Showing posts from January, 2021

Elgar Partsongs CD

BAVARIANS SING ELGAR'S FROM THE BAVARIAN HIGHLANDS EDWARD ELGAR PARTSONGS Chor des Bayerischen Rundfunks BR Klassik 900522 **** One of the problems with Elgar's vocal music is his choice of texts. Cardinal Newman's Dream of Gerontius is a wonderful vehicle, as is actually O'Shaughnessy's The Music Makers. Many words have been spilt discussing the midnight oil which Elgar burnt compiling his own texts for The Apostles and The Kingdom, but it can safely be said he made good work of all the librettos for his choral works, whatever their quality. But then we get to the partsongs. Did he really need the pittance of a commission to set some of these dreadful texts? Perhaps early on in his careerg he did, but surely not after the acclaim following the Enigma Variations, Gerontius, and the Elgar Festival of 1904. Preceding his "arrival", however, his loyalty to his wife Caroline Alice's literary efforts is touching, culminating in the inclusion of

English Symphony Orchestra Holocaust concert

ANOTHER IMAGINATIVE ENGLISH SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA CONCERT ENGLISH SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA streamed from Wyastone Leys **** "Inspired by Mahler" was the apt title for this English Symphony Orchestra programme marking Holocaust Memorial Day. Mahler considered himself a triple outsider, not least because of his Jewishness, and though he himself prospered as a composer and conductor (undoubtedly the first transatlantic superstar of the podium), the other composers in this streamed concert suffered, some indeed perishing in Nazi concentration camps. It is quite a thought to reflect that had not heart disease brought about his early death, Mahler himself might have been one of those victims. Kenneth Woods conducted a sequence of works which was both shrewd and loving, beginning with Das Irdische Leben by Mahler himself. Like Schubert's Erl King, this is a song depicting a child's journey to death, and April Fredrick was the gripping soloist. Her soprano voice here d

latest Beethoven, Bruch, Donizetti and Walton CD reviews

NEW CDs OF BEETHOVEN, BRUCH, DONIZETTI AND WALTON REVIEWED BY NORMAN STINCHCOMBE BEETHOVEN: Nikolai Lugansky ★★ I came to this disc after spending a week listening to Jean-Efflam Bavouzet's complete set of piano sonatas on Chandos. This did Lugansky no favours. Bavouzet captures Beethoven's kaleidoscopic emotional shifts – mysticism, manic dynamism, raucous humour – realized within a dazzling array of changing musical strategies. Lugansky eschewed the obvious, and logical, coupling of the last three sonatas by swapping Op 110 for Op 101. It's Op.101 which comes off best, with the second movement's march rhythms crisply and energetically articulated, while tenderly shaping the succeeding inward and yearning (sehnsuchtvoll) slow movement. In Op.109's concluding theme-and-variations Lugansky overdoes the contrast with the preceding prestissimo movement by playing the opening excessively slowly – Bavouzet captures its singing expressiveness at a more naturally f


Mirga Gražinytė-Tyla extends contract with the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra The City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra (CBSO) is delighted to announce that Mirga Gražinytė-Tyla will extend her commitment to the orchestra, continuing as Osborn Music Director for an additional season until summer 2022 and then moving to the role of Principal Guest Conductor. Stephen Maddock, Chief Executive of the CBSO, said: 'We're delighted to be continuing our relationship with Mirga and are hugely grateful to her for the unending energy, passion and creativity she pours into her work with us. We're thrilled that she has agreed to extend her commitment to the CBSO, and are pleased to be able to support her as she balances her working life. We look forward to making music together into the future.' Mirga Gražinytė-Tyla, Music Director, CBSO, says: 'I have decided to give up my position of Music Director of the CBSO at the end of the 2021/22 season and

CBSO "French Connections" concert

FASCINATING ONLINE CONCERT BY CBSO FRENCH CONNECTIONS CBSO streamed from Symphony Hall ***** "French Connections" is perhaps a tantalising understatement for this latest CBSO programme recorded at Symphony Hall early last December for online streaming. We end with Haydn's Symphony no.84, composed for the huge orchestra of the Concert de la Loge Olympique in Paris, an ensemble founded by Joseph Boulogne, Chevalier de St-Georges. This immensely fascinating character was born on Guadeloupe, the son of a former French politician and a native West Indian woman. The family eventually settled in Paris, where Boulogne became an expert horseman, swimmer, dancer, skater and, especially, fencer. He was hailed as the finest swordsman in Europe, and was indeed summoned to England to give exhibition fencing matches, including for the Prince of Wales at the Royal Pavilion in Brighton. But above all this he was also a very fine violinist, composing many works for his

Strauss, Gershwin and Ben-Haim CD reviews

NORMAN STINCHCOMBE REVIEWS FASCINATING NEW STRAUSS, GERSHWIN AND BEN-HAIM CDs STRAUSS: New Zealand Symphony Orchestra / Märkl ★★★★ When we think of Richard Strauss's orchestral music it's primarily his richly scored tone poems. It's easy to overlook his wizardry with light music and especially the dance – think of his opera Rosenkavalier. That facility is exemplified by his Tanzsuite (Dance Suite) of 1923 for chamber orchestra, ballet music commissioned by the Vienna Opera. It's a labour of love, delightfully mixing pastiche and orchestral reimagining of eight dances by baroque composer François Couperin which were originally composed for harpsichord. Try not to laugh at the Carillon with Strauss's kaleidoscopic mixture of celesta, bells and harp, or to sigh as the closing march dies slowly away. The NZSO, under Jun Märkl, don't have the suavity, richness and echt-Strauss sound of Rudolf Kempe's Dresden orchestra (Warner) but they're nifty, gr