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What floats yer boat these days?

Discussion in 'classical' started by windhoek, Mar 8, 2017.

  1. windhoek

    windhoek pfm Member

    Just a quick message to say thanks for posting such detailed posts of what you've been listening to of late, Todd. It just so happens most of it isn't really on my radar - I'm a veritable sloth when it comes to investigating music outwith my classical comfort zone - but I appreciate your posts nonetheless as they're well written and seem extremely well informed. Thank you.
  2. rough edges

    rough edges pfm Member

    Spending lots of time with Rare Earth, Mozart piano sonatas (Wurtz), and Stewboss. Also the Stravinsky violin concerto and Prokofiev violin concertos are in the cdp a lot lately. Bought a shitload of Blue Note titles from Music Matters, so I've been cleaning them on the Okki Nikki and giving them a spin. Nice.

  3. Vinniemac

    Vinniemac pfm Member

    Just listening to this on Spotify. It's everything you said it was, Todd, and thanks for the heads up. I love Faure's piano quartets, but didn't know about this stuff. Thanks again.
  4. Todd A

    Todd A pfm Member


    Sweet Jesus! Jorge Luis Prats' so far sole Decca recital from 2011 is a knock-out. A Cuban, he was long relegated to touring Soviet bloc countries only, only reemerging into the international scene last decade, and he has made only a handful of recordings. This one of Spanish and Latin American solo piano music, taken from a single recital with no patching, is just phenomenal. I've heard a fair number of recordings of Goyescas, but none sound so spontaneous and comfortable as this. Sure, some others play with a bit more tonal nuance some of the time, and yes, Prats puts El Pelele fifth in the sequence and then plays El Amor y la muerte last, and drops Epilogo altogether, but the pianist offers his rationale, which is basically this: why do you need an epilogue when the lovers are dead? A shoot-out is in order. The disc then moves to Villa-Lobos Bachiana brasleira No 4. I've got little Villa-Lobos solo piano music in my collection, but the little I have is superb, capped by Nelson Freire's discs for Teldec and Decca, though he doesn't play this work. Prats is very close to Freire's equal. The three short works by three different Cuban composers are likewise masterful. Superb sound.

    As to other recordings, there's a Rach 2 & 3 out there, a Grieg/Dohnanyi/Litolff disc, and a DVD recital, but I think I've found the disc I will to suggest to Eloquence for reissue: a late 70s DG disc of LvB (Op 101), Schumann (Toccata), and Ravel (Gaspard). Hopefully he records more for Decca.

    Amazon UK link
  5. Todd A

    Todd A pfm Member


    Inspired by recent listening to Pascal Devoyon and Jerzy Maksymiuk in their capacities as accompanists, I determined to find something new for my collection from both. It turns out they made a recording together, in the form of the tried and true pairing of the Schumann and Grieg Piano Concertos. As the disc is cheap, I figured one more version of each couldn't hurt. Here's a case of B-listers delivering A-list work. It's not really fair to label them B-listers, but neither artist seems to be among anyone's oft cited favorites. That's slightly more perplexing in the case of Devoyon, whose touch is nuanced, whose playing is expressive yet always eminently tasteful, whose chops are world-class. Maksymiuk offers spot-on conducting that perfectly supports the soloist. The recordings do not present the most passionate or fiery take of either work, but when considering both works together on one disc, the only one that pops into mind as being better overall, and then not by much, is the Lupu/Previn set, which also offers a different approach. And there's no lopsidedness favoring one concerto that multiple discs pairing the two works display - eg, Andsnes/Jansons, so breathtakingly great in the Grieg, so not in the Schumann.

    Excellent sound, with some vocalizing from Devoyon audible here and there, most notably in the first movement cadenza in the Schumann, and some presumably from Maksymiuk in the orchestral-only sections of the finale of the Grieg.

