> GOODALL Big bangs [RB]: Classical CD Reviews- Jun2002 MusicWeb(UK)

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Big Bangs - Titles Music

Gregorio ALLEGRI Miserere mei Deus

Deus in auditorium from 1610 Vespers;
Overture to Orfeo;
Euridice e Orfeo
Ahi caso acerbo
Io la musica son and string ritrnello
Orfeo in Hades - possente spirto

Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART

Pace pace - Marriage of Figaro Act IV
John DUNSTAPLE Veni Sancte Spiritus
arr Howard GOODALL Agincourt Song
Johann Sebastian BACH The Well Tempered Clavier - Prelude No. 1; Fugue No. 1
Franz SCHUBERT (arr Goodall) Gute Nacht from Winterreise - abridged English version and full German version
Scott JOPLIN Maple Leaf Rag
Ruggero LEONCAVALLO Vesti la Giubba from I Pagliacci
David FANSHAWE Sanctus - from African Sanctus
Howard GOODALL Sanctus from Missa Aedis Christi
Richard STRAUSS Im Abendrot from Four Last Songs
rec late 1990s
METRONOME MET CD 1043 [63.00]


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Howard Goodall is central to this disc. His name should be recognised by any listeners who know the BBCTV's Blackadder series. He wrote the introductory music and songs.

His UK Channel 4 TV music series have shown him to be a beguiling presenter and educator. From this angle he can be viewed as something of a Previn or Bernstein both of whom were popularisers of classical music.

The 'Big Bangs' of the headline title, by the way, are the 'five seismic inventions in western classical music - notation, opera, equal temperament, the piano and recording.'

The stratospheric solos in the Allegri work (Winchester/Martin Neary) do not rise and cascade with the frictionless facility you hear in other versions but all the same this a very open and lively 'tactile' recording. Going by the hiss the Allegri must be from an analogue original.

Almost ten minutes of Monteverdi from Christ Church Cathedral is, by contrast, in DDD sound but the acoustic seems rather enclosed. The five tracks mix the intimate (tracks 5-7) with grand-scale brass-lofted fanfares. The 7'23" of Mozart deploys the fresh sounding talents of Sumi Jo and Cecilia Bartoli and a hardly less impressive circle of male singers. There is then a disconcerting time-switch to John Dunstaple's Veni with three male solo voices.

Goodall uses his contemporary talents to create a 42 second arrangement of the Agincourt Song - rather a mix of styles from the musical Blondel to Ulster-style drums.

Pischner's puissant sonorous style in the Bach is very forward. Goodall demystifies Schubert by providing a pop ballad style translation of Gute Nacht which is then followed by the unabridged original from Siegfried Lorenz with Norman Shetler (not Sheiler, Metronome).

Then comes another gear-crashing transition to a flighty Maple Leaf Rag from David Blumental. Next, Caruso reaches sonorously across the century.

Fanshawe's African Sanctus is an ikonic work of the 1960s and 1970s. The fusion of world music with classical has enriched both streams. Fanshawe's populist approach uses plenty of drum-goaded rhythmic material to speak to new audiences. Neville Creed and the Bournemouth and Windsor Castle forces handle this with abandon: the African equivalent of Carmina Burana.

Goodall is here as a composer as well. The Big Bangs titles deliver the promised impacts in a pop-grips-classical confection. I have already commented on the Agincourt Song. His Sanctus from the Missa Aedis Christi was written in 1992 while Goodall was staying in the hilltop village of Embrun in France. The Sanctus vibrates with the sounds of the village's evening bells and does so with a sort of chaotic ecstatic abandon. This glorious effect is also drawn on in the towering choral finale of Hilding Rosenberg's Fourth Symphony Johannes Uppenbarelse. The complete Mass would be well worth hearing ... at least on this evidence.

The Strauss is nicely enough handled by Hanne-Lore Kuhse with the Gewandhaus conducted by Vaclav Neumann even if the balance seems very forward. The interpretation tends towards the earthbound when it should soar freely.

The CD is a very miscellaneous assemblage which probably works well as a reminder of the original series but which does not stand happily by itself. For me the discovery was Goodall's Sanctus.

Rob Barnett


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