KlassikNet: CD reviews
You are in:  Home > KlassikNet: Classical Music > CD Reviews   •  Archives   •  send page to a friend

Karman Ince:Fall of Constantinople


While hardly cutting-edge, Karman Ince writes intelligent, pragmatic and aesthetically mainstream music. Small wonder the 38-year-old Turkish-American composer receives commissions for big-city orchestras and film scores. The title work refers specifically to his Symphony No. 2, a heavy, luxuriant five-movement narrative full of the kind of acoustical gigantisms very much in tune with contemporary tastes in Hollywood film production and mega mergers on Wall Street. The actual fall of the Byzantine capital to the Ottoman Turks is a catchy retake on Holst's Mars from the British composer's program cycle, The Planets.

Unfortunately, Ince loses his footing in Remembering Lycia, a four-movement work for piano and orchestra based on the composers travels on the South-west Aegean cost of Turkey, home to the ancient Lycian civilization. His "fin de siècle" meditations are less effective here. Moreover, Ince's frequent allusions to Rachmaninoff, Prokofiev and Bartok are a constant reminder of how much better these twentieth century composers wrote for piano and orchestra. That said, Ince has a voice worth hearing.

Joseph E. Romero

Back to the CD list


Debussy:Préludes Books I, II; Children's Corner

Live or in the studio Zoltan Kocsis always brings considerable intelligence and a unique musical vocabulary to his interpretations. This recording of Debussy's Préludes, Children's Corner and assorted genre pieces is no exception. Wisely, the Hungarian pianist avoids matters of genre and focuses more on articulation, phrasing, balance and quality of sound. While there is no need to reconsider versions of the Préludes by Walter Gieseking or Préludes and Children's Corner by Arturo Benedetti Michelangeli, for example, serious piano students should take note of this version for its technical achievement, pedalling and taste.

Joseph E. Romero

Back to the CD list


Gabrieli, Lassus:Venetian Easter Mass

Paul McCreesh and his players make an impressive case in their evocation of the opulent pagentry of the Easter celebrations at St. Mark's Basilica in Venice in the late 16th and early 17th centuries where the all-powerful Doge took on the role of Christ resurrected for the opening and closing processions.

Joseph E. Romero

Back to the CD list


Mark-Anthony Turnage: Blood on the Floor

As significant as the cabals of Schoenberg and Stravinsky, jazz continues to fascinate and influence composers in the late 20th century. In fact, probably the most significant information in the music of British composer Mark-Anthony Turnage (b. 1960) is the importance of jazz in the history of classical music. While this is not news, Turnage's music, with the help of world-class musicians, explores elements of the music of Miles Davis, delivers essays for improvising instruments such as drumset, electric guitar and soprano sax, and comments on the fashionable nihilisms and decadent accoutrements which have become "monnaie courante" in contemporary pop cultures of European cities like London, Paris and Berlin. Although this music may not be as "bad" as Turnage would have us think, further collaborations with leading muscians of this quality could only be beneficial for new music.

Joseph E. Romero

Back to the CD list


Bach:
Double & Triple Concertos


It is difficult to believe that musicians of this calibre would go on record with such stodgy and unimaginative performances. Moreover, to hear this recording, one would think that the last twenty years of research into baroque performance practice simply did not exist. Even if historically informed performances are not a priority, pianists Andras Schiff and Peter Serkin are a miscast in these keyboard works, much better served by the great Swiss pianst Edwin Fischer (1886 - 1960) and his British colleagues Ronald Smith and Denis Matthews on an EMI Références mono recording CDH764928-2.

