Gramophone Magazine Editor's Choice

May 2008

Disc of the Month

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Bach Cantatas Volume 3

Awards:

Gramophone Magazine

Disc of the Month - May 2008

Label:

SDG

Catalogue No:

SDG141

Discs:

2

Release date:

28th Jan 2008

Barcode:

0843183014125

Length:

2 hours 16 minutes

Medium:

CD (download also available)
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Bach Cantatas Volume 3

Cantatas for the Fourth and Fifth Sundays after Trinity


Bach, J S:

Cantata BWV24 'Ein ungefärbt Gemüte'

Recorded: Tewkesbury Abbey (final cantata Blasiuskirche, Mühlhausen)

Magdalena Kozená, Nathalie Stutzmann, Paul Agnew, Nicolas Teste, Joanne Lunn, William Towers, Kobie van Rensburg, Peter Harvey

Cantata BWV185 'Barmherziges Herze der ewigen Liebe'

Recorded: Tewkesbury Abbey (final cantata Blasiuskirche, Mühlhausen)

Magdalena Kozená, Nathalie Stutzmann, Paul Agnew, Nicolas Teste, Joanne Lunn, William Towers, Kobie van Rensburg, Peter Harvey

Cantata BWV177 'Ich ruf zu dir, Herr Jesu Christ'

Recorded: Tewkesbury Abbey (final cantata Blasiuskirche, Mühlhausen)

Magdalena Kozená, Nathalie Stutzmann, Paul Agnew, Nicolas Teste, Joanne Lunn, William Towers, Kobie van Rensburg, Peter Harvey

Cantata BWV71 'Gott ist mein König'

Recorded: Tewkesbury Abbey (final cantata Blasiuskirche, Mühlhausen)

Magdalena Kozená, Nathalie Stutzmann, Paul Agnew, Nicolas Teste, Joanne Lunn, William Towers, Kobie van Rensburg, Peter Harvey

Cantata BWV131 'Aus der Tiefe rufe ich, Herr, zu dir'

Recorded: Blasiuskirche, Mühlhausen

Joanne Lunn, William Towers, Kobie van Rensburg, Peter Harvey

Cantata BWV93 'Wer nur den lieben Gott läßt walten'

Recorded: Blasiuskirche, Mühlhausen

Joanne Lunn, William Towers, Kobie van Rensburg, Peter Harvey

Cantata BWV88 'Siehe, ich will viel Fischer aussenden'

Recorded: Blasiuskirche, Mühlhausen

Joanne Lunn, William Towers, Kobie van Rensburg, Peter Harvey


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Johann Sebastian Bach: Ein ungefarbt Gemute, BWV 24

Aria: Ein ungegefärbt Gemute (Alto)

Recitative: Die Redlichkeit ist eine (Tenor)

Alles nun, das ihr wollet (Chorus)

Recitative: Die Heuchelei ist eine Brut (Bass)

Aria: Treu und Wahrheit sei der Grund (Tenor)

Chorale: O Gott, du frommer Gott

Johann Sebastian Bach: Barmherziges Herze der ewigen Liebe, BWV 185

Aria Duet: Barmherziges Herze der ewigen Liebe (Soprano, Tenor)

Recitative: Ihr Herzen, die ihr euch (Alto)

Aria: Sei bemuht in dieser Zeit (Alto)

Recitative: Die Eigenliebe schmeichelt sich (Bass)

Aria: Das ist der Christen Kunst (Bass)

Chorale: Ich ruf zu dir, Herr Jesu Christ (Chorus)

Johann Sebastian Bach: Ich ruf zu dir, Herr Jesu Christ, BWV 177

Ich ruf zu dir, Herr Jesu Christ (Chorus)

Aria: Ich bitt noch mehr, o Herre Gott (Alto)

Aria: Verleih, dass ich aus Herzensgrund (Soprano)

Aria: Lass mich kein Lust noch Furcht von dir (Tenor)

Chorale: Ich lieg im Streit und widerstreb (Chorus)

