Gramophone Magazine Editor's Choice

December 2008

Disc of the Month

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Debussy - Complete Works for Solo Piano Volume 4

Awards:

Gramophone Awards 2009

Best of Category - Instrumental

Gramophone Magazine

Disc of the Month - December 2008

Label:

Chandos

Catalogue No:

CHAN10497
(CHAN 10497)

Discs:

1

Release date:

27th Oct 2008

Barcode:

0095115149720

Length:

76 minutes

Medium:

CD (download also available)

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Debussy - Complete Works for Solo Piano Volume 4


Debussy:

Études pour piano (12) (complete)

Images pour piano - Books 1 & 2

Etude retrouvée


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“Bavouzet commands all the shading, nuance and timbral sensitivity one expects in Debussy, together with virtuoso flair and characterful spontaneity.’ (Gramophone), “…there is a balance of clarity and lyricism that immediately distinguish the pianist’s work.” (International Piano) are just a couple of reviews from the previous three volumes of this highly praised recording project. This appraisal of Jean-Efflam Bavouzet, an exclusive Chandos artist, affirms his position as one of the greatest Debussy interpreters.

‘We have a lot to learn from Debussy,’ writes Bavouzet. ‘Through the sophisticated sounds he seeks to create and the simplicity of his textures by which he builds, in just a few phrases and harmonies, a whole world of poetry, but also through writing which always reveals a highly contrapuntal way of thinking, Debussy compels us to listen to his music in a very private, intense and nearly religious manner.’

Here Bavouzet completes his cycles with works at the extreme of his pianistic style; Études Books 1 & 2 and Images Books 1 & 2. Étude retrouvée completes the recording. The Images were the product of Debussy the art-lover and derive from his early reading Baudelaire. The Études, on the other hand, look inwards at the properties and possibilities of the musical substance itself. They contain some of Debussy’s most demanding piano writing – five of the twelve were never recorded commercially until after 1950. But, despite their difficulty a playful spirit is very much in evidence.

This series is a deeply personal project for Bavouzet who has been involved in all aspects of the recording process.

Claude Debussy: Images, Book 1

No. 1. Reflets dans l'eau

No. 2. Hommage a Rameau

No. 3. Mouvement

Claude Debussy: Images, Book 2

No. 1. Cloches a travers les feuilles

No. 2. Et la lune descend sur le temple qui fut

No. 3. Poissons d'or

Claude Debussy: 12 Etudes

No. 1. Pour les cinq doigts, "d'apres Monsieur Czerny"

No. 2. Pour les tierces

No. 3. Pour les quartes

No. 4. Pour les sixtes

No. 5. Pour les octaves

No. 6. Pour les huit doigts

No. 7. Pour les degres chromatiques

No. 8. Pour les agrements

No. 9. Pour les notes repetees

No. 10. Pour les sonorites opposees

Claude Debussy: Etude retrouvee

Etude retrouvee

12 Etudes

No. 11. Pour les arpeges composes

No. 12. Pour les accords

Gramophone Magazine

December 2008

“Jean-Efflam Bavouzet's flexible virtuosity and innate grasp of Debussy's style and sound world yields ravishing, freshly minted interpretations of the Images and Etudes that proudly rank with (and sometimes surpass) the catalogue's reference versions.”

BBC Music Magazine

November 2008

****

“Anyone who doubts Bavouzet's abilities should sample the playful romp through the third of the Images, the quasi-Etude 'Mouvement', or his beautifully atmospheric 'Et la lune descend sur le temple qui fut'.”

Gramophone Classical Music Guide

2010

“Jean-Efflam Bavouzet's flexible virtuosity and innate grasp of Debussy's style and sound world yields ravishing, freshly minted interpretations of the Images and Etudes that proudly rank with (and sometimes surpass) the catalogue's reference versions. The Images gain welcome nourishment from Bavouzet's portfolio of ravishing colour shadings and articulations, while easily absorbing such pianistic liberties as playing one hand before the other, à la Michelangeli. His headlong, impulsive 'Hommage à Rameau' contrasts with similarly nuanced yet more austere readings. In 'Poissons d'or', he sneaks a few piranhas into the fishbowl as he modifies Debussy's aussi léger que possible directive with volatile dynamic hairpins and witty accents.
'Et la lune descend sur le temple qui fût' also rivets your attention via his seductive legato and three-dimensional textures.
Bavouzet's Chandos Etudes remake may well be the best yet. As you follow the intelligently contoured left-hand counterlines of 'Pour les tierces' you almost don't notice the fluency and easy evenness of Bavouzet's right-hand double notes. On the other hand, in 'Pour les huit doigts' and 'Pour les degrés chromatiques' he favours melodic inflection and linear motion over Aimard's and Uchida's smoother, scintillating surfaces.
The difficult leaps of 'Pour les accords' have rarely sounded less like technical feats and more like music, and 'Pour les arpèges composés' rivals Horowitz's 1965 reading for harmonic pointing and sexiness.
Bavouzet precedes this étude with a full-bodied, emotionally generous performance of its recently rediscovered earlier version, Etuderetrouvée. This attractively engineered release will reveal more and more details to savour with each rehearing – guaranteed! If you haven't yet ordered it, what are you waiting for?”

Penguin Guide

2011 edition

“Debussy playing does not come any better than this”

Presto Classical

David Smith

September 2014

“Bavouzet is probably today's foremost interpreter of Debussy's solo piano works. He has recorded the entire spectrum to great acclaim, and here tackles the notoriously demanding Études (which explore the potential of the simplest of musical elements, intervals and rhythms) with aplomb. A sensitively textured set of Images is the perfect complement.”

