Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Bernardo Storace - Harpsichord Music (From the collection 'Selva di varie composition') - Naoko Akutagawa, Harpsichord - Naxos 2010

Very little is known about the composer Bernardo Storace, however he penned some of the finest keyboard music of his time. The charming music of the opening "Ciaccona" (Chaconne) will likely be familiar to most early music enthusiasts.




Enjoy

Storace-Harpsichord_Music-Tzadik.zip

http://www31.zippyshare.com/v/cJ0NlYim/file.html

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Robert Raines - Echoes of Sarah for Nine Flutes - Ménage, Trio for Flute, Bass Clarinet and Piano - The Return of Odysseus: Ballet - Deanna Bertsche, Flute, Erin Douglas, Clarinet, Jose Belvia, Piano - Moravian Philharmonic Orchestra, Vít Micka - MSR Classics 2008

Robert Raines is a lesser-known American composer who writes great music that is always evocative, with elements of jazz, blues, (imo) Stravinskian drive and everything else in between. Raines's is an original voice, these are just reference points needless to say. The main attraction on this disc is the full ballet score "The Return of Odysseus", which is an exciting journey full of many contrasting moods; it ties as my favorite work along with the "Trio for Flute, Clarinet and Piano" fittingly titled "Ménage" (one might notice that it's a 3 movement work as well, each of them lasting 3 minutes..) which reminds me (a bit) of Poulenc whose chamber music I just adore. 


Raised in New York City's Greenwich Village by parents who were active in the arts, American composer Robert Raines was immersed in music, theater, literature, and the visual arts from an early age. He attended the High School of Art and Design, one of the city's specialized schools for the arts. He went on to receive a Bachelors of Music, in composition and electronic music, from the Berklee College of Music in Boston, his Master of Music in composition from the Shenandoah Conservatory, and his Doctor of Music in composition from the Florida State University. Parallel careers in music and visual arts followed his early education. His experience includes working for a number of years as a guitarist and composer in New York City, during which time he produced and performed on many recordings and performances of jazz, blues and popular music. He has also composed a sizeable body of art music and electronic compositions, and has toured the United States and Europe. During the same period, he achieved professional success in his career as a visual artist, including executive positions at AOL and Time Magazine.


"Echoes of Sarah" was composed in 2007 and dedicated to the memory of a fellow musician and friend who died before her time of a rare blood disease. Performed by nine flutists (one piccolo, 5 standard flutes, 2 altos and one bass), the texture is deliberately intricate as the composer explores extremes of range, tone, texture, and tempo, beginning and ending with dense vertical clusters. But something else is going on here. Though Raines provides no program, the course of this 11-minute work seems to parallel that of a human life: tentative reaching-out in exploration at the beginning, followed by struggle, conflict, and gratifying moments of triumph such as we all have, then frantically increasing tempi and a sense of urgency, as of someone keenly aware of the terrible brevity of life. Next we have an eerie section in which we hear only the sounds of labored suspiration (probably the result of the performers blowing streams of air without pressing the keys), and then a final brief flourish of tone clusters at the end.

"Ménage" (2005), a Trio in three movements for Flute, Piano and Bass Clarinet, explores the relationships between these three instruments, each with its own distinctive timbre, in solo, duet and trio settings. But again, though Raines is quite explicit that the work is abstract and non-programmatic, the music explores a range of emotions: love and hate, sadness and joy, conflict and its resolution. The movements are marked only l, ll, and lll, but seem to correspond to a traditional fast-slow-fast pattern. This is a truly delightful chamber work.

"The Return of Ulysses" (2007),  is 30-minute ballet in three acts and seven scenes based on Homer's Odyssey. The outline is as follows: Act I: Athena Visits Athens; Dance of the Suitors. Act ll: The Cyclops; The Sirens; The Kingdom of the Dead. Act lll: The Return of Odysseus; The Rooted Bed.  The writing is expressive and dramatic, showing Raines's well developed instinct for using the right instrumental combination at the right moment. The Suitors, spoilers of Odysseus' wealth who dishonor his wife Penelope by their unwelcome presence and importunate demands that she marry one of them, are subtly characterized by music that illustrates their arrogance and excess. The Cyclops builds in mystery and intensity, making highly effective use of the brass at the climactic moment. The denizens of The Kingdom of the Dead are more than just pitiable shades: being dead, they are envious of the living and desirous of imprisoning them in their own realm; Raines's robust orchestration gives them a palpable enough presence to be really menacing to his hero. The Return of Odysseus is climaxed by a truly thrilling description of the battle in which the hero slays the Suitors; the music ranges back and forth as in a real battle, with sensationally scintillating writing for the strings. The Rooted Bed concludes the story: Penelope is able to satisfy Odysseus' doubts as to her fidelity by answering his query: 'Who has moved my bed?' The bed, which was the marriage bed of Penelope and Odysseus, cannot be moved any more than the perfect union of man and woman can be shaken, for its frame is the trunk of a massive tree, its bedposts the branches.

Enjoy everyone

Robert_Raines_Return_of_Odysseus-Tzadik.zip

http://www5.zippyshare.com/v/FVw8pwEP/file.html

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Granville Bantock - Overture to a Greek Tragedy - Josef Holbrooke - The Birds of Rhiannon - Cyril Rootham - Symphony No. 1 - London Philharmonic Orchestra, Vernon Handley - Philharmonia Orchestra, Nicholas Braithwaite - Lyrita (remastered 2007)

This is an important Lyrita recording that offers music by a composer (Bantock) who is still far too under-appreciated and neglected (especially considering how powerful and sublime his music is-not to mention how massive is the size of his output, 90%+ of which remains unknown), a composer who remains obscure (Holbrooke), and lastly a composer who is entirely obscure and known to very few (Rootham). I do know of two discs devoted entirely to Cyril Rootham; One contains his Symphony No. 2 and "Ode on the Morning of Christ's Nativity", which is also on Lyrita, as well as an EMI disc from 1987 that features works for orchestra and orchestra and chorus. Rootham's Symphony is perhaps the nicest surprise here, it's obscurity is but one reason; this is very good music as you all shall hear!

Bantock has always been on my short-list of favorite composers, I find all of his music to be irresistible and beautiful, whether it's his works specifically inspired by Scotland and Hebridean folk music, or his music that reflects his equally strong interest and expansive knowledge of musics and literature from the Far East, mythic legends, and all types of 'exotic' subject matter.  



I have been tempted to post my favorite Bantock discs (especially those on Hyperion, my absolute favorite being the recording that includes the lush, utterly delightful, and complete knock-out "Celtic Symphony") however I'm certain they have already been shared on other blogs. Chandos recorded (as well as a few smaller works) the Masterpiece "Omar Khayyam", scored for solo voices, chorus, and orchestra-I hope everyone is already familiar with it! I don't think the Dutton Epoch discs have been shared yet, and there's some others I will have to check to see if they are 'un-posted'..

