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No. 10, October 2000
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Copyright 2000  www.cosmopolis.ch  Louis Gerber  All rights reserved.

classical music CDs

Leonard Bernstein: A White House Cantata. Kent Nagano and the London Symphony Orchestra. 2000, Deutsche Grammophon. Get it from Amazon.com.

Leonard Bernstein's A White House Cantata: Scenes From 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, with lyrics by Alan Jay Lerner, is the concert adaptation of the musical by the same name, which the two Americans had written between 1972 and 1976. The musical's subtitle, a musical about the problems of housekeeping, makes clear that the composition is not a boring history lesson about the first one hundred years of the White House, but an entertaining piece which highlights episodes about the building and its inhabitants. Soloists like Barbara Hendricks, June Anderson, Thomas Hampson and Kenneth Tarver make sure that the concert is of a certain quality. It spans from the decision for the location of the presidents seat through the historic occupation of the capital by British troops during the War of 1812, when they smashed the furniture and set the White House ablaze, only to see the flames sputter out in a torrential downpour, to the explanation why the GOP calls itself The Grand Old Party. An amusing concert about American history.
 
Jacob Heringman: Josquin des Prez. 2000, Discipline Global Mobile.

The arrangements of the greatest of renaissance composers, lute player Josquin des Prez (c. 1450-1521), is a calming experience for people of our century. People who are stressed by today's hectic life, nervous video clips and pop music will not only enjoy the music in its interpretation by Jacob Heringman, but also find a moment to relax and recharge their batteries. Josquin des Prez inspired French, German, Italian and Spanish composers to write arrangements of his compositions. It is only since Helmuth Osthoff's biography of Josquin des Prez, published in 1962-65, that we really know about the importance and influence of the renaissance man's work, although since the 1960s, the image of the artist has partly been corrected. The New Grove Dictionary (1980) attributed just 176 of the more the 300 compositions which bear his name to Josquin des Prez and, since then, this number has dropped even further. Still, work of the renaissance composer who was born on today's French-Belgian border and who had composed in Milan, Aix-en-Provence and Ferrara, remains of an outstanding importance for the history and development of the music of the Occident.
  

Verdi: La Traviata. Zubin Mehta, Orchestra Sinfonica Nazionale della RAI, Eteri Gvazava (Violetta), José Cura (Alfredo), Rolando Panerei (Germont), et al. 2000, Teldec/Warner Classics. Get it from Amazon.com
 
Eight years after Tosca, which was recorded at the historic scenes in Rome and at the "original" times of day, the experience found a successor in La Traviata. The live event was broadcasted in 125 countries. La Traviata takes place in Paris since it is based on Alexandre Dumas' Dame au camélias which takes place in the French capital. The two CDs of La Traviata. A Paris. The Soundtrack offer about two hours of live music [correction: January 30, 2001]. For the CD, the action had been shortened and the highlights are presented. Unfortunately, the important part, the visual experience, the effect of seeing the original locations of the opera, is not present anymore. You can of course still play the different parts of La Traviata CD at the appropriate time of day, but the intentions of Andrea Andermann, who has developed the idea and produced the television broadcast, is lost. The double CD is still worth listening to for the performance of the Siberian singer Eteri Gvazava as Violetta Valéry who can more than fulfill the expectations. José Cura as Alfredo Germont is also convincing.
 


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Christophe Rousset plays Jean-Henri d'Anglebert: The Complete works for Harpsichord. 2000, Decca. Get it from Amazon.com.
 
In 1983, Christophe Rousset won the international Cembalo competition in Bruges. Since then, the French musician has been in demand, especially in his homeland. He has also recorded some remarkable albums with Musica Antiqua Köln. Christophe Rousset is mainly interested in the French and Italian repertoire of the 17th and 18th centuries, above all in the opera seria and the opéra comique. He has received several awards for his recordings of the complete cembalo works of Rameau and Couperin. Together with his Baroque ensemble, Les Talens Lyriques, he interpreted the soundtrack for the film Farinelli, the portrait of a castrato. Christophe Rousset's two CDs with the complete recordings of Jean-Henry d'Angleberts (1635-1691) works for harpsichord is dedicated to a man who is in the shadow of his contemporaries. Under Chambonnières, the French music for harpsichord took the leading position in Europe. D'Anglebert, together with the better known Louis Couperin is one of his heirs. D'Anglebert's style is shiny, magnificent, of a certain classicism and at the same time subtle, of a refined technique with virtuoso elements. Rousset recorded his works on a harpsichord by Joannes Ruckers (Antwerpen, 1629). The two CDs only contain original compositions by d'Anglebert and neglect his transcriptions and variations after Couperin, Lully, Marais and others. Rousset's interpretations of D'Anglebert's complete works for harpsichord allow us to rediscover a notable French composer who is still in the shadow of Chambonnières, Couperin, Lully and Marais.
 
Patricia McCarty: J.S. Bach: Six Cello Suites performed on viola. (Ashmont Music 2000) Get it from Amazon.com
Winner of the First Silver Medal and Radio Prize in the Geneva International Competition when she was eighteen, Patricia McCarty, a former assistant principal violist of the Boston Symphony Orchestra, has become an active proponent of the solo viola. She has performed throughout the world with, among others the Detroit Symphony, the Houston Symphony, l'Orchestre de la Suisse Romande and the Kyoto Symphony. She has also worked with jazz pianist Keith Jarrett, whose works for viola and orchestra she commissioned, premiered and recorded. She presently teaches at the Boston Conservatory and the Longy School of Music in Cambridge. For her performance of Johann Sebastian Bach's Six Cello Suites on viola, Patricia McCarty studied facsimiles of the early manuscripts and other sources. She had some crucial choices to make since the composer's autograph score has disappeared and the different editions of Bach's suites offer several possibilities. In the fifth suite, she retains normal tuning instead of scordatura. In the sixth suite, she plays the original key of D major rather than the frequent transcription to the key of G. Recorded in 1998, 1999 and early 2000 at the Troy Savings Bank Music Hall in Troy, New York, with its natural acoustics, Patricia McCarty's rendering of the suites is, in contrast to Mischa Maisky's cello version, not flamboyant but subdued. Although I prefer the cello version, the viola CD is worth listening to. Get it from Amazon.com

www.cosmopolis.ch
No. 10, October 2000
current edition & archives
Art  Film  Music  History  Politics  Archives
Links  For Advertisers  Feedback  German edition  Travel

Copyright 2000  www.cosmopolis.ch  Louis Gerber  All rights reserved.