ANDERSON AUDIO NY

Recording Fine Music Since 1973

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Classical CD Of The Week: A Bavarian Hybrid St. John Passion With Peter Dijkstra

 

Jens F. Laurson , CONTRIBUTOR Forbes Magazine

Brisk and gripping, overwhelming and awe-some: the opening of the St. John Passion with the Bavarian Radio Chorus under their long-time artistic director, Peter Dijkstra[1], is a dramatic entry into a very effective new recording of this often recorded masterpiece.

It’s a true hybrid performance, rather than traditional or historically informed (HIP), in that the orchestral crew is an all-out historically informed, period performance engine – namely the fabulous Concerto Köln – but the chorus, though keenly aware of all the trends, dogmas, and true insights of historical performance, is about 36 throats strong. That is, by today’s desired standards (and by Bach’s grudgingly accepted standards) huge.

The BR Chorus happens to be one of the very, very best choruses around, though, and these three dozen singers, working in smaller ensembles, have the uncanny ability to sing truly as one. They can turn on a dime and execute with a razor’s edge. Such an exactitude is rare, at allows us to hear a hybrid modern-traditional/HIP choral performance without making compromises on the precision and clarity of the text we are used to from One-Voice-Per-Part (OVPP) performances while still getting properly walloped.

The cast of soloists is a young, economical, none-too-famous ensemble without any the usual suspects among HIP Bach singers. By and large they neither add nor detract from the excellence of this St. John Passion, with excellent, slightly neutral, musical performances. Ulrike Malotta’s aptly non-naïve, dramatic alto fits her parts; Christina Landshammer’s pointed soprano is charming and ever precise, and the male side of the cast is similarly splendid-but-neutral. What is lacking is a real textual delivery which would heighten the great drama of this work… but perhaps that’s only a matter for those who follow the German text very closely. It reminds me in that way of another excellent recent album on BR Klassik, Simon Rattle’s Rheingold, which is full or orchestral splendor – perhaps more than just about any other recording – but with the singers distinctly lacking in dramatic presentation of what’s going on and instead only being focused on sounding beautiful: Ideal for anyone who might otherwise prefer “The Ring without Words” and isn’t as much sold on the story-telling abilities of Wagner.

Still, there is one notable surprise for me among the cast members: Julian Prégardien. I have gotten to experience him as a slightly self-conscious young tenor in the awkward position of surpassing his father – Christoph Prégardien, a reasonably famous, still active, once excellent (if never quite top-notch) tenor himself. Most notably at the Schubertiade (reviewed here: A Father & Son Duo of Tenors); most disappointingly in Zelenka (reviewed here: Zelenka to fall in Love with at the Konzerthaus); most charmingly in a Chabrier opera (reviewed here: High Camp With Elegance: Alden’s Fabulously Entertaining L’étoile). In any case I’ve found him a singer in search of an identity, either too occupied with the sound he makes – or not at all. And here he’s wonderful! He comes across as a confident, mellifluous, and all-round pleasant youthfully authoritative Evangelist. (His father was a very notable Evangelist in some of my favorite performances and recordings – BrüggenLeonhardtMax.) Granted, Julian Prégardien hasn’t the haunting, arresting qualities of a Mark Padmore (see the Forbes review of Peter Sellars’ St John Passion From Berlin), but he’s well above average and, if anything, a strength, not a weak spot, of this recording.

Anyone who likes the Bach recordings of Riccardo Chailly, big-boned orchestral HIP-scented hybrids with an edge, will find this appealing: That approach turned on its head in a way, with the orchestra being the slim but punchy motor and the chorus being relatively large (but stirring), in comparison. All in all it’s a wonderful recording adding to, if not replacing, recent and time-honored standard-bearers

Jane Ira Bloom inspired by Emily Dickinson By Jeff Simon, The Buffalo News Jane Ira Bloom, "Wild Lines: Improvising Emily Dickinson" (Outline, two discs) What an astonishing figure Jane Ira Bloom continues to be. Even if her tone on soprano saxophone weren't uniquely beautiful and her technique preternaturally pliable, there would be her longtime connection with some of the greatest players in current jazz to distinguish her – pianist Fred Hersch on so many records (Dawn Clement plays terrific piano on this quartet disc), along with bassist Mark Helias and drummer Bobby Previte. On top of all that, there is the extraordinary creativity and idiosyncrasy that distinguishes so many of her records. What other jazz musician was virtually adopted by NASA for her love of astronauts and space travel? Who else is inspired by abstract painting on other discs and neuroscience still others? Her last disc "Early Americans" might have prepared us for the glory of this one but it really didn't. It's a jazz tribute to Emily Dickinson based on Bloom's discovery that Dickinson was not only an amateur pianist but was sometimes given to improvisation. Says Bloom "I didn't always understand her but I always felt Emily's use of words mirrored the way a jazz musician uses notes." Bloom's "Wild Lines" based on Dickinson's poetry was premiered at Dickinson's home in Amherst, Ma. and was subsequently performed at the Kennedy Center. There is no overpraising the exquisite intimacy of Bloom's rapport with her other musicians Clement, Helias and, especially, Bobby Previte who is virtually her heartbeat on their discs together. That's always true of her records but it's especially remarkable here. The beauty of Dickinson as a jazz inspiration is that nothing remotely literal can come from it. Here are some of the lines that inspired Bloom: "Take all away from me, but leave me ecstasy/And I am richer then;" "One note from/One bird/Is better than/A million words." "We introduce ourselves/to planets and flowers/But with ourselves/Have etiquettes/Embarrassments/ and Awes." The beauty here is that this is NOT a true meeting of minds but rather the capture of a fire from another century that blazed so brilliantly that it took a gorgeously different form in another time. Actor Deborah Rush recites Dickinson too for those who need to hear how the fire began before it transformed itself. She ends it all with a solo reading of Rodgers and Hart's "It's Easy to Remember." One of the year's great jazz records by one of our greatest jazz poets and the brilliant friends who understand her completely. 4 stars (out of four)

