Wednesday 9 July 2014

Sonic Spectacular review for Kazuki Yamada and OSR

We are very happy to share the below review published on by Graham Williams about the latest release of PENTATONE featuring the Orchestre de la Suisse Romande and conductor Kazuki Yamada interpreting what can be referred to as "dance music" of the famously vibrant compositions from the German-speaking countries: 

This varied collection of music associated with 'The Dance' is what record companies used to call a 'sonic spectacular' – a description well suited to this SACD. From the wild opening bars of the 'Dance of the Seven Veils' from Strauss's 'Salomé' it is clear that the team  from Polyhymnia (recording company of PENTATONE) has delivered a recording (5.0 channel DSD) that is exceptional in its richness and clarity. There is a plausibly coherent sound-stage, full of detail, and thanks to the rounded ambience of the Victoria Hall in Geneva one that is ideally suited to the late-romantic lushness of most of the works presented here. 

The Orchestre de la Suisse Romande perform throughout with virtuoso brilliance for their young Japanese Principal Guest Conductor Kazuki Yamada who seems well attuned to the idiom of this music and revels in its predominantly sumptuous textures. Though Liszt's short tone poem, the Mephisto Waltz No.1, that follows Yamada's langourous account of the Strauss dance, is most enjoyable, it does perhaps lack some of the fire and erotic frenzy that can be found in other versions of this much recorded piece. The remainder of the programme consists of an imaginative choice of works from the 20th century.

Korngold's mastery of orchestration is evident in his last completed work entitled 'Straussiana'. This was one of a pair of commissions he received from the American School Orchestras associations in 1953. It comprises Korngold's re-orchestration of three short pieces – a polka, a mazurka and a waltz – extracted from three of Johann Strauss's lesser known operettas 'Fürstin Ninetta', 'Cagliostro in Wien' and 'Ritter Pásmán' respectively. The players of the OSR revel in this delightful trifle.

The late works of Ferrucio Busoni (1866-1924) are often quite dark and even radical, but that is not the case with 'Tanz-walzer' dedicated to the memory of Johann Strauss, a composer whom Busoni greatly admired. It consists of a slow introduction followed by four beguiling though occasionally subversive waltzes played here with abundant élan. 

Franz Schreker's 'Ein Tanzspiel' which bears the subtitle 'Four Pieces in Olden Style for Orchestra' was written in 1908 for two sisters Grete and Else Wiesenthal, pioneers of a new form of interpretive dance known as 'Ausdruckstanz'. The titles are Sarabande, Menuett, Madrigal and Gavotte. Schreker's glittering orchestration and melodic richness at once suggests the heady atmosphere of fin de siècle Vienna rather than any earlier style suggested by the titles. Again Yamada's performance could hardly be more persuasive.

The final work on this disc is the 'First sequence of waltzes' from Der Rosenkavalier not, as suggested by Kazuki Yamada in the booklet notes, the 'Rosenkavalier Suite'. Strauss made this arrangement in 1944 and it received its first performance in 1946 conducted by Erich Leinsdorf. Yamada's account of these familiar waltzes, taken from the opera's first two acts, is slightly under characterised though still expertly played by the OSR.

While one may have slight reservations about a couple of the performances on this SACD, 65 minutes of captivating music, executed with style and flare, and recorded in state-of-the-art sound will be for many a no-brainer.

Thank you Grahams Williams for your words. And If you out there haven't done so yet, don't miss out, switch your speakers on and savour this vigorous recording