Gramophone Magazine Editor's Choice

December 2010

Disc of the Month

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Eric Whitacre: Light & Gold

Awards:

Gramophone Magazine

Disc of the Month - December 2010

Label:

Decca

Catalogue No:

2743209

Discs:

1

Release date:

18th Oct 2010

Barcode:

0602527432090

Length:

71 minutes

Medium:

CD (download also available)
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Eric Whitacre: Light & Gold


Whitacre:

Lux aurumque

Five Hebrew Love Songs

The Seal Lullaby

A Boy and a Girl

Sleep

Nox Aurumque

Water Night

The Stolen Child

Three Songs of Faith

Leonardo dreams of his flying machine


Grace Davidson (soprano), Stephen Kennedy (baritone), Hila Plitmann (spoken Hebrew) & Christopher Glynn (piano)

The Eric Whitacre Singers, Laudibus, The King’s Singers & Pavão Quartet, Eric Whitacre

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Eric Whitacre (b. 1970), accomplished composer, conductor and lecturer, is one of the most popular and performed composers of his generation. His published works – of which “Sleep,” “Cloudburst,” “Lux Aurumque” and “Water Night” are among the most popular in the modern repertoire – have sold over a million copies worldwide. Paradise Lost: Shadows and Wings, Eric’s cutting-edge musical, has won the ASCAP Harold Arlen award, the prestigious Richard Rodgers Award and 10 Ovation Award nominations. In the US he is greeted with “rock star adulation” (New York Times) and his Virtual Choir projects have given him a worldwide following on YouTube, marking a new digital age for classical music (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D7o7BrlbaDs). In 2010 he signed to Decca, and is published by Chester Music.

Light and Gold is a mixture of works from the Whitacre catalogue alongside three World Premiere recordings of new pieces, all of them freshly recorded for the occasion. It's the perfect gateway through which new listeners can experience the allure of Whitacre's music for the first time, while giving existing fans pristine new recordings of some of his most successful pieces, tailored by the composer himself. "This album is the first time that I've ever conducted on record my interpretations of my own pieces," Whitacre explains. "The new pieces haven't been recorded before. Previous recordings of the older works have always been nice, but they've never been exactly what I was hoping they would be. That's the most interesting part for me; it's finally a chance to say it the way I'd like to say it." The pieces on the disc are performed by the British chamber choir, Laudibus, alongside Whitacre’s newly-created vocal group, the Eric Whitacre Singers.

Eric Whitacre: Lux Aurumque

Lux Aurumque

Eric Whitacre: Five Hebrew Love Songs

Temuná (A Picture)

Kalá Kallá (Light Bride)

Lárov (Mostly)

Éyze Shéleg! (What Snow!)

Rakút (Tenderness)

Eric Whitacre: The Seal Lullaby

The Seal Lullaby

Eric Whitacre: A Boy And A Girl

A Boy And A Girl

Eric Whitacre: Leonardo Dreams Of His Flying Machine

Leonardo Dreams Of His Flying Machine

Eric Whitacre: Three Songs Of Faith

I Will Wade Out

Hope Faith Life Love

I Thank You God For Most This Amazing Day

Eric Whitacre: The Stolen Child

The Stolen Child

Eric Whitacre: Water Night

Water Night

Eric Whitacre: Nox Aurumque

Nox Aurumque

Eric Whitacre: Sleep

Sleep

The Independent

15th October 2010

***

“an engaging and populist, if not overly challenging, programme that presents Whitacre as perhaps the American equivalent of Karl Jenkins.”

The Observer

17th October 2010

“Soupily addictive and beautifully sung.”

Gramophone Magazine

December 2010

“Their collective intonation is stunning, and they sing with conviction and enjoyment...[there are] many typical Whitacrian hallmarks: a sonorous haze of piled-up cluster-chords, with deep basses and floating upper parts, punctuated by startlingly "scrunchy" multi- (and oft-unresolved) suspensions of rapturous beauty...this gorgeous disc deserves the widest exposure. Simply glorious!”

BBC Music Magazine

Christmas 2010

*****

“'The Stolen Child'...is the most immediately impressive. Here Whitacre deftly weaves the entreating faerie voices of Yeats's poem with that of the 'human child'...The burgeoning crescendo which opens 'i thank You God' is one among many...examples of the EW Singers' technical and expressive excellence.”

Classic FM Magazine

January 2011

*****

“it's all spot on: tuning, vocal blend, articulation of text, or shaping and colouring of phrases. Whitacre's texts have a youthful appeal, from Leonardo da Vinci dreaming, to a young couple kissing in the sun. The singers' vibrant performances complement this, not just in their silvery vocal timbre, but in the sense that they truly believe in what they're singing.”

