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JS Bach: Concertos for Two Harpsichords

JS Bach: Concertos for Two Harpsichords


Bach, J S:

Concerto for Two Keyboards in C minor, BWV1062

Concerto for Two Keyboards in C major, BWV1061

Orchestral Suite No. 1 in C major, BWV1066

arr. Masato Suzuki

Concerto for Two Keyboards in C minor, BWV1060


Masaaki Suzuki (harpsichord) & Masato Suzuki (harpsichord)

Bach Collegium Japan

Three double concertos for harpsichord by Bach survive, all dating from around 1736, and all arrangements of earlier compositions. BWV 1060 is thought to have originated as a now lost double concerto for oboe and violin, while BWV 1062 is a reworking of the well-loved concerto for two violins. Unlike these two works, BWV 1061 was composed for two harpsichords from the outset, but probably started out as a concerto without orchestral accompaniment – this will have been added later. Performing these works, with a quintet of string players from the Bach Collegium Japan, Masaaki Suzuki is joined by his son Masato. For the present disc Masato Suzuki has also taken a page from Bach’s own book, in arranging the composer’s Orchestral Suite No.1 for two unaccompanied harpsichords.

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JS Bach: Cello Suites Nos. 2, 3 and 6

JS Bach: Cello Suites Nos. 2, 3 and 6

arr. viola by Simon Rowland-Jones


Bach, J S:

Cello Suite No. 2 in D minor, BWV1008

arr. viola by Simon Rowland-Jones

Cello Suite No. 3 in C major, BWV1009

arr. viola by Simon Rowland-Jones

Cello Suite No. 6 in D major, BWV1012

arr. viola by Simon Rowland-Jones


It was with three of Bach’s cello suites, transcribed for the viola, that Maxim Rysanov made his début on BIS in 2010. The Sunday Times had one reservation: ‘Rysanov’s recording of Bach’s suites is near perfection; the only flaw being that he did not perform all six.’ With the present disc that flaw is now being rectified, and the set is complete.

These suites were originally written for a five-stringed instrument, but are heard here on Rysanov’s own four-stringed viola built by Giuseppe Guadagnini in 1780.

Please note: The music on this Hybrid Super Audio CD can be played back in Stereo (CD and SACD) as well as in 5.0 Surround sound (SACD).

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The Image of Melancholy

The Image of Melancholy


 

Tabhair dom do lámh (‘Give me your hand’)

Ruaidri Dáll Ó Catháin / arr. Bjarte Eike

Devising Susanne, pavane with divisions

Johann Sommer / arr. Bjarte Eike

Niel Gow’s lament for the death of his second wife

Niel Gow / arr. Bjarte Eike

Balke:

Introducing Susanne – a meditation on Susanne 'un jour'

Biber:

Die Kreuztragung (‘The carrying of the Cross’): Sonata (1st movement)

Buxtehude:

Klaglied 'Muß der Tod denn auch entbinden', BuxWV 76/2

Byrd:

Ye sacred muses - an elegy for Thomas Tallis

Dowland:

Sorrow, stay

Flow my teares (Lacrimæ)

Suzanna Galliard

Eike:

Savn – a tune for Signe

Holborne:

The image of Melancholly

Wanton

Muy linda

Mr Holborn’s Last Will and Testament

trad.:

Bjørnsons bruremarsj

arr. Bjarte Eike

Gjendines bådnlåt

arr. Jon Balke/Bjarte Eike

Joj Mati (‘Oh, mother, dear mother’)

arr. Milos Valent

Evertsbergs gamla brudmarsch

arr. Bjarte Eike

Bånsull

arr. Jon Balke/Bjarte Eike


Jon Balke (organ / soundscapes), Berit Norbakken Solset (soprano), Milos Valent (viola) & Bjarte Eike (artistic director & violin)

