Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Beethoven : Hammerklavier - Sokolov 1975

A wonderful diatribe by Boom against the Austrian pianist Till Fellner sparked off this upload. Fellner said, in an interview "Life is too short to play Rachmaninoff or drink bad wine."  to which Boom, in his typical understated fashion, replied "life is not too short for him, Till Fellner, to spend on playing meticulously planned, immaculately executed, and incomparably faceless all-Beethoven recitals season after season."  You can read the full blog entry here.

Anyway, I find myself listening to the Mount Everest of pianism - the Hammerklavier. I have a recording by Richter in Prague that has me on the edge of my seat, and a live version by Brendel that I relish because he conducts you through the music as if it were a personal guided tour of his castle. In the past few days I've listened to Martina Filjak, a pianist full of ideas and the technique to bring them off, and to Valentina Lisitsa. What can I say about Lisitsa? A sort of musical Lang Lang - total technique, but also a grasp of the large scale that makes her readings fascinating, if not always easy listening. Her fugue, for example, takes less than eleven minutes, and has an almost nightmarish lucidity that can only be produced by a technique that you got from the devil in exchange for the souls of your children. 

And here is another oddity: Sokolov. Love him or hate him, he's got his own ideas. It's the longest slow movement on record, as far as I know - nearly 24 minutes!! - but somehow he manages to maintain a fascination almost unbroken throughout.

The recording's an oddity too: it's apparently from an LP of a live performance in 1975, but there's no applause or audience noise. Looking at the waveforms between movements, they could have resulted from the audience noise being faded to zero, but could equally well just be track breaks. 

One way or the other, this recording has something of a cult status. I leave it to the reader to judge if the status be deserved or no.

mp3 192 kbs

Download from Rapidshare

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Mahler : Das Lied von der Erde - the legendary Merriman/Haefliger/Von Beinum one

I am not sure that I have the story utterly correct here, and doubtless someone will put me right if I err.

Van Beinum recorded Das Lied for Philips in 1957, shortly before his death. However, the recording had not been approved for release by him and so (apparently) it remained unissued until the late 1960s when it was briefly available on LP. For his singers, van Beinum had the incomparable Nan Merriman and Ernst Haefliger. These two were to re-record Das Lied only about a year later, this time for DG and in stereo. The DG recording has been highly regarded ever since, but for my money this is one of the finest recordings of Das Lied ever. 

Let's face it, the whole work hinges around the ability of conductor and alto to sustain the vast final movement, and it is here that Merriman shows herself to be not just a fine singer but – far more important – an incomparable musician. There are times where Mahler pushes the voice to do things that it cannot do beautifully – like the inexorable downward line at 'Die Schönheit dieses Abends zu genießen' – and it is here that Merriman makes it clear that she isn't there to be pretty, she is there to throw her entire resources behind the music. Maybe no-one can sing that line beautifully, but Merriman sings it with such fierce focus as to be almost terrifying.

And that's just one moment of a performance that is marked, throughout, by utter integrity from everyone. A treasure, in short.

I am grateful to Maria (happy Christmas, my dear!) for making this available as a lossless transfer, and permitting me to share it. 

And thank you to an anonymous comment for more detail on the subsequent history of the recording.

Mahler : Das Lied von der Erde - Ernst Haefliger, Nan Merriman, Concertgebouw Orchestra Amsterdam, Eduard Van Beinum, 1957

Download from Rapidshare and be astonished!

Friday, December 23, 2011

Beethoven : Two late quartets - Belcea Quartet

Here you are: a Christmas present for the Belcea Quartet fans who have placed countless comments on the blog pages (two, actually – I just counted them) asking for Belcea Quartet late Beethoven. 

The monumental E flat quartet (like a string quartet, only bigger) and the mysterious B flat. I love the way that when you think the last movement of the E flat must surely be about to finish, there is a sound like everything beginning to grow again after the Winter, and a joyous coda erupts.

