Archive for the Orchestral Category

Turina: Danzas fantásticas

Posted in Orchestral with tags , , , , on March 27, 2013 by orinococds
Turina: Danzas Fantasticas | BBC Philharmonic | Juanjo Mena | 1 cd | 71 min

Turina: Danzas Fantasticas | BBC Philharmonic | Juanjo Mena | CHAN10753 | 1 cd,| 71 min

“The Turina disc allows us to wallow in some wonderfully warm and rich and rich Spanish sounds, conducted by the BBC Philharmonic’s new Spanish chief conductor. The Danzas fantásticas and Sevillana are are the major works, but everything is full of marvellous ideas, all orchestrated with superb skill. Aided by charismatically idiomatic singing by Clara Mouriz, and state-of-the-art recording, this is hard to resist.” John Button, Dominion Post, 26 March 2013

Here the focus is on the orchestral works of the composer Joaquín Turina, one of the two leading Spanish composers of the twentieth century, the other being Manuel de Falla.

Turina was a prolific composer, who in his sixty-seven years wrote more than one hundred works, in which he explored a wide range of classical genres, from symphonic music, solo piano pieces, and vocal works to ballet scores and chamber music. Most of these show the influences of traditional Andalusian music and folk tunes, often conveying feelings of rapture and immense exaltation, while also owing a debt to a range of French composers.

Turina lived in Paris from 1905 to 1914, and during this time, while taking composition lessons from Vincent d’Indy and getting to know Maurice Ravel and Claude Debussy, he absorbed certain aspects of the French style. These influences are particularly evident in Danzas fantásticas and Sinfonia sevillana. While both these works are heavily inspired by the sights and sounds of Turina’s native Seville, they also display hints of French impressionism, inevitably calling Debussy to mind.

Turina was as thrilled by the sound and style of Andalusian folk singers as he was by folksong itself, and in terms of his songs, Poema en forma de canciones (Poem in the form of songs), originally for voice and piano, is probably the best known work. Here, as in ‘Farruca’ from Triptico, the orchestra and conductor are joined by the Spanish mezzo soprano Clara Mouriz for truly idiomatic performances.

Ritmos (Rhythms) was written originally as a ballet, which never reached the stage; nevertheless it proved brilliantly effective in the concert hall. The score itself does not relate to any specific scenario, but follows a progression, which Turina himself described as ‘a gradual journey from darkness into light’.

The Saeta is the only work on this disc in which Turina completely steps away from the influences of folk tune-inspired Andalusian dance rhythms. This is a beautifully written devotional song ‘in the form of a Salutation to the Virgin of Hope’.

Listen to Orgia (dance #3 from Danzas fantásticas) youtube 4 min 38 s


Berlioz: overtures | Bergen Philharmonic | Andrew Davis

Posted in Orchestral with tags , , , , on March 5, 2013 by orinococds

Berlioz: overtures | Bergen Philharmonic | Andrew Davis | $NZ 33 | CHSA 5118 1 cd, 73 min

The Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra under Sir Andrew Davis here perform seven dazzling orchestral overtures by Hector Berlioz, a composer who excelled in blending literary and musical elements into highly energetic and personal creations.

Works: King Lear Overture, Op. 4 |  Le carnaval romain Overture, Op. 9 |  Béatrice et Bénédict, Op. 27: Overture |  Le Corsaire Overture, Op. 21 |  Waverley Overture Op. 1 |  Les Francs-juges Overture, Op. 3 |  Benvenuto Cellini Overture |  La Damnation de Faust, Op. 24: Rákóczi March

The overtures are widely varied in mood, as are the operas from which they were drawn. Berlioz wrote his first large-scale instrumental composition, the Overture to Les Francs-juges, in 1826, the year in which he enrolled at the Paris Conservatoire.  His second opera, Benvenuto Cellini, followed in 1838; its music gave rise both to the opera’s overture and to the concert overture Le Carnaval romain which depicts its subject in brilliant colour through breathtakingly vibrant orchestration.

The comic opera Béatrice et Bénédict took its inspiration from Shakespeare’s Much Ado about Nothing. The overture draws on an intense solo scene for Béatrice and adds elements of the cheerful banter that make up the story of the title characters’ playful courtship.

Le Roi Lear, Le Corsaire, and Waverley have one thing in common: all are independent concert pieces that have been given the title overture as in many respects they do resemble opera overtures – but none is in actual fact connected to an opera.

John Button’s review in the Dominion Post 5 March, 2013

“Three of Berlioz’ overtures were for operas. The others were concert pieces, often inspired by the books of Walter Scott and the plays of Shakespeare.

They are all brilliant examples of his mastery of the orchestra, and the finest of them are groundbreaking, early examples of the orchestral tone poem.

The student Les francs-juges, and the 1831 Le Roi Lear are fabulous works, far ahead of their time, that should be a staple of the orchestral repertoire, yet are not.

It is no wonder that the Bergen Philharmonic revels in all seven of the works on this disk, guided with some spirit by Sir Andrew Davis and recorded with all the glitter we have come to expect from Chandos in Bergen.”

Martinu: Symphonies Nos. 1-6 | BBC Symphony Orchestra | Jiří Bělohlávek, conductor

Posted in Orchestral, symphony with tags , , , on February 23, 2013 by orinococds

Martinu Symphonies | BBC Symph Orch | Belohlavek | Onyx 4061 | 3 cds | $NZ 49

John Button review for this cd in the Dominion Post in Feb 2012:

“The Onyx set of all six of Martinu’s symphonies is self-recommending. These splendid works were composed between 1942 and 1953, and each has a distinctive character that makes it a mystery why they appear so rarely in concert.

However, it was from concerts in 2009 and 2010 in the Barbican that these disks were taken, superbly spontaneous performances from the end of Jiří Bělohlávek’s reign at the BBC Symphony, and testimony to the quality of playing under his baton. An additional bonus is the very competetive price … so don’t hesitate – there is enjoyment aplenty in this well-recorded set.”

Recorded live at the Barbican in London, these recordings represent the first complete CD cycle of Martinu’s symphonies conducted by Jiří Bělohlávek. The critically acclaimed concerts were given to mark the 50th anniversary of Martinu’s death in 1959.

Martinu’s six symphonies are a major contribution to 20th-century symphonic literature, and yet are still undervalued. Spanning the years before, during and after the Second World War, they capture the turmoil, hopes and fears of the composer and his homeland – a homeland that suffered unimaginable cruelties under the Nazis. At the end of the war, Martinu was the only major Czech composer of his generation to have survived.

Yet through the underlying currents of menace in the later works, the irrepressible Czech spirit survives, and the country’s folk music is never far from the surface in these powerful and sincere works. As conductor Jiří Bělohlávek says ‘I personally love all of Martinu’s symphonies for the rich, colourful orchestration and undeniable Czech flair which always prevail in them, despite the fact that they also reflect the musical developments of their time.’

“Magic always happens when Belohlávek conducts the BBC Symphony Orchestra in Czech works…this set of Martinu’s six symphonies, taken from Barbican concerts last season, overflows with the same qualities that make the music so endearing: heart-warming ebullience, visionary fantasy, soaring passion, the most piquant orchestral colours.” The Times, 15th July 2011 ****

**** Sunday Times, 10th July 2011

“You won’t find a more persuasive champion than Belohlávek, who has the music in his blood. His skill at unravelling Martinu’s rhythmic and textural knots – evidenced time and again in these live performances by the BBC Symphony Orchestra – is such that you immediately sense the stature of the music.” Financial Times, 30th July 2011 ****

“Martin˚u’s symphonies tend to divide opinion and have not enjoyed anything like the same exposure as those of his Czech predecessor, Dvorak. But if anyone can find the key to their language, it is Jiří Bělohlávek…there is plenty of freshness, verve and expressive wisdom on this set.” The Telegraph, 4th August 2011

“The BBC Symphony Orchestra sounds consistently alert, nimble and alive to Martinu’s distinct musical moods…Bělohlávek demonstrates total commitment and concentration and his players are with him at every turn, captured in sharp sound that reveals the workings of the music. And since when did the BBC SO’s strings have such a chameleonic ability to twist and shade their collective mood? Impressive and charming.” Classic FM Magazine, October 2011 ****

“Belohlavek and the orchestra are superb in the first three symphonies. He captures Martinu’s shimmering, luminous orchestral textures and invests the pervasive ‘sprung’ rhythms of the faster movements with an infectious bounce. Belohlavek’s emotional engagement is always complete…and throughout the set, Belohlavek’s grasp of the trajectory of the symphonic argument is at all times apparent.” BBC Music Magazine, October 2011 *****

“Play them back to back and the inevitable risk is that they may all begin to sound too much alike, but such is Jiri Belohlavek’s skill as a Martinu interpreter that the effect is still of impressive stylistic variety…In short, Belohlavek and the BBC SO are now my top recommendation for the Martinu symphonies” Gramophone Magazine, October 2011

Bartók: Complete Piano Concertos Nos. 1, 2 & 3 | Jean-Efflam Bavouzet (piano) | BBC Philharmonic, Gianandrea Noseda (cond.)

Posted in Concerto, Orchestral with tags , , , , on February 6, 2013 by orinococds

Bartók: Piano Concertos Nos. 1, 2 & 3 | Jean-Efflam Bavouzet (piano) | BBC Philharmonic, Gianandrea Noseda

This is the first concerto recording by Jean-Efflam Bavouzet for Chandos. Following the tremendous success of his complete Debussy piano music edition (‘This could well be the finest and most challenging of all Debussy piano cycles’ – Bryce Morrison, Gramophone) – which scooped awards from both Gramophone and BBC Music – and the launch of his ambitious Haydn Piano Sonatas series, the pianist now turns his attention to some of the mightiest concertos of the twentieth century. The three Bartók Piano Concertos on a single CD represents superb value for money.

Bartók wrote his First Concerto, one of his most challenging works, in 1926. The percussive piano writing ads much bite to the textures. The first movement is striking in its rhythmic vigour and dramatic character. The central Andante is essentially a dialogue between the soloist and four percussion players and features much atmospheric ‘Night Music’. In the finale, following without a break, the brilliant motoric rhythms of the first movement return, as does the dramatic use of percussion in a thrilling mêlée of sound.

The Second Concerto was first performed in 1933. The music is more melodically appealing and in the first movement, which is notably contrapuntal, the strings are silent throughout. The hushed slow movement on strings is interrupted half way through by a brilliant and startling scherzo, with a striking sequence of tremolos and note-clusters, before the haunting quiet mood of the opening returns. The finale, again with brilliant use of percussion (as well as brass), ends the work in virtuoso fashion.

The Third Concerto was written at the end of the composer’s life, in 1945, and is much more restrained than the previous piano concertos. The work is lighter, airy, and almost neo-classical compared to much of his earlier music. Unlike much of Bartók’s output, the piece was not composed on commission, but was rather created as a surprise birthday gift for Bartók’s second wife, Ditta Pásztory, who was, like Bartók, a skilled concert pianist. The two lively outer movements, full of the composer’s distinctive rhythmic drive, are separated by a slow movement of great beauty and serenity, with, again, a striking, contrasting middle section. The final seventeen bars were orchestrated by the composer’s pupil, Tibor Serly, after the composer’s death, based on Bartók’s notes.

