Started by Todd, April 26, 2017, 10:12:45 AM
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Quote from: Todd on May 23, 2020, 04:48:37 AMA purchase of the year, the decade to come, and the century. Brilliant in every way.
Quote from: Todd on May 07, 2018, 05:28:10 AMTakashi Asahina is a conductor I have long associated with Bruckner more than anything. I figured now was as good a time as any to stream him conducting something else. I settled on Beethoven. This complete symphony cycle is recorded with the Osaka Philharmonic. You know, his orchestra, as in the one he established in 1947 and led until his death. This cycle was recorded in the year 2000, the year before his death. He was 92 years old at the time. This was his final presentation of the cycle.Asahina's Beethoven is old school and that is evident from the opening bars of the First. Tempi are broad, sometimes very broad. Flashy gestures are a no-go. Reverence is a must. He's conducts like Takahiro Sonoda plays piano. And there's nothing wrong with that, not at all. The first two symphonies sound very stately, and more than occasionally reserved, the First relatively more than the Second. That's not to say that they sound stodgy and don't flow, because they always sound forward-moving, and the finale of the second has some pep in its step. The Eroica is very slow. As in almost late career Carlo Maria Giulini slow. He takes nearly as long as the Italian's LAPO take in the opening movement, and even longer in the funeral march, where he's in Celi territory. Listeners who like slow burn Thirds have a higher probability of liking this than people who prefer speed, and Asahina does an estimable job of building up momentum and scale, but he doesn't achieve Giulini's ultimate power and granduer. The funeral march, despite its length, never sags, and the Scherzo is hefty yet energetic. The final theme and variations comes in at over thirteen minutes, and while it does sound quite slow, it is large of scale and possessed of seriousness and grandeuer and works well within such a broad conception. Asahina's style works well overall here. It doesn't work so well in the Fourth. The first movement is on the slow side, but it's weighty, and the second and third movements sound similar, but the finale is just way too slow and heavy. The Fifth is a slow, weighty, old-school reading, and one needn't listen beyond the lengthy fermata at the end of the somewhat famous opening to understand that. How much one likes such an approach overall may or may not determine how much likes this reading. I like it quite a bit, though the too slow tempo prevent it from being a favorite. Slow tempi do not necessarily prevent maximum enjoyment in the Pastorale, and that's the case with this performance. The first three movements move along at a leisurely pace, to the point that some may find the playing too slow, but it flows. The Sturm is hampered just a bit by the slow tempo, but there is plenty of oomph. Asahina then closes with a too-grand-but-so-what? and quite lovely Shepherd's Song. It's a highlight of the cycle. The Seventh, as expected, is broad of tempo and grand of gesture, especially in the often massive, dirge-like Allegretto. The Presto is very dignified, but also sounds like an Adagio most of the time. The somewhat stately Allegro con brio works well, especially when Asahina brings it in the coda. Overall, it's decent, with that monumental Allegretto good enough to stick in the memory. The Eighth falls right into line with the rest of the cycle to this point, and ultimately that means it is less than ideally satisfactory. More snap is needed. Fans of slower versions of this symphony may be more enthusiastic. Not surprisingly, Asahina's Ninth is broad of tempo and stately of presentation, and also unsurprisingly, the Adagio is very fine indeed. Generally, I like higher wattage takes here (eg, Munch), but Asahina's is a very fine example of its kind. This set offers yet another example of the value of streaming. At its current price, I doubt I'd buy a physical copy of the cycle, but I got to hear it anyway, and in the event it ends up a budget issue at some point, I may buy it just to hear better what the engineers captured.