I hadn't realised until recently, but Beethoven originally conceived the B flat in the form of a divertimento – hence the peculiar arrangement of the movements. Unfortunately, every single movement grew way out of all æsthetic proportion to the original idea. And this still doesn't help to make sense of the work. Perhaps nothing, other than knowing every note of it, helps.

Quartet in B flat Op 130
Download from Rapidshare

Quartet in E flat Op 127
Download from Rapidshare

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Beethoven : "Harp" and "Serioso" quartets – Belcea Quartet

The Belcea quartet go from strength to strength. Something seems to have happened to them in the last few years that has caused both a remarkable deepening of their interpretations and the development of a very characteristic quartet sound. One of the most striking features of the sound is the dynamic range that they span, running from a whisper that is always articulate to a full-throated fortissimo that is still rich and full in its tone.

But the interpretations are what arrested me. I first came across them from their live Bartók quartet performances, and was on the edge of my seat throughout. 

Now they are embarking on a complete Beethoven quartet cycle, and luckily for us they are performing the quartets in concert extensively before they commit them to the studio. 

Just this week, the news broke that EMI (Every Mistake Imaginable) has abandoned their Beethoven quartet project, following its takeover by some vast music holding company called Engulf and Devour, or All Your Copyrights Are Belong To Us or some such. 

The good news is that the Beethoven cycle will instead appear on the ZigZag label, which will mean that the quartet will have the benefit of committed engineers, producers and designers, and will have the creative freedom that you get from a small company run by zealots. I'm delighted, and the quartet cycle is on my shopping list whenever it appears!

In the meantime, I am hoping to make a few converts to the Belcea cause. Here they are in two of Beethoven's middle quartets: the Harp (Op 74) and the Serioso (Op 95). Both were recorded at Wigmore hall concerts this year. If this doesn't completely convince you, I'm going to have to upload two late quartets as well. In fact, I should do that anyway.

Recorded from BBC Radio 3 high-resolution internet stream (320 kbs)

Quartet Op 74 from Mediafire
Quartet Op 95 from Mediafire

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Mendelssohn : Violin Concerto - Ibragimova

This is by special request of PdA, who kindly gave me the precise details of the concert. 

And now, by golly, I'm going to have to start posting performances by someone else or this blog will turn into Ibragimova's unofficial fan site. 

Mendelssohn : Violin Concerto in E minor 
Alina Ibragimova, Radio Kamer Filharmonie, Philippe Herreweghe 
Vredenburg Leidsche Rijn, Utrecht - 9 december 2011 

192 kbs from Dutch Radio 4 stream - good sound 

Download from Mediafire

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Mozart : Quintet in G minor K 516 - Leipzig quartet

Here it is: the second instalment of the Leipzig Quartet's Mozart quintets. This is a work I've known all my life, it seems to me. Fifty years certainly. As a teenager, I loved the sweet sadness of the slow movement, but I could never adjust to the way the last movement started with a tragic introduction and then, like a butterfly emerging, took off in a lilting, whistlable melody. How could he finish such a tragic work like this?

I now look forward to that moment, when the rondo takes wing in G major. The disquiet and doubt hasn't gone away, but we are leaving it far below. The truly wonderful property of this quintet is the solace that it brings.

And these, I assure you, are really fine performances. The Leipzig Quartet is joined by the violist Hartmut Rode in these 2006 radio recordings, captured losslessly by a friend of Don, who is the original uploader, and with whose permission I have re-upped the files.

m4a lossless files (>725 kbs) tracked and tagged

Download from Mediafire

Shostakovich : Violin concerto no 1 - Ibragimova

I hadn't meant to upload this – I still haven't put up the second Mozart quintet with the Leipzigers, but I recorded this from the BBC internet stream and really you have to hear it. I know I do a disproportionate amount of publicity for Alina Ibragimova, but she does a disproportionate amount for my mental health.

I still recall the first time I heard this concerto. Ida Haendel played it on the proms, and I taped it from my uncertain radio 3 signal, hoping, as usual, that the reception would hold out. I still recall the shock of hearing her end the first movement, how she gradually drained all color from the sound, and flicked the last note of the first movement upwards into a haunted harmonic.

