Gramophone Magazine Editor's Choice

Awards Issue 2006

Disc of the Month

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Mahler: Symphony No. 2 'Resurrection'

Awards:

Gramophone Awards 2007

Editor's Choice

Gramophone Magazine

Disc of the Month - Awards Issue 2006

Label:

Channel

Catalogue No:

CCSSA23506

Discs:

2

Release date:

14th Aug 2006

Barcode:

0723385235064

Medium:

SACD

Format:

Hybrid Multi-channel
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Mahler: Symphony No. 2 'Resurrection'


Lisa Milne (soprano) & Birgit Remmert (alto)

Budapest Festival Orchestra & The Hungarian Radio Choir, Iván Fischer

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Mahler: Symphony #2 In C Minor, "Resurrection" - 1. Allegro Maestoso

Mahler: Symphony #2 In C Minor, "Resurrection" - 2. Andante Moderato

Mahler: Symphony #2 In C Minor, "Resurrection" - 1. In Ruhig Fließender Bewegung

Mahler: Symphony #2 In C Minor, "Resurrection" - 2. Urlicht, Sehr Feierlich, Aber Schlicht

Mahler: Symphony #2 In C Minor, "Resurrection" - 3. Im Tempo Des Scherzo

BBC Music Magazine

October 2006

****

“…Fischer… rarely pushes too hard. The orchestral sound is lean but not undernourished, allowing for even balance between contesting lines - outstanding in the funereal coda of the first movement - and a clearer than usual interplay between gleaming upper brass and woodwind.”

Gramophone Classical Music Guide

2010

“Stylistically, Fischer is right on the money. He has a keen nose for Mahler's particular brand of the ebb and flow of the music, the way it speaks, or rather sings; the bucolic and melodramatic elements of the score are vividly conflicted; and best of all Fischer really breathes in the atmosphere of Mahler's precipitous flight to eternity.
The second theme of the first movement, which Mahler requests enter tentatively, shyly, does exactly that – Fischer's violins are barely audible, a rosy horizon briefly glimpsed through this bleak and forbidding landscape.
Few take this first movement to the edge of possibility that Mahler so clearly envisaged. Fischer does not shirk the often reckless extremes of tempo and dynamics but nor does he throw caution to the four winds in the terrifying stampede to its cliff-hanging climax. Leonard Bernstein is probably still alone in doing just that. But there are many other compensations here: a great sense of logic and line, a second movement whose homespun accenting belongs to a bygone era, likewise the close-harmony trumpets in the trio of the third movement so touchingly redolent of another time, another place.
But the crowning glory is, as it should be, the finale – and it is here that Fischer, his performers and his engineers, really excel. The 'special effects' of Mahler's elaborate Judgement Day fresco have rarely been so magically realised.
The offstage horns are so breathtakingly remote as to suggest the world of the living left far behind. Moments of quite extraordinary stasis precede the sounding of the Dies irae and the hushed entry of the chorus. And come the peroration (resplendent with fabulous horns), Fischer knows that it is with that final crescendo of the chorus and only then that the heavens really open. Impressive.”

Gramophone Magazine

Awards 2006

“The sound is distinctive, the music-making personal. … the crowning glory is, as it should be, the finale… The "special effects" of Mahler's elaborate Judgement Day fresco have rarely been so magically realised. The offstage horns are so breathtakingly remote as to suggest the world of the living left far behind. Moments of quite extraordinary stasis precede the sounding of the Dies irae and the hushed entry of the chorus. And come the peroration (resplendent with fabulous horns), Fischer knows that it is with that final crescendo of the chorus and only then that the heavens really open. Impressive.”

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Editor's Choice

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Gloryland

Gloryland

Folk songs, Spirituals, Gospel hymns of Hope & Glory


Darol Anger (violin & mandolin) & Mike Marshal (mandolins)

Anonymous 4

In a second pilgrimage to the roots of Anglo-American vocal music, Anonymous 4 are joined by instrumentalists Darol Anger and Mike Marshall for a selection of hauntingly beautiful religious folk songs and gospel hymns that tell a story of love and loss, hope and redemption.

