Author Topic: The Italian Invasion  (Read 28604 times)

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Offline Todd

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Re: The Italian Invasion
« Reply #60 on: April 30, 2016, 05:20:06 AM »



Release thirty-two, disc thirty-seven.  Filippo Gamba plays Schumann's Humoreske and Davidsbündlertänze.  Though issued by Decca in 2015, these recordings were not made by Decca.  The live recordings date from 1999 (Humoreske) and 2001 (Davidsbündlertänze) in what sound like private/archive/amateur recordings.  That ends up being a problem. 

Humoreske sounds just awful.  The playing seems good enough, with Gamba displaying what seems like a nice dynamic range and quickness and nimbleness, but the sound is sometimes harsh, sometimes unsteady and wobbly, sometimes very early MP3 codec sounding in the highs, though with analog hiss thrown in the mix.  Sometimes there's a little distortion.  Sometimes there's a lot.  Quiet music sounds the worst, and is a chore to endure.  It's not as bad sonically as Dino Ciani's LvB cycle, but it's shockingly close for something recorded at the very end of last century.

Davidsbündlertänze sounds comparatively better, though by no means is it close to SOTA for recital recordings circa 2001.  Gamba does display some fine control and nuance in the quieter, gentler music – indeed, it's the best thing about the disc – and despite some passages that betray the live nature of the recording, the louder and faster playing is hefty and powerful, though perhaps bordering on not quite under control, though that could be the congested, harsher nature of the recording in louder music.  Even making allowances for sound, this is not an Op 6 for the ages.

I wish I would have known about the recording dates and sources before buying.  I get why well-established (cult-y?) artists have every conceivable recording released, irrespective of provenance or quality, by big companies and pirate operations alike (think Richter), but Gamba isn't one of those artists.  The disc is dud.
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Offline Todd

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Re: The Italian Invasion
« Reply #61 on: May 07, 2016, 05:37:17 AM »



Release thirty-three, disc thirty-eight.  Vanessa Benelli Mosell plays Scriabin and Stockhausen in a disc called Light.  If the last Decca release took advantage of Ms Benelli Mosell's attractiveness, this one goes over the top in trying to exploit it.  The cover shot, with her donning a garish, glittery red dress and handsome red high heels, is augmented by multiple professional, properly photoshopped glamour shots in the booklet, on the back cover, and in the disc holder.  There's a nice, discreet cleavage shot, and in one spread that takes up about one and a quarter pages in the back of the booklet (and the disc holder), she wears a white lace job, though the red shoes do clash with the dress.  This is one of the rare discs I own where a shout out is given to a fashion designer.  Since the artist is the sole credited producer of the disc, I have to assume this is all her own doing.  It seems a bit much for a classical release, but hey, flaunt it if you got it.

To the music, Ms Benelli Mosell offers up Scriabin's Op 11 Preludes, 3 Pieces Op 2, and a solitary selection from the Op 8 Etudes to start the disc, and the second half is given over to Stockhausen's Klavierstücke XII, derived from three Examen from the opera Donnerstag aud Licht.  Benelli Mosell's Scriabin is not of the tonally lustrous, gently nuanced school of interpretation.  Much of her playing is either quick and light or quick and a bit heavy, with very slight tinges of metal.  Some of the slower pieces offer a bit more nuanced playing, but Benelli Mosell doesn't overdue the pedalling or legato or rubato.  It's sort of cold-water Scriabin.  It doesn't match, say, Lettberg or Ashkenazy in the miniatures they have recorded, but if ever the pianist opts to record the sonatas, I do think I'd give them a shot.

Next is the over twenty minute helping of Stockhausen.  This music is new to me.  Pretty much throughout, the piano music is accompanied by some non-musical elements: talking, some counting auf Deutsch, finger snapping, kissing sounds, hissing sounds, whistling, and so forth.  There's some string strumming, too.  The vocalizing and gimmicks unfortunately detract from the piano music, which I find more compelling than the earlier Klavierstücke Ms Benelli Mosell recorded.  And the pianist does seem to be on top of it, maintaining a keen rhytmic sense when one can be heard, as well as fine dynamic gradations, and firm control throughout.  I get the sense that she has more Stockhausen to record in some other concept discs.