Bantock was born in Notting Hill in west London on August 7th, 1868. He came from a professional family background, his Scottish father being a celebrated surgeon. Not unlike many other composers, Bantock had to overcome initial 'parental opposition', and started to train both as a chemical engineer and for the Indian Civil Service before finally being allowed to go to the Royal Academy of Music in 1888. Bantock's first jobs on leaving the Academy were as conductor of musical comedies, and then his first real success was also as a conductor at the Tower, New Brighton, a resort across the Mersey from Liverpool. Initially, Bantock had only a military band to work with,  but he quickly developed an orchestra with which for three years he presented pioneering programs of music by his British contemporaries. In 1900 he was appointed Principal of the Midland Institute School of Music in Birmingham, and in 1908 succeeded Elgar as Professor of Music at Birmingham University. His life's work was thus focused on the Midlands rather than London. 


A wonderful portrait of Sir Granville Bantock by Bernard Munns (1869–1942)



Bantock forged a personal style from what was new in the 1890's-especially Wagner, Tchaikovsky and Richard Strauss-and between 1900 and 1914 produced a fair portion of his best music. He was always descriptive in his treatment, oft fascinated by 'oriental' and exotic subjects as mentioned above. At the peak of his reputation Bantock turned to to Greek tragedy for a theme and quickly wrote his "Overture to a Greek Tragedy" in 1911, and it was first heard at the Three Choirs Festival that September. He called this score an 'overture', but it really is more of a tone-poem, written at the time he was reworking two earlier ones: "Dante & Beatrice" and "Fifine at the Fair" and their sound-world is reflected in the 'overture'. The Greek tragedy in question is Sophocle's Oedipus at Colonus, and Bantock creates his drama with characteristically sudden changes of mood. Things start off with a striking sombre 5/4 fanfare-like idea, which along with the faster section that follows can be viewed
as the first subject group of a sonata treatment of the material. The second subject is more typically Bantockian, representing Antigone initially with a solo violin and four horns, a texture strongly reminiscent of "Fifine..". Ultimately Bantock works the opening idea to a passionate climax. The score is dedicated to Sibelius, whose own Third Symphony had earlier been dedicated to Bantock. 

Daniel Rootham, cathedral organist at Bristol, conducted concerts there and directed the Bristol Madrigal Society. It is not accidental that his son wrote so many choral-orchestral works and pieces for vocal ensemble. Cyril Rootham's education at Clifton and Cambridge, where Vaughan Williams was his senior, increased a literary sensitivity not evident in all his musical forbears (Elgar for example). He sought their thematic interest without cavalier subjection of verbal rhythm; his most ambitious realization of this ideal is the setting of Milton's "Ode on the Morning of Christ's Nativity".
Rootham wrote well over 100 works including an opera, songs, orchestral works and much choral music, music for organ, and chamber music. Practically all of these works remain unknown.

Cyril Rootham and his pipe in 1935

In 1901, Rootham returned to Cambridge as Director of Music at St. John's College. He was later appointed Senior Lecturer in counterpoint and harmony and conductor of the Cambridge University Musical Society. A production of The Magic Flute in 1911 drew much attention as Mozart's operas were still rarely taken up, and Rootham's musical success with the Musical Society continued with Purcell operas and masques, dramatizations of Handel oratorios and other operas by Mozart as well. Until his early death in 1938, Cyril Rootham remained an influential figure in Cambridge musical life and he taught a number of musicians who went on to become significant composers (including Arthur Bliss and Cecil Armstrong Gibbs). 

The Symphony No. 1 is in four movements and displays a composer driven by matters as weighty and gripping as those tackled by Bliss to whose music Rootham's in this case bears some resemblance. Rootham often writes ebullient music and it is evident especially in the outer movements. The second and third movements recall Vaughan Williams and Holst; even Moeran in the Scherzo. If there was one work that is invoked more often than any other it is Bliss's "Colour Symphony". It can be heard in the bustle, vigour and sanguine splendour of the outer movements. Other voices passingly foreshadwed or echoed are RVW's "49th Parallel" and the symphonic blast of William Alwyn. It's a big-boned confident symphony that deserves to be known and known well at that. Hopefully someday this will be the case. 

Here are Josef Holbrooke's original program notes (I'm too tired to add any bio on Holbrooke tonight) for "The Birds of Rhiannon":

"The Birds of Rhiannon is a fantasia written for small orchestra with glockenspiel and harp ad. lib. It is copious in material and has plenty of variety of theme, mood and rhythm. The work opens with a horn solo, the theme being taken up by the strings in the major key and treated with easy fluency and beauty of sound. Another theme on the first violins soon makes an appearance, leading into an andante movement in triple time; then the rhythm changes and the music continues in this mood for some little time while until we reach a tranquillo version of the first theme for oboe solo with tremolando accompaniment. After this there are many changes of style and rhythm and much flowing melody which could only be satisfactorily indicated by extensive quotation. The story of the Birds is found in the wonderful Mabinogion stories of early Welsh history. An episode says: After the death of Pwyll, Rhiannon was by her son Pryderi, bestowed in marriage upon Manawyddan, the son of Llyr, and her subsequent history is detailed in the Mabinogi that bears his name. Her marvellous birds whose notes were so sweet that warriors remained spell-bound for eighty years together listening to them, are a frequent theme with the poets. Three things that are not often heard: the song of the Birds of Rhiannon, a song of wisdom from the mouth of a Saxon, and an invitation to a feast from the mouth of a miser. The music of this piece is taken from various episodes in the composer's dramas - Dylan, Children of Don and Bronwen - which are all scored for a very large orchestra. Although these dramas have now been written nearly fifteen years - and performed abroad - they are still practically unknown to our music lovers."

Josef Holbrooke


Enjoy everyone

G.Bantock_Joseph_Holbrooke_Cyril_Rootham-Tzadik.zip

http://www82.zippyshare.com/v/mAyl8Zec/file.html

Fred Lerdahl - Time After Time - Marches - Oboe Quartet - Waves - Columbia Sinfonietta, Jeffrey Milarsky 'Antares' - Orpheus Chamber Orchestra - Bridge Records 2006 ('Waves' rec. 1992, Deutsche Grammophon)

Good weekend to all. It's time again for a recording from my "unheard" stacks, freshly unwrapped and ready to be explored. Fred Lerdahl is a composer whom I know of only from the recording of "Waves" that was originally released on a Deutsche Grammophon compilation called "Points of Departure" (which I left in a rental car in Arizona years ago). Indeed, that was my motivation for purchasing this disc, I was excited to get my hands on the re-mastered "Waves" which I recall enjoying quite a bit. I'm listening to "Time After Time" (2000) as I write, and stylistically it's a lot more modern than the entirely 'accessible' Waves composed in 1988. Enjoying it so far..   



I have included the booklet notes, and here is what is written on the Bridge Records site about Lerdahl:

Fred Lerdahl is one of the least known among "major" American composers. Lerdahl's music is greatly admired by cognoscenti, and his theoretical writings are among the most important of the latter 20th century, but his music remains less known to the general public, perhaps because of its non-doctrinaire stance. A Lerdahl composition might at any moment be tonal or atonal, it might luxuriate in Lerdahl's rich melodic and harmonic gifts, or it might make reference to various musics of our past. Pulitzer prize-winning composer Paul Moravec writes that: "The deep, fresh, inspired music of Fred Lerdahl is a beacon for listeners making their way forward through the millenium's strange and wonderful landscape of the imagination. Organic images express the way in which Lerdahl's music seems so right as it unfolds in time, giving the impression of inexorability." Time After Time, a Pulitzer prize finalist, is for the familiar "Pierrot plus percussion" formation. In two movements, the eighteen and a half minute composition employs spiral forms, in which simple ideas become elaborated and more complex with each cycle. Marches, for clarinet, violin, cello, and piano is a phantasmagoria of over-laid march-like ideas. One can feel the presence of Sousa and Mahler, lurking in the wings as Lerdahl creates an overall mood that veers between humor and fervent instrumental brilliance. Lerdahl's Oboe Quartet was composed for La Fenice, the ensemble that performs it here. Led by the superb oboist Peggy Pearson, the quartet integrates the oboe into the ensemble in a single 13 minute movement whose overall mood is playful with occasional dark undertones. Waves for chamber orchestra simply must be heard to be believed. Given a stunningly controlled reading by the conductor-less Orpheus Chamber Orchestra, this recording is a re-mastered release of the out-of-print Deutsche Grammophon recording.