Sorry. I'm going on about a recording I no longer have! This one does the same sort of tonal magic, though. Ibragimova catches the unsentimental mood of the music perfectly. There is the sense that this work is about something too important to trivialise into virtuosity.

And the recording is splendid - BBCs new high-quality stream is a constant companion these days, despite the sad trivialisation of Radio 3.

mp3 320kbs, tracked and tagged, with a photo of Ms Ibragimova

Download from mediafire

Monday, December 5, 2011

Mozart quintet K515 - Leipzig Quartet, Hartmut Rode

I, and a lot of other people, have been listening to the Leipzig quartet's live recordings of the Mozart string quintets with considerable pleasure for the last while. So much so that when the original links apparently disappeared, there was a barrage of emails requesting someone to re-upload them.

With the kind permission of Don, the original uploader, I am posting two of the finest of the quintets, starting today with K515 in C.

K 515 and 516 are an amazing pair of works. 516, the famous G minor, is one of Mozart's most searching works. By comparison, 515, in C major, is more elusive. For sure, the slow movement has a serenity that is breathtaking, but the first movement is all in the soft-spoken dialogue between the violins and the violas. It's art that does nothing to advertise its presence. As the years have gone by, I realise that 515 is one of the works I listen to most often, and there are few occasions in life when it cannot bring solace.

The Leipzig quartet are joined by the violist Hartmut Rode in this beautiful concert recording, captured losslessly from German radio. The files are apple lossless.

Download from Mediafire

Monday, November 28, 2011

Alina Ibragimova – French violin sonatas with Cedric Tiberghien

A big thank you to fellow blogger Boom for this recital!

Ibragimova is Cedric Tiberghien in a programme of french violin sonatas: the Debussy and Ravel, together with the sonata by Lekeu, a promising pupil of César Franck who died tragically young.

As usual, Ibragimova's playing is unfailingly idiomatic and Tiberghien is a sympathetic partner. The more I hear of this young women, the more in awe of her I am. Is there something she doesn't excel at?

The concert was recorded at the Concertgebouw on the 25th of September last.

mp3, 256 kbs, tracked and tagged

Download from Mediafire 

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Nicola Benedetti plays Brahms and Beethoven

I spend a recent weekend in Termonfechin, a sleepy village in Louth, where twice a year a whole slew of people go to play chamber music. I was playing Brahms (the third piano quartet). Our violinist was amazed that I didn't know of Nicola Benedetti, though I discovered she hadn't heard Alina Ibragimova or Amandine Beyer, so everyone came away with something to discover.

I think I had been put off Nicola Benedetti by the pouffy-lipped publicity photos that you see everywhere, making her look like a soviet supermodel. I have been listening to her playing, though, and have to admit that once again I let myself be fooled by the idiots in the publicity department.

It's a sweet, warm sound and a wonderful way of responding to the music that is close to the singer's art. People often think of cantabile as meaning seamless playing, but when you listen to singers you realise that the vowels are separated and shaped by consonants – tiny breaks that convey much of the meaning. Listen to her playing and you'll see what I mean. It's more about the attack and release of the notes than the beautiful tone in the centre.

And to decorate this posting, I've managed to find a great photo that shows Benedetti as a real, actual person, with a very ordinary Alexei Grynyuk slouching at the piano beside her. It's when the playing starts that you are suddenly aware of the magic.

And as a postscript, I have to add that I smiled when I heard the Brahms. Miriam, the violinist who recommended Benedetti to me, plays just like that though with, for me, a slightly darker vision. Thanks Miriam!

Beethoven: Violin Sonata No. 7 in C minor Op. 30 No. 2
Brahms: Violin Sonata No. 1 in G major Op. 78

Nicola Benedetti, Alexei Grynyuk (Piano)
Wigmore Hall, 10 Oct 2011

m4a 320kbs VBR

Download from Rapidshare

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Alina Ibragimova – Beethoven Violin Concerto

In response to a plea from an Ibragimova fan, here she is, in the Beethoven concerto, with the BBC Philharmonic conducted by Gianandrea Noseda. The recording dates from 2009, but I have no further details.

