Thursday, August 25, 2011

#237 The Smell of Jazz

Monumental and modest together. Passion framed with austerity. And suddenly, coming directly from the future, out of nowhere, these rocking, jazzy moments (at 7'40'').

The old 1953 sound is strict and directive, a bit edgy. Kleiber is balancing lyricism and lamentation in a marvelous result.

Composer: Ludwig van Beethoven
Work: Symphony No 5, II. Andante con moto
Recording: Concertgebouw Orchestra, Eric Kleiber

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

#236 The Smell of Tragedy

Eminent in its sadness, this is a high class tragedy. The one overflowing the body, paralyzing the muscles, stopping the breath. The air is getting thicker, darker. Suffering the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune, this is it.

Barenboim is bathing in the grief, building the vibes, concentrating the blood. The final bangs are astounding.

Composer: Robert Schumann
Work: Symphony No 3, IV. Feierlich
Recording: Staatskapelle Berlin, Daniel Barenboim

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

#235 The Smell of Inner Peace

This is Nachtmusik, so there's no surprise it's peaceful and hushed. Apart from that, it also shines the inner light: Combining childhood memories and fatalism, with a few creaks, it's getting you into the mood.

The fanfare for introduction (and its repetitions during the movement) are so beautifully shaped! I haven't been a big fan of Mahler 7 but this one speaks to me.

Composer: Gustav Mahler
Work: Symphony No 7, II. Nachtmusik I – Allegro moderato
Recording: BBC Philharmonic Orchestra, Gianandrea Noseda

Monday, August 22, 2011

#234 The Smell of Victory

It's pretty straightforward and literal: winning and nothing else. No second meanings, just transparent message: Triumph! Triumph!

Böhme debuted in this role in 1930. The recording is from 1959, yet he sings here very openly and civilly.

Composer: Carl Maria von Weber
Work: Der Freischütz, "Schweig, schweig, damit dich niemand warnt!"
Recording: Kurt Böhme, Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra, Eugen Jochum

Sunday, August 21, 2011

#233 The Smell of Boiling Water

The smell is instant: The tiny bubbles catching the surface of a casserole, intensifying, capturing and gaining control of the water.

Singer plays vividly, mastering the tone in a way that makes you think you should learn how to play the clarinet, too. A Far Cry Orchestra (without a conductor) merges with Singer in a brilliant and very organic manner.

Composer: Robert Aldridge
Work: Clarinet Concerto, I. Fast and light
Recording: David Singer, A Far Cry Orchestra

Saturday, August 20, 2011

#232 The Smell of Crudeness

It's raw and crude and ill music, no doubt. So wild, furious, and choleric. how it bites and claws, how it kills.

Gardiner with ORR is mysterious here. Jut the bells themselves would be enough but he goes very much beyond that. The timpani! The whispering strings at 8'29''! This is sex, drugs, and rock'n'roll, in its original form.

Composer: Hector Berlioz
Work: Symphonie fantastique, IV. Songe d'une nuit de sabbat
Recording: Orchestre révolutionnaire et romantique, John Eliot Gardiner

Friday, August 19, 2011

#231 The Smell of Hovering

The music bridles, calms down, and assails again. Flexible, fluid, suggestive, like a piece of cloth hovering in the water.

The orchestra sound is very colorful and attentive. A fine, loving recording.

Composer: Béla Bartók
Work: The Miraculous Mandarin, III. Second seduction game: the young student
Recording: Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra, Marin Alsop

Thursday, August 18, 2011

#230 The Smell of Snow Paperweight

I smell how artificial and distorted this music is. It's like behind a thick round glass, always kind of out of focus, and never real. All the dramas are just a comedy, fights between plastic figures: and snow, snow everywhere.

Pešek's reading is precise, and maybe a little bit distant, keeping it–despite the orchestration–on the colder side.

Composer: Josef Suk
Work: A Fairy Tale, II. Playing at Swans and Peacocks
Recording: Czech Philharmonic Orchestra, Libor Pešek

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

#229 The Smell of Stone

Here's a stone, waiting to be sculpted. Strong, massive, proud–yet ready to be chopped, shaped, animated. Eruptive, sharp and dangerous.

