Archive | March, 2014


What’s the great top Organ Work

Posted on 31 March 2014 by admin

Here, it’s a good time to look at the top ten works for this mighty beast of wind and metal.

Bach: Toccata and Fugue in D minor BWV 565

The kind of bloodsucking phantoms and cackling vampires that populate schlock-horror flicks have a curious tendency to leap to the organ and play something portentous as they lure victims to their doom. This Toccata and Fugue – possibly by Bach, though recent critics have questioned this – is generally what they play. They’re not the only ones to respond to its power. The critic Hans Keller described the opening as ‘a lightning flash’ followed by ‘a thunder of broken chords.’

Henry Purcell: Trumpet Tune in D major

Not much is known about this stirring tune (which is played using the ‘trumpet’ stop on the organ, hence the title), but it was probably written during Purcell’s time as organist of Westminster Abbey. It’s a favourite at weddings, along with Jeremiah Clarke’s celebrated ‘Trumpet Voluntary’, which was also attributed to Purcell for a long time.

S. S. Wesley: Choral Song and Fugue

Mid-19th-century England was labelled ‘the land without music’ by a snooty German critic. It’s true there wasn’t as much going on as in Germany or France, but there were pockets of wonderful creativity, especially in cathedrals. The composer S. S. Wesley (1810 – 1876) is a celebrated example of a composer working in this tradition, and his rousing ‘Choral Song and Fugue’ (1842) has never lost its popularity.  Buffs may spot the playful similarity between the fugue tune and the finale of Mozart’s Symphony No. 41.

Léon Boëllmann: Toccata from Suite gothique

No single instrument can create a sense of rising tension and explosive release quite as effectively as the organ, and the final movement of Boëllmann’s Suite gothique of 1895 is a study in how to build excitement on the instrument. The piece is so flashy as to verge on the crude – but goodness, it’s effective. Imagine a young woman tied to railway tracks, and a train hurtling towards her, and you’ve got the idea.

Charles-Marie Widor: Toccata from Symphony for Organ No. 5

How many new brides and bridegrooms (including the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge) have walked out of church to the strains of this joyous, hurtling Toccata? Millions, probably, and little wonder. There are few pieces more exuberant, or more unashamedly full of sunshine and smiles – just right for the celebration of a new union. The term ‘symphony’, incidentally, doesn’t mean that the piece was originally written for orchestra. Widor simply wanted to suggest the epic, symphonic scope of the instrument.

Louis Vierne: Finale from Symphony No. 1

Widor’s assistant at the church of Saint-Sulpice in Paris was Louis Vierne, who went on to become an equally celebrated composer of organ music. The finale of his Symphony No. 1 for organ (1899), which manages to be both grand and light-hearted, has become another wedding favourite.

Olivier Messiaen: La Nativité du Seigneur

As well as creating grandeur, the organ is a wonderful instrument for meditative and contemplative sounds – perhaps because organs are so often found in religious spaces. This extensive cycle of nine ‘meditations’ inspired by the birth of Jesus was composed in 1935, and was influenced byMessiaen’s love of nature and stained glass, as much as by his strong Christian faith.

Saint-Saëns: Symphony No. 3

By the nineteenth century, the organ was as associated with concert halls as with cathedrals, and composers were quick to exploit its potential as a member of the orchestra. One of the most successful was Saint-Saëns in his ever-popular ‘Organ Symphony’ (No. 3), whose final movement is dominated by the sound of the organ. The sharp-eared among you will spot that a melody from this movement was turned into the pop song ‘If I had words’, used in the film Babe.

Richard Strauss: Also sprach Zarathustra

The extraordinary opening passage of Strauss’s 1896 tone-poem will forever be associated with Stanley Kubrick’s film 2001: A Space Odyssey, and it’s not hard to hear why Kubrick chose it to conjure up the majesty and terror of the boundless universe. The rumbling low C at the beginning – the lowest possible note on the organ – creates an extraordinary physical vibration when experienced live.

