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When Thomas Adès conducted his opera The Tempest at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden in 2007, EMI Classics microphones were on hand to record this “masterpiece of airy beauty and eerie power.” (Alex Ross, The New Yorker). The cast included Simon Keenlyside, Cynthia Sieden, Ian Bostridge, Toby Spence, Kate Royal, Philip Langridge, and Stephen Richardson, many of whom took part in the critically acclaimed world premiere three years earlier.
“there are moments in all three acts which are by any standards sheerly, heartstoppingly beautiful; passages in which the music seems to be mined from an unfathomable depth of feeling …” Andrew Clements, The Guardian
“It’s probably the first new opera I’ve experienced in 20 years that left me feeling not just intellectually aroused but deeply moved … A coming-of-age piece. And, yes, momentous.” Michael White, The Independent
“Adès does not shirk the traditional big operatic moments. There is a thrilling and moving quintet of reconciliation and he gives each of his main characters an imposing and impressive aria…these are expressed in music of extraordinary imaginative power.” Michael Kennedy, The Sunday Telegraph
"The evening deservedly belongs to Adès, who himself conducts a score as orchestrally lush and evocative as vocally varied and articulate. The cumulative effect is by turns ethereal, witty, incandescent, often ravishing". The Guardian 2004
“(Adès’s The Tempest) has the potential to be one of the most enduring new operas of the decade. (…) If you need proof that the hype surrounding Adès is more than just hope and expectation, you will find it here” The Guardian on the Royal Opera House revival in March 07.
“Adès has provided Covent Garden and British opera in general with one of its great moments. The cheering from every corner of the theatre on Tuesday - orchestra pit included - felt like what it was: British opera’s equivalent of the England World Cup rugby win.” The Guardian
Adès: The Tempest - Act 1, Sc. 1: Hell Is Empty
Adès: The Tempest - Act 1, Sc. 2: Oh Father
Adès: The Tempest - Act 1, Sc. 2: Miranda, You Are My Care
Adès: The Tempest - Act 1, Sc. 2: What You Have Told Me
Adès: The Tempest - Act 1, Sc. 3: Fear The Sinner
Adès: The Tempest - Act 1, Sc. 4: Sorcerer, Die
Adès: The Tempest - Act 1, Sc. 5: Sir?...Have You Recovered Them?
Adès: The Tempest - Act 1, Sc. 5: 5 Fathoms Deep
Adès: The Tempest - Act 1, Sc. 6: As I Sat Weeping
Adès: The Tempest - Act 2, Sc. 1: Alive, Awake
Adès: The Tempest - Act 2, Sc. 1: I Had The Notion I Flew
Adès: The Tempest - Act 2, Sc. 2: A Monster!
Adès: The Tempest - Act 2, Sc. 2: Friends Don't Fear
Adès: The Tempest - Act 2, Sc. 2: We'll Find The Prince
Adès: The Tempest - Act 2, Sc. 3: They Won't Find Him
Adès: The Tempest - Act 2, Sc. 4: What Was Before
Adès: The Tempest - Act 3, Sc. 1
Adès: The Tempest - Act 3, Sc. 1: This Way
Adès: The Tempest - Act 3, Sc. 2: Spirit Must I Right
Adès: The Tempest - Act 3, Sc. 2: Fool. You've Tired Us Out
Adès: The Tempest - Act 3, Sc. 2: Murder!
Adès: The Tempest - Act 3, Sc. 2: Help Us!
Adès: The Tempest - Act 3, Sc. 3: Father
Adès: The Tempest - Act 3, Sc. 3: Murder This Man
Adès: The Tempest - Act 3, Sc. 4: Quietness
Adès: The Tempest - Act 3, Sc. 4: How Good They Are
Adès: The Tempest - Act 3, Sc. 4: How These Things
Adès: The Tempest - Act 3, Sc. 5: Who Was Here
21st June 2009
“Out-Brittening Britten’s Grimes storm music in the prelude, and the eerily beguiling tintinnabulations of the Magic Banquet music that make the recording so rewarding”
19th June 2009
“Performances are almost all first rate. It's a measure of the strength of the mostly British casting that singers of the quality of Stephen Richardson and Jonathan Summers take some of the smallest roles. Simon Keenlyside's no-nonsense Prospero, a force to be reckoned with from the very start of the opera, is outstanding, and it's hard to think of another singer who could manage the stratospheric writing for Ariel more effortlessly than Cyndia Sieden. Ian Bostridge's Caliban, Philip Langridge's King of Naples, Kate Royal's Miranda and Toby Spence's Ferdinand are excellent, too. It's a fine production, which does full justice to Adès's sometimes remarkable work.”
