Nov 12

ClarkCornet

Cornet Soloist of the Sousa Band Herbert L. Clarke ★★★★

Herbert Clarke was among the first few generations of trumpet players with a modern three-valved trumpet, and he helped define the nature of virtuosity in trumpet playing. HL Clarke has written many of the trumpet lesson books that exist, and several of which I use on a regular basis. This is a very old historic recording, and the sound is horrid on many of the tracks. The producer admits that they did their best to clean up the recordings and to remove record scratchiness, but it is still a fairly prominent part of the background noise. Even still, it is a delight to hear an early master of the trumpet. While virtuosity today has well exceeded what Clarke demonstrates in these recordings, the Clarke recordings still demonstrate a great mastery of the instrument achieved by few even today.

Tagged with:
No Comments »
Nov 12

Handel

Händel Edition; produced by Brilliant Classics ★★★★★

This was a budget compilation of many of the works of Georg Fredrick Händel, produced by Brilliant Classics. Many of the Brilliant Classics productions are substandard, but this production was not. Most of the pieces included in this collection were excellent performances with excellent recording technique. Though the 65 discs in this offering were quite budget in price, they were anything but budget in quality, and compete adequately with productions by other recording studios. Particularly, many of the vocal pieces were superbly performed, as well as the organ concertos. The Messiah production by Steven Cleobury competes with the other 10-15 recordings of the Messiah in my collection. It is at times a touch rushed, but I find that consistent with British recordings of the Messiah.

So, a few words on Händel. First, I find it incomprehensible that his name is spelled Handel or Haendel, and not Händel, which was his birth name spelling. OK, the Brits don’t have umlauts, but the British be damned, regardless of Händel’s tolerance for the British misspelling of his name. My exposure to Händel has up to now been limited. I’ve had a smattering of his most popular pieces, but there is not much out there with Händel that’s affordable. I’ve watched a number of his operas (in DVD video format), which are very tedious, and a strain on the sentiments of a modern opera lover.

Händel was born about 30 miles from where JS Bach was born in this same year of Bach’s birth. Though Händel became the wealthy internationally acclaimed composer, his works are brilliant but lacking the absolute genius of Bach, even when considering his Messiah. There is a sense of tediousness in working through Händel that is never found in Bach. Both composers borrowed heavily from other compositions that they or others composed, but Bach had a flair for instilling a brilliance to the new use of the music that is lacking with Händel. This is not to say that Händel was not an accomplished composer, and this collection by Brilliant has done a nice job of pointing out to me many of the lesser recognized works of Händel that are absolutely delightful, but rarely ever performed. Hopefully, some day we will see a COMPLETE Händel Edition with high quality performances. Until then, this collection of Händel is a very reasonable and inexpensive alternative.

Tagged with:
No Comments »
Jan 22

Paganini means “little pagan” in English. Some of his compositions are impossibly hard to play. Here is a tune that you’ll recognize, played by a single person.

Tagged with:
No Comments »
Jan 19

NielsonViolinConcNielsen Violin, Clarinet, and Flute Concerti, with the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra, directed by Kees Bakels ★★★★

Carl Nielsen (1865-1931) was a Danish composer best known for his symphonies and violin concerto. These lesser pieces certainly are no less great than Nielsens’ symphonies, even if less performed. These concerti all use the solo instruments in a unique way, that doesn’t overwhelm one with the solo piece. None of the solos seem to be demanding virtuosic pieces, but are pleasant insertions into a well-fitting orchestral accompaniment. I am not a Nielsen fan, though I find that these pieces were quite pleasing to get to know. Naxos offers superb recordings, and for the price are quite worth it.

 

Tagged with:
No Comments »
Dec 22

Góreki3Górecki Symphony No. 3 (Symphony of Sorrowful Songs) and Three Olden Style Pieces), performed the Polish National Radio Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Antoni Wit ★★★★★

I have several versions of Górecki’s third symphony, both of which are excellent. Naxos provides a beautiful rendition of Górecki’s 3rd, with excellent sound and balance in this recording. Górecki is not a well known composer, without a large volume of works to his name. He passed away in the 1990’s. While being very distinctly 20th century pieces of music, they are also most accessible to even the most die-hard classicist. The symphony is a sad piece, with orchestra occasional accompanied by a solo soprano voice. The music is haunting, but not in the freakish sense, such as one would get with Ligeti.  Wit masterfully conducts the symphony with a great amount of emotion that touches the listener. As a bonus, Naxos also included the Three Olden Style Pieces, composed in similar genre to the third symphony, though without a vocal part. This is a piece that I would highly recommend to any discriminating classical music lover.

 

Tagged with:
No Comments »
preload preload preload