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Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart: Concerto for 2 Pianos in E flat major, K. 365
III. Rondo: Allegro
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart: Concerto for Flute and Harp in C major, K. 299
III. Rondo: Allegro
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart: Horn Concerto No. 3 in E flat major, K. 447
“The finest work here is the sparkling Concerto for Two Pianos, K365. …Jos van Immerseel and Joko Taneko, using copies of pianos by Anton Walter (one of whose instruments Mozart himself owned), give a dazzling performance and they are sympathetically accompanied by Anima Eterna.”
“Director and fortepianist Jos van Immerseel is a veritable pioneer of period Mozart. Belgian period-instrument orchestra Anima Eterna's exuberant performances reveal a natural union of pioneering spirit and refreshing musical flavours. The performers show commendable integrity in their approach to using historical instruments: the characteristics and origins of the solo instruments are each enthusiastically described in the booklet-note but the loving care given to detail in this joyful music means this is never in danger of seeming merely a dour academic exercise. The invigorating Concerto for two pianos (Salzburg, 1779-80) opens proceedings with a revitalising fix of blazing horns, vibrant woodwind and articulate strings. Anima Eterna's stunning playing in the tuttis is perfectly balanced with the fluent playing of Immerseel and Yoko Kaneko. After such joie de vivre, the Flute and Harp Concerto (Paris, 1778) features sensitively judged playing from Frank Theuns and Marjan de Haer. Seldom thas there been such an affectionate and warmly stylish performance of the Allegro, and the Andantino is ravishing. Ulrich Hübner plays with attractive immediacy in the Third Horn Concerto, composed around 1787: the poetic Romance has a lyrical elegance one seldom hears from even the best natural horn players, and an infectiously sunny performance of the dance-like Allegro concludes this magnificent recording with a charismatic flourish. These performances are radiant: if you buy only one Mozart CD this anniversary year, let it be this one.”
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“Six unfamiliar concertos… show how skilled Vivaldi was at turning baroque clichés in unexpected directions. Carmignola finds wit in the first, and tenderness in the second, all articulated through subtle rubato which grows naturally out of the music. ...he's admirably partnered by the orchestra, which phrases sensitively, and knows when to attack the music, and when to be more yielding. A sparkling issue.” BBC Music Magazine, July 2006 *****
“Giuliano Carmignola and the Venice Baroque Orchestra here return to the all-Vivaldi format which has so far served them well. Given that the concertos on this release are advertised as world premiere recordings, that seems sensible enough. The mushrooming of the Vivaldi catalogue means that the excitement of hearing 'new' works can be as immediate as if he were still working among us today; and where we used to know but a handful of (mostly early) concertos, we are now becoming more aware of different stylistic periods, as well as the cross-fertilisation with other areas of his output. Three of the works here show affinities with vocal works from the 1720s, when the brusque energy of the L'estro armonico concertos had been left behind in favour of something more dance-like; the other two are in the expansive, laid-back style of the 1730s. It is a little voyage of discovery, then, with the scenery including much harmonic resource and violinistic devilry. There are no surprises in the performances though: they are as purringly beautiful as ever from these artists. Carmignola dashes around Vivaldi's scampering passagework and giant leaps with an easy control and consistency of good tone, and the Venice Baroque Orchestra are worthy partners – their surging rivers of sound in the finale of RV325 give a real thrill. Indeed, while one can imagine violinists of the Manze or Biondi kind finding more drama or humour in this music, it is otherwise hard to find anything to fault in these Rolls-Royce performances.” Gramophone Classical Music Guide, 2010
“There are some fine songs here. I was glad… to be reminded what a good composer Delibes is, and to be introduced to Lecocq's wonderfully witty settings of La Fontaine. The actual piano sound is for me a touch prosaic at times, but this is compensated by John Mark Ainsley's absolute control and superb diction... A disc to treasure.” BBC Music Magazine, July 2006 *****
"Davis made even more of the music's roots in Sibelian symphonic processes building up a relentless sense of momentum … If any more evidence were needed that this is one of the great symphonic first movements in music, this was it." (Daily Telegraph - concert review)
High density DSD recording, live at the Barbican Centre, September & December 2005
