ballet Archive

PROKOFIEV: Romeo and Juliet – Milan La Scala Ballet/Orchestra/Patrick Fournillier – Blu-ray

PROKOFIEV: Romeo and Juliet – Milan La Scala Ballet/Orchestra/Patrick Fournillier – Blu-ray

PROKOFIEV: Romeo and Juliet – Blu-ray Cast: Milan La Scala Ballet  [Complete List of Dancers below]   Romeo – Roberto Bolle   Juliet – Misty Copeland   Mercutio – Antonino Sutera   Tybalt – Mick Zeni Music: Milan La Scala Orchestra Conductor:  Patrick Fournillier Choreographer: Kenneth MacMillan Set Designer: Mauro Carosi Costumes: Odette Nicoletti, Lighting: Marco Filibeck Run Time: 160 minutes DVD Release Date: November 17, 2017 Video: 1.77:1  Color.  Audio: Dolby, NTSC, Stereo Subtitles: English, Italian Extras: None Dist: Naxos Rating: ****½ It was originally written with a happy ending. I kid you not. More on that later. If you purchase any ballets this year, you could not do much better than Romeo and Juliet by Serge Prokofiev. It’s energetic, fast-moving, gloriously musical, and riveting to watch. The cast look like they’re all in their lower 20s, except Juliet’s nurse, but like the others she is a real pro. You may be familiar with its justly famous themes like “The Dance of the Knights.” But you may not have heard that theme twist and gyrate in its many altered forms throughout the ballet, like as a leitmotif when the villainous Tybalt appears. The dance scene of the principals’ first […]

Serge PROKOFIEV: Cinderella, Blu-ray & DVD (2017)

Serge PROKOFIEV: Cinderella, Blu-ray & DVD (2017)

This would make a great introduction to Prokofiev’s ballets! Serge PROKOFIEV: Cinderella, Blu-ray & DVD (2017) Cast: Mariinsky Ballet Theater Director and Principal Choreographer: Alexei Ratmansky Music: Orchestra of the Mariinsky Ballet Theater Conductor: Valery Gergiev Stage Director: Yuri Fateev Studio: Mariinsky, Bluray & DVD [9/18/2015] TV Directors: Antoine Perset & Vincent Massip Run Time: 110 minutes Video: 1.77:1 Color.  Audio: Dolby, NTSC, Stereo Rating: **** This is not a new release but it may be one of the ‘must haves’ for lovers of the very beautiful but musically unique Prokofiev ballets. I only just recently came across this when asked to give my thoughts. My thoughts on all ballet remains that it is an artistic genre which can be enjoyed in two realms; in its visual and aural totality and that of the music only. This is why many symphony musicians and audiences would say—myself included—that ballet scores can be great fun to play and to listen to as one does a symphonic tone poem. If we know the story then each scene can be followed like a storyline and the really fine scores—like those of Tchaikovsky and Prokofiev stand well on their own and are picturesque in your mind’s […]

Kenji BUNCH – The Snow Queen: A Ballet in Two Acts – Orchestra Next/Brian McWhorter (cond.) – innova

Kenji BUNCH – The Snow Queen: A Ballet in Two Acts – Orchestra Next/Brian McWhorter (cond.) – innova

Kenji BUNCH – The Snow Queen: A Ballet in Two Acts – Orchestra Next/Brian McWhorter (cond.) – innova #977 (6/23/17), TT: 102:33 ****: Fantastic musical interpretation of this fairy tale classic.  When I was asked to review these CDs, I interestingly did something that I normally don’t do. I chose not to read the liner notes until I had listened to this in its entirety. Growing up in the land of 10,000 lakes, long and cold winters were something that I knew all too well. I have my own aural preconceptions of winter “should” sound like in my own head, and I genuinely wanted to be surprised as to how Bunch and Oregon’s own Orchestra NEXT brought this classic Hans Christian Andersen tale to life for the Eugene Ballet Company. Since the ballet is divided into two acts, there are two discs in total. Although I was not able to watch the ballet choreography while listening to the music, I honestly didn’t need to see it—the music tells the story quite well. What I was impressed with right away on disc one was how Bunch was able to show the subtle complexities of winter compositionally. It would be easy to […]

Russian Ballet Transcriptions for 2 Pianos = STRAVINSKY, BORODIN, TCHAIKOVSKY, KHACHATURIAN – Piano 21

