Sunday, November 8, 2009

This week I listened to

Jonas Kaufmann: German tenor arias
with Mahler Chamber Orchestra/Claudio Abbado

I'm certainly not among those who are constantly weighing singers against each other and keeping some sort of semi-formal ranking for every single aria ever sung by anyone. So please don't ask me where Kaufmann stands in relation to anyone else in this repertoire. All I know is this is some great singing by one of today's big stars. The Wagner is very impressive, and it's good to make the acquaintance of the Schubert pieces - although when listening without looking at the track listing, I initially thought the aria from Fierrabras was Mozart - there's a bit that sounds like it's riffing on the Queen of the Night's aria.

Telemann: Flute concertos
Emmanuel Pahud; Berliner Barock Solisten/Rainer Kussmaul

I'm not being patronising when I say this album can be characterised as "lovely". Pahud plays a modern flute, and the result is a beautiful sound that still fits well with the Berliners' period instruments. It's a pity Telemann doesn't have any real "greatest hits" the way Vivaldi does, but then again like Vivaldi there's so many gems out there to be discovered. Add this one to the pile, somewhere near the top.

Dufay: Mass for St Anthony Abbot / Binchois: Motets & mass movements
Binchois Consort/Andrew Kirkman

The Binchois Consort are among the best in this repertoire - a gorgeous sound. This post probably isn't the best place for a lengthy reflection on what I get out of medieval choral music. Although I have listened to quite a bit of it, I don't yet have a decent grasp of it - such as how composers and styles relate to one another, and why or how one piece might be better than another. It's all part of the learning process. So I can't say I notice any particular difference between Dufay and Binchois. Yet.

Chisholm: Piano music
Murray McLachlan
Divine Art

This guy again. This time I heard some of the 24 Preludes from the True Edge of the Great World, which are short pieces in what is now a recognizable Chisholm idiom, and also the Cornish Dance Sonata, which despite some folksy movement titles is by and large a big noisy thing that, if you're not in the mood, can outstay its welcome. Overall conclusion on Chisholm: most definitely worth exploring in depth.

Sondheim: Sweeney Todd
George Hearn, Patti LuPone, et al; New York Philharmonic/Andrew Litton
New York Philharmonic

Big long post about Sweeney and me to follow.

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