Author Topic: "New" Music Log  (Read 77508 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

Offline Todd

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • Posts: 15691
Re: "New" Music Log
« Reply #340 on: March 20, 2018, 05:17:01 AM »



I very rarely listen to the music of John Adams, but this updated, modern sensibility, feminist take on the Arabian Nights heroine caught my eye.  This is no Violin Concerto, even though a big name fiddler plays the solo part.  No, this is something more ambitious: it is a Dramatic Symphony for Violin and Orchestra.  How about that?  The real question is can Mr Adams live up to his grandiose new label?  He comes pretty close.  It sounds like a modern, programmatic Violin Concerto to me, but if others prefer the other title, that's fine.  His work gives evocative/provocative titles to the four movements, the first being "Tale of the Wise Young Woman-Pursuit by the True Believers".  Here, the formidable Leila Josefowicz sometimes coaxes lovely tones from her instrument, but she more often extracts shrieks, slashing her way through her part as the heroine tries to elude the bad guys.  Adams creates an intense, at times almost violent orchestral backdrop for the soloist to play against, and the dulcimer adds an exotic, lightly percussive texture.  The second movement, "A Long Desire (Love Scene)" starts off almost throbbing, and not at all in a typically "romantic" sense.  Just shy of two minutes in, it slows down, becomes more flowing, and it calms down - but it does not become calm.  It remains charged.  Not until after four minutes in does it take on a more sensuous sound, with the violin offering some longing playing, but there seems to be a hesitance to the music.  Maybe the sensuality is feigned, the heroine playing a part convincingly to stay alive, and the music after nine minutes in sounds quite agitated, though the last several minutes are achingly beautiful.  The next movement, "Scheherazade and the Men with Beards", offers the opposite, with a grinding opening and a more biting, driving, angular, modern sound.  Josefowicz's playing sounds small and timid when she enters, and it retains a somewhat fearful feel, when it is not more frenzied, surrounded by savage orchestral music, the heroine fending for her life, ending with cries of terror.  The last movement, "Escape, Flight, Sanctuary", finds the heroine running for her life, Josefowicz bowing ferociously in places.  The pursuers are just behind her; she cannot rest.  Finally she arrives, but is it really a sanctuary that welcomes her, or is it death? 

The piece seems somewhat front-loaded, with two big movements followed by two shorter one, but it ends up well-balanced, and Adams uses the soloists and orchestra expertly, extracting much color and writing robust parts for every section.  It is at once fully modern and easily accessible, at least to people who like modern music.  I'm not completely sold on the composer's description of the piece, but I'm sold on the music.

Ms Josefowicz plays spectacularly well, and David Robertson and the St Louis Orchestra are fully up to the challenge.

I streamed this recording, and though streaming from Amazon is limited to 256 Kbps as far as I am aware, sound was completely satisfying.  Clarity is superb, low frequencies are weighty, and the highs don't seem materially rolled off.  I suspect a physical disc might sound slightly cleaner and probably would have broader dynamic range, which would be especially helpful in the tuttis, but it works fine this way.  Still, I may have to go optical to hear what I missed.
The universe is change; life is opinion.   Marcus Aurelius, Meditations

Offline Brian

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • *
  • Posts: 20357
    • Brian's blog
Re: "New" Music Log
« Reply #341 on: March 20, 2018, 05:59:03 AM »
How do you think it would pair with Fazil Say's "1001 Nights in the Harem" concerto?

Offline Todd

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • Posts: 15691
Re: "New" Music Log
« Reply #342 on: March 20, 2018, 06:49:55 AM »
How do you think it would pair with Fazil Say's "1001 Nights in the Harem" concerto?


I will have to listen to the Say to find out. 
The universe is change; life is opinion.   Marcus Aurelius, Meditations

Offline Brian

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • *
  • Posts: 20357
    • Brian's blog
Re: "New" Music Log
« Reply #343 on: March 20, 2018, 11:06:28 AM »

I will have to listen to the Say to find out.
It's terrific. Of course, disclosure, according to family lore/legend, the absurdly Hollywoody folk song that blows up in the third movement was originally written about somebody on the Turkish side of my family. "Üsküdar'a Gider İken" is about an especially attractive clerk/bureaucrat who was, my grandmothers all think, a great-great-great-uncle or something like that. There is also a very bad cover by Eartha Kitt (!).

