7 years ago

Volume 17 Issue 4 - December 2011

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illiant career.Although

illiant career.Although primarilyknown for herChopin interpretationsshe now surprisesus with a fullblown Liszt recital.A sensitively selectedprogram ofnot-so-well-known works of enormous dif- linepower, stamina and charming femininegrace would sum up this very successfulissue. Interestingly, only two of the piecesare original Liszt compositions. All theothers are transcriptions, or rather completereworkings, of Schubert, Chopin and evenGounod, all propelled into Liszt’s magicalsound world.First an elegant Waltz by Schubert fromSoirées de Vienne, greatly extended byLiszt’s cascading is dashed offwith superb panache. Next comes originalLiszt, Benediction de Dieu dans la Solitude,a deeply religious piece that reminds me ofthe Petrarca Sonnets with most heartfelt andbeautifully built up melodies. The “PolishConnection” brings a rarely heard set ofsix songs by Chopin put into piano settingsand dedicated to Liszt’s paramour, Polishprincess Carolyne. They include virtuosomazurkas, tender nocturnes and a wild, Revolutionary Etude. to Goethe’s Faust is represented by a pianotranscription of the second movement(Gretchen) of the Faust Symphony.Fialowska’s sensitive, deeply felt and fullyunderstood performance sounds even betteron the piano than with full orchestra. Hereone can concentrate on the girlish longingsof its simple melody followed by the moremenacing themes of Faust. The two incombination build to a passionate climax likea love duet.A sumptuous paraphrase of the delightfulwaltz from Gounod’s Faust brings us toa brilliant close. Liszt sums it up by sayingthat, “in the compass of the piano’s sevenoctaves it includes the entire scope of the by the concurrence of over a hundred concertedinstruments.”— Janos GardonyiRoberto Cappello; Orchestra Sinfonica diRoma; Francesco La VecchiaFerruccio Busoni’s gigantic PianoConcerto (1902-1904) is rarely performed inconcert due to its lengthy duration (c. 80minutes), super-human demands on the soloistand the unusual incorporation of an invisiblemale chorus singing a Hymn to Allah in orthodoxas well, with the piano cast as moreof a commentator onthe ongoing symphonicevents ratherthan the usual selfcentredprotagonist.It has fared well ondisc however, withmultiple releasesfollowing the landmark1968 performance by the legendaryBusoni champion John Ogdon.The present disc features the rarely recordedItalian pianist Roberto Cappello in atruly spectacular display of the challengingamalgam of power, energy and nobility thescore demands. Balances in this productionare straightforward, emphasizing the elaboratepiano writing with a judicious mixingof the orchestra. The Rome Symphony though the attention to dynamics and voicingby conductor Francesco La Vecchia is Busoni’s orchestration I would recommendthe 1989 Telarc recording by pianist GarrickOhlssohn with Christoph von Dohnányi leadingthe incomparable Cleveland Orchestra.That being said, at this price one need not betoo picky and the soloist is indeed truly mag- awesome leviathan of a concerto more widelyavailable.