Kristjan Jarvi 001

Praeludium for Jazz Band

When the MDR Leipzig Radio Symphony Orchestra performed Harlem Suite (1950) by a favorite of mine Duke Ellington, my initial thought was these Germans really know how to play this. All of the feeling is there and the sound from Naive is there crystal clear, a wide db range that revived my speaker system, and a fine sound engineer that knew exactly what he was doing. I had to compare it with the recent recording that Naxos (8.559737) released of Ellington material performed by the Buffalo Philharmonic conducted by JoAnn Falletta, a fine CD of the other Ellington who wasn’t just a big band leader. The Naive recording wins hands down and I can highly recommend it even if there is no interest in Sinfonia Domestica (1904). By the way I think you should have both because there is a lot of exciting material awaiting you on the rest of the CD. A very short but important piece that I’ve included as an audio clip, lower quality but good enough to give you an idea is Stravinsky’s Praeludium for Jazz Band (1937) written after his arrival to the United States and his introduction to jazz in Harlem. His comment was “jazz is done for.” He also didn’t think much of Disney’s use of Rite of Spring in the film Fantasia So much for his opinions. The tie in with Sinfonia Domestica is Strauss brought this piece to America in 1904 as part of the composition featured four saxophones a new sound that America as well as other countries were beginning to use. While it was written as a sequel to his autobiographical work A Hero’s Life it did have a unique flavor and one can hear in parts the beginning of the jazz sound. Little did Strauss or anyone else know that Hollywood through composers like Korngold and Gershwin would be influenced by his sound and one can extend the Jarvi lines further west. Ellington also went west to Hollywood and contributed Anatomy of a Murder (1959) and Paris Blues (1962) both award winners. Parallel Tones, the third release in a four part series, is one not to be missed. Jarvi is a young exciting conductor with lots of new ideas.

Track Listing:

  1. sinfonia domestica (44:00)
  2. a tone parallel to harlem (15:05)
  3. praeludium for jazz band (1:51)

Baltic Sea Voyage, the second release in a four part or more series, extends it’s territory around  which separates the ten countries it represents from Russia in the east to Norway in the west. It is performed by the Baltic Sea Youth Symphony who sound as good as the Leipzig Radio Symphony Orchestra. I hope to hear more from this orchestra in the future. Perhaps it will evolve into the Baltic Sea Orchestra. The 66 minute program is filled with all different kinds of styles of material including works from two living composers as well as traditional material from Nielsen, Grieg, and Sibelius. On first listen the material seemed quite tame with a festive overture, a selection Mellanspel from Stenhammar, and the almost over the top wedding material from Peer Gynt, written by Grieg, and finally the Karelia Suite from Sibelius. These were all works that I had heard before and enjoyed. As the CD continued I began to hear new and exciting sounds such as a selection from the Rock Symphony written by Kalnins which had an addicting beat over and over which not only drew me into the music but made me want to play the material  over and over again. The same was true of the Kilar piece who I was introduced to in one of the dracula films. Liking what I heard I went on to purchase additional material on Naxos. The CD ends with a nice arrangement of Wagner material by Henk De Flieger. The ten countries were represented nicely and I certainly will put this on the shelf of listen to again, keeping in mind that I listen to a lot of material. This is one that I’ll return to on a regular basis.

Track Listing:

  1. Overture to Maskarade
  2. Mellanspel
  3. At The Wedding
  4. Karelia Suite
  5. Never Ignore the Cosmic Ocean
  6. Cantus in Memoriam to Benjamin Britten
  7. Rock Symphony
  8. Orawa
  9. Sacrificial Dance
  10. Brunhildes Opfertat