Russian Ballet Transcriptions for 2 Pianos = STRAVINSKY, BORODIN, TCHAIKOVSKY, KHACHATURIAN – Piano 21

Cyrpien Katsaris and Etsuko Hirose provide fingers and firepower to a compilation of Russian ballet favorites. Russian Ballet Transcriptions = STRAVINSKY: The Firebird – Suite No. 2; BORODIN: Polovtsian Dances from Prince Igor, Act II; TCHAIKOVSKY: Sleeping Beauty, Op. 66: Adagio; The Nutcracker – Suite, Op. 71a; Swan Lake, Op. 20: 3 Dances; KHACHATURIAN: Gayaneh: Sabre Dance and Lezginka – Cyprien Katsaris and Etsuko Hirose, pianos – Piano 21 P 21 056-N, 76:06 (1/20/17) [www.cyprienkatsaris.net] ****:  Hearing this 2016 performance of Stravinsky’s The Firebird – Suite (1919) in Achilleas Wastor’s 2-piano arrangement, I could well recall director Jan Kounen’s 2010 Stravinsky & Coco Chanel and its dramatized (and apocryphal) evolution of the ballet music for Le Sacre du Printemps. We feel through the excellent ensemble of Katsaris and Hirose – in this world premier recording – the evocation of those colors the orchestra will realize, along with Stravinsky’s use of the 50 Russian Folksongs that aided Tchaikovsky and Rimsky-Korsakov, especially in the latter’s Op. 31 Sinfonietta on Russian Themes. The two keyboards literally purr in the Ronde des princesses and then explode with flatulent fire in the Danse infernale du roi Kastchei. Though I miss the ineffable harp’s entry for […]

MUSSORGSKY: Pictures at an Exhibition; A Night on Bald Mountain; TCHAIKOVSKY: Set. fr. Swan Lake – Vienna Philharmonic/ Dudamel – DGG

MUSSORGSKY: Pictures at an Exhibition; A Night on Bald Mountain; TCHAIKOVSKY: Set. fr. Swan Lake – Vienna Philharmonic/ Dudamel – DGG

Dudamel traverses familiar Russian territory, convincing and affectionate, but rarely with new insight.  MUSSORGSKY: Pictures at an Exhibition; A Night on Bald Mountain; TCHAIKOVSKY: Waltz from Swan Lake, Op. 20 – Vienna Philharmonic Orch./ Gustavo Dudamel – DGG 479 6297, 50:51 (12/2/16) [Distr. by Universal] ***:  Whenever a new recording emerges of an old chestnut, my hackles rise, assuming the performance to be guilty until it proves itself innocent. So be it. Gustavo Dudamel – a protégé of another literalist conductor, Claudio Abbado – has taken on the Mussorgsky 1874 Pictures as orchestrated by Maurice Ravel (rec. April 2016) partially to give exposure to the “Superar” Project, which provides free music lessons for children from Vienna’s Tenth District. Pictures of the children grace the album insert cover and booklet. While I cannot deny the instrumental versatility of the Vienna Philharmonic players and the pungent acoustical resonance captured by Recording Engineer Rene Moeller and Teldex Studio, Berlin, I am not sufficiently overwhelmed to recommend this performance over my perennial favorites Bernstein, Reiner, and Toscanini. Certainly the individual colors in this performance, as in the Vienna Philharmonic’s excellent bassoon solos, captivate my ear. The bass fiddles in Bydlo have rarely resonated so […]

George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker, Blu-ray (2016)

George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker, Blu-ray (2016)

A classic that has been seen by millions—now in your living room. George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker, Blu-ray (2016) TCHAIKOVSKY: The Nutcracker (Live from Lincoln Center) Performers: The New York City Ballet Director: Katherine E. Brown Producer: John Goberman Studio: C Major 738704 2016 [Distr. by Naxos] Video: 16:9 HD Blu-ray Audio: PCM Stereo 2.0, DTS-HD MA 5.0 Subtitles: Italian, German, English, French No region code Length: 100 min. Extras: Behind the Stage (10 min.) Rating: ***** Balanchine’s Nutcracker has been a staple for 64 years at the New York City Ballet. It’s seen by over 100,000 people annually, and countless versions of it have been given throughout the United States, popularizing the work in a way that Tchaikovsky could never imagine. It’s no secret as to why this particular vision of the piece has proved so enormously widespread—the fanciful delights of this rabidly gorgeous production, the inevitable deliberateness of the dance numbers that are perfectly executable yet still breathlessly entertaining, and the magical atmospherics add up to a production that is fully worthy of the accolades received over the years. It’s about time we had this on Blu-ray, in stunning sound and superb color, with a bonus segment that takes […]

