Gramophone Magazine Editor's Choice

November 2010

Editor's Choice

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Bizet: Carmen

Bizet: Carmen


Elina Garanča (Carmen), Roberto Alagna (Don José), Teddy Tahu Rhodes (Escamillo), Barbara Frittoli (Micaela), Keith Miller (Zuniga), Elizabeth Caballero (Frasquita), Sandra Piques Eddy (Mercedes), Earle Patriarco (Dancaire), Keith Jameson (Remandado), Trevor Scheunemann (Morales)

Metropolitan Opera Orchestra and Chorus, Yannick Nézet-Séguin

Solo Dancers: Maria Kowroski & Martin Harvey

Production: Richard Eyre

Set & Costume Designer: Rob Howell

Lighting Designer: Peter Mumford

Choreographer: Christopher Wheeldon

After her triumphant success as Carmen in Riga, London, and Munich, Elîna Garanča, “the Carmen of our day” (News, Austria), took the Met by storm when filmed live in January 2010.

Every generation has its “go to” Carmen. In 2010, the list of definitive gypsy seductresses – glittering with names like Baltsa, Bumbry, Calvé, Farrar, and Stevens – is enriched by the addition of Elîna Garanča.

The Wiener Zeitung said it all when it observed of Garanča’s Carmen that “the role and the singer are perfectly matched”.

This production was also seen at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden in 2009 with Garanča and Alagna in the lead roles.

2 DVD Set in 5.1 DTS surround sound.

Subtitles: French (orig. lang.), German, English, Spanish, Chinese

“This is a calculating Carmen, who knows the worth of her assets. Some of her wily intelligence is reflected in the voice — strong in all reaches, flaming at the top...[Tahu Rhodes] prov[es] himself to be an ideal toreador, virile of voice, and very tall. All in all, a Carmen well worth seeing and hearing.” The Times, 28th August 2010

“...everyone on stage, from stars to comprimarios and children (authentically underfoot), crackles with individual life, ideal on video... Garanča's clean-cut Baltic mezzo and fresh good looks suggest not the stereotypical gypsy wench, but a free spirit, intelligent and wilful” BBC Music Magazine, December 2010 *****

“Here is an opera DVD where, rare in my experience, each individual element matches the excellence of the others: production, cast, performance, film direction and use of the medium....Garanča has a fine sparring partner in Alagna - both roles are as well acted as they are sung...Halvorson's fluent direction conveys a real sense of occasion to the whole evening.” Gramophone Magazine, November 2010

“Elina Garanca's striking Carmen and Barbara Frittoli's Micaela stand out, with Alagna unexpectedly affecting as Don Jose.” The Observer, 19th December 2010

“Garanča is right up there with the best. She sings with a seductive and alluring tone, and her technique is superb. The combination of her film star looks and her natural acting draw you into her character completely...Alagna also makes an excellent Don José. I think this is one of his strongest roles and he sings with both real power and refinement.” Chris O'Reilly, Presto Classical, 23rd August 2010

“Not only does Ms Garanča sing with wonderful enunciation, but also with meaning and a wide variety of tonal colour. In her singing and acting she exudes Carmen’s sexuality whilst not over-egging it with hip swinging and flaunting...Along with Elina Garanča, the big plus of the performance is found in Yannick Nézet-Séguin. His idiomatic conducting has verve, vitality and sensitivity.” MusicWeb International, August 2010

Presto Disc of the Week

23rd August 2010

GGramophone Magazine

DVD of the Month - November 2010

DVD Video

Region: 0

Format: NTSC

DG - 0734581

(DVD Video - 2 discs)

$23.50

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Verdi: Otello

Verdi: Otello

DSD recording, live at the Barbican December 2009


Simon O’Neill (Otello), Gerald Finley (Iago), Anne Schwanewilms (Desdemona), Allan Clayton (Cassio), Ben Johnson (Roderigo), Alexander Tsymbalyuk (Lodovico), Matthew Rose (Montano), Lukas Jakobski (Herald) & Eufemia Tufano (Emilia)

London Symphony Chorus & London Symphony Orchestra, Sir Colin Davis

‘an electrifying account ... Simon O’Neill made a tremendous debut in the title-role, giving notice that he is the best heroic tenor to emerge over the last decade’ Daily Telegraph

Sir Colin Davis’s eagerly anticipated recording of Verdi’s Otello is released on the 10th anniversary of the LSO Live label. Opera has always formed an important part of the label’s output – recording concert performances of opera allows listeners to enjoy the drama of a live performance without the problems associated with recording in a theatre.

