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Bloch: Four Episodes, Suite Modale, Etc / Gandelsman, Et Al


Release Date: 07/31/2007 
Label:  Naxos   Catalog #: 8570259   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Ernest Bloch
Performer:  Yuri GandelsmanNoam Buchman
Conductor:  Dalia Atlas
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Israel Philharmonic Orchestra membersSlovak Radio Symphony OrchestraAtlas Camerata
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 0 Hours 52 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

Why so much of Ernest Bloch's music hovers on the fringes of the repertoire remains a mystery. So much of it is excellent: the string quartets rival Bartók's in their intensity and imaginative use of color; his single opera, Macbeth, is magnificent; the orchestral works naturally vary somewhat in quality, but most are marvelous. The less-well-known masterpieces include the Violin Concerto, the Viola Suite, the Concerto symphonique for piano and orchestra, and among the smaller pieces, the Four Episodes for Chamber Orchestra. This brief, unpromisingly named work contains a whole world of expression packed into a very small space.

Bloch is of course best known for his "Jewish" works, but there are many
Read more different threads running through his music, including a fascination with things Chinese. You can hear this in the finale of the Viola Suite, and perhaps most potently as the finale of the Four Episodes. Scored for piano, wind quintet, and strings, the performance here is wonderfully colorful and alive. Hiver-Printemps is one of Bloch's earliest pieces, a pair of short tone poems that does exactly what the titles say: offer musical portraits of winter, and then spring. The style is impressionist, the scoring pellucidly lovely.

Both the Concertino for flute and viola and the Suite Modale for flute and strings belong to the very end of Bloch's life. While his compositional orbit encompassed everything up to and including atonality, it is probably here in these sweetly modal creations that his personal voice sounds most distinctively. After all, both the Jewish and Chinese currents join in their various modal inflections, and so it would be correct to regard these late pieces as the distilled essence of Bloch's style. As always with his music, even when the works are brief or modest in scale, they remain big of heart.

Dalia Atlas, who is slowly working her way through Bloch's orchestral music for Naxos, leads beautifully idiomatic performances of all four works. Noam Buchman is the excellent flute soloist in both the Concertino and the Suite, and Atlas has the various large and small ensembles at her disposal playing in fine form. The sonics, given the various recording dates and venues, are surprisingly consistent and always very good. This is one of those discs that, by virtue of its unfamiliar repertoire, might easily be overlooked, but don't make that mistake. You'd be missing excellent performances of very high-quality, enjoyable music.

--David Hurwitz, ClassicsToday.com
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Works on This Recording

1.
Episodes (4) for Chamber Orchestra by Ernest Bloch
Conductor:  Dalia Atlas
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Israel Philharmonic Orchestra members
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1926; USA 
Date of Recording: 10/31/2005 
Venue:  Music Center, Tel Aviv-Yafo, Israel 
Length: 15 Minutes 6 Secs. 
2.
Hiver-Printemps by Ernest Bloch
Conductor:  Dalia Atlas
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Slovak Radio Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1904-1905; Paris, France 
Venue:  Concert Hall, Slovak Radio, Bratislava, 
Length: 13 Minutes 59 Secs. 
Notes: Concert Hall, Slovak Radio, Bratislava, Slovak Republic (06/28/2006 - 06/29/2006) 
3.
Concertino for Flute, Viola and Strings by Ernest Bloch
Performer:  Yuri Gandelsman (Viola), Noam Buchman (Flute)
Conductor:  Dalia Atlas
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Atlas Camerata
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1950; USA 
Date of Recording: 10/31/2001 
Venue:  Bloch Concert Hall, Haifa, Israel 
Length: 9 Minutes 20 Secs. 
4.
Suite modale by Ernest Bloch
Performer:  Noam Buchman (Flute)
Conductor:  Dalia Atlas
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Atlas Camerata
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1956; USA 
Date of Recording: 10/31/2001 
Venue:  Bloch Concert Hall, Haifa, Israel 
Length: 14 Minutes 4 Secs. 

Sound Samples

4 Episodes: No. 1. Humoresque macabre
4 Episodes: No. 2. Obsession
4 Episodes: No. 3. Calm
4 Episodes: No. 4. Chinese
2 Last Poems: No. 1. Hiver
2 Last Poems: No. 2. Printemps
Concertino for Flute and Viola: I. Allegro comodo
Concertino for Flute and Viola: II. Andante
Concertino for Flute and Viola: III. Allegro
Suite modale: I. Moderato
Suite modale: II. L'istesso tempo
Suite modale: III. Allegro giocoso
Suite modale: IV. Adagio - Allegro deciso

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