Friday, February 17, 2017

Line Mar Match Box Construction 040 - Stretcher

I found a Line Mar Match Box Construction Set from the 1930s, complete and with instructions. The box claimed the set made 100 different toys. I decided to test that claim -- one toy at a time. You can read all the posts for the Line Mar construction project at 100 Toys.

040. Stretcher

The stretcher was another simple build. It helped that the dowels that made the handles only just entered the metal piece. That left the short dowels clear to extend into the box and be flush with the top of the "pillow." 

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Reber Piano Trios - Refined Elegance

Napoléon-Henri Reber may be almost unknown today, but in the 1850s he was a well-respected pedagogue and composer (Jules Massenet studied with him at one time). Although he wrote four symphonies, and several comic operas, Reber had an affinity for chamber music, which constitutes the bulk of his catalog.

Three of his seven piano trios are presented in this recording, each one a modest but delightful gem.

Reber's Trio No. 2 in E-flat major from 1840 sounded to me like a successful blend of Haydn's classicism and Schubert's melodiousness. The music beautifully expressive, with a hint of playfulness at times that I found rather appealing.

Trio No. 4 was written 12 years later. There's still some classical restraint. The melodies sound more expansive, with richer harmonic support. I was reminded somewhat of Mendelssohn in places.

The 1876 Trio No. 6 is the most mature in style. Reber's language is more chromatic, more in keeping with the romantic ideal. While I heard echoes of Mendelssohn in the fourth trio, here I seemed to detect traces of Schumann. This work also contained some interesting counterpoint -- not unexpected from a composition professor thoroughly familiar with the technique. And not a note of it sounded learned or academic.

The Trio Élégiaque play with taste and élan, bringing out the essential Gallic nature of Reber's works. These are performances that are both engaging and charming.

This is the second release of Napoléon-Henri Reber trios from the Trio Élégiaque. The first volume covered trios nos. 3, 5, and 7. Only the first trio unrecorded (for now). Based on these performances, I'll be seeking out that first volume, and looking forward to the release of the third.

Napoléon-Henri Reber: Trios 2, 4, and 6
Trio Élégiaque
Timpani 1C1239

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Horacio Gutiérrez plays Chopin and Schumann

Sometimes liner notes can make a difference. In the booklet for this release, Stephen Wigler suggested that Chopin's Op. 28 Preludes might be considered a single cycle comprised of very short works, as opposed to a collection of 24 self-contained preludes.

While they certainly work as the former, the idea that each prelude was part of a larger whole gave me insight into Horacio Gutiérrez's performance. And what a performance!

Gutiérrez, as befitting an artist with such a long career, plays with a comfortable familiarity. Technical difficulties have been mastered long ago -- what's important is the underlying musicality, and that's what Gutiérrez brings to the fore.

Listening to the set as a single continuous work helped me understand some of his interpretive choices. Each prelude seemed to flow logically into the other. The "Raindrops" prelude is slow, but not too slow. It provides a satisfying balance between the allegro of the D-flat minor prelude before it, and the presto con fuoco outburst of the B-flat minor that follows.

The Schumann Fantasie, Op. 17 is played with the same mature sensitivity. It's a beautiful performance that I'll be returning to again and again.

Frederic Chopin: 24 Preludes, Op. 28; Robert Schumann, Fantasie, Op. 17 
Horacio Gutiérrez, piano
Bridge Records 9479