“As the booklet asks, why Beethoven and Walton? The answer is, the Walton has become a favourite work with this superb Dutch ensemble and it was felt appropriate to couple it with another arrangement of a string quartet, the last Beethoven wrote. Walton made the imaginative arrangement of his A minor Quartet at the prompting of Neville Marriner, who wanted a work for the Academy of St Martin in the Fields.The arrangement of the Beethoven by Marijn van Prooijen similarly adapts the original without inflating it. As the booklet-note says, the Amsterdam Sinfonietta aim to preserve the intimate character of the works. In this they contrast their approach to that of Bernstein and the VPO (DG), in which he uses a full body of strings. With the Amsterdam players showing the give-and-take, ebb-and-flow of small chamber groups, they achieve rare refinement and natural warmth. The bite and precision of the Amsterdam account is most impressive, with the rhythmic lift of the Scherzo and of the finale after the ominous opening bringing a joyful lightness. Yet it is the sublime Lento slow movement which achieves the greatest heights in playing of hushed dedication. This new version of the Walton is more intimate than the LPO fullstrings Chandos rival. It is true that Walton freely sets the full ensemble in contrast with passages for solo strings, as at the very start, but the Amsterdam performance brings out that terracing of sound more clearly, helped by the refined recording. As in the Beethoven, the heart of the performance comes in the lovely Lento movement. The Sonata emerges as a fair match for other great British string pieces – Elgar's Introduction and Allegro and Vaughan Williams's Tallis Fantasia, for example. It's a work which neatly spans the gap between the early Walton, passionate and electrifying, and his later refined and carefully considered style.”
“Arrangements for string orchestra of works originally written for string quartet are not uncommon, especially in the cases of Beethoven and Schubert… But in the amazing scherzo, with its huge climax not long before the movement's end, the extra weight makes a substantial and thrilling difference. And in the slow third movement... there is an organ-like solemnity added by the basses, and that needs the supplementary upper strings to get the proper balance. The Walton piece... is a complete success, making the piece sound as if it had originally been conceived for string orchestra.”
“The arrangement of the Beethoven by Marijn van Prooijen… adapts the original without inflating it. The bite and precision of the Amsterdam account is most impressive, with the rhythmic lift of the Scherzo and of the finale after the ominous opening bringing a joyful lightness. Yet it is the sublime Lento slow movement which achieves the greatest heights in playing of hushed dedication. This new version of the Walton is more intimate than the LPO full-strings Chandos rival. As in the Beethoven, the heart of the performance comes in the lovely Lento movement.”
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This unusual recording offers you the chance to look into the ‘composer’s workshop’ with four concertos by Bach: two of them are his own transcriptions of earlier works (the fourth Brandenburg and the Concerto for two violins), while the other two are highly convincing reconstructions of original concertos, still based on Bach’s own transcriptions!
“Enrapt by an infectious and consistent conceit of gravitas, this unusual quartet of Bach concerto transcriptions presents one of the most richly coloured discs of its kind. …a potent and brilliantly conceived recording, presenting Bach in bright new lights.” Gramophone Magazine, March 2006
“AAM Berlin play superbly” The Independent on Sunday
“Knowing Sir Simon Rattle has regularly conducted period-instrument orchestras, it may come as a surprise that with his Berlin Philharmonic he takes a relatively free and romantic view of this massive symphony, maybe reflecting that this is a live recording. Not only are his speeds on the broad side, but he allows marked rallentandi at the ends of sections, as at the end of the development sections of both the first and last movements. His moulding of phrases, too, seems to reflect the older traditions of this great orchestra rather than those of Karajan. One key passage comes in the middle of the Andante con moto slow movement, where on repeated phrases in crescendo Schubert builds up the movement's biggest climax, resolved after a sudden pause on an affectionate cello melody. What emerges from this relatively relaxed approach is an extra sense of joy in Schubert's inspiration, with rhythms lifted infectiously. Not that Rattle's interpretation lacks bite or precision – quite the opposite: one of its great qualities is the way he brings out the many counter- motifs, notably on cellos or second violins, that in many performances are hidden. That transparency of texture is outstanding: Rattle persuades the orchestra to produce extreme pianissimi, as at the start of the recapitulation in the first movement, where far more than usually one is aware of the score markings. With full, warm sound, this is a first-rate recommendation. The only slight reservation is that it comes without a coupling, though at 58 minutes for the symphony (even with one of the repeats in the Scherzo and that of the exposition in the finale omitted), one cannot really complain of short measure.” Gramophone Classical Music Guide, 2010
“The pace of the Andante con moto second movement is close to perfection: a touch of the forward-striding hiker but far from unbending. There are moments of a quite visionary loveliness: like the high-floating string polyphony in the Andante, of the tremolos near the central climax of the finale... Most of all, there's an expressive richness that makes Mackerras or the much-praised Marriner recording seem fatally black-and-white in comparison.” BBC Music Magazine, March 2006 ***
