John Puccio reviews ... (The Music).Bach: Goldberg Variations. Markus Becker, piano. CPO (Chief Privacy Officer) An individual who manages the privacy issues within an organization. Arising out of the privacy regulations in finance and health care in the late 1990s, the CPO position eventually crossed over to all industries. 999 831.2
According to Bach's first biographer, Nikolaus Forkel, Bach wrote the Goldberg Variations in 1742 for a Count Keyserlingk, who requested them to be played by his protege, Johann Goldberg. The story is doubted by some authorities, as the young Goldberg was only in his early teens at the time, and the Variations are of undoubted complexity. Whatever the case, the Variations have come down to us in more-or-less nontraditional fashion, seldom even considered played as Bach intended. How is that? Well, the work was meant for harpsichord harpsichord, stringed musical instrument played from a keyboard. Its strings, two or more to a note, are plucked by quills or jacks. The harpsichord originated in the 14th cent. and by the 16th cent. Venice was the center of its manufacture. for one thing (and while there are many fine recordings nowadays on harpsichord, they are outnumbered by the piano renditions). More important, the Variations were meant to be played selectively, not all at once as is the prevailing custom. Put those two considerations aside, and this new CPO recording is as good as any currently available.
Pianist Markus Becker has elected to play an interpretation of the Variations that is both absolutely complete (nearly 80 minutes long counting all 30 variations and the opening and closing arias) and yet compellingly new. He plays the work as though it were a whole, an integral set of connected segments, rather than as separate and distinct parcels. In matters of tempo and contrast, Becker attempts (and succeeds) in making each variation a connective part of the aggregate sum. Each variation flows conformably con·form·a·ble
1. Corresponding; similar: plans that are conformable to your wishes.
2. Quick to comply; submissive.
3. , sometimes unnoticeably un·no·tice·a·ble
Not readily noticeable.
Adv. 1. , into the next. With Becker's smooth, easy piano style, this technique works wonders for a composition that can sometimes easily appear to be a disparate set of show pieces.
The sound, however, is rather relaxed, too, which doesn't always show off the inner beauty of the slower movements. Soft, warm, and rounded, the tone of Becker's piano is about as diametrically di·a·met·ri·cal also di·a·met·ric
1. Of, relating to, or along a diameter.
2. Exactly opposite; contrary.
di opposite the sound of a harpsichord as any instrument could be. I would have hoped for a little more definition from the instrument, but if anything the subdued audio presentation works in favor of Becker's integrated approach to the work. Everything flows smoothly and effortlessly from one variation to the next. It's a set worth considering.
Mendelssohn: Symphony No. 4; A Midsummer Night's Dream A Midsummer Night's Dream is a romantic comedy by William Shakespeare written sometime in the 1590s. It portrays the adventures of four young Athenian lovers and a group of amateur actors, their interactions with the Duke and Duchess of Athens, Theseus and Hippolyta, and , excerpts. Sir Charles Mackerras, Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment The Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment (OAE) is a British period instrument orchestra. Formed in 1986 by a group of players, it does not have a principal conductor, but rather is led artistically by a board of musicians elected by the musicians themselves. . Virgin Classics 7243-5-61975-2-7 Another reissue of the Mendelssohn "Italian" Symphony, this recording dating from 1988, would seem superfluous given the high number of fine performances already available. The thing here is that it's from the always-reliable Sir Charles Mackerras, and it's done on period instruments, with the novelty of an original ophicleide ophicleide (ŏf`ĭklīd) [Gr.,=serpent with keys], brass wind musical instrument of relatively wide conical bore, largest of the keyed bugles; invented in 1817 by Jean-Hilaire Asté of Paris. replacing the modern tuba tuba (t`bə) [Lat.,=trumpet], valved brass wind musical instrument of wide conical bore. .
We expect from Mackerras elegant, refined, yet always imaginative interpretations, and we get one here. What we also get is as blithe blithe
adj. blith·er, blith·est
1. Carefree and lighthearted.
2. Lacking or showing a lack of due concern; casual: spoke with blithe ignorance of the true situation. and warmhearted a vision of the Fourth as any on disc. In this regard he just beats out Roger Norrington, who also has a period-instruments account available (EMI (ElectroMagnetic Interference) An electrical disturbance in a system due to natural phenomena, low-frequency waves from electromechanical devices or high-frequency waves (RFI) from chips and other electronic devices. Allowable limits are governed by the FCC. ), in that Mackerras's rendering strikes me as just that much more felicitous fe·lic·i·tous
1. Admirably suited; apt: a felicitous comparison.
2. Exhibiting an agreeably appropriate manner or style: a felicitous writer.
3. and affectionate. Mackerras even brings off with graceful elan the quick-paced finale Presto that Mendelssohn himself so disliked. Part of the appeal of the Mackerras reading may be Virgin's recording, however, which is a touch softer and warmer than the more transparent, although slightly harder sounding, EMI-Norrington version. In the end, if one is looking for a period-instruments recording of the work at all, the decision may come down to the couplings on the two discs. Mackerras gives us a relaxed and dreamy set of excerpts from A Midsummer Night's Dream, while Norrington includes a zesty realization of the No. 3 "Scottish" Symphony. One cannot go wrong with either choice.
Edith Piaf: Eternelle. EMI Music France 7243-5-30284-2-8
My first memories of Edith Piaf are from the late fifties, about the time she started recording in stereo and when I was in my teens. Ever since, she has for me epitomized the French chanteuse chan·teuse
A woman singer, especially a nightclub singer.
[French, feminine of chanteur, singer, from chanter, to sing; see chant.] . Her unique vocal style, so very French to me then and now, is amply captured in this compilation anthology of some of her biggest hits from EMI Music France.
The disc begins in 1947 with the instantly recognizable "La vie en rose." If that doesn't remind you of everything French, nothing will. It's in monaural See monophonic. , of course, as are the first eight of the eighteen items on the disc, but it's reasonably good monaural--bright and little noisy but quite listenable lis·ten·a·ble
Being such that listening is pleasurable: an undistinguished but listenable soundtrack.
lis . The next seven mono tracks are smoother, until we reach "Non je ne regrette rien" and the stereo begins. The stereo spread in these numbers is wide, the definition almost too sharp for reality, depth a matter of small concern, highs cleanly reproduced, bass OK. Among my personal favorites: "Milord mi·lord
1. An English nobleman or gentleman.
2. Used as a form of address for such a man.
[French, from English my lord. ," "L'accordeoniste," "Les mots d'amour," and, naturally, "La vie en rose." But there's a lot more to like here, so the disc is makes an easy recommendation.
Schubert: Alfonso und Estrella Alfonso und Estrella (Alfonso and Estrella) is an opera with music by Franz Schubert, set to a German libretto by Franz von Schober. In close collaboration with von Schober in the region of St. , arrangement for Harmoniemusik. Linos-Ensemble. CPO 999 807-2
Franz Schubert was a superb composer of orchestral music, instrumental music, and Lieder, but his few attempts at opera are largely unappreciated. Things like Alfonso und Estrella, Fierrabras, Die Zwillingsbruder, and Die Verschworenen have gone by almost unnoticed, while his symphonies, chamber works, and song cycles are world renowned. I suppose it's because he never had much feel for the drama, story, or characterizations necessary for a big, operatic stage production.
In any event, we have here an arrangement of his opera Alfonso und Estrella for harmoniemusik, that is, for chamber orchestra, specifically on this disc for wind octet An eight-bit storage unit. In the international community, octet is often used instead of byte.
(jargon, networking) octet - Eight bits. This term is used in networking, in preference to byte, because some systems use the term "byte" for things that are not 8 bits long. and double bass, that displays the composer's unique sense of charm and playfulness. Performed purely instrumentally, the opera becomes a delightful series of interrelated in·ter·re·late
tr. & intr.v. in·ter·re·lat·ed, in·ter·re·lat·ing, in·ter·re·lates
To place in or come into mutual relationship.
in vignettes, sounding much as one expects of this man--refined, graceful, and elegant, yet with a sprightly air and an always smiling demeanor. Arranged for winds and bass in 1996 by Andrea N. Tarkmann, this reworking of the opera solves the problem of the words and characterizations nicely by eliminating them completely! The Linos Ensemble carry out their duties with commendable polish, although not always with as much as energy or zeal as I might have liked. Still, their cultured urbanity probably fits the mood of the opera better than I imagine.
CPO's sonics are also commendable, very fluent, effortless, and clean. The winds--two oboes, two clarinets, two horns, two bassoons--and the double bass integrate smoothly across the sound stage, producing a solid, if not always very dynamic, audio picture. As a side note, I also enjoyed CPO's cover painting, a reproduction of Manuel Barron y Carrillo's "Fiesta in Sevilla." It not only lends a note of atmosphere to the music, it's far more enjoyable that looking at a portrait of the composer, the face of the conductor, or some art department's idea of contemporary design. This is, overall, an unusual and recommendable disc.
Stravinsky: The Firebird, Petrushka, the Rite of Spring, Orpheus. Sir Colin Davis, Concertgebouw Orchestra and LSO LSO London Symphony Orchestra
LSO Lesotho (ISO Country code)
LSO Laser Safety Officer
LSO Landing Signal Officer
LSO Large Send Offload
LSO Longwood Symphony Orchestra (Brookline, MA) . Philips 289-464-744-2 (two-disc set)
Sir Colin Davis's 1978 Concertgebouw recording of Stravinsky's complete Firebird ballet was the very first compact disc I ever bought, way back in the early eighties when CDs were introduced in America. I remember I had a grand selection of about a dozen classical releases total to choose from at my local Tower Records store back then, and I played it on one of those early Magnavox top-loading silver players. Interestingly, I soon sold the player to a friend who is using it to this day; the thing's built like a brick. Anyway, a lot people, myself included, complain about today's exorbitant CD prices, but I must point out that this new, mid-priced, two-disc set costs just a couple of dollars more than I paid for the single disc almost twenty years ago, and the new set includes three more full-length Stravinsky ballets! This is a genuine bargain, folks.
The recording is remastered in one of Philips' 96 kHz, 24-bit Superbit transfers, but I can't honestly say the sound of The Firebird was any better than it was on the old disc. It doesn't matter, because the sonics were always outstanding, anyway, just as the performance has held up after all these years. Both the sound and interpretation are first-rate, refined, and elegant. This is a magical Firebird, with all the subtle orchestral colors neatly traced out in delicate pastels, and all the overt drama underscored in great swathes of thunder. This remains my favorite Firebird on record, and it's good to have it properly indexed at last.
Davis's Rite of Spring is equally as well recorded, but I find the performance underwhelming un·der·whelm
tr.v. un·der·whelmed, un·der·whelm·ing, un·der·whelms
To fail to excite, stimulate, or impress: , to say the least. As an add-on, it's useful to have it, but I wouldn't recommend it as a first choice.