Nathan Milstein & The Philharmonia Orchestra – Concerto In E Minor + Concerto No.1 In G Minor (1961)

FrontCover1Nathan Mironovich Milstein (January 13, 1904 [O.S. December 31, 1903] – December 21, 1992) was a Russian Empire-born American virtuoso violinist.

Widely considered one of the finest violinists of the 20th century, Milstein was known for his interpretations of Bach’s solo violin works and for works from the Romantic period. He was also known for his long career: he performed at a high level into his mid 80s, retiring only after suffering a broken hand.

Milstein was born in Odessa, then part of the Russian Empire (now in Ukraine), the fourth child of seven, to a middle-class Jewish family with virtually no musical background. It was a concert by the 11-year-old Jascha Heifetz that inspired his parents to make a violinist out of Milstein. As a child of seven, he started violin studies (as suggested by his parents, to keep him out of mischief) with the eminent violin pedagogue Pyotr Stolyarsky, also the teacher of renowned violinist David Oistrakh.

When Milstein was 11, Leopold Auer invited him to become one of his students at the St. Petersburg Conservatory. Milstein reminisced:

Every little boy who had the dream of playing better than the other boy wanted to go to Auer. He was a very gifted man and a good teacher. I used to go to the Conservatory twice a week for classes. I played every lesson with forty or fifty people sitting and listening. Two pianos were in the classroom and a pianist accompanied us. When Auer was sick, he would ask me to come to his home.

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Milstein may in fact have been the last of the great Russian violinists to have had personal contact with Auer. Auer did not name Milstein in his memoirs but mentions “two boys from Odessa … both of whom disappeared after I left St. Petersburg in June 1917.”[2] Neither is Milstein’s name in the registry of the St Petersburg Conservatory.

Milstein also studied with Eugène Ysaÿe in Belgium. He told film-maker Christopher Nupen, director of Nathan Milstein – In Portrait, that he learned almost nothing from Ysaÿe but enjoyed his company enormously. In a 1977 interview printed in High Fidelity, he said, “I went to Ysaÿe in 1926 but he never paid any attention to me. I think it might have been better this way. I had to think for myself.”

Milstein met Vladimir Horowitz and his pianist sister Regina in 1921 when he played a recital in Kiev. They invited him for tea at their parents’ home. Milstein later said, “I came for tea and stayed three years.” Milstein and Horowitz performed together, as “children of the revolution”, throughout the Soviet Union and struck up a lifelong friendship. In 1925, they went on a concert tour of Western Europe together.

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He made his American debut in 1929 with Leopold Stokowski and the Philadelphia Orchestra. He eventually settled in New York and became an American citizen. He toured repeatedly throughout Europe, maintaining residences in London and Paris.

A transcriber and composer, Milstein arranged many works for violin and wrote his own cadenzas for many concertos. He was obsessed with articulating each note perfectly and would often spend long periods of time working out fingerings which would make passages sound more articulated. One of his best-known compositions is Paganiniana, a set of variations on various themes from the works of Niccolò Paganini.

In 1948, his recording of Felix Mendelssohn’s Violin Concerto in E minor, with Bruno Walter conducting the New York Philharmonic, had the distinction of being the first catalogue item in Columbia’s newly introduced long-playing twelve-inch 33 rpm vinyl records, Columbia ML 4001.

NathanMilstein01He was awarded the Légion d’honneur by France in 1968, and received a Grammy Award for his recording of Bach’s Sonatas and Partitas in 1975. He was also awarded Kennedy Center honors by US President Ronald Reagan.

A recital he gave in Stockholm in July 1986 proved to be his final performance. This recital was recorded in its in entirety and shows the remarkable condition of his technique at age 82. A fall shortly afterwards in which he severely broke his left hand ended his career.

After playing many different violins in his earlier days, Milstein finally acquired the 1716 “Goldman” Stradivarius in 1945 which he used for the rest of his life. He renamed this Stradivarius the “Maria Teresa” in honour of his daughter Maria (presently wife of Marchese GiovanAngelo Theodoli-Braschi, Duke of Nemi and Grandee of Spain, descendant from Pope Pius VI) and his wife Therese. He also performed on the 1710 ex-“Dancla” Stradivarius for a short period.

