KABALEVSKY: Colas Breugnon: Overture / NBC Symphony Orchestra; Arturo Toscanini, conductor / available for free streaming on YouTube
KABALEVSKY: 24 Preludes / Nadia Reisenberg, pianist / part of Roméo 7309/10, also available for streaming as individual files on YouTube
KABALEVSKY: Symphony No. 2 / NBC Symphony Orchestra; Arturo Toscanini, conductor / available for free streaming on YouTube
Dmitri Kabalevsky has the bad reputation of being a flashy, shallow composer at a time when Prokofiev, Shostakovich and other Russians were writing much more meaningful music. To a certain extent this is true—his ubiquitous Colas Breugnon Overture is based on circus music—but the piano Preludes and the Second Symphony have some really nice, substantial things about them that make them well worth listening to.
KALINNIKOV: Symphony No. 1 in G min. / Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra; Evgeny Svetlanov, conductor / available for free streaming on YouTube
Although Kalinnikov wrote other works, this first symphony is often considered his masterpiece, and justly so. I’ve only heard two performances that really do it justice, however: the ancient broadcast by Toscanini and this equally exciting 1982 recording by the great Evgeny Svetlanov.
KAPRÁLOVA: Piano Music: April Preludes. 2 Bouquets of Flowers. Dance for Piano. Grotesque Passacaglia. Little Song. Ostinato Fox. 5 Piano compositions. 3 Piano Pieces. Sonata Appassionata. Variations sur le Carillon de l’Eglise St-Etienne-du-Mont / Giorgio Koukl, pianist; Grand Piano GP708
KAPRÁLOVA: Suita Rustica / Brno Philharmonic Orchestra; Jiři Pinkas, conductor / available for free streaming on YouTube
The amazing but sadly short life of Vítězslava Kapráliva included her triple threat as composer, conductor and virtuoso pianist. Her music is only recently being re-evaluated in light of her quite considerable achievements. Her music mixed elements of neo-Classicism with Slavic folk influences, as can be heard in the works above. Giorgio Koukl’s CD of her piano music is not to be missed, and despite its light character the Suita Rustica shows her innate grasp of form and attention to detail.
KAPUSTIN: Concerto for Alto Saxophone & Orchestra, Op. 50 / Alexey Volkov, alto saxist; New Russian Orchestra; Mark Gorenstein, conductor / available for free streaming on YouTube
KAPUSTIN: Concerto for 2 Pianos & Percussion / Daniel del Pino, Ludmil Angelov, pianists; Juanjo Guillem, Rafael Galvéz, percussionists / available for free streaming on YouTube: 1st mvt, 2nd mvt, 3rd mvt
KAPUSTIN: Paraphrase on Dizzy Gillespie’s “Manteca” for 2 Pianos / Daniel del Pino, Ludmil Angelov, pianists / available for free streaming on YouTube
KAPUSTIN: String Quartet No. 1 / Alexander Chernov, Vladimir Spektor, violinists; Svetlana Stepchenko, violist; Alexander Zagorinsky, cellist / available for free streaming on YouTube: 1st mvt, 2nd mvt, 3rd mvt, 4th mvt
The astounding music of Nikolai Kapustin occupies a universe all its own; for a detailed description of his music and composing style, see Chapter XV of my book, From Baroque to Bop and Beyond. In essence, Kapustin was completely wrapped up in bebop jazz and specifically the piano stylings of Oscar Peterson at a time when he was learning formal composition at the conservatory. The result was his fusing the two in such a way that it sounds like extended (and quite brilliant) jazz compositions when in fact it is all pre-written and organized. But the perfomer(s) have to have an affinity for jazz rhythm before playing it, otherwise the music falls flat. That is why I turn, whenever possible, to Kapustin himself for interpretations of his piano music. All of the performances above are highly recommended both as compositions and performances. Once you become accustomed to Kapustin’s music, you become hooked on it!
