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1  MUSIC OF ALL ERAS / Individual composers / Benjamin Frankel (1906-1973) on: July 06, 2022, 07:38:12 pm
A very interesting and worthwhile composer who,I'll admit,is new to me! Although,I was aware of him (see below).

Benjamin Frankel: Symphonies 2 & 3  Queensland Symphony Orchestra / Werner Andreas Albert Cpo



After a few listens I I'm beginning to like this music now! I remember,when I was a member of the British Music Society back in the eighties,some chap sent me a cassette of off-air recordings of Frankel symphonies. He did say that the sound quality of the recordings was not good and I don't think it helped. Whatever the reason,I wasn't too excited by what I heard! So,whoever he was,he must have been thrilled when a couple of years later,Cpo recorded the whole lot! Perhaps he should have told me that Frankel wrote the score for Curse of the Werewolf!! The BBC used to havbe a double bill of horror films on Saturday nights & I used to watch them in bed! With the exception of the occult thriller Nigh of the Demon,Lon Chaney Jr's acting was about as scary as it got!! Listening to these symphonies in what sound like good performances in excellent sound I'm beginning to like what I'm hearing. The music has an austere,serious demeanour leavened by colourful orchestration,including (for example) the evocative use of bells. The music on this cd has spoken introduction's by the composer. The introduction to Symphony no 2 last's just over four minutes and makes an interesting listen. I would describe these symphonies as having an austere demeanour,leavened by colourful orchestration. They are less severe than,say,those of Robert Simpson and Fricker and less angry in demeanour than the latter and there is none of that tortuousness you get in Tippett's orchestration! (His string writing has a lovely romantic sheen to it!) Indeed,there is a sort of late twentieth century romanticism here beneath the initially stern demeanour which is probably one of the reasons he was in such demand as a film composer. I'm looking forward to hearing 4,5,7 & 8 now! I think this cd would probably make a good introduction to this composer. I received it today along with symphonies 4 & 6. Symphonies 7 & 8 are in the post! (I bought symphonies 1 & 5 a couple of weeks ago).
2  MUSIC OF ALL ERAS / General musical discussion / Re: What are you currently listening to? on: July 06, 2022, 02:59:45 pm
Franz Lehar: The Merry Widow  Elizabeth Harwood,Teresa Stratas,Werner Hollweg,René Kollo,Zoltán Keleman,Chor der Deutschen Oper Berlin/ Karajan DG 2cd's (+ bonus Suppe Overtures)



In the end I just couldn't resist this one at only just over £4! I've read so much about it over the years. A critic's waggish description of Karjan's recording as "Brahms’ Requiem performed to the tunes of Lehar" is supposed to have damaged sales overnight and earned the recording enduring notoriety! All seems well during the purely orchestral opening. My first thought,"What's wrong with that?!" The photo of Karajan hands poised in mid air as if ready to conduct yet another Bruckner epic (He should have tried Rufinatscha!) should have been a clue! The singing and playing is great,but why are they singing so s-l-o-w-l-y! :o ;D She's supposed to be a merry widow not a solemn widow! The clue's in the title,folks!

Reason's to listen!

The recording's notoriety!
Elizabeth Harwood does make a lovely,glamorous widow!
The sheer strangeness of Lehar's score performed v-e-r-y s-l-ow-l-y!
Being one of the world's greatest orchestras and those super silky,Berlin strings means you (arguably) just about get away with it! :o :)


Cd 2,coming up! Can't wait for the party and the grisettes! I just hope the tempi's faster than this! And I can't believe I'm saying this!! Where are the Williams Singers* when you need them?!!


Seriously,I think that those who say that Karajan's conducting brings out the beauty of the score have a point! So,if you are a fan of The Widow and the glory days of the big labels you will find much to enjoy here........amid the glacial tempi! (Albeit,I think the male soloist's are more distinctive on some of the rival recordings!)  It's not a first choice for this work,though! The booklet includes an english libretto,but curiously,no english notes. If you do buy it,the old style fat-box jewel case will fit through your letterbox. (Update: No it's not Tolouse Lautrec on the front! It's a cartoon! Memo! Put reading glasses!! ::) ;D Sorry about that!)

Update! I've listened to cd 2 now and Karajan's tempi for the Act 3 party in Hanna Glawari's ballroom are ridiculously slow! This is one fun free party! So,the only reason's to acquire this recording remain,Elizabeth Harwood as Hanna Glawari (very good),the silky sheen opulescence of the Berlin string section and the recordings curiosity (or notoriety) value! Teresa Stratas is good as Valencienne,but,ultimately,hamstrung by Karajan's slothful tempi. I am glad to have heard this recording,though!


