Reviews and occasional notes on classical music

Reviews and occasional notes on classical music

For the past five years or so I've posted reviews of classical music CDs, DVDs and Blu-rays, in various places on the web: Amazon.com, iTunes and other sites. I'll collect those earlier reviews, and add four or five new ones every month.

"Music, both vocall and instrumental, so good, so delectable, so rare, so admirable, so super excellent, that it did even ravish and stupifie all those strangers that never heard the like." - Thomas Coryat, after hearing 3 hours of music at the Scuola di San Rocco in Venice, 1608.

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Have fun with this toy at home

From February 25, 2010:


I found Phillip Huscher's interview with conductor Pierre Boulez, included in the booklet of this new CD on the Chicago Symphony's CSO Resound label, to be very illuminating. Boulez isn't at all shy about expressing his dislike for Stravinsky's neo-classical music, but he makes an exception for a work written in 1919. "Pulcinella is a different matter," he says, "because Pulcinella is a game." If so, this is a game that Boulez and his outstanding musicians play better than anyone. Recorded live at Chicago's Symphony Center exactly one year ago (February & March, 2009), this music just about jumps off the disc, it's so alive, so life-like, so real. Boulez and his crew have a number of advantages. First of all, they're recording the complete score of the ballet, rather than the better-known suite. Secondly, the music is recorded live over a number of performances, so we have the best combination of being-at-the-concert excitement and technical perfection. And thirdly, the producer, engineer, and post-production staff have assembled an amazingly life-like sound world on the hybrid SACD disc. "Pulcinella is a work I like to conduct, because it's like a toy within your hands" says Boulez. Listening to this disc in a good surround-sound setup is like playing with that toy at home. [Figures sold separately].

I've focused on Pulcinella, which I love, and which takes up the bulk of this disc. But I'm just as impressed with the 1945 Symphony in Three Movements and the 1929 orchestral arrangement of the Four Etudes. This is very highly recommended!

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