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’.  http://www.prestoclassical.co.uk/

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

Jasmine – Keith Jarrett

Posted in Jazz soloists with tags , , , , on March 22, 2013 by orinococds


A truly accessible and moving addition to an artistic collaboration that spans decades. Joyous, relaxed, and perfect Sunday afternoon music, this album also stands as a highlight of recent  jazz releases. Highly recommended.

“This is a wonderful disc that is not just for jazz fans.”
Colin Morris, The Dominion Post NZ

Extract from the ECM website:

Jarrett and Haden back together again! Thirty three years after the break-up of Keith Jarrett’s great ‘American quartet’ , the pianist and bassist Charlie Haden reunited for an album of standards, played with deep feeling. The programme on “Jasmine” includes such classic songs as “Body and Soul”, “For All We Know” , “Where Can I Go Without You”, “Don’t Ever Leave Me” and more. Intimate, spontaneous and warm, the album, recorded at Jarrett’s home, has affinities, in its unaffected directness, with Keith’s “The Melody At Night With You”. Jarrett and Haden play the music and nothing but the music – as only they can. As Keith Jarrett says in his liner notes: “This is spontaneous music made on the spot without any preparation save our dedication throughout our lives that we won’t accept a substitute… These are great love songs played by players who are trying, mostly, to keep the message intact.”

Keith Jarrett piano
Charlie Haden double-bass

For All We Know
Where Can I Go Without You
No Moon At All
One Day I’ll Fly Away
Intro – I’m Gonna Laugh You Right Out Of My Life
Body And Soul
Don’t Ever Leave Me

Recorded March 2007

John Button’s picks for the best of 2012 – DomPost newspaper

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , on March 22, 2013 by orinococds

Reviewer John Button’s picks for the best of 2012. As published in Wellington’s DomPost newspaper Dec 26th.

In no particular order —

“With his mix of London and Polish forces, early music specialist McCreesh delivers one of the most powerful versions of Berlioz’s blend of the refined and the super spectacular in sound to match.”

  • Debussy: Orchestral Works complete — Royal Scottish National Orchestra, Stephane Deneve conductor Chandos CHsa 5012(2)

“With this two-disk set of Debussy’s major orchestral works, the RSNO display just how conductor Deneve has made them one of the finest exponents of French orchestral music around. And the sound is fabulous.”

  • Debussy: Preludes Books 1&2; Trois Nocturnes; Prelude L’Apres midi D’un Faune — Alexei Lubimov and Alexei Zuev (pianos) ECM New Series 2241.42

“Playing on two early 20th Century pianos – a Bechstein and a Steinway – Lubimov attempts to create a sonority familiar to Debussy and his beloved Bluthner. The result is fabulous playing with the rarely heard two piano transcriptions of popular orchestral works an added incentive to buy.”

  • Petterson: Symphony No. 6 — Norkopping Symphony Orchestra, Christian Lindberg conductor. BIS SACD-1980

“This post Mahlerian composer died in 1980, after a long illness, but his music lives on, and his Sixth Symphony is a long span construction of power and dark beauty. The Norkopping orchestra play this music as if it were in the blood.”

  • Beethoven: Diabelli Variations — Andreas Staier (Fortepiano). Harmonia Mundi HMC 902091

“Not only one of the finest performances of Beethoven’s great set of variations, but, as a bonus, a selection of other composers’ variations given to publisher Diabelli. A young Liszt, Mozart’s son and Schubert are among a fascinating list”

  • Liszt: Anees De Peleginage — Bertrand Chamayou (piano). Naive V5260

This young Frenchman captures the range of Liszt’s astonishing musical journeys with playing of trancendental quality.”

  • Blake: Angel at Aripara — Kenneth Young (conductor). Atoll ACD44

“Composed between 2000 and 2007, these four string works take their inspiration from the photographs of Robin Morrison: works of direct power and emotional committment, superbly played by the strings of the NZSO.”

  • Messiaen: Turangalila  Symphonie — Juanjo Mena (conductor). Hyperion CDA67816

“Bergen might seem an unlikely place for a performance of such dizzying incandescence, but with that orchestra now among the European elite, and giving Spanish conductor Mena their finest playing, this is probably the finest recording of Messiaen’s most played work.”

