The Listening Room: Episode 55 (14.1.19)

The Listening RoomMon 14th January 2019

Enchanting Offenbach from Jodie Devos, Ronald Brautigam's Mendelssohn, Stenhammer from Herbert Blomstedt in Gothenburg and pre-release tracks from Jan Lisiecki, Andreas Ottensamer and Long Yu

One of the wonderful things about the extraordinary range of music available to stream is that serendipitous experience of stumbling across something completely new. This week it is the music of Arnold Rosner, a composer whose name I’d never heard. Born in New York in 1945, he studied music but coming of age when serialism was still the order of the day, left the State University of New York at Buffalo having ‘learned almost nothing’ as he put it. Undeterred he went his own way, writing in a late-Romantic idiom and probably learning more from the composers he idolized like Hovhaness, Vaughan Williams and Nielsen. (His dissertation was on Hovhaness.) He taught music and for 30 years served as Professor of Music at Kingsborough Community College in New York. He wrote prolifically and Toccata Classics has recorded a trio of volumes of his music. Sample his Nocturne of 1978 to experience his very engaging musical voice.

On more familiar ground, a couple of larger works - Mendelssohn’s Piano Concerto No 2 in a sparkling period-instrument performance (a gorgeous-sounding copy of an Érard piano) by Ronald Brautigam, and Stenhammar’s delicious Serenade played by the Gothenburg Symphony (of which Stenhammar was Chief between 1907 and 1922) conducted by Herbert Blomstedt. 

I recently talked to Jennifer Pike for a Gramophone Podcast about her new Chandos album ‘The Polish Violin’ in which he connects with her Polish roots (her mother in Polish) and which features music by Szymanowski, Wieniawski and others, but also celebrates some of Poland’s great players like Pawel Kochanski. I’ve included Szymanowski’s heady Mythes this week, music that has one reaching for adjectives more appropriate for perfume.

That fine German bass-baritone (he sang bass roles as well as lower baritone parts) Theo Adam died last week at the age of 92, a much sought-after singers he recorded extensively having lived through the Golden Age of opera on disc and left a considerable legacy. I’ve chosen a trio of examples of his artistry - in Mozart and Wagner (the Dutchman was his most performed Wagner role).

Another singer who has made quite an impression this week is the Belgian coloratura soprano Jodie Devos who focuses on Offenbach on a new Alpha collection. What delicious singing and effervescent music! 

A handful of pre-release tracks to whet the appetite: Mendelssohn from Andreas Ottensamer and Yuja Wang (this is a partnership of real character) as well as from Jan Lisiecki (a former Gramophone Young Artist of the Year). The pianist Jeremy Denk is due to give us a characteristically imaginative programme ranging from Machaut from Ligeti, ‘c1300-c2000’. Along the way, he swings by Brahms - here’s his Intermezzo Op 119 No 1. And from a forthcoming Orff Carmina burana, recorded in Beijing as part of DG’s 120th anniversary celebrations, we’ve a taster of ‘O Fortuna’. 

Listen on:

SpotifyApple Music

The tracks:

Rosner Nocturne

London Philharmonic Orchestra / Nick Palmer (Toccata Classics) 

Offenbach Vert-Vert, Act 2 scene 2 – Air de la Corilla

Jodie Devos; Munich Radio Orchestra / Laurent Campellone (Alpha)

Mendelssohn Piano Concerto No 2 

Ronald Brautigam; Die Kölner Akademie / Michael Aleander Willens (BIS)

Debussy Chansons de Bilitis 

Sarah Fox; François Le Roux; Graham Johnson (Klavier-Festival Ruhr)

Szymanowski Mythes

Jennifer Pike; Petr Limonov (Chandos)

Stenhammar Serenade

Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra / Herbert Blomstedt (BIS)

Offenbach Les contes d'Offenbach, Act 1 – Les couplets de la poupée

Jodie Devos; Munich Radio Orchestra / Laurent Campellone (Alpha)

Reger Lose Blätter – XII, Choral

Markus Becker (Avi)  

Mozart Requiem – Tuba mirum

Theo Adam; Staatskapelle Dresden / Peter Schreier (Philips/Decca)

Mendelssohn Lieder ohne Worte, Op 67 – No 2, Allegro leggiero (arr Ottensamer)

Andreas Ottensamer; Yuja Wang (DG) PRE-RELEASE TRACK

Brahms Die schöne Magelone – 3, 'Sind es Schmerzen, sind es Freuden'

John Chest; Marcelo Amaral (Glossa)

Brahms Vier Klavierstücke, Op 119 – No 1, Intermezzo in B minor 

Jeremy Denk (Nonesuch) PRE-RELEASE TRACK

Mozart Don Giovanni, Act 1 – 'Madamina, il catalogo questo' 

Theo Adam; Staatskapelle Dresden / Otmar Suitner (Berlin Classics)

Mendelssohn Lieder ohne Worte, Op 19 – No 6 in G minor

Jan Lisiecki (DG) PRE-RELEASE TRACK

Wagner Der fliegende Holländer, Act 1 – 'Die Frist ist um' 

Theo Adam; Staatskapelle Berlin / Otmar Suitner (Berlin Classics)

Orff Carmina burana – 'O Fortuna' 

Wiener Singakademie; Shanghai Symphony Orchestra / Long Yu (DG) PRE-RELEASE TRACK

The Listening Room

James Jolly's weekly exploration of the newest and most interesting classical releases. Available on Spotify, Apple Music and Qobuz

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