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Anna Netrebko - Souvenirs

Anna Netrebko - Souvenirs

Standard Edition


Arditi:

Il Bacio

Charpentier, G:

Depuis le jour (from Louise)

Dvorak:

Songs My Mother Taught Me, Op. 55 No. 4

Giménez:

La tempránica: Zapateado 'La tarántula é un bicho mú malo'

Grieg:

Peer Gynt: Solveig's Song

Guastavino:

La rosa y el sauce

arr.: Guillo Espel

Hahn, R:

L'Enamourée

arr.: Andreas N. Tarkmann

Heuberger:

Midnight Bells (from Der Opernball)

Kalman:

Heia, in den Bergen from Die Csárdásfürstin

Lehár:

Meine Lippen sie Kussen so heiss (from Giuditta)

Lloyd Webber, A:

Requiem: Pie Jesu

Messager:

Fortunio: 'Je ne vois rien..Lorsque je n'etais qu'une enfant'

Offenbach:

Barcarolle (from Les Contes d'Hoffmann )

Rimsky Korsakov:

Not the wind blowing from the heights, Op.43, No.2

arr.: Andreas N. Tarkmann

Eastern Song: Enslaved by the rose, the nightingale Op. 2 No. 2

arr.: Andreas N. Tarkmann

Strauss, R:

Cäcilie, Op. 27 No. 2

Wiegenlied, Op. 41 No. 1

trad.:

Schlof sche, mein Vögele


Anna Netrebko (sopano)

Soprano superstar Anna Netrebko steps away from the operatic stage to create her most personal and intimate album yet. Souvenirs is a gorgeous collection of short and sparkling pieces that allow Anna to display her amazing voice and temperament

“This recording is like a bridal bouquet, bursting with variety and colours,” says Anna Netrebko. “I want it to create a wonderful array of emotions – passion, fun, love, tenderness.”

The album includes repertoire from all over the world: songs in French, German, Italian, Norwegian, Latin, Czech, Yiddish, Spanish and – of course – Russian. These are pieces that are very close to Anna’s heart and include treasures by Dvorák, Grieg, Carlos Guastavino, Reynaldo Hahn, Offenbach, Richard Strauss, as well as rarely performed songs by Rimsky-Korsakov. For this special project, Anna is accompanied by conductor Emmanuel Villaume and the Prague Philharmonia. Villaume is well-known as the director of the Spoleto Festival (USA) and is a regular guest at major opera houses such as the Teatro La Fenice and the Met. He has previously worked with Anna in concert and is a perfect match for her passionate artistry. On this album Anna Netrebko has a few stunning guests to partner with her: Elina Garanca for Offenbach's Barcarole, Andrew Swait for Andrew Lloyd Webber's “Pie Jesu” (Requiem), Piotr Beczala for Heuberger's “Im Chambre Séparée”. Stunningly talented, gorgeous and intelligent, Netrebko already has the music world at her feet making this one of THE albums of 2008, eagerly awaited by her legions of fans as well as all music lovers worldwide.

“Netrebko is nothing if not adventurous in her choice of "lollipops", and sings in nine languages. Although the fireworks of Arditi's "Il bacio" bring the disc to an exuberant finish, the introspective songs fare best.” Gramophone Magazine, December 2008

“In this lightweight collection of songs and arias from opera, operetta and zarzuela, the Russian star soprano sticks mainly to slow-tempo numbers. Richly coloured and in top condition, her voice exhibits a mezzo-like warmth in such pieces as 'Meine Lippen, sie küssen so heiss' from Lehár's Giuditta or 'Depuis le jour' from Charpentier's Louise. It is indeed an exceptional instrument.” BBC Music Magazine, February 2009 ***

GGramophone Magazine

Editor's Choice - December 2008

DG - 4777639

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Beethoven - Cello Sonatas Volume 1

Beethoven - Cello Sonatas Volume 1


Beethoven:

Cello Sonata No. 1 in F major, Op. 5 No. 1

Cello Sonata No. 2 in G minor, Op. 5 No. 2

Cello Sonata No. 3 in A major, Op. 69


Angela Hewitt has taken time out from her impossibly busy solo concert schedule (including her stunningly successful Bach World Tour) to record a dazzling chamber disc with one of the greatest young cellists of today. Daniel Müller-Schott’s rise to fame has been well documented in the world’s press. His fastidious, clean-lined, yet energetic playing is the perfect foil for Angela’s particular artistry.

In their first Hyperion CD together, they present Volume 1 of Beethoven’s complete cello sonatas. Beethoven’s first three cello sonatas astonished his contemporaries with their dramatically innovative qualities. Before he wrote them, there were virtually no works in which the cello fully broke away from its subservient role of basso continuo to become an equal partner to the piano. They are works of extraordinary breadth and grandeur. Writing of the Sonata in A major Op 69, the two artists explain that ‘the dialogue between the two instruments reaches perfection, and demands the highest level of communication and expressiveness’. This is surely achieved in this splendid recording.

