Friday, November 28, 2008

Bruckner 9th Live and brutish, New York Phil with Christoph Eschenbach

Bruckner Symphony Number Nine;
check out the slowdown and subsequent incisive tone of the brass around 1:50 in the Second movement!

The Third movement is taken a bit longer than most in a (practically useless) time comparison, yet manages to do better at keeping a sense of purpose, resisting the loss of power that can infect stretches of many respected performances of this always-beautiful piece of dead white european male composition.

The opener to this broadcast was The Beethoven Piano Concerto with Lang Lang on percussion.

Some of The New York Times' Steve Smith review of the November 7th concert, "The Flame of Beethoven, Calibrated" is copied here:

Bruckner’s unfinished Symphony No. 9 followed intermission. Mr. Eschenbach, a compelling Bruckner interpreter, brought a sense of structure and proportion to the music without diminishing the qualities of humility and awe that make it so gripping. His tempos were broad but never leisurely, his instrumental balances impeccable; the orchestra responded with playing of striking power and commitment."

Thursday, November 20, 2008

A Beautiful, chaotic ride with Vaughan Williams 4th


Ralph Vaughan Williams
Symphony Number 4 in F Minor

October 26, 1973 (Broadcast Date)


Boston Symphony Orchestra
Sir Colin Davis, principal guest conductor

Careening from one emotional pole to another, This performance is not 'background music'; Rachmaninoff would have you sit up straight for it's duration.
Maestro Vaughan Williams himself famously said of it " I don't know whether I like it, but it's what I meant।"

from the Boston Symphony Orchestra's "Broadcast Archives 12 CD Box Set",
available from the Orchestra's website ( at

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Beethoven Symphony No. 5, pause a moment and find out why this is up here.

Beethoven, Ludwig van
Symphony no.5 in C Minor, Opus 67

Live broadcast June 24th, 2007
Nikolaus Harnoncourt
Chamber Orchestra of Europe

The original uploader (Scalepet's) comments say what you may need to know:
"...recorded in the course of Harnoncourt's annual music festival, the Styriarte, in 2007, and broadcast just once: Despite the performance getting rave reviews from the press, it was never officially released on disk. Every of the performers got a recording of the concert... of the fieriest, fastest and best performances I've ever heard of this piece, the first movement is barely 6:34 long - with repeat. The phrasing, accents and dynamic contrasts are intense when they need to be, it's remarkably driven, always moving forward with a positive sense of nervousness. But despite the breakneck speed Harnoncourt has total control over the Chamber Orchestra of Europe (who play on modern instruments, only the trumpets and timpani are period instruments), his conducting is firm, but not stiff, there's a terrific sense of chamber musical organization among the musicians, especially in the slow movement. Orchestral color, secondary voices, stereophony - all exceptional, which is why I opted for FLAC this time - you may discover details in the 5th you didn't notice before..."

YES! and then some, este es uno para poner a todo dar, a ver que tanto aguante el sistema de sonido!

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Faure's Requiem Mass, the NY Philharmonic led for the first time by a woman (who had "gotten over the initial astonishment" of being one.)

Mass for Bruno Walter in NY 17 Feb 1962
Reni Grist (sop); Don Gramm (bar); Vernon deTar (organ); The Choral
Art Society
New York Philharmonic

Nadia Boulanger, conductor

Mono recording
mp3, avg.131 kbps

Nadia Boulanger was one of Gabriel Faure's more noted students.
This is an excerpt from "Time" magazine of February 23, 1962:

"[ On a triumphal 75th birthday trip to the U.S., Nadia Boulanger, Paris' matriarch of modern music, became the first woman ever to conduct a full concert by The New York Philharmonic. Borrowing the podium of one of the few notable American composers who was never her pupil, mercurial Maestro Leonard Bernstein, the "tender tyrant" led the orchestra through psalms by her late sister, Lili, A Solemn Music by Disciple Virgil Thomson, and the Requiem Mass of Gabriel Faure with an authority that convinced the New York Times that "she could hold up her end of the baton with most of her male colleagues." Tactfully shrugging off this bit of male chauvinism, Mme. Boulanger refrained from repeating her response to a similar comment when she led the Boston Symphony in 1938: "I have been a woman for a little over 50 years and have gotten over my initial astonishment." ]"

and, incidentally, OT but further reading from that issue:

"[ Out of rural Berkshire to London's Hospital for Sick Children whooshed a police-escorted ambulance bearing the football captain and choir leader of Britain's Cheam School: His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales, 13. Following a post-midnight appendectomy, the robust Charles recuperated rapidly, was expected to be sprung this week from the TV-equipped private room for which the royal family, which does not take-advantage of the National Health Service, was paying $14 a day." ]

Times the're a changing, no?

