zondag 23 augustus 2009

Beethoven - String Quartets Nos. 9 & 10

Quatuor Turner:
Alessandro Moccia, violin
Adrian Chamorro, violin
Jean-Philippe Vasseur, viola
Ageet Zweistra, cello

Lossless: Ape (img + cue + log) = 247 mb
Lossy: Mp3 (lame "preset standard") = 18 mb
Artwork @ 300dpi = 83 mb

Total playing time: 58:50
Recorded 1998 | Released 2001

November 1998, Vereenigde Doopsgezinde Gemeente, Haarlem, Netherlands

Harmonia Mundi - HMC 905252

Track listing:
1. No.10, Op.74 'The Harp' - 1. Poco adagio - Allegro
2. No.10, Op.74 'The Harp' - 2. Adagio ma non troppo
3. No.10, Op.74 'The Harp' - 3. Presto
4. No.10, Op.74 'The Harp' - 4. Allegretto con variazoni
5. No.9, Op.59 No.3 'Razoumovsky' - 1. Introduzione. Andante con moto - Allegro vivace
6. No.9, Op.59 No.3 'Razoumovsky' - 2. Andante con moto quasi allegretto
7. No.9, Op.59 No.3 'Razoumovsky' - 3. Menuetto
8. No.9, Op.59 No.3 'Razoumovsky' - 4. Allegretto molto

"The music of a lunatic": this was the musical public's reaction to the three quartets of opus 59 dedicated to Count Razumovsky and published in 1807, a year after they were composed. It is true that this music is eminently surprising: if ever a work expressed triumph over tragedy whilst marking a decisive advance on its own time, it is the Quartet in C major, in the margin of which Beethoven wrote, "Henceforth, make no secret of your deafness, even in your art." As for opus 74 (1809), it represents (with opus 95) the painful transition between these revolutionary works and what we now call the "late quartets".

Amazon.com editorial review
The Turner Quartet is a period-instrument group that equals more traditional quartets in personality, warmth, and innate feeling for Beethoven's peerless works. They zero in on the right tempo for any given passage, display a comparable sense of structure and rhythmic drive, as well as a masterful sense of dynamics. In the "Harp Quartet," they capture the ghostly opening beautifully, albeit with the clipped-phrase endings that tell you their Beethoven interpretations look forward from an earlier style. The slow movements of both works are done lovingly, although the plucked cello in the Andante of Op. 59 No. 3 is not nearly as prominent as in less understated performances. Throughout, the Turner's instrumental blend is impeccable, and they negotiate the faster movements with admirable swing and precise articulation. Harmonia Mundi's excellent sound is an added attraction to performances that, while they don't supplant the Italiano, Emerson, Talich, and Vegh Quartets, can be welcomed as viable alternative recordings of these inexhaustible pieces.

Gramophone (click to enlarge)

Several years ago, Quatuor Turner taped a wildly unconventional and thrilling survey of Beethoven's Op. 18 quartets as its debut release on Harmonia Mundi's Les Nouveaux Interprètes series. Now the Turners are back, this time playing the Op. 74 "Harp" quartet and the last of the Razumovskys with similarly iconoclastic force, in performances that are constantly alive to the structural demands of the music. By coincidence, Op. 74 (with Opp. 95 and 135) was recently recorded by the British Eroica Quartet for Harmonia Mundi, and comparisons between the two are revealing.

With the Turners, you'll get playing that's more urgently incisive. But this bristling ferocity comes at a price, and there are moments when the Turners don't match their rivals' tonal refinement, nor do they explore the textural subtleties of the music so effectively. A key instance comes in Op. 74's mysterious preface to its first movement, where the Eroicas observe dynamics more astutely. But what grips the imagination so completely with the Turner performance is the way the players highlight dynamic and expressive contrasts: the portentous Adagio shocks and chills after the exaltation of the opening allegro and the six variations of the finale also are fully characterized.

Beethoven's sketches for the moto-perpetuo finale of the C major Razumovsky were inscribed, "let your deafness no longer be a secret, even in your art", and this courageous personal resolve and heroism is highly palpable in Quatuor Turner's exceptionally committed reading. There are many superb recordings of this quartet, but on period instruments the Turner Quartet seems unrivalled, and the recorded sound is outstanding.