KEELEY: Symphony No. 2. Flute Concerto.1,3 Triple Concerto for 2 Oboes, Cor Anglais & Strings.2,3 Variations for Orchestra4 / 1Sarah Desbruslais, flute; 2James Turnbull, Michael Sluman, oboe; 2Patrick Flanaghan, English horn; 3Málaga Philharmonic Orchestra; 4Liepāja Symphony Orchestra; Paul Mann, conductor / Toccata Classics TOCC0462
Though born in Wales, Rob Keeley considers himself more a British composer. Initially inspired by J.S. Bach’s Brandenburg Concertos, he went on to study music at the Royal College of Music Junior Department with the late Oliver Knussen. “From him I developed an omnivorous ear,” he tells us in the liner notes, “taking in late Stravinsky, Elliott Carter and the very last works of Benjamin Britten. Crucial, too, at that time (we’re talking mid- to late 1970s) was the music of Dallapiccola and Messiaen, both of whom have remained important to me.” Later, at Oxford, he studied with Bernard Rose, and the music of Michael Tippett (who I actually met once) also came into his life.
His music reflects all of these influences, yet is at the same time highly original and surprising. You can find my detailed review of this CD on my Art Music Lounge blog–I was highly impressed, so much so that I gave it an award. Even his Flute Concerto, a work for an instrument that is rarely expressive, is highly individual and exciting, and all of the performers here give their very best.
KHACHATURIAN: Cello Concerto-Rhapsody / Mstislav Rostropovich, cellist; State Symphony of the USSR; Aram Khachaturian, conductor / available for free streaming on YouTube
This is undoubtedly Khachaturian’s finest work, written for Rostropovich in 1963. This, the world premiere performance, is splendid except for the boxy mono television sound.
KISILEWSKI: Berceuse. Capriccio Rustico. Danse vive. Moto Perpetuo. Prelude and Fugue. Piano Sonata No. 2: 1st mvt, 2nd mvt, 3rd mvt. Suite for Piano: 1st mvt, 2nd mvt, 3rd mvt, 4th mvt, 5th mvt, 6th mvt. Three Stormy Scenes: No. 1, No. 2, No. 3. Toccata / Magdalena Lisak, pianist / Accord 210 or available for free streaming on YouTube by clicking on individual titles above
The fast-paced yet fascinating piano music of Stefan Kisilewski occupies a world all its own. Everything spins on the head of a pin like whirling dervish on acid, yet it’s beautifully constructed and holds your attention because of its tremendous propulsion and interesting construction. Kisliewski was also a political writer who coined two famous quotes: “A depressed economy [in a socialist state] is not a crisis; it’s a direct result,” and “Socialism heroically overcomes crises not found in any other system because it creates them.” Warning: Don’t play this CD if you’re not in a good mood, because the music is so manic that it may escape your attention!
KLETZKI: Orchestervariationen. Symphony No. 3, “In Memoriam” / Bavarian State Philharmonic Orchestra; Thomas Rösner, conductor / BR Klassik 6272
KLETZKI: Symphony No. 2. MAREK: Sinfonia / Polish National Radio Symphony Orchestra; Thomas Rösner, conductor / Musiques Suisses CD6289
Many classical collectors are familiar with Paul Kletzki’s recordings as a conductor, always of others’ music, particularly his Berlioz Overtures, Beethoven Symphonies and Mahler’s Dad Lied von der Erde with Murray Dickie and Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau, but few know that he was an exceptionally fine composer as well. Conductor Thomas Rösner has made it his mission to preserve some of Kletzki’s best compositions on CDs, and these two are superb. His style was sort of a mixture of Bartók and Stravinsky, only with a Polish flavor.
