Gramophone Magazine Editor's Choice

September 2010

Disc of the Month

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Beethoven: Piano Concertos Nos. 1-5 (complete)


Presto Disc of the Week

12th July 2010

Gramophone Magazine

Disc of the Month - September 2010

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12th July 2010




2 hours 56 minutes


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Beethoven: Piano Concertos Nos. 1-5 (complete)

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At the press launch of this year’s BBC Proms season Roger Wright (Controller, BBC Radio 3 and Director of the BBC Proms) announced that for the first time ever, one pianist, Paul Lewis, would be performing all Beethoven’s Piano Concertos, albeit with different orchestras.

His complete set of the Beethoven sonatas enjoyed extraordinary acclaim in the UK, culminating in the prestigious ‘Recording of the Year’ award from Gramophone magazine for the fourth volume in 2008. Encouraged by what has now become a worldwide success, Paul Lewis has chosen to turn his attention to the five piano concertos with these distinguished partners. Recorded between July 2009 and March 2010, these interpretations paint a portrait of Beethoven full of light and shade.

Ludwig van Beethoven: Piano Concerto No. 1 in C Major, Op.15

I. Allegro con brio

II. Largo

III. Rondo. Allegro scherzando

Ludwig van Beethoven: Piano Concerto No. 2 in B-Flat Major, Op. 19

I. Allegro con brio

III. Rondo. Molto Allegro

Ludwig van Beethoven: Piano Concerto No. 2, Op. 19 in B-Flat Minor

II. Adagio

Ludwig van Beethoven: Piano Concerto No. 3 in C Minor, Op. 37

I. Allegro con brio

II. Largo

III. Rondo. Allegro

Ludwig van Beethoven: Piano Concerto No. 4 in G Major, Op.58

I. Allegro moderato

II. Andante con moto

III. Rondo vivace

Ludwig van Beethoven: Piano Concerto No. 5 in E-Flat Major, Op. 73

I. Allegro

II. Adagio un poco mosso

III. Allegro ma non troppo

The Times

9th July 2010


“Lewis isn’t a “look at me” pianist. No barnstorming rage; no cute puppy antics. His simple goal is to get inside the music and propel it outwards, heart and soul, letting it speak without hindrance...Belohlávek shapes the orchestra’s contribution with almost as much care...Here is high-quality music-making, subtle but authoritative, made to last.”

The Telegraph

16th July 2010


“Beethoven’s spectrum of utterance in this concerto canon, broadened further in the Fourth and Fifth, is something of which this set makes you supremely aware. This is a superb set in which Lewis asserts his own inspiring voice together with his mature insight into Beethoven’s creative mind.”

Gramophone Magazine

September 2010

“Lewis's partnership with Jiri Belohlávek is an ideal match of musical feeling, vigour and refinement...Throughout the cycle Lewis is enviably and naturally true to his own distinctive lights, his unassuming but shining musicianship always return refreshed and with a renewed sense of Beethoven's range and beauty...This is a cycle to live with and revisit.”

BBC Music Magazine

September 2010


“This new set of the Beethoven concertos is interestingly different in emphasis, in that whereas I had previously thought of Lewis as primarily a thoughtful, searching player...these accounts score more strongly on extroversion, combativeness vis-a-vis the lively accompaniments of the BBC Symphony Orchestra under Jiri Belohlávek, and even mischief.”

International Record Review

October 2010

“Lewis's handling of the solo parts is refreshing, imaginative and responsive to the shifting moods of the music in these concertos, as well as technically impeccable”

Record Review

23rd July 2017

“Paul Lewis, a highly intelligent player, with a kind of nervous intensity and brilliant insightfulness, very much able to hone in on detail, a very strong sense of line”

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Editor's Choice

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Dvorak - Symphony No. 7

Dvorak - Symphony No. 7


Symphony No. 7 in D minor, Op. 70

American Suite in A major, Op. 98a(b)

Iván Fischer: There are many hidden treasures among Dvorák’s works and it is a particular pleasure for me to present the beautiful Suite for Orchestra in A major on this disc. I think it should be performed more often in concerts, and I sincerely hope that this recording will inspire orchestras to extend their Dvorák repertoire with this composition of enchanting beauty, lyricism and freshness.

