Monday, February 27, 2017

Second rerun: Klughardt, August. Symphony No. 4, and other works.

See first review of this disc: February, 22th 2017.

Halvorsen, Johan. (1864-1935) Nielsen, Carl. (1865-1931) Violin concertos.

New acquisition.
Bought in February 2017.
First listen: 27-2-2017.
Label: Naxos.
Recording dates: August/September 2016.
Recording venue: Malmö Concert Hall. Sweden.
Recording engineer: Tim Handley.
Running time: 62:00.
Classical relevance to me: In two minds.

Works performed:
Violin Concerto, opus 28.

Violin concerto, opus 33.

Performed by:
Henning Kraggerud, violin.
Malmö SO, Bjarte Engeset.

Technically this is a very good performance. Kraggerud gets out what is possible, which is a lot, and there is no way to fault him. The orchestra follows faithfully and adequately, with quite some energy behind to back this violinist in the best possible way. But to say that what I hear is the best I ever heard, well no. Musically it is a bit uninvolving. It is not enough to play both violin concertos to perfection, it has to grip you and it certainly does not grip me. It is a personal thing if it comes to the amount of emotion you want to feel, but for me it is in short supply on this disc. My involvement is on the surface and as soon as there is an opening to go deeper, the gap is closed immediately by more technical brilliance. The Halvorsen concerto is certainly worth the effort of recording it, but it is not a masterwork perse. There are some fine melodies, and beautiful filigree details which Kraggerud brings gorgeously out of the score. But it's hard to keep your attention close to the work, due to the lack of personal involvement. And this also fits on the other works on this CD. And what's more, I think that the recording balance is not what I am used to from the likes of Tim Handley. As such the sound is detailed, has a good front to back stage, more than enough depth, but notice that the timpani are placed behind the celli and basses, and this muddles the sound up and obscures detail in the crescendos. It is even boomy at times. All upper frequencies are spot on, but I feel the lower instruments out of synch. The total sound is strange to say the least. Could be the acoustics of course of the Malmö Hall? 
A bit disappointed I am.

Friday, February 24, 2017

Second rerun. Vladimir Jurowski & Felix Woyrsch. Orchestral works.

See first review February 6th 2017.

See first review February 7th 2017.

Bate, Stanley. (1911-1959) Concerto for Viola & Orchestra. Bell William Henry. (1873-1946. Concerto for Viola and Orchestra. Top recommendation.

From my collection.
Bought in May 2014.
First listen: 6-6-2014.
Second listen: 24-2-2017.
Label: Dutton.
Recording dates: July 2008.
Recording venue: The Colosseum, Town Hall, Watford
Recording engineer: Dexter Newman.
Assistant engineer: Dillon Gallagher.
Running time: 74:54.
Classical relevance to me: TOP RECOMMENDATION.

Works performed:
Stanley Bate.
Concerto for Viola and orchestra (1944-1946)

Ralph Vaughan Williams.

William Henry Bell.
Concerto for Viola and Orchestra. "Rosa Mystica" (1916)

[World premiere recordings]

Performed by:
Roger Chase, Viola.
BBC Concert Orchestra, Stephen Bell.

This Concerto by Stanley Bate should be a classic, and a obligatory one for a viola player in his or her repertoire.  A piece of great beauty as there ever was one.  It bears a dedication to Ralph Vaughan Williams and truth be told, it has many elements of VW  in the score.. Also not uncommon to this composer is virtuosity, bravoura, and an element of great force, but it's primarily a work that harbours many colours and moods. Philosophical and spiritual, intellectual and aesthetically of a high standard. For me this is a magical realm, where all elements of the exceptional come together.  The first movement makes you sit up by its ethereal beauty, and its magical detail that shares with you a world of mysterious bypaths. The third movement has almost a  Paganiniana allure, while the last movement plunges you back into the idiom of the first movement.  There was a broadcast of this concerto in 1947, but after that it was never heard again until now. Which if you allow me, is a British shame, to let go such a distinguished composer. If you like VW, this concerto will become a treasure to you, no doubt about that. It is already for me. This little titbit from Vaughan Williams with the title "Romance" is an orchestration by Roger Chase, the principal Viola player on this disc. And very nicely it is done.
The concerto written by Bell can be put in the same category as the Bate concerto. The description also fits on this work, and has a marvelously written first movement. It has such power and expression that I got quite overwhelmed by all the moods prevalent in it. Being on such a height it is difficult to get back into the second movement "Adagio" were all the turmoil is gone and a pastoral scene takes over and slips easily in the final part with an almost Wagnerian explosion of colour, but never in the lush way as done by Wagner, but with a certain restrain which makes it aesthetically attractive. The wealth of small instrumental additions to the orchestral colours, sometimes barely audible, make it a feast for your ears. It truly deserved my top recommendation.
You also get State of the Art sound. It's utterly amazing how good a recording can sound. This one belongs high up.

Torelli, Giuseppe. (1658-1709)The Original Brandenburg Concertos, Concerti Musicali, opus 6 (1698) & Sonata a 4 in A minor, G 46.