Gounod: ‘Seigneur, daignez permettre’ from Faust (Act IV)

Operatic composers, as well as symphonic ones, also began to use the organ in the nineteenth century. A celebrated passage occurs in Gounod’sFaust (1859). The pregnant, unmarried Marguerite has been cast out by her friends and family and cursed by her dying brother. She comes to church to ask God’s forgiveness, unaware that the evil Méphistophélès is plotting to stop her. The appearance of the organ at around 0:42 provides a wonderful sense of foreboding and doom. The instrument returns with a heavenly C major chord when Marguerite is redeemed at the end of the opera too.

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String quartet Brooklyn Rider’s new project—‘Almanac’

Posted on 30 March 2014 by admin

A Walking Fire

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The project will comprise a recorded album, videos, animations, photo essays, articles and remixes, all to be released periodically throughout 2014 and 2015 via YouTube and other social media channels.

The quartet have confirmed a list of non-classical artists composing works especially for the album release, including indie rock musicians Greg Saunier (drummer with influential experimental band Deerhoof) and Glenn Kotche from Grammy Award-winners Wilco.

As it stands, over $3,000 has been raised as a result of the campaign, which went live yesterday. The fundraising target is $40,000, with donors able to select a range of rewards depending on how much money they pledge.

At the top end of the scale is a possible donation of $10,000, which entitles the donor to a private, curated concert from the quartet themselves, as well as various special editions of the Almanac’s contents and some specially roasted coffee beans.

Brooklyn Rider will be touring Europe in April and May, including a late-night show at London’s Wigmore Hall on May 2nd.

Donate to Brooklyn Rider’s Kickstarter here .

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Ingrid Fliter’s superb Chopin on LINN

Posted on 29 March 2014 by admin

Chopin: Piano Concertos

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Chopin’s two concertos are all about the pianist, the slender writing for the orchestra doing little more than providing plain settings for the exquisitely cut jewels with which the soloist beguiles us. Or at least that’s what received opinion tells us. But from this CD’s opening moments, before the pianist has even played a note, you’re aware of some pretty serious re-thinking going on.

Jun Märkl really rips into the orchestral opening of the First: it’s partly a matter of balance, with the bass instruments within the orchestra given more prominence than usual, partly of telling phrasing. He’s a potent partner for Ingrid Fliter, who can make a line sing with the best of them, but who also has a certain inner steeliness, with playing entirely devoid of sentimentality. And her phrasing! That is a thing of immense subtlety and beauty, as is the liquid ease of the more virtuoso passages. Is her speed for the slow movement of the Second Concerto just too slow? Perhaps, but overall this is a superb collaborative effort, warmly recorded, that makes this a disc not only for lovers of these pieces but also for anyone who has yet to be convinced of their quality.

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Andrea Bocelli got sweet marriage

Posted on 28 March 2014 by admin

The legendary tenor finally did the honourable thing and married his long-term partner and manager Veronica Berti in a gorgeous ceremony in Tuscany. Andrea Bocelli and Veronica Berti wedding

Bocelli and Berti (detective show, anyone?) have been together for years now, having met in 2002. They’ve been pretty much inseparable since then, not least because she is his manager. Here they are, looking all loved up as usual. Andrea Bocelli & Veronica Berti   But merely jumping in the air was not enough for these two lovebirds. Oh no. Andrea popped the question and it was revealed that the couple would tie the knot on the day of their daughter’s second birthday (which is totally fine and not stealing anyone’s thunder at all, because two-year-olds don’t even remember their birthdays). Andrea Bocelli and Veronica Berti wedding   They were married last Friday in the port of Livorno, Tuscany, which appears to be pretty much the most beautiful place in the world: Livorno, Tuscany (via Otrosky Photos )   Andrea even had time to do one of those Reservoir Dogs-stylewedding photos (sort-of. And no, that’s not Tom Jones on the right). Andrea Bocelli and Veronica Berti wedding   But before long, it was time to get down to business. The wedding went off without a hitch and the world duly sighed with contentment. Except for that guy taking a picture on his phone. He’s thinking of his Twitter followers. Andrea Bocelli and Veronica Berti wedding   And the showbiz mags went all wobbly at the news:

Andrea Bocelli Marries Veronica Berti–See Pictures From the Italian Tenor’s Wedding in Tuscany! — E! Online (@eonline) March 24, 2014

Good luck, Andrea and Veronica! Andrea Bocelli and Veronica Berti wedding

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