CD and Other Review

Review: Kreisler: Violin Music (Liebeck, Apekisheva)

Here is a collection of charming short pieces from a bygone age. Salon music, if you like. As a style, salon music has declined almost to the point of extinction, so this lovely collection of lightly perfumed compositions for violin and orchestra are a welcome reminder from the pen of one of the last century’s greatest violinists, Fritz Kreisler. Indeed, his attractive and melodious pieces often eclipsed his reputation as a virtuoso, so popular were they in the first half of the last century. Caprice viennoisand Schön Rosmarinwere typical pops of the day. Many of the pieces are arrangements. Dvorák’s Slavonic Dance in E Minor and Dance Espagnoleby de Falla from his opera La Vida Breve. Gluck’s beautiful Mélodiefrom Orfeo ed Euridicewas loved long before the complete opera gained more popular appeal in the 1960s. The most substantial work on the CD is the Sonata in G Minor by Tartini, arranged here by Kreisler with its famous devil’s trill (which Liebeck throws off brilliantly). Kreisler’s Praeludium and Allegro, an original work and one of his finest compositions, is also on the list. Compared to the relative frivolity of some of the others, the Praeludiumis…Continue reading Get unlimited digital access from…

January 9, 2015
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The science of virtuosity

American academic and pianist John Bloomfield shares his insights on the Taubman Approach.

January 7, 2015
CD and Other Review

Review: If You Could Read My Mind (Carpenter)

Cameron Carpenter is one of those classical music anomalies: he plays the music, but his approach is anything but classical. He’ll play anything, from Bach to Bacharach, plus his own daring inventions thrown in for good measure, with a questionable (and frequently controversial) sense of style. This debut disc features his mighty digital touring organ, and begins with the famous Prelude from Bach’s Cello Suite No 1, played only on the foot pedals (why use hands?). This mutates into a monstrous elaboration that barrels and snarls with echoes of Bach blended with circus kitsch. Think Wurlitzer gone wild.  Next is a transcription of Bernstein’s raucous Candide Overture. It’s a brilliant work, which then jumps to the serene Rachmaninov Vocalise. Then one of his own compositions, followed by Piazzolla’s Oblivion. Not to mention his paraphrases of songs like Bacharach’s Alfie and Newley and Bricusse’s Pure Imagination. The program on the whole is baffling. Carpenter says each work “offers a different taste of ecstasy”, and while he does show off the colour range of the touring organ (and his own reckless brand of virtuosity), it’s a bit of a mess that misses out on the visual magic of his live shows. There…

January 5, 2015
CD and Other Review

Review: Corelli: Church Sonatas (Avison Ensemle)

Arcangelo Corelli was a surprisingly un-prolific composer; his reputation and influence was out of all proportion to the quantity of his output but it was a case of “never mind the length, feel the quality”. His prodigious melodic invention with virtuosic flourishes and sensuous harmonic progressions are like a Bernini marble rendered in sound and his own playing made him the reigning superstar of the day and the darling of the Roman courts. The bulk of his work are the four dozen trio sonatas which set the mould for later composers, yet we have had surprisingly few good recordings in this flourishing era of Baroque-mania.  This set of the Church Sonatas is a follow up to The Avison Ensemble’s set of Chamber Sonatas released last year and completes their much-welcome survey of Corelli’s complete published works. This excellent group of veterans of the British early music scene led by Pavlo Beznosiuk deliver refined performances. The continuo is varied and colourful with cello supported by harpsichord, organ and archlute, yet is not distractingly busy and the two violinists, while lean-toned, blend nicely with impeccable intonation and transparent textures that allow the interplay of Corelli’s part writing to come through clearly without…

January 4, 2015