Gramophone Magazine Editor's Choice

Awards Issue 2007

Disc of the Month

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Mozart: Don Giovanni, K527

Awards:

Presto Disc of the Week

1st October 2007

Gramophone Magazine

Disc of the Month - Awards Issue 2007

Catalogue No:

HMC901964/66

Discs:

3

Release date:

1st Oct 2007

Barcode:

0794881859924

Length:

2 hours 43 minutes

Medium:

CD (download also available)
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Mozart: Don Giovanni, K527

This set contains the arias of both versions created by Mozart (Prague 1787, Vienna 1788)


Johannes Weisser (Don Giovanni), Lorenzo Regazzo (Leporello), Alexandrina Pendatchanska (Donna Elvira), Olga Pasichnyk (Donna Anna), Kenneth Tarver (Don Ottavio), Sunhae Im (Zerlina), Nikolay Borchev (Masetto), Alessandro Guerzoni (Il Commendatore)

RIAS Kammerchor & Freiburger Barockorchester, René Jacobs

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If there is one thing that marks out René Jacobs’s approach to Mozart, it is the way he constantly asks himself questions – and the specifically musical brilliance of the answers he comes up with. The success of his recent version of La clemenza di Tito is proof of that! After Così fan tutte and Le nozze di Figaro, his recording of this centrepiece of the Mozart/Da Ponte trilogy offers us the latest fruits of his reflections on Classical opera. Premiered at the 2006 Innsbruck Festival and recorded shortly afterwards, this production is nourished by his thoughts on Don Giovanni as taboo-breaker and on a ‘physiology of roles’ that respects Mozart’s intentions as nearly as possible.

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart: Don Giovanni

Ouvertura

Atto Primo, Scena 1: "Notte e giorno faticar"

Atto Primo, Scena 2: "Leporello, ove sei?

Atto Primo, Scena 3: "Ah del padre in periglio" "Ma qual mai s'offre, o Dei"

Atto Primo, Scena 3: "Fuggi, crudele, fuggi!"

Atto Primo, Scena 4: "Orsù, spicciati presto"

Atto Primo, Scena 5: "Ah chi mi dice mai"

Atto Primo, Scena 5: "Chi è là?"

Atto Primo, Scena 5: "Madamina, il catalogo è questo"

Atto Primo, Scena 6: "In questa forma dunque"

Atto Primo, Scena 7: "Giovinette che fate all'amore"

Atto Primo, Scena 8: "Manco male è partita"

Atto Primo, Scena 8: "Ho capito, signor sì"

Atto Primo, Scena 8: "Alfin siam liberati"

Atto Primo, Scena 9: "Là ci darem la mano"

Atto Primo, Scena 10: "Fermati scellerato"

Atto Primo, Scena 10: "Ah fuggi il traditor"

Atto Primo, Scena 11: "Mi par ch'oggi il demonio si diverta"

Atto Primo, Scena 12: "Ah ti ritrovo ancor" "Non ti fidar, o misera"

Atto primo. Scena 12. Recitativo Don Giovanni "Povera sventurata!"

Atto Primo, Scena 13: "Don Ottavio, son morta!"

Atto Primo, Scena 13: "O sai chi l'onore"

Atto Primo, Scena 14: "Come mai creder deggio"

Atto Primo, Scena 14: "Dalla sua pace"

Atto Primo, Scena 15: "Io deggio ad ogni patto"

Atto Primo, Scena 15: "Fin ch'han dal vino"

Atto Primo, Scena 16: "Masetto: senti un po'"

Atto Primo, Scena 16: "Batti, batti, o bel Masetto"

Atto Primo, Scena 16: "Guarda un po' come seppe"

Atto Primo, Scena 16: "Presto presto pria ch'ei venga", Scena 17 "Su svegliatevi, da bravi"

Atto Primo, Scena 18: "Tra quest'arbori celata"

Atto Primo, Scena 19: "Bisogna aver coraggio"

Atto Primo, Scena 20: "Riposate, vezzose ragazze"

Atto Secundo, Scena 1: "Eh via buffone"

Atto Secundo, Scena 1: "Leporello. Signore."

Atto Secundo, Scena 2: "Ah taci, ingiusto core"

Atto Secundo, Scena 2: "Amico, che ti par?", Scena 3 "Eccomi a voi!"