GLAZUNOV: Sym. 4 & 5; Seasons ballet (excerpts) – Praga Digitals

GLAZUNOV: Sym. 4 & 5; Seasons ballet (excerpts) – Praga Digitals

Why stereo SACD for such poor Soviet recordings, when standard CD would have been fine? GLAZUNOV: Sym. 4 & 5; Seasons ballet (excerpts) – Praga Digitals stereo-only hi-res SACD PRD/DSD 350 129, 79:23 (11/4/16) [Distr. by Naxos] ***: While these are truly great performances conducted by the great Mravinsky, these original Soviet recordings date from 1948 thru 1969 and are uniformly terrible, as most Russian recordings of this period are. Praga Digitals seem to have mostly given up on their SACDs of great past performances and are releasing them generally on standard CD, so why this one is on SACD I do not know. Glazunov was a rather conservative Russian composer, music teacher and conductor. He was director of the St. Petersburg Conservatory from 1905-1928, and Shostakovich was his most famous student. These are certainly fine performances of the two symphonies, but the poor sound is a strong vote against them.  Mravinsky opted to conduct the conservative Glazunov works, but he preferred to do “banned works” such as those by Prokofiev and the young Stravinsky. The full subtitle of the album is “Tribute to Glazunov in his Native St. Petersburg During the Soviet Period.” The Seasons ballet of 1900 is […]

TCHAIKOVSKY: The Nutcracker ballet; Sym. No. 4 in f – Mariinsky Orch./ Valery Gergiev – Mariinsky

TCHAIKOVSKY: The Nutcracker ballet; Sym. No. 4 in f – Mariinsky Orch./ Valery Gergiev – Mariinsky

The holiday favorite ballet has had better recordings, but this Fourth will knock your socks off. TCHAIKOVSKY: The Nutcracker, Op. 71; Sym. No. 4 in f, Op. 36 – Mariinsky Orch./ Valery Gergiev – Mariinsky multichannel SACD MAR0593 (2 discs), 129:02 [Distr. by Naxos] ****: This is Gergiev’s second go round with the Nutcracker; the first was with the then-called Kirov Opera from 1998, and was a big seller. This one seems rather willful to me. Gergiev, for no particular reason, pushes and pulls the tempos in many sections where there is little more need than the fact that he simply likes it like that. “Waltz of the Flowers” is deadly slow, with a Furtwanglerian race to the finish that makes no sense even from an easy-to-dance standpoint. There are also a few minor intonation issues and some scrappy string playing in a few spots, nothing egregious, but unexpected from these forces. Nonetheless, this Nutcracker is good enough to offer a lot of pleasure, even though I don’t think it can compete with the splendors of the radiant Ormandy recording (selections) or the wonderful MCA two-fer with Arthur Rodzinsky, surely one of his greatest efforts. So it is a little […]

STRAVINSKY: Pulcinella Suite; Appolon Musagete; Concerto in D for Strings – Tapiola Sinfonietta/ Masaaki Suzuki  – BIS

STRAVINSKY: Pulcinella Suite; Appolon Musagete; Concerto in D for Strings – Tapiola Sinfonietta/ Masaaki Suzuki – BIS

STRAVINSKY: Pulcinella Suite; Appolon Musagete; Concerto in D for Strings – Tapiola Sinfonietta/ Masaaki Suzuki  – BIS multichannel SACD 2211, 64:55 [Distr. by Naxos] (6/3/16) ****½: A sensational performance in high-definition sound of Stravinsky’s Pulcinella Suite. Masaaki Suzuki must be pleased to see the culmination of his long-term project of recording all of Bach’s choral music, which has been handsomely released on a 55-SACD set by BIS. But for this indefatigable artist there is no rest. We find him on the back cover dressed in white, a radiant sage with hands suggesting restless intelligence. For this recording, he has crossed oceans, continents and centuries to give us an all-Stravinsky concert with the superb Finnish Tapiola Sinfonietta. The Pulcinella Suite is the main attraction here, and it is a piece of wondrous invention. It is a tired cliche to point out that it belongs to the composers “classical” rediscovery of the past; It is utterly unlike the other works from that period. In fact, it sounds more eternally fresh than The Rite Of Spring or Firebird. Perhaps it constitutes a masterpiece in a genre best nominated “the comic sublime.” Each movement limns a radically individual musical character associated with Commedia dell’ […]

