Gramophone Magazine Editor's Choice

Awards Issue 2002

Disc of the Month

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Orient Occident

Awards:

Gramophone Magazine

Disc of the Month - Awards Issue 2002

Label:

ECM

Catalogue No:

4720802

Series:

New Series

Discs:

1

Barcode:

0028947208020

Length:

47 minutes

Medium:

CD (download also available)

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Orient Occident


Pärt:

Pilgrims' Song

Orient and Occident

Como Cierva Sedienta


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Arvo Pärt: Ein Wallfahrtslied

Ein Wallfahrtslied

Arvo Pärt: Orient & Occident

Orient & Occident

Arvo Pärt: Como cierva sedienta

I

II

III

IV

V

Gramophone Classical Music Guide

2010

“This programme represents a retreat from the remote cloister where for so long Arvo Pärt invited us to join him, a definite shift from the aerated tintinabuli. The purity remains, so do the spare textures and, to a limited extent, earlier stylistic traits. Pärt's voice is always recognisable.
And yet who, years ago, could have anticipated the tempered tumult that erupts in the third movement of Como cierva sedienta, a halfhour choral drama commissioned by the Festival de Música de Canarias? This recording subscribes to ECM's well-tried aesthetic, in which clarity, fine-tipped detail and carefully gauged perspectives are familiar priorities.
The texts come from Psalms 42 and 43, opening with 'As the hart panteth…' (Psalm 42).
Even in the first few seconds, after chorus and bell have registered, vivid instrumental colour signals a fresh departure. It's almost as if Pärt is relishing textures previously denied him, like a penitent released from fasting. Take the second movement, 'Why art thou cast down, my soul?', which opens among lower strings then switches to tactile pizzicati and woodwinds that are almost Tchaikovskian in their post-Classical delicacy. The long closing section is pensive but conclusive: a dramatic opening, drum taps that recall Shostakovich 11, expressively varied instrumental commentary, quiet string chords later on and a closing episode filled with equivocal tranquillity.
The two shorter works are also significant.
Wallfahrtslied (1984, 'Song of Pilgrimage'), a memorial to a friend, is presented in the revised version for strings and men's choir.
Again Pärt engages a lyrical muse, particularly for the emotionally weighted prelude and postlude whereas the accompaniment to the main text (Psalm 121, 'I lift up mine eyes unto the hills…'), a combination of pizzicato and shudderingbowed phrases, suggests a lament tinged with anger.
The seven-minute string piece Orient and Occident has 'a monophonic line which runs resolutely through [it]', to quote Pärt's wife.
Snake-like oriental gestures, coiled with prominent portamenti (the sort used by Indian orchestras) sound like an Eastern variant of Pärt's earlier string works. The choral pieces, though, are the prime reasons for investing in this exceptional and musically important release.”

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Editor's Choice

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Mertz: Bardenklange, Op. 13

Mertz: Bardenklange, Op. 13


Adam Holzman (guitar)

“Adam Holzman supplies the necessary virtuosity and sense of style, while mercifully avoiding any lapse into schmaltz, and plays with great clarity and beauty of sound. No less laudable are the quality of the recording itself and Richard Long's exceptionally fine annotation.” Gramophone Magazine, Awards Issue 2002

Naxos Guitar Collections - 8554556

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$9.00

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Mendelssohn: Cello Sonatas, Variations concertantes & 7 Songs without Words

Mendelssohn: Cello Sonatas, Variations concertantes & 7 Songs without Words


Mendelssohn:

Cello Sonata No. 1 in B flat major, Op. 45

Variations concertantes Op. 17

Song without Words for Cello & Piano, Op. 109

Auf Flügeln des Gesanges, Op. 34 No. 2

Schilflied, Op. 71 No. 4

Suleika (Goethe/von Willemer) Op. 34 No. 4

Die Liebende schreibt (Goethe) Op. 86 No. 3

Cello Sonata No. 2 in D major, Op. 58

Song without Words, Op. 62 No. 1 in G major 'May Breezes'

Song without Words, Op. 62 No. 6 in A major 'Spring Song'


GGramophone Magazine

Editor's Choice - Awards Issue 2002

DG - E4715652

(CD)

$14.00

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Shostakovich: Complete Songs Volume 1

Shostakovich: Complete Songs Volume 1


Shostakovich:

Two Romances to lyrics by M Lermontov Op. 84

Four Songs to lyrics by E Dolmatovsky Op. 86

Four Monologues to words by A Pushkin Op. 91

Four Greek Songs

Five Songs to lyrics by E Dolmatovsky Op. 98

Six Spanish Songs Op. 100


Victoria Evtodieva (soprano), Natalia Biryukova (mezzo-soprano), Fyodor Kuznetsov (bass), Mikhail Lukonin (baritone), Yuri Serov (piano)

“Here are two CDs dedicated to some of the finest and most under-recorded song repertoire of the 20th century. Yury Serov is the presiding spirit; his sharply characterised piano playing radiating musical and cultural understanding, and his singers are first-rate.
The first volume is dedicated to the 1950s and contains several first recordings; few, if any, of the songs have ever appeared on CD before.
Much of his music from this time is marked by various nuances of cheerfulness (tentative, determined, over-stated, but never as brattish as in his first maturity). Often these seem rather to belie his true nature. Indeed, only the four Pushkin Monologues, with their topics of suffering, sorrow, imprisonment and resistance, are easily recognisable as the voice of Shostakovich, the Chronicler and Conscience of his Times. Fyodor Kuznetsov is slightly unsteady of voice here, but he still manages to convey a quality of wise, noble weariness that rings absolutely true.
It's to the enormous credit of all four singers that most of the remaining songs come across not as mere sops to authority but as genuine attempts to take on new artistic challenges.
Was it still possible to do something worthwhile with the homespun, soft-centred verses of Yevgeny Dolmatovsky? Many of Shostakovich's countrymen certainly thought he had done so, at least in respect of 'The Homeland is Listening' (first of the Op 86 Songs), since this was taken up as a signature tune for All-Union Radio and was actually sung by Yuri Gagarin during the first manned space-flight. Seemingly looking back to the tradition of Tchaikovsky, Rimsky-Korsakov and Rachmaninov, Shostakovich's two Lermontov Romances are gorgeously atmospheric and tender. By contrast his earthier Greek and Spanish Songs reflect his long-standing interest in poetry from other national traditions. Was his heart in them? Again you wouldn't find it hard to think so after hearing these fine performances.
Volume 2 gathers together the cycles from the last decade of Shostakovich's life, with the exception of his massive Suite on Verses byMichelangelo. While this repertoire isn't quite so rare as that on Volume 1, the performances are just as fine. In the Blok cycle – surely the finest songs on the disc – Evtodieva may not be the last word in subtlety, but she's still far preferable to the crude hectoring of Natalia Gerasimova on Chant du Monde. Given that the Four Verses ofCaptain Lebyadkin are otherwise unavailable, and the extraordinarily elusive Six Marina TsvetayevaPoems can currently be obtained only in the composer's orchestrated version, this disc is again pretty well self-recommending.
Altogether this enterprise is a winner. The recording quality is good, though there's a slight 'pinginess' to the piano sound.”
Gramophone Classical Music Guide, 2010

GGramophone Magazine

Editor's Choice - Awards Issue 2002

Delos - DE3304

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