23 January, 2010

CDs From The Hong Kong Public Library: Listening Log (1)

CDs From The Hong Kong Public Library: Listening Log (1)

Note: With this post I'm creating a new series. In the past I've written more detailed "Listening Logs", but it's all too time-consuming to compose and load pics. With this new series, I shall be introducing CDs available in the HKPL libraries. I shall indicate where I have borrowed the CD, though it may be available in other branches. To save time I shall post links to pics rather than load pics of everything.

Exciting String players, mostly young
It's not easy to make a good album out of small pieces. Waxman's Carmen Fantasie opens Lara St John's Gypsy (WellTempered) (from City Hall), and it captured me immediately due to the marvelous pianism of "accompanist" Ilan Rechtman. The fiddling ain't bad either! The recording is absolutely stunning; the pizzicati just leap at you! This hugely enjoyable CD brings back memory of the wonderful Tianwa Yang's Sarasate (Naxos Volume 1; Volume 2) (available in many branches, including City Hall), all musts for violin fans. These I enjoy more than Chloe Hanslip's Bazzini (Naxos) as I find this composer a little monochromatic. It's amazing how many people only listen to the "soloist" and ignore the contribution of the accompanying musician(s). Think Heifetz: his orchestra's and conductors provide him with superb frameworks missing from much of their modern counterparts.

The library is suffused with Szymanowski CDs. Ever since I heard the magnificent (but much under-rated and neglected) Wanda Wilkomirska play the Violin Concertos (still benchmarks) I have become a fan of this composer. Ilya Kaler (Naxos) (City Hall) plays both concerti, whereas the very young and talented Nicola Benedetti (DG) (Tuen Mun) plays only the No. 1. Both CDs have excellent performances. The piano music is not to be missed either. Piotr Andreszewski's Masques and Piano Sonata 3 (Virgin) (City Hall) are spellbinding and given a superb recording.

Christian Poltera's Otmar Schoeck CD (BIS) (City Hall) shows a very fine player, and the music is rewarding. I think the library has his other BIS CDs, which I shall surely check out.

If you like baroque guitar music other than Bach (like Weiss and Pachebel etc) you might like Goran Sollscher's Eleven-String Baroque (DG) (City Hall). The sonority of the beefy instrument is interesting, but in the same repertoire I prefer the playing of lutist Hopkinson Smith (Harmonia Mundi). As for the guitar, how come few can play with the soul of Segovia?

I am not a fan of Lorin Maazel, but his VPO Mahler's 5th (Sony) (City Hall) is superb. The playing of the VPO is nonpareil; you simply hear more details. Despite occasional highlighting, sound is excellent. As you might expect, this is not a heart-on-sleeve interpretation but it's a penetrating one. Three of us listened to almost the whole thing Saturday afternoon!

No comments:

Post a Comment