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Rare Transcriptions and Paraphrases, Vol. 2
Rare Transcriptions and Paraphrases, Vol. 2
Price: $17.52
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Such a Pleasure to Hear These Piano Arrangements of Tchaikovsky Ballet Music, September 13, 2013
First, let me say that I have a perhaps overly enthusiastic response to piano transcriptions of orchestral music; blame it on my past as a pianist who loved playing orchestral arrangements at my own piano. Tchaikovsky asked for friends and colleagues of his to make these transcriptions and without exception they are wonderful.

The musicians who made these transcriptions were Paul Pabst, Alexander Siloti, Percy Grainger and Nikolai Kashkin. All four of had close connections with each other and with Tchaikovsky. Pabst (1854-1897) was a favorite of Tchaikovsky, who described him as a 'divinely blessed pianist'. Pabst's brother Louis, also a pianist and composer, emigrated to Australia where he was an early mentor of the brilliant Aussie pianist/composer Percy Grainger (1882-1961). Alexander Siloti (1963-1945) was a first cousin of Rachmaninov (and his teacher) and had studied harmony at the Moscow Conservatory under Tchaikovsky. The least-known of the transcribers is Nikolai Kashkin (1839-1920); he was on the faculty of the Moscow Conservatory alongside Tchaikovsky.

The four transcriptions or arrangements:

1. Concert Paraphrase on 'The Sleeping Beauty', by Paul Pabst. This seven-minute piece collects various of the themes from the evening-long 'Sleeping Beauty' ballet. Unlike the following transcription which limits itself to the ballet's Third Act, Pabst's work uses themes from the whole thing. It is a work of surpassing virtuosity and is played as if child's play by Anthony Goldstone, one of England's finest pianists. It is of note that Pabst also made paraphrases of the operas 'Eugene Onegin', 'Mazeppa' and 'The Queen of Spades'. It seems likely that Goldstone, who has already recorded other transcriptions of Tchaikovsky's orchestral music Vol. 1-Tchaikovsky: Rare Transcriptions & Paraphra, will get around to these one day. One hopes so. 7:14

2. 'The Sleeping Beauty' - Act III, by Alexander Siloti. This is the whole act -- 23 sections -- arranged for piano. It is hard to imagine that this arrangement, though, is the one that ballet companies would use for rehearsals as it, too, is virtuosic and would take an exceptional rehearsal pianist. Again, Goldstone stars. I particularly liked the third variation of the Pas de quatre, the one in 5/8 time followed by the delicious fourth variation. Of course anyone who has ever heard or seen 'The Sleeping Beauty' will know many of these sections. 48:55

3. Paraphrase on the Waltz of the Flowers from 'The Nutcracker', by Percy Grainger. Grainger really goes to town here, adding all sorts of harmonic twists and filigree. One can admire Grainger's creativity , and yet one comes away with even more admiration for Tchaikovsky's own creation. This is undoubtedly the most difficult of the pieces recorded here. Goldstone does it proud. 7:27

4. Act I Pas de trois from 'Swan Lake', by Nikolai Kashkin. This scene occurs early in the ballet and has one man and two woman dancing together and separately at a birthday party (just before the appearance of the swans). It is in six sections; my favorite is section two which has a haunting melody imitated one bar later one octave lower. The Pas de trois has a lively finish that makes a wonderful finish for this wonderful disc.

Many of you know the orchestral originals but if you have any curiosity about these transcriptions or paraphrases you couldn't do better than getting this disc by Anthony Goldstone. He is not as well known in the US as he should be but he has made a number of terrific recordings which are available here at Amazon.com, e.g. Inspiration: Homage to Maria Curcio (Maria Curcio was Goldtone's teacher), Russian Piano Music Volume 5. He has also recorded extensively with his duo-piano partner and wife Caroline Clemmow, e.g. Schubert: The Unauthorised Piano Duets

Recommended.