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zaterdag 22 augustus 2009

Saint-Saëns - Piano Trios Nos. 1 & 2

Trio Wanderer:
Vincent Coq - piano
Jean-Marc Phillips-Varjabédian - violin
Raphaël Pidoux - cello

Lossless: Ape (img + cue + log) = 243 mb
Lossy: Mp3 (lame "preset standard") = 19 mb
Artwork @ 300dpi = 80 mb

Total playing time: 58:01
Recorded 2004 | Released 2005

August 2004, Salle modulable IRCAM, Paris

Harmonia Mundi - HMC 901862

Track listing:
1. Trio n°1 op.18 - Allegro Non Troppo
2. Trio n°1 op.18 - Andante
3. Trio n°1 op.18 - Scherzo
4. Trio n°1 op.18 - Allegro
5. Trio n°2 op.92 - Allegro Non Troppo
6. Trio n°2 op.92 - Allegretto
7. Trio n°2 op.92 - Andante Con Moto
8. Trio n°2 op.92 - Gracioso, Poco Allegro
9. Trio n°2 op.92 - Allegro

These are breathtakingly beautiful performances of breathtakingly beautiful music. Trio No. 1 is one of Saint-Saëns' earliest chamber works, but it shows his trademark style fully in place: elegant, tuneful, and supremely confident in its craftsmanship. The most noteworthy thing about the work, aside from the lovely thematic material, is the characterful use of syncopated rhythms in all four movements. How marvelously the members of Trio Wanderer realize this aspect! Compared to them, the otherwise decent Joachim Trio on Naxos sounds as if it's standing in place. Listen to the vitality the Wanderer brings to the opening movement, or to the heartfelt simplicity of the andante's folk-song main theme, or to the confidence and joie de vivre in the scherzo's delicious rhythmic games. It's simply irresistible.

The Second Trio is less rambunctious in style but more interesting in form, with five movements (two dance pieces bracket a central Andante con moto) and a dazzling contrapuntal finale. Once again it's difficult to imagine the performance being better. Pianist Vincent Coq is particularly impressive, displaying a truly memorable ability to handle Saint-Saëns' fistfuls of notes with just the right touch: light, fluid, and perfectly even. His scales (and Saint-Saëns always writes lots of them) are a joyous experience all by themselves, which is not to take anything away from his similarly immaculate string-playing colleagues. Ideally balanced sonics and a warm acoustic complete a disc that comes as close to perfection as we have any right to expect. Gorgeous!

(click to enlarge)

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vrijdag 21 augustus 2009

Bach - Fantasia and Fugue in A minor, Aria Variata, etc.

Angela Hewitt: piano

Lossless: Ape (img + cue + log) = 199 mb
Lossy: Mp3 (lame "preset standard") = 91 mb
Artwork @ 300dpi included

Total playing time: 67:41
Recorded 2004 | Released 2004

3-5 February 2004, Henry Wood Hall, London

Hyperion CDA67499

Track listing:
1. Fantasia & Fugue in a, BWV 904: Fantasia
2. Fantasia & Fugue in a, BWV 904: Fugue
3. Aria Variata 'alla Maniera Italiana', BWV 989: Aria
4. Aria Variata 'alla Maniera Italiana', BWV 989: Variation I
5. Aria Variata 'alla Maniera Italiana', BWV 989: Variation II
6. Aria Variata 'alla Maniera Italiana', BWV 989: Variation III
7. Aria Variata 'alla Maniera Italiana', BWV 989: Variation IV
8. Aria Variata 'alla Maniera Italiana', BWV 989: Variation V
9. Aria Variata 'alla Maniera Italiana', BWV 989: Variation VI
10. Aria Variata 'alla Maniera Italiana', BWV 989: Variation VII
11. Aria Variata 'alla Maniera Italiana', BWV 989: Variation VIII
12. Aria Variata 'alla Maniera Italiana', BWV 989: Variation IX
13. Aria Variata 'alla Maniera Italiana', BWV 989: Variation X
14. Sonata in D, BWV 963: I.
15. Sonata in D, BWV 963: II.
16. Sonata in D, BWV 963: III. Fugue
17. Sonata in D, BWV 963: IV. Adagio
18. Sonata in D, BWV 963: V. Thema all' imitatio Gallina Cuccu
19. Partie in A, BWV 832: I. Allemande
20. Partie in A, BWV 832: II. Air pour les trompettes
21. Partie in A, BWV 832: III. Sarabande
22. Partie in A, BWV 832: IV. Bourrée
23. Partie in A, BWV 832: V. Gigue
24. Suite in f, BWV 823: I. Prelude
25. Suite in f, BWV 823: II. Sarabande en Rondeau
26. Suite in f, BWV 823: III. Gigue
27. Adagio in G, BWV 968
28. Fugue in C, BWV 953
29. Jesu, meine Zuversicht, BWV 728
30. Wer nur den lieben Gott lässt walten, BWV 691
31. Fantasia & Fugue in a, BWV 944: Fantasia
32. Fantasia & Fugue in a, BWV 944: Fugue

