Monday, October 31, 2016

George Crumb - Black Angels: Thirteen Images from the Dark Land (Live UK Performance) - The Smith Quartet

In honor of all things "spooky" (the origins of Halloween/Samhain are pretty much neglected by those candy craving, modern-day 60-or-so minute super heroes, ghosts, goblins and pop culture fluffers - can you even imagine how many kids are going out as walking emojis??) I must confess I do miss the days of getting back home and separating the prime confections from the bland and flat-out bad - typically this meant counting and guarding my pile of Reese's peanut butter cups - and resolutely resisting any offers to "trade" with friends less fortunate - those sad souls stuck with sucking candy, bags of peanuts, or any candy with carnauba wax as an ingredient.

ANYway...I know this is a bit of a cliché post as it's October 31st, but here is another version of George Crumb's seminal Black Angels. This is a live performance with an introduction to the piece  as well as brief commentary at the closing. The Smith Quartet play admirably although I am left wanting for (just a few) more shrills - this is really just about the live performance and whatever recording equipment used for this particular part of the program. Trust me this is a very fine "Black Angels" well worth having!

Mr. Crumb

Crumb's scores are most curious & almost as interesting as the music itself!

Enjoy ye spirits of the dark!


Happy Halloween from the whole ensemble!!

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Horia Surianu - Saxophone Concerto for Sopranino, Soprano Saxophones & Orchestra - Esquisse pour un Clair-Obscur - Daniel Kientzy, Saxophones - Ensemble Archæus - Orchestre de Chambre de la Radio Nationale de Roumanie, Neil Thomson - NovaMusica 2001

Hello everyone. The week/weekend has been busy, and what with my atrocious upload speeds, I will likely only be posting two offerings for tonight. Going to start off with a recording that is nothing if not the intriguing nugget by a Romanian composer you should know about.

The obscure Romanian composer and musicologist Horia Surianu was born on July 3rd, 1952 in Timişoara. He studied initially at the Bucharest Conservatory (National University of Music Bucharest). In 1983 Surianu moved to France where he is professor of composition, harmonics and analysis at the Conservatory of Bagnolet as well as "professeur associé" at the University of Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne.

Horia Surianu during an interview for Radio Romania

Surianu's compositions include symphonic music, chamber music, music for ballet, theater and film, choral music as well as electronic music. His music has (apparently..) been broadcasted on the radio as well as (apparently..) played at concerts in Austria, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Cuba, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Yugoslavia, Poland, United Kingdom, Romania, United States, Slovakia, and the Netherlands. (Somehow I can't imagine that Cuba or the States in particular have had any real exposure to his work)

His musical style varies quite a bit although influences of neo-modernism and spectral music are often to be found. The Saxophone Concerto features the sopranino, which is higher than a soprano saxophone and the opening showcases it's qualities wonderfully; sudden frenetic squeals fill the air and remind one of Rumanian gypsy music or the cackling clarinet of a village klezmorim. The concerto comprises three movements played without interruption (fast-slow-fast) and is symmetrically framed by a structure acting as both introduction and coda. The concerto stemmed from the idea of evoking the sound of a traditional instrument called the "taragot", peculiar to a region situated in Eastern Europe, Banat, that extends from western Romania to eastern Yugoslavia. The instrument, part saxophone, part clarinet, is capable of articulating musical structures of very great virtuosity or delicate lyricism, states of play that the concerto seeks to translate by a stylized vision of sound material emerging from a world of modality while also evoking the traditional structures of this region with its rich cultural potential, yet without limiting itself to this.

"Esquisse pour un Clair-Obscur" is scored for soprano saxophone and an ensemble consisting of flute, clarinet, violin, cello and piano and projects a dialectic in sound of consonance and dissonance as defined by a process of harmonic transformation. Owing to varied forms of expansion or compression of the material and to the use of micro-intervals, the harmonic structure (transformable) enables the formation of areas of light and shade that interact in an almost continuous penumbra, hence the reference to "Clair-Obscur" (chiaroscuro); the art of nuances on a dark background creates that effect of diffused light so magnificently achieved by the Flemish masters.

-The file is rather small as the entire duration of the disc is but 26 minutes (!)

Enjoy everyone!

Do also check out Surianu's beautiful Double Concerto for Flute and Piccolo:

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Erwin Schulhoff - Concerto for Piano & Small Orchestra Concerto Doppio for Flute, Piano, String Orchestra & Two Horns - Concerto for String Quartet and Wind Ensemble - Beethoven/Schulhoff, Rondo a capriccio - Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester - Capriccio 2014

I think every piece here (except for the Beethoven arrangement) has been included on one or more Schulhoff discs that I have posted in the past. Never mind that. This is one hell of a recording, and all three concertos here are handled masterfully. Not unlike the concertante works of Bohuslav Martinů, Schulhoff's concertos always dazzle and delight the senses - for me. ......Hopefully you agree! 