Sound is fully modern, strikingly clear, and a bit cold and hard, for lack of a better description. 
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Online ritter

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Re: The Italian Invasion
« Reply #62 on: May 07, 2016, 06:18:37 AM »
Thanks for the review of Mrs. Benelli Mosell's Scriabin / Stockhausen CD, Todd. I find the programming intriguing, and have considered purchasing it. And yes, the vocal "gimmicks" in te late Klavierstïucke can be rather anoying IMHO...I wish good old Karlheinz had marked them ad libitum in the score   >:(.

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Offline Mandryka

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Re: The Italian Invasion
« Reply #63 on: May 07, 2016, 07:56:17 AM »
The way she played the 9th klavierstuck made me think of Scriabin. Scriabin 10 maybe.

How ironic that I should have thought this last year, I have no idea if I would think it now if I listened again. I don't think I've ever heard the Klavierstuke from Licht, but I have heard some of his piano music with added noises.
« Last Edit: May 07, 2016, 07:58:23 AM by Mandryka »
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Offline Mandryka

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Re: The Italian Invasion
« Reply #64 on: May 08, 2016, 06:58:42 AM »



Release thirty-three, disc thirty-eight.  Vanessa Benelli Mosell plays Scriabin and Stockhausen in a disc called Light.  If the last Decca release took advantage of Ms Benelli Mosell's attractiveness, this one goes over the top in trying to exploit it.  The cover shot, with her donning a garish, glittery red dress and handsome red high heels, is augmented by multiple professional, properly photoshopped glamour shots in the booklet, on the back cover, and in the disc holder.  There's a nice, discreet cleavage shot, and in one spread that takes up about one and a quarter pages in the back of the booklet (and the disc holder), she wears a white lace job, though the red shoes do clash with the dress.  This is one of the rare discs I own where a shout out is given to a fashion designer.  Since the artist is the sole credited producer of the disc, I have to assume this is all her own doing.  It seems a bit much for a classical release, but hey, flaunt it if you got it.

To the music, Ms Benelli Mosell offers up Scriabin's Op 11 Preludes, 3 Pieces Op 2, and a solitary selection from the Op 8 Etudes to start the disc, and the second half is given over to Stockhausen's Klavierstücke XII, derived from three Examen from the opera Donnerstag aud Licht.  Benelli Mosell's Scriabin is not of the tonally lustrous, gently nuanced school of interpretation.  Much of her playing is either quick and light or quick and a bit heavy, with very slight tinges of metal.  Some of the slower pieces offer a bit more nuanced playing, but Benelli Mosell doesn't overdue the pedalling or legato or rubato.  It's sort of cold-water Scriabin.  It doesn't match, say, Lettberg or Ashkenazy in the miniatures they have recorded, but if ever the pianist opts to record the sonatas, I do think I'd give them a shot.

Next is the over twenty minute helping of Stockhausen.  This music is new to me.  Pretty much throughout, the piano music is accompanied by some non-musical elements: talking, some counting auf Deutsch, finger snapping, kissing sounds, hissing sounds, whistling, and so forth.  There's some string strumming, too.  The vocalizing and gimmicks unfortunately detract from the piano music, which I find more compelling than the earlier Klavierstücke Ms Benelli Mosell recorded.  And the pianist does seem to be on top of it, maintaining a keen rhytmic sense when one can be heard, as well as fine dynamic gradations, and firm control throughout.  I get the sense that she has more Stockhausen to record in some other concept discs.

Sound is fully modern, strikingly clear, and a bit cold and hard, for lack of a better description.

I listened to the Stockhausen. It's a very substantial piece.  She's clearly in her element in Stockhausen - if someone can suggest some other recordings of the Licht Klavierstucke I'd follow it up, because she makes the music sound fabulous.

I thought the non piano part is wonderful and that it contributes a huge amount to the whole.

The Scriabin is awful. The music, I mean.