A fine musician completes her Bach keyboard journey with a choice selection

Miscellaneous Bach, but Angela Hewitt isn't scraping the bottom of the barrel. On the contrary, she has selected what appeals to her - pieces from 'different periods of Bach's life on this, the last planned CD of solo keyboard works'. Hewitt largely bows out on a high. The degree of preciosity that had crept into her playing of the English Suites has been eradicated, and her musicianship is of the stature that we have come to expect from a thoughtful artist.
A profound one, too, as her interpretation of the Adagio, BWV968, readily shows. This is a transcription (if not by Bach, possibly by his son Wilhelm Friedemann) of the first movement of the unaccompanied Violin Sonata in C major. It is, as Hewitt says, 'a strange and beautiful work' and she extols its qualities through a sustained line and lambent sonority. A similarly thoughtful attitude pays equal dividends in the Suite BWV823; the Prelude and Sarabande are introspective, the Gigue graceful yet sharply rhythmic, and the interpretation is enhanced by the attention paid to the importance of the left hand. Given the positive virtues that abound, it is puzzling to hear the Fugues BWV953 and 944 played in a detached manner. The tempi are well chosen, yet the expectations raised by Hewitt's own descriptions 'in joyous mood' and 'whirlwind moto perpetuo' respectively are not met. Still, it is the only lapse in a series of performances where freedom over articulation, phrasing, embellishment, dynamics and tempo is governed by an artistic sense of responsibility; and the whole recital is heard in a shrewdly balanced recording of fine tonal verisimilitude.

Angela Hewitt’s notes state that this is the last of her CDs of solo Bach keyboard works. It has been a significant series, a laudable one, and there’s no lessening in perception in this volume. It takes a disparate collection of works written over the course of Bach’s career. There are no obvious ties that bind them, though equally the programming as such is perfectly explicable. They show, as she says, great variety stylistically – and that’s one of the greatest of the pleasures to be gathered from this disc.

She certainly evokes the organ sonorities of the Fantasia and Fugue in A minor with commensurate clarity and precision in the Fugue; textures here are luminous, voicings apt, and there is no sense either of diminution of feeling or of unscaled extravagance. Similarly with the Aria Variata 'alla Maniera Italiana' which appears in Andreas Bach’s Book and was probably written in 1709. Like the Goldberg Variations the theme returns at the end. Hewitt disregards the Largo indication for the first variation taking it at a more animated tempo, which feels right, and her left hand pointing in the third variation is captivating. Similarly the sense of speed, accuracy and control is nowhere more apparent than in variation eight and her apposite ornamentation shows itself in the return of the theme in the last, tenth variation.

BWV963 is the only original keyboard sonata by Bach – the others are transcriptions or used material by Reinken. Here she vests the short second movement with great amplitude and prettily brings out the quixotic chicken and cuckoo imitations in the finale marked, as if one couldn’t guess, Theme all’imitatio Gallina Cuccu. Entertaining though it is to hear this rather unbalanced and eccentric sonata the Partie in A major has rather more depth. It was for long thought to be by Telemann and its highlight, as Hewitt suggests, is the second movement Air for trompettes – unique for Bach and tremendous fun to listen to as well, one imagines, to play. The Suite in F minor is an explicitly French influenced compound whose middle movement, a Sarabande en Rondeau, has a gentle gravity; it actually sounds rather reserved here, though her articulation is first class.

Elsewhere we can speculate on the (doubtful) Adagio in C minor; it’s derived from the opening movement of Bach’s violin sonata in C major BWV 968 but the arrangement may well be by Wilhelm Friedemann Bach. Her Wer nur den lieben Gott lässt walten is effectively realised and one can admire the control of her Fugal playing in the Fantasia and Fugue in A minor BWV944 which by virtue of good programming and symmetry matches the opening piece in the same key, BWV904.

