For those who already appreciate Rachel Podger's unique brand of magic I'll just say that this return to recorded Bach is lovely and all that one could hope for. All that one looks for is here, and there is more. For those who are not familiar with Rachel Podger, she is a unique voice among violinists. She has absorbed the principles of late Baroque performance practice and made them a part of herself, so that the articulation and inflection of that rhetorical approach to music flows from her as a natural idiom of expression.
Lusine Zakaryan (Armenian: Լուսինե Զաքարյան), born Svetlana Zakaryan, (June 1, 1937 in Akhaltsikhe, Georgian SSR – December 30, 1992, in Yerevan, Armenia), was an Armenian soprano. She grew up in the Samtskhe-Javakheti region of southern Georgia. In 1952, she moved with her family to Yerevan, where she attended a secondary music school. She entered the Yerevan State Musical Conservatory in 1957 and her singing talent soon became clear.
From 1970 to 1983, Zakaryan was a soloist with the symphony orchestra of Armenian TV and Radio. She also sang in the choir of the Armenian Apostolic Church's Holy See at the Echmiadzin Cathedral, and it is for her magnificent rendition of centuries-old Armenian spiritual hymns that she is now most remembered.
Zakaryan was also known for singing the international opera repertoire as well as Armenian traditional and church music.
The Dutch performer Bob van Asperen is a recognized specialist in the realm of performance on period keyboard instruments. Born and raised in Amsterdam, Asperen completed a conventional university course of study in music before embarking on lessons with harpsichord master Gustav Leonhardt starting in 1967; Asperen made his debut in Haarlem in 1968. Also in 1968 Asperen joined the group Quadro Hotteterre, of which he was a member until 1984. Asperen completed his studies in 1972 after finishing a course in organ at the Amsterdam Conservatory given by Albert de Klerk. Afterward he accepted a teaching post at the Royal Conservatory in The Hague, which he held until tapped to replace the departing Gustav Leonhardt at the Sweelinck Conservatory, prompting Asperen's return to Amsterdam. His teaching duties in the Netherlands have not restrained him from touring internationally; Asperen has given master classes elsewhere in Europe and also Canada, the United States, and Australia.
This two-CD set is actually part of an ambitious undertaking: ESS.A.Y Recordings recorded these sonatas in two different versions, this one featuring Ms. Tenenbaum on a modern violin and accompanied by a modern piano played by Richard Kapp; the other recording (reviewed below) features Ms. Tenenbaum playing an older violin and accompanied by a harpsichord played by Gerald Ranck.
None of these reconstructions are included in Teldec’s Bach 2000, although the better-known ‘originals’ obviously are. The real newcomer is the Sinfonia, BWV1045 (5'34'') ‘to an unknown cantata’ which – as befits a BWV number that immediately precedes the First Brandenburg Concerto – is rumbustious, festive and thematically likeable. Time and again I could sense allusions to other Bach instrumental pieces, though the soloist’s ceaseless arpeggiating is sometimes a distraction. We’re told it’s authentic (the manuscript source suggests a violin concerto in the making) but something about its harmonic language doesn’t quite ring true, though that reaction might well be due to lack of familiarity.
In many ways this is a special recording. It features first-desks from the Chicago Sym. playing two of Bach's Brandenburg Concertos, and so far beyond the average Baroque ensemble are they that one yearns for the other four. Just to hear the amazing trumpet solos in Concerto no. 2 by the legendary Adolph Herseth repays the cost of the CD. But we also get James Levine doing double duty at the harpsichord in Concerto no. 5. One deficit from the rise of period performance is that non-specialists have been driven out. The days when an all-around musician like Levine or Leonard Bernstein performed Bach and Handel are more or less over, and their replacements, to be tactful, are not on such an exalted level of talent…. By Santa Fe Listener
Verve 60th Anniversary Rare Albums SHM-CD Reissue Series. Reissue with SHM-CD format. This is one of the more obscure J.J. Johnson LPs. On six of the ten songs, the great trombonist is joined by four others, while the remaining four tracks (the main reasons to search for this album) feature him in a quartet with pianist Hank Jones, bassist Richard Davis and drummer Walter Perkins. Johnson's writing on the larger group pieces lifts the material, which is all taken from Broadway shows, while his playing on the quartet tracks is up to his usual level. Some of the songs are now forgotten, but "My Favorite Things," "Make Someone Happy" and "Put on a Happy Face" are exceptions. This album has some good music, but it will be very difficult to find.