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Thomas Tomkins: Pavan No. 1
Pavan No. 1
Thomas Tomkins: Almighty God, the fountain of all wisdom
Almighty God, the fountain of all wisdom
Thomas Tomkins: Hear my prayer, O Lord, and with thine ears
Hear my prayer, O Lord, and with thine ears
Thomas Tomkins: The heavens declare
The heavens declare
Thomas Tomkins: The Fifth Service
The Fifth Service: Te Deum
Thomas Tomkins: A Fancy
The Fifth Service
The Fifth Service: Jubilate
Thomas Tomkins: O Lord, how manifold are thy works
O Lord, how manifold are thy works
Thomas Tomkins: Pavan No. 7
Pavan No. 7
Thomas Tomkins: I heard a voice from heaven
I heard a voice from heaven
The Fifth Service
The Fifth Service: Magnificat
Thomas Tomkins: Pavan, "for these distracted times"
Pavan, "for these distracted times"
The Fifth Service
The Fifth Service: Nunc dimittis
Thomas Tomkins: Pavan No. 8
Pavan No. 8
Thomas Tomkins: Remember me, O Lord
Remember me, O Lord
Thomas Tomkins: When David heard
When David heard
Thomas Tomkins: I will lift up mine eyes
I will lift up mine eyes
“A new label, Obsidian, launches with a collection of vocal music by Thomas Tomkins who, while renowned in his day, is now rather less fashionable than his mentor William Byrd. This disc should do much for Tomkins’s reputation. The performances fairly glow, and so does one’s spirit after traversing this glorious programme.
No surprise at the deeply felt playing of Fretwork, but the Choir of Sidney Sussex College, Cambridge, is new to me. They sing with as much sensitivity and soul as many more famous rivals. The vocal ensemble Alamire are marvellously balanced and they boast one heck of a bass in Robert Macdonald.
That Tomkins could compose such sublime music living at the same time that Oliver Cromwell cracked down on choral music is astonishing”
“The career of Thomas Tomkins straddled several reigns as well as the Cromwell era and this had an impact on his music, which otherwise reflects the influence of his mentor, William Byrd. Vocal textures are varied, clear and satisfying; the instrumental works, too, exude sanity in what were turbulent times. Tomkins favoured the solo bass voice, which introduces four of the sacred choral works here, though others contain ravishing, if brief, duets for tenors and sopranos. Best known is the lament on the death of Absalom, which with the verse anthem My help comethfrom the Lord crowns the disc. In the choral works David Skinner has drawn a beautifully blended sound from his Sidney Sussex Chapel Choir of mixed voices; the solo parts are taken by members of both Alamire (the polished male vocal quartet Skinner founded in 2005) and the choir. Although the organ is present as a solo instrument in the title-track and in A Fancy as well as accompanying Alamire in Theheavens declare, Skinner transcribed the organ parts for the Fifth Service and the closing anthem for viol quartet – a liberty he defends in his engaging booklet-notes and which are so sensitively played by members of the renowned Fretwork. The viol music and much of the church music date from Tomkins's time as organist of Worcester Cathedral, which came to an abrupt end in 1647; he composed the 'Sad Pavan' for organ just two weeks after the execution of Charles I in 1649. Once also a Gentleman of the King's Chapel Royal, Tomkins had good reason to feel 'distracted'. Cromwell happens to have been a member of Sidney Sussex College. The college chapel provides a clear and sympathetic acoustic. It's difficult to know whether Tomkins or Cromwell would have been the more surprised. Tomkins would most certainly have been delighted.”
