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Daniel Hogan (England)

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Elgar: Symphony No. 2 (LSO Davis)
Elgar: Symphony No. 2 (LSO Davis)
Price: £5.98

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A painful, but accepting farewell. What a legacy., 21 April 2013
Following the sad news of Sir Colin's death this week, I decided to listen to this recording as a way of paying homage. This symphony definitely presents to me a painful, but accepting farewell at the end, and I must admit that this performance brought me to tears.

This performance is excellent in every sense. Certainly a difficult piece to pull off, but Sir Colin and the LSO have this music in their blood and it really shows. The complex structure just flows so beautifully, each section flowing into another perfectly. Sir Colin is so well-judged with his rubato and dynamic precision here. Many of the tempi he chooses are very slow indeed, but this does the music good I think. I'm one of the people who prefer a faster Elgar 1, and a slower Elgar 2. These slow tempi really allow the clarity of texture and perfect balance and control of the many orchestral layers to shine. This score has so much in it, therefore it is a challenge for any conductor to allow all the sections to come through in perfect balance, but Sir Colin definitely achieves this. The layers within the strings are particularly outstanding here, I even heard viola pizz parts I never knew existed! This perfection really does allow heavenly sounds in passages such as the inner sections of the first movement, build-ups to the climaxes in the second movement or the subtlely glorious ending of the piece. Such thrill is achieved in the scherzo as well, with the lyrical sections played with a gorgeous grandeur. Also, I don't think I have heard the last few bars done better than I have here. The final string sigh is given so much space, and the gradual diminuendo is extremely moving.

It would be true to say that at the turn of the century, LSO Live, a relatively new label, had not quite mastered the acoustics of the Barbican, and the quality is a tiny bit dry. However, this does not affect the beauty of the performance, and can only maximize the clarity of the texture being brought out by Davis. The LSO give their all, with so much passion, especially in the strings.

A gorgeous recording, and a very moving inclusion of a legendary legacy Sir Colin has left us. RIP.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Apr 21, 2013 10:26 PM BST


Gershwin: Orchestral Works
Gershwin: Orchestral Works
Price: £10.28

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Wonderfully Jazzy Performances!, 1 April 2013
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It is very hard for me not to enjoy a Gershwin recording, I must say. The music is just so enjoyable, irresistable and charming. And I must say that this excellent Levine recording has become my 'go-to' recording, for each piece excerpt perhaps his Rhapsody in Blue.

It is the jazz band version that is included, and for me personally this lacks a bit of the warmth and poetry that the well known orchestral version gives us. The gorgeous lyrical theme for example I think lacks a bit of romance and space in this performance. However, it is still a great performance, and I was delighted at the fluent display of pianism Levine gave us.

Having said this, I have no complaints whatsoever for any of the other performances. The Cuban Overture is given a thrilling performance full of jolity and exotic flair. Gershwin's growing rhythmical complexity is excellent displayed through the great balance, allowing all percussion to shine!
The Catfish Row Suite I definitely prefer to the Symphonic Picture from Porgy and Bess. Not only does it make more sense in terms of the storyline, but also musically. The orchestration is more orginal to the opera and far more enjoyable overall. I love the prominence of the mandolin in "I Got Plenty o' Nuttin", which is often not heard enough in other performances. And what lush strings in "Bess, You Is My Woman Now". So romantic and charming!! Will stay in your mind for ages and will draw you back for thousands of listenings, guarenteed!
"Oh, Lawd, I'm on My Way" is particularly uplifting here as well, what a fantastic orchestra, really taking the chance to shine!
'An American in Paris' really is a favourite of mine, and it is given a particularly thrilling, jazzy and brilliant performance here. I mention 'jazzy' and this is definitely the performance I would relate to that word most, just listen to the fantastic bassoon glissandi before the introduction of the lyrical theme, and the prominence of the saxophones for example! Such enthusiasm from the orchestra, and such a joy to listen to.

