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Disc reviews

Composer Bernard Herrmann Showcases His Range On PostClassical Ensemble

Disc review published on May 04, 2021 in NPR's Fresh Air

In reference to Bernard Herrmann (1911–1975): Whitman – Souvenirs de voyage – Psycho: A Narrative for String Orchestra

Herrmann composed some of the best-known film music ever written — especially the scores he wrote for Alfred Hitchcock. Now a new CD shows another side of Herrmann that’s equally memorable […] The variety of music on this CD –colorful, romantic, witty, patriotic, nerve-wracking– shows how much Bernard Herrmann’s concert and radio music equaled the astonishing range of his work for film.

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HERRMANN: Whitman. Souvenirs de Voyage. Psycho

Disc review published on December 01, 2020 in Scherzo in Spanish

In reference to Bernard Herrmann (1911–1975): Whitman – Souvenirs de voyage – Psycho: A Narrative for String Orchestra

Each new album by PostClasical Ensemble and its director, Ángel Gil-Ordóñez, is both a surprise and a discovery. The deserved result of investigating beyond the predictable. And this new album of his is not an exception in his line, but the joyous confirmation of it.

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Vocal discoveries and rediscoveries

Disc review published on November 12, 2020 in Infodad.com

In reference to Bernard Herrmann (1911–1975): Whitman – Souvenirs de voyage – Psycho: A Narrative for String Orchestra

The disc as a whole showcases not only Herrmann’s compositional skill but also the ability of Gil-Ordóñez and PostClassical Ensemble repeatedly to bring neglected material to life, or rather back to life.

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Herrmann. Whitman. Psycho

Disc review published on November 01, 2020 in Gramophone

In reference to Bernard Herrmann (1911–1975): Whitman – Souvenirs de voyage – Psycho: A Narrative for String Orchestra

Like many successful Hollywood composers, Bernard Herrmann pursued musical endeavours beyond (in his time) the celluloid. Studies at Juilliard were followed by conducting posts with the New Chamber Orchestra of New York and the CBS Symphony Orchestra, with which he championed music by major figures of the day, including Ives, even as he wrote music for radio programmes and composed concert works and, eventually, movie scores. Herrmann’s versatility in three genres – radio, chamber music and film – is captured on this absorbing recording featuring the PostClassical Ensemble, an experimental orchestral laboratory in residence at the Washington National Cathedral.

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Bernard Herrmann: Ein Hörspiel, ein herrliches Quintett und die Psycho-Musik für Streicher

Disc review published on October 27, 2020 in Pizzicato in German

In reference to Bernard Herrmann (1911–1975): Whitman – Souvenirs de voyage – Psycho: A Narrative for String Orchestra

The film composer Bernard Herrmann (1911-1975) also liked to compose radio plays. One such work is Whitman, whose theme is Walt Whitman’s collection of poems Leaves of Grass. Declamatorily well narrated by William Sharp in the role of Whitman, the work is played with great musical sensitivity and fine nuances by the PostClassical Ensemble under the American-Spanish conductor Angel Gil-Ordóñez.

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L'Amour sorcier. Les Tréteaux de Maître Pierre

Disc review published on August 21, 2020 in Avant Scène OPÉRA in French

In reference to Falla: El amor brujo (1915 original version) / El retablo de Maese Pedro

Angel Gil-Ordóñez seems to have stolen Eduard Toldrà’s baton, the tempos rush, the rhythms sharpen, the timbres fuse, making the work what it should be, a whirlwind, and leading in a skillful accelerando the tender or heroic episodes up to the carnage and the loving proclamation of the knight errant.

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Distinctive and Different Falla from Gil-Ordóñez

Disc review published on June 25, 2019 in ClassicsToday.com

In reference to Falla: El amor brujo (1915 original version) / El retablo de Maese Pedro

There have been a couple of recordings of El amor brujo in its original, two-act chamber version of 1915, but this one is as fine as any and just might be the best around. Conductor Angel Gil-Ordóñez chooses ideal tempos, the members of the Perspectives Ensemble play beautifully, and everyone seems genuinely involved in projecting Falla’s characterful instrumental parts with just the right combination of precision and warmth (…) Once again the performance is excellent from all concerned, and both pieces are very well recorded.

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Also out this week

Disc review published on June 06, 2019 in The Guardian

In reference to Falla: El amor brujo (1915 original version) / El retablo de Maese Pedro

Manuel de Falla’s El Amor Brujo is best known nowadays in the form of the one-act ballet pantomime, first performed in 1924. But it began in 1915 as a much less conventional dance piece, involving spoken narrations and a cantaora, a flamenco singer, with an ensemble of just 15 players. Though the Naxos recording from the Perspectives Ensemble under Angel Gil-Ordóñez claims to be of that 1915 version, it actually uses a much larger body of strings than the original. But with Esperanza Fernández as the cantaora, there’s no lack of bite and raw intensity, and paired with an equally pungent account of another of Falla’s utterly original music-theatre pieces, the chamber opera El Retablo de Maese Pedro, it’s a really desirable bargain.

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De Fallas Original

Disc review published on June 05, 2019 in Pizzicato

In reference to Falla: El amor brujo (1915 original version) / El retablo de Maese Pedro

On the one hand, it is slimmer, fresher and more colorful than the revised version, but on the other it is also more sensual. The wonderful flamenco singer Esperanza Fernandez also gives the music a lot of authenticity. Gil-Ordóñez conducts very lively and with great intensity. The small chamber opera El Retablo de Maese Pedro uses an episode from Cervantes’s Don Quixote and is characterized by a very unusual instrumentation. In this recording it gets exquisite colours and a thrilling rhythm. Jennifer Zetlan is outstanding in the role of the little Trujaman, and tenor Jorge Garza as Master Pedro and baritone Alfredo Garcia as Don Quixote are also convincing. The recorded sound is also excellent, so that this is a highly recommendable production.