Conceived by the baroque violinist Bjarte Eike for his period band Barokksolistene, this programme is his very personal ‘image of melancholy’. As he writes in his liner notes, ‘for me, melancholy is not only synonymous with sadness and despair, it is a state also harbouring reflection, meditation and relief.’ The connection between music and melancholy is far from new – at least since the time of the ancient Greeks, and probably long before them, there has been a belief that music has the power to influence our mood, to alleviate sadness or melancholy – or to induce it. Melancholy has at various times been the height of fashion – think of John Dowland, whose motto was: ‘Semper Dowland, semper dolens’ (‘always Dowland, always mourning’). Dowland is of course included here, as is his near-contemporary Anthony Holborne – but there are also a number of later pieces, as well as folk music from Eike’s native Norway and elsewhere. This music, writes Eike, ‘does not belong to any particular style, nationality or period in time; it’s rather a string of tunes that have all had a personal significance to me, and that together form a musical matrimony between a Nordic melancholy, the rich sounds of the Elizabethan consort and a modern approach to music-making.’ Joined by the soprano Berit Norbakken Solset and by the jazz pianist Jon Balke, Eike and his ensemble have created an intensely atmospheric and highly suggestive disc, which richly lives up to its motto – a quote by Victor Hugo: ‘Melancholy is the pleasure of being sad.’

“The results will appeal to anyone keen on folk and fusion or those looking for an alternative approach to early music. The lush, up-front recording, with its potential for 5.0 surround sound, means one can positively wallow in exquisite misery.” BBC Music Magazine, May 2014 ***

“There is sweetly fragile singing from soprano Berit Norbakken Solset...With its authenticity and quiet ability to move, it is one to lose yourself in on long winter nights.” Gramophone Magazine, January 2014

“The recording is perfect, the music capable of transporting us to far away - geographically, but also more importantly on those priceless inner wanderings which can show us more about ourselves than we imagined.” MusicWeb International, 27th January 2014

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Jacobean Lute Music

Jacobean Lute Music


anon.:

A Scottish Dance

Draw Near to Me and Love Me

Hence to me Molly Gray

A Scottish Tune

Scottish Hunts Up

Prelude

John Come Kiss Me Now

Batchelar:

Mounsiers Almaine

Prelude

La jeune fillette

Courante

Pavin

Dowland:

A Fancy

The Battle Galliard

Mr John Langton's Pavan

Gaultier, J:

Courante

Cloches

Courante

Hely, C:

Fantasia

Saraband

Johnson, R:

Pavin

Fantasia

Robinson, T:

Merry Melancholy

A Galliard

Walking in a Country Towne

A Gigue

Spanish Pavan

A Gigue

A Toy

Row Well, you Mariners


From the reign of Henry VIII and onwards, the lute and its practitioners enjoyed the patronage of the very highest English society. Henry played the lute himself, as did his daughter Elizabeth I, who during one period employed as many as five lutenists at her court. In 1603, when she was succeeded on the throne by James I, the tradition was maintained: with his appointment of John Dowland the king increased the number of royal lutenists, while his queen, Anne of Denmark, played the lute herself. This royal enthusiasm for the lute influenced the aristocracy, and an English style of lute music was established. A large corpus of solo music has been preserved, mostly in manuscript sources, from which Jakob Lindberg has made a personal selection. This includes obvious candidates – such as John Dowland and Robert Johnson – but also pieces by the enigmatic Cuthbert Hely, whose work only survives in one single lute book, and by a certain ‘Gauthier' – possibly Jacques Gaultier, who had fled to England after killing an adversary in a duel. The inclusion of this French lutenist also serves to highlight the abundance of French lute music in Jacobean sources, especially, as heard here, in the form of courantes. Another favourite genre in many lute books are settings, often anonymous, of Scottish folk music, and this is also reflected in Lindberg's selection. One of the foremost exponents of the lute and this repertoire, Jakob Lindberg performs the programme on what is possibly the world's oldest lute in playing condition, built in c. 1590 – and thus almost exactly contemporary with the music on this disc.