Because of time I am going to rely on any notes that I (hopefully) have added to past Schulhoff shares. Click on the keyword at the bottom if you'd like to check!

Enjoy this under-appreciated Czech master and all of his delightful and tuneful eccentricity!

Pēteris Vasks - "Presence", Concerto No. 2 for Cello & String Orchestra - Musique du Soir for Cello & Organ - "The Book" for Solo Cello - Sol Gabetta, Cello - Irene Timacheff-Gabetta, Organ - Amsterdam Sinfonietta, Candida Thompson - S.M. 2015

Here is another disc that was splendid accompaniment to my coffee and apartment chores today. I was listening to Vask's relatively brief (8 minutes) "Cantabile for String Orchestra" recently and I had forgotten how lovely it is - it's now one of my favorite works by the Latvian composer. Needless to say the performances throughout this collection are simply stellar. "Presence" is my favorite piece here although the solo cello work too is a great listen. "Musique du Soir" depicts a solemn night indeed, one that feels a bit too familiar as of late.  

Making things easier for me at current, here is a review from Gramophone:

The Latvian composer Pēteris Vasks (who turns 70 this April) first encountered the Argentinian cellist Sol Gabetta when he accepted an invitation to attend her annual chamber music festival in Switzerland (where she now resides). Fascinated by Vasks’s music ever since she heard his 1978 piece for solo cello Grāmata čellam at the age of 18, the persistent Gabetta eventually persuaded the initially reluctant composer to write her a concerto (his second for the instrument).

Luminously scored for cello with string orchestra and lasting around 35 minutes, it bears the title of Presence – and here let me quote from Vasks’s own descriptive notes – ‘by which I mean that I am here. I am not distant. With every breath I am here in this world, with all my ideals and dreams of a better world.’ He also explains how the work ‘is dominated by a mood that suggests the soul ascending into the cosmos. I was then inspired to conjure up the idea of the soul returning to earth and starting a new life. And then I had the idea of giving musical expression to this new beginning in life in the form of a lullaby.’ I won’t spoil the surprise, but it’s an ear-pricking device he also employs in the rapt second part of Grāmata čellam (the final item on the disc). The concerto is cast in three movements (adopting Vasks’s favoured slow-fast-slow scheme) and couched, for the most part, in a fearlessly diatonic idiom. Enviable concentration goes hand in hand with a strength, purity and serenity that held me from start to finish. Indeed, at its contemplative best, Presence has something of the timeless radiance, compassion and humanity of, say, Vaughan Williams or Finzi. Needless to report, it receives blisteringly dedicated and stunningly coordinated advocacy by the same artists responsible for the October 2012 premiere.

If I am rather less persuaded by Musique du soir for cello and organ (in which Gabetta is accompanied by her mother, Irène Timacheff-Gabetta), the release as a whole, boasting superlative production values throughout, can still be confidently recommended to Vasks’s many fans and newcomers alike.

Please enjoy everyone

Bernard Hoffer - Violin Concerto - Piano Concerto - English Horn Concerto - Elmar Oliveira, Violin - Randall Hodgkinson, Piano - Thomas Stacy, English Horn - RTE NSO, Richard Pittman - Artek 2015

Greetings to all. I was listening to this recording earlier today and as is often the case with my daily "playlist", if I have the time that is - I figured I should post it. Hoffer is best known for his commercial, film, and tv works, including the theme music for the MacNeil/Lehrer report on PBS (Hoffer later composed the "MacNeil/Lehrer Variations" for orchestra, based on his emmy-winning theme music. It has been recorded on Albany and features the same orchestra & conductor on this disc). This is well-crafted music and highly accessible at that; the three concerti here are more than worthy of repeated listens. 

