A gorgeous Milhaud discovery, ravishing operatic Bizet and Philip Glass's Third Piano Concerto - plus a debut by Daniel Lozakovich, and a taster of a new Bernstein release
My discovery of the week comes courtesy of that splendid young Parisian ensemble, the Orchestre national de l’île-de-France. It’s a fizzing confection by Darius Milhaud rather in the manner of the Boutique Fantasque that Respighi fashioned from music by Rossini. Here Milhaud plunders the music of Schubert and Liszt but to add to the score’s allure he adds a part for pianola (and on this recording they’ve secured the services of Mr Pianola himself, Rex Lawson). The score was first heard at the Paris Opera in November 1928 in the same evening that Ravel’s Boléro was unveiled … It’s an absolute charmer!
I was playing through this playlist and tweaking it slightly over the course of the past week and every time I came to one of the orchestral pieces I was completely perplexed. Forgetting what it was I would sit there try to work it out from stylistic hints. Lush harmonies that become quite spiky, long almost Mahlerian lines, references to partial melodies … No, I couldn’t think what it was. Well, it turned out to be the Postlude from Leonard Bernstein’s A Quiet Place - a pre-release track that has me greatly looking forward to the complete recording under Kent Nagano. (Another pre-release track this week is a movement from a Bach violin concerto played by DG’s newest signing, the young Daniel Lozakovich.) And memories of Bernstein's wonderful way with Mahler are stirred by a very impressive new recording of Mahler's Fifth Symphony conducted by Adám Fischer, borther of Iván and proving that great conducting may be nature not nurture!
A new work for me was Philip Glass’s Piano Concerto played by its dedicatee, Simone Dinnerstein - it’s extraordinary the emotional impact his music can have from such apparently simple means.
A couple of example of stunning choral singing, one of music from the mists of time - Gallicantus singing O Pastor animarum by Hildegard of Bingen - the other, brand new, an Ave Maris Stella by James MacMillan sung by Paul McCreesh’s Gabrielis (and I’ve also included Jonathan Lane’s beautiful setting of There is No Rose).
Zoltán Kodály’s arresting Concerto for Orchestra, sadly rather overshadowed by Bartók’s, opens the playlist - terrific playing under the exciting Jakub Hrůša, and I’ve Debussy’s String Quartet, to mark his anniversary year, in a muscular and very striking new recording by the Jerusalem Quartet. And staying with things French, a couple of excerpts (including the obvious one!) from a fabulous and very Gallic new recording of Bizet’s The Pearl Fishers - more glorious singing from that wonderful young French tenor Cyrille Dubois (which made such an impression in John Nelson’s Erato recording of Berlioz’s Les Troyens late last year).
A symphony by Carl Friedrich Abel from Ian Page’s very impressive new album ‘Mozart in London’ also makes quite an impression, and is a fine introduction to a wonderfully programmed album.
Kodály Concerto for Orchestra
Rundfunk Sinfonieorchester Berlin / Jakub Hrůša (Penatatone)
Glass Piano Concerto No 3
Simone Dinnerstein; A Far Cry (Orange Mountain Music)
Bernstein A Quiet Place – Postlude
Orchestre Symphonique de Montréal / Kent Nagano (Decca)
Hildegard of Bingen O Pastor animarum
Gallincantus / Gabriel Crouch (Signum)
Milhaud/Schubert/Liszt La Bien-Aimée
Rex Lawson; Orchestre national de l'ile-de-France / Enrique Mazzola (NoMadMusic)
MacMillan Ave Maris Stella
Gabrielis / Paul McCreesh (Signum)
Mahler Symphony No 5 - Adagietto
Düsseldorfer Symphoniker / Adám Fischer (Avi-Music)
Bizet Les pêcheurs de perles - 'Au fond du temple saint'
Cyrille Dubois; Florian Sempey; Orchestre national de Lille / Alexandre Bloch (Pentatone)
Abel Symphony in E flat, Op 7 No 6
The Mozartists / Ian Page (Signum)
Bizet Les pêcheurs de perles - 'Me voilà seule dans la nuit'
Julie Fuchs; Orchestre national de Lille / Alexandre Bloch (Pentatone)
Debussy String Quartet
Jerusalem Quartet (Harmonia Mundi)
JS Bach Violin Concerto No 1 in A minor, BWV1041 - Allegro moderato
Daniel Lozakovich; Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchetsra Chamber Orchestra (DG)
Lane There is No Rose
Gabrielis / Paul McCreesh (Signum)