CLASSICAL LOST AND FOUND
(CLOFO)
FORGOTTEN MUSIC BY GREAT COMPOSERS AND GREAT MUSIC BY FORGOTTEN COMPOSERS



20 SEPTEMBER 2006

CROCKS NEWSLETTER

The albums below are "Classical Releases Of Current Key Significance," or "CROCKS," if you will. Click any album picture or title to see where we suggest getting it.



Anyone hearing this disc would have to admit that it's still possible to write highly effective music in a tonal, late romantic idiom. Gallic elements are much in evidence here, but that's not surprising considering the composer is also one of today's finest organists noted for his brilliant interpretation of 19th and 20th century French organ music. His recreations of the stunning improvisations done by Pierre Cochereau at Notre Dame are legendary; and, as he points out in his album notes, which you must read, these flights of fancy greatly influenced his requiem.

It's a truly sublime effort that has much in common with those of Faure and Durufle. As a matter of fact, there's a reference in the Domine Jesu Christe (track-3, begining at 01:42) to a phrase in the same section of the Durufle. While the Pie Jesu may call to mind that in Andrew Lloyd Weber's requiem, there's just the right mixture of bitter and sweet to insure that unlike the latter it doesn't become cloying with repeated listening, and that's just what you'll want to do! The Libera me, Domine is to die for and the concluding In paradisum, infinitely sublime. Chances are you don't know the fifteen member vocal ensemble Euphony, but after you hear what they bring to this piece you're not likely to forget them. The instrumental accompaniment, which consists of organ and only a handful of solo instruments, is some of the most articulate and highly effective one could ever hope for. That's because Briggs is not only a master of organ registration, but also a consummate orchestrator.

As a kind of encore following the requiem, Euphony gives us Briggs' lovely Ave Maria.

Then comes an outstanding new organ concerto from this talented composer. It begins mysteriously sans soloist, who makes a sudden fortissimmo entrance into what becomes a striking sonata-allegro movement. This is followed by an outstanding passacaglia, which ends with what astute listeners will detect as references to Francis Poulenc's ever popular effort in this genre. But, Briggs saves the best for last when he unleashes one of the most infectious movements these ears have encountered in a long time. It's a rollicking combination of Cochereau and Poulenc a la Briggs, and a guaranteed crowd pleaser.

The Blackburn Cathedral organ holds a special place in the composer's heart and when you hear it in this magnificent new work you'll understand why. Organ soloist Greg Morris is superb and the orchestral accompaniment under conductor Richard Tanner couldn't be more supportive.

The recorded sound is good with just the right amount of spaciousness. Don't pass this one up!

By the way, there's another release on the Chestnut label where you'll find Brigg's really beautiful, Gallically inspired song cycle "Dreamworld" along with some of his other outstanding organ works. (P060920)

-- Bob McQuiston, Classical Lost and Found (CLOFO.com)


AUDIOPHILE BEST FIND (2 SACDs)
This fascinating opera by Danish composer Rued Langgaard (1893-2952) has all the individuality of Leos Janacek along with the orchestral opulence of Richards Wagner and Strauss. It's an early modern, almost Expressionist creation that Franz Schreker would have loved.

Langgaard had a mind all of his own and it's this Dane's disdain for society that is the subject of the operatic tour de force presented here. In two acts with seven orchestral and eight sung sections (mostly monologues) it's a highly dramatic work scored for huge forces that include an organ as well as bells.

The excellent soloists and accompanying chorus and orchestra under conductor Thomas Dausgaard deliver what must be a definitive performance of Antikrist. Although it was recorded during a live performance, you'd never know it until the well deserved applause at the end. Suffice it to say that the audience must have been stagestruck by this highly nonconformist opera, and you will be too!

A hybrid, CD(2)/SACD(2/5.0) album, it'll knock your musical and sonic sox off in either CD or SACD format. Audiophiles take note! (Y060919)

-- Bob McQuiston, Classical Lost and Found (CLOFO.com)


As far as "complete" sets go, this one is indispensable and belongs in every classical music enthusiast's collection for five reasons!

First, this is one of the greatest bodies of piano concertos ever written.

Second, for many of us these performances are still the best ever done, and feature a bonanza of superbly chosen cadenzas.

Third, also included are the rarely heard seventh and tenth concertos for two pianos as well as the two rondos for piano and orchestra -- the latter with tunes so catchy you won't be able to get them out of your head!

Fourth, the piano sound with these newly DSD-remastered discs is superb!

And fifth, the price for this box of Mozartian delights is ridiculously low. In fact it comes out to a measly $2 plus change per concerto. (P060918)

-- Bob McQuiston, Classical Lost and Found (CLOFO.com)


AUDIOPHILE (1 SACD)
As performed here this symphony may come as a great surprise to those who've always considered it kind of a World War II Soviet potboiler with cinematic overdrive. That's because Jansons, through the medium of one of the world's lushest sounding orchestras, downplays the militaristic in favor of the humanistic. His sensitive phrasing and conservative dynamics turn the first movement with its images of advancing panzers and goosestepping armies into a heart-breakingly beautiful requiem for the fallen, which is exactly what Shostakovich intended.

You'd never guess this was a live recording until the applause at the end. The two-channel CD and SACD sound is superb, and the multichannel, some of the best any audiophile could hope for! (Y060917)

-- Bob McQuiston, Classical Lost and Found (CLOFO.com)


AUDIOPHILE BEST FIND (1 SACD)
This was the Gramophone Magazine (Awards/06) 2006 Awards winner in the "Editor's Choice" category, and with good reason!

Sir Charles Villiers Stanford's (1852-1924) Songs of the Sea and Songs of the Fleet must be some of the most rousing in the romantic literature, particularly as sung here by baritone Gerald Finley with stalwart support from Captain Hickox and his crew of BBC lads and lasses. The texts are drawn from Sir Henry Newbolt's poems extolling great British naval heroes and exploits. Buoyant "big tunes" and high spirits are the order of the day.

The Revenge, which is for chorus and orchestra, is a real discovery. It's a ballad of almost operatic proportions based on Tennyson's poem about British naval commander Sir Richard Grenville's valor in destroying part of the Spanish fleet despite incredibly overwhelming odds.

It's very hard to reproduce realistic sounding vocal soloists and choruses in the digital medium, but the Chandos engineers have certainly done it on this hybrid, CD(2)/SACD(2/5.0) disc. While the stereo CD and SACD tracks sound most convincing, the multichannel SACD one will have you reaching for the Dramamine. Audiophiles should definitely snap this one up. (Y060916)

-- Bob McQuiston, Classical Lost and Found (CLOFO.com)


This stage work, which came six years after Die lustige Witwe, finds Lehár in top form. His melodic skills are even more finely honed and there's a stylistic ease and lightness of touch that permeate this refreshing score.

It's a love story with Cinderella overtones involving a beautiful Brussels factory worker, Eva, who moves to Paris. There she's transformed into a demimondaine and becomes the inamorata of Octave, who owns the factory. Right from the opening prelude Lehar fans will be delighted to discover one of his loveliest and most endearing themes [CD-1, track-1 beginning at 04:22], which is associated with Eva throughout the whole operetta. Schlagobers and schmalz this may be, but who cares! (P060915)

-- Bob McQuiston, Classical Lost and Found (CLOFO.com)


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