This is very romantic and very Russian recording. Mic too close to strings, full brass, all sounds too edged and overexcited, and Anosov is bending tempi deliberately: listen to the total chaos at 0'15'' or 8'53''. Unacceptable, yes. Lovely, indeed.

Composer: Antonín Dvořák
Work: Symphony No 9, IV. Allegro con fuoco
Recording: USSR State Symphony Orchestra, Nikolai Anosov

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

#228 The Smell of Work

Dense, layered, harmonized–that's for sure. But mostly, it smells of oil, grease, reek. Maybe it's about the way how the chorus is integrated to the orchestra sound. There's music, and there's real work, happening somewhere, out of our sight; something robust is being done, so we can listen to the poem by John Donne: Though I speed not, I cannot miss.

This is the first, and maybe the best recording of Harmonium. Exciting, fresh, vivid recording.

Composer: John Adams
Work: Harmonium, Part 1: Negative Love
Recording: San Francisco Symphony Orchestra and Chorus, Edo de Waart

Monday, August 15, 2011

#227 The Smell of Evening Beach

The rush is gone. It's just lovers, and sunset, and small waves, and wind, cold a little bit. The life is pulsing, irregularly. And when the melody in the ninth minute unwinds, it's all coming into blossom.

Steinbacher and Kulek can bring pretty casual sound, it's like an improvisation, random ideas, here and now.

Composer: Johannes Brahms
Work: Sonata for piano and violin No 1, I. Vivace ma non troppo
Recording: Arabella Steinbacher, Robert Kulek

Sunday, August 14, 2011

#226 The Smell of Proportion

This piece of music lives in an empty space. There's no landscape, nothing natural. It's void, black stage without dimensions. And there are layers of cloth there, and there's wind, and there's an acolyte.

It's paired with Mahler on the disc, and that's what's giving it its smell. No broad style, no grand sweeps. Proportional exhaustion from meekness.

Composer: Hans Henze
Work: Sebastian im Traum, I.
Recording: Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, Mariss Jansons

Saturday, August 13, 2011

#225 The Smell of Imperative

What a change of mood at 0'28''! We're getting into something so serious, big, and imperative. The smell is drying up but it's still there, in these tiny piano lines, till the end.

Ott is perfect in this concerto, very lisztian, precise, musically brilliant and technically marvelous.

Composer: Franz Liszt
Work: Piano Concerto No 1, III. Allegro marziale animato
Recording: Alice Sara Ott, Münchner Philharmoniker, Thomas Hengelbrock

Friday, August 12, 2011

#224 The Smell of Accelerated Film

Swarming–people are everywhere, moving chaotically at first sight, but actually in a very organized way. There's no time to take a deep breath, not even at that almost pause at 1'03''.

Young Perlman is shining, and so is BSO. The final tones are so disburden you want to live the relief again and again.

Composer: Leonard Bernstein
Work: Serenade after Plato's "Symposium", III. Eryximachus (Presto)
Recording: Itzak Perlman, Boston Symphony Orchestra, Seiji Ozawa

Thursday, August 11, 2011

#223 The Smell of Delicacy

The waltz might be mighty, yet there's a delicacy in it. Swirling, it keeps its old-school tenderness. It hardly belongs to our world today, we have different means now.

Knappertsbusch is inseparable from his Wagner, and here, in a light piece, he's direct and engaging.

Composer: Carl Maria Weber (orch. by Hector Berlioz)
Work: Invitation to the Dance
Recording: Berliner Philharmoniker, Hans Knappertsbusch

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

#222 The Smell of War

Alarming, elemental music: This. Is. War. Uncontrollable currents, bursting dams, yet it all holds together, trembling and excited.

Gergiev with Mariinsky gives high voltage to the symphony. This is a machinery marching, making war, living war, winning war.

Composer: Dmitri Shostakovich
Work: Symphony No 10, II. Allegro
Recording: Mariinsky Orchestra, Valery Gergiev

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

#221 The Smell of Craving

It's desirous, calling for attention and love, and very craving. The main theme returns resiliently, secure and self-esteemed. Sturdy and intelligent.