Among Sir Colin’s greatest triumphs on LSO Live have been his award-winning recordings of Berlioz’operas plus Peter Grimes, Fidelio and Verdi’s final opera, Falstaff. Falstaff was released in 2004 and collected the Grammy Award for Best Opera.

Sir Colin is joined, in the title role of Otello, by one of the world’s most exciting young tenors. New Zealander Simon O’Neill stepped in at short notice to these concerts, making his debut in the role (although he had studied it with Domingo), delivering what can only be described as an astonishing performance. The villainous Iago is played by Gerald Finley and Otello’s wife, Desdemona, by Anne Schwanewilms.

Verdi had retired from opera following the premiere of Aida in 1871 but was eventually persuaded by his publisher to work with the librettist Arrigo Boito. As with Falstaff, Verdi’s final opera on which they would subsequently collaborate, they turned to Shakespeare for inspiration. Otello, which was premiered in 1887, marked a significant evolutionary development in Italian opera and is widely regarded as one of the great operatic masterpieces.

Concert reviews

‘This was an electrifying account of a masterpiece, conducted with an explosive energy that belies Sir Colin’s eighty years and pushed the LSO to the top of its game. Simon O’Neill made a tremendous debut in the title-role, giving notice that he is the best heroic tenor to emerge over the last decade … Gerald Finley was an arrestingly crisp and snakily plausible Iago … Verdi’s great music drama shone in all its power and glory’ Daily Telegraph

‘a performance of Verdi’s opera that had finesse, fervour and glorious lyricism … Such is Davis’s rapport with the LSO and its rampant Chorus that he can unleash greater musical power with an elegant flick of the baton than most conductors muster with flailing arms. Gerald Finley was a superb Iago: insiduously sinister, yet sustaining a wonderfully suave line. And the New Zealand tenor Simon O’Neill gave an immense performance … he will make the Moor his own’ The Times

‘a thrilling performance from beginning to end … an evening to treasure; not just for Davis’s contribution, but for an impressive debut from the young New Zealand tenor Simon O’Neill. O’Neill mastered Otello’s many moods with a striking musicality and an evenness of tone throughout the range. He will go far, and promises to be the outstanding Wagner Heldentenor we have been longing far … the men, led by Gerald Finley’s totally convincing and committed Iago, were splendid’ Mail on Sunday

Read Presto's complete review of this disc here.

“Age has not dimmed Davis’s musical vitality, any more than it did Verdi’s...Davis inspires the London Symphony Orchestra and Chorus to a performance of vigour and refinement, and it’s for their contribution – and Gerald Finley’s suave, stylish Iago – that this recording stands out.” Financial Times, 16th October 2010 ***

“ everything contributes to accentuating extremes: Colin Davis gets the LSO, in shattering form, to play chords like cannon shots...The two male leads are superb: Simon O'Neill is the most complete Otello since Domingo...Finley's debut as Iago is also a great reading - the most chilling I have ever heard.” BBC Music Magazine, December 2010 ****

“throughout, [O'Neill's] clarion tone is thrilling. But the heroes are Gerald Finley, a supremely malignant Iago, the superb orchestra and chorus, and Colin Davis, who makes the terror and pity of the opera almost unbearably vivid. This is an Otello to rank with Davis’s LSO Live Falstaff” Sunday Times, 31st October 2010 ****

“Finley gives a masterly account of [Iago], his voice seemingly transfigured by the Italian music and language...his singing - firm and resonant - is scarcely to be bettered on record...O'Neill is an unusual Otello in that he is so unequivocally a tenor, with no hint of baritone in his timbre...the playing is alert and sensitive to drama and text.” Gramophone Magazine, November 2010

