Author Topic: "New" Music Log  (Read 61984 times)

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Offline Todd

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Re: "New" Music Log
« Reply #320 on: November 21, 2017, 07:00:58 AM »
As bad as Severin Anton Averdonk's text for LvB's Cantata on the Death of Emperor Joseph II? That one is downright awful!


That's one LvB work I've not heard, so I can't say.  If I do listen to it, I think I shall ignore the text, which is what I did during the second listen to the Kraus.
The universe is change; life is opinion.   Marcus Aurelius, Meditations

Offline Todd

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Re: "New" Music Log
« Reply #321 on: November 28, 2017, 06:19:37 AM »



Songs of fire and ice.  Not from George RR Martin, but from Spanish baroque composer Cristóbal Galán, who lived from 1624-ish to 1684.  This disc of a dozen songs, for solo, duo, or trio of varying combinations of one tenor and two sopranos, with some spoken word tossed in, is a delight.  Though written during a religious period of Spanish history and ostensibly religious in nature, the song subjects and words tip more to the profane side of the sacred-profane continuum, though by modern standards the texts are elliptical and not really racy.  And they are all pretty much peppy.  Even the slower, more somber-ish pieces have rhythmic verve.  Galán basically took Renaissance forms (eg, madrigals), used some then contemporary texts, and wrote some lightly but expertly scored, often dance-like, often triple time music.  The effect is unexpectedly energizing, and unquestionably attractive.  It appears that the song selection and order was put together by violinist and Accentus Austria director Thomas Wimmer.  Whatever the case, as assembled and performed, everything works.  The instrumentalists are all very fine, and the singers sound just nifty. 

As with every other DHM recording I've heard, extremely high production standards are evident throughout.  Sound quality rivals the good stuff from Jordi Savall on Alia Vox, with true timbers and superb, often realistic dynamics.  The oft used baroque guitar sounds very fine, and the occasionally used baroque harp sounds so good that it almost successfully pulls off the "you are there" trick. 
The universe is change; life is opinion.   Marcus Aurelius, Meditations

Offline Todd

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Re: "New" Music Log
« Reply #322 on: December 05, 2017, 06:21:56 AM »



Some local fare!  The Oregon State University Wind Ensemble put together its own disc of four works, recorded on campus down in the Corn Valley.  (Rarely are Graduate Assistants mentioned in disc credits.)  The four pieces by four composers were written between 2008 and 2013, with the last, The Vistas of America, written on commission by the Ensemble's leader Christopher Chapman.

The first work, and title track, is OSU prof Dana Reason's Currents, inspired by the Northwest Pacific Ocean (meaning the Oregon and Washington coasts).  Almost a stylistic throwback to some 19th Century fare, the brief work is tumultuous and vibrant.  One can almost envision the Devil's Punchbowl at high tide, or waves pounding Haystack Rock during a winter storm.  The piece is entertaining enough, if not necessarily a masterpiece.  The composer uses the instruments at her disposal quite effectively and extracts more color than one might expect.

The second work, Upriver, by Dan Welcher, is an historically informed programmatic work.  Inspired by the Lewis and Clark Expedition, and using tunes found in Meriwether Lewis' journals, Welcher crafts a continuous 14'31" piece infused with folk tunes, old style fiddling from the solo violinist, and proto-Copland soundscapes.  It sounds like a movie soundtrack, but one well crafted to accompany an historically accurate flick. 

The third work - the Double Concertino for Tenor Saxophone, Tuba, and Band by Luis Cardoso - is the only non-programmatic piece on the disc.  Very heavily influenced by jazz, the piece has some rhythmic swagger to it in the first movement, a sort of hymnal-like quality to the second in the first half, swelling to a powerful climax, and a return to rhythmic swagger in the third.  The piece also allows the listener to hear the tubist play the higher registers of his instrument, something one doesn't encounter every day.  Stylistically, it very much sounds like tightened up, more idiomatically informed Erwin Schulhoff.  I can't say it's better than Schulhoff's wind music, because the Czech blended in other traditions and then popular ideas, but it is probably the best overall work on the disc.

The disc closes with The Vistas of America, by Billy Childs.  In five movements, each representing a different "section" of the US, it moves west from the Pacific to the Atlantic.  One can hear some jazz, some grandiose, juiced-up Copland (or maybe trimmed down Ruggles), some Stravinsky, and other not quite generic, not quite readily identifiable influences.  It's pretty good, but it ain't a masterpiece, neither.