KNUSSEN: Cantata for Oboe and String Trio / Nash Ensemble / available for free streaming on YouTube
KNUSSEN: Coursing (for Chamber Orchestra) / London Sinfonietta; Oliver Knussen, conductor / available for free streaming on YouTube
KNUSSEN: Flourish With Fireworks. The Way to Castle Yonder. Two Organa. Horn Concerto* Music for a Puppet Court. Whitman Settings.+ …upon one note / *Barry Tuckwell, hornist; +Lucy Shelton, soprano; London Sinfonietta; Oliver Knussen, conductor / DGG 449 572-2, or available for free streaming on YouTube beginning here
KNUSSEN: Symphony No. 2 / Elaine Barry, soprano; London Sinfonietta; Oliver Knussen, conductor / available for free streaming on YouTube
KNUSSEN: Symphony No. 3 / Philharmonia Orchestra; Michael Tilson Thomas, conductor / available for free streaming on YouTube
KNUSSEN: Trumpets (for Soprano & 3 Clarinets) / Linda Hirst, soprano; Michael Collins, Edward Pillinger, Ian Mitchell, clarinetists; Oliver Knussen, conductor / available for free streaming on YouTube
KNUSSEN: Where the Wild Things Are / Lisa Saffer, soprano (Max); Mary King, mezzo (Mother/Female wild thing); Christopher Gillet, tenor (Moishe/Bear wild thing); Quentin Hayes, bass (Wild thing with horns); Stephen Richardson, bass (Emile/Wild Rooster); David Wilson-Johnson, bass (Bernard/Wild bull); London Sinfonietta; Oliver Knussen, conductor / DGG 0289 469 5562 8 GH 2 (release also includes Higglety Pigglety Pop)
It’s almost a shame that Oliver Knussen was so well known for his fantastic children’s opera, Where the Wild Things Are—a much better opera for children than Humperdinck’s sugary, drecky Hansel und Gretel—not because it isn’t good (it is) but because it has come to overshadow much of his other work. Influenced in part by Stravinsky, Ravel and Schoenberg, in no particular order, Knussen’s music was nonetheless highly original and endlessly fascinating. In fact, I would boldly proclaim him the greatest British composer of the post-Britten generation (sorry, Thomas Àdes or Peter Maxwell Davies). Nothing he wrote was perfunctory, or boring, or uninteresting. A big, genial bear of a man, he cut a swath through life and music in such a way as have few before him. I urge you to listen to all of the works above in order to gauge the full measure of his talent. Note: The only reason I don’t list his other kiddy opera, Higglety Piggety Pop, is because it alone tends to play down his enormous talent and get bogged down in some really childish silliness that I don’t even find particularly funny. But then, I’m not British.
In their rush to canonize Béla Bartók, too many listeners and critics overlook his good friend Zoltán Kodály because Kodály lived much longer and came to be appreciated during his lifetime, but he was a terrific composer in his own right.
KODÁLY: Budvári Te Deum / Irén Szecsődy, soprano; Magda Tiszay, contralto; Tibor Udvardy, tenor; András Faragó, bass; Budapest Chorus; Hungarian State Orchestra; Zoltán Kodály, conductor / Concerto for Orchestra: 1. Allegro risoluto. 2. Largo. 3. Tempo primo. 4. Largo. Summer Evening (Nyári Este Zenekarra) / Budapest Philharmonic Society Orchestra; Zoltán Kodály, conductor / Missa Brevis: 1. Introitus. 2. Kyrie. 3. Gloria. 4. Credo. 5. Sanctus. 6. Benedictus. 7. Agnus Dei. 8. Ite Missa Est / Mária Gyurkovics, Edit Gáncs, Tímea Cser, sopranos; Magda Tiszay, contralto; Endre Rösler, tenor; György Littasy, bass; Budapest Chorus; Hungarian State Orchestra; Zoltán Kodály, conductor / Psalmus Hungaricus / Endre Rösler, tenor; Budapest Chorus; Hungarian State Orchestra; Zoltán Kodály, conductor / Hungaroton 32677-78 or available for free streaming on YouTube by clicking on individual titles above
Kodály liked to say that he wasn’t a great conductor but he knew how he wanted his music to go. To a certain extent, he was overly modest; these are wonderful performances for the most part, with only the great Psalmus Hungaricus exceeded by another recording (see below), and that largely due to his choice of tenor soloist. Endre Rösler was a very musical tenor who had started out as a lyric spinto singing roles like Calaf in Turandot, but over the years he lost some volume and power and began singing more Mozart. Still, Kodály liked him and he does a fine job. In the other works, I’ve heard very few conductors who get as much out of the music as Kodály does here.
