Sakari Oramo

Conductor

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Distant Light

Distant Light


Barber:

Knoxville: Summer of 1915, Op. 24

Bjork:

Virus

Joga

All is Full of Love

arr. Hans Ek

Hillborg:

The Strand Settings

world premiere recording


Read Katherine's exclusive interview with Renée Fleming about the recording here.

‘Distant Light’ is Renée Fleming’s first foray into the hypnotic world of Scandinavian music. For her first new studio album in three years she has chosen to inspire and provoke with a daring mix of music.

The title comes from a poem in a new song cycle dedicated to Renée and here receiving its world premiere recording: Anders Hillborg’s ‘The Strand Settings’.

"At once atmospheric, elegiac and unsettling, the work was crafted with Ms. Fleming’s creamy voice in mind”, wrote the New York Times at its first performance in 2013. One of Sweden’s brightest star composers Hillborg has a close relationship with the Royal Stockholm Philharmonic where this recording was made in February 2016 with its principal conductor Sakari Oramo.

Renée couples this with three songs by Björk in specially commissioned orchestrations by the brilliant Swedish composer and arranger Hans Ek, recorded here for the first time.

Why Björk? Both she and Renée are recipients of Sweden’s Polar Music Prize. Both dare to be original. In the fascinating booklet interview Renée talks about her admiration for Björk: “Her originality is breathtaking. She just blazes her own path forward”. Renée chooses the songs which mean the most to her personally and musically.

“[Fleming] still commands the creamiest, spine-shiveringly sensuous timbre in the business. That’s evident throughout Knoxville, as is her excellent diction, an area often perceived as her weakness...There’s a much more ghostly, even ominous, atmosphere in Hillborg’s writing.” The Times, 6th January 2017 *****

“At once alluring and uneasy, the songs are a gift for Renée Fleming, whose siren-like soprano draws the listener on to the unknown. The atmosphere is potently captured by Sakari Oramo and the Royal Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra.” Financial Times, 6th January 2017 ****

“As a vehicle for the soaring purity of Fleming’s voice, and as an evocation of Strand’s very finely etched sensibility, Hillborg’s settings are genuinely beautiful and their cumulative effect is powerful...And the three songs by Björk that end the disc don’t seem out of place either.” The Guardian, 11th January 2017 ****

“Fleming obviously relishes the atmospheric music that Hillborg provides for her, and her soprano sails and swoops through the generally wistful and gossamer textures that the orchestration provides” Opera Now, February 2017 ****

“Fleming is in her best voice for Hillborg, sometimes digging into her lower range with great effect but also resorting to breathy mannerisms to characterise awed disbelief at the visions at hand…[she] finds much to connect with in the rhapsodic repetitions of ‘Jóga’. ‘All is Full of Love’ benefits from overdubbing: Fleming seems to be everywhere at once, with rather intoxicated effect” Gramophone Magazine, February 2017

“[The Strand Settings] already seems a classic with its declamatory vocal ardour, orchestral finesse, and communicative confluence of styles, from tinkling minimalism to a snatch of mock Handel. As she soars upwards on words like ‘stars’ and ‘freedom’ – Hillborg’s not afraid of the obvious – Fleming’s top register seems as golden as ever” BBC Music Magazine, March 2017 ****

Released or re-released in last 6 months

Decca - 4830415

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Favourite English Strings

Favourite English Strings


Bridge:

Sally in Our Alley

Cherry Ripe

Britten:

Variations on a theme of Frank Bridge, Op. 10

Elgar:

Serenade for Strings in E minor, Op. 20

Finzi:

Romance for string orchestra, Op. 11


Once again Alba records presents a stunning collaboration between Sakari Oramo and the Ostrobothnian Chamber Orchestra, this time with a collection of English string favourites featuring music by Benjamin Britten, Edward Elgar and Frank Bridge.

