Joshua Bell conducts Beethoven Symphonies No. 4 and 7
This is Joshua Bell’s first recording as Music Director of the Academy of St. Martin in the Fields, where he both directs and plays from the concertmaster’s chair. Recorded in London, this is the first Beethoven release, as they plan to record the composer’s entire cycle.
Mr. Bell is the first American and first person to hold the title of Music Director since Sir Neville Marriner formed the orchestra in 1958.
On this CD, we get to hear:
Performed by The Academy Of St Martin In The Fields, conducted by Joshua Bell
The Washington Post wrote:
“Bell alternated playing along with the first violins and conducting (with great physical animation) from his seat, sculpting the air expressively with his bow to bring forth a wealth of interpretive detail from the musicians. This was as superb a Beethoven Fourth as I’ve heard, delivered by a conductor of tremendous promise and genuine ideas who also happens to be one heck of a violinist.”
Here is Me. Bell, conducting the orchestra in the slow movement of Beethoven’s Symphony #7:
And here he is again, conducting the same orchestra in Max Bruch’s Scottish Fantasy:
Tags: Joshua Bell, conductor, violinist, The Academy Of St Martin In The Fields, Beethoven
I love the music of Johannes Brahms because of its great diversity and creativity. In his symphonies, I hear tender sounds of Nature; in his Intermezzos, I hear Brahms playing piano for his own pleasure. And in his variations, I love the way Brahms can take a simple tune and then transform it into 45 minutes of inventive music.
On this CD, we get t hear the following:
Performed by Jonathan Plowright (piano)
Jonathan Plowright studied at the Royal Academy of Music where he won Gold Medal in 1983. He was also ‘Commonwealth Musician of the Year’ and a Fulbright Scholar, and won first prize in the European Piano Competition.
Brahms’ Piano Sonata No. 3 is very large and complex, as well as unconventional in its musical structure. This makes it one of the most impressive sonatas since those of Beethoven and Schubert.
Brahms never wrote another piano sonata after completing his No. 3; but instead he concentrated on a series of large-scale sets of variations, among which the Handel Variations must be considered one of his major achievement. Completed in September 1861 the work shows Brahms at the height of his inventive powers. It is a beautiful piece of music, and played excellently on this CD.
Gramophone Magazine wrote in February 2013:
“His warmth and sincerity combine with a superbly assured and powerful technique to create one of the finest performances [of the F minor Sonata] on record…His Handel Variations, too, are subtly and economically inflected, never searching for easy glamour or effect…One could hardly wish for more and I can scarcely wait for further volumes from this pianist, adding that both the piano concertos positively cry out for his attention.”
Here is Jonathan Plowright playing Gottschalk’s ‘The Banjo’
And next, here’s Plowright in playing Jack Fina’s amazing boogie version of ‘Flight of the Bumble Bee’ by Rimsky Korsakov – watch those flying fingers!
Tags: Jonathan Plowright, Brahms, piano sonata #3, Variations
Simone Dinnerstein and Tift Merritt:
1. Only in Songs
2. Night and Dreams
3. Don’t Explain
4. Dido’s Lament
5. I Shall Weep at Night
6. Wayfaring Stranger
7. Prelude in B Minor
8. Still Not Home
9. I Will Give My Love an Apple
11. The Cohen Variations
13. Feel of the World
14. I Can See Clearly Now
Performed by Simone Dinnerstein (piano), and Tift Merritt (vocals)
Pianist Simone Dinnerstein and singer-songwriter Tift Merritt join forces for the first time in ‘Night’, a unique collaboration merging classical, folk, and rock worlds, exploring common terrain and uncovering new musical landscape. Features songs written by Brad Mehldau, Patty Griffin & Tift Merritt herself.
“Night” is a remarkable achievement from a most unlikely pair of friends, Julliard-trained classical pianist Simone Dinnerstein and country singer-songwriter Tift Merritt. It is an album replete with songs of “solemn intimacy”, to quote a National Public Radio commentator, which invite the listener to listen further, as though these were performed live in the sanctuary of the listener’s own room; a musical dialogue between two close friends whose musical roots stretch from American bluegrass, folk and country music (Merritt) to folk and classical music (Dinnerstein).
