Gramophone Magazine Editor's Choice

March 2010

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Prokofiev - String Quartets Nos. 1 & 2


Gramophone Awards 2010

Finalist - Chamber

Gramophone Magazine

Disc of the Month - March 2010



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Prokofiev - String Quartets Nos. 1 & 2


String Quartet No. 1 in B minor, Op. 50

Sonata for Two Violins in C Major, Op. 56

String Quartet No. 2 in F major, Op. 92


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The Pavel Haas Quartet, one of the very finest chamber ensembles of the present time, earned for their first two CDs of the quartets of Janácek and Pavel Haas numerous prestigious accolades (Classic FM Gramophone Award, BBC Music Magazine Award, Cannes MIDEM Classical Award, etc.).

With the Prokofiev pieces featured on this album the Quartet has for the first time entered the field of the Russian (or, if you will, international) repertoire. Prokofiev plunged into writing his first quartet in 1930 during his first sojourn in America on the basis of a commission from the Library of Congress in Washington DC.

The “classical” sounding work blends the easily distinguishable inspiration by Beethoven’s quartets and the typically Prokofievian pungency and lyricism. The duet, written in Paris, is an inconspicuous yet masterly small-scale work of art and alongside Bartok’s 44 violin duets ranks among the paramount opuses of this genre.

The second quartet came into being in 1941 in the Caucasus, where the Soviet government had moved the artistic elites and their families so as to protect them against the Nazi onslaught. Here Prokofiev came across untouched folk material which he sensitively, humbly and with the precise degree of artistic stylisation incorporated into the “Kabardinian” quartet.

Their sheer musicality and ferocious youthful energy make the Pavel Haas Quartet an ideal interpreter of these gems of Prokofiev’s chamber oeuvre.

String Quartet in B minor, No. 1, Op. 50: I. Allegro

String Quartet in B minor, No. 1, Op. 50: II. Andante molto, Vivace

String Quartet in B minor, No. 1, Op. 50: III. Andante

Sonata for Two Violins in C major, Op. 56: I. Andante cantabile

Sonata for Two Violins in C major, Op. 56: II. Allegro

Sonata for Two Violins in C major, Op. 56: III. Commodo

Sonata for Two Violins in C major, Op. 56: IV. Allegro con brio

String Quartet No. 2 in F major, Op. 92 'On Kabardinian Themes': I. Allegro sostenuto

String Quartet No. 2 in F major, Op. 92 'On Kabardinian Themes': II. Adagio

String Quartet No. 2 in F major, Op. 92 'On Kabardinian Themes': III. Allegro, Andante molto

The Independent on Sunday

17th January 2010

“...a performance of tremendous musical energy: robust, well characterised and exact.”

The Guardian

29th January 2010


“Their tone is large, quasi-orchestral. They take risks; often they play fast. Above all, they play with passion...Semi-quavers scurry, all sinews showing. Fortissimo attacks blast your socks off...Gloriously invigorating and a great antidote to the winter blues.”

Sunday Times

31st January 2010


“beautifully performed... fierce intensity and fierce clarity go hand in hand”

Gramophone Magazine

March 2010

“Prokofiev's Second Quartet is one of the most immediately attractive quartets in the repertoire. In the wondrous Adagio the cello line rises high, ghostly melodic statements in octaves can expose the smallest tuning difficulties and pizzicati needs must sparkle like ice. The young players pass every test before dispatching the inventive finale with equal aplomb... The strenuously wrought First Quartet comes off just as well. The concluding Andante... is rarely tackled with the passion you find here. Of the small clutch of "classic" performances of the component pieces, none is more usefully programmed than the present disc, nor so naturally recorded. Why hesitate?”

BBC Music Magazine

April 2010


“there is a fairly high level of intensity in these Prokofiev works for the young Czech players to meet, and they rise vividly to the's probably right that [they] feel its ebb and flow with passionate engagement.”

