What Classical are you spinning?

There is a more recent Goerne version that sounds almost muffled. This recording has a lot of presence.

41BNFVN7RKL.AC

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Venetian Christmas - BIS Records BIS-2089

My favorite recording of the Manfred.

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This is a 22 year old recording on the German Audite label that’s a wonderful recording of Bach’s music on Nidaros Cathedral’s well preserved Joachim Wagner organ in Trondheim, Norway. It is a phenomenal sounding instrument IMO. Audite is a somewhat under the radar label that has excellent audio quality in all their recordings I own.

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My favourite music ever, and my favourite ballet. 2020 must be the first year we haven’t got to see it for many years.

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Speaking of ballets, I’ve been spinning this one lately. I bought this on a whim at a record store and discovered a marvelous score. The composer was married to to Maya Plisetskaya, the principal ballerina in the original staging.

That’s a rarity. It was premiered by the Mariinsky on 15 April 2010 and was only performed in London twice, by the Mariinsky on a summer tour on 9/10 August 2011. Apparently it was originally composed as a 3-Act ballet and condensed by Alexei Ratmansky into two Acts.

Regrettably, we generally avoid Russian dancers and dance companies, which are rooted in the Vaganova Method. One of the world’s greatest dancers is a Russian (and Russian trained) called Natalia Osipova who has been at the Royal Ballet since 2013. She is technically astonishing, but I find her style unattractive. The Russian style is so physically demanding it often results in injury and Osipova spent half of her first 3 years in London out of action.

I am envious of your proximity to great ballet performance. I live in the cultural backwater known as Florida and great dance performances are far and few between. My wife and I do watch the Bolshoi’s Pathe Live performances in theaters from time to time and greatly enjoy them.

I doubt you would be envious of my property and living costs or London weather (but we rarely have hurricanes). Being married to a former ballet dancer has something to do with it. We also go to live streams in cinemas and the Royal Ballet have started doing them again last week, available online for about $20. Then there’s opera, theatre, concerts … it adds up.

Personally, given limited funds, I prefer to spend it on live performance than audio equipment.

The Trondheim organ looks interesting. There’s a musical festival that tours all the little towns and villages in northern coastal Norway in the summer. You can live in weird places and still get fine music!

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It’s some of my favorite music as well. Did you see the new film adaption of the ballet that PBS just broadcast recently on Great Performances?

Do you mean the one I mentioned in December, with William Bracewell, Francesca Hayward, Matty Ball and Marcelino Sambe? The premiere was at Sadlers Wells Theatre on a very large screen, I remember William Trevitt and Marcelino were there doing the Q&A.

I thought it was very good. It was filmed very quickly on location in Budapest so was done on a small, intimate scale and somewhat truncated.

What is rather upsetting is that we had tickets for Francesca Hayward’s premiere as Odette/Odile in Swan Lake that was cancelled the week after lockdown.

Yes, that’s the one. I didn’t know it was from last year. Our affiliate just broadcast it last month.

It was a joint production with the BBC and was broadcast on New Year’s Day. The BBC often do ballet productions for Christmas Day or New Year. They are done quickly and very cheaply, but at the Q&A they said they had a lot of fun.

The BBC have an extraordinary ability to do things for nothing and at lightning speed. There was a brilliant Hugh Grant 3-part series last year, he explained they were shooting scenes of the House of Commons on a set in a farm barn in the freezing cold in the middle of the night. Meanwhile, a friend of my son had a walk-on part in a Netflix show The Queen and got paid about $30,000 for doing next to nothing.

Meanwhile, this fabulous BBC recording by the son of a friend of mine with a BBC orchestra was done in 3 days flat and released 8 weeks later. Anyone else would have taken several weeks and 9 months to release it.

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If you like Chopin (who doesn’t?), this won instrumental recording of the year in 2016.


He did another Chopin set last year.

These are essential listening.

We heard him give an all-Chopin recital a couple of months ago and last night he gave a simply extraordinary recital, which is available on Youtube. It was one of the most memorable recitals I’ve been to in a long time. For me the highlight was Schubert Moments Musicaux at about 25 minutes in.

He was also presented last night with a Critic’s Circle Award, except they couldn’t actually hand it over! Covid.

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