TCHAIKOVSKY: The Nutcracker – complete ballet transcribed for piano – Stewart Goodyear – Steinway & Sons

TCHAIKOVSKY: The Nutcracker – complete ballet transcribed for piano – Stewart Goodyear – Steinway & Sons

An outstanding transcription for piano of a most beloved ballet score – it’ll have you dancing! PYOTR ILYICH TCHAIKOVSKY: The Nutcracker – complete ballet transcribed for piano – performed by Stewart Goodyear – Steinway & Sons multichannel SACD 30040, 82:21 [10/9/15] *****: Few people are neutral on the subject of Christmas: most either love it or hate it. I’m one who loves it, and I find the music of Christmas to be an enormously important part of the tradition. So I was excited when this transcription for solo piano of the full Nutcracker ballet score arrived. I had enjoyed for years the DGG recording by Martha Argerich and Nicolas Economou of the Nutcracker Suite (in Economou’s piano transcription, and paired with Rachmaninoff’s Symphonic Dances), but that contained only the highlights of Tchaikovsky’s score. This is the whole thing! . . the whole story! Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky (1840 – 1893) was a unique composer – and the Nutcracker is unique among his works. His father was a mining engineer and his mother was of French background. The boy was destined to be a civil servant, and indeed completed full training at the St. Petersburg School of Jurisprudence at age 19. But […]

AUBERBACH: Tatiana ballet, Blu-ray (2016)

AUBERBACH: Tatiana ballet, Blu-ray (2016)

AUERBACH: Tatiana (ballet), Blu-ray (2016) Auerbach is nothing if not ecelctic. . . even polystylistic. Players: Hamburg State Opera Ballet: Helene Bouchet, Edvin Revazov, Leslie Heylmann, Alexandr Trusch, Carsten Jung Conductor: Simon Hewett; Choreography: John Neumeier. Studio: C Major 737504  [7/8/16] Video: for 16:9 screens, color HD Audio: DTS-HD 5.1, PCM stereo Subtitles: English, German, French Extras: Tatiana – Back to Pushkin Length: 167 min. Ratings: Audio: **** ½      Video: *****   Tatiana is a ballet by John Neumeier with music by Lera Auerbach, a Soviet-Russian-born American composer. While its narrative origins lie with Alexander Pushkin’s longish poem Eugene Onegin, its musical technique and style can’t be pinned down like a PBS production of Léo Delibes’ Coppélia or indeed like Intuitive Momentum by the Bill T. Jones Dance Company. Auerbach is nothing if not eclectic or, in the words used to describe her countryman Alfred Schnittke,  even ‘polystylistic.’ The same holds true of Neumeier, dancewise. The ballet begins pleasantly enough, with a sweet dream sequence of the young Tatiana, the germination of many hours reading romantic novels. The music is almost Tchaikovskian, with its fat melodic lines and gushy intonations. Soon it takes on a dark aura, as Auerbach […]

STRAVINSKY: Pulcinella Suite; Apollon musagète; Concerto in D for String Orchestra ‒ Orch. de Ch. de Lausanne/ Joshua Wellerstein ‒ MD&G

STRAVINSKY: Pulcinella Suite; Apollon musagète; Concerto in D for String Orchestra ‒ Orch. de Ch. de Lausanne/ Joshua Wellerstein ‒ MD&G

STRAVINSKY: Pulcinella Suite; Apollon musagète; Concerto in D for String Orchestra ‒ Orch. de Chambre de Lausanne/ Joshua Wellerstein ‒ Musikproduktion Dabringhaus und Grimm, multichannel SACD MDG 940 1955-6 (2+2+2); 65:36 (6/3/2016) ***: Stress-free Stravinsky. A musical sedative, anyone? Sometime during the First World War, while Stravinsky was riding out the storm in Switzerland, he decided that the huge orchestras that European composers, including himself, had written for before the war were passé. In the post-Apocalyptic world of the late teens and twenties, there just wouldn’t be resources available to fire up again the grand late-Romantic symphony orchestra. So Stravinsky commenced to write a string of works for more modest performing forces, starting with L’histoire du soldat and continuing with, among others, the first two pieces on the current disc, aptly played by a chamber orchestra. Like Handel, Stravinsky was a notorious borrower of other composers’ good musical ideas, and he was forthright about the practice. “Lesser artists borrow; great artists steal,” he was supposed to have said. So we have Pulcinella (1922), a ballet in the style of the commedia dell’arte and based on music attributed (mostly incorrectly) to Baroque composer Giovanni Pergolesi. To be fair, Stravinsky at first […]