— Daniel FoleyBayerischen Staatsorchester; Kent NaganoThe criticEdouard Hanslickridiculed Brucknerso much that whenhe was decoratedby the Emperor andasked if there wasanything he could dofor him, Brucknernaively answered (I paraphrase), “please,Majesty, do something with this Hanslick,he is making my life miserable!” Seriouslythough, little Bruckner, the Austrian countrybumpkin kept writing his symphoniesone after another not really caring what theworld was thinking about them but by thetime he wrote the Symphony No.7 in E majorthe world was noticing. The rest is history asthe rather hackneyed expression goes.Indeed Bruckner is enjoying a tremendousrenaissance these days. What wasat one time the sole territory of the greatGerman-Austrian tradition, with venerableold conductors like Klemperer, Celibidache,Schuricht, Wand, Karajan and others is nowthe property of a new generation no longerGerman nor old, let alone venerable.One of these is Kent Nagano and this newrecording by Sony Classical makes us listenwith renewed interest. It is so fresh and excitingand indeed unpredictable that it is asif we have never heard the symphony before. pearsas if it has descended from heaven (infact it came to Bruckner in a dream) witha pianissimo tremolando in the violins gen- with a sense of inevitability culminating in second, the essence of the work and oneof the most beautiful adagios ever written,simply glows and the famous climax with thecymbal crash is overwhelming. The typicalBrucknerian scherzo thumps along merrilylike Fafner and Fasolt albeit with a sensuouslyrical trio interlude, perhaps reminding usof Fasolt’s love for the goddess Freia. for conductors but with a faster than usualtempo Nagano resolves the problem and thesymphony ends in an outburst of glory.— Janos GardonyiBerliner Philharmoniker; Simon RattleThis fantastic newalbum juxtaposesthree quite differentsides of thecomposer ArnoldSchoenberg in superlativeperformancesby Sir SimonRattle and the BerlinPhilharmonic. The earliest of the compositions,the 1907 Chamber Symphony No.1Op.9, is a crucial work in the composer’s expanded harmonic palette. Though originallyconceived for a chamber ensemble of 15solo instruments, the composer later decided too easily swamped by the wind ensembleand prepared an alternate version (Op.9b)in 1935 incorporating a full string section.Performances of this symphonic versionremain quite rare however, and it is quitea treat to have this late Romantic score soconvincingly interpreted. The AccompanyingMusic for a Film Scene Op. 34 was composedin 1930 on commission from his pub- silent movie scenario Schoenberg had inmind was completely imaginary. Thoughconceived in his new dodecaphonic style itrecalls the compelling expressionistic dramaand colourful orchestration of his earlyatonal works, elements often suppressed inthe self-constrained classicism of many ofhis other serial works. The performance ofthis nine minute wonder is truly inspired andtotally engaging.Schoenberg turned his hand to orchestratingBrahms’ Piano Quartet in 1937 whileexiled in paradise in California with veryfew opportunities for performances of hisown music. A great admirer of Brahms, hisapproach to the Quartet is for the most partrespectful to a fault, featuring lush stringspadded with opulent winds. The Berlin78 thewholenote.comDecember 1 – February 7, 2012