Polekh, who asked Glière to write a horn concerto, his own cadenzas, and the composer himself conducting, do we need more? A historical performance.

Composer: Reinhold Glière
Work: Horn Concerto, I. Allegro
Recording: Valeri Polekh, Bolshoi Theatre Orchestra,

Monday, August 8, 2011

#220 The Smell of Clove

It smells of distance and adventure. Very bold, melodic, alive. It's a ship, full of spice, yet maneuvering like a frigate.

Capuçon is building great waves of melodic lines–urgent, calling, restless. Wonderful sound.

Composer: Victor Herbert
Work: Cello Concerto No 2, I. Allegro impetuoso
Recording: Gautier Capuçon, Frankfurt Radio Symphony Orchestra, Paavo Järvi

Sunday, August 7, 2011

#219 The Smell of Celestial Blue

The landscape of this song unwinds slowly, heavenly, and it never stops. There's no place to stop, no borders, it shines in all directions.

Upshaw is walking in the landscape. Dignified, humble. Always, always...

Composer: Kaija Saariaho
Work: Château de l'âme, II. A la terre
Recording: Dawn Upshaw, Schoenberg Choir, Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra, Esa-Pekka Salonen

Saturday, August 6, 2011

#218 The Smell of Market St

I'm not sure about ionization but this is definitely the smell and the sound of Market St, San Francisco. All the stir and rush, sirens, rhythms, it's all there.

The music actually is somehow charging, ionizing. But inside–it's creating a positive feedback. It eats itself, and gets stronger so.

Composer: Edgard Varèse
Work: Ionisation
Recording: Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Pierre Boulez

Friday, August 5, 2011

#217 The Smell of Motion

Wind mills, trains, big wheels: It's the revolving motion that characterizes this movement. It's presto, yet the motion is not fast: it's bigger than life, very regular, continuous, unmatched.

Stern is iconic here. His playing works magnificently with NYP. A very pleasant recording.

Composer: Samuel Barber
Work: Violin Concerto, III. Presto in moto
Recording: Isaac Stern, New York Philharmonic, Leonard Bernstein

Thursday, August 4, 2011

#216 The Smell of Larkiness

The piano is like raindrops, drumming on the rooftops–but somehow lonely: a raindrop here, another one there. The song is sophisticated, enamored, and hopeless.

Royal balances the two: love and despair. It's a wish that cannot be fulfilled; she knows it, and yet she can be larky about it.

Composer: Hugo Wolf
Work: O wär dein Haus
Recording: Kate Royal, Malcolm Martineau

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

#215 The Smell of Glair

Smell the glair, damp and dragged. This can be Golden Gate Park in the dark, too. Nooks and corners, unexpected encounters, folding layers of anxiety and excitement.

Ozawa builds it carefully and splendidly, with intensity and thrill.

Composer: Charles Ives
Work: Central Park In The Dark
Recording: Boston Symphony Orchestra, Seiji Ozawa

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

#214 The Smell of Spring

This piece of music is smiling, provoking to smile. All the echoing and repeats are organic, somehow rural and enjoyable. Very green and very sunny.

Northern Sinfonia has a wonderful sound, compact and bright, yet nicely subtle. Zehetmair is attentive and savvy.

Composer: Franz Schubert
Work: Symphony No 6, I. Adagio – Allegro
Recording: Thomas Zehetmair, Northern Sinfonia

Monday, August 1, 2011

#213 The Smell of Suffering

The beginning, that's real pain. I wonder if somewhere else a composer was so successful in translating his suffering to music. However, there's also a fight, a majestic sound keeping us up, filling us with hope.

Buchbinder and Harnoncourt in what might be the best recording of this concerto ever (yet not your typical Brahms). Highly spirited, infiltrating and completing each other.

Composer: Johannes Brahms
Work: Piano Concerto No 1, I. Maestoso
Recording: Rudolf Buchbinder, Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, Nikolaus Harnoncourt