“When Sir Colin Davis conducted Walton's First Symphony at the Barbican it was greeted by ecstatic reviews – and rightly so. It was as though critics had suddenly rediscovered this iconic work, which so tellingly reflects the mood of uncertainty and tension in the 1930s. The recording bears out that response: the hushed opening seems as though the music is only just emerging into human consciousness. The mystery quickly evaporates as the nagging syncopations of the ostinato figure become more insistent, developing into a powerful climax. The clarity of texture and sharpness of attack add to the impact, with Davis at ease with the jazz element and finding more light and shade than is common. The Scherzo brings big contrasts too; the slow movement sounds as haunting as the opening and then brings warmly lyrical ideas. The extrovert finale again brings clarity in the contrapuntal writing of successive fugatos, leading to a ripe conclusion. This new recording, the first version on SACD at a low price, finds a welcome place. Yet it is amazing how well the benchmark recording, André Previn's 1966 reading with the LSO (now contained in a two-CD Walton collection – see below), stands up. The sound is fatter, more punchy than on Davis's disc and Previn, early in his conducting career in the UK, is more biting, in the slow movement conveying a chill that exactly suits Walton's sweet-sour inspiration. This music may have been inspired by a frustrated love affair rather than anything to do with world politics, but it stands as a symbol of its times, and Previn powerfully conveys that. Meanwhile, this new disc earns a very warm welcome.” Gramophone Classical Music Guide, 2010
A high density DSD recording, live at the Barbican Centre on 16-27 November 2005
“For anyone who wants first-rate stereo sound and a broadly traditional reading, it is hard to imagine more profoundly satisfying accounts than these. The playing of the LSO is nowadays quite magnificent, and they are fully justified in releasing their public performances.” BBC Music Magazine, July 2006 ****
“Very appealing, this – the punchy, neatly packed sound; the way the timps thwack away at the right-hand side of the stage, the antiphonally placed fiddles busying to and fro, Haitink's unmannered, high-energy but essentially nonaggressive approach to both symphonies. The first thing that strikes you about the Pastoral is its sensitive shaping. The second is the lively pacing, but never breathless or unduly hurried. The 'Scene by the brook' ebbs and flows at roughly the prescribed speed and yet the LSO's playing, ever warm-hearted, never adopts 'period' affectations: it's as if the laudable old guard has had a wash, a brush-up and a slight change of heart regarding tempo and articulation. The 'Peasants' Merrymaking' enjoys something of Toscanini's bacchanalian drive, the storm a measure of his dynamism. The Second Symphony is formal but fun. The opening Adagio molto is pretty powerful, the principal allegro light on its feet but rock-steady and with an imposing and firmly held bass-line. Again, Haitink keeps the slow movement on the move without sacrificing gravitas. Both readings are profoundly satisfying, the work of musicians who know the scores backwards, love playing them and know what not to do. To say that they provide a new benchmark would be crass; but Haitink and the LSO seem set to provide one of the top Beethoven symphony cycles of the digital era.” Gramophone Classical Music Guide, 2010
“...an interpretation from Haitink that looked beyond the Second's springy geniality and incorporated what brief elements of darkness he could find as a counterweight” The Guardian *****
Since becoming Music Director of the WDR Sinfonieorchester Köln in 1998, Semyon Bychkov has enjoyed an enormously fruitful relationship with the celebrated ensemble, especially evident in his acclaimed series of recoridngs for Avie. From stentorian Strauss to magisterial Mahler and beautiful Brahms, Bychkov’s intelligent and incisive interpretations have captured the imagination of critics and consumers alike. This formidable conductor-orchestra team offer here their third instalment in a series of works by Shostakovich, Symphony No. 11, a tragic and poignant masterpiece subtitled “The Year 1905”. Bychkov’s indelible association with Shostakovich makes this an essential release.
“Bychkov’s harrowing account … vividly evokes the ‘frozen paralysis’ – the conductor’s words – of the Palace Square movement, the horror of the massacre, the deeply moving In Memoriam for the victims and the hollow despair of the Tocsin.” The Sunday Times
“The performance from the WDR Symphony Orchestra is compelling at both ends of the dynamic spectrum, from the heart-rending funereal tread of the opening paragraph of 'In Memoriam' to the savage fugue of the '9th January'.” BBC Music Magazine, July 2006 *****
“Half a century on from its composition and a full century from the events it ostensibly commemorates, the Eleventh Symphony remains a problematic work for conductors, not least because very few of them or their players have direct memories to draw on. Whatever view they take, nothing is going to come across unless the balance between atmosphere and flow is convincingly struck, and in this respect Bychkov has sure instincts. Now that he has been principal conductor in Cologne for nearly 10 years, it seems that matters of texture, colour and line in Shostakovich have become second nature for his players: Bychkov gives onward momentum its due, and urgency and inevitability are his reward. Quibbles could be entered. In the second movement, from 12'45" (the scene of the attack of the Tsarist police), the trombone glissandi may disappoint those who have heard them given full power. At the heart of the following 'In memoriam' more poignancy would not have gone amiss. But then the climax of that movement is magnificently denunciatory, and the WDR cor anglais laments with eloquence and depth but not a trace of sentimentality. The attacca into the finale is ideal in its sudden spit of venom.” Gramophone Classical Music Guide, 2010