Gramophone Magazine Editor's Choice

August 2010

Editor's Choice

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Kodály - Cello Sonata

Kodály - Cello Sonata

& other works


Sonata for Solo Cello, Op. 8

Sonatina for Cello and Piano

1922 edited by Lev Ginzburg


Romance lyrique

Adagio for viola (or cello or violin) & piano

1905, revised 1910

Natalie Clein (cello) & Julius Drake (piano)

The wonderful young cellist Natalie Clein has been a familiar name since winning the BBC Young Musician of the Year competition in 1994. Since then, she has pursued a distinguished career performing with the most celebrated orchestras and conductors around the world. She has also made a number of recordings—generally concentrating on the most popular cello repertoire. For her Hyperion debut she turns to a composer who is extremely close to her heart, the great Hungarian national composer Zoltán Kodály, who by his discovery and creative use of his folk-music heritage forged the standard by which twentieth-century Hungarian music should be judged.

Kodály made a decision to concentrate on instrumental and chamber music in his composing career, and he seemed to achieve more powerful results the fewer instruments he dealt with. He displayed elegant formal grasp and structural sophistication in his two string quartets and sheer passion and epic sweep in the violin-cello Duo (1914). But above all towers the amazing, ardent, pugnacious Sonata for Solo Cello (1915), the greatest utterance in this most demanding of genres since J S Bach’s solo cello suites. Calum MacDonald writes that ‘Had he written nothing else apart from this magnificent sonata, Kodály would still deserve to be accounted one of the greatest musical geniuses that Hungary has ever produced’. Natalie Clein’s performance of this highly emotional monologue is a passionate, coruscating tour-de-force.

Also included are a delightful selection of Kodály’s other works for cello; performed here with Hyperion regular and Natalie’s frequent duo partner, Julius Drake.

“[The solo sonata is] extremely impressive, both in the impassioned rhapsodies of the first two movements, and in the array of folk tunes that are paraded in the ferociously challenging finale.” The Guardian, 27th May 2010 ****

“Magically deft, soaringly passionate, without any trace of self-indulgence, Clein conjures a full orchestra of colours and textures from her precious Guadagnini cello...Julius Drake’s piano accompaniments are expectedly delicate and caring. Hyperion’s warm recording is another joy.” The Times, 12th May 2010 ****

“...the compelling reason for acquiring this Clein's magnificent account of the Solo Sonata, Op. 8...Clein's depth of tone makes an immediate impact on this well-engineered recording...A must-have disc.” BBC Music Magazine, July 2010 *****

“Kodály’s Sonata for Solo Cello represents one of those daunting summits that cellists feel ineluctably drawn to conquer, and Natalie Clein does so here with terrific passion, piquancy and technical accomplishment...Altogether, an imaginatively planned disc, and one played compellingly.” The Telegraph, 25th June 2010 *****

“[Clein] produces an astonishing range of colours and evokes the widest variety of expressive styles. I find it admirable, too, how she's able, in the recording studio, to maintain so much of the excitement and directness of live performance...Julius Drake's expressive playing is a fine match for Clein's outgoing manner.” Gramophone Magazine, August 2010

“Her greatest achievement is the 1915 Sonata...Pianist Julius Drake shades the introduction to the 1922 Sonatina exquisitely. A bold recital in which Clein embraces a darker, wilder sound.” The Independent, 11th July 2010

GGramophone Magazine

Editor's Choice - August 2010

Hyperion & Helios - up to 50% off

Hyperion - CDA67829


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David Briggs - Mass for Notre Dame

David Briggs - Mass for Notre Dame


Messe pour Notre-Dame

I will lift up mine eyes

The Trinity College Service

Te Deum laudamus

Toccata on Te Deum laudamus

organ improvisation

O Lord, support us

David Briggs studied with Jean Langlais in Paris and was profoundly influenced by the playing of Pierre Cochereau, Organist Titulaire at Notre Dame Cathedral (1955-1984), from an early age. Briggs was the first British winner of the Tournemire Prize at the St Alban’s International Organ Improvisation Competition. He is Organist Emeritus of Gloucester Cathedral, where he directed the music for eight years. He is renowned worldwide for his brilliant improvisations and is also a prolific composer.

This disc includes Briggs’ Messe Pour Notre Dame, and features four movements of David Briggs’ own improvisations— the Introit, Offertorium, Élévation and Sortie. Very much aligned with French liturgical practice, this is Briggs captured in the heat of the improvised, unedited moment. These improvisations display a masterful range of mood and colour.

