Gramophone Magazine Editor's Choice

November 2005

Disc of the Month

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Opera Proibita

Awards:

Gramophone Magazine

Disc of the Month - November 2005

BBC Music Magazine

Opera Choice - November 2005

Label:

Decca

Catalogue No:

4757029

Discs:

1

Release date:

31st Oct 2005

Barcode:

0028947570295

Length:

74 minutes

Medium:

CD
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Opera Proibita

includes arias from Handel, A Scarlatti & Caldara


Caldara:

Vanne pentita a piangere (from Il Trionfo dell’Innocenza)

Sparga il senso lascivo veleno (from Il Trionfo della Castità)

Si piangete pupille dolente (from Santa Francesca Romana)

Ahi quanto cieca…Come foco allo splendore (from Imperatice Faustina)

Handel:

Un pensiero nemico di pace (from Il Trionfo del Tempo e del Disinganno)

Come nembo che fugge col vento (from Il Trionfo del Tempo e del Disinganno)

Lascia la spina (from Il Trionfo del Tempo e del Disinganno)

Disserratevi oh porte d’Averno (from La Resurrezione)

Notte funesta…Ferma l’ali (from La Resurrezione)

Scarlatti, A:

Cantata per la Notte del Santissimo Natale: All’arme si accesi guerrieri

Mentre io godo (from Il Giardino di Rose)

Caldo Sangue (from Sedecia Re di Gerusalemme)

Ecco negl’orti tuoi…Che dolce simpatia (from Il Giardino di Rose)

Qui resta...L’alta Roma (from San Filippo Neri)

Ahi qual cordoglio...Doppio affetto (from Sedecia Re di Gerusalemme)


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Alessandro Scarlatti: Cantata per la Notte del SS.mo Natale

"All'arme si accesi guerrieri" (Aria dell Pace)

Alessandro Scarlatti: Il Giardino di Rose (Oratorio La Santissima Vergine del Rosario)

"Mentre io godo" (Aria della Speranza)

George Frideric Handel: Il Trionfo del Tiempo e del Disinganno, HWV 46a

"Un pensiero nemico di pace"

Antonio Caldara: Il Trionfo dell'Innocenza

"Vanne pentita a piangere"

Antonio Caldara: La Castità al Cimento (Il Trionfo della Castità)

"Sparga il senso lascivo veleno"

Alessandro Scarlatti: Il Sedecia, Rè di Gerusalemme

"Caldo Sangue"

George Frideric Handel: Il Trionfo del Tiempo e del Disinganno, HWV 46a

"Come nembo che fugge col vento"

Alessandro Scarlatti: Il Giardino di Rose (Oratorio La Santissima Vergine del Rosario)

"Ecco negl'orti tuoi...Che dolce simpatica"

Alessandro Scarlatti: San Filippo Neri

"Qui resta...L'alta Roma"

George Frideric Handel: Il Trionfo del Tiempo e del Disinganno, HWV 46a

"Lascia la spina cogli la rosa"

Alessandro Scarlatti: Il Sedecia, Rè di Gerusalemme

"Ahi qual cordoglio...Doppio affetto"

Antonio Caldara: Santa Francesca Romana

"Si piangete pupille dolente"

Antonio Caldara: Il Martirio di Santa Caterina

"Ahi quanto cieca...Come foco allo splendore"

George Frideric Handel: La Resurrezione (1708), HWV 47

"Disserratevi oh porte d'Averno"

"Notte funesta...Ferma l'ali"

George Frideric Handel: Il Trionfo del Tiempo e del Disinganno, HWV 46a

"Un leggiadro giovinetto"

BBC Music Magazine

1st November 2005

“Bartoli is on marvellous form in these arias - a truly wonderful disc”

Click on any of the works listed above for alternative recordings.

