Author Topic: "New" Music Log  (Read 93815 times)

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Offline Todd

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Re: "New" Music Log
« Reply #200 on: April 26, 2011, 12:56:15 PM »



John Dowland and William Byrd aside, my collection woefully lacks for music by English Renaissance composers.  For instance, I have nary a recording of music by Thomas Tallis!  I decided to rectify this situation some by sampling some keyboard works of Orlando Gibbons played by a much younger Christopher Hogwood.

It ain’t a bad disc.  The three Cabinet Organ pieces are quite nice, the harpsichord pieces even more so, what with their general rhythmic verve where called for.  But the pieces for Spinet are probably nicest of all.  Whether slow or a bit spritelier, they sound crisp, inviting, and tickle the ear, without the wear that can accompany a harpsichord recording.  I can’t say that Gibbons is my favorite Renaissance composer (that would be Cristóbal de Morales), or even my favorite English Renaissance composer (that would be Dowland, at least so far), but this disc makes me think it may be a good idea to try a bit more from Mr Gibbons. 

Playing is rather fine, and sound is quite good, though the harpsichord, as is so often the case, is too closely miked.
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Offline Oldnslow

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Re: "New" Music Log
« Reply #201 on: April 28, 2011, 07:53:43 AM »
Todd---do you know Glenn Gould's famous recording of Gibbons and  Byrd? It's wonderful

Offline Todd

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Re: "New" Music Log
« Reply #202 on: April 28, 2011, 08:02:11 AM »
Todd---do you know Glenn Gould's famous recording of Gibbons and  Byrd? It's wonderful



No, I don't, but that's mostly because Bach aside, I don't really care much for Gould.  I may consider this recording, though.
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Offline Archaic Torso of Apollo

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Re: "New" Music Log
« Reply #203 on: April 28, 2011, 08:20:44 AM »
I second Gould's Gibbons/Byrd recording. It's totally unHIP of course, but it's the recording that got me interested in early keyboard music in the first place, and I still like to listen to it.
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Offline Oldnslow

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Re: "New" Music Log
« Reply #204 on: April 28, 2011, 03:08:16 PM »
As I think Szell said of Gould, "That nut's a genius."  For Gould to explore Gibbons and Byrd 50 years ago on the piano is pretty remarkable.

Offline petrarch

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Re: "New" Music Log
« Reply #205 on: April 28, 2011, 11:19:27 PM »
For Gould to explore Gibbons and Byrd 50 years ago on the piano is pretty remarkable.

This is part of a much longer video I have somewhere where he plays from Gibbons and Byrd to Webern:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WULDLz-WUxM
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Offline Mandryka

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Re: "New" Music Log
« Reply #206 on: April 29, 2011, 01:18:58 AM »
Thanks for that Gould vid: I hadn't seen it before.  I guess this is the DVD you have in mind:



I will get that.

Sokolov plays a half hour long sequence of music by Byrd, music representing a battle-- all on youtube I expect.

Try the Sokolov: it's  fun.
« Last Edit: April 29, 2011, 04:43:23 AM by Mandryka »
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Offline Todd

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Re: "New" Music Log
« Reply #207 on: April 29, 2011, 09:05:08 AM »



I needed something new and fresh, and seeing that Naxos had releaseds a new disc of new music by reliable Leonardo Balada, I figured I’d go for it.  The disc contains three of the composers Caprichos – suites, apparently – written between 2004 and 2007.  As with many of his post-avant garde works, the music is influenced heavily by other genres, here Latin dance music, jazz, and Spanish folk music.  Sounds tempting!

The disc opens with Caprichos Number 2, for violin and double bass and orchestra.  The influence is Latin dance music.  Sure enough, the dance elements are obvious, and expertly crafted.  But there’s much, much more to this music that danceability.  The orchestration is novel – You like prominent harp?  I like prominent harp! – the writing tonal yet dissonant and decidedly contemporary.  It’s both immediately accessible and thought inducing.  It is not easy listening music, yet it’s music that’s easy to listen to. 