Offline Todd

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • Posts: 15691
Re: "New" Music Log
« Reply #344 on: March 24, 2018, 06:52:38 AM »



The first Savall Saturday covering the first disc from the Jordi Savall España Eterna box.  Eight hundred year old songs that still sound swell.  Comparatively lengthy, and sounding both ancient and folksy, and completely accessible to modern ears, the seven selections move along at a nearly always hypnotic pace.  One hears ancient roots of grooviness, too, as well as non-Western traditions.  There's a sense of dated exoticism, but the datedness only serves to enhance musical appreciation.  Montserrat Figueras anchors the set vocally.  She is joined by her sister Pilar in a duet in the especially appealing Na Carenza al bel cors avinen by Arnaut de Maruelh, and by the tenor Josep Benet in three of the songs.  In every case, Figueras delivers the goods.  So do the other singers, and the instrumentalists, including Christophe Coin.  But perhaps the star of the show is the sound quality.  The 1977 vintage recording sounds nearly SOTA by modern standards.  A most auspicious opener for the set.
The universe is change; life is opinion.   Marcus Aurelius, Meditations

Offline Todd

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • Posts: 15691
Re: "New" Music Log
« Reply #345 on: March 26, 2018, 05:17:17 AM »



[This will also be posted in The Asian Invasion.]


What an age we live in when not one, but two projects to record the complete keyboard sonatas of Leopold Koželuch are currently underway.  Kemp English is recording the cycle for Grand Piano* while Jenny Soonjin Kim is doing so for Brilliant Classics.  Mr English is further into his cycle than Ms Kim, but as Ms Kim's also satisfies my desire to listen to Asian artists, I decided to have this twofer be my first listen to an all-Koželuch release. 

Ms Kim was born in Korea and earned her bachelor's in music from Seoul National University before pursuing additional studies first at the Salzburg Mozarteum, then UCLA, and finally earning a PhD in Historical Performance Practices from Claremont Graduate University, where she teaches.  So she comes to this endeavor with a hefty academic background.  Unsurprisingly, given her background, she uses a fortepiano in what at times sound like live recordings made at Kresge Chapel on the campus of Claremont School of Theology.  As to the composer, Koželuch is one of those lesser known classical era composers whose name I've seen but whose music I've never really delved into.  Born in 1747 in what is now the Czech Republic, he studied for a while in his hometown before studying with his cousin, one František Xaver Dušek, a rather well known musical personage.  Koželuch apparently was quite famous in his day and cranked out many works in multiple genres, and when Mozart died, Koželuch took over some of his court functions. 

To the music.  This twofer contains the first eight of over fifty sonatas.  All but one are in three movements, with the outlier a two movement job.  All more or less adhere to the common fast-slow-fast structure.  I'd be exaggerating if I wrote that these sonatas rise to the same level as the best of Mozart's, or even the very best efforts from Haydn or CPE Bach, but they definitely have their formidable charms.  The best ones on offer best (sometimes handily) the lesser works from the bigger names.  Aided by the crisp sound of the fortepiano, the fast movements are clean and clear and generally ebullient, which is aided by Kim's obviously excellent playing.  Unsurprisingly, the slow movements lack the same degree of lyricism that modern grands can offer with their lengthier decays and greater sustain capabilities, but the softer sound of the instrument offsets that to a significant degree.  The first two sonatas sort of sound like elaborate background music, but come the opening Allegro con brio of Op 1, No 3, one encounters music as fun as anything by Haydn.  One also hears deft mood changes, including some music that satisfyingly dramatic without ever becoming heavy.  Nice.  The Poco Adagio that follows is fairly Mozartean and very nicely played by Kim, and the concluding Rondeau offers more contrasting material that moves beyond simple fast-slow-fast.  So one needs to wait until only the third sonata for something ear-catching.  The two movement Op 2, No 3 sonata starts off with a Largo - Poco presto movement that opens and closes with slow, dramatic music, with more spirited music in the Poco presto section, and ends with a fun Allegretto.  It's a piece that an interventionist pianist could potentially make a meal of.  The set ends with a nicknamed sonata, "The Hunt", and it's the best thing on the twofer.  The opening Allegro molto is rhythmically and dynamically bold.  The very long second movement - eleven minutes here - is an Andante and variations, with the theme an original one of not a little sophistication.  Kim demonstrates the dynamic range of her instrument with some unexpectedly pointed sforzandi (and this from streaming), and Koželuch's variations have some nice invention in them.  The concluding Rondeau is quick, dynamic, and fun.  Though Kim plays it splendidly and with plenty of dynamic range, this work begs to be played on a modern grand. 