There is delicacy, reflection and repose, alongside mighty bombast and truly gothic ‘shock and awe’. Listening to them is an uniquely thrilling musical experience.

Also included are some of Briggs’ much more Anglophone anthems. The Choir of Trinity College, Cambridge, who have been winning increasing praise for their Hyperion recordings, perform with their inspirational director Stephen Layton, and the composer, of course, at the organ.

“I can confidently say that this recording is one of the finest CDs of sacred choral and organ music you'll ever hear. I'm not ashamed to say I had tears in my eyes; listeners who are church-goers and non-believers alike will find this disc a profoundly moving experience.” Gramophone Magazine, August 2010

“Briggs [draws] sounds of roaring, surging eloquence and grandeur from the splendid instrument at Gloucester Cathedral. It helps, too, that the Trinity College Choir have such a 'live', untrammelled attack under Stephen Layton's vigorous direction...The Mass itself is an outstanding work, gripping and unashamedly rhetorical in its gestures.” BBC Music Magazine, August 2010 *****

“There's only one word for this. Spectacular...Stephen Layton has inspired his singers to heights of magnificence, relishing Briggs's penchant for rich, sumptuous harmonies and ravishing melodic lines, but at the same time moving beyond mere effect and rooting out the genuine musical intensity behind these finely crafted works.” International Record Review, July/August 2010

GGramophone Magazine

Editor's Choice - August 2010

CD Review

Critics' Disc of the Year - December 2010

BBC Music Magazine Awards 2011

Award for Technical Excellence

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Hyperion - CDA67808


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Rachmaninov: Symphony No. 2 in E minor, Op. 27

Rachmaninov: Symphony No. 2 in E minor, Op. 27

The first release in Valery Gergiev’s Rachmaninov Symphony cycle features a magnificent performance of the Second Symphony, recorded in September 2008 at the Barbican. Rachmaninov’s vast Second Symphony was composed when he was at the pinnacle of his careers as composer, pianist and conductor. Filled with emotion and brimming with beautiful melodies, it is a masterpiece and the epitome of the Romantic symphony. This recording will be followed by the First and Third Symphonies as well as the Symphonic Dances. Forthcoming releases include Stravinksy’s Oedipus Rex and Les Noces on the Mariinsky label. Later in the year Gergiev conducts music by Debussy and Ravel on LSO Live and Wagner’s Parsifal also on Mariinsky. Gergiev conducts a Stravinsky festival with the New York Philharmonic in late April, before conducting the LSO in London, Dublin and Germany during May.

Concert reviews:

“performance of edge-of-the-seat exhilaration ... This time it was Rachmaninov’s Symphony No 2 that brought out Gergiev’s magisterial best” The Guardian

“The LSO’s sound had apt richness, depth and bloom ... a rare blend of freedom, momentum and underlying restless energy” Daily Telegraph

“Gergiev is a man who works by instinct. Music that thrives on heart and soul - above all the Russian romantics - brings out the best in him” Financial Times

“Gergiev has the sensibility to put on the pressure and to foster flexibility as the natural contours of the music demand...[He] has a feel for the romantic urgency of the music as well as its lyrical impulse and the LSO responds as if its life depends on it.” Gramophone Magazine, August 2010

“Pulse and phrasing are always clear and there are no redundant gestures. There's little sign of Gergiev’s unscripted vocals and his finale is electrifying; not only that, the Brits add a suppleness and bounce to Rachmaninov’s rhythms … Musically and politically controversial he may be, but when he’s at his best – as here – Gergiev is almost unbeatable.” MusicWeb International, October 2015

GGramophone Magazine

Editor's Choice - August 2010

Super Audio CD


Hybrid Multi-channel

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LSO Live - LSO0677


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You Cannot Start Without Me: Valery Gergiev - Maestro

You Cannot Start Without Me: Valery Gergiev - Maestro

A Film directed by Allan Miller

Directed by academy award winner Allan Miller, 'You cannot start without me' offers viewers an intimate look into the demanding life of Valery Gergiev, widely acclaimed as one of the leading conductors of our time. This rich musical film offers rare insight into the talent training and concentration required of a great conductor and reveals how Gergiev combines an impossible international conducting schedule with his job as director of the legendary Mariinsky Theatre in St. Petersburg. The film includes scenes with London Symphony Orchestra, the Metropolitan Opera, Gergiev’s boyhood home in the Caucasus mountains, Moscow, cities along the Volga river and performances by Yefim Bronfman, Renée Fleming, Dmitri Hvorostovsky, Leonidas Kovakos, Uliana Lopatkina and Anna Netrebko. This film presents a penetrating portrait of Gergiev the man and artist.