“Both Bavouzet and the BBC Philharmonic with Gianandrea Noseda are outstanding in the First Concerto, capturing its epic scale and mixture of formality and barbarism…[These performances] generally have all the sweep, intensity and precision that these works demand.” The Guardian, 26th August 2010 ****

“In league with the finely honed BBC Philharmonic, these are performances vibrant in colour, vital in rhythm and detail and viscerally exciting in impact.” The Telegraph, 2nd September 2010 *****

“Bavouzet relishes the high-octane energy of the outer movements of the first two concertos but through his imaginatively varied use of colour manages to avoid the trap of making Bartók’s percussive writing seem too relentless.” BBC Music Magazine, October 2010 *****

“Bavouzet’s own energy and lightness make the most of the jubilant, rhythmic writing.. It’s a beautifully nuanced performance, brimming over with variety of touch and dynamic…The orchestra match him in their deft lightness, brightness and virtuosity.” Charlotte Gardner,, 16/09/2010

“Bavouzet’s interpretations are masculine, intelligent and direct. In most of the nine movements, he opts for unusually brisk tempos, though quick as they are, the music never sounds rushed or precipitous. Clarity invariably prevails and Noseda and the orchestra are equal partners at every turn…the overall effect is viscerally exhilarating.” International Record Review, October 2010

“If you’re after a disc of Bartok’s piano concertos that maximises on the music’s drive, elegance and sparring potential, then you could hardly to better than his ear-catching new production…Bavouzet doesn’t play down the music’s earth-derived grandeur…or its drama.” Gramophone Magazine, Awards Issue 2010

“From the paranoid wranglings of the First Concerto to the helter-skelter glamour of the Second and the burlesque of the Third, the playing is first rate. Pianist Jean-Efflam Bavouzet delivers coruscating cadenza and locates an almost Beethovenian limpidity for the Adagio Religioso.” The Independent on Sunday, 17th October 2010

Tchaikovsky: Symphonies Nos. 1-3 | LSO | Valery Gergiev cond.- mid budget price

Posted in Orchestral, symphony with tags , , , on February 3, 2013 by orinococds

Tchaikovsky’s early trio of symphonies have long lived in the shadow of the three that followed. Valery Gergiev conducts outstanding performances of these earlier works with the LSO.

Tchaikovsky: Symphonies Nos. 1-3 | LSO

Tchaikovsky: Symphonies Nos. 1-3 | LSO | Valery Gergiev | LSOLive0710 | $NZ35 | 2 cds

Tchaikovsky’s symphonies 1,  2 & 3 are full of the rich expressive melodies, for which he had a natural talent, with influences of Russian nationalism and folk tunes, particularly in the ‘Little Russian’, No. 2. The choreographer George Balanchine exploited the dance-like nature of the Third Symphony by using it as the basis for the final part of his ballet masterpiece, ‘Jewels’.

“Gergiev can transform works that often seem problematic into something compelling and totally coherent. In this set, he does exactly that with the Third…which he not only reveals as a totally convincing reworking of traditional symphonic form…but links it dramatically with Tchaikovsky’s operas… both [the First & Second] are full of wonderful touches, of sharply etched detail, vivid colours and tremendous focused energy.” The Guardian, 6th September 2012 *****

“what lovely and characteristic things are to be found in them, how full of Tchaikovskian panache, melodic richness and rhythmic vitality they are, and how brightly they shine in these vivid performances” Sunday Times, 16th September 2012

“This budget-price, immaculately recorded double album is a revelation; Valery Gergiev’s pin-sharp attention to detail and rhythmic zest making each work seem much bigger and bolder than usual, far more than sequences of balletic interludes…Essential listening.” The Arts Desk, 30th September 2012

“Gergiev’s handling of dynamic is expert…the orchestra is at its best here” International Record Review, November 2012

“Gergiev’s frequent use of striking contrasts of tempos between themes, or even dramatic pauses, as in the slow movement, often makes Tchaikovsky’s First sound like a close relation to a Bruckner symphony. Yet, such is the affection with which Gergiev shapes this work that it never descends to bathos.” BBC Music Magazine, January 2013 *****

