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Beethoven - Complete Works for Solo Piano Volume 15

Beethoven - Complete Works for Solo Piano Volume 15


Beethoven:

Diabelli Variations, Op. 120

National Airs with Variations (6), Op. 105


Ronald Brautigam (fortepiano)

In 1819 the Viennese music publisher and composer Anton Diabelli sent a short waltz to a long list of composers. These included Schubert, Hummel, a very young Franz Liszt and, as the most prominent composer of the time, naturally Beethoven. Diabelli was proposing to compile an anthology of variations on his own waltz, one from each composer. Beethoven responded in a characteristic manner: first there was nothing, and then there was nothing … and then, in 1823, there was an entire, and monumental, set of no less than thirty-three variations.

There are several possible reasons for this, one being that Beethoven felt that it was below his dignity to take part in a project of this nature. What is certain, however, is that he must have found Diabelli’s theme intriguing material to work with – and against: Beethoven often seems to poke fun at the waltz, starting already in the first variation by turning it into a pompous march. But like all truly great variation works the Diabelli Variations take in the high as well as the low, jokes as well as drama – or serenity, as in Variation 24, a Fughetta, clearly inspired by the Aria in Bach’s Goldberg Variations.

As the last large-scale piano work by Beethoven, the Diabelli Variations form a fitting close to Ronald Brautigam’s traversal of the complete solo piano music. Described in International Record Review as ‘a Beethoven player whose musical discernment is a constant source of wonderment’, Brautigam has through the course of this series performed works composed between 1783 and 1825, using four different fortepianos. On the present disc we hear a copy of a 4-stringed fortepiano by Conrad Graf from 1822 – similar to Beethoven’s own last instrument, which Graf supplied him with in 1826, a year before the composer’s death.

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Brahms: Works for Solo Piano Volume 4

Brahms: Works for Solo Piano Volume 4


Brahms:

Ballades (4), Op. 10

Rhapsodies (2), Op. 79

Klavierstücke (4), Op. 119

Variations on a theme by Paganini in A minor, Op. 35: Books 1 & 2


The theme of Paganini’s 24th Caprice for solo violin has tempted a number of composers to elaborate on it – from Liszt to Lutosławski and Andrew Lloyd Webber. In 1863, Johannes Brahms was one of the first to take on the challenge, with his virtuosic Paganini Variations. Playing the set has famously been described as requiring ‘fingers of steel, a heart of burning lava and the courage of a lion’ and possibly the demands that they place on the performer is the main reason why Brahms organized his 28 variations into two books of 14 each. For the fourth instalment in his series of Brahms’s piano music, Jonathan Plowright has chosen to place the two books at either end of the programme.

Between them we are presented with works spanning almost 40 years of Brahms’s life. Of the four Ballades from 1854, it is only for the first, the so-called ‘Edward’ Ballade, that a model in literature is known – a Scottish ballad about the murder of a father. The set has nevertheless been compared to the slow movements in Brahms’s three piano sonatas, composed around the same time, and all with literary references.

25 years later, Brahms had entered a phase where his works for piano were growing ever shorter and more concise, but with his Op. 79 Rhapsodies he made something of a return to the grandeur and passion of his early piano writing. This development was short-lived, however, and the following works for solo piano, of which the four piano pieces of Op. 119 from 1893 would be the last, have been compared to ‘the golden lustre of parks in autumn and the austere black and white of winter walks’. Previous discs in Jonathan Plowright’s survey have received critical acclaim worldwide, and the series has already been dubbed ‘the benchmark Brahms survey for some time to come’ in Gramophone.