Bernard Hoffer was born October 14, l934 in Zurich, Switzerland received early musical training at the Dalcroze School in New York, and attended Eastman School of Music (BM-MM) in Rochester,  New York - where he studied composition with Bernard Rogers and Wayne Barlow, and conducting with Paul White and Herman Genhart

He has written extensively for films, television and commercials for which he has won several Emmy nominations. He has scored the hit children's cartoon series "Thundercats" and "Silverhawks" and orchestrated the Emmy Award winning theme to PBS's "The American Experience".​

Concert works have been performed by the New York Philharmonic,   the Spokane Symphony,  the Greenwich (CT) Symphony Orchestra,  the Concord Orchestra, The New England Philharmonic, the Amherst Saxophone Quartet, the Boston Musica Viva, and the Composers String Quartet. Divertimento for Octet (1988)  was awarded second prize in the 1994 New Music Delaware Competition.   Concerto for Viola and Orchestra received its premiere at the International Viola Congress in Chicago on June 26, 1993.   Capriccio "Settembre Musica" (1994) for solo violin and Jazz ensemble, written for the Boston Musica Viva, was awarded a prize in the 1997 New Music Delaware. Recent works include Conerto di Camera (2006) for Bassoon, Horn, Cello, and Piano; Saint Lucia Morning, orchestra version (2006); Symphony: Pousette-Dart (2008) for Orchestra; Six, by George - a tribute to George Gershwin (arrangements of six Gershwin songs for orchestra).

I don't mean to sound tedious however I want to mention that this single upload took me 18 minutes due to my current connection; I have endless posts that have been 'lined up' in my mind, but due to the lugubrious upstream situation I must ask everyone to bear with me - more than usual!! It's an online nightmare attempting to share anything with my limited time :(    Get on to the music you say? Yes, please!


Thursday, October 20, 2016

Re-up: Alan Hovhaness: Symphony Etchmiadzin, Armenian Rhapsody No. 3, Fra Angelico, Mountains & Rivers Without End

Ok sorry for the wait centuri (and others), I know you requested a new link for this disc over a week ago. I have been too busy and since my 'net connection is now awful - it is currently taking over 15 minutes (!!!) to upload the file - this should take under a minute :(  

Thus I have to make sure I have time to "wait" around to post anything now. I simply can't afford a decent provider connection anymore and that's why I had to entirely forsake having net access during the summer months. Being submerged in the virtual (which is oft better) reality is one of the most important things in my life (sadly, yet wonderful at the same time I suppose). It's all beyond depressing for me. 

Anyways go here everyone in need:

Lastly, I will try to post this weekend - it's been another 9 days of silence in here and my wonderful visitors all deserve more music!!

Your Tzadik

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Alan Hovhaness - "Mysterious Horse Before the Gate" for Trombone & Percussion - (World Premiere) - Grand Valley State University Percussion Ensemble - Robert Ward, Trombone - OgreOgress 2016

So here are two A.H. posts, both a couple of nuggets (needless to say, as they come from the mighty pen of Alan Hovhaness we are speaking of golden nuggets!) from OgreOgress's series of world-premiere recordings as digital downloads of Hovhaness works. While the pieces are all small-scale it's been an exciting project thus far. "Mysterious Horse Before the Gate" (Opus 205, from 1963) is scored for trombone and various percussion instruments and although the journey is brief (2 minutes and 50 seconds!) it's a satisfying lil' trip into the celestial realms as only Hovhaness can depict with such wonder and mystery through sound. I usually keep this on repeat, at least 5 times..

In this work we travel to a sonic world not unlike say (the quieter) moments found in the Vishnu Symphony, or in a work such as "Star Dawn", a symphony for winds and percussion with many chimes and tintinnabulation of mediative bells, although one must wait til the end of the last movement. "The Flowering Peach" is another fine example and can be heard on the same Delos disc that includes (and is titled) "Star Dawn". 

I am including both the Flac and Mp3 files that came with the digital download since this is such a tiny release. Enjoy both, or enjoy one..

Enjoy this small package of wonderful everyone!

Alan Hovhaness - Divertimento for Clarinet Quartet (World Premiere) - Suzanna Dennis Bratton, Michael Kornacki, John Varineau & Joel Schekman, Clarinets - OgreOgress 2012

Here is another little gem from the Alan Hovhaness world premiere recordings courtesy of OgreOgress. This charming work is in seven brief movements and in total duration clocks in at just under 10 minutes. It's highly enjoyable, classic Hovhaness, and, needless to say, Hovhaness-freak/follower that I am - I adore every second of the four-piece clarinet "choir".

The tracks are listed in the txt file that came with the release which I'm including.
Since this is small release I am including both the Flac and Mp3 files from the download, keep both if you like!

Enjoy everyone!