Atto Secundo, Scena 3: "Deh vieni alla finestra"

Atto Secundo, Scena 3: "V'è gente alla finestra!", Scena 4 "Non ci stanchiamo"

Atto Secundo, Scena 4: "Metà di voi qua vadano"

Atto Secundo, Scena 5: "Zitto! Lascia ch'io senta", Scena 6 "Ahi ahi! La testa mia!"

Atto Secundo, Scena 6: "Vedrai, carino"

Atto Secundo, Scena 7: "Di molte faci il lume"

Atto Secundo, Scena 7: "Sola sola in buio loco", Scena 8 "Ferma, briccone"

Atto Secundo, Scena 9: "Dunque quello sei tu" "Ah pietà...", Scena 10 "Ferma, perfido, ferma..."

Atto Secundo, Scena 10a: "Restati qua!'

Atto Secundo, Scena 10a: "Per queste tue manine"

Atto Secundo, Scena 10b: "[Amico...] Guarda un po' come stretto"

Atto Secundo, Scena 10c: "Andiam, andiam, signora"

Atto Secundo, Scena 10d: "In quali eccessi, o Numi"

Atto Secundo, Scena 10d: "Mi tradì quell'alma ingrata"

Atto Secundo, Scena 11: "Ah ah ah ah, questa è buona"

Atto Secundo, Scena 11: "O statua gentilissima"

Atto Secundo, Scena 12: "Calmatevi, idol mio"

Atto Secundo, Scena 12: "Crudele! Ah no, mio bene!"

Atto Secundo, Scena 12: "Non mi dir, bell'idol mio"

Atto secondo. Scena 12. Recitativo Don Ottavio "Ah, si segua il suo passo"

Atto Secundo, Scena 13: "Già la mensa è preparata"

Atto Secundo, Scena 14: "L'ultima prova"

Atto Secundo, Scena 15: "Don Giovanni, a cenar teco"

Atto Secundo, Scena Ultima: "Ah dove è il perfido"

Gramophone Classical Music Guide

2010

“If Jacobs is hardly the first modern conductor to present the opera in its 'original colours', his Don Giovanni is among the liveliest and most enjoyable on offer. It is certainly one of the most brilliantly played. The Freiburg band, forwardly balanced, are eager, involved participants in the drama. Mozart's wonderful woodwind commentaries are as pungent as you will hear, while rasping, minatory valveless brass and gunfire period timpani create a properly terrifying frisson in the Commendatore's retribution scene.
Jacobs being Jacobs, there are controversial things here. Tempi can suddenly spurt forward or slow down, usually – as in the opening scene – with dramatically exciting results. Both finales hurtle forward with thrilling impetus. Elsewhere speeds can sound a shade frenetic: in the Act 1 Quartet, for instance, or in Zerlina's two arias.
As in Jacobs's Figaro, the recitatives are done in a natural, conversational style, with fortepiano and cello adding their creative 'commentaries', like the instruments in the arias.
For Jacobs, Donna Elvira is the opera's central female character. Accordingly, he casts Anna with the relatively light-toned Olga Pasichnyk, who sings 'Non mi dir' tenderly and gracefully, and sounds more sorrowful than vengeful in 'Or sai chi l'onore' – a more vulnerable and more likeable figure than usual. Conversely, Alexandrina Pendatchanska's Elvira is as hysterically obsessive as any on disc, with a mingled desperation and tragic grandeur in her big Act 2 recitative: it's an exciting performance, certainly, though her phrasing can be disconcertingly gusty.
Smooth legato is hardly a priority for Johannes Weisser either. His Giovanni is less the sinister, demonic anti-hero, more an over-sexed, heedless young bounder with a taste for danger and a penchant for cruelty. He is casually seductive with Sunhae Im's coquettish, sweet-toned Zerlina, rapier-sharp in his exchanges with Leporello, where his youthful, tenorish timbre contrasts strongly with Lorenzo Regazzo's bass-baritone.
Regazzo's is a charismatic performance, never descending to caricature; his lubricious relish in the Catalogue aria does not preclude a hint of elegance. The mellifluous-toned Kenneth Tarver makes a sympathetic, concerned Ottavio, the Masetto is aptly sullen, the Commendatore amply imposing. But few could deny the zest, sweep and sheer theatrical charge of this recording.”

Opera

September 2006

“Regazzo's brilliant diction and timing put him in the first rank…Pendatchanska's Elvira seemed in each of her appearances like a Fury descending not only on Giovanni, but on all the other characters too.”