The 7th Symphony is among the greatest masterpieces. Symphonies, which start in a minor and end in a major key, like Beethoven’s fifth, Mahler’s first and many others take us from sadness to happiness, from tragedy to jubilation. But here Dvorák sustains the D minor to the very end: he turns to D major only in the final six bars! It is an extraordinary structure, an incredible development creating irresistible excitement.

Iván Fischer is founder and Music Director of the Budapest Festival Orchestra and Principal Conductor of the National Symphony Orchestra of Washington D.C. The partnership between Iván Fischer and his Budapest Festival Orchestra has proved to be one of the greatest success stories in the past 25 years of classical music. Fischer introduced several reforms, developed intense rehearsal methods for the musicians, emphasizing chamber music and creative work for each orchestra member. Intense international touring and a series of acclaimed recordings for Philips Classics, later for Channel Classics have contributed to Iván Fischer's reputation as one of the world's most visionary and successful orchestra leaders.

“This remains a youthful orchestra, and each of its tours and recordings has the atmosphere of a festival...Fischer maintains the momentum throughout [the Seventh], giving his woodwind soloists plenty of time to luxuriate in Dvorak’s inexhaustible stream of melodic ideas, yet never driving the music.” Sunday Times, 23rd May 2010 ****

“The turmoil of the opening movement of Dvorak's Seventh Symphony has rarely sounded so thrilling. The Budapest Festival Orchestra's cellos and double basses bite into this work with panther-like agility...Ivan Fischer balances vigour with softness” The Independent on Sunday, 30th May 2010

“Fischer's approach is certainly involved with the work's expressive character, but also with Dvorak's strong symphonic control. The musical argument in the first movement is powerful...Fischer and the orchestra are at their best in the finale with puropseful development and a spine-tingling close - often the point at which some of the finest interpretations fall down.” BBC Music Magazine, August 2010 ***

GGramophone Magazine

Editor's Choice - September 2010

Super Audio CD


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Strauss, R: Der Rosenkavalier

Strauss, R: Der Rosenkavalier

Live Recording from The Salzburger Festspiele, 2004

Adrianne Pieczonka (Die Marschallin), Franz Hawlata (Baron Ochs), Angelika Kirchschlager (Oktavian), Franz Grundheber (Faninal), Miah Persson (Sophie), Piotr Beczala (Italian Tenor)

Wiener Philharmoniker, Semyon Bychkov (conductor) & Robert Carsen (director)

Set Design by Peter Pabst.

Arthaus presents one of the most talked about productions of recent Salzburg festival years – the 2004 staging of Strauss’ Der Rosenkavalier. The musical comedy has a deep-rooted performance tradition at the Salzburg Festival, but Robert Carsen’s new reading opened up a new view of this operatic staple while Semyon Bychkov leading the Vienna Philharmonic and a cast of internationally renowned singers guaranteed a high musical standard. Semyon Bychkov conducts Strauss with fl exible nuances and a great deal of energy and the Neue Zürcher Zeitung praised the conductor’s ability “to make the dense textures of the score transparent and to throw light on the subtleties of the instrumentation”. The musical side of the performance was additionally sustained by the experience and longstanding Strauss tradition of the Vienna Philharmonic, according to the Münchner Merkur, the only “orchestra in the world that is capable of such decadent excesses and such gloriously honed waltzes.” Carsen marked the work with a coherent vision, cleverly holding its three acts and almost 200 stage personnel together. The wide stage of the Großes Festspielhaus allowed him to keep the main action centre-stage, while the surrounding spaces were used to comment on the action.