During the late 1980s, Milstein published his memoirs, From Russia to the West, in which he discussed his life of constant performance and socializing. Milstein discusses the personalities of important composers such as Alexander Glazunov, Sergei Prokofiev, Sergei Rachmaninoff and Igor Stravinsky and conductors such as Arturo Toscanini and Leopold Stokowski, all of whom he knew personally. He also discusses his best friends, pianist Vladimir Horowitz, cellist Gregor Piatigorsky and ballet director George Balanchine, as well as other violinists such as Fritz Kreisler and David Oistrakh.

Milstein was married twice, remaining married to his second wife, Therese, until his death. He died of a heart attack in London on December 21, 1992, 23 days before his 89th birthday. Therese died in 1999 aged 83. (by wikipedia)

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And here´s one of his legendar recordings: two brilliant violin concertos by Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdy and Max Bruch, both were German composers of classical music.

There are several reasons to listen to this album.  If you are looking for the best recordings of Bruch’s and Mendelssohn and Prokofiev’s 1st concerto, you are on the right track: there are very few versions which can compete with Milstein’s Mendelssohn and Prokofiev, and nobody could match him in Bruch’s G minor concerto. (by Anton Zimmerling)

This is one of my favorite recordings. Any of these classic concertos would make this a treasure, but together they cannot be passed up. Milstein is incomprable; technically perfect. The highlight of the album would definately be the 1st & 2nd movements of the Bruch concerto. Played with such warmth and intensity in the mournful g-minor key. I love it. highly recommended. (by an amazom customer)

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Personnel:
Nathan Milstein (violin)
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Philharmonia Orchestra conducted by Leon Barzin

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Tracklist:

Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdy: Concerto In E Minor, Op. 64:
01. 1st Movement: Allegro Molto Appassionato 11.26
02. 2nd Movement: Andante 7.49
03. 3rd Movement:: Allegretto Non Troppo: Allegro Molto Vivace 6.27

Max Bruch: Concerto No. 1 In G Minor:
04. 1st Movement: Allegro Moderato 7.52
05. 2nd Movement: Adagio 8.09
06. 3rd Movement: Allegro Energico 6.37

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Jon Lord – Beyond The Notes (2004)

FrontCover1Beyond the Notes is a studio album by former Deep Purple keyboard player Jon Lord, released in 2004. It features guest appearances from Frida Lyngstad, Sam Brown, Miller Anderson, Thijs van Leer, Pete York, and Trondheim Soloists.

Organist Jon Lord supposedly left Deep Purple to retire and take it easy, after he’d spent much of his life recording and touring the world with Purple and other artists. But upon his exit from the band, Lord played gigs and issued albums on his own, such as 2004’s Beyond the Notes. The split provided Lord with the opportunity to pursue some unexpected musical avenues, as the album sees a detour into soothing classical music. Gone is the blaring guitar through Marshall stacks and Lord’s overdriven organ rocking back and forth — in its place is the jazzy sound of “Cologne Again” a lovely piano ballad, and the string-heavy album closer, “Music for Miriam.” While it’s not unheard of for a rock musician to take the orchestral plunge, Beyond the Notes is one of the few instances where it works surprisingly well and doesn’t come off as a mere detour.(by Greg Prato)

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‘Jon Lord is addicted to harmony. Leaving Deep Purple meant leaving his best friends and a life that’s “a bubble, a support system”, as he himself puts it.

But putting an end to compromises did a world of good to keyboarder and composer Jon Lord. His latest album “Beyond The Notes” is the best proof of this. A free spirit blows through the ten tracks of the album. Pavanes and pop songs are peopled by musicians from drummer to violinist, from a rock band to members of a string orchestra. Oriental rhythms pushing classical melodies forward.

Jon Lord takes things seriously. Until he discovers something that does make him smile. “I call it ‘Jon Lord music’. I think the Americans have a label for it – they call it ‘classical cross-over’. So I’m going to call it ‘crossical class-over’. There’s elements of what I love out of orchestral music and there’s elements of what I love out of jazz, and what I love out
of folk music and rock music. And you throw it all in and that’s how you make the cake and experiment.”