Next up is the jazzy Caprichos Number 4, with the double bass taking the spotlight.  If anything, this is even better.  Mr Balada is certainly familiar with jazz, yet this is not “jazz”.  It is very formal and meticulous, yet lively.  Balada has pulled off this trick before.  Special mention must go to soloist Jeffrey Turner, principal double bassist of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra.  He’s got mad skills.  He does things with the double bass I don’t believe I’ve heard before.  Nothing sounds challenging for him.  And dig the up-close sound; things were a-rattlin’ in my listening room when this piece was being played a bit too loudly. 

Finally, there’s the Caprichos Number 3, a tribute to volunteers during the Spanish Civil War.  A bit more somber and intense than the other pieces, and understandably so, it still displays perfect blending of folk influences, novel orchestration, tasty dissonance, verve, and attractive melodies.  Here the solo instrument is the violin, and Andres Cardenes plays rather well. 

All of the instrumentalists sound highly skilled and play that way, the Pittsburgh Sinfonietta plays superbly (as I would guess it would given that some of its members are part of the PSO), and Lawrence Loh directs things most excellently.  My only complaint is that the recorded sound is artificially bright.  I can live with that.  A superb release.

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Offline Todd

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Re: "New" Music Log
« Reply #208 on: May 04, 2011, 10:27:40 AM »



I don’t think I’ve heard music by Bax that I didn’t enjoy, and this disc continues that trend.  A half dozen chamber works fill out the disc, and each is quite good.  The earlier works – two works for clarinet and piano and one for clarinet, piano, and violin – are all romantic and vibrant and lushly beautiful.  The late Clarinet Sonata and Piano Trio both continue on in the romantic vein, but they are richer and more advanced, rather like the composer’s symphonies.  And the little folk tale for cello and piano is a charming work.  This is one of those discs where I just hit play and let it go.  No reason to listen to only one or two works.

The Gould Piano Trio and clarinetist Robert Plane play splendidly, and the sound is excellent.  A most delightful disc.
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Offline Todd

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Re: "New" Music Log
« Reply #209 on: May 09, 2011, 08:29:55 AM »



I was recently thinking to myself that I really needed to try some Dutch Renaissance and/or Baroque music.  Who better to sample than Jan Pieterzoon Sweelinck?  This nifty little disc of various keyboard works by said composer, and played by one Siegbert Rampe, seemed just the thing.  It’s a mix of works played on organ, harpsichord, virginal, and clavichord.  On top of that, four of the organ works are performed on the oldest organ still in use, a relatively small little contraption from 1425. 

Well, the whole disc is excellent from start to finish.  The disc opens with the four works played on the ancient organ, and it and they sound smaller than organ works often due, but the registration is unique and quite attractive.  The music is pretty good, too, all vibrant and smooth.  The smaller keyboard works all sound exceptionally fine.  The harpsichord works, here recorded in a pleasingly natural way rather than too close and too bright, are buoyant and rather fantasia-eqsue or improvisational sounding.  All of the works are, really, rather like Buxtehude’s music.  Anyway, the clavichord sounds absolutely delightful and the virginal sounds musical, with a bit less mechanical noise than I’ve heard in the few other virginal recordings I’ve heard.  The last works, played on a rather larger organ, are pretty much the same as all the others, but one must be careful when listening, because the sound blasts forth, fully revealing how small in scale all the preceding instruments were.

Mr Rampe plays most excellently, and the sound is top notch.  I think I will have to explore more Sweelinck.
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Offline (: premont :)

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Re: "New" Music Log
« Reply #210 on: May 09, 2011, 09:12:01 AM »
I think I will have to explore more Sweelinck.