This twofer does make me wonder what the second completed twofer offers - more of the same is my initial guess - as well as what Ms Kim sounds like in other repertoire.  As luck would have it, she recorded core rep items for Arabesque Records, so I can find out.  Also, it would be interesting to hear how these works fare when played on a modern grand, so I will give one or two or more of Mr English's discs a shot at some point.  I will almost certainly be listening to Ms Kim's second volume in the near future. 






I enjoyed the first volume of Jenny Soonjin Kim's Koželuch's sonatas enough that I figured I should listen to her second volume right away.  Another twofer with another eight sonatas, it picks up where the prior volume left off.  Sonatas range from two to four movements this time around.  The pieces sound stylistically, and more important, qualitatively equal, or really close to, those of Haydn certainly, and maybe even Mozart.  Dynamic shifts are more pronounced in some of the sonatas than in the first volume.  While all the sonatas hold their appeal, lucky Number Thirteen stands out as especially enjoyable, and brimming over with ideas.  And if the Fourteenth seems something of a step down, with a slow movement that overstays its welcome, all is well again in the most excellent Fifteenth Sonata, in E Minor, Op 13, No 3, which has hints of drama in just the right places and proportions.  So does the tripartite opening the Sixteenth sonata, which has a more agitated K457 vibe that's almost proto-Beethovenian.  Kim again delivers all the sonatas with some very fine playing.  When she's done, if Brilliant issues the complete set, I may spring for it, provided the modern grand alternative is not better.  (The downside to having two ongoing complete sets is that both may be good enough to warrant purchase.) 



* Mr English also wrote his dissertation on Koželuch's keyboard sonatas.  It is available online: https://digital.library.adelaide.edu.au/dspace/bitstream/2440/84697/8/02whole.pdf
The universe is change; life is opinion.   Marcus Aurelius, Meditations

Offline Todd

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • Posts: 15691
Re: "New" Music Log
« Reply #346 on: March 31, 2018, 05:42:53 AM »



The second disc from the Jordi Savall España Eterna box.  Savall is a bit player here.  The star is Victoria de los Ángeles.  This short LP length (~38') collection of seventeen songs from composers anonymous to famous-ish (eg, Morales and Guerrero) from the late medieval to Renaissance periods are all nicely sung and performed by the musicians.  It's not as good as the first disc, though the songs themselves boast accessibility.  The older recording is also not as aurally striking as the first disc, being about on par with other vocal discs of the middle analog stereo era.  A nice disc, but one lacking maximum Savallian goodness.
The universe is change; life is opinion.   Marcus Aurelius, Meditations

Offline Todd

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • Posts: 15691
Re: "New" Music Log
« Reply #347 on: April 01, 2018, 04:05:35 AM »



Cipriano de Rore's setting of the St John Passion delivers something new for me.  I've listened to a fair amount of 16th Century polyphony, but it all sounds different from this.  Here is stripped down music.  Only five singers are used, with only the soprano part going to a woman.  Only a half dozen instruments are used for support, and usually sparingly.  Gorgeous polyphonic passages akin to Cristóbal de Morales are nowhere to be heard.  Beautiful ornamentation and complex, interweaving melodies give way to much simpler settings of the text, including some monophonic writing.  The sparse instrumentation often discreetly doubles the singers or discreetly replaces voices.  And discretion is a must.  This is among the most austere, stark pieces of music I've heard.  The work treats the subject matter in the most devout, serious way imaginable.  The music serves a purpose.  Excess is forbidden.  Even the brief instrumental interlude is austere.

As a setting of the Passion, the diminutive forces at first blush seem inadequate, but that notion is very quickly dispelled.  The music never assumes a sense of grandeur of later, similar works, nor does it sound as superficially beautiful as some contemporaneous, similar works, but it appeals in its own severe, devout way.  The work is barely over an hour long, but it packs a quiet wallop.