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Editor's Choice

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Bach - Magnificat BWV243

Bach - Magnificat BWV243

Bach, J S:

Magnificat in D major, BWV243

Mass in G minor, BWV235

Fuga sopra il Magnificat 'Meine Seele erhebt den Herren', BWV733

Prelude & Fugue in G major, BWV541

Carlos Mena, Maria Keohane, Anna Zander, Hans-Jörg Mammel & Stephan MacLeod

Ricercar Consort, Philippe Pierlot

Continuing their exploration of the sacred vocal music of the great Johann Sebastian Bach, Philippe Pierlot and his Ricercar Consort couple the Magnificat with the Mass BWV235 for their latest release on Mirare. They are joined by the distinguished soloists Maria Keohane,Anna Zander, Carlos Mena, Hans- Jörg Mammel and Stephan MacLeod, all of whom appeared in the same programme at La Folle Journée in Nantes and Tokyo in 2009. The DVD shows the singers and Pierlot recording their solos whilst the orchestra mess around!

“Pierlot's tempos are well-judged, and he rarely if ever pushes them beyond the possibilities of natural declamation. He is also susceptible to the infinite expressive nuances in the music. …a rewarding issue enhanced by the inclusion of the organ Prelude and Fugue in G major, BWV 541, and the Fuga sopra il Magnificat, BWV 733, played by Francis Jacob on an instrument modelled after an 18th-century organ from Bach's time.” BBC Music Magazine, February 2010 ****

“…this reading of the Magnificat is as vitally conceived and multi-dimensional as I can recall. …the Ricercar Consort convey, in the exultant framing movements and "Omnes generationes", a rare combination of visceral rhythmic verve and vocal energy. The solo movements are also bursting with personality, soprano Anna Zander delivering a robustly fluent "Et exultavit" and her counterpart, Maria Keohane, a sensually captivating "Quia respexit", whose oboe d'amore obbligato dovetails her lines with imploring beauty.” Gramophone Magazine, March 2010

“The best ever Magnificat recording? In my view it certainly is.” International Record Review, January 2010

“An electrifying performance of one of Bach’s most justly celebrated works, and what a cracking recording it is…a totally captivating CD and highly recommended.” Organists Review, May 2010

“Philippe Pierlot and the Ricercar Consort set the bar high with this multi-award-winning recording of the Magnificat; sensitive to the changing nuances of the various movements, he is assisted by similarly expressive soloists. Maria Keohane's plangent 'Quia respexit' is a particular highlight.” David Smith, Presto Classical

Presto Favourites

Recommended Recording

GGramophone Awards 2010

Finalist - Baroque Vocal

GGramophone Magazine

Editor's Choice - March 2010

Building a Library

First Choice - February 2015

Mirare - MIR102



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Handel - Italian Cantatas Volume 6

Handel - Italian Cantatas Volume 6

Olinto, pastore arcade (1708)


Olinto, pastore arcade (Oh! Come chiare e belle) HWV 143

Amarilli vezzosa, HWV 82

Alpestre monte, HWV81

Roberta Invernizzi, Yetzabel Arias Fernández (sopranos), Romina Basso (alto) & Fabio Bonizzoni (harpsichord & direction)

La Risonanza

The Accademia degli Arcadi - that thought-provoking and innovative literary circle set up by a group of poets, composers, aristocrats and churchmen, which championed a return to classical (and pastoral) ideals and one of whose keenest members was the Marquis Francesco Maria Ruspoli, Handel's patron in Rome - forms the aesthetic background for this sixth and penultimate release in the series of Italian cantatas by the Saxon composer which Fabio Bonizzoni and La Risonanza are making for Glossa. In an engrossing essay written by Carlo Vitali, which benefits from the counsels of Michael Talbot, the reader is introduced to the social and political references contained within the pastoral texts of Olinto, pastore arcade, Duello amoroso and Alpestre monte, the three Handel cantatas which make up this CD. Bonizzoni turns again to three of his regular singers as well as counting upon the services of his exceptional first violinist, the young Swiss Leila Schayegh, an up-and-coming player whose talent is undisputed. The spring of 2010 is anticipated as seeing the conclusion of this Handel collection, the grand finale being the marvellous cantata Apollo e Dafne. Volume five is a Gramophone Critics Choice 2009.