10th June 2009
“Simon Keenlyside makes an authoritative Prospero, Ian Bostridge’s Caliban tugs at the heartstrings in his radiant Act 2 aria and Cyndia Sieden is phenomenal as a stratospherically high coloratura soprano Ariel.”
“From the tornado-like prelude to Ariel's stratospheric yet ethereal "Five fathoms deep" the music illuminates rather than merely illustrates the drama. …Kate Royal as Miranda, is fully inside her part and sings alluringly… For many, the most memorable writing in The Tempest comes attached to Ariel's vocal high-wire act. Few coloratura sopranos are able to dispatch it like Cyndia Sieden, whose sound lends special colour to the performance... Simon Keenlyside, on the young side as Prospero, mixes brain and baritonal brawn in his characteristically charismatic way. Ian Bostridge sings unstintingly as a wonderfully weird Caliban... The playing of the Covent Garden orchestra is another luxury - no, a necessity, given the brilliantly conceived and demanding orchestral aspect of this piece.”
“…everyone reaches out to the purple passages when Adès touches something rich and strange. Those include the evolution of the young lovers' music from homages to midsummer Britten and Tippett to the heights of Act II, Ariel's banquet and masque in Act III, and the ensemble-passacaglia which takes the ultimate centre of gravity from Prospero's perfunctorily written farewells.”
“It may not be a flawless masterpiece ... but it is one of the most viable and stageworthy of modern British operas...The playing of the Covent Garden orchestra is another luxury no, a necessity, given the brilliantly conceived and demanding orchestral aspect of this piece.”
“well constructed and dramatically effective in its clever timing and contrasted textures...The late Philip Langridge in one of his last performances at Covent Garden...makes a memorable King of Naples, while Ades's evocative orchestration with its percussion effects vividly conjures up the atmosphere of the magic island of Prospero...A strong and memorable opera”
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Lawrence Power, Britain’s acknowledged greatest living performer on the viola, turns his attention to an incalculably important body of work for the instrument: a complete survey of Hindemith’s music for viola. Hindemith himself was an internationally renowned violist and gave the premiere of Walton’s Viola Concerto, writing more solo repertoire for the viola than for any other instrument. Hindemith is a genuinely undervalued composer, with a popular impression of his music as uncompromisingly gritty which will be proved by this series to be entirely undeserved.
The Viola Sonata in F major Op 11 No 4 is a graceful and charming work that may surprise those who are only aware of Hindemith’s place in the European avant-garde. The stunningly melodic opening of the first movement and the lullaby-like tune which features in the Finale comprise some of the most romantic music the composer ever wrote. The Sonata Op 25 No 4, written only three years later, shows the development of Hindemith’s style in the intervening period: an altogether tauter construction, in the leaner, rhythmically highly directed idiom that had rapidly evolved in those years. The piano plays an unusually prominent role. The Meditation for viola and piano of 1938 is a transcription of a peaceful movement from his ballet of the same year about St Francis of Assisi, Nobilissima visiona, depicting the saint at prayer: it will be familiar to concert-goers as the opening portion of the orchestral suite that Hindemith also fashioned from the ballet. The music is a kind of distillation of his mature idiom, gravely flowing and serene.
