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16.1.19

Record Label BIS Goes Green (You Had Me at "Turtles")

The Swedish record lable BIS, known for its pioneering work in publishing the complete works of Jean Sibelius, dedication to the SACD format, and home to the superb Bach Cantata Cycle under Masaaki Suzuki's, is now setting an example of ecologically conscious CD packaging. Later this month, a press release announced, the label's owner Robert von Bahr will release a Super Audio Compact Disc in an 'ecopak', a 100% recyclable sleeve made of certified cardboard, printed on with soy ink, gummed up eco-friendly glue and water-based varnish. Once they are through their inventory, all of BIS' recordings will use the new sleeves.

available at Amazon
Alan Hovhaness, And God Created Great Whales, Concerto No. 8 for Orchestra, Anahid et al.
D.Amos, Philharmonia Orchestra
Cyrstal Records

In tune with the Zeitgeist, Bahr comments: “The use of plastic is doing enormous harm to the environment. No one can walk away from the pictures of whales, fish and turtles full of plastic without feeling horror.”

While it is safe to say that no BIS jewel-case has ever come in contact with a whale (the products have a considerable longevity and literal shelf life and are consumed in countries with robust recycling and garbage incinerator systems), there is something to be said for the symbolism of reducing the use of plastic and, down the line, potential waste. Aside there is a genuinely green aspect, after all: Although the sleeves cost about 20 percent more to make than a standard plastic CD jewel box, it weighs a third less. This reduces the energy used to ship the product and therefore transport costs, showing that good economic sense is usually also environmentally sound. Naturally, in this day and age, this is marketed pseudo-scientific bright green colors as "reducing the carbon emissions associated with transport costs..." (surely "carbon dioxide emissions"?), underplaying the perfectly sound and actually ecolocial and economical energy-savings.

"Von Bahr is taking the loss", suggestes the press release, quoting the man himself: “If this helps the recording business move away from plastic packaging in favour of more ecological alternatives, I will be happy,” says the veteran record industry executive. "I have rarely been so inspired by anything. Everything about this is right - the need, the timing and the solution". Admirable, indeed, and with any luck, the public relations side-effect might even make up for some the projected losses when the sales of BIS’ first ecopak, namely a SACD of the Dutch composer Joel Bons' 2019 Music Composition Grawemeyer Award winning work 'Nomaden' - go through the roof. Whales, fish, turtles and consumers are cheering him on.

Recommended listening to reading this item is, quite naturally, Alan Hovhaness' "And God Created Great Whales" from 1970, for orchestra and the taped songs of whales (including humpback [timpani], bowhead [strings], and killer whales [sopranos]). Alas, not available on BIS records.




#morninglistening to #Mahler’s #DasLiedVonDerErde...



#morninglistening to #Mahler’s #DasLiedVonDerErde w/@nyphil & #BrunoWalter, the regal #ErnstHaefliger* & #MildredMiller

Amazon: http://a-fwd.to/5bS3RFZ

on @sony_classical

#classicalmusic #DLvdE #classicalmusiccollection #classicalcdcollection

#orchestralmusic #vocalmusic #20thcenturyclassical #GustavMahler #symphonies #newyorkphilharmonic #songoftheearth #SonyClassical

*…who recorded #DasLied at least trice: apart from Walter also with Von Beinum (Philips/#Decca) & w/E.Jochum (#DG)
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15.1.19

#morninglistening to #Mahler’s #DasLiedVonDerErde...



#morninglistening to #Mahler’s #DasLiedVonDerErde w/@BerlinPhil under #Giulini + #BrigitteFassbaender & #FranciscoAraiza

Amazon: http://a-fwd.to/6cx26Qd

#classicalmusic #DLvdE #classicalmusiccollection #classicalcdcollection

Inspired by @rolandpontinen’s LP Cover of the Day

#orchestralmusic #vocalmusic #20thcenturyclassical #symphonyofathousand #GustavMahler #symphonies #CarloMariaGiulini #DeutscheGrammophon #berlinerphilharmoniker #berlinphilharmonic
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#morninglistening to #VaughanWilliams on #NationalHatDay:...