Recorded in Saint-Michel en Thiérache, France, June 2008

“It is one of the special pleasures of the Glossa series to encounter much-loved arias in their original formats...Bonizzoni’s direction and the superb playing of La Risonanza are state-of-the-art Handel.” Sunday Times, 7th February 2010 ****

“Passionate as well as poetic, Fabio Bonizzoni's interpretation draws us irresistibly into Handel's affective states. The vocalists and the band are of the same high standard. …Roberta Invernizzi commands a dazzling upper range and tosses off demanding coloratura passages with careless ease, Romina Basso's rich range of colours reminds us why Baroque audiences preferred the castrato alto over the tenor voice... Solo instrumentalists stand out as much as do solo vocalists, and their ensemble is flawless.” BBC Music Magazine, February 2010 *****

“Best of all, La Risonanza's subtle and cultivated style produces a revelatory performance of Alpestre monte. Its conclusion, "Almen dopo il fato mio", is the gorgeous final testament of a suicidal lover; Fernández, Bonizzoni and his band combine to produce an exquisite melancholy. ...La Risonanza deserve to win many friends for yet another absorbing treasure-trove.” Gramophone Magazine, March 2010

“All three singers are seductive, especially Roberta Invernizzi, effortlessly impressive no matter what’s thrown at her ...In all three works the instrumental playing and intimate, luminous recording, approaches perfection.” Andrew McGregor,, 16th February 2010

Presto Disc of the Week

28th December 2009

GGramophone Magazine

Editor's Choice - March 2010

Glossa - Handel Italian Cantatas - GCD921526



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Puccini: Turandot

Puccini: Turandot

Maria Guleghina (Turandot), Marco Berti (Calaf), Alexia Voulgaridou (Liù), Alexander Tsymbalyuk (Timur), Javier Agulló (Altoum), Fabio Previati (Ping), Vincenç Esteve (Pang), Roger Padullés (Pong), Ventseslav Anastasov (Un mandarino)

Orquestra de la Comunitat Valenciana, Zubin Mehta

Stage / Video Director - Chen Kaige

This 2008 production is staged by Chen Kaige, the film director of Farewell My Concubine and winner of the Palme d'Or at Cannes Film Festival.

Shot in full HD, including Bonus material behind the scenes.

Maria Guleghina is one of the most celebrated and acclaimed sopranos of the world. The leading international tenor Marco Berti is recognised as one of the most important artists from Italy.

from Valencia's spectacular Calatrava opera house "Palau de les Arts Reina Sofía", 2008, with its phenomenal acoustics and breathtaking architecture.

Includes the aria Nessun dorma.

Bonus - Making of Turandot (36 min.)

“Drawing on his intimate knowledge of traditional Chinese theatre and spectacle, Chen and his designers, Liu King and Chen Tong Xun, give us a Turandot in extravagant colours and choreography, true to the spirit of fable and legend… Maria Guleghina must surely not be the Turandot of our time. The role seems to hold no terrors for her... Zubin Mehta's...direction of the Valenciana Orchestra brims with drama and affection.” Gramophone Magazine, March 2010

“Turandot has always been one of Zubin Mehta's calling cards, and he rarely disappoints here in Valencia. The sweep of this great score is admirably balanced by a proper attention to orchestral and instrumental detail.” BBC Music Magazine, August 2010 ****

GGramophone Magazine

DVD of the Month - March 2010

DVD Video

Region: 0

Format: NTSC

C Major - 700308

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Handel: Concerti grossi Op. 6 Nos. 1-12 HWV319-330

Handel: Concerti grossi Op. 6 Nos. 1-12 HWV319-330

Australian Brandenburg Orchestra, Paul Dyer

The Australian Brandenburg Orchestra is Australia’s finest period-instrument ensemble. Under their inspiring musical director Paul Dyer, their vibrant concerts and recordings combine historical integrity with electrifying virtuosity and a passion for beauty. Petroc Trelawney has already featured this on BBC Radio 3’s In Tune.

