Mon, Fri 星期一、五 5:30pm
Monday and Friday: 5:30pm-6pm
A group of music critics guide you through some of the the most interesting new releases to keep you in touch with the latest fine music recordings.
Critic: Savio Lau
In the 1830s, Spohr was commonly considered undisputedly the greatest living composer. He was inspired to write his four clarinet concertos, which have always ranked among Spohr’s most popular works, by his acquaintance with the Thuringian clarinettist Johann Simon Hermstedt. Up to today, the decidedly virtuoso clarinet concertos have been a challenge for any clarinet soloist, as they mirror Spohr’s view of the form of the solo concerto as a projection surface to flaunt technical skill in an ideal symbiosis with the poetic and lyrical contents of the music. On this release, the works are performed by Karl Leister. Karl Leister began his solo career as a clarinetist with the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra under Herbert von Karajan in 1959. At the same time his international career as a soloist and chamber musician began. He is one of the founders of the ensembles Blaser der Berliner Philharmoniker, Berliner Solisten as well as the Ensemble Wien-Berlin. Since the foundation of the Herbert von Karajan Academy of the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra, Karl Leister has been teaching the young generation.
Critic: Dennis Wu
It is striking that two of the true classics in English orchestral music were composed within the short space of some fifteen years around the turn of the previous century. Edward Elgar's Enigma Variations have charmed as well as fascinated listeners since the first performance in 1899. In 14 remarkably diverse variations Elgar demonstrates his compositional mastery while creating miniature portraits of his closest friends, as well as of his wife and himself. By turns gentle, idyllic, tempestuous and boisterous, the pieces – which often run seamlessly into each other – nevertheless make up a coherent whole, like a group portrait taken during a country weekend. As for the enigma of the title, Elgar – who loved puzzles – maintained that another melody ‘went with’ the theme, and musicologists have searched for the answer ever since, without success. In 1916 Gustav Holst completed another set of musical character sketches – his suite The Planets, in seven movements. These have little to do with astronomy and even less with the Roman deities whose names they carry. Holst was rather inspired by astrology and the suite actually concerns human character as influenced by the planets. The concept – like that of Elgar's variations – provides for a variety of moods and expressions, and in his score Holst took full advantage of these possibilities. To achieve this he made use of a large orchestra including much percussion, two harps, celesta, organ, two sets of timpani. He also included parts for certain unusual instruments such as bass flute, bass oboe and tenor tuba, and – in the final movement – a female chorus. Performing the programme in the warm acoustics of Bergen's Grieg Hall, the Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra under Andrew Litton give it their all in this sonic spectacular.
Critic: Dennis Wu
The monumental and colourful sounds of the organ and symphony orchestra blend together perfectly on this splendid recording of Saint-Saëns’s “Organ” Symphony, Poulenc’s Concerto for Organ, Strings and Timpani and the Toccata from Charles-Marie Widor’s Organ Symphony No. 5. The majestic organ chords at the start of the final movement of Saint-Saëns’s symphony equal the sublime effect of Beethoven’s choral conclusion of his Ninth, and have made it an audience’s favourite straight from the moment of its 1886 premiere. Poulenc’s organ concerto shows the composer’s retrospective side, while simultaneously offering flashes of his stylistic playfulness. After Poulenc’s serene concerto, Widor’s Toccata offers a vibrant conclusion to this programme.
The Geneva Victoria Hall organ is played by Christopher Jacobson, who has already released a solo album with performances on the Aeolian Organ at Duke University Chapel, as well as a recording of Tyberg Masses with the South Dakota Chorale on Pentatone. On this album, he works with the Orchestre de la Suisse Romande and conductor Kazuki Yamada, who have a vast discography.