Johann Sebastian Bach: Gott ist mein Konig, BWV 71

Gott ist mein Konig von altersher (Soprano, Alto, Tenor, Bass, Chorus)

Aria: Ich bin nun achtzig Jahr (Soprano, Tenor)

Fuga: Dein Alter sei wie deine Jugend (Soprano, Alto, Tenor, Bass)

Arioso: Tag und Nacht ist dein (Bass)

Aria: Durch machtige Kraft (Aria)

Du wollest dem Feinde (Chorus)

Das neue Regiment (Soprano, Alto, Tenor, Bass, Chorus)

Johann Sebastian Bach: Aus der Tiefen rufe ich, Herr, zu dir, BWV 131

Sinfonia: Aus der Tiefen rufe ich, Herr, zu dir (Chorus)

Arioso with Chorale: So du willst, Herr, Sunde zurechnen (Bass, Soprano)

Ich harre des Herrn, meine Seele harret (Chorus)

Aria with Chorale: Meine Seele wartet auf den Herrn (Tenor, Alto)

Israel hoffe auf den Herrn (Chorus)

Johann Sebastian Bach: Wer nur den lieben Gott lasst walten, BWV 93

Wer nur den lieben Gott lasst walten (Chorus)

Recitative and Chorale: Was helfen uns die schweren Sorgen? (Bass)

Aria: Man halte nur ein wenig stille (Tenor)

Aria Duet: Er kennt die rechten Freudesstunden (Soprano, Alto)

Recitative and Chorale: Denk nicht in deiner Drangsalshitze (Tenor)

Aria: Ich will auf den Herren schaun (Soprano)

Chorale: Sing, bet und geh aug Gottes Wegen (Chorus)

Johann Sebastian Bach: Siehe, ich will viel Fischer aussenden, BWV 88

Aria: Siehe, ich will viel Fischer aussenden (Bass)

Recitative: Wie leichtlich konnte doch der Hochste uns entbehren (Tenor)

Aria, Ritornello: Nein, nein! Gott ist allezeit geflissen (Tenor)

Recitative and Arioso: Jesus sprach zu Simon (Tenor, Bass)

Aria Duet: Beruft Gott selbst, so muss der Segen (Soprano, Alto)

Recitative: Was kann dich denn in deinem Wandel schrecken (Soprano)

Chorale: Sing, bet und geh auf Gottes Wegen (Chorus)

Gramophone Magazine

May 2008

“Gardiner is a master of delivering these hard enigmatic pieces with renewed logic and understanding.”

METRO

“John Eliot Gardiner’s Bach Cantata Pilgrimage series just gets better. These pieces show Bach at his most exuberant, as though he’s laughing with unbridled joy at the secrets of the universe, and Gardiner’s team responds with thrilling playing and singing.”

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Editor's Choice

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Amor Profano - Vivaldi Arias

Amor Profano - Vivaldi Arias


Vivaldi:

Tra le follie...Siam navi all'onde algenti (from L'Olimpiade)

adapted by Andrea Marcon

Sin nel placido soggiorno

adapted by Andrea Marcon

Ah fuggi rapido (from Orlando furioso)

adapted by Andrea Marcon

Non m'afflige il tormento di morte

adapted by Andrea Marcon

Quegl' occhi luminosi

adapted by Andrea Marcon

Squarciami pure il seno

adapted by Andrea Marcon

Se in campo armato from Catone in Utica

adapted by Andrea Marcon

Sinfonia from Il Bajazet (Il Tamerlano)

Griselda: Agitata da due venti

adapted by Andrea Marcon

Griselda - dramma per musica : Dopo un' orrida procella

adapted by Andrea Marcon

Amato ben tu sei la mia speranza

adapted by Andrea Marcon

Combatta un gentil cor (from Tito Manlio)

adapted by Andrea Marcon

La farfalletta

adapted by Andrea Marcon

Or che cinto ho il crin d'alloro

adapted by Andrea Marcon


“Amor profano is a role model of how a Baroque opera arias recital disc should be put together - with proper research, affection for the composer, and top-notch artistry.” Gramophone Magazine, May 2008

