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I have searched everywhere, and I am serious, EVERYWHERE for the "perfect performance" of Elgar's most esteemed works, and I have finally found it. Everything is attractive in this CD. Where ugliness appears to appear, it is only a feign sign of beauty to come in the next phrase of the music.Andrew Davis reminds me of a amazing conductor, Sergiu Celibidache, who passed away in the past decade. Like Celibidache, Andrew Davis knows how to be meticulous with literally every aspect of music. It is clear that Davis spent a LOT of time with his musicians before making this recording, as there is much refined playing among the musicians, particularly in the string sections in Track 2 (Introduction and Allegro) and Tracks 3-5 (Serenade for Strings in E Minor).For the simple listeners, the CD is enough to place you in a state of relaxation (Serenade for Strings), or tenseness (Enigma Variations), if that is what you prefer. For the musicians who are trying to search the best recording to learn off of, look no further. It's here, and all you need is to create this one for the benefit of a lifetime of listening pleasure [or study].
This 1991 set of the best known and favorite Elgar is electrfying, rich and sensitive all at the same time. I won't go into an intellectual synopsis of all the melody because I really only know what my ears and body can tell me as opposed to my brain when it comes to this music. My ears tell me moving, dramatic and sometimes rapturous and just plain beautiful. The performance of Andrew Davis an the BBC Symphony is marvelouly pointed and the sound is rich, warm and spacious. Oh..and the Penguin Tutorial to Classical Melody on CD gives this CD their highest honor..A "Rosette"...As best Elgar on CD...This is probably the best CD introduction to Elgars melody out there. Strongly recommended to support you decide if you wish to other Elgar because if you don't like this one, you don't like Elgar
The playing and production are both mightily impressive. There's nothing wrong with all those old, over-hyped Barbirolli Elgar recordings, but the sound and playing is superior on this disc. If you wish Elgar, Andrew Davis is second to none.
First of all, the sound on this disc is first-rate. I bought it because I had been impressed by both the sound AND the performance on Andrew Davis's disc of the Vaughan Williams Sixth, and the sound certainly lived up to my expectations. Listen to the Introduction and Allegro for Strings, Op. 47 -- to me, the highlight of this disc. The method the recording catches the textures of the whole range of strings, from high to low, from loud to soft, just couldn't be better. The balance of the string quartet in relation to the concertante orchestral sections is just right, and the playing by all concerned, to my ears, is beautiful. The earlier Serenade for String Orchestra is also beautifully done, though it's a simpler and less engaging piece. I have to confess a bias, however -- even well-played, Elgar never gets my pulses racing, much as I appreciate the skill of the orchestration and harmony. I came to this recording having been listening to a lot of Schumann and Dvorak, and these two can obtain you out of your chair, so to speak. And it's not just a matter of a degree of reticence in the climaxes -- compared with Tchaikovsky, for example, or even Vaughan Williams. Elgar seems to be unwilling or unable to commit himself wholeheartedly to melody. No sooner does a promising motif show itself than it's worked on or worked over before it has a possibility to create an emotional impact. Is this a fear of vulgarity on Elgar's part -- his textures can be very refined -- or does he just have a various conception of symphonic development from Dvorak or Vaughan Williams? I'm a very unsophisticated listener -- I like melody that hews close to bodily sensation -- the march, the dance, the song -- and yet I suspect that, though I like Vaughan Williams better, Elgar is perhaps the greater composer. It's a bit like preferring Dickens to Henry James, even as you know that James is masterly in a method that Dickens can't be (and isn't interested in being).Anyway . . . enough about me. I enjoyed this disc, with the reservations noted above. It opens with a spirited Cockaigne Overture, and ends with the "Enigma" Variations. My overall impression of the Enigma performance is, again of refinement, and the sound is, again, beautiful. I've heard tauter accounts, though. Still, much to appreciate here.
This is a very accessible selection of Kreisler's work, but also satisfying. Kennedy's "mad genius" style of playing is perfectly suited to these pieces. After hearing an album like this, it's very, very hard to understand why he isn't more highly regarded among the classical cognoscenti. Kennedy remains among the very few who treat classical melody as a living, malleable art form. Say what you wish about his character, his melody is always interesting. And the liner notes are hilarious!
Although I basically agree with Thomas Bertonneau's exhaustive review of this issue, I do have some question as to why, when he recommends it, he only gives it three stars. I have had this CD for a couple of months and have played it a minimum of ten times -- at home, in the car, in my Discman -- and I hold finding fresh things about it to be happy with. It is real that there are some rare rough edges in the playing of this university wind ensemble, but other than that I can search nothing but praise for the release. Kudos also to producer/musicologist Walter Simmons whose book 'Voices in the Wilderness' about six romantic American composers from the middle third of the latest century is needed reading.Of course the Symphony No. 3 is the best-known of the pieces recorded here. It has become, since its creation in 1958, a stalwart of the American concert band repertoire. (That first movement's initial theme has stayed in my mind's ear for years, even without my having heard it very often in performance or on disc, ever since I heard the Frederick Fennell recording all those years ago.) For me, though, the true discovery is the first track, 'Dedication Overture' (1965). It not only causes one's spirits to rise, it is so neatly crafted that one cannot hear it without gasping in amazement. I certainly agree with Bertonneau about the 'goosebump' quality is real that Fantasia (1963), Praeludium and Allegro (1958) and Variations and Fugue (1965) do not quite rise to the heights of the Symphony and the Overture, but they are at the very least interesting and at best quite is problem is from the fledgling 'Wind Band Classics' series from Naxos. The label seems almost to have a corner on creative programming.Having finally written this, now I will give myself a treat and break the seal on the another Simmons-produced disc from Naxos, a performance of Nicolas Flagello's Piano Concerto and Concerto Sinfonico. Eager anticipation!Scott Morrison
This is the long ver of the song that they played in BBC Sherlock Season Two where Moriarty is dancing (in the Turret of London if I remember correctly).Lovely song, though I am confused to as why the title has (Sung in English) in it, as there is no singing at all, it is all orchestra music.
