Gramophone Magazine Editor's Choice

June 2004

Disc of the Month

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Barber: Orchestral Works Volume 5

Awards:

Gramophone Magazine

Disc of the Month - June 2004

Label:

Naxos

Catalogue No:

8559134
(8.559134)

Discs:

1

Release date:

29th March 2004

Barcode:

0636943913420

Length:

56 minutes

Medium:

CD (download also available)
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Barber: Orchestral Works Volume 5


Barber:

Knoxville: Summer of 1915, Op. 24

Toccata Festiva, Op. 36

Third Essay for Orchestra, Op. 47

Second Essay for Orchestra, Op. 17


CD

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Samuel Barber: Knoxville: Summer of 1915, Op. 24

Knoxville: Summer of 1915, Op. 24

Samuel Barber: Second Essay, Op. 17

Second Essay, Op. 17

Samuel Barber: Third Essay, Op. 47

Third Essay, Op. 47

Samuel Barber: Toccata festiva, Op. 36

Toccata festiva, Op. 36

The Times

“Another 20th-century milestone for voice and orchestra arrives... Karina Gauvin is quite a voice: commanding, penetrating, with a burnished colour... The Royal Scottish National Orchestra flares up to match... Alsop Conducts beautifully.”

Gramophone Magazine

“Ravishing. … One of the finest versions of Knoxville to date. … Alsop’s ear-opening Barber series reaches a new high-point with this instalment. Strongly recommended.”

Gramophone Classical Music Guide

2010

“Karina Gauvin and Marin Alsop take a nostalgic view of Knoxville: Summer of 1915. Theirs is an adult's bittersweet reminiscence rather than a child's innocent view. The outer sections sway slowly, the phrases longingly caressed as if soprano and orchestra were loath to let them go.
Gauvin sings smoothly, generally emphasising song over text, though she's alive to James Agee's fragrant imagery, and varies the colour of her voice appropriately. With deeply expressive playing from the Royal Scottish National Orchestra, the result is ravishing; this is one of the finest versions of Knoxville to date.
Alsop's tautly argued Second Essay is equally satisfying. She resists the temptation to stretch the tempo at climactic moments, creating a strong sense of momentum; you're swept along by the music's powerful current.
Knoxville and the Essays pack a nice sonic punch. If only Thomas Trotter's brilliant execution of the solo organ part in the Toccata Festiva were recorded with greater presence than the acoustic of Paisley Abbey allows. The Toccata may not be top-drawer Barber, but it has its moments. Nevertheless, Alsop's ear-opening Barber series reaches a new high-point with this instalment. Strongly recommended.”

Penguin Guide

2011 edition

“Alsop's reading [of Knoxville] brings out the contrasts between the different sections more sharply than usual...superbly played and recorded.”

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Editor's Choice

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Ravel: Shéhérazade & Le tombeau de Couperin and Debussy: Ballades de Villon

Ravel: Shéhérazade & Le tombeau de Couperin and Debussy: Ballades de Villon


Debussy:

Danses sacrée et profane

Lisa Wellbaum (harp)

Le Jet d'eau (from Cinq poèmes de Baudelaire)

Trois Ballades de François Villon

Alison Hagley (soprano)

Ravel:

Shéhérazade

Anne Sofie von Otter (mezzo-soprano)

