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Sunday, July 11, 2010

Berlioz & Duparc - Les Nuits d'été, etc.(1989)

Liner Notes:

To their contemporaries, Berlioz and Duparc must have seemed unlikely torchbearers for the rarefied art of French song. Whereas the langourously heavy-lidded Fauré was surely made for what Pierre Bernac has described as the 'sensitive perceptions and impressions' of the French mélodie (in itself a more gently evocative word than its German counterpart, the lied), Berlioz appeared too much a fiery revolutionary, and Duparc a bluff and sensible bourgeois.

As the poet Théophile Gautier wrote: 'Berlioz represents the romantic musical idea: the breaking up of old moulds... unexpected effects in sound, tumultuous and Shakespearean depth of passion.' In prosaic contrast, Duparc was described by a friend as 'broadly built, stout, rather florid, with rosy cheeks, a golden moustache, a hearty voice and manner, and ever a twinkle in his eye'.

But for both men the outward form masked an extraordinary sensitivity to poetry and the singing voice: a genius for the fusion of French language and music. Gautier went on to say of Berlioz—and the description could just as easily apply to Duparc—that he also displayed 'an amorous and melancholy dreaminess, longings and questionings of the soul, infinite and mysterious sentiments, and that something more than all which escapes language but may be divined in music.' In Duparc's case, this well disguised, but extreme sensibility resulted in a debilitating nervous illness which prevented him from composing from 1885 until his death almost fifty years later in 1933.

Gautier was the poet whose texts Berlioz chose for his uniquely expressive song cycle Les Nuits d'été, originally composed for voice and piano in 1840-41. The fourth song, Absence, was the first to be orchestrated, in 1843, and Berlioz completed the others in 1856. The cycle opens optimistically with Villanelle—a pastoral love song—but then the mood changes to the gentle lament of Le Spectre de la rose and the yearning for dead and absent love in Sur les lagunes and Absence. The final two songs are visions of mythical places: the sombre Au cimetière, 'the white tomb... where at sunset a solitary dove sings her sad song', and L'Ile inconnue, the elusive island where love is eternal.

That last image held a particular fascination for 19th century French artists as they rediscovered the wistfully nostalgic world of the fêtes galantes, typified by Watteau's painting L'Embarquement pour Cythère. It is not surprising, therefore, to find Baudelaire's complementary poem, L'Invitation an voyage, among the texts chosen by Duparc. Duparc's setting, which dates from 1870, was dedicated to his wife, and as Lotte Lehmann observed: 'the music begins with a delicate weaving, like billowing veils of mist, warmed by the sun, light and silvery'. The atmosphere is similar to that of the almost mystical mountain landscapes of Charles-Marie Dulac—a contemporary painter much admired by Duparc who owned several of his canvasses.

The other Duparc songs recorded here include two from his first set published in 1868: Chanson triste, on a poem by Jean Lahor, dedicated to Duparc's brother-in-law (an excellent amateur singer); and the wistfully intimate Soupir, on a poem by Sully Prudhomme, dedicated to Duparc's mother. Next in chronological order comes the dramatic Le Manoir de Rosemonde (1879), dedicated to Robert de Bonnières who supplied the text. Here we can imagine Duparc following the advice he once gave to a fellow composer: 'Do not write the music to even one line of verse without declaiming it to yourself out loud, with the stresses and gestures'. Sérénade Florentine (1880) again draws on the poetry of Jean Lahor, while Phidylé (1882), dedicated to Ernest Chausson, and La Vie antérieure (1884), dedicated to Guy Ropartz, are settings of Leconte de Lisle and Baudelaire.

La Vie antérieure was Duparc's last song, and with its closing reference to 'the sorrowful secret that made me languish' it poignantly reflected the tragedy of Duparc's own creative life. 'Since then', he later wrote, 'I have never been able to compose. Many people believe I have a number of works in my files. There is nothing. I live in regret for what I have not done, without caring about the little that I have done'. Nevertheless, the slim legacy of mélodies by both Duparc and Berlioz was to prove a vital inspiration for succeeding generations of French composers.
Edward Blakeman

Bernadette Greevy is recognised and acclaimed internationally as one of the finest mezzo-sopranos singing today. She has sung in concert with many of the great orchestras and has given innumerable recitals in all the major capitals of the world.