This is almost too good to be true, recorded on harpsichord as well as a large number of historical organs by some of the most outstanding Dutch keyboard players.

http://www.jpc.de/jpcng/classic/detail/-/art/Jan-Pieterszoon-Sweelinck-S%E4mtliche-Werke-f%FCr-Tasteninstrumente/hnum/5650697
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Offline Marc

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Re: "New" Music Log
« Reply #211 on: May 09, 2011, 10:24:34 AM »
This is almost too good to be true, recorded on harpsichord as well as a large number of historical organs by some of the most outstanding Dutch keyboard players.

http://www.jpc.de/jpcng/classic/detail/-/art/Jan-Pieterszoon-Sweelinck-S%E4mtliche-Werke-f%FCr-Tasteninstrumente/hnum/5650697

WOW!
Great tip!
Thanks, mr. P.!
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Offline Archaic Torso of Apollo

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Re: "New" Music Log
« Reply #212 on: May 09, 2011, 10:37:05 AM »
I think I will have to explore more Sweelinck.

I have 2 Sweelinck discs that I enjoy:

1. The Naxos disc of harpsichord music, played by Glen Wilson; and

2. more eccentrically, the selections on Andrew Rangell's "Bridge to Bach" album, which includes several Sweelinck hits on a varied program of early Baroque keyboard music played on a modern piano.
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Offline (: premont :)

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Re: "New" Music Log
« Reply #213 on: May 09, 2011, 11:28:36 AM »
I have 2 Sweelinck discs that I enjoy:

1. The Naxos disc of harpsichord music, played by Glen Wilson; and


This is among my top five Sweelinck keyboard music CDs.
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Offline Todd

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Re: "New" Music Log
« Reply #214 on: May 25, 2011, 06:30:46 AM »



About eight or nine years ago I picked up a disc of music by Bechara El-Khoury that included a variety of contemporary orchestral works, including one evocatively titled The Ruins of Beirut.  It was and is good, if not exactly ground-breaking stuff.  I decided it had been long enough that I should try another disc of music by this Franco-Lebanese composer (and poet).  Alas, the disc is not as successful.

The works were all written in the 1980s, when Mr El-Khoury was in his 20s.  Even so, the accomplished Pierre Dervaux conducted all of the works of this young man in concert in the 80s.  (The disc is sourced from micro-label Forlane).  There’s a Méditation poétique for violin and orchestra, a piano concerto and two shorter Poèmes for piano and orchestra, and a couple Sérénades for string orchestra.  The violin concerto is so-so in a generically neo-romantic cum modern way.  The works for piano and orchestra are perhaps a little less than so-so.  Same with the string orchestra works.  I listened to the disc twice, and both times I came away with nothing.  I basically spent a couple hours of my life listening to background music.  El-Khoury certainly can create a lush sound, but it’s derivative.  One hears some Ravel, some Prokofiev, even some Messiaen, and in the piano writing one hears a lot of Rachmaninoff.  But one listens in vain for something interesting; compelling, original ideas are in short supply.  The orchestra plays well enough, the violinist, too, and Abdel Rahman El Bacha – he of bland and mechanical Beethoven – even acquits himself nicely enough.  Sound is small in scale and slightly glassy and boxy. 

A forgettable disc.
« Last Edit: May 28, 2011, 07:29:30 AM by Todd »
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Offline Todd

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Re: "New" Music Log
« Reply #215 on: May 28, 2011, 07:30:44 AM »



Over the years I have heard a lot of exquisitely beautiful music.  There are moments and whole works of astounding beauty from composers like Debussy and Faure and Delibes, Mozart and Schubert and Mendelssohn, and others.  But nothing, and I mean nothing, is more beautiful than the Invitatorium from Cristóbal de Morales’ Officium Defunctorum.  It is eleven minutes of sonic beauty that cannot be surpassed.  How can this be, coming as it does from a piece of music dependent on only a few voices and discreet instrumental support?  Well, it is surely attributable to the genius of the composer.  The entire six movement work is almost indescribably beautiful, but the heavenly second movement is one of those pieces that compels me to breathe shallowly, abandon any and all thoughts of anything else, and listen to every note with unyielding attention.  And I’m not exaggerating in any way.  It is difficult to overstate the impact this music has had on me on repeated listens.  Very few pieces of music achieve this.  It is a wonder of art.  Apparently the work was first performed in Mexico, after the composer’s death, to commemorate the death of Charles V, and the manuscript remained there.  Talk about sequestered treasure.  It is a great work, there is no doubt.