Sound Format: PCM Stereo, DD 5.1, DTS 5.1

Picture Format: 16:9

DVD Format: DVD 9 & DVD 5, NTSC

Subtitle Languages: DE, GB, FR, ES, IT

Running Time: 201 mins

FSK: 0

“Adrianne Pieczonka's Marschallin gives a telling portryal of a modern woman thoroughly enjoying her liaison in middle age...Miah Persson is an adorable Sophie and Franz Hawlata, playing Baron Ochs as a not-so-old military man, is less the ineffectual figure of ridicule than usual...Semyon Bychkov unleashes a gutsy, Bavarian kind of Strauss” Gramophone Magazine, September 2010

“a thoughtful presentation, finely sung by a distinguished cast and wonderfully conducted by Bychkov.” BBC Music Magazine, October 2010 *****

“very fine indeed...the cast has no weak link. Adrianne Pieczonka looks excactly right as the Marschallin and sings and acts very movingly throughout...The very boyish Angelika Kirchschlager is perfectly cast as Octavian and, like the lovely Sophie (Miah Persson) sings very beautifully...Brian Large's video direction is near-perfect” Penguin Guide, 2010 edition ****

GGramophone Magazine

DVD of the Month - September 2010

DVD Video

Region: 0

Format: NTSC

Arthaus Musik - 107139

(DVD Video - 2 discs)


This item is currently out of stock at the UK distributor. You may order it now but please be aware that it may be six weeks or more before it can be despatched.

Paganini: Caprices for solo violin, Op. 1 Nos. 1-24 (complete)

Paganini: Caprices for solo violin, Op. 1 Nos. 1-24 (complete)

Julia Fischer (violin)

Julia Fischer confirms her position as a foremost virtuoso of the violin with her assured ascent of an Everest of the solo violin repertoire – Paganini’s towering and fiendishly challenging 24 Caprices.

“The Caprices represent twenty-four moods, little musical ideas, each one different, each one appealing.” (Julia Fischer)

As her second Decca album, the Caprices is advantageously positioned to build on the success of her Bach Concertos release in 2009. “… an intuitive Bachian. Her phrasing is elegant and she has an unerring feeling for Bach’s broad architectural melodic contours.” (BBC Music Magazine)

Julia Fischer, one of classical music’s most technically accomplished, poised, and versatile violinists, is an artist of musical integrity. Such is the range of her talent that she could enjoy a career as a concert pianist. Look out for her first DVD (a simultaneous release) in which she performs a stunning Saint-Saëns 3rd Violin Concerto as well as Grieg’s Piano Concerto.

“Julia Fischer certainly has the technical equipment for this challenging music...Her technique, however, is not of the showy kind; the particular strength of these performances is the way each piece emerges as an example of romantic tone-painting rather than just a virtuoso showpiece.” Gramophone Magazine, September 2010

“Fischer finds captivating solutions to the conundrum of bringing expression and character to music of hair-raising difficulty...[she] brings to this tricky music a wealth of bravura and imagination.” The Telegraph, 6th August 2010 ****

“She finds a quality of inward communing that is most appealing, so you never get a sense of “display for display’s sake” as one Caprice succeeds another: No 6 has extraordinary spectral beauty, Nos 20 and 22 a poetic mystique.” Financial Times, 28th August 2010 ****

“German superstar Julia Fischer gives a giddily virtuosic account of the 24 caprices for solo violin, making a strong case for them as proper music rather than mere ear-popping, fiendishly difficult fiddler's sparklers.” The Observer, 22nd August 2010

“ is something of a surprise to find [Fischer] recording Paganini’s notoriously showy Caprices. Less surprising is Fischer’s serious treatment of these fiendishly difficult pieces as music of genuine stature, rooted in and inspired by the golden age of violin-playing (and making), the high baroque.” Sunday Times, 29th August 2010 ****

“Fischer plays these notorious finger-breakers as though they were amongst the most treasured pieces in the repertoire...she dons the various rhetorical disguises Paganini assumes...with engaging aplomb...Fischer's ability to impart a convincing emotional narrative to each piece is hard to overlook - it makes for compelling listening.” BBC Music Magazine, November 2010 ****

