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Brahms: Symphony No. 2 in D major
“Labels such as LSO Live bring altered priorities and fresh perspectives. When did a studio-based company last contemplate recording Brahms's Double Concerto with soloists drawn from within the orchestra? Brahms wrote the work with Joachim and his colleague in the Joachim Quartet, Robert Hausmann, in mind. It has a chamber-music dimension to it, yet it's also a work of real symphonic power. Haitink's accompaniment is superb, allowing the soloists the space for the lyric outpourings at the heart of the work. The sweet-toned Gordan Nikolitch and the burlier-sounding, though endlessly responsive Tim Hugh are perfectly matched, and grow ever closer and more eloquent as the romantic, at times almost operatic, colloquy of the two opening movements unfolds. After which, slippered ease and remembered passion is the order of the day in a sweetly judged reading of the finale. The recording, rich and immediate, brings out the tactile quality of Brahms's writing.
Haitink's 1990 Boston recording of the symphony has a certain Mediterranean glow to it.
In this imposing and beautifully shaded new LSO performance, we return north again with a reading that's weightier and even more cleanly articulated than his 1973 Amsterdam version.” Gramophone Classical Music Guide, 2010
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Andreas Scholl - Arcadia
Vocal cantatas by Italian composers associated with the Arcadian Academy of Rome
World premiere recordings
“Scholl's polished counter-tenor is suitably seductive, his interpretative instincts engaging...The playing of the Italian ensemble Accademia Bizantina, led from the harpsichord by Ottavio Dantone, is alive to every vocal gesture and the colourful opportunities offered by the text - the twittering of the birds, the crowing of the cock, the surging of the sea” Andrew McGregor, bbc.co.uk, 20th November 2002
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“..when performed with such tender and passionate advocacy as Lloyd-Jones and the Scottish orchestra lavish on them, his once popular orchestral miniatures...emerge with a beguiling freshness and ravishing impressionistic transparency. At Naxos's super-budget price…..this is a steal.” The Sunday Times
“A chronologically wide-ranging programme startis with Bizet-meets-Elgar in Marche caprice (composed in Paris in 1889) and finishes with the flourishes of the 1931 Fantastic Dance that Delius inscribed to his amanuensis Eric Fenby.
There are two further rarities: the fragrant Spring Morning of 1890, which breathes a distinctly Norwegian air, and the colourful AmericanRhapsody of 1896, an embryonic (and purely orchestral) dry run for the towering Appalachia of six years later.
Lloyd-Jones's flowing yet deeply felt way with The Walk to the Paradise Garden leaves a less artfully self-conscious impression than Mark Elder's silky Hallé version. The only reservation applies to the Two Pieces for Small Orchestra, On hearing the first cuckoo inSpring and Summer night on the river, both of which are too robust to work their full magic.
(Thomas Beecham and Norman Del Mar remain unsurpassed in this 1911-12 diptych; the same goes for A song before sunrise.) Otherwise, the RSNO respond attentively throughout.” Gramophone Classical Music Guide, 2010
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Leighton - Sacred Choral Music
“Our reviewer summed up: 'In this business of record-reviewing I find, on the positive side, music and performances I like, more that I admire, some that I love, but not much that evokes affirmation from the soul. This does.'” Gramophone Classical Music Guide, 2010
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(original 1847 version)
“This recording starts project engendered by the Verdi specialist Julian Budden in the more adventurous days of BBC Radio 3 to perform a number of Verdi operas in their original versions.
Although Verdi's revisions of his first Shakespearian opera are mostly improvements, several aspects of the original score are worth reviving. Inevitably it's a more consistent whole, since the later amendments are in a changed and improved style. Lady Macbeth's second aria, 'Trionfai', is more basic and showy than its subtle successor, 'La luce langue'. The cabaletta to Macbeth's Act 3 aria is rousing and unusual, and was dropped in favour of another duet for Macbeth and his Lady. The chorus at the start of Act 4, replaced by a more distinctive piece, is in its own right a fine example of Risorgimento ardour, and the final scene, besides having Macbeth's effective aria as he lies mortally wounded is tauter, if more blatant, than its successor.
What makes this issue most worth while, however, is the superb performance. John Matheson directs a vital, finely timed and wellintegrated account of the score that catches all its astonishing originality. Rita Hunter is as accomplished and appropriate a Lady Macbeth as any on disc, bar the unique Callas for De Sabata. Peter Glossop's Verdian style is faultless, and his understanding of the part complete.
Kenneth Collins delivers 'Ah, la paterno mano' in exemplary voice and style. John Tomlinson, then in pristine voice, is an imposing Banquo. Chorus and orchestra are hard to fault. The recording, slightly bass-heavy, has been transferred at rather a low level, but its balance is as good as you'd expect, given its origins. This is definitely an experience convinced Verdians should not miss.” Gramophone Classical Music Guide, 2010
“This set is the more cherishable when the performance, incisvely conducted by John Matheson, is so strongly cast. In this version the central roles...are vocally even more demanding than in Verdi's revision, and [Glossop] gives a searingly powerful performance...Hunter is equally commanding as Lady Macbeth.” Penguin Guide, 2010 edition ****
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