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Charles Villiers Stanford: Songs of the Fleet, Op. 117
I. Sailing at Dawn: Andante molto tranquillo
II. The Song of the Sou'Wester: Allegro non troppo, ma con fuoco
III. The Middle-Watch: Andante molto tranquillo
IV. The Little Admiral: Allegro vivace - Poco meno mosso - A tempo - Slentando - Meno mosso - Accelerando - A tempo
V. Fare Well: Quasi adagio - Poco piu mosso - Temppo I - Molto adagio
Charles Villiers Stanford: The Revenge - A Ballad of the Fleet, Op. 24
I. At Flores in the Azores: Allegro giusto e pesante - II. Then spake Sir Richard Grenville - III. So Lord Howard pass'd away: Un poco piu lento
IV. He had only a hundred seamen: Andante sostenuto - Shall we fight or shall we fly?…: Poco piu mosso - And Sir Richard said again: Tempo I (Allegro giusto)
V. Sir Richard spoke and he laugh'd: Allegretto con moto - VI. Thousands of their soldiers look'd down - VII. And while now the great San Philip: Adagio molto - And the battle-thunder broke: Allegro con fuoco - VIII. But anon the great Sn Philip - IX. An
XI. And the night went down: Allegro tranquillo ma con moto - And we had not fought them in vain: Piu mosso - But Sir Richard cried in his English pride: Allegro giusto - XII. And the gunner said, “Ay, ay”: Andante sostenuto - And the lion there lay dying:
XIII. And the stately Spanish men: Allegretto maestoso - But he rose upon their decks: Allegro giusto - I have fought for Queen and Faith…: Molto maestoso - …With a joyful spirit I Sir Richard Grenville die!: Piu lento - XIV And they stared at the dead
But they sank his body with honour down: Allegretto maestoso - When a wind from the lands: Allegro moderato - Till it smote on their hulls: Piu allegro e con fuoco - And the little Revenge herself went down: Molto moderato e tranquillo
Charles Villiers Stanford: Songs of the Sea, Op. 91
I. Drake's Drum: Tempo di marcia moderato
II. Outward bound: Andante espressivo
III. Devon, O Devon, in wind and rain: Allegro molto
IV. Homeward bound: Andante tranquillo - Piu lento
V. The Old Superb: Allegro molto - Presto
“Songs of the Sea - which includes the long-popular 'Drake's Drum' and 'The Old Superb' - and the later, texturally richer and more thoughtful Songs of the Fleet are superb baritone vehicles for Gerald Finley… this new Chandos SACD… has impressive presence.”
“Two of Stanford's catchiest and most popular settings frame his 1904 Songs ofthe Sea for baritone, male chorus and orchestra: both 'Drake's Drum' and 'The Old Superb' are instantly memorable and have alone justly secured the work's survival. But there's some terrific music tucked away in the three remaining numbers, not least the marvellously serene 'Homeward Bound' with its burnished orchestral palette (Stanford's skilful scoring gives enormous pleasure throughout, in fact), rapt eloquence (nowhere more potent than at the line 'Swiftly the great ship glides') and adventurous harmonic scope. Six years later, Stanford returned to Henry Newbolt's maritime verse to pen a more reflective sequel entitled Songs of the Fleet. Its spacious centrepiece, 'The Middle Watch', evokes a dusky mystery and sense of awe, while the opening 'Sailing at Dawn' is a gloriously assured and noble essay worthy of Elgar himself...Not so immediately appealing is the 1886 choral ballad The Revenge, one of the composer's biggest early successes. Tennyson's poem depicts how Sir Richard Grenville and his Devonian crew aboard Revenge took on – and inflicted terrible damage upon – the Spanish fleet off the Azores in 1591 (one ship against 53 – believe it or not!). Stanford's breezy setting proved a hit with Victorian choral societies up and down the land. Though no forgotten masterpiece, it's most ably served by Hickox and company. Throw in an admirable booklet-essay by Jeremy Dibble and ripe, airy sound from Chandos, and it certainly adds up to a hearty recommendation.”