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BIS Brahms: Works for Solo Piano - BIS2137

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Camilla Tilling sings Gluck and Mozart Arias

Camilla Tilling sings Gluck and Mozart Arias


Gluck:

Qual vita è questa mai...Che fiero momento (from Orfeo ed Euridice)

Che fiero momento (from Orfeo et Euridice)

Enfin, il est en ma puissance (from Armide)

Quel trouble me saisit (from Armide)

Ah! Si la liberté me doit être ravie (from Armide)

O malheureuse Iphigenie! (from Iphigénie en Tauride)

Mozart:

Idomeneo, K366: Overture

Quando avran fine omai ... Padre, germani, addio! (from Idomeneo)

Zeffiretti lusinghieri (from Idomeneo)

Giunse alfin il momento... Deh, vieni, non tardar… (from Le nozze di Figaro)

Temerari!...Come scoglio! (from Così fan tutte)

Ei parte...Per pietà (from Così fan tutte)

E Susanna non vien! … Dove sono i bei momenti (from Le nozze di Figaro)


Camilla Tilling (soprano)

Musica Saeculorum, Philipp von Steinaecker

Love plays a significant part in most operas, but all too often it is frustrated, or entangled with deception, humiliation and betrayal. With her new disc Camilla Tilling presents a near-comprehensive catalogue of the emotions that the vagaries of love can raise in the breast of an operatic heroine. And these emotions are universal and timeless, afflicting servants and countesses, Grecian princesses, a sorceress from Damascus and a young lady of 18th-century Naples alike.

Gluck’s Armide glories in having Renaud in her power – until she realizes that her feelings makes it impossible to destroy him as she had planned. Newly raised from the dead, his Euridice is defenceless against the strong emotions of the living, and beset by doubts when Orpheus refuses to acknowledge her on their way back to earth. In the bravura aria Come scoglio, Mozart’s Fiordiligi proclaims her steadfast love for Guglielmo, but in the following act of the opera she regretfully admits to having been enamoured by another. And from The Marriage of Figaro we hear Susanna inviting the loved one to a nocturnal rendez-vous (‘Deh vieni, non tardar’) as well as her mistress, the Countess, wondering in ‘Dove sono’ what happened to the loving marriage she once had.

With a soprano typically described as ‘radiant’, ‘vernal’ or ‘silvery’, Camilla Tilling has performed several of the roles featured here at venues such as Opéra National de Paris, Covent Garden, Salzburg Mozarteum and Drottningholm Slottsteater. On this recording she partnered by Philipp von Steinaecker and his Musica Saeculorum, whose period instruments bring out all the sweetness, pain and regret that Gluck and Mozart magically worked into their scores.

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BIS - BIS2234

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JS Bach: Organ Works, Vol. 2

JS Bach: Organ Works, Vol. 2


Bach, J S:

Prelude & Fugue in G major, BWV541

Organ Concerto in D minor (after Vivaldi), BWV596

Chorale Partita BWV768 'Sei gegrusset, Jesu gütig'

Organ Concerto in C major (after Vivaldi), BWV594

Prelude & Fugue in C major, BWV547


Before releasing his first disc of Bach’s organ works, Masaaki Suzuki had recorded the composer’s complete sacred cantatas, as well as the large-scale choral works and much of the music for harpsichord. His achievements in these fields obscured the fact that Suzuki originally trained as an organist, and began working as such already at the age of twelve. So when Volume 1 of this series reached reviewers around the world, it was something of a revelation to many: the disc went on to be named Choice of the Month in BBC Music Magazine, Diapason d’Or in Diapason and Recording of the Month in Gramophone, which then went on to include it on its list of the ‘50 Greatest Bach Recordings’.

Volume 1 featured the celebrated Schnitger/Hinz organ of Groningen’s Martinikerk in the Netherlands. For the present instalment, Suzuki returned to more familiar ground – the chapel of the Kobe Shoin Women's University where the great majority of his recordings with Bach Collegium Japan have taken place. The chapel houses a French classical organ built in 1983 by Marc Garnier, and on it Suzuki performs a highly symmetrical programme with the large-scale chorale partita BWV 768 at its centre. The work is known as ‘Sei gegrüßet, Jesu gütig’, although the chorale text that it is structured upon most probably is that of ‘O Jesu, du edle Gabe’. On either side the partita is flanked by an arrangement by Bach of concertos by Vivaldi, and a chorale prelude on ‘Liebster Jesu, wir sind hier’. The disc opens and closes with a Prelude and Fugue, in G major and C major respectively.