« Last Edit: May 08, 2016, 07:07:40 AM by Mandryka »
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Offline Todd

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Re: The Italian Invasion
« Reply #65 on: June 10, 2016, 02:31:27 PM »



The latest batch of UMG Italy discs starts off with the first twofer of a Mozart sonata cycle played by Roberto Prosseda.  Brand spankin' new, having been recorded in November 2015 and January of this year, this set offers two novelties to set it apart from other cycles in the crowded marketplace: it is played on a Fazioli, and said Fazioli is tuned using Vallotti unequal temperament.  The set includes the first six sonatas, along with a first draft fragment of the first movement of K284.

To the playing first, Prosseda is an interventionist.  He throws in ornamentation liberally and, for the most part, effectively.  It blends stylistically and works comparatively better than Paavali Jumppanen's ornamentation in early Beethoven.  Sometimes it may be a bit too much, like in the Andante of K283, but then again maybe not.  Prosseda also deploys rubato liberally, and his dynamic gradations are very fine, with a great deal of piano to pianissimo variation.  The sonatas all stay reasonably light, all sound lovely and engaging, and though the numerous personal touches often sound more studied than spontaneous, the set works well because of the personal touches.  Earlier this year I picked up Siegfried Mauser's equally interventionist set, and if Prosseda's set doesn't have the same impact and depth as Mauser's, it is good to hear another new and unique set. 

Now to the piano sound.  Sonics, as with every recording I've heard made in Fazioli Hall, are SOTA.  The piano sounds warmer than normal for a Fazioli, while retaining the clarity, and sometimes sounds velvety and sometimes downright gorgeous.  The piano tone at times ranks among the most beautiful I've heard.  How much is the tuning, how much the playing, how much the recording, I don't know.  I do know that I look forward to the remaining discs in the cycle. 
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Offline Todd

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Re: The Italian Invasion
« Reply #66 on: June 25, 2016, 06:26:44 AM »



Next up, more Bach from Ramin Bahrami, this time the complete Partitas from 2005.  The playing is generally swift, well-articulated, rythmically solid, and gently relentless in its forward drive.  Melody is probably a bit dominant overall, but not by much, and Bahrami uniquely highlights some figurations.  But there's a certain sameness to the polished playing.  His playing is quite fine, but it lacks that certain something that someone like Schiff (ECM) or Anderszewski can bring.  It almost ends up as background Bach.

Sound is fully modern, though set a bit high in level, and dynamic range is not the widest I've heard.

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Offline Todd

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Re: The Italian Invasion
« Reply #67 on: July 02, 2016, 07:29:44 AM »



Next up, Roberto Prosseda's Liszt year contribution, the second Annee, Italie, sans Venezia e Napoli, along with the Deux Legendes and Ave Maria.  Prosseda's Liszt is comparatively swift and light, with a heavier emphasis on lyricism than unabashed virtuosic flights of fancy.  To be sure, the Dante Sonata is dashed off nicely and has many lovely moments, but, depending on what one is looking or listening for, it lacks the drama or passion or intensity of some other versions.  Perhaps not surprisingly, the three Petrarch Sonnets all fare quite well from Prosseda's approach.  The Legendes come off quite nicely, though the first's light swiftness removes any mystery.  That may or may not be a good thing.  The Ave Maria makes for a fine enough closer.  All told, I would have preferred to have Venezia e Napoli, but whatcha gonna do?

Compared to UMG Italy stablemates Prosseda lacks the effortless, purposeful virtuosity of Albanese, or the more impassioned playing of Baglini, but he nonetheless delivers a satisfying Liszt recital.

Superb sound.
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Offline Todd

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Re: The Italian Invasion
« Reply #68 on: July 16, 2016, 06:18:25 AM »



Last set from this batch, Bahrami's take on the English Suites.  Like in his previous outings, Bahrami tends to play swiftly, with nice articulation, and solid rhythm.  His dynamic range, as recorded, is a bit limited, but not enough to detract from the music.  I could have done with a bit more rubato and flexibility, but the seriousness of purpose has its appeal, too.  The third suite stands out as the best of the lot here, with Bahrami playing with a high level of energy that really benefits the Prelude and Gavottes.  Not the best set available, perhaps, but very good.