STRAVINSKY: Petrushka; DEBUSSY: La Boite à joujoux — Seattle Sym. /Ludovic Morlot — Seattle Sym. Media

STRAVINSKY: Petrushka; DEBUSSY: La Boite à joujoux — Seattle Sym. /Ludovic Morlot — Seattle Sym. Media

A vibrant new “Petrushka” and a Debussy rarity make for great listening. IGOR STRAVINSKY: Petrushka; CLAUDE DEBUSSY: La Boite à joujoux (“The Toy Box”) — Seattle Sym./Ludovic Morlot — Seattle Sym. Media SSM1010, 68:33 *****: The Seattle Symphony and its current music director, Ludovic Morlot, are on a real run here lately and especially since they have focused their recording on twentieth-century masterworks and on their own label. I urge you to check out their recent Henri Dutillieux albums or Morlot’s Rite of Spring coupled with the rich but obscure Raskatov Piano Concerto. This is but an example of what is coming out of Benaroya Hall lately and it’s all wonderful; including this latest sparkling new rendition of the complete Petrushka. This new Petrushka is wonderfully paced and Morlot brings out all the nuance and picturesque quality of Stravinsky’s ballet featuring the very symbolic escapades of the title harlequin puppet come to life. There is balance throughout the orchestra, and kudos to all the soloists, especially principal trumpet David Gordon for those charming but oh, so exposed, solos in the “The Blackamoor.”  I liked this Petrushka among my favorites of all time, including Giulini’s with Chicago and that of Dutoit. […]

TCHAIKOVSKY: Swan Lake Suite – Menuhin, v./Philharmonia Orch./ Efrem Kurtz – HiQ xrcd24

TCHAIKOVSKY: Swan Lake Suite – Menuhin, v./Philharmonia Orch./ Efrem Kurtz – HiQ xrcd24

TCHAIKOVSKY: Swan Lake, Op. 20: (Suite from the Ballet) – Yehudi Menuhin, v./ Philharmonia Orch./ Efrem Kurtz – Hi-Q xrcd24 HIQXRCD49, 60:00 (6/24/16)  [Distr. by Warner Classics] ****: A fine xrcd remastering of a classic performance recording. Once more, Hi-Q remasters Parlaphone 1958 original analog recordings from the three Tchaikovsky ballets recorded in excerpts by Efrem Kurtz and the Philharmonia Orchestra.  Given that 1916 marks the centennial of violin virtuoso Yehudi Menuhin (1916-1999), the sliken collaboration in some of the world’s finest ballet music becomes even more attractively noteworthy. Menuhin appears thrice in the course of the excerpts, the last of which, the Danse russe from the Supplement materials, provides a rousing finale. As per expectation, the warm and often suavely heart-rending Menuhin violin tone proves ravishing, as in the appearance of the Swan Princess, Odette. Kurtz himself has an excellent grasp of the Tchaikovsky style, although for unbridled passion in particular dances and scenes, I might recommend Fricsay, Markevitch, and Gergiev as my preferences. At every moment, however, the effect of the new mastering process by Tohru Kotetsu at JVC consistently stuns for effects, especially through my BOSE headphones.  The booklet, the slick production qualities, and the recording itself […]

