Despite its reputation as one of the most exciting live bands to ever rock an arena in the Seventies, Bad Company never released a live album during its meteoric rise to the top of the charts. That has changed as Rhino introduces the first-ever official live album to spotlight the original Bad Company line up: Paul Rodgers, Mick Ralphs, Simon Kirke and Boz Burrell.
The collection includes more than two-and-half hours of unreleased music taken from 24-track tapes in the band’s vault. The music heard on this live collection features absolutely no enhancements or overdubs, nothing but the band as they performed live on the night of the concert.
Joke, satire, irony, deeper significance: the back cover of Gould’s gripping recording contained four imaginary reviews by an English critic (Sir Humphrey Price-Davies), a Munich musicologist (Dr. Karlheinz Heinkel), an American psychiatrist (Prof. S. F. Lemming), and the American corres pondent to the Journal of the All-Union Musical Workers of Budapest. All were written by Gould himself …
Sensation yields to scandal: Gould’s feisty and headstrong treatment of the final triptych in Beethoven’s pianistic “New Testament” outraged the critics no less than his sleeve notes, in which he claimed of op. 111 that “the piece is weak in spots; it needs greater speed. Especially the first movement is such a bad piece that I wanted to get on to the finale.”
This was the last of five new recordings released in September 1973, appearing one day after the four others. It marked the end of a long and often convoluted process: the first bars of the op. 31 triptych were recorded in July 1960, the final session took place almost thirteen years later on 15 May 1973! Amazingly, none of this is evident in the sonatas themselves.
Another Beethoven album. With this, Gould had turned out of a total of twenty-one of the thirty-two Beethoven sonatas—or perhaps twentytwo, for the “artist contract cards” of 1979-80 refer to a recording of the B-flat major Sonata, op. 22, that has never resurfaced. Several of the missing sonatas (the Largo from op. 7, the G-minor Sonata op. 49, no. 1, the A-major Sonata op. 101, the Hammerklavier op. 106) at least exist in the form of live CBC recordings.
Amazingly, Gould’s third LP of Beethoven sonatas met with hardly any grumblings from the critics and was, all in all, warmly received. True, one reviewer spoke of “iconoclastic interpretations,” but acknowledged that it enabled listeners to discover a completely new Beethoven. Admittedly Gould’s Appassionata languished in the ice-box …
Yet another scandal: Gould played the F-minor Piano Sonata, op. 57, at such a tortuously slow tempo that it seemed to fall into unrelated bits. “There is about the Appassionata – an egoistic pomposity, a defiant ‘let’s just see if I can’t get away with using that once more’ attitude—that on my own private Beethoven poll places this sonata somewhere between the King Stephen Overture and the Wellington’s Victory Symphony.”
The “scandal” surrounding Beethoven’s final triptych of sonatas (see No. 2) failed to rematerialize, but Gould remained true to his unorthodox interpretative approach and brazenly violated the composer’s instructions, changing the tempo of the F-major sonata at the opening of the firstmovement recapitulation and substituting a fortissimo for a pianissimo in movement 3 of the D-major Sonata.
Sir John Tomlinson’s world-weary enactment of the tortured Bluebeard is variously available under the batons of James Levine (Munich Philharmonic), Jukka-Pekka Saraste (BBC SO), Richard Fames (Orchestra of Opera North, in English) and Bernard Haitink with the Berlin Philharmonic (1996), Some little while ago I recommended the Haitink version as vocally superior, Levine as the most compelling interpretation and the BBC SO Prom as a valuable memento of an occasion that many will doubtless want to revisit. Salonen’s memorable reading was recorded live at tile Vienna Konzerthaus on November 8, 2011, and for those who care about broken spells, I’m happy to report that there is no spell-breaking applause at the end of the performance. I wasn’t sure about Juliet Stevenson’s Listen with Mother-style delivery of the spoken Prologue – too polite by half – but as soon as Salonen cues the score’s reptilian first bars, just after the one-minute mark, you can sense both a tightening of tension and Salonen’s natural grasp of Bartok’s richly suggestive tone-poetry. Tomlinson himself tends to favour a dry, ‘lowing’ delivery, at times suspending vibrato. Try 3’11” into track 1, where he invites Judith to answer his request to join him; and when he repeats his invitation, he seems almost desperate – needlessly, as it happens, because Michelle DeYoung sounds more than willing. Thereafter, Salonen pushes for some fierce accents while keeping the undulating Prologue restlessly on the move. Tomlinson suggests real menace when he asks Judith why she made the visit (track 1, 8’54”); and when she hammers on the first door three minutes later, the Philharmonia Voices do their bit with a ghostly sigh. As the subsequent doors open, Salonen and his players take centre stage, the instruments of torture sounding almost graphic in their impact, before the pace dips and the sunrise temporarily breaks through. DeYoung is at her best as she glides effortlessly among the flora and fauna of Bluebeard’s garden, while her lacerating C as the fifth door flies open to reveal Bluebeard’s vast and beautiful kingdom is breathtaking. There’s a very audible organ, too. The final climax is overwhelming because Salonen understands so well how the music must simultaneously rise to greet her and express Judith’s tragedy. Sound-wise, the score’s vast dynamic curve is truthfully reproduced and while I would unhesitatingly recommend this recording for the sake of Michelle DeYoung, Salonen and the Philharmonia, Sir John’s post-prime Bluebeard, although rich in drama and theatrical presence, can’t compare with the best of his former selves, most notably under Bernard Haitink, with Anne Sofie von Otter and the Berlin Philharmonic on EMI. For opera-in-English fans, the Farnes recording is pretty impressive, too. ~~ Gramophone, Rob Cowan, July 2014
Dunedin Consort – JS Bach: Six Brandenburg Concertos (2013) FLAC (tracks) 24bit/192 kHz | Time – 93:14 minutes | 4,01 GB | Genre: Classical Official Digital Download – Source: LinnRecords.com | Covers & Digital Booklet
Bach’s Six Brandenburg Concertos are essential and enduringly popular works in the Baroque orchestral repertory, full of interesting instrumentation choices and dancing melodies. Under the direction of prize-winning Bach specialist John Butt O.B.E., the ensemble has become particularly acclaimed for its inquisitive approach, shining new light into some of the best known pieces of the Baroque repertoire. Dunedin Consort, the team that brought you ‘John Passion’, is back with its first instrumental release: ‘J.S. Bach: Six Brandenburg Concertos’. Under the direction of Bach specialist John Butt, Dunedin Consort demonstrates its collective experience and historical knowledge in an exceptionally insightful and fresh performance. (more…)