BERNARD HAITINK PORTRAIT
SUK: Asrael Symphony. Op. 27. Fairy Tale,
RESPIGHI: The Fountains of Rome. The Pines of Rome.
DESSNER: Concerto for Two Pianos. Haven. El Chan. El
Charco dei Ingenio. Point of Light. Four Winds. Ballade d'Allende.
Coyote. Pool of Ek Chan. Mountain.
Bernard Haitink first conducted in Munich in 1958 and since that time has appeared there numerous times. To commemorate his 90th birthday we have this super-budget 11-disk set.It offers live recordings of works long associated with Haitink. He has recorded virtually all of them multiple times, but it always is intriguing to hear live performances. Well-known vocal soloists are featured. Audio quality throughout is consistently well-balanced and impactful. This is a simple production. Each recording has its own illustrated cardboard folder, and there is a 32-page booklet with track information and a brief appreciation of the conductor.If you don't know about them, you should investigate Haitink's live Concertgebouw performances of Mahler's Symphonies 1, 2, 3, 4,5, 7 and 9 available on DVD (REVIEW).
Josef Suk's Asrael Symphonyreflects a tragic period in the composer's life. He began writing it in 1905 shortly after the death of his father-in-law and teacher, Antonin Dvorák. Although the composition was to be a celebration of Dvorák's life and work, the overall atmosphere is somber.It was intended to be a memorial for Dvorák. Asrael is known as the Angel of Death in the Old Testament[ and as the Islamic carrier of souls after death. July 6, 1905, while Suk was writing his symphony, his 27-year old wife Otilie died, and the music also is a memorial of her. There are five movements, and, as one would expect, it ends softly on a tragic mood. This symphony is important in Czech music history, and there have been several rewordings by tine Czech Philharmonic, in particular the 1952 recording conducted by Vaclav Talich. Other conductors have recorded the work with the Czech orchestra are Charles Mackerras and Vaclav Neumann. This magnificent new recording sets a new standard for the work. The set also includes a much lighter work Suk's Fairy Tale, Op. 16, a suite for large orchestra on motifs from music for Zeyer's dramatic fairy tale. There are four sections: About the constant love of Radúz and Mahulena, Playing at Swans and Peaocks, Funeral Music, and Runa's Curse and hos it was broken by true love. This music of Suk is played with dedication and virtuosity by the CPO under Jiri Belohlvek's direction. The recordings were made in Prague's Rudolfonum October 2/3, 2014, and October 1/2, 2915. Engineers have captured a rich orchestral sound in splendid stereo. This is an important issue!.The two disks sell for the price of one.
We really don't need another recording of Respighi's Roman Trilogy; there are countless superb recordings of all three symphonic poems. This new Naxos issue offers splendid playing by the Buffalo Philharmonic. Their conductor, JoAnn Falletta, leads dynamic interpretations, and the record sound is excellent. Competition is keen, particularly the BIS SACD with John Neschling and the superb Sao Paulo Orchestra (REVIEW).
El Charco del Ingenio is a large pool of walter nestled in the canyon outside San Miguel in Mexico. For centuries its history has y included many legends. El Chan is the guardian spirit of the pool, a mythical diabolical creature that lives in the pool that changes color during the year and is one of the last sources of natural water in the area. American composer and guitarist Bryce Dressner (b. 1976) is well-known in the world of rock music as a member of rock bands. In 1986 Time Magazine called him "Rock's Renaissance Man." Now based in Paris, he has written for large orchestra, chamber and solo works, as well as rock songs and music for movies. Dressner has collaborated with artists such as Philip Glass, Steve Reich and Paul Simon. He wrote all of the music on this new CD. It features a Concerto for Two Pianos played by Katia and Marielle Lebeque. This was recorded during a concert with Orchestre de Paris directed by Matthias OPintscher October 2018. The other major work is Haven written for two pianos and two guitars, the latter played here by the composer and David Chalman. . There are seven brief pieces in supposedly relating to the infamous pool. These are written for just a few performers, some including pianos. The Concerto is a loud dissonant work in rock style with plenty of work for the soloists. Other works are much more gentle and impressionistic, but there is nothing here that I would wish to her again. Minimal, rather confusing program notes. Excellent audio.
R.E.B. (June 2019)