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Posts Tagged ‘classical music’

The Austrian Joseph Haydn (1731-1798) and the Italian Luigi Boccherini (1743-1805) eased central and southern Europe through its transition from the Baroque to the Classical periods with considerable aplomb. Fortunately, both of these neatly overlapping composers leveraged the potential of the cello in order to do so.

Ludovit Kanta (cellist), the Capella Istropolitana, Peter Breiner (conductor), and a Naxos executive team that must have had its Wheaties here give us an enormously enjoyable version of Haydn’s concertos no. 1 and 2 and Boccherini’s Cello Concerto in B Flat. More controversially, they provided to their contracted artists—alternatively, the latter may have simply taken it—license to let the tradition grow under foot. (more…)

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The six-note motif that introduces Robert Schumann’s Overture (later Scherzo and Finale), Op. 52 is the calling card of a formidable Romantic composer. In the main, the Schumann pieces included in this anthology of his overtures make due on the promise put down by those first six notes.

The Overture to Genoveva is as evocative as the tale its opera tells. The overtures to ‘Bride of Messina’, ‘Julius Caesar’, ‘Hermann and Dorothea’, ‘Faust’, and ‘Manfred’ are all beautifully performed on this 1992 Naxos recording by the Polish National Radio Symphony Orchestra under the baton of Johannes Wildner.

The market for operatic overtures is not huge. Naxos has done us a service with this serviceable presentation.

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From the heart of Central Europe in the first quarter of the twentieth century comes this penetrating, challenging, occasionally disturbing, and ever rewarding music for small ensembles. The Prague-born Prazak Quartet is of course equal to the challenge.

Leos Janacek’s music for string quartet show what the genre can be. Easily mistaken for a weak, limpid subset of classical music, music for quartet a la Janacek is as sinewy and energetic as it gets. (more…)

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There’s a reason why all those drug store compilations with the breathless titles (‘Most Relaxing Classical Music Ever!) sell year after year. The pre-Classical baroque style really is relaxing. (more…)

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In the mid-90s, London’s Sunday Times produced a cheap CD series that managed to be both eclectic and excellent. In the ‘Classical’ branch of that series, High Romantics appeared, presenting tuneful offerings from Glinka, Arensky, Liszt, Saint-Saëns, Brahms, Grieg, Delibes, and Tchaikovsky.

It all adds up to 43 minutes of fine listening, by about minute 22 of which one begins to wonder why we ever moved on from the Romantic period.

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Full product information for this item, together with my review, my rating of the product, and any reader comments, can be found at http://www.amazon.com.

One popular dictionary of classical music refers to Béla Bartók’s ‘driving, anxious rhythms, angular melodies, brackingly sharp dissonances, and folklike modal harmonies’. All of which to say, Bartok does not make for easy listening. (more…)

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My wife recently introduced me to yet another hidden treasure of our Circle City, the Ensemble Music Society (www.ensemblemusic.org). Established in 1944 (!), this all-volunteer assemblage of chamber music enthusiasts manages to bring world-class talent to Indianapolis year-on-year, providing an intimate complement to our very fine ISO. (more…)

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If Maestro John Nelson did not exist, he would have to be invented as a matter of the highest artistic urgency. How else would the rest of us become acquainted with the new or little-known music that is so often recorded under his baton?

Take, for example, the Polish composer Henry Mikolaj Gorecki’s ‘Beatus Vir’, ‘Totus Tuus’, and Old Polish Music. The first of these are newer creations of a very Catholic Poland, redolent of biblical and Roman Catholic piety embedded in the brooding harmonies of Old Poland. (more…)

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One feels sometimes as though the presence of the great ones still lingers about the house, bumping into things and taking their place at the family dinner. Having grown up with the music and images of Herbert van Karajan in the mix, it is not too difficult to allow the imagination to see the diminutive Austrian assuming an avuncular place in the proceedings. (more…)

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Conventional wisdom and damned statistics conspire to persuade that the population of classical music listeners is declining measurably year upon year. You’d never know it from reading GRAMOPHONE. Readers are typically devotees of the musical form and not about to let the rest of the world persuade them that their devotion is misplaced or–horrors–out of date. GRAMOPHONE obliges them with passionate coverage of the artists, the music, and the industry. (more…)

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