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Discussion: Vivaldi: The Four Seasons, Piazzolla - Lara St. John

Posts: 9

Post by Windsurfer May 6, 2009 (1 of 9)
I just received this last evening. I am pretty excited about it and plan to write a review. For now lets say the sound in MCH is flawless and that the performances of the Vivaldi are eye-opening. This is not your father's 1950's or 1960's Vivaldi but it is "big band" sound. What is arresting is the absolutely delicious phrasing by Lara St. John.

She does not barge on through playing passages you are accustomed to hearing played very fast even faster, she slows down at times and carefully, lovingly, phrases these passages in a way that will have you smiling and saying "Oh wow!"

This is quite an artist. An artist with her own vision and voice. There is a lot more to say about this Vivaldi and later I will talk about individual passages but for now take my advice - Don't buy one, buy two and give the second to a friend! The paltry price at CD Universe invites such generosity!

Post by Beagle May 6, 2009 (2 of 9)
Thanks Bruce, I hadn't noticed this one; the Piazzolla will be a real bonus. JPC.de quotes Audiophile Audition: "Do we need another Four Seasons? With playing and sound like this, yes we do!"

Amusingly, amazon.ca lists this disc as an IMPORT! Is St. John's label, Ancalagon, based in the Grand Caymans? And I was wrong again: ANCALAGON is not an anagram of 'Canola Nag'; Ancalagon the Black is a dragon in Tolkein's Lord of the Rings. Now, why....

Post by Windsurfer May 11, 2009 (3 of 9)
I have edited my original review of this disc to mention some "pitch bending" in some of the movements. This is not something that exists everywhere in the performance - only where the effect enhances Vivaldi's writing. I think it is very effectively employed and contributes to a stunning, revelatory performance of an over recorded and over played work.

Post by Peter June 3, 2009 (4 of 9)
A superb disc - the Simon Bolivar strings play superbly, incisively and with excellent tone. Eduardo Marturet conducts, showing not only Dudamel gets the results, and his arrangement of Piazzolla's Four Seasons makes a substantial addition to the disc. An excellent piece.

Lara St John is just wonderful, too. This is the first time I have heard her play on disc, and I now understand what all the fuss is about! The whole project was produced in Caracas by Martha de Francisco, very well-known for her productions for Philips.

Post by wehecht June 3, 2009 (5 of 9)
Windsurfer said:

I have edited my original review of this disc to mention some "pitch bending" in some of the movements. This is not something that exists everywhere in the performance - only where the effect enhances Vivaldi's writing. I think it is very effectively employed and contributes to a stunning, revelatory performance of an over recorded and over played work.

I admire Ms. St. John's work a great deal (in fact I contributed a highly favorable review of her Hindson et al disc), but personally I find the pitch bending more than a little annoying. In concert this might be interesting but on a recording it leaves me gritting my teeth because I'm aware that "here it comes again". This disc will be on my listen once in a blue moon pile. To be fair I have the same problem with Schnittke's cadenza for the Beethoven violin concerto, and Aho's for the Mozart flute concertos. All proverbial moustaches on the Mona Lisa.

Post by Peter June 4, 2009 (6 of 9)
wehecht said:

I admire Ms. St. John's work a great deal (in fact I contributed a highly favorable review of her Hindson et al disc), but personally I find the pitch bending more than a little annoying. In concert this might be interesting but on a recording it leaves me gritting my teeth because I'm aware that "here it comes again". This disc will be on my listen once in a blue moon pile. To be fair I have the same problem with Schnittke's cadenza for the Beethoven violin concerto, and Aho's for the Mozart flute concertos. All proverbial moustaches on the Mona Lisa.

The pitch bending has some historical basis, doesn't it?

I love out of the ordinary cadenzas, for a special occasion. Recently I got Beethoven's PC4 with York Bowen playing his own cadenza in 1925; it's quite unlike any other, and sounds quaint today.

Ricci made a recording of the Brahms VC with lots of cadenzas you could programme individually for listening. Or you could just listen to all the cadenzas.

All the above is to mention this disc which I MUST listen to! :

Mozart: Piano Concerto No. 20 - Michael Rische

Soloists should feel free to invent their own cadenzas when they are ad lib. Today's public seems less open to agreeing to this.

Post by wehecht June 4, 2009 (7 of 9)
Peter said:

I love out of the ordinary cadenzas, for a special occasion.

Soloists should feel free to invent their own cadenzas when they are ad lib. Today's public seems less open to agreeing to this.

I couldn't agree more. Robert Levin's improvised cadenzas are exemplary and add to his recordings, similarly Rachel Barton Pine's cadenza for the Brahms vc is a real plus in her recording of that piece. But these cadenzas are stylistically apt, not a contemporary composer's gloss upon a piece written two hundred years earlier and sounding like the aural equivalent of seeing a familiar face reflected in a funhouse mirror.

Post by Peter June 4, 2009 (8 of 9)
wehecht said:

I couldn't agree more. Robert Levin's improvised cadenzas are exemplary and add to his recordings, similarly Rachel Barton Pine's cadenza for the Brahms vc is a real plus in her recording of that piece. But these cadenzas are stylistically apt, not a contemporary composer's gloss upon a piece written two hundred years earlier and sounding like the aural equivalent of seeing a familiar face reflected in a funhouse mirror.

... which is exactly why I like to hear that sort of cadenza from time to time.

Post by Martha November 23, 2009 (9 of 9)
Beagle said:

ANCALAGON is not an anagram of 'Canola Nag'; Ancalagon the Black is a dragon in Tolkein's Lord of the Rings. Now, why....

Hi Beagle,

I can share light on your question.
Lara named her record label after her pet iguana, "Ancalagon".

Smiles.

Closed