“…Gerald Finley's firmly focused, ringing tone is a joy. He doesn't possess the salty tang of Benjamin Luxon (a true sea-dog if ever I heard one), but the voice is steadier and he sings with unfailing ardour, intelligence and sensitivity. Hickox and his BBC Welsh forces provide exemplary support.”
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David McVicar’s production of Giulio Cesare manages to combine serious insight with entertainment, bringing Handel’s masterpiece to life in a powerful, convincing and highly intelligent way. In every line of the complex narrative the subtle nuances are apparent, reflecting perfectly the transparent and exquisite nature of Handel’s musical expression. Filmed in High Definition and recorded in true surround sound, the outstanding singing of the all-star cast, led by a superb Sarah Connolly, and the vivid playing of the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment under the energising baton of William Christie reveal the colour and dramatic character of Handel’s music in a most delightful manner.
‘…a production with performances to savour, led from the pit by William Christie and the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment on stylish form. Sarah Connolly… gave a ‘complete’ performance full of intelligence and subtlety. Danielle de Niese stole the show as a wily, fun-filled sex kitten who renders men helpless with her irresistible charms.’ Opera Now
"Entertainment is not a Dirty Word" - documentary about the opera including interviews with William Christie, David McVicar and the cast.
"Danielle de Niese & the Glyndebourne experience" - an informal portrait of Danielle de Niese in her first-ever Glyndebourne season.
PICTURE FORMAT: 16:9
LENGTH: 295 Mins
SOUND: DTS SURROUND / LPCM STEREO
“David McVicar's 2005 staging, revived the following summer, provoked a deal of contrasting views among the critical fraternity but was adored by the Glyndebourne public. Chief cause of their delight was the overtly sexual, high-hoofing performance of Cleopatra by the irrepressible Danielle de Niese (who is accorded a delightful 22-minute narrative on her Glyndebourne experience among the extras here). Her vocal command and stage presence are spectacular in every sense, and from her first aria she utterly seduces her audience. McVicar took advantage of her attractive skills to build the opera around her personality. We are here in the high noon of British imperialism and the Ottoman Empire, with Caesar more like a late-19th-century English general than a Roman emperor, and with the Egyptian milieu heavily underlined by milling extras, now always a not-altogether welcome feature of a McVicar production. They clutter the stage and draw attention away from the principals, although one has to admit that the highly disciplined and often captivating choreography is brilliantly executed within Robert Jones's exotic sets. McVicar does at least allow the moments of serious drama to be played out without undue interference – such as the deeply moving duet that closes Act 1 and Cleopatra's 'Piangerò'. Finally it has to be said that only Glyndebourne allows for the rehearsal time to prepare such a complex and ingenious staging. The musical side of things is equally well prepared and thought-through under William Christie's knowledgeable and commanding direction. He manages to balance with the same finesse and care the light and serious parts of the score, even if his love for Handel leads him to a few self-indulgently slow tempi. The OAE play lovingly and with period skills for him. By the time of this DVD recording, near the end of the run, the whole thing moves with eloquence matched by elegance. De Niese sings her airy numbers as to the manner born, seconded by expertly erotic dancing. She manages most of the emotional substance of her sadder arias, but they sometimes seem wanting in the tonal weight ideally required. Sarah Connolly's thoroughly believable Caesar is sung with her firm tone and well schooled mastery of Handelian style, including subtle embellishments. This wilful and imperial Caesar manages to change moods as his music demands. Some of the most accomplished and tender Handelian singing comes from Patricia Bardon's moving Cornelia and Angelika Kirchschlager's concerned Sesto, although the latter does slightly overplay the character's seemingly neurotic state of mind following his father's brutal death. The young countertenor Christophe Dumaux playing Tolomeo is suitably brat-like and spoilt. He, like most of the cast, fulfils all the stringent demands of this very physical staging. Christopher Maltman makes Achilles as nasty as he should be. The sense of teamwork all round is confirmed in the interviews included in the extras. Robin Lough's DVD direction is faultless.” Gramophone Classical Music Guide, 2010
