Featuring the best reviews from our loyal ClassicsOnline members.
(29 September – 12 October)
An enjoyable treat - en français!
Kim Yaroshevskaya, a Quebec actress better known as ‘Franfreluche’ to those of us who grew up in French Canada during the late 60s and early 70s, provides the narration to these two delightful pieces: Poulenc’s “L’histoire de Babar” and Débussy’s “La boîte à joujoux”. For US and other English speaking audiences, it should be noted that the narration is entirely in French. Yaroshevskaya brings much personality and expressiveness to the proceedings, much as she did on her CBC show many years ago. For his part, Lemelin is an accomplished Canadian pianist, who has demonstrated versatility in his recording choices over the years, including works by Ravel, Schumann, and Fauré.
When I came across this selection on the ClassicsOnline site, I simply had to have it. Poulenc’s music has a certain inherent wittiness and the story of Babar, in particular, is one that I am very familiar with. Having said that, both pieces are charming, though not on the same scale as similar works that come to mind, such as Prokofiev’s “Peter and the Wolf”, of which there are many fine recordings with excellent narrators. Unlike Prokofiev, Poulenc’s music tends to make use of colour rather than melody to illustrate the story.
A treat nevertheless, a thoroughly enjoyable experience.
A superb recording of a truly mouth-watering list of music for choral evensong, which should appeal to anyone who loves church music.
From the opening of the versicles and responses, I found the music impossible to set aside until the very end.
The Stanford Mag & Nunc in G (one of my particular favourites, anyway) is delightfully performed, with the accompaniment a little understated for my liking, but a worthy performance for all that.
The Finzi, a difficult work to master, is presented with consummate assurance, which is sustained from start to finish - an especially pleasant musical experience.
Although I could go on waxing lyrical almost ad infinitum, I heartily commend this CD to anyone interested in first-rate Church music, and look forward to more output from this particular ensemble.
LYATOSHYNSKY: Symphonies Nos. 2 and 3
This CD of Symphonies 2 and 3 was my first experience of Lyatoshynsky. Having long been an admirer of Russian composers of the Soviet era, I did not hesitate to buy this CD, knowing that it would meet all expectations. Lyatoshynsky was possibly the one composer who eventually defined Ukrainian music, and although his earlier compositions (such as these two symphonies) were somewhat “watered down” to appease the Soviet censors, they still carry a very powerful message, comparable in many ways to the symphonic compositions of, amongst others, Shostakovich. It was due in part to this Soviet censorship that this composer’s music was not recorded or performed earlier.
There is some evidence that his earliest symphonies carried influences of his composition professor, Reinhold Glière, who was also born in Ukraine. However, this is only slightly apparent in parts of Symphony 2, but this has vanished in the 3rd Symphony. Scriabin also influenced his early works, but Lyatoshynsky quickly adopted an individual style.
This music is for serious listening. The quality of the recording and the performance is excellent.
The Orchestra (Ukrainian State Symphony Orchestra) appears to be able to express this performance in a manner that would be difficult to beat – perhaps it is the fact that Lyatoshynsky is “their” national composer, and they are able to translate his ideas accurately, under the lead of a highly accomplished conductor in Theodore Kuchar.
In summary, Lyatoshynsky would appear to be one of the best kept secrets of Soviet era music, and all his symphonic works would be a worthwhile addition to any collection.
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