Editor's Choice

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Rachmaninov: Piano Concertos Nos. 1 & 2

Rachmaninov: Piano Concertos Nos. 1 & 2


Rachmaninov:

Piano Concerto No. 1 in F sharp minor, Op. 1

(Studio Recording)

Piano Concerto No. 2 in C minor, Op. 18

(Live Recording)


“With no shortage of fine versions of this pairing from which to choose, EMI must rely on the undoubted selling power of its Norwegian star to make this release stand out from the rest. It is certainly a worthy contender for the Top Ten when aided by the world-class Berlin Phil, a conductor who is in the Barbirolli class of adroit accompanists, superb recorded sound and a beautifully voiced piano.
With judicious tempi (though, as is now customary, slightly slower than the composer's) and a well-nigh ideal balance between piano and orchestra, instrumental detail is tellingly observed, such as the bassoon and clarinet counterpoint at the beginning of the second movement of the First Concerto and the triangle in its finale, both well integrated into the sound picture, even if there is a hint of the engineer's hand.
Nor is there anything mannered about the soloist, though some may wish he was slightly less well mannered. Andsnes here gives the lie to those who find his playing on the cool side of emotional but he is always the reliable guest who never gets drunk, no matter how much alcohol he has consumed.
The fiery section of the cadenza to the First Concerto, for example, runs out of steam in the final bars to which Byron Janis, for instance, brings a despairing vehemence.
The Second Concerto (live, as opposed to the studio First, but without any appreciable difference in acoustic and balance) is, similarly, given a Rolls-Royce reading with which only the pickiest could find fault. The last movement, though, is something special and the final appearance of its glorious second subject, greeted with a mighty timpani wallop and braying brass, is heart-stopping. The audience rightly roar their approval.”
Gramophone Classical Music Guide, 2010

“Andsnes studiously avoids barnstorming on the one hand or prissiness on the other: his is an intelligent, alert and at times austere middle road, with lightning reflexes in the First and more reserved touch in the Second” The Independent ****

“Leif Ove Andsnes applies to these two glorious works all those qualities for which his playing is renowned. It’s nothing short of stunning” Sunday Times *****

“Leif Ove Andsnes and Antonio Pappano deliver full bodied and intelligently detailed readings of Rachmaninov…Andsnes and Pappano undoubtedly are world-class contenders in a crowded market, and I hope they plan further recorded collaborations” Classics Today

“As Andsnes observed in interview, the conductor is the one who really drives the Second Concerto, and after spacious opening chords it's over to Pappano's Berliners for opulent sweep. Andsnes lets intensity slacken in the development, but the return of the big tune puts us back on track. The slow movement is beautifully moulded, with plenty of now-unfashionable but ever self-indulgent string vibrato.” BBC Music Magazine, October 2005

GGramophone Awards 2006

Winner - Concerto

GGramophone Magazine

Editor's Choice - November 2005

Warner Classics - 4748132

(CD)

$8.50

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Saariaho: L'Amour de loin

Saariaho: L'Amour de loin

Directed by Peter Sellars


L’amour de loin was named “Best New Work of the Year” by The New York Times in 2000

“Since its premiere in 2000, Saariaho's first opera has been widely performed, and won universal plaudits. It's a simple tale, based on the real-life troubadour prince Jaufré Rudel, who falls in love with the Countess of Tripoli without ever having met. Visually, it is stunningly austere, with two tall spiral staircases, one at each side of the stage, and the black space in between covered with water representing the sea. Finley as Jaufré has melodies which grow out of songs by the actual 12th-century troubadour-they're fascinatingly tinted by Arabic... Saariaho wrote the part of the Countess for Upshaw - she has more widely-ranging melodies, sung with complete confidence and conviction... And Groop as the Pilgrim is as fine a singing actor as the other two: much is shot in close-up, and you can feel the total involvement of all three protagonists. ...this is an incredibly beautiful and moving experience.” BBC Music Magazine, October 2005

GGramophone Magazine

DVD of the Month - November 2005

BBC Music Magazine

DVD Choice - October 2005

DVD Video

Region: 0

Format: NTSC

DG - 0734026

(DVD Video)

