This disc offers works for violin and orchestra from Russian contemporaries and friends Rimsky-Korsakov and Taneyev. Described here as ‘Violin Concertos’ the first score is Rimsky-Korsakov’s Fantasy on Russian Themes based on old Russian folk-tunes. Taneyev is represented by his Suite de Concert a work that inhabits the world of old European dance forms from the baroque period.
This is not such a bizarre cross-over as one might imagine for in the 18th century the great Irish musician Turlough O’Carolan, a blind harpist, met the Italian musician Geminiani in Dublin, and through him encountered the music of, yes, guess who, Antonio Vivaldi. So here we have a case of substituting Irish instruments for baroque ones, using baroque instruments to accompany Irish themes, by creating dialogues between Celtic and baroque instruments, or by letting all the musicians improvise. One moment we appear to be listening to a ‘straight’ baroque concerto, then all of a sudden the conventional string continuo/ripieno of the baroque ensemble (Le Orfanelle della Pieta) gives way to celtic musicians playing a jig or reel on anything from a Irish bouzouki to a fiddle. The baroque group consists of three each of first and second violins, one viola, two cellos, a bass and harpsichord while the Irish musicians play Irish fiddle, an Irish flute (like a baroque flute), tin and low whistles, Uileann pipes, Irish bouzouki, mandolins, bodhran, bones, and the Celtic harp (played here with metal strings to resemble its harpsichord counterpart in the other group).
The Temple of Apollo at Delphi is the best-known excerpt from Taneyev’s only opera, Oresteia, the mammoth overture to which has all the force of a Romantic symphonic poem. His Overture on a Russian Theme is based on the same folksong that Rimsky-Korsakov used in his own Fantasy on Russian Themes while the shorter works demonstrate in various ways Taneyev’s scrupulous craftsmanship.
Opera lies at the heart of Rimsky-Korsakov’s colourful idiom, but performances are few and far between; this realisation of his penultimate and grandest stage work is a very rare and special experience. Kitezh is known as ‘the Russian Parsifal’, which encapsulates its mystical flavour and steady unfolding of a legend of redemption. A largely Russian cast (headed by the stunning Svetlana Ignatovich) and production team works within a set that moves from opulent naturalistic scenery to some startling theatrical coups worthy of Rimsky’s underrated dramatic instincts.
WALKING ON A DREAM is the debut studio album by Australian electronic music duo Empire of the Sun, released on 3 October 2008 by Capitol Records. The album was produced by band members Luke Steele and Nick Littlemore, along with Peter Mayes and Donnie Sloan. A special edition of the album, containing a bonus disc of remixes, B-sides, and unreleased tracks, was released on 20 November 2009.
Although he is fondly remembered for his many exemplary film scores composed during the Second World War, Korngold's more "serious" concerto works – particularly those written after the war – are becoming increasingly well-respected and widely performed. Chief among those works gaining tremendous popularity is his violin concerto. Hints of the sweep and grandeur of the film genre can still be heard in the concerto, but never to the point where Korngold's music sounds trite or unpolished. Rather, Korngold casts the violin in a decidedly Romantic style while still managing to include snippets of previous film scores, making for an easily accessible listening experience. Contrasting sharply with Korngold's increasing popularity is Lithuanian composer Balys Dvarionas.
WALKING ON A DREAM is the debut studio album by Australian electronic music duo Empire of the Sun, released on 3 October 2008 by Capitol Records. The album was produced by band members Luke Steele and Nick Littlemore, along with Peter Mayes and Donnie Sloan. Empire of the Sun's debut offering of experimental electro-pop and dance-rock is very well-timed, hitting the market just as the buzz surrounding MGMT's Oracular Spectacular has started to recede. …
The G major Anton Rubinstein violin concerto is a fine and powerful work, quite as good as many a lesser-known Russian example in the same genre, and easily as deserving of wider currency as, say, the Taneyev Suite de Concert, which is just as rarely heard these days. Nishizaki gives a committed and polished reading, though you often feel that this is music written by a pianist who had marginally less facility when writing for the violin. Still, here’s a well-schooled performance, full of agreeable touches of imagination (the Andante shows Nishizaki’s fine-spun tone to particularly good effect) delivered with crisply economical urgency that makes good musical sense even of the work’s plainer and less idiomatic passages.
This is Reger at his most accessible. In both pieces there is plenty of atmosphere and colour. The Hiller Variations is possibly his greatest and most satisfying orchestral work and is indispensable. Reger was a prolific composer, and it has to be said not all that came from his pen was necessarily memorable. However, the two works on this disc are vintage Reger. He lived his short life as fast as he composed his music. His is a special and unique sound-world which offers great rewards to those who take the time to explore it. Radiant playing from the Concertgebouw under Jarvi and sound to match.