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(23 June – 6 July)
- NUSSIO, O.: Folklore d'Engadine / SCHONHERR, M.: Tanze aus Osterreich (Viennese Dances, Vol. 1) (Philharmonia Promenade Orchestra, Krips) (1958) (Naxos Classical Archives: 9.80905)
- Violin Recital: Kolisch, Rudolf - SCHUBERT, F. / BARTOK, B. / SCHOENBERG, A. / BERG, A. / WEBERN, A. (In Honor of Rudolf Kolisch) (1936-1967) (Music and Arts Programs of America: CD-1056)
- Choral Music (Norwegian) - LARSEN, G. / GROVEN-E. / BUENE, E. (White Night: Impressions of Norwegian Folk Music) (Pedersen) (BIS: BIS-SACD-1871)
A Welcome Reissue
This is a most welcome reissue from Naxos Classical Archives. I have owned this recording on vinyl for many years and am very pleased to now have it on CD. One should be wary of the “Viennese Dances” title though as neither Suite is inspired by Vienna.
The eight movement “Folklore d'Engadine” is by the Italian-born composer and conductor, Otmar Nussio (1902-1990). On the original sleeve note, he commented that the Suite could be subtitled “A day at the beginning of spring in medieval Engadine” and that it is inspired by his homeland, the Lower Engadine Valley. It is in eight varied and colourful movements. For me, most memorable is the haunting “Nenia” in which a mother is depicted anxiously watching her sick child and trying to sing it to sleep with her lullaby.
The Austrian composer and conductor Max Schönherr (1903 – 1984) is a more familiar name, even if mainly for his many arrangements of music by the Viennese Strauss family. The Inspiration for the eight movement “Tanze aus Osterreich” is music in the everyday life of the Austrian Village. The movement titles are Wedding March from Ebensee, Schuhplattler, Gugga Polka, Shoemakers' Dance from Salzburg, Gstrampfter, Cushion Dance from Ischl, Pigs’ Dance and Peasants Galop. It is difficult to pick a favourite as they are all so delightful but the Shoemakers’ Dance is particularly charming.
The performance and recording are excellent.
This recording is several things at once: a portrait of one of the great violinists of the century, Rudolf Kolisch; a rich glimpse into the performing traditions of modern music; a fine overview of the chamber music of the second Vienna school, and of Arnold Schoenberg as a composer. For me, its greatest joy is as music. The performances here are uniformly first-rate. The recording quality ranges from passable (the first two Schoenberg quartets) to decent (Lyric Suite) to fairly good (the Pro Arte version of quartet 3).
If the emphasis is one Schoenberg and his pupils, there is also an excellent Schubert Octet and some fine and important Bartók performance. The Pro Arte's 5th quartet is illuminating and excellent, and Kolisch's Solo Sonata is a revelation, notable not only for the restored microtones apparently edited out by Menuhin, which give the music a great dramatic flair, but for Kolisch's deeply thought and felt interpretation of this very challenging music.
Although well designed for specialists and committed admirers, as it includes some enjoyable interview snippets, I think this disc is a good place to "make the plunge" for those still unsure about the last century's great modernists. The one drawback may be the far less than digital sound quality. But these are performances that are not only unsurpassable representations of the composer's wishes, they are so musically compelling that what seemed formidable quickly becomes deeply meaningful and often, if surprisingly, charming. All the composers represented here were sons of the Austro-Hungarian empire--and, doggone it, it shows!
- MW Morse
One of my favourite recordings
White Night is fast becoming one of my favourite recordings. The close harmonies of the choral arrangements interwoven with the gritty yet complementary sound of the solo fiddle are captivating to the ear. It is as if you can walk in the spaces between the notes as the chords move and change, which gives a very three dimensional feel. The voices are strong and clear, with little vibrato, or "without make up" as the conductor says in the album notes. Yet the voices blend remarkably, even though the choir is made up of "soloists" who do not always sing together.
I especially enjoy the tracks written or arranged by the fiddle player, such as Polonese, Gropen, Gjendines Badnlat, Solbonn, Solistvals. Yet the traditional melodies of the Norwegian hymns and folk tunes are a nice contrast.
The choir often performs standing in a circle around the audience, and if you have surround sound, the recording is made so that you can experience this sensation.
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