“Oramo and the Ostrobothnian Chamber Orchestra give us a finely disciplined Frank Bridge Variations of pungent character, fiery snap and arresting incident. It’s a performance whose nervy, questing undertow satisfying brings out this astoundingly inventive piece’s affinity with the more progressive European music of the time” Gramophone Magazine, September 2016

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Grieg: Piano Concerto & Lyric Pieces

Grieg: Piano Concerto & Lyric Pieces


Grieg:

Piano Concerto in A minor, Op. 16

BBC Symphony Orchestra, Sakari Oramo

Lyric Pieces Op. 38: No. 8 - Waltz

Lyric Pieces Op. 12: No. 1 - Arietta

Lyric Pieces Op. 43: No. 1 - Butterfly

Lyric Pieces Op. 47: No. 3 - Melody

Lyric Pieces Op. 43: No. 2 - Lonely Wanderer

Lyric Pieces Op. 54: No. 3 - March of the Trolls

Lyric Pieces Op. 54: No. 4 - Nocturne

Lyric Pieces Op. 57: No. 6 - Homesickness

Lyric Pieces Op. 68: No. 3 - At your feet

Lyric Pieces Op. 68: No. 5 - At the cradle

Lyric Pieces Op. 71: No. 1 - Once upon a Time

Lyric Pieces Op. 71: No. 7 - Remembrances


The work of a young musician of 25, the celebrated Piano Concerto by Grieg combines the great Romantic tradition and Norwegian folk music. The 'Lyric Pieces' are among the works that made Grieg world-famous. As in the case of the Piano Concerto, commentators have held that a certain combination of intervals (the ‘Grieg motif’) is chiefly responsible for its specific Norwegian quality. For Grieg himself the question of Norwegian culture was a tremendously important one, and he used his international reputation to fight tirelessly for the recognition of Norway as a state. He owed that reputation in considerable part to the 'Lyric Pieces', which he wrote over the space of four decades. They are indebted to the Romantic character piece in free form, which became widespread after 1830 and found outstanding representatives in Schumann and Mendelssohn. Grieg certainly also composed them with a view to their use in teaching the piano, with the result that they swiftly won the hearts of devotees of domestic music-making all over Europe. The present recording offers a representative selection: a set of eight pieces with which the 24year-old composer scored a resounding success immediately upon publication. He had managed to establish a personal voice virtually at a stroke. Further books followed over the decades, and, surprisingly enough, he enjoyed unfailing success with them, even though he hardly changed his ‘artistic strategy’.

“it is an interpretation into which soloist and orchestra seem, gratifyingly, to have grown together... the romantic expansiveness that marks their interpretation overall is tempered by playing from both pianist and orchestra that is as crisp and highly charged as one could want.” The Guardian, 28th May 2015 ****

“I really fell for Perianes’ playing here, I love that he embraces the breadth of that cadenza, he plays it as if it’s totally fresh like we’ve never heard those themes before … just gorgeous.” CD Review

“Perianes's performance is of such a fearless and arresting brilliance that it virtually erases memories of the past. For here is Grieg restored to all its first icy, northern and unsentimental glory...The BBC Symphony Orchestra under Sakari Oramo are with their soloist all the way so that you may well find yourself falling in love and in awe all over again with this evergreen Romantic masterpiece.” Gramophone Magazine, July 2015

“There is spontaneity to Perianes’ playing in this live concerto that is most compelling … the orchestra plays with great beauty. Perianes’ greatest achievement is the first movement cadenza, which emerges here as a brooding tone-poem; the debt to Lizst is clear...The stand-out success is the remarkable ‘Notturno’; here Grieg’s interior side clearly resonates with Perianes.” International Piano, July/August 2015

“This version will give pleasure to those who want an unfussy, brilliant and virtuosic concerto … The CD also includes a studio recording of a dozen Lyric Pieces, showing the pianist fully understands the idiom. It is all well recorded and performed.” Pianist Magazine, August/September 2015

“enormously exciting and tremendous fun … Perianes’ playing is full of sensitivity and subtlety, and will give a great deal of pleasure.” MusicWeb International, November 2015

GGramophone Magazine

Editor's Choice - July 2015

Harmonia Mundi - HMC902205

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Nielsen: Symphonies Nos. 1 & 3

Nielsen: Symphonies Nos. 1 & 3


Nielsen:

Symphony No. 1 in G minor, Op. 7 (FS16)

Symphony No. 3, Op. 27 (FS60) 'Sinfonia espansiva'


The first volume of this new cycle was widely acclaimed upon its release in December 2013 (BIS2028).

Symphony No. 1 owes much to Schumann and was completed in 1892, when the composer was still in his mid-twenties.