Let us enjoy..

Music_of_Fred_Lerdahl_Vol.1-Tzadik.zip

http://www52.zippyshare.com/v/CursBgqx/file.html

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Paul Chihara - Concerto Piccolo for Four Violas - Viola Concerto - Redwood, for Viola and Percussion - Sonata for Viola and Piano - Paul Coletti, Viola - The Colburn Orchestra, dir. Yehuda Gilad - Bridge Records 2013

Viola fanciers (and anyone who loves listening to great music) rejoice! Here is a fantastic recording of Viola music by Paul Chihara including the wondrous Viola Concerto. It's a work that imho should be in the Viola repertoire the world over. The same can be said for the Viola Sonata, it's pure joy from start to finish and one of the finest ways I can think of to spend (just under 12) minutes. I hate to sound selfish but it is all so very well written that I'd like another 12 minutes. After much thought I came up with a magical solution; it's called play-and-repeat. It works like a charm, should you too feel so compelled ;)  


"Redwood" for Viola and Percussion is one of my favorite Chihara works and the "Concerto Piccolo" for four Violas is quite 'piccolo' indeed at only 7+ minutes, however it's entirely successful; compact with fanciful and energetic moments that last until the 4th movement "Aka Tombo" (Red Dragonfly) which has slower, eerie harmonies based on a Japanese folksong of the same name. The disc concludes with a nice bonus, an eight-minute Q&A style conversation between composer Paul Chihara and founder of Bridge Records, David Starobin.


This post shall be continued later today. It's just become Thursday, a long Wednesday is *finally* and happily fading over here.. 

Enjoy everyone!

Paul_Chihara-Viola_Concerto_Viola_Works-Tzadik.zip

http://www34.zippyshare.com/v/5vQNDplr/file.html

Friday, September 18, 2015

Gustav Holst - Works for Chamber Orchestra - Brook Green Suite - Lyric Movement - A Fugal Concerto - Morris Dance Tunes - St. Paul's Suite - The New Zealand Chamber Orchestra, Nicholas Braithwaite - Koch Classics 1991

Someone requested Holst's "Brook Green Suite" and it was perfect timing; I have been searching around for this Koch Classics disc lately, dying to hear it again. This has been my favorite Holst recording since the 1990s, and remains so. Listen, for instance, to the "St. Paul's Suite" which is executed here with total exuberance; the jig and Dargason country dance should find you doing just that, dancing! To my ears this is still the finest recorded performance. The disc in it's entirety is close to perfection, and The New Zealand Chamber Orchestra play under Braithwaite as if Holst had been at the recording session.


In the early years of his career Holst made little headway in the professional world of music. For economic reasons he was forced to spend several summers at the seaside, playing trombone in one of England's ubiquitous military bands. He was never terribly fond of this work, but it did give him a thorough understanding of brass instruments and popular arrangement techniques. That skill showed up in his two Suites for Military Band, and in 1910, in a collection of "Morris Dances". The Morris Dances heard here appeared in two arrangements, one for military band, the other for orchestra. Like his close friend and colleague, Ralph Vaughan Williams, Holst was enthusiastic about the folk song preservation work being done by by collectors such as Cecil Sharp and Lucy Broadwood. The original harmonizations of these dances were realized by Cecil Sharp, a friend and dedicatee of at least one major Holst work (Somerset Rhapsody). Sharp's remarkable efforts eventually led to a collection of almost five thousand folk tunes and dances, and he contributed harmonizations to some 500 of these. Little else is known about this music. Holst was apparently commissioned to write four sets although only two remain. They may have been first performed in their brass version in 1911 at the Festival of Empire. As a rare and much needed commission early in his career, the Dances provided Holst with enough money for a much deserved holiday. 


Both the "Lyric Movement" and the "Brook Green Suite" date from the twilight of Holst's life yet it is hard to imagine two more differently tempered works. The Brook Green Suite was written by the beloved and bespectacled teacher at the Saint Paul's School while the Lyric Movement is another Holst entirely, more pensive, despairing and ultimately resigned. The "Brook Green Suite" was written in 1933 and given an informal first performance in March of 1934 by the school orchestra. Holst died two months later. This suite shows none of the frustration, pain and worry that afflicted the composer during his final days. Like the St. Paul's Suite it is bathed in the bright light of C Major, and juxtaposes placid melodies with energetic jigs. The short opening 'Prelude' repeats a rich, descending C Major scale with a modal sounding melody above it. The 'Air' is of a slightly darker hue, its material  closely related to a Welsh folk song. The final 'Dance' is again a jig; its melody was supposedly overheard by Holst while at a puppet show in Sicily. Although Holst was very sick in 1934, he managed to attend one through of the Brook Green Suite. He was not so fortunate with the "Lyric Movement" which he had to be content to hear on a BBC broadcast conducted by Adrian Boult. Scored for solo viola and small orchestra it is a thoroughly melancholy work. An opening, unmetered solo line by the viola and then the flute leads to a metered tune based on a fragment of the opening statement. The music builds to a remarkably strong climax which may have prompted Imogen's remark that she heard an "ardor" in the Lyric Movement reminiscent of Holst's early Wagnerian days. The work has two conclusions, one with a viola cadenza, one without.The solo line is very flattering to the instrument, generally set comfortably in the viola's most resonant register. Indeed the whole piece is viola-esque: a warm, very human and, as per its title, lyrical outpouring.  


In Febuary of 1923 Holst fell and struck his head whilst conducting. Doctors recommended rest, but he ignored the suggestion and shortly thereafter suffered a nervous breakdown. The "Fugal Concerto" was written while Holst recovered from the incident. It was sketched aboard the ocean liner Aquatania as Holst travelled to the United States to participate in a music festival held in Ann Arbor, MI. On the autograph score Holst wrote that he had completed the work in the University of Michigan Library, and the first performance, a private one, happened at the University as well.
Scored for a small ensemble which includes a solo flute and oboe, this work is delightfully classical, refined and intelligent. The opening 'Moderato' uses fugue techniques, but does not really form a sophisticated fugue proper. The various voices do however enter at the expected pitches and work themselves into a point of high tension leading to a repeated dominant pedal in the lower strings; a fortissimo statement is made and the work finally concludes with a humorous, soft inversion of the theme. The second movement, marked Adagio, offers a sinuous melody over short bass notes; Imogen Holst praised it for its "exquisite poise". The final movement creates a rich contrapuntal display with the 17th century dance tune "If all the world were paper". 

