Coleridge-Taylor and Dvorak: Music for String Quartet
Takus Quartet (Hyperion)
Hyperion has been one of the most respected labels in classical music for decades. But we were never able to include it in this monthly column because its albums are not available to stream yet. After being acquired by Universal earlier this year, the company began putting titles old and new on Spotify and other platforms in late July.
It includes this new recording of the Takus Quartet, whose soulful but soft sound is appropriate for a pair of works from 1895: Samuel Coleridge-Taylor’s set of five “Fantasistukte” and Dvorak’s Quartet in G (Operation 106), the latter of which with the Dvorak Andante movement as a sweet coda. Although the group’s tone isn’t overly melodic or effortless, it’s a distinctly rich, post-sunset gloss on late Romanticism. (For example, compare this with the light grain of the Catalyst Quartet, also satisfied Coleridge-Taylor from a few years ago.)
Most memorable is the spider-like, even terrifying intelligence that Takacs acquires in Silent Passage; Players take texture contrasts seriously, without ostentatiousness or robustness that feels over the top. The group phrases gracefully, and nothing here ever sounds too flashy: in Dvorak’s third movement, as in Coleridge-Taylor’s “Humoresque”, danceability is combined with playfulness more fiercely dark. zachary wolf
Tchaikovsky: Symphony No. 5; Schulhof, five pieces
the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra; Manfred Honeck, conductor (reference recording)
Tchaikovsky’s Fifth Symphony scores Manfred Honecke and the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra. Honecke chose to perform his first concert with the group in 2006, an appearance that led to his appointment as its musical director, and exceptional partnership He has enjoyed it ever since. That performance was recorded live, and, in its enormity and power, remains highly credible.
Yet this new account is of another stature, as was Honk’s previous interpretation of the first draft, and it was a complete masterpiece – and make no mistake, it Is A masterpiece, a dark psychological thriller that soars, scares and unsettles in the end. Drawing on Tchaikovsky’s sketches and personal biography, Honecke wrote in the album’s booklet that the work is in some ways a depiction of depression. But he offers neither the cold, clinical analysis of scores nor the complacent, simplistic narrative of triumph over disaster that many of his colleagues are content to see. Securing orchestral playing of incredible intensity and utmost precision, Honk instead gives the symphony all the harrowing drama – the fear, the instability, the anxious feeling of being on edge – of a mental breakdown.
Sometimes it’s not easy to hear and much less a solution in the end. But this fifth, one of the greatest ever recorded, makes one conclusion inevitable, although by now confirmed: there has been no conductor like Honecke for a long time. david allen
Explore the Ensemble (Huddersfield Contemporary)
It’s easy when writing about an album that boasts spatial audio, spending too much time discussing mixes and formats. So I’ll be the first to praise the music here.
Cassandra Miller’s quiet and bell-like opening piece – which gives the album its title – could come to a state of interpretive pause, given its droning opening and exquisitely beautiful harmonies. But exploratory ensemble players are mindful of the rhythmic outlines that keep things moving, such as when a harsh piano interlude leads into subtle forms of movement.
These instrumentalists also enjoy the description of Lawrence Dunn’s “Suite”. At the beginning, dismal harmonies are juxtaposed with field recordings of “a pier being demolished” – but there’s also some quietly awkward piano writing. After the piece progresses through other field recordings, including children’s singing, it ends in a sour-but-upbeat zone of contrasting tunings. Saving the work from feeling too formally cumbersome is a coda involving piano, which appears to deconstruct the instrument’s previous material, even as it moves forward with a refreshing energy.
Two other meditative compositions, by Lisa Illien and Rebecca Saunders, play well on the album’s spatial Dolby Atmos mix, available on Apple Music and Tidal. But Nicolas Moroz, artistic director of the Explore Ensemble, has written critically about a “techno-dependent” spatial audio mix, and has also provided a binaural mix of Saunders’ closing piece on all platforms. paid download, Because his “murmur” was written for the players around the audience, this intense mix is a special gift for listeners at home. seth coulter walls
Telegraph Quartet (Ezika Records)
There is only a three-year gap between the first performance of Ravel’s String Quartet (1904) and Schoenberg’s First String Quartet (1907). But the stylistic difference between them is vast: Ravel is an essay in restraint and lyrical charm, with not a single wasted note, and Schoenberg is a single-movement colossus, whose every musical idea is elaborately worked out and reworked, almost breaking the boundaries of tonality. way.
It is little wonder, then, that these Janus-faced acts rarely appear in each other’s company in concert or on recordings, or on the Telegraph Quartet’s album called “Divergent Paths”. But piecing them together, the Bay Area-based group reminds us just how inventive this moment in European music history was—how wide-ranging its possibilities were.
However, the emphasis on the historical point should not obscure the direct musical values of “Divergent Paths”. The world may not be in dire need of another recording from Ravel, however Telegraph is brimming with elegance and precise control. But in Schoenberg, they achieve something truly special, carefully guiding its often erratic progress. At times, Schoenberg made the four strings sound almost orchestral, but telegraphists could also clearly articulate his contrapuntal intricacies. Every minute of their narration feels entertaining and purposeful, which is one of the biggest compliments you can give them. david weininger
Liszt: ‘Transcendental Etudes’
Yunchan Lim, piano (Steinway & Sons)
Could this be Yunchan Lim’s famous performance Rachmaninoff’s Third Piano Concerto Wasn’t his performance at the Van Cliburn International Piano Competition last year somehow the most impressive? The account, which so moved its conductor Marin Alsop that she put down her baton and wiped away tears, by some strange accident of music history, was not the pinnacle south korean teen Early Achievements?
This can also happen. Watch Rachmaninoff today, like the 12 million viewers who have already seen it on YouTube, and it’s undeniably impressive, eloquent and virtuosic, and much, much more. But this list performance, from the semi-final round of the competition, whatever it may be viewed onlineIt’s shocking.
As Lim’s shiver flutters, then his “chesse-neige” thunders in and wonders how he gives each of them such poetic meaning. Tremble as he makes his way through “Mazeppa,” then forgive yourself for fainting so easily at the twilight magic of his “Harmonies du Soir.” Yes, Lim is strict with his Steinways, and no, not every etude works every time. But when he can play “Fake Follies” like the devil, it’s really hard to care. david allen