$22.00

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Brahms: Violin Sonatas Nos. 1-3 (complete)

Brahms: Violin Sonatas Nos. 1-3 (complete)


“…I enjoyed the A major, and was even more enthused by the D minor. …Capuçon and Nicholas Angelich are absolutely inside the music, completely responsive to the play of expressive light and shade, and the way this goes hand in glove with the unmatched intricacy and vitality of Brahms's rhythmic sense.” BBC Music Magazine, October 2005

“Capuçon and Angelich make a wonderfully well-matched team, with a command of genuine rubato (pressing forward in order to make room for subsequent holding back) that gives a truly authentic impression. Each detail of the music is expressively convincing: it seems that it's a priority for Angelich and Capuçon to feel the music. This can lead them sometimes to go against Brahms's expressed intentions. The theme at 3'18" in the first movement of Op 78 is marked to be in tempo (after a ritardando) but here the speed suddenly becomes faster, the dynamic much louder than the written pianissimo.
Similarly, in the Presto agitato finale of Op 108 the quieter passages are taken more slowly.
These are occasional lapses: overall the performances are beautifully considered, tending towards an expansive, romantic view of Brahms, but with a care for balance and proportion. The FAE Scherzo, for example, has all the necessary youthful exuberance, but it's coupled with a fine feeling for balance between the parts and for rhythmic character. And, throughout, there's a magnificent sense of line: Capuçon plays the great G-string melodies in Op 108's Adagio and Op 100's finale with rich, opulent sound but his vibrato is never too prominent – the most important thing is the shape of the melody.”
Gramophone Classical Music Guide, 2010

GGramophone Magazine

Editor's Choice - November 2005

Erato - 5457312

(CD)

$8.50

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Hans Gál - The Complete Solo Piano Works

Hans Gál - The Complete Solo Piano Works


Gál, H:

Sonata Op. 28 (1927)

world premiere recording

Suite Op. 24 (1922)

world premiere recording

Sonatina No. 1 Op. 58 (1951)

world premiere recording

Sonatina No. 2 Op. 58 (1949)

world premiere recording

Three Sketches Op. 7 (1910-11)

world premiere recording

Three Small Pieces Op. 65 (1944)

world premiere recording

Twenty-four Preludes Op. 83 (1960)

Twenty-four Fugues Op. 108 (1980)

world premiere recording


Hans Gál penned scores of effortlessly pleasing and melodic music which is rarely heard today. A “continental Briton”, he fled the Nazi regime and settled in Edinburgh in 1939 where he lived until his death at the age of 97. In Germany and Austria he achieved early recognition as a composer, his work championed by Georg Szell. After emigrating, his life was devoted mainly to academia and authoring numerous books on music. There has been a recent upsurge of interest in his work, and this 3-CD set of his complete works for solo piano, including numerous world-premiere recordings, champions the cause. Exquisitely performed by pianist Leon McCawley – his second recording for Avie following his Gramophone Editor’s Choice recording of Schumann Piano Works (AV 0029) – this collection carries the endorsement of Hans Gál’s estate.

3 CDs for the price of 2

“could hardly be bettered: virtually every bar betrays a level of perception that would surely have warmed the composer’s heart…a surprise journey that should encourage many a return visit, especially in performances as consistently sympathetic as these.” Gramophone Magazine

“thoughtful, exciting, technically superb” Evening Standard

“…the works recorded here all display a determined individuality and sureness of purpose that is rare in music of the 20th century. …Leon McCawley proves to be a totally sympathetic and insightful interpreter. A remarkable achievement.” BBC Music Magazine, December 2005 *****