Very good sound, though, as with other releases in the series, a bit higher in level than normal.
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Offline Todd

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Re: The Italian Invasion
« Reply #69 on: January 06, 2017, 03:44:49 PM »



The first of four discs from Italian pianist Alessandra Ammara.  Mrs Prosseda leaves to her husband production and liner notes, and focuses on the playing.  Like her husband in some of his recordings, she uses a Fazioli F278 recorded in Fazioli Hall for this Debussy disc, all but guaranteeing SOTA sound, which proves to be the case.

Right from the outset, Ammara proves to be a pianist enamored of fine details.  Her first book of the Images is on the leisurely side.  She lets some notes and chords linger longer than normal.  She deploys a personal rubato to good effect.  Her dynamic gradations are super-fine, and the Fazioli bass adds heft, while, as seems to be the case with this venue, the Fazioli's upper registers are more lustrous than biting.  Her lanquid Images are sonically sumptuous almost to the point of fin de siècle decadence, and never more so than in Mouvement, which is played slow to the point of beautiful exaggeration.  A fine start.

The first book of Preludes picks up the pace a bit, but Ammara again deploys rubato to good effect, and will hold some notes for good effect.  Dynamic gradations become more important yet.  There's plenty of lower register heft present - enough to rattle the CD racks in some spots - but her piano and pianissimo playing is gorgeous and delicate and colorful.  On the flip side, in Ce qu'a vu le vent d'Ouest and a comparatively swift, taut, and muscular La cathedrale engloutie, Ammara shows she can play with deft speed and force just as well.

The disc ends with a super finely played Nocturne, with some delicately zesty diminuendo right hand playing of special note.

A most successful first disc from this pianist for me, and one that makes me want to try the other three discs I have rather quickly, and it also makes me hope that she completes a Debussy cycle.
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Offline Todd

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Re: The Italian Invasion
« Reply #70 on: January 12, 2017, 03:22:57 PM »



A twofer of Gianluca Cascioli playing Debussy.  First, the gimmicks.  Gimmick One: This Japanese market release from Universal Music Italia, recorded in Italy, is issued on two SHM-CDs.  I didn't pay the typical premium for this feature, so it's a nice enough irrelevant bonus, lest one believe these red book discs can somehow sound better than regular CDs.  Gimmick Two: Each track was recorded in a single take.  No splicing and dicing here.  Gimmick Three: The 2005 recordings are both analog and digital.  All of the playing was recorded using both technologies, and the artist and producer selected the best for each track.  Hiss on 2005 vintage recordings is an unusual thing.

Now to the playing.  Cascioli plays much quicker than Ammara did in her take on Book I.  Cascioli's playing sounds more modernist and lithe, though he manages to coax beautiful sounds from his Fabbrini Steinway.  Rhythm is bouncier and more pronounced, and there is definitely a sense of liveliness that is no doubt partly the result of the second gimmick.  Some of the interpretive choices can be viewed as bold, or perhaps misguided, or perhaps something else.  In Le vent dans le plaine, for instance, Cascioli front-loads some arpeggios to slightly disconcerting but not displeasing effect.  Some of the playing in Les sons et les parfums tournent dans l'air du soir sounds nervously rushed and the left hand dominates the slightly muddy recording.  (That at least two recordings of the piece were available means that the parties involved were happy with this one.)  La cathedrale engloutie starts off slow, with sharp, flinty right hand chords that sound Ravelian, but then transitions to faster, somewhat blunter playing, and builds to a not entirely satisfying climax, devoid of scale and heft, though the recorded perspective is recital hall realistic.  Again, those involved with the project were presumably satisfied with what was committed to disc sonically.  Minstrels is extra-bouyant and plucky and makes for an excellent end to the first book.  The second book of Images follows.  Cloches a travers les fueilles sounds lovely but cold and flat, and it seems as if Cascioli is at sea musically a couple of times, or at least playing without affect or any interpretive insight.  The somewhat cool, flat demeanor carries forward to Et la lune descend sur le temple qui fut, but some of that appealing bright, flinty right hand playing reappears.  Poissons d'or, to the extent it evokes fish imagery, evokes rather Picassoesque notions of fish, with some blocky left hand chords tossed into the mix, though Cascioli can make the piano shimmer when he wants to.  D'un cahier d'esquisses continues on with the somewhat flat style, and finally the first disc closes with the Duex Arabesques.  Cascioli seems to not want to let the music just flow, interrupting with rubato that almost sounds Russell Shermanesque at times.  I don't mean that as a negative statement really, but there are more purely beautiful renditions out there, though Cascioli's playing is not at all ugly. 