“an account at once scholarly, lively and refreshing...Sarah Connolly sings superbly in the title-role, looking very boyish...Patricia Bardon is an excellent Cornelia and Christophe Dumaux a characterful Tolomeo.” Penguin Guide, 2010 ***
“…a runaway success at Glyndebourne is turned into a great DVD. David McVicar's 2005 staging… was adored by the Glyndebourne public. Chief cause of their delight was the overtly sexual, high-hoofing performance of Cleopatra by the irrepressible Danielle de Niese... Her vocal command and stage presence are spectacular in every sense, and from her first aria she utterly seduces her audience. McVicar took... William Christie... manages to balance with the same finesse and care the light and serious parts of the score... Sarah Connolly's thoroughly believable Caesar is sung with her firm tone and well schooled mastery of Handelian style, including subtle embellishments. Some of the most accomplished and tender Handelian singing comes from Patricia Bardon's moving Cornelia and Angelika Kirchschlager's concerned Sesto... The young countertenor Christophe Dumaux playing Tolomeo is suitably brat-like and spoilt. He, like most of the cast, fulfils all the stringent demands of this very physical staging. Christopher Maltman makes Achilles as nasty as he should be. The sense of teamwork all round is confirmed in the interviews included in the extras. Robin Lough's DVD direction is faultless.” Gramophone Magazine, July 2006
“Zemlinsky’s music is so much more complex, gorgeous and painful than any verbal resume can convey. Yet Eshenbach makes it all come together beautifully… (he) is joined by two superb soloists, on finest form, both with as strong a feeling for the greater melody as the conductor…Strongly recommended.” BBC Music Magazine
“…Christoph Eschenbach has such an acute feeling for the musical line - whether it is carried by the voices or the orchestra - and such a fine ear for aural perspective, that it all comes together beautifully. Matthias Goerne is majestic and tender, and thrillingly true on every note. ...Christine Schäfer... sings with such character, passion and tender sensitivity that I feel faintly guilty for mentioning the odd tiny fault.” BBC Music Magazine, July 2006 *****
“There have been several memorable recordings of Zemlinsky's masterpiece and this one, the first for many years, can be placed in their company. Christoph Eschenbach and his soloists clearly agree that the Lyric Symphony is not simply an orchestral song-cycle but a symphonic music-drama: the resulting performance has all the vividness and immediacy of a live event yet – equally importantly – excessive histrionics are avoided. This is music that needs no nudging or special pleading to exercise its power and poignancy. Matthias Goerne has the combination of vocal heft and lyric mellifluousness necessary to sustain the demanding lines of the work's four oddnumbered episodes. Perhaps the third section, with its particularly sumptuous orchestral backcloth, could have taken a degree or two more of sheer vocal refinement, but overall Goerne does full justice to the heart-rending finale. Christine Schäfer is especially convincing in the dramatic final stages of the second movement, and also in the expressionistic sixth. Ideally, the fourth movement's gentle lover's plea might be even more rapt, more other-worldly than it is here. But this reading fits well with the interpretation as a whole. The voices are forwardly placed without loss of orchestral detail, and only in the brief, turbulent fifth movement might one feel that the instrumental sound needs more edge. Even so, the orchestral playing throughout is superb.” Gramophone Classical Music Guide, 2010
“Christoph Eschenbach and his soloists clearly agree that the Lyric Symphony is not simply an orchestral song-cycle but a symphonic music-drama: the resulting performance has all the vividness and immediacy of a live event… Matthias Goerne has the combination of vocal heft and lyric mellifluousness necessary to sustain the demanding lines of the work's four odd-numbered episodes. ...Goerne yields little in compelling characterisation to Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau... Bryn Terfel... or Håkan Hagegård... Similarly, Christine Schäfer is a worthy successor to Julia Varady, Deborah Voigt and Alexandra Marc. She is especially convincing in the dramatic final stages of the second movement, and also in the expressionistic sixth. ...the orchestral playing throughout is superb.” Gramophone Magazine, July 2006
