Browsing: CD and Book Reviews

Never heard of Carbonelli? Don’t feel too bad about it. The Vivaldi scholar Michael Talbot writes that he ‘has remained unknown, even to specialists’. Listen to the music, though, and you will wonder how work of such quality and intricacy could vanish so comprehensively into the mists of history. Carbonelli was a star violinist in London during Handel’s time. Born in Livorno in 1694 and possibly half-French, he becomes concertmaster at Drury Lane Theatre at the age of 25 and a much sought-after soloist. The Duke of Rutland paid for the publication of 12 sonatas and Carbonelli seemed well set…

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Never heard of Carbonelli? Don’t feel too bad about it. The Vivaldi scholar Michael Talbot writes that he “has remained unknown, even to specialists.” Listen to the music, though, and you will wonder how work of such quality and intricacy could vanish so comprehensively into the mists of history. Carbonelli was a star violinist in London during Handel’s time. Born in Livorno in 1694 and possibly half-French, he becomes concertmaster at Drury Lane Theatre at the age of 25 and a much sought-after soloist. The Duke of Rutland paid for the publication of 12 sonatas and Carbonelli seemed well set…

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The texts of this song cycle were written by Sergei Yesenin between 1914 and 1920, a period of world war, revolution and civil war. Yesenin committed suicide in 1925 at the age of 30. His poetry is steeped in religious ritual, village life and bucolic imagery. The music was composed in 1977 by the contemplative, conservative Sviridov, who was born in the thick of Russia’s metamorphosis. His idiom – narrative, tonal, almost static at times – reflects the stand-off between political upheaval and the impervious cycles of nature. The half-hour cycle is sung here in an orchestral setting made specially…

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Never forget that Maurice Ravel was more Basque than French. His rhythms and harmonies belong to the borderlands. He is happiest with the smell of Rioja in his nostrils. There must be other pianists who have paired Ravel’s two piano concertos on record with De Falla’s Nights in the Garden of Spain, but I can’t call any recent releases to mind. Or maybe Steven Osborne’s account is just so thrilling that it has erased them from memory. There is never a moment in this performance when you doubt the absolute rightness of his choices. In the Ravel G major, Osborne…

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Up in the Morning Early Ensemble La Cigale Madeleine Owen, lute, theorbo; Sara Lackie, harp; Vincent Lauzer, recorders; Marie-Laurence Primeau, viola da gamba; Sara Tsuji, violin Leaf Music 2017, LM 211, 73 min 17 s. Ensemble La Cigale’s sophomore offering – their first album, Tiorba Obbligata for solo theorbo and ­accompaniment, was a Prix Opus finalist in 2012–13 – shows ­sophistication in its simplicity. The Celtic Baroque repertoire on this recording, oft-forgotten in contemporary considerations of the period, actually included some of the tunes and cultured styles that inspired continental European composers from George Frideric Handel to Francesco Geminiani. Returning…

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Toquade Marina Thibeault, viola; Janelle Fung, piano ATMA 2017. ACD2 2759, 66 min 58 s. With the first recording of her career, violist Marina Thibeault strikes a balance ­between spirited and sentimental, tradition and innovation, accessibility and abstraction, leaving us with a clear and compelling understanding of the breadth of both the repertoire and the instrument itself. Thibeault has a sensitive but firm touch, painting long lines in which sounds become ideas. The disc opens with the Valse sentimentale from Tchaikovsky’s Six Pieces Op. 51. The transcription of the piece, originally written for piano, highlights the thematic binaries – the…

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Donny McCaslin Beyond Now / Motema Music Tenorman Donny McCaslin saw fit to doff his cap towards the man once known as Ziggy Stardust, including two of his tunes (“A Small Plot of Land” and “Warszawa”) on this his latest release. His appearance on Blackstar, Bowie’s musical testament issued but two days before his passing in early 2016, represents quite a career boost for this most deserving saxophonist. Not a tribute album per se, this outing has all the earmarkings of the slickness and polish of pop music that Bowie excelled at. In the disc’s nine tracks (a tenth available…

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Inner Landscapes Windermere String Quartet; Elizabeth Loewen Andrews, violin; Michelle Odorico, violin; Anthony Rapoport, viola; Laura Jones, cello Pipistrelle Music, PIP 1216, 71 min 22 s. With Inner Lanscapes, the Windermere String Quartet shows how far they’ve come since their 2012 debut The Golden Age of String Quartets, which featured the Classical masters: Beethoven, Haydn, and Mozart. This disc features a commission by Canadian composer Robert Rival, Traces of a Silent Landscape, which was inspired by the Beethoven and Mendelssohn quartets on either side. The group plays on Classical period instruments, a bit lighter in tone perhaps, but no less…

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Pure Cello Vincent Bélanger Audio Note Music Available on CD, as well as on vinyl (45 RPM) for maximum resolution, this solo cello album will delight music lovers as much for its sound quality and for the originality of its recording technique as for its original program. We find notable works by Cassado, J.S. Bach, and Reger as well as, as a flagship offering, etudes 5 to 8 from the Elite Etüden by F.W. Grützmacher (recorded here for the first time). As a result, the repertoire is varied and well balanced. The register and the colors of the cello are…

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Akoka: Reframing Olivier Messiaen’s Quartet for the End of Time David Krakauer, Akoka; Olivier Messiaen, Quatuor pour la fin du temps; Socalled, Meanwhile… David Krakauer, clarinet; Matt Haimovitz, cello; Jonathan Crow, violin; Geoffrey Burleson, piano; Socalled, electronics Pentatone Oxingale Series 2017. PTC 5186 560. 63 min 45 s. “Recorded live, AKOKA drives home the gravity and impact of Messiaen’s Quartet for the End of Time and affirms its relevance in the 21st century. As the forces of fundamentalism, intolerance, and violence intensify in today’s world, Messiaen’s prophecy seems all the more timely,” says cellist Matt Haimovitz. Quartet for the End…

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