“Her spot-on intonation and even tone-production throughout is a marvel...She sees each caprice not as a display vehicle but as representing a different mood...She succeeds admirably.” Classic FM Magazine, November 2010 *****

GGramophone Magazine

Editor's Choice - September 2010

Decca - 4782274



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Coull Quartet play Sibelius

Coull Quartet play Sibelius


Piano Quintet in G minor

with Martin Roscoe (piano)

String Quartet in D minor, Op. 56 'Voces Intimae'

SOMM’s successful collaboration with the Coull Quartet continues this month with an unusual CD release of chamber music by Sibelius featuring the String Quartet ‘Voces Intimae’ in D minor which has had a handful of previous recordings and the Piano Quintet in G minor, with pianist Martin Roscoe, which is even less well represented in the CD catalogue.

“Martin Roscoe and the Coull Quartet take [the Piano Quintet] seriously as chamber music...[and] demonstrate well enough what a coherently and originally argued work the mature Voces Intimae Quartet is” BBC Music Magazine, August 2010 ****

“...the Coulls prove unflashy, dedicated and profoundly humane interpreters of the great D minor Quartet...scrupulously faithful to both the letter and the spirit of the score, and their pacing throughout strikes me as pretty much spot-on…Acquire with confidence!” Gramophone Magazine, September 2010

“Roscoe and the Coull Quartet play [the Quintet] with sympathy and conviction, and their eloquence shows the work to best advantage. In Voces intimae the Coull show show themselves as well attuned to the spirit (and letter) of this lovely score. The Somm recording is truthful and well balanced...a useful addition to the Sibelius discography.” International Record Review, October 2010

GGramophone Magazine

Editor's Choice - September 2010

Somm Céleste - SOMM096



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Dove: Tobias and the Angel

Dove: Tobias and the Angel

Omar Ebrahim (baritone), Hyacinth Nicholls (mezzo-soprano), Darren Abrahams (tenor), James Laing (counter-tenor), Kevin West (tenor), Maureen Brathwaite (soprano), Karina Lucas (mezzo-soprano) & Rodney Clarke (baritone)

The Young Vic, David Charles Abell

Born on 18 July 1959, Jonathan Dove is one of Britain’s leading composers of opera, choral works, theatre, film, orchestral, and chamber music. His community opera Tobias and the Angel premiered in 1999 at Christ Church, Highbury Fields in London, was taken up in 2005 by the Young Vic / English Touring Opera during the refurbishment of the Theatre’s regular venue, and was the first opera performed at the newly revamped Young Vic in 2006. The libretto, by David Lan, is based on the Book of Tobit from the biblical Apocrypha. Dove has written more than twenty operatic works on a wide range of subjects and is the most performed contemporary opera composer in the UK.

The colourfully biblical story of Tobit, who is blinded after daring to give a fellow Jew a proper burial, and the ensuing adventures of his son, Tobias, is vividly portrayed. The story particularly appealed to the composer, who said: ‘The tale has a mystical aspect, but also the character of a Jewish folk-tale, especially the scene in which Tobias is threatened by a huge fish, kills it, and is instructed to take out its heart and gall – which turn out to have magical healing properties.’

Although the racial oppression and demonic possession which are part of this work are fully developed, it is undoubtedly one of Dove’s brightest, even serene, scores, possessing immense appeal and communicative power. The nine instruments of the orchestra provide plenty of colour, for example effectively evoking the Jewish elements of a klezmer band, and David Lan’s libretto does a masterly job in telling the story in an almost cinematic way. This is the work’s premiere recording.

