12 February 2018

Yesterday and today, posted (not reposts from Amazon, but reviews written back in 2013 and pending):

Mravinsky‘s extraordinary Symphony Liturgique recorded live in 1965 with its many CD editions

Ansermet’s complete stereo Honegger, Arthur Honegger: Symphonies Nos. 2-4, Pacific 231, Le Roi David, Une Cantate de Noël. Frank Martin: In Terra Pax. Ernest Ansermet, Orchestre de la Suisse Romande. 3 CDs Eloquence 480 2316 (2012)

Locating all (I hope) the CD reissues, including those from Japan (sleuth work!); finding suitable front and back cover scans or photos (back covers are sometimes hard to find, but that’s where the essential information is located); linking all the references to other versions, inserting photos… Lots of work!

10 February 2018

I’ve added Michel Plasson‘s recording of the complete symphonies of Honegger.

I’ve also added an addendum to my review of Baudo’s complete cycle. I had been puzzled ever since reviewing it back in 2013 of the sonic problems with the transfers of both the Western and Japanese reissues – especially since they were the inverted image of each other: in the Western set, the sonics were great, but incomprehensibly the transfer of the First Symphony was problematic, hollow and metallic, while those problems did not affect the 4th symphony, although it was recorded at the same sessions in 1973. In the later Japanese reissue, the First was great … but the all the rest was problematic, “not as clear, present and vivid as those of the earlier set”… and it is the Fourth that fared worst. All this seemed so senseless that I wondered if it hadn’t been a trick of my imagination when I had reviewed both sets five years ago. So I ripped both Symphonies 1 & 4 onto Audacity to compare the dynamic curves. Eloquent – and definitely NOT a product of my imagination. But still senseless.

9 February 2017

What takes a lot of time in posting here all the Honegger reviews, are all the cross-references. Each review will mention a number of comparative versions, including some that I haven’t yet transferred over here. So I keep not, and when I do transfer and post the relevant review, I need to go back to the first one and link it. I’ve just re-posted my review of Serge Baudo’s complete cycle on Supraphon, and because of the set’s historical and musical significance, I had quoted it a lot in other reviews. So link, link, link.

And I’ve got so much more that I need to bring over. The complete cycles of Plasson, Dutoit and Luisi… The individual symphonies of Mravinsky (great Liturgique), Winkler (great Liturgique), Munch’s 2nd with Orchestre de Paris and 4 with Orchestre Lamoureux, Ansermet’s Liturgique, Järvi (great Liturgique & 5), Jansons (fine 2 & 3), Fournet (great Liturgique, very idiosyncratic, very unique), Rozhdestvensky (very personal takes on 1, 2 and 5), Yuasa, Russell-Davies, Lopez-Cobos, Vasary, Turovsky… and the LP versions! Michel Tabachnik in 1, Jean-François Paillard, Izler Solomon in 2, Robert Denzler in 3…  Plasson’s tone poems on DG… The Christmas Cantatas of Michel Corboz, Thierry Fischer and Vladimir Jurowski…. La Danse des morts by Henry Vachey… Cris du Monde by Baudo (in Czech!) on Praga… And the Concertos… It’s going to take some time….

8 February 2018

No time today to post or repost Honegger reviews, regrettably. But I was able to find the fix for one little glitch that had bothered me since the beginning of this webiste: how to prevent that clicking on one of the cover photos posted on any review would load the photo’s page. The problem is that, now, I’m going to have to go back to every single review posted here and fix individually each photo (and there are at least two per review, back and front cover – and sometimes many more). And the fix requires five clicks per photo…. So I spent my time today fixing all my Honeggers…

I also pulled out my rare Honegger LPs – to which I make some references in some of those reviews -, scanned them and added them where relevant. Very happy with the result. Collector’s glee.

