Latest additions and reviews

13 October 2016

A small step for mankind but a great step for my website: I’ve figured out how to use the image magnifier plugin. Indispensable. I’ve been and will be posting many scans of CD front and backcovers. And it’s really the backcovers that provide the important information: track listing, performers, sometimes recording information, and, most important of all: barcode, which is the surest why to find the CD on most commercial websites.

But so far, I’ve inserted the photos side by side, at a size that would fit the page when it was almost entirely wide open on a computer screen. This didn’t go to well when width was reduced, photos would then be repositioned on top of each other. And who knows how they look on portable devices with small screens, smartphones and all… And anyway, even at that size, I didn’t find the backcover informaton always very legible.

So I really needed to find a magnifying application like those on Amazon or eBay, by which you can insert the image in smaller size, but then hover over it or click on it and it opens some kind of pop-up window from which you can see the image in much closer detail.

Well, I have. It’s not perfect but it’s good enough. Now of course I have to go back to each of my reviews and change the image settings. Sigh… Oh well, it did serve a purpose. I found a few typos, some missing links and, horror, even some reviews entirely missing their photos! How could I let that pass?

12 October 2016

Yep, no reviews posted in he last few days. One or two are almost ready, I spent some time listening to Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach’s Double Concertos, I need to put the finishing touches to them. But checking some niceties about the discs’ barcodes sent me furiously compiling discographies of various labels, Erato’s early years (whence I discovered that they had a specific barcode for US distribution) and, one thing leading to  the other (sometimes, just a mislisted CD on Amazon that I had to figure out), the Dutch Etcetera, MCA Classics and its sublabel Arts & Electronics.

But, finally, I had time to listen to and review Robert Volkmann’s two Piano Trios on Cpo. Magnificent works, of Brahmsian sweep and intensity, and, really, of equal stature as those of Brahms. Why are Brahms’ so universally popular and recorded, and those of Volkmann so unknown? Oh, a number of reasons I’m sure (see my review) – but not because of their unequal musical merit. The two of Volkmann belong with those of Brahms, and posterity is a bitch…

4 October 2016

Following my review of Spectrum: New American Music on Elektra Nonesuch 9 79222-2 (see my previous post), I needed to create the respective composers’ introductory pages. I started with Babbitt – and I had a helluva hard time writing it. It’s not that I lacked ideas and things to say (not me!…), it’s rather than I had too many. It’s something to have a bunch of ideas and things to say, and something else to organize them in a coherent and non-contradictory whole, with a beginning (Babbitt’s “historical” and infamous article published in the February 1958 issue of High Fidelity, “Who Cares If You Listen”), a conclusion (as sympathetic as I am with avant-garde music, the music of Babbitt usually loses me), and a logical unfolding implacably leading from one to the other. Well… I’ve published the page. Whether its logic is implacable, I wouldn’t stake my hand on it…

The introductions to the other composers featured on the disc, Rochberg, Shifrin, Wernick, Wolpe, were easier to write – and much shorter, too.

29 September 2016

Since I had mentioned Volkmann in my yesterday review of Draeseke, I transfered my reviews of his music from Amazon:

Complete Orchestral Works (Overture “Richard III” op. 68, Symphony No. 1 op. 44, Symphony No. 2 op. 53, Cello Concerto op. 33, Overture op. posth. In C major). Johannes Wohlmacher (cello), Nordwestdeutsche Philharmonie, Werner Andreas Albert. Cpo 999 151-2 (2 CDs) (1994)

Serenades 1-3. Carl Reinecke: Serenade in G minor. Deutsche Kammerakademie Neuss am Rhein, Johannes Goricki. Cpo 999 159-2 (1994)

 

28 September 2016

Takes more time to listen to and review a CD of music that doesn’t win you over, than one that does. What is it that makes a memorable tune, and what it is that is lacking in well-crafted music to make it tuneful in a way that will imprint in your memory? I don’t know, I don’t have the technical equipment to define it precisely – and I’m not sure anybody has, or they’d be rich writing loads of tuneful music. But it’s one of those things you can’t define but that you recognize immediately when you encounter it… or don’t. Still, it’s a very subjective matter, and other may, and in fact have, reacted very differently to the same music. By the same token, some don’t hear memorable tunes in Mahler, or Stravinsky, or Bartòk.

Anyway, I posted my review of Felix Draeseke: Symphony No. 1 op. 12, Piano Concerto op. 36. Claudius Tanski, Wuppertal SO, George Hanson. MDG 335 0929-2 (1999)

 

26 September 2016

Last few days without publication, but I was spending some listening time on the chamber music of Félicien David:

Félicien David: Piano Trios Nos. 2 & 3. Eszter Perenyi (violin), Tibor Parkanyi (cello), Ilona Prunyi (piano). Marco Polo 8.223492 (1993), Naxos Patrimoine (France) 8.55083 (1993)

Félicien David: “Le Souvenir” (Trio No. 1, 3rd Quartet, “Le Souvenir” and “Le Caprice” for cello and piano, “Pensée” and “Absence” for piano, three arrangements from David’s operas “Lalla-Roukh” for piano, “Herculanum” and “La Nuit” from Ode-Symphonie “Le Désert” for cello and piano). Jean-Jacques Dünki, Andrés Gabetta, Christophe Coin, Quatuor Mosaïques. Laborie LC12 (2011)

While I was at it (“it” being the minuscule French label Laborie Records), I posted a discography of this obscure and interesting label. For reasons that will be clear if you look at the discography, it was a helluvalotowork!

