I used mostly my ears

a blog about music by Marc Haegeman


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Scandale

Francesco Tristano: A Soft Shell Groove
Igor Stravinsky: Le Sacre du printemps
Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakoff: The Story of the Kalendar Prince from “Scheherazade”
Maurice Ravel: La Valse

Alice Sara Ott & Francesco Tristano, piano
Deutsche Grammophon 4793541 DDD TT 61:56

Scandale from Ott and Tristano

Scandale from Ott and Tristano

The “Scandale” popping up in pink font on the cover of this CD refers to the 1913 premiere of Igor Stravinsky’s ballet The Rite of Spring in Paris, performed here in the composer’s version for piano duet. Never mind that the scandal – adroitly masterminded by impresario Sergei Diaghilev – had in fact more to do with Vaslav Nijinsky’s unconventional choreography than with Stravinsky’s music – the score survived unscathed, yet Nijinsky’s choreography was never seen again, until its resurrection in 1987 for the Joffrey Ballet. Pianists Alice Sara Ott and Francesco Tristano team up in what primarily looks like an homage to the visionary genius of Diaghilev and an extraordinary group of creative artists, who caused a hundred years ago with the Ballets Russes a shockwave in the arts world – one that clearly still ripples on.
Read the full review on Classical Net


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Stunning Romeo and Juliet Suite from Chicago

Sergei Prokofiev: Romeo and Juliet Suite
Chicago Symphony Orchestra/Riccardo Muti
CSO Resound CSOR9011402 DDD Live Recording 2013 48:52

Muti and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra

Muti and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra

This is by far the most compelling selection from Serge Prokofieff’s Romeo and Juliet I have heard in a long time. Recorded live in October 2013 in Chicago, Riccardo Muti and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra not only depict each scene with an unerring sense of drama, but also a complete understanding of the fabrics of the score and the composer’s individual sonorities. The selection is culled from the First and Second Suites, yet in spite of the tragically short total timing (a meager 48:52), we are given Prokofieff’s Romeo and Juliet in a nutshell.
Read the full review on Classical Net


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The Berlin Philharmonic launches its own record label

Robert Schumann: Symphony #1 in B Flat Major “Spring”, Op. 38; Symphony #2 in C Major, Op. 61; Symphony #3 in E Flat Major “Rhenish”, Op. 97; Symphony #4 in D minor (first version, 1841)
Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra/Simon Rattle
Recorded in 2013
Berliner Philharmoniker Recordings 140011 2CDs (125 min) + 1 Blu-ray (175 min)

The Berlin Philharmonic plays Schumann

The Berlin Philharmonic plays Schumann

Last May, following the example of many top orchestras, the Berlin Philharmonic launched its own record label, Berliner Philharmoniker Recordings. The twilight of the great recording labels has moved into another phase. The former flagship of Deutsche Grammophon and of EMI is going to market its discs itself. The inaugural release of Berliner Philharmoniker Recordings is a splendidly packaged Robert Schumann Symphonies cycle conducted by Simon Rattle, recorded during concerts throughout 2013. The Berliner wouldn’t be the Berliner if the presentation wasn’t extra special. In the form of a landscape-sized linen-bound book with quality paper decorated with motifs from the posh Berlin porcelain factory, this Schumann box not only contains two CDs, but also a Blu-ray disc offering the concerts in Pure Audio 24-bit/96 kHz (2.0 LPCM Stereo or 5.0 DTS-HD MA) and in High Definition Video (Full HD 16:9/PCM Stereo or 5.0 Surround DTS-HD). Moreover included are a download code for high resolution audio files of the entire album (in 24 bit/up to 192 kHz) and a 7-day ticket for the Digital Concert Hall, Berlin Philharmonic’s video streaming service. This is sheer audiophile heaven.
Read the full review on Classical Net


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Herbert von Karajan remastered

Mili Balakirev: Symphony #1 in C Major
Alexander Borodin: Polovtsian Dances from “Prince Igor” (Mono & Stereo Versions)
Modest Mussorgsky: Khovanshchina (Act 4 Entr’acte & Dance of the Persian Slaves); Khovanshchina (Excerpts)1; Boris Godunov (Excerpts)1;
Pictures at an Exhibition (orch. Maurice Ravel)
Serge Prokofieff: Peter and the Wolf, Op. 67²
Piotr Ilyitch Tchaikovsky: Swan Lake Suite, Op. 20 (Mono & Stereo Versions); The Nutcracker Suite, Op. 71a; The Sleeping Beauty Suite, Op. 66 (Mono & Stereo Versions); 1812 Overture, Op. 49; Symphony #4 in F minor, Op 36; Symphony #4 in F minor, Op 36 *; Symphony #5 in E minor, Op. 64, Symphony #6 in B minor “Pathétique”, Op. 74
Igor Stravinsky: Jeu de cartes

1 Boris Christoff, bass
2 Peter Ustinov, narrator
Philharmonia Orchestra/Herbert von Karajan
* Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra/Herbert von Karajan
Warner Classics 2564633620-3 7CDs Mono/Stereo ADD

