Zesty Folk Music, Beethoven Quartets and Pablo Heras-Casado

Email a Friend

FREE Download: Andrew Rangell Performs the Fourth Movement of Janacek's In the Mists*

Our latest Albums of the Week cover a wide spectrum. Pianist Andrew Rangell surveys the joyous and tangy folk-inspired works of Bartok, Janacek and Kodaly; Pablo Heras-Casado conducts two lesser-known Schubert symphonies; and the Hagen Quartet brings a Viennese touch to Beethoven.

"A Folk Song Runs Through It"
Andrew Rangell, piano
Steinway & Sons
Available at Arkivmusic.com

You can judge an album by its cover, at least in the case of Andrew Rangell's "A Folk Song Runs Through It." Marc Chagall's painting "I and the Village," with its various references to Eastern European folktales, is a perfect visual analog to this set of pieces by Kodaly, Janacek and Bartok, all of which drew from Hungarian, Slovakian, Moravian and other folk songs.

Janacek’s 1912 suite In the Mist, sets the tone, veering between Impressionism and stomping peasant dances. The most recognizable set here may be the Bartok’s 1915 Six Romanian Folk Dances, which derive from Transylvania fiddle tunes that Bartok collected in 1909. The composer's Improvisations on Hungarian Peasant Songs, comprising eight connected tableaux, have a knottier quality and each is fascinating in its own right. Kodaly’s Seven Pieces (1917-1918) show a clear affection for Debussy while Bartok's Piano Sonata is the most modernist composition here, albeit brimming with Bulgarian percussive rhythms.

 

freewheeling temperament and dynamic, big-boned pianism - See more at: http://www.classicstoday.com/review/review-13593/?search=1#sthash.Z9Tff91J.dpuf

Schubert: Symphonies Nos. 3 and 4
Freiburg Baroque Orchestra
Pablo Heras-Casado, conductor
Harmonia Mundi
Available at Arkivmusic.com

Along with a music directorship at the Orchestra of St. Luke's, Pablo Heras-Casado has a busy career on the guest-conducting circuit, having recently agreed to substitute for an injured Pierre Boulez at the Lucerne Festival. He has a big season ahead too, with several major debuts including with the New York Philharmonic. This recording provides a chance to hear what the fuss is all about. The Spanish conductor leads the period-instrument Freiburger Barockorchester in two early symphonies of Schubert, one lighthearted and one darker and more downcast. The Third of 1815 ends with a Rossinian tarantella; the Fourth of 1816 lives up to its subtitle, "Tragic," with Beethovenian gestures. While neither may eclipse Schubert's late symphonies, Heras-Casado and the Freiburg players deliver fresh and engaging performances.

Hagen Quartet
Beethoven String Quartets Op. 18/3, 18/5 & 135
Myrios Classics
Available at Arkivmusic.com

Austria's Hagen Quartet has been playing Beethoven's 16 string quartets throughout much of its 32-year career, and it's now presenting the fruits of that accumulated wisdom and experience. The quartet will present the full cycle at the 92nd St. Y over 10 days in November, one of several international cycles. It's also in the midst of recording all 16, and this album features two representative works from the early period (Op. 18, Nos. 3 and 5) and one late (Op. 135). The Op. 18 quartets demonstrate their warmth of sound and cohesive approach; the Op. 135 is a far more complex work and the musicians respond with gutsy, yet beautifully etched playing. Watch a video of the Hagen playing the fourth movement below:

* The free download is available to Facebook subscribers. Not on Facebook? No problem. Sign up for our weekly WQXR newsletter and this will be included on this Friday's edition.