“Abetted by Johnson's lucid pianism, the singers nicely judge the scale and character of their allotted songs. Susan Gritton, her timbre, richer and more flavoursome than a decade ago, is equally admirable in the insouciant trilling of Johann Unger's Die Nachtigall and the dramatic declamation of Reichardt's Monolog der Iphigenie. Gerald Finley is a graphic story-teller in the various Erlkönig settings and a honeyed-toned seducer in Meyerbeer's Komm, while Mark Padmore makes a persuasive case for Zumsteeg's pleasantly rambling ballad Die Erwartung... This enterprising, often revelatory set should intrigue and delight anyone interested in the development of the Lied.” Gramophone Magazine, July 2006
“From the Netherlands-based outcrop of the old Philips label comes an exceptional coupling of the
masterly, youthful F minor symphony…and the comparatively neglected No. 6. Jurowski brings an
awesome majesty to the powerful, Mahlerian funeral march of the sixth…and his RNO is simply dazzling
in the high jinks of the scherzo passages in both works…this shouldn’t be missed.” Hugh Canning,
“Vladimir Jurowski is… surely the most rounded Shostakovich interpreter to have emerged for many years, holding the balance between brooding song and headlong dance in perfect equilibrium.” BBC Music Magazine, July 2006 ****
“The Russian National Orchestra's relatively lean, frosty sonority, only partly a product of divided violins, is presented with outstanding fidelity in a spacious acoustic. While both performances are excellent, the Sixth receives the more remarkable interpretation. Here Shostakovich can be Beethovenian in his allocation of seemingly unworkable metronome marks and most conductors blunt his excesses. Leonard Bernstein, one of the few to give credence to the Largo's broad opening indication of quaver=72, makes the Scherzo into something ambivalent and dogged, a more 'logical' transition to the Presto finale than the composer seems to intend. Yevgeny Mravinsky, altogether brisker in that Scherzo, attempts to articulate its substance at dotted crochet=144 (the dot missing from my score can reasonably be inferred). Only this comes after a first movement incontrovertibly more fluid than quaver=72. It's Jurowski who proves the most faithful, almost too dour as the argument gets underway, yet potently conveying the near-paralysis at its heart. The second movement is a fierce whirlwind outpacing even Mravinsky, a gambit that only occasionally sounds like a gabble. Perhaps there have been more exhilarating finales but this one has grace as well as the necessary vulgarity. All in all a remarkable achievement.” Gramophone Classical Music Guide, 2010
“While both performances are excellent, the Sixth receives the more remarkable interpretation. The second movement is a fierce whirlwind outpacing even Mravinsky… Perhaps there have been more exhilarating finales but this one has grace as well as the necessary vulgarity. All in all a remarkable achievement.” Gramophone Magazine, July 2006
The young pianist Markus Groh, first prize winner at the Queen Elizabeth competition in 1995, makes his recording debut with a stunning performance of Liszt’s iconic B minor Sonata together with the lesser heard Fantasy and Fugue on B-A-C-H and Totentanz, more commonly heard in the version for piano and orchestra. Groh’s performance loses none of the impact, however. This is a tour de force of masterly piano playing. Groh’s impressive international itinerary includes performances of the great romantic repertoire with such orchestras as the London Symphony Orchestra, Philadelphia Orchestra, San Francisco Symphony and St. Petersburg Philharmonic. He is a regular visitor to Japan and also performs frequently in his native Germany. Liszt’s technicolour writing and Groh’s pianistic fireworks are brought to vivid life by the SACD recording.
“Here is Liszt playing of rare passion and musical integrity. There is no tip-toeing round the great B minor Sonata, no imposition of self-conscious effects or losing the thread through over-interpretation. Over and above its masterful construction and ingenious thematic interplay, it is a virtuoso vehicle that should thrill the listener - and Groh scintillates. More thunder and fireworks follow in Liszt's solo version of his Totentanz, its transcendent difficulties brushed aside with aplomb and exuberant relish.” Gramophone Magazine, July 2006
“He is clearly a talent to watch. The approach was fresh, the clarity and musicality of his phrasing impeccable, and his range of keyboard colour quite remarkable.” The Guardian