#morninglistening to #VaughanWilliams on #NationalHatDay: #Barbirolli & @the_halle in the 2nd & 8th

Amazon: http://a-fwd.to/2yGcUdO

@SurprisedBeauty music!
#symphonies #classicalmusic #RalphVaughanWilliams #20thCenturyMusic #SirJohn
#JohnBarbirolli’s fab recording of the #LondonSymphony

Great original liner notes kept by the #BarbirolliSociety #HalléOrchestra #orchestralmusic #classicalmusiccollection #classicalcdcollection #EnglishMusic #BritishMusic surprised by beauty #GloriousJohn #SirJohnBarbirolli
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In the News: A New Home For Amsterdam’s Concertgebouw Orchestra


Previously, when the musicians of “The World’s Best Orchestra” – a.k.a. Amsterdam’s Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra – wanted to practice outside the scheduled orchestral rehearsals at the actual Concertgebouw (Amsterdam’s famous shoe-box 1888 concert hall), they had to find their own place to do it; often renting space nearby... [read the full item over on ClassicsToday]

#morninglistening to #Prokofiev’s #AlexanderNevsky...



#morninglistening to #Prokofiev’s #AlexanderNevsky w/@Gewandhaus under #KurtMasur on @warnerclassics

Amazon: http://a-fwd.to/4OrGslP


#classicalmusic #classicalmusiccollection #classicalcdcollection #orchestralmusic #RussianClassicalMusic #ScythianSuite #20thcenturyclassical #gewandhausorchester #Teldec #carolynWatkinson #prokofjew #sergeiprokofiev
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On ClassicsToday: Loving Langgaard, Chamber Music Edition

Loving Langgaard: Chamber Music Edition

Review by: Jens F. Laurson
Langgaardchamber

Artistic Quality: ?

Sound Quality: ?

If you draw a squiggly line between Brahms, Sibelius, and Einojuhani Rautavaara and put down your palm flat in the middle, you’ll have arrived, more or less, at Rued Langgaard’s idiom–or slightly north of it. If that eschews a concrete definition, well, so does the composer: Langgaard (1893-1952) was the quintessential oddball composer of the 20th century, although he may never have meant to be. He was either well ahead of his time, stylistically, or purposefully behind. You might find him looking for Wagnerian sounds, coupled with some of the colorful strangeness of Scriabin, and the lushness of Richard Strauss. Elsewhere he bumps up against the boundaries of form and tonality in the most kaleidoscopic, imaginative ways... continue reading 

#morninglistening to #BernhardMolique on #cpo...



#morninglistening to #BernhardMolique on #cpo w/#mannheimerstreichquartett :

Amazon: http://a-fwd.to/342wkbB

#classicalmusic #classicalmusiccollection #ChamberMusic #StringQuartets #StringQuartet + a spot of classic #Wodehouse #pgwodehouse #wodehousian
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14.1.19

#morninglistening to #MarissJansons on his...



#morninglistening to #MarissJansons on his #birthday!

#BenjaminBritten’s #WarRequiem w/@BRSO on @BR_Klassik

Amazon: http://a-fwd.to/4nw1pmk

#classicalmusic #classicalmusiccollection #classicalcdcollection #englishclassicalmusic #BRKlassik #BRChor #EmilyMagee #ChristianGerhaher #MarkPadmore
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#morninglistening to #Prokofiev’s #AlexanderNevsky...



#morninglistening to #Prokofiev’s #AlexanderNevsky w/@LondonSymphony under #ClaudioAbbado

Amazon: http://a-fwd.to/4OrGslP

One of #Abbado’s best.

#classicalmusic #classicalmusiccollection #classicalcdcollection #orchestralmusic #RussianClassicalMusic #ScythianSuite #LieutenantKije #LondonSymphonyOrchestra #DeutscheGrammophon #chicagosymphonyorchestra #prokofjew #sergeiprokofiev
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#morninglistening to #Brahms’ #CelloSonatas w/...