“…these are performances of style and understanding into which Paul Dyer and his fine period orchestra have plunged with freshness, buoyancy and joyful enthusiasm. …immensely enjoyable and inspiriting performances.” Gramophone Magazine, March 2010

GGramophone Magazine

Editor's Choice - March 2010

ABC Classics - ABC4763436

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Horizon 2: A Tribute To Olivier Messiaen

Horizon 2: A Tribute To Olivier Messiaen

Recorded live at Concertgebouw Amsterdam on 8, 9 November 2007 (Dukas/Van Keulen, Dalbavie, Messiaen, and 13, 14 June 2008 (Zuidam)


La source d'un regard

Zuidam Adam-Interludes


La plainte, au loin, du faune...

(orch. Geert van Keulen)


Les Offrandes oubliées (1930)

Chronochromie for large orchestra

The Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra focused extensively on Messiaen in its 2007-8 season. A major musical figure of the 20th-century, Messiaen (1908-1992) created an entirely unique musical oeuvre in which such divergent elements as divinity, as it relates to Catholicism and other doctrines, ornithology and the synaesthetic perception of sound as colour are all interconnected with his innovative rhythmic and harmonic musical language and tonal organisation. As a thinker and teacher, Messiaen carried out groundbreaking work in music during the second half of the century, but his work as a composer has remained unsurpassed. During this special season, the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra programmed works not only by Messiaen himself, but also compositions by his musical predecessors, students and disciples, including three premières of works commissioned by the RCO: Geert van Keulen's orchestration of Paul Dukas's La plainte, au loin, du faune…, Marc-André Dalbavie's La source d'un regard (The Source of a Look) and Robert Zuidam's Adam Interludes.

With this second release in the Horizon CD series, dedicated to contemporary repertoire, RCO Live has captured this resounding homage to Olivier Messiaen in superb five-channel stereo.

“These masterly performances under the baton of George Benjamin here provide the focus of the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra's inventive tribute to the composer, captured live at concerts during his centenary year. A rewarding programme in superb surround-sound.” BBC Music Magazine, February 2010 ****

“The highlight of the Benjamin's coruscating account of what is arguably Messiaen's greatest orchestral work, Chronochromie. Its kaleidoscopes of colours and cascades of birdsong are projected with wonderful vehemence by the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra.” The Guardian, 21st January 2010 ****

“On this dazzling live programme...the highlight is a stunning rendition of Messiaen's "Chronochromie", its darting dabs of sound and animated percussion packed with startling dissonances and dynamic shifts.” The Independent, 8th January 2010 *****

“This disc, vividly played, puts Messiaen in context as teacher and inspiration, and makes an aurally stimulating tribute.” The Observer, 3rd January 2010

GGramophone Magazine

Editor's Choice - March 2010

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Prokofiev: Romeo and Juliet, Op. 64

Prokofiev: Romeo and Juliet, Op. 64

DSD recording, live at the Barbican November 2008

LSO Live celebrates its 10th anniversary in 2010. The label's first release of the year features Prokofiev's spectacular score for the ballet Romeo & Juliet conducted by Valery Gergiev. Gergiev is a tireless champion of Prokofiev's music. In 2004 he conducted the complete cycle of the composer's symphonies with the LSO which then won a Gramophone Award. Shortly afterwards Gergiev became Principal Conductor of the LSO and spent much of 2008 and 2009 touring Prokofiev's symphonies with the orchestra in Europe, Japan and the USA. Gergiev's Mahler cycle continues in February 2010 with the release of the Fourth Symphony. Other upcoming releases on LSO Live include a Rachmaninov symphony cycle as well as music by Ravel, Stravinsky, Debussy and Strauss.

Concert reviews:

"The strings were supple and radiant … The brass, much used by Prokofiev, were tirelessly accurate, and the woodwind especially characterful, with some of the orchestra's younger members playing out of their skins. The best ballets contain music almost too good to be wasted on dancers. Freed from the need to adopt dance tempi, this wonderful music swaggered, sparkled and shimmered as it rarely does in the theatre" Mail on Sunday

"Most concert conductors only take bites out of Prokofiev's virile but lengthy ballet. Not Valery Gergiev. He knows that the complete score is a treasure chest of musical characterisation, orchestral colour, soaring melody and blasting drama: manna from heaven for himself and the London Symphony Orchestra" The Times

