New Releases by Gustavo Dudamel, Philippe Quint and I Barocchisti

Sunday, October 13, 2013

This week's new releases include Gustavo Dudamel's Berlin Philharmonic debut recording, opera transcriptions from Philippe Quint and pianist Lily Maisky, and rarities by Baroque composer Agostino Steffani.

Also Sprach Zarathustra
Berlin Philharmonic
Gustavo Dudamel, conductor
Available at Arkivmusic.com

Gustavo Dudamel’s debut album with the Berlin Philharmonic, released last month, features music by Richard Strauss, including Also Sprach Zarathustra, Don Juan and Till Eulenspiegel's Merry Pranks. The album, which was recorded live in concerts, features the Berlin ensemble in peak form, with a gleaming sound. In assembling this release, the marketing team at DG played heavily (perhaps too heavily) off of the associations of Strauss’s piece with Stanley Kubrick's film “2001: A Space Odyssey.” Below is DG’s Kubrickian promotional video followed by the opening of the 1968 film, which was performed by Herbert Von Karajan and the Vienna Philharmonic. Watch both versions and tell us which one you prefer.

Dudamel and Berlin

Karajan and Vienna

Opera Breve
Philippe Quint and Lily Maisky
Avanti Classic
More about this album

Violinist Philippe Quint and pianist Lily Maisky have just released this an album of operatic arrangements and transcriptions. As the two artists explained in a recent interview, they wanted to avoid the “top 10 hits of opera” approach – there's no Carmen or La Boheme to be found here. The Russian-born, New York-based Quint did two of the transcriptions -- Humperdinck’s “Evening Prayer” and Donizetti’s “Una Furtiva Lagrima," both of which include double stops and other techniques foreign to singers. There’s also Kreisler’s arrangement of Falla’s Spanish Dance and two numbers that Lily Maisky first played with her father, the celebrated cellist Mischa Maisky: Strauss’s Morgen and the Cantabile from Saint-Saens Samson et Dalila. You can download the album’s bonus track above.

Agostino Steffani
Danze e Ouvertures
I Barocchisti and Diego Fasolis
Available at Arkivmusic.com

Few had heard of Agostino Steffani (1654-1728) until Cecilia Bartoli took up his cause on her adventurous “Mission” album. She has another recording out now of Steffani’s music, but our attention is focused on his overtures and dances. Steffani was a contemporary of Corelli and was a leading star in Germany for a time. I Barocchisti and its leader, Diego Fasolis, capture the mix of French and Italian styles in this music, which is often breezy but with some vivid pictorial effects.  

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Comments [4]

CbR from california

Both versions are spectacular. Dudamel is precise, thrilling. Von Karajan was and maybe still is the recording to collect. I actually like the piece without the organ.

Oct. 17 2013 02:27 PM
Vincent Rufino from NJ

I prefer the Dudamel recording. The brass seems to have more brilliance in the upper tonal spectrum. There seems to be more bite to the attacks in the string section. However, both recordings are worthy of being the sole one in a collection. Price might influence first time buyers of the work. In my student days I always shopped the bargain bins at Sam Goodys!:-) I am listening to it on good computer speakers with a sub-woofer. My reference recording of this has been the Mehta recording with the La. Phil.

Oct. 17 2013 01:52 PM
Robert St.Onge from C

Having just seen 'Gravity' yesterday I'm sorry that DG didn't hire Alfonso Cuaron to do the promo in glorious 3D. Now that would suit the music! As far as I know,the organ is always retained (it's in the score, after all). It all depends on how the conductor emphasizes it.

Oct. 15 2013 11:36 AM

I have great respect for both versions and von Karajan's was the one I used to judge all subsequent performances against for comparison's sake. Dudamel's version is more rhythmically correct; he has the trumpet entrance begin more distinctly and he keeps the organ part in which is a nice touch. The Vienna Philharmonic/von Karajan version is a bit more mystical; the trumpet entry is more subdued as if it was a sun arising from mist and fog. These are good choices to have, but I come down favoring Maestro Dudamel's version, but only by a hair and almost entirely because he kept the organ in. In any event, the difference as I hear it is truly a matter of taste.

The visuals for both are wonderful since von Karajan's is from that fabulous movie and Dudamel's seem to be from some NASA flyby. It's all good.

Oct. 15 2013 11:14 AM

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The Albums of the Week are compelling new recordings that we spotlight every week. These include creative repertoire choices, engaging musical personalities and artistic statements that stand out from the pack. You can hear the Albums of the Week throughout the day and evening on WQXR.

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