I would recommend this plus getting a Bernstein Gershwin recording too for an extra lush Rhapsody in Blue. An extremely uplifting recording overall and one I return to regularly!

Daniel Hogan


Symphony No. 5 (Bernstein, New York Philharmonic)
Symphony No. 5 (Bernstein, New York Philharmonic)
Offered by thebookcommunity
Price: £24.13

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars How close to perfection can you get in Shosty 5?, 31 Mar 2013
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Shosty 5 is certainly a work that has caused mass debate over the meaning behind the music, and this has certainly led into a massive variety in interpretations of the magnificent masterpiece. Bearing this in mind, you can certainly expect a very individualistic approach from Lenny; the tempi are often very extreme, the emotions brutal and the passion undoubted.

All this really feeds into an extremely powerful and moving performance. The performance of the Largo here is absolutely chilling with emotion, and really definitely made your body shiver. The agression in the opening of the last movement is extremely thrilling, helped by a particularly fast tempo, and excellent balance. Lenny's tempi may be controversial but to me they never seem incorrect. In a work like this, everyone thinks differently, so you can not please everyone. But, whatever tempo he takes, he squeezes so much passion from his players, bringing so much vitality and compassion to the performance. Bernstein's take on the ending is very fast indeed, which may shock some people today used to the very different interpretation someone like Petrenko gives.

The sound quality is not bad at all, although does not perhaps match the life of the performance. For example, when the horn section have their forceful solo at the start of the allegro in the first movement, I would have prefered far more power. The tam tam could have been a bit more resonant too..

Anyway, those were just a few points I thought I would make. If you want a fiery, passionate, moving, powerful, and fast account of Shosty 5, typical of the disbelief that the ending was nothing but glorious, then this account is for you.

But as I suggest in the title of this review, it is surely extremely difficult to find a Shosty 5 that is perfect for you. Everyone who knows the work thinks slightly differently about it. This interpretation I am sure you will enjoy very much, recommended.

Daniel Hogan


Prokofiev: Complete Symphonies
Prokofiev: Complete Symphonies
Price: £14.95

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Jarvi at his best - you really are in for a treat!!, 31 Mar 2013
This really is an amazing set and I'm sure it will recieve legendary status for these works.

Jarvi and the Scottish National Orchestra really live the pieces, and as a result you couldn't really wish for more powerfully engaging performances. The playing is full of the bombastic energy required in the many aggressive passages in the 2nd/3rd symphony, but also so full of the charm and delight so beautifully written in the 1st symphony, trio of the 5th or slow movement of the 7th symphony for example. The balance is excellent and always well controlled, allowing all sections of the orchestra to shine. The brass section in particular is extremely impressive, you will be left in amazed awe at how the trumpets of this orchestra can soar right over the texture with such ease and passion! The percussion section must also be given much credit, they play with such clarity, and such thrill!! The climaxes of the 6th symphony for example, the sheer power of the section is just overwhelming.
The balance and sound quality really contribute to every instrument being able to be heard, even in such complex orchestration as the end of the 5th symphony for example, each layer is audible, and each instrument is allowed a perfect prominence. Especially the bass instruments (including the bass drum, I love how Prokofiev emphasizes using this fantastic instrument often), and the glorious brass as mentioned before. The recorded sound allows a massive volume, and is very resonant (in a good way), and perhaps less dynamic contrast can be achieved, especially at a particularly soft level. But this does not affect the enjoyment of these warm, thrilling, frightening and powerful performances.

I am sure these will become classics and I look forward to returning to them many times in the future. The best I have heard from Jarvi, and a massively high standard has been set for performances of these symphonies now! Highly highly recommended!

Daniel Hogan
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jul 5, 2013 4:02 AM BST


Romeo And Juliet (Tilson Thomas, San Francisco So)
Romeo And Juliet (Tilson Thomas, San Francisco So)
Price: £8.60

5.0 out of 5 stars An incredibly beautiful and exciting R+J., 27 Jan 2013
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Prokofiev's Romeo and Juliet is certainly one of my favourites, and it is hearing recordings like this one from the San Francisco SO and MTT that remind me of that.