7 February 2018

Two new posts, one a transfer from Amazon, the other from notes I had taken back in 2013 but not published:

Arthur Honegger: Symphony No. 3 “Liturgique”, Chant de Joie, Horace Victorieux. Basler Sinfonie-Orchester, Paul Sacher. Pan Classics 510 053 (1992), Accord 203 022 (1995?)

and Paul Sacher conducts works personally commissioned: Bartók (Divertimento), Stravinsky (Concerto in D), Honegger (Symphony No. 2). Primož Novšak, solo violin (Bartók), Henri Adelbrecht, trumpet (Honegger), Collegium Musicum Zurich. Erato Japan ECD 75545 (1989)

As the commissioner and premiere performer of many of Honegger’s masterpieces (Symphonies 2 to 4, La Danse des Morts, the Christmas Cantata, Concerto da camera), Sacher has unique legitimacy in this repertoire, and any document of him conducting these works is of paramount interest (he also recorded the Christmas Cantata in 1954 and the Concerto da camera on a small Swiss label at the end of the LP era, but no recording of him in the 4th Sympony and Danse des morts has surfaced commercially). That said, the great admiration bestowed upon him for his role as a patron did not always extend to his skills as a conductor, and it is illustrated here: his Second Symphony is one of the most tensionless I’ve heard, and his Liturgique is nothing special.

I’m reminded that I also have a few rare LPs of Honegger, recordings that were never reissued to CD, or only from unofficial labels and as transfers directly from the LPs, and that I wrote reviews of those too (or took detailed notes for reviews) that I never published on Amazon. In fact, for one of them, Symphonie liturgique by Robert Denzler on Decca in 1955 (and a great performance too), I DID publish the review under the entry for the LP… and the entry was suppressed shortly after… (the recording was reissued by Decca in 2015, on their mammoth set “The Decca Sound: The Mono Years 1944-1956”, which I bought almost only for that recording). So I need to post all those too on Discophage.com

 

 

6 February 2018

Not much time today to work on my transfers. I did import

Darius Milhaud: Les Choéphores (Geneviève Moizan, soprano. Hélène Bouvier, Electra. Heinz Refhfuss, Orestes. Claude Nollier, speaker. Chorale de l’Université). Arthur Honegger: Symphony No. 5 “Di tre re”. Albert Roussel: Bacchus et Ariane Suite No. 2. Orchestre Lamoureux, Igor Markevitch. DG “The Originals” 449 748-2 (1997)

and Milhaud: Les Choéphores/The Libation Bearers (Vera Zorina, McHenry Boatright, Irene Jordan, Virginia Babikian, Schola Cantorum of New York), Roussel: Symphony No. 3, Honegger: Rugby, Pacific 231. Leonard Bernstein, New York Philharmonic. Sony Masterworks Heritage MHK 62352 (1996) (the later is not a repost from Amazon, I had witheld it at the time pending review of the Roussel part).

5 February 2018

Today posted review of the Honegger part of Johannes Brams: Symphony No. 2, Arthur Honegger: Symphony No. 3 “Liturgique”. Boston Symphony Orchestra, Charles Munch . Multisonic 31 0025-2 (1990). Not a re-post from Amazon, although the review was written back when I was reviewing all that Honegger in 2013, but I hadn’t published it pending review of the Brahms part – and when I’ll do that is anybody’s guess. It’s an important addition to the Munch and Honegger discographies, as it is the only document of Munch in that work.

Same with Les grands concerts inédits du Théâtre des Champs-Elysées, vol. 3. Charles Munch dirige Claude Debussy (Iberia, Fantasie for piano & orchestra w. Nicole Henriot, La Mer), Arthur Honegger (Symphony no. 1), Henry Dutilleux (Symphony No. 2 “Le Double”), Albert Roussel (Bacchus et Ariane Suite No. 2). Orchestre National. 2 CDs Disques Montaigne TCE 8730As with the Liturgique on Multisonics, it is the only documentation of Munch in the First Symphony and it is so far the only part that I’ve reviewed. Thanks to those live First and Third we’ve got the complete picture of Munch in Honegger’s symphonies.

On the other hand, Milhaud: Music for Prague, Symphony No. 10, Honegger: Symphony No. 2. Czech Philharmonic Orchestra, Darius Milhaud, Charles Munch. Multisonic 31 0022-2 is the respost of a review already published on Amazon. It is possibly Munch’s most intense and raging account of the 2nd Symphony.