“This is music in which Gergiev has few peers today...he brings an epic, symphonic and dramatic integrity to its vast, multifaceted canvas...his London forces respond to Gergiev’s often hair-raising volatility with some of their most dynamic playing” Sunday Times, 10th January 2010 ****

“...the complete ballet is a treasure-house of wonderful the hands of Gergiev and the LSO there is always a moment of delight around the corner. Wonderful for dipping into.” The Telegraph, 20th January 2010 ****

“Few can rival Valery Gergiev's pedigree in Prokofiev's music, and he is palpably aware of how this score works in the theatre. His pacing of events is masterly, with plenty of verve and passion… what really impresses… is the tenderness and poetry that are so often overlooked in Prokofiev, and not just in the love music. Gergiev frequently lets the strings and solo woodwind linger in a beguiling, natural rubato, whilst maintaining an architectural grasp of the tragic whole.” BBC Music Magazine, February 2010 *****

“Gergiev is in his element and not just in moments of gritty angularity or romantic excess. The lighter numbers, sometimes taken more spaciously than usual, are equally memorable.” Gramophone Magazine, March 2010

“The LSO play with real passion and energy throughout and every section of the orchestra is superb. The brass are rich and lyrical, noble and melodic or snarling and angry depending on the demands of the music, while the woodwind are on fine form throughout, commenting expressively on the action or portraying the emotions of the characters...All in all it is a superb reading of Prokofiev's supreme masterpiece, and thoroughly enjoyable throughout.” Chris O'Reilly, Presto Classical, 18th January 2010

Presto Disc of the Week

18th January 2010

GGramophone Magazine

Editor's Choice - March 2010

Building a Library

Modern Choice - February 2010

BBC Music Magazine Awards 2011

Disc of the Year & Orchestral Award Winner

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LSO Live - LSO0682

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Martinu: Piano Concertos Volume 1

Martinu: Piano Concertos Volume 1


Concertino for Piano and Orchestra

Piano Concerto No. 5, H366 'Fantasia concertante'

Piano Concerto No. 3, H316

Giorgio Koukl (piano)

Bohuslav Martinu Philharmonic Orchestra, Zlin, Arthur Fagen

Martinu was an immensely prolific and varied composer with an impressive list of orchestral compositions including six symphonies and five piano concertos.

The three works for piano and orchestra on this disc span twenty years of the Czech composer’s peripatetic career, from the Concertino (Paris, 1938) to the Third Piano Concerto (New York, 1948) and the Fifth Piano Concerto (Schönenberg, Pratteln, Switzerland 1958).

As with his complete solo piano music, also available on Naxos, Martinu’s immediately recognisable style here combines shimmering virtuosity and impressionistic effects, motoric rhythms and pristine harmonies.

“No 3, with its occasional flashes of Brahmsian or even late-Mozartian sonorities, has never sounded lighter or more vivacious than here. In the Fifth, which has often sounded mechanical in previous recordings, the music leaps off the page. Koukl receives splendid support from the Bohuslav Martinu Philharmonic Orchestra of Zlín under Arthur Fagen and Naxos's sound is first rate, clear and bright with the right balance between soloist and orchestra. Warmly recommended.” Gramophone Magazine, March 2010

“Giorgio Koukl understands the ebb and flow of these volatile works well and is certainly up to their technical demands. His strong sense of line is particularly impressive in the faster movements.” BBC Music Magazine, October 2010 ****

“an auspicious debut [and] extremely well played” International Record Review

GGramophone Magazine

Editor's Choice - March 2010

Naxos - 8572206



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Dvorak: Songs my Great-Grandfather Taught Me

Dvorak: Songs my Great-Grandfather Taught Me

Transcriptions by Josef Suk of 30 Dvorak songs


Gypsy Melodies (7), Op. 55 (B104)

Liebeslieder (8), Op. 83

Four Songs, Op. 82: No. 1, ‘Leave Me Alone’

Lullaby, B194

Die Gefangene, Op. 32 No. 11

Biblical Songs (10), Op. 99

Dobrú noc, má milá (Goodnight, My Darling), Op. 73 No. 1

Ach, neni, neni tu (There is nothing here to comfort me), Op. 73 No. 3

Josef Suk (violin and viola) & Vladimir Ashkenazy (piano)

Two of world’s greatest musicians appear together – for the first time anywhere – on Toccata Classics, playing an hour of ‘new’ Dvorák.