‘Daniel Müller-Schott is a fast rising star in the cello firmament. His approach is fastidious and full-blooded, marked by emotional generosity kept in bounds by innate good taste and a winsome freshness’ (Vancouver Sun)

‘The magnetic young German cellist Daniel Müller-Schott administered a dose of adrenaline with a compelling performance of Haydn’s Concerto in C. Mr Müller-Schott, a fearless player with technique to burn, made child’s play of the work’s difficulties. But even more impressive were his gorgeous, plush tone and his meticulous attention to expression. He did not slather on vibrato but applied fine gradations, or none at all, to shape phrases graciously’ (The New York Times)

“…Daniel Müller-Schott and Angela Hewitt's… respond with imagination and flexibility to Beethoven's mercurial changes of mood, one moment tender and reflective, then bold and dynamic…” BBC Music Magazine, December 2008 ****

“it is musical matchmaking at its best. With Hewitt's controlled elegance and emotional penetration, and Muller-Schott’s expressiveness and technical virtuosity, the pair separately and together represents the perfect balance of head and heart in performance.” Charlotte Gardner, bbc.co.uk, 28th November 2008

“The dynamic duo find overwhelming intensity in this music, in a performance packed with detail and emotional gravitas” Classic FM Magazine

“Daniel Müller-Schott and Angela Hewitt give Beethoven's first three cello sonatas a nimble and colourful outing. Their musical 'dress' sense is immaculate, with never so much as a quaver out of place, no hint of ungainliness or aggression and a cultivated sound world which, whether presented singly or in duet, is consistently smooth. Their duo engagement is compelling and their repertoire of gestures – vivid dynamics, tiny instances of expressive rubato, suspended breathing and so on – is exceedingly broad. Sometimes the reverie might be considered a little overplayed. At the opening of the A major Third Sonata's brief Adagio third movement Hewitt's dreamily sculpted phrasing verges on sounding Chopinesque, though poetic in effect and poignantly responded to by Müller- Schott.
These performances are full of interesting ideas: there's rarely a bar without a subtle bend somewhere along the line and yet the various allegros are sparky in the best sense of the term, rhythmically crisp and alert, especially the rondo finale of the G minor Sonata, which is deliciously pointed by Hewitt. Those in search of a more overtly masculine approach to Beethoven would probably be better off elsewhere but Müller-Schott and Hewitt provide a bright, decorative antidote to their more austere rivals. The recorded sound is beautifully balanced.”
Gramophone Classical Music Guide, 2010

“These performances are full of interesting ideas: there's rarely a bar without a subtle bend somewhere along the line and yet the various allegros are sparky in the best sense of the term, rhythmically crisp and alert, especially the rondo finale of the G minor Sonata, which is deliciously pointed by Hewitt.” Gramophone Magazine, December 2008

“Müller-Schott’s playing is strong and vibrant … Hewitt brings her characteristic digital dexterity and sparkling articulation to bear … the performances certainly make one look forward to their second disc” International Record Review

GGramophone Magazine

Editor's Choice - December 2008

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Handel - Italian Cantatas Volume 4

Handel - Italian Cantatas Volume 4

Aminta e Fillide, Rome (1707-1708)


Handel:

Aminta e Fillide (Arresta il passo) HWV 83

Maria Grazia Schiavo (Aminta), Nuria Rial (Fillide)

Clori, mia bella Cloria HWV 92

Maria Grazia Schiavo (soprano)


La Risonanza, Fabio Bonizzoni (harpsichord/director)

Recorded in Saint Michel en Thiérache, France, in June 2007.

Two new voices join Fabio Bonizzoni's project of recording the entirety of the cantatas with instrumental accompaniment which Handel composed when in Italy: sopranos Nuria Rial and Maria Grazia Schiavo enter the company of Roberta Invernizzi, Emanuela Galli, Raffaella Milanesi and Salvo Vitale, the singers who we have been able to hear in the first three volumes of the collection. In this fourth instalment (out of a total of seven CDs planned for release up to the end of 2009), we rediscover the patronage of the Marquis Francesco Maria Ruspoli, which lay behind the important cantata a due entitled Aminta e Fillide; this was a work which was to provide the composer with a veritable seam of musical material for use, as 'borrowings', in his operas Agrippina and Rinaldo - one of the reasons perhaps why this cantata has been rarely performed and even less recorded. Both Aminta e Fillide and the extensive cantata for soprano, Clori, mia bella Clori, which rounds off this new disc, had their origins in the special environment of the Accademia degli Arcadi, that literary society founded by a group of aristocrats, cardinals, poets, thinkers and composers in 1690, which used to hold its meetings in idyllic spots around Rome. Karl Böhmer's informed notes contained in the CD booklet suggest a number of stimulating points of view about the meaning and significance of these works for the Arcadians.

“The fourth instalment of La Risonanza's survey of Handel's youthful Italian cantatas is devoted to two works probably composed for the Marquis Francesco Maria Ruspoli in Rome. There is no doubt that Arresta il passo (nicknamed 'Aminta e Fillide') is one of the young Handel's most likeable compositions. The Arcadian story of Aminta imploring Fillide to requite his love, and of her gradual melting towards his seduction, is told by La Risonanza in an affectionate and conversational way, with recitatives unhurried and performed with clarity, precision and elegance. Bonizzoni resists the temptation to ham things up too much, and directs the music with a judicious ear for striking yet tasteful sonority.
Sopranos Maria Grazia Schiavo (Aminta) and Nuria Rial (Fillide) achieve the elusive synthesis between stylised poetry, musical refinement and dramatic character. The radiant violin-playing in Fillide's 'Fu scherzo, fu gioco' is a delicately playful illustration of the text's reference to love being a joke and a game, and Rial sings the difficult vocal part effortlessly and with delicious sagacity. Schiavo is equally impressive in Aminta's 'Se vago rio', which has a spellbinding pizzicato string accompaniment and strange harmonic twists. Fillide's surprise at her emerging feelings of love for Aminta, and his increasing elation, are delightfully conveyed by all of the vocal and instrumental performers.
Clori, mia bella Clori (sung by Schiavo) also benefits from meticulous attention to detail, such as the exquisitely shaded duetting violins in 'Mie pupille'. La Risonanza once again show that Handel's youthful Italian compositions are breathtaking masterpieces of considerable refinement, subtlety and quality.”
Gramophone Classical Music Guide, 2010