It's interesting to note the strange place the "Fugal Concerto" occupies in Holst's oeuvre. Critic Dyneley Hussey called it a "perverse exercise in the contrapuntal style, devoid of any warmth and with none of the real vitality which appears in the earlier Saint Paul's Suite for Strings". Imogen Holst argued vehemently against that attitude, and in particular tried to distance this work from the the neoclassical music of Hindemith and Stravinsky. With hindsight it is hard to hear how anyone could associate this good natured, humorous work with the more astringent continental neo-classicism.


In July 1913 the Saint Paul's Girls School, at which Holst had taught since 1905, opened a new wing devoted to music. One of its features (seemingly minor to us today) was the installation of sound proofed rooms. For Holst it was an incredible boon, enabling him to record and develop in peaceful silence the various musical ideas that had occurred to him during his often frenzied days of teaching. The first work completed in this new room was a four movement suite named for the school and intended for performance by the school orchestra. The "St. Paul's Suite" is remarkably complex and demanding for a school level group however, and as Imogen Holst reported, the young women's performance was far from definitive. 

The suite opens with a forceful, almost raucous Jig in C Major which alternates a tripping dance figure in 6/8 with a heavier, more assertive response in 9/8. The 'Ostinato' movement begins with a whispering, muted ostinato figure in 2/4, which continues its three tone perpetual motion oblivious to the harmonic explorations in different meter happening all around it. The 'Intermezzo' juxtaposes two exotic gestures, one a passionate violin line supposedly based on on a theme Holst noted down while traveling in Algeria, the other an energetic but short lived vivace. Both themes appear elsewhere in Holst's work, the former from is earlier 'Oriental' Suite "Beni Mora" (1910) and the latter in his ballet music for "The Perfect Fool" (1918-1922). The 'Finale' is based on two of the most beloved and recognized tunes of all time, the sprightly, jigging "Dargosan" and the haunting "Greensleeves". This skillful and exciting interweaving of melodies was originally composed as the finale for Hol;st's second Suite for Military Band; it was transcribed for string orchestra to complete this bright, exuberant score which Imogen called one of her father's "happiest works".

Track listing:

Brook Green Suite for String Orchestra

1)Prelude
2Air
3Dance

4)Lyric Movment for Viola & Small Orchestra

A Fugal Concerto, Op. 40 No. 2

5)Moderato
6)Adagio
7)Allegro

Morris Dance Tunes 

8)Bean Setting (Stick Dance)
9)Country Gardens (Handkerchief Dance)
10)Constant Billy (Stick Dance)
11)Shepherd's Hey (Stick or Hand-Clapping Dance)
12)Laudnum Bunches (Corner Dance)
13)Rigs O' Marlow (Stick Dance)
14)How D'ye Do (Corner Dance)

St. Paul's Suite for String Orchestra

15)Jig
16)Ostinato
17)Intermezzo
18)Finale (The Dargason) 

Enjoy!

Holst_Works_for_Chamber_Orchestra-Tzadik.zip

http://www53.zippyshare.com/v/PmvlPldz/file.html

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Richard Arnell - The Great Detective, Ballet Music - The Angels, Ballet Music - BBC Concert Orchestra, Martin Yates - Dutton Epoch 2008

This was supposed to be a birthday post (Arnell was born yesterday, September 15th, 1917) however I simply could not summon the energy to get to the computer last night. So, a 24-hour belated birthday tribute will have to suffice; I doubt Arnell would have minded, and I'm most certain that those of you reading this-whether you have discovered Richard Arnell's magnificent music on my blog or elsewhere-shall not quibble ;)

These wonderful ballet scores needless to say will undoubtedly only further the appreciation of Arnell's rich orchestral palette and ability to compose exciting sure-fire music. I have never heard an Richard Arnell work with anything in excess-ne'er a 'note too many' I'd say! If anything the listener is always left wanting for more.


The first time I heard "The Great Detective" I was immediately taken with it's exuberance, as well as it's Prokofiev-esque feeling. I would love to see the music staged, although clearly the music speaks colorfully and cogently on it's own. It's fantastic music, as is the substantial and highly symphonic "The Angels" ballet score, which Arnell wrote four years after The Great Detective. 



I don't have time for a synopsis of either work at this time so here's a Gramophone review for now:

Dutton’s enterprising exploration of the works of Richard Arnell here moves from the symphonies and Piano Concerto to the ballet scores, which through recordings were for some 50 years the most readily available representation of the composer. Beecham championed Arnell’s music and recorded a suite from Punch and the Child, while the composer himself set down excerpts from both works here during the 1950s. These are, though, the first CD recordings and the first complete recordings of both.

The two scores differ significantly in style. The Great Detective – based loosely on Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes – is what one might expect of a ballet score of the 1950s, developing the action through lively orchestral transition passages that frame more lyrical set dances. A visual record would help; but even without it one can sense something of the action. The Angels is very much different, an altogether more powerful score, essentially structured as a three-movement symphony – the first movement a Theme and Variations, the second a beautiful Roundelay, the third a Vivace and final Transformation. It’s a sumptuous, uplifting score that transcends the ballet format and more meaningfully represents part of Arnell’s symphonic output. That those present in the recording control room during the sessions dubbed it Arnell’s “Symphony No 5-and-a-half” only begins to do it justice.

Martin Yates directs full-blooded, compelling performances that follow the composer’s own timings closely without ever suggesting slavish imitation. Arnell well deserves attention, alongside Alwyn and Arnold in Britain’s composing A-team.

Enjoy everyone!

Richard_Arnell-The_Great_Detective-Tzadik.zip

http://www71.zippyshare.com/v/iOiFKMOf/file.html

Sunday, September 13, 2015

The Eclipse Quartet: Music for String Quartet and Percussion - Frederic Rzewski, Whimwhams - James Tenney, Cognate Canons - Zeena Parkins, s:c:a:t:t:e:r:i:n:g - Eclipse Quartet and William Winant, Percussion - New World 2013

Here comes another disc that I just unwrapped literally 5 minutes ago. I am quite familiar with Rzewski and to a lesser extant Tenney; the music of Zeena Parkins I'm pretty sure I have never heard.
There is quite a bit of fine music out there for String Quartet and Percussion, and hopefully this will be a good disc to add to that particular library!


From New World Records:

The evolution of the string quartet repertory has accelerated during the last half of the twentieth-century and beyond as composers from both the mainstream and the avant-garde have mined its seemingly inexhaustible creative resources. This CD features the virtually unprecedented combination of string quartet and percussion. It contains three works by prominent American experimentalist composers from several generations exploring the ensemble’s unique sonic resources in diverse stylistic settings, each with its own original approach to musical form.

A “whim-wham” is a “fanciful or fantastic notion or object.” In Frederic Rzewski’s Whimwhams (1993) the “fanciful” occurs within a pre-conceived formal design. The formal structure in Whimwhams provides time units, “empty containers” for the free play of the composer’s imagination, which yield striking successions of musical moments, each with its own distinctive identity. An attentive listener will encounter musical ideas, which return in altered form, giving the work a certain sense of coherence, a magical quality absent from more rational, thought-out composed music.

In James Tenney’s Cognate Canons (1993) the canons occur between the percussion and the string quartet. The durations of the two canonic “voices” are related by a series of proportions, creating the effect of simultaneous tempi, which Nancarrow used in his player piano music. Each of the work’s thirteen canons uses its own proportion. The repetitions both within and between the two parts (which include statements of individual musical gestures within each voice in retrograde) create a static, timeless atmosphere.