Symphony No. 3 was the true breakthrough work, following twenty years after the first symphony and rapidly taken up by Europe’s leading orchestras.

“Bravo...to the Finnish conductor, a Sibelian whose credentials need no advertisement, for championing his national composer’s exact Danish contemporary’s symphonies. This second instalment of his Nielsen cycle offers bracing accounts of the G minor (No 1) and “Espansiva” (No 3).” Sunday Times, 18th January 2015

“It's a joy to find so much intelligent care and attention expended on Nielsen's First Symphony...You can feel the exuberance, the intellectual control, and also the sense of danger...But there's also a tender, affectionate streak in this symphony, which Oramo and his orchestra bring out well while resisting the temptation to indulge...The Sinfonia Espansiva (No. 3) is also finely controlled and full of character.” BBC Music Magazine, March 2015 *****

“Oramo had his Royal Stockholm Philharmonic wind players relax into [No. 1's] almost Baroque-like ornateness, and when the tune 'turns' in the violins, its does so with effortless charm...The 'Espansiva' heart of the [Third] is the second movement...and is a departure in every sense - it's a rarefied air that Oramo breathes.” Gramophone Magazine, March 2015

“This is a Nielsen First to sweep listeners off their feet and blow old favourites into the proverbial weeds…[and the] Third is no less gripping...This is a field-leading release, both musically and sonically; roll on Two and Six.” MusicWeb International, April 2015

BBC Music Magazine Awards 2016

Orchestral Winner

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Elgar: Symphony No. 1

Elgar: Symphony No. 1


Elgar:

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

Cockaigne Overture, Op. 40 'In London Town'


Conducting this all-Elgar programme is Sakari Oramo, the Finnish conductor who has been all but adopted by English music-lovers and orchestras - for ten years he was music director of the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, and since 2013 he holds the post as chief conductor of the BBC Symphony Orchestra.

It was during the winter of 1900–01 that Elgar began to sketch what he hoped would turn into his first symphony. However, the sketches were quickly absorbed into several shorter pieces, one of which was the Cockaigne overture - an unashamedly populist portrait of ‘old London town’.

As for the First Symphony, seven years would pass before its première in Manchester and subsequent London performance.

“Oramo uses a lot of rubato in the scherzo and at times you can feel it lurching into a slower gear with a sudden clunk. It’s like being in the car with someone who is learning how to use the clutch...That’s my only complaint about a performance which is outstanding all the way through...A First Symphony that only just misses perfection.” MusicWeb International, 1st July 2014

“It's a finely judged and paced performance, one that avoids extremes but still manages to give a tremendous sense of cumulative momentum to the whole work...Oramo has always obtained a wonderfully refined string tone from the orchestras he conducts, and the hushed playing of the Royal Stockholm Philharmonic...is strikingly effective.” The Guardian, 31st July 2014 ****

“There’s nothing portentous about the performance: take the athleticism demanded of the band by Oramo in the Scherzo — full of bright, good-natured humour — and the dashing final Allegro. It’s good news that non-Brits can respond to this music with such affection and authenticity.” Sunday Times, 3rd August 2014

“Oramo's commendably trim and purposeful conception is clearly the result of painstaking preparation and he certainly knows his way round the score; scarcely a fleck of detail escapes his eagle eye, and the antiphonally divided fiddles are an enormous boon...Oramo's reading of the main work has enough in the tank to merit investigation by any Elgarian seeking a fresh view.” Gramophone Magazine, Awards Issue 2014

“Oramo has secured a vibrant, electric orchestral sound that underpins everything, making even the slow introduction seem exuberant underneath its finely judged nobilmente breadth...The orchestra offers similarly big-hearted, vital playing in Cockaigne. The opening theme kicks up its heels cheekily.” BBC Music Magazine, November 2014 ****

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Per Nørgård: Symphonies Nos. 1 & 8

Per Nørgård: Symphonies Nos. 1 & 8


Nørgård:

Symphony No. 1 'Sinfonia austera'

Symphony No. 8


With this world premiere recording, the Vienna Philharmonic offers new perspectives on the most visionary voice of Nordic music and one of the greatest symphonists of our time, Danish composer Per Nørgård (b. 1932). Conducted on this occasion by Finnish Sakari Oramo, these performances of Nørgård’s Symphonies 1 and 8 – two milestones composed with almost six decades between them are the legendary orchestra’s first recording of new Nordic music.