“Kermes is on top form, singing with vocal clarity, tonal precision and inflective subtlety.” BBC Music Magazine, April 2008 *****

“Simone Kermes has once again teamed up with Andrea Marcon and his Venice Baroque Orchestra for a superbly balanced exploration of opera arias. The level of effort and intelligence in choosing the right repertoire is clearly manifest in this varied and stimulating anthology.
There is a tangible variety of dramatic sentiments and instrumental colours: the introduction of solo cello, recorders, trumpets, solo trumpet and horns in occasional arias is perfectly timed to avoid too much textural monotony, and they make the experience livelier and entertaining. Each aria seems to have been meticulously placed in a sequence that pulls the listener through the contrasts in Vivaldi's operatic writing, which also means that the disc tells a story about the repertoire as well as giving Kermes and the Venetian players plenty of opportunities to show how well they can perform it.
Some of Kermes's dizzying cadenzas are perhaps excessive, but such extravagances are never dull. Her delivery of tempestuous coloratura arias is often exhilarating (the opening aria 'Siam navi all'onde algenti'). The Venice Baroque Orchestra's playing is also dazzling, sensitive and lyrical.
Five of the arias here are first recordings, including a robust heroic aria from OrlandoFurioso – not Vivaldi's famous opera of that title but an earlier setting of the story that also featured music by Ristori – in which Kermes's rapid repeated notes are astonishing. The finest of the rare items is 'Quegl'occhi luminosi' (from Semiramide), which reminds us that, notwithstanding the flashy fast stuff, both singer and composer are often at their dramatic finest in ravishing slow music. 'Se in campo armato' (Catone in Utica) is tastefully played, with its vivacious trumpet-laden accompaniment excellently juxtaposed with a tender B section (although Kermes perhaps over-eggs the ornaments in the da capo repeat). The concluding aria 'Or che cinto ho il crin d'alloro' (Giustino) shows the musicians' infectious joy in the music, with an extrovert vocal line, exuberant horns, and snappy strings and continuo.
'Amor profano' is a role model of how a Baroque opera arias recital disc should be put together – with proper research, affection for the composer, and top-notch artistry.”
Gramophone Classical Music Guide, 2010

GGramophone Magazine

Editor's Choice - May 2008

BBC Music Magazine

Opera Choice - April 2008

DG Archiv - 4776618

(CD)

$14.00

(also available to download from $8.25)

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Schumann - Symphony No. 1 & Overtures

Schumann - Symphony No. 1 & Overtures


Schumann:

Symphony No. 1 in B flat major, Op. 38 'Spring'

Overture to Schiller’s Die Braut von Messina, Op. 100

Genoveva Overture

Symphony in G minor 'Zwickau'

Overture, Scherzo, and Finale, Op. 52


“Clarity is a given with this particular band (their coupling of Symphonies Nos2 and 4 has already proved that) and here the same impressions of transparency, watertight ensemble, dovetailed phrasing and buoyant rhythms pertain.” Gramophone Magazine, May 2008

“To call a performance 'well made' might seem like a half-hearted compliment but in the case of Thomas Dausgaard's account of the Spring Symphony it's only part of the story, albeit a very important part. Clarity is a given with this particular band and here the same impressions of transparency, watertight ensemble, dovetailed phrasing and buoyant rhythms pertain.
The first movement is kept on its toes and 'in tempo', and likewise the Scherzo where the Trios are skilfully integrated into the rest of the movement, the first of them opening, unusually, to a gently brushed legato. The Larghetto is streamlined without sounding cold, the important horn and pizzicato string parts always crystal-clear, whereas the finale's prime virtue is its judicious pacing, especially the idyllic horn passage just after the halfway point, and the symphony's closing pages, which are thrillingly played.
Dausgaard's understanding of tempo relations is even better demonstrated in the Zwickau movement of an early G minor symphony.
There are reminders of early Schubert and Bruckner in that rays of light are crossed with moments of darkness, for example the unresolved bassoon motif that closes the exposition, very imaginative (and unsettling), and so is the return of the stern introduction towards the end of the movement.
The Mendelssohnian Overture, Scherzo andFinale is again beautifully shaped, the introduction unusually pensive, the ensuing Allegro full of life, the Scherzo crisp but unhurried. The two relatively late overtures again benefit from smaller-than-usual orchestral forces and perceptive direction, Dausgaard generating bags of energy while allowing textures to breathe. So all we need now is an equally compelling Rhenish Symphony to round off the cycle. The recorded sound is superb.”
Gramophone Classical Music Guide, 2010

