Gramophone Magazine Editor's Choice

June 2009

Editor's Choice

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Walton - Cello Concerto

Walton - Cello Concerto


Bloch, E:

Suite for solo cello No. 1

Britten:

Ciaconna from Cello Suite No. 2

Ligeti:

Sonata for Cello solo

Walton:

Cello Concerto

Passacaglia for solo cello


We are delighted to announce the signing of one of the world’s greatest cellists, Pieter Wispelwey, who after many years on the Channel Classics label has decided to move to ONYX. In this outstanding recording of mid- 20th century cello music, Pieter makes his first recording of the great Walton Cello Concerto.

Pieter recorded the Walton in Australia in 2007 in several live concerts with the excellent Sydney Symphony Orchestra under the experienced baton of the British conductor Jeffrey Tate. This recording has been expertly edited from the live concerts (applause omitted). The rest of the recording was made in studio conditions in Holland.

The works for solo cello are cleverly interrelated and brings discoveries such as the Bloch Suite (written at exactly the same time as the Walton Concerto in 1957), the early Ligeti Sonata (1948-53) and two works written for Rostropovich: Britten’s Ciaconna from the 2nd suite and one of Walton’s own contributions to the ground bass form, the Passacaglia.

For the concerto Wispelwey plays his normal Guadagnini cello but for the solo cello works he was thrilled to be able to record on the great Magg Stradivarius from 1698.

“..his playing is flawless…” Gramophone Magazine, June 2009

“Walton's Cello Concerto is like a bottle of vintage wine from the composer's home on the Italian island of Ischia… its warmth, finesse and wry serenity are qualities that appeal all the more as time passes. Wispelway's cello playing, too, has a kind of seasoned timbre sound, at once mellow and concentrated, that suits the music to near-perfection. This concert performance... is alive at every point, and has an excellent orchestral contribution (the playing of the principal oboist is a lustrous phenomenon). Wispelway's selection of solo cello works on the rest of the CD, too, is so finely played that monotony is never risked for a moment.” BBC Music Magazine, June 2009 *****

“Walton's Cello Concerto is alive with magical brilliance.” The Telegraph, 23rd March 2009

“The ethereal orchestral opening gives way to a meandering cello line that takes time to find its direction. But Wispelwey's idiosyncratic virtuosity finds the convincing thread. The maudlin chords of the Bloch Suite for solo cello make a seamless follow-on, with Ligeti and Britten thoughtful 20th-century companions.” The Times, 14th March 2009 ****

GGramophone Magazine

Editor's Choice - June 2009

Onyx - ONYX4042

(CD)

$15.25

(also available to download from $10.00)

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Bach, J S: The Well-Tempered Clavier, Books 1 & 2

Bach, J S: The Well-Tempered Clavier, Books 1 & 2

New 2008 recording


Ten years ago Angela Hewitt recorded a version of The Well-Tempered Clavier Book I which dazzled the critical world and record-buying public. It was followed shortly afterwards by Book II which was similarly received. Now, fresh from her Bach World Tour—in which she performed the complete Well-Tempered Clavier from August 2007 until the end of October 2008 in 58 cities in 21 countries on six continents—Angela has made an entirely new recording of this most iconic of keyboard works.

In a revealing and personal programme note, Angela explains her reasons, both artistic and emotional, for this momentous creative decision. She speaks of the ‘new-found freedom’ that she discovered in her later performances, and especially her use of Fazioli pianos, ‘whose luminous, powerful, and also ever so delicate sounds opened new worlds to me and allowed my imagination to take flight’.

This is an unmissable new release.

