Berlioz: Harold En Italie, Op. 16 - Harold Aux Montagnes
Berlioz: Harold En Italie, Op. 16 - Marche Des Pélerins
Berlioz: Harold En Italie, Op. 16 - Sérénade
Berlioz: Harold En Italie, Op. 16 - Orgie De Brigands
Berlioz: Les Troyens - Marche Pour L'Entrée De La Reine
Berlioz: Les Troyens - Pas Des Almées
Berlioz: Les Troyens - Danse Des Esclaves
Berlioz: Les Troyens - Pas D'Esclaves Nubiennes
“Yet again Sir Colin Davis demonstrates his mastery as a Berlioz interpreter. It's fascinating to compare this latest version of Harold en Italie with his 1975 Philips version with Nobuko Imai as soloist, and the 1962 HMV one, no longer available, with Yehudi Menuhin. Most noticeable is the extra tautness of Davis's interpretation, with speeds consistently faster, sometimes markedly so. The textures are sparer, sharper and lighter, bringing an extra incisiveness all round. The soloist, the magnificent Tabea Zimmermann, is balanced as part of the orchestra instead of being spotlit. The beauty of her tone, with its nut-brown colours on the C-string, is never masked, but at the other end of the spectrum the balance allows pianissimos of a delicacy never achieved by the excellent Nobuko Imai, even though she may well have been playing just as quietly, or by the relaxed and rich-toned Menuhin, who prefers lyrical expansion to urgency. The fierceness of the Allegros, with their quirky bursts of high dynamic contrasts, is enhanced on the new disc. The first movement, 'Harold in the Mountains', is markedly faster and tauter this time (some 2'30" shorter than with Menuhin), and the more flowing speed for the second movement, 'Pilgrims' March', establishes the feeling of a procession, with the surprisingly gentle dynamic markings meticulously observed. Though the third movement 'Serenade' the skipping rhythms are infectious, with dotted rhythms sparklingly pointed by the oboists at the start, and the 'Brigands' Orgy' of the finale clearly gains in dramatic flair from the extra incisiveness. The Ballet Music, taken from Davis's prizewinning LSO Live version of Les troyens makes an atmospheric bonus.”
“Davis again demonstrate here his supreme mastery as a Berlioz interpreter...[Zimmermann] is rightly balanced as part of the orchestra instead of being spotlit”
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“Lennox Berkeley's church music has now entered the cathedral lists – both Anglican and Roman – to an extent unthinkable even 10 years ago. He was a pious Catholic, and much of his music is rooted in his deep spiritual convictions His personal kind of melody and harmony sounds like nobody else. This is particularly evident in the most familiar of his religious works here – the 1960 Missa Brevis for Westminster Cathedral, which Britten much admired, and The Lord is my shepherd for Chichester. Just as typical are Look up sweet babe and the ecstatic George Herbert setting which forms the central section of the expansive Festival Anthem. Once heard, these tunes are difficult to forget. The Mass for five voices and Three Latin Motets, written for this choir in 1972, are more austere but, like the eloquent sacred works of his friend Poulenc, they clearly come from the same imagination as the composer's other works. And quite late in life Berkeley boldly brings the discoveries of his more advanced later music into the Magnificat and Nunc Dimittis. This is an impressive collection which merits repeated hearings. The choir sounds well and boasts fine soloists.” Gramophone Classical Music Guide, 2010
‘A sensitivity, radiance and finesse rarely encountered from even the finest pianists … an invaluable disc’ (Gramophone)
“Here's a superlative record of music to confound the sceptics, including the soloist himself, who, in a witty, concentrated essay, expresses his surprise at discovering Alkan's Esquisses and their journey into intimacy rather than gargantuan bravura. Not that these 48 fragments, many of them of a teasing and enigmatic brevity, could be by any other composer. Gnomic, introspective, full of odd twists and turns of phrase and expression, they invariably catch you unawares. In 'Confidence', a Field-like innocence is countered by enough surprises to declare the composer's identity. 'Les soupirs' is so much more than a foretaste of Debussyan impressionism. 'Inflexibilité' holds the listener in a vicelike grip and the change from charm ('Petite marche villageoise') to grimness ('Morituri te salutant') is typical of Alkan's volatile yet rigorous command of the widest variety of ideas and pastiches. 'Le frisson', 'Pseudo-naïveté', 'Délire', 'Fais Dodo', 'L'homme aux sabots' – the titles predict an eccentricity that's nonetheless qualified by a formidable intellectual focus. Osborne's performances are of a sensitivity, radiance and finesse rarely encountered from even the finest pianists. He floats the opening of 'La vision' in a magical haze or nimbus of sound, peppers the keyboard with an immaculate virtuosity in 'La staccatissimo', relishes the Norwegien tang of 'Début de quatuor' and brings a wicked frisson to 'Les diablotins', where Alkan's little devils are hustled from the field almost as if the composer had lost patience with his own grotesque creation. Misha Donat's notes are as affectionate as they are perceptive, and Hyperion's sound is of demonstration quality. An invaluable disc, particularly for those drawn to music's byways.” Gramophone Classical Music Guide, 2010
“Glazunov's Symphony No 8 opens confidently and lyrically, conductor Valéry Polyansky maintaining an easy-going momentum, later pressing forward, yet always holding the argument together. There's some lovely woodwind playing in the Mesto slow movement and the strings create a genuinely passionate climax. The Scherzo is given a purposeful thrust, and the finale doesn't outstay its welcome, with the chorale theme splendidly sonorous at the opening, the drive and tension of the playing well maintained to the end. Also well captured here is the lovely Poèmelyrique was admired by Tchaikovsky for its rich flow of Russian melancholy. But what makes this Chandos disc so very attractive is the Cantata inMemory of Pushkin's 100th Birthday, which is full of warmly lyrical ideas. Glazunov's flow of invention more than compensates for the doggerel poetry he was forced to set by the Grand Duke Constantine Romanov. The work is framed and interlaced by splendid, powerfully sung and very Russian choruses of gratitude. There's a lovely 'Berceuse' for the mezzo, here radiantly sung by Ludmila Kuznetsova, who redeems its sentimentality; a later aria of praise for the tenor is relished by Vsevolod Grivnov; finally comes a hymn in which the two soloists join, exultantly taken up by the chorus, with a burst of joy at the close. This one of those happy works, full of melody, that makes you feel glad to be alive. A truly memorable performance then, and the Chandos recording is well up to house standards.” Gramophone Classical Music Guide, 2010