Sound is generally very good, but it cannot be called SOTA.  Efficient is probably a better word.  Playing is generally excellent.  This was one of a trio of three buck discs that I figured I could ditch if they weren't up to muster.  I'll be keeping this around for a while, but I doubt it ends up being listened to dozens of times.  This disc might motivate me to make the short drive down to Corvallis to hear what the ensemble sounds like in person. 
The universe is change; life is opinion.   Marcus Aurelius, Meditations

Offline Todd

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Re: "New" Music Log
« Reply #323 on: December 12, 2017, 06:23:47 AM »



Another of the trio of three buck contemporary music discs I snagged, this one contains five short works by Yotam Haber in a disc coming in at under fifty minutes.  Now in his early 40s, these pieces all date from his 30s.  The composer himself wrote the liner notes, so there's no interpretation needed by an author to determine what was meant with each piece. 

We Were All opens the disc.  In it, Haber sets part of the poem "Cherries" by Andrea Cohen.  The dozen lines quoted in the booklet are sparse and simple, and Haber repeats the line "We Were All" throughout his piece to good effect.  The lightly scored, transparent music doesn't contain any catchy tunes in the normal sense, but there are snippets that do.  The combination of instruments played constantly shifts, creating unusual and fleeting harmonies.  (I also believe this marks the time I've listened to a work with an egg shaker in it.)  The recorded sound, which is most definitely fully up to date, is a bit artificial in that it doesn't lay out a realistic soundstage, but the clarity of the instruments, and occasional lack of clarity of the voices, works well.  I don't recall ever hearing pianissimo marimba playing of such delicate clarity before.  Various styles of music blend together, with some passages sounding like different instrument combinations playing different minimalist pieces simultaneously to create something decidedly unminimalist.

On Leaving Brooklyn, based on an extract from Julia Kasdorf's Eve's Striptease follows.  A very striking piece, for vocal ensemble and sparse string support, Haber uses polyphonic repetition of lines as a backdrop for solo and combinations of voices working through the poem, which, when blended with the vaguely ancient/Jewish/Middle Eastern playing, creates an effective modern lamentation.  It's the shortest work on the disc, but it's the best, with outsize impact.

The longest work on the disc, the two part Last Skin, follows.  The piece uses eight violins total, with two groups of four violins each.  Each group of four tunes the violins such that when playing open strings the quartets can create sixteen pitches.  The first movement is fast, the second is slow; the first movement is aggressive and abrasive (and on can hear some Bartok brought forward in time), the second is droning and quiet (one can hear some late DSCH brought forward, and some Glass, and others).  The starts off as kind of standard modern fare, but, particularly in the second part, takes on a more complex, effective sound.   

The title work Torus, for string quartet, follows.  Per the composer, the players use different filters for their instruments to change the sound, and it starts in a manner that makes the conclusion of Bartok's Fourth sound tame, and heads straight to thrash metal transcribed to string quartet territory.  The sound generated by the quartet, as recorded, sounds overloaded and distorted, though obviously on purpose.  The music backs way off after the opening minutes, gradually shifting to still swift, but quiet playing interrupted by lengthy pauses.

The final work is From the Book of Maintenance and Sustenance, based on the litany Avinu Malkenu.  Scored for viola and piano, the Jewish music influences are obvious, as the composer intended, with the viola very much sounding like a sorrowful singer.  The sound is purposefully contrived, close and dry to the point that it sounds as though the microphones are inside the viola and piano.  The effect is not unpleasant, but there'd be no way to hear the music sound this way in person.

Sound for the disc as a whole is up to modern snuff, with noted caveats relating to production choices.  Balances sound a bit better with headphones than speakers.  Playing and singing are all up to modern snuff.  All of the music is at least reasonably successful, but for me, it's the vocal works that stand out.  I would not be averse to hearing more vocal works from Mr Haber.

Also of note, the composer's wife created the cover images, front and back, making the disc something of a family affair, artistically speaking.
The universe is change; life is opinion.   Marcus Aurelius, Meditations

Offline Omicron9

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Re: "New" Music Log
« Reply #324 on: December 12, 2017, 07:07:40 AM »



Since I enjoyed Paul Hindemith's String Quartets earlier this year, and since this particular disc of the sonatas was available for peanuts as an Add-on, I decided to finally give Paul Hindemith's Piano Sonatas a try.  Oh sure, there are other versions out there, including most famously Glenn Gould's, but I'd rather have hangnails on all my fingers than have Gould be my introduction to any composer's music, so it took until now for the stars to align.