Penguin Guide

2010

***

“René Jacobs conducts a bitingly sharp account of Don Giovanni...the cast list does not sound distinguished, yet they make a superb team with no weak link, and Jacobs's speeds are sensible rather than exaggerated. The soloists all have fresh, clear, firm voices”

The Guardian

28th September 2007

***

“There is much to admire...especially from the playing of the Freiburg Baroque Orchestra as primed by Jacobs's tensely dramatic phrasing and pacing…”

The Telegraph

20th October 2007

“Jacobs's recording of the 1788 Vienna version (with the discarded Prague numbers included in an appendix) is always exhilarating...I found its zest and mercurial spirit refreshing, often compelling.”

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Ester Mägi: Orchestral Music

Ester Mägi: Orchestral Music


Mägi, E:

Vesper

Piano Concerto No. 1

Ada Kuuseoks (piano)

Bukoolika

Variations for Piano, Clarinet and Chamber Orchestra

Mati Mikalai (piano), Tarmo Pajusaar (clarinet)

Symphony


In her native country Ester Mägi (b. 1922) is known as ‘the First Lady of Estonian music’. A much-loved figure at home, Mägi is now beginning to enjoy a reputation further afield, where her incorporation of elements of Estonian folk-music into classical forms is being recognised as a fresh and original contribution to European art-music.

“this disc is to be welcomed as proof that her voice is a hugely valuable and distinctive one with music that is immediately accessible and richly rewarding.” MusicWeb International, October 2016

GGramophone Magazine

Editor's Choice - Awards Issue 2007

Toccata Classics - TOCC0054

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Alkan - Concerto for Solo Piano

Alkan - Concerto for Solo Piano


Alkan:

Concerto for Solo Piano Op. 39

Alkan’s Concerto for solo piano is one of the great pianistic high-wire acts—an epic work which demands unprecedented levels of technical ability and physical stamina. It is conceived on a breathtakingly grand scale and is rich with both orchestral sonorities and lyrical pianistic passages.

Troisième recueil de chants, Op. 65

The Troisième recueil de chants is a delightful rarity, rescued here from oblivion by the wonderful Marc-André Hamelin, who with his transcendent technique is simply one of the greatest living performers of this intoxicating music.


“If you are yet to be convinced by Valentin Alkan's music, this intelligent and magnificently played programme, displaying contrasting sides of the composer's personality, is for you. As for the performance, if anyone can play it better, expect to see the devil as their agent. It is not simply that Hamelin can negotiate the ferocious technical challenges. Like a great ballet dancer, he maintains a clarity and beauty of line, so that the shape of the music is always clear and seems natural, however unnatural the demands made by Alkan. ...this is playing of the highest order in music that should be at the heart of the Romantic repertoire.” BBC Music Magazine, September 2007 *****

“This is Marc-André Hamelin's second recording of the Alkan Concerto for Solo Piano (the first for Music & Arts dates from 1992) and he now trumps his previous ace with a performance of the Concerto of such brilliance and lucidity that one can only listen in awe and amazement.
Scaling even the most ferocious hurdles with yards to spare, he is blessedly free to explore the very heart of Alkan's bewildering interplay of austerity and monstrous elaboration. In the gigantic first movement you can hear avalanches of notes given with the rarest focus and trenchancy.
And whether you turn to the finale's helter-skelter pages (with their curious Eastern underpinnings) or the baleful central Adagio, you can only marvel at such a unique mix of blazing if nonchalantly deployed virtuosity and poetic conviction.
For his substantial encore Hamelin gives us Alkan's Troisième recueil de chants where outward convention vies with that sinister and pervasive oddity so central to this composer's nature. No 3 is a near bitonal canon, No 4 a polonaise with memories of the Etudes from which the Concerto is drawn and a crazy, race-away coda, while the concluding Barcarolle contains ironic echoes of Liszt's Au lac de Wallenstadt.
All this is superbly recorded and presented, prompting some not unreasonable conjecture: if Liszt feared Alkan's mastery as a pianist he may well have feared Hamelin's.”
Gramophone Classical Music Guide, 2010

“A performance of the Concerto of such brilliance and lucidity that one can only listen in awe and amazement. Scaling even the most ferocious hurdles with yards to spare, he is blessedly free to explore the very heart of Alkan’s bewildering interplay of austerity and monstrous elaboration … You can only marvel at such a unique mix of blazing if nonchalantly deployed virtuosity and poetic conviction … All of this is superly recorded and presented, prompting some not unreasonable conjecture: if Liszt feared Alkan’s mastery as a pianist he may well have feared Hamelin’s” Gramophone Magazine

