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EMI Classics is pleased to announce the release of a joint recital by the legendary pianist Martha Argerich and Gidon Kremer, one of today’s most original and compelling violinists. The concert was recorded live at Berlin’s Philharmonie in December 2006. The repertoire features Schumann’s Sonata for Violin and Piano No. 2 in D minor and Kinderszenen, as well as Bartók’s Sonata for Violin and Piano No. 1 and Sonata for Solo Violin. Two encores, Fritz Kreisler’s Liebesleid and Schön Rosmarin round out the release.
“A summit of two musical giants,” wrote the Abendzeitung München, reviewing the concert. “They are chamber music’s dream couple […] The way they communicate musically cannot be surpassed by any other current duo” said the Münchner Merkur. The Neue Zürcher Zeitung summed up the concert with the words “chamber music is alive.”
Interviewed in the film, Gidon Kremer muses about his decades-long partnership with Martha Argerich: “The paradox is that, even though we are not a couple in love, we speak an intimate language through our music of the kind that is usually only spoken between couples in love. It is even possible that, through our music, we can become even more closely entwined than a couple in love can be.”
At first sight, Robert Schumann and Béla Bartók might not appear to have much in common. Schumann represented the German romantic tradition and favoured rich, full harmonies, while Bartók sought to escape from that sound world, his music tending toward “extremes of delicacy or sparseness, or of complexity or roughness, as his vision dictates.” Yet the two composers do have much in common: both were pianist-composers in whose output their own instrument retains a central place yet both had the ambition to reach out and embrace every musical genre; both Schumann and Bartok maintained a strong interest in music education and both promoted the status of music in the wider cultural sphere.
Schumann’s second sonata, in D minor Op. 121, composed in 1851, was dedicated to Ferdinand David, the dedicatee of Mendelssohn’s E-minor Violin Concerto. After Schumann’s death, the sonata was often performed by Joseph Joachim with the composer’s wife, Clara, at the piano. Kinderszenen dates from 1838, a period in which Schumann concentrated on music for solo piano. Kremer comments, “I love listening to Martha from backstage. I love the way she masterfully recreates the fragility of Schumann’s Kinderszenen. It is simply a heart-stopping experience.”
Bartók completed the first of his two violin and piano sonatas in December 1921 and the second the following year. He dedicated both to Jelly d’Arányi, a brilliant young violinist whose playing thrilled him and with whom he fell in love. In both sonatas Bartók treats the two instruments as independent but complementary – they do not share material, as the violin and piano would do in classical duo sonatas. In November of 1943, Bartók met Yehudi Menuhin when he came to play the First Sonata for him, prior to a performance. This meeting inspired the composer’s Sonata for Solo Violin, which Menuhin premiered at Carnegie Hall the following year. Although its structure is traditional and it recalls the first Bach solo sonata, having a fugue as a second movement and a fast triple-time finale, its constant rhythmic inventiveness gives the work a sense of improvisatory freedom.
Schumann: Violin Sonata #2 In D Minor, Op. 121 - 1. Ziemlich Langsam Und Energisch, Lebhaft
Schumann: Violin Sonata #2 In D Minor, Op. 121 - 2. Sehr Lebhaft
Schumann: Violin Sonata #2 In D Minor, Op. 121 - 3. Leise, Einfach (Etwas Lebhafter, Etwas Bewegter, Tempo Wie Vorher)
Schumann: Violin Sonata #2 In D Minor, Op. 121 - 4. Bewegt
Bartók: Sonata For Solo Violin, SZ 117 - 1. Tempo Di Ciaccona
Bartók: Sonata For Solo Violin, SZ 117 - 2. Fuga, Risoluto, Non Troppo Vivo
Bartók: Sonata For Solo Violin, SZ 117 - 3. Melodia, Adagio
Bartók: Sonata For Solo Violin, SZ 117 - 4. Presto
Schumann: Kinderszenen, Op. 15 - 1. Von Fremden Ländern Und Menschen
Schumann: Kinderszenen, Op. 15 - 2. Kuriose Geschichte
Schumann: Kinderszenen, Op. 15 - 12. Kind Im Einschlummern
13, Der Dichter Spricht
Bartok: Violin Sonata No.1 Sz.75 (1921) - I. Allegro Appassionato
Kreisler: Schön Rosmarin
“…for…the performances that make this Berlin concert absolutely indispensable are the two Bartók sonatas. The First Sonata… reaches fever pitch in the finale where Kremer swings in on a glissando and the two go hell for leather as one racy folk-style motif follows another. The first CD concludes with one of the finest ever recorded performances of Bartók's Solo Sonata, Kremer calling on his full repertoire of violinistic devices which include, in addition to the many called for in the score, a mastery of tonal colouring and a rhythmic grip that at times seem to transcend the limitations of the instrument.”