Scott Morrison


Nature Valley Protein Peanut Butter Dark Chocolate OF 1.42 O.Z - 24BARS
Nature Valley Protein Peanut Butter Dark Chocolate OF 1.42 O.Z - 24BARS
Offered by Free Shipping Tigers
Price: $29.75
3 used & new from $21.75

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Delicious. Loaded with Protein and Fiber., September 13, 2013
I've been using these bars for several months now, eating them as a meal replacement in my calorie-counting efforts to lose weight (successfully). These bars are really delicious. I tend to eat them with the peanutty side toward my tongue as that accentuates the salty, chewy aspect of the experience. Someone else I know eats them with the dark chocolate side tongueward. To each his own. The main thing is that they are both delicious and exceptionally nutritious.

10 grams of protein, 5 grams of fiber.

I do buy mine at Costco for a somewhat lower price, but if that option isn't open to you, this big box from Amazon is the ticket.

Scott Morrison


Raising Jake
Raising Jake
Price: $9.89

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Worth Reading Again and Again, September 12, 2013
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Raising Jake (Kindle Edition)
I just finished reading this novel for the second time and it was really worth it. I don't ordinarily read a book a second time, but I know I'll be reading it again in a year or two. It's about fathers and sons and it spoke to me like it was my own father and my own son talking with me. Just saying ...

Scott Morrison


Mozart: Last String Quartets
Mozart: Last String Quartets
Price: $18.30
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This is So Good!, September 11, 2013
I owned these recordings back in the 1970s but can no longer play those LPs (although I still have them) because I don't have a turntable any longer. So when I saw that this set was coming out in a 2CD set on the adventurous Newton Classics label -- they release really good recordings from the past; I've never gotten a bad one -- I knew I would have to have it.

This is the Juilliard Quartet as it was composed for so many years: Robert Mann and Earl Carlyss, violins; Samuel Rhodes, viola; and Joel Krosnick, cello. It was/is the best version of the Juilliards ever. Some would say that when Claus Adam was the cellist it was better, but I've always loved Krosnick's tone better. At any rate, this group own these last quartets of Mozart. The style is perfect, there is a sense of spontaneity even though one knows that the Quartet rehearsed them meticulously. One always had that feeling with the Juilliards, no matter what they played.

These performances, comprising Quartets No. 20-23, are contained on two CDs with a total time of about 105 minutes. Recorded in 1974, they were models of recorded sound and that sound has not been meddled with in this re-issue. I even like the cover image, a painting of sunset at Lake George (near where I live).

If you're in the market for the last four quartets by Mozart, this is your best choice in my opinion. Don't hesitate.

Scott Morrison


Isaac Albeniz: Iberia
Isaac Albeniz: Iberia
Price: $27.43
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1 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not in Contention, August 21, 2013
This review is from: Isaac Albeniz: Iberia (Audio CD)
'Ibéria' by Isaac Albéniz is at the pinnacle of virtuosic Spanish piano music. It has attracted the talents of many intrepid pianists and has been recorded a number of times. The classic recordings were, and still are, the two by Alicia de Larrocha (from 1960 and 1972), which are available in a number of different iterations: Albeniz: Iberia or Albéniz: Iberia / Granados: Goyescas. This is music that de Larrocha owns. But there have also been marvelous readings by some others: Marc-André Hamelin Albeniz: Iberia / Vega / Yvonne en Visite / Navarra, the first two books (there are four) by Daniel Barenboim Albéniz: Iberia Book 1 &2 - Espana / Barenboim, and on the budget Naxos label by Guillermo Gonzalez Albeniz: Iberia Books 1-4 / Suite Espanolas 1 & 2. That said, this two-disc set by Paul Verona has some virtues but overall it's kind of dull; he tends to linger, presumably to savor the poetry of the music, but he doesn't convey the long lines of the music. There is also some smudging in the faster passages (as in Fête-Dieu à Seville, in the first book).