“Right from the opening fanfares, there's a sense of joy and exhilaration, and the openness of the orchestral textures brings freshness and clarity. The ensemble’s lithe flexibility is used to the full by Dausgaard, whose instincts on tempo are persuasive, and the dramatic tension underpinning the work isn't allowed to evaporate.” Andrew McGregor, bbc.co.uk, 7th March 2008

GGramophone Magazine

Editor's Choice - May 2008

Super Audio CD

Format:

Hybrid Multi-channel

BIS Opening Doors - BISSACD1569

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The Reichsorchester

The Reichsorchester

The Berlin Philharmonic and the Third Reich. A Film by Enrique Sánchez Lansch.


In 2007 the Berlin Philharmonic celebrated its 125th anniversary. It has chosen to mark this anniversary year by highlighting a previously unknown chapter in its history – the years from 1933 to 1945. Financed by the German Reich and answerable directly to the Reich Ministry for Popular Enlightenment and Propaganda, the Berlin Philharmonic was not only Germany’s flagship orchestra; it also became an ambassador for the National Socialist regime, particularly on foreign tours.

In this new documentary by Enrique Sánchez Lansch the spotlight is on the orchestra itself – the musicians, the people, their individual destinies. Although its members were much less exposed than their principal conductor Wilhelm Furtwängler, they, like him, moved in circles close to the powers that bestowed privilege and thereby encouraged people to shirk individual responsibility. The unique and microcosmic world of the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra proves a fascinating subject for examination.

First-hand accounts of life in and around the orchestra, delivered by contemporary witnesses still alive today, as well as a wealth of previously unevaluated archive material, provide a highly authentic glimpse into the period under the swastika. The film brings to life, in a manner as fascinating as it is sensitive, this chapter in the history of Germany and its capital Berlin, and explores the question:

How does one tread the fine line between independence and individual responsibility?

Recording Date: 2007
Running Time: 100 min
Picture Format: 16:9
Sound Format: PCM Stereo, Dolby Digital (Stereo)

Language: D, GB
Menu Languages NTSC: D, F, GB, JP, SP
Subtitle Languages NTSC: D, F, JP, SP

“Contributions from the sons and daughters of players from the period tell their own stories - mainly of fear, but also of complacency… self-preservation and dedication to music.” Gramophone Magazine, May 2008

“…the Berlin Philharmonic was viewed so important for the war effort that its members were exempted from military service. In such circumstances, it's hardly surprising that orchestral players chose to keep their heads down and retreat into the music for the sake of survival. Nowhere is this situation more chillingly realised than in the inclusion of excerpts from Beethoven's 'Ode to Joy' performed by Furtwängler and the Berlin Philharmonic for Hitler's birthday in 1942. Watching Goebbels and other Nazi functionaries listening intently to Beethoven's inspiring plea for tolerance and brotherhood amongst all men with the knowledge that music-making was taking place against a background of German soldiers fighting on the Eastern front and the massed slaughter of Jews is particularly telling.” BBC Music Magazine, April 2008 ****

“... clever and wise …” Die Welt

GGramophone Magazine

DVD of the Month - May 2008

DVD Video

Region: 0

Format: NTSC

Arthaus Musik - 101453

(DVD Video)

$23.75

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Szymanowski - Symphonies Nos. 2 and 3

Szymanowski - Symphonies Nos. 2 and 3


Szymanowski:

Symphony No. 2 in B flat major, Op. 19

Composed in 1910, at a time when Szymanowski was influenced by Richard Strauss, Reger and Scriabin, the unusually structured Symphony No. 2 is a work of great power and invention, with many passionate and varied contrasts in its use of solo instruments, in particular the violin.