4 February 2018 – I’ll win this fight, Amazon

Morning. Got a response from Amazon Communities and it is as I expected:

Sent: Sunday, February 4, 2018 4:09 AM
To: discophage
Subject: A message from Communities

Hello,

I’ve researched your previous correspondence and re-evaluated your Customer Review for “Rugby.” After careful consideration, I agree with my colleague’s decision that the review violated our posted guidelines. Specifically, the following parts cannot be posted on Amazon.com:

.. I have (as of February 1, 2018) transferred it to my own website and replaced it with this short summary. Join me on my website! You will find there much more than I can post here. The link is on My Profile.

Your review can’t be posted on Amazon.com as written. However, you’re welcome to resubmit your review, restricting your comments to the item.

The irony of it is that, simultaneously, I receive notification that my summary / comment for Munch’s Boston Symphony Honegger on RCA, which I had posted three days ago and had not appeared online – and which ended with exactly the same sentence – was approved for posting (and likewise with my summarized review for Ansermet’s Christmas Cantata).

Anyway, I found the go around. Yesterday I posted similar summary / comments for Munch’s Danse des Morts and Second Symphony, ending with “This is the summary (from February 3, 2018) of a review that was originally much longer, detailed and substantiated, with links and in-depth interpretive comparisons with other versions, including Munch’s own. To know more about it, visit my Profile“, and that got posted instantly. I’ll win this fight, Amazon.

And a P.S. from the afternoon: yep, that seems to work. Now I feel a little like David Bowman disconnecting Hal 9000. Only, it’s going to take me longer.

I’ve added Orchestre National de France – Charles Munch dirige Honegger: Le Chant de Nigamon, Pastorale d’été, Symphony No. 2 & 5 “di tre re” (1962, 1964). Disques Montaigne MUN 2051 (1989), Valois / Audivis V-4831 (1998) – and I like the looks of my Honegger introductory page, which turns out to be a commented discography.

3 February 2018 – the fight with those fucks at Amazon continues

More transfers yesterday:

Honegger: Symphony No. 2, Symphony No. 4, Une Cantate de Noël. Pierre Mollet, Orchestre de la Suisse Romande, Ernest Ansermet. Decca / London “entreprise” 430 350-2 (1991) and subsequent CD editions

Honegger: Symphony No. 2, Symphony No. 5. Milhaud: Suite provençale op. 152, La Création du Monde. Boston Symphony Orchestra, Charles Munch. RCA GD60685 (1991) and subsequent CD editions

Honegger: Pacific 231, Rugby, Pastorale d’été, Une Cantate de Noël. Camille Mauranne, Choeurs & Orchestre National de l’O.R.T.F, Jean Martinon. EMI “L’Esprit français” CDM 7 63944 2 (1991) and subsequent CD editions

Only three, because – hey, lots of work! Finding all the details about the Japanese editions, label numbers, barcodes, relevant cover photos, was extremely time-consuming.

And three added today (that today may have spilled over tomorrow…):

Charles Münch volume 3 “The Münch Brothers conduct Arthur Honegger”: La Danse des Morts, Symphony No. 2 (Orchestre de la Société des Concerts du Conservatoire, Charles Münch), King David – excerpts (Choeurs de Saint Guillaume, Orchestre Municipal de Strasbourg, Fritz Münch).  Dante Lys 292 (1998)

Charles Munch: La France résistante. Arthur Honegger: La Danse des Morts, Symphony No. 2. Jolivet: Les Trois Complaintes du Soldat. Cascavelle Vel 3060 (2005)

Charles Munch in Boston – The Early Years (Previously Unissued Concert Performances 1952-55). 7 CDs West Hill Radio Archives WHRA 6015 (2007) (with Munch’s live and extraordinary performance of La Danse des Morts from December 1952)

 

And the fight with Amazon continues. So, each time I’m done transferring the review over here, I replace it with a short summary and an invitation to read the longer review on my website. Most of these emended versions have NOT gotten online. I made a request on one the other day and they put it online. I made a new request on the next one yesterday and got the answer: “promotional content”. Nothing else, no pointing our of what exactly is “promotional” and how it is “promotional”. And those fucks not only did not post the summary, they deleted the original version altogether, which had been online for five years. No more review under the entry (it was for the Alpha edition of Honegger by Honegger).