First of all, the actual selections themselves are very well put together, MTT's choices in ordering the movements makes excellent sense in terms of the plot, and also musically.
I believe this recording was made not long after MTT became principal conductor of the orchestra, and you can tell that they were overjoyed to have him! They play their hearts out, and as a result, the performance is incredibly engaging, exciting, emotional and beautiful. MTT and the orchestra easily achieve all the wide variety of emotions needed for this highly contrasting score. There is a brilliant sense of thrill in the fight scenes, intimacy and magic in the balcony scene, power in the final movements and fun in movements like the public merrymaking for example. The orchestra really are fantastic, each section are on top form playing with much enthusiasm and passion for the music. MTT's control of the orchestra is outstanding, although in some places like in the clarinet solo in the introduction, I would have prefered a bit more tranquillity from the strings, but this is very hard to achieve and very few actually do! A slight shock to me was the fact that the first minute of Juliet's Death was cut off, which I found a massive shame as it is probably my favourite part of the whole ballet! But, the way the rest of the final movement was handled prevented me from getting too upset, although tears were brought to my eyes as it was just so beautiful.

Abbado's recording of extracts has long been a desert recording for me, it really is perfection, and is so powerfully emotional in the last movements. However, this one does come close, and I would heartily recommend it to everyone. Thinking about it, I prefer Tilson Thomas' selections, and there are more of them (nearly 80 minutes on this disc), but I'd just prompt you to buy both Abbado and MTT!

This really is a beautiful recording, so highly recommended!!

Daniel Hogan


Strauss: Ein Heldenleben; Suite from Der Rosenkavalier
Strauss: Ein Heldenleben; Suite from Der Rosenkavalier
Price: £12.68

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A hero in his conducting generation! Incredible performances!, 13 Jan 2013
Andris Nelsons is a conductor who from the very first time seeing him conduct instantly became one of my favourites. The excitement and enthusiasm he generates through his inspiring connection with the orchestra is incredible. I had watched his performance of both Heldenleben and the Rosenkavalier Suite with the Berliner Philharmoniker on their fantastic Digital Concert Hall website and was amazed at the profound impression both performances made on me. It was the first time I had heard the Rosenkavalier Suite (still yet to hear the opera), and it instantly became a favourite of mine, so incredible uplifting and joyous! His Heldenleben was awe-inspiring, and very memorable. I purchased this recording with much excitement, and have just finished listening now, enjoying it so much that as soon as I logged back onto the computer I felt that I would have to write a review, which is something I do not do too often nowadays!

First of all, I must mention how impressive the CBSO sound. This is certainly some of the most difficult music in the standard repetoire, and I found myself being easily able to compare this recording to my other favourite Heldenleben which is the recent EMI one from the BPO and Rattle. There are only a few moments when the CBSO don't quite reach the impeccable accuracy of the BPO, which I doubt many recordings will do anyway. The sound which the CBSO gives is incredibly beautiful, polished, warm and full of character and enthusiasm for the music. The violin solos throughout are so gorgeous and the horn/violin duet at the end is heavenly and one of the best I have heard, with Nelsons' beautiful and subtle handling of the tranquillity of the accompaniment. Each section of the CBSO tackles their parts with confidence and sounds absolutely brilliant. Those horns whooping at the opening of Der Rosenkavalier, and the heavy brass in Heldenleben! Perhaps a tiny bit more force from the trumpets could have been great in some places of Heldenleben, but this is not too much of a distraction. The percussion are fantastic, and with great balance, giving much excitement. All the wind solos are beautiful, with a very pure tone. And the strings are very virtuosic and strong, very impressive in their higher registers.
Nelsons really is someone I happily talk about to anyone who will listen, and this recording I would happily give as evidence of his genius. His control over the balance and tempi (all perfect really!) of the orchestra is only secondary to the incredible sense of passion for the pieces he generates from his players. The climaxes in both pieces are so powerful, and the waltzes in Rosenkavalier especially could not sound more joyful. The detail Nelsons gives is very impressive, especially considering how many different textural layers Strauss writes in a movement like The Battle from Heldenleben, which is the best balanced and detailed I have ever heard here. Listen to those pizzicato strings and the thudding, absolutely thrilling percussion!! Strauss' masterful orchestration really comes through in the hands of Nelsons.
The sound quality is excellent, with a beautiful ambience. The notes are outstanding, also including an interview with Nelsons on his beliefs of the pieces and the importance of the conductor.
Now, I'm aware this review is not too greatly structured, so many apologies, but I am simply so excited over this performance that I had to get these thoughts down. Couldn't recommend highly enough, please treat yourself to these fantastic performances!! I am always so excited to hear Nelsons, and do hope he will continue to record Strauss. The rest of the tone poems, and Salome, would be great to hear from him!!

