It's been conventional wisdom for several generations that Solomon, great oratorio though it may be, contains a lot of deadwood; conductors have regularly cut some items and changed the order of others. (Even John Eliot Gardiner's excellent recording cuts about 30 minutes of music.) Leave it to Paul McCreesh to give us the complete score–and demonstrate that Handel's original structure makes plenty of sense and that every number is worthwhile.
The young cellist Andreas Brantelid, often accompanied and perhaps guided by the much older Bengt Forsberg, has gained notice for sheer virtuoso chops. But in this recital covering all of Gabriel Fauré's music for cello and piano, it's his way with a sheer melody that impresses the most: the two Berceuses (cradle song), the flawless unfolding of the two sonata slow movements from simple opening material (sample that of the elegiac Cello Sonata No. 2 in G minor, Op. 117), the remarkable, 54-second Morceau de Lecture (originally for two cellos, and the only arranged work here). Brantelid certainly delivers a smooth performance of the popular Papillon, Op. 77, and all the music here – some of it well known, but most of it not so much – is a pleasure. Fauré was one of the few composers who had a real knack for writing for the cello and did so without complaining about it. The best is saved for last: the Andante for cello and harmonium is the original version of the opening Romance, Op. 69, and it's really an entirely different work, spooky and inward, with the harmonium contributing a unique wash of sound. The harmonium was an extremely common instrument in the second half of the 19th century, and it's good to hear a work played on the instrument for which it was intended. BIS contributes fine Swedish radio sound to this recommended cello recital.
The Symphony receives a particularly warm and beautiful interpretation. DePreist has a sympathetic feeling for contrasts of textures; the tempi are excellently judged and atmospheres powerful, with a vigorous sense of energy, tension and release. The Sea Hawk, though, is allowed to wallow. Particular poignancy is added through the presence of Korngold’s granddaughter Kathrin as a violinist member of the orchestra.
Although Korngold’s ‘complete works for violin and piano’ make up a reasonably full disc, it is only fair to point out that the Violin Sonata is the single work that is not an arrangement from one of his other pieces. Yet this Sonata, written at the age of 15 for Carl Flesch and Artur Schnabel no less, is a fine example of his early style, with its echoes of Zemlinsky and early Schoenberg. The young Dutch violinist Sonja van Beek and German pianist Andreas Frölich negotiate its challenges with ease: as in Rachmaninoff’s Cello Sonata, the pianist has as tough a role as the melody instrument. Much Ado about Nothing is one of several arrangements of a suite of four movements derived from incidental music to Shakespeare’s play written in 1918, performed here with affection and a silken suavity. The remainder of the repertoire is made up of arrangements of Korngold lollipops, hit numbers from his operas, such as the unforgettable ‘Marietta’s Lied’ from Die tote Stadt, arranged by the composer as salon pieces and popularised by Kreisler and his ilk.
The 2010 ECM album Purcor - Songs for Saxophone and Piano features tenor/soprano saxophonist Trygve Seim and pianist Andreas Utnem dueting on various original and traditional compositions. Although this is the first time the two musicians have recorded together, their partnership extends back to the mid-'90s when Utnem, working with Norway's Church City Mission foundation, invited Seim to perform with him at several church services. Choosing from a mix of liturgical compositions for mass and some original pieces, Utnem then played in his own classical- and jazz-based style while Seim improvised around him. The result, as heard on this album, is a kind of hybrid of classical, jazz, and folk styles fits nicely into the softly introspective, and cerebral ECM approach.