Aureole etc.




Nimbus on-line




If it’s the Czech works you’re after, do not hesitate

  Founder: Len Mullenger
Classical Editor: Rob Barnett


Some items
to consider

 


Enjoy the Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra wherever you are. App available for iOS and Android


Tudor 7188


Vaughan Williams Symphony 3 etc.


Lyrita New Recording


Lyrita Premiere Recordings

Lyrita 4CDs £16 incl.postage

Lyrita 4CDs £16 incl.postage


Decca Phase 4 - 40CDs


Judith Bailey, George Lloyd


BAX Orchestral pieces


CASKEN Violin Concerto

Schumann Symphonies Rattle


Complete Brahms
Bargain price

 

 

 

 

REVIEW



Gerard Hoffnung CDs

Advertising on
Musicweb


Donate and get a free CD

New Releases

Naxos Classical

Hyperion

Musicweb sells the following labels
Acte Préalable
Alto
Arcodiva
Atoll
CDAccord
Cameo Classics
Centaur
Hallé
Hortus
Lyrita
Nimbus
Northern Flowers
Redcliffe
Sheva
Talent
Toccata Classics


Follow us on Twitter

Subscribe to our free weekly review listing
sample
 

alternatively
CD: MDT AmazonUK AmazonUS

Claude DEBUSSY (1862-1918)
Prélude à l'après-midi d'un faune (1894) [11:29]
Rapsodie pour orchestre et saxophone (1908; orch. Roger-Ducasse, 1919) [10:09]
La mer (1905) [24:38]
Maurice RAVEL (1875-1937)
La valse (1920) [13:16]
Boléro (1928) [15:38]
Kenneth Radnofsky (alto saxophone)
New York Philharmonic/Kurt Masur
rec. live, Avery Fisher Hall, New York, January 1996, May 1993 (Bolero)
WARNER APEX 2564 677174 [75:54]

Experience Classicsonline


The attention attracted by Kurt Masur's tenure as Music Director of the New York Philharmonic may seem excessive in retrospect, at least to those who weren't in New York at the time. This French program, which I missed in its full-priced Teldec issue, reminds us what the fuss was about.
 
Masur's tightening of discipline after his arrival in 1991 proved tonic for an ensemble accustomed to the sometimes casual manner of their previous director, Zubin Mehta. His absorption of the Central European tradition and his healthy musicality elicited committed playing. Under Masur's guidance, the brass retained full-throated balance and impact, and the polished woodwinds acquired a greater elegance. The massed string tone remained a bit diffuse, but the swarthy tone of the Mehta years was replaced by trim, better-controlled playing that filled out the textures with rhythmic point.
 
This Prélude à l'après-midi d'un faune shows these improvements, despite being overly spacious. The opening flute solo is far too languid - the slow tempo renders the obligatory breath in the second bar more rather than less conspicuous - and the oboe solo at 4:13 is similarly becalmed. That said, the performance is sensitive and well-organized; the tapered, vibrant strings are a pleasure; and the solo winds, given time to luxuriate, are extraordinarily beautiful.
 
La mer, similarly, is handsomely played - note the rich divided cellos at 4:40 of the first movement - but more Germanic than Gallic in spirit. Only in the finale - where Masur, like many non-French interpreters, adopts an overly expansive approach to the second theme - does the rhetoric seem a bit much. Even the tutti statement at 5:44, though tonally resplendent, is static.
 
The saxophone rhapsody is a curious score. It's designated "for orchestra and saxophone," rather than the reverse. This suggests a tone-poem with obbligato rather than a full-fledged concertante piece, with the composer exploiting the "exotic" and caressing aspects of the sax, rather than its jazzy implications. The opening section wouldn't be out of place in Ravel's Shéhérazade, with the sort of mercurial woodwind playing that the Faune could have used. Then, at 7:36, the music turns unexpectedly "modern," juxtaposing striding, aggressive chords against contrasting lyrical phrases. It's a good performance, with a bit of rhetorical distension in the home stretch. Soloist Kenneth Radnofsky's playing is refined, but the timbre retains enough pungency that the saxophone doesn't just sound like a bigger clarinet.
 
