Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Grieg, Edvard. (1843-1907) Complete Symphonic Works, Volume I.

From my collection.
Bought in August 2016.
First listen: 4-10-2016.
Second listen: 28-2-2017.
Label: Audite.
Recording dates: October 2010.
Recording venue: Philharmonie, Köln, Germany.
Recording engineer: Mark Hohn.
Running time: 73:22;
Classical relevance: A fresh new look on familiar works.

Works performed:
Symphonic Dances, opus 64.
Peer Gynt Suite No. 1 & 2.
Funeral March in memory of Rikard Nordraak.

Performed by:
WDR Sinfonieorchester Köln, Eivind Aadland.

It is quite something for me to buy 5 volumes of Grieg's Orchestral output, when I already have quite a few recordings in my collection of almost all, what I now bought anew. But the samples told me, that all was slightly different, and since they were at 50% off the price, I just decided to try them. And now the first CD made its entrance, and all in all I think it was a wise thing to buy them. I had to get used to the tempi, some to slow, some much faster as I was used to. No sentimentality in Aadland's performances, no added warmth, but rather bare bones Grieg, with a lot more details in the orchestral image as what I am used too, in all other recordings I have.  So a slight chill is over all the works on this disc, but that actually suits Grieg. Of course I was looking for teardrops in The Death of Äse, but there was no drama, no heart rending emotion,  but a clean cut statement, followed by a ravishing Anitra's Dance, with much inner detail previously unheard. The Arabian dance was also a discovery as I now got the folkloristic tinge behind it all. Peer Gynt's homecoming had very dry timpani, that made a powerful statement. The funeral March had that too, but that I never knew in other recordings I have.  And the somewhat undercooled statement of this performance in all works appealed to me greatly.

Something to know about the recording.

It is a State of the Art recording, this is quite clear to me, but it is not quite what it should be.
The engineer misjudged a acoustical situation and did not correct this or just partly, which was a wrongheaded decision. The CD starts with the Symphonic Dances opus 64, a beautiful work. But if I play this on my normal volume, the top frequencies, including the Violins, Flutes and part of the Brass are so hard, and the flutes are so sharp, that it almost damaged my ears. Especially in the first movement,  "Allegro moderato e marcato" the Flutes are razor sharp and piping your ears with painful results. It reoccurs throughout all the movements, so I had to lower the volume considerably, which resulted in missing details galore. Now the situation is a bit better in the opus 46/55, but still there are ackward moments of unpleasantness. I do not encounter that often, State of the Art recordings with these kind of faults. That the engineer did not hear this is beyond me. There were so many Diplom engineers and editing specialists involved in this recording, and still they manage to muddle the whole thing. 

My playlist for 25-4-2018.

If by any chance you might be interested in my thoughts or feelings about the recordings of today, please let me know, and I will provide ad...