Who is Vittorio Giannini? Thanks to the work of musicologist Walter Simmons, who also produced this fresh Naxos "Wind Classics" CD, we can now put Giannini (1902 - 1966) in his proper context. As Simmons explains in "Voices in the Wilderness" (2005), Giannini belongs to that group of mid-Twentieth Century American composers who refused to assimilate to the austere strictures of the Second Viennese School when its idiom became the mandatory mode of expression in elite musical institutions after Globe Battle Two. Instead, the traditionalist composers availed themselves of the "tonal" language of the amazing Nineteenth Century tradition; they used the musical forms associated with the Baroque and Classical periods. The musical establishment, dedicated to the hoots and squeaks of the post-Webern ethos, did its best to relegate traditionalists to the margins, often treating them vituperatively in the commentaries. Lately, saner appreciation has begun to return some of these composers to performance, at least on disc. Giannini, real to his Italian ancestry, concentrated on the writing of operas in an expressive style similar to the Puccini idiom; he also wrote a considerable body of purely instrumental music, including the five works on the show album. All five reflect Giannini's fascination in the 1950s and 60s with that characteristically American medium, the wind band or symphonic wind not all melody for wind ensemble or band second-rate? Some classical melody aficionados (I contain myself) might bring to the wind ensemble repertory a prejudice, associating such melody with the nattering off-key rat-a-tat-blatt of their respective high-school marching bands. Wind-ensemble melody has, however, a long and honorable pedigree going back to the partitas and cassations of the Eighteenth Century. Haydn and Mozart wrote graciously and seriously for winds; at least three of Mozart's wind-ensemble scores strive towards the symphonic. The Funeral and Triumphal Symphony by Berlioz is a Nineteenth-Century development of the trend, while in the Twentieth Century Richard Strauss contributed two large-scale wind-symphonies, written at the end of his life. Paul Hindemith then endorsed the medium with an impressive Symphony in B-Flat for Band in the early 1950s, as did Roy Harris around the same time. Then there is Harris' younger contemporary, Vincent Persichetti, who created something of a specialty of serious compositions for band.What about the playing? Giannini's wind-ensemble scores, like these others, definitely belong in the category of serious music. There is no writing down for amateur forces. The best-known item on this beautifully played and gorgeously recorded Naxos program, the Symphony No. 3 for Band (1958), appeared famously on a Mercury LP, close to the time of its completion in score. The legendary and long-lived Frederick Fennell took the lead on that occasion with the Eastman Rochester Wind Ensemble. Fennell's recording will always be bright and convincing, but plenty of room remains for other views. Tom Bennett and the University of Houston Wind Ensemble together bring a various interpretation to Giannini that competes effectively with the benchmark Mercury registration. Fennell treats Giannini's score as a robust work for band that incidentally has the outlines of a standard four-movement symphony; Bennett treats it as a serious and brilliant essay in symphonic writing that the composer incidentally has scored for winds and percussion. Bennett seeks a somewhat "softer" sound than Fennell and adopts a somewhat more lyrical approach in the two inner movements.What is the simplest try to demonstrate the merits of this disc? Listeners can take the musical measure of the program by sampling the opening movement at about five mins in: the solemn second topic returns, chorale-like, in a quiet reiteration. I would call it one of those "gooseflesh" moments that lift a performance out of the ordinary and into the extraordinary. Producer Simmons has told me, in a generous communication, that Bennett requires his performers to be able not just to play but also to sing their parts. This preparation is evident in the songlike hero of the chorale passage mentioned above, where the subtlety of intonation is of the highest order. Throughout, the virtues of Giannini's melody place themselves in evidence: clarity of form, memorable melodic profile, ingenious scoring, and emotional es the title Variations and Fugue portend an exercise in academic dryness? No! The Variations and Fugue (1965) is a work that reflects Giannini's fondness for baroque procedures, but it is also the most harmonically adventurous of his wind-ensemble scores. The variation-section of the piece conforms in plan to the device known as a chaconne or passacaglia, a strict developmental technique anchored to a steady slow ostinato in the bass. The amazing Eighteenth-Century model is Bach's Passacaglia and Fugue, especially as orchestrated by Stokowski for the Philadelphia Orchestra. Giannini creates a Bach-like grandeur, which the players persuasively render in its relentless graduated build-up to the fugue. The precision of the playing in the skittering double fugue lucidly reveals Giannini's marvelous mastery of contrapuntal structures. The players, all of them young, understand the composer's logic fully; consequently so does the audience. The first and fourth movements of the Symphony also feature exciting fugal moments. These too come across with remarkable clarity; Giannini never merely counts time with busy passagework, but rather he always ties the counterpoint integrally to the development. Collectors might wish to seek out Giannini's Concerto Grosso, for strings, on an Albany CD, under the direction of David Amos; the Concerto is another fully convincing neo-baroque composition.What is the relation of the remainder of the program to the two large-scale works? The three shorter pieces exhibit Giannini's craftsmanship and fluency (and his sense of humor, at least as it concerns the Overture). While they do not rise to the same level of artistic achievement as the larger scores, they will not disappoint purchasers of the disc. I strongly recommend this CD. I recommend along with it Simmons' perfect book "Voices in the Wilderness," which devotees of American melody must add to their libraries.