It's in mp3 at 192kbs, in good radio sound. What can I say about her that I haven't said before? She's a heck of a musician.

Download from rapidshare

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Rediscovery – a treasure trove of old recordings

My childhood was greatly enriched by those wonderful budget recordings my parents bought in the local supermarket, and, when I got a job at nights in a pub, a sizeable chunk of my spare cash went on them too.

Some of the artists were more famous names working under pseudonyms, but more were honest-to-goodness working musicians who may not have been glitzy, but who turned in a musical and professional performance.

The wonderful people at Rediscovery lovingly remaster these old recordings, often from reel-to-reel tape. They make their polished products available for a mere five bucks an album to download, and furthermore they make a whole slew of recordings available for free – their paperback classics section. The paperback classics are recordings they tried to refurbish but that didn't meet their rather high standards!

So head off, dear reader, to Rediscovery and check out their catalogue.

Of course, you can ram-raid their Paperback section, but spend a few bucks on their commercial restorations too. Encourage them. They are crazy!

Don't forget to try Fou Ts'ong playing Mozart concertos. It's free – and splendid playing!

Friday, August 19, 2011

Schubert String Quintet – Alina Ibragimova and friends

I am really interested by anything that Alina Ibragimova does. I've got a wonderful recording of her doing the Beethoven concerto, riding a wave of big, warm tone, and recordings of her doing Bach unaccompanied, challenging the violin in all sorts of risky ways. She's a person who seems to be constantly exploring the possibilities of the music.

She's a really good chamber musician too – something I appreciate. I play chamber music, and you can tell a lot about a musician by the way they interact musically with others in a chamber setting. And I really like this photo of her too – looking like a real musician, and not as the advertising people want us to see her, looking like something that escaped from Laboratoire Garnier and stole a violin!

I was bowled over by this live recording of the great Schubert Quintet, D956. This is chamber music playing of the highest order. And, of course, one of the summits of classical music.

Many thanks to István for his permission to share this.
Schubert : String Quintet in C major D.956

Alina Ibragimova - first violin
Katalin Kokas - second violin
Maxim Rysanov - viola
Dóra Kokas - first cello
Nicolas Altstaedt - second cello

Recorded on the 13th of August 2011 at Szivárvány Zeneház, Kaposvár, Hungary
FM Broadcast converted to mp3 at 320kbs

Download from rapidshare

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Sergio Fiorentino – Chopin Nocturnes Vol 2

As promised, volume 2. And the good news is that my source for this one is a CD release from the early 1990s, so I have been able to upload the music as FLAC with a cue sheet.

Fiorentino's playing was one of the formative influences on my childhood. And I was delighted at the stream of recordings he made during his final years. What a pity that his early recordings were made under such poor circumstances – sometimes recording music he had barely had a chance to practice! Still, there is no hint of unease in these Nocturnes, which emerge with a sureness of vision to rival the legendary account of Moravec.

But see what you think!

Download from Rapidshare

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Takahiro Sonoda plays the Well Tempered Clavier Book I

I've already posted Sonoda's Book II  and now, dammit, here is book I. The original post has some biographical information.

I love the humour and grace of the photos of Sonoda teaching. These characteristics are in evidence in his playing, too, of course. And you can see that his playing style was formed around his own hands, which are, in his own words, the delicate, maple-leaf-shaped hand of Japanese people.

You can read transcipts of some of his "mini-lectures" by Googling them.

And you can now download his Well Tempered Clavier Book I in mp3 VBR 240k

Download from Rapidshare

Monday, August 15, 2011

Takahiro Sonoda plays the Well Tempered Clavier Book II

The name of Takahiro Sonoda (1928-2004) is not at all well known outside his native Japan. He was a pupil of the great Leo Sirota, whose teaching in Japan in the thirties and forties kickstarted a distinctive Japanese school of pianism. Lyrical, passionate yet fastidious are the qualities I would pinpoint in Sirota's playing that seem to have been handed down to the succeeding generations.