Hewitt’s notes are written in a down to earth and attractive way and she has been afforded the same warm and yet detailed acoustic as was the case in previous volumes.

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donderdag 20 augustus 2009

Bach - Gamba Sonatas

Jaap ter Linden: Viola da gamba
Richard Egarr: harpsichord

Lossless: Ape (img + cue + log) = 336 mb
Lossy: Mp3 (lame "preset standard") = 91 mb
Artwork @ 300dpi = 22 mb

Total playing time: 61:15
Recorded 1999 | Released 2000

October 17-19, 1999, St. George's Brandon Hill, Bristol, England

Harmonia Mundi - HMU 907268

Track listing:
1. Sonata in G Major BWV 1027 - Adagio
2. Sonata in G Major BWV 1027 - Allegro ma non tanto
3. Sonata in G Major BWV 1027 - Andante
4. Sonata in G Major BWV 1027 - Allegro Moderato
5. Capriccio in B-flat Major BWV 992 - Arioso, Adagio
6. Capriccio in B-flat Major BWV 992 - Double
7. Capriccio in B-flat Major BWV 992 - Adagiosissimo
8. Capriccio in B-flat Major BWV 992 - Double
9. Capriccio in B-flat Major BWV 992 - Allegro Poco
10. Capriccio in B-flat Major BWV 992 - Fuga
11. Sonata in D Major BWV 1028 - Adagio
12. Sonata in D Major BWV 1028 - Allegro
13. Sonata in D Major BWV 1028 - Andante
14. Sonata in D Major BWV 1028 - Allegro
15. Capriccio in E Major BWV 993
16. Sonata in G Minor BWV 1029 - Vivace
17. Sonata in G Minor BWV 1029 - Adagio
18. Sonata in G Minor BWV 1029 - Allegro

Linden and Egarr's lively, well-recorded readings, with their rich, lyrical sound, can take on any other recent recording.

Selected comparisons:
Savall, Koopman (6/00) (ALIA) AV9812
Luolajan-Mikkola, Spányi (7/00) (BIS) CD 1061
Crum, Cummings (7/00) (SIGN) SIGCD024

This is the fourth new recording of the Bach gamba sonatas to have come my way in the year 2000 - proof, no doubt, of the deserved popularity of these finely wrought, tuneful and attractively varied pieces. Indeed, if one had to choose just one CD to represent Bach's instrumental chamber music, then among the plethora of transcriptions and double albums there would perhaps be no better group of works to pick than these.
Jaap ter Linden and Richard Egarr enter a largish field which includes a number of modern cellists unable to resist this superb music, but they emerge as serious contenders for a placing. Linden is one of very few players to have recorded not only these works on the gamba but also Bach's solo cello suites on a baroque cello, and his sound has the smoothness and rich lyricism that one tends to associate with the latter instrument, while at the same time retaining something of the gamba's pleasing incisiveness of line. Richard Egarr's harpsichord is splendidly sonorous, and while his tautly controlled playing is in many ways the opposite of Linden's, the meeting of instruments and minds is nevertheless a happy one. Egarr, playing an obbligato part, has less opportunity to show off his individualism than he would in an improvised continuo accompaniment, but, even if he could have been favoured a little more in the balance, his ability to orchestrate an impressive range of sounds from his instrument is still in evidence, especially in the concerto-like Sonata in G minor. He also dispatches the disc's filler items - two of Bach's early, somewhat old-fashioned solo harpsichord pieces - with vigorous and virtuosic aplomb.
Compared with their recent rivals, then, these are lively performances which steer a comfortable middle course between those of the rich-toned but slightly unimaginative Markku Luolajan-Mikkola and Miklós Spányi and the more intense and inspired but sloppily recorded Jordi Savall and Ton Koopman. Alison Crum and Laurence Cummings suffer too much from a balance unkind to the gamba. It all comes down to taste, of course, but this new recording may just be the one to live with.

Bach's three beautiful sonatas for gamba and harpsichord are so often played (and recorded) on the cello that the original sound - weak and wheezing is perhaps a harsh but not inaccurate description - takes some getting used to (HMU 907268). Jaap ter Linden, with harpsichordist Richard Egarr, offers the most convincing of several recent versions. He manages to overcome his instrument's acoustical problems, producing both a finely-spun legato and considerable firm articulation. He and Egarr produce true chamber music. The miking sometimes slights the harpsichord, except in the two solo Capriccios (BWV 992,993) which add a lovely contrast.