#morninglistening to #Brahms’ #CelloSonatas w/ #GaryHoffman (cello) & #ClaireDesert on @LaDolceVolta

Amazon: http://a-fwd.to/3tTKkK8

Yumm! I’ll have to go back in a bit too see if it is really as good as on the first few (distracted?) listens.

#classicalmusic #classicalmusiccollection #classicalcdcollection #englishclassicalmusic #germanromanticism
#ladolcevolta #noFilter #JohannesBrahms #ClaireDésert
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13.1.19

#morninglistening to #Alwyn #Symphonies on @ChandosRecords...



#morninglistening to #Alwyn #Symphonies on @ChandosRecords w/@londonsymphony & #RichardHickox

@surprisedbeauty music

Amazon: http://a-fwd.to/5ElCiZ0

One of those super-coveted sets of ‘secondary’ #symphonies I ♡.

#classicalmusic #chambermusic #classicalmusiccollection #classicalcdcollection #surprisedbybeauty #WilliamAlwyn #orchestralmusic #LondonSymphonyOrchestra #Chandos #britishmusic #englishclassicalmusic
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#morninglistening to #tchaikovsky’s #SouvenirDeFlorence...



#morninglistening to #tchaikovsky’s #SouvenirDeFlorence & #Schoenberg’s #VerklärteNacht on @sony_classics w/@EmersonQuartet on #rubberduckieday

Amazon: http://a-fwd.to/2S3ErB3

Repertoire that plays to the #emersonstringquartet’s strengths.

#stringsextet

“Journeys”, the faddish title of an otherwise straight forward classical release.

#classicalmusiccollection #classicalmusic #arnoldschoenberg #classicalcdcollection #piotrilichtchaikovsky #arnoldschönberg #SonyClassical #ChamberMusic #rubberduckyday #internationalrubberduckyday
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On ClassicsToday: Zelenka Goodness from Stuttgart

Zelenka Goodness From Stuttgart

Review by: Jens F. Laurson
zelenkasancti

Artistic Quality: ?

Sound Quality: ?

Jan Dismas Zelenka is one of the most consistent sources of delight: A major late-baroque composer known well enough to be performed but still so unexploited as to bear constant surprises and discoveries. Case in point, this Missa Sancti Josephi, a Mass, like the Missa Divi Xaverii (Accent), that skips the Credo. Two Psalms–De profundis ZWV50 and In exitu Israel ZWV84–round out the disc. Frieder Bernius and his Stuttgart forces deliver the goods, aided by a vocal cast led by the superb (except for one dodgy exposed top note in the Sanctus) Julia Lezhneva. Daniel Taylor, vocally on the way out, does well on this occasion... continue reading [Insider content; your support is immensely, keenly appreciated.]

#morninglistening to #Schubert’s #symphonies on...



#morninglistening to #Schubert’s #symphonies on @berlinclassics w/@StaatskapelleDD & #HerbertBlomstedt on #rubberduckieday

Amazon: http://a-fwd.to/2k6UZQc

@ClassicsToday’s #ReferenceRecording

#classicalmusiccollection #classicalmusic #FranzSchubert #classicalcdcollection #BerlinClassics #Symphony #orchestralmusic #rubberduckyday #internationalrubberduckyday

see also the ionarts Schubert Symphony Cycle Survey / #discography
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#morninglistening to #MortonFeldman on his #birthday (12.1.)...



#morninglistening to #MortonFeldman on his #birthday (12.1.) w/#SteffenSchleiermacher & #AndreasSeidel on #mDG

Amazon: http://a-fwd.to/4i6LhJD

Mozart this ain’t, but the atmospheric whimsy of “extensions” or “spring of chosroes” is not w/out its subtle charms for v.curious ears.