Sonoda's recordings of Bach well examplify this quality. His own philosophy, preserved in transcripts of his own teaching, is well worth a read if you are interested in pianism. A little quote: Comparing the delicate, maple-leaf-shaped hand of Japanese people with the baseball-glove-shaped hand of foreigners, there's a huge difference between the two as far as the force and weight of the palm are concerned.

These recordings are very scarce. The CDs have disappeared these many years – sadly, because this is pianism of a high order indeed. My transfers are in mp3, VBR at about 240k. The recordings are from the 1990s, and sound very well indeed.

If there's interest, I can put up Book I, which contains a C sharp minor fugue of uncommon intensity.

Download from Rapidshare

Friday, August 12, 2011

Nikita Magaloff – Scriabin Etudes

Magaloff's late recordings were a revelation to those who knew him as the elegant and stylish pianist who was the first person to record all the Chopin piano works. In his last years, he took risks, and allowed the style he learned in pre-revolutionary Russia to break through the polished surface that Isidore Philippe had honed for him in 1920s Paris.

Here he is, in a long-vanished Valois recording of the complete Scriabin studies. Piano scores included in the archive, in case you want to try it yourselves at home.

I'm sorry this isn't higher quality, but it is as I got it a number of years ago from a fellow-enthusiast in Spain who seems to have vanished from cyberspace.

1. Etude Op. 2, No. 1
12 Etudes, Op. 8
3 Etudes, Op. 65

Nikita Magaloff, piano

mp3 @ 192 kbs

Download from Rapidshare

Sergio Fiorentino – Chopin Nocturnes Vol 1

I've been asked for Fiorentino's Chopin Nocturnes, which have been not just unavailable but almost impossible to lay hands on for many years.

The good news is that I have volume 2 on CD, and will be uploading it as FLAC. But the bad news is that my only copy of volume 1 is in mp3 at 192kbs. Nonetheless, the pianism is perfectly clear and, come to think of it, it still sounds better than the original gritty SAGA LP that we had at home!

I loved the comment left by one visitor on Fiorentino's Chopin Waltzes – "It's like hearing Liszt playing Chopin". That's very true, but his readings of the nocturnes reveal a far deeper and more insightful relationship with the music. Together with Magaloff's cycle, they are among the most undervalued interpretations I know. I hope that this posting goes some way to bringing them back to general attention.

Download from Rapidshare

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Rachmaninoff Vespers – Polyanski 1986

The Rach vespers are among my favourite works, and singing or conducting them is one of life's ultimate pleasures. Just listen to the alto lines, for example. Instead of being humdrum fillers-in of textures, the altos are powerhouses: the horn section, not the violas! 

And I've always loved this performance in particular. And performance it is – it was recorded live in Smolensk Cathedral in 1986. Polyansky's concentration never wavers, and the USSR Ministry of Culture Chamber Choir sing wonderfully. You can hear them tiring and having to make that exra effort in the final section, where Polyansky lets the tempo simply float timelessly, but by golly they rise to the challenge amazingly.

This old Melodya CD has been out of print for years.

I've ripped it to FLAC with a cue-sheet, and embedded the cover art.

Download from Rapidshare

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Brahms : Organ works - Virgil Fox

This is a tribute to the wonderful blog that Fred runs over at Random Classics. Among the many treasures I've discovered there is this recording of the Brahms chorale preludes Op 122. 

Not many people seem to realise that Brahms wrote organ music, and not many recordings of these chorale preludes can be called successful in my opinion. Which was way I was bowled over by Fox's interpretations. For a start, he precedes each prelude with the appropriate chorale, in such a way that Brahms' music flows naturally from the chorale melody. But more than that, Fox creates a sound world from the Hammond Castle organ in Gloucester Massachusetts that captures the mood of the music precisely. He uses endless variations on the reed chorus of the organ to maintain a unified atmosphere, but allow each chorale prelude to take on its own character. 

And the playing – meditative and powerful at once, reminding me forcefully of the recordings of Albert Schweitzer. 