Format 16:9, NTSC

PCM stereo, Dolby 5.1

Subtitles: Eng, Fr, Ger, Jap, Russ, Spa

Bonus: interview, concerts excerpts, 87+ 69”

“gives us enough of Valery Gergiev in rehearsal to validate the words bandied about so often by the man and his musicians: 'magic', 'magnet', 'atmosphere', 'human', 'beauty'. They're all here, reinforced by the material in the extras.” BBC Music Magazine, April 2010 ****

“This documentary peers briefly down the corridors of Gergiev's life as impresario, conductor and family man, roughly in that order of prominence. We are promised 'an intimate look into the demanding life of Valery Gergiev'; and I think that's what we get...enjoy, especially, the 'extra' sequence of rehearsal and performance” Gramophone Magazine, August 2010

GGramophone Magazine

DVD of the Month - August 2010

DVD Video

Region: 0

Format: NTSC

Bel Air Classiques - BAC053

(DVD Video)


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Emerson String Quartet: Old World – New World

Emerson String Quartet: Old World – New World


String Quartet No. 10 in E flat major, Op. 51 (B92)

String Quartet No. 11 in C major, Op. 61 (B121)

String Quintet No. 3 in E flat major, Op. 97 'American'

with Paul Neubauer (viola)

Cypresses for string quartet, B152

String Quartet No. 13 in G major, Op. 106 (B192)

String Quartet No. 14 in A flat major, Op. 105 (B193)

The Emerson String Quartet’s long cherished dream to record their favourite Dvorák string quartets is realized with their tender-hearted and infatuated readings of the Czech genius’s middle and late quartets.

A bonanza of romantic melody, not a note on this 3-CD release has ever before been recorded by the Emersons.

Dvorák’s youthful and infrequently performed song cycle on the subject of love, Cypresses, provides a compelling thematic trove for several of these enamouring quartets.

Dvorák’s quintet reveals most of all the heart of Dvorák’s musical nature, both its Bohemian roots and the bracingly fresh air of his Iowa summer experience. He later explained, “I should never have written . . . ‘just so’ if I hadn’t seen America.”

“...big-boned, high-gloss sound...Cypresses (B.152) has some stunning moments, though the finest readings are of the valedictory Thirteenth and Fourteenth Quartets, the last strongly Brahmsian.” The Independent, 2nd May 2010

“The American group play with a wonderfully suave style, but the gutsy spirit needed for Dvorák keeps poking through...The mellow Cypresses, a transcribed song cycle, offers a welcome change of pace in this pleasing set.” The Times, 5th June 2010 ***

“[The Emersons] capture to perfection the native folksiness of the tunes Dvorak assimilated in the works written during his New York sojourn. These are technically immaculate readings by an elite quartet, equal to all the virtuoso challenges of the Brahmsian C major quartet” Sunday Times, 13th June 2010 ***

“...this is really beautiful quartet playing, with inner parts that are both transparent and well integrated, and that gives the essential impression of four superb musicians sharing matters of vital import, albeit from the standpoint of camaraderie and understanding.” Gramophone Magazine, August 2010

“The Emersons have thought very deeply about this repertoire and their affection and profound experience of this music is evident everywhere...these are interpretations which demand to be heard with their striking attention to detail.” BBC Music Magazine, September 2010 *****

“All the playing is full of detail...not a note out of place, and every texture perfectly balanced” The Guardian, 2nd September 2010 ***

GGramophone Magazine

Editor's Choice - August 2010

BBC Music Magazine

Chamber Choice - September 2010

DG - 4778765

(CD - 3 discs)


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Beethoven: Violin Sonatas Volume 1

Beethoven: Violin Sonatas Volume 1


Violin Sonata No. 1 in D major, Op. 12 No. 1

Violin Sonata No. 4 in A minor, Op. 23

Violin Sonata No. 7 in C minor, Op. 30 No. 2

Violin Sonata No. 8 in G major, Op. 30 No. 3

First of three individual releases which will incorporate the complete sonatas for violin and piano by Beethoven (next releases likely to be in February and September 2011).

