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Every day we post 10 new Classical CD and DVD reviews. A free weekly summary is available by e-mail. MusicWeb is not a subscription site. To keep it free please purchase discs through our links.

  Classical Editor Rob Barnett    



"MANET - Music of His Time"
Fryderyk CHOPIN
(1810 - 1849)

Grande Valse brillante in Ab, Op 34#1, (1838) [5.46]
Waltz in c#, Op 64#2, (1847) [3.53]
Waltz in Gb, Op 70#1, (1829) [2.39]
Idil Biret, piano
from Naxos 8.554539
Gioachino ROSSINI (1792 - 1868)

Stabat Mater: opening movement (1842) [9.47]
Patrizia Pace, Gloria Scalchi, Antonio Siragusa, Carlo Colombara
Hungarian State Opera Chorus and Orchestra/Pier Giorgio Morandi
from Naxos 8.554443
Jacques OFFENBACH (1819 - 1880)

La Vie Parisienne: overture [5.45]
Polish National Radio Symphony Orchestra/Richard Hayman
from Naxos 8.550473
Georges BIZET (1838 - 1875)

Jeux d’enfants, Petite Suite for Orchestra (1871) [11.30]
New Zealand Symphony Orchestra/Donald Johanos
from Naxos 8.553027
Eduard LALO (1823 - 1892)

Symphonie Espagnole, Op 21: first movement (1874) [7.30]
Marat Bisengaliev, violin
Polish National Radio Symphony Orchestra/Johannes Wildner
from Naxos 8.550494
Emmanuel CHABRIER (1841 - 1894)

Pieces Pittoresques (1881): paysage [5.35]
Idylle [3.25]
Scherzo Valse [4.26]
Georges Rabol, piano,
from Naxos 8.553009
Alfred BRUNEAU (1857 - 1934)

L’Attaque du Moulin: Les Fiançailles au Moulin (1893) [7.38]
Rhenish Symphony Orchestra/James Lockhart
from Naxos 8.553498
Claude DEBUSSY (1862 - 1918)

String Quartet in g, Op 10: First Movement (1893) [6.13]
Kodaly Quartet
from Naxos 8.550249
Digitally recorded at various locations recently
Booklet notes in English, including biographical chronology, extensive essay by Hugh Griffith, and six full color reproductions of paintings by Manet.
Others in the ‘Art and Music’ series are: Turner, Van Gogh, and Claude Monet
NAXOS 8.558117 [75.44]
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Recently in Fanfare magazine a critic confessed that she often listened to review disks only once through, and a reader took vigorous exception to this, as well he should have. However, here we have a disk that I could have reviewed without listening to it at all, since it is entirely the packaging that is at issue. All of the recordings are from previous issues on the Naxos label. Evidently this package is made up to be sold in art museum gift shops. The question as to what this music has to do with Edouard Manet is supposedly answered by the extensive essay: this music forms part of the "artistic milieu" in which Manet functioned, what the people who looked at his paintings were listening to. Doubtful, you say, and I agree. Nevertheless, it’s an interesting anthology, and I enjoyed listening to it — once through. The key to interpreting Chopin is to remember that he came directly after Schubert. The key to interpreting Schubert is to play his keyboard music on a fortepiano using unequal temperament. Many ‘problems’ in the music disappear if this is done, many things flow naturally which sound odd otherwise, and many passages come sharply to life. Starting from there, apply such modernisms as equal temperament, modern piano action and technique, and romantic rubato sparingly when playing Chopin. Tamás Vásáry is the only pianist who makes an attempt at any of this, and his Chopin is the best. Biret plays these works in clear, masculine performances with typical lush rubato. Better than most is all I can say. Hearing only one movement of this magnificent work by Rossini is a tragedy, presenting only one movement is a crime. A very slow, lush, reverberant churchy performance, capably done and well recorded. The story of how cantor’s son Jacob Eberst ‘der Offenbacher’ became Jacques Offenbach is a cute one, too bad we don’t have space to tell it. This overture is distinguished in that it does NOT have the famous cancan, instead you hear the echoes of Gaité Parisienne. Delightful fluff tossed off with requisite bounce. That Parisians were not listening to Bizet is a tale of tragedy; fortunately, we can, and do. Actually the most amazing thing about Bizet’s death is that he lived as long as he did, what with all his adventurous accomplishments. One movement of the Symphonie Espagnole is usually one too many for my taste, but here it is played better and sounds better than I’ve ever heard it. These piano works by Chabrier are among my favourites, but here we have bouncy, muddy performances devoid of clarity or irony. No thanks. Never heard of Bruneau; I suspect our local Bruneau Dunes State Park is not named after him, perhaps a distant relative. Apparently he wrote many operas. This selection is bright, light, and repetitive, with a touch of wistfulness, played reasonably well. Finally a too small taste of the genius of Debussy sounding very good. I’m giving this one to my niece as a wedding present and I’m sure she’ll love it.

Paul Shoemaker



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