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dinsdag 18 augustus 2009

Piazzolla, Ginastera, Guastavino - Pasión Argentina

Cello Octet Conjunto Ibérico - Elias Arizcuren (dir.)

Robert Putowski, Jeroen den Herder, Esmé de Vries, Ilonka van den Bercken, Lucie Stepanova, Sanne Bijker, Esther Iglesias, Mikolaj Palosz

Elena Gragera: mezzo-soprano

Lossless: Ape (img + cue + log) = 340 mb
Lossy: Mp3 (lame "preset standard") = 89 mb
Artwork @ 300dpi = 28 mb

Total playing time: 63:25
Recorded 2006 | Released 2007

November 10-12 2006, Doopsgezinde Kerk, Deventer, Holland

Challenge Classics CC72170

Based in Amsterdam, Conjunto Ibérico is the only full-time cello octet in the world. The group of cellists has performed Spanish and South American music around the world and has inspired top composers like Philip Glass to write for them, resulting in 60 premieres and 13 CDs.

Track listing:
1. Astor Piazzolla - Milongas 1 El Titere
2. Astor Piazzolla - Milongas 2 A don Nicanor Paredes
3. Astor Piazzolla - Milongas 3 Alguien le dice al tango
4. Alberto Ginastera - Pampeana n.2
5. Alberto Ginastera - Canciones argentinas 1 Chacarera
6. Alberto Ginastera - Canciones argentinas 2 Triste
7. Alberto Ginastera - Canciones argentinas 3 Zamba
8. Alberto Ginastera - Canciones argentinas 4 Arrorro
9. Alberto Ginastera - Canciones argentinas 5 Gato
10. Alberto Ginastera - Canciones argentinas 6 Cancion al arbol del olvido
11. Alberto Ginastera - Ballet Estancia 1 Los trabajadores agricolas
12. Alberto Ginastera - Ballet Estancia 2 Danza del trigo
13. Alberto Ginastera - Ballet Estancia 3 Los peones de la hacienda
14. Alberto Ginastera - Ballet Estancia 4 El amanecer
15. Alberto Ginastera - Ballet Estancia 5 Malambo
16. Carlos Guastavino - Canciones populares 1 Hermano
17. Carlos Guastavino - Canciones populares 2 Abismo de sed
18. Carlos Guastavino - Canciones populares 3 El Sampedrino
19. Carlos Guastavino - Canciones populares 4 Mi vina de Chapanay
20. Carlos Guastavino - Canciones populares 5 Se equivoco la paloma
21. Carlos Guastavino - Canciones populares 6 Milonga de los hermanos

All Music Guide
This CD is a real anomaly: a recording of Latin American music for voice and eight cellos that does NOT include Villa-Lobos' Bachianas Brasilieras No. 5! The repertoire presented here is so rich that the Villa-Lobos isn't even missed (and for fans who crave hearing Conjunto Ibérico perform it, the group has recorded it for Channel Classics). All of the pieces are expertly arranged for cello octet by Conjunto Ibérico's conductor Elias Arizcuren and Pablo Escande. The three composers represented, Piazzolla, Ginastera, and Guastavino, are all Argentinean, and the music throbs with rhythmic vitality. Mezzo-soprano Elena Gragera is a real find -- she has a luscious but earthy voice that's absolutely secure over her broad range, and she sings with infectious naturalness and abandon. Piazzolla's three Milongas are exuberant and loose-limbed, in the spirit of his tango-inflected music. Ginastera's Canciones argentinas show more of a European influence, but they are still clearly rooted in folk song. The ensemble plays two other Ginastera transcriptions, Pampeana No. 2, originally for cello and piano, and selections from his nationalistic ballet Estancia, whose languid slow movements are especially engaging. The six of Guastavino's 12 Canciones populares performed here are immediately appealing songs. The cello octet performs with the same abandon and freedom as Gragera, making this vibrant music dance so naturally that is hard to remain still while listening to it. The sound quality is clear and present, with excellent balance.

Yo-Yo Ma
"This ensemble is a treasure indeed, a fine example to the world of music ... Wherever I play - Brazil, Japan, the USA - people talk to me about Conjunto Ibérico ... Elias Arizcuren is a true visionary, who has achieved something absolutely unique with his group."