I suspect why: it’s the invitation to visit my website (although the answer to my first request did not raise the issue). Well, I’m playing dumb and fighting back. Anyway I read carefully Amazon’s guidelines about promotional content and it says nowhere that you can’t invite readers to visit your non-commercial website. They even invite you to provide the link to your website on your Profile.

My message to Amazon:

“Re my request that you check why my modification of my review ASIN B000I2KJII (barcode 3760014198021), Arthur Honegger “Rugby” (CD). was not posted, you respond that this new version of my review contains “promtional content” – BUT YOU DON’T SAY WHICH. WHERE, IN WHAT SENTENCE. This is totally unhelpful, I DO NOT KNOW what to fix. Please single out lines or paragraphs that contain promotional content.

I HAVE CAREFULLY READ the guidelines about promotional content, and I don’t see where my review breached them.

I have not created, modified, or posted content regarding my (or my relative’s, close friend’s, associate’s, or employer’s) products or services, my competitors’, or in exchange for compensatition of any kind, or offered or requested compensation, or posted advertisements or sollicitations, including URLs with referrer tags or affiliate codes.

I am not a product brand posting a review for my own product. I am not a customer posting a review in exchange for entry into a contest or sweepstages or membership in a program, or for bonus -in-game contents or credits, or to boost sales, or because I was promised a refund in exchange for the review, or a negative review about a competitor’s product, or a postive review in exchange of someone else’s positive review; etc, etc, etc.

You are mis-applying your own guidelines about promotional content.

In addition, WHY WAS the previous and longer version of that review also deleted? It has been online for 5 YEARS. Did it contain promotional content, too ? Which? Where ?

And the guidelines state that if a review is removed because it contains promotional content, even a modified version without the purported promotional content CANNOT be reposted?

So you pretend there is promotional content in the review which you have not demonstrated, delete the previous version which you DO NOT CLAIM contained promotional content, and then bar me from even reposting review without what you claim was the promotional content (if you can underline what that supposedly was) ?

What is the meaning of this bullying your customers?”

Amazon has moved from being reviewer-friendly to reviewer-hateful. I think it is more through incompetence than intention, but still, in my opinion, they are shooting a bullet in their own foot. Their community, not of “consummers”, but of users, and their reviewing system, was one of the company’s main assets. They are squandering it all.

1 February 2018

Well – I started. And since it is re: a review of a Honegger CD that I got really pissed at Amazon (see my blog-posts of January 29 and January 30), I decided to start by transferring my many Honegger reviews over here, and replacing them on Amazon with short summaries and invitations to visit my website. It’s going to take quite a while, because it is never a process of simply copying and pasting, but more of copying, pasting, scanning front and back covers, writing the complete credits and product info, sometimes adding relevant iconography, updating the reviews, changing the links, etc, etc.

But I started, and I decided to start with the historical recordings:

Collection Piero Coppola vol. 3: La Musique Française du XXème Siècle (Roussel: Suite en fa op. 33, Naissance de la Lyre op. 24 excerpt. Honegger: Pacific 231, Rugby. Schmitt: La Tragédie de Salomé. Rabaud: Mârouf Savetier du Caire Danses. Golestan: Rapsodie Roumaine). Dante Lys 373 (1998)

Honegger conducts Honegger (La Tempête-Prélude, Pastorale d’été, Pacific 231, Rugby, Les Aventures du Roi Pausole: Overture & Ballet, Symphonie “Liturgique”). Rhené-Bâton conducts Le Chant de Nigamon. Music & Arts CD-767 (1993)

Honegger conducts Honegger (Pacific 231, Rugby, Prelude to the Tempest, Pastoral D’été [sic], Les Aventures du roi Pausole: Overture & Ballet, Concerto for cello w. Maurice Maréchal). Maurice Jaubert conducts Jaubert: Ballade. Gabriel Pierné conducts Pierné: Ramuntcho. Dutton CDBP 9764 (2006)