Fabiren Sevitzky & the Indianapolis Sym. Vol. I – Pristine Audio

Fabiren Sevitzky & the Indianapolis Sym. Vol. I – Pristine Audio

Mark Obert-Thorn restores the World Premiere recording of Tchaikovsky’s Manfred Symphony.   Fabien Sevitzky – Indianapolis Symphony Vol. 1 = TCHAIKOVSKY: Manfred Sym. in b minor, Op. 58; Waltz from Eugene Onegin, Op. 24; GLINKA: Russlan and Ludmilla Ov.; RIMSKY-KORSAKOV: Dubinushka, Op. 62; LIADOV: Baba Yaga, Op. 56 – Indianapolis Sym. Orch./ Fabien Sevitzky – Pristine Audio PASC 479, 79:00 [www.pristineclassical.com] ****: The restoration of the Fabien Sevitzky (nee Koussevitzky) reading of the Tchaikovsky Manfred Symphony (27-28 January 1942) at the Mural Theatre, Indianapolis by audio engineer and annotator Mark Obert-Thorn is not the first CD incarnation of this performance: it had been issued on the Historic-Recordings.co.uk label in 2009 (HRCD 00017) in a transfer by Damien Rogan. Under that aegis, the gloomy, dramatic symphony inspired by Lord Byron’s 1816 epic poem stands alone; here, Obert-Thorn adds – in the first two selections from 1941 – the earliest of the conductor’s sessions at RCA Victor. Sevitzky (1891-1967) – nephew of his more illustrious uncle Serge Koussevitzky – had studied both with Liadov and Rimsky-Korsakov in St. Petersburg, so he had imbibed the Russian style naturally. An avid collector of neckwear, Sevitzky claimed to possess the second largest assortment of neckties, […]

TCHAIKOVSKY: The Nutcracker, Op. 71 – Suite from the Ballet – Philharmonia Orch./ Efrem Kurtz – Hi-Q Records

TCHAIKOVSKY: The Nutcracker, Op. 71 – Suite from the Ballet – Philharmonia Orch./ Efrem Kurtz – Hi-Q Records

The 1958 classic Nutcracker excerpts assume a new audiophile guise in this issue from Hi-Q Records. TCHAIKOVSKY: The Nutcracker, Op. 71 – Suite from the Ballet – Philharmonia Orch./ Efrem Kurtz – Hi-Q Records xrcd24 HIQXRCD51, 60:00 (6/24/16) [Distr. by Warner Classics] ****: The Nutcracker – Suite From The Ballet is performed by the Philharmonia Orchestra and conducted by the well-known Russian conductor Efrem Kurtz. Kurtz had already been a familiar name with the Philharmonia to the record collector of the 1950s, and he embarked upon a series of Tchaikovsky ballet recordings with the Philharmonia Orchestra for EMI in 1958. A tall, imposing figure – he often dispensed with a podium – Efrem Kurtz had studied with Glazunov and Tcherepnin and was a pupil of Arthur Nikisch. Kurtz had a broad symphonic and operatic repertory and conducted the premieres of works by Copland, Barber, Walton, Hindemith, Stravinsky, Shostakovich, and Khachaturian. He remained most highly regarded for his interpretations of Russian music. Of this Nutcracker in the original review in The Gramophone of November 1958, R. F. remarked: “The orchestral quality is superb, and the dynamic contrasts tremendous. If you can hear the opening pizzicato notes of the Sugar-Plum Fairy, the […]

“Russian Dances” – TCHAIKOVSKY, SHOSTAKOVICH, GLAZUNOV, STRAVINSKY – Suisse Romande – Pentatone

“Russian Dances” – TCHAIKOVSKY, SHOSTAKOVICH, GLAZUNOV, STRAVINSKY – Suisse Romande – Pentatone

“RUSSIAN DANCES” = TCHAIKOVSKY: Suite from Swan Lake; GLAZUNOV 2 Concert Waltzes; SHOSTAKOVICH: The Golden Age; STRAVINSKY: Circus Polka – Kazuki Yamada/ Orch. de la Suisse Romande – Pentatone multichannel (5.0) SACD PTC 5186 557, 70:54 (3/11/16) ***: Nice sonics and playing but the program is a bit mundane. “Russian Dances” is a pleasant diversion from Pentatone, but it isn’t particularly compelling for serious music lovers. Most of our readers will have much of this music in their collections performed by other musicians. The performances here are fine, and the 5.0 SACD sounds good, as do all the Pentatones I’ve reviewed. On the other hand, the compositions on the disc are pretty much war horses and not the kind of music most of us would seek out. I thought the highlight of the disc was the Shostakovich ballet suite The Golden Age, likely because I was less familiar with it and it wasn’t a waltz, which, along with a Stravinsky polka pervades the program. The Orchestre de la Suisse Romande under the baton of Kabuki Yamada play the included music well, but again, there’s not much compelling here. The recorded sound is well-engineered, but this is not among the top tier […]

PROKOFIEV: Sinfonia Concertante in E Minor; Cello Son. in C – Zuill Bailey, c./ North Carolina Sym. Orch. / Grant Llewelly/ Natasha Paremski, p. –  Steinway & Sons

