CLASSICAL

The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - REVIEWS CDs - Joe Breen Michael Der­van Michael Der­van Michael Der­van Michael Der­van

– on a few tracks, this im­presses most as an ensem­ble mu­sic be­cause it clearly re­flects Car­lon’s vi­sion. A case in point is his latin re­assess­ment of Stray­horn’s ven­er­a­ble Smada, the only piece not by Car­lon and am­ple ev­i­dence of the kind of imag­i­na­tion and self­be­lief he brings to the id­iom. www.paulcar­lon­mu­sic.com There are many things which set Bradley Walker apart from other coun­try singers, but per­haps we should deal with the most im­por­tant: his bur­nished tenor is among the most af­fect­ing I’ve heard since Randy Travis’s de­but all those year ago. Walker has also gath­ered around him some of the great and the good, in­clud­ing pro­ducer Carl Jack­son, who has had the sound sense to sprin­kle Walker’s de­but with a fine range of songs from the blue­grass, Nashville and honky-tonk tra­di­tions. His phras­ing is im­mac­u­late, squeez­ing the last drop of emo­tion and nu­ance from each track, while Jack­son’s ar­range­ments are right on the money with some stand­out har­monies. The other ma­jor fac­tor which sets Walker apart is the fact that he has been in a wheel­chair since birth, hav­ing been born with Mus­cu­lar Dys­tro­phy. But this is no sob story – Bradley Walker is the real deal. www.bradleywalker.com SHOSTAKOVICH: SYM­PHONY NO 4 WDR Sin­fonie-orch­ester Köln/ Se­myon By­chkov Avie AV 2114 ★★★★ Shostakovich was at work on his Fourth Sym­phony when, in Jan­uary 1936, he en­dured the hu­mil­i­at­ing and threat­en­ing pub­lic con­dem­na­tion of his opera Lady Mac­beth of Mt­sensk in the pages of Pravda. “In­stead of re­pent­ing,” he later re­called, “I wrote my Fourth Sym­phony.” The fol­low­ing De­cem­ber, how­ever, he was per­suaded to with­draw this sprawl­ing, stylis­ti­cally het­ero­ge­neous work while in re­hearsal. It re­mained un­heard un­til 1961. In its un­com­pro­mis­ing rad­i­cal­ism, the Fourth is a lot closer to the of­ten jagged ter­rain of Lady Mac­beth than the com­par­a­tive re­straint of the of­fi­cially ap­proved Fifth Sym­phony. Se­myon By­chkov’s new per­for­mance al­lows the mu­sic to live con­vinc­ingly in the worlds of both old-style and new-style Shostakovich. It’s an in­trigu­ingly ef­fec­tive approach, brought off with aplomb by the play­ers of the Cologne ra­dio orches­tra. www.aviere­cords.com SHOSTAKOVICH/ZIN­MAN/ PUSHKAREV: VI­O­LIN SONATA; SHOSTAKOVICH/MEN­DELSSOHN: VI­OLA SONATA Gi­don Kre­mer (vi­o­lin), Yuri Bash­met (vi­ola), An­drei Pushkarev (per­cus­sion), Kre­mer­ata Baltica Deutsche Gram­mophon 477 6196 ★★★★ Shostakovich was so pleased with Ru­dolf Bar­shai’s ar­range­ment of his Eighth String Quar­tet for string orches­tra that he al­lo­cated it an opus num­ber. The ar­range­ments on this new CD ef­fec­tively turn his late sonatas for vi­o­lin and vi­ola into con­cer­tos, but we’ll never know his view on them, as they were made long af­ter his death, in 2005 and 1992, re­spec­tively. Both em­ploy string orches­tras, with per­cus­sion added for the Vi­ola Sonata, and, al­though they’re softer and less gaunt in ef­fect than the orig­i­nal ver­sions with pi­ano, both sound ut­terly per­sua­sive in Kre­mer­ata Baltica’s fine new per­for­mances. Tem­per­ing the sever­ity and bleak­ness of late Shostakovich, of course, may be just the way to win more friends for this mu­sic. www.deutschegram­mophon.com ADRIAN JACK: STRING QUAR­TETS 3-6; 08.02.01 Arditti Quar­tet Deux-Elles DXL 1116 ★★★★ As a critic, Adrian Jack is as­tute enough in ob­ser­va­tion and clear enough in ex­pres­sion to be en­light­en­ing even to some­one who may be com­pletely at odds with him in di­rec­tion of re­sponse. As a com­poser, in th­ese string quar­tets writ­ten be­tween 1996 and 2002, he’s sim­i­larly, un­shirk­ingly di­rect, but the out­come is ut­terly dif­fer­ent. The of­ten naive-seem­ing sur­faces are mys­te­ri­ously sug­ges­tive, rather like images that hover, out of fo­cus, in the cor­ner of one’s eye. The very light­ness of the Arditti Quar­tet’s vi­brato-shy play­ing of this mostly gen­tle mu­sic in­ten­si­fies the ef­fect. www.deux-elles.com STRAUSS: EIN HELDEN­LEBEN; DON QUIXOTE; LE BOUR­GEOIS GEN­TIL­HOMME; ME­TA­MOR­PHO­SEN Royal Phil­har­monic Orches­tra/Thomas Beecham; New Phil­har­mo­nia Orches­tra/ John Bar­birolli EMI Clas­sics 371 5022 (2 CDs) ★★★★ Richard Strauss and Thomas Beecham went back a long way. Beecham con­ducted the Bri­tish pre­miere of Elek­tra in 1910 and shared the podium with Strauss at the 1947 fes­ti­val of his mu­sic which helped re­ha­bil­i­tate the com­poser in post-war Lon­don. This new bar­gain-priced col­lec­tion fea­tures the richly char­ac­terised record­ing of Don Quixote which fol­lowed that fes­ti­val. The com­poser was on hand to of­fer words of wis­dom at the re­hearsals, and the suc­cess of the record­ing also helped launch the in­ter­na­tional ca­reer of its main soloist, cel­list Paul Torte­lier. Beecham re­orded excerpts from the Le bour­geois gen­til­homme Suite around the same time, and his fes­ti­val per­for­mance of the mu­sic oc­ca­sioned an in­ter­rup­tion of spon­ta­neous ap­plause from the 83-yearold com­poser’s box. His re­splen­dent record­ing of Ein Helden­leben was made 10 years later and has the ben­e­fit of stereo sound. John Bar­birolli’s much-ad­mired 1967 record­ing of the vale­dic­tory Me­ta­mor­pho­sen tugs at ex­pres­sive points in a way that Strauss and Beecham both tended to avoid as con­duc­tors. www.emi­clas­sics.com

CD re­views com­piled by Tony Clay­ton-Lea

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