The second disc opens with the second book of Preludes.  Cascioli's approach better suits the music, and he moves from relative strength to relative strength.  Les fées sont d'exquises danseuses jumps to life, for instance, and Feux d'artifice, rather than exploding, glides along effortlessly until it peaks in the climax and then fades away.  Children's Corner follows, and it ends up being the relatively best thing on the disc.  Generally swift and light, Cascioli infuses the playing with a sense of playfulness to match the still modernist approach in some pieces.  Golliwog's Cakewalk is delightful, as is usually the case, but the real showstopper here is The Snow is Dancing, which escapes the bounds of mere impressionism to become modern expressionism, if you will.  It's really rather special.  The three small pieces that close out the set - Le petit negre, Morceau de concours, and La plus que lente - all follow the same approach as the rest of the works, and work well. 

Overall, the playing is definitely individual, modernist in approach, and appealing in its way, but this doesn't displace favorites, though Children's Corner may join established favorites.  The sonic gimmicks ultimately don't payoff.  Dynamics and clarity are simply not close to SOTA for 2005. 
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Offline JCBuckley

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Re: The Italian Invasion
« Reply #71 on: January 16, 2017, 07:57:44 AM »
Beatrice Rana playing the Goldbergs at Wigmore Hall, earlier today - http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b088jc2s

Offline Todd

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Re: The Italian Invasion
« Reply #72 on: January 18, 2017, 07:26:21 AM »



Some Schumann from Alessandra Ammara.  The disc starts off with Carnaval.  Ammara's style is more focused on rhythm and dynamics than tonal lushness and dreamy romanticism - Florestan dominates and Eusebius takes a back seat, as do the una corda and sustain pedals.  That's not to say that Ammara doesn't play slower, gentler music slow or at least occasionally gentle (Estrella could definitely be softer, for example), it's just that the faster music is better.  As she did in her Debussy, Ammara deploys rubato to excellent effect, and her dynamic control can steal the show, as in the Valse Allemande.  Perhaps a few times in the concluding March, one could say that Ammara becomes too mired down in the details - the exact opposite of Cortot, if you will - but that doesn't prevent a fine closer from unfolding.  Not one of the great Carnavals, perhaps, but an excellent one all the same.

Davidsbündlertänze follows, and Ammara's traits remain the same, and they generally work well, but at times they become nearly overpowering - no wimpy, lilting playing this.  That makes the lovely and gentle playing in movements like Einfach or Nicht Schnell all the more inviting.  The dynamic contrasts are more notable in this piece, though Ammara never wallows or allows her playing to become mushy.  Not one of the great Davidsbündlertänzes, perhaps, but an excellent one all the same.

CD layer sound is very close and extremely clear and to an extremely high standard, if not SOTA.
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Offline amw

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Re: The Italian Invasion
« Reply #73 on: January 22, 2017, 02:50:23 AM »
Coincidentally I'm also revisiting this one around now.

It's def worth it for her pianism, which is superlative—she plays with enormous control, shaping every decision consciously, and with enough technique to have the mental presence to make interpretive decisions whilst playing eg Papillons, Reconaissance, Paganini. That's also, to some extent, the problem; not that her interpretation is in any way orthodox, but it's studied. No risks are taken. She doesn't throw herself into the music.

The Carnaval comes off better than the DBT for me, but I think I just have very high standards for DBTs, and Carnaval lends itself better to reimagining in this particular way.

Offline Todd

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Re: The Italian Invasion
« Reply #74 on: January 23, 2017, 07:57:32 AM »



This disc of two piano works by Guido Alberto Fano boasts two firsts for me.  This is my first exposure to the music of Fano, and this is the first recording I have of a Fazioli Grand Coda, or F308.  The massive piano is designed for large auditoriums, apparently.  One Vitale Fano acts as producer and liner note author, indicating a labor of love and/or duty.

