The WSCL Blog

News and information about WSCL's Classical Music Programming

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Just Opened, Jan. 17, 2014 - The Music of Pappa Brahms

Just Opened 2013 in Review Special:
It happens that there were many great releases last year (and that we opened during 2013) that focused on Johannes Brahms.  Today we look again at these releases, including an extended interview with pianist Gwendolyn Mok where she demonstrates tonal differences of the pianos that Brahms composed for (and the interview is included on her CD.

The listings here are my comments from the times when these CDs were officially "opened" last year.

John Axelrod, cond.  Axelrod's official website
Orchestra Sinfonico di Milano Giuseppe Verdi
& Nicole Campbell, piano
2 CD Set
TELARC 34658-02
John Axelrod has become an "above the title" conductor.  His multi-disc explorations of the works of Beethoven released last year (you may remember the unusual release - available in a "highlights" CD, or individual works, or as a full set), and other conceptual explorations helped him win both the 2012 ICMA Award, and ResMusica's "Best Classical CD of 2012."  This time he pairs and contrasts the symphonic works of Brahms, with the piano works of his beloved, Clara Schumann, whom he idolized until he died.  Just as we try to do with various monthly themes, and hourly themes in our music programming here on WSCL, a set like this can open up a different way of hearing the works and thinking about them, and leads to new appreciation.  Our thanks to TELARC for getting us an advance copy of this CD set.

late piano works
Gwendolyn Mok, piano
MSR 1420 - 2CD set
ISBN# 6 81585 14202 8
Mok's official website
Dr. Gwendolyn Mok has had a varied and awarded international career.  This 2 CD set of works for piano by Brahms recorded on two different historic pianos also includes a conversation and comparision of the two pianos as additional tracks.

Tisha Murvihill
ISBN# 6 2366720773 7
Murvihill's official website
Eleven piano-solo Intermezzos and one Rhapsodie by Brahms transcribed for harp by the harpist herself, Tisha Murvihill.   Part of any thinking harpist's repertoire is the mining of piano works to find ones that sit well on the harp.   To hear these as a group, one inadvertantly gets to also hear and think about how some sit on the harp so beautifully, one has to wonder why they weren't originally envisioned for the harp, while others of these do not sit so well on the harp, and really seem to "miss" the piano.  Despite the obvious similarities, and the saying that a harp is "a piano on its side,"  there are mechanistic and tonal differences between them, and transplanting these works brings those differences into clear view.  Brahms did write well for the harp... notably his beautiful songs for harp, horn and women's chorus, (and this was the springboard of the idea for Murvihill), so it is not a far stretch to see how other works of his lend themselves to an instrument that he clearly liked.   An interesting collection to hear for those who love the harp, and any lover of Brahms would be charmed.

 Monteverdi, Britten, Brahms, Ravel
ISBN#0 90404 91762 2
more info. on Bonazzi
Digitally remastered recordings from the 1980s.
Part of the mission of Bridge records is to remaster historic recordings by great artists and make them available after years of being out of circulation.  We're happy to be able to present many of these to you, both on Just Opened, and as part of our regular play library.  A great beauty, American mezzo Bonazzi's carreer was enviable, including premiers of many great roles.  This recital CD caused the kind of stir any great artist appreciates... some quibbles about opening the program with Monteverdi - probably an argument that is lost on most of us.  Indesputable is that after a stellar operatic career, Bonazzi made such a successful transition to the recital stage that composers clammored to write material for her to present in recital.  What luck to be able to revisit her artistry in this remastered release!

Brahms Concertos
Berlin Radio Symphony Orch.
Vienna Philharmonic Orch.
Andris Nelsons, cond.
D.G.  19046  (2 CD set)
ISBN# 0 28947 91058 9
link to Grimaud CD preview & interview
Now one of the realible international piano phenomenons of her generation, Helene Grimmaud takes a reflective personal journey into the music of Brahms.  This 2 CD set revisits one concerto that she had recorded earlier in her career, which she approaches with more life experience to bring to the piece, and adds the other of the great pair.   Grimaud is not just a concert pianist, but also has published several novels, and has founded her own organization to help conserve/preserve wolves.  This thoughtful established artist brings a wealth of thought and interests to her main career.   Brahms is still considered the gold-standard for many orchestra lovers.  This 2 CD set is sure to be a good gift-bet for the holiday season.

Here are two more releases from last year that feature the work of Brahms that we did not have time to include in our special.

Zina Schiff, Violin
Cameron Grant, Piano
For Info on Schiff
MSR 13339
ISBN# 6 81585 1339 2 7
Timeless major works for violin.  The voice of the violin in virtuosity.

Brahms & Debussy
MSR 1424
ISBN# 6 81585 14242 4
more info. on the Ceruti String Quartet
Founded in 1994, the Ceruti String Quartet members are on the faculty of the Rudi E. Scheidt School of Music at the University of Memphis.  Performing primarily in the Southeastern United States, they are dedicated to fostering interest in chamber music, and this CD is a fine example of that interest. 

Next week we have new releases that feature the influence of Claude Debussy.
Join us then, for more great music, Just Opened!
Kara Dahl Russell

No comments:


The views expressed in the posts and comments of this blog do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of Public Radio Delmarva, its staff, members, underwriters, Salisbury University, or the Salisbury University Foundation. They should be understood as the personal opinions of the author. No information on this blog will be understood as official.