Richard Lehnert

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Richard Lehnert  |  Dec 11, 2018  |  1 comments
Keith Jarrett: La Fenice
Keith Jarrett, piano
ECM 2601/02 (2 CDs). 2018. Keith Jarrett, prod.; Martin Pearson, eng.; Christoph Stickel, Manfred Eicher, mastering, exec. prod. DDD. TT: 97:47
Performance *****
Sonics *****

This July 2006 concert, performed in Venice's Gran Teatro La Fenice, is Keith Jarrett's seventh recording of the shorter solo-piano improvisations he's explored since the early 2000s, after chronic fatigue syndrome robbed him of the stamina needed to improvise for unbroken stretches of nearly an hour. Despite their many high points, none of its six predecessors—Tokyo Solo, Radiance, Carnegie Hall, Testament, Rio, Creation—matched the cumulative power and depth of his best long-form improvisations: Köln, Sun Bear, Bregenz München, Paris. This one does.

Richard Lehnert  |  Oct 30, 2018  |  4 comments
J.S. Bach: Six Suites for Viola Solo, BWV 1007–1012
Kim Kashkashian, four- & five-string violas
ECM New Series 2553/54 (2 CDs). 2018. Manfred Eicher, prod.; Judy Sherman, eng. DDD. TT: 2:22:35
Performance ****½
Sonics *****

Little is known of the origins of the Solo Suites, usually performed on the cello. No manuscript in Bach's hand survives, and in the copy produced by his second wife, Anna Magdalena, markings for slurs, articulation, and dynamics are sparse even by baroque standards. The suites may actually have been composed for the violoncello da spalla, an instrument smaller than the cello but larger than the viola, and played while held on the shoulder (some modern players use a neckstrap). But what are problems for the musicologist present a world of latitude to the interpreter, in this case master violist Kim Kashkashian, who takes full advantage of them.

Richard Lehnert  |  Aug 28, 2018  |  3 comments
Bruckner & Wagner
Andris Nelsons, Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra
Bruckner: Symphony 4. Wagner: Lohengrin Prelude
Deutsche Grammophon 479 7577 (CD). TT: 79:24
Bruckner: Symphony 7. Wagner: Siegfried's Funeral March
Deutsche Grammophon 479 8494 (CD). TT: 76:48
Both: Everett Porter, prod., eng.; Lauran Jurrius, eng.; Polyhymnia International, mastering. DDD.
Performance ****½
Sonics ****½

In works as vast and challenging as the symphonies of Anton Bruckner, near perfection of interpretation and execution can come in different, even opposed forms. The slow meditations of Celibidache, the crisp classicism of Schaller, the precise power of Skrowaczewski: each is uniquely fulfilling and true to the scores, and none sounds anything like the others—or anything like the Bruckner of Andris Nelsons. Deutsche Grammophon has contracted with Nelsons and the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra to record, in concert, Bruckner's symphonies 1–9. After beginning last year with a polished if impersonal account of Symphony 3, Nelsons's cycle is rapidly advancing in quality and pace of release.

Richard Lehnert  |  Nov 09, 2017  |  First Published: Sep 01, 1991  |  8 comments
Break On Through: The Life and Death of Jim Morrison by James Riordan and Jerry Prochnicky
544 pages, $20 hardcover. Published by William Morrow & Co., Inc., 1350 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10019.

Riders on the Storm: My Life with Jim Morrison and The Doors by John Densmore
319 pages, $19.95 hardcover. Published by Delacorte Press, 666 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10103.

With at least six books on Jim Morrison and The Doors now on the shelves, five published within the last year to take advantage of tie-in sales on the flowing, copious coattails of Oliver Stone's powerful film, The Doors, you'd think one of them, at least, might approach "very good," "excellent," even "definitive."

Not so.

Richard Lehnert  |  Mar 22, 2017  |  11 comments
Bruckner: Symphony 9: Completed Version
Gerd Schaller, completion & conductor, Philharmonie Festiva
Profil PH16089 (2 CDs). 2016. Lutz Wildner, tonmeister; ambitus Musikproduktion, engs. DDD. TT: 84:37
Performance *****
Sonics *****

Between 2007 and 2016, Gerd Schaller recorded all 11 of Bruckner's symphonies with the orchestra he founded, the Philharmonie Festiva. In the November 2011 issue I reviewed his 2010 recording of Symphony 9 with William Carragan's completion of the Finale, left incomplete (if perhaps not uncompleted) at Bruckner's death. Six years later, in 2016, with the same orchestra and engineer, and in the same hall—a vast cathedral in Ebrach, Bavaria—Schaller recorded his own completion of the Finale.