Zeena Parkins describes s:c:a:t:t:e:r:i:n:g (2012) thusly: “Flickering sound and shifting colors subvert the linear. s:c:a:t:t:e:r:i:n:g is composed of ten movements, evolving things, and objets sonores that acquire a modulated presence through accumulation. Resonance piles up and is dispersed by the “scatterers” as they journey within conditions of motion and stasis. The title refers to these acts of collection, disruption, and dispersal that occur over and over again throughout the work creating a landscape of diversion.” 

I have included the pdf booklet too, so for the full notes you are all covered there.

Let us enjoy..

Parkins_Rzewski_Tenney-Eclipse_Quartet-Tzadik.zip

http://www34.zippyshare.com/v/4PgAxYzy/file.html

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Plaid (Andy Turner and Ed Handley) - P-Brane E.P. - Warp Records 2002

Plaid is the London-based British electronic music duo Andy Turner and Ed Handley, one of my favorite electronic acts of all time. By turns warm and awash with beauty, alien, angular, sweet and oft chopped up, their style is almost instantly identifiable, but never predictable. They have been pioneers of analog (and more recently also digital) experimentation, writing music together for 20+ years. Prior to that, around 1989, they were two of the four founding members of "The Black Dog", an experimental group that defied classification really, although if I had to try I'd say they had elements of techno, dark ambient, field recording, as well as breakbeat (which has a similar drum pattern not unlike early hip-hop, however the bpm are higher). 

The booklet-free P-Brane cd.
Plaid (as well as artists such as Aphex Twin, Autechre, Boards Of Canada, Squarepusher etc.) is often referred to as "IDM" ("intelligent dance music"), an electronica sub-genre that without a doubt wins the award for the most ridiculously pretentious name. Most artists, Plaid included, do not embrace the term. Here is what Andy Turner & Ed Handley aka Plaid said in an interview for Neon Nettle about it:

NN: Plaid, like other Warp artists are lumped under the category of Intelligent Dance Music-what does IDM mean to you?

EH: It means it's superior to all other dance music.

AT: Yes, it means it's the best.

EH: You can't make IDM unless you have a post doctorate qualification.

AT: And you need minimum a PHD to appreciate it. Which means our fan base is small. But loyal.

EH: Yes, "IDM" is a terrible name.



Plaid

"IDM" is meant to describe an experimental type of "dance" music that is often rhythmically challenging (or for the uninitiated, possibly baffling), and often includes elements of post-techno/ambient/glitch/breakbeat/drum&bass/experimental/jungle/avant-garde AND....so on. It can be danceable to varying degrees, yet it is equally or perhaps more suited to "headphone" or "armchair" listening (personally I go with the latter when I listen to most electronic music-my same mode of listening to and experiencing classical music).

Because I own the vinyl too (I have two technics 1210's but haven't had time to spin records in years)

The two tracks of note (for me they are nothing short of beautiful) here is the opener "Coat" and then the third piece "Stills"

"Coat" (track 1) begins with a (brief) but strong sense of melancholia, slowly moving like grey clouds. The clouds are broken up suddenly by a heavy bassline and drum breaks, followed by lingering piano chords buried deep under the weighted drum break. The splintered sounds of voices emerge, sounding as if they are coming out of a high-pitched, glitchy voicemail recording. Swathes of opulent strings glide in, "sounding" (to me) like witnessing the most ethereal sunrise imaginable (this section gives me chills every time). The distorted voices (around 3:21) come to the fore and the heavenly "string" like music returns now in descending and ascending keys bringing us to the close. I only wish this track was twice as long!

"Stills" (track 3) is more complex and opens with an electrified beat that is layered over an exuberant ambient background; suddenly, the drums silence themselves as gorgeous harp-like arpeggios begin to blossom, opening like flowers during a meteor shower . The drums kick back in, however now with considerably higher beats-per-minute, and a fragmented, irregular time signature that brings a kinetic energy and a "mildly" manic, driving percussion that dances, at it's own break-neck pace-with the heavenly arpeggios until it all comes to something of an abrupt ending. Lovely!!

"Diddymousedid" and "Mfaus" are just okay-I will typically play the whole EP without skipping them, however most of their pieces are more interesting in general (and they have put out over 12 full albums and many other releases over the years). The two tracks that I am "pushing" ;) on you, dear visitors-are worth the price of admission no matter what the cost! 

Love it or hate it, I would really be interested in reading your thoughts on this post. The more the merrier..

Enjoy I hope!

Plaid_P-Brane_EP-Tzadik.zip

http://www45.zippyshare.com/v/C7N0oUlv/file.html

The problem with conductor-less orchestras...

Your 120 proof flask is 100% proof that you'd be sent hobbling home if Lenny or Ormandy had been around.

Go home and take an excedrin bro-the rehearsal just isn't happening 

Friday, September 11, 2015

Happy 80th birthday, Arvo Pärt - "Tintinnabuli" - The Tallis Scholars - Gimell 2015

I cannot allow the great Estonian composer's birthday to pass without a bday post :) And this is the perfect recording...after all it was released as a tribute to Arvo Part on his 80th year! The celebration is a lofty one indeed, with the Tallis Scholars piercing the heavens with some of Part's finest and profound works for voices.




Here are the booklet notes:

No music being written today makes a more satisfying match with Renaissance polyphony than the sacred compositions of Arvo Pärt. In recent years I have regularly been adding one or two pieces by him to our concert programmes, ever more convinced that his music was providing an important new perspective to the work of the older masters. In time this conviction led to my desire to make a recording of his a cappella compositions, with the added novelty that it would be sung in the way we sing Renaissance music-two voices to a part. It is my belief that the resulting clarity and lightness of texture benefits Pärt's writing as much as it benefits that of Tallis and Palestrina.
In concert the similarity between Pärt and the Renaissance masters seems almost self-evident and is often commented upon. However it is quite hard to define. A strong religious sense in Pärt-one takes this for granted in Tallis and Palestrina-is clearly one reason, as is the use of silence (or the presumption of silence) which is inherent in the work of all of them. And then there is Pärt's diatonic language coupled with his use of melody. Underlying all the music here is a method well known to the Renaissance polyphonists: diatonic melody, based on simple harmony related to one or more triads closely related to the home ‘key'. There is no chromaticism, no modulation, the background remains uncluttered and uncomplicated, and the music moves harmonically slowly, which helps to enshrine its stillness. In fact there are really only two differences between Pärt and Tallis or Palestrina: Pärt tends not to write counterpoint in the detailed way the Renaissance composers did-his melodies come one at a time; and he uses a system of harmony which derives from the technique he has called Tintinnabuli.

Tintinnabuli was identified by Pärt as a compositional method in 1976, since when he has made it his own-indeed I know of no other composer who has used it. In origin it derives from the sounds which bells emit when they are struck-a confusion of fundaments and overtones. This is where Pärt's diatonic language comes from (bells do not deal in chromaticisms), and also where his characteristic close-note harmony comes from-as the sound of a bell retreats from its source the fundamental note blurs, becoming a chord cluster around the original pitch.

