Retail pak Naxos AudioBooks 2002
CD ISBN 1930838174 $17.99 Two CDs
[Editor's Note: The following is a combined review with AN INTRODUCTION TO... VIVALDI.]--Great music has visceral appeal, and one shouldn't need liner notes to enjoy it. But like any serious art, classical music can be appreciated more deeply if one understands what's under the surface. That's the idea behind these recordings, in which Jeremy Siepmann alternates musical excerpts with his analysis. He engagingly describes how Vivaldi creates the impression of thunderstorms, birds in flight, and sleeping peasants, and how Ravel uses orchestral techniques to create lavish tone pictures. In his prose and his narration, Siepmann manages to be both erudite and avuncular--he clearly understands theory and composition, but the listener needs only a basic knowledge of these to enjoy his informal commentary. (Both CDs come with thick booklets that include the text of the narration and additional background for the keener.) It's remarkable how much Siepmann has mined from Boléro and The Four Seasons, two works that, for all their popularity, are awfully repetitive. Admittedly, it's easy to understand Ravel's "orchestral sorcery"--a typical Siepmann phrase--when one hears his techniques applied over and over to the same theme. But our critic does have a tendency to describe, say, a simple key change as though it were something that should knock the listener out of his chair. If one can forgive this occasionally misplaced enthusiasm, these recordings are an entertaining complement to the music. D.B. (c) AudioFile 2002, Portland, Maine [Published: DEC 02/ JAN 03]
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