Read Presto's complete review of this disc here.

“The premiere recording of Nørgård’s latest symphony is a rewarding listen, the Vienna Philharmonic bringing their perfection to his fascinating and attractive sound world.” Gramophone Magazine, August 2014

Presto Disc of the Week

16th June 2014

Presto Discs of 2014

Finalist

GGramophone Awards 2015

Winner - Contemporary

GGramophone Magazine

Editor's Choice - August 2014

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Foulds: 3 Mantras, Dynamic Triptych, Mirage & Lyra Celtica

Foulds: 3 Mantras, Dynamic Triptych, Mirage & Lyra Celtica


Foulds:

Three Mantras (from Avatara), Op. 61B

Dynamic Triptych (Piano Concerto)

Mirage, Op. 21 (1910)

Lyra Celtica, Op. 50 (c. 1925)

Apotheosis, Op. 18 (1909)

Music-Pictures Group III, Op. 33

April-England, Op. 48 No. 1

Song of Ram Dass

Keltic Lament


“A missing link between Edwardian opulence and the avant-garde, Foulds wrote rampaging, adventurous, iridescent music, splendidly championed by Oramo and the CBSO.” BBC Music Magazine, June 2014 ****

“The nine works...display the full range of Foulds's talents, from the exotic and the ecstatic to the wild and poetic. Sometimes like late Strauss, at others more early Messiaen, in the end he is purely himself.” The Observer, 11th August 2013

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Anders Hillborg: Eleven Gates

Anders Hillborg: Eleven Gates


Hillborg:

King Tide

Sakari Oramo

Exquisite Corpse

Alan Gilbert

Dreaming River

Esa-Pekka Salonen

Eleven Gates

Esa-Pekka Salonen


As demonstrated by the four works on this disc, the music of Anders Hillborg couples complexity with directness, sensuality with humour, hypnotic meditation with pulsating rhythms, and all is combined with an original sense of form and unfaltering craftsmanship.

Hillborg recently became the first Swedish composer to have a work premièred by the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra when Cold Heat was performed in January 2011.

Hillborg has called the symphony orchestra a ‘sound animal’. His love affair with the orchestra started in the 1980s, when he abandoned electronic music, and around the same time, Hillborg formed a bond with the conductor Esa-Pekka Salonen, who here conducts Dreaming River from 1998 and Eleven Gates, a work he premièred with the Los Angeles Philharmonic in 2006.

Sakari Oramo and Alan Gilbert are both among the most highly regarded conductors of our time, and also have a special relationship with the Royal Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra in common, as its current and former chief conductor. The Stockholm orchestra also commissioned both Dreaming River and Exquisite Corpse.

“The present collection showcases Hillborg's typically multifaceted and wickedly good-natured humour...The Royal Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra is on splendid form throughout, led by conductors who have championed these works at home and abroad. BIS's SACD sound is typically spectacular, making this release very strongly recommended.” Gramophone Magazine, January 2012

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Schumann: Symphonies Nos. 3 & 4

Schumann: Symphonies Nos. 3 & 4


Schumann:

Symphony No. 3 in E flat major, Op. 97 'Rhenish'

Symphony No. 4 in D minor, Op. 120


Finnish conductor Sakari Oramo and the Royal Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra’s recording of Schumann’s Symphonies Nos. 1 & 2 (88697437072) was the first release in their partnership since Oramo became their principal conductor in 2008, and was extremely well-received, described as “exhilarating and vividly dramatic” by The Guardian.

Sony Classical now presents the second recording in this partnership, Schumann’s last two symphonies, which were also recorded in the Stockholm Concert Hall.