“Davis’s electrifying conducting keeps the temperature high throughout this gripping performance...Simon O’Neill makes a powerful and confident debut in the title role, well matched against Gerald Finley’s subtle and sneaky Iago...with the additional merits of Allan Clayton’s vivid Cassio, the splendid chorus and superb playing from the LSO, this is a front-runner in the field.” The Telegraph, 12th November 2010 ****

“This is worth hearing for Finley's superb performance as Iago...listen to his chilling account of 'Cassio's dream', or the way he can inflect a single word like 'capitano'...Schwanewilms is touching as Desdemona, and the smaller roles are well taken.” Classic FM Magazine, December 2010 **

“Finley is suave, his experience in Lieder showing in detailed enunciation and delivery of the text...Clayton is bright-toned and much less wimpy than some Cassios; you could appreciate how Otello promoted him over Iago...In spite of the lack of Italianate voices, O'Neill's heroic singing and Davis's unexpectedly fiery conducting still make this a satisfying account of Verdi's miraculous score.” International Record Review, November 2010

“a spellbinding account, thanks to O’Neill, Anne Schwanewilms’s Desdemona and Gerald Finley’s Jago, but above all to Colin Davis’s warm, urgent but never forced interpretation” The Observer, 14th November 2010

“[O'Neill's] is one of the most dramatically sung and exciting performances you are ever likely to hear...his phrasing is beautiful and his top notes really ring...[Finley's] smooth and velvety tone succeeds where many others have struggled in portraying the calculated and cunning aspect of his villainy...The whole performance is exhilarating and it comes very highly recommended.” Chris O'Reilly, Presto Classical, 1st November 2010

Presto Disc of the Week

1st November 2010

GGramophone Awards 2011

Finalist - Opera

GGramophone Magazine

Editor's Choice - November 2010

Super Audio CD

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LSO Live - LSO0700

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Brahms: The Complete Variations

Brahms: The Complete Variations

for solo piano


Brahms:

Theme and Variations in D minor (arr. from String Sextet, Op. 18)

Variations and Fugue on a Theme by Handel, Op. 24

Variations on an Original Theme in D major, Op. 21, No. 1

Variations on a Hungarian Song in D major, Op. 21 No. 2

Variations on a theme by Schumann in F sharp minor, Op. 9

Variations on a theme by Paganini in A minor, Op. 35


American pianist Garrick Ohlsson, whose Complete Chopin set was acclaimed as one of the most important anniversary releases of 2010, now turns to another significant, though often overlooked, body of Romantic piano music – Brahms’s complete variations.

The coruscatingly difficult Paganini variations, a bravura display of pyrotechnic virtuosity, frequently feature in piano competitions, performed to demonstrate extraordinary technique. In this performance, Garrick Ohlsson also displays remarkable musicality.

The Variations and Fugue on a theme of Handel is one of the summits of his entire keyboard output, showing the composer at the height of his powers. This 2-disc set also contains some little-known gems, including the wonderful Variations on an Original Theme.

“he's a born Brahmsian, equipped at the highest level with the necessary speed and power, the muscular strength and facility of finger tempered by breadth of outlook and solidity of intellect.” BBC Music Magazine, December 2010 *****

“Here is none of the turgid, bass-heavy portentousness that so often bedevils recordings of Brahms's music...This is a great Brahms recording that elevates and illuminates the music with a lightness of touch and heart that eludes many (yet he can darken the tone when required, as in Var. 13)” Gramophone Magazine, November 2010

“These highly absorbing discs bring together all Brahms’s freestanding variation sets for piano in poised, intense performances.” Sunday Times, 3rd October 2010 ***

“These early variations [Op. 18] are light years away from the intimacy of Brahms's late piano pieces, and Ohlsson's iron-clad technique and robust, forward tone generally suit them well.” The Guardian, 14th October 2010 ***

“Ohlsson’s muscular performance does not ignore the yearning that lies beneath the surface.” The Telegraph, 22nd October 2010 ***

