It was an eminently sensible decision to couple Zimerman's previously separate Chopin concertos on a single CD. The Ax/Ormandy/RCA disc is the only rival as a coupling, so let me say at once that in different moods I would be equally happy with either. The main difference, I think, is the actual sound. From DG we get a closer, riper sonority, with Zimerman's piano much more forwardly placed. Both orchestra and piano are more distanced on the RCA recording, especially Ax's piano. This, together with Ax's lighter, more translucent semiquaver figuration (and sometimes his greater willingness to stand back and merely accompany—as in certain episodes in the F minor Concerto's finale) often conjures up visions of Chopin himself at the keyboard, and we know he was often criticized for insufficiently strong projection.
Recorder virtuoso Erik Bosgraaf (b. 1980) was personally granted permission to arrange for recorder Boulez' (1925-2016) Dialogue de l'ombre double, originally for clarinet and electronics. ...The result is a dynamic interplay between Bosgraaf's recorder and the fascinating electronic timbres and colours. The second work on this release is a musical dialogue between Bosgraaf and electronic wizard Jorrit Tamminga (b. 1973), creating unheard-of sounds of the recorder interwoven in electronic sound tapestries.
Tom Service presents 40 years of great BBC archive featuring the French composer, conductor and musical icon, Pierre Boulez, who died on 5th January 2016 at the age of 90. Opinionated and challenging, Boulez transformed the way that musicians and audiences all over the world think about contemporary music. With orchestras including the BBC Symphony, he rehearses and performs Debussy, Stravinsky and Bartok, as well as a selection of his own extraordinary compositions. Boulez's relationship with the BBC began in the 1960s and blossomed during his years as chief conductor of the BBC Symphony Orchestra - leaving a vivid legacy in the BBC's TV archive.
Chopin's two piano concertos have long been admired more as pianistic vehicles than as integrated works for piano and orchestra. But in his revelatory new recording, Krystian Zimerman suggests otherwise: The opening orchestral tuttis have so much more light, shade, orchestral color, and detail, you wonder if they've been rewritten. Every gesture, every instrumental solo is so specifically characterized that by the time the piano makes a dramatic entrance, the pieces have become operas without words.
Since the end of the seventeenth century French composers have shown a particular skill and deftness of touch in writing for the flute. The instrument owes much of its prominence in French music of the twentieth century to the use made of it in orchestral colouring by composers such as Debussy and Ravel, as well as to a group of highly gifted players associated in one way or another with the Paris Conservatoire. They include the soloist on this recording, Patrick Gallois, a pupil of Jean-Pierre Rampal. This collection of works composed during the last sixty years ranges from Poulenc’s Sonata, marked by rhythmic vitality and a delicate vein of sentimentality, Messiaen’s Le merle noir, inspired by bird song, to Boulez’s Sonatine, which the composer himself has characterised as ‘organised delirium’.
Peter Stein staged the work for Welsh National Opera in 1992 and won universal praise, as did Pierre Boulez for his conducting. Within austere, wholly appropriate sets, beautifully lit by Jean Kalman, Stein catches the very essence of this singular and elusive piece. Each of the 15 scenes is given its own distinctive décor in which the action is played out on several levels – high for the tower scenes, low for the eerie, subterranean grottoes, for instance. A masterstroke is the subtle evolution from one scene to another in view of the audience, offering a visual counterpoint to the interludes. Stein sees that Debussy's instructions are scrupulously observed. In fact, as a whole, this is an object-lesson in modern staging. Stein and his collaborators reflect the ebb and flow of crude realism and fragile dream-life that permeate the score, which Boulez has identified as lying at its heart. Director and conductor worked closely with each other over a six-week rehearsal period, something unlikely to occur today, so Boulez's interpretation is in complete accord with the staging, his musical direction at once direct and luminous, timbres finely balanced one with the other.
Arnold Schoenberg is unquestionably one of the pivotal composers of the 20th century. By opening new aesthetic horizons, he played a crucial role in the development of contemporary classical music. This Sony Classical CD includes 1978 recordings of two works from Schoenberg's expressionist period: Erwartung (1909) and Pierrot Lunaire (1912). It also features an excerpt from the Gurre-Lieder: “Der Lied Der Waldtaube”.
Swiss pianist Ingrid Karlen makes her ECM debut with Variations, of which the program is as provocative as the title is vague. Beyond variations in the traditional sense, these are, rather, mise-en-abymes of abstractions. Or so they might at first aural glance seem, for within these sometimes troubling clusters of false starts breathes a unity at once organic and contrived. Anton Webern’s Variations for Piano, op. 27 (1935/36) is the primary example, for the only variations they seem to engender stem from that which cannot be notated. These pieces behave as might a solo violin sonata, jumping fluidly and bow-like through their ephemeral 12-tone links. They are the anti-motif, a stretch of childhood unable to be sifted.