29 January 2019

Well, before I could transfer my reviews of Rigel and Reich, as I intended to in the wake of those of Riley and Riegger (see my blog posts of yesterday and January 23) and , I saw on my shelves two CDs that had been sitting there for decades, not only from before the time I started to review on Amazon, but in the case of the oldest one even before the internet and cell phones were invented: Franz Xaver Richter’s Leçons des Ténèbres (Lamentations) on Cyprès CYP1624 (2000) and Emil Nikolaus von Reznicek’s Symphonies Nos. 3 & 4 on Schwann Musica Mundi CD 11091 (1986) – the latter was among the very first batch of CDs to be issued by the label. Transferring old reviews is fine, I said to myself, but posting new reviews (even of old stuff) is necessary to. So I did Richter (and was reminded that I hadn’t been bowled over that CD when it enterered my collection). Now listen to Reznicek.

28 January 2019

The closest on my shelves to Riley (other than Wolfgang Rihm, but I’ve done Rihm already): Wallingford Riegger and Jean-Joseph Rigel. So I transferred my Amazon reviews of Riegger (1885-1961) – a pet composer of mine, an all-but forgotten American modernist and maybe the most unjustly neglected “important American composer” of the 20th century, one of the first introducters of Schoenberg’s Twelve-Tone technique in the US but also an eclectic, and a composer and orchestrator of great imagination and whimsicality.

And now, Rigel (1741-1799, an all-but forgotten French composer from the end of Ancient Regime and Revolutionary era).

26 January 2019

Many references in my reviews of Terry Riley to his friend and mentor LaMonte Young and to Young’s magnum opus The Well-Tuned Piano, published on a 5-CD set from Gramavision, 8-8701-2, in 1987, so I imported my review from Amazon.com. 30+ years ago (ouch!), my attention had been alerted to the set by a long interview of Young published in the Fanfare issue of September 1987, and I quickly purchased it. Good investment, if I look at the prices now demanded for it on the marketplace. That said, as they say, I ain’t rich until I’ve sold, and I have no intention to – although, despite its cult-status, I am personally very skeptical about the work itself, and the composer.

24 january 2019

An offshoot from the original Paris Swingle Singers  (1963-1973): the 1976 album “Quire is a choir” (reissued to CD in Japan in 2002), performed by Christiane Legrand and two other former members of the ensemble (and joined by a fourth singer to form a vocal quartet). I chanced upon a contemporary review as I was working on my “ultimate” Swingle Singers discography. The ensemble, underpinned by a small rhythmic section comprised of stalwarts from the Swingle Singers era, like Daniel Humair and Guy Pedersen, covers – “imitates”, or “reproduces”, would be even better words, when you look at the process of making the album – some great jazz standards, in the dee-dumming style invented by Ward Swingle. Exciting, fun, and sometimes – when the sopranos have to go in the stratosphere to imitate the upper reaches of the piano – even clownesque. It was the group’s only album.

23 January 2019

My reviews of the string quartets of Kevin Volans, which I brought over here from Amazon.com, made references to Terry Riley’s series of string quartets written in the 1980s for the Kronos Quartet, because they both offered a mesmerizing blend of “World-Music Meets The Classical Tradition”. So I imported my reviews of Terry Riley (except for those of “In C”, stay tuned).

Now I need to do Steve Reich….

