Review By Tim Smith,The Baltimore Sun,December 2009
VIVALDI, A.: 4 Seasons (The) / Mandolin Concerto, RV 425 / Lute Concerto, RV 93 (arr. for piano) (Biegel) 8.570031
JANACEK, L.: Operatic Orchestral Suites, Vol. 1 (arr. P. Breiner) - Jenůfa / The Excursions of Mr Broucek 8.570555
JANACEK, L.: Operatic Orchestral 8.570556
STRAUSS, R.: Rosenkavalier (Der) Suite / Symphonic Fantasy on Die Frau ohne Schatten / Symphonic Fragment from Josephs Legende (Falletta) 8.572041
Nice. First, Janáček did not make suites from his operas. Peter Breiner arranged these suites. Some of the items he lifted pretty much whole. Others he hunted and snipped and pasted. I’ve got nothing against such procedures per se. After all, it’s done with movie soundtrack albums all the time. However, I really have to wonder why Breiner did it. Whom did he serve?
At one point the answer would have been Janáček himself. The operas weren’t all that well known beyond Czechoslovakia, after all, and such suites might well have introduced many to the music, thus leading to performances and recordings. However, all the operas here have received already recordings (still currently available) and a couple have actually made standard rep. Broucek and Makropulos, I believe, have even been done at the Met, that most hidebound of houses. Consequently, you might think that these suites now introduce the music-lover to the operas. Listeners can dip into the music and decide whether they want to go further.As I mentioned in my first post of gift suggestions (for those on your shopping list, or for yourself when all those gift cards come in), I ended up limiting myself to opera, orchestral and piano. Here are my picks from the last two categories:
Two of the most enjoyable keyboard CDs I heard this year both feature pianist Jeffrey Biegel, and both are ever so slightly (and delectably) out of the mainstream.
Even if you’ve got a zillion recordings of the Mozart piano sonatas, you’re not likely to have any that include embellishments of the repeats. In the three-disc Volume 1 of his survey of the sonatas for the E1 Music label, Biegel argues that, given Mozart’s famed improvisational skills, there’s room for improve today when sections of a sonata movement get repeated. Do