“…what the Bartók in particular offers over and above their fine previous version is a sense of music-making caught on the wing. …the playing here is spectacularly vivid and assured. …above all there is Argerich in Schumann's Kinderszenen. Since she has all but given up playing solo works in public, her admirers will want to seize the opportunity of hearing this performance shot through with characteristic spontaneity.”
10th June 2009
“The electricity of a live occasion surges through this recital of Bartók and Schumann, which Gidon Kremer and Martha Argerich gave at Berlin’s Philharmonie in December 2006.”
3rd May 2009
“One of the greatest recitals I ever reviewed for this paper was given by the duo of Gidon Kremer and Martha Argerich and here they are some two decades later in another live recital from Berlin that shows them still at the height of their astounding powers. The coupling of Schumann and Bartók may seem odd, but both are dense, complex composers. Each player offers a solo as well as duos: the highlights are Argerich's solo, Schumann's Kinderszenen, full of the most aching, subtle rubato; and the duo's Bartók Violin Sonata No 1, with its hair-raising, stop-start finale - it's earthy and exciting. As a sugary reward, there are two delectable Kreisler encores.”
24th April 2009
“The excitement is irresistible and their account of the first Bartók sonata is exceptional, too, balancing rhythmic drive against rhapsodic expressiveness. Each of them also has a work to themselves. Kremer gives a fabulously assured account of Bartók's solo-violin Sonata, while Argerich plays Schumann's Kinderszenen.”
“There are dazzling moments here, such as Kremer's bravura tackling of Bartók's Sonata for Solo Violin, where the astringent harmonies, bordering on dissonance, of the opening Tempa di ciaccona give way gradually to the dissipated state of the lyrical Melodia and then the animated Presto.”
17th April 2009
“Listening to Argerich, you pant for more from her: more concerts, more solo performances. But we handle endangered species with kid gloves. Except when we applaud — which the Berlin audience does, repeatedly.”
Click on any of the works listed above for alternative recordings.
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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 ****
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 (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 *****
“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 *****
“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
“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 *****
“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
In May 1707 George Frideric Handel entered into the service of the Marquis Francesco Maria Ruspoli, and under his protection, embarked upon a tremendous career.As well as making a name for himself as a spectacular virtuoso on the harpsichord and organ, through his plentiful concerts in the Roman academies, Handel lost no time in also becoming a highly sought-after composer through his felicitous and apparently inexhaustible inspiration. In addition to a significant number of cantatas for solo voice and basso continuo, Handel also involved himself in composing cantatas for larger numbers of voices, combining these with a large supporting orchestral group. The score of Clori,Tirsi e Fileno is certainly a complex one, as much for its dramatic plotline as for its individually-chosen musical options: the result is a genuine opera in miniature, equipped with real refinement and lightness. Consequently, Clori,Tirsi e Fileno turns into an authentic laboratory in which Handel experiments with the most diverse musical and dramatic forms, obtaining by this method a capacity to elaborate that special language which was to locate it firmly within the glories of the theatre, from the past and the present. Extended interview with Fabio Bonizzoni on Glossa’s new website: glossamusic.com
“Fabio Bonizzoni ensures that the performances crackle with dramatic tension or plumb the depths of desolate melodic melancholy according to what Handel’s music demands, but the most impressive aspect of these performances is the conductor’s awareness of story-telling and judicious moulding of the musical flow. ..further testament to the marvellous subtlety and richness of Handel’s Roman music and contains Handel-singing, playing and direction of the absolute highest order…This lovingly prepared series promises to be of the utmost importance to Handel lovers.” Gramophone
“This recording would have benefited from having three female voices more sharply differentiated in character, but the performance keeps the slender plot buoyed up.” The Telegraph, 4th March 2009
“The performance here is one of smouldering sensuality. The verve of the director's gestures generates huge excitement, while the sharp contrast of colours between each singer's voice - the translucence of Roberta Invernezzi, lustre of Yetzabel Fernández, and darkness of Romina Basso - enriches the tapestry of sound. Vocalists match passion with gorgeous ornamentation...” BBC Music Magazine, May 2009 *****
“…Bonizzoni has the admirable knack of conveying the strong rhetorical elements in Handel's vivacious music, and the entire performance is beautifully executed with subtlety and charm.” Gramophone Magazine, June 2009
“Probably composed for his principal Roman patron Marquis Francesco Maria Ruspoli in autumn 1707, Handel's pastoral drama, Cor fedele,in vano speri (usually called by its nickname 'Clori, Tirsi e Fileno') tells the story of the fickle serial seductress Clori and her two rival shepherd lovers Tirsi and Fileno. Despite taking oaths of fidelity to each, her intrigue is eventually exposed, and the three members of the love triangle agree to coexist peacefully as long as all concerned get some satisfaction from the arrangement. Fabio Bonizzoni seems keen to emphasise the operatic atmosphere of this music, and the three singers are ideally cast. Roberta Invernizzi's virtuoso coloratura in Tirsi's furious denouncing of Clori in 'Tra le fere' is magnificent (the oboe solo passagework by Andrea Mion is also impressive). Yetzabel Arias Fernández is a fruitier and deeper soprano than Invernizzi but still perfectly in proportion with the articulate music-making. Leila Schayegh's solo fiddling in 'Barbaro, tu non credi' is by turns brilliant and beguiling, as the minx Clori uses contrasting passionate fast music and mock-sorrowful slower passages to wangle her way back into Tirsi's favour. Fileno's “Sai perchè l'onda” is plaintively sung by Romina Basso. Recitatives are performed with perfect poetic clarity and dramatic timing. Bonizzoni's Italian ensemble astutely diagnoses and communicates the affect of each movement in some of the youthful Handel's most freely imaginative music. The balance between instruments is consistently fine, warm and lyrical. In particular, Bonizzoni has the admirable knack of conveying the strong rhetorical elements in Handel's vivacious music, and the entire performance is beautifully executed with subtlety and charm. This is another essential disc from La Risonanza, whose project is shaping up to become the most rewarding Handelian discographic undertaking of the decade.” Gramophone Classical Music Guide, 2010
Steven Osborne’s live performances of Rachmaninov’s preludes were greeted ecstatically by critics and audience alike: a new benchmark for performances of these works, and a new departure for this most subtle and sensitive of pianists. Now Steven has committed the complete cycle to disc—a surprisingly rare recording venture in itself. His matchless musicianship has rarely been so blazingly evident as it is here. Also apparent is his deeply individual relationship with the repertoire. This is a disc to treasure.