Claude Debussy: La Mer, Prélude à l’après-midi d’un faune
Maurice Ravel: Bolero, Alborada del Gracioso **, La Valse **, Rapsodie Espagnole **, Le Tombeau de Couperin **
Georges Bizet: L’ Arlésienne Suite No. 2
Emmanuel Chabrier: Espana Rapsodie
Charles Gounod: Faust-Ballet Music
Hector Berlioz: Hungarian March from “La Damnation de Faust”
César Franck: Symphony in D minor **
Giacomo Puccini: Intermezzo from Suor Angelica, Intermezzo from Manon Lescaut
Pietro Mascagni: Intermezzo from L’Amico Fritz
Antonín Dvořák: Symphony #8 in G Major, Op. 88, Symphony #9 in E minor “From The New World”, Op. 95, Slavonic Dance #8 in G Minor
Bedřich Smetana: The Moldau from “Ma Vlást”
Béla Bartók: Concerto for Orchestra
Piotr Ilyitch Tchaikovsky: Symphony #4 in F minor, Op 36; Symphony #5 in E minor, Op. 64; Symphony #6 in B minor “Pathétique”, Op. 74

** Orchestre de Paris/Herbert von Karajan
Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra/Herbert von Karajan
Warner Classics 2564633593-0 7CDs Stereo ADD

Karajan Official Remastered Edition

Karajan Official Remastered Edition

To mark the 25th anniversary of the death of Herbert von Karajan (this 16 July) Warner Classics, now owning the EMI catalogue, reissues a substantial chunk of the Austrian maestro’s legacy. The Official Remastered Edition, as it is called, will comprise 13 box sets regrouping his most remarkable orchestral recordings for EMI, in all 101 discs, spanning a period between 1946 and 1984. (Karajan’s opera recordings are conspicuously absent, but will perhaps be covered in a separate edition.)
Read the full review on Classical Net


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The Film Music of Miklós Rózsa

Miklós Rózsa: Film Music Suites
The Thief of Bagdad
Rudyard Kipling’s Jungle Book
Sahara
Ben-Hur

BBC Philharmonic Orchestra/Rumon Gamba
Chandos CHAN10806 DDD 80:07

The Film Muisic of Miklós Rózsa

Miklós Rózsa

Miklós Rózsa (1907-1995) is mainly remembered as the composer of epic Hollywood film scores of the 1950s – Quo Vadis, Ivanhoe, Ben-Hur, among others. Less well known is that he also excelled in the film noir genre, while his auspicious first steps (as a young concert music composer) in the movie industry, closely connected to fellow Hungarian producer-directors Alexander and Zoltán Korda, remain relatively underrepresented on disc. Starting in 1937 Rózsa went on to compose for no less than nine pictures of the Korda’s, often successful, lavishly produced works that remain classics of the silver screen.
Read the full review on Classical Net


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Swan Lake in Bergen, Norway

Piotr Ilyitch Tchaikovsky: Swan Lake, Op. 20, Complete Ballet
James Ehnes, violin
Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra/Neeme Järvi
Chandos SACD CHSA5124(2) 81:17 & 73:24

Swan Lake

Swan Lake

Once upon a time, ballet music used to be the territory of specialists. Musicians groomed in the theatre or with a special flair for drama gave ample proof that ballet scores didn’t have to remain limited to stage performances. Conductors like Ernest Ansermet, Pierre Monteux, Anatole Fistoulari, Antal Dorati, Evgeny Svetlanov, Gennady Rozhdestvensky, among others, brought elegant and vivid accounts of the great ballet scores by Tchaikovsky, Delibes, Prokofiev and Stravinsky which have stood the test of time. The appeal of these recordings didn’t stem from this often supposed suitability as dance accompaniment. Rather it was a profound understanding of the mechanics of these particular scores, reviving the particular spirit of each ballet on disc just like any seasoned opera conductor naturally would do, which secured them a place among the great orchestral works. Nowadays, however, when several ballet scores have been widely accepted as “serious” music, everybody seems ready to take a swing at them. And the results are variable.
Read the full review on Classical Net


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Vaughan Williams by Sir Adrian Boult

Ralph Vaughan Williams: A Sea Symphony (1,2,a); A London Symphony (2); A Pastoral Symphony (3,c); Symphony #4 in F minor (3); Symphony #5 in D Major (2); Symphony #6 in E minor (3); Sinfonia antarctica (1,2,b); Symphony #8 in D minor (2); Symphony #9 in E minor (2)
(a) Sheila Armstrong, soprano
(a) John Carol Case, baritone
(b) Norma Burrowes, soprano
(c) Margaret Price, soprano
(1) London Philharmonic Choir
(2) London Philharmonic Orchestra/Adrian Boult
(3) New Philharmonia Orchestra/Adrian Boult
Recorded between 1967 & 1971
Warner Classics (EMI) 87484-2 5CDs ADD

Vaughan Williams Symphonies

Sir Adrian Boult plays Vaughan Williams

For anyone looking to explore the symphonies of Ralph Vaughan Williams (1872-1958) this famous set recorded by Sir Adrian Boult for HMV/EMI between 1967 and 1971, and reissued by Warner Classics at an attractive price, is still a clear first choice. While clearly not neglected on disc Vaughan Williams’s symphonies are hardly ever heard in the concert-halls. There are first-rate complete sets by Bernard Haitink, Vernon Handley, and André Previn among others, yet one doesn’t get any closer to his particular and ever-changing sound-world than with Sir Adrian Boult, who knew the composer since his Oxford student-days, premiered three of his symphonies and remained a close friend and lifelong champion of his music.
Read the full review on Classical Net