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If you watch him at work in the studio, you quickly realise: Jon Lord loves people. He loves the 16 string players of the Trondheim Soloists just as much as his guitarist Paul Shigihara, keyboarder Matthias Krauss, bass player Urs Fuchs, and songstress Sabine von Baaren. He is friends with co-producer Mario Argandona, with songstress Sam Brown, and guest vocalist Miller Anderson. And of course he’s friends with Anni-Frid Lyngstad. Anni who? Frida. Frida of Abba. Jon Lord wrote “The Sun Will Shine Again” for the Swedish lady.

“We became friends a few years ago. And once we’d become friends, she actually asked me if I’d write a song for her. Easier said than done. When you’ve got a voice that is that specific and that glorious. So, I took about three years doing it, and only really found the right song just a few months ago and played it to her and luckily, she liked it.”

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Jon Lord is sitting in an easy chair. His long white hair is held by a ponytail and an equally white beard surrounds his face. The eyes of this humorous man often wander off, rather bridging time than space. He thinks a lot about his past, his life – something that also results in “Beyond The Notes”. “A Smile When I Shook His Hand” is his tribute to the late George Harrison. “George Harrison was a very, very close friend for many years and
one of those losses that are really hard to deal with. I miss him a great deal. The track is about the lightness and happiness I got from knowing that man.”

Tony Ashton is another close friend whose loss Jon Lord had to face recently. To Jon Lord, this keyboarder, vocalist, and painter was like a brother. “I’ll Send You A Postcard” is Jon’s musical memorial for his friend.

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“Music For Miriam” was written in 1995, the day after the death of Jon Lord’s mother. This spontaneous composition was then performed during her funeral by a string quartet and was already released on the album “Pictured Within”. Now, Jon Lord has rearranged this beautiful elegy. In a big orchestral arrangement, his mother’s character seems to be better represented.

And another track serves coming to terms with the past: “De Profundis”, “DP”, treats his separation from Deep Purple. Is music a kind of therapy? Jon Lord laughs. It certainly is a way to help him make a new start.

Even though it seems easier to him to compose sad songs, Jon Lord hasn’t lost his smile. “Telemann Experiment” is the best example for this: a serious piece of music at heart, Jon Lord here combines the style of the German Baroque composer Georg Philipp Telemann (1681-1767) with a Swedish polka.

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The fact that “Beyond The Notes” was recorded in Germany underlines the artist’s wish to tread new, own paths. Instead of working in one of the halls of fame of British music, Jon Lord chose the Hansa Haus Studios in Bonn, where he recorded his new album in June and July 2004.

“I lived down in Munich for a few months toward the end of the 70s. And I’ve always enjoyed the country. It seems to have taken me to its heart in a way that it understands that I’m not ‘just’ the keyboard player of Deep Purple, but that I have other musical aspirations outside of that, and this country seems to have understood that better than most.” (by deep-purple.net)

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Personnel:
Emilia Amper (nyckel harpe)
Mario Argandona (percussion, drums, background vocals)
Sabine van Baaren (background vocals)
Urs Fuchs (bass)
Michael Heupel (flute)
Matthias Krauss (keyboards)
Thijs van Leer (flute)
Jon Lord (keyboards)
Andy Miles (clarinet)
Paul Shigihara (guitar)
Gerhard Vetter (oboe)
Pete York (drums)
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Miller Anderson (vocals on 08.)
Sam Brown (vocals on 03.)
Frida (vocals on 06.)
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The Vocaleros (background vocals)
Cologne String Ensemble under the direction of Albert Jung
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Trondheim Soloists

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Tracklist:
01. Miles Away 7.42
02. De Profundis 7.22
03. One From The Meadow (8:14)
04. Cologne Again 6.47
05. I’ll Send You A Postcard (Pavane for Tony Ashton) 6.57
06. The Sun Will Shine Again 4.24
07. A Smile When I Shook His Hand (In Memorian George Harrison) 7.31
08. November Calls 5.03
09. The Telemann Experiment 7.08
10. Music For Miriam (Version for String Orchestra) 8.05

All songs composed by Jon Lord. All lyrics by Sam Brown, except “November Calls” by Jon Lord

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Jacques Loussier Trio – Ravel’s Boléro (1999)

FrontCover1Pianist/composer Jacques Loussier demonstrated musical ability at an early age, starting to play at the age of ten and entering the Conservatoire National de Musique in Paris at 16. Loussier’s main professor there was Yves Nat, who in turn was encouraged by Faure, Saint-Saens, and Debussy as a student himself. Loussier continued this distinguished tradition, graduating at the top of his class.