“...there's a wealth of invention and imagination here which gives it a value beyond the walls of a theatre, church or any other performing space...Darren Abrahams perfectly captures the early naïveté of Tobias...and his evolution into a calm and poised husband, while countertenor James Laing exudes serenity as the accompanying angel.” International Record Review, July/August 2010

“The solo roles are expertly cast and sung, with magnificent support from the children's and adult choruses...As a purely aural experience this is a deeply satisfying production. Everyone involved sounds as though they are having the time of their lives. An outstanding release.” Gramophone Magazine, September 2010

“Darren Abrahams’s youthful tenor is well suited to Tobias, hero of this apocryphal biblical yarn about listening to your heart. And Dove’s attractive score (like John Adams sprinkled with Britten, plus a little Jewish folk music) bounces brightly out of the speakers.” The Times, 31st July 2010 ****

“...the vocal style is in Dove's recognisable voice and listener-friendly mode...fluent and memorably lyrical. As a musical dramatist, one of Dove's strengths is that he knows when to let the music take the back seat and allow us to concentrate on the words and action.” BBC Music Magazine, September 2010 ****

“...this Chandos release bristles with a fresh, zesty vitality that is wholly becoming. Performances throughout are exemplary: the Tobias of Darren Abrahams adroitly pitched between innocence and juvenile brio, countertenor James Laing’s Raphael potently serene and full of otherworldly nuance...A delight from start to finish.” Michael Quinn,, 25th August 2010

GGramophone Magazine

Editor's Choice - September 2010

Chandos - up to 40% off

Chandos - CHAN10606


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Bach, J S: Partitas Nos. 1-6, BWV825-830

Bach, J S: Partitas Nos. 1-6, BWV825-830

Since Vladimir Ashkenazy’s debut with Decca in 1963, with more than 200 albums as pianist or conductor, he has never recorded the Six Partitas. The ‘master musician’ (Sydney Morning Herald) infuses a lifetime of pianistic and philosophical discernment into the Six Partitas of Bach.

This album will become an obligatory purchase for Bach and Ashkenazy fans: a summit-meeting of masters.

“Bach's impervious logicality here applied to such frothy material as the opening "Praeambulum" to the Partita No 5 in G major, and its later "Passepied" and "Gigue", where the balance of formality and courtly danceability is held in perfect equilibrium by Ashkenazy.” The Independent, 2nd July 2010 ****

“...he plays them with uncomplicated joy, content to let Bach’s poetry and intellectual fibre speak for themselves. Articulation is crisp without ever being mannered, and the speedy dance numbers really dance. Stately preludes stand proud and tall...while the sarabandes shimmer with beauty.” The Times, 17th July 2010 ****

“Bach's music seems to have lit a youthful spark under Vladimir Ashkenazy's 70-something fingers, and in fact there's nothing remotely arthritic about these joyful, invigorating and technically impressive Partita interpretations...Ashkenazy's innate musicality, impeccable taste and obvious love for these works permeate every bar.” Gramophone Magazine, September 2010

“His playing is intense, focused, almost austere....Ashkenazy refuses to seduce us with tonal opulence on this engrossing recording, yet that itself is a kind of seduction.” The Telegraph, 6th August 2010 ****

“Ashkenazy's dexterity is breathtaking. The bounding left hand of self-fulfilling sequences of the Capriccio and the breathless Gigue (No. 2) are thrilling...At the other extreme, Ashkenazy is intensely sensitive...A fascinating opportunity for direct access to Bach, with minimal obstruction from his interpreter,” BBC Music Magazine, September 2010 ****

“The thrill of fresh discovery runs through this set, with some exciting movements – like the last of Partita No 2 – dashed off with effortless virtuosity, while the sarabandes are very intense and sustained.” The Observer, 15th August 2010

“Ashkenazy's new recording stands high among recent versions of the Partitas on the modern piano” International Record Review, October 2010

GGramophone Magazine

Editor's Choice - September 2010

Decca - 4782163

(CD - 2 discs)