Daniel Hogan
Comment Comments (3) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jan 20, 2014 11:22 PM GMT


Dvorįk - Cello Concerto etc
Dvorįk - Cello Concerto etc
Offered by Hint of Yellow
Price: £9.98

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A wonderful recording., 30 Oct 2012
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Dvorak's Cello Concerto is certainly a very special piece for me, it's really a piece that I have known all my listening life, even if not thoroughly realizing it. Quite a few years passed when I barely listened to it for some reason, and then, a few months ago, I saw one of my colleagues at the Junior Department of the Royal Academy of Music playing it, through rehearsals and then in concert. The piece came flooding back to me, which was certainly very emotional! This cd, from Schiff and the VPO/Previn, was the cd I eventually chose to buy as what surprised me to be my first recording of what I know full acknowledge to me one of my absolute favourite concerti. Schiff had very much impressed me in the past with his recording of the Elgar with the Halle/Elder, and Previn has always been a conductor I have admired very much. So, I had high expectations!
I was not dissappointed at all, and in fact listened to the whole performance of the concerto quite a few times in the next week. Nothing struck me as wrong with the performance, and indeed nothing really does now. It is an incredibly pleasant performance, full of beauty and impressive virtuosity and passion from Schiff.
I have come to think of this performance as 'middle of the road' in comparison to other performances from the likes of du Pre and Rostropovich. What I mean by this is that Schiff and Previn do not quite reach the extremes of expression and emotion in their performances, which some listeners may actually prefer. Schiff and Previn certainly do not wallow in the concerto's emotional intensity, and sometimes I wonder if there could just be a little more sensitivty throughout the performance. One thing I also thought was that I would have prefered more flexibility in the orchestral playing. There are places that, and I hate to say it, the VPO seem to lack an extra bit of enthusiasm or passion for the concerto, making parts of the performance lack the extra bit of magic. I wouldn't say that enough of the dynamic contrasts are made either. I wish some of the 'conversations' between the cello and orchestral groups were slightly better balanced too, some really beautiful, genius melodic lines throughout the orchestra can be barely heard.
However, with all those criticisms it would sound as if I didn't like the performance! Certainly not the case, there are many wonderful things to be found here also. For example, I am still yet to find a more beautiful horn solo of the introduction of the second theme in the first movement. Absolutely gorgeous. Schiff is certainly a very impressive soloist, I really love his use of rubato, and his virtosity is amazing, even if not quite as powerful here as du Pre. So overall, this is a wonderful recording, and certainly deserves a place in your collection, especially if you're not a fan of the extreme emotion to be found in other performances like that of du Pre or Rostopovich. So, overall, don't get me wrong, this is a wonderful recording, just with a few reservations!!

