…If you haven’t heard this music, let’s just say that Zelenka wrote some of the most enjoyable and colorful music of the Baroque era, and he is supremely well served by CPO’s engineers, conductor Sonnentheil, and his New-Eröffnete Orchestre.
The fourth volume of Timpani's series of orchestral works by Iannis Xenakis presents four works from three distinct periods, though not in chronological order. Erikhthon for piano and orchestra (1974) is one of the "arborescent" or branch-like compositions from Xenakis' middle phase. Expanding and contracting through criss-crossing glissandi and bending clusters, the extremely loud and aggressive orchestra overwhelms the impossibly dense and struggling piano part; in this role reversal, Erikhthon may be regarded as the absolute antithesis of the conventional piano concerto. Ata (1987) is a late work, contrapuntal in nature but with the difference that the polyphonic lines are all tightly bunched in clusters; it also features a sly reference to Stravinsky's Le Sacre du printemps, which is unexpected and hilarious.
Naturally, Brilliant Classics could not afford to get the best baroque performers - this is a super budget set - but one thing that the listener discovers in this set is that there are many fine, even excellent "second tier" performers of Bach's music. Many of the instrumental ensembles whose recordings are in this set are excellent. The Consort of London, for example, is a pleasant surprise. They perform the Brandenburg Concertos and the Orchestral Suites…
Performed by various soloists with the Tokyo Metropolitan Symphony Orchestra conducted by Ryusuke Numajiri. Recorded both in analog and digital versions in the Japanese double-CD release. "Twill by Twilight" is a harmonically and timbrally lush work, which often evokes the tone painting breadth of Debussy and the crystalline delicacy of Webern, an outpouring of "pastel coloring…reminders of the transient nature of twilight, before the coming night and after the sunset" (Takemitsu). It is dedicated to "the memory of my dear friend Morton Feldman." Takemitsu described the work's sub-structure as developed "through strictly measured musical units, through what might be called musical principles before a melody is constituted or before a rhythm is formed." This is a very apt metaphor applicable to Morton Feldman's own compositional style. The small and broad cyclicism of the rhythm patterns in Takemitsu's work is however much more hidden – a kind of phased, elastic, non-clockwork repetition with imaginative variations.
Performed by the Tokyo Metropolitan Symphony Orchestra and conducted by Yuzo Toyama with soprano Rie Hamada. A beautiful digital recording of several rarely performed works by Takemitsu (the soprano part of the marvelous "Coral Island" is very difficult, for example, and the "Archipelago S" is for an unusual ensemble of instruments). Many of the subtleties of Takemitsu's writing are lost in recording (for example, subtle harmonics behind more foreground material), but the engineers made a good effort here.