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

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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!

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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

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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.

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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

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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.

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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.

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