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News and information about WSCL's Classical Music Programming

Monday, August 8, 2011

Just Opened, Friday August 5, 2011

A Trip to Paris
We focused our ears on the music of France... french songs, french composers, a musical beret!

Huit Scenes de Faust
Orch. Symphonique de Montral
Charles Dutoit, cond.
ISBN# 0 28947 50972 1
This CD is so jammed with marvelous music, it feels like two. It begins with the titular 8 Scenes from Faust. Full music scenes, the Orchestra is joined by soprano Susan Graham, mezzo Susanne Mentzer, tenor John Mark Ainsley, bariton Phillip Cokorinow, and Pierre Vincent Plante playing cor anglais, and Davis Joachim the guitar. The second half of the program contains smaller, but no less grand, pieces by Berlioz, of his own composing, or arrangements, including a magnificent version of Martini's "plaisir d'amour" (the pleasure of love), and a stirring rendition of The Marseillais. The lush romanticism of Berlioz's work, and these full orchestrations, make this easy to recommend for your library.

William Aylesworth, organist
ISBN# 6 00313 01222 8
The approach of a new organ CD can sometimes be daunting, but this one, with it's focus on music of the Victorian era, is especially accessible. Comprised of small to mid-sized works of English and French composers, we have works by well known names like Saint Saens, Widor and Wesley, as well a true sparkling "gems" by now lesser known composers who were popular in their heyday, like Lefebure-Wely. This organ CD is another that is easy to recommend, even to those who are not used to listening to organ works.

12 Cellists of the
Berlin Philharmonic
EMI 08501
ISBN# 5 099960 850126
A rich, full bouquet of popular and timeless French Chansons, played by the unique and magnificent 12 cellists of the Berlin Philharmonic. The majority of this CD is made of well known chansons from the 40s, as well as well known works like Ravel's "Pavanne pour une infante defunte" and Satie's "Gymnopedie". The real meat of the CD is Francis Poulenc's vocal cantata "The Figure Humaine" (The Human Form). Written for two acappella choirs of 6 voices each, it would be hard to imagine a better instrumental fit than this. The unique buttery texture of the 12 cellists, the combination of all time favorites and this magnificent transcription of Poulenc make this my DELIGHT OF THE WEEK.

Les Heures Persanes Op. 65
SWR Radio Symphonie Stuggart
Heina Holliger, cond.
4 010276 017554
As you would expect from his life span (1867-1950), Charles Koechlin's music spans romanticism and modernism. This large orchestral version (58:03) is rarely heard. It has the subtlety of a 1940s film score, and the richness of symphonic poem. This work unfolds slowly, slower than the desert caravan it depicts. It even begins with a dream about the caravan before it takes off. Then towards the end, there is an entire section called "the storyteller" where we hear five stories - completely out of the main "action." The work contains several works referring to shadows and moonlight, and reflects the shadiness of the majority of the work. This is not easily pinned down into one melodic line, but mainly it creates a mood. This makes it much too subtle a piece for many, but it definitely has charms and rewards for those who have patience.

Parthenia (viol consort)
with Julianne Baird, sop.
and Robert Mealy, violin
MSR 1304
ISBN#6 81585 1304 2
The subtitle of this CD is "Love Songs in the Age of Ronsard." Mostly French compositions, and/or works inspired by the court music in France of the age, it is very much a collection of songs and dances, and has the quick rewards and easy listening one would expect. It is also beautifully researched and the notes provide interesting reading, and interplay between the works that will make you want to listen in a different order. Soprano Julianne Baird is well known for her intrepretations of historical work, and Parthenia - a consort of viols, is a joy to hear.

Harp Concertos
Bulgarian Nat. Symph. Orch.
Rossen Milanov, cond.
AVIE 2221
ISBN# 8 22252 22212 8
Three major works for harp and orchestra grace this CD, with the solid technique and luminous artistry of Elizabeth Hainen playing the harp solos. Elias Parish Alvers can be relied on for luscious romantic melody, which is supplied here in his Harp Concerto in G minor, as can Camille Saint-Saens in his surprisingly substantial (16 min.) "Morceau" for harp and Orchestra. The lesser known work here is the beautiful harp concerto in C by late Baroque, early Classical composer Johann Georg Albrechtsberger. This particular period was the pivotal period of development of the harp as an orchestral instrument, and is ripe with works like this, that epitomize the quintessential sound of the harp.

I hope you enjoied our little sojourn to France.
Join me next week for more new releases on Just Opened, Fridays at 1PM.
Kara Dahl Russell

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