Also undoubtedly great is the five part Missa Pro Defunctis.  Based on the liner notes, this is the same work that Raúl Mallavibarrena and his Musica Ficta recorded on the Cantus label, but it sounds radically different.  It relies more on male voices and sounds darker.  The melodies sound different, and the way the different parts weave together sound different.  As in the Mallavibarrena recording, the voices and instrumental support blend together in perfect harmony, and it is a glory of beauty first note to last.  Given how different the two versions sound, the only sensible approach is to listen to and cherish both.

After such a great first disc, it is not surprising that the discs given over to the other two composers aren’t quite as good.  Don’t get me wrong, there is much to enjoy and savor in the discs, they just aren’t quite at the same level.  The disc given over to eleven Cantica Beatae Virginis by Tomás Luis de Victoria is to my ears the better of the two discs.  Victoria strikes me as every bit as masterful as Morales in terms of formal structure and such, but his music lacks that indefinable something that makes Morales that much better.  That means that listening to the disc of Victoria’s music is merely a great pleasure, as beautiful melodies and exquisite accompaniments tickle the ear.  The sixteen works on the disc devoted to Francisco Guerrero are likewise beautiful and display a high level of formal mastery, but as has been my previous experience, Guerrero isn’t quite as good as the other two composers.  Of course, that’s just to my ears, and ultimately I’m the lucky one because I get to listen to all the works.

Sound is quite good, though it doesn’t quite match more recent outings by Savall and crew, and the Catalan and his players and singers all deliver at a predictably high level.  A great collection with at least two masterpieces of the highest order.
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Offline Todd

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Re: "New" Music Log
« Reply #216 on: June 28, 2011, 11:31:54 AM »


Frederick Delius isn’t exactly new to me, but I can’t say that I’ve listened to a whole lot of his music until now.  I have a Naxos Historical disc of Thomas Beecham leading a few works, and I have a nice disc of works for piano and cello, paired with works by Grieg, played by Julian Lloyd Webber and Bengt Forsberg.  I like to revisit them from time to time, the latter especially.  When I saw the recent issue of all of Beecham’s “late” EMI Delius recordings along with a disc of music by other English composers at a nice, low price, I figured I might as well give it a shot.  It should be nice, I figured.

The five discs of music devoted to Delius all have one thing in common: they are almost unyieldingly pleasant.  They all sound lovely, and they all are mostly calm.  No real rough stuff here.  On hearing the first cuckoo in Spring is probably the nicest of the works, but Summer Evening is pretty nice, too.  Heck, most of the music is pretty nice.  Only A Village Romeo and Juliet really wears out its welcome, due mostly to the length of the work, but also partly due to the text, which is not exactly the most brilliant in the English language.

The sixth disc is given over to works by other composers.  The Triumph of Neptune, by Lord Berners, is a clunker, sounding like fourth rate cartoon music, but the other works are all nice enough.  Bax’s The Garden of Fand strikes me as the best of the bunch, though I must say that it is not quite Bax’s best work.

Sound is obviously dated, though the 1940s recordings sound better than I thought they would.  Playing is generally quite good.  A nice set of nice music at a nice price, but that’s about as far as it goes. 
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Offline Todd

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Re: "New" Music Log
« Reply #217 on: July 05, 2011, 06:32:00 AM »



In the Violin Babes thread I posted a shot of violist Jitka Hosprová.  Until now I had no idea if she was a good violist or not.  Turns out she’s pretty good.  Really good, actually. 

