In part 2 of my look back at the work of the still-controversial Herbert von Karajan, who died 25 years ago this week, I share an essay from Warner Classic’s new box set of music by Mozart, Schubert, Brahms, J and R Strauss and Wagner recorded for EMI. A fascinating collection- some surprises, one complete […]
Author Archives: Kenneth Woods
Today marks the 25th anniversary of the death of Herbert von Karajan- one of the most influential, accomplished, controversial and contradictory musicians who ever lived. Not too long ago, I was asked to provide introductory essays for two volumes the Warner’s news collection of EMI-era Karajan recordings. It was a fascinating challenge, but one I […]
The textures are appropriately bass heavy, and the two cellos dominate, but every line comes through with exceptional clarity. This gives the piece a new profile, with the complex but now clear counterpoint driving the music and leading the ear through the harmonic web. There is atmosphere here too, and much warmth in the ensemble’s sound, but that is never at the expense of the individual lines..
The Brahms-Wagner rivalry was largely an affair of the press, whipped up by critics like the Brahmsian Eduard Hanslick and his pro-Wagnerian rivals. Brahms actually professed great admiration for Wagner’s music on many occasions. Nonetheless, there was a time when the two men were perceived as embodying irreconcilable aesthetic approaches. In the end, […]
For the last few weeks, I’ve been meaning to write a blog post titled “If you buy only one recording this year, make it this one.” The recording in question is a new six-disc collection of live performances by the American pianist Howard Karp, released in May by Albany Records. Howard Karp died […]
“…bringing to Schumann’s comparably sparkling and life-enhancing ‘Spring’ Symphony such boundless vitality, scrupulous fidelity to the printed score, delicious wit and (above all) entrancing freshness of new discovery. This stylish and consistently invigorating coupling represents both an exemplary rescue act and genuine tonic to boot. Investigate without delay!”
Sometimes I think the classical industry is a bit like a chap standing on deck of the Titanic, moaning loudly about how his feet are getting cold because they’re a little wet. Sure we have problems, but look at the world around us- when the ship is already sinking, the man with the cold feet […]
‘When his time to reach for the stars had arrived, Schumann’s personal language was fully formed, and just as the subtlety of his piano style had been an immense asset for the songwriter, so the expressiveness of his vocal melody was a bridge to the ‘voices of men and angels’ he imagined he heard in […]
“anyone… who generally welcomes song, dance, deepness of human feeling and clarity in their music will find much to entrance and enlighten here. It is certainly good to have a choice of recordings for Gál 2, to compare and contrast, but Woods’s version is the place to start…this thoughtfully considered account belongs in the Schumann 4 collection alongside Boult, Celibidache, Sawallisch (Dresden) and Szell”
As the father of a four-year-old and a six-year-old, birthday parties are suddenly a big part of my life. Scarcely a week goes by without a summons for one or both of the kids to attend two hours of fun, sugar and silliness in celebration of someone’s birthday. So, what makes a good party? Families […]
The final result may be the most compelling reawakening of Schumann in the last decades – and simultaneously a long-overdue vindication of Hans Gál.
“This account is a joy from start to exuberant finish, perfectly paced and superbly played…Very strongly recommended”
On Sunday 11 May, the 2014 Two Rivers Festival reaches a climax with its final concert, ‘UNQUIET EARTH’ ; a sequence of words and music inspired by Emily Brontë. Festival director Peter Davison describes this fascinating concert in the essay below: Sunday 11 May at 7.30pmThe Bushell Hall, Birkenhead SchoolTWO RIVERS ENSEMBLE Clare Hammond (piano) Jane Wilkinson (soprano)Suzanne Casey (violin) Kenneth Woods (cello)Peter […]
It was the most unexpected gift I received this past Christmas- both the nature of the gift and the identity of the givers. Why the nature? Anyone who knows me well, knows how deeply immersed I was in the music of Jimi Hendrix throughout my teens and early twenties, but although I still love his […]