Quote from: Todd on June 21, 2017, 05:52:38 AMThe Fifth. Lim uses the Schalk edition. That's right, the Schalk edition. The very slow opening moments almost sounds like Elgar for a second (this was probably somewhat influenced by the fact that I had listened to Elgar's First the night before listening to this for the first time), but then it becomes obvious that it is indeed Bruckner, as Lim generates an even grander-scaled sound than in the Fourth. Also apparent, this is a swift reading, clocking in at under 64' in total. The Schalk edition cuts to the finale make up a good chunk of the difference when compared to other readings (this finale takes only eighteen minutes and change), but a good portion of the rest of the relative brevity is due to the tempo choices employed by Lim. To his credit, nothing ever sounds rushed. At the same time, it's hard to say anything sounds especially deep. The Adagio, at 15'36", sounds appealing, occasionally weighty, and more than occasionally lithe, but it also sounds, perhaps, superficial, but in a good way. And there are pre-echoes of Elgar again, dammit. There's nary of hint of Elgar in the Scherzo, with its grinding and intense outer sections, all musical fire and brimstone. The Finale is brisk and weighty, and while one can hear Wagnerian influences, one can also hear Dvorak's Fourth, at least as realized by Thomas Hengelbrock. (I assume it's my imagination more than anything.) While the fugue writing gets short shrift here, Schalk did a good job weaving together what he didn't cut. Lim leads the Korean band in some tightly played, well-drilled music-making in the faster passages. I dare say hearing the playing in person would have been at least occasionally exhilarating. The brass are more prominent here than in the preceding symphonies, but much less than in standard performances of this symphony, and there's one transition from brass to strings around eight minutes in that is breathtakingly beautiful, and the quasi-Parsifalesque music that follows sounds hardly less attractive. Later, just after 13' in, Lim leads his orchestra in almost frenzied playing, before letting up just a bit before the revised coda, with its sparkling triangles adding some unneeded zest. Really, drop the triangles and I have nothing major to kvetch about. This symphony has always been the one I've had the hardest time getting in to, but this edition seems to address some of my reservations. Is it wrong to actually like the Schalk edition this much? To some Bruckner purists, the answer is undoubtedly yes. I am happily impure, so I confess that I kind of like it. More than kind of, actually. I may just have to try another recording of the Schalk edition, with Kna the obvious choice I would think. While not ideally clear by modern standards, the recorded sound is excellent, and when cranked up appropriately, the sheer weight of the orchestra is imposing, and the timpani thwacks drive into the ground and then propagate out in all directions causing a not unpleasant physical sensation.Jochum's penultimate recording of the work strikes me as the very apogee of conducting a mainstream edition of the work. For over seventy-seven minutes, Jochum delivers vastly scaled, brass heavy, imposing Bruckner. The opening movement sounds massive as all get out, with Jochum making this the grandest of all the symphonies. It thrills and chills in equal measure, and the Dresden band sounds superb. Extreme depth and/or nosebleed heights are achieved in the Adagio. The Scherzo pulverizes. The Finale is grand and powerful, and Jochum makes sense of the contrapuntally dense writing at least as well as anyone, and probably better, and when it comes time to play Bruckner in a frenzied state, no one outdoes Jochum. Throughout, Jochum manages to bring out ample detail while simultaneously delivering musical and musically satisfying symphonic gigantism, and the conductor makes the not inconsiderable length of the work almost zip by. Of the versions I've heard this year of a conventional edition of the score, this strikes me as the best, and if I ever do a full-scale shootout, Jochum would probably be the one to beat. He shows that it truly is a great work. That written, I find Lim's conducting of the Schalk edition more fun. Now, I know Bruckner ought not to be fun, and Schalk sliced and diced the score and re-orchestrated like nuts to play to the gallery, but in some ways, in many ways, he succeeded. Jochum's is the greater recording, but I won't be surprised if I listen to Lim's more often.
Quote from: Brian on September 20, 2020, 11:27:27 AMThere's a deluxe edition with a second album of stuff that's not on streaming?! %*@#. Time to research...
Quote from: Todd on September 27, 2020, 05:58:33 AMUh-oh. Does the E♭ major opener to D946 represent the first unforced error I've heard from William Youn (aka, Korean Piano Jesus)?
Quote from: Brian on September 27, 2020, 06:43:13 AMMaking Kun Woo Paik Korean Piano John the Baptist and YES Korean Mary Magdalene?
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