…Whatever reservations one might harbor about this or that individual performance, it is unlikely that this set as a whole will be surpassed in the near future. It belongs in every serious music library, private or public.
If you are only ever going to listen to one disc of the music of Anton Webern, make it this one. It has more of his appealing orchestral music on it than any other disc. There is the Passacaglia, Op. 1 - the finale of Brahms Fourth meets the finale of Mahler's Sixth. There is the Movements (5), Op. 5 - angular, aggressive, and rapturous. There is the Pieces (6), Op. 6 - tender, mysterious, and tragic. There is his pointillistic orchestration of Bach's Ricercar a 6 voci - cool dots of color illuminating a mathematical proof. There is his affectionate orchestration of Schubert's German Dances - lightly lyrical peasant dances done with loving care. There is even his Im Sommerwind - a Romantic tone poem describing his trysts in the Austrian alps.
Mitsuko Uchida has been a committed exponent of Schoenberg's Piano Concerto for over a decade now. It is a work which remains controversial in its adaptation of the serial method to an almost Brahmsian harmonic palette, wedded to a formal approach that takes up the integrated design, and textural richness, of Schoenberg's pre-atonal works. Certainly in terms of the balance between soloist and orchestra, this recording clarifies the often capricious interplay to a degree previously unheard on disc (and most likely in the concert hall too).Interpretatively, it combines Pollini's dynamism, without the hectoring touch that creeps into the Adagio's climactic passages, and Brendel's lucidity, avoiding the deadpan feeling that pervades his final Giocoso.
This 11-disc set is essential for anyone interested in the music of Arnold Schoenberg. It is the complete Sony "Boulez Conducts Schoenberg" series in a Brilliant-style box without jewel cases. Whether you are just investigating Schoenberg, or looking to complete the series, this is a most welcome release.
Passaggio, Lavinia Meijer's first release on Sony, is an album of the crossover music of Ludovico Einaudi, an Italian composer and pianist who encouraged the Dutch harpist to record some of his most popular pieces. The playing on this 2013 album is highly polished and appealing, and Meijer demonstrates considerable powers of concentration and precision in performances of her harp transcriptions of Einaudi's keyboard music. Some will find Meijer's renditions emotionally communicative and mood enhancing, and most of the credit for their effectiveness belongs to her, because Einaudi's modal harmonies and conventional patterns tend toward a bland prettiness, or pretty blandness, that's all of a piece. Simple melodies and repeated arpeggiated chords have the instant attraction of minimalist music, and simplicity is often a virtue in the proper context. Sony's recording is clear and close-up, and Meijer has presence in a fairly resonant studio space.
Since the end of the seventeenth century French composers have shown a particular skill and deftness of touch in writing for the flute. The instrument owes much of its prominence in French music of the twentieth century to the use made of it in orchestral colouring by composers such as Debussy and Ravel, as well as to a group of highly gifted players associated in one way or another with the Paris Conservatoire. They include the soloist on this recording, Patrick Gallois, a pupil of Jean-Pierre Rampal. This collection of works composed during the last sixty years ranges from Poulenc’s Sonata, marked by rhythmic vitality and a delicate vein of sentimentality, Messiaen’s Le merle noir, inspired by bird song, to Boulez’s Sonatine, which the composer himself has characterised as ‘organised delirium’.
Peter Stein staged the work for Welsh National Opera in 1992 and won universal praise, as did Pierre Boulez for his conducting. Within austere, wholly appropriate sets, beautifully lit by Jean Kalman, Stein catches the very essence of this singular and elusive piece. Each of the 15 scenes is given its own distinctive décor in which the action is played out on several levels – high for the tower scenes, low for the eerie, subterranean grottoes, for instance. A masterstroke is the subtle evolution from one scene to another in view of the audience, offering a visual counterpoint to the interludes. Stein sees that Debussy's instructions are scrupulously observed. In fact, as a whole, this is an object-lesson in modern staging. Stein and his collaborators reflect the ebb and flow of crude realism and fragile dream-life that permeate the score, which Boulez has identified as lying at its heart. Director and conductor worked closely with each other over a six-week rehearsal period, something unlikely to occur today, so Boulez's interpretation is in complete accord with the staging, his musical direction at once direct and luminous, timbres finely balanced one with the other.
Recorder virtuoso Erik Bosgraaf (b. 1980) was personally granted permission to arrange for recorder Boulez' (1925-2016) Dialogue de l'ombre double, originally for clarinet and electronics. ...The result is a dynamic interplay between Bosgraaf's recorder and the fascinating electronic timbres and colours. The second work on this release is a musical dialogue between Bosgraaf and electronic wizard Jorrit Tamminga (b. 1973), creating unheard-of sounds of the recorder interwoven in electronic sound tapestries.
Following on the worldwide success of In a Time Lapse, Ludovico Einaudi presents his new work, Elements. The work's sound is lush and deep and interwoven with a freshness that naturally blends Einaudi's piano with acoustic and electronic sounds. In addition to his usual collaborators, the album also features the Amsterdam Sinfonietta, Berlin-based electronic musician Robert Lippok, Brazilian percussionist Mauro Refosco and South African violinist Daniel Hope. The composer said of the album, "Elements sprang from a desire to start anew, following a different path of knowledge. I saw new frontiers - on the edge between what I knew and what I didn't know - that I had long wanted to explore… gradually, everything came together in a dance, as if all the elements were parts of the same world, and myself within it".
Tom Service presents 40 years of great BBC archive featuring the French composer, conductor and musical icon, Pierre Boulez, who died on 5th January 2016 at the age of 90. Opinionated and challenging, Boulez transformed the way that musicians and audiences all over the world think about contemporary music. With orchestras including the BBC Symphony, he rehearses and performs Debussy, Stravinsky and Bartok, as well as a selection of his own extraordinary compositions. Boulez's relationship with the BBC began in the 1960s and blossomed during his years as chief conductor of the BBC Symphony Orchestra - leaving a vivid legacy in the BBC's TV archive.