After traveling the world as an accompanist, in the late ’50s Loussier formed the Play Bach Trio with Pierre Michelot and Christian Garros. The Trio fused Loussier’s classical background with his interest in jazz, using Bach’s compositions as the basis for improvisation. The group was an immediate success, playing many shows and selling over six million albums in 15 years.

By the end of the ’70s, however, the group ran its course and Loussier retired to Provence, spending his days composing and recording at his studio in Miraval, experimenting with electronic and acoustic arrangements. The studio also played host to rock artists like Pink Floyd (including sessions for The Wall), Elton John, and Sting.

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1985 marked the 300-year anniversary of Bach’s birth, which prompted Loussier to re-form the Play Bach Trio with new members and a wider musical range, adding rock and electronic elements to the basic blend of classical and jazz. Loussier also continued composing through the ’80s and ’90s, as well as performing pieces by Bach and Ravel live and on albums like 1999’s Ravel: Bolero and Bach Book 40th Anniversary Album with his signature jazzy flair. A year later, Take Bach and Music of Debussy were released.

Ravel: Bolero continues Jacques Loussier’s series of jazz-inspired interpretations of classical music. His version of “Bolero” emphasizes the hypnotic, rhythmic structure of the work, and highlights his inspired, energetic playing. (by Heather Phares)

In other words: One of these brilliant albums by Jacques Loussier

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Personnel:
Andre Arpino (drums)
Jaques Loussier (piano)
Benoit Dunoyer de Segonzac (bass)

Booklet1Tracklist:
01. Ravel’s Bolero (Ravel) 17.16
2. Nympheas: I. Allegro (Loussier) 6.11
3. Nympheas: II. Andante (Loussier) 5.46
4. Nympheas: III. Vivace (Loussier) 5.29
5. Nympheas: IV. Largo (Loussier) 6.03
6. Nympheas: V. Presto (Loussier) 3.55
7. Nympheas: VI. Cantabile (Loussier) 3.08
8. Nympheas: VII. Prestissimo (Loussier) 4.09

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Gordon Chin – Cello Concerto + Symphony No.3 (“Taiwan”) (2015)

FrontCover1Gordon Chin is one of Taiwan’s leading composers, and increasingly honoured by commissions and performances from major ensembles in North America, Asia and Europe. Featuring an array of exotic Chinese percussion instruments, Symphony No. 3 ‘Taiwan’ is a dramatically powerful work cast in three movements which explore his native country’s turbulent history. Specific literary quotations from Shakespeare, Blaise Pascal and Samuel Johnson elucidate the expressive moods of the three-movement Cello Concerto No. 1. — naxos.com

Gordon Chin is one of Taiwan’s leading composers, music director of the Yin-Qi Symphony Orchestra and Chorus in Taipei, and a faculty member at the National Taiwan Normal University (NTNU). As a composer he has received commissions and performances from North America (where he studied), Asia and Europe. Now in his late fifties, he has produced a number of substantial compositions including an opera, four symphonies, numerous concertos and choral works. These two impressive examples of his music were written ten years apart and are here given their world premiere recordings.

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The three-movement Cello Concerto No.1 is placed first. Some literary quotations from Shakespeare, Pascal and Dr. Johnson, quoted by Chin in his own booklet note, aim to elucidate the expressive moods of each movement. I am not sure they are especially helpful in that respect, but the music hardly needs any literary support, so direct is its strength and immediate appeal. It is on a large scale and full of arresting orchestral incident. Its modernist idiom will present few problems to admirers of the cello concertos of Martinu or Shostakovich, for it is in an acerbically tonal style with many exotic effects, and punchy assertive gestures dominate. Yet this is clearly the statement of an individual voice. The orchestral colours are alluring and the cello solo is wide-ranging, idiomatic.

It has quite a few challenges for the player – all of which cellist Wen-Sinn Yang has mastered. His dazzling virtuosity serves the work rather than the other way around. One hopes this disc will encourage other cellists to look at the music.

