Staatskapelle Berlin


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Wagner: Parsifal

Wagner: Parsifal

Andreas Schager (Parsifal), Anja Kampe (Kundry), Wolfgang Koch (Amfortas), René Pape (Gurnemanz), Tomas Tómasson (Klingsor), Matthias Hölle (Titurel)

Staatskapelle Berlin, Staatsopernchor, Konzertchor der Staatsoper, Daniel Barenboim & Dmitri Tcherniakov (director)

Wagner’s final opera is a medieval epic story marked by Christian, Buddhist and esoteric references. It is about redemption and renewal, but this new production by Russian director Dmitri Tcherniakov adds a jarring note: revenge.

“Musically it’s first-class…the casting is pretty much ideal and all deliver superbly. Kampe proves with her gleaming high notes that this role needs a soprano…[Schager] has both weight and lyricism. Pape now colours more committedly than in previous recordings of the role; Koch and Tómasson also do very well” Gramophone Magazine, October 2016

“A fresh take on the opera that will challenge and provoke you.” MusicWeb International, October 2016

“Tcherniakov has established himself as one of our most important directors of opera, and this foray into Wagner shows why, with its mix of respect for the drama and its traditions, and its innovative ideas...A must for anyone with Wagnerian inclinations.” New York Times, 24th November 2016

“Daniel Barenboim’s conducting - patient, serious and drawing beautiful playing from the Staatskapelle - is a good match for Tcherniakov’s concentrated, melancholy vision of the work. It’s beautifully shot, too.” Opera, February 2017

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Mahler: Symphony No. 9

Mahler: Symphony No. 9

Berlin Philharmonie, 2010

Gustav Mahler’s colossal Ninth Symphony, the culmination of the Austrian composer’s achievements, in a landmark live performance from the Berliner Philharmonie. This concert formed part of The Mahler Project: Daniel Barenboim and Pierre Boulez, two friends and very different world-class conductors, tackling all nine completed symphonies of Mahler with the Staatskapelle Berlin. Before embarking on this journey Barenboim and Boulez entered into a long period of reflection and discussion. For the accompanying documentary, director Christoph Engel compiled a rich selection of statements, conversations and musical excerpts by both conductors that provides a guide to the world of Mahler’s towering symphonies.

BONUS: THE MAHLER PROJECT - Daniel Barenboim and Pierre Boulez working on the symphonies of Gustav Mahler.

Running Time Total: 101 mins

Concert: 79 mins / Bonus: 22 mins

Picture 16:9, HD

Sound DVD: DTS 5.1, PCM Stereo

Subtitles Bonus: English, German

“An impulsive first movement with forensic attention to the grim reapers of the wind section…and a series of scarifying climaxes, the last and biggest of which is truly a ride to the abyss…[this] reading is the more radical for its ‘life is too short’ urgency. The playing is predictably superb” Gramophone Magazine, Awards Issue 2016

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C Major - 750408

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Beethoven: Piano Concertos

Beethoven: Piano Concertos

Pre-War and Wartime 78-rpm recordings 1925–1942


Piano Concerto No. 1 in C Major, Op. 15

Recorded in September 1925 (Polydor 69815/8)

Berlin State Opera Orchestra

Bagatelle in C Major, Op. 33, No. 5

Recorded in 1920? [Kempff’s 1st recording] (Polydor 62400)

Ecossaises (6) in E flat major, WoO 83

Recorded in 1920? (Polydor 62400)

Piano Concerto No. 3 in C minor, Op. 37

Recorded on 11 June 1942 (Polydor 67946/50)

Dresden Philharmonic Orchestra, Paul Van Kempen

Piano Concerto No. 4 in G major, Op. 58

Recorded on 19 March 1940 (Polydor 67674/8)

German Opera House Orchestra, Berlin, Paul Van Kempen

Piano Concerto No. 5 in E flat major, Op. 73 'Emperor'

Recorded on 6 January 1936 (Polydor 67082/6)

Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra, Peter Raabe

Rondo a capriccio in G major, Op. 129 ‘Rage over a lost penny'

Recorded on 24 September 1937 (Polydor 62802)

Wilhelm Kempff had such a long life, and recorded so prolifically in the LP era, that we tend to forget that he began his recording career in 1920 in the acoustic period, and recorded much of Beethoven’s piano output, including four of the five concertos, on 78s.

This set is a companion to the recently issued set of late sonatas (APR6018) and includes what was the first ever recording of Beethoven’s First Piano Concerto – a late acoustic recording from 1925 which shows the young Kempff was much more sprightly in this work than he later became. In spite of the primitive recording, the energy of the outer movements and the poetry of the slow movement are not compromised. Concertos 3 to 5, in better sound and featuring the greatest German orchestras of the period, reflect ‘state of the art’ Beethoven interpretation at this time and are a worthy alternative, if less well known, to the Schnabel cycle.

The set is filled out with the first ever CD issue of Kempff’s first recording, of a Beethoven Bagatelle and Eccossaises, and a wonderfully extrovert performance of the ‘Rage over a lost penny’ Rondo.

APR - APR6019

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Mozart: Le nozze di Figaro, K492

Mozart: Le nozze di Figaro, K492

Recorded live at the Staatsoper Unter den Linden, Berlin, 1999

René Pape (Figaro), Dorothea Röschmann (Susanna), Emily Magee (Countess Almaviva), Roman Trekel (Count Almaviva) & Peter Schreier (Basilio)

Staatskapelle Berlin & Staatsopernchor, Daniel Barenboim (conductor) & Thomas Langhoff (stage director)

Special new release of the first official Arthaus Musik Production from the original HD material.

This memorable recording from the Staatsoper Unter den Linden in Berlin was Arthaus Musik’s first official release in 2000. It features one of the most popular Mozart operas, Le Nozze di Figaro (the Marriage of Figaro), a witty satire on the authority of the reigning noble class and infidelity in love relationships. Starring a great cast of singers with Dorothea Röschmann, René Pape, Emily Magee and Peter Schreier – to name but a few – this performance is conducted by Daniel Barenboim, chief conductor of the Berlin State Orchestra since 1992, named conductor for life by the orchestra in 2000.

The specialized press and the public cheered this production of Le Nozze di Figaro at the Mozart Festival of the Staatsoper Unter den Linden in Berlin as a veritable “festival of voices“ and a “complete success”.

Sound Format: PCM Stereo, dts-HD Master Audio 5.1

Picture Format: 16:9

Subtitles: IT (Original Language), GB, DE, FR, ES, JP, Korean

Blu-ray Disc 50 GB (Dual Layer)

Resolution: 1080i High Definition (Upscale)

Running Time: 191 mins

FSK: 0

Region: worldwide

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Brahms: The Piano Concertos

Brahms: The Piano Concertos


Piano Concerto No. 1 in D minor, Op. 15

Piano Concerto No. 2 in B flat major, Op. 83

This album was recorded live at the Berliner Philharmonie in September 2014 with high critical acclaim of the performances. Not only the common South American roots of both artists but also the precise and energetic playing of Barenboim and the “volcanic” temperament of Dudamel make them a “Dream couple”.

Barenboim himself has a very high opinion of Dudamel which he expressed after one of the concerts: “Whenever I had to play myself, I was able to count on him completely. And when I didn’t have to play, it was a joy to see how well he works with the orchestra. I’m well placed to make this observation as I’ve been playing these concertos since 1958.”

After his successful album together with Yuja Wang, this is Dudamel’s second recording as conductor with a soloist.

The second Piano Concerto with its four movements is one of the longest and most demanding concertos ever written and the final Allegretto grazioso features one of the most carefree movements that Brahms ever wrote and which is also notable – in Alfred Brendel’s words – for its “unsurpassable pianistic perversions”.

“[these accounts] capture on the wing a vibrant partnership between grand maestro at the piano and young lion on the podium…occasional moments of unexpected magic flair up, such as the vibrant exchange between piano and cellos in the second movement of [the Second Concerto], and I defy anyone to breathe during its slow movement in the minutes before the return of the cello solo (whose player, incidentally, deserves a credit, but doesn't get one).” BBC Music Magazine, November 2015

“Like all great Brahms interpreters, Barenboim gives the music space…[the Berlin Staatskapelle] produces a Brahms sound of rare depth and beauty under the direction of Barenboim's chosen collaborator Gustavo Dudamel. Some of the quiet playing has to be heard to be believed.” Gramophone Magazine, September 2015

