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Sunday, November 18, 2012
CHRISTMAS CHORAL MUSIC - A Ceremony of Carols (Toronto Children's Chorus, Bartle)

CHRISTMAS CHORAL MUSIC - A Ceremony of Carols (Toronto Children's Chorus, Bartle)
Marquis Classics: MAR-327
Preview and Download at ClassicsOnline
10/10 Artistic and Sound Quality

Joining in the Toronto Children's Chorus' 25th anniversary celebration in 2003, Marquis Classics made a good decision to reissue on one CD some of this world-renowned choir's best Christmas music recorded for the label. The primary works—the world-premiere recording of John Rutter's Dancing Day cycle (from 1990) and Benjamin Britten's perennial favorite A Ceremony of Carols (from 1991's Mostly Britten CD)—both feature treble voices with harp accompaniment, and suffice it to say, these are exemplary performances that demonstrate the highest standard of musicianship and ensemble singing, and the kind of treble vocal tone that any choir director would give his conducting arm for. Just listen to the unison singing in Healey Willan's setting of "The Huron Carol" or to the perfectly in tune unison and part-singing in the "Personent hodie" section of the Rutter—or virtually anywhere else, for that matter!

The disc contains several other works, three of which have not been released on CD before—the lovely opening track "Es ist ein' Ros' entsprungen", Holst's "I saw three ships", and the program's closer, "Alleluia" from J.S. Bach’s Cantata 142. The ambience of the Holst... (read more)

© 2012 ClassicsToday.com
 
SCHUBERT, F.: Piano Quintet in A major, Op. 114, 'Die Forelle' (The Trout) (Braley, G. Capucon, R. Capucon, Causse, Posch)

SCHUBERT, F.: Piano Quintet in A major, Op. 114, "Die Forelle" (The Trout) (Braley, G. Capucon, R. Capucon, Causse, Posch)
Virgin Classics: 0724354556357
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Can there ever be too many recordings of Franz Schubert's most felicitous work, the "Trout" Quintet? Not when they are as exuberant, as intoxicating, as joyful as the one presented here by pianist Frank Braley, violinist Renard Capucon, violist Gerard Causse, cellist Gautier Capucon, and double-bassist Alois Posch.

Schubert wrote this little gem while vacationing in the town of Steyr in the north of Austria, a town he loved. But he apparently only wrote it for his own and his friends' amusement because he never published it, and no one ever performed it in public in his lifetime. Still, it has proved enduring, and practically every chamber group in the world has since played and recorded it.

The present recording finds five people performing it who have played it together many times before. Yet unlike so many of the fine, mature recordings of the piece by artists like Brendel, Curzon, Richter, Ax, and the like, it's a delight to hear what is so consciously a youthful performance by five relatively young, albeit rather well-known, European artists. After all, Schubert wrote it when he was only in his early twenties himself and at a happy time in his life. One might expect as much from its performance.

Almost every movement shows a vigor and... (read more)

– John J. Puccio, © 2012 Classical Candor
 
BATISTE, A.E.: Organ Music (Le dompteur d'orgues) (Innocenzi)

BATISTE, A.E.: Organ Music (Le dompteur d'orgues) (Innocenzi)
Aeolus: AE-10731
Preview and Download at ClassicsOnline
10/10 Artistic and Sound Quality

Going to church in 19th century France was a trip. Organists were known primarily for improvisation, and the liturgy only permitted limited time for original music-making. Many of these improvisations were in the style of (or directly quoted) popular tunes of the day by the likes of Rossini, Donizetti, Bellini, Auber, Meyerbeer, and their contemporaries. One of the most popular items, and the standard by which both organists and their instruments were judged, was the "Orage," or storm, a splendid example of which is presented here. Most of these were also improvised, but Batiste had the courtesy to write one of these improvisations down in the form of an Offertoire (I kid you not). It's quite impressively imitative and realistic, at least at the incredibly violent climax.

Obviously this appeal to the popular taste aroused the ire of the more doctrinaire and tasteful proponents of French liturgical music. Edouard Batiste (1820-1876), who taught at the Conservatoire from the age of 16 and wrote the standard text on Solfège, had his own unique solution to this problem. He transcribed for organ, in abbreviated... (read more)

© 2012 ClassicsToday.com
 
PETTERSSON, A.: Symphony No. 6 (Norrkoping Symphony, C. Lindberg)

PETTERSSON, A.: Symphony No. 6 (Norrkoping Symphony, C. Lindberg)
BIS: BIS-1980
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Almost a year ago to the day we told you about a BIS disc that was a must for fans of Swedish composer Allan Pettersson (1911–1980, see 26 October), and here's another! While the earlier one premiered the first of his seventeen symphonies, this new hybrid, CD(2)/SACD(2/5.0), release is devoted to his neglected sixth, and blows away what little competition there is from both the performance as well as sound standpoints.

In a single hourlong movement contained on one track, it must rank as among the most individual symphonic creations to come from a twentieth century composer. Granted it does make considerable demands on the listener to be fully appreciated, however it's well worth the effort. To these ears it seems to be in five contiguous arches, and in hopes of making it a bit more digestible, the starting times for each are given.

The symphony occupied Pettersson for four years during the 1960s (1963–66), which was an extremely difficult time for him. He was not only at a stylistic crossroads, but also began experiencing the first acutely painful symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis, which would plague him... (read more)

– Bob McQuiston, © 2012 Classical Lost and Found

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