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BIS - BIS2241

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Sibelius: Kullervo & Kortekangas: Migrations

Sibelius: Kullervo & Kortekangas: Migrations


Kortekangas:

Migrations

Lilli Paasikivi (mezzo-soprano)

Sibelius:

Kullervo, Op. 7

Lilli Paasikivi (mezzo-soprano) & Tommi Hakala (baritone)

Finlandia, Op. 26 (for male choir and symphony orchestra)


Some 150 years ago what is sometimes called ‘The Great Migration’ of Finns to the United States began. Many of the Finns settled in the Mid-West, and especially in the so-called ‘Finn Hook’, consisting of parts of Minnesota, Michigan and Wisconsin. To celebrate this, the Minnesota Orchestra under its Finnish music director Osmo Vänskä commissioned the composer Olli Kortekangas to compose a work on the theme of migration, of a scale and nature suitable for performance alongside Jean Sibelius’s great Kullervo. Discovering the work of the Minnesota-based poet Sheila Packa, herself of Finnish descent, Kortekangas composed Migrations for mezzo-soprano, male voice choir and orchestra, the same forces as in Kullervo, with the exception of the baritone soloist in that work.

An all-star Finnish cast – soloists Lilli Paasikivi and Tommi Hakala and the celebrated YL Male Voice Choir – joined the Minnesota Orchestra and Osmo Vänskä for three concerts in February 2016, and captured by a recording team from BIS the memorable performances can now be enjoyed by a wider audience. Sibelius began working on Kullervo during his student days in Vienna in 1891, finding his inspiration in the Kalevala, Finland’s national epic. In a letter home to Finland he wrote about ‘a new symphony, totally in the Finnish spirit’ and the work is often regarded as the first successful example of a Finnish national musical language.

In spite of what Sibelius wrote in his letter, the five-movement work is usually regarded as a symphonic poem, but with a duration of c. 80 minutes Kullervo certainly has the scale of a large symphony, and as such the present performance forms a worthy appendix to the highly acclaimed Sibelius cycle which the orchestra and Vänskä brought to a close with the recent release of Symphonies No 3, 6 and 7. As a fitting close to this two-disc set, and to the concerts in Minneapolis’ Orchestra Hall, the orchestra performs Sibelius’s Finlandia, with the YL Male Voice Choir joining in in the famous hymn section.

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BIS - BIS9048

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Beethoven: Complete String Quartets Volume 7

Beethoven: Complete String Quartets Volume 7


Beethoven:

String Quartet No. 2 in G major, Op. 18 No. 2

String Quartet No. 9 in C major, Op. 59 No. 3 'Rasumovsky No. 3'


The Quartetto di Cremona have completed another stage in their adventurous journey through the cosmos of Beethoven's String Quartets, visiting the Quartet in G major from the Op. 18 set and the last of the Op. 59 Quartets.

The performance culture and market for the string quartet in the late eighteenth century was markedly different to that of later times: the young Beethoven wrote his Quartets Op. 18 for amateurs. The G major Quartet, the second in the collection, was one such work that could bemastered by talented aristocrats and bourgeois connoisseurs - which is not to say that its complexities or musical challenges are in any way diminished.

With the so-called "Razumovsky" Quartets,the string quartet reached adulthood. And one only needs to compare the technical and intellectual demands of Op. 59 to contemporary works (such as the quartets of the young Franz Schubert) in order to recognise that Beethoven no longer composed for able amateurs, but for highly professional specialists.This becomes particularly obvious in the finale, an extended and extremely virtuosic fugue.

The Quartetto di Cremona have combined these two works from Beethoven's early and middle periods for the seventh volume in their Complete Beethoven String Quartets recording series. Both works end with an "earworm" - one in the classical spirit and one in the form of a rapid fugue - finale furioso!

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Audite Quartetto di Cremona Beethoven String Quartets - AUDITE92689

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Brahms: Ballades and Fantasies

Brahms: Ballades and Fantasies


Brahms:

Theme and Variations in D minor (arr. from String Sextet, Op. 18)

Ballades (4), Op. 10

Fantasies (7 piano pieces), Op. 116


Denis Kozhukhin (piano)

Bold, turbulent defiance sit alongside pained introspection and bittersweet reverie in this penetrating recital of Brahms piano works by the acclaimed young Russian pianist Denis Kozhukhin in his eagerly awaited second recording for PENTATONE.