While it could be said that the art of recital is her first love, she has sung, with conspicuous success, several major operatic roles, including Eboli in Verdi's Don Carlos, Charlotte in Massenet's Werther, Delilah in Saint-Saëns' Samson and Delilah, the title role in Massenet's Hérodiade and Orfeo in Gluck's Orfeo ed Euridice.

Bernadette Greevy has made many highly successful recordings, among them a nomination for Gramophone's Record of the Year. She has a particular affinity with the music of Mahler and has recently taken part in a major Mahler series in London with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra under Charles Dutoit, and another highly acclaimed series with the RTE Symphony Orchestra under Janos Furst.

Among the awards with which Bernadette Greevy has been honoured are the Harriet Cohen International Music Award for 'outstanding artistry' and the Order of Merit of the Order of Malta. She has been given an Honorary Doctorate of Music by the National University of Ireland. Most recently the honour of 'Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice' was conferred on her by the Holy See.

In 1985 at the invitation of the Chinese Ministry of Culture, Miss Greevy toured the People's Republic of China where he gave recitals and Master Classes. She has also given Master Classes in New Zealand and gives regular series at the National Concert Hall in Dublin and on RTE Radio and Television.

In March 1988, and as part of the Dublin City Millennium, Trinity College, University of Dublin, conferred on Bernadette Greevy the degree of Doctor of Music.

Yan Pascal Tortelier was born in Paris in 1947. He studied piano and violin from the age of four and at fourteen won first prize for the violin at the Paris Conservatoire. Following early studies with Nadia Boulanger, he went to study conducting with Franco Ferrara in Siena. From 1974 -1983 he was leader and Associate Conductor of the Orchestre du Capitole in Toulouse. From 1989/90 he is Principal Conductor and Artistic Director of the Ulster Orchestra in Northern Ireland.

Tortelier has worked with all the major symphony and chamber orchestras in London and throughout the United Kingdom. Guest engagements worldwide include the Cincinnati Symphony, Seattle Symphony, Chamber Symphony of New York, Vancouver Symphony, Helsinki Philharmonic, Warsaw Philharmonic, Barcelona Symphony, Madrid Radio Symphony and Tokyo's Yomiuri Nippon Symphony.

His operatic debut was in 1978 in Toulouse with 'Cosi fan tutte'. He has guested in the opera houses of Paris, Lyon, Naples, Scottish Opera and has done several productions for English National Opera.

Tortelier now makes his home in London and records exclusively for Chandos Records.

  • BERNADETTE GREEVY - mezzo-soprano
  • ULSTER ORCHESTRA - Leader, Richard Howarth
  • YAN PASCAL TORTELIER - conductor
Track List:
  1. Hector Berlioz - Les Nuits d'été, op. 7 I. Villanelle
  2. Hector Berlioz - Les Nuits d'été, op. 7 II. Le Spectre de la rose
  3. Hector Berlioz - Les Nuits d'été, op. 7 III: Sur les lagunes (Lamento)
  4. Hector Berlioz - Les Nuits d'été, op. 7 IV. Absence
  5. Hector Berlioz - Les Nuits d'été, op. 7 V. Au cimetière
  6. Hector Berlioz - Les Nuits d'été, op. 7 VI. L'Ile inconnue
  7. Henri Duparc - Chanson triste
  8. Henri Duparc - Le Manoir de Rosemonde
  9. Henri Duparc - L'Invitation au voyage
  10. Henri Duparc - Soupir
  11. Henri Duparc - Phidylé
  12. Henri Duparc - La Vie antérieure
  13. Henri Duparc - Serenade florentine
Download Links: Enjoy the Music, or here.

Other recordings by Bernadette Greevy

Monday, June 28, 2010

We'll Meet Again: Love Songs of World War II (1994)

This is a 2 disc compilation of popular songs from the WWII era. A lot of well-known artists and songs.