Boléro, sometimes described as a fifteen-minute exercise in orchestral color, seems an unlikely choice for performers not noted as colorists. The flute and clarinet solos at the start - both, admittedly, in a nondescript range - lack distinction, and Masur perhaps understates the episode for horn and two piccolos at 6:52, missing the organ-like bite of Ormandy (RCA). On the plus side, the solo horn is round and, where needed, cheeky; the saxophonist, presumably Radnofsky again, is assertive and just reedy enough; and the violins are shapely when they finally have at the theme. Rhythmic control, so important in this score, is rock-solid.
 
La valse has long been a Philharmonic specialty: Bernstein, Boulez, and even Mehta left their own stamp on it in various Columbia (now Sony) recordings. Masur rises to the discographic challenge, in a reading that underlines the undulating waltz rhythms and invests the climaxes with a persuasive surge. The rhythms in tutti are weightier and more marked than most; moving high string chords are appealingly translucent.
 
With first-rate sound - better than one expected, given all the whining about the Fisher Hall acoustics - this will please New Yorkers and fellow-travellers who, like me, collected the recordings of the Masur era. Even with the excellent La valse, it's not quite a basic library acquisition. If you want the rhapsody, which isn't aired much, I'd suggest John Harle's EMI account, with the Academy of St-Martin-in-the-Fields providing colorful support - unless a CD's worth of saxophone concertos sounds too much for you.
 
Stephen Francis Vasta
Stephen Francis Vasta is a New York-based conductor, coach, and journalist. 

Masterwork Index: La Mer

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 


EXPLORE MUSICWEB INTERNATIONAL

Making a Donation to MusicWeb

Writing CD reviews for MWI

About MWI
Who we are, where we have come from and how we do it.

Site Map

How to find a review

How to find articles on MusicWeb
Listed in date order

Review Indexes
   By Label
      Select a label and all reviews are listed in Catalogue order
   By Masterwork
            Links from composer names (eg Sibelius) are to resource pages with links to the review indexes for the individual works as well as other resources.

Themed Review pages

Jazz reviews

 

Discographies
   Composer
      Composer surveys
   National
      Unique to MusicWeb -
a comprehensive listing of all LP and CD recordings of given works
.
Prepared by Michael Herman

The Collector’s Guide to Gramophone Company Record Labels 1898 - 1925
Howard Friedman

Book Reviews

Complete Books
We have a number of out of print complete books on-line

Interviews
With Composers, Conductors, Singers, Instumentalists and others
Includes those on the Seen and Heard site

Nostalgia

Nostalgia CD reviews

Records Of The Year
Each reviewer is given the opportunity to select the best of the releases

Monthly Best Buys
Recordings of the Month and Bargains of the Month

Comment
Arthur Butterworth Writes

An occasional column

Phil Scowcroft's Garlands
British Light Music articles

Classical blogs
A listing of Classical Music Blogs external to MusicWeb International

Reviewers Logs
What they have been listening to for pleasure

Announcements

 

Community
Bulletin Board

Give your opinions or seek answers

Reviewers
Pat and present

Helpers invited!

Resources
How Did I Miss That?

Currently suspended but there are a lot there with sound clips


Composer Resources

British Composers

British Light Music Composers

Other composers

Film Music (Archive)
Film Music on the Web (Closed in December 2006)

Programme Notes
For concert organizers

External sites
British Music Society
The BBC Proms
Orchestra Sites
Recording Companies & Retailers
Online Music
Agents & Marketing
Publishers
Other links
Newsgroups
Web News sites etc

PotPourri
A pot-pourri of articles

MW Listening Room
MW Office

Advice to Windows Vista users  
Questionnaire    
Site History  
What they say about us
What we say about us!
Where to get help on the Internet
CD orders By Special Request
Graphics archive
Currency Converter
Dictionary
Magazines
Newsfeed  
Web Ring
Translation Service

Rules for potential reviewers :-)
Do Not Go Here!
April Fools






Untitled Document


Reviews from previous months
Join the mailing list and receive a hyperlinked weekly update on the discs reviewed. details
We welcome feedback on our reviews. Please use the Bulletin Board
Please paste in the first line of your comments the URL of the review to which you refer.