“The second concerto is the more convincing; the first in D minor never really recovers from Dudamel’s leaden treatment of the opening tutti...The B flat concerto has its moments of self-conscious point-making too, but the sense of sweep and wholeness about the performance generally overrides them, and the searching account of the slow movement shows Barenboim and his orchestra at their best.” The Guardian, 13th August 2015 ***

“The sheer grandeur and character of the interpretations is breathtaking...Barenboim clearly still has volcanic power in his fingers, but also the ability to soliloquise poetically and hauntingly in quieter passages. The Staatskapelle players match that with some beautiful sounds...On the other hand, there’s a crushing heaviness at times.” The Times, 28th August 2015 ***

DG - 4794899

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Strauss: Four Last Songs

Strauss: Four Last Songs

Deluxe Hard cover book version

Strauss, R:

Vier letzte Lieder

Anna Netrebko (soprano)

Ein Heldenleben, Op. 40

Read Presto's complete review of this disc here.

• Saving the best for last in the Richard Strauss anniversary 2014. The world’s most luxurious soprano, Anna Netrebko, sings Richard Strauss’ sumptuous Four Last Songs, accompanied by the Staatskapelle Berlin and Daniel Barenboim. An irresistible, all-star combination.

• Netrebko is a phenomenon. The world’s best-selling active soprano and quite simply, the undisputed superstar – “la prima donna assoluta" (New York Post) – of opera today. Known equally for her poise, her sensuality and her voice’s unmistakable color, Strauss’s elegiac Four Last Songs are an exquisite vehicle for her expressive gifts: Netrebko’s first recording of these gorgeous, iconic songs.

• Barenboim: conductor, pianist, humanitarian - perhaps the world’s most complete living musician. A venerated interpreter of Wagner, Mozart, Beethoven and Bruckner, in many ways the music of Richard Strauss represents the apotheosis of Barenboim’s musical ethos. In 1954, the then 11 year-old Barenboim was introduced to his idol, conductor Wilhelm Furtwängler. It was Furtwängler who conducted the world premiere of Strauss’ Four Last Songs in 1949

• The Staatskapelle Berlin, one of Germany’s oldest and most prestigious orchestras boasts a proud Strauss tradition including great performances and recording under the composer himself, as well as under great Straussians Felix Weingartner, Leo Blech, Erich Kleiber, Wilhelm Furtwängler, Otto Klemperer, Clemens Krauss, Hans Knappertsbusch, Joseph Keilberth, Ottmar Suitner and Daniel Barenboim.

• The Staatskapelle and Barenboim then interpret Ein Heldenleben, one of the most vivid and popular tone poems by Strauss, who himself was Generalmusikdirektor of the Staatskapelle a century ago.

“She brings a suitably dusky, veiled tone to the entire cycle, with plenty of colour and presence in the middle and lower reaches of the voice...she doesn’t go in for the very detailed word-painting of some earlier recordings, but her broader approach to text comes with its own pay-offs: the mood of each phrase is exquisitely judged, and everything feels fresh and spontaneous rather than micro-managed.” Presto Classical, 24th November 2014

“Netrebko sings with an opulence of voice and colour that doubters should be silenced.” Financial Times, 5th December 2014 ****

“[Barenboim's] performance revels in the colours that this fabulous orchestra draws from the score...Barenboim’s account doesn’t swagger as much as some, favouring Wagnerian weightiness instead. It’s the orchestral playing the solo horn and violin especially – that’s the real treat in the Four Last Songs, too.” The Guardian, 18th December 2014 ***

“[Netrebko] radiates a gorgeous tone, beautifully calibrated in mood and inflection...Barenboim [is] thoroughly at one in finding the music's natural contours and the significant points of instrumental detail...he directs a dramatic but reasoned interpretation [of Ein Heldenleben], by no means grandstanding or overinflated but following the musical narrative with clear ideas” Gramophone Magazine, January 2015

“hers is a potentially magnificent instrument imperfectly wielded...One or two odd vowel sounds apart, the German isn't bad...Near-miraculous engineering gives us phenomenal details...but also overblows Daniel Barenboim's most emphatic moments.” BBC Music Magazine, February 2015 **

Presto Discs of 2014


DG - 4793964



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Verdi: Il Trovatore

Verdi: Il Trovatore

Anna Netrebko (Leonora), Gaston Rivero (Manrico), Plácido Domingo (Il Conte di Luna), Marina Prudenskaya (Azucena), Adrian Sampetrean (Ferrando), Anna Lapkovskaja (Ines)

Staatskapelle Berlin, Daniel Barenboim

Filmed live in Berlin, Anna Netrebko and Plácido Domingo star in one of Verdi’s greatest operas, under the baton of Daniel Barenboim.