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Latvian Radio Choir, Kaspars Putnins & Sigvards Klava
“This is not only a musically distinguished, but also a cleverly plotted album. Contemporary and early works jostle and juxtapose. So one can marvel at the transcendent purity of Gavin Bryars’s depiction of God giving free will to mankind, then hear the shattering aftermath of that decision in his remembrance of the Lockerbie attack, Cadman Requiem...an eminently collectable disc, beautifully sung and recorded from first note to last.” Gramophone Magazine
“Gavin Bryars's music and the special qualities of the Latvian Radio Choir fit one another like hand and glove. And the glorious acoustic of Riga Cathedral lends its aura to his CadmanRequiem and two 13th-century chants (the latter chosen because they relate to, and effectively offset, the three Bryars Laude). All this music has a restrained purity that never admits suspicions of opportunism, in the way some work in this spiritual minimalist field does. There is more floridity to Eriks Ešenvalds's Legend of the Walled-up Woman, but this too feels like part of the natural voice of the music and its subject matter. Only in Peteris Vasks's Zilis zina does the impression surface of special effects for special effects' sake. And even that can be taken as an effective vehicle for this remarkable choir to display the full range of its talents. Bryars's 12-minute Glorious Hill, which lends its title to this generously filled disc, sets a marvellous Italian Renaissance text that imagines God addressing Adam as He confers free will on mankind. Even more powerful in its inspiration and consistent in its focus is the CadmanRequiem, composed in memory of a friend killed in the 1988 Lockerbie disaster. In this new version with organ rather than strings or viols, the music is utterly gripping, and affinities with the Fauré Requiem stand out in ways not previously registered. Overall then, an eminently collectable disc, beautifully sung and recorded from first note to last.” Gramophone Classical Music Guide, 2010
“The stellar young Capuçon brothers seem incapable of setting a foot wrong on disc and they put their considerable chamber-music experience to great use in Brahms's final orchestral work, with cellist Gautier Capuçon proving an eloquent lead in the vehement first movement. The other striking aspect about this performance is the sheer range of colour, not only from the soloists but also from the Gustav Mahler Youth Orchestra, who play their hearts out for Myung-Whun Chung in this most symphonic of concertos. If Oistrakh and Fournier are still irresistible in the slow movement, offering a perfect balance of melodic lines that are lovingly cherished but never saccharine, the Capuçons are still very impressive, and their finale is full of vitality, making much of the folk-tinged inflections and achieving a seemingly telepathic unanimity in their shared passages. For a change from the usual concerto companion we get Brahms's Clarinet Quintet, written in 1891, four years after the Double Concerto. In this coupling it's easy to hear the Quintet's famous autumnal quality prefigured in the outer sections of the concerto's Andante. Paul Meyer is an ideal protagonist, producing a wide array of mellow shadings in the opening movement, yet never underplaying the more agitated passages within the piece, notably the Presto of the third movement. The quartet are minutely responsive to Meyer's every move and even seasoned Brahms aficionados will find new detail to relish in both the performances here.” Gramophone Classical Music Guide, 2010
“Here is a Double Concerto to listen to again and again. Not least because it is rather unusual. The Capuçon brothers are accomplished chamber musicians and they often dig into this music as though in a chamber concert, taking time to explore, passing ideas between themselves. It doesn’t displace the recent Fischer/Müller-Schott, but sits alongside” James Inverne, Gramophone Magazine
“…here's a very fine reading of Brahm's Double Concerto from the stellar young Capuçon brothers. The other striking aspect about this performance is the sheer range of colour, not only from the soloists but also from the Mahler Youth Orchestra, who play their hearts out for Myung-Whun Chung in this most symphonic of concertos.” Gramophone Magazine, February 2008
“Gautier Capuçon launches into the opening cello solo with a rhapsodic freedom and expressive abandon that seems to sweep all before it. The performance is outstanding” The Guardian
Live Performance, October 13, 1961, Tokyo Bunka Kaikan
“They don’t make ’em like this any more. Nor should they, really, as performing styles have changed. But as an example of what increasingly seems a golden age of Verdi-singing, this is almost as good as it gets. Even the less exalted names, Tucci and Protti (he so dull in the studio, thrilling live), show just why they were so popular at the time...The black-and-white picture is often fuzzy, the camera angles primitive, the production values antiquated, but here is a precious document demonstrating full-blooded Italian opera in its last years.” Gramophone Magazine, February 2008
Le retour de Londres, a large-scale rondo composed in 1833, opens with a slow introduction remarkable for its beauty and expressive power which leads into the inventive and brilliantly virtuosic Rondeau.
“The four concertante pieces on this imaginative disc were written between 1820 and 1833, primarily as vehicles to show off Hummel's virtuosity as the keyboard. Christopher Hinterhuber, who has already recorded piano music by CPE Bach for Naxos, is a first-rate soloist, accompanied by the Gävle Symphony Orchestra, one of the oldest in Sweden... An excellent disc of long-buried rarities, well worth hearing.” Gramophone Magazine, February 2008
“Naxos offers another group of rich and exotic Respighi works which demonstrate his extraordinary gift for brilliant orchestrations. The longest and most ambitious is Church Windows, though curiously the idea of linking the four pieces with great paintings only came after the work was finished. He chose The Flight into Egypt for the gentle opening piece, St Michael the Archangel for the vigorous second, The Matins of St Clare for the third and St Gregory the Great for the grandest piece, described by Edward Johnson as like a papal coronation in sound. Brazilian Impressions stemmed from a visit that the composer made to Brazil. He planned a sequence of five pieces, but by 1928 he had completed only three, and left it at that for the first performance in 1928 in Rio. The first is a nocturne, 'Tropical Night', with fragments of dance rhythms hinted at in the sensuous textures. The second piece is a sinister picture of a snake farm Respighi visited, with hints of birdsong, while the final movement is a vigorous and colourful dance. Rossiniana of 1925 is Respighi's attempt to follow up the enormous success of La boutique fantasque. It's also based on pieces by Rossini, this time using some of his piano trifles, Les riens. The first is a sort of barcarolle, the second a lament and the third an intermezzo featuring the celesta. In the finale he comes nearest to the ebullience of La boutique fantasque in a tarantella, but colourful as these pieces are, they hardly rival those in the earlier suite. Well worth hearing, though. The Buffalo Philharmonic under music director JoAnn Falletta is treated to warm and spectacular recording, apt for such exotica.” Gramophone Classical Music Guide, 2010
“OK, so we all know the evergreen Respighi showpieces The Pines of Rome and The Fountains of Rome. Here, JoAnn Falletta and her Buffalo Philharmonic forces set out to prove that the composer is no two-hit wonder. Prove it they do, in the most enjoyable of fashions, exploring the vivid Respighian worlds of church windows, Rossini tributes and images from Brazil” Gramophone Magazine
“Naxos offers anther group of rich and exotic Respighi works which demonstrate his extraordinary gift for brilliant orchestrations. The Buffalo Philharmonic under music director JoAnn Falletta is treated to warm and spectacular recording, apt for such exotica.” Gramophone Magazine, February 2008
With the Missa cuiusvis toni, Ockeghem achieves a veritable
tour de force: a work having the advantage of being able to be
executed in all church modes. In an era when composers vied
with each other in virtuosity, this mass 'in whatever tone'
became an unsurpassable model. Musica Nova recreates the
four versions here for the first time on disc.
