Browsing: CD and Book Reviews

Deux (Alpha-Classics) I can’t remember when I last heard a violin-piano recital that was as ingenious and exhilarating as this. On the sleeve, the Franco-Hungarian programme looks a bit odd – the Poulenc sonata written for Ginette Neveu in 1943, a Dohnanyi setting of a waltz from Delibes’ Coppélia, the full-on Bartok sonata of 1922 and Ravel’s Tzigane to close. What do these pieces have in common? Check this: On April 8, 1922, Bela Bartok gave a recital in Paris with his compatriot Jelly d’Aranyi. Ravel was the page turner for Bartok and Poulenc for d’Aranyi. In the audience were…

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The Mirror with Three Faces Shostakovich: Piano Trio No. 2. Lera Auerbach: Piano Trios No. 1 and No. 2. Delta Piano Trio. Odradek Records ODRCD350. Total Time: 63:40. The Delta Piano Trio call their new disc The Mirror with Three Faces. Their account of Shostakovich’s second piano trio, dated 1944, leaves no doubt as to the composer’s state of mind in the closing stages of World War II. Ostensibly a tribute to a late friend, Ivan Sollertinsky, the work ripples with anger and frustration at pointless deaths and ruined lives – the appalling legacy of the Stalin-Hitler era. The last…

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Stravinsky: Chant Funèbre, Fireworks, Scherzo fantastique, Le Faune et la Bergère, The Rite of Spring. Lucerne Festival Orchestra. Riccardo Chailly, conductor. Sophie Koch, mezzo. Decca 028948325627. Total Time: 70:35. This premiere release of a lost Stravinsky has a fabulous back story. In 1908 the young Igor, unknown and in his mid-20s, wrote a funeral ode for his teacher, Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov. The music was played at Rimsky’s obsequies and then apparently lost, until the parts turned up in 2015 in a St. Petersburg archive. Valery Gergiev won the rights to give the first modern performance, while Decca won the recording rights.…

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Haydn: Symphonies No. 26 and No. 86. Mozart: Violin Concerto No. 3. Handel and Haydn Society. Harry Christophers, conductor. Aisslinn Nosky, violin. Coro COR 16158. Total Time: 69:15. The British conductor Harry Christophers has his own record label, Coro, which turns out a stream of fine performances, mostly with his own group The Sixteen. This release, however, is with Christophers’ other group, the venerable Handel and Haydn Society of Boston, America’s oldest performing arts organization. It presents two Haydn works written 20 years apart with Mozart’s G Major Violin Concerto sandwiched in between. It shows Haydn looking both to past…

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Woefully Arrayed : Sacred & Secular Choral & Polychoral Works Jonathan David Little, Navona Records NV6113 Woefully Arrayed by the Australian-born composer Jonathan David Little is dedicated to choral music. Recorded for the most part in churches in 2016, the six pieces have been performed by various ensembles, including Vox Futura, the Thomas Tallis Society Choir and The Stanbery Singers. As the title suggests, Little’s musical manner is in line with such Renaissance polyphonic composers as Palestrina and Josquin des Prés. However, Little does not just imitate the language of his predecessors. If he accepts the formal general characteristics, such as contrapuntal…

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Subduction Julie Thériault, Audiogramme 19075801072 Inspired by geology, the pianist, composer and arranger Julie Thériault last November launched her second album, Subduction. This term refers to the slow and inexorable movement of two overlapping tectonic plates. Seemingly benign, these underground movements can have dramatic effects at the surface. The metaphor is quite appropriate to describe Thériault’s music: the 11 pieces unfold and follow each other slowly and steadily, gradually increasing in dramatic intensity before reaching the cataclysmic paroxysm of the last track, Magma. Thériault’s delicate and serious articulation introduces the main melodies as accompanying instruments appear, thickening the sound as…

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1747 : C.P.E. Bach Infusion Baroque, Sonates en trio Wq.145 à 148 et Wq. 150, Leaf Music, 63 min 48 s In 1747, J.S. Bach traveled to Berlin to visit his son Carl Philipp Emanuel. There he composed The Musical Offering, at the heart of which is a trio sonata. This may have inspired C.P.E. In the same year, he reworked several trio sonatas he had written at 17 in collaboration with his father. He offered a modern version, halfway between baroque aesthetics and the new galant style. The Montreal ensemble Infusion Baroque made a wise choice by selecting this seductive repertoire, still…

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Tales of Two Cities: The Leipzig-Damascus Coffee House Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra/Jeanne Lamon. Trio Arabica. Alon Nashman and Maryem Tollar, narrators. Conceived by Alison Mackay. Tafelmusik Media TMK 1035 DVD & CD. Total Time: 97:15 (DVD); 70:00 (CD). A founding member of Tafelmusik, Alison Mackay has also developed such multi-disciplinary projects as The Four Seasons: A Cycle of the Sun, The Galileo Project, House of Dreams. The latest, Tales of Two Cities, draws together music, history and culture from Europe and the Muslim world, drawing attention to what we have shared for centuries. Leipzig and Damascus have long been important as…

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Prokofiev: Piano Concerto No. 1 Bartók: Piano Concerto No. 3. Forsyth: Piano Concerto. Jane Coop, piano. Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra/Mario Bernardi. Skylark Music Sky1703. Total Time: 67:01. Born in New Brunswick and raised in Calgary, Jane Coop studied with Anton Kuerti in Toronto and went on to teach at the University of British Columbia from 1980 to 2012. In an era of limited recording, Coop has done the next best thing in re-issuing recordings from the 1980s, originally produced by the now defunct CBC Records. Her collaborations with the late Mario Bernardi (1930-2013) invariably produced excellent results. Short at 16 minutes,…

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CRAZY GIRL CRAZY Berio: Sequenza III. Berg: Lulu Suite. Gershwin: Girl Crazy Suite (arr. Bill Elliott & Barbara Hannigan). Barbara Hannigan, soprano and conductor. Ludwig Orchestra. Alpha Classics 293. Total Time: 57:23. At 47, the Canadian soprano Barbara Hannigan has emerged as an international star, praised for her work in such operas as Berg’s Lulu, George Benjamin’s Written on Skin, Bernd Alois Zimmermann’s Die Soldaten, Louis Andriessen’s Writing to Vermeer and, notably, an excerpt from Ligeti’s Le Grand Macabre, which she both sang and conducted. Here she sings and conducts Berio, Berg and Gershwin. Arguably less about music than all…

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