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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A collection of magnificently recorded performances demonstrating the genius and variety of Poulenc's music!, 11 Feb 2013
By 
D. S. CROWE "Music Lover" (UK) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)    (REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Poulenc: Gloria, Organ Concerto, Concert Champetre (Audio CD)
I will confess at the outset that I do not think that Ozawa's tenure of the Boston Symphony Music Directorship was a particularly exalted one.
I respond to very few of his interpretations of late 19th /early 20th century romantic works, which in hs hands almost invariably ended in sluggish, flaccid thickly textured recordings, especially those recorded by Philips, and unfortunately he recorded a LOT of music from this period. I cannot listen to his Mahler or Strauss for example, though I confess that I greatly enjoy his live Berlioz Requiem on RCA. However, he was much better attuned to more modern music, and this re-mastered DG release is nothing short of a complete triumph.
For those unfamiliar with the music of Poulenc, he was something of a chameleon in style varying from the sexy impishness of "Les Biches" to the genuine devotional aspects of works like the Gloria. His music is tonal and full of melody, and this disc gives a wonderful insight into his varied output.
The Gloria is magnificent-the opening ripe brass fanfares set the tone, and Ozawa drives the opening with terrific skill, with just the right tempo and rhythmic exaggerations. The choir is superb, very well balanced, and sings with radiant tone and clear diction. Where this version scores so highly is in the participation of Kathleen Battle in the soprano part. Her renderings of the Domine Deus and the Agnus Die are so ethereally beautiful that they leave me holding my breath throughout so as not to break the spell. They are so beautiful that they are actually very sexy, not at all the intent I'm sure, and probably damning me to yet more decades in Purgatory for the very suggestion! Some will no doubt complain that it sounds "too big" at times, as this work is often performed as a chamber piece and in truth this is more on the scale of Carmina Burana, but it doesn't bother me-I love it.
The Organ Concerto is one of his best known works, scored for Organ, Strings and Timpani. Once again this receives THE most persuasive performance, with Simon Preston delivering virtuoso playing, with a thunderous, snarling organ tone tempered by lyrical beauty when required. The recording is again stunning, with rich full and detailed sound and Ozawa judging it to perfection.
The Concert Champêtre is an homage to and pastiche of the style of Couperin and Lully, and is charming, eventful-and hellish difficult to play by all accounts. Trevor Pinnock makes seemingly light work of it in this live recording, once again superbly balanced and recorded such that one could not differentiate it sonically from the other "studio" recorded pieces.
A glorious (no pun intended) and joyous collection, superbly recorded and played and I can think of no better testament to the era of this great orchestra under Ozawa-if only it had all been like this!
At the price for which it is offered at the time of writing, it is one of the best bargains imaginable! A top recommendation at any price. Stewart Crowe.
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3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Concerto Champetre, 11 July 2006
This review is from: Poulenc: Gloria, Organ Concerto, Concert Champetre (Audio CD)
I'm reviewing the concerto champetre. Trevor Pinnock shows he is a master of music, and not just baroque music. His playing is full of joy and understanding. I must mention the orchestra (Boston Symphony) and conductor (Seiji Ozawa) are brilliant, in full sync with his playing. This is especially noticable during the many echo passages and abrupt changing of tempo in the first movement. He works very well with the orchestra and technically, his playing is flawless. Considering this is a live recording (from 1992), that is even more impressive than usual. He plays a 3-manual harpsichord (a copy of a very late 18th century one) which may seem a bit odd considering this was written for the 'revival' harpsichord, but it has all the stops and range required, and it sounds good, so why not? Admittedly the sound of the harpsichord is drowned out by the orchestra at times, and becomes very percussive, but that is inevitable. Trevor Pinnock apparently used to play more of these modern concertos, but his work with the English Concert and the historical-performance field took up all his time. Despite this, he did record one other modern harpsichord concerto - Walter Leigh's Concertino for harpsichord and strings with Nicholas Braithwaite and the London Philharmonic Orchestra - a lovely miniature piece, tonal and very delightful with plenty of harpsichord solo and good balance with the orchestra. That was only ever released on LP (Lyrita) in 1985 or so and quite hard to find.
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Poulenc: Gloria, Organ Concerto, Concert Champetre
Poulenc: Gloria, Organ Concerto, Concert Champetre by Francis Poulenc (Audio CD - 2010)
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