“the lute music from this period represents some of the best ever written for the instrument...Under Lindberg's fingers, and on his beloved Sixtus Rauwolf lute (c1590), even the relatively straightforward anonymous Scottish pieces included here are imbued with the same affecting lyricism he lavishes on the [named] works.” Gramophone Magazine, April 2014

“The sound of Jakob Lindberg's lute, made by Sixtus Rauwolf in the last decade of the 16th century, is unusually warm...It a meticulously voiced recital that moves between court, theatre and tavern...Lindberg conjures an age that was as perilous as it was rich in musical invention.” BBC Music Magazine, April 2014 *****

GGramophone Magazine

Editor's Choice - April 2014

BBC Music Magazine

Instrumental Choice - April 2014

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Bach - Cantatas Volume 55

Bach - Cantatas Volume 55


Bach, J S:

Cantata BWV69 'Lobe den Herrn, meine Seele'

Cantata BWV30 'Freue dich, erlöste Schar'

Cantata BWV191 'Gloria in excelsis Deo'


18 years and 55 discs later, a great adventure is brought to a close. The chronological approach adopted by Suzuki means that the three works included here are the last extant cantatas by Bach’s hand.

This series has been a landmark recording project for BIS and is released to coincide with the label's 40th anniversary.

Throughout the series, individual volumes have regularly picked up ‘choice’ awards from the major music magazines as well as numerous appearances in the UK classical chart.

“All the qualities that have made this one of the most important series of the past two decades are here, as they have been in the previous 54 volumes...[Gloria in excelsis Deo's] positioning as the final work on the final disc is apposite: the concluding chorus is a splendidly grand one to celebrate the culmination of this endeavour.” MusicWeb International, 8th November 2013

“There's a striking transparency in even the densest of counterpoint...Over 18 years Suzuki seems to have subtly changed his relationship with Bach, from a reverential approach to confident familiarity. The final Cantata of this complete series is uncannily apt: 'Gloria in Excelsis' indeed!” BBC Music Magazine, December 2013 *****

“This final volume highlights the maturing sense..of Bach Collegium Japan's growing stature and confidence to break free of generic convention towards even greater interpretative character...The best is as good as anyone anywhere” Gramophone Magazine, December 2013

“Masaaki and his performers seem to live and breathe this music and there is so much joy and immediacy in their music-making...It is simply outstanding playing, virtually faultless, and threatening on occasion to eclipse the singers, who are equally hard to fault!” Chris O'Reilly, Presto Classical, 11th November 2013

GGramophone Magazine

Editor's Choice - December 2013

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Ros: Songs of Christmas

Ros: Songs of Christmas


includes

Fagerheim:

I denne søte juletid (In this Blessed Christmas Time)

Hildegard:

Responsary "O vis aeternitatis"

O Frondens Virga et al

Ave generosa

Nordqvist:

Jul, jul, strålande jul (text: Edvard Evers)

Nørgård:

Himmelfalden (Julens glæde)

Praetorius, M:

Es ist ein Ros' entsprungen

trad.:

No Koma Guds Englar

A boy was born in Bethlehem

Den Fagraste Rosa (The Fairest of Roses)

Mitt hjerte alltid vanker (My heart always wanders)

Et lite barn så lystelig

and four instrumental interludes


Berit Opheim, Gjermund Larsen, Rolf Lislevand, Bjorn Kjellemyr

Norwegian Soloists' Choir, Grete Pedersen

“this is a radiant package and pretty much all you will need if you seek an alternative to the more traditional and ubiquitous carols we all know and love, but which can sometimes be too much of a good thing. The performances are all sublime, the arrangements equally so, the recording everything you would expect from this source” MusicWeb International, 18th November 2013

“There's some gorgeous music in this programme, although it's difficult to follow the thematic thread which allegedly binds it together...The Norwegian Soloists' Choir is excellent.” BBC Music Magazine, Christmas Issue 2013 ****

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Handel: Water Music

Handel: Water Music


Handel:

Water Music Suites Nos. 1-3, HWV348-350

Overture to the Occasional Oratorio, HWV62


Haydn Sinfonietta Wien, Manfred Huss

Handel's Water Music, composed for a royal boat party on the Thames on 17th of July 1717 was possibly never performed again in its original form during Handel's lifetime – here all 22 movements are recorded in their original sequence.