New acquisition.
Bought in February 2017.
First listen: 24-2-2017
Label: Signum.
Recording dates: April 2008.
Recording venue: St Andrew's Church, Toddington, Gloucestershire, England.
Recording engineer: Adrian Hunter.
Running time: 62:30.
Classical relevance to me: Essential.

Works performed:
See heading.

Works performed by:
Charivari Agréable, Kah Ming Ng.

I am happy that a disc surfaced with music by Giuseppe Torelli, which is a rarity, for he is almost forgotten or neglected. Quite an important composer, revered by many. His music was used in compositions by J.S. Bach and Johann Gottfried Walther, just to name a few. There is no reason I could find, why he is hardly recorded or performed. As a composer his compositional standard is high and his technical skills without doubt up to scratch. So this disc is doubly welcome if only to hear the music he composed. It is rather fascinating to know that these Brandenburg concertos were written a quarter of a century before J.S. Bach put his mind to it. As such Torelli's opus 6 are also masterworks, there is no doubt in my mind about it. It is a virtual joy to hear what Torelli did in the opus 6. Creative in melodies, elegant in their bearing, harmonious, and well written. It is a pity therefore that this ensemble is not quite up to scratch. Don't get me wrong though. Charivari Agréable is technically a top ensemble, but academic in the extreme. Historically well informed they play as a well oiled machine, but rather mechanical. In all their authenticity they miss the sunny side of the music. Formal and strict come to mind, inflexibility, a rather conservative approach if it comes to tempi, and a certain inflexibility in applying them. Technically they deliver a pristine performance, but rather very English. The Ïtalianate character is lost on them. Still since there is not an influx of recordings with the music by Torelli, so I keep this one close to heart. The info in the booklet is clear and wholly understandable, but due for missing pages, and wrong binding, it gets muddled up quite a bit.
The recording is excellent. Recommended with some caution then!

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Second rerun: Johann Wenzel Kalliwoda-Louis Spohr-Max Bruch-Dora Pejačević.

See first review February 3th.  2017

See first review, February 3th. 2017

See first review, February 3th 2017

See first review, February 6th. 2017

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Graener, Paul. (1872-1944) Orchestral Works III. TOP RECOMMENDATION.

New acquisition.
Bought in February 2017.
First listen: 22-2-2017.
Label: CPO.
Recording dates: April 2001-October 2012.
Recording venue: BR Studio 1, Munchen, Germany.
Recording engineers: Peter Urban & Winfried Messmer.
Running time: 63:43.
Classical relevance to me: Top recommendation.

Works performed: 

Klavierkonzert, opus 72.
Symphonietta, opus 27, für Streichinstrumente und Harfe. (Uta Jungwirth, Harfe.)
Drei Schwedische Tänze, opus 98.
Divertimento für kleines orchester, opus 67, dedicated to Clemens von Franckenstein.

Works performed by:

Münchner Rundfunkorchester, Alun Francis.
Oliver Triendl, Piano.

So far as I know I have collected all CPO recordings with the music by Paul Graener, a composer that belongs to my top 25 composers of all time. I have a good reason to put him there, although in retrospect he is not known to many, but the ones that know him keep Graener close to their hearts. I am one of them.
Graener's compositional work was deeply rooted in the tradition and adhered to the late romantic sound ideal, with input from some stylistic influences of more recent date. But few know that Jon Leifs from Iceland and Juozas Gruodis studied with Graener.
The piano concerto, opus 72 was composed in Leipzig and was printed in 1925, and premiered in 1925. The was dedicated to Ludwig Neubeck. He was dismissed from all his functions and imprisoned by the Nazis in 1933 and subsequently took his life during the same year. This is one of the best piano concertos I ever heard, without a shadow of a doubt. It is the creation of a master in composition. Just listen to the second movement "Adagio". If that does not break you heart, nothing will. It is such an emotionally laden work, in that it pours forth torrents of anguish and despair, and ultimately in the last movement a spiritual balance, that is as striking as it is amazing in it's concept. I was totally awestruck by this outpouring of Graener's genius. Such a beautiful piece of music.
The symphonietta was dedicated to his son Heinz who died in London at the age of eight. His dead had a profound impact on Graener, and it shows in this well written concert. It's emotional turmoil is devastatingly real and near, and grabs you immediately. There is so much sadness and being lost in limbo, that you are moved to the very core of your heart. A composer that is able to express all his grief in such effective and understandable music, is a miracle as such.
Opus 98, Drei Schwedische Tänze is a piece suffused with folk melodies, and although the structure of the music is kept simple, there is nothing simple in the writing. Al three movements have the names of Swedish provinces, and are a joy to listen to.
The Divertimento is a form of old which Graener revived again as some other composers did in his time, especially Paul Juon, amongst others. Five beautiful movements in a somewhat lighter vein as the other works on this disc.
A disc to sit in my display cabinet of most honored composers and music. A stunning experience, to be able to get to know Paul Graener,  and his music.
The recording is State of the Art. The performance does all honour to orchestra and conductor. Oliver Triendl is in his element in the piano concerto, and I am sure he got out of it what was in there, till the last drop.