Friday, 31 March 2017

Delalande - Sacred Works - Herreweghe

Rating: 3/5

Rather disappointing

I'm afraid I found this rather disappointing.  I tried it because Philippe Herreweghe's work is always worth listening to, but the music itself didn't do much for me.

Naturally, the performances are excellent.  Herreweghe has assembled a fine cast of singers and musicians who do a very good job, but Delalande's music itself  just seems a little ordinary to me.  There's nothing wrong with it as such, but it really didn't hold enough harmonic or melodic interest to kee me listening for any length of time and, frankly, I got a little bored after a while.

His is just a personal view, of course, with which you may disagree, but for me this is a laudable project to record less well-known music but it's not a disc I'll be listening to often.

Tuesday, 14 March 2017

Bach - Sonatas & Partitas for Violin - Busch

Rating: 5/5


I think this is an excellent set.  I already have a number of recordings of the Sonatas and Partitas, including some quite brilliant interpretations by the likes of Isabelle Faust, Rachel Podger and Viktoria Mullova, but I think Christine Busch's recording stands with the best of them.

The music, of course, is sublime.  These are quite magnificent works which test the instrument and its player to extremes, and in the process produce some quite extraordinarily expressive and moving music.  Christine Busch is certainly equal to the technical challenge; her intonation is rock solid, she has a lovely tone and she makes these sometimes incredibly difficult pieces sound simple and natural.  Her interpretation is absolutely terrific, I think.  There is an elegance and grace running through this recording which never loses any of the intellectual weight or emotional impact, and the essential pulse of Bach beats throughout.  Busch is equally at home in the slow, tortured depths of the mighty Chaconne from the D minor Partita and in the quicker, more obviously dancing movements like the closing Allegro assai of the C major Sonata. 

The whole things simply glows, I think, and I was very pleasantly surprised by the excellence throughout.  The recorded sound is lovely with just the right degree of reverberation, and it's a really fine set all round.  Very warmly recommended.

Monday, 13 March 2017

Bach - "Bach" - Radulovic

Rating: 3/5

 Fine technique but questionable interpretation

This disc has its moments and Nemanja Radulovic is a very talented violinist, but overall I'm not very keen.

The disc consists of a variety of Bach pieces with a viola concerto by CPE Bach.  I was very pleased to hear this concerto; I didn't know it and it is rather a lovely work which Radulovic and his ensemble play very well with plenty of expression and well judged tempi.  I also like the Gavotte from the third Violin Partita which shows that Radulovic can produce something with real depth and that he also has a fabulous tone.  However, I was much less keen on much of the rest.

Partly this is to do with tempo.  A lot of this is taken very quickly indeed, and while I'm all for a brisk approach to Bach's quicker movements, there is a difference between that and hurtling through them at a show-off speed which loses much of the weight and beauty of Bach's music.  This was certainly true of the Double Concerto for me, and even the sublime slow movement lacked the real sensuality which Manze and Podger bring to it, for example.  I'm afraid I also heartily disliked the heavy-handed orchestration of the great Chaconne from the D minor Partita which robs that sublime piece of almost all its mystery and emotion.

So, this wasn't for me.  There is fine technique here, but in spite of some good highlights, as interpretations of Bach I can only give these a very lukewarm recommendation.

Thursday, 2 March 2017

Marais - Jeux d'Harmonie - Rasi

Rating: 5/5

Excellent Marais

I think this is excellent.  I was a little surprised by how good it was; I hadn't come across Alberto Rasi before and there are already a lot of superb recordings by geniuses of the gamba like Paolo Pandolfo, Jordi Savall and others.  This disc stands very well among them.

Marais' music is lovely, often quite dark but full of invention and interest.  Rasi plainly gets all this, and in addition brings a lovely fluency to the lines with a subtle touch which really allows the music to glow, I think.  It's perhaps a less introspective approach than we may be used to, and I think it works very well indeed; Rasi has the technique to make it all sound utterly natural and with excellent, resonant recorded sound the effect is very beautiful.

Even if, like me, you already have a number of very fine recordings of Marais this is well worth trying, and I can recommend it very warmly.