Singing and playing from Huelgas Ensemble under Paul van Nevel is what one expects it to be.  Sound is superb, and when listened to through cans the music and performance takes on an even greater degree of intimacy. 
The universe is change; life is opinion.   Marcus Aurelius, Meditations

Offline Todd

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • Posts: 15691
Re: "New" Music Log
« Reply #348 on: April 07, 2018, 04:57:30 AM »



Disc three from Jordi Savall España Eterna box, Llibre Vermell de Montserrat.  Starting with a monophonic piece of no little beauty, the piece expands into full-on festival music in the second piece, with a flowing, rhythmically catchy sound.  Ancient instruments pepper the sound nicely, though based on what I read of the original work and this and subsequent Savall performances and recordings, Savall deviates from the more somber nature of the music and adds improvisatory elements that may or may not be intended.  Since I'm not a purist, I don't care about any of that, I only care that the music is groovy.  The third movement switches to multipart choral singing of no little beauty, though less sophistication than what came a couple centuries later.  That's quite alright.  The music then more or less alternates between the sacred and profane, or at least less sacred.  Savall and crew also blend in other, broader musical influences to superb effect.  Overall, the performance is most enjoyable and sound excellent, if not as good as the first disc.  Another hit by Savall and crew.  Maybe I'll try his 2013 recording. 
The universe is change; life is opinion.   Marcus Aurelius, Meditations

Offline Todd

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • Posts: 15691
Re: "New" Music Log
« Reply #349 on: April 10, 2018, 04:05:48 AM »



From the DHM long box, my first exposure to the music of Marianna Martines.  This is a disc devoted to music by a woman composer, directed by another woman, conductor and keyboardist Nicoleta Paraschivescu, and joined in by one of DHM's stars, Nurial Rial.  What a splendid disc!  Martines' style is very much of the classical era, and the pieces here are of the light and exuberant sort.  I immediately thought of Haydn in the opening Overture, and particularly of earlier, sunnier Haydn.  The music doesn't necessarily sound as refined as the master's best examples from the time (ie, the 1760s), but it does not shrink in comparison, either.  Apparently, Ms Martines lived in the same house as Haydn for a while, took keyboard lessons from him, and sang in some of his works, including The Creation.  She obviously learnt a thing or two.  (Perhaps he did, too.)  There are so many springy, fun tunes that it was hard not to have one's mood elevated while listening.  Ms Nurial's contribution in the title Il primo amore cantata is just lovely, her contribution to Berenice, ah che fai? is lovely and weightier.  The text was later set by Haydn, as well, so it had legs.  Throw in some top shelf DHM sound, as well as fine playing by all involved, and this is an extremely fine disc.  Now both Ms Paraschivescu and Martines are on my radar, and wouldn't you know, Ms Paraschivescu recorded another disc of the composer's music?  It seems like something I might have to investigate.
The universe is change; life is opinion.   Marcus Aurelius, Meditations

Offline Todd

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • Posts: 15691
Re: "New" Music Log
« Reply #350 on: April 14, 2018, 05:13:01 AM »



A twofer from the Savall box.  The discs are fairly esoteric and specific in focus.  The first is devoted to "Court music and songs from the age of discoveries", while the even more specific second disc covers "Sephardic romances from the age before the expulsion of the Jews from Spain", meaning the music covers the century from the middle of the 15th to the middle of the 16th Century.

The discs were record in 1975, and right from the get-go, one hears the aural luxuriousness one often associates with Savall.  The castanets pop while the other instruments come into focus, and Montserrat Figueras materializes dead center to captivate and beguile the listener.  The first disc has two dozen short pieces, every one of which is small in scale.  Some are festive and fast, some more somber and slow, and all are most attractive.  It's like a regional Renaissance Greatest Hits collection, in outstanding sound.  The drum thwacks and plucked instruments all have an immediacy to them that even some modern recordings lack.

The second disc starts with a not unpleasant, in your face drum in the left channel (it switches channels later on) sounding more Eastern or at least unfamiliar than normal, and not unusual instruments produce mildly unusual sounds in many places.  I suppose the Saracen chitarra nearly qualifies as exotic, if a lute-sounding guitar can sound exotic.  Something less exotic is the inclusion of bagpipes, which I think make their first non-AC/DC appearance in my collection.  The music, especially the singing, often has a more lilting sound about it than the first disc.  Even the more vibrant music has a different rhythmic feel to it.  Figueras' style and delivery sounds especially well-suited to the tunes on the disc. 