Joseph E. Romero

Back to the CD list


Milhaud:
Early String Quartets and Vocal Works:
Vol. 2: String Quartets 3 (with soprano), 4 and 5; Machines Agricoles; Catalogue de fleurs
Vol. 3: String Quartets 6, 7 and 8; Quatre Poèmes de Paul Claudel; Les Soirées de Pétrograde; Poème du Journal Intime de Léo Latil


Toubadisc is a German company that is slowly finding overseas distributors for their wares, some of them combining the enterprising and the exceptional. Darius Milhaud, like his conemporary Paul Hindemith, too often suffers in the critical and the public eye from his immense production, not always equally inspired. Despite the claim of premiere recordings for several of these works (Cybelia has already issued the complete string quartets), these ardent performances by the fanny mendelssohn quartet (sic) are pretty persuasive. Milhaud's approach is not in the classic Viennese mold, but that is something we no longer expect, even in this most Viennese of forms. The bitonality and polyrhythms we associate with Milhaud are prominent, but so is a strong lyric vein that is also to be found in the vocal items, whether it be the Machines Agricoles of 1919 for voice and seven instruments or the 1920 Catalogue de Fleurs, as arranged by the composer himself for the same assortment of instruments. The descriptions of agricultural machinery inspire the composer, while the extracts from the seed catalogue are as green as spring. Ulrike Sonntag does not have quite the fresh voice for this music, while Maarten Koningsberger's sometimes hollow tones do not quite do justice to the selections that devolve to him in Vol. 3, particularly when contrastedwith the performances on a recent CPO release featuring Hungarian mezzo Györgyi Dombradi.

Joel Kasow

Back to the CD list


Schubert: Music for Piano 4 Hands

Even though there is scholarship a-plenty to be heard throughout this recording, as Messrs Levin and Bilson are equally remarkable in their attention to the text, sadly enough there is little in the way of spirit and style. The chemistry improves when Macolm Bilson assumes the primo in the Fantasie in F minor D 940 and the D-major Marche Militaire D 733, but the performances rarely rise above the academic. Overall, the late Duo Crommelynck on a modern piano are preferable and frankly unsurpassed in Schubert's four-hand literature. Newcomers to these works and those who did not have the opportunity to hear the Duo Crommelnyck live should acquire their Schubert recordings on the Swiss label Claves. Also not to be overlooked is Sviataslov Richter and Benjamin Britten's Fantasy in F minor D 940 on a mono live recording on Music & Arts. The fortepiano heard on this Archiv recording is a Conrad Graf, Vienna, c. 1830 restored by Edwin Beunk and Johan Wennink, Enschede, The Netherlands, 1993.

Joseph E. Romero

Back to the CD list


Schubert:
String Quartet No. 15 in G Major, D. 887; String Quartet No. 12 in C Minor, D. 703


The leading draw in string quartets for over ten years, the Viennese Alban Berg Quartet communicates the same classical elegance in Mozart, Haydn, Beethoven and Schubert as in Berg, Bartok or Janacek. First violin Günther Pichler and his partners Schulz, Erben and Kakuska are in particularly fine form in this splendid live recording from the Vienna Konzerthaus.

Antoine du Rocher

Back to the CD list


Bruckner:
Symphony No. 5 in B Flat Major


A musician of enormous integrity, at age 86 Günter Wand remains one of the world's great interpreters of Bruckner's symphonies. He tends to build the Austrian composer's majestic "sound cathedrals" in a steady, but compelling fashion with absolute liturgical devotion to the text. The Berlin Philharmonic's massive wall of sound has made for the ideal partner in this recording. For those unable to hear Mr Wand's performance of the Bruckner 5th in Lübeck last month, this extraordinary 1996 live recording from Berlin should be acquired at once.

Joseph E. Romero

Back to the CD list


Aquitania: Christmas Music from Aquitanian Monasteries (12th century)

This is a superb recording of Christmas music from the rich and powerful medieval Duchy of Aquitaine, which, by the 12th century, included the geographical area of what is currently central and south-western France. Sequentia's musicians give suitably meditative and colourful performances of the Aquitanian monastic repertoires devoted mostly to symbolically elaborate Marian Christmas texts. Particularly striking is a performance of St Augustine's rendering of the Erythraen Sibyl's prophecy, fascinating for its elaborate and sometimes mysterious symbols. This recording should figure on any good student bibliography of European medieval history.

Joseph E. Romero

Back to the CD list

If you value our reviews, please tell a friend or join our mailing list!

email to the editor

Copyright © 1996 - 2007 Euromedia Group Ltd. 
All Rights Reserved