GGramophone Magazine

Editor's Choice - December 2008

Glossa - Handel Italian Cantatas - GCD921524

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Beethoven - Complete Works for Solo Piano Volume 6

Beethoven - Complete Works for Solo Piano Volume 6


Beethoven:

Piano Sonata No. 21 in C major, Op. 53 'Waldstein'

Piano Sonata No. 22 in F major, Op. 54

Piano Sonata No. 23 in F minor, Op. 57 'Appassionata'

Piano Sonata No. 24 in F sharp major, Op. 78

Piano Sonata No. 25 in G major, Op. 79


Ronald Brautigam (fortepiano)

“…stunning performances that are technically breathtaking, stylistically astute, emotionally intense and musically alive in every moment. What is more, they make the most compelling case on disc for period instruments in this repertoire.” Gramophone Magazine, December 2008

“…Brautigam… tempos in the outer movements are tremendously fast, and for the intervening episodes of the Waldstein's ronda finale, with their dizzying cascades of semiquaver triplets, he accelerates still further.” BBC Music Magazine, December 2008 ***

GGramophone Magazine

Editor's Choice - December 2008

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BIS Ronald Brautigam Beethoven - BISSACD1573

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Billy Mayerl - A Miscellany For Solo Piano Volume 1

Billy Mayerl - A Miscellany For Solo Piano Volume 1


French, W P:

Phil the Fluter's Ball

(arr. Mayerl)

Mayerl:

Leprechaun's Leap

In My Garden: Meadowsweet

In My Garden: Alpine Bluebell

In My Garden: Amber Leaves

Three Syncopated Rambles: 6am - The Milkman

Postman's Knock

Insect Oddities: Ladybird Lullaby

Insect Oddities: Praying Mantis

Beguine Impromptu

Three Contrasts: Pastoral

Minuet for Pamela

April's Fool

Weeping Willow

Piano Exaggerations: Antiquary

Siberian Lament

From a Spanish Lattice, a Southern tone picture

The Big Top: Clowning

The Big Top: Entrance of the Trick Cyclists

The Big Top: Trapeze

The Forgotten Forest, a poem

Three Japanese Pictures: The Cherry Dance

Song of the Fir Tree, a Swedish impression

Jill All Alone


Leslie De'Ath (piano)

Recorded at Maureen Forrester Recital Hall, Faculty of Music, Wilfrid Laurier University, Waterloo, Ontario, Canada, 24 November & 9 December 2007

“This is a personal anthology… and it reminds us that Mayerl's music is an essential part of the British piano repertoire and that it's the responsibility of classical pianists to put it across, although few will do it with this kind of infectious enjoyment.” Gramophone Magazine, December 2008

“Leslie De'Ath's selection focuses less on the early virtuoso pieces that made Mayerl's name as 'lightning fingers' than on some of the more relaxed lyrical works in the central English tradition of Bridge, Ireland and Scott. This CD offers such gems as the In my Garden set from the late 1940s, which would make ideal teaching pieces, although most of Mayerl's music has been out of print for years. Why? De'Ath has obviously chosen the pieces he likes best rather than representing the sets in which Mayerl chose to publish them. There are now plenty of contenders on CD; De'Ath sees Mayerl, especially in the later pieces, as belonging to the classical tradition. This is a personal anthology, well recorded with good notes from De'Ath, and it reminds us that Mayerl's music is an essential part of the British piano repertoire and that it's the responsibility of classical pianists to put it across, although few will do it with this kind of infectious enjoyment.” Gramophone Classical Music Guide, 2010

“Leslie De'Ath knows just how to play it, with crisp fingers, a swinging rhythm and a light touch. There are two dozen delectable pieces to choose from and the collection is of a quality that you can play right through, or pick and choose....For gentle poetry sample The Forgotten Forest and you will surely be hooked.” Penguin Guide, 2011 edition

GGramophone Magazine

Editor's Choice - December 2008

Dutton Epoch - CDLX7211

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Adams, J: Doctor Atomic

Adams, J: Doctor Atomic

Recorded live at Het Musiektheater, Amsterdam on 7th, 25th & 29th June 2007.


Gerald Finley (J. Robert Oppenheimer), Jessica Rivera (Kitty Oppenheimer), Eric Owens (General Leslie Groves), Richard Paul Fink (Edward Teller), James Maddalena (Jack Hubbard), Thomas Glenn (Robert Wilson), Jay Hunter Morris (Captain James Nolan), Ellen Rabiner (Pasqualita)

Chorus of De Nederlandse Opera & Netherlands Philharmonic Orchestra, Lawrence Renes (musical director) & Peter Sellars (stage director)

The longing to overcome human boundaries led the physicist J. Robert Oppenheimer to begin an experiment that formed a threat to the whole of humanity, and whose scientific results still do today. The question of the moral implications of the atomic bomb is raised in John Adams’ opera, just as much as that of the influence on the private lives of the main characters. Doctor Atomic is the fifth work to result from almost twenty years of collaboration between the American composer and his fellow American director and Erasmus Prize-winner Peter Sellars.