Maurizio Paciariello is the latest graduate of the Santa Cecilia Conservatory to pop up on my radar and have a disc end up in my listening pile.  He undertook additional studies with both Aldo Ciccolini and Paul Badura-Skoda, and has displays an interest in both HIP performing and recording, as well as performing and recording non-core rep.  He has also started in on a Beethoven piano sonata cycle.

To the sonatas.  The disc presents them chronologically.  The First, inspired by Friedrich Hoelderloin's poem Der Main, and written after Hindemith had left Germany for Turkey, contains more than hints of sorrow and darkness in the first blocky chords.  Though the first, brief movement sets up the rest of the sonata, and the Second movement is a march, they blend together seamlessly.  The first few minutes of the second movement are kind of bland, sounding like soft-edged and blocky Prokofiev, but as the movement progresses, the music becomes more powerful, underscored by an insistent, simple bass line.  The third movement continues the somewhat blocky sound, with little in the way of lyrical content, and the bass becomes more powerful.  Both the fourth and fifth movements revive material from the first movement in more robust, almost aggressive fashion.  The combination of artist and music proves more compelling whenever the playing becomes more robust.  The three movement Second Sonata, at a brief twelve-ish minutes, is more compelling.  With greater bursts of lyricism as well as more aurally pleasing dissonant writing, the work epitomizes neo-classical style.  The Third Sonata seems to sort of marry the more expressive nature of the First to the neo-classicism of the Second, resulting in something more satisfying than the First and perhaps slightly less so than the Second.  There's a seriousness to the first movement, and a bit less in the rambunctious second movement that sounds very Prokofiev influenced.  The third movement is fast for a slow movement and has fugal sounding elements pointing to the concluding fugue, which sounds about what one would think a piano fugue written by Hindemith might sound like.

The piano sonatas do not succeed for me like the string quartets, but part of that may be the pianist (somewhat doubtful), and some may just be that the formal structure of the works ironically do not offer the best compositional vehicles for Hindemith's style when it comes to keyboard music.  Recent, more successful exposure to other of Hindemith's keyboard works played by Joyce Yang and the Schuchs indicate this is the more likely scenario.  That written, the Second is most enjoyable, and the Third is not without its charms.  This is not a great set, and it's certainly not music I'm terribly interested in obtaining multiple copies of, but I'll spin this again when I get a hankerin' for Hindemith.

I love Hindemith's string quartets, and I also quite enjoy his solo piano works.  I suspect they will grow on you as you continue to explore them.  Don't give up on them just yet.  :)

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Offline Todd

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Re: "New" Music Log
« Reply #325 on: December 18, 2017, 06:13:29 AM »



[This will be cross-posted in The Asian Invasion]


The last of the trio of three buck discs of contemporary music.  This disc fits squarely in both The Asian Invasion and "New" Music Log threads because of the participation of three Asian artists, and all of the works are contemporary and by five composers I'd never even seen the names of prior to buying this disc.  It could also fit into a women's thread since all three performing artists, and one of the composers, are women.  Pianist Sang Hie Lee, born and partly educated in South Korea, formed Ars Nostra to explore and cultivate new music for two pianos which she plays along with Martha Thomas.  Both Lee and Thomas are academics with multiple advanced degrees from various universities, and Ms Lee also does research into health and biomechanics pertaining to musicians.  Kyoung Cho joins the duo in the first work, and she is likewise a Korean born academic-musician, currently teaching at the University of South Florida. 

The first work is Chera in Nain (2009) by Eun-Hye Park, for two pianos, soprano, and gong.  It is based on the story in Luke of Jesus raising a widow's son from the dead.  The vocal parts, performed by Kyoung Cho, are in Greek and Korean and alternate between narration and a sort of singspiel.  The music is modern, with angular phrasing, some tone clusters, and a generally clangorous sound.  It's not terrible, but it's not a great work.

Next is ...Aber Jetzt Die Nacht... (2013) by Lewis Nielson.  The work is based on a journal entry by a concentration camp victim, and at a bit over nineteen minutes, it the longest piece on the disc.  It is jagged, dark, at times quite intense, and a reasonable short-hand description would be to think of Schoenberg and Messiaen blended together, with perhaps hints of Prokofiev thrown in.  If that blend sounds appealing, then this piece might appeal; if not, probably not.  Additional devices are used to extract novel sounds from the piano (eg, soft head hammer, horsehair brush, and E-bow), and for the most part the effects add to, rather than detract from, the proceedings.  The use of two pianos does allow for a more powerful sonority and greater weight than a single instrument could achieve, and had the set been recorded to SOTA standards, the impact would likely be greater.

Celestial Phenomena (2008) by Gerald Chenoweth follows.  An "intuitive" tone poem for two pianos, it strives to depict things like the Big Bang, a black hole, starshine, and the like in its ten or so minutes.  The massive lower register tone clusters than open the Big Bang do a fine job of opening the work, and the often thick harmonies take maximum advantage of the two pianos in use.  (One can envision what a duo like Michel Dalberto and Michael Korstick might be able to deliver in the opening.)  The description "tone poem" ends up be pretty accurate, because the piece flows from one brief section to the next logically and smoothly.  This is a very modernist piece, with some big dollops of minimalism, some more hints of Messiaen, and it's definitely not a first choice work for people who want traditional melodies in their music. 

Paul Reller's Sonata for Two Pianos (2008) is more formally structured than the preceding works, and is divided into three movements played attacca.  Influenced by American musical forms - jazz, blues, and rock, as well as American composers of days gone by like McDowell and Ives - the piece is weighty, dense, and though new to my ears, the more formal approach of the piece made it sort of predictable in overall arc.  That's neither a good nor bad thing, it just is.  It's more accessible than a fair chunk of post-war piano music, sounding more like it could have been written in the 20s or 30s.   

The concluding work is Windhover (2009) by Daniel Perlongo.  The piece is an extended work inspired by a poem inspired by the Eurasian Kestrel.  Unsurprisingly, given the inspiration, Messiaen once again comes to mind, but only rarely, and Perlongo is no mere copycat.  The hints at birdsong are not as dynamically wide ranging as the Frenchman's music, nor is the writing quite as unpredictable.  Perlongo's harmonic invention often falls much easier on the ear, too, with more than a few lovely sounds to be heard, and he does a creditable job creating a sort of static sound, creating a musical image of the depicted bird hovering.  The work sort of overstays its welcome, though.

Overall, this disc is good, the pianists and the vocal artist (who doesn't really sing here) all do good work, but really, for me, only Celestial Phenomena held my interest sufficiently to warrant more than a handful of listens.  Others could very well be much more enthusiastic about the disc as a whole. 

The disc is taken from a single live performance at the University of South Florida in Tampa in March 2016.  Sound quality is more of the efficient reporting than aural luxury type. 
The universe is change; life is opinion.   Marcus Aurelius, Meditations

Offline Todd

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Re: "New" Music Log
« Reply #326 on: December 19, 2017, 06:29:52 AM »



I figured it was time to try some more music from Francisco Guerrero, and as luck would have it, this Hyperion reissue was available for peanuts.  Unfortunately, I forgot that the Choir of Westminster Cathedral is a boys' choir when I bought the disc, and this issue became evident immediately.  I don't like boys' choirs.  I truly dislike boy trebles.  They grate on my nerves.  The altos, too.  The music itself sounds as lovely and meticulous as the other Guerrero works I've heard from Savall and Noone, but the singing doesn't work for me at all.  The somewhat cavernous sound is good and about what one would expect to hear in a large cathedral.  A painless blunder. 
The universe is change; life is opinion.   Marcus Aurelius, Meditations

Offline Todd

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Re: "New" Music Log
« Reply #327 on: January 02, 2018, 06:32:15 AM »



Mozart's Requiem transcribed for string quartet.  The Quatour Debussy play Peter Lichtenthal's 1802 transcription of the work, with a few alterations of their own.  No, this is not as good as the real thing, but that would be impossible.  It is naturally lighter, attractive, and it is moving from time to time.  Some movements work better than others.  The two main standouts for me are the Confutatis and Lacrimosa, which really jump out.  Both the Dies Irae and Agnus Dei work better than anticipated, too.  While I would not consider this a must listen, it's an interesting and fun enough diversion.  Truth to tell, this was really more of a test drive for the Quatour Debussy, to hear if they have got the right stuff.  They've recorded a DSCH cycle, and I figured if they can make this enjoyable, they can handle the Russian's music.  Sure enough, the playing is superb, as is the sound.
The universe is change; life is opinion.   Marcus Aurelius, Meditations

Offline Todd

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Re: "New" Music Log
« Reply #328 on: January 09, 2018, 06:20:59 AM »