*a seemingly,terminally,upbeat musical combi who provided choral contributions to various recordings,including an,otherwise,rather good recording of Edward German's operetta,Merrie England (emi & cfp)



3  MUSIC OF ALL ERAS / General musical discussion / Re: What are you currently listening to? on: July 06, 2022, 12:56:30 am
Playing now! Weber: Euryanthe   Jessye Norman Nicolai Gedda (et al) Leipziger Rundfunkchor,Staatskapelle Dresden / Marek Janowski    emi 2 cd's



It would have been nice to have snaffled a copy of the original emi cd reissue with Jessye Norman on the front (above!)! Oh well,another time! The Berlin Classics reissue was cheap,but no english libretto! To be honest,I don't ever bother much with librettos (a perfunctory glance now & again) No doubt,I'll enjoy Weber's,glorious musical inspiration all the more without the dubious benefit of following what is,by all account's,a lousy libretto! I'm a big fan of Der Freischutz I might add! And Abu Hassan's a charmer!
 
(Re-posted & duly edited!!)

I don't know Pfitzner's Palestrina & after all this Pfffffffitzner talk (well,not that much!) I just had to buy a copy! I chose the classic Kubelik recording! It cost me just over a fiver!!( And Helen Donath,one of my all time favourite singers is in the cast,somewhere!)






4  MUSIC OF ALL ERAS / General musical discussion / Re: What are you currently listening to? on: July 06, 2022, 12:43:37 am
I wouldn't mind state of the art,digital recordings of Fricker 1-3! Having said that,the Lyrita performances are good and it would divert resources away from music that hasn't been recorded! So,just a thought! Not exactly urgent, now! And,Fricker isn't exactly one of my favourite composers. Interesting and quite absorbing when I'm in the right mood,though! I've got to admit I've got nowhere with symphonies 4 & 5. (The law of diminishing returns?) Although,I quite like No 3 which people seem to rate less highly. It was also the first music I ever heard by Fricker. I remember taping it off the radio around the mid 90's!

5  MUSIC OF ALL ERAS / General musical discussion / Re: What are you currently listening to? on: July 05, 2022, 09:46:57 pm
Playing now! Benjamin Frankel: Symphonies 1 & 5,May Day Overture op.22 / Queensland Symphony Orchestra / Werner Andreas Albert Cpo       



An earlier Cpo traversal of unrecorded repertoire! They even did Humphrey Searle! I know I've got the box set! It would be nice if they could give us some new recordings of Fricker symphonies! But more Holbrooke first,please! ;D
6  MUSIC OF ALL ERAS / General musical discussion / Re: What are you currently listening to? on: July 05, 2022, 09:34:24 pm
Auber: Manon Lescaut   Mady Mesplé,Peter-Christopher Runge,Jean-Claude Orliac,Chorus & Orchestre Lyrique de Radio France / Jean-Pierre Marty    emi 2 cd's



What a lovely,lovely,tuneful opera this is! :) Someone on Amazon seemed to think Mady Mesple sounded a bit old (!) but I think she sounds great,so there! I've always liked Mady Mesple! She's got a funny little,fluttery little voice,but she's got a sense of style and elegance,that's one of the reasons she's so good in this kind of repertoire (and operetta).
7  MUSIC OF ALL ERAS / General musical discussion / Re: What are you currently listening to? on: July 05, 2022, 08:43:56 pm
Very nice! I love the artwork! :)

And here's another sumptuous,lavishly orchestrated operatic blockbuster! A morbid plotline,though! :o I'd definitely take the late Patrick Moore's advice and observe the sun by focusing a telescope (pointed at the sun) on a piece of white card! But,hey,that's just me! ::) Fortunately,I'm not a character in an opera! At least,as far as I know?!!

Eugen d'Albert: Die Toten Augen  Cpo 2 cd's



I'd love to hear more of d'Albert's music, so this may be a good place to begin!

https://www.gramophone.co.uk/review/dalbert-die-toten-augen

He was taught by Arthur Sullivan, arranged the piano reduction for the vocal score of Sullivan's The Martyr of Antioch (1880) and provided the overture to Patience (1881) under Sullivan's guidance...

 :)

...oh, and he had six wives (although, as far as I know, he didn't have any of them beheaded).