    Amazon UK link
  6. Todd A

    Todd A pfm Member


    If the listener didn't know Nelson Freire was in his 70s, there would be no way to tell from the playing. His playing here nearly matches his fifty year younger self in his first solo recording in forward drive, intensity, and articulation, but goes one step further in knowing when to back off for effect, particularly in the second movement, in the Op 5 sonata. The evening before listening to this for the first time, I relistened to my personal reference from FFG, and the Frenchman takes his time in the first two movements, creating a vaster sounscape in the first movement and a more intimate one in the second, and a bit less urgency in the remaining three movements. I find FFG's coheres a bit better, but that is not to take anything away from Freire. Indeed, had FFG's set not been released last year, this new recording would and could withstand comparison to any other. This is not at all surprising, of course, since Freire is among the very greatest of all living pianists.

    This new disc also contains eleven late pieces, and one Op 39 waltz. These likewise all sound splendid. A few overlap with works on Arcadi Volodos' release from earlier this year. I shan't beat around the bush: Freire, as great as he plays, does not and cannot match Volodos in the few overlapping selections, but no one else I've heard really can, either. Volodos is more ethereal and poetic, Freire more robust and pointed, though certainly not without a delicate touch when called for. If maybe one can find Freire wanting when compared to FFG and Volodos, two very different pianists executing two very different artistic visions, that is hardly criticism. It is only when comparing Freire to the best of the best, which is the minimum he deserves, that one can begin to identify where he might be able to "improve". At this level, it's always and only down to taste, and it is abundantly clear that I must have all three recordings. Toss in prior current century releases from Nicholas Angelich, Sheila Arnold, and Alessio Bax that I've only picked up in the last year or so, and it has been a Brahms boom, pianistically speaking. I could now stop listening to recordings from last century. With Rubinstein, Richter, Kempff, Lupu, Kovacevich, and St Annie in my collection, I won't, of course, but I could.

    SOTA sound.

    Amazon UK link
  7. Todd A

    Todd A pfm Member


    An unexpected treat. I bought this because it was available for a pittance, not really expecting anything, but it turns out that Olivier Chauzu is a pianist of ideas and has some interesting things to say. He starts with a Toccata that isn't totally off-putting, which is an achievement to my ears, then moves to a DBT and Humoreske with excellent playing, nice contrast between the Florestan and Eusebius sections, and a relaxed yet flowing presentation. Both pieces work exceedingly well, but the Humoreske is something special. Chauzu has the ability to play slow and/or quiet while maintaining musical tension. Indeed, it is this playing that just may be his best. The more resonant than typically ideal sound, with hints of a metallic patina, is used to good effect, too, with Chauzu pedaling and holding some notes and chords just that smidge longer to great effect. He's got a good number of other recordings out across different labels, so I may very well have to sample some more. The only thing to quibble about is the artwork.

    Amazon UK link
  8. Buntobox

    Buntobox pfm Member

    You can't do better than Gilels and Jochum on DGG from 1972.
  9. davidjt

    davidjt pfm Member

    Only my opinion, but I thougt tonight's R3 Sibelius concert (available for 30 days, etc.) was outstanding.
  10. Todd A

    Todd A pfm Member


    Now here's something to savor. I've got a few discs of Soler sonatas, though just a tiny fraction of the full output, which as far as I know has been recorded thrice on harpsichord, with a piano set underway by Naxos. This disc is different than others in that it is played by a man who was partly responsible for bringing Soler into the recorded age. Frederick Marvin, who passed away last year at the age of 96, discovered Soler in 1946 in an obscure book published in the 20s, and then he unearthed Soler's sonata manuscripts in the Spanish monastery where Soler resided. He also unearthed the Fandango in Barcelona. Based on his research and collaboration with harpsichordists, he determined that the Fandango was written especially for the fortepiano, though some harpsichordists mastered it. (Scott Ross seemed to have no problem with it, for instance.) He also published his own edition of the sonatas. For his efforts, Mr Marvin was honored by the Spanish government. He also received some honors from the French government. As a pianist, he trained with Artur Schnabel, Rudolf Serkin, and Claudio Arrau, and he recorded some Soler for Decca decades ago. That disc is available on YouTube. He also recorded some Liszt and some Dussek, but he seems to have largely disappeared from non-academic consciousness.