How authentic everything is, I can't say, but it's all most excellent.
The universe is change; life is opinion.   Marcus Aurelius, Meditations

Offline Todd

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • Posts: 15691
Re: "New" Music Log
« Reply #351 on: April 17, 2018, 04:14:56 AM »



More new to me music from the DHM long box.  This disc of six concerto grossi plucked from Opp 2, 3, 5, 6, and 7 by Francesco Geminiani and played by the Petite Band under Sigiswald Kuijken's direction.  All of the works sound nice, sport the occasional violin part of distinction, and make for a fine if not especially memorable listening experience.  There's nothing at all wrong with the pieces, it's just that other concerti grossi (Handel's) or concertos (Bach's) are more my speed.  It's not hard to hear why some of the more famous baroque composers are more famous today.
The universe is change; life is opinion.   Marcus Aurelius, Meditations

Offline Todd

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • Posts: 15691
Re: "New" Music Log
« Reply #352 on: April 21, 2018, 04:38:01 AM »



The next disc from the Savall box is a themed grab-bag.  Pieces by various composers, ranging from well-ish known (Cabezón) to anonymous, the twenty-three tracks are divided into six categories, with different instrumental combinations and solo instruments taking their turn.  The music is all attractive and well played, but the concept aspect of it doesn't hold together spectacularly well.  It more than occasionally sounds like one nifty piece transitioning to the next.  That's fine.  Early 70s sound is excellent, but dynamic range and clarity is not up to the better sounding earlier discs.  When a middling disc in a box is this good, you know you've got a good box.
The universe is change; life is opinion.   Marcus Aurelius, Meditations

Offline Todd

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • Posts: 15691
Re: "New" Music Log
« Reply #353 on: April 23, 2018, 04:24:02 AM »



Another Amazon Add-on purchase.  The disc contains one work each by five composers, with Aram Khachaturian the only one I've heard a lick from in the past, though not the work offered here.  So this disc sort of has it all: bargain basement price, new repertoire, great sound.

The disc opens with Arno Babadjanian's Piano Trio.  It is no minor work.  Intense, romantic, emotional, and not hiding its "eastern" (ie, Russian) nor its local influences at all.  It is conservative given its time of composition - 1952 - but it is undeniably effective, whether the music is impassioned or sorrowful.  It's good enough to make me think I might want to hunt down other works by the composer. 

Next is Canadian-Armenian Serouj Kradjian's Elegy for Restive Souls for what amounts to a Clarinet Quartet.  Mr Kradjian, who also wrote the liner notes and plays piano on the disc, composed the piece in 2009 on commission from the Amici Chamber Ensemble.  The work commemorates the 1988 Armenian earthquake that killed tens of thousands of people.  The brief work starts off with the violin playing ticks of a clock, the clarinet playing a recurring theme of destiny, and the piano playing eleven tolling chords.  (The quake struck before 12:00, so only eleven tolls are to be heard.)  After a brief pause, the clarinet slowly starts in, and the strings follow, and then the piano, in a chamber music Requiem.  The music slowly becomes less somber, more disjointed, almost like a tragic folk dance version of Ravel's La Valse.  And since the music doesn't really sound especially energetic and intense until around eleven minutes in, it sounds almost ghostly for much of the time after the requiem portion ends.  The last third is more chaotic, with some superb effects, as when the clarinet doubles the violin occasionally before they split into different swirls of chaos, only to do it again.  All the while, the piano lays the foundation for the work, but it is not a solid foundation.  It is unsteady, it is sometimes rambling.  This, too, is no minor work, and I dare say it could make for a daunting piece in recital if the ensemble really digs in.

The brief central work is an arrangement of Parsegh Ganatchian's Oror for soprano, clarinet, and four cellos.  Mr Kradjian arranged the piece, no doubt with his wife, the soprano Isabel Bayrakdarian, in mind.  She sings her part splendidly, fluidly, and beautifully.  Apparently, the original is a very popular work in Armenia, and its intrinsic beauty makes it obvious why.

Khachaturian's 1932 Clarinet Trio follows.  It is very much a piece of its time, dissonant but tonal, astringent but lovely, folk-infused yet mostly formal.  Ample energy is evident, and the clarinetist displays his chops in almost all registers. 