There's a complicated reason why I ended up doing a small editing job on Fred's original upload, which isn't interesting enough to put here. Suffice it to say that this upload is my small tribute to Fred and his wonderfully eclectic tastes in LPs. 

These are Apple Lossless audio files. I'm a Mac person. That's life. 

And thank you, Fred!

Download from Mediafire

Takemitsu : Kwaidan sound track

The 1960s film of a selection of the Japanese Kwaidan (strange tales) has a wonderful score by Toru Takemitsu. The film's credits describe it as 'sound' rather than 'music' and you can see why. Takemitsu produces a score that combines Japanese traditional musical instruments and idioms with very avant garde techniques.

The selection here comes from the late-lamented Avant Garde Project. Ki is the story of a samurai who leaves his wife in poverty to seek his fortune. When he returns, the house is in ruins, but she is there, unchanged, still waiting for him. You can imagine the rest… In Yuki, a young woodcutter meets Yuki Onna, the woman of the snow, while trapped by a violent blizzard. In Japanese folk belief, she is a malevolent spirit who freezes hapless travellers to death, but in this story she falls in love with the woodcutter. Things do not, however, turn out well.

The central panel of Kwaidan is the tale of Hōichi the Earless. Yes, it's gruesome, but it revolves around the restless spirits of the Heike who died in the battle of Dan no Ura. Hoichi is a blind singer and biwa player, and he inadvertently ends up entertaining the Heike with the tale of their own downfall. 
Takemitsu's score builds on the traditional recitation of the tale of the Heike, and as a bonus track the upload includes Kinshi Tsurita declaiming the legend of the battle of Dan no Ura. I am amazed at the ability of the biwa and Tsurita's voice to conjure up the images of this legendary event. You will hear arrows whistling through the air, and the desolate voice of the Lady Nii, who, when she realises all is lost, takes the infant emperor in her arms and jumps into the sea. If you've seen the film, you will know what I mean. If you haven't, well, just listen and marvel.

mp3 at 320 kbs

Download from mediafire

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Happy 70th birthday, Martha Argerich - 1965 Chopin Competition

Everyone's posting performances by one of the most iconic of pianists. Here are excerpts from her performances at the 1965 Chopin competition, for which I have my old friend Dr John to thank.

Preludes Op 25 Nos 19-24
Etudes Op 10 No 1 and 10
Nocturne in E flat major op. 55 No 2
Barcarolle in F sharp major Op. 60
Scherzo No 3 in C sharp minor Op. 39
Polonaise in A flat major Op. 53

Decent MP3 320kbs

Download from Mediafire

Monday, May 30, 2011

Fergus Johnston - Piano works, played by Izumi Kimura

The piano music of my old friend Fergus Johnston this time, in really excellent performances by the Japanese/Irish pianist Izumi Kimura.

Fergus writes music that is full of whimsy and lyricism. The piano pieces here are often dedicated to friends – the composer Raymond Deane and the pianist Reamonn Keary (who was Izumi Kimura's teacher), as well as two of Fergus' former teachers.

I really like Kimura's playing; she combines utter clarity with a wonderful responsiveness to the music's shifts of mood and expression. I just bought her album, Asymmetry, contemporary piano music from Japan and Ireland, and it's a delight. It's on iTunes if you can't be bothered paying post and packing.

The recordings were posted on Fergus' website, and are uploaded with his blessing. I've just collated, tagged and bagged them for ease of use.

Fergus is above, Izumi is on the right, for the avoidance of doubt.

mp3 at 190-ish kbs, but excellent recorded sound. And did I say excellent playing? I did? OK.

Legal stuff: By downloading this material you agree (i) to contact Fergus if you want to use any of the material, (ii) to give Fergus and Izumi due credit if you use it, and (iii) if you make any profit from your use of the material, you agree to share that profit with Fergus, who will share it with Izumi, I am sure

Download from Mediafire

Friday, May 27, 2011

Takahashi Aki plays Feldman's Triadic Memories

If all you know of Takahashi Aki's playing is the astonishing recording of Feldman's "Piano and String Quartet" you will already know what to expect here. Yes, she recorded more – but it's almost impossible to find the recordings. I am indebted to a fellow enthusiast in Japan who originally uploaded this disc. The links are now defunct, so I feel obliged to upload it myself to make sure that it's still somehow available.