Ewa Marczyk (violin solo)

Symphony No. 3 'The Song of the Night', Op. 27

Szymanowski’s Symphony No. 3 ‘Song of the Night’, in which orchestra, tenor and choir are subtly blended in a continuous web of intoxicating sound, is a ravishing setting of a Polish translation of a poem by the great medieval Persian mystic known as Mevlânâ, our Master, Jalal ad-Din, which evokes the mysteries and beauty of a starlit Persian night.

Ryszard Minkiewicz (tenor)


Warsaw Philharmonic Choir and Orchestra, Antoni Wit

“Antoni Wit conducts his Warsaw forces in exceptionally warm and idiomatic performances of these two exotic symphonies, vividly recorded. They make an important addition to the Naxos catalogue….an outstanding issue.” Gramophone Magazine, May 2008

“Szymanowski's Symphony No. 2 shows him beginning to approach his first maturity as a composer… In Symphony No. 3, composed five years later, the mature Szymanowski has arrived. Again, this is very fine performance with all the big structural gestures well judged and the wealth of orchestral detail lovingly etched.” BBC Music Magazine, August 2008 ****

“deliriously sensual scores” Classic FM Magazine

“Antoni Wit conducts his Warsaw forces in exceptionally warm and idiomatic performances of these two exotic symphonies, vividly recorded.
They make an important addition to the Naxos catalogue. The more immediately attractive is No 3, subtitled Song of the Night, with its tenor solo and chorus adding to its impact. The poem which the tenor sings has the refrain 'Do not sleep friend' and builds to the most powerful climax with Szymanowski's love of exotic orchestral colours exploited to the full. The thrust and passion of Wit's performance, splendidly supported by the clear-voiced tenor and the chorus, is impossible to resist, and leads to a second movement with hints of birdsong followed by a slow finale, a deep meditation.
The performance of No 2 in two movements, an opening Allegro followed by an extended set of variations, is equally persuasive. Again the first movement is passionate and thrustful and the variations bring some fascinating contrasts, ending with a powerful fugue. Antoni Wit's performance could not be more idiomatic, with singers and players totally inside the music. An outstanding issue.”
Gramophone Classical Music Guide, 2010

GGramophone Magazine

Editor's Choice - May 2008

Naxos - 8570721

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Strauss - Four Last Songs

Strauss - Four Last Songs


Strauss, R:

Vier letzte Lieder

A year before his death in 1948, Richard Strauss composed his masterpiece, Four Last Songs, expressing a calm acceptance of the inevitability of his own death.

Brentano Lieder (6) Op. 68

In contrast the six Brentano-Lieder are playful, incandescent and virtuosic settings of Clemens Brentano’s deeply romantic poems.

Ariadne auf Naxos (excerpts)


Ricarda Merbeth (soprano)

Weimar Staatskapelle, Michael Halász

“Merbeth is supremely well prepared and on top of this repertoire, and the Weimar orchestra, cliché to say but true, have the sound of Strauss's music still in their blood.” Gramophone Magazine, May 2008

