This is a very pleasing assortment from among Grieg's 66 short Lyric Pieces, written between 1866-1891. There were 6-8 pieces in each of the 10 "books", and this collection of 30 pieces contains selections from 9 of the books (there is no selection from Book 62 for some reason). Each and every one presented here is a pure delight, and represent Grieg's life-long desire to create a true Norwegian music genre derived from the folk music, dances, stories and natural environment of Norway. Every piece is evocative and the entire disc is delightful, thanks to the colorful and imaginative piano of Balazs Szokolay.
Since the additional movements of the Roman Catholic Mass (Sanctus, Agnus Dei, and Credo) that appear in his B minor Mass were excluded, Bach's four missa breves (short masses) are essentially two-movement Lutheran works. Naturally, Bach being Bach, he subdivided the expansive Gloria into five shorter movements; set the texts as arias, duets, and choruses; and used an orchestra ensemble including strings, flutes, oboes, trumpets, and organ as a powerful and colorful accompaniment. But at the heart of all four works is the austere faith of Martin Luther, and the German reformer's strength, severity, and occasional sentimentality is at the spiritual core of Bach's sacred music.
The words in Latin "Lord have mercy, Christ have mercy, Lord have mercy" might be affecting to someone with more belief than I have, and I confess are even touching to me who have nearly none, but I have at one time had many recordings of this little mass and they all have some opera lady singing the solo part in the Kyrie which was written for a little boy to sing - and they are stilted, poised and SUCK. But this recording has all the melancholy of adolescence with its thesis of sexual discovery and antithesis of gerontion or whatever…
The narrators are two gifted children, the pianist Alezandre Tharaud, whose acute playing has sparked the series. Set for narrator and small ensemble and originally improvised to please the composer's three-year old cousin, the tale of Babar the Elephant receives a charming performance from Alexandre Tharaud and friends with child narrators on this fifth instalment of Naxos's chamber-music series.
Naxos’ first-rate edition of Poulenc’s complete chamber music continues with this very fine collection of shorter pieces and song cycles for voice and small ensemble. Baritone Franck Leguérinel turns in a smashing performance of Le Bal masqué from its manic opening Air de bravoure to the hysterical falsetto antics in the closing Caprice. He’s equally fine in Le Bestiaire, but the cruel vocal line and harmonic acerbities of the Max Jacob songs prove less congenial, though he’s no less stylistically assured.