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Symphony No.3 (subtitled Taiwan) is a dramatic work also cast in three movements, each of which explores the turbulent history of Chin’s native country. The first movement is subtitled Plunder, the second Dark Night and the third Upsurge. There are even motifs with such titles identified in the composer’s note, complete with musical illustrations. That first movement is almost a percussion extravaganza, becoming a timpani concerto at some points. The lyrical second movement draws upon a Taiwanese folk song, is punctuated by angry episodes and grows to a passionate climax. The finale pulls everything together in a satisfying way and leads to a heroic conclusion. The symphony is enjoyable and often striking, if at first slightly less compelling perhaps than the cello concerto. The performance of the excellent Taiwan Philharmonic under Shao-Chia Lü is certainly persuasive and sounds committed throughout.
The recording is very good, full and well-balanced with plenty of impact. This disc will appeal to anyone curious to know what can be made of the western classical tradition when its techniques and colours are expertly refracted through an East Asian lens. It is to be hoped that Naxos, whose second disc of Chin’s music this is will continue the series. The first disc is Naxos 8.570221: Double Concerto and Formosa Seasons. (Roy Westbrook)

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Gordon Shi-Wen Chin,(born 1957), a Taiwanese composer and conductor, is a member of the faculty of National Taiwan Normal University. He earned his doctoral degree at the Eastman School of Music under Christopher Rouse and Samuel Adler.[2] As one of Taiwan’s most prolific composers, his works have been performed by the Seattle Symphony Orchestra, San Diego Symphony Orchestra, and Vancouver Symphony Orchestra, as well as by ensembles in Tokyo (Euodia Orchestra), France (Ensemble 2e2m), the International Sejong Soloists (United States), and many others.[3] The Los Angeles Times has called him a “confident master of the Western modernistic large orchestral idiom used for dramatic rather than abstract purposes.” Chin is now the music director of the Yinqi Chorus & Orchestra (by wikipedia)

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Personnel:
Wen-Sinn Yang (cello)
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Taiwan Philharmonic Orchestra, conducted by Shao-Chia Lu

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Tracklist:

Cello Concerto No. 1:
01. Allegro 13.29
02. Dreams Trapped Inside The Mirror 10.37
03. After Great Pain 11.38

Symphony No. 3, “Taiwan”;
04. Plunder 9.32
05. Dark Night 8.40
06. Upsurge 8.16

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Ensemble Villa Musica – Sextet & Grand Quintuor (Joachim Raff) (2003)

FrontCover1Joseph Joachim Raff (27 May 1822 – 24 or 25 June 1882) was a German-Swiss composer, teacher and pianist.

Raff was born in Lachen in Switzerland. His father, a teacher, had fled there from Württemberg in 1810 to escape forced recruitment into the military of that southwestern German state that had to fight for Napoleon in Russia. Joachim was largely self-taught in music, studying the subject while working as a schoolmaster in Schmerikon, Schwyz and Rapperswil. He sent some of his piano compositions to Felix Mendelssohn who recommended them to Breitkopf & Härtel for publication. They were published in 1844 and received a favourable review in Robert Schumann’s journal, the Neue Zeitschrift für Musik, which prompted Raff to go to Zürich and take up composition full-time.

In 1845, Raff walked to Basel to hear Franz Liszt play the piano. After a period in Stuttgart where he became friends with the conductor Hans von Bülow, he worked as Liszt’s assistant at Weimar from 1850 to 1853. During this time he helped Liszt in the orchestration of several of his works, claiming to have had a major part in orchestrating the symphonic poem Tasso.

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In 1851, Raff’s opera König Alfred was staged in Weimar, and five years later he moved to Wiesbaden where he largely devoted himself to composition. From 1878 he was the first Director of, and a teacher at, the Hoch Conservatory in Frankfurt. There he employed Clara Schumann and a number of other eminent musicians as teachers, and established a class specifically for female composers. (This was at a time when women composers were not taken very seriously.) His pupils there included Edward MacDowell and Alexander Ritter. See: List of music students by teacher: R to S#Joachim Raff.