“All the performances are superb, with Laurence Power lavishing all the richness of his velvety tone and generous phrasing on some of the most striking melodic ideas that Hindemith ever produced.” The Guardian, 19th June 2009 ****
“…the 1939 Sonata that opens this disc… receives a decisive performance from Lawrence Power and Simon Crawford-Phillips. The Sonata Op. 11 No. 4, dating from 1919, is written in Hindemith's early, Brahms-with-chromatic-twists style; it gives Power a chance to show off the gorgeously smooth tone of his 400-year-old instrument. ...the Sonata Op. 25 No. 4 features an uncharacteristically Bartókian finale and a big piano part that Crawford-Phillips... seizes gratefully. Power's acute sense of phrasing makes for an eloquent and elegiac Meditation...” BBC Music Magazine, July 2009 ****
“…not since the days of William Primrose have I heard Hindermith's viola music played with such warmth and conviction and… the pianist is first-rate. A 100 per cent success story.” Gramophone Magazine, August 2009
“Paul Hindemith isn't exactly the first composer you think of when the term 'hit tune' is mentioned but the opening Fantasie of his F major Viola Sonata (Op 11 No 4) of 1919 comes pretty close to providing one, especially as 'sung' by viola-player Lawrence Power. 'Might almost be by Brahms…' says Malcolm MacDonald in a typically persuasive and informative bookletnote, which is surely true. The finale is a fairly assertive mood-breaker, pianist Simon Crawford- Phillips marking a dramatic contrast in tempo and colour (now this really does sound like 'updated' Brahms). The grittier Sonata of 1939 also includes a Phantasie, placed third in the structure rather than first. This is the Hindemith of the Mathis der Maler Symphony, purposeful music, square-jawed, angular, confident and assertive, though with more fanciful elements too – especially in the finale, which at times is both playful and delicate. Macdonald notes the possible influence of Bartók on the Sonata Op 25 No 4 (1922), which seems a justified claim. This is another strong piece, more percussive than the 1939 Sonata, with a desolate but heart-rending slow movement that is savagely interrupted by the finale's aggressive arrival. The CD (Vol 1 of 'The Complete Hindemith Viola Music' is what it's called), which is superbly recorded, is completed with a sensitive performance of the serene Meditation from Nobilissima visione in Hindemith's own arrangement for viola and piano. As to the per- formances, not since the days of William Primrose has Hindemith's viola music been played with such warmth and conviction. A 100 per cent success story.” Gramophone Classical Music Guide, 2010
The most 'profane' book of the Old Testament was among the favourite biblical texts of the Middle Ages. The composers of the Renaissance made particular use of it as a metaphor of divine love, or in association with the cult of Mary. After their first two extremely successful recordings, the singers of Stile Antico have chosen some of the most sumptuous examples of these musical settings.
“…the superb singers of Stile Antico are up to the challenge of presenting all the required moods from pious restraint… to melting abandon… a magnificent display of the very best kind of polyphonic music.” BBC Music Magazine, May 2009 *****
“The standout piece is Tómas Luis De Victoria's epic motet "Vadam et circuibo", a masterpiece of polychoral ingenuity.” The Independent, 29th May 2009 ****
“This ensemble, its members still in their 20s and just a dozen beautifully blended voices singing a cappella, has emerged as one of the best and freshest early music choirs around. Their third CD is a selection of motet and plainchant settings from the Song of Songs, the startling Old Testament collection of erotic love poems ascribed to King Solomon.” The Observer, 3rd May 2009
“…these are just the sort of performances I'd hope to hear in church, which was (one feels) the practical and creative laboratory for what is recorded: full but not strained singing, allowing an advantageous acoustic and the number (212) and freshness of voices to take care of blend and balance, with plenty left in reserve for the longer spans of the two magnificent Victoria anthems, Vadam et circuibo and Vidi speciosam.” Gramophone Magazine, August 2009
“One expectation that such an album may raise in its listeners is an answer to the question of what common and special inspiration might composers have taken from contemplating this most erotic of Biblical texts. The symptoms of their reactions might be sensuous melismas, perhaps, and anguished suspensions, surging bass–lines and… let us draw a veil there. Such devices and stratagems are in abundance, whether chastely deployed in turn by Clemens and Palestrina or flaunted all at once in the selections of Guerrero and Gombert, though no more so than they would be on a programme of Marian or Lenten devotions; and these are just the opening four tracks. That unfair calculation ignores the plainchant antiphons between each pair of motets. These interspersions work well – as they must in a genuinely liturgical context, as here, thanks to the quiet good taste and stylistically homogeneous approach of Stile Antico, with an especially winsome unanimity to the female–only Tota pulchra es. Indeed, these are just the sort of performances one would hope to hear in church, which was (one feels) the practical and creative laboratory for what is recorded: full but not strained singing, allowing an advantageous acoustic and the number (12) and freshness of voices to take care of blend and balance, with plenty left in reserve for the longer spans of the two magnificent Victoria anthems, Vadam et circuibo and Vidi speciosam.” Gramophone Classical Music Guide, 2010
Filmed in December 2008 in Paris (Salle pleyel) & Wuppertl, Germany (Immanuelskirche)
