A Crop of Recordings XIX: Dvořák, Strauss, Brahms, Holst, Schmidt and Elgar

Here is really lovely Dvořák: fresh and natural, gorgeously recorded—and with something new to say. That’s rare for the symphony, which has been captured for presumed immortality by every orchestra on earth—and dutifully miked from nearly every row in every concert house. There’s a New World for every taste in approach and sonic perspective.

This is a gleaming, sleek, satiny reading of the symphony, sensitive and appealingly refined, set midway back with none of the “E-Minor rasp” that can make brass chords overbearing and the music blatty. It also features light-as-a-feather winds and some of the most breath-stopping quiet string playing you will ever encounter. Krzysztof Urbański achieves a haunting effect at the end of the slow movement, where the music barely breathes. He has the strings move away from each other as they play, until they are at opposite ends of the stage, evanescing into the distance along with the notes they play.

Duo pianists Mark Evans and Gili Melamed-Lev.

Three Concerts at Camphill Ghent, two Past, one to Come

Off-season musical life is not as thin in the Hudson Valley as it is in the Berkshires, but, whatever the general situation, the Concerts at Camphill Ghent, founded and directed by pianist Gili Melamed-Lev, stand out for their exceptional quality, one month after another. As I have mentioned elsewhere, these concerts, which usually sell out weeks before the concert date, take place in the intimate performing arts hall of Camphill Ghent, a residential community for elders in Chatham, New York. This particular article will offer a preview of the upcoming March concert, which is actually based on an abbreviated version of the program the Lev-Evans Duo played at a house concert in Stockbridge last month, and reviews of two previous concerts at Camphill Ghent.

Artistic Director Gili Melamed-Lev

The Concerts at Camphill Ghent 2016 – 2017: Season Opening Concert Coming Up, October 15, 3pm

A relatively new chamber music series in our area, The Concerts at Camphill Ghent, extending through the rather sparse autumn through spring months, has just recently come to my attention, and it looks well worth a season subscription. Every concert is compelling, and they all fit together as a whole. Clearly some strong consideration has gone into the selection of both the music and the musicians. The series was founded and is managed by a musician, the outstanding pianist, Gili Melamed-Lev, who oversees the programming and participates extensively herself. This is by no means exceptional in itself, but the particular stamp she has put on it stands out.

Nelson Freire in Ozawa Hall. Photo Hilary Scott.

Nelson Freire at Tanglewood: Third Sonatas, Early and Late

Nelson Freire is a past master in multiple senses. His virtues as a pianist have been well-known for decades. But his playing brings to us hints of older school virtuosity, not only of his own generation (including his friend and musical partner Martha Argerich) but of even earlier schools of pianists, including the Hoffmann-Friedman-Rachmaninoff generation. He shares with those legendary virtuosi not only a technique that barely recognizes technical difficulties, but also a kind of sprezzatura, a slightly off-handed way of tossing off passages, runs, glittering ornaments, and the rest of the grand pianistic arsenal (or clap-trap, depending on your point of view) that others have approached with either gritty determination or a show-off’s urge to impress.

Louis Lohraseb, Conductor

A Singer’s Notes 107: Louis Lohraseb Conducts the Amadeus Orchestra at the Troy Savings Bank Music Hall, with Cicely Parnas, Cello; Gerard Schwarz and the Mozart Orchestra of New York

The first, the Amadeus Orchestra, conducted by the twenty-something Louis Lohraseb—a friend and erstwhile student of mine. These young musicians came to the hall from New Haven in a bus, played a rehearsal, and then an unforgettable concert thereafter. Featured was the excellent young cellist Cicely Parnas in the Haydn Concerto no. 1, which she played with great energy and style, the orchestral accompaniment pristine.

Cicely Parnas, Cellist

The Amadeus Orchestra – Louis Lohraseb, Conductor, soloist Cicely Parnas: Bruckner, Haydn, and Brahms at Troy Savings Bank Music Hall, Sunday, April 19, 3 pm

n 1862–63 Anton Bruckner composed the Overture in G minor. In contrast with the earlier Four Orchestral Pieces and the next Symphony in F minor, the Overture appears a much more mature work. Bruckner’s characteristics are already present: the opening subject with his octave interval in unison – as that of the main theme of the Ninth Symphony, the full orchestral chords followed by semiquaver runs, and the second slower subject with its large interval leaps, which is prefiguring the descending motive of the Adagio of the Fifth Symphony. The work contains at bars 271–275 a descending scale similar to the “Sleep leitmotiv” of the not yet composed Act 3 of Wagner’s Walküre.

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