…and while I was at it e.g. Laborie, I also brought over from Amazon my 2012 review of another Laborie CD, LC09, the chamber music and Lieder of Jean Baptiste / Johann Benjamin Gross.

…and I realize that I forgot to mention the publication, on September 23, of my review of Stevan Kovacs Tickmayer’s Cold Peace Counterpoints on ReR ST3 (2008)

19 September 2016

Published my review of Isang Yun: Königliches Thema für violin solo. Quintett für Klarinette und Streichquartett. Piri für Klarinette Solo. Duo für Violoncello und Harfe. Aurophon / Col Legno AU 31808 (1991). Looks simple enough, right, just a review of one CD? But it was a helluvalot o’ work! First, because there’s a lot of comparative listening behind it, and also because, for that very reason, the review makes many references to other recordings, for which I haven’t yet posted the reviews. So, in order to keep those numerous references from just “hanging in the air”, I had to create entries for each of those CDs – and each requires some amount of work and takes some amount of time, scanning the photos or downloading them when I don’t have the CDs (as with Camerata’s reissue series “The Art of Isang Yun”), typing the information, creating the links.

And there’s no rest for me on the 7th day…

Other than that, I was reminded this morning why I’m quitting Amazon – an abysmally stupid and incompetent reply to my request to split one of their entries, because two CDs actually have the same barcode and the entry is only for one of them. Of course I provided all the necessary information to prove my claim – to no avail. Baffling to have to spend so much time and energy to try and override the people who should be welcoming and helping your efforts to try and fix their website. I’m just tired of it. Here I have control over the information that is displayed, and I know it is (except for typos and oversights) accurate.

16 September 2016

Serendipity

…and there’s more to my Isang Yun story of yesterday. Only today do I realize that I had in fact received an immedite response from the Society, same day I had sent my request: they were offering to sell the lot for 100 $ and free postage. Apparently that mail went directly to the spam box (I was deleting those spams today and that’s how I found it) so I missed it and didn’t respond. I’d probably have accepted and said thanks. And that’s how, four days later, I got the second offer…

No problem that won’t get solved if you spend long enough WITHOUT addressing it…

THANKS AGAIN ISANG YUN SOCIETY!

Other than that: in a bid to complete the Ys (Ys are easy, there aren’t so many Ys… Ysaye’ s would be the big Y, only I haven’t yet reviewed much of it or any, so for me Yun is the big Y), I brought over from Amazon my review of Richard Yardumian’s Armenian Suite, Symphony No. 2 by the Utah Symphony Orchestra under Varujan Kojian, Phoenix PHCD 112.

15 September 2016

So here’s the GREAT news from the International Isang Yun Society that I mentioned in my post from September 6 but didn’t have time to elaborate.

As I was working on my Isang Yun introductory page and doing some discographic research, I realized that the Intenationale Isang Yun Gesellschaft had published, over the years (between 1999 and 2014), a series of 10 CDs of Yun’s music, including recordings of works not available elsewhere. The complete list is given on the Society’s website (click on the link “CDs” under the heading “The Society”). Of course that series immediately appeared as potently desirable, because of the unavailability elsewhere of some of that material, but also because those discs had had only limited circulation, and most of them were propably long out-of-print. I had found a few listed on various Amazons but not the complete series, others on eBay but again just a few among the series, and when offered, always at prices significantly higher than what I’d be willing to pay, especially if I was going to buy 10 CDs.

And then I noticed that the listing of those CDs on the Society’s website was introduced by the mention “It is possible to order the CDs (12 Euro plus shipment) at the International Isang Yun Society”.

“Now, really ?” I thought. “Could all these CDs be still available, and don’t you need to be a member to purchase them?” 12 euros x 10 was still quite an outlay, but… you know… rarities… Yun… I thought it might be time to break the piggy bank, just this once. So I wrote to the Society, explaining what a great fan of Yun I was, providing the link to my Isang Yun introductory page, and enquiring if it was still possible to buy the series. And on a spur-of-the-moment inspiration, I added, trembling at my own audacity: “since I’d be buying the whole series, could you consider offering a rebate?”

That was on a Friday. No reply. Well, sure, week-end, you can’t expect these people to work on Saturdays and Sundays just for the love of Isang Yun [but about this, see my addendum from September 16]. But Monday came and still no response, so I kind of gave up hope. And Tuesday night, as I was about to shut down the computer, came the great news: yes, they could sell the whole series, sure, they’d consider a rebate, how about 5 euros each and free postage?

WHAT??? 5 euros and free postage???? 50 dollars for the whole series? Golly miss Molly… THANKS AND GRATITUDE, FRIENDLY AND GENEROUS PEOPLE FROM THE ISANG YUN SOCIETY!!! You’ve turned a shattered piggy bank into a GREAT bargain.

And I’ve received them today. It is with a certain pride that I can now reasonably consider myself to be one of the greatest collectors of CDs of Isang Yun in the world after the Society itself.

Okay, now I need to listen to all that music of Isang Yun, and review it. But THANKS AGAIN, SOCIETY!