Stick with de Larrocha or Hamelin or, if money is an issue, with Gonzalez. Avoid one I didn't mention, that by Rosa Torres-Pardo; it's rather like Verona's: dull.

Scott Morrison
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Les Saisons / Islamey
Les Saisons / Islamey
14 used & new from $1.43

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Pleasant 'Seasons', Incendiary 'Islamey', Short Timing, August 17, 2013
This review is from: Les Saisons / Islamey (Audio CD)
[This review was written for the 2013 reissue on Newton Classics of this recording originally on Sony.]

This CD was originally issued in 1998. It was recorded by Yefim Bronfman in the legendary acoustics of the Troy Savings Bank Music Hall in Troy, New York, a site used for many extraordinary recordings. Its sonics are exemplary.

'The Seasons' by Tchaikovsky was written for amateur pianists. It appeared month by month in a Russian periodical. It is likely that, although the music IS Tchaikovsky after all, the composer didn't take it terribly seriously. Indeed the legend is that an assistant had to remind him each month to toss another installment. The works are pleasant and in some cases quite beautiful -- for instance, the luscious piece for June, 'Barcarolle', which sometimes figures as an encore in piano recitals. The music is played with finesse and a gentle touch by Bronfman. He resists any temptation to make these pieces more virtuosic than they actually are. However,my own favorite recording of 'The Seasons' by by Lydia Artimiw but alas it is no longer easily available.

Balakirev's 'Islamey', however, is a virtuosic barn-burner; it used to be said that it is one of the hardest pieces for any pianist to play. That is actually hardly the case but it does take a virtuoso like Bronfman to play it well even though these days it seems every young pianist plays it. I've heard it played gorgeously, as here, but sometimes with a trudging dutifulness, making it difficult to hear. This 'Oriental Fantasy' takes a little less than nine minutes to play. And it has been recorded beautifully by other pianists. Strangely, my favorite version of 'Islamey' is a recording made in 1926 (!) by the young Claudio Arrau, available on one of his 'Great Pianists of the 20th Century' volumes. Another unlikely recommendation comes from that quintessential Brahms pianist, Julius Katchen, who played the bejeezus out of 'Islamey' on HIS Great Pianists volume 1.

A drawback of this recording is its short timing, only ca. 50 minutes.

Scott Morrison


Tchiakovsky; Balakirev: Seasons, Islamey
Tchiakovsky; Balakirev: Seasons, Islamey
Price: $14.25
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Pleasant 'Seasons', Incendiary 'Islamey', Short Timing, August 17, 2013
This CD was originally issued in 1998. It was recorded by Yefim Bronfman in the legendary acoustics of the Troy Savings Bank Music Hall in Troy, New York, a site used for many extraordinary recordings. Its sonics are exemplary.

'The Seasons' by Tchaikovsky was written for amateur pianists. It appeared month by month in a Russian periodical. It is likely that, although the music IS Tchaikovsky after all, the composer didn't take it terribly seriously. Indeed the legend is that an assistant had to remind him each month to toss another installment. The works are pleasant and in some cases quite beautiful -- for instance, the luscious piece for June, 'Barcarolle', which sometimes figures as an encore in piano recitals. The music is played with finesse and a gentle touch by Bronfman. He resists any temptation to make these pieces more virtuosic than they actually are. However,my own favorite recording of 'The Seasons' by by Lydia Artimiw but alas it is no longer easily available.

Balakirev's 'Islamey', however, is a virtuosic barn-burner; it used to be said that it is one of the hardest pieces for any pianist to play. That is actually hardly the case but it does take a virtuoso like Bronfman to play it well even though these days it seems every young pianist plays it. I've heard it played gorgeously, as here, but sometimes with a trudging dutifulness, making it difficult to hear. This 'Oriental Fantasy' takes a little less than nine minutes to play. And it has been recorded beautifully by other pianists. Strangely, my favorite version of 'Islamey' is a recording made in 1926 (!) by the young Claudio Arrau, available on one of his 'Great Pianists of the 20th Century' volumes Claudio Arrau - Great Pianists of the 20th Century. Another unlikely recommendation comes from that quintessential Brahms pianist, Julius Katchen, who played the bejeezus out of 'Islamey' on HIS Great Pianists volume Great Pianists of the 20th Century - Julius Katchen, Vol.1.