#ChamberMusic
almost #violinsonatas #ForJohnCage #ForAaronCopland
#classicalmusic #Feldman (1926-1987) #modernmusic #20thcenturycomposer #20thcenturyclassical #avantgardemusic #classicalmusiccollection #classicalcdcollection
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12.1.19

On ClassicsToday: A Lady Macbeth From Hell

A Lady Macbeth From Hell

by Jens F. Laurson
VERDI_Macbeth_Biondi_GLOSSA_ClassicsToday_jens-f-laurson_classical-critic
The idea of Verdi’s Macbeth (in the original, dramatically taut 1847 version) performed by a period instrument ensemble is, generously viewed, intriguing–at least when Europa Galante and Fabio Biondi are involved, with all their creditable expertise in Italian music. Granted, Verdi is not Vivaldi and... Continue Reading [Insider Content]

#morninglistening to early #musthave #Mahler recordings on...



#morninglistening to early #musthave #Mahler recordings on #Urlicht w/@rcoamsterdam et al. between 1903 & 1940

Amazon: http://a-fwd.to/6UHt0o2

especially #Mengelberg’s #Adagietto - refreshing and nowadays unparalleled.

#classicalmusic #classicalmusiccollection #classicalcdcollection #GustavMahler #78s #orchestralmusic #symphonies
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11.1.19

#morninglistening to #FranzLiszt’s last #tonepoem,...



#morninglistening to #FranzLiszt’s last #tonepoem, #ThreeFuneralOdes & #SymphonicMusic on @hyperionrecords w/@bbcsso under #IlanVolkov

Amazon: http://a-fwd.to/4xpvrsB

#FromTheCradleToTheGrave, #Liszt’s little known depiction of Scandinavian social democratic collectivism.
But seriously: the line in Liszt between inspiration and redundant noodling is rather thin. Still awesome for this recording to have been made, with all these rarities! #orchestralmusic #classicalmusiccollection #classicalmusic #classicalcdcollection #GermanRomanticism #SymphonicMusic #symphonicPoem #tonepoems
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#morninglistening to #Schumann #PianoMusic...



#morninglistening to #Schumann #PianoMusic w/#JeanPhilippeCollard on @LaDolceVolta

Amazon: http://a-fwd.to/3kikTEQ

#Fantasie op.17
#Kreisleriana op.16

#classicalmusic #classicalmusiccollection #classicalcdcollection #solokeyboard #germanromanticism #RobertSchumann #ladolcevolta #noFilter #Lederhosen
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10.1.19

#morninglistening to #TrudeliesLeonhardt’s #LvB #op110 et...



#morninglistening to #TrudeliesLeonhardt’s #LvB #op110 et al on @MusicaOmnia

Amazon: http://a-fwd.to/wAvEzYP

on #historicalinstruments - namely a 1815 Benignus Seidner #fortepiano

Also opp.49 & op 14/2

#classicalmusic #classicalmusiccollection #classicalcdcollection #solokeyboard #pianosonatas #LudwigVan #Beethoven #HIP #historicallyinformedperformance #pianosonata #AlfredBrendel #ludwigvanbeethoven #opus110
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#morninglistening on #InternationalRecordersDay /...



#morninglistening on #InternationalRecordersDay / #TagDerBlockflöte* to #Weckmann on @Mirare w/#RicercarConsort & #PhilippePierlot

Amazon: http://a-fwd.to/6zVfu9C

♡ Gorgeous! ♡

*No #recorder is actually involved in the music but the pretty cover depicts one! (#PieterVanSteenwyck)

#classicalmusic #organMusic #classicalmusiccollection
#classicalcdcollection #vocalmusic #EarlyMusic #earlybaroque #MatthiasWeckmann
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#morninglistening to #Tchaikovsky’s #SwanLake w/#GASO...



#morninglistening to #Tchaikovsky’s #SwanLake w/#GASO (#stateacademicsymphonyorchestra) on @firmamelodia conducted by #EvgenySvetlanov

Amazon: http://a-fwd.to/6C9ZkR4

orchestra aka #USSRStateSymphonyOrchestra aka #RussianStateSymphonyOrchestra

The best Tchaik. ballet music cycle there is. Easily.