Manfred Huss and the period orchestra Haydn Sinfonietta Wien are internationally acclaimed for their rousing performances of Haydn and Schubert. They now bring their indomitable enthusiasm and expertise to one of Handel's most famous and popular works, rounding off the disc with the composer's far less well-known, but equally resplendent Ouverture from the Occasional Oratorio.

“The Haydn Sinfonietta Wien, led expertly by Simon Standage, play crisply and neatly: amiable horns and oboes chuckle in all the right places, the oboe-and-bassoon trios are moderately playful, and the trumpets and horns are splendid in the Hornpipe.” Gramophone Magazine, March 2014

“All the advantages of period instruments...with none of the hazards.” MusicWeb International, 18th November 2013

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Bach - Cantatas Volume 54

Bach - Cantatas Volume 54


Bach, J S:

Cantata BWV100 'Was Gott tut, das ist wohlgetan'

Cantata BWV14 'Wär Gott nicht mit uns diese Zeit'

Cantata BWV197 'Gott ist unsre Zuversicht'

Cantata BWV197a 'Gott ist unsre Zuversicht' (fragment)


As the penultimate volume in this acclaimed cycle it is a sobering thought that as many as a hundred of Bach's church cantatas may have been lost if it were not for the efforts of artists such as the BCJ and Masaaki Suzuki.

The fragment Ehre sei Gott in der Höhe, was apparently intended for Christmas Day of 1728. Bach reused parts of the work in the large-scale wedding cantata Gott ist unsre Zuversicht. This has made it possible to reconstruct the missing parts and allows for interesting comparisons between the two versions.

The other two works were both composed around 1735, and give rich evidence of Bach's versatility in terms of style.

“Suzuki and Bach Collegium Japan stamp their unmistakable trademark of concentrated corporate luminosity here...This is another strong release as we approach the finishing line.” Gramophone Magazine, October 2013

“Suzuki balances detail sensitively, helped by the SACD sound...Hana Blažíková duets exuberantly with trumpet in her aria...this is a superb disc, Suzuki at one with Bach - and both at their best.” BBC Music Magazine, November 2013 *****

BBC Music Magazine

Choral & Song Choice - November 2013

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Times go by Turns

Times go by Turns


Bennett, R R:

A Colloquy with God

Byrd:

Mass for four voices

Plummer:

Missa Sine nomine

Smith, A:

Kyrie: Cunctipotens Genitor Deus

Tallis:

Mass for four voices


Taking its title from a poem by the sixteenth-century Jesuit martyr Robert Southwell, Times go by Turns comprises three masses composed during a period when the conditions for English Catholics – and Catholic composers – underwent radical change. Active at a time – the 15th century – when the Catholic Church flourished in England, John Plummer’s death roughly coincided with the ascension of the Tudors, a dynasty that would irreversibly alter religious traditions. As a consequence, the bulk of Plummer’s music was destroyed during the Reformation, the remainder surviving almost exclusively in sources from the continent. Born a century later than Plummer, Tallis witnessed the separation of England from the Catholic Church and his Mass for Four Voices displays a simple lyricism and economic use of polyphony which may well have been driven by liturgical necessity. Such constraints had grown even stronger by the end of the century, when his student and colleague William Byrd composed his own four-part Mass, intended for clandestine worship at a time when dissidents were dealt with by cruel means.