“Anonymous 4 is the team of four women who were acclaimed for "American Angels", which stayed in the Billboard classical charts almost a year and a half, ending at the top. "Gloryland" is a continuation of the "Angels" repertoire, this time benefiting considerably from two instrumentalists playing various types of violin, mandolin and guitar. ...a winning formula that draws on the sheer sincerity of gospel hymns... Intonation and ensemble are impeccable; sources and styles are well researched; and the recording is vivid.” Gramophone Magazine, Awards 2006

GGramophone Magazine

Editor's Choice - Awards Issue 2006

Harmonia Mundi - HMU907400

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$14.00

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Pärt - Da Pacem

Pärt - Da Pacem


Pärt:

Da pacem Domine

Salve Regina

Littlemore Tractus

An den Wassern

Dopo la vittoria

Nunc dimittis

Magnificat

2 Slavonic Psalms


Nine sacred pieces by Arvo Pärt including some of his newest compositions alongside works from earlier in his career. Pärt's longtime collaborator and biographer Paul Hillier leads the Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir and organist Christopher Browers-Broadbent in a third recording devoted to the Estonian composer.

“a miracle of deceptive simplicity.” The Times

“The Estonian Chamber Choir under Paul Hillier sings everything with near miraculous precision and delicate dedication… an aural delight.” BBC Music Magazine, September 2006 ****

“This collection showcases four compositions from this decade alongside some earlier works, most of which have been revised, as is Pärt's habit, within the past 15 years. While his methodology has remained much the same, Pärt admitted a greater harmonic and textural richness over that period, and this relative lushness is superbly realised by the EPC Choir without ever betraying the fundamental asceticism of Pärt's sound.
The album opens with the most recent piece, Da pacem Domine (2004), a typical work not least because of its slow harmonic speed coupled with increasingly intense light and colour. It contrasts with Salve regina (2001-2) which, as Hillier comments, could almost be 'a dream sequence from a film about a peasant community' in the early passages. Indeed, at first hearing one could almost confuse it with something Preisner might have written for Kieslowski, although there are enough characteristic chords and intervals to mark it out as Pärt. The Psalms (1984), with their unusually strong Slavonic tinge, again show the variety Pärt can achieve within restricted means. As always, Hillier and his colleagues have done Pärt proud. This beautiful release is another compelling illustration of the emotional and textural intensity central to the composer's art.”
Gramophone Classical Music Guide, 2010

“Given the strict limits on the material and techniques that Pärt permits himself, it is remarkable that his work continues to sound fresh and original. This beautiful release is another compelling illustration of the emotional and textural intensity central to his art. As always, Hillier and his colleagues have done Pärt proud.” Gramophone Magazine, Awards 2006

GGramophone Magazine

Editor's Choice - Awards Issue 2006

Contemporary Music - up to 25% off

Harmonia Mundi - HMU907401

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Beethoven: Emperor Concerto

Beethoven: Emperor Concerto


Beethoven:

Fantasia for Piano, Chorus and Orchestra in C minor, Op. 80

Schweizer Kammerchor

Piano Concerto No. 5 in E flat major, Op. 73 'Emperor'

Meeresstille und glückliche Fahrt, Op. 112


“…the strange, lovely, late Becalmed Sea and Prosperous Voyage receives a performance of real discernment and beauty, with a still opening which hardly allows you to breath.” BBC Music Magazine, September 2006 ****

“Rather than opt for superficial barnstorming, Yefim Bronfman and David Zinman offer us a discreet, subtly voiced and above all durable Emperor, that rewards listening with increasing musical dividends. Bronfman plays with a light, precise though never brittle touch, always phrasing elegantly and dipping his tone whenever important instrumental lines need to be heard. There are numerous details that reveal how minutely all the participants are listening to each other. The slow movement unfolds in a mood of unruffled calm, Bronfman's first entry gentle, delicate, with an appropriate, even touching simplicity. The finale is brisk and energetic and the way Bronfman keeps accompanying rhythmic figurations light and well buoyed is most appealing.
The fill-ups are worthwhile, the Choral Fantasy's long solo opening more thoughtful than usual and with a bright, easy-going contribution from the chorus. Nothing is ever forced or overstated and the contrast in the seven-minute Calm Sea and Prosperous Voyage between worrying stillness and the first signs of a redeeming breeze, ingeniously painted by slowly swirling triplets, is superbly handled.
It is hard to imagine anyone being less than satisfied with Bronfman and Zinman, the Tonhalle Orchestra scoring top marks for teamwork, their woodwinds sounding fully on a par with Europe's best. Superbly balanced sound helps clinch an unmissable bargain.”
Gramophone Classical Music Guide, 2010