“To say that Hans Gál was unique is not to suggest that his work is quirky or inaccessible.
Hardly a single track on this admirable and musically worthwhile collection lacks interest, colour or instant appeal. And yet Gál was no mindless lightweight: a strain of deeper meaning invariably lingers somewhere beneath his compact and attractive surfaces.
The first thing to say about this set is that Leon McCawley's playing could hardly be bettered: virtually every bar betrays a level of perception that would surely have warmed the composer's heart. Take the very first track on the first CD, the opening movement of Gál's Op 28 Piano Sonata of 1927, the numerous decorative harmonic digressions even within the first 30 seconds, the way McCawley ever so slightly stresses them but without disrupting the flow. Then try the Quasi menuetto second movement, a playful charmer stylistically placed somewhere between Prokofiev and Finzi. The early Suite, Op 22, is a genial sequence slightly reminiscent of Korngold (the Menuet) whereas the two post-war Sonatinas display more of a neo-classical leaning.
All this, plus the three early Sketches, three Pieces and three Preludes (the middle piece achingly beautiful), fill just the first disc.
But the best is yet to come: two CDs of Preludes and Fugues, the 24 preludes written mostly in hospital in 1960, one a day while recovering from illness; the fugues, serene and clear-headed, the work of an unusually lucid 90-year-old. Both sets progress from their initial key (B for the Preludes, C for the Fugues) and ascend chromatically, with the last piece cast a semitone lower than the first.
The Preludes are more akin to, say, Prokofiev's Visions fugitives than to Shostakovich's Preludes.
The fugues, on the other hand, are rather more ascetic, pared to essentials but often intensely expressive.
So, a surprise journey that should encourage many a return visit, especially in performances as consistently sympathetic as these. Excellent sound.”
Gramophone Classical Music Guide, 2010

GGramophone Magazine

Editor's Choice - November 2005

Avie - AV2064

(CD - 3 discs)

$32.00

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Chopin & Godowsky - Études

Chopin & Godowsky - Études

For the first time on record, Boris Berezovsky plays Chopin’s original etudes and Godowsky’s versions side by side allowing listeners to compare them.


Chopin:

Étude Op. 10 No. 1 in C major

Étude Op. 10 No. 2 in A minor 'chromatique'

Étude Op. 10 No. 3 in E major 'Tristesse'

Étude Op. 10 No. 4 in C sharp minor

Étude Op. 10 No. 5 in G flat major 'Black Key'

Étude Op. 10 No. 6 in E flat minor 'Lacrimosa'

Étude Op. 25 No. 1 in A flat major 'Aeolian Harp'

Étude Op. 25 No. 5 in E minor

Godowsky:

Études


“Berezovsky's technical command in Godowsky is formidable” BBC Music Magazine, 1st November 2005

“the truest successor to the great Russian pianists...the most interesting Russian pianist since Emil Gilels [with] a technique that can sweep all preconceived notions or sense of musical propriety into oblivion...a prodigious virtuoso....a young Russian titan of the keyboard [who] takes even the mightiest virtuoso repertoire in his stride” The Times

“Here, uniquely, you can hear Chopin and Chopin-Godowsky side by side, marvelling or shuddering at the way Chopin's original is turned topsy-turvy and transformed into 'something rich and strange'. Recorded live, Boris Berezovsky's performances of eight of Chopin's Studies and 11 of Godowsky's arrangements beggar description.
No more formidable young pianist exists and his stunning recital balances prodigies of virtuosity with an unfaltering musical integrity. His Op 10 No 1 study is maestoso indeed, and never more so than when Godowsky's massive carillon of sound is embellished with a counterpoint as imperious as the last trump. Chopin's originals are always musically rather than sensationally characterised, the reverse of, say, Cziffra's dazzling if infamous distortions, yet Berezovsky's way with Op 10 No 5 is of a rollicking bravura that few could equal.
In the left-hand-only studies his tone conjures up Neuhaus's description of Gilels, 'rich in noble metal, a 24-carat gold that we find in the voices of the great singers' and, throughout, you are also reminded of Shakespeare's words: 'O, it is excellent / To have a giant's strength, but it is tyrannous / To use it like a giant.' Here, caught 'on the wing', there is none of that diffidence that occasionally affects Berezovsky when at his least concentrated but rather playing in the grandest of grand Russian traditions.
For encores there are Alt Wien, as warm and affectionate as Cherkassky though without a trace of whimsy, and Godowsky's teasing elaboration of the Minute Waltz. Heard on this form Berezovsky is the pianist of your dreams; and it only remains to add that he plays the third rather than the second version of Op 25 No 1 and that Warner's sound is superb.
Prolonged applause celebrates Berezovsky's phenomenal achievement.”
Gramophone Classical Music Guide, 2010