“Hewitt…take full advantage of the piano's potential, including its middle (sostenuto) pedal; for that mighty tonic pedal below the final harmonies of Fugue in A minor. Her quiet sustained tone is as silky and restrained as a clavichord; the opening of the first Prelude is breathtaking, creating a sense of embarking on a sustained pilgrimage throughout the whole set.” BBC Music Magazine, April 2009 *****

“Listening to Angela Hewitt's latest thoughts on Bach's Well-Tempered Clavier alongside her late- 1990s Hyperion cycle (reviewed below), it appears that her interpretations haven't changed so much as evolved, intensified and, most important, internalised. This perception is enhanced by a closer sonic image, plus the leaner, more timbrally diverse qualities of Hewitt's Fazioli concert grand that contrast with her earlier recording's mellower, more uniform Steinway. Yet one readily credits Hewitt's pianistic prowess for more acutely differentiated legato and detached articulation this time around, together with a wider range of melodic inflection. This adds considerable textural dimension to fugues whose close counterpoint is extremely difficult to voice and clarify.
Hewitt's uncommonly brisk and elegantly poised G sharp minor Book 2 Fugue has acquired conversational light and shade. Rubati hinted at earlier re-emerge in fuller, more purposeful bloom: compare both readings of the E flat major Book 1 Prelude and the E major Book 2 Fugue, for example. Perhaps one could pigeonhole Hewitt I as characterised by dance, while Hewitt II mainly celebrates song. While both versions hold equal validity and stature, Hewitt's remake ultimately digs deeper, with more personalised poetry. Perhaps she'll revisit the Goldberg Variations next?”
Gramophone Classical Music Guide, 2010

“Listening to Angela Hewitt's latest thoughts on Bach's Well-Tempered Clavier alongside her late-1990s Hyperion cycle (11/98, 7/99), it appears that her interpretations haven't changed so much as evolved, intensified and, most important, internalised. Perhaps one could pigeonhole Hewitt I as characterised by dance, while Hewitt II mainly celebrates song. While both versions hold equal validity and stature, Hewitt's remake ultimately digs deeper, with more personalised poetry.” Gramophone Magazine, June 2009

“As ever with Hewitt, the joie de vivre she finds in this music remains exhilarating. Even if you own her old set, this new one cries out to be heard.” Sunday Times, 3rd May 2009 *****

“What shines through her playing most of all is a sovereign control of touch, texture and dynamic, so that every line is perfectly characterised and distinct. This is by no means the only approach to playing Bach's masterpiece on a piano, as the historic, equally valid recordings by artists as contrasting as Edwin Fischer, Glenn Gould and Sviatoslav Richter demonstrate, but it's a measure of Hewitt's achievement that she invites comparison with pianists as great as those.” The Guardian, 17th April 2009 *****

“Fresh from her Bach World Tour - in which she performed the work in 58 cities in 21 countries on six continents - she has gone back into the studio (actually the Jesus-Christus-Kirche, Berlin) and made a new recording of this landmark work for keyboard...The result is a precious document, which draws upon her development as a person and a performer over the past 10 years. Playing of this ease and assurance rarely has such a profound understanding of the material. This is no mechanical journey through the cycle of keys. This is life itself.” The Observer

“Angela Hewitt's Bach has long been a thing of wonder...Her palette of colours is judiciously chosen, her variety of touch and dynamics gauged so that each prelude and fugue has a character of its own and contributes something special to Bach's iridescent kaleidoscope of musical invention.” The Telegraph, 16th April 2009 *****

“The 2009 Hewitt — protean, humane, modern but respectful, beautifully recorded — was the version to live with. It would even sound good, I’m sure, on the BBC’s desert island.” The Times, 27th March 2009 *****

GGramophone Magazine

Editor's Choice - June 2009

Hyperion & Helios - up to 50% off

Hyperion - Angela Hewitt Bach - CDA67741/4

(CD - 4 discs)

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Dove: The Adventures of Pinocchio

Dove: The Adventures of Pinocchio

Recorded live at Sadler’s Wells Theatre, London, on 29th February & 1st March 2008.


Victoria Simmonds (Pinocchio), Jonathan Summers (Geppetto), Mary Plazas (Blue Fairy), Rebecca Bottone (Cricket/Parrot), Graeme Broadbent (Puppeteer/Ape-Judge/Ringmaster), Allan Clayton (Lampwick), Mark Wilde (Cat), James Laing (Fox/Coachman), Carole Wilson (Pigeon/Snail)

The Orchestra and Chorus of Opera North, David Parry (conductor) & Martin Duncan (stage director)

Opera North’s enchanting staging of The Adventures of Pinocchio, Jonathan Dove’s 21st opera, is a wittily inventive feast for the eyes and ears. A full-length, through-composed grand opera with 29 characters, a sizeable chorus and a profound symphonic score, it is overflowing with visual delights, and children will love it! A sublime achievement by Martin Duncan and team, this production shines a bright new light on Collodi’s dream-like original story, full of charm, darkness and magic. The superb ensemble stars Victoria Simmonds in the title role, and the orchestra and chorus respond splendidly under David Parry’s vibrant baton. Mastered from the High Definition video recording and in true surround sound, this is a wonderful chance for children and adults to relive an exhilarating theatre experience at home.

Illustrated synopsis & cast gallery.

Interviews with…

The Composer, The Librettist, The Stage Director & The Musical Director

‘What an inspired and exciting opera this is. Gorgeous characters, a busy story rich in incident and an exhilarating mix of music. Delight follows delight.’ The Stage

PICTURE FORMAT: 16:9
LENGTH: 213 Mins
SOUND: 5.1 DTS SURROUND/ PCM STEREO
SUBTITLES: EN/FR/DE/ES/IT

“…curiosity is aroused for adult and child alike from the first notes of Jonathan Dove's lavish and fantastical new opera genuinely for all age-groups. The scary moments are balanced by the joie de vivre of Alasdair Middleton's witty libretto and Martin Duncan's imaginative staging. Onstage virtually throughout, Victoria Simmonds conveys Pinocchio's flitting moods, from unthinkingly selfish to equally thoughtless acts of love, open-eyed enthusiasm to despondent sulks, with charm and verve. Plaudits should also go to the chorus, whose scenes are always visually and sonically spectacular, while the stunning surround sound of the DVD capturing every detail of Opera North's bold undertaking.” BBC Music Magazine, April 2009 *****

“The story of Pinocchio, as told by Carlo Collodi, is best known through the Disney cartoon version, an equivocal movie generally less sympathetic than other Disney features, but giving a graphic if partial view of the story. Jonathan Dove with his librettist, Alasdair Middleton, in this operatic version in two substantial acts gives a much fuller idea of the story starting with the moment when Gepetto the woodman finds a talking log in the forest.
Gepetto is about to chop it up when it speaks to him demanding that he preserve it, later demanding that he should bring out the secret it contains, nothing less than the puppet, Pinocchio, who kicks him as his legs appear. Dove tells the story in brief scenes, 12 in Act 1, nine in Act 2, which carry the story on swiftly and effectively, going on to one sequence involving a circus – cue for pastiche circus music – also one when Pinocchio and Gepetto are trapped inside a whale, from which they escape thanks to Pinocchio's cunning in realising that this asthmatic animal is asleep with its mouth open. Generally the scenes follow the development of Pinocchio from rebellious puppet to kind and considerate boy.
Dove's writing characteristically is colourful and vigorous, with inventive instrumentation, as when Pinocchio refuses to pull a cart when asked by a stranger, denying that he is a donkey – at which Dove has the orchestra briefly making a hee-haw sound. Dove's sharp, jazzy syncopations add to the attractions of the writing, which is generally easily lyrical. This, believe it or not, is Dove's 21st opera, though few are as long or ambitious as this one, which was written for Opera North and given its premiere in 2007.
The performance, filmed live, is excellent, with a cast which includes a number of the singers discovered by the Peter Moores Foundation, and conducted very ably by David Parry, the Foundation's regular conductor. A very welcome issue of a most attractive new opera.”
Gramophone Classical Music Guide, 2010

“Dove's writing characteristically is colourful and vigorous, with inventive instrumentation, as when Pinocchio refuses to pull a cart when asked by a stranger, denying that he is a donkey - at which Dove has the orchestra briefly making a hee-haw sound. The performance, filmed live, is excellent... conducted very ably by David Parry... Victoria Simmonds is excellent in the title-role, wearing a very convincing costume, with Jonathan Summers as Geppetto. Other first-rate contributions come from Mary Plazas, Rebecca Bottone, Graeme Broadbent, Allan Clayton and others in a big cast. A very welcome issue of a most attractive new opera.” Gramophone Magazine, June 2009

“Dove's writing is characteristically colourful and vigorous...Simmonds is excellent in the title-role, wearing a very convincing costume, with Jonathan Summers a pleasing Geppetto. A very welcome issue of an attractive new opera.” Penguin Guide, 2011 edition

GGramophone Magazine

DVD of the Month - June 2009

DVD Video

Region: 0

Format: NTSC

Opus Arte - OA1005D

(DVD Video - 2 discs)

$35.75

Usually despatched in 2 - 3 working days.

Vincent d’Indy - Orchestral Works Volume 2

Vincent d’Indy - Orchestral Works Volume 2


Indy:

Symphony No. 2, Op. 57

Karadec Suite, Op. 34

Tableaux de voyage, Op. 36


Symphony No.2 is of particular interest as there have been very few recordings of this major work. Completed in 1903, the work is inspired by D’Indy’s mentor, Cesar Franck and is highly ambitious in its philosophical scope. This is particularly notable in the symbolic importance of cyclic ideas recurring between movements and the classical values of formal structure and tonal harmony. The result is a large-scale romantic four-movement symphony dedicated to the memory of his friend Ernest Chausson.

The three pieces that make up the Karadec Suite Op.34 were written as incidental music for the long forgotten play Karadec by André Alexander. Critic Francisque Sarcey, writing in Le Temps, noted of d'Indy's score, "…we were held by it and genuinely moved...." The score was dedicated to Julien Tiersot, a fellow Franck pupil and authority on French folk song. Set in Brittany, Karadec gave d'Indy license to make liberal use of Breton folk song.

Tableaux de Voyages Op.36 was a result of a trip that d’Indy had made to Bayreuth in August 1888 to hear Wagner’s Meistersinger and Parsifal. D’Indy realized his impressions of this trip as a set of thirteen piano pieces: Tableaux de Voyage Op. 33, Treize pièces pour piano. He subsequently orchestrated six of the thirteen pieces, which are performed here and are a fine example of D’Indy’s genius.

“None of the three previous recordings of the symphony… survived very long in the catalogue, so Gamba's vibrant yet cogent interpretation plugs a glaring gap. …the playing of the Iceland SO combines commendable polish and contagious dedication, and Chandos's sound has both tangible presence and enticing glow.” Gramophone Magazine, June 2009

“…a vital, vividly scored and eventually stirring piece. When d'Indy escapes from his determination to build most of it from the same two themes, he comes up with moments of breathtaking poetry and strikingly personal harmonic colour. Rumon Gamba keeps it all on the move... The orchestra, bright in tone against a resonant background, could do with weightier strings but plays with precision and energy...” BBC Music Magazine, June 2009 ****

“Vincent d'Indy's Second Symphony, a substantial work written at the dawn of the 20th century, combines reasoned, Classical compositional principles with a strong Romantic impulse. Its performance here, well-controlled but malleable in phrasing and pace, is one of ravishing colour, capitalising on the music's fluid, succulent harmony and glowing orchestral palette.” The Telegraph, 7th April 2009 ****

GGramophone Magazine

Editor's Choice - June 2009

Chandos - up to 40% off

Chandos d’Indy Orchestral Works - CHAN10514

(CD)

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Shchedrin: The Sealed Angel

Shchedrin: The Sealed Angel


Clare Wills (oboe)

The Choir of Gonville & Caius College, Cambridge & The Choir of King's College London, Geoffrey Webber & David Trendell

Two of Britain's finest young choirs join forces and cross a continent to take on the sublime expressiveness of Rodion Shchedrin's 'Russian liturgy', an astonishing statement of faith composed in the early days of perestroika. Shchedrin's choral tableaux juxtapose tenderness with bracing sonic impact, and are shadowed throughout by the plangent voice of a solo oboe representing the soul of the Russian people.This ground-breaking choral partnership committed the work to disc following acclaimed UK première concert performances at the Spitalfields and Oundle festivals in the summer of 2008. In 1992 President Boris Yeltsin awarded Shchedrin the Russian State Prize for The Sealed Angel.