KODÁLY: Háry János Suite / NBC Symphony Orchestra; Arturo Toscanini, conductor / available for streaming in 6 parts on YouTube
KODÁLY: Háry János Suite / London Philharmonic Orchestra; Klaus Tennstedt, conductor / available for free streaming in 6 parts on YouTube
Two fantastic performances, one in mono and the other in digital stereo. Both get 5 fish because the Toscanini performance, given in the presence of the composer, is the best ever whereas Tennstedt’s reveals a bit more orchestral detail.
KODÁLY: Hungarian Folk Music / Mária Basilides, contralto; Béla Bartók, pianist / available for free streaming on YouTube
Only the dated sound quality keeps this from being a five or even a six-fish performance. Basilides and Bartók get to the heart of the music superbly.
This is the definitive recording of Kodály’s masterpiece, as much for the strong-voiced contribution of tenor Lajos Kozma as for Kertesz’s stupendous conducting. The tenor’s contribution is key in any good performance of this work, and it’s a shame that the work’s creator, Ferenc Szekelyhidy, never recorded it.
KODÁLY: String Quartets Nos. 1 & 2 / Alexander String Quartet / Foghorn Classics 2009
Kodály’s string quartets aren’t as well known as Bartók’s or Janáček’s, but they’re awfully good and these performances by the Alexander String Quartet, which I consider to be the premier ensemble of its kind today, are penetrating and emotionally moving.
KODÁLY: Theatre Overture. Variations on a Czech folk song, “The Peacock.” Dances of Galánta. Symphony in C / Philharmonia Hungarica; Antal Doráti, conductor / available for free streaming on YouTube by clicking on individual titles above
Superb performances of core pieces in Kodály’s output played by one of the greatest, but nowadays little regarded, of Hungarian conductors.
KOECHLIN: Le Buisson Ardent, Poème Symphonique d’après un épisode de “Jean-Christophe” de Romain Rolland, Op. 203 / Rheinland-Pfalz Philharmonic Orchestra; Leif Segerstam, conductor / available for free streaming on YouTube
KOECHLIN: 4 Mélodies, Op. 28: Accompagnement; L’Astre Rouge. 5 Mélodies, Op. 5: Chanson d’Amour; Si tu le veux. Poèmes d’Ajutomne, Op. 13: Déclin d’Amour; Les Rêves Morts. 5 Rondels, Op. 1: L’Été; Le Printemps. 9 Rondels, Op. 14: Le Jour. Le Vin. 7 Rondels, Op. 8: La Lune. 4 Mélodies, Op. 22: Novembre. 3 Mélodies, Op. 15: Nox. 5 Rondels, Op. 5: La Nuit. 4 Poèmes d’E. Haraucourt: Pleine Eau. 3 Mélodies, Op. 17: La Prière du Mort. 6 Mélodies, Op. 31: Le Repas Prépare. 4 Mélodies, Op. 35: Soir Païen. Villanelle, Op. 21 No. 1 / Michèle Command, soprano; Christophe Durrant, pianist / Maguelone 111.113 or available for free streaming on YouTube by clicking on individual titles above
KOECHLIN: CHAMBER MUSIC / SWR Music 19047CD
CD 1: First & Second Clarinet Sonatas.1 Les Confidence d’un joueur de Clarinette.2Idyll for 2 Clarinets.3 14 Pieces for Clarinet & Piano.1 Monodies for Solo Clarinet / Dirk Altmann, 3Rudolf Koenig, clarinetists; 1Florian Henschel, pianist; 2Sibylle Mahni Haas, French hornist; 2Gunter Teuffel, violist; 2Johanna Busch, cellist