“Ricarda Merbeth, a regular Marschallin in Vienna and exponent of other big Strauss roles in Europe, has also been Bayreuth's Elisabeth for the past six years – just as Pauline de Ahna, Strauss's wife and first muse of song, once was.
There's something both idiomatic and old-fashioned about these performances. Here is neither the ample, creamy sound of a Jessye Norman nor the studied, polished art of the Schwarzkopf/ Legge camp nor the quasi-vocalise of a Janowitz, but rather a welcome, word-conscious directness and emotive agility that is natural and refreshing, and reminiscent of an earlier school of Strausssinging – Lotte Lehmann, Viorica Ursuleac.
The Op 68 Brentano Lieder of 1918 – never programmed enough – are hair-raisingly difficult for the singer in terms of both tessitura and line in their original piano versions. Given in the complex (and quite weighty) orchestrations to which Strauss devoted much energy in later life, they become even more demanding. 'Lied der Frauen wenn die Männer im Kriege sind' ('Women's Song when the Men are away at War') is eight minutes-plus of high drama in instrumental clothing that deliberately harks back to Salome, Elektra and Die Frau ohne Schatten (it's also highly possible that the events of 1933, the year of this version, impinged on the emotional temperature).
The five other songs in the group become enticing orchestral children of their contempo- rary operas Daphne and Capriccio. Merbeth is supremely well prepared and on top of this repertoire, and the Weimar orchestra, cliché to say but true, have the sound of Strauss's music still in their blood. Halász, a regular collaborator of the soprano's, beds down in the tempi of 'Im Abendrot' a little too much but his singer can more than handle that. Natural, unplush sound, aptly matching the music-making.”
Gramophone Classical Music Guide, 2010

GGramophone Magazine

Editor's Choice - May 2008

Naxos - 8570283

(CD)

$7.50

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Buxtehude - Harpsichord Works 2

Buxtehude - Harpsichord Works 2

Opera Omnia Vl


Buxtehude:

Aria in C, BuxWV 246

Suite in E BuxWV 236

Air with Two Variations in A minor, BuxWV 249

Suite in F BuxWV 239

Suite in A BuxWV deest

Canzonetta in D Minor, BuxWV 168

Suite in A BuxWV 244

Suite in C Bux 227

Toccata in G, BuxWV 165

Aria Rofilis in d BuxWV 248

Suite in G BuxWV 240

Suite in E BuxWV 237

Canzona BuxWV 166

Suite in G minor, BuxWV 241

Suite in C BuxWV 229


Ton Koopman (harpsichord)

In this sixth and final volume of the Opera Omnia of Dieterich Buxtehude, Ton Koopman performs the remainder of the composer’s impressive but sadly neglected output of harpsichord works. As president of the International Dieterich Buxtehude Society, Koopman is considered to be the world’s leading authority on his music.

“Ton Koopman completes the exquisite solo oeuvre by Buxtehude with captivating élan. Witness the sheer richness of Buxtehude's luminous textures, as well as the finely drawn and grateful melodic contours.” Gramophone Magazine, May 2008

“Performing on two copies of Stefanini and Ruckers harpsichords, Ton Koopman completes the exquisite solo oeuvre by Buxtehude with captivating élan. For a musician with somewhat precipitous tendencies, Koopman here delivers a considered programme of mainly standard four-movement suites, interpolated with other contemporaneous genres, from variations to the flamboyance of the 'stylus phantasticus' of toccatas and the like.
Koopman's most significant achievement is the poetry he brings to Buxtehude's cultivated and understated world of pre-Telemann domestic music. This is where the Suites appear as the apogee of a tradition which Froberger honed and which Bach extended in his early works.
Indeed, keen ears will notice the prescient melodic seeds of the English Suites and, more specifically, the Canzona in C whose turns perhaps inspired the ambitious young Turk in the Capriccio in E (BWV993).
That aside, witness the sheer richness of Buxtehude's luminous textures, as well as the finely drawn and grateful melodic contours. The opening Aria in C (with 10 variations) reveals the warmth of both Buxtehude's hypnotically life-affirming variations and Koopman's concentrated placement and esprit.
Within such compositional calibre and refinement, Koopman also explores a steeliness in the investigative lines of the fine C major Suite which concludes the first disc; as throughout, the tempo relationships between movements are thoughtfully rendered, with the 'gamey' meantone tuning and elegant characterisation all conspiring towards a notable 'world premiere' set of harpsichord recordings. In sum, an outstanding release in this enterprising series.”
Gramophone Classical Music Guide, 2010

GGramophone Magazine

Editor's Choice - May 2008

Challenge Classics Buxtehude Opera Omnia - CC72245

(CD - 2 discs)

$24.75

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