“In the distinguished performance history of the Great Passion, this is a dynamic and powerful reading. What we have here, primarily, is a compelling directorial vision, a dramatically cohesive whole. The only 'controversial' aspect is the use of single voices in the chorus, thereby applying the research presented in the last two decades by Joshua Rifkin and Andrew Parrott. However, as it happens, Paul McCreesh sees this option as a flexible way of enhancing the rich expressive possibilities of the St Matthew, a means to a somewhat greater end, thankfully, than joining the band of zealots who seek world domination in Bach vocal performance. And there can be no denying that McCreesh uses the single voices to great and encouraging effect. The warm intimacy of expression in the chorales is often spellbinding, the lucid realism of the madrigalian commentaries touchingly palpable and the crowd scenes almost crazed, as if you were among the mob. McCreesh's pragmatism also ensures that his quality singers produce a rich tonal body rather than a pushed, squawking consort. There's some outstandingly characterised singing to be heard here, and a few missed opportunities too. Deborah York sounds somewhat al dente in her soprano arias, a limited emotional range partly accentuated by the colour and subtlety of expression of Magdalena KoOená's 'Buss und Reu' as well as the enraptured and troubled 'Ach, nun ist mein Jesus hin!'. Mark Padmore's Evangelist is highly charged and responsive: at times he hovers, regaling the facts of the matter with disarming poise; at others he becomes agitated, even manic. He seems somehow implicated in Peter's denial in a tableau performed with quite remarkable dramatic power, setting up KoOená's 'Erbarme dich'. Hers is one of the most painfully beautiful performances in years, even if the violin obbligato bulges rather too much. Of the two basses, the Christus of Peter Harvey conveys neither gilded halo nor testosterone- fired ruddiness but he remains an effective and constant companion. Stephan Loges is rhetorically imploring in timbre, unafraid to take risks and a singer you listen to attentively. There's yet to be a clear leader in St MatthewPassion recordings, even if that were desirable. The quality of the production is mainly firstrate, though there are the usual dips and troughs you expect from such a challenging undertaking. 'Können Tränen' is a scrappy and flat affair with a strangely below-par Susan Bickley, and the strings aren't always universally impressive. Overall, if not as culturally resonant as Harnoncourt's remarkably mature and poetic reading, McCreesh's interpretation has an unremitting singularity of purpose, as aesthetically Protestant as Harnoncourt's is Catholic. A memorable and vitally conceived account.”
“Though Paul McCreesh uses minimum forces for Bach's masterpiece, with one voice per part, the result has the sharpest dramatic impact, thanks not only to the incisiveness of the performance but also to the vivid immediacy of the recorded sound.”
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“It's the Myaskovsky that really makes this disc a 'must-have'. His Violin Concerto was premiered by David Oistrakh in Leningrad in 1939. As with Tchaikovsky's Concerto, the opening tutti plays for less than a minute and the slow movement is touchingly lyrical. The rather melancholy first movement is built on a grand scale and includes an expansive cadenza where Repin's mastery is virtually the equal of Oistrakh's. It's forceful music, epic in scale and earnestly argued, the sort of piece that Gergiev thrives on. Listening to Repin's Tchaikovsky Concerto (his second recording of the work) confirms just how far he's journeyed in a few years. Tone projection is stronger, attack more aggressive and his solo demeanour seems better focused than before, far more confident and spontaneous. Mixed in with these improvements are one or two affectations, but it's a cracking performance, one of the best from the younger generation. The recording sounds like a digital update of the sort of blowsy inyour- face sonics typical of the first stereo recordings of the late 1950s. Nevertheless, a fabulous disc.” Gramophone Classical Music Guide, 2010
“Naxos continues its conquest of Cambridge's college choirs and finds that from Clare College on excellent form. I suspect this will be one of those Naxos recordings that sells by the ten thousand rather than merely the thousand.” Gramophone Magazine
“There is no doubt that this new recording is exceptionally fine with the Clare College choir on top of their very considerable form…This CD is another feather in the Naxos cap and is urgently recommended.” MusicWeb International
“The newest Naxos recording of the Requiem tends to trump all previous versions, even the composer's own very fine account. Recorded in the expansive acoustic of Douai Abbey, Berkshire, it is very beautifully sung indeed...Elin Manahan Thomas is the ideal soloist, singing the Pie Jesu with touching simplicity and rising up celestially in the Lux aeterna.” Penguin Guide, 2011 edition
“Paavo Järvi's Telarc coupling of Petrushka and The Firebird Suite is outstanding in every way. Petrushka is so arresting that it invites comparison with the famous pioneering Ansermet account. It should be noted that Ansermet uses the original 1911 score, and Järvi the 1947 version. Switching between the two accounts, the surprise is the closeness of the two interpretations, with Ansermet pressing forward at one moment, Järvi the next, each relishing every detail of Stravinsky's sparkling orchestral palette, yet each completely individual. The more natural concert hall-balance in the superb acoustics of Cincinnati's Music Hall, adds ambient warmth and atmosphere, giving a translucent glow to the woodwind (yet still achieving wonderful detail), a rich patina to the strings, and filling out the brass sonorities without loss of bite. The important piano roulades, too, brilliantly played by Michael Chertock, glitter irridescently. Järvi's reading certainly doesn't lack histrionic qualities, yet it has added pathos, particularly the scene in the Moor's Room, and at the very end of the ballet. With Ansermet, Petrushka's ghost reappears fiercely, even demonically; Järvi chooses a distanced effect and creates a haunting atmosphere of desolate melancholy. The Firebird Suite is equally memorable. Again the wonderful Rimskyan colouring is conveyed in lusciously translucent detail, but the spectacular entry of Kashchei will surely make you jump, and the finale expands gloriously. Jack Renner, Telarc's outstanding chief recording engineer, produces the best bass drum in the business, and those thwacks as Järvi builds his final climax are riveting, as is the amplitude of the overall sound. So this CD not only offers truly memorable performances, splendidly played, but demonstration sound that audiophiles will relish.” Gramophone Classical Music Guide, 2010
“Järvi brings a sense of objectivity to the performance - the feeling that we are actually watching a puppet show on stage in front of us, instead of being caught up in the drama ourselves...[in The Firebird] Järvi and his Cincinnati players find a dreamy, other-worldly quality that's perfectly appropriate for this famous fairytale.” Catherine Chambers, bbc.co.uk, 22nd May 2003