C. Loewe, Passion Oratorio
But this, too, is not terribly important given that this is the only recording of the work (and likely to remain the only one for a while, I should think). The music is more important – and therein lies the rub. Loewe’s “Passion Oratorio” is basically a Romantically touched-up, second-flush Bach oratorio. It maddeningly veers between absolutely divine touches here and occasional ineptness there; moments that delight and moments where the music gets stuck in a rut, especially during some of the recitatives. Whenever it comes closest to Bach – either by text or style – its shortcomings are obvious. “Mein Reich ist nicht von dieser Welt,” one of the most moving moments in the Johannes Passion, is conjured by Loewe (who also sets Jesus' text for bass/baritone) and marks one of those moments where you wish for echt-Bach. The Passion Oratorio reminds me of an old piece of furniture with scuff marks and worn-out upholstery, but dear to one's heart. You know its flaws and you can see (or hear) them, but you hold onto it just the same. I won’t claim this work is great, but I’d never throw it out. It’s a hundred minutes of the type of music that I could not turn off on a Sunday morning; although I know a few people around me who might try.
J. Ireland, String Quartets, Holy Boy
Ireland, Piano Concerto
L. Stokowski / "Bach," Transcriptions
Stokowski's Bach has been frowned upon, not the least because it combines divine mastery, spiritual purity, and seeming musical perfection with a few ladles of unabashed showmanship and effect. Oomped up and inflated, showy and shiny, self-conscious and even gaudy, this was quick to be discredited in times where the drive towards authenticity was at the front of every serious music lover’s mind. Now we can listen to these works in a more relaxed manner again; we know what HIP Bach is and sounds like, and Stokowski is not a threat to anyone’s image or idea of Bach. They are what they ought to be: alternative approaches that enrich out Bach-fare much like Busoni transcriptions of Bach or even Mahler orchestrations of Beethoven and Schumann do. Which is why the pedal-down, all-stops-pulled “Air” from the third Orchestral Suite is enjoyable and beautiful as can be: instantly seductive, the sound of the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra under Serebrier is as lush as they could possibly muster.
Musorgksy / Stokowski, "Pictures"