Enjoy the tunes. This recording was released commercially as part of a (to my budget and everyone I know) crazily expensive New York Philharmonic Anniversary Box Set, called
"The greatest historical release of them all!" by Robert Cowan, Gramophone. It (the whole set AND this particular bit of it) really is full of wondrous and unexpected depths of performance history galore.

The box set is still available here:

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Mahler Symphony Nr.3 Martinon/Chicago SO (box set version)

Jean Martinon leads the Chicago Symphony Orchestra in a performance which does justice to the myriad moods and tempos you expect to have a Mahler Symphony no.3; that is such a relative phenomenon, since the M3 is one of the most philosophically, temporally and sonically ambitious of symphonies in general!
This excerpt about the recording is from the Chicago Symphony Orchestra website, from which you may purchase the incredible box set containing this performance (in better sound) and a host of other rarities:

"The Chicago Symphony Orchestra's first subscription concert performances of Mahler's Third Symphony were given at Orchestra Hall on March 23, 24, and 25, 1967, with Regina Resnik, Women of the Chicago Symphony Chorus (Margaret Hillis, director), the Chicago Children's Choir (Christopher Moore, director), and Jean Martinon conducting."

The sound is broadcast quality, Pre-FM.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

American trailblazer Charles Ives with another beauty

The very rarely heard and recorded "General William Booth Enters Into Heaven" was
the other Ives piece from the 2004 Alan Gilbert/NY Phil program which ended with Symphony No. 4, posted below.
General Booth is the founder of The Salvation Army. The piece is a characteristically ambitious Ivesian challenge, built around the sung text of Vachel Lindsay's 1912 poem. I've copied some of it below, and think it an appropriate mechanism to countenance the fears of, frankly, the worst case scenario of our economic reality; the music is simply a very stirring piece:

General William Booth Enters into Heaven

by Vachel Lindsay

[To be sung to the tune of `The Blood of the Lamb' with indicated instrument]


[Bass drum beaten loudly.]
Booth led boldly with his big bass drum --
(Are you washed in the blood of the Lamb?)
The Saints smiled gravely and they said: "He's come."
(Are you washed in the blood of the Lamb?)
Walking lepers followed, rank on rank,
Lurching bravoes from the ditches dank,
Drabs from the alleyways and drug fiends pale --
Minds still passion-ridden, soul-powers frail: --
Vermin-eaten saints with mouldy breath,
Unwashed legions with the ways of Death --
(Are you washed in the blood of the Lamb?)

Every slum had sent its half-a-score
The round world over. (Booth had groaned for more.)
Every banner that the wide world flies
Bloomed with glory and transcendent dyes.
Big-voiced lasses made their banjos bang,
Tranced, fanatical they shrieked and sang: --
"Are you washed in the blood of the Lamb?"
Hallelujah! It was queer to see
Bull-necked convicts with that land make free.
Loons with trumpets blowed a blare, blare, blare
On, on upward thro' the golden air!
(Are you washed in the blood of the Lamb?)


[Bass drum slower and softer.]
Booth died blind and still by Faith he trod,
Eyes still dazzled by the ways of God.
Booth led boldly, and he looked the chief
Eagle countenance in sharp relief,
Beard a-flying, air of high command
Unabated in that holy land.

[Sweet flute music.]
Jesus came from out the court-house door,
Stretched his hands above the passing poor.
Booth saw not, but led his queer ones there
Round and round the mighty court-house square.
Yet in an instant all that blear review
Marched on spotless, clad in raiment new.
The lame were straightened, withered limbs uncurled
And blind eyes opened on a new, sweet world.

[Bass drum louder.]
Drabs and vixens in a flash made whole!
Gone was the weasel-head, the snout, the jowl!
Sages and sibyls now, and athletes clean,
Rulers of empires, and of forests green!

[Grand chorus of all instruments. Tambourines to the foreground.]
To be administered at full volume as tonic and rejuvenative conduit, esp. as one walk out the door to do one's election-related duty! Artwork is the same because it was on the same bill. sorry about the non-inclusion of that text on the cover.