Wednesday, 16 July 2003

With time, I find I like Otto Klemperer's work more and more. The twentieth century probably saw two absolutely paramount conductors: Furtwängler, and Klemperer. This view was sparked after the receipt from Ronald de Haas of Danish Radio broadcasts of the 1950s. Der grosser Otto conducting perfomances of Beethoven's Eroica, Brahms Fourth, and Mozart 29 (also including Beethoven's Leonore III). All works, and performances, are Klemperer classics. Scrupulous care over dynamics, balance and tempi. Indifference towards mere beauty of sound. The works, in their 1950s mono, really do sound "rugged". And nothing wrong with that, even in the Mozart symphony. Klemperer's Mozart used to disturb me a little. But now I find that I appreciate "Mozart without make-up". And no one does the Eroica or the Brahms fourth better than Otto! The sound in all the works is absolutely fine.

Sunday, 13 July 2003

Satisfying evening of violin & piano duos. Started with Michiko Kamiya (with Ian Brown) playing the first Saint-Saëns violin and piano sonata. Very passionate, very satisfying.
Next were Vadim Repin and Boris Berezovsky in the Strauss sonata. Magnificent, as usual.
Finally, Elisabeth Batiashvili and Stephen Osborne in the first Prokofiev violin & piano sonata, with Debussy’s La plus que lente as encore.
Great trio of performances. The Kamiya unexpectedly so. I upped her stars from one, to two!

Saturday, 12 July 2003

Another good evening, thanks to Handel. Replaced my old LP with a new Hyperion re-issue (1984 recording) of Patrizia Kwella, Gillian Fisher and Catherine Denley in a collection of “favourites of the 1980s” – O come chiare e belle; Clori, mia bella Clori, and the Duello Amoroso. Lots of familiar tunes! And brought back good memories of the Music at Oxford concerts in the Sheldonian during that same period.
Handel really is most uplifting. Evening helped along by my first home-pressed ox tongue of the season. Delicious!

Friday, 11 July 2003

I seem to have become hung-up on Vaughan Williams' third symphony (André Previn and the LSO). A wonderful work, with echoes of Ravel, Debussy, Butterworth and Holst. There are three other Vaughan Williams symphonies in the 2-CD collection. But I am always faithful to the third (Pastoral).

Absolutely delicious pressed tongue yesterday evening; my first of the season. On the violin front, I greatly admire Rachel Barton's new recording of the Joachim concerto (Chicago SO, with the Brahms concerto as an "encore"). I didn't enjoy Barton's 1992 recital of Sarasate pieces. But the Joachim is excellently played (and superlatively recorded, especially when you consider Cedille is an American company). Played uncut (47 minutes) it comes over as a piece that should be played much more often.
Finally, still in love with Batiashvili's playing. Her concert of the Debussy, Prokofiev I and Brahms III sonatas (La plus que lente as encore) is an absolute three-star classic. Very able pianist partner is Stephen Osborne.