He died in Frankfurt on the night of June 24/25, 1882. (by wikipedia)

Raff’s Piano Quintet was considered by Hans von Bülow to be one of the very greatest works in its medium, and he wasn’t wrong. Generously proportioned (37 minutes), expertly written, full of good tunes, and not a bit diffuse in its argument, it’s surely one of Raff01the great Romantic chamber works, and yet it’s barely known. The reason undoubtedly stems from the fact that Raff’s compositional fecundity has counted against him; but he was a gifted composer, and at his best, as here, he rivals anyone. The basic, A minor key and passionate contrasts of mood and tempo tell the whole story. Unlike so many “moderato” openings, this piece starts “Allegro mosso assai” and maintains its intensity right up to the final bar of the last movement, marked “Allegro bioso, patetico”. The Sextet in G minor is more pithy, but just as keenly felt, and beautifully textured. Raff’s expert orchestral writing has often been cited, usually in connection with his assisting Liszt in orchestrating his tone poems, but his talent in this area is no less evident in these chamber works. The Ensemble Villa Musica plays both pieces with all of the necessary enthusiasm and energy, and the players are gorgeously recorded. This is one of those discs that no true chamber music connoisseur can afford to miss. (by David Hurwitz)

Raff is one composer whose posthumous reputation has suffered enormously with his vast oeuvre almost completely forgotten. A recent revival of his symphonies on a variety of labels has shown that he has flair and charm if not always a top rank composer.

Dabringhaus & Grimm continually churns out precious chamber music gems that are fast becoming unique to the catalogue. This latest release is no exception and I would advise listeners who have found Raff’s symphonies enjoyable to sample some of his most exquisite chamber works.

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The Sextet, Op. 178 is probably the best work of the two recorded here with a highly enjoyable Allegro and a beautiful Larghetto, rather reminiscent of Beethoven’s 2nd Symphony. Raff uses colour and has a fine palette that makes the music all the more attractive especially in the final Allegro.

The Grand Quintet is an earlier work and at times, I do feel that the piano part is a mite boorish but other listeners may digress from that view! It would be safe to say that the Ensemble Villa Musica are ideal interpreters and that the disc will appeal to chamber music lovers who enjoy seeking out such rarities. (by Gerald Fenech)

Founded in 1990 in connection with the master classes of the state foundation Villa Musica in Mainz the Ensemble Villa Musica has earned an international reputation as one of the leading chamber music groups of our day. With always increasing enthusiasm the international music press has noticed the growth of an ensemble which is almost incomparable in its variety of instruments and repertoire.

Founded in 1990 in connection with the master classes of the state foundation Villa Musica in Mainz the Ensemble Villa Musica has earned an international reputation as one of the leading chamber music groups of our day. With always increasing enthusiasm the international music press has noticed the growth of an ensemble which is almost incomparable in its variety of instruments and repertoire.

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About 20 of Germany’s most renowned instrumentalists joined the group under the leadership of clarinetist Ulf Rodenhäuser. All of them were or still are first soloists in the great German orchestras and have taught for years as professors at German music academies Musicians such as the bassoonist Klaus Thunemann the cellist Martin Ostertag the violinist Thomas Brandis and the oboist Ingo Goritzki represent an unmistakably high standard of musical craftsmanship.

Aiming at the education of highly gifted young chamber musicians on the one hand, and at the performance and recording of forgotten masterworks of chamber music on the other hand, the ensemble has been able to contribute on many levels of German chamber music.

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In connection with the CD producers Dabringhaus und Grimm, they published an exemplary series of CDs containing French chamber music by Fauré‚ Saint-Saëns, and Milhaud, Chech Music by Janácek, Klein and Schulhoff, late Romantic German Music by Spohr and Reinecke, and especially the Chamber Music of Paul Hindemith. All of the CDs have been given highest rates by the critics, some of them have received international awards.

Of course, the Ensemble Villa Musica is also regularly performing in concert halls and at music festivals all over the world. In Rhineland-Palatinate, Stuttgart, and Munich it has established its own concert cycles

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Personnel:
Ensemble Villa Musica:

Sextet:
Nicolas Chumachenco (violin)
Michel Dispa (cello)
Chiara Morandi (violin)
Martin Ostertag (cello)
Enrique Santiago (alto)
Hariolf Schlichtig (alto)

Quintet:
Nicolas Chumachenco (violin)
Erika Geldsetzer (violin)
Martin Ostertag (cello)
Kalle Randalu (piano)
Enrique Santiago (alto)

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Tracklist:

String Sextet in G Minor, Op. 178;
01. Allegro 9:10
02. Allegro molto 4:07
03. Larghetto 10:22
04. Allegro 4:54

Grand Quintuor in A Minor, Op. 1075:
05. Allegro mosso assai 11:28
06. Allegro vivace, quasi presto 6:04
07. Andante, quasi larghetto mosso 11:54
08. Allegro brioso, patetico 7:42

Music written by Joachim Raff

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Gerald Garcia – Romantic Guitar Favourites (1992)

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Gerald Garcia (born 1949 in Hong Kong) is a classical guitarist and composer.