 :D
Yes,if you enjoy that kind of opera,you should enjoy Die Toten Augen. It's nothing like Tiefland! To my ears it's sound world is much closer to the only Schreker opera I know at all,Der Schatzgräber! Lush,sumptuous late romantic orchestration. I haven't listened it for a few months but I seem to recall there are some purely orchestral passages. A feast for the ears! The sort of music you just let wash over you! A perfunctory look at the libretto,perhaps,now & again! (An english libretto is included!) I would have preferred a happy ending myself,though! :(

Duly found a second-hand copy online and ordered it! Anything in the Strauss/ Schreker/ Zemlinsky/ Korngold vein of over-the-top scoring is just what I love to hear. With d'Albert being born in Scotland and trained in England I shall be intrigued to find links between his style and those of his Austro-German contemporaries...

 :)
I don't think he goes quite as ott as Korngold or Schreker;but the orchestration is in the same kind of mould (the good kind not the stuff on my walls!). I was impressed by his mastery of the orchestra! A feast for the old ear drums,imho! :)
Despite the Sullivan and Scottish connection I'm afraid there's no McKrankie character (from the Island of Rum) in Die Toten Augen (or The Krankies,thank g**!)! ;D
8  MUSIC OF ALL ERAS / General musical discussion / Re: What are you currently listening to? on: July 05, 2022, 08:23:04 pm
Responding to my own ears and heart rather than to his unfortunate politics, I too find Pfitzner's music beautiful, my favorite being his slightly wonky piano concerto! I also like "von Deutscher Seele"

I also prefer to keep politics and personalities out of the music: for example when listening to Wagner I do not hear the anti-semitic, self-indulgent, greedy, whining megalomaniac - I just hear incredibly splendid creativity from within a complex and flawed personality. Pfitzner's Palestrina (1915-17) is a wonderful opera which should be more regularly staged...

 :)
I must admit I have been impressed by all the orchestral music I've heard by Pfitzner,so far! What surprised me was that his music brought to mind composers like Schreker and Zemlinsky and even Korngold at times. I think his Symphony is impressive. I think his Violin Concerto deserves attention from a label like Chandos! Fortunately,the Cpo performance is very good! Unfortunately,my habit of listening on wireless headphones means that I tend to mix up some of the shorter pieces and I can't remember which is which;but some of the music in at least one of the Cello Concertos (the later one) and some of the shorter pieces brought to mind some of the late romantic masters I mentioned and even the golden age of Hollywood! I was very surprised by the quality of what I heard and it wasn't what I expected from some of the things I have read about Pfitzner over the years! I have the emi cd of Pfitzner conducting his own music (Composers in Person) and I always like to look at the booklet before I listen. I was rather disconcerted to discover that the author of the booklet notes seemed to want to go out of his way to tell me what a load of hack work and rubbish I was about to hear!! I was a bit p***** off,to be honest! :( >:(
9  MUSIC OF ALL ERAS / General musical discussion / Re: What are you currently listening to? on: July 05, 2022, 07:59:36 pm
Very nice! I love the artwork! :)

And here's another sumptuous,lavishly orchestrated operatic blockbuster! A morbid plotline,though! :o I'd definitely take the late Patrick Moore's advice and observe the sun by focusing a telescope (pointed at the sun) on a piece of white card! But,hey,that's just me! ::) Fortunately,I'm not a character in an opera! At least,as far as I know?!!

Eugen d'Albert: Die Toten Augen  Cpo 2 cd's


I'd love to hear more of d'Albert's music, so this may be a good place to begin!

https://www.gramophone.co.uk/review/dalbert-die-toten-augen

He was taught by Arthur Sullivan, arranged the piano reduction for the vocal score of Sullivan's The Martyr of Antioch (1880) and provided the overture to Patience (1881) under Sullivan's guidance...

 :)

...oh, and he had six wives (although, as far as I know, he didn't have any of them beheaded).

 :D
Yes,if you enjoy that kind of opera,you should enjoy Die Toten Augen. It's nothing like Tiefland! To my ears it's sound world is much closer to the only Schreker opera I know at all,Der Schatzgräber! Lush,sumptuous late romantic orchestration. I haven't listened it for a few months but I seem to recall there are some purely orchestral passages. A feast for the ears! The sort of music you just let wash over you! A perfunctory look at the libretto,perhaps,now & again! (An english libretto is included!) I would have preferred a happy ending myself,though! :(
10  MUSIC OF ALL ERAS / General musical discussion / Re: What are you currently listening to? on: July 03, 2022, 11:37:49 pm
Very nice! I love the artwork! :)

And here's another sumptuous,lavishly orchestrated operatic blockbuster! A morbid plotline,though! :o I'd definitely take the late Patrick Moore's advice and observe the sun by focusing a telescope (pointed at the sun) on a piece of white card! But,hey,that's just me! ::) Fortunately,I'm not a character in an opera! At least,as far as I know?!!

