Tuesday, 29 January 2008

Good musical evening. Started with three Mozart symphonies (29, 38 and 39) conducted by Otto Klemperer with the Philharmonia. Classical, in the best sense of the word. Well balanced, well recorded, admirably structured and with the music speaking for itself.

Then on to Schubert, and my favourite D 960 piano sonata. Schubert's powers of modulation and harmonic tension in this music (as in so much of his music) are quite outstanding. The all-time classic performance was by Leif Ove Andsnes, a pianist in the Arthur Grumiaux mould. Listening to Andsnes in Schubert, you come away over-awed ... by Schubert. Just as it should be.

Monday, 28 January 2008

Remade acquaintance with Marina Chiche (with Jérôme Ducros), an off-air recording from David Gomberg. The opening Debussy sonata is good, but cool and classical; the following Schubert "Grand Duo" a bit under-played and leaves one longing for Rachmaninov and Kreisler. But the following Strauss sonata is magnificent, and is played for all it's worth. What a shame Strauss only wrote one violin & piano sonata! Anyway, its over-the-top romanticism suits Chiche and Ducros admirably. A great pity there are some bad drop outs during the final minutes of the finale; couldn't have come at a worse place. Still, it's a performance to be remembered.
Eat a canard à l'orange that my stomach doesn't like too much. I think I'll have to return to cooking my own food from my own purchased ingredients. More work, but more pleasure, I think.

Sunday, 27 January 2008

Saved, as often, by Handel. I was beginning to think I was weary of music and needed to take up something else (golf? jam making?) But Natalie Dessay singing Handel for 60 minutes turned me around. Backed up, of course, by Emmanuelle Haïm, Stéphanie-Marie Degand, and Patrick Beaugiraud (oboe). What a team! And what music. A bit odd that the French seem to have a Handel monopoly recently; but we can all sit back and enjoy it.
Even the food looked up after yesterday evening's disaster. True, a choucroute Alsacienne out a tin is not high gastronomy; but it tasted good. I must get some more tins when I am in France later this week.

Saturday, 26 January 2008

Rather disgusting meal this evening; I really must avoid anything that describes itself as being "en croûte" since, for whatever reason, it never seems to work for me, be it salmon or chicken. Not a success.
Went on afterwards to enjoy .... The Four Seasons! Violinist was David Nadien ((1960) who also led the three players in Mozart's Divertimento K 563. No baroqueux, thank goodness. As a dessert, I put on Furtwängler in Bruckner's 9th Symphony (1944). The secret of this superb performance is not to listen to it through headphones; the 1944 sound is extraordinary, but does not respond well to headphones, but sounds out loud and clear through my loudspeakers.

Sunday, 13 January 2008

A short record in praise of Liza Ferschtman. I am re-listening to her CDs before refiling and, I must say, she is my kind of girl. Plenty of variation in dynamics, colour and vibrato, unlike so many "beautiful" violinists. I hope she records more things -- preferably some out-of-the-way music rather than the inevitable Beethoven, Brahms, Bruch, Sibelius, Mendelssohn. She could probably do Shostakovich's music well. Sometimes, it's good to have so many records, when you can reach up and lift someone of the caliber of Ferschtman off the shelf.

Friday, 11 January 2008

More David Nadien. His recording of the Bruch G minor concerto (1973, Hungary) is quite jaw-dropping. An enormous pity that the recording and transfers are both so inadequate; at times Nadien's violin sounds as if it is made of stainless steel. What a major tragedy that Nadien didn't make professional recordings; he really was a violinist of major significance.

Sunday, 6 January 2008

Oh sad journal; pretty abandoned of late. However, it has been a period of catching up with the listening pile, so little really noteworthy to report. Many CD disappointments. A bright spot was the second Handel CD from La Risonanza, who followed Le Cantate per il Cardinal Pamphili with Le Cantate per il Marchese Ruspoli. Handel was in glorious form in his days in Italy around 1707, with masterpiece following masterpiece, and the creation of numerous "hits" that would stand him in good stead for the next 50 years. Singer on most of the second disc is Emanuela Galli, with Roberta Invernizzi back for Diana Cacciatrice. When Italian is (well) sung by real Italians, it has a certain zing to it. A good pair of CDs, both directed by Fabio Bonnizoni. And I do love Handel's Italian cantatas.