“The slow movement unfolds in a mood of unruffled calm, Bronfman's first entry gentle, delicate with an appropriate, even touching simplicity. The finale is brisk and energetic and I like the way Bronfman keeps accompanying rhythmic figurations light and well buoyed. ...the Tonhalle Orchestra scoring top marks for teamwork, their woodwinds sounding fully on a par with Europe's best. Superbly balanced sound helps clinch an unmissable bargain.” Gramophone Magazine, Awards 2006

“David Zinman´s Beethoven cycle with the Zurich Tonhalle continues to prosper.” The Guardian, 2006

GGramophone Magazine

Editor's Choice - Awards Issue 2006

Arte Nova - 82876825852

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$6.75

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Schubert: Death and the Maiden

Schubert: Death and the Maiden


Schubert:

String Quartet No. 14 in D minor, D810 'Death and the Maiden'

String Quartet No. 13 in A minor, D804 'Rosamunde'


Hyperion’s Record of the Month for October marks the debut on the label by the Takács Quartet. After seventeen years recording for Decca, including multi-awarding-winning cycles of quartets by Beethoven and Bartók, this thrilling ensemble is now embarking on a new relationship with Hyperion; future projects will include works by Brahms, Janácek and Schumann. Schubert’s famous String Quartet, D810, subtitled ‘Death and the Maiden’, is one of the pillars of the repertoire. This new performance is electrifying, and was recorded following a global concert series, enthusiastically welcomed in the press: ‘The Takács’ reading of the second movement was characterized by unremitting pain and mystery. While three of the musicians intoned the insistent theme of Death in pursuit of the Maiden, Edward Dusinberre’s violin expressed poignantly the Maiden’s tender fragility and rising panic. The final movement, in the form of a somewhat crazed tarantella, was taken at breakneck speed, as if the four musicians were driving wild horses—though they never lost control of the reins. Risk-taking, a Takács trademark, certainly didn’t fail here.’ We have every confidence that this recording, and the Hyperion/Takács collaboration in general, will prove to be one of the brightest jewels in the Hyperion catalogue.

“The recording quality is ideal - natural, never aggressive. This disc is a model for what chamber music should be” The Guardian

“The sharpness and subtlety of this Death and the Maiden takes it to the top of available versions. With this superb disc the collaboration couldn't have got off to a better start” The Times

“Schubert's two most accessible quartets receive interpretations on this disc which are as near ideal as one is ever likely to hear. In a time of great string quartet playing, the Takács Quartet stand out for the passion and the poise of their playing.” BBC Music Magazine, October 2006 ****

“With their Decca Beethoven cycle, the Takács Quartet set a modern-day benchmark. Now, with a new record company and a replacement viola-player, things look set for them to do the same for Schubert's two most popular string quartets. These works were written in 1824, a year of despondency for Schubert who was ill and clearly felt he was living under the shadow of death. Whereas in the Rosamunde, the underlying feeling is a tearful nostalgia, in Death and the Maiden, there's a black despair that at times gives way to anger.
The Takács have the ability to make you believe that there's no other possible way the music should go, and the strength to overturn preconceptions that comes only with the greatest performers. Tempi are invariably apt – the opening of the Rosamunde is wonderfully judged.
They also have a way of revealing detail that you'd never previously noticed – in the Allegro of6 D810, Schubert's sighing figure in the viola is here poignantly brought out.
But though there's plenty of humanity in these recordings, there's nothing sentimental about the playing; they make Schubert sound symphonic, and a sense of drama and tensile strength underlines everything, even a movement as luscious as the Andante of the Rosamunde Quartet, which is based on the theme that gives this quartet its name.
The recording captures the quartets vividly and realistically and Misha Donat's notes are erudite and stylish.”
Gramophone Classical Music Guide, 2010