Track List:
  1. Benny Goodman And His Orchestra Featuring Peggy Lee - We'll Meet Again
  2. Tony Martin - The Last Time I Saw Paris
  3. Artie Shaw & His Orchestra - Moonglow
  4. Dinah Shore - A Boy In Khaki - A Girl In Lace
  5. Adelaide Hall - As Time Goes By
  6. Glenn Miller Orchestra - Intermezzo
  7. Bing Crosby with Woody herman and His Woodchoppers - I'm Thinking Tonight Of My Blue Eyes
  8. The Ink Spots - Don't Get Around Much Anymore
  9. Connie Boswell - Sand In My Shoes
  10. Artie Shaw & His Orchestra - I Cover The Waterfront
  11. Marlene Dietrich - Lili Marlene
  12. Jimmy Dorsey and his Orchestra featuring Bob Eberly - I Remember You
  13. Dorothy Lamour - Moon Over Burma
  14. Duke Ellington and his Famous Orchestra Featuring Herb Jeffries - Flamingo
  15. Mary Martin - I'll Walk Alone
  16. Lew Stone and his Orchestra featuring Benny Lee - (There'll Be Bluebirds Over) The White Cliffs of Dover
  17. The Jesters - Ma, I Miss Your Apple Pie
  18. Bud Flanagan & Chesney Allen - If A Grey-Haired Lady (Says How's Your Father)
  19. Vera Lynn with Mantovani and his Orchestra - White Christmas
  20. Dick Haymes - You'll Never Know
  21. Harry Leader and his Orchestra featuringHelen Clare - Goodnight, Wherever You Are
  22. Ray Eberle - When The Swallows Come Back To Capistrano
  23. The Ink Spots - Someone's Rocking My Dream Boat
  24. Anne Shelton - A Nightingale Sang In Berkeley Square
  25. Woody Herman - I'll Get By (As Long As I Have You)
  26. Betty Jane Rhodes - I Don't Want To Walk Without You
  27. Bing Crosby - San Antonio Rose
  28. Beryl Davis - Star Eyes
  29. Tommy Dorsey - Moonlight On The Ganges
  30. Carmen Castillo - Time Was (Duerme)
  31. Frankie Carle - A Little On The Lonely Side
  32. Anita Boyer - Love Of My Life
  33. Frank Sinatra,The Pied Pipers - I'll Never Smile Again (Frank Siantra)
  34. Jane Lee - We'll Gather Lilacs
  35. Benny Lee - When They Sound The Last All Clear
  36. Dinah Shore - The Nearness Of You
  37. Connie Boswell - One Dozen Roses
  38. The Mills Brothers - I Met Her On Monday (Mills Brothers)
  39. Doris Day - My Dreams Are Getting Better All The Time
  40. The Merry Macs - Sentimental Journey
  41. Bing Crosby - It's Been A Long, Long Time
  42. Julie Dawn - I'll Be Seeing You
Download Links: Enjoy the Music, or here.

Chet Baker - Cool Way To Florence (1956)

This is part of a larger recording recorded rive at Conservatorio Cherubini, Firenze, Italy, January 24, 1956. The complete recording was originally issued on two LPs: Exitus: Live in Europe Vol. 1 (Réplica RP1) & Cool Blues: Live in Europe Vol.2 (Réplica RP2). This is a reissue on CD: OSC 701 (an excerpt of 5 tracks).

  • Chet Baker - Trumpet, Vocals
  • Jean Louis Chautemps - Sax (Tenor)
  • Francy Boland - Piano
  • Eddie DeHaas - Bass
  • Charles Saudrais - Drums
Track List:
  1. This Is Always
  2. Rays Ideas
  3. You Dont Know What Love Is
  4. Stella By Starlight
  5. Cool Blues
Download Links: Enjoy the Music, or here.

Other recordings from 1956 & 1957 by Chet Baker:
Other recordings by Francy Boland:

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Big Tiny Little & Lee Floyd, III - Mr. Honky Tonk Meets Mr. Banjo (1994)

Big Tiny Little was a jazz pianist who played on the Lawrence Welk Show from 1955 to 1959. He started playing the piano at the age of 5, and in addition to playing with Lawrence Welk, he produced over 45 albums under hiw own name. He just died on March 3, 2010 at the age of 79.

Lee Floyd, III, started playing banjo professionally was at the age of 13 at a Shakey's Pizza Parlor. Since then he has played many venues, including Disneyland and Disney World.