“The sheer keyboard brilliance of Hamelin’s playing is exceptional. The breathtaking clarity with which he articulates even the most ferocious passages, while unerringly projecting melodic shapes that are often obscured under welters of notes, never fails to dazzle, and the way in which he sustains the huge first movement of the Concerto so that each discursive paragraph seems a natural consequence of what precedes it is a triumph of pure musical will” The Guardian *****

“Hamelin’s playing here is as breathtaking as ever—it is hard to believe that a lot of it is humanly possible—but, more than simply a dazzling panoply of notes, it conveys a deep musical and expressive range” The Telegraph

GGramophone Awards 2008

Finalist - Instrumental

GGramophone Magazine

Editor's Choice - Awards Issue 2007

BBC Music Magazine

Disc of the month - September 2007

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Gombert - Tribulatio et angustias

Gombert - Tribulatio et angustias

Four- & five-part motets


Gombert:

Tribulatio et angustia

Hortus conclusus es

Aspice Domine

Virgo sancta Katherina

Inviolata

Inviolata, integra, et casta es, Maria

Ne reminiscaris, Domine

Pater noster

Ave Maria

Ergone vitae

Ave sanctissima Maria


The Brabant Ensemble, Stephen Rice (director)

“It’s one of very few discs of this repertoire I’ve been happy to play in its entirety, and then several times since. This is in part a tribute to Gombert … but also to The Brabant Ensemble and Stephen Rice … by encouraging an unusually individual and carefully balanced vocal response, he avoids the pitfalls of relentless consistency and arrided elision … there is a welcome and (in this music) novel belief in the power of voices as voices … try the sopranos halfway through Hortus conclusus es for erotic Mariolatry at its most disconcertingly sensual. Arise, make haste, as they sing, and hear this music” Gramophone Magazine

“These 10 motets are notable for their richly glowing sonorities, their disciplined counterpoints, their intensity of expression and, most of all, their careful tailoring of music to text. There’s the darkly erotic intensity of Hortus conclusus es, the angst-ridden, pentitential Tribulatio et angustia … the singing is meticulously balanced and blended, Stephen Rice shaping and pacing each work with exquisite judgement” Sunday Times

“The Brabant Ensemble’s exploration of the “forgotten generation” of composers between Josquin and Palestrina is reviving an abundance of unwarrantedly neglected sacred polyphony. Judging by this splendid selection of motets, Gombert’s neglect is particularly flagrant. In penitential pieces, such as Aspice Domine and Tribulatio et angustia, his lavish use of dissonance within a smooth-flowing yet intricately imitative style creates an atmosphere of almost unbearably intense and bitter anguish, whether contemplating a city laid waste or beseeching rescue from a foetid quagmire … these shapely and well-paced performances do full justice to Gombert’s outstanding talent” The Telegraph

“This is the first disc to focus on the core of Gombert, his motets. What we know of his troubled life and extant music suggests that he was not a 'Laetentur coeli' sort of composer, and so the opening Tribulatio et angustia is well chosen, being both one of the finest of them and setting the mood for the rest. Barely a minute has passed before the first of many dark spots of extreme and focused dissonance, yet such harmonic knots never tie up the line. Indeed it's one of very few discs of this repertoire you can happily play in its entirety.
This is in part a tribute to Gombert, who went to the well so often and never returned emptyhanded; but also to the Brabant Ensemble and Stephen Rice, who researched Gombert's motets for a doctorate. Rice believes in a largely steady tactus, which certainly suits the reflective nature of these works, but by encouraging an unusually individual and carefully balanced vocal response, he avoids the pitfalls of relentless consistency (The Tallis Scholars) and arrided elision (one-per-part groups like Henry's Eight and the Hilliard Ensemble). There is a welcome and (in this music) novel belief in the power of voices as voices rather than instrumental simulacra: try the sopranos halfway through Hortusconclusus est for erotic Mariolatry at its most disconcertingly sensual. Arise, make haste, as they sing, and hear this music.”
Gramophone Classical Music Guide, 2010

GGramophone Awards 2008

Finalist - Early Music

GGramophone Magazine

Editor's Choice - Awards Issue 2007

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Stockhausen: Stimmung

Stockhausen: Stimmung


Paris, 1968: with the premiere of Stimmung, Stockhausen redefined the very notion of what vocal music is. This series of sonic sequences, entirely built on the overtones of B flat in multiple combinations, embraces new musical techniques and explores the inner world of speech and song.