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Chopin - Cello Sonatas

Chopin - Cello Sonatas


Cello Sonata in G minor, Op. 65

Étude Op. 10 No. 6 in E flat minor 'Lacrimosa'

transcribed by Alexander Glazunov


Sonate pour violoncelle et piano


Violin Sonata in D minor, Op. 9

Raphael Wallfisch (cello) & John York (piano)

Chopin’s name inevitably dominates this line-up of Polish composers, especially in this bi-centenary year of 2010 when every note of his is being re-explored. Certain works of the prolific but short-lived Szymanowski, particularly his two violin concertos and the concert pieces for violin and piano, maintain their popularity internationally but that leaves so much still to be discovered. And the name of Simon Laks is only just beginning to emerge from oblivion. His cello sonata here receives its first recording.

Simon Laks wrote his Sonata in the early 1930s expressly for the great French cellist Maurice Maréchal. The piano part was first played by Vlado Perlemuter in 1932, the partnership a testimony to the composer’s standing in the city. The piece remains to this day in the hand-writing of Laks, uncorrected but very readable. The 1930s’ musical scene in Paris was dominated by the likes of Ravel, Poulenc and Honegger – and Gershwin - and the influence of each can be glimpsed in the writing. The night-club atmosphere of the central movement is indebted to Ravel’s ‘Blues’ movement in his violin sonata (same key, same smoky sleaziness). Strict sonata form serves Laks well in the first movement, the second subject almost Fauré-esque in its delicious, side-stepping harmony. Had he not been removed so cruelly from the forefront of music and sent to the concentration camp, who knows what wonderful scores he might have composed later? Instead, he turned to film music and a rather more hum-drum life of obscurity from which, 30 years after his death, he is only now beginning to come to the public’s attention.

“First up is the famous Chopin, which in Wallfisch's hands flows like a river of silk, pulsing with a burnished warmth, spontaneity and vigour. His long partnership with York is shown at its best, instinctive and flexible...Their soulful reading of Glazunov's transcription of the E flat Etude is one to cherish.” BBC Music Magazine, August 2010 ****

“There's an air of spontaneity, yet the expressive weight of each phrase is carefully considered, by York as well as by Wallfisch, giving the whole work a powerful sense of unity...Their grand gestures [in the Szymanowski] carry complete conviction and sweep us along.” Gramophone Magazine, September 2010

GGramophone Magazine

Editor's Choice - September 2010

Nimbus - NI5862



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The 1956 Nixa-Westminster stereo recordings Volume 1

The 1956 Nixa-Westminster stereo recordings Volume 1


Soirées musicales (after Rossini), Op. 9

Matinées musicales (after Rossini), Op. 24

The Young Person's Guide to the Orchestra, Op. 34

mono & stereo versions

Sir Adrian Boult (narration)

Four Sea Interludes and Passacaglia from Peter Grimes, Op. 33


Falstaff - Symphonic Study in C minor, Op. 68

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

Cockaigne Overture, Op. 40 'In London Town'


Symphony No. 1 in B flat minor

A release that all Boult fans have been waiting for :-

Cockaigne is the first release in the UK in any format.

Most works are first releases on CD of the original Westminster source masters.

First stereo release on CD & first stereo release in UK of Cockaigne, Young Person’s Guide, Soireés musicales & Matineés musicales.

First release on CD of Elgar’s Falstaff from tape source.

All recorded at Walthamstow Assembly Halls in 1956, re-mastered at Abbey Road Studios 2010.

“The Walton Symphony...comes up more brightly than previously: it's an intensely rhythmic performance...the slow movement builds surely and passionately, and the finale comes as the culmination and catharsis that it should be” BBC Music Magazine, October 2010 ***

“...the performances of Britten and Walton...give a wider sense of Boult's sympathies as an interpreter. this account of Falstaff, in particular, has never been bettered for its sense of drama and narrative flow...The orchestral sound...generally stands up well in these transfers.” The Guardian, 3rd June 2010 ***

GGramophone Magazine

Re-issue of the Month - September 2010

First Hand - FHR06

(CD - 3 discs)


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