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      Archive for July, 2014

      July 27, 2014

      Godard: Introduction & Allegro, Op 49 (11:43)

      Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra / Howard Shelley, piano

      Howard Shelley directs the Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra from the piano in this latest volume of The Romantic Piano Concerto series. As ever, they perform unknown music with consummate style and deep understanding, making the best possible case for the works. The series has reached Volume 63 and the works of French composer Benjamin Godard, a figure who is almost totally forgotten today. He is described by Jeremy Nicholas in the booklet notes as ‘a composer who combines the sentimental melodic appeal of Massenet with the fecundity and technical facility of Saint-Saëns.’

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      Rating: 5.0/5 (2 votes cast)

      Prokofiev: Five Melodies, Op 35bis (11:49)

      Alina Ibragimova, violin; Steven Osborne, piano

      In his works for the violin, Prokofiev produced some of his most personal and expressive music. Both of his Violin Sonatas were written for David Oistrakh. The darker First was begun against the backdrop of Stalin’s Great Terror in 1938. The Sonata No 2 is of a very different character—generally sunny and carefree. The Five Melodies are arrangements of earlier wordless songs. Alina Ibragimova and Steven Osborne present recordings of these three works following concerts that were described by the Financial Times as “a meeting of minds and talents that had that paradoxical effect, common to the best collaborations, of two strongly contrasted individuals speaking with one voice.”

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      Rating: 4.0/5 (2 votes cast)

      Beethoven: Missa Solemnis, Op 123: Kyrie (10:02)

      Helen Donath, soprano; Doris Soffel, mezzo-soprano; Siegfried Jerusalem, tenor; Hans Sotin, bass; Edinburgh Festival Chorus; London Philharmonic Orchestra / Sir Georg Solti

      Sir Georg Solti had a long association with the London Philharmonic Orchestra, which he had first conducted as early as 1938. He was appointed Principal Guest Conductor in 1971, and in 1979 succeeded Bernard Haitink as Principal Conductor and Artistic Director. Solti’s appointment continued through the 1982/83 season. The relationship resulted in many performances of great intensity and impact. This concert recording of Beethoven’s Missa Solemnis was made in September 1982 at London’s Royal Albert Hall as part of the BBC Proms.

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      Rating: 4.4/5 (7 votes cast)

      Beethoven: Symphony No 9 in D minor, Op 125, Choral: II, Scherzo (12:39)

      Seoul Philharmonic Orchestra / Myung-Whun Chung

      The Seoul Philharmonic Orchestra, founded in 1948, is one of the oldest orchestras in South Korea. Myung-Whun Chung was appointed as music director in 2005, and the following year he led the orchestra in performances of the complete symphonies of Beethoven. The SPO signed a contract with Deutsche Grammophon in 2011 to release 10 albums over five years, making it the first time that an Asian orchestra has signed such an extensive contract. This recording of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony is taken from a concert performance in December 2012 at the orchestra’s home, the Seoul Arts Center.

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      Rating: 2.8/5 (6 votes cast)

      Schumann: Arabeske (7:00)
      Schubert: Impromptu in G-flat major, D 899/3 (7:38)

      Myung-Whun Chung, piano

      The ECM New Series debut of Myung-Whun Chung features the widely-celebrated conductor as pianist. Recorded at Venice’s Teatro La Fenice in July 2013, the album marks the first occasion that Chung has recorded solo. Although conducting now fully occupies his professional life, Chung (born 1953 in Seoul) made his debut as pianist with the Seoul Philharmonic at the age of seven. He later studied with Maria Curcio, the last and favorite pupil of Artur Schnabel. In 1974, Chung was a prize winner in the Tchaikovsky Competition. He then began his career playing piano trios with his sisters, Kyung-Wha Chung and Myung-Wha Chung.

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      Rating: 4.4/5 (13 votes cast)

      Berlioz: Harold en Italie, Op 16 (42:24)

      Lise Berthaud, viola; Lyon National Orchestra / Leonard Slatkin

      Drawing on the adventures of Byron’s Childe Harold and the composer’s own experiences in Italy, Berlioz’s Harold en Italie was intended for the great violinist Paganini who, having initially rejected the work, later gave it his highest praise. The brilliant concert overtures Benvenuto Cellini and Le carnaval romain are among Berlioz’s most popular works. Leonard Slatkin and the Lyon National Orchestra have already had a remarkable success with their Grammy-nominated recording of Berlioz’s Symphonie fantastique, which was also a MusicWeb International ‘Recording of the Month.’

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      Rating: 4.0/5 (4 votes cast)

      July 20, 2014

      Brahms: Symphony #3 in F major, Op 90 (40:04)
      Giuseppe Verdi Symphony Orchestra / John Axelrod

      Clara Schumann: Mein Stern (2:40); Die gute Nacht (2:18)
      Wolfgang Holzmair, baritone; John Axelrod, piano

      Clara Schumann: Das Veilchen (1:40); Sie liebten sich beide (2:06)
      Felicity Lott, soprano; John Axelrod, piano

      Conductor John Axelrod concludes his exploration of the relationship between Brahms and the woman he loved, Clara Schumann, as depicted in their music. “If you listen to the Brahms symphonies,” says Axelrod, “each of them seems to inhabit a completely different, though connected, character. Then, if you listen to the songs of Clara Schumann, they also fall clearly into a very similar four moods. I believe that Clara’s own personality is in those songs, and so if that is true, it is also possible to think of the four Brahms symphonies as portraits of Clara – four different aspects of her.”

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      Rating: 3.9/5 (7 votes cast)

      Schumann: Abegg Variations, Op 1 (8:14)

      Lise de la Salle, piano

      25-year-old French pianist Lise de la Salle releases her eighth recording on the Naïve label, an all-Schumann album, featuring Kinderszenen, the ‘Abegg’ Variations, Op 1, and Fantasy in C Major, Op 17. De la Salle says, “I’ve always listened to a lot of Schumann. He fascinated me when I was a little girl of six or seven. I’ve always been attracted by the manic side of him, his very individual touch, and I’ve always loved surrendering myself to his music. I feel very close to it.”

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      Rating: 4.0/5 (3 votes cast)

      Albinoni: Violin Sonata in B-flat major (10:29)

      La Serenissima

      Adrian Chandler returns to where it all began. ‘Per Monsieur Pisendel’ was the debut album by the Vivaldi enthusiast released on Avie in 2003, launching a recording career that has earned international awards and recognition as one of the world’s leading authorities on the music of Vivaldi and his Italian contemporaries. With ‘Per Monsier Pisendel 2,’ Chandler and his ensemble La Serenissima hark back to their debut album, performing works by Vivaldi, Albinoni, Pisendel and Montanari with stunning virtuosity.

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      Rating: 4.8/5 (4 votes cast)

      Richard Reed Parry: Quartet for Heart and Breath (6:48)

      Kronos Quartet

      ‘Music for Heart and Breath’ is Richard Reed Parry’s debut as a classical composer, inspired by the likes of Steve Reich and Brian Eno. Parry is well known for his work as a multi-instrumentalist with the Grammy-winning alternative rock band Arcade Fire. He draws his influences from classical music, folk and electronica. The concept behind ‘Heart and Breath’ is that every musician involved in the piece generates his own tempo by listening to his/her pulse during the performance. Fragile and intimate, these pieces reflect Parry’s philosophy that music and nature (in this case, the body) can be explicitly linked.

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      Rating: 4.7/5 (3 votes cast)