“An near to flawless collection of piano variations from the American piano virtuoso” The Times, 9th October 2010 ****

GGramophone Magazine

Editor's Choice - November 2010

Hyperion & Helios - up to 50% off

Hyperion - CDA67777

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Beethoven: Violin Sonatas Nos. 1-10 (Complete)

Beethoven: Violin Sonatas Nos. 1-10 (Complete)


Renaud Capuçon (violin) & Frank Braley (piano)

Renaud Capuçon and Frank Braley have devoted much of their 2009-10 concert schedule to Beethoven’s complete sonatas for violin and piano. “These sonatas are full of memories for me,” says Capuçon. “The ‘Spring’ Sonata was the first piece of Beethoven I played, when I was ten years old. His music is a rite of passage for every violinist.”

This complete recording of Beethoven’s sonatas for violin and piano grows from a marathon performance project that Renaud Capuçon and Frank Braley launched in their native France in Summer 2009: some 50 concerts around Europe, all devoted to the Beethoven sonatas.

The BBC Music website has observed that: “Capuçon's style, perhaps because of his regular chamber work, is natural, understated and perceptive; the sound of a musician happily relaxed in his skin and not feeling the need to prove any virtuosic credentials.” Indeed, chamber music has always played a central role in his activities, and – beyond his cellist brother Gauthier – his regular partners include pianists Frank Braley and Nicholas Angelich, while his list of colleagues also includes such names as Martha Argerich, Daniel Barenboim, Hélène Grimaud, André Watts, Yefim Bronfman, Myung-Whun Chung, Stephen Kovacevich, Jean-Yves Thibaudet, Vadim Repin, Katia and Marielle Labèque, Yuri Bashmet and Truls Mørk.

“The complete Beethoven is a major project for the next two years,” explained Capuçon to the newspaper Sud-Ouest in summer 2009. “We hadn’t yet performed the Beethoven sonatas in France and we will be taking them on a major European tour. They are a real marathon of three-and-a-half hours of music. We perform the ten sonatas in chronological order so that we can follow the composer’s evolution.

“These sonatas are full of memories for me. The ‘Spring’ Sonata was the first piece of Beethoven I played, when I was ten years old. His music is a rite of passage for every violinist. I wanted to perform the complete cycle before thinking about the Bach sonatas, which are the Everest of the repertoire.

“Beethoven gives you no place to hide in these sonatas. You have to find their spinal column, create a structure – and sing. Without wishing to appear pretentious, I’ve always felt at ease with Beethoven, more than with Schubert or Mozart. But it is for the public to judge.”

According to another French newspaper, La Provence, Capuçon and Braley “won over the public in triumphant fashion” at the festival of La Roque d'Anthéron with interpretations of Beethoven that were “fluid, precise, full of integrity … emphasising both the sweetness and energy of Beethoven … The two instruments established a delicious dialogue.”

Renaud Capuçon’s Virgin Classics recording of the Beethoven Violin Concerto, released in 2009, prompted the BBC Music Magazine to state that he “approaches the Beethoven Concerto very much like the great virtuosos of the past through emphasising the work’s lyrical and expressive qualities”. He and Braley have frequently performed together as a duo and their previous recordings of chamber music for Virgin Classics embrace Schubert (the ‘Trout’ Quintet and the Trios opp 99 & 100) and Ravel (the Piano Trio and Violin Sonata).

“The intimacy at the heart of Beethoven’s violin sonatas is eloquently enshrined in these performances...The range of expression and increasing interdependence of the instrumental parts are conveyed with true insight.” The Telegraph, 25th September 2010 ****

“this new cycle is unfailingly musical, and it can hold its own with the best of its predecessors. In particular the French players' performance of the last and greatest sonata, Op. 96...is as beautiful as any rendition that can remember...a finely judged cycle that brings a great deal of pleasure.” BBC Music Magazine, November 2010 *****