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Nino Rota - Chamber Music

Kremerata Musica

Anna Maria Pammer: soprano
Felix Renggli: flute
Sharon Bezaly: flute
Markus Deuter: oboe
Heinz Holliger: oboe
Bernhard Zachhuber: clarinet
Elmar Schmid: clarinet
Radovan Vlatkovic: horn
Volker Altmann: horn
Klaus Thunemann: bassoon
Lorelei Dowling: bassoon
Maria Graf: harp
Hanna Weinmeister: violin
Gidon Kremer: violin
Gérard Caussé: viola
Firmiam Lermer: viola
Howard Penny: cello
Erich Hehenberger: double bass
Alena Chernushenko: piano
Mascha Smirnov: piano
Marino Formenti: piano
Oleg Maisenberg: piano
Hagen Quartet: string quartet

Lossless: Ape (img + cue + log) = 241 mb
Lossy: Mp3 (lame "preset standard") = 97 mb
Artwork @ 300dpi = 20 mb

Total playing time: 71:52
Recorded 1996 | Released 1997

1996, Lockenhaus Festival, Austria (recorded live)


Track listing:
1. Piccola Offerta Musicale for wind quintet (1943)
2. Sarabanda e Toccata per Arpa (1945) - 1 Sarabanda
3. Sarabanda e Toccata per Arpa (1945) - 2 Toccata
4. Trio per flauto, Violino e Pianoforte (1958) - 1 Allegro ma non troppo
5. Trio per flauto, Violino e Pianoforte (1958) - 2 Andante sostenuto
6. Trio per flauto, Violino e Pianoforte (1958) - 3 Allegro vivace con spirito
7. Ippolito gioca per Pianoforte (1930)
8. Il Presepio for soprano and string quartet (1958)
9. Catilena (1971)
10. Intermezzo per Viola e Pianoforte
11. Puccettino nella giungla (1971)
12. Nonetto (1959) - 1 Allegro
13. Nonetto (1959) - 2 Andante
14. Nonetto (1959) - 3 Allegro con spirito
15. Nonetto (1959) - 4 Canzone con Variazioni
16. Nonetto (1959) - 5 Vivacissimo

As with other composers who have made a big reputation with film scores (Rósza and Alwyn, to take but two examples), Nino Rota's numerous other compositions - concertos, oratorios, ballets and operas, including the entertaining Italian Straw Hat and Two Shy People - have tended to be overlooked; and these recordings from Gidon Kremer's festival last year in the little Austrian town of Lockenhaus provide an interesting focus on his chamber-music output. He was not a profound composer nor an avant-gardist, but contented himself with writing music skilfully crafted and immediately accessible, sometimes lapsing into the merely facile but, at its best, concise and tonally adventurous, with refreshingly clean, economical textures and disclosing a gift for long-breathed lines.
The most substantial work here is the Nonet, which Rota revised over a period of nearly two decades until 1977. The first and third of its five movements are characterized by a cheeky cheerfulness; the ingenious and engaging variations that constitute the fourth movement provide a showcase for each of the instruments in the ensemble. Also enjoyable is the earlier Trio, especially its finale, largely a brilliant moto perpetuo: its first movement is boisterously busy, with reflective interludes, its central Andante revealing pensive contrapuntal lines, though with a disturbed middle section that suggests some sense of frustration. Working backwards chronologically, the Intermezzo for viola is predominantly melancholy, with ong melodic contours, but with a diversity of mood; and the ternary Little Musical Offering (dedicated to Rota's teacher Casella) is both charming and effervescent: it is not only the wind quintet scoring that makes me think of the French school, Jean Françaix in particular. This work - like everything else on this disc, indeed - is expertly played, and the recording throughout is exemplary. (A pity about a cougher in the 17-year-old's piece for soprano and string quartet: otherwise there's no suspicion that an audience was present.)

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maandag 17 augustus 2009

Ensemble 415 (Chiara Banchini) - Concerti Napoletani per Violoncello

Ensemble 415 - Chiara Banchini (dir.)