PICTURE FORMAT: 16:9
LENGTH: 288 Mins
SOUND: DTS SURROUND 5.1 / 2.0 DOLBY DIGITAL
SUBTITLES: EN/FR/DE/ES/NE

“Doctor Atomic centres on the hours before the first detonation of the atomic bomb… Peter Sellars's film of the opera is expressionistic, claustrophobic, sometimes deliberately out of focus. The sound quality is exceptionally good, as is the singing and playing under conductor Lawrence Renes.” BBC Music Magazine, October 2008 *****

“is the most dramatic subject matter of any John Adams opera and musically the most inconsistent. Indeed, as subject matter goes, Doctor Atomic could hardly be more apocalyptic.
The work's principal character is J Robert Oppenheimer, the scientist who developed the atomic bomb during the Second World War from its earliest prototype through to the test bomb that was detonated in 1945 at a secret site in New Mexico. The opera's First Act takes place a month before the test; the Second Act is set on the day itself, with a finale that strategically plays with our perception of time as the bomb is about to be detonated.
Adams's first opera, Nixon in China, rattled along with a note-specific clarity that flickered like newsreel; he paints Doctor Atomic in broader brushstrokes, using post-Bernard Herrmann suspense tactics and angsty chromatic swells to portray charged emotions. But an underlying weakness is the stubbornly unmemorable and melodically colourless vocal writing, leading to one-dimensional characterisations. Adams's and librettist Peter Sellars's decision to incorporate poetry by John Donne and Muriel Rukeyser into the opera only highlights the functional flavour of Sellars's own words as the balance is flipped towards contrived artifice. No complaints about the performance though. Gerald Finley carries the problems of the world on his shoulders as Oppenheimer and the Netherlands Philharmonic and Lawrence Renes play like it's the best score since Fidelio.”
Gramophone Classical Music Guide, 2010

“Gerald Finley carries the problems of the world on his shoulders as Oppenheimer and the Netherlands Philharmonic and Lawrence Renes play like it’s the best score since Fidelio.” Gramophone Magazine, December 2008

“The heart throbs...in scenes featuring Jessica Rivera as Oppenheimer’s wife, the opera’s symbol of warmth, sensuousness, and hope. But these are moments: the overall tone stays cool, intellectual. We watch as observers, not participants. Sellars directed this TV version himself. There are virtues here, and vices. Cinema aficionados dismayed by static shots may revel in the nervous visuals, the quick editing and close-ups (you grow very familiar with Rivera’s tongue). But by fidgeting so much, Sellars the film director often works against the interests of Sellars the stage director. Body movements are truncated; the patterns of Lucinda Childs’s choreography get lost. All too rarely do we grasp the big picture and enjoy the full impact of Adrianne Lobel’s stark sets, with desert hills silhouetted and the bomb, cradled with wires, looming overhead like a malevolent planet. Finley, Rivera, Eric Owens and the rest of the cast are always as eloquent as the opera allows, and Lawrence Renes’s conducting is on the ball. Extras are disappointing: too much of Sellars holding forth, not enough on the production” The Times, 1st August 2008 ***

GGramophone Magazine

Editor's Choice - December 2008

DVD Video

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Opus Arte - OA0998D

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Ravel, Debussy, Fauré - String Quartets

Ravel, Debussy, Fauré - String Quartets


Debussy:

String Quartet in G minor, Op. 10

Fauré:

String Quartet in E minor, Op. 121

Ravel:

String Quartet in F major


When the Quatuor Ebène was signed to Virgin Classics in early 2008. Alain Lanceron, the label’s President, said: “The Quatuor Ebène is the embodiment of the modern string quartet. The extraordinary way its members craft their sonority, their re-examination of quartet masterpieces, their readiness to engage with music beyond the traditional repertoire, their innovative and creative approach: all these factors have led us to invite them to add their lustre to Virgin Classics' roster of artists. We welcome them with enthusiasm – the same kind of enthusiasm they bring to everything they do."

Formed in France in 1999, the Quatuor Ebène took its name from ebony, the precious and exotic wood used in instrument-making. The award-winning ensemble has since achieved an enviable international reputation for refined, dynamic musicianship, minutely responsive teamwork, an adventurous spirit and even a taste for improvisation. The Quartet’s repertoire ranges from Haydn and Mozart, cornerstones of the Classical repertoire, through the 19th and 20th centuries to contemporary composers and jazz.

The Quatuor Ebène’s debut recording on Virgin Classics brings together the string quartets of the three emblematic French composers of the late 19th and early 20tb centuries: Fauré, Debussy and Ravel. The Debussy and Ravel quartets represent a traditional pairing in the catalogue, but they have rarely been coupled with the Fauré, his final work, composed in his late seventies. As it happens, Ravel dedicated his own quartet to Fauré, who was his teacher.