Between 1968 and 1976 Pärt suffered a kind of writer's block. During this time he became increasingly drawn to early music, especially to medieval writing and to the monastic lifestyle which hosted it; and to choral-writing. In this context one can see how the sound of bells, so closely associated with the repertoires he had come to admire, might have helped him. He said of Tintinnabuli: ‘I have the certain feeling that everything outside this one thing has no meaning. The complex and many-faceted only confuse me, and I must search for unity. [With Tintinnabuli] I am alone with silence. I have discovered that it is enough when a single note is beautifully played.' Armed with this inspiring sound-world, Pärt began increasingly to write for choirs, and regularly for unaccompanied choirs.

We have collected on this recording many of the most significant a cappella works by Pärt which have their origin in Tintinnabuli. As an example of this style one need look no further than the famous Magnificat (track 8), which was written in 1989. Bearing in mind that the essence of Tintinnabuli is to mix simple melody with the home triad, one can hear it in every bar: the triad is most obviously present in the repeated C (of F minor) which is sounding more or less from start to finish and around which a stepwise melody winds. The opening duet is a perfect example. Many other such duets follow. In the explosive full sections the F minor triad is more fully present, framing the melodies.

The Magnificat illustrates Tintinnabuli with little embellishment. In the other pieces it is always there, though Pärt is inventive enough never to become predictable. In the Sieben Magnificat-Antiphonen (tracks 1 to 7-written in 1988 and therefore the earliest music in this collection) the seven movements are held together by careful tonal organization, using the note A as the central pitch from which the different triads of the various movements depend. It can easily be heard that the seventh movement ends where the first movement began (based in A major), but between them the other movements have their own A-related triads to explore and their own melodies with which to embellish the triads. In the Nunc dimittis (tracks 10 to 12-written in 2001 and not intended as a foil to the Magnificat), Pärt is more concerned with triads than with melody, as the first bars make clear. This wonderfully inspired opening is balanced by the equally astonishing ‘Gloria Patri' at the end, with its repeated chords of C sharp minor (a low C sharp constantly sounding), the perfect evocation of a bell tolling.
The Woman with the Alabaster Box and Tribute to Caesar (tracks 13 to 17) were written as a pair in 1997. Their similarity of style is evident, setting substantial narrative biblical texts with impressive solemnity, most often in block chords. Both ask the second basses to sing unusually low-D and C respectively-and I wonder if there is any more beautiful phrase in contemporary choral-writing than the setting of the words ‘they marvelled' in Tribute to Caesar, heading with perfect inevitability to a bottom C. And for a peal of bells ringing out with full overtones there is little to rival the final page of The Woman with the Alabaster Box, beginning at ‘Verily I say unto you...'

I Am the True Vine and Triodion were not written as a pair, though they share the use of that favourite medieval stand-by, the drone. They also both show minimalist techniques. In I Am the True Vine (track 18-written in 1996) Pärt confronts any notion of through-composed thought by fracturing his lines, leaving notes seemingly to be plucked out of thin air. In the centre of it, however, is a double drone (bass with, later, soprano) which acts as a kind of magnet for the circling particles. Triodion (tracks 19 to 23, written in 1998) is more straightforward, beginning and ending with chant, each of the three Odes concluding with static repetitions based on a drone. Yet in the centre of the third Ode is one of those phrases which seems to come from nowhere (‘that our souls may be saved'). It is of such power that everything is silenced by it. Having played around with lower sonorities, Pärt here takes the sopranos up to top B flat.

Which Was the Son of ... (track 9-written in 2000) stands on its own. Commissioned by the City of Reykjavík, Pärt allowed himself to poke a little fun at two idiosyncratic aspects of local life: the way family names are organized, and the way the Icelanders pronounce their ‘rrrs'. From the former came the desire, perhaps it was even a dare, to set the entire genealogy of Christ; and from the latter the stipulated rolled ‘r' in the name of ‘Er'. The overall result is an astonishingly effective piece of writing, forced from the least tractable of texts, as witty as it is unlikely. Here again is Pärt's ability to control slow-moving textures, which culminate in bells pealing away towards the end, as the text approaches ‘God'.



Enjoy everyone

Arvo_Part-Tintinnabuli-Tzadik.zip

http://www56.zippyshare.com/v/aX5MrnmD/file.html

Vagn Holmboe: Chamber Works Vol. 2 - Eco, Trio for Clarinet, Cello & Piano - Aspects for Wind Quintet - Sonata for Solo Cello - Quartetto Medico for Flute, Oboe, Clarinet & Piano - Sextet for Flute, Clarinet, Bassoon, Violin, Viola & Cello - Ensemble MidtVest Dacapo 2012

Here is volume 2 of Vagn Holmboe's chamber music on Dacapo; if it's half as good as volume 1 it will be top-draw material! Yes, volume 1 was as enchanting as I had imagined, perhaps even more so :)






I know nothing of these works yet (I might have 1 or 2 of the pieces someplace, but if so, it's from long ago and I cannot recall!), except that "Quartetto "Medico" was written for four amateur musicians who happened to be doctors; I was curious right away about the title so I skimmed through the booklet.  



Going to give this a first run now, care to join?

Enjoy!

Holmboe_Chamber_Music_Vol.2-Tzadik.zip

http://www58.zippyshare.com/v/s2J762DL/file.html

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Vagn Holmboe: Chamber Works Vol. 1 - Primavera for Flute, Violin, Cello & Piano - Gioco for Violin, Viola & Cello - Sonata for Solo Flute - Ballata for Violin Viola, Cello & Piano - Quartetto for Flute, Violin, Viola & Cello Ensemble MidtVest - Dacapo 2011

I have both Volume 1 and Volume 2 of Vagn Holmboe's Chamber Music series (hopefully Volume 3 is in the works!) in my unopened piles of discs and I'm excited to get familiar with these pieces; Holmboe has always been one of my favorite composers, and thus far I have always been impressed and delighted by his rarely explored chamber works. I am in the midst of listening to "Primavera" and I can confirm that it is a delight; effervescent and playful, it has a similar charm to some of Martinu's chamber works. The Volume 2 disc I shall post soon, perhaps tonight if I can stay awake! 






Let us all enjoy!

Holmboe_Chamber_Music,Volume_1-Tzadik.zip

http://www44.zippyshare.com/v/l8ucH3Zl/file.html

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Alexander Lazarevich Lokshin - Les Fleurs Du Mal - Hungarian Fantasy - The Art of Poetry - Sinfonietta No. 2 - In The Jungle - Grosses Orchester Graz, Michel Sweirczewski - BIS 2009

I am quite fond of Lokshin's symphonies and have been wanting to listen to them. I don't know where on earth I put them at the moment, but I realized happily that I had this disc in one of my "unopened/unheard" piles so now I can get my fix, albeit not thoroughly symphonic. I really would have liked to post his symphonies first, as they are his crowning achievements. That said, I'm certain the music here will be of the highest quality, with much to enjoy.


Alexander Lokshin (1920-1987) was born in Biysk (Western Siberia), in Russia. A student of the great Russian composer Nikolai Myaskovsky, Lokshin was highly spoken of by Shostakovich who became a close friend to the composer. Tragically, he was not appreciated in his lifetime due to his lack of compromise with the Soviet regime, whom made his life very difficult. Ungrounded accusations amounted to slander, Lokshin was persecuted by the KGB and his music was being rejected by the censors. For decades, his name was in oblivion both in Russia and in the West. It is a real pleasure that BIS has been recording Lokshin's music; here's hoping it will prove to be a 'complete' survey..of his published works.