Opening with a song composed and sung by singer Tift Merritt on guitar, a lament about the meaning of songs (“Only in Songs”), with Simone Dinnerstein joining towards the end, “Night” segues almost instantaneously into a Schubert lied (“Night and Dreams”) sung in English by Merritt, with a brief interlude by her on harmonica that is an unorthodox, yet surprisingly appropriate, addition, with Dinnerstein a most sympathetic accompanist.
Here are Tift Merritt and Simone Dinnerstein “Only In Songs/Night and Dreams”
Here are both artists, explaining more about their album, “Night”:
Tags: Simone Dinnerstein, Tift Merritt, Night, Schubert
Tabea Zimmermann, violist
Tabea Zimmermann’s viola sound is extraordinarily beautiful, dark, and so musical. Her performance in either concertos or chamber music is defined by total precision, and her phrasing has a touching warmth. In this recording she also has an exceptional musician as a partner, pianist Kirill Gerstein
Let me begin with a few selections from my Spotify file called “Hank’s Tabea”
This CD has the following selections for us:
1. Sonata for Viola & Piano, 1919: I. Impetuoso – poco agitato
2. Sonata for Viola & Piano, 1919: II. Vivace
3. Sonata for Viola & Piano, 1919: III. Adagio – Allegro
4. Sonata for Viola & Piano in B-Flat Major, Op. 36: I. Maestoso – Allegro
5. Sonata for Viola & Piano in B-Flat Major, Op. 36: II. Barcarolla
6. Sonata for Viola & Piano in B-Flat Major, Op. 36: III. Finale Scherzando
7. Sonata for Viola & Piano in E-Flat Major, Op. 120/2: I. Allegro amabile
8. Sonata for Viola & Piano in E-Flat Major, Op. 120/2: II. Allegro appassionato
9. Sonata for Viola & Piano in E-Flat Major, Op. 120/2: III. Andante con moto
Here is a video of Ms. Zimmermann in a section of the Bela Bartok Viola Concerto. Observe how effortlessly her instrument sings for us, and see the total control that she has over her instrument!
And next, here she is with Kirill Gerstein in a video where there’s some fascinating talk in german about the recording rehearsals for this CD. Be patient, and you’ll get some of the music, too:
Tags: Tabea Zimmermann, Kirill Gerstein, Brahms, Henri Vieuxtemps, Rebecca Clarke
On this CD, Nelson Freire is the soloist in Chopin’s lyrical and brilliant Second Piano Concerto. On the podium the young French conductor Lionel Bringuier makes his “Proms” debut conducting the BBC Symphony Orchestra and also gives us a sizzling performance of Roussel’s Symphony No.3 and of Ravel’s score for the ballet ‘Daphnis et Chloé’ – Suite No. 2.
Here are the selections:
Nelson Freire (piano)
piano transcription by Giovanni Sgambati
Performed by the BBC Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Lionel Bringuier, and Nelson Freire, piano soloist
Chopin wrote his second piano concerto at the age of 19 while crazily in love with an opera singer, but it is the work itself which is the object of adoration for soloist Nelson Freire who describes himself as having something of a ‘crush’ on the piece after first hearing it as a teenager.
Mr. Freire’s interpretation, this concerto is far less of a piano solo with subservient orchestra, and much more a shared work for piano and orchestra.
The three other works on the program allow us to hear French music over a century of changing musical tastes, beginning in 1844 with Berlioz’s adventure in his overture ‘Le corsaire’.
By 1912 the tides of modernism influenced Ravel’s amazingly scored, pastoral ballet Daphnis and Chloë, with its famous opening soundscape of dawn breaking over the forest canopy.
And by the 1930’s Roussel’s Third Symphony reflected the new trends of classical music.
Recorded live at the Royal Albert Hall, 08/2010
Here is Nelson Freire in the second movement of Chopin’s Piano Concerto No. 2:
Let’s hear the final movement of this great performance:
Tags: Nelson Freire, Chopin, Lionel Bringuier, Royal Albert Hall
Bach by Kathleen Battle
Ever so often I have to bring you a very old recording, just because it is so great! And I do so today, because on March 21st it was the birthday of Johann Sebastian Bach, so this is a great way to celebrate his birthday.