The extras are absolutely gorgeous, really delightfully played, and make wonderful fillers to the concerto.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jan 3, 2013 7:45 PM GMT


Mahler: Symphony 1
Mahler: Symphony 1
Price: £12.16

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A surprise new favourite Mahler 1!, 28 Oct 2012
This review is from: Mahler: Symphony 1 (Audio CD)
Recently, I ran a blind comparison project on the GMG Classical Music Forum for Mahler's 1st symphony, and this recording from the RCO and Jansons came out as first place, beating Solti, Abbado, Honeck and Tilson Thomas in the final round.
When I first got hold of this recording in order to include it in the blind comparison project, I was expecting it to be a fine recording, but honestly, not one to stand as a real contestor against the likes of both Bernstein accounts for example. I was very very wrong. On listening to this for this for the first time, this instantly became one of my favourites in the comparison, challenging even my own personal favourites for Mahler 1, such as Solti.
Many of the voters in the comparison agreed with me, and were also surprised when the conductor was revealed as being Jansons.
Myself and others had perhaps not felt Jansons as a fantastic or interesting Mahlerian before, but in this recording he really demonstrates a natural feel for the music. In the interpretation, there is little to fault. All the tempi are very well-judged, everything is very well balanced. The RCO really show how incredible an orchestra they are here, their flexibility for the many exciting contrasts in this masterpiece is excellent. They really have such a natural feel for the music, encouraged all the way by Jansons, creating a really beautiful flow throughout the entire performance. In the climaxes, such excitement is generated, and the lyrical, poetic themes (such as that after the stormy opening of the finale) are giving such a romantic, subtle beauty. I find it difficult to think of a more perfect 2nd movement than that Jansons gives us, it's natural, full of charm and delight! The very ending of the finale too, is incredibly thrilling and brilliant. The level of detail in the balance is outstanding, you can really hear everything, glorious brass, excited winds and brilliantly articulated and audible strings, and thrilling percussion! This performance really is very easy to connect to, so by the end, you are left pretty speechless!

On first listening to this, I really wasn't expecting it to be so fantastic. I could easily call this one of my favourite recordings of this masterpiece now, if not my new absolute favourite. Highly recommended!

Daniel Hogan


Rachmaninov: Piano Concertos No.3 & No.4
Rachmaninov: Piano Concertos No.3 & No.4
Offered by davehopetrading
Price: £8.61

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Simply outstanding!, 25 Jun 2011
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"Out of all my concerto recordings, I am tempted to say that I am most proud of this one". Leif Ove Andsnes has certainly got the right to be proud of himself. Since his first recording of the Rachmaninov 3 with Berglund/Oslo Philharmonic Orchestra recorded in 1995, Andsnes has improved a substantial lot. His virtuosity in this recording of Rach 3 is even more impressive and he uses an even wider range of expression throughout his performance. Outstandingly, Andsnes' playing is completely accurate throughout both the concertos, I could not detect a single wrong note which is highly extrodinary considering that the Rach concertos are considered to be some of the most technically challenging ever written. Andsnes plays with such power and conviction, and when required subtlety and beauty. When it comes to the famous cadenzas in Rach 3, Andsnes' playing is simply overwhelming with expression and emotion.

The LSO are also absolutely amazing, their playing is also very virtuosic and played with much expression. Their playing is always engaging, exciting and passionate. They are very well controlled by Pappano who ensures a perfect balance between the different layers of orchestration. Pappano also encourages really warm, wonderful sounds from the orchestra. He certainly is a great conductor and follows Andsnes all the way. Pappano and Andsnes are an excellent combination of artists, they really understand eachothers insights to the piece which is one of the many factors that makes these performances so great.

The tempi chosen for both pieces seems absolutely ideal and always works very well, the use of rubato is handled very well. The tempi, plus the wide dynamic range and excellent observation of the articulations, make the allegro climaxes absolutely thrilling, the peaceful slower sections extremely beautiful and the famous climaxes using the lyrical themes absolutely glorious.