“Ensemble Musica Nova are a mixed choir singing two-to-a-part in a sympathetic acoustic that allows for contrapuntal clarity and a sound image at once warm and bright…the music is glorious...[the Ensemble] presents various complete versions of the Ockeghem Mass alongside each other. So if you can’t get enough of this Mass, here is your ideal answer. As variations on a theme, as it were, it’s a fascinating and rewarding exercise. The performances are excellent; one for the collection.” Gramophone Magazine, February 2008
“This is a recording that was waiting to happen: to do full justice to Ockeghem's famous Mass designed for performance 'on whatever tone you choose', you really need to hear several complete versions side by side, and this is the first to present it that way. What's more, Ensemble Musica Nova's performances are technically superior to any that have been committed to disc so far. The precise number of possible versions intended by Ockeghem has long been a matter of conjecture, but recently scholars have come back round to the idea that there may have been no more than three (starting on re, mi, and fa). Here, there are four, comprising the Dorian, Phrygian, Lydian and Mixolydian modes. For what it's worth, the last two are so close as to be virtually indistinguishable (which supports the view that the Mixolydian version is superfluous). Inevitably, given the uncertainties attending modal usage in medieval polyphony, one can take issue with certain decisions affecting the 'colour' of each mode. The decision, for instance, to interpret many Bs as flat in the Phrygian is slightly confusing. In each version, the modal final (roughly equivalent to the home key in tonal music) is sung on the same absolute pitch. As well as being sound from a historical standpoint, this eliminates at a stroke any problems of range and tessitura: the singers deliver each version with the same ease. In addition, each version is sung at precisely the same tempo. Though this decision is less self-evident, it has at least the virtue of consistency. Ensemble Musica Nova are a mixed choir singing two-to-a-part in a sympathetic acoustic that allows for contrapuntal clarity and a sound image at once warm and bright. Just occasionally one detects signs of tiredness, at the beginning of the Mixolydian Sanctus for instance, where there is also an inexplicable 'gain'. But these really are quibbles in the face of such an enterprising project: the music is glorious?” Gramophone Classical Music Guide, 2010
“These sonatas are neither short nor easy, but Spányi certainly has their measure on his resonant and (relatively) powerful copy of a German clavichord from the 1780s. This is a disc which should certainly enhance the reputations of both instrument and composer.” Gramophone Magazine, February 2008
1CD + 1 Bonus DVD featuring the award winning film ‘The Four Seasons Mosaic’.
“Tafelmusik Baroque and guest artist Elizabeth Wallfisch have all the energy one has come to expect in top-notch Vivaldi, but also real warmth to their playing. Also a delightful relaxed quality. The music is never rushed, though there’s no lack of propulsion. They all just seem to be taking the time to relish the experience.” James Inverne, Gramophone Magazine
“…Lamon drives her polished players faster than most. But there's also great energy derived from crisp articulation, matched only by Hogwood's exciting set with L'Arte dell' Arco (Chandos), one-to-a-part and at higher pitch, Tafelmusik's 13 strings, impeccably in tune, create a taut ensemble, while slow movements are treated to beautifully expressive playing...” BBC Music Magazine, January 2008 *****
“As the cover art might suggest, Sandrine Piau’s new album is dedicated to exploring the different sides of womanhood. I’m not sure I can claim to know how close she gets, but this programme – which includes songs by composers as disparate as Debussy, Richard Strauss and Zemlinsky – contains some of the most exquisite singing I have heard from this wonderful soprano...This is a blessedly unhackneyed programme, performed from start to finish with exceptional finesse” James Inverne, Gramophone Magazine
“…Piau's radiant tone, renowned clarity of diction and range of sensuous emotion make this a heavenly experience.” BBC Music Magazine, January 2008 *****