This CD is a collaborative effort by one of the most amazing sopranos this country has ever produced, with several other outstanding artists. The singer’s name is Kathleen Battle; Her collaborator is violinist Yitzhak Perlman; and these artists are supported by the Orchestra of St. Luke’s.
Together, these artists bring us the following Bach arias:
1. Aria “Vergnügen und Lust” (Soprano) – Aria “Vergnügen und Lust” (Soprano)
2. Aria “Ich bin vergnügt in meinem Leiden” (Soprano) – Aria “Ich bin vergnügt in meinem Leiden” (Soprano)
3. Aria “Die Schätzbarkeit der weiten Erde” – Aria “Die Schätzbarkeit der weiten Erde”
4. Aria “Ich traue seiner Gnaden” (Tenore) – Aria “Ich traue seiner Gnaden” (Tenore)
5. Aria “Bete, bete aber auch dabei” (Soprano) – Aria “Bete, bete aber auch dabei” (Soprano)
6. Aria “Jesus soll mein erstes Wort” (Soprano) – Aria “Jesus soll mein erstes Wort” (Soprano)
7. Benedictus – Benedictus
8. Laudamus te – Laudamus te
9. Aria: Wenn die Frühlingslüfte streichen – 5. Aria: Wenn die Frühlingslüfte streichen
10. Aria “Auch mit gedämpften, schwachen Stimmen” (Soprano) – 7. Aria “Auch mit gedämpften, schwachen Stimmen” (Soprano)
11. Aria “Gott versorget alles Leben” (Soprano) – Aria “Gott versorget alles Leben”
12. Aria: Ich esse mit Freuden mein weniges Brot – 3. Aria: Ich esse mit Freuden mein weniges Brot
13. Aria: “Kann ich nur Jesum mir zum Freunde machen” – 5. Aria: “Kann ich nur Jesum mir zum Freunde machen”
Musically, these performances are really outstanding. The phrasing is excellent, and the blending of the orchestra, violin and soprano are amazing.
This is likely some of the most beautiful music of Bach you will ever hear. Yitzhak Perlman plays Bach in a very simple, direct and satisfying way. This combination of his sound with one of the best soprano ever is just superb. This IS a very beautiful recording.
Here are Yitzhak Perlman and Kathleen Battle in “Vergnügen und Lust” by Bach:
And next, from this same album, here is Itzhak Perlman and Kathleen Battle in “Bete aber auch dabei” by Johann Sebastian Bach:
Tags: Johann Sebastian Bach, Kathleen Battle, Yithak Perlman, Bach Album
I love to watch a good-looking couple do the Tango! It’s so sexy, attractive, as well as musical, and lots of fun. I wish I had learned how to Tango many years ago—
In this recording, we get the following terrific selections:
1. Escolasu (arr. L. Moraru)
2. Calambre – Franacapa (arr. L. Moraru)
3. Lo que vendra (arr. L. Moraru)
4. Tango Suite: Tango No. 1 (arr. L. Moraru)
5. Jalousie (Jealousy) (arr. L. Moraru)
6. Tango Suite: Tango No. 3 (arr. L. Moraru)
7. Oblivion (arr. L. Moraru)
8. Tango choc – Plus ultra (arr. L. Moraru)
9. Oda para un hippie (arr. L. Moraru)
10. Buenos aires hora cero (arr. L. Moraru)
11. Michelangelo 70 (arr. L. Moraru)
The performers are called the “Traffic Strings”:
Here are the Traffic Strings in “Tango Apasionado”:
And next, here are the Traffic Strings in “Gala Tango”: (Watch patiently!)
Finally, here’s the same group, playing the “Primavera portena” by Astor Piazzola. This is really great fun!
Tags: Tango Finesse, Traffic Strings, Tango, Piazzola
More of Julia Fischer:
On this recording, violinist Julia Fischer pairs the ever-popular Bruch violin concerto with Dvorák’s undeservedly neglected, but lovely masterpiece. Her playing is beautiful, with great phrasing, impeccable technique, and fine musical feeling.