By turns placid, sparse, restive and impassioned, the highly personal and contemplative late piano pieces of Brahms have been described as "the mirrors of his soul". The seven pieces comprising the Fantasias, Op. 116 are quite different in mood but are nevertheless intricately constructed to produce poetic miniatures of great depth and sonority, requiring sensitive artistry to convey their sense of unity and poignancy.

Brahms is in a more full-bloodied and demonstrative mood with the four character pieces in the much earlier Ballades, Op 10. But these too show moments of transcendent beauty as in the closing ballade where the tenor melody is woven into the mellifluously undulating pianissimo accompaniment. And in the rarely heard Theme and Variations, Op. 18b, Brahms makes a sumptuous and instantly seductive arrangement of the second movement of his own String Sextet, producing an arresting and magisterial work with exquisite tone colorations and a hushed, sublime ending.

Kozuhukin's first recording with PENTATONE of the Grieg and Tchaikovsky's Piano concertos was widely praised. Radio Bremen hailed him as "...already one of the greats of the black and white keys". Gramophone magazine named the release 'Editor's Choice' for May 2016, noting "Above all, [Kozhukhin] is natural ... His inerrant rhythmic sense is pliant yet taut; his sound unalloyed silver. Listening to Kozhukhin, you're left with one thing: the music - incontestable, complete." And The Herald Scotland was unequivocal. "If you want to add these old warhorses to your music library, however, there are few better places to start than here... [PENTATONE] uses the slogan 'Sit back and enjoy', and that is the way to appreciate a recording that could hardly be better for its balanced capturing of the performances."

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On My Journey Now

On My Journey Now

Spirituals and Hymns


1) Nobody Knows the Trouble I’ve Seen 4.36

2) Sometimes I Feel Like a Motherless Child 3.25

3) Didn’t My Lord Deliver Daniel 1.56

4) On My Journey Now 2.12

5) Give Me Jesus 3.24

6) Kumbaya 2.19

7) Go Down Moses 3.02

8) Deep River 2.55

9) Ain’t-a That Good News 2.28

10) Amazing Grace 4.43

11) Joshua Fought the Battle Of Jericho 2.59

12) De Blin’ Man Stood On De Road An’ Cried 3.23

13) Stand Still Jordan 3.28

14)Wade in theWater 1.30

15) By An’ By 2.11

16) My Lord, What a Morning 4.46

17)Were You There 2.57

18) Every Time I Feel the Spirit 2.31

19) Don’t YouWeepWhen I Am Gone 3.02

20) Battle Hymn of the Republic 4.06

21) Let Us Break Bread Together 2.55

22) My Tribute (To God Be The Glory) 5.08

23) He’s Got theWholeWorld in His Hands 2.37

24) Ride on, King Jesus! 2.10

25) Dream Big Speak Loud 5.16


Lester Lynch (baritone)

Life affirming, defiant and uplifting, there is nothing quite like the extraordinary power and simplicity of American Spirituals to move and inspire, abundantly demonstrated here by the acclaimed American operatic baritone Lester Lynch in this new release from PENTATONE of familiar and well-loved spirituals and hymns.

Conceived under conditions of tremendous hardship, these emotionally charged songs speak of the indomitable human will to live and to triumph over despair against the odds. Defiant and jubilant, they communicate the unquenchable longing for freedom and salvation.

“I have dreamed of recording this album from the inception of my career,” writes Lester Lynch in the accompanying album notes. “To realize that dream at this particular moment in time, to record these songs of freedom … echoes the spiritual tradition and revolutionary act of those who raised their voices in song against brutality and inequality.”Lester Lynch personally chose and arranged the songs in this release, each with a particular accompaniment—piano, organ, acoustic guitar, violin, trumpet, harmonica, drum, and djembe (a West African goblet drum). From the rhythmic By An’ By and Ev’ry Time I Feel De Spirit, to the richly melodic Amazing Grace and Deep River, the 24 songs constantly astonish and delight for their range and depth and their unfailing power to move.

“Music speaks to and heals the human spirit,” writes Lynch. “These songs have had a profound effect on American history. I sing them to honor those who struggled (and died) for freedom, and it is my hope that they will spark the light of freedom anew for every listener.”

