Sunday, 19 February 2006

Janet Baker and John Barbirolli in Mahler; a happy coupling. I have had enormous pleasure from the "Great Recording of the Century" reissue of the Kindertotenlieder, the Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen, and the Fünf Rückert Lieder. A really beautiful CD; three stars all the way (despite the slow tempi in the Kindertotenlieder). I am not an uncritical admirer of Mahler. But this is music to live with.

Wednesday, 8 February 2006

My curiousity aroused by a review, I bought a CD of Joyce Hatto. Her playing of Schubert's B flat major sonata D 960 really is something. Reminds me of the phrase "velvet paw". I am not usually conscious of a pianist's touch, but I certainly am here. Since she has made 116 CDs (it is said) I may have a lot of listening to do. The Schubert CD I bought also contained a sampler, so this will be interesting.

Monday, 6 February 2006

For the first time in ages, I actually enjoyed listening to a Beethoven symphony: the Pastoral, played by Klemperer in Vienna (1951 - Vox original). I really like Klemperer in Beethoven, with the forward woodwind and the divided first and second violins. He sounds "right". The 1951 recording is not, of course, of the highest fi. But it is perfectly adequate, except in loud climaxes that become a bit dim (in this transfer).

Wednesday, 1 February 2006

Yesterday evening, I really enjoyed listening to Korngold: the Much Ado about Nothing suite, and Gesang der Heliane (David Frühwirth) and Suite for Two Violins, Cello & Piano (led by Benjamin Schmid). Somehow, Korngold attuned perfectly with my mood. His bitter-sweet harmonies are so fin de siècle!

It also confirmed my growing suspicion that "big names" don't always mean best, or most appropriate, performances. This all-Austrian cast seemed to take to Korngold like ducks to water. Admittedly, major figures such as Kreisler, Heifetz, Furtwängler, Richter can make quite a difference in music that suits them. But I'm not too sure now about the second and third division players. Difficult to imagine Korngold being played more idiomatically than by Früwirth and Schmid – even when Seidel and Heifetz are taken into account.