Robert Putowski, Jeroen den Herder, Esmé de Vries, Ilonka van den Bercken, Lucie Stepanova, Sanne Bijker, Esther Iglesias, Mikolaj Palosz

Gaetano Nasillo: cello

Lossless: Ape (img + cue + log) = 409 mb
Lossy: Mp3 (lame "preset standard") = 98 mb
Artwork @ 300dpi = 28 mb

Total playing time: 70:07
Recorded 2004 | Released 2005

May 31 - June 4 2004, Eglise de Frasnes-le-Chateau, France

Zig-Zag Territoires ZZT 050302

Track listing:
Nicola Fiorenza (1700c-1764):
1. Concerto per violoncello solo con violini e basso in Fa maggiore - 1. Presto
2. Concerto per violoncello solo con violini e basso in Fa maggiore - 2. Allegro
3. Concerto per violoncello solo con violini e basso in Fa maggiore - 3. Largo
4. Concerto per violoncello solo con violini e basso in Fa maggiore 4. Allegro

Nicola Porpora (1686-1768):
5. Concerto in Sol maggiore - 1. Adagio
6. Concerto in Sol maggiore - 2. Allegro
7. Concerto in Sol maggiore - 3. Adagio
8. Concerto in Sol maggiore - 4. Allegro

Leonardo Leo (1694-1744)
9. Concerto per violoncello solo con violini in La maggiore - 1.Andantino gracioso
10. Concerto per violoncello solo con violini in La maggiore - 2. Allegro
11. Concerto per violoncello solo con violini in La maggiore - 3. Larghetto
12. Concerto per violoncello solo con violini in La maggiore - 4. Allegro

Nicola Fiorenza (1700c-1764):
13. Concerto per violoncello solo con violini e basso continuo in La minore - 1. Largo
14. Concerto per violoncello solo con violini e basso continuo in La minore - 2. Allegro
15. Concerto per violoncello solo con violini e basso continuo in La minore - 3. Adagio
16. Concerto per violoncello solo con violini e basso continuo in La minore - 4. Allegro

Nicola Sabatino (1705c-1796):
17. Solo di violoncello con due violini e basso in Sol maggiore - 1. Largo assai
18. Solo di violoncello con due violini e basso in Sol maggiore - 2. Fuga
19. Solo di violoncello con due violini e basso in Sol maggiore - 3. Adagio
20. Solo di violoncello con due violini e basso in Sol maggiore - 4. Allegro ma presto

Calling themselves "children of the apogee of the compact disc," the founders of the Zig-Zag Territoires label celebrated their tenth anniversary in 2006. During their first decade and since, they have produced more than 100 releases which have illuminated the record catalogues with incomparably high musical and packaging achievements. Whether it's their complete set of the Beethoven symphonies conducted by Jos van Immerseel or this breathtaking disc of gorgeous 18th century cello concertos, Zig-Zag is definitely one of the essential French labels.

As its catalogue has grown, Zig-Zag's approach to sound recording, developed by Franck Jaffrès, has become established as one of the label’s hallmarks. At its best, which is most of the time, it has come to mean a commitment to capturing the texture of the original instruments which perform most of the recordings, not just on a superficial basis but within a profoundly deep musical and acoustical context. So, for example, on this CD, you hear the bite of the bow on the string and the texture of each note not just from the dazzlingly elegant soloist, Gaetano Nasillo, but seemingly from each of the instruments in Chiara Banchini's Ensemble 415.

The cello concertos on this disc, highlighting the the rise of a virtuoso repertoire for cello in Naples in the last part of the 17th century and the first part of the 18th, varies considerably in emotional temperature. There are two fiercely attractive, ferociously minor key concertos by Nicola Fiorenza (d. 1764), and one very laid-back major key one by Nicola Sabatino (c1705-1796), both relatively obscure composers and teachers. By way of contrast there are two extremely gracious and seductive major key concertos by two relatively well-known composers, Nicola Porpora and Leonardo Leo.

In each, Nasillo, Banchini and the Ensemble 415 conspire to capture from the opening bar the nature of the music and an accompanying sense of where its beauties will lie, which make listening a total joy. Only in slower stretches of the Sabatino does their energy and inspiration flag. Overall, this is very heady stuff, as if Yo-Yo Ma had been transfigured back through the centuries, handed a Baroque cello and told to play his heart out according to the stylistic guidelines of the time.

While Zig-Zag's current packaging is not as sumptuous as its first releases were, they still feature provocatively original paintings by Anne Peultier and thoughtful, well-translated (and extended) program notes, in this case by Stefano Aresi. And the sound, of course, as noted above, is sublime.

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Warning: there were some errors ("suspicious positions") while ripping this cd. They are inaudible as far as I can tell...

Suspicious position 1:06:42
Suspicious position 1:06:44 - 1:06:48
Suspicious position 1:06:50
Suspicious position 1:06:54
Suspicious position 1:06:56