PROKOFIEV: Sinfonia Concertante in E Minor; Cello Son. in C – Zuill Bailey, c./ North Carolina Sym. Orch. / Grant Llewelly/ Natasha Paremski, p. – Steinway & Sons

PROKOFIEV: Sinfonia Concertante in E Minor, Op. 125; Cello Sonata in C Major, Op. 119 – Zuill Bailey, c./ North Carolina Sym. Orch./ Grant Llewelly/ Natasha Paremski, p. –  Steinway & Sons 30057, 61:56 (5/13/16) ****: Tough-minded Prokofiev in the tradition of Rostropovich—and with the same sensitivity to the gentler side of this great Russian composer. Toward the end of his greatly productive life, Prokofiev revisited some of his earlier works with which he wasn’t entirely happy. One of these pieces was the Fourth Symphony, Op. 47, written under commission from the Boston Symphony and premiered by that orchestra in 1930. The symphony was based on themes from Prokofiev’s ballet The Prodigal Son, composed for Sergei Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes. Critical reaction to the work was lukewarm at best. The consensus was that Prokofiev’s Fourth Symphony was much less successful in recycling music written for the stage than the composer’s Symphony No. 3, based on themes from his opera The Fiery Angel. Prokofiev was so stung by the criticism that he defended his new symphony in the press—and that hurt and embarrassment stayed with him when he went back to Russia in the mid-1930s. In 1947, Prokofiev returned to the symphony, […]

“Dawn to Dust” – Music of THOMAS, MUHLY, and NORMAN – Utah Sym. Orch. / Thierry Fischer – Reference Recordings

“Dawn to Dust” – Music of THOMAS, MUHLY, and NORMAN – Utah Sym. Orch. / Thierry Fischer – Reference Recordings

“Dawn to Dust” – Music of THOMAS, MUHLY, and NORMAN – Utah Sym. Orch. / Thierry Fischer – Reference Recordings multichannel SACD FR-719, 69:31 (4/8/16) [Distr. by Naxos] ****: Notable contemporary music from Utah in a lovely recording. Dawn To Dust contains live recordings of three significant and interesting works by leading composers Augusta Read Thomas, Nico Muhly, and Andrew Norman. Each of the three compositions is performed by the Utah Symphony under the baton of Thierry Fischer. All are world premiere recordings. The first work on the disc is a lovely and dynamic contemporary ballet for orchestra by Ms. Thomas, called EOS – Goddess of the Dawn. It has a rich palette of orchestra sounds, The piece is in seven parts and presents musical depictions of the dawn against a background of Greek mythology. The next work is by Muhly called Control – Five Landscapes for Orchestra. The landscapes in question are from Utah, and are inspired by the spectacular geography the state offers. I’ve just returned from a photo shoot in St. George and Bryce Canyon, Utah, so the disc came to me at an appropriate time. Here again, there are very rich orchestrations, and evocations of the […]

MOZART: Flute & Harp Concerto; Sinfonia Concertante for Four Winds – Soloists/Oslo Philharmonic/Buribayev & Enegard – LAWO

MOZART: Flute & Harp Concerto; Sinfonia Concertante for Four Winds – Soloists/Oslo Philharmonic/Buribayev & Enegard – LAWO

MOZART: Concerto for Flute, Harp, and Orchestra in C Major, K. 299; Sinfonia Concertante for Four Winds in E-Flat Major, K297B – Per Flemström, flute / Birgitte Volan Håvik, harp / Pavel Sokolov, clarinet/ Per Hannisdal, bassoon/ Inger Besserudhagen, horn/ Oslo Philharmonic Orch./ Alan Buribayev (K. 299) / Arvid Enegård (K. 297B) – LAWO Classics multichannel SACD LWC1071, 57:53 (2/18/15) ****: A winning showcase for the first-chair talents of the Oslo Phil. Here are two musical souvenirs of Mozart’s ill-advised and even tragic sojourn in Paris during spring and summer of 1778. The ill advice came by way of Mozart’s father, Leopold, ever the impresario, who insisted that Mozart establish his credentials in the French capital. The tragedy involved the death of Mozart’s mother, who had accompanied him on the trip, an event that deeply affected the twenty-two-year-old composer. As it turned out, Mozart made little impact in Paris and ended up being saddled with a couple of commissions for which he was neither recognized nor paid. One of them was for the ballet Les Petites Riens; not only did the management stiff Mozart on this composition, his name didn’t even appear in the program. But then again, ballet was […]