A drawback of this recording is its short timing, only ca. 50 minutes.

Scott Morrison


Ensemble Raro & Andrej Bielow - Dohnanyi, Dvorak, Suk
Ensemble Raro & Andrej Bielow - Dohnanyi, Dvorak, Suk
Price: $19.41
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Like a Sacher Torte Fresh From the Oven, August 17, 2013
The music on this disc is quintessential late Romantic chamber music, all of it springing from the influence of Brahms. For me at least, this is comfort music, like fresh hot rolls or, better, fresh Sacher torte. Yum.

The Dohnányi Piano Quintet No. 1 (amazingly, his Opus 1!) is such a confection that is topped off by one of the most infectious movements in all of Romantic chamber music, the finale which is a rondo and fugue in 5/8 time. I defy anyone hearing this to go away without it playing in your head. It is one of my very favorite movements from that era. I imagine I've played it from this disc at least ten times. It's that good. There are other marvelous recordings of the Quintet by such groups as the Takacs Quartet with András Schiff Dohnanyi : Piano Quintet No. 1 in C minor/Sextet in C major, the Schubert Ensemble of London Dohnanyi: Piano Quintets, and the Vanbrugh Quartet with Martin Roscoe Dohnányi: The 2 Piano Quintets: No. 1 in C minor, Op. 1 / No. 2 in E flat minor, Op.26 / Suite in old Style, Op. 24 and several others. This one is right near the top.

The Dvorák Second Piano Quartet, Op. 87, has also been recorded many times. One of my favorites (actually above this one) is that by the now disbanded Domus with pianist Susan Tomes Dvorák: Piano Quartets Nos. 1 & 2, Opp. 23, 87, and includes the less-familiar First Piano Quartet as well. But the absolute top of the list is the one by the Emerson Quartet and Menahem Pressler Dvorak: Piano Quintet in A Major, Op. 81; Piano Quartet in E Flat Major, Op. 87 which also includes Dvorák's Piano Quintet. Such lovely music. It's given an excellent reading here but not quite of the same quality as that of the Dohnányi.

The short Élégie by Josef Suk rounds out the disc. It is wonderful, serene, nostalgic. This is not a performance that tips the balance in favor of this disc if only because it is so short, but every chamber music lover should own at least one performance of it.

The Ensemble Raro, with violinist Andrej Bielow, play wonderfully. It is of note that a member of the talented Sitkovetsky family, violinist Alexander Sitkovetsky, is in the group. He is the nephew of Dmitry Sitkovetsky and the grand-nephew of legendary violinist Julian Sitkovetsky and pianist Bella Davidovich. Some bloodline!

This is a good CD and if this repertoire appeals, it's worth buying.

Scott Morrison


Orchestral Music of the Schuncke Family
Orchestral Music of the Schuncke Family
Price: $19.60
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable Music from a Remarkable Musical Family, August 16, 2013
The Schuncke family is second only to the Bachs in producing generations of remarkable musicians. Over four generations they produced 23 professional musicians, most of them horn players and a number of them composers. Members of the family were, in the mid-nineteenth century, called 'the greatest horn virtuosos of their time'. This disc presents music composed by three of the Schunkes. I first became aware of the family from hearing a CD containing music of yet another Schunke, Louis SCHUNCKE:WORKS FOR PIANO. All the pieces on the present disc are given their first recordings.