After studying chemistry at Oxford University, he became a professional musician, making his debut at the Wigmore Hall in London. His more than fifteen CDs have sold more than 30,000 copies worldwide. In addition, he has performed with other musicians including John Williams, Paco Peña and John Renbourn.

Garcia is also known as a composer, particularly for his Etudes Esquisses for guitar, GeraldGarciarecorded for Naxos Records by John Holmquist. He is musical director of the National Youth Guitar Ensemble.

Gerald Garcia lives in Oxford, where, according to his website, he enjoys “cooking, computer music, Taoist Yoga and conducting the odd chamber orchestra.”

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This beautifully studio-recorded disc from 1989 was, if I am correctly infomed, Gerald Garcia’s fifth CD for Naxos (following on from “Concierto de Aranjuez”, “Brazilian Portrait”, “Latin American Guitar Festival” and “Baroque Guitar Favourites”). It contains some of the “prettiest” music for classical guitar that I have ever heard, although I should add in the same breath that there is, in fact, no music for classical guitar at all on the disc – all the pieces here recorded are transcriptions of music for violin solo (Paganini’s Caprices), for violin and guitar (Paganini’s Grand Sonata), for piano (Mendelssohn’s Songs Without Words) and for voice and piano (Schubert’s Lieder). The Paganini and Mendelssohn appear to have been transcribed by Garcia himself, whereas the Schubert was congenially adapted for the instrument by Johann Kaspar Mertz, a 19th century Bohemian guitarist. The title of the CD, “Romantic Guitar Favourites”, is therefore a complete misnomer, but that in no way affects the enjoyment to be had from listening to what, to my non-expert ears at any rate, is some excellent guitar-playing in first-rate audio quality. The notes, written by Gerald Garcia himself, are brief but informative. (Leslie Richfordon)

Gerald Garcia has made an estimable series of CDs for Naxos, and this one is no exception. He has a beautiful sound for Romantic guitar music. His tone is large, his passage work never becomes coarse or astringent, and his overall conceptions are lush sounding and warm. The Mendelssohn and Schubert transcriptions are preformed with a great deal of delicacy, almost dreamy. The two Paganini Caprices are brilliant display pieces that Garcia dispatches with style and ease. As for the Paganini Sonata, it is an engrossing work that Garcia never lets sound heavy. Add a full spectrumed sound engineering picture, and you have a very appealing album. (David Saemannon)

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Personnel:
Gerald Garcia (guitar)

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Tracklist:

Niccolò Paganini:
01 Caprice Nº91 + Caprice Nº9

Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdy:
02. Venetian Boat Song I (Song Without Words Op. 19 Nº 6)
03. Song Without Words, Op.19 Nº4
04. Song Without Words, Op.53 Nº4
05. Song Without Words, Op.85 Nº2
06. Song Without Words, Op.62 Nº4
07. Venetian Boat Song II (Song Without Words Op. 30 Nº 6)
08. Allegro Risoluto

Niccolò Paganini:
09. Romanza

Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdy:
10. Andantino Variato
11. Caprice Nº24

Franz Schubert:
12. Praise Of Tears
13. Love’s Messenger
14. Serenade
15. Delay
16. Fisher Maiden
17. The Post

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Sergei Prokofiev – Peter And The Wolf (Herbert von Karajan – narrated by Peter Ustinov) (1959)

FrontCover1Peter and the Wolf, Op. 67, a ‘symphonic fairy tale for children’, is a musical composition written by Sergei Prokofiev in 1936. The narrator tells a children’s story, while the orchestra illustrates it. It is Prokofiev’s most frequently performed work, and one of the most frequently performed works in the entire classical repertoire. It has been recorded many times.

