Gramophone Magazine Editor's Choice

November 2002

Editor's Choice

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Walton - Chamber Music

Walton - Chamber Music


Walton:

Valse from Façade

Passacaglia for solo cello

Violin Sonata

Piano Quartet

Anon in Love for tenor and guitar

John Mark Ainsley (tenor), Craig Ogden (guitar)


“This excellent Hyperion issue brings together a wide-ranging group of Walton's chamber works, from his earliest major work, the Piano Quartet, originally written when he was 16, to his last instrumental piece, the Passacaglia, which he composed for Rostropovich when he was nearly 80. As a substantial bonus there's the little song cycle for tenor and guitar, Anon in Love, as well as the two shorter pieces.
Helped by a spacious recording, the extra lightness and clarity brings an element of fantasy into such a movement as the Scherzo of the Piano Quartet and an extra tenderness into the lovely slow movement. Nowhere else does Walton so enthusiastically use modal thematic material, starting with the mysterious opening theme, which the Nash players take very reflectively at a speed much slower than the movement's main tempo, Allegramente. It's an astonishingly confident work for so young a composer, with adventurous writing for the strings that belies the fact that Walton was no string-player.
The Violin Sonata, a more elusive work, long underestimated, is given an equally persuasive performance, with Marianne Thorsen, accompanied by Ian Brown, freely expressive. John Mark Ainsley is totally undaunted by the taxing vocal writing of Anon in Love, originally designed for Peter Pears. And Craig Ogden is an ideal accompanist, totally idiomatic, adding sparkle to the vigorous songs in this offbeat collection.
Though Ian Brown gives a slightly sluggish account of Façade's 'Valse' – in the awkward piano transcription ascribed to Walton himself – cellist Paul Watkins crowns the disc with a fine reading of the solo Passacaglia.”
Gramophone Classical Music Guide, 2010

“a powerful account of the Passacaglia for solo cello by Paul Watkins.” James Longstaffe, Presto Classical, July 2014

GGramophone Magazine

Editor's Choice - November 2002

Hyperion & Helios - up to 50% off

Hyperion - CDA67340

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Special: $11.89

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Rimsky Korsakov: Scheherazade

Rimsky Korsakov: Scheherazade


Balakirev:

Islamey - Oriental Fantasy

Borodin:

In the Steppes of Central Asia

Rimsky Korsakov:

Scheherazade, Op. 35


“[Gergiev] bring[s] out Rimsky's crystalline solo textures, such as the passages for solo cello, horn and woodwinds in the first movement. And if tempos are slow in the first three movements, Gergiev makes up for lost time in the fiery, bristling fourth, which becomes a tour-de-force for an orchestra clearly at the height of its powers” Matthew Shorter, bbc.co.uk, 25th February 2003

“Recorded under live conditions but without an audience in St Petersburg's Mariinsky Theatre, this Scheherazade is the most red-blooded, exciting account of Rimsky-Korsakov's orchestral warhorse currently available, helped by full, immediate sound of a richness rare in Russian recordings. The magnetism is established from the start, with Gergiev completely dispelling the feeling that this is a work which keeps stopping and starting too often for its own good. Consistently you register that these are players who have the music in their blood, with rubato naturally inflected. In expressive freedom Gergiev is often less extreme than Reiner or Karajan, as in the quasi recitando bassoon solo near the start of the second movement or the espressivo oboe solo which follows, in which Gergiev notes also the atempo marking, keeping it steady. The virtuosity of the St Petersburg soloists conveys an edge-ofseat tension, particularly when Gergiev opts for challengingly fast speeds in the climactic passages of the second and fourth movements.
This is a work written over only a few weeks, and far more than usual this is a performance that, defying the many changes of tempo, conveys that urgency of inspiration. Yet Gergiev brings out points of detail in the brilliant instrumentation normally bypassed, as in the upward glissando for the cellos in the opening section of the third movement, either ignored or merely hinted at by others.
Two points might be counted controversial.
The tempo for that opening section of the third movement, 'The Young Prince and Princess', is markedly slower than with the others. Yet in context Gergiev conjures extra contrast with the other movements. The other point is that, though the recorded sound has spectacular weight and power over the widest range, it's clear that reverberation has been added to a recording made in a relatively dry theatre acoustic. Happily, it doesn't get in the way of orchestral detail. Both performance and recording, whatever the acoustic juggling, have a power that pins you back in your seat.”
Gramophone Classical Music Guide, 2010

GGramophone Magazine

Editor's Choice - November 2002

Philips - 4708402

(CD)

$14.00

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La France au Calvaire

La France au Calvaire


Alain:

O Salutaris

Dupré:

La France au Calvaire Op. 49

Langlais:

Festival Alleluia

Messiaen:

O sacrum convivium


“ La France au Calvaire is an astonishing work, setting, to quote the booklet note, 'a curious libretto' by René Herval who, like Dupré, was a native of Rouen. Appalled by the devastation wrought on his native city during the Second World War, Dupré vents all his anger and passion into this 65-minute oratorio, its movements dedicated to six French saints and framed by a Prologue and Final. Principally known for his organ music, it might seem strange to question Dupré's use of the organ here as the sole means of instrumental accompaniment. But despite Jeremy Filsell's stunning virtuosity and brilliant handling of the not always perfectly in tune Douai Abbey organ, the score seems to cry out for an orchestra.
No such reservations about the performance: in a word, stunning. The bleak ugliness of Christ nailed to the cross is compellingly portrayed by Matthew Beale, Catherine Denley makes an arresting France appealing for forgiveness for her misguided people, Colin Campbell fulfils the dual roles of St Denis and the voice of Christ with suitable gravitas and authority, and Helen Neeves is a beautifully innocent St Clotilde (magically set against a decidedly Messiaenic organ backdrop).
As for Jeremy Backhouse and his superb Vasari Singers, they excel even by their own high standards.
The three motets which share the disc seem in comparison a trifle disappointing. But that disappointment is only because the motets precede a work of extraordinary emotional impact and a performance of exceptional power.”
Gramophone Classical Music Guide, 2010

GGramophone Magazine

Editor's Choice - November 2002

20% off Guild

Guild - GMCD7239

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Mozart - Violin Concertos Nos. 1, 3 & 4

Mozart - Violin Concertos Nos. 1, 3 & 4


Mozart:

Violin Concerto No. 1 in B flat major K207

Violin Concerto No. 3 in G major, K216

Violin Concerto No. 4 in D major, K218


“An eager, spontaneous-sounding response to the teenage Mozart's exuberance and lyricism.” BBC Music Magazine, Proms 2007

“while she doesn't have the quicksilver sound and instinctive mastery of the classical bow, and perhaps not quite the full range of tone colours that gut strings can deliver in the hands of a seasoned period instrumentalist, she's fluent, warm, and surprisingly gentle...The OAE is on top form, obviously enjoying this outing, with a superstar soloist meeting them on their own terms” Andrew McGregor, bbc.co.uk, 20th November 2002

GGramophone Magazine

Editor's Choice - November 2002

Presto CD

Philips - E4702922

(Presto CD)

$15.25

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Usually despatched in 1 - 2 working days. (Available now to download.)

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