Sunday, July 31, 2011

#212 The Smell of Grace

Whatever you did, it's forgotten now, and forgiven. The music is full of grace: not blaming, flowing, accepting, understanding.

Laiter is singing somehow uninterestedly: because it does not matter anymore, because the past has no value.

Composer: Kurt Weill
Work: Das Berliner Requiem, Marterl: Andante moderato
Recording: Alexandre Laiter, Choeur de La Chapelle Royalle, Ensemble Musique Oblique, Philippe Herreweghe

Saturday, July 30, 2011

#211 The Smell of Hell

I might be oversensitive but this music smells of something very diabolic. Even the muted moments are somehow broken and always corrupted by big, yelling areas of music. Always nervous, shrieking, never stable.

The finale is unbearable, the percussions are killing. Shostakovich on steroids.

Composer: Elie Siegmeister
Work: Symphony No 3, I. Moderato, pesante; Allegro ritmico
Recording: The Oslo Philharmonic Symphony Orchestra, Elie Siegmeister

Friday, July 29, 2011

#210 The Smell of Attack

This music goes straightly to its point. Intention and destination are clear; no time to wait, no time to explain. It attacks you completely, subjugates you, violates you.

Mutter is able to achieve almost agonizing sound when you cannot breathe anymore. BPO is second to none.

Composer: Johannes Brahms
Work: Violin concerto, III. Allegro giocoso, ma non troppo vivace – Poco più presto
Recording: Anne-Sophie Mutter, Berliner Philharmoniker, Herbert von Karajan

Thursday, July 28, 2011

#209 The Smell of Another World

The most simple is the most impressive: Listen to the music at 1'21''. Ta-ta! Ta-ta! The harpsichord is not penetrating the orchestral sound. It's totally different, not from this world.

The orchestra is sloping, attacking, slowing down, and the harpsichord just does not get it. The solo in the fifth minute is so painfully lonely.

Composer: Francis Poulenc
Work: Concert Champêtre, II. Andante
Recording: Mahan Esfahani, BBC National Orchestra of Wales, Martyn Brabbins

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

#208 The Smell of Nerves

The first calling, that's a fanfare before a crippled waltz, before a ball of monsters. A ball taking place in a head of somebody exhausted, enervate.

Volodos jumps from creepy playing to high-toned dignity, changes tempi. He's luring us away from the sane world.

Composer: Sergei Rachmaninov
Work: Morceaux de fantaisie No 5, Serenade
Recording: Arcadi Volodos

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

#207 The Smell of Tense

This song never ends but it's not a stream, it's not a spinning wheel. It's more elastic, tense, and strung. The smell is somehow honey-sweet and honey-fluid.

Hampson keeps the tense constantly, his voice is vehement and insistent.

Composer: Robert Schumann
Work: Diechterliebe, "Aus meinen Tränen sprießen"
Recording: Thomas Hampson, Geoffrey Parsons

Monday, July 25, 2011

#206 The Smell of Disease

A very peaceful motif starts to spread like cancer. The dark tones at 1'49'' are so ill and omnious. Decorum of the beginning is returning: for the last times, with these dark tones, in an unlikely symbiosis.

Kovacevich is soft and thoughtful. Not so sparkling, not ornamental, not playful.

Composer: Ludwig van Beethoven
Work: Piano Sonata No 22, I. In tempo di menuetto
Recording: Stephen Kovacevich

Sunday, July 24, 2011

#205 The Smell of Two Monologues

This is the first CD I bought after arriving to San Francisco. British opera kept me connected to Europe. Sorcerer, die, is about a total misunderstanding. It's not a dialogue, we have two monologues here, two persons not listening. Listen to the beginning: Sorcerer, die! – Caliban, why? How pregnant.

Smell the music itself. How it goes up, how quickly it is reversed. How the motifs are different for Caliban and for Prospero. How they merge into something taunting. How it gets basilisk touch.

Composer: Thomas Adès
Work: The Tempest, "Sorcerer, die"
Recording: Ian Bostridge, Simon Keenlyside, The Orchestra of the Royal Opera House, Thomas Adès

Saturday, July 23, 2011

#204 The Smell of Eagerness

The waves are rolling, the flow is rushing, and it's all very impatient and eager. I want this and this and all! The low tones at 0'54'' are crying: mine, mine, mine! The central part is very strong, calmly strong, unshakable. After that, sharpness dims. Eagerness, however, nervously stays.

Buchbinder has a special way how to send tones to a listener. It's so natural and elegant at once. Very impressive.

Composer: Frédéric Chopin
Work: Impromptu No 4
Recording: Rudolf Buchbinder

Friday, July 22, 2011

#203 The Smell of Despair

Des Grieux is totally despair. The images of his past are hunting him: It's hard to forget about Manon. His determination is switching to submission, just to win the battle again.

What I like most at Alagna's singing, is how he's able to express his determination. The first fuyez! are not real, he's in two minds. But then, he returns to God. The decision has been made, nobody can convince him back: Fuyez! Loin de moi!

Composer: Jules Massenet
Work: Manon, "Je suis seul!... Ah, fuyez"
Recording: Roberto Alagna, Orchestra of the Royal Opera House, Richard Armstrong

Thursday, July 21, 2011

#202 The Smell of Missing

Dignified grief. Something's missing, and it will never come back. What is it? Why so sad? You smell the words and actions that cannot be taken back. Regret.

Haveron, of Brodsky Quartet, of BBC Symphony Orchestra, shines. His tone bends the walls, keeping a special beauty, urge, unrepeatability.

Composer: Erich Wolfgang Korngold
Work: Violin Concerto, I. Moderato nobile
Recording: Andrew Haveron, BBC Symphony Orchestra, Jiří Bělohlávek

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

#201 The Smell of Officer

The very beginning, that's Austria. The calling of mountains, amazing peaceful landscapes. But it turns to Vienna soon, and the machinery keeps going.

This is not a typical performance–it's not shining, not playful, no curlicues. It's more stubborn, more military. Walter is direct, calmed, he does not showboat. It seems correct somehow.

Composer: Johann Strauss II
Work: An der schönen, blauben Donau
Recording: Bruno Walter, Columbia Symphony Orchestra

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

#200 The Smell of Hiding

Everybody is hiding something here: Amneris, Aida, Radames, and even orchestra. It's a play in play, full of affectation, graduated. Will it hold together? The storm at the end brings perishable relief, not for long.

The singers here do not want to push too much, it's the orchestra sound that starts to incite. They just want to keep pace with it. Nothing really happens, yet the tragedy just arrived. Not wanted, just unavoidable.

Composer: Giuseppe Verdi
Work: Aida, "Vieni, o diletta, appressati"
Recording: Elena Obraztsova, Katia Ricciarelli, Plácido Domingo, Coro e Orchestra del Teatro alla Scala, Claudio Abbado

Monday, July 18, 2011

#199 The Smell of Flush

Smell the hesitation and passion in the first tone–how it does not know where to go, whether to continue. It's a young love at its best: to love and to be loved in return with all the flushes and intoxications.

Čechová had to be in love when she played it. You get the sense of a week body being dragged back and forth by unknown forces. It's so dedicated, so painful, so beautiful.

Composer: Bedřich Smetana
Work: Louisen Polka
Recording: Jitka Čechová