The disc starts with a work I’m familiar with, Bohuslav Martinů’s Rhapsody-Concerto for Viola and Orchestra.  I did an A-B-C comparison between Ms Hosprová’s recording, Josef Suk’s recording with Vaclav Neumann, and Bohuslav Matousek’s recording with Christopher Hogwood.  (Ms Hosprová conducts the Prague Chamber Orchestra on her recording.)  Of the three I prefer Messrs Suk and Neumann, but Ms Hosprová holds her own with Matousek and company, and really isn’t that far off from Suk/Neumann.

Anyway, to the new works for me.  First up is the Viola Concerto of Zdeněk Lukáš.  It’s a dandy.  Mr Lukáš’s work is all modern, yet it’s tonal and approachable.  At times it sounds inspired by Martinů, but it’s not at all derivative, or at least not from only a couple easily identifiable sources.  There’s enough dissonance and rhythmic verve and complexity and just plain good sounding tunes to make for many fine listens.  It may be the best work on the disc.  The other new work for me is Carl Stamitz’s Viola Concerto.  A nice little classical work, it offers a stark contrast to the other two works.  It sounds very Mozart-y, which is not in any way a criticism.  How could it be?

Ms Hosprová plays splendidly throughout, and her band does as well.  Sound is close, beefy, and warm.  Overall, a most enjoyable disc.  I do rather hope Ms Hosprová gets to record Bartok’s Viola Concerto one day.


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Offline Todd

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Re: "New" Music Log
« Reply #218 on: August 29, 2011, 06:41:52 AM »



What an enjoyable work!  Reinhold Gliere is another of those composers I’ve neglected to listen to up to now.  However, a few weeks ago, my local classical station played a work by Mr Gliere (the Red Poppy Suite, I believe, but I can’t recall for sure), and it was pretty good, but what really caught my ear was how the DJ said he really liked the Third Symphony, though he did caution about its possibly forbidding length.  Now that seemed to me to be the ticket.  I poked around on Amazon and found the Edward Downes version for a nice price and snapped it up. 

The work is long and sprawling and lush and dense and beautiful.  It very much fits its time, what with works by Scriabin and Strauss and Zemlinsky being written around the same time.  It’s a glory of mashed up musical ideas and soundworlds.  I hear Wagner and Strauss and Ippolitov-Ivanov and Scriabin and Rimsky-Korsakov all blended in a meandering programmatic work inspired by ancient tales of heroism.  The huge orchestra is generally utilized quite well, with rich, sumptuous string writing, big blasts of brass here and there, and nifty wind writing.  Yes, it is a bit sprawling, and from time to time some passages seem to go on too long, but so what?  This is an enjoyable work if not a towering masterpiece. 

Mr Downes and his BBC band do quite well and sound is very good and matches the spaciousness of the piece.  I don’t know if I need another version of the work, but I will need another spin of the disc.  In fact, I’m listening again as I type this. 
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Offline Todd

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Re: "New" Music Log
« Reply #219 on: December 12, 2011, 02:05:55 PM »



A while back I tried Chairos, aka Sinfonias I-IV, by Vagn Holmboe, and was underwhelmed.  Determined to push on, I figured I could try his string quartets.  It’s not uncommon for composers to do some of their best work in this genre.  Besides, the Kontra Quartet’s cycle is available for a pittance. 

Alas, the string quartets, too, are underwhelming.  Oh, sure, they sound modern and vaguely serious, but they just sort of blend together.  I listened to the cycle twice, and a couple times, when I went to put in a new disc, I didn’t know which one I listened to last or which to try next.  Nor did I really care.  I did not have a similar experience when first listening to, say, Shostakovich’s similarly large output of string quartets the first few times.  Or Haydn’s even larger output, for that matter.  I guess the works get more sophisticated as the set progresses, but not one stands out from the somewhat gray mass of sound.  I have a hard time thinking that I will revisit these works.

Sound is generally okay, though it can be a bit steely in the earlier recordings.  The Kontra Quartet do seem to play well and in a committed fashion, but I just don’t care much for the music.  I can’t like everything.
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