This album is mostly instrumental, with a few songs that include passable vocals. The instrumental work is just plain fun stuff. Both artists play very energetically and you will likely be unable to stop tapping your foot to this stuff.

Track List:
  1. Rosetta
  2. Sweet Sue
  3. Big T. Boogie
  4. Deed I Do
  5. Shine
  6. Some Of These Days
  7. Hindustan
  8. Whispering
  9. Goofus
  10. After You've Gone
  11. Someday You'll Be Sorry
  12. Linger Awhile
  13. Blue Skies
  14. When My Baby Smiles At Me
  15. Lonesome Road
  16. I'll See You In My Dreams
Download Links: Enjoy the Music, or here.

Other recordings by Big Tiny Little:

Saturday, June 12, 2010

William Steck & Lambert Orkis play Martinon, Respighi & Dello Joio (1999)

Liner Notes:

Jean Martinon,

the significant French composer and conductor, was born in Lyons in 1910 and died in Paris in 1976. He is best known in America as the conductor of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra from 1963 to 1968. He was a champion of new music, and during his tenure in Chicago he conducted over 60 new works by American and European composers, incurring the wrath of some influential members of the board of the orchestra as well as of Chicago's press. He consequently resigned, returned to France and led the National Orchestra of the Paris Radio as well as the Residente Orchestra of The Hague.

Martinon's compositions are neoclassical, but also owe a debt to the late 19th century romantic French masters as well as to the impressionists. His Duo is a major work for violin and piano in the tradition of the sonatas by Debussy and Ravel. It is truly "Musique en forme de sonate" with four large scale movements containing long themes and extraordinary contrasts. The first movement, in sonata form, contains two easily discernible elements: one lyric and easy-flowing, the other chordal with some quick arpeggiatton. The ending of the movement is a very poetic, quiet summation of the two gestures. The second movement is a light scherzo in 6/8 time. Perpetual motion is the character of this scherzo, which is contrasted by a long flowing violin line with the piano keeping up the initial rhythm as accompaniment to form the "B" section, or Trio. A short bridge leads back to the scherzo which is repeated with elaborations. A very beautiful slow movement follows. It has an intriguing form: A piano solo characterized by a dotted rhythm which we will call "A". The violin begins at first imperceptibly, then plays a lyric theme "B". This episode is followed by a variation of "A" and then a variation of "B" a fourth higher. Next, another variation of "A" by the piano, this time followed by the violin entering a fifth higher from the original and carrying the "B" theme to a climax, all followed by a short, very delicate coda which ends the movement with a very soft Db held by the violin. The Finale is developed out of the small fragments heard at the outset with spacious long lines as well as spunky interactions between the two instruments. It is a movement full of energy and imaginative counterpoint leading to an ending that is evocative of the beginning and yet ends the work on a light and even whimsical note.

The Sonatine #5 for violin alone was written several years before the Duo and is Op. 32, No. 1. It is a very powerful and grand expression of fine musical material. The work is in two vastly contrasting movements. The first is a strong, rather romantic, flowing movement that constantly moves in eighth notes with expressive longer notes to keep up the rhythmic tension. This gives way to a rather curious, indecisive second movement; meaning that it seems to stop and start, setting forth some new material dominated by double stops, especially consecutive fifths. This leads to a climax and a very decisive start of fast and furious music which then forms the main body of the final movement. It is a perpetually moving dance requiring incredible virtuosity and brings the work to a most exciting close.

One can only wonder why these two Martinon pieces have not made it into the standard repertoire since they are so musically gratifying both from the listener's as well as the performer's perspective. Perhaps the excellent performance on this recording will rectify this situation.

Norman Dello Joio

was born in New York City in January, 1913, and at an early age showed great promise as a pianist and organist. He entered the Juilliard School in 1939 to study composition with Bernard Wagenaar. After studying with Paul Hindemith at Tanglewood in 1941, he followed him to Yale University to continue his studies (1941-1943). Dello Joio has written operas, ballets, and a great deal of orchestral, choral, and vocal music, plus a good bit of chamber music. Both in 1947 and again in 1959 he was awarded the New York Music Critics' Award. His compositions are widely performed by orchestras and choral organizations all over the world. He has also distinguished himself as a teacher of composition, having held posts at Sarah Lawrence College, Mannes College, and served as dean of the School of Fine Arts at Boston University from 1972 to 1979. Dello Joio's style can be described as neoclassical, but it is mixed with very fresh ideas stemming from his jazz background and his life-long involvement in actual musical performance. It is because of their freshness that many of his works have become staples in the orchestra, especially the choral and wind-ensemble repertory.