Overall, this is an excellent recording with virtuosic, impressive and expressive performances. The sound quality is very good with superb balance. I have to admit that I actually find myself prefering these Andsnes/Pappano to the famous Ashkenazy/Previn recordings that I grew up listening to. There just seems to be even more excitment, virtuosity and expression. A simply outstanding cd, I would much look forward to more collaborations between Pappano and Andsnes, I am sure there will be more if EMI realise how perfect this combination is. I wonder what will be next? Maybe Prokofiev concertos, Rach Paganini Rhapsody, Ravel piano concertos? I certainly look forward to finding out. Most certainly reccomended!

Daniel Hogan


Rachmaninov Piano Concerto 1 and 2
Rachmaninov Piano Concerto 1 and 2
Price: £10.91

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Powerful and Passionate Rachmaninov, 19 Jun 2011
I had high expections when listening to these performances as I had seen Andsnes perform Rachmaninov's 3rd piano concerto with the LSO/Pappano many years ago and that was a particularly memorable performance. And only adding to my expectations was the fact that this is with what I believe to be the best orchestra in the world.

I was not let down. Andsnes' performances of both the concertos are absolutely flawless and always played with much virtuosity and expression. Pappano and Andsnes are an excellent combination of artists. They both understand eachother extremely well when it comes to interpretation and that obviously does good to the performance. The tempi chosen always seem ideal for the section and bring the right mood. The Berliner Philharmoniker are on top form, in other words absolutely impeccable giving an extremely enthusiastic, passionate performance. They are very well controlled and balanced by Pappano who encourages the most beautiful and warm sounds in the famous lyrical, romantic sections and the most exciting, virtuosic playing in the allegro climatic moments.

A good example of this is the first minute of the first piano concerto which in such a short amount of time brings such a mass contrast between moods. The opening is extremely bold with highly impressive and accurate playing, not many pianists manage to suceed in getting all of those chords completely accurate like Andsnes does. The transition into the second subject (lyrical theme) is perfect and the playing in this section is simply beautiful. And there is a wonderful dynamic range here, all melodic/accompanying lines are well shaped with the perfect amount of crescendo/diminuendo or vibrato and rubato. The players adapt very well again to the next contrasting section with a very playful mood. The orchestral climaxes are absolutely thrilling but the main climax comes in the solo cadenza where Andsnes gives one of the most powerful performances of this cadenza I have ever heard. But even within the extreme power and agression in this cadenza, Andsnes still manages to fit in much expression which adds much to his virtuosity. The second movement of the first piano concerto is given a heartfelt performance with beautiful playing from orchestra and soloist. Here, the music is allowed to breathe and such a beautiful warm sound is given off as the consequence. The allegro sections of the last movement are very playful and enjoyable filled with much excitment. The andante sections inbetween are played with such lyrical beauty and expression.

The second concerto is also a fantastic performance. After the very bold opening and a very exciting buildup, all dies down to really sublime playing in the following section. The climax in the middle of the movement is thrilling. The warm, passionate sound at the beggining of the second movement is absolutely shining with beauty and this leads into such a subtle, elegant clarinet solo played with much expression with glowing string accompaniment. The playing from soloist and orchestra is so passionate and romantic, and the ending of the movement (maybe my favourite part in the concerto) in particular is just stunning. The many contrasts in the finale are executed very well, whether the thrill of the allegro sections, the beauty of the lyrical sections or the mystery of the following section. The finale recapitulation of the lyrical theme is simply overwhelming with power and passion, absolutely beautiful. The mass applause you hear a section of before it being cut off, is well deserved. Being a live concert performance, there is surprisingly hardly any noticable audience noise.

So both concertos on the disc and truly excellent with all artists on excellent form. Everything seems ideal in these performances. Tempo, dynamic range, accuracy and balance seem almost perfect! These performances made a welcome change for me as someone who grew up primarily on the Ashkenazy/Previn recordings. This Andsnes/Pappano combination (which has now been completed with the LSO instead of BPO) would make an excellent alternative to the Ashkenazy/Previn so why not get both, both are bargain priced!

Daniel Hogan


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