woodwinds Archive

SCHUMANN: Cello Concerto in a; Sym. No. 2 in C Major – Jan Vogler, cello/ Dresden Festival Orch./ Ivor Bolton – Sony

SCHUMANN: Cello Concerto in a; Sym. No. 2 in C Major – Jan Vogler, cello/ Dresden Festival Orch./ Ivor Bolton – Sony

Suave and elegant Schumann played in natural, heroic manner by all principals. SCHUMANN: Cello Concerto in a, Op. 129; Symphony No. 2 in C Major, Op. 61 – Jan Vogler, cello/ Dresden Festival Orch./ Ivor Bolton – Sony 88985372122, 59:06 (12/2/16) ****: Clara Schumann once referred to the people of Dresden as “Philistines,” convinced that, after six years’ habitation in the city, “no musician could be found.” With a prospective move to Duesseldorf, the entire Schumann family felt a renewed vigor, and Robert conceived his Cello Concerto in fifteen days of October 1850.  Curiously, despite extensive correspondence with cellist Emil Bockmuehl about the virtuosic capacities of the piece, Schumann opted for relative restraint and economic compression of the musical materials.  Still, Clara Schumann lauded the work’s Romantic fervor, its “vivacity, freshness and humor, its euphony and deep feeling.”  Schumann had already demonstrated his penchant for through-composed cyclic form, connecting each of the movements thematically, with the middle movement’s serving as a kind of intermezzo-recitative before the 6/8 finale recycles motifs heard earlier in the form of jittery dance. In the Violin Concerto in d minor, Schumann presses even further into this experiment in form, though one could argue that the […]

BEETHOVEN: Symphony No. 4; SHOSTAKOVICH: Symphony No. 10 – Leningrad Philharmonic Orch./ Yevgeny Mravinsky (1955) – Praga Digitals

BEETHOVEN: Symphony No. 4; SHOSTAKOVICH: Symphony No. 10 – Leningrad Philharmonic Orch./ Yevgeny Mravinsky (1955) – Praga Digitals

Two Mravinsky performances from the Prague Spring 1955, of which the Shostakovich seems “definitive.” BEETHOVEN: Symphony No. 4 in B-flat Major, Op. 60; SHOSTAKOVICH: Symphony No. 10 in e minor, Op. 93 – Leningrad Philharmonic Orch./ Yevgeny Mravinsky (1955) – Praga Digitals PRD 350 115, 79:28 [Distr. by Harmonia mundi/PIAS] ****: Praga Digitals restores two performances from the 3 June 1955 Smetana Hall concert of the Prague Spring Festival, here featuring the esteemed Russian conductor Yevgeny Mravinsky (1903-1988). Already known for the intense discipline he instilled into the Leningrad ensemble, Mravinsky gleans alert responses from his woodwinds – especially his principal flute and bassoon – for the opening Adagio – Allegro vivace first movement in the Beethoven B-flat Symphony. No less commanding, Mravinsky’s tympani reveals the new power Beethoven had brought to the percussion of the Classical symphony. Once the mysterious and even ominous b-flat minor Adagio passes us, the ensuing Allegro assumes frenetic and unbuttoned energies, volatile as they are irreverent. The capacity for direct lyricism in Mravinsky’s color arsenal reveals itself in the Adagio second movement, a fervent song in sonata-form, sans development.  Winds and strings converge in massive – although not particularly warm – harmony. What makes […]

“F. Gerard Errante, New Music for Clarinet – Another Look” – Works by USSACHEVSKY, HAILSTORK , ERRANTE & Others – Ravello

“F. Gerard Errante, New Music for Clarinet – Another Look” – Works by USSACHEVSKY, HAILSTORK , ERRANTE & Others – Ravello

A valuable collection of some of the most avant-garde clarinet work. “F. Gerard Errante, New Music for Clarinet – Another Look” = WILLIAM O. SMITH: Solo for Clarinet with Delay System; Asana; VLADIMIR USSACHEVSKY: Four Studies for Clarinet and EVI; ADOLPHUS HAILSTORK: A Simple Caprice; DANA WILSON: Piece for Clarinet “alone”; F. GERARD ERRANTE: Souvenirs de Nice; SYDNEY HODKINSON: The Dissolution of the Serial – F. Gerard Errante, clar./Lee Jordan-Anders, p./William Albright, p./ Nyle Steiner, EVI – Ravello  RR7941, 60:25 (8/12/16) [Distr. by Naxos] ****: The booklet notes to this very unusual collection begin by reminding us (reminding me!) of the 1976 book, “New Sounds for Woodwinds” by Bruno Bartolozzi; which I own (somewhere) and haven’t even thought about for over forty years. Similarly, these works are all, in their own way, landmark compositions in the style that was the “latest thing” in the 1960s and ‘70s. The style of clarinet playing in which F. Gerard Errante was/is an absolute master depends heavily on the player’s ability to perform a vast array of extended techniques such as multiphonics, pitch bending, quarter tones, and a command of the extreme altissimo register. Errante was one of the first and one of the […]

BRAHMS: Piano Concerto No. 1 in d; Four Ballades – Paul Lewis, p./ Swedish Radio Sym. Orch./ Daniel Harding – Harmonia mundi

BRAHMS: Piano Concerto No. 1 in d; Four Ballades – Paul Lewis, p./ Swedish Radio Sym. Orch./ Daniel Harding – Harmonia mundi