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Elgar: Violin Concerto

Elgar: Violin Concerto


Elgar:

Violin Concerto in B minor, Op. 61

plus cadenza as originally recorded

Tasmin Little (violin)

Polonia

Crown of India, Op. 66: Interlude


The long-awaited and much anticipated recording by Tasmin Little of Elgar’s Violin Concerto will be released this November, 100 years after the work’s first performance. In concert Tasmin Little is closely associated with this concerto, having celebrated the 150th anniversary of the birth of Sir Edward Elgar with performances of it on a major tour to Southeast Asia and Australia in 2007; she has also performed the concerto extensively in London: at the BBC Proms in the Royal Albert Hall, with the BBC Symphony Orchestra at the Barbican, and with the Philharmonia Orchestra in the Royal Festival Hall. What makes this recording especially interesting is that she has included the cadenza used in the work’s first recording, made in 1916 with Marie Hall. For that occasion, Elgar, amongst other things, added harps to counter the sonic limitations of the acoustic recording process. For those used to hearing the standard version, also included, the result makes for fascinating listening, and the recording will prove a valuable addition to the Elgar discography. The 1916 version of the cadenza has been tracked separately.

Tasmin Little: ‘I have waited a long time to record the Elgar Concerto, a work that I have been playing for twenty years and one which is so close to my heart. In the inspirational Andrew Davis and the RSNO’s commitment, I found exactly the right partnership for this monumental work.’

The Violin Concerto is complemented by another piece for violin and orchestra, the charming Interlude from The Crown of India, as well as the rarely recorded but imposing Polonia, an inventive and colourful work incorporating much Polish melodic material. This was commissioned by the Polish conductor Emil Młynarski in 1915 and dedicated to Ignacy Jan Paderewski, the pianist-composer and, later, Prime Minister of Poland.

Since coming to prominence as a finalist in the string section of the 1982 BBC Young Musician of the Year competition, Tasmin Little has enjoyed an international career, making more than twenty recordings. Highly imaginative in her approach to classical music, she received the 2008 Classic FM / Gramophone Award for Audience Innovation in London for the project ‘The Naked Violin’. Whilst she has made superb recordings of the great popular violin concertos, including those by Bruch, Brahms, and Sibelius, she has made a speciality of recording and performing less familiar repertoire, especially neglected British works. On Chandos, she has released a recording of Finzi’s Violin Concerto to tremendous critical acclaim (CHAN9888).

Sir Andrew Davis is famous for his performances of British music in general, and of the music of Elgar in particular. Last year he had great success with the premiere recording of Elgar’s The Crown of India on Chandos (CHAN10570(2)). Chandos also has a long association with the Royal Scottish National Orchestra. Over the last thirty years the label, in partnership with the RSNO, has produced a string of award winning CDs, notable among much else for their sound quality. This new CD, recorded in five-channel surround sound, continues that tradition.

“If ever a violin concerto deserved the feminine touch, it is Elgar’s...[Little] knows just how to make her violin sing, subtly swelling and fading through the solo part’s lyrical lines as Elgar penetrates the mysteries and wonder of the feminine soul...[She] is tender, velvet, winsome, always beguiling, never de trop, with complete mastery of the pianissimo caress .” The Times, 12th November 2010 ****

“Little...finds an element of wit in the fast-moving figuration [of the finale], leading to a more tender treatment of the lyrical contrasting sections.” Gramophone Magazine, December 2010

“This may have been a bumper year for this work...but Little brings a profoundly idiomatic nostalgia to this secretive, yearning, wistful yet passionate music. The extras make it an Elgarian must-have” Sunday Times, 28th November 2010 ***

“Little and Davis steer a near-perfect path between the English stoicism and continental passion that lies at the heart of this glorious score. Positioned naturally against the orchestra, Little shares the concerto's surging emotional narrative equally with her accompanists, without the slightest hint of virtuoso ostentation.” Classic FM Magazine, January 2011 *****

“She takes the opening Allegro boldly, and with plenty of confident ardour...Far more than was possible in the early recordings, there is scrupulous balance, with and sometimes within Elgar's rich but always lucid orchestration (he was, after all, a violinist himself) ensuring that the performance does as full justice to the sound as any on record.” International Record Review, December 2010

GGramophone Magazine

Editor's Choice - December 2010

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Schubert: Piano Duets

Schubert: Piano Duets


Schubert:

Allegro in A minor 'Lebensstürme', D947

Divertissement über französische in B minor: Andantino Varié, D823/II

Fugue in E minor D 952

Rondo for piano duet in A major, D951

Variations in A flat major on a original theme, D813

Fantasie in F minor for piano duet, D940


Paul Lewis (piano) & Steven Osborne (piano)

Schubert is unusual and indeed unique among composers in that some of his greatest works are written for piano duet. He wrote as much music for duet as for solo piano, and reaches emotional depths which take this repertoire far away from its domestic origins. The most celebrated of these pieces, the Fantasie in F minor, with its austere yet heartbreaking opening melody and dramatic double fugue, is one of the great piano achievements of the early 19th century. The rest of the works on this disc are much less well-known but equally fascinating.

Who better to commit these works to disc than two of the brighest stars in the British piano scene, Paul Lewis and Steven Osborne? As well as their individual achievements, they also have a long-standing friendship and performing relationship which you will hear reflected in their magisterial performances on this marvellous disc.

Read Presto's complete review of this disc here.

“Osborne and Lewis predictably reserve their finest, most perceptive playing for the Fantasie, giving its infinitely regretful main theme a different shading on each of its appearances and colouring the work's harmonic shifts and modulations impeccably. None of their performances could be described as routine, though, even when the music is less than top drawer” The Guardian, 4th November 2010 ****

“The quality that shines through in these performances is the way in which Schubert so intuitively judged the special medium of the piano duet...Osborne and Lewis have full measure of its inventive scope on a disc of outstanding, enlivening musicianship.” The Telegraph, 29th October 2010 *****

“This brilliantly planned programme is executed with poetry, drama and verve by two complementary pianists who clearly think as one in this sublime chamber music.” Sunday Times, 7th November 2010 ****

“Though Paul Lewis and Steven Osborne may not immediately appear stylistically empathetic artists, let me not to the marriage of true minds admit impediments. In this repertoire they are as one, touch and tone indistinguishable from one another, playing with a delicious fluency and obvious affection...this is a Schubert disc to return to and live with.” Gramophone Magazine, December 2010

“The Lewis-Osborne duo establishes a slyly (or should that be shyly?) wistful mood in the Andante varie in B minor, revels in the bravura writing of the Variations in A flat...and transforms the severity of the Fugue in E minor into something ennobling. Such playing suggests that they have found the key to conveying Schubert's magical world of shadows and sunlight.” BBC Music Magazine, January 2011 ****

“Two of Britain's finest younger pianists work wonders with the marvels of Schubert's inner landscape...Here are two friends loving every moment of their joint effort. Schubert might have cheered.” Classic FM Magazine, February 2011 *****

“From the opening thunderclap of 'Lebensstürme' it is clear that great things are in store...No-one with a taste for superlative, passionately committed music-making, ensemble of the highest calibre or some of Schubert's most beautiful music can afford to miss this one.” International Record Review, December 2010

“Their achievement on this disc is really quite remarkable...They have the complete measure of Schubert’s writing - at times dramatic, at times reflective, and at others full of real charm and allure... Textures never sound cluttered and you can always hear the most important melodic line (or lines) clearly. These are two brilliant musicians at their absolute best and is without doubt one of my favourite discs this year.” Chris O'Reilly, Presto Classical, 8th November 2014

Presto Disc of the Week

8th November 2010

GGramophone Awards 2011

Shortlisted - Instrumental

GGramophone Magazine

Editor's Choice - December 2010

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Légende: Theodore Kerkezos

Légende: Theodore Kerkezos


Debussy:

Rhapsody for alto saxophone & piano (or orchestra), L. 98

Indy:

Choral varié, Op. 55

Maurice:

Tableaux de Provence

Schmitt, F:

Légende, Op. 66

Tomasi, H F:

Concerto for Saxophone


The saxophone has a strange ‘semi-detached’ relationship with the symphony orchestra, and is widely considered to be more at home in a jazz setting. However, many composers have been seduced by the sound and wide range of colours and sonorities the instrument produces. From Glazunov’s concerto to presentday composers, the repertoire has grown to include some fascinating works.

This CD ‘Légende’ gathers together French works with a very Mediterranean feel.

The sultry sound of the saxophone is used to tremendous effect in Schmitt’s exotic Légende. Tomasi’s imposing concerto and the vibrant Tableaux de Provence by Paule Maurice will be discoveries for most listeners, and welcome ones as well.

Theodore Kerkezos is one of the leading saxophonists of his generation, and a champion of modern music. He is also active in preserving and bringing to a wider audience the repertoire for his instrument – much of which is little known.

This CD is a fascinating programme of unusual repertoire, and the highly evocative music conjures vivid images of the south of France.

“He's a tremendous instrumentalist, approaching everything he does with fire and commitment...Most of these composers associate the saxophone with sensuality and gorgeousness, and sometimes, more awkwardly, with orientalist notions of the foreign. The major work here is Debussy's Rapsodie with its sultry evocation of Moorish Spain.” The Guardian, 7th October 2010 ***

“Debussy’s Rapsodie, Florent Schmitt’s Légende and Vincent d’Indy’s Choral varié all hauntingly exploit the mellow reedy timbre, and Kerkezos, together with the LSO, finds a refined range of colouring and expression for each. A disc full of surprises.” The Telegraph, 8th October 2010 ****

“Debussy's Rapsodie...drew on Parisian street vendors' cries for some motifs, investing the material with an urban bustle, though it was also infused with a Moorish flavour – a blend of the exotic and the urbane which also found in Tomasi's Concerto Pour Saxophone Et Orchestre and Schmitt's Légende” The Independent, 22nd October 2010 ***

“There is a wonderful opalescent, fluid quality to the way he observes both drama and subtleties of colouring...[Kerkezos] brings evocative atmosphere and zest to the charming musical snapshots in Paule Maurice's Tableaux de Provence.” Gramophone Magazine, December 2010

“Kerkezos makes the classical saxophone sound great - a sprightly, unblemished tone coloured with an excited, balmy vibrato and, obviously, the London Symphony Orchestra play faultlessly...One for saxophonists - and lovers of French exotica - everywhere” Classic FM Magazine, January 2011 ***

GGramophone Magazine

Editor's Choice - December 2010

Onyx - ONYX4065

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Dvorak: Symphony No. 6

Dvorak: Symphony No. 6


Dvorak:

Symphony No. 6 in D major, Op. 60

Nocturne in B major for strings, Op.40 (B47)

Scherzo capriccioso, Op. 66


Widely acclaimed for their Naxos recordings of Dvořák’s Symphonies Nos. 7 and 8 (8572112) and No. 9 ‘From the New World’ with the Symphonic Variations (8570714), Marin Alsop and the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra here present his Symphony No. 6, which pays tribute both to Dvořák’s mentor Brahms and to the rich folk music of his Bohemian homeland.

The Nocturne is an arrangement for string orchestra of the beautiful slow movement from his Fourth String Quartet.

Suggestive of a celebration of Nature, the Scherzo capriccioso is one of Dvořák’s most masterful and colourful works, with a winning principal waltz theme.

“Alsop's approach to this sunniest of symphonic first movements [No. 6] is perky, well paced and appreciative of the music's many shifting perspectives. In the development section...the excellent Baltimore players bring their own quietly distinctive personalities to the various dialoguing lines...and there's plenty of energy in both the Scherzo and the finale” Gramophone Magazine, December 2010

“[No. 6] has a lovely lilting introductory theme, a slow movement of dream-like beauty and a boisterous Scherzo based on a Czech peasant dance, the idiom of which the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra captures with winning flair...This is easily the most impressive of Alsop’s Dvorák cycle.” Financial Times, 19th November 2010 ****

“From the syncopated opening to the mighty unison phrase at the end, Alsop judges the tempo of the first movement very well...In the furious Scherzo the exuberance of the Baltimore players transports you straight to a Bohemian meadow; the waltz tune in the Scherzo Capriccioso sounds equally authentic.” Classic FM Magazine, February 2011 ****

GGramophone Magazine

Editor's Choice - December 2010

Naxos - 8570995

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Lutosławski: Orchestral Works 1

Lutosławski: Orchestral Works 1


Lutosławski:

Concerto for Orchestra

Symphony No. 3

Chain 3


Edward Gardner, the music director of English National Opera and an exclusive Chandos artist, has completed the first disc in a projected Chandos series devoted to Polish music. Also his first purely orchestral CD for Chandos, the disc presents music by one of Poland’s most important twentieth-century composers, Witold Lutosławski, including perhaps his most famous work, the Concerto for Orchestra (1950 – 54), a brilliant and highly attractive work.

Also included is the Third Symphony (1981 – 83) which was given its world premiere by the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Sir Georg Solti, on 29 September 1983. Many passages employ the by then well-developed technique which the composer called ‘limited aleatorism’, according to which each individual orchestral musician is asked to play a phrase or repeated fragment in his own time – rhythmically independent of the other musicians. During these passages very little synchronisation is specified: events that are coordinated include the simultaneous entrances of groups of instruments, the abrupt end of some episodes, and some transitions to new sections. By this method the composer retains control of the work’s architecture and of the realisation of the performance, while simultaneously facilitating complex and unpredictable polyphony.

In later years Lutosławski developed musical forms that combine unrelated strands of music, whose short, discrete sections overlap one another like the links of a chain. Elements of this method can be found in many of his earlier works, but the first to emphasise it was Chain 1 of 1983 for fourteen instruments, written for the London Sinfonietta. Chain 2, subtitled ‘Dialogue for Violin and Orchestra’, followed in 1985.

The last work to adopt this approach was Chain 3 (1986) for large orchestra. Broadly speaking, the composition’s ten-minute span falls into three sections, of which the first provides a particularly clear, readily audible example of the chain technique. After a quick opening flourish, Lutosławski presents a sequence of twelve overlapping ideas, each characterised by a particular mode of expression, and each vividly coloured by a few instruments playing as a unit. For example, chimes, violas, and flutes together form the first ‘link’; this is overlapped by a quartet of double-basses; these in turn overlap a xylophone and three violins, and so on. The last of the twelve links in this musical chain thicken into a kind of general babble among the winds, which marks the first stage in the work’s larger form. Chain 3 was written for the San Francisco Symphony which gave the first performance, conducted by the composer, on 10 December 1986 in Davies Symphony Hall in San Francisco.

“Their account of the concerto is lively and crisply virtuosic, but the performances of the other two, much later works on this disc are the more significant...Gardner's performance [of Symphony No. 3] is impressive – vivid, incisive and well controlled – and he does an equally good job on the slighter and more elusive Chain 3 from 1986.” The Guardian, 14th October 2010 ****

“This CD offers a thrilling reminder of [Lutoslawski's] craftsmanship...Chain 3 is a small, brilliant orchestral jewel. Atmospheric, if not quite virtuosic, performances from the BBC Symphony Orchestra under Gardner, who must be encouraged to explore more of Lutoslawski’s oeuvre.” Financial Times, 16th October 2010 ****

“Exciting performances of exciting music. Lutoslawski is a master of whipping up the orchestra, though in a tasteful, increasingly refined manner...A fanfare guides us through the novel form [of the Symphony], though Gardner is a persuasive guide in his own right.” Sunday Times, 24th October 2010 ****

“Gardner makes the most of the taut rhythmic energy in the music...all the colours of this showpiece [the Concerto for Orchestra] are brightly painted, with a virtuosity which is never empty, but always has direction and purpose, and a sense of real enjoyment.” BBC Music Magazine, December 2010 ****

“On this evidence, Edward Gardner and the BBC SO are a dream team, pressing the claims of a composer who has been neglected since his death in 1994...This performance sets a seal on a disc that leaves one eager for its successors” Gramophone Magazine, December 2010

“Gardner’s ENO-honed ability to choose and hold a tempo and set a tangible mood from the off serves him well in each movement: there’s tautness and weight in the Intrada’s production line of pounding rhythms, a fine sense of pace to the slow-burn Passacaglia and impressive lightness in the piquant woodwind flutterings” Andrew Mellor, bbc.co.uk, 2nd November 2010

“Gardner pulls no punches in the 'Intrada'...few have equalled this for long-term conviction, in which the playing of the BBC forces leaves little to be desired...Gardner's interpretations are much more 'inside' the idiom than Daniel Barenboim's rather dutiful readings...this disc can be warmly recommended, not least if it hastens the return of Lutoslawski's music to its former eminence.” International Record Review, December 2010

GGramophone Magazine

Editor's Choice - December 2010

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Bach Cantatas Volume 18

Bach Cantatas Volume 18

Cantatas for Christmas Day, Cantatas for the First Sunday after Epiphany & Cantatas for the Feast of Epiphany


Bach, J S:

Cantata BWV191 'Gloria in excelsis Deo'

Cantata BWV63 'Christen, aetzet diesen Tag'

Cantata BWV123 'Liebster Immanuel, Herzog der Frommen'

Cantata BWV65 'Sie werden aus Saba alle kommen'

Cantata BWV154 'Mein liebster Jesus ist verloren'

Cantata BWV32 'Liebster Jesu, mein Verlangen'

Cantata BWV124 'Meinen Jesum laß ich nicht'


Claron McFadden (soprano), Bernarda Fink (mezzo), Sally Bruce-Payne (alto), Michael Chance (countertenor), James Gilchrist (tenor), Christopher Genz, Dietrich Henschel (baritones)

The Monteverdi Choir & The English Baroque Soloists, John Eliot Gardiner

Recording locations: Recorded live in Weimar/ Leipzig/ Hamburg, December 1999/ January 2000.

SDG174 is the much awaited last volume of the Bach Cantatas Pilgrimage, one of the most talked about musical events of the last decade.

This is an anthology of the Christmas period, combining cantatas for Christmas Day and the Epiphany.

It features ten acclaimed soloists, including Magdalena Kožená, Bernarda Fink, Michael Chance, James Gilchrist and Christopher Genz.

The album opens with Christen, ätzet diesen Tag (“Christians, engrave this Day”), which was performed on Christmas Day 1999 to launch the year-long pilgrimage. This is one of Bach’s best known cantatas. The accompagnato recit was sung by Bernarda Fink to great acclaim.

Gloria in Excelsis Deo, the song of the angels at the birth of baby Jesus, is best known as the Gloria in the B Minor Mass.

Sie werden aus Saba alle kommen (“All they from Sheba shall come”) describes the procession of the three magi. Bach conveys the majesty of the scene by using high horns, and the recorders and oboes da caccia create an Eastern-like atmosphere.

The cantatas on this album display a great variety of dramatic expression. Both Mein Liebster Jesus ist verloren (“My dearest Jesus is lost”) and Liebster Jesu, mein Verlangen (”Beloved Jesus, my Desire“) tell the same story, but in a different style, expressing different emotions.

This album was recorded at Weimar’s Herderkirche, Leipzig’s Nikolaikirche and Hamburg’s Hauptikirche St Jakobi.

SDG174 is packaged with a separate index sheet of the Cantata series.

“This ongoing recording project ranks as one of the musical events of the decade.” The Observer

“One of the most ambitious musical projects of all time” Gramophone

“The variety of these works for Christmas and Epiphany is astonishing, and the singing, from the Monteverdi Choir and soloists including Magdalena Kozena, fully matches it.” Sunday Times, 10th October 2010 ****

“With 10 top-flight soloists, it brings this awe-inspiring project to a powerful end.” The Independent on Sunday, 31st October 2010 ***

“There are countless highlights in the final two volumes. The duet-singing in BWV32 between Claron McFadden and Peter Harvey is memorably rewarding. Similarly cathartic is the peerless, reassuring expression of eternal union in the great duet of BWV154 with Michael Chance and James Gilchrist.” Gramophone Magazine, December 2010

“As before, performances offer the zinging energy, heartfelt beauty and occasional warts of the best live music-making...Christmas jubilation never turns strident. Elsewhere, Gardiner’s forces radiate quiet intensity in the tragedy and pathos of BWV 123, Liebster Immanuel — music of simple sobriety, powerful enough to stop the world turning.” The Times, 26th November 2010 ****

“The two strongly contrasting arias [of BWV 63], both duets, are expressively sung but it is Bernarda Fink's beautifully controlled, extended recitative which stands out for its tender articulation...James Gilchrist makes a fine contribution...notably in the solo tenor cantata 'Ich armer Mensch'” BBC Music Magazine, Christmas 2010 ****

“Bernarda Fink brings a moving sense of wonder to her accompanied recitative. From time to time, you feel that the performers are flying by the seat of their pants, but the commitment and enjoyment shine through.” Classic FM Magazine, February 2011

GGramophone Magazine

Editor's Choice - December 2010

SDG Gardiner Bach Cantatas - SDG174

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Schoenberg: String Quartets Nos. 3 & 4

Schoenberg: String Quartets Nos. 3 & 4

Recordings supervised by Robert Craft


Schoenberg:

String Quartet No. 3, Op. 30

String Quartet No. 4, Op. 37

Phantasy for Violin with Piano Accompaniment, Op. 47


While Schoenberg’s final two string quartets inhabit atonal sound worlds, the Third draws on Classical forms such as theme-and-variations, minuet and sonata-rondo, its unsettling opening movement recalling a fairytale picture, ‘The Ghostship’, its Adagio a movement of spiritual depth and beauty.

Schoenberg was particularly pleased with his Fourth String Quartet, which follows a creative logic of continual development and variation derived from the music of Bach and Mozart, Beethoven, Brahms and Wagner.

The Phantasy is a virtuosic peroration for violin with commentary from the piano, a prime example of Schoenberg’s avowed aim to write ‘really new music which, as it rests on tradition, is destined to become a tradition’.

“Robert Craft was put on this earth to produce clear blueprints of Schoenberg and Stravinsky scores.” Gramophone

“...the fusion of the familiar and the untrodden remains explosive and exhilarating, certainly as expounded by these players, who vary between the works. In common is the cellist Fred Sherry, veteran of the American modern music scene. The fourth quartet is led by the outstanding Leila Josefowicz.” Sunday Times, 12th September 2010 ****

“...the two works sound fresh and vital, neither four-square in their phrasing nor rhythmically stolid. The Sherry Quartet presents both with total naturalness, giving the music all the space it needs to breathe and express itself.” The Guardian, 16th September 2010 ****

“the energy and eloquence of Fred Sherry and his colleagues ensure that the effect is never merely strenuous, never turgid. Though often aggressive, the music dances and sings...Thorough but life-affirming, this performance sums up the spirit of the whole disc in admirably uncompromising fashion.” Gramophone Magazine, December 2010

GGramophone Magazine

Editor's Choice - December 2010

Naxos - 8557533

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Schumann: Davidsbündlertänze & Fantasie

Schumann: Davidsbündlertänze & Fantasie

Prestige Edition


Schumann:

Davidsbündlertänze, Op. 6

Fantasie in C major, Op. 17


More than 15 years since her acclaimed album of Carnaval and Kreisleriana [catalogue number 4758260], Mitsuko Uchida marks the Schumann bicentenary 2010 with her first recordings of two of his best-loved works for solo piano - Davidsbündlertänze and Fantasie.

With this new album, recorded at the Maltings at Snape, Dame Mitsuko shares the wealth of her experience as a Schumann interpreter - bringing to these enigmatic, questing pieces her celebrated musicality and depth of feeling.

Written after Schumann was again in touch with his beloved, Clara – whose father was determined she should never marry him – the Davidsbündlertänze are at once an outpouring of Schumann’s feelings for her and a struggle between the two sides of the composer’s own musical nature. Fantasie is a deeply introspective soliloquy, beautifully reflected through the emotional complexity of Mitsuko Uchida's pianism.

Please note: In our view this single CD with bonus disc is ridiculously expensive but the powers at Decca seem to think that fans of Mitsuko Uchida will still buy it whatever the price. Therefore please accept our apologies for the price of this item, and hopefully the label will re-think their decision shortly.

“Schumann is obviously a composer with whom she feels a special affinity, and to whose music she brings a whole suite of special qualities...She naturally inclines towards the more introspective side of Schumann rather than his ebullient, extrovert alter ego, and infuses the more lyrical parts of the cycle with warmth and expressive generosity” The Guardian, 16th September 2010 ****

“The quality she brings is the one they most need – an overarching concentration that stops them splintering apart, while maintaining a sense of poetry and spontaneity...the music’s Janus-faced personality is enmeshed in almost every bar, to thrilling effect in Uchida’s magisterial performance, which exults in Schumann’s temperamental extremes while also harmonising them.” Financial Times, 25th September 2010 *****

“...revelatory and supremely satisfying...Her account of the great C major Fantasie (also recorded under studio conditions at Snape Maltings) sits alongside some of the greatest committed to disc — Schumann the poet and virtuoso evoked in perfect balance” Sunday Times, 3rd October 2010 *****

“This seizes you by the scruff of the neck within seconds. Uchida...find[s] a different colour for every one of the 18 pieces. The coda to No13 is the most astonishing example of pianistic virtuosity I’ve heard in years.” The Telegraph, 5th October 2010 *****

“Uchida shows herself not only fully up to Schumann's immense demands technically, but she is also deeply sympathetic to the fierce dislocations in his personality...With such insights from her both on the piano and verbally, this makes a most appealing pair of discs.” BBC Music Magazine, December 2010 *****

“This is the playing of a real 'master' musician who carries every iota of beauty, detail, intelligence and subtlety through to the ultimate degree...The Fantasie is as genuinely passionate as I've ever heard it...she proves that virtuosity is just a means to a musical end” Classic FM Magazine, December 2010 *****

“In an interview with James Jolly, it is clear how passionate [Uchida] is about the composer (this fascinating conversation comes on a companion CD in the "Prestige Edition")...Her passionate verbal advocacy is translated into the equally compelling ardour of her performances of these two works...this has Gramophone Award-winner written all over it.” Gramophone Magazine, December 2010

GGramophone Magazine

Editor's Choice - December 2010

Decca - 4782280

(CD)

$23.50

Usually despatched in 8 - 10 working days.

Schumann: Davidsbundlertanze & Fantasie

Schumann: Davidsbundlertanze & Fantasie

Standard Edition


Schumann:

Davidsbündlertänze, Op. 6

Fantasie in C major, Op. 17


Previously released as a Prestige Edition product (4782280) in September 2010.

Digital version also contains the bonus track Träumerei from Kinderszenen, Op.15

“Schumann is obviously a composer with whom she feels a special affinity, and to whose music she brings a whole suite of special qualities...She naturally inclines towards the more introspective side of Schumann rather than his ebullient, extrovert alter ego, and infuses the more lyrical parts of the cycle with warmth and expressive generosity” The Guardian, 16th September 2010 ****

“...revelatory and supremely satisfying...Her account of the great C major Fantasie (also recorded under studio conditions at Snape Maltings) sits alongside some of the greatest committed to disc — Schumann the poet and virtuoso evoked in perfect balance” Sunday Times, 3rd October 2010 *****

“This seizes you by the scruff of the neck within seconds. Uchida...find[s] a different colour for every one of the 18 pieces. The coda to No13 is the most astonishing example of pianistic virtuosity I’ve heard in years.” The Telegraph, 5th October 2010 *****

“The quality she brings is the one they most need – an overarching concentration that stops them splintering apart, while maintaining a sense of poetry and spontaneity...the music’s Janus-faced personality is enmeshed in almost every bar, to thrilling effect in Uchida’s magisterial performance, which exults in Schumann’s temperamental extremes while also harmonising them.” Financial Times, 25th September 2010 *****

“Uchida shows herself not only fully up to Schumann's immense demands technically, but she is also deeply sympathetic to the fierce dislocations in his personality...With such insights from her both on the piano and verbally, this makes a most appealing pair of discs.” BBC Music Magazine, December 2010 *****

“This is the playing of a real 'master' musician who carries every iota of beauty, detail, intelligence and subtlety through to the ultimate degree...The Fantasie is as genuinely passionate as I've ever heard it...she proves that virtuosity is just a means to a musical end” Classic FM Magazine, December 2010 *****

“In an interview with James Jolly, it is clear how passionate [Uchida] is about the composer (this fascinating conversation comes on a companion CD in the "Prestige Edition")...Her passionate verbal advocacy is translated into the equally compelling ardour of her performances of these two works...this has Gramophone Award-winner written all over it.” Gramophone Magazine, December 2010

GGramophone Awards 2011

Shortlisted - Instrumental

GGramophone Magazine

Editor's Choice - December 2010

Decca - 4782936

(CD)

$14.00

(Sorry, download not available in your country)

Usually despatched in 8 - 10 working days.

Lou Harrison: Music for Orchestra Ensemble & Gamelan

Lou Harrison: Music for Orchestra Ensemble & Gamelan


Harrison, L:

Seven Pastorales

New First Suite for Strings

Vestuint Silve (1994)

Gending Chelsea for Gamelan

Sanctus for Contralto and Piano

Suite from the ‘Marriage at the Eiffel Tower’

Philemon and Baukis

Cornish Lancaran

Gending Alexander

Homage to Pacifica

Bubaran Robert

Suite from the ballet ‘Solstice’

Ariadne (1987)

A Summerfield Set for solo piano

Canticle No. 3

Third Symphony

Commissioned by Cabrilio Music Festival, 1982

Grand Duo

Commissioned by Cabrilio Music Festival, 1988


Gamelan Si Betty

Brooklyn Philharmonic, Dennis Russell Davies

Lou Harrison was born in Portland, Oregon in 1917. His musical style was shaped by the San Francisco of the 1930s. There he studied composition with Henry Cowell, and staged high profile percussion concerts with John Cage. He spent the year 1942-43 in Los Angeles where he studied with Arnold Schoenberg. In 1946, Harrison conducted the premiere of Ives's Third Symphony which he had edited from the manuscript score. The following year Ives was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for this work which he shared with Harrison.

During trips to Japan, Korea and Taiwan in 1961-62, he studied native instruments including the cheng and the p'iri. Back in California he enthusiastically presented concerts and lectures on Korean and Chinese music and experimented in his own works with hybrid instrumental ensembles. In 1975, Harrison began an intensive study of traditional Javanese gamelan techniques. He soon began to explore ideas of cross fertilization, adapting the concerto principle to the Indonesian orchestra by composing works for Western soloists accompanied by gamelan. Harrison died in Lafayette, Indiana, 2003, from a heart attack while on his way to a festival of his music at Ohio State University.

This 4 CD set brings together all the works recorded in the USA for the MusicMasters label during the early 1990s.

‘Harrison's compositions demonstrate a wild and willful variety of means and techniques … But in general Harrison is a melodist. Rhythm has a significant place in his work, though it is likely to be four-square. Counterpoint and harmony are unimportant’ Ned Rorem

“Fans will be ecstatic that these recordings return to the catalogue; newcomers will find a lot of attractive low-density music that always sounds beguiling and is easy to live with.” Gramophone Magazine, December 2010

GGramophone Magazine

Re-issue of the Month - December 2010

Nimbus - NI2571

(CD - 4 discs)

$22.75

Usually despatched in 4 - 5 working days.

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