The vocal quartet New York Polyphony released endBeginning (BIS-1949) in 2012, a disc which focused on Franco-Flemish polyphony. Meeting with international acclaim, the ensemble’s first collaboration with BIS received top marks on website ClassicsToday.com and in the French magazine Diapason, as well as being included on the Best-of-2012 lists in The New Yorker and Time Out New York. While dedicated to the works of the great age of polyphony, New York Polyphony is also noted for its performances of contemporary music. For this disc the ensemble has commissioned two modern works, with Andrew Smith contributing a Kyrie – the movement which Tallis’ mass leaves out – and Gabriel Jackson providing the closing Ite missa est (‘The mass is ended’). The programme also includes one of the last compositions by Richard Rodney Bennett (1936–2012). A Colloquy with God, the setting of a poem by Sir Thomas Browne for four male voices, was dedicated to New York Polyphony.

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Bach - Secular Cantatas III

Bach - Secular Cantatas III


Bach, J S:

Cantata BWV173a 'Durchlauchtster Leopold'

Cantata BWV202 'Weichet Nur, betrübte Schatten' (Wedding Cantata)

Cantata BWV36c 'Schwingt freudig euch empor'

Quodlibet, BWV524


Joanne Lunn (soprano), Hiroya Aoki (counter-tenor), Makoto Sakurada (tenor) & Roderick Williams (baritone)

Bach Collegium Japan, Masaaki Suzuki

Although two of the works on this disc were composed for weddings, they are completely different in character. Weichet nur, betrübte Schatten is a charming and gracious garland of recitatives and arias for soprano solo in which Spring, Flora, Apollo and Amor are all invoked in a blessing of the newly wedded couple and their union. The Quodlibet (Latin for ‘what pleases’) on the other hand, is an altogether unceremonious composition which was probably intended for a private function in Bach’s own circle or family. All we have is a fragment of the work – in Bach’s own hand – and the beginning and ending of the piece, including the title page, are missing. It is therefore not even certain that it is Bach’s own work, but may have been a collaboration between several of the wedding guests. Compositions of this kind belong to a tradition which combines quotations from songs, toasts, market traders’ calls, proverbs and puns, and were especially popular at weddings – where they frequently got out of hand! The third disc in Bach Collegium Japan’s series of secular cantatas also includes a birthday cantata composed in the honour of Prince Leopold of Anhalt-Köthen, Bach’s employer during years 1717–23. Durchlauchtster Leopold (‘Most illustrious Leopold’) celebrates the ‘propitious day’ while extolling the ruler’s ‘excellent attributes’ and ‘princely renown’. Two duets in minuet form lend the work the character of a courtly serenade, which didn’t stop Bach from reusing it, with a new text, as a church cantata a few years later. The name of the recipient of Schwingt freudig euch empor, another congratulatory cantata, is no longer known, but the text tells us that he was a teacher of high standing and of an advanced age. Once again Bach, who must have been attached to the work, reused it as a church cantata, but also, with the new title Steigt freudig in die Luft, as a birthday tribute to Charlotte Friederike of Anhalt-Köthen, the wife of Prince Leopold.

“I've never heard Suzuki and the Bach Collegium having so much fun...conjuring up all the merriment of slightly inebriated music-making (complete with plenty of sound effects). This is undoubtedly the most convincing and enjoyable performance of the Quodlibet, BVW524 I've heard” International Record Review, September 2013

“As ever, Suzuki and colleagues are excellent, their collective experience as Bach interpreters enabling them to gel as one. You feel you are ever safe in their hands; but if you think that simply means no surprises, listen to them cut loose in the lusty Wedding Quodlibet” Gramophone Magazine, September 2013

“Suzuki neither deserts seriousness for levity, nor makes something fey or whimsical of this somewhat lighter form of Bach's writing...The blend between sensitive instrumental playing and thoughtful yet never self-important singing is one of the strengths of these performances.” MusicWeb International, 10th September 2013

“Suzuki and his singers are at ease with this carefree Bach, introducing the Quodlibet with background babble, and singing with exaggerated nasal accents...[Lunn's] lyrical, sustained aria in BWV36c is glorious. Two further high points in BWV36c are a rustic bass dance-aria and the admirable oboes d'amore and strings of the opening choral movement.” BBC Music Magazine, October 2013 ****

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