Jane Ira Bloom inspired by Emily Dickinson

By Jeff Simon, The Buffalo News

Jane Ira Bloom, "Wild Lines: Improvising Emily Dickinson" (Outline, two discs)

What an astonishing figure Jane Ira Bloom continues to be.

Even if her tone on soprano saxophone weren't uniquely beautiful and her technique preternaturally pliable, there would be her longtime connection with some of the greatest players in current jazz to distinguish her – pianist Fred Hersch on so many records (Dawn Clement plays terrific piano on this quartet disc), along with bassist Mark Helias and drummer Bobby Previte.

On top of all that, there is the extraordinary creativity and idiosyncrasy that distinguishes so many of her records. What other jazz musician was virtually adopted by NASA for her love of astronauts and space travel? Who else is inspired by abstract painting on other discs and neuroscience still others? Her last disc "Early Americans" might have prepared us for the glory of this one but it really didn't. It's a jazz tribute to Emily Dickinson based on Bloom's discovery that Dickinson was not only an amateur pianist but was sometimes given to improvisation. Says Bloom "I didn't always understand her but I always felt Emily's use of words mirrored the way a jazz musician uses notes."

Bloom's "Wild Lines" based on Dickinson's poetry was premiered at Dickinson's home in Amherst, Ma. and was subsequently performed at the Kennedy Center. There is no overpraising the exquisite intimacy of Bloom's rapport with her other musicians Clement, Helias and, especially, Bobby Previte who is virtually her heartbeat on their discs together. That's always true of her records but it's especially remarkable here. The beauty of Dickinson as a jazz inspiration is that nothing remotely literal can come from it.

Here are some of the lines that inspired Bloom: "Take all away from me, but leave me ecstasy/And I am richer then;" "One note from/One bird/Is better than/A million words." "We introduce ourselves/to planets and flowers/But with ourselves/Have etiquettes/Embarrassments/ and Awes." The beauty here is that this is NOT a true meeting of minds but rather the capture of a fire from another century that blazed so brilliantly that it took a gorgeously different form in another time. Actor Deborah Rush recites Dickinson too for those who need to hear how the fire began before it transformed itself. She ends it all with a solo reading of Rodgers and Hart's "It's Easy to Remember."

One of the year's great jazz records by one of our greatest jazz poets and the brilliant friends who understand her completely.

4 stars (out of four)

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"Sixteen Sunsets": 
ALBUM FROM JANE IRA BLOOM

Nate Chenin
New York Times

 


"Misa solemnis": 
ALBUM FROM Bernard haitnik

Richard osborne
Gramophone


Jim Anderson:
The educated Ear

ROBERT BAIRD
stereophile



beethoven: 
THE symphonies and reflections

Robert levine
STEREOPHILE


patricia barber: 
nightclub & modern cool

robert baird, karl rubinson
STEREOPHILE


favorite sounds to early environmental: 
times critics' favorite classical recordings of 2013

james R. oestreich
the new york times


CD review: 
Beethoven - missa solemnis

Joseph Newsome
voix des arts

ProSound News (Japan)

ProSound News (Japan)

Sennheiser supported Anderson Audio's recordings at the Chelsea Music Festival

Sennheiser supported Anderson Audio's recordings at the Chelsea Music Festival

Recording the 2017 Chelsea Music Festival in AMBEO 3D audio was an exciting opportunity for us to try out Sennheiser’s latest immersive audio technology. We had attended past iterations of the festival, so we knew to expect world-class performances throughout. The main venue for these performances was the cathedral-like interior at St. Paul’s German Lutheran Church, a noted venue for audiophile classical and jazz recordings in the 80s and 90s that is both acoustically pleasing and wonderfully intimate. My husband and colleague Jim Anderson and I had learned about the AMBEO format at the Sennheiser pop-up store in SoHo and knew immediately that it would be: 

"perfect for capturing this special event in a way that included not simply the notes that were played but the energy and experience of being in the space during the performance.“ Ulrike Anderson

Our setup for the event included the eight microphones suspended above the audience required to generate the AMBEO cube, plus an additional front-facing stereo A/B pair pointed toward the stage—all Sennheiser microphones and many of the same selections we’ve trusted for numerous recordings in all formats. This setup gives us both the perspective of the audience being there live in the room, but also an optimized recording due to the closer microphones, ensuring we have plenty of options to bring out the best experience during the mix.

The setup is sure to render remarkable fidelity. Bass-heavy instruments in particular sound markedly better when you bring them into 3D, so I expect both the performances and recording clarity to be spectacular. Jim and I both have extensive experience working in 5.1 surround, and I have even trained on 22.2 systems in Japan as far back as 2006. We feel that AMBEO represents an exciting leap forward for three-dimensional audio..It’s great to take things into the next dimension with Sennheiser, and we are eager to dig into these mixes and bring out the magic of the Chelsea Music Festival.