they got the Fux sound right. Not only well written, but also fun, excitement and grandeur…!
It’s not the Christine Pluhar like actualization that does it, it’s the language of the music itself they understand, that with techniques from that period it’s possible to find “new” sounds and adventure in the scores to revitalize the music again. So, curious what you think of this CD,
I enjoyed it very much and has been playing many times now on my Spotify account… !

Johann Joseph Fux (1660-1741)

-Overture in D major, N. 4:   
-Concerto for 2 oboes, 2 violions & continuo in D major ('Le dolcezze e l'amarezze della notte'):  
-Intrada for chamber ensemble in C major, E. 62: Intrada 
-Suite for chamber ensemble in C major, n. 83 
-Rondeau à 7, for violino piccolo, bassoon, 4 violins & continuo  

Freiburg Baroque Orchestra 
( Freiburger Barockorchester )
Gottfried von der Golz, conductor

HTTP link:
Foxy Fux...

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Authentic Dvorak on Spotify

If you think of “authentic performances”, historically informed and on instruments from the period of the music’s creation, you probably do *not* connect this with a composer like Antonin Dvorak, or the late 19th century. And yet, one new and one older recording explore the sonorities and mindset of the late romantic period, where instruments, phrasing, embellishments and performance style were different than the now evolved performing styles. 

This is especially apparent in a brand new recording of arguably the most famous piece by Dvorak, the Symphony in e minor “from the new world”. Brass and woodwind timbres differ significant from the vibrato laden sound of a 21st century orchestra, while the use of embellishments and legato in the string section is much more differentiated than in the present day practice. Fine performance by the Anima Eterna orchestra and conductor Jos van Immerseel

Between 1967 and 1972 Radoslav Kvapil recorded all known works for piano composed by Antonin Dvorak on the composer’s own Bösendofer concert piano, build in 1879. Surprisingly close in timbre to a modern Concert piano, but leniger in the discant and slightly more transparent in the middle and low registers. Kvapil is an unsurpassed advocate for the relatively unknown output of this composer and still one of the most convincing recordings of these works. I’ve chosen the most prolific works Dvorak wrote for piano, the Suite in A major op 98 also nicknamed “the American”  , the Humoresques op 101 (and yes, no VII is THE Humoresque by Dvorak :-) and the wonderful Poetic moods op 85.

Hope you will enjoy this authentic selection ;-)

Antonin Dvorak (1941-1904)

-Symphony in e minor op 95 “from the new world” (1893)
Anima Eterna
Jos van Immeseel, conductor

Rec 2015

-Suite in A major (original piano version) “American” op 98 (1894)
-Humoresques op 101 (1894)
-Poetic Moods (Poetické nálady) op 85 (1889)
Radoslav Kvapil, on Dvorak’s own Bösendorfer piano from 1879

Rec between 1969 and 1972.
(HTTP link)

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Helmut Schmidt Bach Mozart on Spotify

RIP Helmut Schmidt (1918-2015), German Bundeskanzler…

… and Pianist.

Johann Sebastan Bach (1685-1750)

-Concerto for 4 piano’s and orchestra in a minor BWV 1065

Helmut Schmidt, piano
Justus Franz, piano
Gerhard Oppitz, piano
Chistoph Eschenbach, piano and conductor
Hamburger Philharmoniker

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756-1791)

-Concerto for 3 piano’s and orchestra, F Major KV 242
Helmut Schmidt, piano
Justus Franz, piano
Gerhard Oppitz, piano
Chistoph Eschenbach, piano and conductor
London Philharmonic Orchestra
(HTTP link)

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Lenny Kravitz Mahler 3 with Zubin Mehta

In March 1978, the then 13 year old rock and movie-star Lenny Kravitz was a member of the California Boys’ Choir. Singing in that choir, he performed in concert and opera productions with conductors like Michael Tilson Thomas, Erich Leinsdorf (talk about clash of generations :-) and Zubin Mehta. With the last conductor he recorded Mahler’s 3rd Symphony in the Los Angeles Royce Hall, Maureen Forrester being the contralto soloist. A fine performance, with the warm voice Forrester as an extra bonus. Kravitz and the California Boys’ Choir sing in the fifth track; Lustig Im Tempo Und Keck Im Ausdruck, also known as the “Bimm Bamm Chorus” :-) Enjoy the performance!

Gustav Mahler (1860-1911)
-Symphony nr 3 in d-minor (1893-6)
I. Kräftig 
II. Il Tempo Di Menuetto
(Violin – Sidney Hart)
III. Comodo
Horn – Robert Di Vall
IV. Sehr Langsam - Misterioso "O Mensch! O Mensch!"
Contralto Vocals – Maureen Forrester
V. Lustig Im Tempo Und Keck Im Ausdruck. (“Bimm Bamm"
Chorus) – California Boys' Choir, Los Angeles Master Chorale
Contralto Vocals – Maureen Forrester
VI. Langsam

Los Angeles Symphony Orchestra
Zubin Mehta, conductor

Royce Hall, March 1978

(HTTP link)

Lenny, back in 1978...

More playlists on this blog:

Kodaly, Rachmaninov, Brahms playlist 

Old and new recordings by legendary pianist Menahem Pressler