Christopher Tin: To Shiver the Sky. Danielle de Niese, soprano; Pene Pati, tenor; ModernMedieval; Royal Opera Chorus; Pembroke College Girls’ Choir; The Assembly; Anna Lapwood, Organ; Christopher Tin, Royal Philharmonic Orchestra. Decca Gold B0032422-02.
Beethoven: Symphony No. 5; Gossec: Symphonie à 17 parties. François-Xavier Roth, Les Siècles. Harmonia Mundi HMM 902423.
7/5 of Beethoven Part 1) and those by modern orchestral forces (7/5 of Beethoven Part 2). Having spent so much time listening to that work, wonderful though it is, I was not really all that eager to audition yet another recording of it, but this new recording by Maestro Roth and his French period-instrument orchestra had two appealing things going for it. First, I had heard previous recordings they had made of music by Debussy and Ravel and had been quite impressed by both the performance and sound; second, I had never heard of the French composer François-Joseph Gossec (1734-1829) and was curious to hear his music. As it turned out upon auditioning this well-engineered Harmonia Mundi CD, my curiosity was richly rewarded. Although the Beethoven performance does not quite edge out the Savall for pride of place in my personal pantheon, this is a fine version that is well worth hearing, especially for those who have not yet heard the Fifth performed by other than a modern orchestra. But the real ear-opener was the Gossec, an energetic symphony that fully deserves to be heard alongside the mighty Beethoven work. What as pleasant surprise! Listening to the Gossec reminded me of when I finally sat down and listened seriously to the Beethoven Symphony No. 2, a work I had always neglected in favor of his other symphonies. My goodness, what had I been missing all those years?! Hearing the Gossec gave me a similar feeling–why had I never heard this music before?! This is an exciting, stimulating work, fully deserving to be heard alongside Beethoven, and I intend to seek out more music by this composer. I suspect that if you give this CD a listen, you may well want to do the same.
Borodin: Requiem. Ian Boughton, tenor; Stephanie Chase, violin; Margaret Field, soprano; Geoffrey Simon, Philharmonia Orchestra/BBC Symphony Chorus. Cala Signum SIGCD2094.
If you were not aware that the Russian chemist and composer Alexander Borodin (1833-1887) wrote a requiem, you need not be embarrassed. This is not a requiem mass in the manner of Mozart, Beethoven, Berlioz, Verdi, et al. It is one movement that lasts only 5:26 as performed here. And oh, by the way, the original was a little piano piece by Borodin; the orchestration done by the conductor Leopold Stokowski. Why, then, is it the title of the album? Ahh, the mysteries of life and classical music marketing…
That said, it is an interesting enough little piece, and the rest of the program consists of more substantial fare that highlights the colorful, melodic music for which Borodin is famous. There are the Polovstian Dances and Suite from Prince Igor, an arrangement for violin and orchestra by fellow Russian composer Rimsky-Korsakov of Borodin’s Nocturne from his String Quartet No. 2, his symphonic poem In the Steppes of Central Asia, and finally, his Petite Suite, which Borodin originally wrote for the piano but was later orchestrated by Glazunov. All in all, what we have here is more than 78 minutes of colorful, expressive, well-recorded music that offers a great overview and introduction to Borodin.
Desplat: Airlines. Emmanuel Pahud, flute; Alexandre Desplat, Orchestre National de France. Warner Classics 0190295306878.
Shostakovich: Symphony No. 11 (“The Year 1905”). Vladimir Jurowski, London Philharmonic Orchestra. London Philharmonic Orchestra LPO-0118.
by Russian composer Dmitri Shostakovich (1906-1975) comes across in many ways more like one big tone poem than it does a symphony, which is not surprising, given that its four movements are each given tone-poem-like titles and that the four movements are played without pause. To my mind, at least, as much as I admire Shostakovich, No. 11 is one of those pieces you just have to be in the mood for, and frankly, that mood does not strike me often. When it does, though, I want a performance that really brings the music to life, and this one by Jurowski and the LPO just does not do it for me. It just seems too polite, too matter-of-fact. When I am in the mood to hear this work, I would much rather listen to the rendition by the Boston Symphony Orchestra under Andris Nelsons on DG, a performance and recording of significantly greater impact and power. YMMV.
Bruckner: Mass in E minor; Motets. Henry Websdale and Donal McCann, organ; Sir Stephen Cleobury, The Choir of King’s College, Cambridge/Academy of St. Martin’s in the Fields. King’s College Cambridge KG50035.
Bach: Goldberg Variations. Parker Ramsay, harp. King’s College Cambridge KG50049.
#Goldberg Reflections: Niklas Liepe, violin; Jamie Phillips, NDR Radiophilharmonie. Sony Music 19439778302.
LCO Live - Vaughan Williams | Suk | Dvorak. Christopher Warren-Green, London Chamber Orchestra. Signum Classics SIGCD638.