CD 2: Flute Sonata.2 Épitaph de Jean Harlow.1,4. 6 Trio (Divertissement for 2 Flutes & Clarinet).1,3,7 Suite en Quatuor.1, 6,8 Trio for Clarinet, Flute & Bassoon.1, 5, 7 Sonata for 2 Flutes.1 2 Nocturnes for Flute, Horn & Piano.1, 6, 9 Sonatine Modale for Flute & Clarinet.1, 7 Piece for Flute & Piano (pour lecture à vue)1, 6 / 1Tatjana Ruhland, 2Barbara Hank, 3Christina Singer, flautists; 2Michael Baumann, 6Yaara Tal, pianist; Libor Sima, 4alto saxophonist/5bassoonist; 7Dirk Altmann, clarinetist; 8Mila Georgieva, violinist; 8Ingrid Philippi, violist; 9Joachim Bansch, French hornist
CD 3: Le Portrait de Daisy Hamilton.1 Oboe Sonata.2 Bassoon Sonata.3 Suite for Solo English Horn.4 Stèle funéraire for 3 Flutes in Turn5 / 1Dirk Altmann, clarinetist; 1Mako Okamoto, 2Hans-Georg Gaydoul, 3Inge-Susann Römhild, pianists; 2Alexander Ott, oboist; 3Eckart Hübner, bassoonist; 4Lajos Lencsés, English horn; 5Peter Thalheimer, alto flue/piccolo/flute
CD 4: Viola Sonata.1 Cello Sonata.2 20 Breton Songs for Cello & Piano2 / 1Paul Pesthy, violist; 1Chia Chou, 2Roglit Ishay, pianists; 2Peter Bruns, cellist
CD 5: Andante quasi Adagio. Nouvelles Sonatines, Opp. 20 & 87. L’Album de Lilian: Book I, Nos. 2, 3 & 5; Book II, Nos. 2, 4 & 8. Sonatine, Op. 87. Paysages et Marines / Michael Korstick, pianist
CD 6: Les Heures Persanes / Michael Korstick, pianist
CD 7: Danses pour Ginger, 2 excerpts. Sonatines, Op. 59 Nos. 2 & 3. Andante con moto. L’Ancienne Maison de campagne. Pièce pour piano, Op. 83b. Esquisses Op. 41, First Series / Michael Korstick, pianist
KOECHLIN: ORCHESTRAL WORKS / SWR Radio-Sinfonieorchester Stuttgart; Heinz Holliger, conductor on all tracks / SWR Music 19046CD
CD 1: KOECHLIN: Quatre Poèmes de Edmond Haraucourt.3 Deux Poèmes Symphoniques: II. Vers la plage lontaine. Poèmes d’Automne.1,2 2 Poems d’André Chenier: I. La Jeune Tarantine. 2 FAURÉ: Chanson de Mélisande (orch. Koechlin)3 / 1Gunter Tueffel, vla d’amore; 2Tatjana Ruhland, fl; 2Libor Sima, bsn; 2Joachim Bänsch, Fr-hn; 2Renie Yamahata, hrp; 2Mila Giorgieva, David Ma, vln; 2Paul Pesthy, vla; 2Ansgar Schneider, cel; 3Juliane Banse, sop
CD 2: KOECHLIN: Trois Mélodies: I & II.1 Études Antiques. 6 Mélodies sur des Poésies a’Albert Samain: Le sommeil de Canope.1 Chant funèbre à la mémoire des jeunes femmes défuntes2 / 1Juliane Banse, sop; 2SWR Vocal Ensemble
CD 3: KOECHLIN: The Jungle Book: La Course de printemps. Le Buisson ardent1 / 1Christine Simonin, ondes Martenot
CD 4: KOECHLIN: The Jungle Book: La Méditation de Purun Bhagat. Les Heures Persanes (orch. 1921)
CD 5: KOECHLIN: The Jungle Book: Les Bandar-log. Offrande musicale sur le nom de BACH 1 / 1Bernard Haas, org; 1Michael Korstick, pn; 1Christine Simonin, ondes Martenot
CD 6: DEBUSSY: Khamma (orch. Koechlin). KOECHLIN: Sur les Flots lontains. FAURÉ: Pelléas et Mélisande (orch. Koechlin).1 SCHUBERT: Wanderer Fantasy, D. 760 (orch. Koechlin).2 CHABRIER: Bourrée Fantasque (orch. Koechlin) / 1Sarah Wegener, sop; 2Florian Hoelscher, pn
CD 7: KOECHLIN: Vers la voûte étoilée. Le Docteur Fabricius1 / 1Christine Simonin, ondes Martenot