Richard Lehnert  |  Dec 15, 2016  |  2 comments
Keith Jarrett: A Multitude of Angels
Concerts: Modena, Ferrara, Torino, Genova

Keith Jarrett, piano
ECM 2500–2503 (4 CDs). 2016. Keith Jarrett, prod., eng. DDD. TT: 4:57:19
Performance *****
Sonics ***

In the best of Keith Jarrett's long-form Concert recordings—Bremen Lausanne, Köln, and most of all Bregenz München and the monumental Sun Bear—one hears the evolution, over unbroken spans of as long as 45 minutes, of a beginning musical germ. A mere rhythm or broken chord or simple cadence or single note, sometimes a full melody exquisitely arranged, opens what seems an infinite world of musical ideas, channeled or happened on or willed up out of the moment, then explored in depth and at length, all flowing into and out of each other—and into and out of jazz, blues, gospel, folk, Middle Eastern, Baroque, Classical, Romantic, and 20th-century styles (Ives, Bartók, Stravinsky). One gets the impression of a musician who has heard and played every kind of piano music there is and who, on a given evening, serially or simultaneously plays any and all of it. No one else has ever done anything like it.

Richard Lehnert  |  Oct 20, 2015  |  First Published: Nov 01, 2015  |  35 comments
"There are two kinds of music. Good music, and the other kind," Duke Ellington is famously supposed to have said. But that doesn't tell us how to recognize "good music," and it doesn't define good. Nor will this essay. Many have described the music of, say, Mozart or J.S. Bach with such phrases as the music of heaven or the mind of God or—especially Bach's music—that it embodies the basic structure of the universe/existence/reality. I've said such things myself.
Richard Lehnert  |  Apr 15, 2015  |  First Published: May 01, 2015  |  6 comments
Bruckner: Symphony 8
Rémy Ballot, Upper Austrian Youth Symphony Orchestra
Gramola 99054 (2 SACD/CDs). 2015. John Proffitt, prod., eng.; Richard Winter, prod.; Rémy Ballot, Matthias Kronsteiner, eds., mastering. DDD. TT: 103:44
Performance ****½
Sonics *****

This performance of Bruckner's greatest, most generous work, his Symphony 8, took place in August 2014 in the basilica of St. Florian, the Austrian monastery where Bruckner was schooled and served as organist. It was taped before an audience, directly above the crypt in which Bruckner is buried. The band was the Upper Austrian Youth Symphony Orchestra: 130 players, average age 17, conducted by Rémy Ballot, a student of the late Sergiù Celibidache.

Richard Lehnert  |  Sep 26, 2014  |  First Published: Oct 01, 2014  |  4 comments
Bruckner: Symphony 9
Claudio Abbado, Lucerne Festival Orchestra
Deutsche Grammophon 479 3441 (CD, 48/24 download from HDTracks). 2014. Georg Obermayer, prod., ed.; Urs Dürr, Toine Mertens, engs. DDD. TT: 63:09
Performance *****
Sonics ****½

This performance of Bruckner's last, all-but-finished composition was recorded at the last concert conducted by Claudio Abbado. It is a fitting final statement by an interpreter of unparalleled sensitivity, intelligence, and taste.

The Ninth is no serene work, and Abbado's earlier recording, with the Vienna Philharmonic, is a darker, more intensely driven vision of Bruckner's fight to live long enough to complete his most profound, most ambitious composition. The difficulties of that double struggle are evident throughout the three movements Bruckner completed (Abbado never conducted a completion of the nearly finished Finale), and in 1996 in Vienna, those struggles seemed the story Abbado wanted to tell.

Richard Lehnert  |  Feb 25, 2014  |  First Published: Mar 01, 2014  |  1 comments
Keith Jarrett's gift for brilliant invention is apparently inexhaustible throughout both of these concerts, recorded five days apart in spring 1981. The combinations of lyricism, literally foot-stomping gospel, chordings and voicings alternately sumptuously lush and astringently lean, and unexpected musical destinations reached in surprising ways, are here at least as rich as anything else he's done.

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