August 28, 2016
REFERENCE RECORDINGS- RR-138
With a release date of September 9th 2016 Reference Recording was nice enough to send out an advance copy for review. Fairly unknown, except by the most advanced classical listener, this CD has turned out for me to be a real treat. Included in the release are 4 works that are making their premiere release on recording media.
Anyone who is familiar with Reference Recordings knows that the recording in 24-Bit is a step above in quality and finer equipment will capture all of the clarity and transparency that are a trademark of Prof. Johnson and his excellent team.
The enhanced 65 piece orchestra from their original 49 core members produced a fine sound under the direction of Martin West. As a result of the ballet performing “From Foreign Lands” West, intrigued, began to find more of his material and we now have a 73 minute CD of some of his orchestral works.
The beginning selection, a world premiere, “Torch Dance,” begins as a coronation march with the brass offering a major part in the cue while the strings remain active with the harmony provided by the calls of the brass section which is 13 pieces strong and a big part of the orchestrating. The next 7 cues are devoted to “Foreign Lands.” The opening piece, a Russian selection reminds me of something that Glazunov might have done in a dreamy way. I find track no. 4 to be my favorite selection on the CD. The remainder of the tracks include an Italian fandango, a fast Polish dance, a Hungarian Csardas, an Italian tarantella, a very stately German dance. The 26 minute work offers a variety of styles, tempos and dances from the 6 countries represented. A nice addition to your collection.
“Habanera,” is a Spanish Dance contradanza haberna, and the lovely melody is enhanced by the staccato type rhythm along with the delicacy of the harp playing in the background. This is a world premiere recording. The best way to describe it is it has a sound of Resphigi. “By the Cradle” is not a lullaby but part of an 8 piece set for 4 piano hands. The first recording was on a 78 rpm and this CD is the second. It has a sound that is peaceful and easy to follow the melody line. The original composition was called sorrows and smiles and this one certainly falls into the smile category. Another world premiere is “Six Airs De Ballet,” which is based on the Grabbes Don Juan and Faust. The six movements are marked Entr’acte , Intermezzo, Fantasmagorie, Minuetto, Sarabande, and Passepied. Many of them sound like Mozart. The actual ballet written in 1829 didn’t prove to be particularly successful although another attempt was made in 1950. Gondoliera based on a poem written by Geibel it was a good example of what one can do in 5 minutes. This is another world premiere making one wonder of course why hasn’t he been recorded before. The final 5 tracks are Spanish Dances orchestrated Philipp Scharwenka and Valentin Frank as he wrote it for piano, four hands. This is his most popular work and financially his money maker so to speak.
If you’re anything like me and you’ve discovered something new you’ll want to have this in your collection. This is a very easy piece to listen to and I recommend it.
August 17, 2016
One of the best surprises I received was another package consisting of many CD’s from La-La-La Land Records which included one of my favorite scores “Cutthroat Island” by composer John Debney who orchestrated a masterful soundtrack combining Wagner, Strauss, Korngold and John Williams. The two CD set (LLLCD 1387) is nearly 2 1/2 hours of suspense, romance, swashbuckling entertainment that is not to be missed. I hope that all of the wonderful Jeff Bond liner notes will someday be in the form of a book. Everything about the bomb of a film except of course for the score is detailed in the extensive notes he has provided to the listeners.