Variations and Capriccio was written in 1948 and consists of a theme with six variations followed by a Capriccio.

The theme is stated by the piano alone. Its characteristics are dotted eighth note followed by a sixteenth note then two repeated eighth notes; this leads to a figure consisting of an eighth note followed by two sixteenths and its inversion, two sixteenths followed by an eighth.

Variation I. The violin takes up the theme and varies it all by itself except for the final chord in which the piano supplies the low bass note "C". This is significant because the cadence of each variation ends with the piano low "C" becoming a unifying element in the entire work.

Variation II. A brilliant dance variation with prominent pizzicato passages for the violin. Occasional lyric moments for the piano contrast to the ever spirited violin passages.

Variation III. Another fiery rhythmic piece almost perpetually for the violin. Once again the piano supplies some lyric relief, and here Dello Joio uses some "bluesy" harmony.

Variation IV. A lovely Siciliana brings a good contrast to all the more muscular previous variations.

Variation V. A happy, rather fast variation with characteristically American dance rhythms of shifting accents, relieved at times by stabilizing elements which quote the original theme exactly.

Variation VI. The violin and piano each introduce this final variation with separate lyric passages. These are followed by a very beautiful theme with 'romantic' harmony. This variation is built on the tune introduced by the left hand accompaniment beginning in measure two of the original theme.

The Capriccio is introduced by a solo violin melody that sounds as if it were a continuation of the one heard in Variation VI. This is especially so since we have an emphasis once again on the cadence, where the piano enters after a long violin solo, supplying the chord. This time, however, it is a mixed chord of G major over a 'C' bass. This cadence leads to a true Scherzo or Capriccio which does use gestures from the theme as well as of the previous six variations. This unifying aspect creates not only a most effective work, but one which is quite easy to follow.

Ottorino Respighi

was born in Bologna in 1879 and died in Rome in 1936. Besides his studies in composition, Respighi was trained as a violinist and violist. Before teaching composition at Santa Cecilia Academy in 1913 he played the viola in the St. Petersburg (Russia) Imperial Opera, was active as a concert violinist from 1903 to 1908, and then joined the Mugelini Quartet as a violist. While in St. Petersburg, Respighi studied with Rimsky-Korsakov. This had a great influence on the young composer, especially in his colorful orchestrations in later works. In 1925-6 and 1928, he made tours of the United States as a pianist and a conductor. His output is quite large, containing operas, ballets, orchestral works, chamber music and songs. Important in his works were transcriptions and editions of works by early Italian composers such as Monteverdi, Vitali, Corelli, Marcello and others.

The Violin Sonata in b minor was composed in 1917, and though he composed a great deal for violin and piano this was the only "formal" sonata. It is dedicated to Ernest Consolo and Arrigo Serato.

This is a major work in the tradition of the late 19th century sonatas of Brahms, Franck and Fauré. The first movement is in the large-scale sonata form, with beautifully long lyric lines in the violin accompanied by a very active, ever moving piano part. The characteristic of the first theme group is a large skip, either of a seventh or ninth, to begin each phrase. The second theme group is distinguished by three stepwise pitches followed by a skip. Respighi succeeds in making the listener aware of this contrast throughout by further emphasizing the difference with his treatment of the accompaniment, although the notion is sustained throughout both themes. There is an extensive development of both thematic ideas: an elaborate key scheme and many tempo variations lead to a calm poetic ending in B major with the juxtaposition of the two themes, one upon the other.

The second movement is slow, but actually takes over the "atmosphere" of the ending of the first movement. The difference here is that the piano accompaniment obscures the rhythm of the song-like first theme by the use of quintuplets which have the fifth and the first note tied, creating an undulating but a-rhythmic background. The second theme, which begins on Db major, is accompanied with rhythms that make one feel the beats much clearer. This dichotomy is exploited throughout the development section, which again takes us through a number of keys and tempo changes, and climaxes in a cadenza-like return of the first theme of the first movement played by the violin over sustained piano chords. This activity leads eventually to a recapitulation and another beautifully quiet ending in E major, the main key of the movement.

