Friday, April 20, 2007

FriPod: Random 10

I'm not up to picking a meaningful topic today, so I just hit the refresh on Party Shuffle.

1. Sonata in D: Spiritoso ed adagio – Arcangelo Corelli, performed by Crispian Steele-Perkins. A short movement that shows off Corelli's tender side. It's not as good as his Adagio from Concerto Grosso Op. 6, No. 8, but still a nice change from the normal fireworks of Baroque trumpet concerti.

2. "My Favorite Things" – Rodgers & Hammerstein, performed by John Coltrane on the eponymous album. For the length of this track, I'd like to hear the familiar piece deconstructed more. The head is played almost verbatim, and the solos are harmonically conservative. Yes, the conversion of a standard to a Cool style modal improvisation is interesting, but take it outside a little more, please!

3. Missa "Puisque je vis": Benedictus – Guillame Dufay (attrib.), performed by the Binchois Consort. This is a wonderful benediction, full of peace and hope. The voices are so clean, the counterpoint is so stark, and the melismas perfectly balanced. The harmonic language seems to slide between unapologetic modality and more gentle tonal cadences and motions.

4. "Dance of the Seven Veils" from Salome – Richard Strauss, performed by Rudolf Kempe with the Staatskapelle Dresden. Okay, get your minds out of the gutters, people. Let's address the music, not the incestuous, manipulative, seductive, sensuous.... Ahem! The orientalism is an interesting choice, giving a sense of otherness and perhaps a touch of judgment on those evil heathens. This performance is a little slow, losing the dance flow. But there are good timbral colors and some nice phrasing.

5. Four Seasons Concerti: Winter, III. Allegro – Vivaldi, performed by Itzhak Perlman and the London Symphony Orchestra. This is an icy movement, so careful and almost emotionless, except for the little gasps of the tutti strings at the end of the introduction. The solo has some fireworks in the arpeggios, but they still seem cold in the planning and more like fake emotions rather than the real thing. The obligatory Vivaldi tremoli have the same effect on me.

6. Symphony No. 3 "Rhein," 5. Lebhaft – Schumann, performed by Rafael Kubelik and the Berlin Philharmonic. I used to prefer Schumann's second symphony, but now I feel the third has more depth. This movement (hey, if Beethoven can go beyond four movements, so can I!) alternates between elegant figures, passionate turbulence, grandiose river motions, a little nostalgia/sorrow, and some Brahmsian metric displacements.

7. Graal Theatre: I. Delicato – Saariaho, performed by the BBC Symphony Orchestra with Esa-Pekka Salonen and Gideon Kramer on violin. This is a work driven by colors, not by melody. Listening to the soundscape being created, you can picture the sound masses that Varèse strove for (I never really experience them in his own works). This is indeed a delicate tapestry, with the violin threatening to tear the fragile fabric of timbres. It is a long movement (16:54) but has enough tension and movement to keep my attention.

8. "Scriabin" – Vince Mendonza, performed by Michael Brecker on Don't Try This At Home. This is a very sad work, appropriate with the tragic loss of this great musician. I purchased this album after seeing Brecker live back in 1989 at Lawrence University. This track is full of angst, the tenor sax sound almost wailing while still remaining "cool."

9. Sonata No. 2, Op. 35 "Funeral March," IV. Presto – Chopin, performed by Horowitz. Not the famous march movement, but rather a frenzied series of meandering runs that never pause for breath. Running from Death? If so, Death catches up on the last two chords.

10. Short Ride in a Fast Machine – John Adams, performed by Simon Rattle and the City of Birmingham Orchestra. A strange juxtaposition with the previous work, the machine doesn't seem nearly as fast after Chopin's run with the devil. This performance is 4 seconds slower than my De Waart/San Francisco recording, and just doesn't have that sense of out-of-control driving that Adams wanted. The low brass don't come out enough, losing that metric tension. Still a fun piece, though as I think back to my first time experiencing it (about the same time as the Brecker concert mentioned above), I'm amazed that I found it so radical at the time.

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