Fano lived from 1875 to 1961, and was a composer, pianist and teacher who worked throughout Italy.  The two late romantic works presented here date from the late 1890s, the Sonata in E from 1895 to 1899, and the Quattro Fantasie from 1896, so they are the works of a young man.  The disc starts with the four movement, over thirty-five minute long sonata.  It is very definitely late romantic in nature, sounding big-boned (aided partly by the piano, no doubt), and the first two movements have some extended periods of introspection and occasional light flights of fancy, especially in the right hand.  Pietro De Maria ends up being just the man for the job.  Even on this nearly orchestral piano, De Maria coaxes lovely sound after lovely sound from the instrument, and his right hand playing is light and bubbly and almost playful.  To be sure, there are some more turbulent, trying passages here and there, especially in the outer sections of the Presto and Finale, and there is a certain density to much of the writing, not that De Maria seems to have any troubles with any of it, but this is rich, full, at times relaxed romanticism.  It's rather Brahmsian.  So too are the Quattro Fantasie, only more so.  They are unfailingly beautiful, unfolding at a relaxed pace while never sounding dull or slow, except for the last piece, which adds a bit of drive and heft to the mix.  They are more satisfying than the sonata.

Overall, this is a lovely disc, one I'm glad to have heard, and once again Pietro De Maria displays his formidable pianistic talents.  I doubt this ever becomes an oft spun classic for me, but it's always good to try new things.  Hearing this disc, and this piano in particular, makes me hope De Maria records an Op 106 using this instrument in time for the LvB 2020 anniversary year.  That could be nifty.

The sound of the live recordings is exemplary.
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Offline Todd

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Re: The Italian Invasion
« Reply #75 on: January 29, 2017, 10:00:26 AM »



Some Ravel from Ammara.  The disc opens with a finely executed, detailed Serenade Grotesque that offers nothing particularly special to delineate it from the crowd, but then comes Jeux d'eau.  Here Ammara shows just how incredibly fine her dynamic control can be when playing pianissmo to mezzo-piano.  Her playing remains tonally beautiful throughout, and her right hand playing is light and sparkling.  It may lack the dazzle of Chamayou, but this, rather like Perlmutter, shows there's another way.  The Sonatine also benefits from ample soft playing in the opening two movements, though Ammara builds up the volume nice in the second movement for the climax without ever sounding hard.  The concluding Anime is perfectly paced with more fine dynamic gradation and tonal control.

To the big works, Ammara's take on Miroirs displays her meticulous control throughout.  Oiseaux tristes is almost hypnotic in its quiet and quieter playing.  The leisurely Une barque sur l'ocean offers calmer seas than the more extrovertly bold playing offered by Chamayou or Schuch, but Ammara's approach is just as captivating.  Her slow playing again becomes almost hypnotic in effect.  Alborada del gracioso is likewise just a bit slow overall, though Ammara ramps it up when needed, and she tosses off left hand figurations in a suitably guitar like fashion, and ends with an exaggerated coda.  Le vallee des cloches again offers some slower playing that is somber and hypnotic, but then near the end Ammara lets one passage rip, though in controlled fashion, of course.  An excellent take overall.  Gaspard ends the disc.  Ondine is again slow and quite beautiful and generally quiet, though Ammara builds up to a powerful climax, again displaying superb dynamic control.  Le Gibet offers more of the same, with an especially jarring dynamic range.  Scarbo is a bit on the slow side overall, but that masks more of the controlled tumult of Ammara's dynamic range and controlled scampering and her potent left hand playing.  The myriad details and fine touches invite headphone listening.  An excellent, individual take.

I hope Ammara records the rest of Ravel's piano works, but this disc has my two favorite pieces (Miroirs and Gaspard), so if this is all there will be, I'm very glad to have it.  It can veer toward mannerism, I guess, but I do like the mannerisms, so that's quite alright.

CD layer sound is near-SOTA, and is a bit more distant than her Schumann recording. 
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Offline Brian

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Re: The Italian Invasion
« Reply #76 on: January 29, 2017, 03:11:49 PM »
Glad you like Ammara's Ravel about as much as I did! Meanwhile, I still need to explore more of her albums (as documented in this thread).