Le tombeau de Couperin - Orchestral version

Pavane pour une infante défunte

Menuet antique


“Anne Sofie von Otter is really exploiting the French repertory nowadays. After her Mélisande and Carmen, and Chaminade and Offenbach recitals, here she tackles Ravel's Shéhérazade with total success. From the first cry of 'Asie' in the opening song, von Otter beguiles using a hushed, yet expectant quality. Throughout her soft singing is exquisite. The balance between voice and orchestra has all the subtlety this extended prologue requires. At the sinister line, 'Je voudrais voir des assassins', she employs a harsh edge to the voice that's immediately echoed in the orchestral climax. As the poet describes the story-telling, Boulez brings the song to its end with a perfect diminuendo, leading into the mysterious 'Flute enchantée'. Here again von Otter's control of dynamics pays off with a gorgeous 'mysterieux baiser'.
The final song is also the most difficult. In its ambiguity, 'L'indifférent' mustn't be overstressed, and yet that ironic remark at the end, 'Ta démarche feminine et lasse' needs to be not so much regretful as a sigh of half-amused resignation.
Le Tombeau de Couperin, in its orchestral version, is an equally difficult challenge which Boulez and the Cleveland orchestra bring off with precision. With the other two orchestral arrangements of piano pieces, the Pavane and the Menuet Antique, again Boulez achieves such clarity that even these over-familiar works sound surprising and fresh.
The Debussy Danses, for harp and strings, serve as a sort of interlude, leading into the other three-song event, the Trois Ballades de FrançoisVillon. These are so often sung by a baritone; indeed, they were premiered by Jean Périer, the first Pelléas, so it's a slight jolt to hear them done by a soprano. Alison Hagley deals well enough with what Jane Bathori used to call the 'rough and quite choppy' vocal lines of the first song, 'Ballade de Villon à s'amye', but the fuller, darker tones of a baritone might be more appropriate in the central prayer. The account of the chattering wives of Paris brings the programme to a merry conclusion. The disc is a most enjoyable combination of orchestral music and song.
The sound throughout is exceptionally vivid, and Boulez, the orchestra and his soloists provide exemplary performances at almost every turn: heartily recommended.”
Gramophone Classical Music Guide, 2010

GGramophone Magazine

Editor's Choice - June 2004

DG - E4716142

(CD)

$14.00

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Bach, J S: Orchestral Suites Nos. 1-4, BWV1066-1069

Bach, J S: Orchestral Suites Nos. 1-4, BWV1066-1069


“Scholars are now sure that Bach did not plan his four orchestral suites as a set – unlike the six Brandenburg Concertos. It seems likely, then, that the stylistic diversity exhibited in the suites is inadvertent, not, as in the case of the Brandenburgs, an overt display of compositional virtuosity.
On recordings, however, the suites are usually presented as an entity, so the fact that each has its own identifiable personality actually has taken on interpretive significance.
On this Telarc disc, Martin Pearlman effectively delineates the unique character of each work. The C major Suite is essentially lyrical, its phrases unfolding in long, florid arcs; the B minor suite is more fidgety, particularly in the Overture, with its tense trills; and the two D major suites combine grandeur and gaiety. Yet Pearlman remains true to the specific nature of each dance form, as well – listen to the four bourées in succession (the only dance that appears in every suite), for example, and you will find a remarkable consistency of tempo and spirit.
Special attention has also been paid to details of instrumental balance, with admirably transparent results. Some might prefer a bit more thrust and bite from the trumpets in the D major works, where Pearlman prefers to blend the brass into the orchestral fabric, but the sound is still exhilaratingly brilliant.
The crystalline quality of Telarc's recording reveals a few slight imperfections in the strings' intonation; otherwise Boston Baroque's virtuosity and élan leaves little to be desired. Indeed, the Bostonians' interpretation is a strong contender in a crowded field.”
Gramophone Classical Music Guide, 2010

GGramophone Magazine

Editor's Choice - June 2004

Telarc - CD80619

(CD)

$14.25

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Cyril Scott - Orchestral Works Volume 1

Cyril Scott - Orchestral Works Volume 1


Scott, C:

Symphony No. 3 'The Muses'

Huddersfield Choral Society

Piano Concerto No. 2

Howard Shelley (piano)

Neptune - Poem of the Sea


“this release represents a remarkable discovery in 20th-century British music: excellent recording, too.” Gramophone Magazine

GGramophone Magazine

Editor's Choice - June 2004

Chandos - up to 40% off

Chandos Cyril Scott Orchestral Works - CHAN10211

(CD)

Normally: $15.25

Special: $12.20

(also available to download from $10.00)

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Poulenc: Piano Music

Poulenc: Piano Music


Poulenc:

Les Soirées de Nazelles

3 Novelettes

Napoli - suite for piano

Melancolie

15 Improvisations


Charles Owen (piano)

GGramophone Magazine

Editor's Choice - June 2004

Somm - New Horizons - SOMM035

(CD)

$12.50

(also available to download from $10.00)

Usually despatched in 2 - 3 working days. (Available now to download.)

Tchaikovsky: Souvenir de Florence, Op. 70, etc.

Tchaikovsky:

Souvenir de Florence, Op. 70

Verdi:

String Quartet in e minor


“The opulent recording allows plenty of detail to be heard within an ambient acoustic, especially on the excellent SACD mastering.” Editor’s Choice: Gramophone

GGramophone Magazine

Editor's Choice - June 2004

Super Audio CD

Format:

Hybrid Multi-channel

Channel - CCSSA21504

(SACD)

$15.75

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