Paul Hillier, a specialist in contemporary vocal repertoire, proves in his new recording that this milestone of 20th-century music is still as relevant as ever.

“A turning point for composer and contemporary music alike, Stimmung merges the serialist's rigour with the minimalist's empiricism. Barely tangible shifts between timbres, thythms, meters and words are core to this work's realisation. With their judgement and ingenuity, the recording engineers contrive to place us inside this remarkable sonic event.” BBC Music Magazine, May 2008

“In this new edition Hillier, who was a member of Singcircle when that group recorded its version for Hyperion in 1983 (CDA66115), has succeeded triumphantly in his aim of more accurately realising the effect of the piece in concert, rather than the sometimes disconcertingly in-your-ear close-mic immediacy of Singcircle's recording, superbly performed through it was. For once, surround-sound is more than a gimmick, since Stockhausen is one of the handful of composers in whose music placement and movement of sound is of the essence.” BBC Music Magazine, October 2007 *****

“one of the most gorgeous vocal soundscapes in all 20th century music. A thrilling and important performance - possibly the CD highlight of 2007 so far.” Gramophone Magazine, 2007

“Paul Hillier sang bass in the famous performances of Stockhausen's psychedelic Stimmung that Gregory Rose's Singcircle vocal troupe toured during the mid-1980s. Two decades on and Hillier's understanding of this unique piece might even be greater than the composer's own. He has objectivity on his side – a quality that Stockhausen himself squandered many moons ago.
Stimmung is structured around an electronically sustained drone that is sounded throughout the work's duration. Anchored around B flat, the drone contains the complex harmonic overtone series around which Stockhausen constructs his constantly generating sound world of rarefied timbres and ethereal melodies. He provides embryonic melodic cells and fragments of text, arranged in 51 'Models', leaving the singers to embellish this given material during the performance.
It's probably more accurate to say that Stimmung is 'realised' than 'performed'.
If this all sounds rather academic then the result is actually one of the most gorgeous vocal soundscapes in all 20th-century music. Hillier's Theatre of Voices operate at such a refined level of specialised technique that radically new expressive territory emerges. Standard vocal delivery feels superseded by loops of vocalised harmonics, tactile humming and, as the piece nears its conclusion, a catchy whistled refrain that calmly draws threads together. Stockhausen's flexi-notation blurs the supply and demand chain that usually defines composer and performer relationships.
The musicians are licensed to define the micro as they transform and deliberate over the material. They converse and explore, and an enigmatic piece-specific discipline is created. A thrilling and important performance.”
Gramophone Classical Music Guide, 2010

“its sound world and pacing are much like its predecessors, but the recording places the voices (three female, three male) in a more spacious acoustic than before, far closer to what you experience when Stimmung is performed live, and lending even more enchantment to this extraordinary work.” The Guardian, 5th October 2007 ****

Presto Disc of the Week

10th December 2007

GGramophone Magazine

Editor's Choice - Awards Issue 2007

BBC Music Magazine Awards 2008

Award for Technical Excellence in Recording

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JS & CPE Bach: Sonatas for Viola da gamba

JS & CPE Bach: Sonatas for Viola da gamba


Bach, C P E:

Viola da gamba Sonata in D MAJOR Wq137 H559

Bach, J S:

Viola da Gamba Sonatas Nos. 1-3, BWV1027-1029


“Angela Hewitt joins the equally period-sensitive Daniel Müller-Schott in performances which lead the field for performances on cello and piano.” BBC Music Magazine, August 2007

“From the moment the cello starts its suave tread over the piano's gently rising bass and sustained right-hand trill at the beginning of the G major Sonata, you know this is going to be a disc to sit back and enjoy. Daniel Müller-Schott and Angela Hewitt may have substituted modern instruments for the viola da gamba and harpsichord Bach had in mind but nothing in this superb music's original character has been lost – this is as clear-textured and as vividly articulated a performance as you could hope to hear.
Indeed, it has gained much by the sheer musical feeling and intelligence that these two players have put into it, aided by extra warmth from Müller-Schott's cello (achieved without resorting to excessive vibrato) and from the delicate dynamic subtleties of Hewitt's piano-playing.
There are some memorable moments here.
Architecturally, too, they consistently get things just right. With a perfect balance between instruments, this is playing which gives nothing but a glow of pleasure, that not even what sounds like some weary tuning at the piano's top end can dispel.
All Bach gamba sonata discs need a filler, and the choice here is a sonata by CPE Bach, rather more romantically drawn by Müller-Schott and with a continuo accompaniment less well suited to the piano. But then this disc is worth your money for the JS alone.”
Gramophone Classical Music Guide, 2010