string section is truly in its element hereand contributes some stunning sonorities.The orchestration of the gypsy-inspired Cellist Matt Haimovitz has come up with release, Shuffle.Play.Listen (Oxingale. Haimovitz, who is no stranger tocross-over and improvisatory playing, hasteamed with pianist Christopher O’Riley torecord what they describe as “a collaborationthat blurs the boundaries between classicaland pop.” the Vertigo Suite, arranged by O’Riley fromBernard Hermann’s score for the Hitchcockmovie of the same name, with four 20thcentury standard repertoire pieces: Pohádka Variations on a Slovak Folksong;Stravinsky’s Suite Italienne (afterPulcinella); and Piazzolla’s LeGrand Tango and, if anything, it shows just is to the concert repertoire. CD2 features O’Riley’s arrangementsof songs by the groupsArcade Fire, Radiohead, CocteauTwins, Blonde Redhead and APerfect Circle, and by guitaristJohn McLaughlin. It gets off toan electrifying start with ArcadeFire’s Empty Room (watch a videoof the recording session on and is simply full ofstunning playing by both performers.There is no mix with standardrepertoire here, but it’s notneeded: several tracks are stronglyreminiscent of the minimalistmusic of Philip Glass or SteveReich and again serve to show justhow blurred the boundaries betweenpop and concert repertoirecan be. Haimovitz is clearly right at homeher, but a great deal of the credit for thisoutstanding issue must go to O’Riley for hisstunning arrangements and playing to match.London’s Wigmore Hall has long beena leading venue for top-class chambermusic, both debut recitals and concerts byestablished artists. On May 25, 2010, theRussian violinist Alina Ibragimova and theFrench pianist Cédric Tiberghien gave the Beethoven sonata series that started onOctober 27, 2009. Released on the Hall’sown label to huge critical acclaim, Beethoven captures the whole seriesstylistically incongruous xylophone andglockenspiel solos and wonderfully exuberantplaying from the orchestra.— Daniel FoleyStrings AttachedT E R R Y R O B B I N Sin simply stunning live sound quality; apartfrom the extended applause at the end ofeach sonata, there is no hint of audiencenoise, although you can sense their presenceand really feel that special electricityof a live performance in the simplyexceptional playing.Rarely do I play CDs that noticeablyincrease my pulse rate, but from the openingmovement of the Sonata in D Major Op.12No.1, through a magical “Spring” sonata GMajor Op.96, this Beethoven playing is as engages you on an emotionalaswell as an intellectuallevel from the outset andnever lets go. Everything youcould possibly ask for is hereinabundance: breathtakingtechnique; faultless intonation;commitment; passion;tenderness and sensitivity;warmth and richness of tone;wonderful attention to detail; awide range of colour, nuance,shading and dynamics; perfectbalance; two wonderful artiststhinking and playing as one. Ifever three CDs cried out to beissued in a box set, it’s these.They put you, front row centre,atone of the most thrilling andsatisfying Beethoven recitalsyou will ever hear.“Smiling faces, furiousapplause: that’s how this seriesended,” said The Times. It’seasy to see—and hear —why.Mozart’s Prussian Quartets wereall that he managed to complete for anapparent commission for six quartets fromKing Friedrich Wilhelm II of Prussia in1789. It’s been a while —20 years—since theEmerson String Quartet recorded any Mozartquartets, so these Prussian Quartets (Sony are a welcome addition to thecatalogue. This is big, warm playing, withthe players admitting that they don’t hesitateto use generous vibrato when the emotionalnature of the music calls for it. Their playingand interpretation are much in the style ofthe 1966 Decca recordings by the WellerQuartet, long a favourite of mine, and amasterclass in how to play late Mozart withpassion and intensity as well as sensitivityand style. These are wonderful works, andthe Emersons never put a foot wrong.Violinist Rachel Podger and violistJane Rogers have both been astonishinglysuccessful in the world of periodperformance, and their technical andmusical abilities and accomplishmentsare indisputable. Their latest recital disc featuresDuo Sonatas by Mozart and MichaelHaydn, Joseph’s younger brother. The twocomposers were good friends and Mozart’stwo sonatas were probably composed tocomplete a set of six that Michael Haydnwas writing for the Archbishop of Salzburg.Podger and Rogers have been playingthese two Mozart duos together since theywere teenagers, and the playing here isnot surprisingly stylish and absolutely top-of Haydn’s four sonatas are included, andwhile they are not the equal of the Mozartduos, they are delightful works presenting adifferent set of challenges for the players. Ashort Menuetto from Mozart’s 12 Duos for 2Horns rounds out the disc.STRINGS ATTACHED continues at with cello concertos byAlberto Ginastera (Mark Kosower), violinconcertos by Ross Edwards and Sibelius(Adele Anthony), Handel’s complete violinsonatas (Ensemble Vintage Köln) andGrieg’s music for string orchestra (MalmoSymphony Orchestra).MODERN & CONTEMPORARYJohn CoriglianoUrsula Oppens; Jerome Lowenthalwww.cedillerecords.orgJohn Corigliano isa musical dramatistwho melds thepast century’sinnovations into hisown compositionalstyle. Equallycomfortable inclassical repertoireand in contemporary music, pianist UrsulaOppens is an ideal interpreter of Corigliano,with the delicate sensitivity and fearlessassurance to meet his music’s wide-rangingdemands. This disc spans nearly 50 years,from Kaleidoscope (1959) to WingingIt (2008). The latter comprises threecomposer improvisations “translated” fromrecorded sequences to written compositions.Corigliano succeeds in maintaining animprovisational feel, as does Oppens in herexploratory interpretation.Corigliano’s Fantasia on an Ostinato(1985) is the most expressive minimalistDecember 1 – February 7, 2012 79

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