Sunday, October 9, 2016

British Composers Premiere Collections Vol. 4 - Dorothy Howell, Piano Concerto - Lilian Elkington, Out of the Mist - Cyril Scott, Harpsichord Concerto - Salamon Jadassohn, Serenade No. 3 - Malta Philharmonic, Michael Laus - Cameo Classics 2014

Here is another volume from the fantastic British Composers Premiere Collections. I have posted volume no. 2 already, and the rest of the series will be added at some point. Volume no. 2 can be found here if you missed it: 

For me the nicest surprise on this collection was/is Cyril Scott's Harpsichord Concerto (how many of you knew that Scott composed a harpsichord concerto?? I sure didn't until I bought this disc!) which is a lovely and exciting addition to the repertoire, not to mention something of a curiosity - British composers are not exactly noted for writing concertos for harpsichord (off the top of my head I can only think of Walter Leigh's "Concertino for Harpsichord and String Orchestra", John Rutter's "Suite Antique" which technically isn't a concerto, and then I believe Gordon Jacob wrote something for harpsichord and strings, although I don't think it was a concerto. Frankly I'm too lazy to look it up right now!) The concerto opens with a touch of Moeran, Debussy, and even Martinu - to my ears anyhow. The work is clearly Cyril Scott's alone, however there is a touch of dreamy, almost Debussian exoticism which remains in the flute and strings. Scott's Harpsichord Concerto was written in the same year as his Cello Concerto, and although the premiere performance was apparently well received, 70 years went by until a second performance was given.

I would post complete Cyril Scott discs but to my happy surprise I recall that other bloggers have done so over the past few years. I'm not sure if the early Marco Polo discs have been posted actually - those I would share if they haven't been already. I would have to go blog-hopping to check.
I dunnnooooooo

I'm going to end here and pick up again with more album information tomorrow as I am at my parents (being here is currently the only way I can upload at a decent rate, and since I stopped by anyhow I brought this disc with me to share) and it's getting late. Time to get back to my cozy apt. with my oh-so-cozy 56k modem speeds. Aaaargggh indeed!!


One cannot seize the day when moving @ the speed of 56k

I couldn't be more disappointed right now. Uploading the Colleen disc took me over 20 minutes (!!!!)
Really it's 1996 all over again. This is hugely discouraging. I will have to prepare windows of time in advance now just to post :(  And I had a superb line up of posts to get this place going again. I'm stopping by my parent's house briefly, so I will import at least one of the discs again while I'm there and post it as their connection is of the 21st century. Had I known what my upstream would be (I haven't uploaded anything since I got this cheap service) I would have started with a different, more mainstream album.

And to think that I thought time wasn't on my side with posting in the past! I'll make it work somehow (anything short of moving in with my parents that is!).


Colleen (Cécile Schott) - The Golden Morning Breaks - The Leaf label - 2005

My absence during the majority of the summer was not intentional; it was a very difficult time (not going to burden or bother everyone with details - we are all here, after all, for glorious music!) and although 'this' continues for me, I'm glad that the oppressive heat and turmoil of the season is over.
One issue that I will share - and this is quite embarrassing for me - is my dreadful financial state which forced me to cancel my internet provider for a couple months. Never imagined it would come to that! Alas, this is but a "first-world problem" as they say - but then again having an i.s.p. or a connection of *some kind* is pretty basic, like owning a phone. So the "bargain" tier service I'm using now is slowww - slow like a Purcell Fantazia in fact (zippyshare is currently taking 12 min to upload 100mb!). But, I am here all the same!

So much for not whining/kvechting : /  I did keep it short, which is atypical for me hehe.

This is an album that I turned to repeatedly during the summer to try to find peace and calm, surrounding myself with Schott's mysterious and quiet beauty. This is her 2nd album from 2005. 
Composer and musician Colleen (Cécile Schott) creates an aural realm that is oft melancholy yet also cheerful - one must really listen to what's happening to "feel" it. She creates ambient sounds that are dark, yet also full of light that shimmers and sparkles delicately. Schott achieves this by employing all types of bells, chimes and even a glass glockenspiel from the 1800's. On this album she also plays several acoustic guitars, small electric pianos and organs, a harp, primitive mallet instruments, and a handful of toy instruments (such as a hand-cranked music box). 


1. Summer Water
2. Floating In The Clearest Night
3. The Heart Harmonicon
4. Sweet Rolling
5. The Happy Sea
6. I'll Read You A Story
7. Bubbles Which On The Water Swim
8. Mining In The Rain
9. The Golden Morning Breaks
10. Everything Lay Still

I first discovered Colleen's music in the debut film "The Unloved" by Samantha Morton. I find the film to be as poetic and magical as it is sad and tragic (it's a child's eye view of the U.K.'s government-run care system for orphans and children in danger who are stuck in foster care. The music meshes with the atmosphere and images as if Schott's pieces were composed for the film (the film was made 4 years later, in 2009). This is a film that I am really fond of and definitely recommend. The soundtrack also includes works by Colleen taken from other albums - I just might upload some others even if just a couple of people are receptive to this music. Hopefully everyone can find something to enjoy here!