Here are some selections of Julia Fischer’s mastery from my Spotify playlists:
On this CD, we get to hear the following:
Performed by Julia Fischer (violin), with the Zürich Tonhalle Orchestra, conducted by David Zinman
Reviewing Julia Fischer’s performance of the Dvorák Concerto in London, The Guardian wrote:
“Dvorák’s Violin Concerto, a romantic showpiece too often passed over in favor of Bruch and Mendelssohn, has a piquant slow movement to compete with either. Fischer made sure we heard every note, handing us each bar with absolute technical assurance and in a lustrous, seamless tone.”
Here are Julia Fischer and cellist Daniel Muller Schott performing the “Passacaglia” by Handel:
And next, here is Ms. Fischer in Mendelssohn Violin Concerto in E Minor:
Tags: Julia Fischer, Dvorak, Max Bruch
As y’all know, I get so energized and thrilled by young performers who will carry on the classical music tradition. I write about these performers often.
And yes– I go back to the performers of the past from time to time, as a tribute and as a reminder of their contribution to music, even though they are no longer here. One such amazing performer is Russian pianist Sviatoslav Richter.
On this CD, Mr. Richter performs the following:
Performed by Sviatoslav Richter (piano)
In 1960, Richter gave a series of memorable concerts at Carnegie Hall in Manhattan, which were recorded by Columbia Records. This CD presents an all Beethoven program, taken from those concerts, which displays Richter’s amazing credentials and which captures the sheer excitement that the concert series provoked at the time.
Here is a video of Mr. Richter, performing the Beethoven sonata number 19, in G-Minor:
And next, here is the sonata number 1, Op. 2:
Tags: Beethoven, Sonatas, Sviatoslav Richter
I am fortunate in that I have played in piano Trio groups, as well as in string quartets. These experiences have always created wonderful memories for me, not only from the music we played, but also based on the participants.
This recording brings back some of these memories of long ago…
Selections on this recording include the following:
Performed by the Quartetto di Cremona
The quartet’s members are:
• Cristiano Gualco, violin
• Paolo Andreoli, violin
• Simone Gramaglia, viola
• Giovanni Scaglione, cello
The violinist Paolo Andreoli plays a beautiful violin made by Giovanni Battista Guadagnini in 1737
The chamber music of Beethoven is divided into three periods: the Op. 18 quartet’s are from the s-called “Early Period”; the Op. 95 is from the “Middle Period”; and the Op. 135 comes form the last 5 compositions that Beethoven ever wrote, and they are identified as the “Late Period”.
Movement titles are as follows:
1. String Quartet No. 6 in B-Flat Major, Op. 18: I. Allegro con brio
2. String Quartet No. 6 in B-Flat Major, Op. 18: II. Adagio ma non troppo
3. String Quartet No. 6 in B-Flat Major, Op. 18: III. Scherzo – Trio
4. String Quartet No. 6 in B-Flat Major, Op. 18: IV. ‘La Malinconia’. Adagio – Allegretto quasi allegro
5. String Quartet No. 11 in F Minor, Op. 95: I. Allegro con brio
6. String Quartet No. 11 in F Minor, Op. 95: II. Allegretto ma non troppo
7. String Quartet No. 11 in F Minor, Op. 95: III. Allegro assai vivace ma serioso
8. String Quartet No. 11 in F Minor, Op. 95: IV. Larghetto espressivo – Allegretto agitato
9. String Quartet No. 16 in F Major, Op. 135: I. Allegretto
10. String Quartet No. 16 in F Major, Op. 135: II. Vivace
11. String Quartet No. 16 in F Major, Op. 135: III. Lento assai, cantante e tranquillo
12. String Quartet No. 16 in F Major, Op. 135: IV. “Der schwer gefaßte Entschluß (The Difficult Decision).” Grave, Ma non troppo tratto (Muss es sein?/Must it be?) – Allegro (Es muss sein!/It must be!) -
Here are the members of the Cremona Quartet, playing the Beethoven String Quartet in B flat major, Op. 18, No. 6; terrific playing!
And next, here’s the same group, telling us more (I just love the Italian language), and they are playing the music of Mozart:
Tags: Cremona String Quartet, Beethoven, Opus 18, Opus 95, Opus 135
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