To appreciate this CD, the listener has to imagine the period before the mechanical means of reproducing music when, to hear a popular symphony or concerto, or any other genre at that, one had to attend in person the performance itself. This situation not only led to a higher appreciation of music itself, but also induced composers to arrange or transcribe big masterpieces to a smaller medium, thus giving the chance to many to, at least, hear these compositions. Liszt's piano transcriptions of the Beethoven symphonies are classic examples.
The two Mahler song-cycles and Debussy's Prélude à l'après-midi d'un faune are all arrangements for chamber orchestra - mostly woodwinds - by conductor Kenneth Slowik, who in turn based his realisations on those by Schoenberg and German composer/conductor Rainer Riehn.
Listen — Mahler, arranged by Slowik:
In diesem Wetter, in diesem Braus (Kindertotenlieder)
(track 12, 2:53-3:46) © 2019 FoM :
Busoni's Berceuse élégiaque retains Schoenberg's original orchestration, also for chamber orchestra.
Listen — Busoni, arranged by Schoenberg: Berceuse élégiaque
(track 7, 1:28-2:25) © 2019 FoM :
All four works retain a certain freshness in their new garb, and despite the sound world created being slightly less opulent than their orchestral originals, they still acquire a more fully-fleshed structure than some keyboard reductions.
Listen — Debussy, arranged by Slowik: Prélude à l'après-midi d'un faune
(track 1, 8:10-9:10) © 2019 FoM :
What really bowled me over though is the precious wealth of information in the booklet. To really enjoy these pieces one must be fully knowledgeable about the historic, technical and musical aspects in which these compositions were created. Indeed, in the essay by the conductor there is everything and more than one needs to know. A truly wonderful programme brimming with great music-making and sumptuous sound quality. Try it.
Copyright © 6 December 2019