“Mozart's first great opera has fared well on disc...there are penetrating things here, especially the seriousness with which the recitative is treated, and the interaction of Richard Croft's Idomeneo and Bernarda Fink's ideal Idamante - the great quartet is moving.” The Observer, 14th June 2009
“The performance has great dramatic vitality throughout, and the sublime Gluckian drama of the third act has seldom sounded more urgent or moving. The playing of the Freiburg Barockorchester is beyond praise, as is” The Telegraph, 1st June 2009 ****
“The Freiburg Baroque Orchestra plays wonderfully, and much of the singing is first rate, especially Richard Croft's authoritative Idomeneo, Bernarda Fink's honey-toned Idamante (Jacobs rightly favours the original 1781 version of the score with a mezzo rather than a tenor in that role), and Alexandrina Pendatchanska's haughty Elettra.” The Guardian, 22nd May 2009 ***
“Idomeneo is the American tenor Richard Croft, wading through the moral quagmire with impressively crisp decorative runs.... In the role of the Trojan princess Ilia, Sunhae Im wields a small voice, but she uses it with point and feeling. As for Alexandrina Pendatchanska, if we could tap the rage of her Elettra there’d be no need for nuclear power stations.” The Times, 22nd May 2009 ****
“The orchestral playing, choral singing and most of the soloists are first-rate: Bernarda Fink’s ardent Idamante, Alexandrina Pendatchanska’s spitfire Elettra and Richard Croft’s noble Idomeneo rank with the best on disc.” Sunday Times, 17th May 2009 ***
“Jacob's strongest players are the superb Idamante of Bernarda Fink: tender, ardent and in touch with every nerve-ending of every beautifully shaped phrase. Alexandrina Pendatchanska, from her blazing top register to the dark depths of her voice, is a thrilling Elettra.” BBC Music Magazine, July 2009 ****
“…there is no denying the intense theatrical charge of Jacobs's performance. He chooses mobile, natural-sounding tempi… The chorus… are as involved and incisive as Gardiner's Monteverdi Choir in the glorious music Mozart allots them, while the superb Freiburg Baroque Orchestra relish what David Cairns dubs the opera's "proto-Romantic exploitation of orchestral colour". Jacobs, like Gardiner and Mackerras, is unerringly responsive to the ways Mozart expresses the drama through harmony, rhythm and orchestral texture. ...the role of the tortured king is tricky to cast. Richard Croft is a subtle, sensitive artist, mellifluous of tone, refined of phrase. In plangent beauty of tone and passionate immediacy, Bernarda Fink's Idamante is at least the equal of Anne Sofie von Otter (Gardiner) and Lorraine Hunt Lieberson (Mackerras)... this new version, beautifully recorded, at its best eclipses all corners in dramatic tension, not least in the magnificent, anguished account of the great Act 3 quartet.” Gramophone Magazine, August 2009
Ensemble Zefiro was founded in 1989 by oboists Alfredo Bernardini and Paolo Grazzi together with bassoonist Alberto Grazzi and consists of talented musicians drawn from leading Baroque orchestras. Zefiro regularly appears to great acclaim at major European, Asian and South American festivals. Its recordings have received accolades around the world, including ‘Grand Prix du Disque’, supporting Zefiro’s reputation for virtuosic performances and a lively approach to repertoire. On the Ensemble’s latest stunning CD, the group has chosen Haendel’s famous ‘Music for the Royal Fireworks’ together with four Concerti. There is much here of interest for the listener including well-known melodies from the ever-popular oratorio, ‘The Messiah’.
“Zefiro play the grand Ouverture with the perfect synthesis of splendour and dance-like charisma… "La réjouissance" trips along lightly without a hint of clumsiness, but still has ample juicy magnificence. There are several other good recordings available, but this zesty and fluid performance is a welcome change from stodgy readings in which everything is hammered home mercilessly. Zefiro bring a marvellous sense of light and shade to this music. Zefiro also perform all three of the Concerti per due cori... These shapely performances are phrased and paced to perfection... This is one of the most enjoyable discs of Handel's orchestral music to have come my way in a long time...” Gramophone Magazine, August 2009
“What makes the disc into a must-hear is the pairing with the three Concerto a due cori, Handel's last, ebullient recycling of "greatest hits" from his operas and Italian cantatas.” The Independent on Sunday, 19th July 2009
“What the Italian wind-based orchestra Zefiro, led by oboist Alfredo Bernardini, achieve here is remarkable, giving these ceremonial masterpieces an expressive lilt and rounded warmth - no relentless rhythms, but perky dances, gracious phrasing and, in the famous fireworks music, an unexpected depth of emotion.” The Observer, 2nd August 2009
“…once past the curious opening… the players want for nothing in immediacy or colour. They contrive majesty without pomposity, and there's a deal of gleeful thrusting in the confrontational face-offs which animate the Allegro continuation. The easeful suavity of the 'Bourrée' neatly counterpoints the arcadian lilt of 'La paix', while the two concluding menuets are appealingly crisp and... Laced with infectious swagger, the three Concerti a due cori... provide an inspired and inspiring coupling.” BBC Music Magazine, October 2009 ***
“The Italian ensemble Zefiro, directed by oboist Alfredo Bernardini, specialise in 18th-century music that gives prominence towards wind instruments. This lends itself to Handel's Musicfor the Royal Fireworks, written for the public celebrations of the Peace of Aix-la-Chapelle in London's Green Park (1749). Zefiro play the grand Ouverture with the perfect synthesis of splendour and dance-like charisma (too many versions possess too little of the latter). 'La réjouissance' trips along lightly without a hint of clumsiness, but still has ample juicy magnificence. There are several other good recordings available, but this zesty and fluid performance is a welcome change from stodgy readings in which everything is hammered home mercilessly. Zefiro bring a marvellous sense of light and shade to this music. Maybe Bernardini's sparkling and communicative approach would have been too subtle for the great British outdoors in 1749, but it is curious that this beautifully engineered recording was made outside in the cloisters of a former Jesuit college in Sicily. Zefiro also perform all three of the Concerti perdue cori (1747-48) that Handel arranged for orchestra and two 'choirs' of woodwind and brass. These were intended as entr'actes in oratorio concerts, and it is fun to play 'name that tune'. These shapely performances are phrased and paced to perfection, and exploit an enjoyable range of instrumental colours (whether oboe trios or bucolic horns, almost everything here feels right). This is one of the most enjoyable discs of Handel's orchestral music in a long time.” Gramophone Classical Music Guide, 2010
The award-winning partnership of Gerald Finley and Julius Drake continue their musical explorations with this beautiful and thought-provoking disc. Gerald Finley’s lustrous tones, extraordinary gift for characterisation, and direct, unaffected utterance make him an ideal and revelatory performer of Ravel’s songs.
These works, somewhat under-appreciated in the composer’s oeuvre, demonstrate the endless variety and vast emotional scope of Ravel’s musical sphere. Charming folk-song settings contrast with the almost surrealist world of Histoires naturelles, which caused outrage at its first performance. Yet this cycle contains some of Ravel’s most dreamily beautiful music: the still, crystalline ‘music of silence’ created in Le martin-pêcheur. In the words of Roger Nichols, who provides the fascinating booklet notes, ‘From the sepulchral gloom of Un grand sommeil noir to the final exclamation ‘Je bois / À la joie’ …, Ravel’s songs embrace a whole world’.
“After acclaimed recordings of Barber, Ives and Schumann, baritone Gerald Finley and pianist Julius Drake pull off another success with this disc of Ravel songs. These are for the most part works of cool restraint, with passion hidden beneath a jewelled surface, and Finley’s wonderfully flexible voice achieves maximum effect with minimal means.” The Telegraph, 10th June 2009 ****
“Finley sings with the art that conceals art — relishing but never overpointing the texts, and using a wide palette of dynamic and colour to underpin his musical insights. Other highlights are the inward-looking Ronsard à son âme, the passionate Les grands vents venus d’outremer and the lamenting Deux melodies hébraïques. A superb disc.” Sunday Times, 28th June 2009 ****
“Gerald Finley and Julius Drake's survey gathers all his major songs together. It's a beautiful disc that startles in ways you don't always expect.” The Guardian, 12th June 2009 ****
“It feels inadequate…just to describe this enchanting new collection from Gerald Finley and Julius Drake as the best modern recital devoted to the wonderfully varied world of Ravel's songs. Finley gives the melancholic affirmation of 'Kaddisch' its full weight of understated nobility, and is clearly having fun in the drinking song from Don Quichotte à Dulcinée.” BBC Music Magazine, July 2009 *****
“…the mood might be robust or rarefied, but Ravel's sense of colour and atmosphere is infallible. Drake draws the ear ineluctably into Ravel's imaginative world… Finley's mellifluous, malleable baritone is similarly an ideal match for this repertoire, with lines eloquently floated, nuances subtly voiced and character sensitively defined. This is a beguiling programme, beautifully performed.” Gramophone Magazine, August 2009
“There is a vast gulf between the bibulous bravado of the 'Chanson à boire' that Ravel included in his Don Quichotte à Dulcinée songs and the bleak, dark despair of his Verlaine setting Un Grand sommeil noir. Placing them next to one another in this fine selection of over two dozen songs emphasises the broad expressive range that Ravel was able to embrace. It also throws into focus the way that Gerald Finley and Julius Drake can so evocatively tap their emotional substance. These exquisitely crafted miniatures, whether in the folk-inspired Chants populaires and Cinqmélodies populaires grecques or in the tender Noëlsdes jouets to a text of Ravel's own, show his creative fastidiousness in a consistently positive light: the mood might be robust or rarefied, but Ravel's sense of colour and atmosphere is infallible. The imagery of the Histoires naturelles, for example, testifies to Ravel's intuitive response to poetry and to his precise placing of the tonal brushstrokes. In this respect, the piano is an essential collaborator, etching in the background for the gliding grace of the swan or the chirping of the cricket. Drake draws the ear ineluctably into Ravel's imaginative world, as he does elsewhere in the cool restraint of Ronsard à son âme or the turbulence and shifting currents of Les Grands Ventsvenus d'outremer. Finley's mellifluous, malleable baritone is similarly an ideal match for this repertoire, with lines eloquently floated, nuances subtly voiced and character sensitively defined. This is a beguiling programme, beautifully performed.” Gramophone Classical Music Guide, 2010
Since his first release for Virgin Classics, Beethoven’s Diabelli Variations in 2000, Polish pianist Piotr Anderszewski’s has produced a catalogue which ranges from Bach and Mozart, through more Beethoven to Chopin, Szymanowski and Webern, and which includes several prizewinning recordings.
Both intellectual and inspirational, Anderszewski has said of musical interpretation: “One can speculate endlessly about the right ingredients, the perfect combination but the essential question remains unanswerable, lying far beyond the limits of the cleverest and most refined argument. And yet one goes on searching and, while realising that the search is about everything, the essence may yet reveal itself in the most unexpected way.”
This new release captures live performances by Anderszewski at a very recent recital – December 2008 – in New York’s legendary Carnegie Hall. The critic of the New York Times made clear that this was an exceptional musical experience.
After a performance so intense and draining, the notion of encores almost seemed superfluous. But Bartók’s Three Hungarian Folksongs from the Csik District had a welcome earthiness”
Anderszewski repeated the programme in Chicago shortly afterwards, and the response of the Chicago Sun Times was at a similar level of enthusiasm:
“There is something deeply comforting about the kind of perfection that Polish-Hungarian pianist Piotr Anderszewski brought to his program of Bach, Janácek and Beethoven … Perfection is a relative term when it comes to art, of course. There are myriad but equally valid ways to play a Bach partita or Beethoven sonata … Different artists plumb different facets in a piece of music, and listeners can only benefit from hearing what each one has managed to unearth.
But during the two hours or so that they are onstage, artists like Anderszewski manage to create a universe that seems utterly complete unto itself. There is a sense of inevitability in their performance, a feeling that the true essence of a composer's intentions has been discovered. Especially when our daily lives are battered by forces beyond our control, it is reassuring to spend an afternoon in a world of such richly calibrated balance.“
“It can be hard not to wax hyperbolic when confronted with the pianist Piotr Anderszewski’s sensitive touch and potent imagination.” New York Times
“Piotr Anderszewski employs a small but incisive tone in the Bach Sinfonia, as though he is taking us into his confidence; the Allemande is sweet and unassuming, the Courante has warmth, the Sarabande has rapt expressiveness. As the Partita progresses, the playing becomes more exuberant: the Caprice is pure tumbling energy.” BBC Music Magazine, June 2009 ****
“So acute is the positioning of the microphones that the force of his playing here and in the mighty fugal statements of the finale makes an emphatic, physical impact. But Anderszewski’s command of perspective is paramount. The soft playing is mesmerising, the scope of his interpretation geared to probing deep into the music’s inner expressive tissues.” The Telegraph, 28th May 2009 *****
“This is playing of exceptional insight and finesse, which few other pianists today could match.” The Guardian, 29th May 2009 *****
“. In Bach's Partita No 2 in C minor, he plays with warm expression, using all the possibilities of a concert grand, yet miraculously avoiding anachronism. His late Beethoven, Sonata No 31 in A flat, Op 110, has earthy tenderness, opening at a steady tempo which prepares beautifully for the serenity and majesty to come. Schumann's "Faschingsschwank", Janacek and Bartok complete this captivating recital.” The Observer, 24th May 2009
“This is an outstanding release that ought to give anyone an appetite for next month’s recital.” The Telegraph, 21st May 2009 *****
“Janácek's In the Mists is a given a peach of a performance, a sense of improvisation sitting securely at its heart. Anderszewski's mastery of simultaneously varied dynamics comes into play here… this is an exceptional recital, and as ever the Carnegie Hall acoustic allows for a luminous piano tone.” Gramophone Magazine, August 2009
“Some recital, this. Piotr Anderszewski establishes a commanding tone for the opening section of the Second Partita's Ouverture, hopping elegantly through the little march that leads on to a fast, immaculately voiced fugue. He uses the Courante's ornaments to 'lift' the melody line, and the play between a seamless legato and a gentle staccato accompaniment in the following Sarabande works wonderfully well. The Rondeau is again trippingly elegant, the closing Capriccio assertive in a way that balances it with the opening fugue. Faschingsschwank aus Wien launches with a flourish: Anderszewski fractionally delays the opening's second chord in authentic Viennese style, while the Scherzo is full of telling though effective emphases, mostly along the lines of 'question and answer'. And yet in the ravishing Intermezzo he seems too aware of the notes (so many to negotiate). The finale works best, a fantastical sojourn dazzlingly negotiated. Janácek's In the Mists is a given a peach of a performance, a sense of improvisation sitting securely at its heart. Each movement tells its own very personal story, or seems to, the third alternating idyll with searing drama. Anderszewski's mastery of simultaneously varied dynamics comes into play here but in Beethoven's Op 110 he can be just a little over-emphatic on detail – in particular the accompaniment that underpins the first movement's principal theme. Throughout the recital the understandably enthusiastic Carnegie Hall audience is rather too keen to bound in at the end of each piece, a mild distraction on a recording that you hope to play again and again. This is an exceptional recital, and as ever the Carnegie Hall acoustic allows for a luminous piano tone.” Gramophone Classical Music Guide, 2010
