Natalie Clein, whose previous recording of the music of Ernest Bloch was described as ‘inspired’ by The Sunday Times, turns to his three suites for solo cello as part of a recital of works written in the aftermath of the Second World War. The sombre voice of the cello seems especially apposite in music of such deep seriousness, Ligeti’s short sonata providing an energetic and life-affirming finale.
The music from the Baltic region in the latter half of the 17th century is characterized by fearless innovation and bubbling creativity. Here, a glimpse into the sacred solo-cantata and chamber music of this period is presented by bass-baritone Jakob Bloch Jespersen and Concerto Copenhagen under the direction of Lars Ulrik Mortensen.
Ernest Bloch's major works for violin and piano may compel respect, but they might not inspire love or give much pleasure. The violent, unstable Violin Sonata No. 1 (1920) is a bracing expression of the turbulence of World War I, and Bloch pushes the music's tension to incredible lengths over the work's 30 minutes. One may appreciate the sincerity of Bloch's expression and the effort he put in this wrenching work, but still not find it enjoyable or moving for its severity and frequent ugliness.
A very light but very lovely disc of mid-twentieth century violin concertos, this 1996 recording by Joshua Bell with David Zinman directing the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra coupling the concertos of Samuel Barber and William Walton along with Baal Shem, the concerto-in-all-but-in-name by Ernest Bloch, may be for younger listeners a first choice among digital recordings.
Swiss-American composer Ernest Bloch is best known for his works on Jewish themes and subjects – Baal Shem, Schelomo, the Israel Symphony – but the majority of his works are abstract, if heavily accented music written in the standard late nineteenth century central European harmonies and forms. This 2007 Hyperion disc features two large-scale chamber works by Bloch, his three-movement piano quintets from 1923 and 1957, plus three shorter pieces for string quartet alone: Night and Paysages (Landscapes) both from 1923 and Two Pieces from 1938 and 1950.
This Swiss Cascavelle disc most adroitly presents the world premiere recording of the orchestral poem Helvetia alongside two less obscure works for viola and orchestra. A highly attractive release, well designed and documented. Enthusiasts of Bloch, the viola and the mountain heights must not miss this.
Cellist Ophélie Gaillard embraces diversity and empathy in this rich, cinematic album of world music. She rides Korngold’s volcanic, rollercoaster melodies into expressive excellence in the “Concerto in One Movement for Cello and Orchestra,” while her reading of Bloch’s “From Jewish Life” bears a beautiful sadness that feels transcendental.