It took a while, but I finally purchased a disc devoted solely to the music of Henry Purcell.  I've got a sprinkling of Purcell works in my collection in some anthologies, but that's it.  This disc of fourteen songs and dialogues, plucked from operas and stand-alone collections, features a much younger Emma Kirkby and bass David Thomas singing an array of love songs alone or as a duo, with lutenist Anthony Rooley backing them up.  All of the songs are written in 17th Century vernacular, but the basic themes are pretty much the same as now.  One needn't listen beyond the first dialogue, In all ouur Cinthia's shining sphere, to hear some racy lines about how the woman will not die a maid.  Goodness!  The songs are generally nice, the singing is splendid, the lute playing is predictably excellent, and a much younger Tony Faulkner proves to be as skilled at engineering SOTA recordings as his older self.  (That written, low level hiss is audible, indicating that mastering may have been analog for this 1982 recording.)  Coming relatively soon on the heels of the disc of music from roughly contemporaneous composer Cristóbal Galán, this music sounds too conservative and dowdy, though, and the Spaniard will receive more spins. 
The universe is change; life is opinion.   Marcus Aurelius, Meditations

Offline Todd

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Re: "New" Music Log
« Reply #329 on: January 16, 2018, 06:14:34 AM »




This disc contains two works new to me.  I've got a version of the third Cello Concerto played by Pierre Fournier, which is predictably superb.  So is this version, as are the first two concertos on the disc.  There's no point in going into great detail by work.  Rather, in all three concertos, a similar musical style can be heard.  The fast movements are energetic and vivacious and bursting at the seams with invention.  CPE Bach saw no reason to write straight-forward movements when ones with more dramatic dynamic and tempo contrasts could be written, or when one could write music with twists and turns and unexpected passages.  The slow movements are all quite slow and lengthy and quite expressive.  The music doesn't tip into romantic excess, but it is not constrained by convention, either.  Overall, these concertos are freer and more inventive than even Haydn's from roughly the same era.  Truls Mork's playing is tip-top shelf, and the conducting of Bernard Labadie and the playing of Les Violins du Roy are both impeccable.  Combine all this with major label A-grade sonics, and this disc is a winner.   
The universe is change; life is opinion.   Marcus Aurelius, Meditations

Offline The new erato

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Re: "New" Music Log
« Reply #330 on: January 16, 2018, 06:33:50 AM »



It took a while, but I finally purchased a disc devoted solely to the music of Henry Purcell.  I've got a sprinkling of Purcell works in my collection in some anthologies, but that's it.  This disc of fourteen songs and dialogues, plucked from operas and stand-alone collections, features a much younger Emma Kirkby and bass David Thomas singing an array of love songs alone or as a duo, with lutenist Anthony Rooley backing them up.  All of the songs are written in 17th Century vernacular, but the basic themes are pretty much the same as now.  One needn't listen beyond the first dialogue, In all ouur Cinthia's shining sphere, to hear some racy lines about how the woman will not die a maid.  Goodness!  The songs are generally nice, the singing is splendid, the lute playing is predictably excellent, and a much younger Tony Faulkner proves to be as skilled at engineering SOTA recordings as his older self.  (That written, low level hiss is audible, indicating that mastering may have been analog for this 1982 recording.)  Coming relatively soon on the heels of the disc of music from roughly contemporaneous composer Cristóbal Galán, this music sounds too conservative and dowdy, though, and the Spaniard will receive more spins.
I feel that what is most interesting from Purcell is his theatre music, i.e. Dido and Aeneas, The Fairie Queen, and King Arthur. Wonderful, vibrant and life affirming Music.

Offline Todd

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Re: "New" Music Log
« Reply #331 on: Today at 06:06:55 AM »



Love me the lion's share of Schumann's solo piano output, so I figured I should try his organ output since I was able to snap up the disc for under five bucks. 

It was a nice buy.  All three works are all enjoyable.  The Six Studies in Canonic Form Op 56, originally for pedal piano, are colorful works that often sound like Schumann writing for a circus or, well, carnival.  The Four Studies, Op 58, also for pedal piano, are a built bolder in conception, and often sound like Schumann piano works scaled up, which more or less means good by default.  The Six Fugues on Bach, Op 60, are more formal and serious, as one would expect, and the registration results in a bit less color, but the music and playing is very nice nonetheless.

Sound of the 18th Century Riepp organ, transplanted to Winterthur Stadtkirche and oft updated over its life, including a rebuild by Walcker, sounds just lovely.  Hospach-Martini uses registration superbly to generally extract vibrant colors that never sound bright, and bass that never overwhelms.  Recorded sound is close to flawless, with only some room sound a potential distraction, or not, depending on taste.  I will never play this disc frequently, but it sure is nice to own.
The universe is change; life is opinion.   Marcus Aurelius, Meditations

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