“In the three Op. 30 sonatas (Nos 6-8) this gifted team ensures that the sense of Classicism being pushed towards the outfield becomes even more acute until they nearly send the Kreutzer over the boundary...For a refreshingly spontaneous take on these timeless scores, Capucon and Braley have no serious rivals” Classic FM Magazine, November 2010 ****

“...surely ranks with the greatest names to have recorded these works. This is a meeting of minds, even in the great concerto-like Kreutzer Sonata. They bring wit, fire, deeply felt introspection and an exhilarating freshness to all 10 of these masterpieces.” Sunday Times, 10th October 2010 ****

“unfailingly musical” Financial Times, 16th October 2010

“Capucon and Braley eschew the bright lights for a place where mellowness, intimacy and relative refinement are more obvious priorities. These are among the smoothest and most beautiful-sounding Beethoven duo-sonata performances to have come my way in recent years.” Gramophone Magazine, November 2010

“unfailingly civilised and thoughtful...Capuçon and Braley are scrupulously controlled and delicately coloured: there is such concentration in their playing” International Record Review, December 2010

“these are splendid, genuinely impressive performances. They’re not stamped with the heroism of performers such as a number of those cited above. They’re cut from a far more intimate cloth, preferring incremental, dextrous playing... They exude a tenderness, and a relaxation, that will appeal strongly to those who value chamber intimacies above concertante vigour.” MusicWeb International, January 2013

GGramophone Magazine

Editor's Choice - November 2010

BBC Music Magazine

Chamber Choice - November 2010

Erato - 6420010

(CD - 3 discs)

$21.50

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Brahms: Symphony No. 4

Brahms: Symphony No. 4

Recorded live at Royal Festival Hall, London, 5-8 October 2008


Beethoven:

Coriolan Overture, Op. 62

Brahms:

Fest- und Gedenksprüche, Op. 109

Symphony No. 4 in E minor, Op. 98

Geistliches Lied, Op. 30

Gabrieli, G:

Sanctus et Benedictus a 12

Schütz:

Responsorium: Saul, Saul, was verfolgst du mich SWV 415


Soli Deo Gloria is proud to release the last instalment of its successful Brahms Symphony series which sees John Eliot Gardiner and his Orchestre Révolutionnaire et Romantique explore the music of Johannes Brahms.

This album is a celebration of the Fourth Symphony and the various pieces that contributed to its making.

From baroque to romantic, and from great orchestral pieces to intimate choral works, the listener gains a wonderful insight into Brahms’s mind and music making, through pieces that he loved and inspired him.

The Fourth Symphony was described by Richard Strauss as “a giant work, great in concept an invention, masterful in its form, and yet from A to Z genuine Brahms, in a word, an enrichment to our art”. Drawing from many sources of the musical past, it is nevertheless absolutely unique.

It is impregnated with baroque influence – the Finale was directly inspired by Bach’s cantata Nach dir, Herr, verlanget mich. Brahms enjoyed conducting less known old repertoire such as Gabrieli’s Sanctus Benedictus and Schütz’s Saul, Saul. They influenced his choral writing as we can hear in the Geistliches Lied. Brahms was also famously inspired by Beethoven, and the Finale to the Fourth clearly owes to his Coriolan overture.

The booklet includes a conversation between John Eliot Gardiner and composer Hugh Wood, explaining how the pieces relate to each other and giving a moving account of Brahms as a composer and as a man.

This recording was made during the 2008 Brahms: Roots and Memories tour.

“Gardiner brings a delightful crispness and spontaneity to the work: he creates great sweeps of emotion without sacrificing inner details, and the Orchestre Révolutionnaire et Romantique respond to him by playing with warmth and passion.” METRO, 3rd September 2010

“[The motets] provide a surprising context for the symphony, given in a transparent, analytical performance by the Orchestre Révolutionnaire et Romantique. Harmony and counterpoint gleam, with no aural smudges and not a jot of bookish didacticism.” The Observer, 12th September 2010

“...the variety of tone, dynamic and texture from Orchestre Révolutionnaire et Romantique is consistently well defined...A no-prisoners account of Beethoven's Coriolan Overture opens a programme that explores Brahms' choral influences, with pristine excerpts of Gabrieli, Schütz and Bach.” The Independent on Sunday, 12th September 2010