“…outstanding Rachmaninov playing of acute perception, discretion and poetic sensibility, limpid, powerful and luminous in equal measure.” BBC Music Magazine, May 2009 *****
“It's all too easy to coarsen Rachmaninov's melodic genius with an overtly applied emotionalism, its clearly drawn lines becoming smudged. But Osborne conveys both the monumentality of these pieces, even the most fleeting, and their very human qualities. ...while there's no empty barn-storming on display here, that's not to say the technical challenges are shirked or underplayed in any way. There are few pianists who offer such range and depth of palette: not even Ashkenazy's seminal reading.” Gramophone Magazine, June 2009
“His dazzling technique illuminates the virtuosic allegro and allegretto sections, and his playing has a Rachmaninovian pliancy and beautifully achieved rubato in lyrical passages. One of the piano discs of the year.” Sunday Times, 17th May 2009 ****
“Osborne's skill and imagination combine to bring fresh perspectives to the well-known pieces and an absorbing range of expressivity to those that remain underplayed…” The Telegraph, 4th May 2009 *****
“These are wonderfully natural performances: the best on disc since Vladimir Ashkenazy's set from the 1970s, with Osborne always alert to the variegated surfaces of the music, yet mindful of the deeper currents that run beneath. His sound is perfectly judged, never overbearing in even the heftiest passages, and translucent enough to allow the inner lines, which often in Rachmaninov have an expressive life all their own, to be heard. A lovely disc.” The Guardian, 1st May 2009 *****
“A quick dip into Rachmaninov’s scattered recordings from this repertoire finds the composer boxed in, not just by ancient recording technology but by his own circumspection. Osborne, by comparison, flies free without ever rampaging. Sorrow and sunlight, death and life: all Rachmaninov is here, in three dimensions, luscious colour and widescreen. A most exciting release.” The Times, 24th April 2009 ****
“This sensational pianist is usually associated with Messiaen or Tippett. Here, playing a Steinway, he brings his technical wizardry and, above all, his penetrating musical intelligence to these much-recorded works of Rachmaninov. There's no indulgence and no piano bashing. In his combination of modesty, inner fire and natural virtuosity he brings to mind that other Rachmaninov master, Ashkenazy.” The Observer, 19th April 2009
“Extremely impressive all round … Osborne lavishes a remarkable level of authority on every one of these masterworks, playing with a rare combination of technical ease, tonal lustre and idiomatic identification. He also has the undeniable advantage of a
magnificent Steinway instrument with a rich, opulent sonority and great solidity in its bass register … In summary, Osborne goes from strength to strength as he moves through the cycle, wrapping up the final page of the concluding D flat prelude in a blaze of glory … For a truly spellbinding
modern account, Osborne now holds the winning ticket” International Record Review
“It's all too easy to coarsen Rachmaninov's melodic genius with an overtly applied emotionalism, its clearly drawn lines becoming smudged. But Osborne conveys both the monumentality of these pieces, even the most fleeting, and their very human qualities. It's rare to find the balance so acutely achieved. The composer himself, of course, knew how to achieve that equilibrium, but then he had a head start. Yet this is only a starting-point – the detail is equally delectable: the way that Osborne shapes the tear-stained melody of Op 23 No 4, for instance, and picks out the line from the dark, bustling figuration of Op 23 No 7 or the lefthand countermelody of Op 23 No 8. Then, in the Op 32 set, there's the simplicity of the second, with its incessant tolling around the note C, through to the meditative quality of No 10, the line rising out of the depths as sonorously as Debussy's cathedral. Another fascination is the way Osborne's range of touch puts the Preludes into such a clear historical context. Osborne throws down the gauntlet with a towering C sharp minor Prelude: it's arguably too slow but makes an apt curtain-raiser on a set that glories in the magnificence of this music. And while there's no empty barn-storming on display here, that's not to say the technical challenges are shirked or underplayed in any way. There are few pianists who offer such range and depth of palette.” Gramophone Classical Music Guide, 2010
Rarely heard after its London premiere in 1732, Ezio, in its first ever studio recording, is rediscovered by Curtis and his cast to be a masterpiece of music drama. Strong characters, thrilling arias, potent instrumentals, and rare touches – such as Handel’s only operatic bass aria with trumpet obbligato and another air enlivened by the passing skirl of bagpipes – make fascinating listening. Metastasio’s plot poetically gets down to passion, murder, and revenge. Superb Baroque specialist Ann Hallenberg shines as Ezio, a role created by the castrato Senesino
