Saturday, October 29, 2011
Supraphon is a solidly good music label from the recordings I've heard. Czech orchestras so often have a great sound, particularly in the woodwinds. I've heard quite a few excellent Mahler recordings on Supraphon. One of my first postings on this site was a Martinu recording with Neumann (see here). I'd eventually like to post Martinu's Fourth, one of my favorites.
Anyway, this recording features excellent cello playing. The sound quality is just fine, including the balance of solo instrument to orchestra. The Prokofiev piece is not too often performed. It was first written around the time the composer was receiving harsh criticism for his compositions; he shelved it and later revised the piece to its present form. It has quite a lot of good passages and is well worth playing a few times to understand it better. Prokofiev has great violin and piano concertos - he is a wizard in this genre in quite a few of his compositions.
The Shostakovich concerto is an especially engaging piece - most of Shostakovich's concertos are. He shows a playfulness with the concerto form that you only see in some of his symphonies. I recommend hearing this along with his concertos for violin and piano. Last year I posted the Fifteenth Symphony in time for Halloween (see here). This year I thought to post the Fourth Symphony, but this recording is a much rarer find.
For more information on the great Karel Ančerl, see here.
Download here (no password):
Sunday, October 16, 2011
Maria Kalaniemi is an extraordinary musician from Finland. She has changed the way I look at the accordion. She plays with grace and a sensitive dynamic range that makes her music engaging and great fun to hear. For the 2001 release Airbow, she teamed with Swedish fiddler Sven Ahlbäck to make a beautiful album that stands among my top Scandinavian folk recordings. If the front cover reminds you of ice and snow, you know a little of what you're in for. This is an excellent album for the colder months ahead, perhaps in ways even a personification of winter itself. Okay, I'm overdoing it a little, even a lot, but let me also say that there is fire in here as well. You'll get a dose of warm, heartfelt musicianship like hot cocoa in sub-zero temperatures. Maybe I better quit with the goofy metaphors.
As far as the style of the music, you will hear quite a few polkas, but not in the way you may be accustomed to hear them. This is elegant music with a sparseness to it that is just breathtaking.
Download here (no password):
When this album becomes available in MP3 format, I will definitely point to the link. In the mean time, I'll give a link to Kalaniemi's albums on Amazon here. There are one or two I haven't heard yet, but the ones I've listened to are all fantastic.
Tuesday, October 11, 2011
When Mick Abrahams left Jethro Tull after their first album This Was, he formed the short-lived Blodwyn Pig, a blues-based band. Ahead Rings Out, released in 1969, has a number of great tunes; some of my favorites include "Dear Jill," "The Change Song," and the brief instrumental "Backwash." The whole album is entertaining. Some songs have good rock energy and will get your feet moving, while others are more reflective and relaxed. Overall, this is a neat slice of vintage music from the late sixties.
Although not on this album, Blodwyn Pig does a very cool version of "Stormy Monday Blues," well worth hearing.
Because there are so many copies of Ahead Rings Out already available on filestube, I'll leave you to choose from the selection. There is also an extended version of the album probably worth finding. Search here.
Meanwhile, I'm searching my archives for some good orchestral music to share this fall.