  • Mozart: Piano Works — Zhu Xiao-Mei (piano). Mirare MIR152

“Now living in Paris, and a survivor of the Cultural Revolution, Zhu Xiao-Mei gives us the sort of mix of simplicity and sophistication in Mozart that eludes all but a small elite of pianists. “

Schubert: Willkommen und Abschied | Werner Güra, tenor

Posted in Vocal chamber works with tags , , , , on March 11, 2013 by orinococds


Schubert: Willkommen und Abschied | Werner Gura | harmonia mundi HMC902112 | $NZ 33 | 1 cd

Born in Munich, Werner Güra has a reputation especially as an interpreter of lieder. His recordings for harmonia mundi, including the great cycles of Schubert, Schumann and Wolf and vocal ensembles by Brahms and Schumann, have all been widely acclaimed.

“It comprises 19 songs, all stylishly and beautifully sung by the tenor Werner Güra. The six Goethe settings include such familiar contrasts as Heidenröslein and Ganymed, while Willkommen und Abschied itself, more of a rarity, is heroically sung. The strength of Güra’s tone without any loss of quality has always been his strong point.” Sunday Telegraph, 29th January 2012

“His fresh lyric tenor combines well with Berner’s bright yet warm-toned fortepiano — he twinkles at Goethe’s ironic description of a water nymph as “eine feuchtes Weib”, literally a “damp woman” — while Berner brings drama to the piano parts of Auf der Bruck, Willkommen und Abschied and the haunting, yearning Herbst.” Sunday Times, 12th February 2012

“Berner, playing an 1872 Rönisch fortepiano, shows keen attention to every detail. Güra, outstanding in his unfussy, intense delivery, is a formidable, rousing guide.” The Observer, 26th February 2012

“Gura’s strong, unaffected tenor voice is a pleasure to listen to, and Berner, who has an impressive keyboard freedom grounded in reliable technical skill, is a responsive accompanist: they perform as one, although too often their approach to a song somehow misses an essential quality of that particular piece of music.” International Record Review, March 2012 ****

“Gura and his fortepianist, Christoph Berner, have mapped out a trajectory of the Romantic view of human emotional life…At each stage, both musicians show perfect sympathy with Schubert’s own engagement, ideal empathy with each other, and a shrewd sensitivity to musical and expressive scale.” BBC Music Magazine, May 2012 *****

“Gura is never dull. ‘Der Wanderer’ is intensely ‘lived’, the opening bleak and desiccated…One of the most eloquent performances of all is the last song, ‘Nachtstuck’…Here, singer and pianist show an acute sensitivity to harmonic colour that characterises this whole rewarding recital.” Gramophone Magazine, May 2012

Brahms: Handel variations | Sonata No. 3 | Jonathan Plowright pno.

Posted in Instrumental, Piano solo with tags , , , , on March 11, 2013 by orinococds

Brahms: Handel variations | Sonata No. 3 | Jonathan Plowright pno. | $NZ 33 | BIS-2047 1 cd, 73 min

It was in October 1853 that the 20-year-old Johannes Brahms completed his Piano Sonata No. 3 in F minor, while staying with Robert and Clara Schumann in Düsseldorf. The work had occupied him for some months – at least since the summer of the same year, when he had encountered Franz Liszt, and had heard his recently completed B minor Sonata. Strictly speaking, he may only have heard parts of it: according to some reports, Brahms fell asleep during the performance… It is tempting to see the younger man’s sonata as a response to Liszt’s work, but whatever the case may be, its hero­ic scale, unconventional layout and high quality made it one of the most impressive sonatas since those of Beethoven and Schubert. Signifi­cantly, Brahms never wrote another piano sonata, as if he had said as much as he wanted to say in that genre. Instead he would go on to compose in more concentrated formats, but he also wrote a series of large-scale sets of variations, among which the Handel Variations must be considered his crowning achievement. Completed in September 1861 and dedicated to Clara Schumann, the work shows Brahms at the height of his powers

British pianist Jonathan Plowright makes his début recording on BIS. Hailed by Gramophone as ‘one of the finest living pianists’, Plowright is recognised worldwide as a truly exceptional artist.

Plowright’s cd of the Piano Sonata No. 3 and the Handel variations on BIS2047 heralds something completely special, despite the eminent competition.

These are performances of superb technical command which never draws attention to itself but simply serves the music. And this is combined with an intense musical understanding which makes these weighty pieces seem fleet and logical. The Handel Variations fairly rip along, delighting the listener with their textural variety exploited to the full by this fine artist. The Andante Expressivo of the sonata is certainly that – full of poetry poetry and played with great delicacy and warmth. Let us hope that this cd is indeed the first of Plowright’s Brahms series. Peter Shaw, North and South magazine.