The final movement is a Passacaglia. This is an old pre-Baroque form in which a ground bass of eight measures in 3/4 time is used over and over again with variations on top of it. Respighi uses this devise, but only in principle: there is a ten measure bass line stated by the piano at the beginning which is elaborated upon nineteen times. These variations can be divided into three groups. In the first group, the theme and the first eleven variations are vigorous and become faster and ever more exciting. In order to slow this down, variations ten and eleven have 15 measures each instead of 10, creating a slightly unbalanced feeling. This is "relieved" by the beginning of a series of four slow variations, forming the second group. Once again, the composer adds an extra four bars, this time to variation 15, leading to the final four variations. This becomes the most unevenly divided group since the variations are of unequal measure lengths, but beautifully provides an accumulative effect of getting faster before coming to a brilliant conclusion.

—notes by Samuel Adler

William Steck

has been Concertmaster of the National Symphony Orchestra since 1982 when he was personally selected by conductor Mstislav Rostropo-vich. Active as a soloist and recitalist since the age of four, Mr. Steck has appeared as soloist with the National Symphony as well as many other orchestras, including Atlanta, Dallas, Cleveland, St. Louis and Philadelphia.

His chamber music experience is both varied and extensive. He is currently first violinist of the Stratford String Quartet and violinist of the Flathead Festival Piano Quartet which offers a series of concerts based at the festival, located in Whitefish, MT. Previously he has been the violinist of the Lanier Trio of Atlanta, GA, and first violinist of the Severence String Quartet in Cleveland.

Mr. Steck has held the posts of Assistant Concertmaster of the Cleveland Orchestra under George Szell, and Concertmaster of both the Dallas and Atlanta Symphony Orchestras. His violin is contemporary: made in 1979, it is a fine example of the work of the late noted maker Sergio Peresson.

Lambert Orkis,

chamber musician, soloist, interpreter of contemporary music, recitalist with violinist Anne-Sophie Mutter and cellist Mstislav Rostropovich, as well as fortepianist with the Castle Trio and the Smithsonian Chamber Players, has received international recognition for his brilliant pianism and the probing musicianship of his performances and recordings.

Mr. Orkis has premiered and recorded works of prize-winning contemporary composers George Crumb and Richard Wernick, and has appeared as orchestral soloist, recitalist and chamber musician worldwide. His recordings include two releases, with Anne-Sophie Mutter and with Anner Bylsma, which have garnered Grammy Award nominations, and others with Lucy Shelton, the late Arleen Augér and the Castle Trio.

Mr. Orkis holds the positions of Principal Keyboard of the National Symphony Orchestra of Washington, DC, and Professor of Piano at Temple University's Esther Boyer College of Music where he was honored with the University's Faculty Award for Creative Achievement.

Track List:
  1. Jean Martinon - Duo, Musique En Forme De Sonate, Op.47: I Allegro Espressivo
  2. Jean Martinon - Duo, Musique En Forme De Sonate, Op.47: II Molto Vivace
  3. Jean Martinon - Duo, Musique En Forme De Sonate, Op.47: III Lento
  4. Jean Martinon - Duo, Musique En Forme De Sonate, Op.47: IV Allegro Molto Vivace (Finale)
  5. Jean Martinon - Jean Martinon - Sonatine No.5, Op.32, No.1: I Allegro Espressive
  6. Jean Martinon - Sonatine No.5, Op.32, No.1: II Allegro-Adagio-Allegro (Segues)
  7. Norman Dello Joio - Vars And Capriccio, Part 1
  8. Norman Dello Joio - Vars And Capriccio, Part 2
  9. Ottorino Respighi - Sonata in b: Moderato
  10. Ottorino Respighi - Sonata in b: Andante Espressivo
  11. Ottorino Respighi - Sonata in b: Allegretto Moderato Ma Energico
Download Links: Enjoy the Music, or here.

Other recordings featuring William Steck:
Other recordings featuring Lambert Orkis: