Monday, January 31, 2011

Rachmaninov: Symphony No. 2 [Rozhdestvensky, LSO] (complete, with first movement repeat)

Composer(s):Sergei Rachmaninov
Conductor: Gennadi Rozhdestvensky
Orchestra: London Symphony Orchestra
Label: IMP Classics
Catalog #: PCD 904
Format: CD
Time: 66:13 min

Grady Harp (Amazon Reviewer)
Sergei Rachmaninov (1873 - 1943) was an anachronistic bridge between the 19th and 20th centuries. Deeply rooted in Romanticism he was a quiet introspective man who ignored the very beginnings of music revolution that began with Debussy and rapidly morphed into the 'enlightened greats' such as Schoneberg, Webern, Stravinsky, Prokofiev, Bartok, etc who elected to follow the path of progress toward the new sounds and techniques of composition that challenged the very foundation of Romanticism. Rachmaninov refused to desert his deep feelings that music should convey the soul, the life and the experiences of the composer, choosing to continue to write in the manner of melody that was losing popularity among the cognoscenti. His music was relegated to the dark bin of retrograde, heart-on-the-sleeve, indulgent 'movie music' during his time - and that prejudice continues to some degree today. It takes a live performance of the original unabridged version of the great Symphony No.2 in E minor to open the eyes and ears of modern listeners to appreciate just what a fine orchestrator and master of melody Rachmaninov was.

This recording with Gennadi Rozhdestvensky conducting the London Symphony Orchestra is one of the few single recordings of the hour long, unabridged E minor symphony. This is the version Rachmaninov always conducted even though he did sanction his own abbreviated version for other conductors. Rozhdestvensky pulls out all the stops here, yielding to the pulsating melodies and allowing all of the inner voices of the huge score to sing. This is a performance more devoted to the grand sweep of the work than to dallying with details and the result is a performance that truly moves.

But as mentioned above it takes a live performance to completely appreciate the magnitude of the work. At a recent concert this listener heard Guest Conductor Paavo Jarvi conduct the Los Angeles Philharmonic in an exceptional evening of respect for Rachmaninov. Jarvi fully understands the work as well as any conductor today, allowing the surges of melody to completely fill the acoustically perfect Disney Hall, and at the same time giving the orchestra the chance to hear itself in the myriad dialogues Rachmaninov wrote. It was an evening of rapture and one that must be recorded, as it would be the front-runner of performances of this truly great symphony. Until then, this recording is a viable alternative. Recommended. Grady Harp, April 06.

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Saturday, January 29, 2011

Carl Orff: Carmina Burana [Blomstedt, San Francisco Symphony & Chorus, etc.]

Composer(s):Carl Orff
Conductor: Herbert Blomstedt
Orchestra: San Francisco Symphony
Performers: Kevin McMillan (baritone), Lynne Dawson (soprano), John Daniecki (tenor), San Francisco Girls Chorus, San Francisco Boys Chorus, San Francisco Symphony Chorus
Label: Decca
Catalog #: 430 509-2
Format: CD
Time: 58:10 min

Jeff S Wright (Amazon Reviewer)
I have collected many recordings of Carmina Burana over the years, and this recording is without a doubt the finest. Mr Blomstedt's control of all the forces is truly memorable. The only other recordings that come close, and each have their own special points are, De Burgos earlier (1960's) and Welser-Most. The soloists are superb, and do not allow their voices to stray. I believe Mr Blomstedt follows Mr Orff's orchestration completely, as this is a factor in my opinion why several other recordings do not come even closer the the aformentioned three. I will continue to search for more Carminas. Each is absolutely unique in their individual interpretations, but Mr Blomstedt's will surely be hard to beat.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Alain Trudel Trombone Favourites

Composer(s):Michael HAYDN, Georg REUTTER, Girolamo FRESCOBALDI, Georg Christoph WAGENSEIL, Stjepan SULEK, Pascal DUSAPIN, Arthur PRYOR, Duke ELLINGTON, Eric Lagacé,
Soloist:Alain TRUDEL
Performers:Guy FEW, Geneviève SOLY, Daniel Taylor, Eric Lagacé
Label: International Trombone Association
Catalog #: ITA WO-121294
Format: CD
Time: 60:30 min

Alain Trudel Trombone Favourites
This limited edition release for ITA members consists of virtuosic trombone pieces of various genres, from classical to jazz, performed by what some dubbed "The Jascha Heifetz of Trombone" - Mr Alain Trudel.

Alain TRUDEL, trombone (
Canadian conductor, composer and trombonist Alain Trudel is artistic director of the Orchestre Symphonique de Laval, principal guest conductor of the Victoria Symphony, artistic director of the National Broadcast Orchestra (formerly CBC Radio Orchestra) in Vancouver, and conductor of the Toronto Symphony Youth Orchestra.

First known to the public as a trombone soloist, he made his debut at 18 with Charles Dutoit and l’Orchestre Symphonique de Montréal. He has been guest soloist with leading orchestras on five continents including the Deutsche Sinfonie, l’Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France, the National Arts Centre Orchestra, Hong Kong Philharmonic, Austrian Radio Orchestra and the Polish National Radio Orchestra. He has conducted Canadian orchestras including the Toronto, Montreal Vancouver and National Arts Centre orchestras, as well as orchestras in Hong Kong, Sweden, the U.K. and Japan. In 2009, he made his Opéra de Montréal debut conducting Mozart’s The Magic Flute.

Monday, January 3, 2011

The Heart of the Wind Ensemble #09 - His Honor

Composer(s):J.S. BACH, Edvard GRIEG, Morton GOULD, Edwin Franko GOLDMAN, Henry FILLMORE
Conductor: Frederick FENNELL
Orchestra/Ensemble: Tokyo Kosei Wind Orchestra
Label: Kosei Publishing Co.
Catalog #: KOCD8001/9
Format: CD
Time: 42:40 min

Viva Maestro Fennell! - Disc #9 - His Honor
This is the bonus CD titled "His Honor" that includes Maestro Fennell's spoken comments and five live selections that are previously unrecorded:
1. Frederick Fennell's Spoken Comments
2. Toccata from Toccata, Adagio and Fugue for Symphonic Band, J.S. Bach
3. Funeral March for Rikard Nordraak, Edvard Grieg
4. Ballad for Band, Morton Gould
5. Bugles and Drums, Edwin Franko Goldman
6. His Honor, Henry Fillmore

Saturday, January 1, 2011

The Heart of the Wind Ensemble #08 - Lincolnshire Posy

Composer(s): Percy GRAINGER, Arthur SULLIVAN, Alfred REED, Francis MCBETH
Conductor: Frederick FENNELL
Orchestra/Ensemble: Tokyo Kosei Wind Orchestra
Label: Kosei Publishing Co.
Catalog #: KOCD8001/9
Format: CD
Time: 54:39 min

Viva Maestro Fennell! - Disc #8 - Lincolnshire Posy
This is the eighth in a set of CDs, called "Viva Maestro Fennell!" - The Heart of the Wind Ensemble. This CD contains the music of Percy Grainger, Arthur Sullivan, Alfred Reed, Francis McBeth.