“Interpreters of rare understanding and communicative flair” The Strad

“There's a fluidity to the Ebène's playing… that suits the music's character, a mood of wistfulness too that the Ravel especially benefits from.” Gramophone Magazine, December 2008

“Dynamic ranges are wide, with Ravel's crescendos not underplayed in any mistaken attempt at classicism, and rubatos are applied with tactful expressivity.” BBC Music Magazine, November 2008 *****

“Among the many breathtaking moments on the Ebène Quartet's CD, there is one in particular that keeps calling one back. It occurs at around 1'14” into the Ravel's slow movement, the second set, which enters like a bittersweet memory before a literal recollection of the Quartet's opening motif. Other subtle details of interpretation include the chord at 2'03” that underpins a transformation of the first subject before the same chord leads directly into the second subject – and when it does, utterly changing in character, turning warmer, more openly inviting. The ebb and flow of the passage at 5'29” where the second subject rides above an arpeggiated accompaniment, music that looks both forwards to Debussy's own La mer and backwards to Rimsky's Sheherazade (or so it seems). There's a fluidity to the Ebène's playing of both works that suits the music's character, a mood of wistfulness too that the Ravel especially benefits from. This improvisatory approach is hardly surprising from an ensemble that is also celebrated for its jazz performances.
It was a brilliant idea to include Fauré's late Quartet which, in a sense, provides the linchpin for all three works, the Ravel having been composed in Fauré's class to mark the 10th anniversary of Debussy's quartet, and which is dedicated to Fauré. An extraordinary work by any standards, ethereal and other-worldly with themes that seem constantly to be drawn skywards, Fauré's Quartet responds well to the Ebène's sensitised approach.
Anyone requiring this particular trio of works won't be disappointed, which makes the various pairings of the Ravel and Debussy quartets on their own seem somewhat less enticing.”
Gramophone Classical Music Guide, 2010

“it is the performance of the Fauré that makes this disc so rewarding. Late Fauré...is notoriously elusive, both melodically and harmonically. But the Ébène manage to make everything in the three-movement quartet seem perfectly logical, utterly natural and close in sensibility to the works by Debussy and Ravel that flank it.” The Guardian, 31st October 2008 ****

“A commanding performance from Quatuor Ebène in Ravel's String Quartet. The range of colours they bring to this music is always extraordinary, and in my opinion the balance between all four voices is just right.” James Longstaffe, Presto Classical, August 2014

Presto Disc of the Week

5th October 2009

GGramophone Awards 2009

Record of the Year

GGramophone Magazine

Editor's Choice - December 2008

Building a Library

First Choice - March 2009

BBC Music Magazine Awards 2009

Newcomer of the Year

40 Years of the Gramophone Awards

Erato - 5190452

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Beethoven: Symphonies Nos. 4 & 7

Beethoven: Symphonies Nos. 4 & 7


Beethoven:

Symphony No. 4 in B flat major, Op. 60

Symphony No. 7 in A major, Op. 92


Douglas Boyd and Manchester Camerata return in great style with highly committed and enthusiastic performances of Beethoven Symphonies Nos. 4 & 7. The earlier work sees the more classical and traditional composer using a smaller scale orchestra but nevertheless, this is still Beethoven in full power. Recent studies and the absence of surviving sketches suggest that it was composed in one creative burst, being finished in one week in the Summer of 1806.

By contrast, the 7th symphony sees Beethoven at the height of his powers. It gives a glimpse of the writing and energy that Beethoven would make his own in later works, such as the late sonatas, quartets and the’ Missa Solemnis’. AVIE is proud to bring these release these brand new recordings by Manchester Camerata, whose performances have been hailed amongst critics and audiences alike. Produced by award winning Andrew Keener, this is the second release in the Manchester Camerata’s Beethoven cycle.

“Is it Douglas Boyd Conducting? Or the joy of the Mozart anniversary? Inspired playing anyway from this Manchester chamber group on Mozart symphonies (..)” The Times July 2006

“There is aggression in the performances, but it is an artistically contained aggression. The playing, with its gutsy, tensile strings and characterful lead woodwinds, has a powerfully communicative quality.” Gramophone Magazine, December 2008

“Thirty years ago, 'chamber orchestra' Beethoven was considered to be a mildly interesting eccentricity; nowadays it is practically de rigueur. The Chamber Orchestra of Europe blazed the trail.
Douglas Boyd was its principal oboe for many years, though more recently his widely recognised drive and musical acumen have been put at the service of the long-established and nowadays upwardly mobile Manchester Camerata. This, surely, is one of their finest records.
The Camerata do not use period instruments (under Boyd they do not even use period layouts), nor is Boyd an interpretative absolutist.
Harnoncourt and Abbado, his old bosses at the COE, have probably helped determine his approach, yet there is no sense that these are hand-me-down readings. The switch of roles has clearly refocused his interest in the music and rekindled it: an experience the orchestra evidently shares.
There is aggression in the performances, but it is an artistically contained aggression. The playing, with its gutsy, tensile strings and characterful lead woodwinds, has a powerfully communicative quality. Both readings are rhythmically strong, though the delayed string entry at the start of the hushed return to the dominant in the second subject group of the first movement of the Seventh (bars 141-42) is still a surprise. As this happens three times, twice in the exposition and again in the recapitulation, it is clearly no accident.
The recordings are superb. For once we have an in-house, orchestra-live product that actually works on record, with a sharply focused bespoke production (no applause) that vividly conveys the no-holds-barred immediacy of the musicmaking.”
Gramophone Classical Music Guide, 2010

“Douglas Boyd conducts the Manchester Camerata in a highly energetic recording of the Fourth Symphony. There's a wonderful sense of line and phrasing in the slow movement, and some virtuosic playing in the last movement, not least from the principal bassoon in its notoriously fiendish solo! This is coupled with an equally fine Seventh, with a slow movement full of passion.” James Longstaffe, Presto Classical

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GGramophone Magazine

Editor's Choice - December 2008

Avie Douglas Boyd Beethoven Symphony Cycle - AV2169

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Schubert Lieder Volume 2: An Mein Herz

Schubert Lieder Volume 2: An Mein Herz


Schubert:

Der Jungling und der Tod, D545 (Spaun)

Das Lied im Grünen, D917

Die Herbstnacht (Wehmut) D404 (Salis-Seewis)

Ins stille Land, D403

Abschied von der Harfe D406 (Salis-Seewis)

Drang in die Ferne, D770

An Mein Herz D860

Der Wanderer, D649 (Friedrich von Schlegel)

Über Wildemann D884 (Ernst Schulze)

Klage D371

Am Bach im Fruhling, D361

An die Laute D905

Des Fräuleins Liebeslauschen, D698

Augenlied, D297 (Mayrhofer)

Du bist die Ruh D776 (Rückert)

An die Musik D547

An eine Quelle D530 (Claudius)

Der Sänger am Felsen, D482

Abschied von der Harfe D406 (Salis-Seewis)

Liedesend, D473 (Mayrhofer)

Das Heimweh, D456 (Winkler)

Auf der Donau, D553 (Mayrhofer)

Wie Ulfru fischt, D525 (Mayrhofer)

Die Sternennacht D670 (Mayrhofer)

Ruckweg, D476 (Mayrhofer)

Geheimnis, D491 (Mayrhofer)

Gondelfahrer, D808

Abendstern, D806

Der Sieg D805 (Mayrhofer)

Nachtstück, D672 (Mayrhofer)

Auflösung, D807

Heiss mich nicht reden, D877/2

Nur wer die Sehnsucht kennt, D877/4

An Mignon D161

Harfenspieler I 'Wer sich der Einsamkeit ergibt', D478

Am Flusse D160 (Goethe)

Nähe des Geliebten, D162

Der Fischer, D225 (Goethe)

Auf dem See, D543 (Goethe)

Wonne der Wehmut D260 (Goethe)

Willkommen und Abschied, D767


Matthias Goerne (baritone), Eric Schneider (piano) and Helmut Deutsch (piano)

Matthias Goerne has received worldwide praise for his warm, fluid baritone and his profound interpretations. Highly respected as a Lieder singer, he is a frequent guest at renowned festivals and prestigious venues like the Carnegie and Wigmore Halls. From 2008 to 2011, Matthias Goerne will perform and record Schubert on 11 CDs for harmonia mundi and important venues all over the world will present the complete series of Schubert recitals with Matthias Goerne in their coming seasons. This second volume speaks of death, of the 'Wanderer', and of the relationship between Schubert and his poets .

. . For this occasion the singer has called on two travelling companions who have left a lasting artistic impression on the world of lieder: Eric Schneider and Helmut Deutsch.

Helmut Deutsch's career as a song accompanist began with Irmgard Seefried; he spent twelve years in an intensive collaboration with Hermann Prey, and has been the partner of many other celebrated singers. Eric Schneider has appeared notably with Christine Schäfer, Matthias Goerne, Christiane Oelze and Stephan Genz. He is a regular guest with these partners at the Schwarzenberg Schubertiade, Salzburg Festival and the Tanglewood Summer Music Festival.

“Goerne… and Schneider offer grave and solemn performances of Goethe's Mignon and Harper songs, before ending on a higher note, celebrating the eternal joy of love in 'Willkommen and Abschied'.” BBC Music Magazine, February 2009 ****

“Battered by Bryn Terfel dramatics, the ears cried out for a pure dose of lieder from a master of the craft. Matthias Goerne… seems to own a different shade of baritonal colour for every syllable Schubert wrote. The voice is sweet and serene, even at fff, and the shifts that Goerne applies to the changing of seasons and the fickleness of love are done with enviable delicacy. More reticent than Fischer-Dieskau or Thomas Quasthoff to bend a line for expressive emphasis, when Goerne takes a liberty the effect is breath stopping… T his is not an album to gorge at one go. Take it two songs a night before bedtime, and it might see you through to the end of recession.” Norman Lebrecht, Evening Standard CD of the Week

“Here elegy, fatalism and death-longing predominate and in such repertoire Goerne's mellow, darkly rounded timbre, expressive diction and care – rare in Lieder singers today – for a true, 'bound' line are well nigh ideal. Even at the most anguished fortissimo, his tone never grows harsh or hectoring. Perfectionism like Goerne's has inevitably provoked charges of over-calculation.
Some might protest at the ultra-slow tempo for Du bist die Ruh. Yet Goerne's beauty of tone and phrasing (founded on seemingly superhuman reserves of breath), and a rapt intensity that rises to spiritual radiance in the final verse are mesmerising. At a more conventional tempo, he sings An die Musik as a simple, sincere confession of faith, with affectionate touches of rubato (and how eloquently Helmut Deutsch's left hand duets with the voice). Elsewhere Goerne's unsentimental tenderness can illuminate little-known songs that seem ordinary on the printed page – Abschied von der Harfe, say, or the quasi-operatic lament Der Sänger amFelsen. He even appropriates, successfully, two of Mignon's songs, giving one of the most desolate and – in the central section – disturbed performances of Nur wer die Sehnsucht kennt you will hear.
True to form, Goerne makes an uncommonly melancholy serenader in An die Laute and DesMädchens Liebeslauschen, which never smiles. Yet he can lighten up, as in the story-telling of DerFischer and Wie Ulfru fischt. Like Deutsch on the first disc, Eric Schneider fully matches Goerne in acumen and command of colour, not least in a performance of Nachtstück of mingled grandeur, mystery and compassionate gentleness.”
Gramophone Classical Music Guide, 2010