In 1936, Sergei Prokofiev was commissioned by Natalya Sats, the director of the Central Children’s Theatre in Moscow, to write a musical symphony for children. Sats and Prokofiev had become acquainted after he visited her theatre with his sons several times. The intent was to introduce children to the individual instruments of the orchestra. The first draft of the libretto was about a Young Pioneer (the Soviet version of a Boy Scout) called Peter who rights a wrong by challenging an adult. (This was a common theme in propaganda aimed at children in the USSR at the time.) However, Prokofiev was dissatisfied with the rhyming text produced by Antonina Sakonskaya, a then popular children’s author. Prokofiev wrote a new version where Peter captures a wolf. As well as promoting desired Pioneer virtues such as vigilance, bravery and resourcefulness, the plot illustrates Soviet themes such as the stubbornness of the un-Bolshevik older generation (the grandfather) and the triumph of Man (Peter) taming Nature (the wolf).

Sergej Prokofjew
Prokofiev produced a version for the piano in under a week, finishing it on April 15. The orchestration was finished on April 24. The work debuted at a children’s concert in the main hall of the Moscow Conservatory with the Moscow Philharmonic on 2 May 1936. However, Sats was ill and the substitute narrator inexperienced, and the performance failed to attract much attention.[1][3][4][5] Later that month a much more successful performance with Sats narrating was given at the Moscow Pioneers Palace. The American premiere took place in March 1938, with Prokofiev himself conducting the Boston Symphony Orchestra at Symphony Hall, Boston with Richard Hale narrating. By that time Sats was serving a sentence in the gulag, where she was sent after her lover Marshal Mikhail Tukhachevsky was shot in June 1937.

Peter, a Young Pioneer, lives at his grandfather’s home in a forest clearing. One day, Peter goes out into the clearing, leaving the garden gate open, and the duck that lives in the yard takes the opportunity to go swimming in a pond nearby. The duck starts arguing with a little bird (“What kind of bird are you if you can’t fly?” – “What kind of bird are you if you can’t swim?”). Peter’s pet cat stalks them quietly, and the bird—warned by Peter—flies to safety in a tall tree while the duck swims to safety in the middle of the pond.

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Peter’s grandfather scolds him for being outside in the meadow alone (“Suppose a wolf came out of the forest?”), and, when he defies him, saying: “Boys like me are not afraid of wolves”, his grandfather takes him back into the house and locks the gate. Soon afterwards “a big, grey wolf” does indeed come out of the forest. The cat quickly climbs into a tree, but the duck, who has jumped out of the pond, is chased, overtaken, and swallowed by the wolf.

IllustrationPeter fetches a rope and climbs over the garden wall into the tree. He asks the bird to fly around the wolf’s head to distract it, while he lowers a noose and catches the wolf by its tail. The wolf struggles to get free, but Peter ties the rope to the tree and the noose only gets tighter.

Some hunters, who have been tracking the wolf, come out of the forest ready to shoot, but Peter gets them to help him take the wolf to a zoo in a victory parade (the piece was first performed for an audience of Young Pioneers during May Day celebrations) that includes himself, the bird, the hunters leading the wolf, the cat, and grumpy grumbling Grandfather (“What if Peter hadn’t caught the wolf? What then?”)

In the story’s ending, the listener is told: “If you listen very carefully, you’ll hear the duck quacking inside the wolf’s belly, because the wolf in his hurry had swallowed her alive.”
Performance directions

Prokofiev produced detailed performance notes in both English and Russian for Peter and the Wolf. According to the English version:

Each character of this tale is represented by a corresponding instrument in the orchestra: the bird by a flute, the duck by an oboe, the cat by a clarinet playing staccato in a low register, the grandfather by a bassoon, the wolf by three horns, Peter by the string quartet, the shooting of the hunters by the kettle drums and bass drum. Before an orchestral performance it is desirable to show these instruments to the children and to play on them the corresponding leitmotivs. Thereby, the children learn to distinguish the sonorities of the instruments during the performance of this tale. (by wikipedia)

And here´s a nive version with the great Peter Ustinov as narrator and Herbert von Karajan as the conductor of The Philharmonia Orchestra.

What a nicy musical fairy tale !

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Personnel:
Peter Ustinov (narrator)
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The Philharmonia Orchestra conducted by Herbert von Karajan

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Tracklist:
01. Peter And The Wolf (Prokofiev) (Part 1) 14.23
02. Peter And The Wolf (Prokofiev) (Part 2) 14.34
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03. Toy Symphony (Haydn) 11.01

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