Author Topic: "New" Music Log  (Read 121675 times)

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Offline Todd

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Re: "New" Music Log
« Reply #500 on: January 02, 2021, 08:08:20 AM »
Isn't that the abbey with the brewery?


Yes, it's one of only three monastic breweries in the US, and apparently it purports to follow a 1500 year old brewing tradition.  I'm not a beer guy, so I have never had any. 
The universe is change; life is opinion. - Marcus Aurelius, Meditations

Everything dies - Alien Bounty Hunter, The X-Files

Everyone dies - William Barr, United States Attorney General

Offline Todd

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Re: "New" Music Log
« Reply #501 on: January 09, 2021, 05:47:23 AM »


Isaac Albéniz is well represented in my collection, what with that little ditty named Iberia, as well as some other rather notable works, like, say, España.  His piano sonatas, on the other hand, are much rarer, though as it turns out, the great Esteban Sánchez, arguably the finest overall Albéniz interpreter on record, recorded the Fifth.  So when the chance arose to hear all three completed sonatas on one disc for a few bucks (I still prefer to buy copies of my music, whether physical or download), I figured I might as well do so.

The disc opens with the Third Sonata.  The first two movements are fairly straight-forward and pleasant nods to classical era sonatas, with Chopin seeming to be an influence, and they make for pleasant listening.  The work comes alive in the Allegro assai closing movement, which sounds like nothing less than a missing Lied Ohne Worte, and a rather robust one, at that.  Now, is this the score or the pianist?  I pose that question because the first Suite ancienne sounds like more missing Mendelssohn.  That's no bad thing, though it is neither a necessarily great thing. 

The Fourth Sonata sort of soups up the Chopin-Mendelssohn sound with some more overt Spanish-sounding music, by which I mean music that looks forward to what Albéniz wrote later.  The rhythmic vitality is there, and the harmonies really endear and seduce.  Get to the second movement Scherzo, and one hears the makings of a mini-symphonic work, a feeling that lasts through the end, with the lilting dance rhythms and forward drive.  Nice.  The second Suite ancienne harks back to classical miniatures more, though the slightly darker hue and feel seems to evoke Chopin more.  That's OK.

Now to the Fifth.  A fairly languid, Albénizian Allegro non troppo opens things up, before moving to a snappy Minuetto, and then the gorgeous Rêverie, which is the heart of the work.  At times tender, at times displaying a Debussyian sound and feel, it hints at later works even more strongly.  The work wraps up with a lively Allegro that seems influenced by the acciaccatura from Beethoven's Op 79, though here the device is used repeatedly.  The pianist here does nice enough work, but when an A/B can be done, it can be instructive, and here the result is that one appreciates just what Sánchez can do.  His rubato is fluid, his touch so minutely variable and precise, his rhythmic sense so unerring, that one sort of just wallows in the playing and the music, whereas with the present pianist, one can dig the note hitting, but one misses what is missing.  Quite a bit.  One also ponders what Sánchez playing Debussy may have sounded like. 

Sebastian Stanley, apparently of Spanish birth, plays nicely enough, though one not infrequently wonders what a more interventionist pianist might bring to the table in these works.
The universe is change; life is opinion. - Marcus Aurelius, Meditations

Everything dies - Alien Bounty Hunter, The X-Files

Everyone dies - William Barr, United States Attorney General

Offline Todd

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Re: "New" Music Log
« Reply #502 on: January 16, 2021, 06:46:06 AM »



Gonna listen to the daughter, might as well listen to the father.  Jia Daqun first ended up in my collection with an encore performed by his daughter on one of her Schubert discs, so he was on my radar, and now was the time to sample something else. 

The disc opens with the Rondo for Clarinet and Piano.  Decidedly modern, and alternating fast and slow music, the piece sounds very French.  It's light, rhythmically snappy in the fast movement, and quite colorful, with clarinetist He Yemo displaying some fine chops.  Ran Jia plays piano here, and her hard hitting Schubert style translates nicely to this work as she plays with verve, and no little left hand solidity in places.  Here's a fairly light modern work. Next comes Intonation for a fourteen member chamber ensemble.  More colorful yet, with more texture, and lots of Gloria Coates-like glissando, just done to my taste a bit more, the piece blends some lighter passages with hard modernist outbursts.  The music sort of unfolds continuously, and one hears abstracted Chinese (one assumes) elements blended into the mix quite nicely.  The cymbal crashes aside, the instrumentation works extremely well.  Nice.

Three Movements of Autumn follows, and here Jia is all about applying modern techniques to Chinese music.  Traditional Chinese instruments are used exclusively, and while inspired by Chinese opera, one can definitely hear the western academic influences as well.  While the soundworld varies widely from Western music, the rhythmic component sounds vibrant and it ties together very well.  It's not my first exposure to Middle Kingdom music, and it definitely won't be my last.  The disc closes with Three Images from Ink-Wash Painting.  Here, Jia uses western instruments to create a modernist impression of Chinese paintings, in a sort of Eastern Pictures at an Exhibition.  The compact work appeals to me more than any orchestration I've heard of Mussorgsky's work.  Again, Jia's writing sounds colorful, and it creates a soundworld both abstract and evocative of the underlying subject matter.  Whether delicate and smooth, or, in the last piece, inspired by splashed ink, with the potent percussion exploding with near violence, coming in waves, and an edgy thrashing sound, the piece engages and energizes.  More like this, please.

All instrumentalists do fine work, all the more so since these are concert performances.  Ms Zhang conducts the chamber ensembles nicely. 

A disc good enough to make me think I need to here more from the composer.
The universe is change; life is opinion. - Marcus Aurelius, Meditations

Everything dies - Alien Bounty Hunter, The X-Files

Everyone dies - William Barr, United States Attorney General