“Gardiner's highly energised, raw-boned account, superbly played by the ORR and never dwelling unduly on inessential expressive details, has a real sense of culmination, of the end of a creative journey that the whole series of recordings has illuminated in a genuinely original way.” The Guardian, 16th September 2010 ****

“The symphony is upstaged by choral works (Schütz, Gabrieli, Beethoven and Brahms) which illuminate its creative background. The jewel is Brahms’s wondrous Geistliches Lied, giving the Monteverdi Choir its finest hour.” Financial Times, 17th September 2010 ***

“this disc is a triumph of imaginative programming, an education for anyone wishing to hear the music that inspired the composer...Gardiner’s approach is the antithesis of the muddy sound of most “classic” recordings. His tempi are brisk yet flexible, as Brahms wanted, but he refuses to sentimentalise the music.” Sunday Times, 26th September 2010 ****

“everything seems in focus: not just the tempo, but also the rhythmic drive and urgency seem absolutely right in the third and fourth movements...This performance gives a lively sense of what that authentic Brahms sound might have been like, and the music gains enormously - not an ounce of flab on these textures” BBC Music Magazine, December 2010 *****

“It's fascinating to hear the Bach cantata movement that inspired that Finale, with the orchestra in its comfort zone. The little-known choral pieces are done well.” Classic FM Magazine, December 2010 ****

“Textures are as transparent as chamber music. Phrases and ideas are nuanced, but disciplined...In short, Gardiner and his orchestra have placed the work firmly within the classical tradition, as a natural continuation from Brahms' symphonic idol Beethoven, rather than the seamless precursor to Wagner.” Charlotte Gardner, bbc.co.uk, 2nd November 2010

GGramophone Magazine

Editor's Choice - November 2010

SDG Brahms Symphonies - SDG705

(CD)

$14.00

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Holst: The Planets, Op. 32

Holst: The Planets, Op. 32

Recorded live at Southbank Centre’s Royal Festival Hall, London, on 22 May 2009


Holst’s The Planets requires little introduction. His inspiration for the piece came from hearing live performances of Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring in 1913, and Schoenberg’s Five Pieces for Orchestra in 1914. These two seminal 20th Century works left a strong impression on Holst.

The London Philharmonic Orchestra has a long association with The Planets. The Orchestra has recorded it under Principal Conductors Adrian Boult (twice in 1953 and 1978, with Boult also giving the first ever performance in 1918) and Sir Georg Solti, then twice in 1970 with Bernard Haitink and film composer Bernard Hermann. Jurowski continues the association with this recording. What can clearly be heard in this interpretation is the influence of the Boult recordings as well as the recordings Holst himself made conducting the London Symphony Orchestra in the 1920s. The tempi are well-chosen, effectively emphasising the drama and creating a performance that resonated strongly with the concert audience, who left feeling that they had been part of a very special musical event.

The recording quality is superb, complimenting the artistic interpretation nicely. It is detailed and spacious - ‘Jupiter’ particularly benefiting from a sense of the ethereal - yet warm and balanced.

“Brisk tempos and a brilliant, brassy sound distinguish this version of Holst’s best-loved work...hats off to the energy and commitment of the LPO players.” The Telegraph, 8th October 2010 ***

“There's real savagery in the way in which he and the London Philharmonic remorselessly build Mars to its shattering climax, French wit in the scherzo-like qualities of Mercury and Uranus, and Stravinskian formality in the restraint of Saturn...Thoroughly recommended.” The Guardian, 28th October 2010 ****

“its character and its superb sound, both detailed and well-balanced, are as impressive and involving as ever...the music [is] not only well within the players' grasp but played with polish and accuracy all the more astonishing at the fleet speeds favoured by Vladimir Jurowski.” BBC Music Magazine, December 2010 ***

“the orchestral colours are as Christmas baubles and the haunting wordless choir emerges eerily from a distant galaxy” Classic FM Magazine, December 2010 ***

