February 17, 2008
Gerry: Apres une Reve -- the encore piece chosen today by Joshua Bell to follow his spectacular pyrotechnics in the Violin Sonata by Saint-Saens -- just about reflects my feeling this evening. I came home after the concert at Chicago's Symphony Center, pretty well nourished by Bell and his equally talanted accompanist Jeremy Denk, fell asleep and dreamed about baby grizzly bears dancing with ground squirrels (think PBS)...
I'm still trying to get my mind in gear as I start show# 64, accompanied by my partner in crime Bryant Manning, who has his head in his laptop trying to get done with a profile for Time Out Chicago, his new gig.
Vivaldi: L'estro armonico, Op. 3 #6 and Op3 #1
I start with a fluent performance of Vivaldi concertos byTafelmusik, the early-instrument group from Toronto - Bryant and I saw this group at Ravinia last year and I was underwhelmed and a bit disappointed by their choice of music and the drab performance of it. But their recordings sound much better, really alert and on the mark.
Gerry: What do you remember about the Ravinia performance by Tafelmusik?
Bryant: I reviewed it for the Sun-Times and thought it was OK. I liked their presentation (standing up like a cocktail party), but the music never seemed as crisp and alive as this disc. Go figure.
Nielsen: Symphony No. 4 "The Inextinguishable"; Paavo Berglund/Royal Danish Orchestra (BMG).
Bryant: I chose this because I love Nielsen's symphonies, but never got to know the 4th all that well. This performance was off-da-hook! Berglund got all he could out of his players, or to use a sports metaphor, they left everything on the field. Highly recommended!
Guess this piece:
Faure: Barcarolle #1: Jean-Philippe Collard, piano (EMI)
Bryant started out with a quick off the mark guess of Bach: and that wasn't as off as it seems, since there was some subtle counterpoint in the opening bars -- but then it got more decorative and flowery, and it wasn't long before the word "French" popped out. And it wasn't a very long stretch to "Faure." We should and will be playing more of this disc in future programs.
Prokofiev: Violin Sonata #1: Vadim Repin and Boris Berezovsky (Erato)
Gerry: For comparison with the performance that was the highlight of Bell & Denk's concert. Weightier violin playing, more power from Repin and Berezovsky, more sweetness and refinement from the other two artists. Both excellent performances; Bell trumps Vadim in projecting the feathery glissandi that mark the first and last movements. Berezovsky provides a heavy ominous opening that Denk didn't project as forcefully.
Augusta Read Thomas: Rumi Settings for violin and cello; Piano Etudes 1 & 2/Stefan Hersch, violin; Julian Hersch, cello, Amy Briggs Dissanayake, piano (Art CD)
Gerry: Mixed feelings on this music. Very clearly modernist in stance, and very well played by the artists. I will still be looking to Thomas' orchestral and larger chambeer works before I come to any conclusions about music.
Rodrigo: Coplas del Pastor enamorado (Domingo & Barrueco); Zarabanda lejana (Barrueco) (EMI)
Alexander Borodin: Symphony #2. Simon Rattle/ Berlin Philharmonic.
Gerry:Rattle plays this repertory piece like he means it! This is one of the best, and best recorderd performances I have heard of this, and it brings out the Borodin so known from the Polovitsian Dances.
Moritz Moszkowski: From All Over the World: 6 Pieces for Piano 4 Hands. (Tudor)
Bryant: These didn't quite capture my attention like the Mozkowski works you played last week. They seemed a little more dainty, but I still liked the thick textures throughout.
All for this week!