Hans Hotter was one of the major artists signed to EMI by the legendary record producer Walter Legge in Vienna as soon as the Second World War ended and one of his first recordings for the company was the Brahms Requiem under Herbert von Karajan, an extract from which is included in this set. This 6-CD set is devoted mainly to German Lieder and includes an impressive collection of songs recorded when Hotter was in his prime and generally accompanied by Gerald Moore. A number of tracks in this set are appearing in stereo for the first time on CD; their only previous stereo issue was on a local Angel LP in the USA.The two excerpts from Die Meistersinger are incomplete because the recordings were not released at the time they were made (1948) and some of the original 78 rpm masters had not survived by the time the items were issued on LP for the first time in 1982.
Volume one of this series was an Editor’s Choice in Gramophone and here Gianandrea Noseda conducts his second instalment in his Smetana Orchestral Works series.
This latest programme is made up of the familiar Bartered Bride Overture and Dances with the overtures and ballets of his lesser-known operas, including his first opera The Brandenburgers - performed with the Ballet from Act I, The Kiss – which was his first collaboration with the brilliant young librettist and poet, Eliska Krasnohorska, and The Devil’s Wall all of which offer Smetana’s masterful orchestration, panache and virtuosity. They are performed with assurance by the BBC Philharmonic.
“Even the most familiar pages from The Bartered Bride… come up fresh as paint, the BBC Philharmonic's immaculate virtuosity as musicianly and refined as it is sparkling. Everything is permeated with a sense of Czech pride and ideals, a mood memorably captured by Noseda.” Gramophone Magazine, August 2009
“An extraordinary, implacable performance of the Libuse prelude makes the disc worth hearing.” The Guardian, 24th July 2009 ***
“…the lyrical tragedy Dalibor, a great hymn to friendship, is rarely performed outside his homeland, and even there, relatively few will ever see Libuše, the story of Bohemia's legendary prophetess-queen, who married a humble ploughman. All the more valuable, therefore, is this sampler from the versatile Gianandrea Noseda, whose glossy, vibrant performances more than hint at what we're missing.” BBC Music Magazine, September 2009 *****
“Brilliant, picturesque and nationalistic, all the music on this superb disc pays colourful tribute to 'the father of Bohemian music'. Even the most familiar pages from The Bartered Bride come up fresh as paint, the BBC Philharmonic's immaculate virtuosity as musicianly and refined as it is sparkling. However rapid and propulsive the tempo, nothing is pushed or over-driven. The Polka's grandiose opening leads to music of a courtly charm, enough to set even the least susceptible heads nodding and feet tapping. The Furiant's catchy cross-rhythms lead to a suavely romantic melody and in the Overture to TheSecret there is a typical Smetana progression from sobriety to lightness and exultance. The Prelude to Libuše was written to celebrate the coronation of the Emperor Franz Josef. But even if Smetana was left in the lurch (the event never took place) his ceremonial fanfares carry all the importance of a promised state occasion. The Entr'acte from Dalibor is a special delight, a magical dream-like interlude before a return in The Two Widows to hyperactivity. Everything is permeated with a sense of Czech pride and ideals, a mood memorably captured by Noseda. Chandos's sound is exceptional.” Gramophone Classical Music Guide, 2010
Gifted Chinese pianist Yuja Wang debuts on DG’s roster with an album featuring compositions by Chopin, Ligeti, Liszt, and Scriabin. Yuja Wang chooses pieces that, in her judgment, are refreshingly atypical of the customary musical perspectives of these composers. Exceptional artistry, technical perfection, and a rare ability to evoke an uncommonly vivid palette of rich colors from the instrument characterize Yuja Wang’s pianism
After blazing through Ravel’s Concerto for Left Hand, the Miami Herald wrote, “The evening’s spotlight belonged to Yuja Wang . . . [who] showed remarkable fire and iron-fingered power."