GGramophone Magazine

Editor's Choice - November 2005

BBC Music Magazine

Instrumental Choice - November 2005

Warner Classics - 2564622582

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Pärt: Lamentate

Pärt: Lamentate


Pärt:

Lamentate

Da pacem Domine


Alexei Lubimov (piano)

SWR Sinfonieorchester Stuttgart & The Hilliard Ensemble, Andrey Boreyko

world premiere recordings

“The main piece on this latest release has passages of visceral power unheard in Pärt's work for almost three decades. Lamentate was inspired by Anish Kapoor's gigantic sculpture Marsyas, which filled the Turbine Hall at Tate Modern in London. Confronted with this monumental work, Pärt felt he was standing before his own body after death. 'I had a strong sense of not being ready to die,' he says, 'and was moved to ask myself what I could still accomplish in the time left to me.' Lamentate is intended as a lament for the living, 'struggling with the pain and hopelessness of this world'. The solo piano part can be seen as the first person narrative of an individual, beset by challenges represented by the orchestra, which uses sharper textures, more dramatic gestures and a broader range of colours than we usually expect from this most controlled and ascetic of composers. It makes one eager to know what his next step will be.
In Da pacem Domine (2004), for which Sarah Leonard extends the Hilliard's range, Pärt takes a ninth-century antiphon as his startingpoint, floating the serene, radiant lines of this prayer for peace with characteristic airy grace, slowly opening up the textures and exploring some tart harmonies before returning to a final consoling chord.”
Gramophone Classical Music Guide, 2010

“After a subterranean rumble, a sorrowful fanfare makes way for an ascent of the solo piano keyboard, and a shuddering orchestral climax that sets the tolling of alarm bells against a Mahlerian funeral march...Impressive performances, a seductive ECM recording, and works that no-one with an interest in contemporary art and music can afford to miss.” Andrew McGregor, bbc.co.uk, 7th November 2005

GGramophone Magazine

Editor's Choice - November 2005

Contemporary Music - up to 25% off

ECM New Series - 4763048

(CD)

Normally: $15.25

Special: $12.96

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Hanson, H: Merry Mount, Op. 31: Suite, etc.

Hanson, H:

Merry Mount, Op. 31: Suite

Bold Island Suite

(World Premiere)

Symphony No. 2, Op. 30 'Romantic'


“Hanson was a skilled conductor and his recordings for Mercury are indispensable documents, though one's listening pleasure is hampered somewhat by the Eastman-Rochester Orchestra's lack of tonal weight and refinement. Hanson's lush, neo-romantic style demands richer, sweeter sounds. Luckily, that's just what the Cincinnati Pops Orchestra offer.
Interpretatively speaking, it seems that Kunzel has made a close study of Hanson's performances, for his approach is similarly incisive.
Indeed, Kunzel's Romantic Symphony may be tauter and more propulsive than Hanson's own.
Even the lyrical pages unfold with a sense of resolve and the conductor's refusal to draw out the rhetorical, brassy outbursts of the Symphony's outer movements mitigates the music's occasional tendency towards pomposity.
Another reason to favour the Telarc disc is that it includes the premiere recording of the Bold Island Suite (1961), an atmospheric, tuneful and typically clear-headed tone-poem.
Warmly recommended to devotees of orchestral Americana.”
Gramophone Classical Music Guide, 2010

GGramophone Magazine

Editor's Choice - November 2005

Telarc - CD80649

(CD)

$14.25

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