Sunday, 23 April 2017

Classical Music - January 2017

Bach, J.S.
  • Herr Jesus Christ, wahr' Mensch und Gott (Lord Jesus Christ, true man and God)
  • Auf Christi Himmelfahrt allein (On Christ's ascension alone)
  • Es ist ein trotzig und verzagt Ding (There is a daring and a shy thing)
  • English Suite No.5 
  • Medea's Meditation and Dance of Vengeance
  • Die Natali
  • Commando March 
Bartok - String Quartets 4 and 5
  • Symphony No.3, 'Eroica'
  • String Quartet No.9
  • Piano Trio in D, op.70/1
  • Piano Sonatas 22 and 25 
  • Symphony No.2
  • Violin Concerto
  • Piano Concerto No.2
  • Academic Festival Overture
  • Tragic Overture
  • Piano Pieces, op.76 
  • Phantasie String Quartet
  • Noveletten
  • 3 Pieces for string quartet, H.43 
Chopin - Variations on "Là ci darem la mano"
  • Suite Bergamasque
  • Deux Arabesques
  • Reverie
  • Mazurka
  • Danse bohémienne
  • Nocturne for piano 
Duparc - Melodies (complete)
  • Piano Quintet No.2
  • Six Mazurkas
  • Six Piano Pieces, op.52/B.110 
Eben - Piano Trio
Haydn - Symphonies 6-9, 12-13, 16, 33, 36 and 'B' 
  • String Quartets 16 and 17
  • Music with Horn
  • Moya (7 Japanese songs) 
Koppel - Four Love Songs from Song of Solomon
  • Kindertotenlieder
  • Lieder und Gesänge 'aus der Jugendzeit', Volumes 1 and 2
  • Winterlied
  • Im Lenz
Medtner - Three Novellas
Mozart - String Quintets 5 and 6
Nielsen - Symphonies 4 and 5
Nielsen - Pan and Syrinx 
Norby - Herbst-Lieder
Nørgård - Symphonies 4 and 5
Prokofiev - Piano Sonatas 3 and 4
Prokofiev - Tales of an Old Grandmother
Rachmaninov - The Isle of the Dead
Ravel - L'enfant et les sortilèges
Rovsing Olsen - Two Lagerkvist Songs
Schierbeck - Den kinesiske fløjte (The Chinese flute)
Schoenberg - Transfigured Night
Schubert - Symphony No.9(8) in C, 'Great'
Schubert - Impromptus, Set 2 D.935 
  • Symphony No.2
  • Konzertstück for 4 horns and orchestra
  • String Quartet No.1
  • Adagio and Allegro for horn and piano
  • Fantasiestücke (Fantasy Pieces) for clarinet and piano 
  • Symphony No.4
  • The Oceanides
  • The Dryad
  • 2 Pieces for violin and piano, op.2 
Smetana - Vyšehrad
Smetana - Vltava
Stravinsky - Le Chant du Rossignol
  • Choros 6 and 12
  • Bachianas Brasileiras No.1
  • Five Preludes for guitar 
Another bumper crop of works, still with a large proportion coming from the big purchase I made a couple of months earlier.

Undoubtedly one of the highlights from that crop was finally having the original chamber version of Transfigured Night. I heard it something like 16 years ago in concert, and was transfixed. I then bought a recording by Karajan of the orchestral version... and frankly never ever liked it.

I doubt that's the fault of the performance, which seems to be consistently praised. I just think I prefer the piece in a chamber guise. Partly I have a general love of chamber music, but I also have a strong belief that when a composer chooses their instruments for a piece it means something. Cases where a work succeeds at the same level in transcription are few and far between in my view. Anyway, now having a chamber recording (with Janine Jansen the highest-profile member of the group), I expect the orchestral version will lie "gathering dust" (though the other work on the same CD will still get played).

Another rewarding new disc is the complete Duparc songs (performed by Thomas Walker, Sarah Allen and Roger Vignoles). Having heard for many years about the quality of Duparc's work, as well as his extreme self-criticism that helped ensure only the best compositions emerged, the music did largely live up to expectations. Even after a first listen, some of these songs rank among the best I've heard.

My exploration of the earliest Mahler songs, on the other hand, has been a little bit disappointing.  Yes, there are signs of his style, but most of the time the impression is of a fairly gauche imitation of folk music. I had wondered whether the fault lay with Dame Janet Baker, trying to sound young and girlish when she definitely wasn't at the time of the recording. However, having (in a later month) heard her sing slightly later Mahler it's fine, so I think the problem is largely Mahler.

All of the Danish singing listed this month comes from a single album that I bought a couple of years ago, called Skønne Perler (Beautiful Pearls).

It of course includes a cycle from my beloved Holmboe, but it also introduced me to fine works by other composers. Schierbeck's The Chinese Flute is especially good. Well worth seeking out.

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