Excellent CD that shows what Onyx is all about!
T. SATO | 12/15/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I am not shy to say that Apollon Musagete is one of my favourite piece of any music.
It sounds very tuneful and melodic, something you can hum along to.... very rare for a modern music.
(Can you hum along to the Sacre?)
This will be a very good breakthrough CD for someone who is scared of modern pieces, who ran away from Hindemith etc at first hearing.
There is not many alternative recordings of Apollo, but those that are recorded are always very good, since it is always done by experts who knows what they are doing, never a "big label pretty new sensation's debut showpiece" if you know what I mean.
Aside from the original Stravinsky recording by the man himself, the best modern interpretation I heard is the ECM Dennis Russel Davies/Stuttgarter Kammerorchester recording.
It's hard to decide which one is better, because there is little I can complain about the performance itself. They are both simply stunning!
but I can say that the ECM release is more clinical and dry, with each performers separated cleanly and it is easy to hear what is individually going on. The drama feels more like a small Jazz club affair, which is excellent. Some people might find it a bit too sharp, dry, empty and "nothing much happening".
This Onyx release with Bashmet and Moscow Soloists feels a bit muddier in the violin region. (lot of artist noises too) headphone listeners might find it annoying, and it is difficult to get the image of the individual performers if you have a poor hifi environment. However, bass end is much more plentiful yet well defined, complimenting the coherency of the whole piece. In all, this Onyx Bashmet recording feels much more orchestral and unified, with a bit of flair and fun along the way. I can just imagine the performers smiling in the recording studio... not a militaristic follow-the-leader team.
The accompanied Concerto in D (also accompanied in the ECM Davies CD mentioned above) is a bit duller, but it's more interesting listen than the Apollo. It is something that you won't be rewarded unless you actually focus on what is happening, but once you get the hang of it, it's just as musical and foot-tapping as the Apollo. The overall recording characteristics is similar case to Apollo. The violins are never harsh but feel a bit lumpy or coherent, whichever way you want to look at it.
I am still not very familiar with the Prokofiev's "20 Visions fugitives" piece yet, so it sounds to me like "20 bits and pieces that ends before developing anywhere".. But I am sure I will come to enjoy it once I listen to it many more times.
Overall, a stunning CD you should buy!"