Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Another Milstein on the violin… Maria Milstein

This recital stupefied me. I started with the Saint-Saens sonata (track 5, try it yourself!) and immediately I wondered if this was an underrated masterpiece or that I witnessed a miraculous performance. After hearing the complete CD, I think it is the latter. Glorious tone, spectacular accuracy and thoughtful, electrifying performances. And no, she is NOT related to Nathan Milstein, but the granddaughter of Yakov (Yaakov) Milstein, musicologist, professor at the Moscow conservatory and lecturer of oa Bella Davidovich and Elisabeth Leonskaja…

The “theme” of recital CD seems to be music that is attached to Marcel Proust’s recherche du temps perdu, although it’s hard to find how and why that has been established. Nevermind, the playing is awesome, the program original. She is accompanied by her sister, Nathalia Milstein. 

As an extra, an older recording by Maria Milstein and cellist Noelle Weidmann in rarely performed 1910 work by Saint-Saens. 

Tracks 01-03 Gabriel Pierné - Sonate pour violon et piano en ré mineur opus 36 (1900)
Tracks 04 Reynaldo Hahn - À Chloris (1916)
Tracks 05-08 Camille Saint-Saëns - Sonate pour violon et piano n°1 en ré mineur opus 75 (1885)
Track 09 Reynaldo Hahn - 7 Chansons grises, no 5,  L’Heure Exquise (1887-90)
Tracks 10-12 Claude Debussy - Sonate pour violon et piano (1916-7)
Maria Milstein, violin
Nathalia Milstein, piano
Rec 2017 

Track 13 Camille Saint-Saëns: La muse et le poète violon, cello e Orchestre in mi minor, Op. 132 (1910)
Orchestre Philharmonique de Liège
Christian Arming
Noelle Weidmann (cello), Maria Milstein (violin)
Rec 2013
(Webplayer link)

Nathalia and Maria Milstein

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Nils Gade by Christopher Hogwood and Ronald Brautigam

How joyful it is to rediscover a splendid cd… In a Dutch Facebook group someone posted a link to the 5th symphony by the Danish composer Niels Gade, in the 19th century a prominent composer.  I liked the work, but remembered that I heard an even more splashing performance, years ago. A quick search through the review sites revealed the Chandos recording. And yes, Christopher Hogwood and pianist Ronald Brautigam really shine in this “symphony with piano obbligato”. Recommended! 
As a bonus, the first symphony by Gade is added, a symphony that Felix Mendelssohn adored… 

Reviews of this CD can be read on the websites of Classical Net, The Gramophone and Musicweb International.

Hope you wil enjoy it as much as I did…! 

Niels Gade (1817-1890) 

Track 01-04 Symphony No. 5 in D minor Op.25 (1852)
Ronald Brautigam, piano
Danish National Symphony Orchestra
Christopher Hogwood, conductor

Track 05-05 Symphony No. 1 in C minor Op.5 (1842) 
Danish National Symphony Orchestra
Christopher Hogwood, conductor
Rec: Danish Radio Concert Hall, Copenhagen, November 2001
(Spotify web player link)

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Saint-Saens is a good and inventive composer!

Recently, a Dutch politician wrote on Twitter:
“Tonight I am listening to the piano concerts of Saint Saëns.
A 2nd rate composer, but in everything you feel: his time was better than ours.”

For several reasons I disagree with him. At that time one could *only* hear music composed until that period (including the long forgotten kitsch composed in that period). 
Only if you were very wealthy (not much people then) you were able to hear it and of course you had to survive wars, typhoid, cholera and other inconveniences of that period…

But, what shocked me most, was the disdain for Saint-Saens very original piano concerto’s…!!!
In form and orchestration especially the 2nd, 4th and 5th concertos are highly original and in hearing upon hearing you still will be marveled by the inventiveness of Camille. 
I have made a playlist of these three concerto’s, which are very dear to me. 

First a 1904 “instruction manual” played by Camille Saint-Sains himself of his 2nd piano concerto. Note the left hand playing. Not many pianists play it that way anymore.  

Then, a surprise; a Danish pianist called Victor Schiøler who in 1953 delivered one of the most electrifying performances of the 2nd pianoconcerto. The Danish radio orchestra is incited by the Russian conductor Nicolai Malko. 

One of the first “cheap” CD’s I bought as a student was the concerto box by Aldo Ciccolini recorded in 1970. With the fourth concerto in this performance, my love for the Saint-sains concertos started. Highly original two movement form. 

The fifth piano concerto was inspired by the travels Saint-Saens undertaken to north Africa. The orchestration of this concerto is marvelous and I was pleasantly surprised Dutch pianist Hannes Minnaar played it at the 2010 Queen Elisabeth piano competition. A very fine performance, free and in nothing in his playing you hear he was competing for something. He obviously had fun…

Hope you will enjoy these performances! 

Camille Saint-Saëns:

Track 01 Camille Saint-Saëns plays parts of the first movement of his second concerto
recorded 1904

Tracks 02-04 Concerto No.2 in G minor op. 22 for piano and orchestra (1868)
Victor Schiøler, piano 
Danish State Radio Symphony Orchestra ·
Nicolai Malko, conductor
recorded 1953

Tracks 05-06 Concerto No 4 In C Minor, Op. 44 for piano and orchestra (1875)
Aldo Ciccolini
Orchestre de Paris
Serge Baudo, conductor
recorded 1970

Tracks 07-09 Concerto No 5 In F Major, Op. 103 for piano and orchestra (1896)
National orchestra of Belgium,
Marin Aslop, conductor
recorded 2010

(Spotify Web Player Link)