Archive for the ‘Classical Music’ Category

Igor Stravinsky (Chesky Records)

April 12, 2010

Petrouchka
Royal Philarmonic Orchestra
Oscar Danon, Conductor

Le Sacre Du Printemps
London Festival Orchestra
René Leibowitz, Conductor

It is not possible to write about this record without writing some lines about the composition and also Igor Stravinsky (and about my personal views, of course).
Petrushka and The Rite of Spring were composed sequentially and it’s good that this record present them in this order (The Firebird precedes them and should also be considered).
The main concern of the composers, at least before 20th century, was to build harmonies and melodies and arrange them in a format (like Symphony) that forms a great piece of art. In my view, this was, generally, the base of the 700 years of classical music since the medieval times. We have Mozart, Bach, Beethoven, Chopin and many other Genius that keeps the very pleasant music immortal, but there are others that break the usual concepts and build totally new music formats. That’s what attracts me and makes me listen Stravinsky main pieces (Firebird, Petrushka and The Rite of Spring).
Imagine a music that has no melody and has no harmony. The music has form, rithm, figures and textures. Maybe it’s hard to explain in words. Hearing is much more understandable. The creativity required to reach such kind of form is not for everyone, that’s the reason why Stravisnky became also immortal. The Petrushka is yet more colorful than The Rite. The latter is more quiet and with more violent passages, representing pagan rites. It seems that Stravisnky wanted to do the extreme of its modern vision after Petrushka.
This is a real rupture of classic music and didn’t have a good acceptance in the first performance of The Rite of Spring, in Paris, 1913. A lot of confusion and rage. The world was not ready for that, despite its placed in recent history. Only 10 years later, or more, it stared to be accepted and acclaimed by its genius.
This is a Chesky record and I can save many words about its quality. It was remastered from original 60’s tapes and was in high quality form, what made possible to preserve all the performance details. It is one of the best orchestra recording I’ve ever heard in my stereo hi-fi system.

Best Regards,
Leonardo

Yo-Yo Ma – Bobby McFerrin – HUSH (Sony Music)

January 21, 2010

Once upon a time in a local Bookstore I found this CD, but it was costing $ 45,00 and I refused to pay that for this CD. I tried it on ebay and ended up buying one sealed for $ 14.00 (shipping included). My advice to the friends looking for bargains on ebay once in a while!

This album was recorded using 20-bit technology for “high definition sound”, bla bla bla. In short, is an excellent recording!

The songs alternate in classical and pop style by Bobby McFerrin.
This Bobby really was born with the gift of playing scales with the voice with absolute precision. In music GOUNOD/BACH: AVE MARIA he does the background melody using complicated notes and it seems he presses a button and sing any note that he wants, impressive.
Need also to mention the RIMSKY-KORSAKOV FLIGHT OF THE BUBLEBEE, where he performs a voice chromatic scales in unison with the yoyo Cello, amazing.
In track 7 JS BACH: MUSETTE, has a bit of comedy, where Bobby mimics some voices, including that of a German singing. In this range, the Cello yoyo is so well captured that some notes shake our heads (if you use mp3, ipod etc will not know what it is).

Hughs
Leo

Zoltán Kodály – Cello Sonatas op.4, op8 – Duo violin-cello op.7 (Praga Digitals)

January 21, 2010

This CD was a found in a bookstore. It is a Praga Digitals recording and distributed by Harmonia Mundi.
Zoltán Kodály was a Hungarian composer born in 1882.
On this album, the first 3 moves are part of the sonata for Cello and as the name implies, only one cello is played.
The tracks 4 to 6 are part of a duet between violin and cello.
The Tracks 7 & 8 a duet between cello and piano.

What fascinated me in this CD was the cello sonata, played by the Michal Kanka (born in Prague). There are times when it is doubtful that have only one person playing. I was completely paralyzed.

The recording quality of this CD is also spectacular. The texture of the bass notes that the instrument produces is very pleasant to listen. A strong sound, medium-low, with weight. An addictive timbre. The violin capture is also impeccable.

No question about this CD had won the Diapason, among others prizes,
nor that the Michal Kanka has won several competitions, awards and was considered one of the greatest cellists in the world.

The cello used by Michal Kanka in this CD was made by the luthier Grancino Giovanni, in 1700. An instrument considered as a relic, along with the instruments of Amati and Stradivari I have already commented in previous posts.

Greetings
Leonardo

Stradivarius On Gold (Cisco 24k. Gold CD)

January 19, 2010

CD
CD

Keiko Ogura (Piano)
Joko Fujita (Violin)

Meditation from Thais (Massenet)
Liebeslied / Tambourin Chinois (Kresilas)
Vocalise (Rachmanioff)
Sonata in B major, K378 (Mozart)
N.5 Violin Sonata in F major, Opus 23 (Beethoven)

I have already written about my friend Contra-Bass maker sixteenth century Matteo Guersam in the last post and now it’s time to talk about my colleague Antonio Stradivari, also known as Antonio Stradivarius. It was common at that time to latinize names.
Stradivari lived in Cremona, Italy, between the centuries XV and XVI, the same land of Nicolò Amati and Giovanni Grancino. Amati was another master violin maker. Amati and Stradivarius violins are considered supreme, no one has ever done anything like them. Stradivari was apprenticed of Amati by their 20-year-old when he began working in his own studio.
Antonius Stradivarius added air and resolution in the high notes of the violin in comparison to Amati. The average results are richer sound and stronger bass notes. Exactly what we can hear on this beautiful capture recording in high fidelity.
Only those who have a quality stereo system can enjoy the uniqueness of this violin timbre. Those who do not care about audio quality will be missing that. Don’t think that you will be able to enjoy a Stradivarius listening to music on your computer or mp3. Don’t be disappointed, you can still enjoy this beautiful work, even if not in its fullness.

The violin used in this recording is a “Sunrise” Strad. It is the name given to one of the most famous Stradivarius violins made. Part of a special category he built in limited quantities and now belongs to Mr. Michio Fujii, president of Ryukakusan Company Ltda.
Today the violin is stored in an environment with controlled temperature and humidity.
Another interesting point is that depending on external influences such as room acoustics, temperature, moisture and sensitivity of the musician, it can improve the performance of “Sunrise” many times over ordinary violins under the same conditions. So that conditions were all taken into account in order to perform this recording. The correct choice of the theater and the microphones was very important.

Microphones used: Neumann U87, U67, 56U CMC and B & K 4006.

Best Regards
Leonardus