Hybrid SACD format.

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.”

Van Cliburn dies, aged 78

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , on March 3, 2013 by orinococds

Van Cliburn returned to Moscow in 2004, performing at a memorial concert for victims of the Beslan school massacre.

Legendary pianist Van Cliburn the only solo musician of any genre to receive a ticker-tape parade in New York City and the first classical musician to sell a million albums, died Wednesday morning in his Fort Worth, Texas, home. The 78-year-old Texan soared to world fame in 1958 when he won the first International Tchaikovsky Competition in Moscow, at the height of the Cold War.


OBITUARY By Dennis McLellan, Los Angeles TimesFebruary 28, 2013

After a tense decade of air raid sirens, duck-and-cover drills and fears of Soviet superiority, hope for America came in an unlikely form in the late 1950s: a lanky, 23-year-old Texan with a head full of curls and huge hands that ranged across a piano keyboard with virtuosic power.

With his transcendent performances of Tchaikovsky’s First and Rachmaninoff’s Third piano concertos, Van Cliburn brought 1,500 Russians to their feet in a Moscow concert hall.

Declared the victor of the first International Tchaikovsky Competition, the young American became a hero of the Cold War era and an object of adoration around the world, whose fame helped bring classical music to the masses.

After the humiliation of Sputnik, Americans declared a cultural victory with Cliburn. Dubbed the “American Sputnik,” he was feted like no other classical musician before him, with a ticker-tape parade in New York City and fan clubs to rival a movie idol’s.

Cliburn, whose breakthrough success in 1958 made him one of the world’s most celebrated pianists, died Wednesday of bone cancer at his Forth Worth home, said his publicist, Mary Lou Falcone. He was 78.

He kept up a frenetic schedule of more than 100 concerts a year for two decades, until retiring from the performance circuit in 1978. In the mid-1990s he embarked on a long-anticipated comeback tour that drew poor reviews.

A child prodigy, Cliburn was taught by his pianist mother until he entered Juilliard School of Music in New York in 1951 at age 17. Three years later he won the prestigious Leventritt international competition, which earned him solo engagements with the New York Philharmonic and other orchestras.

But he remained little known outside music circles before arriving in Moscow in 1958.

Competing against 49 other pianists from 19 countries at the first Tchaikovsky International Piano and Violin Festival, the technically brilliant Cliburn created a sensation with the romantic sweep of his playing in the first two rounds of the competition.

By the time he came on stage to play in the final round, “the crowd had become nearly hysterical,” Chicago arts critic  Howard Reich wrote in “Van Cliburn,” his 1993 biography. “Roughly 1,500 people had jammed the Great Hall of the Moscow Conservatory; thousands more waited outside.”

Instantaneous ovations greeted Cliburn’s playing of Tchaikovsky’s First Piano Concerto, Reich wrote, and his performance of a new solo piece required of all finalists, a rondo by Soviet composer and contest judge Dmitry Kabalevsky, earned him a standing ovation.

But when Cliburn finished Rachmaninoff’s technically difficult Third Piano Concerto, the audience erupted into a thunderous standing ovation that continued after he left the stage. Then the jury stood and joined in. Two judges even jumped up and hugged each other.

“A boyish, curly-haired young man from Kilgore, Texas, took musical Moscow by storm tonight,” a New York Times correspondent reported. “Mr. Cliburn is clearly the popular favorite and all Moscow is wondering whether an American will walk off with top honors.”

The jury, particularly the Soviet and Soviet bloc judges who would cast the deciding votes, feared the consequences of awarding the prize to an American.

According to Reich’s book, the Soviet minister of culture took that question all the way to the top — to the chairman of the Council of Ministers, Nikita Khrushchev.

“What do the professionals say about him? Is he the best?” Khrushchev asked.

“Yes, he is the best,” the minister of culture replied.

“In this case, give him the first prize,” Khrushchev said.

Trumpeted on the cover of Time magazine as “The Texan Who Conquered Russia,” the rangy, 6-foot-4 Cliburn was besieged by screaming admirers in cities where he appeared. And after he played before audiences of more than 80,000 on two nights in Chicago, the city’s Elvis Presley Fan Club changed its name to the Van Cliburn Fan Club.

“He was bigger than a rock star,” Reich told The Times last summer. “Very few rock stars get an invitation to the White House and the Kremlin. This was so beyond anything in American entertainment and culture.”