Offline Todd

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Re: The Italian Invasion
« Reply #77 on: February 05, 2017, 07:53:14 AM »



Alessandra Ammara playing some late 19th Century piano music by Roffredo Caetani, godson of Franz Liszt, full time aristocrat, and sometime composer who lived from 1871 to 1961.  This disc contains works written in the 1890s, so they are from the pen of a young man.  The Ballata opens the disc, and this brief work is slow and subdued, and dominated by a dark hue enforced by healthy bass lines and dense textures.  It sounds rather like a hybrid of early Brahms and harmonically only mildly adventurous Rachmaninoff, or perhaps, a somewhat sedated Chopin.  It's not a masterpiece, but it would be at home in a drawing room recital.  Four Impromptus follow, and the first injects a bit more dynamic vitality into the mix before the second retreats into a sort of heavy, dreamy pianistic noodling.  The Andantino again introduces a bit of storminess into the mix, but never shakes off a sort of sense of resignation.  The concluding Molto allegro is the most energetic piece, and the most influenced by Chopin, and sings and soars when compared to the prior works.  The following Toccata is a bit more lively still than the preceding works, and is more texturally dense, and comes off rather well.  Amped up and played quickly, it could make for a good "what's that?" type of encore.  The big work here is the over forty-six minute, three movement Piano Sonata, Op 4.  It's an extended, large-scaled version of the preceding music, and it is more than occasionally boring.  There are certainly moments and even extended passages of intriguing music, but there are longer swathes of not paticularly interesting music.  Perhaps a too-fast, overtly virtuosic approach might energize the work and make the whole more interesting than the parts, but I doubt I'll find out.

Ammara plays superbly, and here she pedals more generously than in some of her other releases, creating a rich tonal pallete and some softer edges to go with the dark hue. 

Superb, fully modern sound.
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Offline Todd

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Re: The Italian Invasion
« Reply #78 on: February 11, 2017, 07:18:18 AM »



Gianluca Cascioli plays Mozart.  And he records it.  Cascioli is credited as being recording engineer as well as pianist, and no producer is credited, leading me to believe this was his show start to finish. 

As he micromanages the recording, he micromanages the playing.  K310 opens with an Allegro maestoso slower than normal.  As the movement goes on, Cascioli manages to maintain an impressively even tempo overall, and he lavishes attention, maybe too much so, on every note and phrase.  The playing sounds very deliberate, and there's little in the way of overt urgency or drive.  The Andante cantabile is likewise a bit slow, and rather lovely, with Cascioli embellishing as he pleases.  He maintains impressively even, low volume trills in places, and as in the opener, he maintains a gently relentless forward momentum at all times.  It's not so much classical or romantic Mozart as it is post-modern Mozart, but with plenty of surface attractiveness intact.  The very Andante-like Presto keeps up the slow, deliberate, slow-motion and relentless sound.  He once again embellishes freely and deploys rubato and accents and (micro-) dynamics in a mannered way. 

K333 offers more of the same, with a slower than normal opening Allegro with idiosyncratic playing throughout.  Some of his accenting late in the movement really stands out.  The Andante cantabile sounds lovely, slow, deliberate, yet with an unusual forward momentum all the same.  In the middle section, he plays even more slowly, and plays the left hand notes with a dark, tolling sound.  The Allegretto grazioso is closer to conventional, with a relaxed tempo and feel overall, though Cascioli makes sure to insert his individual touches throughout. 

Cascioli includes the Prelude and Fugue, K394 in his recital.  This is a work I have a couple copies of buried in complete or expanded sets of his piano works, but I basically never listen to it.  As such, I came to it with basically fresh ears.  Cascioli's style is more aggressive, brighter, and a bit brisker in the Prelude and quite formal, clear, steady, and well paced in the fugue, with more of that gentle relentlessness on display. 