"The music really comes alive … Superb performances" Church Music Quarterly, September 2007

"the choir of Gonville & Caius show themselves once again as one of Cambridge's most accomplished" Gramophone

“Caught here in fine sound, this is a splendid disc of a multifaceted, many-layered modern masterpiece. The choirs sing splendidly, without producing a Russian sound, yet the composer is aware of the English choral tradition so his music's translation here is fascinating.” Gramophone Magazine, June 2009

“Sung with clarity and sensitivity by the two choirs, this beautiful, impressive piece easily bears comparison with works that Shchedrin admires like Rachmaninov's Vespers. The instrumental part for 'shepherd's pipe', usually played by flute, is here taken by oboe, played affectingly by Clare Wills.” BBC Music Magazine, July 2009 ****

“Geoffrey Webber's choir sings with greater passion than most of its Oxbridge rivals” Classic FM Magazine

“glittering precision … marvellous choral sheen” International Record Review

“...the subtle textures of Shchedrin's liturgy are perfectly rendered by the Latvian State Choir in the sonorous surroundings of Eberbach Monastery. The amazing polyphonic discord at the epiphanic moment of the revelation of Judas's betrayal is stunning.” The Independent, 23rd July 2010 ****

“The allegorical resonances of The Sealed Angel – in which a rural community protects a religious icon – seem obvious and the text is purely religious, the equivalent of a cinematic treatment featuring the icon alone. The nine movements play continuously, the first three a flowing evocation of angels before the atmosphere changes in the freely dissonant fourth, depicting Judas's betrayal. After the great choral screech at its climax, the music calms down with the choir tacet in the fifth; the halting, static sixth is a chordal prayer of repentance and salvation. The vertical and horizontal elements then fuse in a powerful setting of the Lord's Prayer (section eight) before the quiet reprise of the opening.
Shchedrin provides a detached counterpoint to the voices with a series of oboe solos, free variations not so much on a theme as a way of writing.
These top and tail the main choral blocks, punctuating rather than accompanying, nicely played by Clare Wills. The choirs sing splendidly, without producing a Russian sound, yet the composer is aware of the English choral tradition so his music's translation here is fascinating. So is his avoidance of the holy minimalism of many of his compatriots or the consonance of Rautavaara's larger choral works. Caught here in fine sound, this is a splendid disc of a multifaceted, manylayered modern masterpiece.”
Gramophone Classical Music Guide, 2010

GGramophone Magazine

Editor's Choice - June 2009

Delphian - DCD34067

(CD)

$15.25

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American Spectrum

American Spectrum


Daugherty:

Sunset Strip

Rorem:

Lions (A Dream) for jazz quartet and orchestra

Rouse, C:

Friandises

Williams, John:

Escapades for Alto Saxophone and Orchestra (from Catch Me If You Can)


Branford Marsalis (alto saxophone)

Branford Marsalis Quartet & North Carolina Symphony, Grant Llewellyn

Composed between 1963 and 2005 these four works form a spectrum that demonstrates a tendency among composers of American concert music to draw from a wide range of musical streams – classical, popular, folk and jazz.

This colourful programme is performed by the North Carolina Symphony on their first BIS recording, conducted by Grant Llewellyn and with solo appearances by the celebrated jazz saxophonist Branford Marsalis and his quartet.

“…the performances are more than just enthusiastic, with discipline remarkably tight. Throw in the clarity, depth and lustre of state-of-the-art sound engineering in an acoustically favourable hall and the result is a winner.” Gramophone Magazine, June 2009

GGramophone Magazine

Editor's Choice - June 2009

Super Audio CD

Format:

Hybrid Multi-channel

Contemporary Music - up to 25% off

BIS - BISSACD1644

(SACD)

Normally: $15.25

Special: $12.20

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