Eugen d'Albert: Die Toten Augen  Cpo 2 cd's

11  MUSIC OF ALL ERAS / Individual composers / Re: Daniel-François-Esprit Auber (1782-1871) on: July 03, 2022, 08:06:50 pm
I'm really enjoying the series of overtures and orchestral extracts on Naxos. There was a project initiated with the Orchestre de Cannes under Wolfgang Dorner in 2016 but this was for some reason aborted, although described as volume 1 - nevertheless it's a great disc of "lollipops" (Naxos 8.573553).

In 2019 a splendid new Naxos series conducted by Dario Salvi began, and has now reached volume 5. All these discs are full of such wonderful music, and extremely well-played and conducted.

Auber is often overlooked but he was a major player and a significant influence on many composers, not least Sullivan who edited several of his operas in vocal score for Boosey...

 :)
Yes,a very talented composer! :)
12  MUSIC OF ALL ERAS / Commercial recordings (vintage, new and forthcoming) / Re: Rued Langgaard with the Berlin Philharmonic! on: July 03, 2022, 08:03:58 pm
The First Symphony is a fine piece and a tremendous first symphony for the then teenage composer! That said I prefer some of his later offerings! (It's a bit noisy & it can get a bit wearing,if you're not in the right mood!) It's a nice idea,though. Bringing it back to the orchestra first played it. I just hope that we'll be hearing the Berlin Philharmonic tackle his Fourth and Sixth symphonies,one day!
13  MUSIC OF ALL ERAS / General musical discussion / Re: What are you currently listening to? on: July 03, 2022, 07:28:13 pm
With all this talk of "glorious, sumptuously-orchestrated music",there's this one! Not so off the well beaten track as Schreker and Zemlinsky I suppose,but there's allot of sumptuous orchestration and some big noisy,floor shaking climaxes to satisfy those of a less nervous disposition. Some may prefer an alternative recording. I like Solti in this kind of repertoire (albeit,not always!).

14  MUSIC OF ALL ERAS / General musical discussion / Re: What are you currently listening to? on: July 03, 2022, 05:57:22 pm
Auber: La Muette de Portici (various soloists) Opernchor des Anhaltischen Theaters,Anhatischen Philharmonie /Antony Hermus       Cpo 2 cd's



Wow! :o Suddenly,the opera springs to life! What a difference!! Being a bit of a fan of the old big label studio recordings (late lamented!) I was trying to see (hear!) some good things in the old emi recording,but there is simply no comparison! The playing has so much more energy & vitalty to it. It almost seems like a different opera. The soloists are excellent! No matter if tyou haven't heard heard of any of them (or the opera & the orchestra! I looked it up,now! It's in Saxony,Germany!) they leave the soloists in the emi recording standing! That goes for the chorus,too! To use un-technical language! The whole recording has just got more,"Ow you say it?" (allot more!) oomph! No english translation with the libretto,which is a sad omission,if you want to sell a recording to people who don't speak French;but as I've said before,I don't really bother with libretto's much,anyway! An excellent recording! Drop the old emi one in Vesuvius the next time you visit Italy! (Okay,it's litter! But the next time it erupts,maybe?!!)
15  MUSIC OF ALL ERAS / Off-topic bin / Unsuitable on: July 03, 2022, 04:50:03 pm
The dumb heroine (literally,in this instance!) jumps into a volcano (Vesuvius) at the end of the opera,as you do!

Had she just joined AMLF?

 :D
Maybe? I wish there was a volcano next to me! It would save on energy bills in the winter! (A bit hot in summer! :o ed.) And if it erupted I might be preserved for posterity!! Hopefully,not sitting on the kh***?! (Probably! ;D) It would be just my luck!! :(

And back to the topic please,gentlemen! (AH) ;D (Weber's Euryanthe)



It would have been nice to have snaffled a copy of the original emi cd reissue (above!)! Oh well,another time! To be honest,I don't ever bother much with the libretto (a perfunctory glance now & again) so,no doubt,I'll enjoy Weber's,no doubt,glorious musical inspiration! I'm a big fan of Der Freischutz I might add! And Abu Hassan's a charmer!

Still listening to Auber's La Muette di Portici (emi):

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