¡España! | Orquestra Ciudad De Granada | Montserrat Pi, Josep Pons, conductors

Posted in Ballet score, Choral, Concerto, Orchestral with tags , , , , , on February 3, 2013 by orinococds

espana | Various artists | 5 cds 165 min | HMC 2908530.34

On the Harmonia Mundi label, a collection of best-loved masterpieces with Spanish inflences, on state of the art recordings, in a 5 cd set.
From the late 19th century onwards, following in the wake of Goya, Spain experienced a creative explosion that was to manifest itself in all the arts, including music. This set is an invitation to discover these composers who transcribed the innermost depths of their country’s soul in works that were nonetheless closely related to developments elsewhere in Europe hence the presence here of Ravel, the most Spanish of French musicians, alongside de Falla, Albéniz, Rodrigo, and Mompou.
Various soloists, including:-
Susan Chilcott, soprano | Francesc Garrigosa, tenor | Javier Perianes, piano | Marco Socías, guitar | Régis Pasquier, violin | Brigitte Engerer, piano | Ginesa Ortega, “cantaora” | Joan Martin, soprano | Iñaki  Fresán, baritone | Joan Cabero, tenor

CD1: ALBENIZ Pepita Jiménez [HMC901537]

CD2: FALLA El amor brujo [HMC905213]

CD3: RAVEL Oeuvres pour violon et piano [HMC901364]

CD4: MOMPOU Música callada [HMI987070]

CD5: RODRIGO Concierto de Aranjuez [HMC901764]

Elgar: Cello concerto | BBC Philharmonic | Paul Watkins (cello), Sir Andrew Davis, cond.

Posted in Concerto, Orchestral with tags , , , , on December 30, 2012 by orinococds
Elgar: Cello concerto | Chandos |

Elgar: Cello concerto | Chandos | BBC Philharmonic |Paul Watkins, Sir Andrew Davis, cond. | NZ$ 33

BBC Review Graham Rogers 2012-07-25

A sumptuously recorded new Elgar collection which is impressive throughout.

Chandos offers a generous 75-minute helping of Elgar’s best-loved orchestral works in this new album. Elgar specialist Sir Andrew Davis has recorded most of these pieces at least once before – but this collection benefits from his by-now vastly experienced wisdom in the field, and the sumptuously recorded (in studio) BBC Philharmonic on top form.

The meatiest work here is the brooding Cello Concerto from 1919 – the last major piece Elgar completed. Paul Watkins is a sensitive soloist, and he and Davis clearly have a special rapport, presumably dating back to the years they worked together at the BBC Symphony Orchestra as, respectively, Principal Cellist and Chief Conductor. The melancholic opening bars are imbued with a plaintiveness that permeates the whole performance.

Following the magically hushed orchestral entrance, the fateful tread of the tutti main theme is powerfully portentous. Watkins is brilliantly nimble-fingered in the scampering scherzo, displaying delightfully Mendelssohnian charm; his achingly sweet, song-like tone in the soulful Adagio is utterly mesmeric. This is not a heart-on-sleeve account of the concerto, in the manner of the famous Jacqueline du Pré recording with Barbirolli (EMI, 1965); but what it lacks in extrovert drama it makes up for with intensity and considered fidelity to the score.

The BBC Philharmonic strings are richly full-blooded and rhythmically taught in the Introduction and Allegro. There is a wonderful ebb and flow to the lighter passages, which radiate warmth and geniality, but it is let down slightly by the emotional coolness of the big-boned moments. By contrast, the miniature Elegy, also for strings, is entrancingly tender.

Davis has conducted the first Pomp and Circumstance March many a time at the Last Night of the Proms. This latest studio version may be missing the unbridled exuberance of those occasions, but it compensates with remarkable nuance and clarity – every detail of Elgar’s orchestration can be heard in all its glory. And Davis gets the famous “Land of Hope and Glory” theme just right: noble and majestic, but with a fluidity that avoids overblown pomposity. With the four other Marches equally impressive, all in all this is an excellent collection.