“The Takács have the ability to make you believe that there's no other possible way the music should go, and the strength to overturn preconceptions that comes only with the greatest performers. …though there's plenty of humanity in these recordings, there's nothing sentimental about the playing; they make Schubert sound symphonic, and a sense of drama and tensile strength underlines everything, even a movement as luscious as the Andante of the Rosamunde Quartet...” Gramophone Magazine, Awards 2006

GGramophone Magazine

Editor's Choice - Awards Issue 2006

Building a Library

First Choice - October 2009

Hyperion & Helios - up to 50% off

Hyperion - CDA67585

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Eddie McGuire - Music for flute, guitar and piano

Eddie McGuire - Music for flute, guitar and piano


McGuire, E:

Harbour of Harmonies

Fountain of Tears

Prelude 13

Dark Cloud

Caprice

Celtic Knotwork

Resistance Movement

Amazonia

Mrs de Ruyg’s Delight

Waltz

Hornpipe

12 Whitenote Pieces


Nancy Ruffer (flute/piccolo), Abigal James (guitar) & Dominic Saunders (piano)

Over the past 40 years Eddie McGuire, British Composer Award winner and Creative Scotland Award winner, has developed a compositional style that is as diverse as it is concentrated. This disc surveys a selection of his solo and chamber works, written for his home instruments, flute, guitar, and piano.

The writing, whilst embracing tonality, focuses on texture and aspects of colour, drawing on a myriad folk influences. The listener cannot help being drawn in to McGuire’s evocative sound-world, at once bold and playful.

“…McGuire writes in a tonally based, folk-inflected style that seems effortlessly to conjure up those emotions he wishes to evoke without recourse to cliché or glib sentimentality - this is quite simply beautiful music.” Gramophone Magazine, Awards 2006

GGramophone Magazine

Editor's Choice - Awards Issue 2006

Contemporary Music - up to 25% off

Delphian - DCD34029

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Schumann - Complete Works for Piano Vol. 1

Schumann - Complete Works for Piano Vol. 1


Schumann:

Fantasiestücke, Op. 12

Arabeske in C major, Op. 18

Blumenstück, Op. 19

Humoreske, Op. 20

Allegro in B minor, Op. 8

Kinderszenen, Op. 15

Romances (3), Op. 28

Waldszenen, Op. 82

Fantasiestücke, Op. 111


Finghin Collins (Piano)

Young Irish pianist Finghin Collins, still only 29, has been building quite a career for himself since winning the prestigious Clara Haskil International Piano Competition in 1999. CLAVES released his first CD the following year (50-9910), and this new release sees the start of an exciting project to record all Schumann’s piano music. The epitome of romanticism, these lovely works are presented with power and tenderness - and not a little Irish charm!

“In this young Irish pianist we have an artist of rare poetic empathy, one with an uncanny and moving capacity to arrive at the still centre, the very heart, of Schumann's teeming and frenzied imagination.
Winner of the 1999 Clara Haskil Competition, Collins is here to stay. Indeed, it is no exaggeration to say that he plays in the spirit of Haskil herself, a great artist who while appearing to do so little ended by doing everything. At his finest his playing is enviably clear and transparent yet touched with a subtle and distinctive eloquence, allowing Schumann's voice to shine through. Hear him in the Waldszenen, capturing the quizzical melancholy in 'Vogel als Prophet' and the dark and lighter sides of Schumann's szhizophrenic nature in the sinister 'Verrufene Stelle' and 'Freundliche Landschaft'.
The storm clouds scud across the sky in the first of the Fantasiestücke, Op 111, and the B minor Allegro, a souvenir of Schumann's early ambitions as a virtuoso pianist, takes on a new poetic quality and dimension, and never more so than in the glorious sunset coda. Kinderszenen glows with an inner warmth and radiance, 'Träumerei' displaying rare musical honesty and 'Rocking Horse' set in realistic cantering rather than jet-propelled motion.
Humoreske, a notably elusive challenge, is again a marvel of interior light, grace and energy, and if Collins's Fantasiestücke, Op 12, are less illuminating they include a fascinating final addition, a 'Feurigst' normally excluded. Claves's sound is as natural as the playing.”
Gramophone Classical Music Guide, 2010

GGramophone Magazine

Editor's Choice - Awards Issue 2006

Claves - 502601-2

(CD - 2 discs)

$28.75

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