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The Classical Explorer

   with Piano: September 2008 Archives

Virtuoso Spanish Dances

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Naxos 8.557767

Pablo Sarasate
(1844-1908)

Spanish Dance, Op. 21 #1 "Malagueña"
Spanish Dance, Op. 21 #2 "Habañera"
Spanish Dance, Op. 22 #1 "Romanza andaluza"
Spanish Dance, Op. 22 #2 "Jóta Navarra"
Spanish Dance, Op. 23 #1 "Playera"
Spanish Dance, Op. 23 #2 "Zapateado"
Spanish Dance, Op. 26 #1
Spanish Dance, Op. 26 #2
Balada, Op. 31
Caprice basque, Op. 24
Jota aragonesa, Op. 27
Sérénade andalouse, Op. 28

Tian-wa Yang, violin
Markus Hadulla, piano
Naxos 8.557767

This disc is an explosion of virtuosity. The very young Tian-wa Yang, prize-winning violinist, plays with total control, assurance, beautiful tone, and rhythmic clarity. The Sarasate pieces call for almost every type of fancy violin playing: they are like a catalog of spectacular effects for both left hand and right. But these pieces are more than just rapid displays of technical skill. They present a true musical experience – they lift the spirits and make the listener feel like dancing.

[ Available on CD: Amazon - UK - Germany - Canada - France - Japan - ArkivMusic - CD Universe ]

[ Sheet music by Sarasate: Sheet Music Plus - Musicnotes.com ]

Twilight of the Romantics

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Çedille CDR90000088

Walter Rabl
(1873-1940)

Quartet in E Flat Major for Clarinet, Violin, Cello & Piano (1896) 24:20

Josef Labor
(1842-1924)

Quintet in D major for Clarinet, Violin, Viola, Cello & Piano, Op. 11 (1900) 33:13

Orion Ensemble
Çedille CDR90000088

Ever since Wolfgang Mozart's Kegelstadt Trio (K498), the musical combination of clarinet, strings and piano has been known to be a most felicitous chamber music sound. One is tempted to compare the works on this CD to Brahms' own Clarinet Quintet. That would be a mistake. These works can be judged on their own merits and will richly reward the listener. However it wouldn't be wrong to notice that there must have been strong Brahmsian inspiration.

I am most partial to Labor's quintet, especially the variations in the fourth movement. The entire quintet flows along gracefully, wistfully, and with the greatest charm.

The Orion Ensemble, (Jennifer Marias, Viola; Kathryne Pirtle, Clarinet; Florentina Ramniceanu, Violin; Diana Schmück, Piano; Judy Stone, Cello), have given us excellent performances of both works.

[ Available on CD: Amazon - UK - Germany - Canada - France - Japan - ArkivMusic - CD Universe ]

Chamber Works by Weingartner

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CPO 777049

Felix Weingartner
(1863-1942)

Sextet Op. 33 in E minor (41:04)
Octet Op. 73 in G Major (35:35)

Oliver Triendl, pianist
Ensemble Acht
CPO 777049-2

Felix Weingartner, known to recorded classical music fans until now only as a conductor, (and perhaps also as the orchestrator of the Beethoven Hammerklavier Sonata, Op. 106) had nevertheless written an impressive number of compositions. Among his works are seven symphonies, overtures, operas, tone poems, five string quartets and other chamber music. It is almost unbelievable that these works have been so long neglected!

This Sextet, scored for piano, two violins, viola, cello and double bass, is performed by the Ensemble Acht members – Christoph Schickendanz, Annette Fehrmann, Antonia Siegers, Ingo Zander, and Stephan Schäfer, plus pianist Oliver Triendl.

The first movement is an exciting and voluptuous waltz with a second theme reminiscent of a very tender melody from Richard Strauss' Death and Transfiguration. The scherzo-like second movement is delightfully mysterious. The more somber third movement "in the style of an improvisation" and the "funeral dance" of the last movement round out this impressive, richly scored, melodious, expressive, and dramatic work.

Also not to be missed on this disc: the Octet Op. 73 for clarinet, horn, bassoon, two violins, viola, cello and piano. Especially recommended are the variations in the second movement.

I am very grateful to CPO for bringing so many of Weingartner's previously neglected compositions to us. His is a very important Late Romantic voice.

[ Available on CD: Amazon - UK - Germany - Canada - France - Japan - ArkivMusic ]

[ Sheet music by this composer: Sheet Music Plus - Musicnotes.com ]
Trumpet