The final piece is the 1992 Suite for Clarinet Trio by Alexander Arutiunian.  The somber Dialog apart, the piece is brief, light, energetic, and often just plain fun, making for a much lighter close after some heavier going early on.

While I doubt I spin this disc a lot, it offers yet another perfect example of why I like to explore new repertoire.  There's some extremely fine music on this disc, and it gives me new ideas for music and composers and performers to explore.
The universe is change; life is opinion.   Marcus Aurelius, Meditations

Offline Todd

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • Posts: 15691
Re: "New" Music Log
« Reply #354 on: April 24, 2018, 04:12:56 AM »



I enjoyed the disc of Armenian chamber music enough that I figured I might as well spend a musical (business) week in Armenia, if not a real one.  To that end, I opted for something even more serious on this Armenian Genocide Remembrance Day. 

Armenian-born, Canadian-domiciled composer Petros Shoujounian wrote four string quartets, collectively named Noravank, named after a 13th Century Armenian monastery, to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide.  The music is based heavily on medieval Armenian chants, and each movement is named after an Armenian river, so the very core of the music is Armenian.  The Quatour Molinari, they of blockbuster Schnittke quartet recordings, play the works, thus ensuring world class playing.

The first movement of the first work immediately calls to mind the quartets of Shostakovich, but shorn of irony, hidden messages, and bitterness.  In place of those are forthright sorrow, devout faith, and tempered hope, and maybe hints of joy.  This is not angry, biting music, and it never simply copies DSCH, and indeed it veers away from his sound world, but it shares enough traits that the connection is there, along with other inspirations obvious and less obvious.

Partly due to the source material, the music does not sound as complex as most 20th and 21st Century string quartets.  There is a simpler, more direct feel most of the time.  None of this is to say that the music is simplistic, because it most certainly is not.  The music often sounds lovely, with melodies flowing one after the other.  Even the dissonant music avoids undue harshness.  Other times, it sounds solemn and deeply contemplative, and devoid of artifice.  The frequent pizzicati fall easily on the ear.  The folk music inspired writing, with its eastern feel, becomes more prominent in the last two quartets, but it never sounds alien; it sounds familiar.  And the music effortlessly and effectively exposes its spiritual heart.  While obviously one could choose to listen to the music one quartet at a time, in any order, they really do work together as a whole quite nicely.  An excellent recording that also verifies the Molinari's talent.
The universe is change; life is opinion.   Marcus Aurelius, Meditations

Offline Todd

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • Posts: 15691
Re: "New" Music Log
« Reply #355 on: April 25, 2018, 04:16:43 AM »



Isabel Bayrakdarian's brief contribution to the Armenian Chamber Music disc was enough to entice me to listen to this recording of sacred music of the Armenian Church.  The first word that popped into mind as Bayrakdarian's voice materialized was WOW!  As recorded here, her voice possesses almost overwhelming beauty.  Now, having heard her in MTT's Mahler 2 and that chamber music disc, this was not entirely surprising.  (I generally try to forget her involvement with Lord of the Rings.)  This recording spotlights her magnificent voice and the chamber orchestra accompaniment is light and transparent and cedes the spotlight to her.  Even when joined by some additional singers, it's about her, and it should be.  The best moments of the disc are when it is just her.  Pesky instruments cannot sound as beautiful as her voice.  Sometimes the music hints at eastern exoticism (to western ears), but everything sounds both sumptuous and devout.  The music is truly mesmerizing.  This music has the same stop-me-in-my-tracks, all-consuming gorgeousness and depth as Cristóbal de Morales and Marie-Luise Hinrichs.  I'm not certain I can say that the music is of the same ultimate quality as Morales' original works or Hinrichs' transcribed ones, but qualitative quibbles dissolve in the face of singing so beautiful that even Kathleen Battle would take notes.  Ms Bayrakdarian does use vibrato liberally, and some may find that a quibble, but for me it doesn't rate a quibble.  If I could be assured of hearing singing of this quality every Sunday, I might start attending church.  Bayrakdarian must record Strauss' Vier letzte Lieder.