#classicalmusic #classicalmusiccollection
#classicalcdcollection #SymphonicMusic #symphony #RussianClassicalMusic #OrchestralMusic #balletmusic #piotrilichtchaikovsky #Melodiya #tschaikowsky #noFilter
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9.1.19

#morninglistening to #Elgar’s #CelloConcerto &...



#morninglistening to #Elgar’s #CelloConcerto & #Bloch’s #Schelomo on @LaDolceVolta

Amazon: http://a-fwd.to/3rFIqnS

Great, gruff, brooding recording of the #ErnestBloch in particular.

#GaryHoffman (cello) #LiègeRoyalPhilharmonic Orchestra #ChristianArming

#classicalmusic #classicalmusiccollection #classicalcdcollection #englishclassicalmusic #germanromanticism #RobertSchumann #ladolcevolta #noFilter #EdwardElgar
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#morninglistening to early #Schumann #PianoMusic...



#morninglistening to early #Schumann #PianoMusic w/#PhilippeBianconi on @LaDolceVolta

Amazon: http://a-fwd.to/3rFIqnS

#Papillons op.2 🐛
#Davidsbündlertänze op.6
#Carneval op.9 🎡 🎪

#classicalmusic #classicalmusiccollection #classicalcdcollection #solokeyboard #germanromanticism #RobertSchumann #ladolcevolta #noFilter
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8.1.19

Favorite Recordings from 2018

The number of excellent new recordings only seems to multiply at a dizzying rate. I cannot say I listened to everything that came out in 2018, but here are the ones I most enjoyed. Click on the image to order through Amazon.

1. Prokofiev, Music for Two Pianos. M. Argerich, S. Babayan (Deutsche Grammophon)

Martha Argerich is an electrifying musician under any circumstances, but this collaboration with pianist Sergei Babayan blew my mind. The astounding arrangements for two pianos are also by Babayan, and there is much to discover, especially in the excerpts from the ballet Romeo and Juliet.
available at Amazon
available at Amazon2. Bach, Lute Suite (inter alia). Thomas Dunford (Alpha)

Thomas Dunford's work on the theorbo with Opera Lafayette was one of Washington's ten best concerts in 2017. His album of music by Bach proved a highlight of 2018. On this disc he plays Bach's gorgeous Lute Suite, but his arrangements of other Bach works are even more alluring, especially the grand D Minor Chaconne.
3. Josquin des Prez, Miserere mei deus and other sacred motets. Cappella Amsterdam, D. Reuss (Harmonia Mundi)

Josquin is the Beethoven of his era, although he may in fact eclipse all other composers of all eras. This disc is among the best work heard from Daniel Reuss and his chamber choir Cappella Amsterdam, with an especially low-pitched, fast-paced rendition of Absalon fili mi that is sunk in darkness. Sadly, the group lost its grant from the Performing Arts Fund in 2016.
available at Amazon
available at Amazon4. Alexander Kastalsky, Memory Eternal to the Fallen Heroes (inter alia). The Clarion Choir, Steven Fox (Naxos)

Conductor Steven Fox took over the leadership of Washington's Cathedral Choral Society last fall. He took part in the performance of Kastalsky's World War I oratorio here, one of the year's top ten performances. These pieces for choir alone are perhaps even more satisfying, in beautifully sculpted performances from Fox's other group, the Clarion Choir.
5. Olivier Messiaen, Catalogue d'Oiseaux. Pierre-Laurent Aimard (Pentatone)

Few pianists understand the piano music of Messiaen as profoundly as French pianist Pierre-Laurent Aimard. In his top-notch Shriver Hall recital this year, one movement of the Catalogue d'oiseaux, “Le Courlis cendré,” was a highlight. The whole set, also released in 2018, is mesmerizing, like a walk through desolate landscapes with the bird-loving composer.
available at Amazon
available at Amazon6. Music by J.S. Bach. Víkingur Ólafsson (Deutsche Grammophon)

I was not much taken by this Icelandic pianist when he made his local debut the first time I heard him in 2013, but the artistry on this disc has proved me utterly wrong. The eclectic selection of music combines mostly miniatures and unexpected arrangements, marking Ólafsson as one of the growing field of accomplished Bach interpreters on the modern piano.
7. Martinů, Madrigals. Martinů Voices, Lukáš Vasilek (Supraphon)

Martinů is a composer who keeps giving and giving. The symphonies, the chamber music, the piano works, and now the choral pieces: composed over a period of twenty years and completed only just before his death, this set encapsulates much of his fascination with folk music and poetry. The group Martinů Voices, founded in 2010, has made an exceptionally beautiful rendition of them.
available at Amazon
available at Amazon8. A Rose Magnificat. Gabrieli Consort, Paul McCreesh (Signum)

Can there be possibly be a Christmas CD that hasn't been done before? After years of making excellent recordings of choral music with orchestra, Paul McCreesh and the Gabrieli Consort have turned out this top-notch recital of unexpected sacred music, mostly from the Christmas season. The repertory is half early Renaissance (Tallis, White, Shepherd, et al.) and half contemporary (Leighton, Warlock, MacMillan), with not a chestnut or a dud in the mix.
9. Mahler, Symphony No. 6. MusicAeterna, Teodor Currentzis (Sony)

I had been wondering when Teodor Currentzis might turn to Mahler. With his orchestra MusicAeterna, based at the opera theater in Perm, Russia, since 2011, Currentzis has, perhaps not surprisingly, started with the Sixth Symphony. It is a piece of blood and guts, froth and spittle, and Currentzis delivers. Currentzis has recorded the middle movements in the Scherzo-Andante order Mahler first chose, which meets with the approval of our Mahler expert, but with only two hammer-blows instead of three.
available at Amazon
available at Amazon10. Beethoven, Diabelli Variations. Martin Helmchen (Alpha)

Count me a fan of German pianist Martin Helmchen, winner of the Clara Haskil Competition in 2001. Already a favorite interpreter of Schubert, it was no surprise that he has made a delightful recording of Beethoven's Diabelli Variations. For such a monumental piece, the work is, as scholar Jean-Paul Montagnier once described it, something akin to a series of bagatelles. Helmchen mines the piece for a bewildering range of moods, understatement piled on understatement.


HONORABLE MENTIONS:
available at AmazonNocturnal. Jakob Lindberg (BIS)

More lute music, if that is your thing. A beautifully constructed recital for the instrument, pairing famous pieces by Dowland with obscurities by Renaissance composers and Benjamin Britten.
available at AmazonTchaikovsky, Swan Lake. State Academic Symphony Orchestra of Russia "Evgeny Svetlanov," Vladimir Jurowski (Pentatone)

When this legendary ballet score premiered, it was a failure, and the work most of us know now has been heavily revised and altered. Incredibly, this year saw the world premiere recording of Tchaikovsky's original 1877 version.
available at AmazonArvo Pärt, Music for Violin. Viktoria Mullova, Estonian National Symphony Orchestra, Paavo Järvi (Onyx)

Viktoria Mullova has impressed me in such a wide range of music, from HIP-inspired Baroque to contemporary. She even does beautiful things with the music of Estonian composer Arvo Pärt.
available at AmazonJohann Strauss, Aschenbrödel, ORF Radio-Symphonieorchester Wien, Ernst Theis (CPO)

Johann Strauss wrote a full-length ballet at the end of his life, but he did not finish it. While known in some versions before this recording, this disc is the first ever to present a reconstruction of the original form of the score, made by Michael Rot.

#morninglistening to #Mahler on @ChannelClassics...



#morninglistening to #Mahler on @ChannelClassics w/@BudFestivalOrch & @fischer_ivan

Amazon: http://a-fwd.to/5XYv3da

in #Symphony No.1

He once told me he’d never conduct/record a full cycle because he didn’t like the 8th, for one, and because others could do that better. I wonder if the @budfestivalorch will record it eventually - and then with which conductor. 😈😀

#classicalmusic #classicalmusiccollection #classicalcdcollection #GustavMahler #frerejacques #orchestralmusic #symphonies

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7.1.19

#morninglistening to #LeonardoBalada (*1933) #concertos on...



#morninglistening to #LeonardoBalada (*1933) #concertos on @NaxosRecords w/@carnegiemellon #WindEnsemble

Amazon: http://a-fwd.to/29HM5Vs

Found the concertos creditable but distinctly disliked the Sonata for Ten Winds.

#classicalcdcollection #classicalmusic #classicalmusiccollection #contemporaryclassical #20thcenturyclassical #Spanishclassicalmusic #orchestralmusic #violaconcerto #americanclassicalmusic #Balada
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#morninglistening to #Birtwistle’s Angel Fighter et al. on...



#morninglistening to #Birtwistle’s Angel Fighter et al. on @nmcrecordings w/@Ldn_Sinfonietta + @BBCSingers

Amazon: http://a-fwd.to/2gmqImD

Angel: countertenor @A_Watts1

#classicalmusic #classicalmusiccollection #classicalcdcollection
#21stcenturyclassical
#contemporarymusic #contemporaryclassical #InBrokenImages #Virelai #BachFestival #cantata
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#morninglistening to @EmanuelAx in v.fine #Eroica Variations by...



#morninglistening to @EmanuelAx in v.fine #Eroica Variations by #Beethoven on @sony_classical

Amazon: http://a-fwd.to/2pr1GMZ

also #JosephHaydn f-minor #Variations & #Schumann
#SymphonicEtudes

#classicalmusic
#classicalmusiccollection #classicalcdcollection #solokeyboard #pianomusic #transcription #SonyClassical #EmanuelAx #RobertSchumann
#Haydn #LudwigVanBeethoven #LudwigVan
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On ClassicsToday: References Revisited - Bernstein’s Vienna Beethoven Cycle

References Revisited: Bernstein’s Vienna Beethoven Cycle

Review by: Jens F. Laurson
BEETHOVEN_Symphonies_Vienna-Philharmonic_Bernstein_DG_ClassicsToday_jens-f-laurson_classical-critic

Artistic Quality: ?

Sound Quality: ?

Some performances age like 80s fashion. Case in point: Leonard Bernstein’s second cycle of the Beethoven Symphonies, recorded live with the Vienna Philharmonic in the late 70s and released to great fanfare and overwhelmingly positive responses in 1980, and which I loved on first exposure. Lavishly re-issued as a CD/Blu-ray (and LP) set, it now looks like an asymmetrical sweater exposing one shoulder with the sleeves hanging down all the way to the leg-warmers: a strangely sexy kind of hideous, outlandish to the point of admirable. It’s the musical equivalent of a Cecil B. DeMille film. Epic, with showmanship left, right and center: Entertaining; exacerbating. Read full review on ClassicsToday [Insider Content] / Six audio samples below



Beethoven: Bernstein / VPO Symphony No. 1 in C-Dur, 4. Adagio - Allegro molto e vivace (excerpt)

6.1.19

#morninglistening to #Schmelzer on...



#morninglistening to #Schmelzer on #Epiphany
W/@FreiburgBaroque’s #BarockConsort on @pias_usa / @harmoniamundi

Amazon: http://a-fwd.to/3noPeK7

#BarockesWelttheater

I’ll be danged if the Sonata a due Violini scordati isn’t a variation on LOBE DEN HERREN.

Much of it sounds so upbeat, it could just as well be a 60’s folk pop tune.

#classicalmusic #JohannHeinrichSchmelzer #classicalmusiccollection #classicalcdcollection #renaissancemusic #EarlyMusic #HarmoniaMundi #PetraMüllejans @freiburgerbarockorchester #Germanclassicalmusic
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On ClassicsToday: Splendid Flotsam From Till Fellner

Fellner In Concert: Splendid Liszt, Less Impressive Beethoven

by Jens F. Laurson
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If you favor pianism over star-power, Austrian Till Fellner should be right up your alley. Although the one-time Alfred Brendel-protégée is generally well regarded among connoisseurs, he strikes as perennially underrated. At his worst, Fellner’s style can appear straightforward, neat, and well behaved, making extremes... Continue Reading

5.1.19

A little #morninglistening to #Martinů #symphonies as I finished...



A little #morninglistening to #Martinů #symphonies as I finished up the #Martinu #Symphony Cycle #Discography on @ionarts
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A Survey of Martinů Symphony Cycles


An Index of ionarts Discographies




Martinů, A Love Affair

When getting a little better acquainted with Bohuslav Martinů, most people will start with the symphonies. They are his most prominent works and, apart maybe from the Second Violin Concerto and the neo-classical La revue de cuisine, the least seldom performed. Like so much music, they have an easier time communicating during a live event, but with a bit of concentration and a nice Scotch or other imbibement of choice at hand, they will yield their beauty, excitement, and vigor on record. As a group of symphonies, they are among the best the 20th century can offer; think Nielsen, Prokofiev, Honegger; even Shostakovich. (If you are missing Sibelius in this list, that's because I consider him a step above, still… perhaps the finest symphonist of the 20th century and in any case an unfair comparison to just about any other symphonist either side of him.)

The symphonies are also a good entry point, because they are all late works, which is, as Robert R. Reilly notes in Surprised by Beauty, “Martinů’s last magical period”. This way one avoids the heterogeneous previous styles for the introduction and, Reilly continues, “once captivated, [you can] work back through his earlier periods, which each contain masterpieces.” That is certainly true for the jaunty and lighthearted, piano-assisted de-facto Scherzo (“poco allegro”) of the Second Symphony. This is a most easily appreciable corker, even as some of the jolly ease seeps out a little before the finale (itself bright and merry) enters to carry this short crowd pleaser to its rambunctious end. The Third Symphony also has all the makings of an audience pleaser – if only an audience showed up when Martinů, too obscure for average concert-goers, is on the bill. The highlight-filled first movement – full of swinging rhythmic complexity – ends with a terrific bang. There’s a strong, timpani-motored lyrical surge in the middle movement, and the colorfully wily finale rouses even the drowsiest patrons. And, as if it needed another selling point, it’s no longer than a late Haydn Symphony! The touches of Janáček (i.e. Cunning Little Vixen) in the opening of the Fifth Symphony or the resolving chords of the Sixth that communicate the sun rising and spreading its fingers benevolently above all and sundry are musical equivalents of a wide smile.

American Symphonies

Martinů – a functional Asperger sufferer – was 51 when he wrote his first symphony in 1942 and around that time told his biographer “From now on, I’m going all in for fantasy.” To make the point unmistakable, he subtitled his Fourth Piano Concerto Incantations and his Sixth Symphony Fantaisies Symphoniques. The symphonic flowering of his last decade-and-a-half produced such masterpieces as the six symphonies, The Parables, Toccata e due Canzone, Les Fresques de Piero Della Francesca, and Estampes, all of which qualify as orchestral fantasias.” (Reilly, Surprised by Beauty) They are American Symphonies in the sense that they were all written in the US and – except for the Fifth – premiered by the Boston, Cleveland, and Philadelphia orchestras. For more on Martinů, see the chapter in Surprised by Beauty. See also the SBB Recommended Recordings section and this SBB CD review of Martinů’s Bouquet of Flowers.

Considering that all six symphonies amount to only about three hours of music (thereby fitting easily on three CDs), and that they are such major works, it might seem surprising that there are only seven complete cycles to-date (and none on the 'major' labels) – whereas there are already 12 (and more under way) of Vaughan Williams’ cycle of Nine or 21 of Shostakovich’s cycle of 15. As such, this discography took considerably less time to research and put together. Nevertheless, it's not likely to be mistake free. Hence my plea to generously inclined readers with more information and knowledge on the subject than I have to lend a helping hand correcting my mistakes or filling data-lacunae or broken links or oversights.

Almost-Cycles

There are several “Almost-Cycles” of Martinů’s symphonies; collections of most but not all the symphonies by one conductor. Since there are only seven complete cycles, it made sense to gather and introduce some of these, too. They all seem to have had at least vague intentions of becoming a cycle but for one reason or