More Springtime, Mostly Baroque

Bach & Schnittke, Maria Alikhanova (flute) and Dmitri Bulgavo (oboe), Chamber Orchestra Kremlin conducted by Misha Rachlevsky, Quartz CD QTZ 2083.

     If you’ve got an open mind, and would appreciate a liberating, exhilarating classical music experience, try a brand new arrangement of Bach’s Double Violin Concerto for flute, oboe and strings. It is really like no other Bach I have ever heard. Together with a crack Russian chamber orchestra, suave and smooth as can be, the musical team creates an entirely new sound universe that captures to an extraordinary degree the Bach we know about from history. Most of the music on the CD is by Alfred Schnittke, two pieces of absorbing music that might just fit your mood if you’re seeking to discover new sound worlds allied to old, scholastical ways of thinking.

Boris Andrianov: Alone, Music by Kodaly, Shchedrin, Sollima, Schnittke & Casals, Quartz QTZ 2080.

     This extraordinary recital from one of the most brilliant of today’s young cellists stretches the solo cello repertoire most with Giovanni Sollima’s two tours de force pieces which, wielding influences including rock, minimalism, jazz and ethnic Sicilian folk music, will scream down your consciousness like a cellist from an alien planet. And if you can only have one recording of the Kodaly Solo Sonata, Andrianov’s emotion drenched, spectacularly powerful performance may be the one to have. The recital ends with the work, based on a Catalan folk song, which Pablo Casals played at the UN in 1971 at the age of 96.

Tastes of Europe: Telemann & Prowo, Ensemble Meridiana, Linn CKD 368.

     Bach’s old acquaintance Telemann has resurfaced on a gorgeous new release from Linn Records, featuring the debut recording of the award-winning multi-national Ensemble Meridiana. Judging by their publicity photographs, which generously adorn the liner notes, they are a throughly young and glamorous lot. They also play like angels and lead off with one of Telemann’s signature quartets, which rightly suggests that he might have been the best northern answer to Corelli, both in the positive energy of his music and the almost promiscuous fecundity with which he produced it.

Bach St. Matthew Passion, Live from The Romanesque Church in Alpirsbach, Hermann Prey, Claes-Hakan Ahnsjo, Margaret Marshall, The Neubeuern Choral Society and The Munich Bach Collegium conducted by Enoch zu Guttenberg, Kultur DVD D4568.

     Filmed in 1990, Guttenberg’s assertively individual conducting style unites elements of historical performance techniques with a more traditional mode of expression. The cast features Hermann Prey’s deeply beautiful and poignant Jesus, and a particularly resplendent Margaret Marshall in the soprano arias. The superb band, with magnificent double reeds and a brilliant gamba soloist, is the Bach Collegium of Munich. The filming is very discreet but very effective.

Johann Ludwig Bach (1667-1731), Trauermusik Soloists, RIAS Kammerchor and Akademie f. Alte Musik Berlin conducted by Hans-Christoph Rademann, Harmonia Mundi CD HMC 902080.

     From a branch of the Bach family that had been separated from Johann Sebastian’s since the 16th century, comes the most ambitious work by Johann Ludwig Bach (1667-1731), known as the “Meiningen Bach.” Composed five years before JS Bach’s St Matthew Passion, this score similarly requires two choirs and a large array of instruments, and must have utilized every musician in the court chapel. For such a sad occasion, it was the funeral of his own royal patron, it is a brilliant piece of work.

CPE Bach (1714-1788), Six Concertos for harpsichord, Wq. 43 Andreas Staier, harpsichord, with the Freiburg Baroque Orchestra conducted by Petra Müllejans, Harmonia Mundi (2 CDs) 902083/84.

     This is CPE Bach at his most crackling and high spirited in the outer fast movements, and most charming and occasionally heartbreaking in the slow middle movements. It is not the music CPE probably preferred most; it was the kind that would have totally satisfied his royal patron for many years, the famous Prussian monarch, Frederick the Great. CPE was trained as a lawyer in addition to extensive education as a musician (he was a son of Johann   Sebastian, after all), and his logical mind was fascinated by musical experiments of abrupt drama and clashing chords. It was very exhilarating but completely unacceptable in polite society. The sound is spectacular, rivaling the best vinyl Harmonia Mundi ever produced, but it takes volume to get it out. Beautiful packaging, too.

Laurence Vittes is a 40-year veteran as a music and performing arts critic, providing his expertise to the Art-to-Art Palette Journal, including the Gramophone, Hollywood Reporter, Strings, HuffPost Arts, Music Web International and Audiophile Audition.  In addition, he co-hosts with Alexey Steele the Classical Underground concerts in Torrance, California, 20 miles south of Walt Disney Concert Hall.

Published by on June 2011. Filed under Archives, Art-to-Art Marketplace Guide, Two Sisters Bookmart. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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