K570 closes the disc.  Again, Cascioli plays the opening Allegro slower than normal, though he throws in a lovely, intellectual approximation of fun playing, and he shifts between underscoring right and left hand playing.  The Adagio is stretched out to just shy of eleven minutes, with Cascioli lavishing attention on notes and phrases.  The playing maintains the musical line well enough, but others can do the distended thing better (think Pogorelich), though Cascioli's playing is at its most beautiful and delicate here.  The slow Allegretto is back to standard Cascioli traits, and while non-standard, they work well in his conception of the piece.  It is the strongest work on the disc.

Overall, this is somewhat difficult to assess Mozart.  It is highly mannered, and analytical to the Nth degree.  Nothing sounds spontaneous or fresh, or light, or fun.  And if some of the ideas don't really work, it's fascinating to listen to such thoroughly deconstructed Mozart.

Sound is superb, and nearly SOTA, and obviously exactly what Cascioli wanted. 
The universe is change; life is opinion.   Marcus Aurelius, Meditations

Offline Mandryka

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  • Posts: 10343
Re: The Italian Invasion
« Reply #79 on: February 11, 2017, 11:41:07 PM »



Gianluca Cascioli plays Mozart.  And he records it.  Cascioli is credited as being recording engineer as well as pianist, and no producer is credited, leading me to believe this was his show start to finish. 

As he micromanages the recording, he micromanages the playing.  K310 opens with an Allegro maestoso slower than normal.  As the movement goes on, Cascioli manages to maintain an impressively even tempo overall, and he lavishes attention, maybe too much so, on every note and phrase.  The playing sounds very deliberate, and there's little in the way of overt urgency or drive.  The Andante cantabile is likewise a bit slow, and rather lovely, with Cascioli embellishing as he pleases.  He maintains impressively even, low volume trills in places, and as in the opener, he maintains a gently relentless forward momentum at all times.  It's not so much classical or romantic Mozart as it is post-modern Mozart, but with plenty of surface attractiveness intact.  The very Andante-like Presto keeps up the slow, deliberate, slow-motion and relentless sound.  He once again embellishes freely and deploys rubato and accents and (micro-) dynamics in a mannered way. 

K333 offers more of the same, with a slower than normal opening Allegro with idiosyncratic playing throughout.  Some of his accenting late in the movement really stands out.  The Andante cantabile sounds lovely, slow, deliberate, yet with an unusual forward momentum all the same.  In the middle section, he plays even more slowly, and plays the left hand notes with a dark, tolling sound.  The Allegretto grazioso is closer to conventional, with a relaxed tempo and feel overall, though Cascioli makes sure to insert his individual touches throughout. 

Cascioli includes the Prelude and Fugue, K394 in his recital.  This is a work I have a couple copies of buried in complete or expanded sets of his piano works, but I basically never listen to it.  As such, I came to it with basically fresh ears.  Cascioli's style is more aggressive, brighter, and a bit brisker in the Prelude and quite formal, clear, steady, and well paced in the fugue, with more of that gentle relentlessness on display. 

K570 closes the disc.  Again, Cascioli plays the opening Allegro slower than normal, though he throws in a lovely, intellectual approximation of fun playing, and he shifts between underscoring right and left hand playing.  The Adagio is stretched out to just shy of eleven minutes, with Cascioli lavishing attention on notes and phrases.  The playing maintains the musical line well enough, but others can do the distended thing better (think Pogorelich), though Cascioli's playing is at its most beautiful and delicate here.  The slow Allegretto is back to standard Cascioli traits, and while non-standard, they work well in his conception of the piece.  It is the strongest work on the disc.

Overall, this is somewhat difficult to assess Mozart.  It is highly mannered, and analytical to the Nth degree.  Nothing sounds spontaneous or fresh, or light, or fun.  And if some of the ideas don't really work, it's fascinating to listen to such thoroughly deconstructed Mozart.

Sound is superb, and nearly SOTA, and obviously exactly what Cascioli wanted.

I wonder if he says anything in the booklet which might help me follow what he does here, I couldn't get on with this recording at all when I listened to it when it first came out, maybe I should listen again.

Have you heard the Beethoven violin sonatas he recorded for DG in Japan? I enjoyed those much more, and I'm not normally much interested in middle period Beethoven.
« Last Edit: February 11, 2017, 11:43:34 PM by Mandryka »
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