I've included the booklet notes which look to have a good biography on this fascinating composer.



Straight from the maestro, here is Alexander Lokshin's autobiography:

I, Alexander Lazarevich Lokshin, was born on September 19, 1920, in the town of Biysk, in the Altay Region. My father, Lazar Zakharovich Lokshin (1880-1943) worked as bookkeeper. My mother, Maria Borisovna Korotkina (1886-1963), worked as obstetrician. I started to study music at the age of 6 (by learning to play the piano). In 1930 our family moved to Novosibirsk. There I studied at a school providing general education along with a musical school. From the age of 10 I participated in the students amateur concerts, city and regional competitions. In 1936 I was sent by the Novosibirsk City Education Department to Moscow to continue my musical education. In the autumn of 1936 I entered professor G. Litinsky's class as a second year student at the musical school affiliated to the Moscow Conservatoire. In the spring of 1937 I was transferred to Professor N. Myaskovsky's class at the Moscow Conservatoire, there again as a second year student. In May of 1941 I was admitted to the Composers Union of the USSR. In June of 1941 I joined the levies of the Krasnopresnensky District of Moscow. A week later the medical commission of the district military commissariat exempted me from military service because of poor health (stomach ulcer and strong myopia). Until the autumn of 1941 I served in the antiaircraft guard on the roof of the Conservatoire hostel, but later I went back to Novosibirsk and joined my parents. In Novosibirsk I went to work at the Chkalov Plant Club as coordinator of amateur musical activities. I organized concerts in clubs and hospitals. In April of 1943, at the Novosibirsk Philharmonic Concert Hall my symphonic poem Wait for Me (based on the poem by K. Simonov) for the first time ever was performed by the Leningrad Philharmonic Orchestra under E. Mravinsky. In December I was summoned by the Conservatoire and returned to Moscow. There (in the spring of 1944) I passed the state examinations, receiving the diploma with distinction. From 1945 I taught instrumentation, score reading and musical literature at the Conservatoire. 

From the beginning of the 1950's I dedicated my entire work to the composition of music. I worked a lot on music for cinema and radio performances, and wrote music for drama theatres. In the period from 1950 to the present day I wrote 11 symphonies, 3 quintets, several orchestral suites, a number of chamber compositions and cantatas. Most of them were performed in Moscow and Leningrad. The 3rd Symphony was performed in London, the 4th - in Stuttgart, the 5th - in London, New York, and Amsterdam. Record companies in Western Germany released the 4th and 5th Symphonies twice. In Moscow, the label Melodya released records of the 4th, 5th, 7th, 11th Symphonies, and one of The Scenes from Faust – The Songs of Margaret, as well as the suite On the Jungle Path.

March 22, 1982

Additional Notes

Of all my work, to my reckoning, the best are all the eleven symphonies, oratorio (or better say, cantata) Mater Dolorosa, Three Scenes from Goethe's Faust, String Quintet, a short comic oratorio Tarakanische, a piece for soprano and chamber orchestra The Art of Poetry. Among the aforementioned compositions I have never heard the 1st, 6th and 8th Symphonies performed, as well as Mater Dolorosa, the oratorio Tarakanische, and the two first pieces from the Three Scenes from Goethe's Faust (written much later then the third one, initially entitled The Songs of Margaret).

October 11, 1986 A. Lokshin

P.S. What made me realize for the first time that I had run out of new musical ideas and sensations was a musical piece called The Art of Poetry (which, nevertheless, I still love). The subsequent creative quest only confirmed the fact. Apparently, I have outlived myself.

P.P.S. When I studied at the Conservatoire I idolized Skryabin, Debussy, Oscar Wild, and many others. At that time I wrote a composition as elaborate, as it was amateurish: 3 pieces for soprano and symphony orchestra based on the verses by Baudelaire. Then there followed a long and serious illness, which ended with the resection of stomach, as well as the resection of my decadent past. The Winter Road provided a decisive impulse. I wrote the Variations for the piano in the style of Shostakovich, then the Clarinet Quintet in two parts: the former piece presenting a paradoxical combination of Shostakovich and Vertinsky, and the latter being influenced by Stravinsky (Dumbarton Oaks). Strange as it might seem, no difference in style could be detected. It was quite professional a piece of work. 

I became earnest about writing music since 1957. This time I was strongly influenced by Schubert, Brahms, Berg, Mahler, and the Scene in the Countess's Bedroom . All these, apparently, melted together, and only now I realize, from where what I call my "own style" came. This period ended in 1980.  


Let's all get acquainted with this lesser-known Russian composer and his 'lesser-known' works!

Enjoy everyone

Alexander_Lokshin-Les_Fleurs_du_mal-Tzadik.zip

http://www54.zippyshare.com/v/PbfvRJpK/file.html

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Richard Arnell - String Quintet - Music for Harp (Flute, Violin, Viola & Harp) - Trio for Violin, Cello & Piano - Trio for Flute, Cello & Piano - Suite for Unaccompanied Cello - Locrian Ensemble - Dutton Epoch 2002

Some chamber music, especially of the early 20th century-onwards, asks (or challenges) the listener from the first bar to penetrate its aural membrane. Often static, or on the other hand in-your-face, it is with patience that the music's 'true colors' emerge-and frequently repeated listens are required. One experiences this 'ascension through the clouds' with all types of musics and genres needless to say; however chamber music in particular I think poses the most obstacles for the average or erudite listener. Of course like anything else it's also a question of the quality of the work-is it worth the effort, or is it the music that's simply uninspired? 

Here the chamber music of Richard Arnell challenges the listener to *not* find it all irresistible from the start...that's been my experience anyhow! Indeed the pull is strong immediately, the craftsmanship and invention found in the opening work "Trio for Violin, Cello & Piano" makes it's case and wins one over, it's too good, too beautiful to resist..


The Trio for Violin, Cello and Piano, Op. 47, was written in 1946 and is Arnell's last work composed in the States before his return to England, financially hard-pressed due to being released from his job with the BBC Stateside. He dedicated the trio to his close friends Ilsa Falk and Herbert Farber, the latter a successful dentist who had been supportive. Arnell describes the Trio as "the most compelling of my chamber works" and it was first performed with Dennis East playing the violin and Arnold Ashby, the cello. The piece was subsequently taken up by the Rubbra Trio in England, and recorded for the BBC, the string parts being played Eric Gruenberg and Douglas Cameron. 

Back in England Arnell moved in with his father. Arnell was shocked by the turmoil in post-war Britain, especially when he experienced rationing and saw the operation of the black market. Nevertheless, Arnell was regularly performed by Beecham and the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, as well as by Barbirolli with the Hallé. He enjoyed enthusiastic support from the New London String Quartet and both Gruenberg and Cameron continued to commission and perform his quartets (which, happily, are also recorded on Dutton). Yet, Arnell felt that trends at the BBC under William Glock were not favorable toward his compositional style. When his fifth string quartet was declined for broadcast at the Cheltenham Festival, Cameron organized a special performance at his own expense. However, one new chamber work, the String Quintet Op. 60 of 1950 was particularly well-received and attracted critical acclaim. 