Josef Suk – the great-grandson of Antonín Dvorák – undertook these transcriptions of 30 Dvorák songs at the suggestion of Martin Anderson of Toccata Classics.

Josef Suk had Dvorák’s own viola restored for the recording sessions, which took place in Prague at the beginning of September.

Suk’s transcriptions turn the songs into exquisitely beautiful instrumental miniatures.

“The inauthentic doesn’t come much more authentic....From the Love Songs, Op 83, the intense “Death reigns in many a human heart” stands out. For the Op 99 Biblical Songs, Suk takes up the viola, but his violin tone is so rich, you could believe he was playing one all along.” Sunday Times, 14th February 2010 ***

“…the same vibrant tone, pure intonation and confident musicianship that has thrilled us for many years.” Gramophone Magazine, March 2010

“...the opportunity to hear these evocative and melodious miniatures in affectionate and warmly recorded performances from these great musicians should not be passed up lightly.” BBC Music Magazine, May 2010 ****

“[Martin Anderson] has persuaded Josef Suk to transcribe the songs of his great-grandfather, Antonín Dvořák, for violin and viola, giving new life to these charming but neglected miniatures...A tender and highly personal collection to cherish.” The Observer, 4th July 2010

GGramophone Magazine

Editor's Choice - March 2010

Toccata Classics - TOCC0100



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Schubert - Symphonies Nos. 4 & 5

Schubert - Symphonies Nos. 4 & 5


Symphony No. 4 in C minor, D417 'Tragic'

Symphony No. 5 in B flat major, D485

Netherlands Chamber Orchestra, Gordan Nikolic (leader)

The Netherlands Chamber Orchestra has an extensive repertoire available on CD and new recordings on the PentaTone label are scheduled. Their leader Gordan Nikolic is a professor at the Royal College of Music and the Guildhall and teaches at the Rotterdam Academy for Classical Music. He has a special interest in chamber music and is regularly invited to play at various festivals.

“An excellent issue of distinctive performances in a relatively rare coupling. Vivid recording in Super Audio.” Gramophone Magazine, March 2010

GGramophone Magazine

Editor's Choice - March 2010

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Earle Brown - A Life In Music Volume 1

Earle Brown - A Life In Music Volume 1


Double Music

John Cage & Lou Harrison

Live Electronic Music Improvised




Cowell, H:

Ostinato Pianissimo

Harrison, L:

Canticle No. 1


Transición II


Ritmica VI

Ritmica V

Russell, W:

Three Dance Movements

Three Cuban Pieces


Zyklus / Refrain

Christoph Caskel (percussion), David Tudor (piano), Aloys Kontarsky (piano, wood blocks) & Bernhard Kontarsky (celeste, antique cymbals)

The Manhattan Percussion Ensemble, Musica elettronica viva & AMM, John Cage & Paul Price

3CDs for price of 2

“Wergo is planning to release the 18 LPs in six instalments, and the first volume gives a good sense of the variety of what Brown recorded. The first disc, Concert Percussion for Orchestra, concentrates on the American experimentalists of the 1930s and 40s, with pieces by Lou Harrison, Henry Cowell and John Cage. The second disc is in many ways the most interesting of the three, with two classic works by Stockhausen from 1959, the solo-percussion Zyklus and the trio Refrain in what must have been their debut recordings. The remaining disc contains what it calls "live electronic music improvised", and doesn't really bear repeated listening. However, the fact that one of the pieces, recorded in Rome, includes composers Alvin Curran and Frederic Rzewski among the musicians, while the other features a London group led by Cornelius Cardew, does give them some documentary significance.” The Guardian, 4th September 2009 ***

GGramophone Magazine

Re-issue of the Month - March 2010

Contemporary Music - up to 25% off

Wergo Earle Brown's Contemporary Sound Series - WER69282

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