“The opening movement of Chopin’s Second Sonata certainly identifies qualities of youthful impetuosity, power and dexterity.” The Telegraph, 25th June 2009 ***
“The Scriabin (sonata no 2) flows nicely; in the Liszt B minor sonata she’s no empty virtuoso. A talent worth watching.” The Times, 23rd May 2009 ****
“…Yuja Wang… has all the equipment to be one of the most exciting pianists of her generation. As well as a stunning technique she has a fabulous range of sonority and colour… the two Ligeti Etudes, especially 'Fanfares', suit her dazzling fingerwork perfectly. Pianistically, parts of her Liszt Sonata are extraordinary, with blistering octaves, razor-sharp articulation and a wonderful tonal richness.” BBC Music Magazine, July 2009 ****
“…22-year-old Yuja Wang is a wondrously gifted pianist whose debut album… suggests a combination of blazing technique and a rare instinct for poetry. In Scriabin's Second Sonata she is beautifully sensitive to the moods, whether tranquil and starlit or tempestuous, reflecting the composer's love of the Baltic Sea. She is fiery but never reckless in Chopin's Second Sonata... As a crowning touch her Ligeti Etudes are both musicianly and dazzlingly incisive. In the words of the publicist, "a star is born".” Gramophone Magazine, August 2009
“Curtis-trained under Gary Graffman, Wang tells us in an accompanying DVD of her special love for music of drama and turbulence and how ever since first hearing Pollini's recording of the Chopin Etudes she dreamt of recording for DG. In Scriabin's Second Sonata she is beautifully sensitive to the moods, whether tranquil and starlit or tempestuous, reflecting the composer's love of the Baltic Sea. She is fiery but never reckless in Chopin's Second Sonata, off like the proverbial greyhound at the first doppio movimento, and offers a dramatic bass emphasis at the climax of the heaven-storming development. Her finale is truly sotto voce yet with the widest variety of touch and expression, and for the most part her playing, while sharply individual, is free from all distorting idiosyncrasy or mannerism. You wont hear anything on the scale of Richter or Gilels in the Liszt Sonata but on the other hand Wang is young, wonderfully talented and trained, superbly recorded and, if this disc is anything to go by, with the world at her feet. As a crowning touch her Ligeti Etudes are both musicianly and dazzlingly incisive. In the words of the publicist, 'a star is born'.” Gramophone Classical Music Guide, 2010
Following the success of their interpretation of Bruckner’s 5th Symphony, Ivor Bolton conducts the Mozarteum Orchestra Salzburg in the composers 3rd Symphony.
“As if he has never conducted anything different, Bolton senses suspense progressions and musical flavors… Bolton und Bruckner, maybe the greatest and most pleasant CD surprise recently." Munich Merkur
“The deftness and buoyancy with which the opening string ostinatos are realised indicate qualities of grace and manoeuvrability that more than make up for the fact that the orchestra will never command the weight or fire-power of, say, Böhm's Vienna Philharmonic...” Gramophone Magazine, August 2009
“Though you might wonder at the idea of the Salzburg Mozarteum Orchestra playing Bruckner, they have been doing so for many years. Joseph Schröcksnadel's history of the orchestra reproduces a poster from July 1928 advertising a performance of the Fifth Symphony conducted by Bernhard Paumgartner in the Cathedral Square. In 2004 Ivor Bolton took over as music director, and judging by this excellent 2007 Bruckner Third, it would seem that he has made a difference. The deftness and buoyancy with which the opening string ostinatos are realised indicate qualities of grace and manoeuvrability that more than make up for the fact that the orchestra will never command the weight or fire-power of, say, Böhm's Vienna Philharmonic, an ensemble that also brings to the third- and fourth-movement dance subjects a properly Austrian tread. There have been outstanding versions of this 1889 version from Wand, Karajan, Böhm (the latter currently available as a two-CD set that also includes a fabulous Fourth – see above) and others besides. However, with few, if any, of these surviving as single-CD releases, this admirable new Oehms CD might be said to have the market at its mercy.” Gramophone Classical Music Guide, 2010