“With a perfect balance between instruments, this is playing which gives nothing but a glow of pleasure” Gramophone Magazine

GGramophone Magazine

Editor's Choice - Awards Issue 2007

Orfeo - C693071A

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Stanford: Clarinet Sonata

Stanford: Clarinet Sonata


Stanford:

Clarinet Sonata, Op. 129

Fantasy No. 1 for Clarinet and String Quartet

World Première Recording

Fantasy No. 2 for Clarinet and String Quartet

World Première Recording

Intermezzi (3) for clarinet, violin or cello & piano, Op. 13

Piano Trio No. 3, Op. 158 'Per aspera ad astra'


Robert Plane (clarinet), Mia Cooper (violin II) & David Adams (viola)

Gould Piano Trio

“There's some fine music here, and Robert Plane is a persuasive advocate. …Stanford enthusiasts will welcome the bonus of his third and last Piano Trio: Brahmsian again and here given a clear recording and expert performance.” BBC Music Magazine, January 2008 ****

“Ravishing in tone and exploiting an excitingly wide range of dynamics, Plane forges a commandingly articulate alliance with the pianist… Naxos’s absurdly modest asking-price is the icing on the cake!” Gramophone Magazine

GGramophone Magazine

Editor's Choice - Awards Issue 2007

Naxos - 8570416

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Alfred Cortot - Encores

Alfred Cortot - Encores


Albéniz:

Sous le palmier, Op. 232, No. 3

Brahms:

Wiegenlied, Op. 49 No. 4 (Lullaby)

(arr. Cortot)

Chopin:

Impromptu No. 2 in F sharp major, Op. 36

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

Waltz No. 7 in C sharp minor, Op. 64 No. 2

Ballade No. 1 in G minor, Op. 23

Part 2; (“Fragment from Ballade”)

Ballade No. 1 in G minor, Op. 23

Handel:

Keyboard Suite, HWV 430 in E major 'The Harmonious Blacksmith': Air & Variations

Liszt:

Hungarian Rhapsody, S244 No. 11 in A minor

Hungarian Rhapsody, S244 No. 2 in C sharp minor

Concert Paraphrase on Rigoletto, S.434 after Verdi's opera

Schubert:

Litanei auf das Fest Allerseelen, D343

(arr. Cortot)

Weber:

Invitation to the Dance, Op. 65


Recorded in Camden, New Jersey 1925-1926

“There are wrong notes, some of the recordings are of poor quality, others remarkably good for the 1920s: what is amazing is the unfailing verve, poetry, warmth and spontaneity. Some of the playing here is hardly credible, the technique and insight together are overpowering.” BBC Music Magazine, January 2008 *****

“Here, in recordings dating from 1925-26, is the very essence of Cortot, superbly remastered by Mark Obert-Thorn. A voice from another age, Cortot was addicted to his incomparable recreative art. Every bar and phrase of these performances induces a frenzy or delirium in the listener, setting the mind and senses reeling.
Cortot may have 'discovered the opium in Chopin' (Daniel Barenboim) but he also discovered the opium in virtually everything else. His arrangement and playing of Schubert's Litany has all the poetic freedom and sumptuous tonal allure of the greatest singers and always you are made aware of his alternating simplicity, richness and intricacy of expression. Hear the cascades close to the end of Chopin's Second Impromptu and you may well agree that you have rarely heard such feline ease and facility.
The mechanics (forced out of focus in the heat of the moment) could be erratic but the technique was scintillating in a way known to very few pianists. Cortot's Liszt Rhapsodies, decked out with an array of sly nudges and winks, are as flamboyant as any on record, and time and again you are made aware of his own dictum on music: 'my secret is, I can't have enough of it'. Above all, he reminds you of Liszt's celebrated description of a virtuoso as 'one called upon to make emotion weep, and sing, and sigh. To conjure scent and blossom, and breathe the breath of life'. A wild but enthralling fragment from Chopin's First Ballade is included (a complete version comes later) and there are two versions of both Liszt's 11th Hungarian Rhapsody and Weber's Invitation to the Dance.”
Gramophone Classical Music Guide, 2010

GGramophone Magazine

Re-issue of the Month - Awards Issue 2007

Naxos Historical Great Pianists - 8111261

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