Bach: ‘St. John Passion’
Nick Pritchard, tenor William Thomas, bass Monteverdi Choir English Baroque Soloists John Eliot Gardiner, conductor (Deutsche Grammophon)
John Eliot Gardiner has been recording the “St. John Passion” for so very long that the countertenor from his first taping of the get the job done, Michael Prospect, has been replaced on this new version — Gardiner’s 3rd — by Chance’s son, Alexander. Even with the glimpse of familiarity, Gardiner’s see of this Passion, the a single that greatest fits his operatic aptitude for drama, has sharpened in the 35 several years because his initially acquire. From the stabbing bass line of the opening chorus to the soaring remaining chorale, there is an unsparing directness to this latest account, which was set down are living in Oxford, England, on Excellent Friday very last 12 months.
Not for Gardiner the pietistically devotional solution that can stultify. His “John” is now a parable about the ferocity of the mob — one particular he connects in marketing products to what were being, at the time of recording, “recent events in Washington” — and it is one he tells with the disturbingly ruthless violence that his formidable regulate of his forces enables. If the vocal soloists are not pretty the stars Gardiner assembled for his 1986 and 2003 accounts, they provide the grittiness of the interpretation beautifully so, also, does the nastily serrated edge to some of the instrumental actively playing. Enjoyable it is not, but neither is the tale — and the times of seraphic splendor grow to be all the much more redemptive. DAVID ALLEN
Quatuor Bozzini (Dame)
As a revolutionary critic for the Village Voice in the 1970s, Tom Johnson was an eyewitness to Minimalism in all its early assortment. Classes from that immersion have always been evident in his own compositions. But however his music can invite comparison with the likes of Philip Glass and Steve Reich, Johnson has his personal reward for earning you come to feel each modify in a subject of patterns as it transpires. And he has a wonderful sense of humor, far too — as in pieces like “Failing: A Extremely Complicated Piece for Solo String Bass.”
The silent clarity of his mathematically rigorous technique has also endeared him in the latest years to the Wandelweiser school of composers and performers. A new album devoted to his perform, done by the Quatuor Bozzini, shows off this dreamier facet of Johnson, as in the fifth and remaining motion of “Combinations for String Quartet.” As opposed to before sections of that operate, the finale manages to harmony didactic clarity with transporting gracefulness. That equilibrium is listened to all over the recording — specifically in a piece from his “Tilework” sequence and in the beautiful “Four-Take note Chords in Four Voices.” SETH COLTER Partitions
Marco Blaauw, trumpet Florentin Ginot, double bass Benjamin Kobler and Ulrich Löffler, keyboards (Ensemble Musikfabrik)
The Hungarian composer Gyorgy Kurtag can deliberate around a piece for many years — as with his extensive-gestating operatic adaptation of Beckett’s “Endgame.” But that sluggish, piecemeal warning frequently results in a solid final merchandise. Which is the situation as soon as all over again with “Rückblick” (“Look Back”), a compendium of small performs from through Kurtag’s system of get the job done — organized into nine movements in this new recording.
The hourlong piece carries the subtitle “Old and New for Four Instruments — Hommage à Stockhausen.” And, certainly, the first movement’s vaulting trumpet does recall the new music for that instrument that Stockhausen threaded via his early opera “Donnerstag aus Licht.” But as is regular with Kurtag’s dedicatory operates, he’s ready to tip his hat to a further composer although sounding like himself. Throughout the piece, he’s much more persistently wry than Stockhausen, even when pushing into stark extremes of timbre.
Right after a gloomy opening, the short second movement concludes in a comparative hurry, with unusually strutting passages for double bass, harpsichord, harmonium and trumpet. In the hands of Ensemble Musikfabrik’s gamers — Marco Blaauw, Florentin Ginot, Benjamin Kobler and Ulrich Löffler — each individual twist registers as delightful, if in a muted way. And the sixth movement is effective as a emphasize reel from Kurtag’s occupation, since it incorporates both of those themes listened to previously in “Rückblick” as nicely as deep-lower pieces from his catalog, like “Les Adieux in Janaceks Manier.” It all serves as a grand introduction to Kurtag’s artwork of the miniature. SETH COLTER Partitions
Oslo Philharmonic Klaus Makela, conductor (Decca)
If you have not but read the title Klaus Makela, surely you before long will: The podium’s newest hotshot is now the main conductor of the Oslo Philharmonic and the new music director of the Orchestra de Paris, and he seems in Chicago, Cleveland and San Francisco in April.
He is 26.
Go by way of the slickly manufactured clips that are out there of him foremost the communicative Oslo ensemble, and you discover a conductor with loads of tips and the talent to pull at least some of them off. Purcell cleverly prefaces his Haydn, and Dowland his Schumann, and if his Brahms Fourth is misguided, his Beethoven Ninth is bracingly easy.
This Sibelius set has its ups and downs, also, nevertheless it is sensationally played during. This is not the taut, icy Sibelius of Osmo Vanska, nor really the grand Sibelius of yore. Makela has a broad creativity for seem, but he applies with it these types of lavish flattery for particulars that the effects can be a small way too impulsive, whilst hardly ever vain. The Seventh Symphony and “Tapiola” sag, and the To start with requirements much more snap. But the Second is impressive and the Fourth is influenced — an great account of a tricky perform that implies Makela is perfectly well worth following. DAVID ALLEN
Soper: ‘The Knowledge of All Things’
Kate Soper, voice and piano Sam Pluta, are living electronics (New Target Recordings)
“It in all probability is not quite rational or economical to use tunes to investigate the real mother nature of getting and the human issue,” Kate Soper writes in the notes for her loftily titled new album. “But it certain is enjoyment to try.”
As a composer and performer, Soper has made an artwork of that enjoyment, and of interrogating the unachievable. Her masterly “Ipsa Dixit” began with the question “What is art?” And in this new recording, of will work and improvisations spanning a long time nevertheless gaining the cohesion of a cyclic suite, she looks to be inquiring “What is truth?”
Soper has some thoughts in essayistic texts done in the elevated speaking design of Robert Ashley and Laurie Anderson. The Kafka story of the title monitor is recounted in stunted fragments about the seem of a spinning prime, arriving at “Once the smallest issue is actually identified, are all points identified,” a sentence produced mysterious by acquiring the intonation of a statement but the syntax of a problem.
The subsequent works are no extra solved: two modern improvisations with Sam Pluta on electronics, the to start with a textual content-large journey from the lucid to unruly, the second a wordless dialogue that could go on eternally and, later, “So Dawn Chromatically Descends the Day” (2018), a exploring mix of declamation and art music.
At the middle is “The Fragments of Parmenides” (2018-19), a rhapsodic colloquy of disarming class: Yeats set with going lyricism, interrupted with cabaret-like asides piano deployed for tone painting and clustery punctuation provocative inquiries answered with more concerns. The inquiry is its own conclusion, she concludes. Why care about working day and evening, life and loss of life and love, if “everything we see and hear and flavor and touch and feel is practically nothing but empirical noise”?
Soper features: “Because it is beautiful? Simply because it is all we have?” JOSHUA BARONE