    This disc contains recordings from concerts given between 1969-86, and from two Soler festivals. Some are obviously live as there is applause, and some seem to be transferred from LPs. Sound quality varies, from acceptable-to-good to quite poor and riddled with noise. (Around half the tracks have either remnants of other recordings resulting from taping over existing material or bad distortion or other noise.) Marvin's playing is all good. Real good. He displays a rhythmic flexibility at least equal to Larrocha, though different, and though never retiring or too soft, he plays with a remarkably varied touch, with some ravishingly beautiful ornaments sprinkled throughout. His trills can be a special delight. Were he recorded in SOTA sound, I would not be surprised if his low end dynamics were as nuanced as those from Marie Luise Hinrichs; the Andantino MV12 more or less reveals that even with sub-par sound. As if to drive home the point that Marvin can rock with the best of them, MV21 explodes out of the gate, showing he can deliver whatever needs to be delivered. The disc ends with a poor-sounding, phase-challenged live recording of the Fandango. He starts slow, but picks up the pace. One can hear the approximation of castanets and guitars, and though one can tell this is live (ie, some obvious fudges), it doesn't matter a whit. It's recreative art with of-the-moment inspiration.

    I'll be streaming Mr Marvin's Dussek soon enough. I may also explore some more Soler recordings this year, which, in concert with all the Mompou I plan to listen to, will give this year a Spanish flavor.

    I think I'll contact Eloquence to suggest reissuing Marvin's Decca Soler properly.
  11. Todd A

    Todd A pfm Member


    First listen. A recording I eagerly looked forward to when I learned of it, and one that more or less delivers what I expected. In terms of presentation, this often intimate take is pretty much the polar opposite of Markus Bellheim's quasi-orchestral take. It's personal, searching, sometimes hypnotic, sometimes poetic, sometimes soft, sometimes hard (though never too much). Though Kars never really goes for a very slow approach, some of the playing sounds magnificently static. The fastest, loudest playing, slightly hemmed in by the sonics, is almost ecstatic or rapturous, and in some of the later pieces, Kars plays with something approaching digital prestidigitation. In terms of overall musical impact, the closest analog I can think of is Eugeniusz Knapik's great rendition, which has been perhaps my favorite version. Until now. I can't envision doing an A/B for this work, so I'll just say that on first listen, Kars joins Knapik. The recording is very obviously live, which makes Kars' achievement all the more impressive.
  12. Todd A

    Todd A pfm Member


    Where has Albert Attenelle been all my life? In Spain, it turns out. He studied with the renowned Spanish piano instructor Frank Marshall (que?), who studied with Enrique Granados. Mr Attenelle is the director of the Escola de Musica de Barcelona and also teaches at the Centre Superior del Conservatori del Liceu. In addition to that, he authored the Urtext edition of Iberia, which he also recorded, along with other Spanish fare. That indicates more than passing familiarity with Spanish music. This recording indicates that he knows his Granados well. In some ways, it's an academic opposite to Jorge Luis Prats' spontaneous, free-wheeling, comfortable and big sonority approach. That's not to say that Attenelle sounds thin and clinical, but where the Cuban just goes, the Spaniard sweats the small stuff. Every aspect of his playing sounds well prepared, whether it be the finely controlled dynamics or the minute attention to rhythmic changes. Prats is sort of a big picture guy; Attenelle is more into the details. The sound (via streaming) and style is leaner and cleaner than Prats, but man, this is perfect example of how valuable different interpretations can be. I've got his Mompou cued up, and his Albeniz and Severac behind that.

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