21 January 2019

The one pain in the butt with this website is with collection CDs. Because of my composers’ index, when I review a CD with multiple composers, I’ll reference the CD in the introductory page of each of them. And when the introductory page doesn’t exist yet, I have to create it. So when it’s a CD like Folk Songs on Dischi Rircordi CRMCD 1009 (1989), an homage to Berio collecting works by composers who, for most of them, are not prominent, I’ve got to create an entry for each: Betty Olivero, Andrea Mascagni, Carlo Galante, Zygmunt Krauze, Virgilio Savona, Salvatore Sciarrino, Claudio Ambrosini, Andrej Petrov, Luca Francesconi, Hubert Stuppner and Walter Zimmermann: that’s 11 times as much work as with a single-composer CD… VERY tedious. Of course, once the entry is created, it’s done, and I can reuse it whenever I review another CD of the same composer. I know already that it will be the case with Sciarino, Francesconi and possibly Krauze. But the others? They are so “non-prominent” (I don’t want to say “obscure” and avoid offending anybody!), that chances are, I’ll never review anything else of them. Same thing with The Kronos Quartet’s “Pieces of Africa” on Elektra Nonesuch, with works African musicians Dumisani Maraire, Hassan Hakmoun, Foday Musa Suso, Justinian Tamusuza, Hamza El Din, Obo Addy, Kevin Volans. Among them, only Volans is the composer with multiple entries and reviews…

20 January 2019

Long time no post, but I’ve been working like hell on my Swingle Singers discography (see my blog post of 26 December 2018). I Apparently I haven’t moved beyond the publication of part I (but I’m constantly complementing that one), dealing with the Paris Swingles, 1963-1973. Part II (early London Swingles, 1974-1984) and III (Swingles to present) are still in draft form, because each discography links to the individual reviews and I have many of those still to repost.

That said, I’m a little stalled at this instant, because I can’t find my CD of Berio’s A-Ronne & Cries of London on Decca! To my present surprise, I hadn’t reviewed it on Amazon, so I’d like to do so here. But it’s not on the shelf with its Berio companions where it should be, it’s not on the shelf of the recently acquired Berio CDs still to be listened to, not in various other boxes our drawers where I thought it might be if it wasn’t in the most obvious places…. To be honest, my many CD boxes are invasive and messy, so I don’t think it’s lost. Just… somewhere. The recordings are on You Tube, I guess I could review the bloody CD without even actually having it… but it would be more satisfactory if I could find it!

So, in the meanwhile, as a recreation of sorts, I decided to import all my reviews of CDs of South-African composer Kevin Volans.It’s something I had wanted to do for quite some time, the box had been laying there under my bed… Now it’s done. Click on the link of my Volans introductory page to access all the reviews.

1 January 2019

To be honest, I’m cheating. I haven’t posted this blog post on January 1. In fact I write it on January 20 and have edited the publication date. But it’s something I had been thinking of since January 1: my list of good (discographic) resolutions for 2019 – the ones I know already I WON’T comply with, no way.

– OPEN the hundreds of CD boxes that I’ve purchased and not opened since 2016 and Trump’s election, and sort out all those CDs (no, not actually LISTEN to them, I can’t do that in a year, 100 is more likely: just list them and put them up for further listening).

– Transfer from Amazon my reviews of Mahler, Schubert’s two quintets, Toscanini (that is to oblige Laurence Levine who had again some very kind words for me in an exchange over here), Beethoven’s Concertos and I’ll probably think of a few other cycles to boot…. [a postscript and reminder to myself: Gossec, Cowell, Henry Brant, Ten Holt, Tippett, Malipiero’s symphonies…]

– Complete listening to and reviewing my many recordings of Mahler’s symphonies, Beethoven’s Concertos and Symphonies, Schubert’s 8th and 9th, last String Quartets… Bach’s B-minor Mass and Goldberg Variations…. Brahms’ Concertos… Bartòk, Stravinsky, Honegger….

– Hey, maybe even transfer over here from Amazon my great Mercury discography (78s and early LPs, and CD reissues) and publish here my great, huge and complete discographies of defunct CD labels, Vanguard, Dante, Adda, Collins Classics, and many others that I maintain. Oh, and my great Tippett discography, of course. [afterthought 30 January:] And Concerto Köln.

– Digitalize, listen to and review the few LPs that I have bought these last few years (some rare Soviet Honeggers, Tippett, Swingle Singers – stuff never reissued to CD) and maybe some of the unreissued LPs that had already been in my collection.

That’s enough for 2019 and 2020 (I’m cheating again: I’ll constantly add on to this list as new ideas and wishes come to mind). I’ll use this list not as an injuction, but as a reminder of my wishes at the begining of the year.