“There's no shortage of outstanding recordings of all the Schumann symphonies already, but these are good enough to make a second disc containing the Third and Fourth a welcome prospect” The Guardian

“The Fourth Symphony is the more convincing, especially in its last two movements; the scherzo is feisty and the tensions of the introduction to the finale are discharged in a wonderfully unbuttoned account of the main allegro” The Guardian, 14th April 2011 ***

“Above all, these are performances informed though not conditioned by authentic practice. Thus the opening movement of the Third Symphony has a natural buoyancy without the trciky string articulation seeming at all rushed...Oramo is an excellent modern choice.” International Record Review, May 2011

“Throughout both performances the Stockholm Philharmonic horns have a field day (so do the Sony engineers), but the result is never crude or unbalanced. I loved Oramo's thoughtful slowing at around 4' 53'' into the second movement, before the main theme blazes back, and his delicate handling of the third movement” Gramophone Magazine, July 2011 ****

“Sakari Oramo's strongest attribute is his sense of line. His feeling for the long phrase - sometime for a whole movement as a phrase in itself - is the quality that makes him an impressive Sibelian...Oramo's Rhenish should be strong enough to persuade Schumann-agnostics that he could think in large spans, while the Fourth in genuinely exciting.” BBC Music Magazine

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Daniel Hope: The Romantic Violinist

Daniel Hope: The Romantic Violinist

A Celebration of Joseph Joachim


Brahms:

Sonatensatz (Scherzo from the F.A.E. sonata), WoO 2

with Sebastian Knauer (piano)

Hungarian Dance No. 1 in G minor

arranged for violin and strings by Marc-Olivier Dupin

Royal Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra, Sakari Oramo

Hungarian Dance No. 5

arranged for violin and strings by Marc-Olivier Dupin

Royal Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra, Sakari Oramo

Geistliches Wiegenlied, Op. 91 No. 2

Anne Sofie von Otter (mezzo-soprano)) & Bengt Forsberg (piano)

Bruch:

Violin Concerto No. 1 in G minor, Op. 26

Royal Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra, Sakari Oramo

Dvorak:

Humoresque in G flat major, Op. 101 No. 7

arranged for violin and orchestra by Franz Waxman

Royal Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra, Sakari Oramo

Joachim:

Romanze, Op. 2, No. 1 for violin and piano

with Sebastian Knauer (piano)

Notturno for Violin and Orchestra, Op. 12

Royal Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra, Sakari Oramo

Schubert:

Auf dem Wasser zu singen, D774

with Sebastian Knauer (piano)

Schumann, Clara:

Romances (3), Op. 22: No. 1 - Andante Molto

with Sebastian Knauer (piano)


Daniel Hope (violin & viola)

Friends with Mendelssohn, the Schumanns, Brahms, Dvorák, Liszt, Bruch, and others, Joachim was a revered violinist, conductor, and composer of the Romantic Era. The central piece is Bruch’s Violin Concerto, its violin part completely reworked, at Bruch’s request, by Joachim into the form we know today. Daniel Hope plays the concerto with the Royal Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra under Sakari Oramo.

“Big-hearted Daniel Hope, backed by the Royal Stockholm Philharmonic under Sakari Oramo, seems equally at home in the wide open spaces of Bruch's violin concerto (which the master totally revised and improved) or the warm intimacy of Joachim's own delightful Romanze” The Observer, 13th March 2011

**** The Telegraph, 18th March 2011

“Hope’s way with the Bruch: Violin Concerto No 1 is lively, burning with gypsy passion. Temperatures calm down for Joachim’s own Romanze and his equally endearing Notturno.” The Times, 26th March 2011 ****

“The major offering here is Bruch's evergreen First Violin Concerto, which Daniel Hope plays with cliche-free, heartfelt intensity. He radiates espressivo allure in Joachim's own Romanza and Notturno...The Joachim connection is fascinating, and Hope plays each piece as a music gem in its own right” Classic FM Magazine, May 2011 ****

“The Bruch is finely and vividly recorded. In Oramo's hands the orchestration acquires a rich glow, with solo lines brought out most expressively. Hope brings to his interpretation glorious, full tone brilliance (in the finale) and expansive phrasing...The pieces with piano are all beautifully played” Gramophone Magazine, May 2011

“[The Bruch] receives a warmly committed account from the soloist and the hugely responsive Royal Stockholm Philharmonic under Sakari Oramo. As in his recording of the Mendelssohn, Hope never takes this over-familiar score for granted and has imaginative things to say at every juncture.” BBC Music Magazine, May 2011 ****

“This performance [of the Bruch] overflows with incident and rich musical detailing...[Oramo], as a fiddler himself, knows this piece inside out...The finale dazzles, rounding out a captivating and insightful reading” International Record Review, May 2011

DG - 4779301

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