Alina Ibragimova and Cédric Tiberghien met whilst members of the BBC New Generation Artists scheme, immediately establishing a rapport which has brought them invitations from the world's leading recital halls, including the Concertgebouw Amsterdam, Carnegie Hall and, especially, the Wigmore Hall. Writing about the duo in The Times, Geoff Brown stated that "these players have the potential to conquer the world”.

Alina and Cedric played several of Beethoven’s violin sonatas together during the time when they were both participants in BBC Radio 3’s New Generation Artists scheme, but it wasn’t until the beginning of October 2009 that they tackled the complete cycle. Thanks to a residency at Aldeburgh, they were able to concentrate on rehearsing these central pillars of the violin-andpiano repertoire for an entire week – ‘playing, talking, thinking, morning until evening, feeling the connections, the moods, the links between each sonata, each key’, Tiberghien explains.

“This is very special...For all the thought that has clearly gone into [Ibragimova's] interpretations, nothing sounds contrived or overcultivated. Cédric Tiberghien is an ideal partner...his alert responsiveness to the finer nuances of Ibragimova's playing is one of the features that makes these performances so magnificently alive.” BBC Music Magazine, July 2010 *****

“These performances are brimful of life; there's a sense of joy and freedom...[Ibragimova and Tiberghien] have clearly thought about every phrase, every expression mark, with such detailed individuality as to banish routine performance...the sense of occasion, of living the music as it unfolds, is very strong.” Gramophone Magazine, August 2010

“The partnership here of Ibragimova and Tiberghien is a rare meeting of minds. Both understand that each has an equal part to play in this music. Both make sounds that are unfailingly beautiful and, equally important, clean and clear.” Sunday Times, 25th April 2010 ****

“Spontaneous, impulsive, young and fresh, the violinist Ibragimova and the pianist Tiberghien make an electrifying partnership...the pair’s creativity in ducking and weaving, shaping phrases, surging with lyricism, brings multiple pleasures.” The Times, 8th May 2010 ****

GGramophone Magazine

Editor's Choice - August 2010

Building a Library

Also Recommended - October 2010

Wigmore Hall Live - WHLIVE0036



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Elgar - Symphonies Nos. 1 & 2

Elgar - Symphonies Nos. 1 & 2


Symphony No. 1 in A flat major, Op. 55

Symphony No. 2 in E flat major, Op. 63

Froissart Overture, Op. 19

The Philharmonia Orchestra’s second release of 2010 sees them reunited with the celebrated interpreter of Elgar’s work, Sir Andrew Davis and follows the critically praised recording of Elgar’s Enigma Variations with Andrew, released last year.

“there is plenty to admire, especially in Davis's account of the First Symphony. His approach to Elgar seems more reflective than before, wistful almost now, and that quality suffuses his account of the First in a haunting way” The Guardian, 1st April 2010 ****

“They are superb performances, with plenty of electricity and sense of occasion, well deserving the enthusiastic audience applause. The sublime and tragic Larghetto of No. 2 in particular is wonderfully well-paced...[Froissart] receives a sterling performance.” BBC Music Magazine, June 2010 ****

GGramophone Magazine

Editor's Choice - August 2010

Signum Philharmonia Orchestra - SIGCD179

(CD - 2 discs)


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Dvorák - Violin Concerto

Dvorák - Violin Concerto


Violin Concerto in A minor, Op. 53

Legends, Op. 59

Richard Tognetti (violin)

Nordic Chamber Orchestra, Christian Lindberg

Dvorák began to compose his Violin Concerto in 1879 and dedicated it to the great violinist Joseph Joachim. While waiting to finalise the concerto Dvorák composed Legends, a cycle of ten pieces for two pianos, which he shortly afterwards orchestrated.

Performing these two works are the acclaimed Australian violinist Richard Tognetti, as soloist in the concerto, and the Nordic Chamber Orchestra, conducted by Christian Lindberg. The same players have teamed up before on disc, namely on Nordic Showcase, an anthology of works for chamber orchestra. In the reviews of that disc, Tognetti’s performance was described by the reviewer in International Record Review as ‘music-making at a truly exalted level … the most enraptured and heartfelt rendering of the inexplicably neglected Svendsen Romance that I have ever heard.’

“Tognetti's tone is clean, rather than fruity with vibrato. His reading of the first marked by a clean attack to bring out the freshness of imagination so typical of Dvorak...The Slavonic dance of the finale is done with exceptional lightness and sparkle with beautifully sprung rhythms” Gramophone Magazine, August 2010

GGramophone Magazine

Editor's Choice - August 2010




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