“…Simon Rattle… take a relatively free and romantic view of this massive symphony, maybe reflecting that this is a live recording. What emerges from this relatively relaxed approach is an extra sense of joy in Schubert's inspiration, with rhythms lifted infectiously. Not that Rattle's interpretation lacks bite or precision - quite the opposite: one of its great qualities is the way he brings out the many counter-motifs, notably on cellos or second violins, that in many performances are hidden. With full, warm sound, this is a first-rate recommendation.” Gramophone Magazine, March 2006
“Upshaw's performance of the Berio set falls short of Berberian's on the 1968 RCA recording, which was sharper and more vivacious, but she fully makes up for it on Ayre, where she equals the edge and vibrancy of Berberian. Dare I say, I think Golijov's cycle is more accomplished work than Berio's. Whilst Berio often captured the face and yearning beauty of folk music at its best, he missed its earthy excitement. The Andalucian Dogs perform with great panache...” BBC Music Magazine, February 2006 ****
“…Dawn Upshaw… taps into the core of each song with an intensity and abandon that is likely to astonish many listeners - and Golijov's selection of melodies is even more wide-ranging that Berio's, bringing together music from Jewish, Christian and Arabic traditions.” Gramophone Magazine, March 2006
“The Water Music has traditionally been divided into three suites, as it is here, but a recently rediscovered early manuscript copy confirms that Handel originally created one long sequence of movements. A more regretful aspect of this recording is a superfluous percussionist rattling away on a tambourine in several movements (for example, the hornpipe in Suite No 1). Kevin Mallon claims that this 'was often the practice in the 18th century' but there is not a single piece of evidence that Handel would have agreed. Mallon's performance is otherwise, exemplary. Handel's melodies are nicely shaped, with colourful accompaniments that range between assertive energy and understated pathos. Resonant horns and elegant trumpets synthesise stylish wit and regal pomp in the famous 'Alla hornpipe' (Suite No 2). Brightness and subtlety co-exist with a charismatic swagger. Mallon's sense of an attractive flowing pulse in the music carries through to the Music for theRoyal Fireworks. The Ouverture has crisp, articulate phrasing, in which important details are stressed and then shade away to allow the next musical detail to come to the fore. The zesty Aradia Ensemble never succumb to monotonous tub-thumping. There is no shortage of excellent recordings that pair these beloved works together, but Mallon's interpretation is an attractive contender at budget price.” Gramophone Classical Music Guide, 2010
“Handel's melodies are nicely shaped, with colourful accompaniments that range between assertive energy and understated pathos. Resonant horns and elegant trumpets synthesise stylish wit and regal pomp in the famous 'Alla hornpipe'…” Gramophone Magazine, March 2006
"immaculate blend, perfect tuning and crystal diction ... Superb performances across the cultural divide show
that great art transcends political differences. May thine enemy buy it also" The Times
“Lately, TV arts/documentary schedules have teemed with films on Islam, mostly over–simplifying history to the point of distortion and suggesting a centuries–old conspiracy to deny the contribution Muslim civilisation made to European culture. Viewers with an interest in early music (and contemporary music, for that matter) may have raised an eyebrow: if Islamic influence has been concealed, it's been hidden in plain sight. Especially in the context of fears of growing Islamophobia after 9/11 and 7/7, any campaign to foster understanding is commendable. This CD reminds us of the common roots of Judaism, Christianity and Islam, the importance of the Psalms to each religion, and the connections between the music of each. The programme includes Rossi Hebreo's attempts to reconcile Catholic liturgy with the Jewish tradition (from which it ultimately sprang) and works by Ufkî, a Polish Calvinist captive and convert to Islam who recast melodies from the Genevan (Huguenot) Psalter in Turkish modes. Sarband has collaborated with Concerto Köln in intriguing explorations of the interaction between European classical and Turkish music, while the King's Singers have tackled an eclectic repertoire ranging from Gesualdo to The Beatles, so it's hardly surprising that the groups work well together, meshing Reformation counterpoint with 17th–century Ottoman music, comparing and contrasting the incorporeal sounds of one and the lithe rhythms of the other. They share the pieces by Ufkî, Sarband performs an improvisation inspired by Psalm 2, and the King's Singers take the rest of the tracks. Altogether a fascinating, attractive, beautifully performed album.” Gramophone Classical Music Guide, 2010
“This CD reminds us of the common roots of Judaism, Christianity and Islam, the importance of the Psalms to each religion, and the connections between the music of each. The programme includes Rossi Hebreo's attempts to reconcile Catholic liturgy with the Jewish tradition... and works by Ufkî, a Polish Calvinist captive and convert to Islam who recast melodies from the Genevan (Huguenot) Psalter in Turkish modes. Altogether a fascinating, attractive, beautifully performed album.” Gramophone Magazine, March 2006
“Her voice has the typical ring and timbre of a Latin singer - she hails originally from Puerto Rico - and she has the spirited delivery that goes with the Latin temperament. …best of all are the two songs from zarzuelas, with the popular 'Violettes impériales' the jewel in the recital's crown.” Gramophone Magazine, March 2006