GGramophone Magazine

Editor's Choice - November 2010

LPO - LPO0047

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Melani: Mottetti (Motets)

Melani: Mottetti (Motets)


Melani:

Litanie per la beata vergine

Ave regina coelorum

Clamemus ante deum

O voces formidandæ

De necessitatibus

Laudate pueri

Vivere sine te

Salve regina

Ad arma, cor meum

Magnificat


This release is a real revelation and a ‘coup de Coeur’! Roman composer Alessandro Melani (1639-1703), whose sacred music is still virtually unknown, composed several absolute jewels in this field and all the works featured here are world premiere recordings. Discover a world full of harmony and musical delicacy, in superb accounts by Rinaldo Alessandrini, who has consistently championed baroque Roman composers.

The sacred output of Alessandro Melani is today almost totally unknown both to musicologists and to the public. There are no scholarly monographs on this repertory, still less recordings or performing editions. Alessandrini conducted the first modern performance of the oratorio Il sacrificio di Abel at the Semana de Musica Religiosa in Cuenca (Spain) in 2003, and has given several performances of the Litany of the Blessed Virgin and some of the motets.

Melani (born in Pistoia, 1639, died in Rome, 1703) spent much of his career as maestro di cappella of various churches and cathedrals, including the basilica Santa Maria Maggiore in Rome. From 1672, he was placed in charge of the Salve, the Borghese family’s private cappella inside the basilica, combining it with a position at the church of San Luigi dei Francesi. The music that he wrote for the Borghese musical establishment - some 54 compositions are held in the Santa Maria Maggiore archive - includes numerous settings of Marian antiphons, among them two of the pieces on this CD, the Litany of the Blessed Virgin (for nine voices, the forces available to the Salve) and the Ave Regina coelorum.

Under Rinaldo Alessandrini’s directorship, Concerto Italiano’s revelatory interpretations have revolutionised our perception of 17th and 18th century Italian music (the group’s groundbreaking recordings of Monteverdi’s madrigals have achieved benchmark status), establishing it as the finest ensemble of its kind in Italy today. This new release will be granted the most prestigious French press award, Diapason d'or, in September.

“Melani's smaller-scale motets show the mixture of techniques, some looking back to Palestrina, others taken on from Monteverdi and his contemporaries... Concerto Italiano's performances are never over-manicured; there's a nice bite to the sound.” The Guardian, 2nd September 2010 ***

“Accompanied by two theorbos and a single organ, Rinaldo Alessandrini’s Concerto Italiano sing with a bright blend and easy coloratura. Polychoral contrasts are vivid in “Vivere sine te”, while the tutti entry on “Ora pro nobis” is dazzling.” The Independent, 19th September 2010

“Melani is a real find: all credit to Rinaldo Alessandrini for rediscovering him and for securing performances of real brilliance from Concerto Italiano.” Gramophone Magazine, November 2010

GGramophone Magazine

Editor's Choice - November 2010

Naive - OP30431

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Karen Geoghegan: Works for Bassoon and Orchestra

Karen Geoghegan: Works for Bassoon and Orchestra


Crusell:

Concertino in B flat major for bassoon and orchestra

Kreutzer, K:

Variations in B flat

Mozart:

Bassoon Concerto in B flat major, K191

Rossini:

Bassoon Concerto


Chandos signed Karen Geoghegan as an exclusive artist in 2007 following her wonderful performances on the BBC TV ‘Classical Star’ programme. This is her fourth recording with the label, following her CD of works by Hummel, Weber, Berwald, Jacobi, Elgar and Gershwin, her CD of French music for bassoon and piano, and her contribution, in the Suite-Concertino in F major, to Noseda’s Wolf-Ferrari CD. All of these received much acclaim, and the expressive maturity and sensitivity of her playing have quickly cemented her status as a rising star:

‘Name five internationally famous bassoon soloists. Archie Camden, Gwydion Brooke and, er, that’s it. Except I think we shall soon be adding the name of Karen Geoghegan to the roll call…’ Gramophone