“Alan Curtis sagely allows Handel's music to speak for itself unhindered by artificial gimmicks: ritornellos are subtle, continuo accompaniment of recitatives is exemplary for its pacing and judgement, and singers declaim their texts with utmost clarity. Overall, this is an excellent and much-needed first complete recording, and confirms that Ezio is a fascinating serious drama.” Gramophone Magazine, June 2009
“Built on a stern libretto, with an initially slow plot, Handel’s Ezio flopped spectacularly in 1732. While Curtis’s revival with Il Compesso Barocco and choice voices doesn’t reveal a lost masterpiece, the music and drama soon heat up. Karina Gauvin is particularly fine as the patrician’s daughter who journeys from innocence to outrage, and Ann Hallenberg glows as the Roman general Ezio.” The Times, 25th April 2009 ****
“…a long succession of fine arias offering opportunities for six principals that are fully seized on this occasion. With keenly etched orchestral playing and lucid sound, this is unusually consistent, dramatically motivated performance.” BBC Music Magazine, July 2009 ****
“As Ezio, Ann Hallenberg’s serene mezzo contrasts well with Sonia Prina’s beefy emperor Valentiniano, while Karina Gauvin’s virago-like Fulvia, Anicio Zorzi Giustiniani’s treacherous, scheming Massimo and Vito Priante’s Varo are all outstanding. The drama sizzles and the arias ravish the ear.” Sunday Times, 5th April 2009 ****
“...apart from the conflicted Massimo, none of the characters has much psychological depth. It's wonderfully done, though, with Alan Curtis and Il Complesso Barocco admirably capturing its sombre mood and some very flamboyant singing from Karina Gauvin (Fulvia) and Ann Hallenberg (Ezio).” The Guardian, 14th August 2009 ****
“Ezio is like a Roman thriller. Those wanting superficial thrills and glamorous wit from their Baroque operas might not know what to make of it, and the original audience in 1732 certainly didn't (it was one of Handel's worst commercial flops). However, it frequently shows the composer at his most masterful. Alan Curtis sagely allows Handel's music to speak for itself unhindered by artificial gimmicks: ritornellos are subtle, continuo accompaniment of recitatives is exemplary for its pacing and judgement, and singers declaim their texts with utmost clarity. The sole disadvantage is that more passionate music is underplayed and lightweight, which means that sometimes it lacks dramatic punch and expressiveness. For instance, the dance-like courtliness in the overture is elegantly moulded but could do with some fiery intensity, and the final chorus is curiously underdone. So much of the performance is musically meticulous, but it would have flourished with a few more degrees of dramatic heat. 'Ecco alle mie catene', an emotional prisonscene aria at the end of Act 2, is sensitively sung by Ann Hallenberg but Il Complesso Barocco sound underpowered; a better synergy between instruments and voice is achieved in 'Se la mia vita'. Fulvia's dazzling aria di bravura 'La mia costanza' is impressive for Karina Gauvin's articulate stylishness and a fantastic cadenza. Sonia Prina's singing is admirable. Anicio Zorzi Giustiniani's fast runs are a bit dry in the superbly played 'Và! dal furor portata'. The unusual instrumentation for flutes and violette in Onoria's 'Quanto mai felice' is excellently played. Vito Priante sings Varo's splendid trumpet aria 'Già risonar d'intorno' with robust precision (Curtis adds a timpani part). Overall, this is an excellent and much-needed first complete recording, and confirms that Ezio is a fascinating serious drama.” Gramophone Classical Music Guide, 2010
“The performance...relies on fresh, mainly young voices, cleanly focused...Curtis with his period-performance forces is also fresh and lively, with the acoustic of a theatre nicely caught. A valuable set of an enjoyable rarity.” Penguin Guide, 2010 ***
“Thanks above all to the passionate commitment of Mitropoulos, working with a fine team of soloists, this neglected work sounds a true masterpiece.” BBC Music Magazine, December 2008 *****
“Regis have come up trumps with this early (1954) live Florence recording, thrillingly conducted by the underrated Dimitri Mitropoulos...The sound is not of the finest but is more than acceptable when the performance is so thrilling.” Penguin Guide, 2010 edition ***
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.
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
“…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
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 ****
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
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