Christopher Breunig

Christopher Breunig  |  Dec 10, 2010  |  0 comments
Founded by Czech refugee musicians in 1946, the Bamberg Orchestra has been working with its English conductor for a decade now, and they are part-way through a Mahler cycle. More akin to Bruno Walter’s than Georg Solti’s, Jonathan Notts’ ‘Resurrection’ proves more than the sum of its parts and is fascinatingly detailed. Climaxes sound huge, although the recording perhaps exaggerates the rawness of brass and the tenor voices. Lioba Braun’s ‘Urlicht’ suffices, but that’s all.
Christopher Breunig  |  Dec 10, 2010  |  0 comments
Dorati’s extensive experience as a ballet conductor is set out in his Notes Of Seven Decades. He left a substantial Mercury catalogue – the late producer Wilma Cozart Fine had once been his secretary – with his complete LSO Firebird (Watford Hall, 1959) ever after an audiophile choice. One hopes Speakers Corner will issue it separately. The Minneapolis Le Sacre, excitingly fast, has an air of authority.
Christopher Breunig  |  Dec 10, 2010  |  0 comments
Anyone present at either of the June 2008 Barbican performances edited here will not hesitate, yet a certain paradox might present itself to the disinterested listener. Haitink’s fastidious control and self-effacement, coupled with excellent orchestral playing, make for a fine presentation – of symphonic seriousness. But somehow it exposes Strauss’s lazy reliance on his motifs, the inherent schmalz, the ‘effects’ such as the water droplets: better placed in his Don Quixote capsized boat Variation. Somehow the Karajan Berlin or Dresden Luisi recordings mask the less attractive Straussian traits.
Christopher Breunig  |  Dec 10, 2010  |  0 comments
The frail Romanian pianist was not always so lucky with her recording conductors. In these 1955 reissues she is partnered by Ferenc Fricsay, a significant figure in the postwar DG catalogue. In an essay written shortly before his early death he described Mozart as ‘a golden-feathered messenger of God’. Haskil’s unerring, needle-sharp fingerwork suggests no less a messenger of this composer.
Christopher Breunig  |  Dec 10, 2010  |  0 comments
Playing a Steinway, Nelson Freire completed these mid-Dec ’09 recordings in the as yet unfamiliar acoustic of The Friary, Liverpool. He made his debut in the Chopin Preludes, aged 28 (CBS, 1972). ‘A hurricane of pianistic power’ then suggested the Saturday Review. The words that spring to mind now are ‘pianistic wisdom’ – Freire unfalteringly negotiates the often tortuous, enigmatically conceived paths of the Nocturnes, balancing their elements and attuned to the contrasts between them.
Christopher Breunig  |  Dec 10, 2010  |  0 comments
After finally being allowed to come to the West in 1960, Richter soon made LPs for CBS, RCA, DG, EMI and Philips. Extraordinary! His UK debut with Kondrashin was at the Albert Hall in July ’61 in Chopin, Dvorak and Liszt; the two Liszt Concertos (which you can find ‘live’, with the Hungarian Fantasy and Andante Spianato and Grande Polonaise, on BBC Legends 4031-2) were then produced over three days at Walthamstow Assembly Hall, by a Mercury team. With more than nine hours of tape to hand, the pianist asked for a complete retake of the First Concerto, most of which was used for the edited master. The results subsequently have become the benchmark coupling.
Christopher Breunig  |  Dec 10, 2010  |  0 comments
These concert recordings supplement rather than displace Curzon, Gilels, Kempff, Serkin, et al, yet the opening bars of the Fourth Concerto immediately reveal Fellner’s very beautiful piano sound – which we already know from his Bach on ECM – and subsequently that he completely understands the imperatives of Beethoven’s expressive writing: in dynamic gradations, the function of trills and turns, etc. Furthermore he is very sympathetically accompanied by Nagano – the unfolding of the dramatic dialogue in 4(ii) has rarely sounded so interesting. Alas the ‘Emperor’ falls well below its companion here. Sound Quality: 65% .
Christopher Breunig  |  Dec 10, 2010  |  0 comments
Kubrick’s 2001 A Space Odyssey prompted a flourish of LPs excerpting the timpani and organ pedal opening of Also Sprach. . . One wonders how many non-Straussians would stomach the whole Nietzschean epic! In fact, Karajan’s Decca version was used for the film.
Christopher Breunig  |  Dec 10, 2010  |  0 comments
These bracing readings differ only slightly from Sir Charles’s late-1980s Prague/Telarc set (same producer: James Mallinson), which had even more brio in some places: eg, the ‘Linz’ finale. And one irritating feature is repeated: the juxtaposing of both slow movements for the ‘Paris’, when by coupling 32 with ‘Haffner’ and ‘Linz’ (CD2), timings would have allowed complete alternate three-movement versions to avoid fiddling with programe remote. The playing of the SCO could not be more responsive, but there’s a schoolmasterly severity about Sir Charles’s Mozart – enough to send me scurrying to Pinnock’s warmer view. Sound Quality: 72% .
Christopher Breunig  |  Dec 10, 2010  |  0 comments
Some will recall the 17s 6d Supraphon LP of two of these grisly narrative poems – Czech PO/Chalabala, musically unsurpassed. Mackerras’s long association with Czech music virtually guarantees a recommendation here: Water Goblin and Noonday Witch (2008, live); Wild Dove (studio, 2009); and a reissued Golden Spinning Wheel (studio, 2001). Dvorak’s wind-swept allegros, rustic tunes and careful orchestrations fire the unique-sounding Czech Philharmonic much as Elgar’s or Walton’s music does the LSO. The one spectre at the feast is the skating-rink acoustic of the Prague Rudolfinum.

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