First is the Concertante for Violin, Cello and Orchestra by third-generation Hugo Schunke (1823-1909). It is an early Romantic work whose forebear is clearly the violin/cello sinfonia concertante by Mozart but it sounds rather more like Mendelssohn or Spohr. The first movement is a rather loose sonata-allegro based on two complementary themes that are given thorough development. The second movement is an ABA Adagio with Bellini-esque melodies. It concludes with extensive cadenzas for both soloists before a rather perfunctory closing tutti paragraph. The finale (Allegro agitato) is entitled Rondo polacca; strangely, given this title, one section is titled 'Bolero'. There are, however, mazurka-like rhythms in the outer sections. Violinist Yasushi Ideue and cellist David Pia are able soloists.

Next comes the Horn Concerto by second-generation Johann Christoph Schunke (1791-1856, Hugo's uncle). Johann Christoph was himself a horn virtuoso and wrote the concerto for himself. It is one of the first concertos written for the newly developed valved chromatic horn. The first movement is a truncated sonata-allegro with virtually no development section but with bravura themes for the soloist. The second movement is a serene piece with a long arching cantilena for horn solo. It ends on a dominant seventh chord which leads directly into a joyously playful, even humorous, finale. Hornist Robert Langbein, principal horn in the Staatskappelle Dresden, is strikingly assured; it is hard to imagine this music being better played.

Finally we have the Symphony in B Major for Large Orchestra by third-generation Herrmann Schuncke (1825-1898). Little is known about him because pertinent records were lost in the Dresden fire-bombing in World War II. The symphony's first movement follows classic form: slow introduction leading to a sonata-allegro. The melodic content sounds to be derived from folkmusic. There is some rather awkward use of counterpoint. The Andante second movement sounds for all the world like something by Haydn, no criticism surely but perhaps bit anachronistic since it was written in 1850. The Minuet is a genial thing with bumptious accented chords, melodic leaps and chains of trills. The Rondo finale makes use melody over droning open fifths in the bass and reminds one of similar passages in Beethoven's 7th Symphony. The second subject continues the Beethovenian reminiscence which is then subjected to contrapuntal treatment.

None of these pieces of great music, but they are enjoyable for their own sake and certainly make us familiar with the work of a remarkable family of musicians. The performances by the Baden-Baden Philharmonic under Pavel Baleff are excellent.

Scott Morrison


Emmanuel Ax plays Chopin Sonata No. 3 and Works by Liszt
Emmanuel Ax plays Chopin Sonata No. 3 and Works by Liszt
Price: $14.38
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Stylish Chopin and Liszt by Emanuel Ax, August 16, 2013
This is a reissue of a recital that, as far as I know, has never been on CD before. It was originally issued on LP in 1975, when Emanuel Ax was a new figure on the international stage. The year before he was the grand prize winner in the very first Arthur Rubinstein International Piano Master Competition in Tel Aviv. When it was issued Ax's recording was given high praise with good reason. Although Ax was only 25 when he recorded it, his playing has all the hallmarks of a seasoned master.

As you can see the CD contains the magnificent B Minor Sonata No. 3 by Chopin, followed by five Schubert transcriptions by Liszt and then Liszt's own Gnomenreigen and his Paganini Etude, based on that ubiquitous Paganini theme so beloved by numerous composers.

The Chopin Sonata is given a fiery reading but with all its lyricism intact. This is a reading that ranks up there with those by Rubinstein, Ann Schein, Cherkassky, Lipatti, Cortot and others. There is tasteful and effective use of rubato, varied dynamics, phrasings dictated by the internal logic of the music itself. This is a great performance.

The Schubert transcriptions are lovable in their simplicity and songfulness. Liszt did not trick them out with unnecessary fireworks but, rather, treats them as the melodic gems they are. Ax does them proud. His legato is like butter. (Perhaps too evocative a simile, forgive me.) Finally we have two of the virtuosic blockbusters from Liszt's pen, played with joyous abandon.

This one is a keeper.

Scott Morrison
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Nov 25, 2013 5:11 AM PST


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