Sunday, December 06, 2009

HurdAudio Rotation: From Eroica to the Village Vanguard

Ludwig Van Beethoven: The Symphonies [disc 2]. Recorded in 1994. The International Music Company: 205297-305.

Symphony No. 3 in E flat major (op. 55) 'Eroica'
The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra
Guenther Herbig: conductor

In pithy introductions before symphony orchestras everywhere perform these Beethoven works one hears about the "constant renewal" one experiences with these works. To some extent that comes in the rare moments when the mind slips past the crushing familiarity of these pieces. When one can somehow erase the knowledge of what is coming next. The once startling harmonic and dynamic changes that one anticipates like an old rerun. On this go around I had more success hearing the first movement with fresh ears before the total form - fully comprehended - returned to my memory. That first movement was bliss in the willful forgetting that preceded it. Clearly one of the "great" works. Now to return to the act of not remembering for the next listen.

Ludwig Van Beethoven: The Complete Quartets - Volume I. Recorded in 1989. Delos: 3031.

String Quartet in F Major op. 18 no. 1
String Quartet in E flat Major op. 127

Orford String Quartet
Andrew Dawes: violin
Kenneth Perkins: violin
Terence Helmer: viola
Denis Brott: cello

The Beethoven string quartets are the antidote to Beethoven symphony fatigue. Just as much arrangement and development prowess as the large ensemble works with less of the "beating a dead war horse" sensation. The early/late juxtaposition of this volume clearly illustrating the artistic growth of Beethoven the composer as he masters the old Classical form and proceeds to rip at its seams in his later, more confident years.

Bill Evans: The Complete Village Vanguard Recordings, 1961. 2003 & 2005: Riverside Records: 25218-4443-2.

Bill Evans: piano
Scott LaFaro: bass
Paul Motian: drums

One of the rare examples of where it's possible to state "one of the most important jazz recordings ever" without slipping into hyperbole. The complete day of live sets at the Village Vanguard on June 25, 1961 with arguably one of the most influential piano trios of all time. The sets that produced both Waltz for Debby and Sunday at the Village Vanguard. And one of the precious few documentations of this trio before tragedy separated Scott LaFaro from this world. The lyricism of Evans playing is utterly stunning. Even more so when the mind and ears are engaged with the form unfolding behind his improvisations. A must have for any serious jazz collector that invites awe for the artistry, intimidation at the graceful level of musicianship on display and an invaluable glimpse of a sound that continues to shape generations of jazz players.

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