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(++++) Expressive vocals

Disc review published on May 30, 2019 in Infodad.com

In reference to Falla: El amor brujo (1915 original version) / El retablo de Maese Pedro

Although generally deemed the greatest Spanish composer of the first part of the 20th century, Manuel de Falla remains something of an acquired taste outside his homeland. Really first-rate performances of his music, such as those led by Angel Gil-Ordóñez on a new Naxos CD, help explain why.

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Gil-Ordóñez’ Wonderful de Falla

Disc review published on April 10, 2019 in The Art Music Lounge

In reference to Falla: El amor brujo (1915 original version) / El retablo de Maese Pedro

This performance of El retablo goes straight to the top of my list of preferred versions, and I consider the El amor brujo to be very nearly the equal of Toscanini’s in performance quality and, of course, far superior in sound.

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Los excepcionales del mes de octubre de 2017

Disc review published on October 04, 2017 in Sherzo in Spanish

In reference to Lou Harrison: Violin Concerto / Grand Duo / Double Music

The result of this recording is simply magnificent. Tim Fain and Michael Borinskin are soloists of great class, and Angel Gil-Ordóñez does an extraordinary job at the helm of his PostClassical Ensemble of Washington.

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Harrison: Concierto para violín / Grand Duo / Double Music

Disc review published on October 01, 2017 in Ritmo.es in Spanish

In reference to Lou Harrison: Violin Concerto / Grand Duo / Double Music

The performances are irreproachable, which make this recording the best introduction ever registered to the work of Harrison.

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Lou Harrison zum 100. Geburtstag

Disc review published on May 19, 2017 in Pizzicato in German

In reference to Lou Harrison: Violin Concerto / Grand Duo / Double Music

Three intriguingly special works, extremely well served by the performers. The recording is altogether first class and one superb homage to Lou Harrison for his 100th birthday.

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Lou Harrison: Violin Concerto review – brilliant, utterly contemporary writing

Disc review published on May 04, 2017 in The Guardian

In reference to Lou Harrison: Violin Concerto / Grand Duo / Double Music

Lou Harrison had a pioneer’s imagination, not least regarding what might be walloped in the name of music – his Violin Concerto calls for flowerpots, plumber’s pipes and clock coils in the percussion. What’s more striking in this performance by Tim Fain, the PostClassical Ensemble and conductor Angel Gil-Ordóñez is the brilliance of his writing for violin, a collision between itchy dance rhythms and soaring lyricism.

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(++++) Concertos and more

Disc review published on May 04, 2017 in Infodad.com

In reference to Lou Harrison: Violin Concerto / Grand Duo / Double Music

Tim Fain plays the work skillfully, and Angel Gil-Ordóñez leads it with his usual flair and sure understanding of music that does not necessarily lend itself to ready comprehension… Gil-Ordóñez brings both knowledge and a sure hand in sound shaping to the performance.

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Music for the Lou Harrison Centennial

Disc review published on April 15, 2017 in Stereophile

In reference to Lou Harrison: Violin Concerto / Grand Duo / Double Music

Harrison wrote the first two movements of Concerto for Violin and Percussion in 1940, and revised them when he created the final movement in 1959. Astoundingly modern, it combines a wild battery of percussion with extremely challenging writing for the violin. Amidst its unbounded inventiveness and jollities, Grand Duo also reflects the gravity with which Harrison viewed the world. A proponent of boundary-less societies, he condemned war and violence, and promoted Esperanto as a universal language.

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Review of Lou Harrison: Violin Concerto / Grand Duo / Double Music

Disc review published on April 15, 2017 in David's Review Corner / Naxos

In reference to Lou Harrison: Violin Concerto / Grand Duo / Double Music

To my innocent ears, the performances from hugely regarded musicians are certainly idiomatic, the violinist, Tim Fain, as a persuasive advocate of the Concerto and Grand Duo. Recordings are derived from 2016 sessions. Harrison wrote the first two movements of Concerto for Violin and Percussion in 1940, and revised them when he created the final movement in 1959. Astoundingly modern, it combines a wild battery of percussion with extremely challenging writing for the violin.

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Redes – The classic 1935 Mexican film with a score by Silvestre Revueltas

Disc review published on September 01, 2016 in ClassicalCDReview.com

In reference to Silvestre Revueltas: Redes (DVD)

The magnificent score is by Silvestre Revueltas. For this release the entire score is heard in a superb digital recording with the PostClassical Ensemble conducted by Angel Gil-Ordóñez, recorded in May 2014 at the University of Maryland, College Park.

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Gil-Ordóñez, atrapado por las ‘Redes’

Disc review published on August 16, 2016 in El País in Spanish

In reference to Silvestre Revueltas: Redes (DVD)

Angel Gil-Ordóñez and Joseph Horowitz have long been dedicated to rescuing the lost memory of art, works that are not worth losing in amnesia. Gil-Ordóñez is a professor, musician and conductor of the Georgetown University orchestra; Horowitz is a musicologist. Both have now endeavored to remove from oblivion the historic Mexican film Redes, codirected in 1936 by Fred Zinnemann and Emilio Gómez Muriel, with cinematography by Paul Strand. The film chronicles the harsh working conditions of a fishing village in Michoacan in post-revolutionary Mexico.

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