“The instrument is precisely focused and the fineness of her playing shows her to be a musician of cultivated taste and sensibility...Geoghegan arrests attention immediately.” Gramophone Magazine, November 2010

“[Geoghegan] is a player of formidable dexterity, with an expressive top register and resonant bottom notes, as she shows in these four works.” Sunday Times, 7th November 2010 ***

“Geoghegan delivers phenomenal brilliance and precision at top speed...And in the quiet moments, like the slow movement of Mozart's concerto, Geoghegan's lyrical playing has beautiful grace and musicianship. Responding in style, Noseda and the BBC Philharmonic contribute alert and attractive accompaniments.” Classic FM Magazine, December 2010 *****

“It's quite rare for bassoonists to have the opportunity to perform and record their repertoire, particularly one so young, but Geoghegan is amply repaying the faith Chandos obviously has in her. This disc continues the fairy-tale outcome for Geoghegan and her Cinderella instrument of the orchestra and is worth exploring, particularly for the rarer repertoire.” International Record Review, December 2010

GGramophone Magazine

Editor's Choice - November 2010

Chandos - up to 40% off

Chandos - CHAN10613

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Bartók: Violin Concertos Nos. 1 & 2

Bartók: Violin Concertos Nos. 1 & 2


Bartók:

Violin Concerto No. 1, BB48a, Sz 36

Violin Concerto No. 2, Sz 112


Steinbacher’s previous release on PentaTone (Dvorak and Szymanowski Concertos PTC5186350) was very well received “Rarely has the composer’s magical ear for instrumental sonorities sounded so beguiling on disc….Steinbacher responds with playing that is both sensually alluring and headily impassioned.” The Strad. Here she brings her expertise in interpretation to the Bartók Violin Concertos.

“She brings great warmth to the lyrical First Concerto...then in the more ambitious and challenging Second Concerto she introduces a thrilling touch of steel into her playing. The Orchestre de la Suisse Romande is on fine form, with outstanding contributions from the brass section.” The Telegraph, 3rd February 2011 ****

“From her Stradivarius violin, Arabella Steinbacher conjures tones so subtly beautiful and multicoloured that your jaw almost drops. Yet her passionate artistry is only the cake’s icing. The real delight lies in the bond between soloist and orchestra...the second concerto is the peach: each sonic facet glitters, each heartbeat throbs, lifting us to the stars.” The Times, 20th November 2010 *****

GGramophone Magazine

Editor's Choice - November 2010

Super Audio CD

Format:

Hybrid Multi-channel

Pentatone - PTC5186350

(SACD)

$15.25

(also available to download from $10.00)

Usually despatched in 2 - 3 working days. (Available now to download.)

Respighi, Poulenc & Rheinberger: Concertos for Organ and Orchestra

Respighi, Poulenc & Rheinberger: Concertos for Organ and Orchestra


Poulenc:

Concerto in G minor for Organ, Strings & Timpani

Respighi:

Suite in G for Strings and Organ

Rheinberger:

Organ Concerto No. 1 in F, Op. 137


Poulenc’s dramatic, expressive and wild patchwork quilt, together with Respighi’s opulent and luxurious homage to the eighteenth century, and Rheinberger’s gloriously melodic and virtuoso nineteenth-century grand concerto with its echoes of Schumann.

“I place King’s performance up with the best” (Poulenc) American Record Guide 2008

“This disc presents three of the finest organ/orchestra collaborations in the repertoire.....The performances of all three works are outstanding; it would be difficult to imagine any better. Bathed in the fine acoustic of Bath Abbey, the strings and horns produce a lush, luminous, vibrant, clear, robust sound that is matched by the clarity, color, cohesion and brilliance of the superb Klais organ. The well-balanced and blended sonorities are skillfully reproduced by the recording technicians. This recording is to be cherished for the beauty of the sound, the music and the exceptional performances.” The American Organist September 2009

GGramophone Magazine

Re-issue of the Month - November 2010

Building a Library

First Choice - December 2015

Regent - REGCD257

(CD)

$14.25

Usually despatched in 2 - 3 working days.

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