Arthur Honegger: “Rugby” – Interprétations historiques sous la direction du compositeur (Pacific 231, Rugby, Symphony No. 3 “Liturgique”, three out of Quatre Chansons pour voix grave orchestral version w. Madeleine Martinetti, two excerpts from Apollinaire’s Alcools w. Dolores de Silvera, Trois Psaumes, two excerpts from Quatre Chansons pour voix grave piano version w. Eliette Schenneberg, two excerpts from Trois Chansons de la petite sirène w. Claire Croiza). Alpha 802 (2008)

Les Rarissimes de Arthur Honegger: Une Cantate de Noël (A Christmas Cantata), Cris du Monde, Nicolas de Flue, Rugby, Pacific 231. Georges Tzipine, Orchestre National de la Radiodiffusion française, Orchestre de la Société des Concerts du Conservatoire. (2 CDs) EMI 5 86477 2 (2005)

Honegger: Pacific 231, Rugby, Mouvement symphonique No. 3, Prelude pour “La Tempête”, Pastorale d’été, Chant de joie. Stravinsky: Pétrouchka. Hermann Scherchen, Royal Philharmonic Orchestra. Westminster 289 471 245-2 (2001)

And an escapade to a more recent, and famed recording: Honegger: Symphony No. 2 for string orchestra & trumpet, Symphony No. 3 “Liturgique”. Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra, Herbert von Karajan. DG 20th Century Classics 423 242-2 (1988), reissued on DG “The Originals” 447 435-2 with Stravinsky’s Concerto for strings in D (1995).

And a post-script: having just transfered my review of the twofer Les Rarissimes of Honegger conducted by Georges Tzipine (see link above), I am reminded that there are strange connexions between my activities as a reviewer on Amazon, and Honegger. So, it is because Amazon.com pissed me on re-posting a review already posted of a Honegger disc that I decided to really jump out of the train – and have started doing it.

But it’s also a Honegger review that, back in 2006, sent me to Amazon.com to post my reviews. When I decided to post reviews on Amazon, the obvious choice to me was to post them on Amazon.fr (and in French, of course).  But I soon found the process extremely tedious and unwelcoming: many of my reviews wouldn’t get posted, I never received an explanation why, I figured out that, apparently, any review that was over 500 words was simply barred (although the limit established in Amazon’s own guidelines is 1,000). But the last straw with Amazon.fr came when I tried to post that review for EMI’s Rarissimes of Honegger by Tzipine. It didn’t get posted. In inquired why. I got in answer, which baffled and infuriated me. The review started something like: “Shame on EMI-France for not systematically maintaining in their catalog some of the sets they had published in the 1990s in the collection “Les Introuvables”, for which some internet sellers are now asking ludicrous prices. But still, praise them for pursuing their reissue effort in this new collection “Les Rarissimes” and making available again some of the finest collectibles from the late 78rpms and early LP era, from their own archive or the vaults of the French label Ducretet-Thompson“.

Well, the asses who screened the reviews at Amazon.fr responded: “libel”.

WTF??? Hey guys, I know a thing or two about libel laws in France. I know that in France free speech is more limited than in the US and libel laws stricter. But, NO you people, saying “shame on EMI for not keeping this or that available but praise them for making other things available” is NOT, not even close to (and not even far from, because metaphors of distance simply wouldn’t even apply) “slander”.

So I had people screening my reviews, that were incompetent both in classical music AND in the law, and they were making my life needlessly complicated. Jeeeezus!

But then, my first reaction was to say, “hey what the heck”, bite the bullet and mollify that first sentence, like “a pity that EMI-France hasn’t maintained….”. Ah, but, no…. although the review had been barred, the “system” (makes me think of Kafka’s Castle) considered that I had published a review, and barred me from posting another one under the same entry.

So: fuck Amazon.fr and go to hell if you don’t want my reviews and are afraid of your own shadow. And I moved my reviewing to Amazon.com, where to my great marvel most of my reviews got posted immediately with no apparent screening, even if they approached the 1,000-word limit (which I later discovered was in fact NOT a limit, just a recommendation – it is only passed 5,000 that the system wouldn’t accept a review) and staff was responsive and nice whenever I inquired about problems.

Ah but those were the heydays of Amazon.com, that’s over now. But how strange it is that a Honegger review would open that cycle and another one would close it, no? Ghost of Arthur, what are you trying to tell me?