Arnell became a lecturer at the Royal Ballet School from 1958-59 and later he was to be Chairman of the Composer's Guild and Musical Director of the London International Film School. Meanwhile, he was composing an impressive list of symphonic and chamber works, as well as ballet scores and an opera. In 1960 came the "Suite for unaccompanied Cello", written for Douglas Cameron. It is neo-baroque in character and a lovely addition to the solo cello repertoire. 

The draw of America however was ever-present, partly because he continued to visit his daughter in California, There he was employed by the film studios, producing scores for 20th Century Fox, on the recommendation of Leonard Bernstein's sister. At this time, Benjamin Britten was composing for film documentaries, and likewise, Arnell enjoyed this medium, considering his most notable scores to be for the films "The Visit" (1964) and "The Man Outside" (1966).

"The Boat Race" poster by N G Cayford, used as the album cover. Pretty charming.
In 1967, on a Fulbright Exchange, Arnell became visiting lecturer at Bowdoin College, Maine, and subsequently took a post as "Professor of Humanities" at Hofstra University in New York. During this time he composed the "Music for Harp" Op. 72a for Flute, Violin, Viola and Harp which is a brief, somewhat meditative work. I wish this was but one of several movements from a sonata! These were interesting times for Arnell, as he observed the protests against the Vietnam war, to which he added his own comment in the form of a piece for voice and electronics entitled "Prague 1968".

Returning to England once again, Arnell dedicate himself to both education and composition. For forty years he was senior lecturer in Theory Composition at Trinity College of Music until his retirement. Serving on committees of musical colleges and film schools, organizing festivals and promoting performances of works by contemporary composers, he worked tirelessly to support young musicians, whilst continuing to add his own very considerable output.  

The "Trio for Flute, Cello, and Piano" (Three for Three) Op. 168 was written in 1991, and is a gentle and lyrical piece from the composer now in his 74th year. It has only two short movements, one quite poignant and the other searching. Arnell was still going strong, his magnificent output continuing to grow for many years. 

Track list:

Trio for Violin, Cello and Piano

1)Allegro (8:30)
2)Andante (9:33)
3)Adagio-Allegro (5:24)

4)Music for Harp - Andante con moto - Allegro moderato (5:56)

String Quintet

5)Allegro (4:58)
6)Andante (4:37)
7)Vivace (2:27)
8)Fantasia (Andante-Allegro) (8:37)

Trio for Flute, Cello and Piano

9)Andante (2:07)
10)Allegro moderato (4:58)

Suite for unaccompanied Cello

11)Variations (rhythmically in the manner of 16th century Lute Divisions) (3:07)
12)Canzonetta (1:45)
13)Minuet (1:03)
14)Scherzo fugato (1:14)
15)Study (1:59)
16)Arioso (2:38)
17)Presto Finale. (1:30)

Enjoy!

Arnell-Quintet_Trios_Music_for_Harp_Cello_Suite-Tzadik.zip

http://www6.zippyshare.com/v/8uMZjx24/file.html

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Sergei Prokofiev - Zdravitsa - Peter Il'yich Tchaikovsky Ode to Joy - Romeo & Juliet Fantasy Overture (Original version) The London Philharmonic & Choir - Geoffrey Mitchell Choir, Derek Gleeson - IMP Masters 1996

I was extremely excited about this disc when it was released; this was the first modern recording of Prokofiev's "Zdravitsa" (there is a recording from 1980 on Melodiya but it's always been hard to find..impossible to get was a recording from the 60s, also on Melodiya) I believe this IMP offering was the only other available recording, until a Chandos disc surfaced around 2003), for chorus and orchestra. Tchaikovsky's "Ode to Joy" Cantata is a world premiere commercial recording, and I do not know if others have been released since then; I would assume so. The original version of Tchaikovsky's "Romeo & Juliet" Overture had been recorded before but it's lesser known to the revised version, which needless to say has likely been recorded 210 times. I do prefer the original treatment here.


Prokofiev composed "Zdravitsa" in 1939, the same year that he wrote one of his masterpieces, the cantata "Alexander Nevsky" (actually it was re-arranged as a cantata in 1939, the original score was composed in early 1938, for the Sergei Eisenstein epic) to which is bares a resemblance in character. Zdravista was recorded during the war years and was broadcast through the streets of Moscow as a propaganda tool, the original text paying homage to Stalin on his 60th birthday. These original recordings are believed to be lost or damaged. In the 1960s, the music was reset to a text by poet A. Machistova, glorifying Russian folkloric themes and its recent Communist heritage. At this point, it was recorded by the USSR Radio Orchestra and limited pressing was made available through the Melodiya label. This recording on IMP is a further revision of of Machistova's text, deleting references to Communism and the Party, and replacing it with praise and reverence for the homeland. 

"Zdravitsa" is a dramatic and substantial work, similar too to "War and Peace" in several ways. It draws from Russian, Ukranian, Kurd and other folk sources. This is the world premiere of the final revision. 


Tchaikovsky's Cantata set to Schiller was composed from Novemeber to December of 1865. It is scored for Soprano, Contralto, Tenor, Bass, Chorus and Orchestra and had its first performance on January 10th, 1866 at the St. Petersburg Conservatory. After it's publication in 1960, practically a century later, Ode to Joy was performed and recorded by the USSR Radio Orchestra, and like Prokofiev's Zdravista, a limited number of vinyl pressings were made available. There have been no subsequent recordings of this work, thus this recording is again a great "rescue mission". Tchaikovsky   
suppressed publication of Ode to Joy, believing that it would cause him to be compared to Beethoven.
"Ode to Joy" was his final student work (for his graduation ceremony from the St. Petersburg Conservatory) and clearly it seems that Tchaikovsky was not pleased with it as he continued to ban it's publication during his lifetime. Anton Rubinstein apparently refused to perform it at a St. Petersburg concert unless it had "numerous revisions"; Cesar Cui described it as "utterly feeble" in his published review of the concert. Cui's criticism so hurt Tchaikovsky that it alienated the young composer forever from the "Mighty Five", the group of composers (including Cui) whose philosophy would otherwise surely have supported and encouraged him. The negative evaluations clearly were untrue, as one will hear; the young composer was but 21 years old at the time and Ode to Joy should now be considered Tchaikovsky's first masterwork. 

Endorsement of the cantata came from the Russian music critic Herman Augustovich Laroche, who wrote to Tchaikovsky: "The cantata is the greatest musical event in Russia since "Judith". (by Serov) I will tell you frankly that I consider you the greatest musical talent to which Russia can look in the future" And despite the initial criticism, Rubinstein himself days later recommended Tchaikovsky for the sought-after position of professor of theory at the new Moscow Conservatory. The cantata reveals an impressive control of form and contrapuntal devices, not to mention a secure and inventive understanding of vocal and instrumental colors. Above all, it portrays a nobility of feeling.

In 1869 (and on the suggestion of Balakirev) Tchaikovsky wrote his fantasy-overture "Romeo and Juliet" for an 1870 concert in St. Petersburg. Later he was to rewrite the work, composing a new introduction, revising the development, the recapitulation and the finale. But the original is a striking work and has much material, subsequently removed from the later versions that is worthy of its creator.

Enjoy all

Prokofiev_Zdravitsa_Tchaikovsky_Ode_To_Joy-Tzadik.zip

http://www12.zippyshare.com/v/gqFH6UAb/file.html