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Tchaikovsky & Sibelius Violin Concertos

Tchaikovsky & Sibelius Violin Concertos


Sibelius:

Violin Concerto in D minor, Op. 47

Tchaikovsky:

Violin Concerto in D major, Op. 35


Read Presto's complete review of this disc here, and Katherine's interview with Lisa Batiashvili here.

Lisa Batiashvili and Staatskapelle Berlin under Daniel Barenboim’s baton present an unforgettable version of Tchaikovsky’ and Sibelius’ violin concertos, two of the most beloved, passionate and demanding pieces for violin and orchestra

This album celebrates a happy and consolidated collaboration of one of the finest violinists of our times with one of the best orchestras of the world and the legendary pianist and conductor Daniel Barenboim

Ten years ago Daniel Barenboim initiated Berlin's open-air "State Opera for All" concert on the historic Bebelplatz. With more than 40,000 spectators each year, it attracts a larger audience than any other classical concert in Germany. In each of the last four years the guest soloist has been Lisa Batiashvili, who on each occasion has performed one of the world's great violin concertos: Beethoven, Brahms, Tchaikovsky in 2015 and in this year Sibelius

"I absolutely love Sibelius' violin concerto. I have the feeling it's really a part of my life and of my musical story, because so many things happened around this concerto in my life. The first most important was the final of the Sibelius Competition in 1995 where I performed this concerto for the first time with the orchestra." – Lisa Batiashvili

As the youngest-ever participant of the Sibelius Competition, Lisa immediately managed to win the second prize – a jump-start to a lightning career

As Lisa recalls, her musical partnership with Daniel Barenboim started over the phone: "Barenboim heard me for the first time during a television broadcast of the Sibelius Concerto with the Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra. Shortly afterwards he rang me up to congratulate me and ask me if we could perform the piece together."

"I feel that this time with Barenboim and Staatskapelle Berlin, we brought a lot of new insights to it in some ways, even though the ground feeling for me for the piece will always stay the same." – Lisa Batiashvili This version of the Sibelius Concerto brings back a fresh approach to the famous score, by being as true and faithful to the score as possible, and by avoiding all the known and repeated traditional playing conventions and habits.

This album is the first ever recording of Tchaikovsky's famous and romantic violin concerto for both, Lisa Batiashvili and Daniel Barenboim. "It was a big surprise to me to hear that he had never recorded Tchaikovsky and it makes it even more special for me. I have the feeling that we really worked on it very closely, because that was my strongest experience with that piece – just to work it with him…"

The Guardian stated about Lisa's performance with Daniel Barenboim and Staatskapelle Berlin at the Royal Festival Hall in 2015: "Lisa Batiashvili was the ferocious soloist in Tchaikovsky's Violin Concerto, intense in the first movement, luminous and heartfelt in the second, scintillating in the quickfire finale. It was a faultless performance, enthralling and electrifying."

“These are both unbelievably impressive accounts of two cornerstones of the repertoire, and it's been a delight to listen to them. In a video interview talking about these pieces and this recording, Barenboim describes how Batiashvili's playing is full of emotion whilst avoiding sentimentality, and speaks straight to the heart: I couldn't agree more.” James Longstaffe, Presto Classical, 18th November 2016

“Everything feels ‘in the moment’, a quality of improvisation like music created in the playing of it. Her musicality always comes with an element of surprise...This is concerto-playing of the very highest order...Every familiar phrase somehow manages to sound both authoritative and newly discovered...a delight from start to finish.” Gramophone Magazine, January 2017

Presto Disc of the Week

18th November 2016

Presto Discs of 2016

Winner

GGramophone Magazine

Disc of the Month - January 2017

BBC Music Magazine

Concerto Choice - April 2017

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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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Elgar: Symphony No. 1 in A flat major, Op. 55

Elgar: Symphony No. 1 in A flat major, Op. 55


Daniel Barenboim continues his acclaimed Elgar series with the landmark First Symphony. These new issues mark the first time that indefatigable maestro Barenboim has returned to recording Elgar’s symphonic works since the 1970s.

This recording is the latest step in maestro Barenboim’s Elgarian journey with the Berlin Staatskapelle, following on from well-received performances of Elgar’s Dream of Gerontius, the Cello Concerto (recorded live with Alisa Weilerstein for Decca), and Elgar’s Second Symphony – about which the Guardian wrote: “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…”

This album was recorded live at Berlin’s renowned Philharmonie, with the Berlin Staatskapelle and leading Elgarian record producer Andrew Keener.

Barenboim is a passionate Elgarian, counting The Dream of Gerontius as one of his favourite works. As a young man he worked regularly with Sir John Barbirolli, one of the greatest of all Elgar conductors and who was Jacqueline du Pré’s partner in the classic EMI recording of the Cello Concerto.

Barenboim’s latest Decca release follows his hugely successful Beethoven project of 2012, 2013’s Verdi Requiem, and Elgar’s Second Symphony in 2014.

“In its voicings and especially in its gradations of string tone, the performance seems to fix Elgar’s orchestral writing even more firmly into the context of post-Wagnerian romanticism than before... while the slow movements sometimes acquire a Brucknerian spaciousness.” The Guardian, 23rd March 2016 *****

“Barenboim’s long association with, and love for, Elgar has effectively made it part of his musical DNA...And because he is a master he has somehow communicated all of that, both in practical and spiritual terms, to an orchestra for whom it is relatively unfamiliar. That is the really startling achievement here and it manifests itself in playing that is as exciting as it is nuanced.” Gramophone Magazine, May 2016

“Barenboim sets subtly different tempos for passages that often run directly on from each other, but he also pushes round corners at which other conductors linger…the Staatskapelle Berlin sustain it convincingly. The detail is always audible, even through the flowing full orchestra…Barenboim has certainly made this symphony his own” BBC Music Magazine, July 2016 *****

GGramophone Awards 2016

Finalist - Orchestral

GGramophone Magazine

Disc of the Month - May 2016

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Beethoven: Piano Concertos

Beethoven: Piano Concertos

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


Beethoven:

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.

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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


Brahms:

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”.

“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 ***

“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 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 ***

“[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

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Bruckner: The Mature Symphonies (Symphony No. 9)

Bruckner: The Mature Symphonies (Symphony No. 9)


Bruckner:

Symphony No. 9 in D Minor


“This music is more serious and more significant than one had thought”, the Berliner Zeitung summarized in its review of Daniel Barenboim’s celebrated Bruckner cycle with the Staatskapelle Berlin. Bruckner’s unfinished Symphony No. 9 brought to an end, in a poignant manner, the work of one of the greatest symphonic composers of the Classic‐Romantic era. Once more the essential elements of Bruckner’s symphonic style are present; the technical standard, the intensity of sound, and the enormous richness of expression are in this singular work brought to an unsurpassed niveau.

Picture Format Blu‐ray: NTSC 16:9, Full HD

Sound Formats Blu‐ray: DTS HD Master Audio, PCM Stereo

Region Code: 0 (worldwide)

Running Time: 65:59 min

Disc Format: BD 25

“The performance is grand without being portentous, impassioned but never febrile, and is distinguished by a poised musicianship in the finest classical tradition. The DVD filming, like the playing, is devoid of tricksy effects.” Financial Times, 18th April 2015 ****

BBC Music Magazine

Orchestral Choice - April 2015

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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

Finalist

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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.

STEREO: PCM / SURROUND: DTS 5.1

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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