“Goerne used to record for Decca, but it apparently had no interest in his 12-volume Schubert compendium, so the less ruthlessly commercial Harmonia Mundi comes to the rescue, for which the France-based company deserves the highest praise. From a vocal point of view, few male singers, even Fischer-Dieskau, command such a rich palette of colours as Goerne does here…he goes where Dieskau never ventured: he includes two of Mignon's songs, Heiss' mich nicht reden and Nur wer die Sehnsucht kennt, as well as the Harper trilogy… In the middle Harper song, Mayrhofer's Nachtstück and Nähe des Geliebten (Nearness of the Beloved), Goerne approaches the sublime and captures perfectly the wry wit of Goethe's sly dig at water-nymphery, Der Fischer, in which the surprise encounter of an angler with a "moist woman" is wryly underlined by Schubert. Luxury support from Deutsch and Schneider sets the seal on an outstanding issue.” Sunday Times Classical CD of the Week

“Goerne's virtuoso vocal sculpting draws you into the inner landscape of each song, his warm, expressive baritone shaping detail often understated by lesser artists. This promises to be a landmark series, up there with Hans Hotter and Fischer-Dieskau.” The Guardian, 12th October 2008

“This promises to be a landmark series, up there with Hans Hotter and Fischer-Dieskau.” The Observer

GGramophone Magazine

Editor's Choice - December 2008

Harmonia Mundi Matthias Goerne Schubert Edition - HMC902004/05

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York Bowen - The complete 78rpm Recordings

York Bowen - The complete 78rpm Recordings


Bach, J S:

Capriccio from Partita No. 2 in C minor, BWV826

recorded 1923?

Beethoven:

Piano Concerto No. 4 in G major, Op. 58

recorded 1925

Aeolian Orchestra, Stanley Chapple

Piano Sonata No. 13 in E flat major, Op. 27 No. 1 'Quasi una fantasia' (Andante)

recorded 1923?

Piano Sonata No. 24 in F sharp major, Op. 78

recorded 1927

Bowen:

Suite No. 2, Op. 30: Finale ‘A Romp’

recorded 1925

The Way to Polden (an ambling tune) Op. 76

recorded 1925

Arabesque, Op. 20, No. 1

recorded 1925

Fragments from Hans Andersen, Op. 58

recorded 1926 (with spoken introductions)

Brahms:

Capriccio in B minor, Op. 76 No. 2

recorded 1925

Chopin:

Ballade No. 3 in A flat major, Op. 47

recorded 1925

Scherzo No. 2 in B flat minor, Op. 31

recorded 1926

Waltz No. 2 in A flat major 'Grande Valse Brillante', Op. 34 No. 1

recorded 1926

Polonaise No. 1 in C sharp minor, Op. 26 No. 1

recorded 1926

Étude Op. 25 No. 5 in E minor

recorded 1927

Prelude Op. 28 No. 23 in F major

recorded 1927

Prelude Op. 28 No. 20 in C minor

recorded 1927

Prelude Op. 28 No. 3 in G major

recorded 1927

Cochrane, P:

Le Ruisseau

recorded 1925

Debussy:

Estampe No. 3 - Jardins sous la pluie

recorded 1925

Arabesque No. 2

recorded 1926

Gardiner, H B:

London Bridge from Five Pieces

recorded 1926

Gavotte from Five Pieces

recorded 1926

Liszt:

Eglogue (Années de pèlerinage I, S. 160 No. 7)

recorded 1925

Mendelssohn:

Scherzo in E minor, Op. 16 No. 2

released January 1915

Moscheles:

Etude, Op. 70 No. 5

recorded 1925

Rachmaninov:

Prelude Op. 23 No. 5 in G minor

recorded 1926

Polichinelle, Op. 3, No. 4

recorded 1925

Schumann:

Faschingsschwank aus Wien, Op. 26 (Allegro)

recorded 1926

Schütt:

Etude Mignonne in D major, Op. 16, No. 1

released January 1915


Edwin York Bowen (piano)

In recent years York Bowen, the composer, has enjoyed a spectacular revival, but until now his talents as pianist (barring a late recording of his own music for Lyrita) have not been heard since the days of 78s. At the height of his success, in the first decades of the 20th century, Bowen was as much known as pianist as composer and frequently performed at the Proms amongst other things. His first recording, a very rare disc on the Marathon label, was released in 1915, but the bulk of his work was done for Vocalion; after they went bankrupt in 1927 he appears to have made no further 78s. Pride of place must go to Bowen’s Beethoven 4th Piano Concerto. This was the very first recording of the work and its neglect has been due to the fact that it was one of the last recordings to be made under the old acoustic process which was superseded the year the work was issued. Bowen’s pianism is extremely fluent and he plays his own cadenzas! Through all the featured works we hear a pianist who plays in the ‘grand manner’ and that, and his preference for romantic repertoire, reveal him as somewhat atypical of the English pianist of his time. Perhaps his nickname ‘the English Rachmaninov’ did indeed hit the nail on the head.

“…throughout this collection, Bowen comes across as a wonderfully assure musician for whom the studio held no fears. Few pianists have ever played the middle section of Rachmaninov's G minor Prelude No 5 to such telling effect.” Gramophone Magazine, December 2008

“Bowen's supple musicianship and commanding technique (you sense there's always more in reserve) could hold their own with anyone's in his era. His Beethoven and Debussy are special. Reasonable sound for the vintage.” BBC Music Magazine, February 2009 ****

GGramophone Magazine

Re-issue of the Month - December 2008

APR - APR6007

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