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.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Fresh new music from Denmark


Here’s a CD with a bit of a branding issue. I nearly missed it, but was saved by the Nielsen 150th Anniversary year. A disc described thusly showed up one morning on the Naxos Music Library:

NIELSEN, C.: Oboe Music (Sletternes Sønner) (Artved, Moller, Fønnesbech)

Since no composer has given me greater pleasure in 2015 than Carl Nielsen, I thought I’d check it out. And it turns out to be a real winner: arrangements by Peter Jensen of Nielsen songs for oboe, string quartet and jazz piano & bass. And there’s a major bonus: the string quartet is the Danish String Quartet, whose Wood Works album topped my list in 2014. Here's the CD promo video from Naxos:




Back in the Chopin Year of 2010 (five years ago already!) my favourite album was also an arrangement for jazz ensemble, of Chopin songs by Kuba Stankiewicz and sung by Inga Lewandowska, entitled Chopin Songbook.


The new Danish album has some similarities, though Jensen’s arrangements have a much broader stylistic range, from breezy Bill Evans-style improvisations to more angular, modernist experiments. A key point: the genius of Chopin and Nielsen is evident in both CDs. This is ground-breaking music with a fresh new sound. I’ve come to expect that from the Danish String Quartet, but it’s also nice to be introduced to such accomplished musicians as Artved (oboe), Moller (piano) and Fønnesbech (bass).

Note: the Chopin Songbook might be hard to track down, though there's a link to a vendor at Amazon.com above. You can get an idea of the album from this track on YouTube:

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