For those interested in a detailed description of these CDs, see my reviews (under Older Blog Posts). In a nutshell, Charles Koechlin was one of tbe original French impressionists who lived much longer than any of the others, not dying until 1950. Although his style was pretty much in the Debussy-Ravel-Dukas school harmonically, he had his own quirky way of writing music, often wandering off the beaten path to discover musical flora and fauna off in the bushes. As a result, he had no “hit tunes” as the others did and in fact was not very well known outside of France during his lifetime. He developed a fascination for movies after seeing Marlene Dietrich and Emil Jannings in The Blue Angel in 1933, and shortly after became fixated on three very pretty blonde actresses, Lilian Harvey, Jean Harlow and Ginger Rogers, for whom he wrote pieces dedicated to them. Most of the music in the above multi-disc sets is superb, but particularly his piano suite Les Heures Persanes, his various sonatas for wind instruments, his late work Le Docteur Fabricius. Offrande musicale sur le nom de BACH and the various pieces that were inspired by Rudyard Kipling’s The Jungle Book. In addition to the above, the following works are also highly recommended:
KOECHLIN: Le Livre de la Jungle / Iris Vermillion, mezzo-soprano; Johan Botha, tenor; Ralf Lukas, baritone; RIAS Kammerchor; Radio-Symphonie-Orchester Berlin; David Zinman, conductor / RCA Red Seal 09026 61955 2; most of it available for free streaming on YouTube: part 1; part 2; part 3; part 4; part 5; part 6
KOECHLIN: The Seven Stars Symphony / BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra; Ilan Volkov, conductor / available for free streaming on YouTube
KOECHLIN: Symphony No. 1 / Orchestre National de l’ORTF; Manuel Rosenthal, conductor / available for free streaming on YouTube
KOECHLIN: Symphony No. 2 / London Symphony Orchestra; Constantin Silvestri, conductor / available for free streaming on YouTube
All quite excellent performances; the only reason I gave four fish to the two numbered symphonies is due to the mediocre 1950s radio sound, not to the quality of the performances.
KOLB: Appello / Jay Gottlieb, pianist / Looking for Claudio / David Starobin, guitarist; Alexandra Ivanoff, soprano; Patrick Mason, baritone; Gordon Gottlieb, percussion / Soundings / L’ensemble Intercontemporain; Arturo Tamayo, conductor / Spring River Flowers Moon Night / Robert Phillips, Franco Renzulli, pianists; David Starobin, guitarist/mandolinist; Brooklyn College Percussion Ensemble; Barbara Kolb, conductor / Toccata / Igor Kipnis, harpsichordist / CRI 576
The strange music of Barbara Kolb almost tells its stories by allegory, using a wide variety of styles and methods. This is the only album I’ve run across of her music, but it is well worth acquiring.
KORNGOLD: Piano Quintet in E, Op. 15 / Kirill Kobantschenko, Bernie Malinger, violinists; Aurure Cany, violist; Florian Eggner, cellist; Christoph Eggner, pianist / part of Neos 21306 (see Altman, Laurie)
KORNGOLD: Violin Sonata / Bojidara Kouzmanova, violinist; Marialena Fernandez, pianist / part of Divox CDX20904
Before he wrote his junky opera Die Tote Stadt, and after that his even junkier film music, Korngold showed some real promise with these early chamber works. No wonder his father got mad at him when he heard Die Tote Stadt. There are several recordings available of these works, but these are my favorite performances.