Il Trovatore is without question one of Verdi’s most dramatic masterpieces – as well as one of his most melodic and including the irresistible ‘Anvil Chorus’ and the tenor showstopper ‘Di quella pira’.

Anna Netrebko makes her debut as Leonora, triumphing in a uniquely demanding role for a Verdi soprano and one she will sing again at the 2014 Salzburg Festival.

Adored for his legendary performances in the title role, Plácido Domingo here sings the baritone role of the troubador’s arch-rival, the aristocratic Count di Luna.

Celebrated film-maker Philipp Stölzl, well-known for his groundbreaking video collaborations with Rammstein and Madonna, directs his first Verdi opera, creating an extraordinarily powerful visual and visceral theatrical experience, unlike any other production of the opera.

The roles of the troubadour and the gypsy Azucena are taken by Uruguayan tenor Gaston Rivero and Russian mezzo-soprano Marina Prudenskaya.


Picture Format: 16:9 / NTSC

Filmed live in High Definition

Subtitles: Italian, English/German/French/Spanish/Chinese/Korean

“Netrebko gives a completely authoritative performance. Although her shaping of Verdi's vocal lines is not especially individual, she has voice to spare and nothing sounds beyond her...[Domingo] sounds rather tired at the start but his still majestic tenor-baritone, boosted by an undimmed ability to command the stage, comes good by the end.” Gramophone Magazine, November 2014

“Netrebko’s intense Leonora, Marina Prudenskaya as a fabulous, freaked-out Azucena and a sturdy and stylish Manrico from Gaston Rivero generate really throat-gripping drama and eventually unbearable pathos. Any Trovatore staging simply needs to frame and enable the music, and this one does that.” Opera Now ****

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DG Unitel - 0735132

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Elgar: Symphony No. 2 in E flat major, Op. 63

Elgar: Symphony No. 2 in E flat major, Op. 63

Following his critically-acclaimed Elgar Cello Concerto recording with Alisa Weilerstein, Barenboim turns to the symphonies. The Second Symphony is released first, in a 2013 recording with the Staatskapelle Berlin. The First Symphony will follow in 2015.

“To hear an orchestra with such a distinctive central European sound playing Elgar, and relating his music so securely to the wider late-romantic tradition, is one of the disc’s great pleasures.” Andrew Clements, The Guardian (of the Cello Concerto recording)

“Barenboim and the musicians plunge into the Second’s ardours and wistful ways as if to the manner born. We quickly realise we’re not listening to a British orchestra: the timbre of the horns alone transports us far from Elgar’s Malvern hills. Yet the central European sounds only help to link the symphony with the European traditions that nurtured Elgar’s art.” The Times, 9th May 2014 ****

“This is a superb, in fact I feel justified in calling it a great, Elgar Two. It's difficult to know where to start in listings its excellences...But one must start and finish with Barenboim's interpretation...this is a marvellously full-blooded reading of the Symphony, full of drama and passion...This must be one of the finest performances currently on offer.” BBC Music Magazine, June 2014 *****

“The surging, unquenchable energy of this account is obvious from the opening bars, which are borne on an irresistible flood of sound from the Berlin Staatskapelle...Every department of this fabulous orchestra seems to make a telling contribution to this performance at some point or other, and it's as much a triumph for the Staatskapelle as it is for its conductor” The Guardian, 22nd May 2014 *****

“The gorgeous, silken string playing is something exceptional for Elgarians, but there is also plenty of Edwardian swagger in the brilliant rondo and majestic finale. A glorious disc” Sunday Times, 29th June 2014

Building a Library

First Choice - March 2015

Decca - 4786677



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Schubert: Lazarus, D689

Schubert: Lazarus, D689

Carola Nossek, Ingeborg Springer, Eberhard Buchner

Berliner Singakademie, Staatskapelle Berlin, Dietrich Knothe

Schubert’s oratorio Lazarus is unfinished (part of the 2nd and the complete 3rd act are missing), and that may account for its relative obscurity. A great shame, as Lazarus is one of Schubert’s most original and forward looking dramatic works. It contains music of great beauty and power, its structure highly innovative, as it is one continuous dramatic development without the distinction between recitative and aria.

A most welcome reissue from the Berlin Classics catalogue of this neglected masterwork, featuring a superb all German cast, with the great Eberhard Büchner and Ingeborg Springer. The famous Berliner Singakademie and the Staatskapelle Berlin are conducted by choral specialist Dietrich Knothe.

Booklet contains extensive liner notes on the composer and his music.

“There's fascinating writing in Schubert's unfinished sacred drama, and Knothe's recording has aged well. The orchestral performance is excellent, the singing less so.” BBC Music Magazine, February 2014 ****

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Brilliant Classics - 94704


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Elgar & Carter: Cello Concertos

Elgar & Carter: Cello Concertos


Kol Nidrei, Op. 47

Carter, E:

Cello Concerto


Cello Concerto in E minor, Op. 85

The much-anticipated album from a brilliant young American cellist marks one of the most exciting Decca Classics debuts in many years.

The conductor Daniel Barenboim has been a fervent supporter of Alisa Weilerstein’s extraordinary talent since he accompanied her in Elgar’s Concerto as part of the 2010 Europa Concert in Oxford, broadcast on TV across Europe. Together, they have made a recording of searing intensity.

Elgar’s Concerto is paired with a contemporary masterpiece by the doyen of American composers, the late Elliott Carter, who passed away on November the 5th at the age of 103, whose work has often been championed by Barenboim.

Read Presto's complete review of this disc here.

“Weilerstein avoids nostalgia [in the Elgar] and produces instead an account that is full of passion, grief and nobility of feeling...Her interpretation [of the Carter], at once remarkably expressive and a continuous display of headlong, high-pressure virtuosity, seems to me to outrank the existing recorded versions...a thoughtfully-constructed and thought-provoking programme.” BBC Music Magazine, February 2013 *****

“Her Elgar is not as wayward as du Pre...but it's still remarkably impressive...[in the Carter] Weilerstein, who starts on her own, as in the Elgar, brings the same immaculate tonal control to bear...Kol Nidrei is a fine vehicle for Weilerstein's gorgeous tone.” Gramophone Magazine, February 2013

“within the first seconds [of the Elgar], we know that Weilerstein speaks with her own voice. The muscular bowing, the sound’s depth and warmth in the opening bars: you couldn’t ask for a more characterful beginning...[The Carter] might seem as removed from Elgar as the man in the moon. Not so...with Weilerstein giving her heart and soul to Carter’s constantly evolving filigree line we’re always aware of the concerto’s singing voice.” The Times, 1st February 2013 ****

“To hear an orchestra with such a distinctive central European sound playing Elgar, and relating his music so securely to the wider late-romantic tradition, is one of the disc's great pleasures. Weilerstein's approach is impressively bold and big-boned, even if she seems – for now – more comfortable with the concerto's rhetoric than its intimacy” The Guardian, 14th February 2013 ****

“This is a precious disc, and certainly not in the pejorative sense. Weilerstein plays with robust vigour, but a heart-stopping moulding of phrase. She brings to the Elgar concerto... a portamento beautifully judged and asserted in a brand-new, old-fashioned way (no contradiction!).” Sunday Times, 17th February 2013

“Very ably accompanied, it is very much Weilerstein’s ascendant star which will sell this performance [of the Elgar] to you...[the Carter] is indeed a work which demands focus to appreciate, but the flow of the music has its own sense of inevitability and architectural logic, and there are plenty of magical moments to prickle the senses.” MusicWeb International, 29th April 2013

“Technically Weilerstein is flawless throughout...what a fine work [the Carter] is! Carter’s ear for sonorities and harmonies is endlessly inventive, but what surprised me was how lyrical the work is: he really enables Weilerstein to show off the cello’s capacity for beautiful, elegiac phrases.” James Longstaffe, Presto Classical, 4th February 2-13

Presto Disc of the Week

4th February 2013

GGramophone Magazine

Editor's Choice - February 2013

BBC Music Magazine

Disc of the month - February 2013

BBC Music Magazine Awards 2014

Recording of the Year & Concerto Award Winner

Decca - 4782735



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