ALWYN: Miss Julie (opera in two acts)
SATIE: Vexations 1 - 142
VAUGHAN WILLIAMS: Symphony No. 5 in D. Finzi: Concerto for Clarinet
and Strings, Op. 31
Alwyn's last large-scale opera Miss Julie, was written 1973-76. It is his setting of August Strindberg's 1888 play, for which he wrote he libretto. It is based on August Strindberg's 1888 play. It takes place in a Swedish Count's estate on Midsummer's Eve and the following morning, which is a social commentary about the obstacles between aristocrats and hired help. There are three main characters: Miss Julie, daughter of a count; Jean, the count's manservant; and Kristin, the cook, who provides a dispassionate social commentary to the exchanges between Miss Julie and Jean. Aristocracy and laborers were different classes and were not to intermingle. .Midsummer and the Feast Day of St. John the Baptist. The action takes place in the kitchen of Miss Julie's father's manor. She is attracted to Jean and seduced by him. This was a forbidden relationship with a tragic end. Such a plot seems o be an opportunity for operatic fireworks, but Alwyn's imaginative score avoids this; there are no dazzling arias to display vocal virtuosity. There e was an acclaimed BBC revival of Miss Julie in October 2019 at which time this recording was made. The cast is superb, and the BBC Orchestra under Sakari Oramo's strong direction brings out all of the nuance of Alwyn's score. Excellent, well-balanced multi-channel audio. This is a class production with a 92-page booklet with many photos. informative program notes and the complete libretto. An important release¡ Thank you, Chandos!
Pianist Noriko Ogawa continues her series of recording music of Erik Satie with this disk that contains all 142 Vexations, brief pieces that the composer probably didn't mean to have performed. They are trifles indeed and don't amount to much, but here they are, very well played and beautifully recorded. They are heard in 30 tracks. This site has mentioned the two previous releases that offer more substantial works of this elusive odd sometimes quixotic composer. The recordings were made August 2018 in Japan's Tokyo College of music. There is keen competitin from Jean-Yves Thibaud's Decca set of Satie's compete iano msic (REVIEW).
Symphony No. 5 of Vaughan Williams, composed 1938 - 1943, is one of his most gentle, far removed from the violence of the symphony that preceded it. It receives a superb performance on this new SACD, which has the advantage of rich multi-channel sound. The recording was made July 2019 in London's Watford Coliseum, and engineers have provided a rich totally satisfying audio picture. Michael Collins is an extraordinary musician, a master clarinetist who appears often in concerts with orchestras and chamber ensembles. He also is a conductor and from 2010 - 2018 was Music Director of the City of London Sinfonia. Collins has recorded a wide range of works for his chosen instrument;t his is his second of the Finzi concerto. It is perhaps appropriate that the Finzi concerto be included on this new CD as it was written 1948 - 1949 at the suggestion of Vaughan Williams. Needless to say,, it is played to perfection. This is an outstanding addition th to the SACD catalog.
R.E.B. (July 2020)