Classical Corner Classical Music Corner

Discussion in 'Music Corner' started by George P, May 29, 2015.

  1. drh

    drh Talking Machine

    Last night I indulged in a RimskyFest: the concerto for trombone and wind band (Davis Shuman, trombone; NBC Symphony Artists' Band/Tibor Serley; Classic Editions CD 1041, 12" mono LP), the quintet for piano and winds (Capricorn, on Hyperion, again LP), the piano concerto in c-sharp minor (Sviatoslav Richter, Moscow Youth Or./Kondrashin, Period SHO 333 and Paul Badura-Skoda, "Philharmonic-Symphony Or. of London"/Artur Rodzinski, Westminster W-LAB 7030, both 12" mono LPs), and Dubinushka, 2d version, USSR SO/Evgeni Svetlanov, Moscow Studio Archives MOS 20022 (CD). I'd planned to cap things off with the Russian Easter Festival Overture as rendered by Stokowski and the Chicago SO, a favorite recording for interpretation and recording quality, but I got sidetracked and never quite got to it.

    The piano concerto was a new work to me; I've owned both records for ages but had never gotten around to playing them. It's really more like a fantasy than a traditional concerto, a single 15-minute +/- movement, based on a Russian folk song, with contrasting sections that flow seamlessly into each other. Nice piece, not a landmark in music by any means but an enjoyable listen. The two recordings I have are an unfortunate mirror image: Richter's is a compelling performance--you can tell everyone involved really believes in this score--captured in sound just this side of dismal (doesn't help that Period had rather low-rent pressings to begin with, and my copy definitely shows its age); Badura-Skoda's is a terrific recording of a rather low-key traversal. Not bad, mind, but not much electricity, either. But if you're looking to demonstrate why the Westminster label was a favorite of the '50s audiophile, here is Exhibit A.

    As to the other works, the quintet is a longtime favorite, the trombone concerto, with its rousing final movement, a more recent one (no claims to being more than fun, but fun it is). I really need to get a copy of the first version of Dubinushka, which, assuming it's the one that gets occasional radio play around here, I like better than this one.

    To all our members in the USA, happy Thanksgiving!
     
    Last edited: Nov 25, 2021 at 12:54 PM
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  2. drh

    drh Talking Machine

    Spurred by another thread that, although it's been around for 18 months or so, I only noticed today (How many copies of Vivaldi's Four Seasons do you have? ), this afternoon I got out and played Vivaldi's The Four Seasons as recorded in 1942 by the Orchestra of the Accademia di Santa Cecilia with Bernardino Molinari as soloist, arranger, and conductor, Cetra set 107 (6 12" 78 RPM records, 12 sides; I posted photos in the other thread). I've owned the set since 1992, but I'm pretty sure I'd never played it before today. It was the first commercial recording of the complete series of four concerti, at least in the electric recording era, and I can't imagine anyone would have recorded even one of them during the acoustic era--in those days, it hadn't become the omnipresent staple that records subsequently would make it, Baroque literature likewise, and concerto recordings of any stripe were uncommon prior to the advent of the microphone. Today's outing was probably also the first time in decades that I've listened to this music by choice, as opposed to because it cropped up on the radio; as with Handel's Water Music, I've heard it far too many times to want to play it again, Sam. Or whatever.

    Be that as it may, the Molinari set proved to be interesting, worth the visit for one afternoon. Sometimes the performances aren't all that far from what we'd expect of a modern instruments orchestra today, but on balance, and progressively more as the set proceeds, they are very old fashioned--not historical, but old fashioned. Nonetheless, they present more than a few moments of real beauty, with some charmingly delicate playing in places. I was especially taken with the way the "Fall" concerto comes off here. The soloist is placed noticeably less "forward" than would be expected today, and while the orchestra is by no means "thick" or "heavy," it does sound more like a big band than what has become the historically informed norm. The recording doubtless is partly responsible, as it has quite heavy bass, even with boost set as low as my phono preamp's adjustments allow. It also has a lot of presence and sense of space for something done in the early '40s, though--a good recording job for its day.

    One aspect that was up-to-the-minute then but definitely is old fashioned today: the harpsichord continuo. To have a harpsichord at the time was a musicologically cutting edge choice, but the instrument sounds to be one of those iron-framed things like Landowska's Pleyels--a different sound from what historically accurate instruments give us in modern recordings, very much of its time.

    Molinari published his edition of The Four Seasons, the program notes tell us, in 1927, and he led the US premiere of the complete set in January, 1928 with the St. Louis Symphony. I was surprised at who led the New York premiere of the "spring" concerto: none other than Arturo Toscanini, with the Philharmonic-Symphony in February of the same year. A year later, Molinari led the same ensemble in the New York premiere of the "autumn" concerto. I don't know how long New York waited for a performance of the full cycle, but that gives an idea of how much this now-ubiquitous music was a novelty 100 years ago.
     
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  3. dale 88

    dale 88 Errand Boy for Rhythm

    Location:
    west of sun valley
    This disc has some fabulous performances. The recorded piano sound is most pleasing. Recorded in 1995 in Japan, and issued in 1997, Denon had developed their own superior (IMO) technology.
    Irina Mejoueva, piano
    Denon, 1997
    Mendelssohn: 1 thru 4 from 7 Characteristic Pieces
    Chopin: Rondo in E-flat Major; Scherzo No. 1
    Medtner: 6 Skazki
    [​IMG]
     
  4. drh

    drh Talking Machine

    Not familiar with her; thanks for flagging to our attention!

    One word of caution for those who rip CDs to other media or have one of the minority of CD players not appropriately equipped: Denon discs from this period very often have pre-emphasis. Worth double checking if that might be a problem.

    [Edit] Through the magic of Google, I just looked her up. Seems she was born in Russia but has her base of operations in Japan. Evidently she's recorded a complete cycle of the Beethoven sonatas, although I haven't taken the trouble yet to chase down whether they can be had other than as downloads/streams. A YouTube teaser is here:
     
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  5. drh

    drh Talking Machine

    OK, did a bit more digging and turned up a copy of her Beethoven cycle on CDs, an eBay listing. The label appears to be BIJIN CLASSICAL, presumably Japanese, not familiar to me. I don't think this listener will be coughing up the $227 asking price (even though it's a 7% saving from the $245 original price!) to groan over the set of 32 "songs" (see below); it's not as if I don't already have a number of others or have more than enough records to give first hearing to keep me occupied indefinitely. Here's the description in the listing, in somewhat fractured English, from which I gather this set is her second go at these works:

    An open-minded look illuminates the unexplored area of the score ~
    A new masterpiece that conveys the essence of Beethoven

    The fifth release of "BIJIN CLASSICAL" is the monumental "Beethoven: Complete Piano Sonatas" by Irina Mejoueva. This is the second complete collection for Mejueva, with a session recording of all 32 songs held at the Niikawa Bunka Hall in Uozu City, Toyama Prefecture from June to July 2020, when the world was surrounded by corona.
    More than ten years have passed since the first complete works (recorded from 2007 to 2009), which received high praise from various fields such as shining in the "Record Art Special Edition", and Mejoueva has achieved even more amazing deepening. It was. The straightforward, inward and spiritual interpretation, the delicate touch that produces a variety of rich tones, and the dignified sense of scale, but with the addition of boldness and improvisation, pianism is no longer unmatched. The intense energy rushing into the solid and solid molding will make the listener groan, "This is exactly Beethoven." It's a miraculous set of performances where everything sounds fresh and thought-provoking, even though there's nothing new.
    The instrument used is a 1922 vintage Steinway (made in New York). We will deliver a masterpiece that conveys the essence of Beethoven with a natural one-point recording. (Distributor information)

    [Edit: If you credit the info I've seen online that she was born in 1975, she would have made her Denon disc above at about age 20.]
     
  6. dale 88

    dale 88 Errand Boy for Rhythm

    Location:
    west of sun valley
    Continuing with the Arthur Grumiaux box The Complete Philips Recordings, an excellent disc of Mozart Violin Concertos with Colin Davis and the London Symphony Orchestra.
    Disc 32
    Arthur Grumiaux, violin
    London Symphony Orchestra
    Colin Davis
    Philips, 1961, 1962, 1964
    Mozart: Violin Concertos 1-3

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
     
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  7. coopmv

    coopmv Newton 1/30/2001 - 8/31/2011

    Location:
    CT, USA
    Now playing the following CD from my Historical Recordings collection ...

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Many of the tracks were recorded over a century ago ...
     
  8. dale 88

    dale 88 Errand Boy for Rhythm

    Location:
    west of sun valley
    Bach: Variations Goldberg
    Arrangement for strings and continuo by Bernard Labadie
    Bernard Labadie
    Les Violins du Roy
    Atma, 2015
    [​IMG]

    This was first released on Dorian in 2000
    [​IMG]
     

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