Power and poetry infuse every measure of the Brahms works including a gripping version of the Concerto. BRAHMS: Piano Concerto No. 1 in d, Op. 15; Four Ballades, Op. 10 – Paul Lewis, p./ Swedish Radio Sym. Orch./ Daniel Harding – Harmonia mundi HMC 902191, 72:12 (4/15/16) ****: “A concerto that has quite enraptured me with its grandeur and the fervor of its melodies,” commented Clara Schumann in 1856 on the evolving First Concerto of Johannes Brahms. A massive combination of sonata and symphonic form, the work fuses the keyboard part so intimately with the orchestral fabric that, besides the tumultuous character of the Maestoso first movement, critics at the 1859 Gewandhaus premiere and the second Leipzig performance condemned the piano’s role as an obbligato component. Obviously, the work’s acceptance and recorded history have long justified its contribution to the repertory, constituting as it does a complete denial of the Mendelssohn or Weber tradition of the fleet, virtuoso vehicle for superficial display. Paul Lewis and Daniel Harding (rec. May 2014) collaborate in a gripping, seriously expansive approach to this music, in which even the outset – a huge chord and kettledrum roll – sets a fateful tone for the remainder […]

Christopher Zuar Orchestra – Musings – Sunnyside

Christopher Zuar Orchestra – Musings – Sunnyside

Keep an eye on Christopher Zuar… Christopher Zuar Orchestra – Musings – Sunnyside SSC 1434, 55:17 ****1/2: (Christopher Zuar – composer, arranger, conductor; Dave Pietro, Ben Kono, Jason Rigby, Lucas Pino, Brian Landrus – woodwinds; Tony Kadleck, Jon Owens, Mat Jodrell, Matt Holman – trumpets; Tim Albright, Matt McDonald, Alan Ferber, Max Siegel – trombones; Pete McCann – guitar; Frank Carlberg – piano, Fender Rhodes keyboards; John Hebert – bass; Mark Ferber – drums; Rogerio Boccato – percussion; Jo Lawry – voice) A pleasant development over the last 10-15 years is the progression of the blending of jazz with classical overtones.  The artist that is responsible for mentoring the lyricism found in this genre was Bob Brookmeyer. Going back to his work with the European New Arts Orchestra in the late 1990s, Brookmeyer wrote and arranged works of complex beauty. He taught at the New England Conservatory of Music and was a strong influence on Maria Schneider, who has gone on to Grammy winning fame. The latest artist to help carry on this musical blend is the 29-year-old composer, Christopher Zuar, who studied with Brookmeyer. Zuar’s initial release, Musings, just released April 1, is a masterful blend of modern classical […]

“Woodwinds of the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra” – JANACEK: Mladi; MARTINU: Sextet for Piano & Winds; VERESS: Sonatina for Oboe, Clarinet & Bassoon; POULENC: Sextuor – Soloists – RCO Live

“Woodwinds of the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra” – JANACEK: Mladi; MARTINU: Sextet for Piano & Winds; VERESS: Sonatina for Oboe, Clarinet & Bassoon; POULENC: Sextuor – Soloists – RCO Live

A delightful spotlight on the woodwind section of the great Concertgebouw Orch. “Woodwinds of the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra” – JANACEK: Mladi; MARTINU: Sextet for Piano and Winds H. 174; SANDOR VERESS: Sonatina for Oboe, Clarinet & Bassoon; POULENC: Sextuor – Soloists – RCO Live multichannel SACD RCO15008, 59:59 *****: Antonine Reicha made the quintet of flute, oboe, clarinet, horn and bassoon into one of the most important chamber ensembles at the start of the 19th century. Composers later explored new possibilities with this combination. An English horn and piccolo became a possible part of the equation, and the addition of a piano opened up very different possibilities, since it could be either  accompanying or in a solo role. Janacek added a bass clarinet and called for the flutist to sometimes also play the piccolo. The Janacek Mladi is full of folk influences, which he collected before Bartok and Kodaly. The chamber music version didn’t do well, but Janacek later wrote it for full orchestra, and it has been most popular in that format. Bohuslav Martinu also lived in Prague and he spoke with the native language of his country. The Veress Sonatina consists of a different version of the typical […]

MUSSORGSKY: Pictures at an Exhibition; CHERUBINI: Symphony in D; BACK: Intrada – Orch. del Teatro “La Fenice”/ Sergiu Celibidache – IDIS

MUSSORGSKY: Pictures at an Exhibition; CHERUBINI: Symphony in D; BACK: Intrada – Orch. del Teatro “La Fenice”/ Sergiu Celibidache – IDIS

A spectacular Celibidache concert from Venice demonstrates his capacity for drama and vivid colors – always. MUSSORGSKY: Pictures at an Exhibition; CHERUBINI: Symphony in D Major; BACK: Intrada – Orch. del Teatro “La Fenice” di Venezia/ Sergiu Celibidache – IDIS 6708, 68:34 [Distr. by Naxos] ****:  The live concert offered here, 31 October 1965, under the direction of Romanian maestro Sergiu Celibidache (1912-1996) proffers somewhat standard, spectacular fare, with the exception of Sven Erik Back’s 1964 Intrada, a percussive, convulsive work that tests the battery section of any ensemble. Back (1919-1994) had a role in contemporary Swedish music-making, and his sense of scoring certainly proves resonant, in a style that resembles Gottfried von Einem, at least in that most of the sound clusters fall within the traditional tonal syntax.  But the clash of timbres and choirs within the large ensemble – their sense of entries and silences – have more in common with contemporary Japanese classical music and the concept of Ma, space.  At the end of the ten-minute virtuoso piece, a slightly baffled audience reluctantly approves of what has transpired. The 1792 Cherubini Symphony in D opens with a lovely galant combination of strings and winds prior to its […]