CD and Other Review

Review: El Maestro Farinelli (Concerto Köln)

Limelight Editor’s Choice – Orchestra – September 2014 Deutsche Grammophon’s reboot of period performance imprint Archiv has definitely got off to a flying start, with stylish Spanish conductor Pablo Heras-Casado and acclaimed period instrument band Concerto Köln serving up fiery musical tapas from Baroque rock star Farinelli’s Spanish sojourn. In 1737 King Philip V invites Carlo Broschi aka Farinelli, the greatest castrato of all time, to Madrid to sing solely for him. He accepts. After Philip’s death, Ferdinand VI appoints Farinelli artistic director of the palace theatres in Madrid’s Buen Retiro and Aranjuez. In his new role as impresario, Farinelli collaborates closely with librettist Pietro Metastasio and uses his extensive Neapolitan contacts to secure the services of some of the finest composers and musicians of the day. The results are game-changing. “Farinelli secured the services of the finest composers and musicians of the day” In his 12 years in the job, Farinelli succeeded, as Michael Church writes in his program notes, in raising the profile of Spanish music from “a kind of provinciality to being a major presence in the European mainstream”. Heras-Casado, whose own Aranjuez-based group La Compania Teatro del Principe specializes in music from the court of Ferdinand VI, has…

December 17, 2014
CD and Other Review

Review: Fritz Brun: Orchestral Works (Moscow Symphony)

Switzerland is not a country that we associate with composers. Other than than Raff, we must wait until the 20th century and composers like Othmar Schoeck, Les Six’s Honegger and Frank Martin in order to find familiar names. So it was with interest to discover this fourth disc in an ongoing series devoted to the symphonic repertoire of Fritz Brun – a Lucerne-raised musician who may be Switzerland’s finest twentieth-century symphonist, writing between 1902 and his death in 1959 ten well constructed if conservatively Romantic symphonies in the style of Brahms.  The English label Guild has finally taken the opportunity to record a complete traversal of his major works with six of his ten symphonies already released. Symphony No 1 – a prize winning student work – whilst bringing up suggestions of Brahms also  hints at Tchaikovsky, Wagner and Bruckner with the large forces of the Moscow Symphony relishing the attractive qualities of this large-scale tonal work.  The Swiss conductor – simply known as Adriano – certainly knows the full worth of this symphony as with the others by this composer already recorded. By contrasting the early symphony with the much later Overture (from 1950), it is obvious that Brun…

November 28, 2014