I streamed this.  I am going to purchase it.  Right now.  It will be a purchase of the year.
The universe is change; life is opinion.   Marcus Aurelius, Meditations

Offline Todd

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • Posts: 15691
Re: "New" Music Log
« Reply #356 on: April 26, 2018, 04:29:51 AM »



Next up, I found this 90s ASV disc devoted to the Piano Concerto of Loris Tjeknavorian and the Heroic Ballade and Nocturne from Armen Babadzhanian.  Loris Tjeknavorian serves as conductor for the disc.  The Piano Concerto opens the disc, and the first movement Allegro sounds very, very much like Bartok in the faster, more barbaro passages, though the orchestral writing and rhythmic complexity is less pronounced and sophisticated.  The quieter passages fare a bit better.  The Andante is vaguely oriental-ish and laden with brass and some angular piano playing in the cadenza.  The concluding Pesante is sort of Bartok-meets-Khachaturian and lighter than the opener, with a hefty dose of nice wind writing.  The work is decent.  Babadzhanian's Heroic Ballade is a pot-boiler exuding gigantic wafts of Rachmaninoff.  Some of the slow music sounds like it could have been taken from discarded drafts of the Russian's works, though one can hear traces of Gershwin, too.  The piece is so stirring that it would make people who heard it in concert downright proud to be Communist!  (It was written in 1950.)  Well, it would, if it didn't go on for what seems like five hours.  The Nocturne from the same composer offers something of a musical shock.  No heady, brooding, atmospheric piece here, no sir.  Starting with prominent double bass, it expands to become backing music for a bloated, over the hill, out of tune lounge act.  A few years ago or so, I encountered Ragna Schirmer's jazzified treatment of some of Handel's keyboard concertos and found them awful.  (That shocked, too, given the exceedingly high quality of Ms Schirmer's work otherwise.)  They are works of towering genius compared to this crap.

Armen Babakhanian tickles the ivories well and band and conductor all do good work.  There's a zero percent chance this recording becomes oft listened to by me.
The universe is change; life is opinion.   Marcus Aurelius, Meditations

Offline Brian

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • *
  • Posts: 20357
    • Brian's blog
Re: "New" Music Log
« Reply #357 on: April 26, 2018, 01:27:45 PM »
There is a Naxos Azerbaijan piano concerto disc with a similar distribution of quality. One really cool concerto, one weird concerto worth a listen, one really terrible miniature placed on top like a cherry made of poop.

(But I think the good stuff on that CD is better than what you describe on this one.)

Offline Todd

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • Posts: 15691
Re: "New" Music Log
« Reply #358 on: April 27, 2018, 04:22:13 AM »



I decided to end the classical music portion of my exploration of Armenian music with something all but guaranteed to be superb: Esprit d'Armenie as conducted by Jordi Savall and played by Hesperion XXI.  It's superb!  This disc is a collection of eighteen miniatures based on traditional pieces and more recent compositions based on or influenced by traditional pieces.  Joining Savall and crew are joined by four Armenian musicians who play Armenian instruments.  The music generally sounds old or traditional or very heavily folk music influenced throughout.  It effortlessly evokes exotic eastern sounds more than the prior discs in this mini-survey, but in its earnestness and exquisite delivery, this is not gimmicky world music, this is the good stuff.  No piece really stands out as significantly better than the others.  That written, the music may be at its most compelling when the dark-ish overall timbre of the ensemble produces dark music.  The brevity of the pieces actually works to enhance the experience, in that the listener eagerly looks forward to what the next track brings.

Even via streaming, audio quality is obviously superb.
The universe is change; life is opinion.   Marcus Aurelius, Meditations

Offline Todd

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • Posts: 15691
Re: "New" Music Log
« Reply #359 on: April 28, 2018, 03:19:35 AM »



Next from the Savall box, music from 15th and 16th Century Naples, when it was ruled by Spanish kings - Alfons I, Ferdinand I, and Chucky Number Five.  A hodgepodge of short instrumental and vocal pieces for various ensembles by various composers, it listens like a sort of Olde Tyme Greatest Hits.  Each work is quite delightful, with very fine playing and singing.  It doesn't have the same impact as the troubadour disc and sort of becomes ultra-high-end background music.  Don't get me wrong, it makes for a most enjoyable listening session, it just ends up another case where Savall and crew deliver a middling disc by their standards, which means basically outstanding by most other performers' standards. 
The universe is change; life is opinion.   Marcus Aurelius, Meditations