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Pentatone - PTC5186571

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Brahms: Violin Concerto & Double Concerto

Brahms: Violin Concerto & Double Concerto


Brahms:

Violin Concerto in D major, Op. 77

Double Concerto for Violin & Cello in A minor, Op. 102

Daniel Muller-Schott (cello)


It is impossible to perform either Brahms’ Violin Concerto in D or his Double Concerto in A minor without inviting comparison to Joseph Joachim, the great Hungarian virtuoso for whom Brahms composed nearly all of his violin works. For many years, Joachim and Brahms were inseparable companions and mutual sources of inspiration. It was on Joachim’s urging that Brahms composed his Violin Concerto in D, a masterpiece which quickly entered the standard violin repertoire.

Violin Concerto in D was notable at the time for its return to a style of symphonic concerto which could be traced directly to Ludwig van Beethoven. This gives both conductor and orchestra a great deal of leeway for interpretation, especially during the long periods in which the solo violin doesn’t play at all, such as the orchestral introduction and the beginning of the Adagio movement. Russian-born American conductor Yakov Kreizberg is more than up to the task of bringing these moments to life, as is the Netherlands Chamber Orchestra, for whom Kreizberg had served as chief conductor since 2003.

The titular role of violin soloist is filled masterfully by German violinist Julia Fischer, who throughout her numerous PENTATONE releases consistently brings a maturity and poise well beyond her years. Her interpretation captures both the lightheartedness and joy with which Brahms composed these works and the seriousness of the tradition from which they come. Fischer’s ability to graciously cede the spotlight to the orchestra and emerge in the foreground at just the right moments lends this particular release a level of interaction which truly sets it apart.

For the Double Concerto in A minor, Fischer is joined by fellow Munich native Daniel Müller-Schott on cello. Brahms composed this work as an olive branch to Joachim after a period in which they refused to speak for several years following Joachim’s contentious divorce. The Double Concerto is rife with musical cues and other references to their friendship, particularly in the interplay between cello and violin, and this spirit is perfectly captured by an exceptionally dynamic performance by Fischer and Müller-Schott.

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Pentatone - PTC5186592

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Mendelssohn: Piano Trios Nos. 1 & 2

Mendelssohn: Piano Trios Nos. 1 & 2


Mendelssohn:

Piano Trio No. 1 in D minor, Op. 49

Piano Trio No. 2 in C minor, Op. 66


Julia Fischer (violin), Daniel Muller-Schott (cello) & Jonathan Gilad (piano)

Reissue of the 2006 release.

There are few composers who simultaneously exemplify both restraint and innovation as well as Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdy. Mendelssohn's two piano trios provide some of the finest examples of the balance he was able to achieve between deference to the great masters, in this case Ludwig van Beethoven, and a more Romantic sensibility for chromaticism, harmony and orchestration. A noted pianist in his own right, Mendelssohn performed the piano part on the premieres of both trios, along with Ferdinand David on violin and Carl Wittmann on cello. In this PENTATONE release these roles are filled by violinist Julia Fischer, cellist Daniel Muller-Schott and pianist Jonathan Gilad.

The contrast between the two piano works is striking. The Piano Trio in D minor was written in 1839, during the artistic and personal zenith of Mendelssohn's career. After years of remarkable success all over Europe, his appointment as director of the Leipzig Gewandhaus concerts in 1835 ensured that he could finally began to settle down in Germany, secure in his financial prospects. Two years later, Mendelssohn married and appeared to relish his new life as a husband and father of five. The first piano trio clearly reflects this elated mood, with lively dance movements and joyful, lyrical themes that this release manages to capture perfectly.

In contrast the Piano Trio in C minor, written only five years later, reflects a much more tumultuous period in Mendelssohn's life. His mother had died in 1843 and his health was beginning to turn for the worse, culminating in a fatal stroke on November 4th, 1847. Musically, this contributed to a period of dark timbres, tense tempos and increased chromaticism. Even during this gloomy time the tone is more understated than melodramatic, tending towards a more subtle form of subversion which is even more difficult to pull off, and all the more enjoyable when performed as convincingly as it is by Fischer, Muller-Schott and Gilad.

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Pentatone - PTC5186609

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