30 September, 2011

CD Recommendation: Vocal

CD Recommendation

Last week I heard at a friend's place L'Arpeggiata's Via Crucis (Virgin) album, and was immediately taken by it.

Today I was happy to find the ensemble's Monteverdi recording Teatro d'Amore (Virgin) in the public library. It is every bit as inviting, indeed the best Monteverdi disc I have heard. Sample the stunning singing in the youtube below of Lamento della Ninfa and you shall be converted.

These are some of the most beguiling sonorities and singing on disc.

16 September, 2011

Concert Review: HKPO-Renes-DeYoung-Skelton

Concert Review: HKPO-Renes-DeYoung-Skelton

September 2, CCCH
HKPO-Lawrence Renes-Michelle DeYoung-Stuart Skelton

I have always liked watching upcoming conductors more than tired "maestros", but my first encounter with Lawrence Renes, former protege of indisposed Edo de Waart and contender for the HKPO job, was a mixed bag. Renes had appeared with the HKPO before in Bruckner, which unfortunately I missed. Coming from the Dutch tradition, he is allegedly well schooled in Mahler and Bruckner.

I was surprised how the first half dragged. It was apparent Renes has good technique and clear direction, but the Mozart Jupiter sagged under an imposed weight that would more befit its immediate predecessor, the tragic G minor. The pedestrian performance was a curious blend of modern practice (little vibrato) and old sentiment (including slow tempo) that never took flight. Early on in his tenure with the HKPO, EdW had conducted this piece much more effectively (one of his best efforts).

The Mahler Das Lied von der Erde fared better but was not a complete success. Many of the orchestra's principals were on sabbaticals and their replacements had not quite gelled with the orchestra. The winds remained the perennial Achilles' heel, but overall the orchestral playing was good, loud enough when needed but too cool in temper. Best was Stuart Skelton, whose heldentenor quality was immediately apparent. I found Michelle DeYoung curiously lacking. On the surface, she produced some beautiful tones, but her interpretation was perhaps too considered and did not flow. The final movement, Der Abschied, was fragmentary and failed to resolve the piece.

14 September, 2011

Bach, Musica Antiqua Koln and Tadao Ando

Bach, Musica Antiqua Koln and Tadao Ando

I recently chanced upon this 2007 Berlin Classics DVD of Bach's Art of the Fugue. Two things caught my attention:

-it was played by my favorite Musica Antiqua Koln, who disbanded immediately after.

-the playing took place in a building (museum) in Germany designed by Tadao Ando.

I watched it on 中秋節 and was riveted by the musical performance. After a while, the (minimalist) architectural lines under the camera's obsessive scrutiny became tedious, even narcissistic, but the magnificent music carried the day.

The director of the film speaks here.

Someone has loaded most of the video on youtube. As you know, piecing things together this way is not at all easy. At the bottom is my feeble attempt. For completeness, I urge you to buy the video.

Contrapunctus 1:


Contrapunctus 4:

Canon a la ottava:

Contrapunctus 5:

Canon a la decima:

Contrapunctus 8 (click here; cannot embed)

Contrapunctus 9:

Contrapunctus 12:

Fuga a 2 Clavier:

Canon per augmentationem:

Contrapunctus 14: