Wednesday, 30 March 2005

Well, another wonder of wonders: having discovered Alfred Cortot playing the first book of Debussy's Preludes, unlistened to in a pile, I dutifully listened to the two fill-ups. These were two substantial preludes, chorals and fugues by C├ęsar Franck. Quite bowled over, and the two pieces have been spinning on my turntable ever since. Immensely attractive music. The sound and surfaces (from 1929 and 1931) are not great. But the playing is. And the music is. We live and learn

Friday, 25 March 2005

Well, wonder of wonders. I spent the evening listening with great enjoyment to ... David Oistrakh. Normally, I find him somewhat bland and over-exposed (a bit like Milstein). But this evening he was playing live: a collection of pieces from the mid-1950s in Moscow, plus the Chausson concerto for violin, piano and string quartet (Moscow, 1960). A bit like Heifetz; Oistrakh caught live and on the wing is a different animal. For almost the first time, I really warmed to him this evening. I must investigate more live Oistrakh.

Saturday, 19 March 2005

Ah, a fine new CD from Joanna Madroszkiewicz playing arrangements of Chopin waltzes and nocturnes (mainly arranged by Huberman or Sarasate). I like Chopin violin and piano arrangements! The music on the disc is varied and interesting and makes a big change from the tired old selection of Banjo & Fiddle, etc. Madroszkiewicz is at the opposite extreme from being a bland player; maybe somewhat gusty, maybe somewhat over-sentimental in the more romantic pieces. But always interesting. Good listening; it will join my "re-listen" pile. I must pull her Wieniawski disc off my racks and re-listen. Finished up the fine Thai soup for lunch, then out with the veal chops from Bath this evening!

Friday, 11 March 2005

Yesterday evening it was the Op 74 quartet by Beethoven (Takacs Quartet). I really think that the later 10 Beethoven string quartets (plus the Grosse Fuga) should always be beside my CD player. The music in the quartets is so varied, so full of light and shade, so daring, so vibrant. The 10 quartets may only occupy six hours or so of music; but they are most certainly among the greatest music ever written.

Sunday, 6 March 2005

To Portsmouth on Friday to hear Simon Trpceski playing the third Prokofiev piano concerto. A highly impressive pianist. So good, I ordered his second CD yesterday (Rachmaninov). Only 25 years old, but can he play! The hall erupted after the performance.
Recorded Julia Fischer off-air playing the Sibelius violin concerto (from San Francisco). She really is an impressive violinist.
It will be good to hear her (if only ... ) in somewhat less hackneyed repertoire. Yet another Sibelius violin concerto ... or Tchaikovsky, or Mendelssohn, or Bruch G minor. I messed up the recording (forgot to turn the tuner to stereo). So the recording is passable rather than good. But the playing is passionate and musical. I await her Bach unaccompanieds (on order).