The playing has the stillness you would expect from Feldman, but it has something more, something like rapture.

It's also at a decent 256kbs.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Schmidt again - his fourth symphony

The fourth was, for many years, the only Schmidt symphony to stay in the repertoire, and that largely because of the Viennese, who have kept his reputation alive. The symphony is a long, reflective work which begins with a melancholy trumpet call that will not resolve onto the tonic – C – until the last bar of the whole work. Schmidt played the trumpet (though he was a cellist by profession before turning to composition full time) and used to take his trumpet on hill walks for the pleasure of playing it in the open air. And, of course, his other instrument - the cello - features in the slow movement.

Schmidt's later life was not happy. His wife developed serious mental illness, and you cannot hear this work without thinking of a man reflecting on youth in the adversity of old age.

The fact that the work is in C should tell you a lot too. But if the musical language is conservative, the work is, I think, a masterpiece in its own way. A personal utterance that nevertheless works as an aesthetic whole.

Here is Fabio Luisi (pictured testing to see if his baton is al dente as he requested) conducting the Vienna Philharmonic. Sound is very decent at 192 kbs, mp3.

Download from rapidshare

Friday, February 11, 2011

Ina Boyle : The Magic Harp (1920)

Ina Boyle again!

I was delighted to attend the concert in the Hugh Lane Gallery at which her string quartet was performed for the first time since the 1930s. It bears the imprint of her studies with Vaughan Williams, but a distinct personality, introspective and lyrical, familiar from the violin concerto, still emerges.

Here's another performance I have managed to track down. A rather basic radio recording, I'm afraid, but this is the piece included in the Carnegie Collection of British Music – the only piece by a woman composer to be included. It's a fine piece of writing, and of orchestration. She has a real ear for colour, if I can say that…

The Ulster Orchestra is conducted by Prionnsías O'Duinn.

Download from Rapidshare

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Ramon Montes de Oca - El descendimiento según Rembrandt

Ramon Montes de Oca (1953-2006) was a Mexican composer of whom I know very little indeed, but the one piece I have come across is well worth a listen. El descendimiento según Rembrandt is a slow meditation for string orchestra on the Rembrandt painting of Jesus being taken down from the cross. He wrote it in 1991, and I believe that this recording comes from a concert given in 2007 by the Orquesta Sinfonica de la ciudad de Guanajuato (México) under the direction of Richard Marckson. I'm afraid it's only 128kbs, but as a unique recording, hey, it's better than nothing.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Amy Beach - Symphony in E minor, Op. 32, "Gaelic Symphony"

Amy Beach (1867-1944), the US composer, wrote a symphony on Irish melodies which she entitled a "Gaelic Symphony". So while I am in the mood for publicising women composers and Irish connexions, here is a recording, with the Ulster Orchestra (again!) conducted by the indefatigable JoAnn Faletta (that's her on the left), who has championed music written by women in her extensive conducting career. 

Ina Boyle – a rediscovered Irish composer

Ina Boyle (1889-1967) lived all her life in Enniskerry, Co Wicklow. She was a major Irish composer of the early 20th century, yet she has been almost completely forgotten. She is the only woman composer included in the Carnegie Collection of British Music.  She studied with Vaughan Williams, but she often had to struggle to get her music performed or published. She lived out her final years alone in the large house in Enniskerry, an increasingly eccentric figure, still determined to follow the path she had chosen as a composer.
Her recently-discovered violin concerto (1935) is redolent of Vaughan Williams, but a work of haunting power and poetry. It gets an utterly magical performance from the young violinist Catherine Leonard, with the Ulster Orchestra conducted by Kenneth Montgomery. Alas, as is often the case, it is the Ulster Orchestra that champions Irish classical music (their recordings of Stanford under the baton of Tod Hanley put his symphonies on the map in the 90s). 

Download from Rapidshare