Gramophone Magazine Editor's Choice

February 2011

Disc of the Month

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Bellini: I Puritani

Awards:

Gramophone Magazine

Disc of the Month - February 2011

Catalogue No:

GFOCD00960

Discs:

2

Release date:

1st Nov 2010

Barcode:

0878280000092

Medium:

CD
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Bellini: I Puritani


Joan Sutherland (Elvira), Nicola Filacuridi (Arturo), John Kentish (Bruno), Giuseppe Modesti (Giorgio), Ernest Blanc (Riccardo), David Ward (Valton) & Monica Sinclair (Enrichetta)

The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra & The Glyndebourne Chorus, Vittorio Gui

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Italian conductor Vittorio Gui was Glyndebourne’s musical director from 1951 – 1963, and introduced a strong Italian theme in his programming – Rossini and Bellini amongst them. Bellini’s last and arguably richest opera I Puritani, comes from Glyndebourne’s recording archive, dated 1960 and was the first performance of this opera in Britain since 1887.

This is Joan Sutherland’s debut in the role of Elvira. This young and extraordinary bel canto talent is the heroine in this production. She has a beauty of tone, her voice fluent and eloquent, the intimate confines of the Glyndebourne opera house allowing the warm glowing colour in Sutherland’s voice to radiate.

So acclaimed was this production that it was selected for Glyndebourne’s return to the Edinburgh Festival after a 4 year absence and Sutherland, so in love with her Glyndebourne costumes was she, that she borrowed them from the production for her performances as Elvira at the Gran Teatro del Liceo in Barcelona in December 1960.

‘The Glyndebourne performance is persuasive. Joan Sutherland is the heroine … with such art and high accomplishment.’ Financial Times 25 May 1960

‘With Joan Sutherland singing Elvira with extraordinary beauty of tone and line, and the orchestra playing with a new freedom, spontaneity and a welcome lack of affectation, Glyndebourne’s new production justifies itself.’ The Observer 29 May 1960

‘Vittorio Gui conducts with an ideal blend of gentleness and high spirits, warmth and dash. The RPO and the excellent Glyndebourne Chorus are in good form… ’ Spectator 3 June 1960

Act 1: Introduzione

Act 1: All'erta! All'erta! L'alba Apparì

Act 1: O Di Cromwell Guerrieri

Act 1: A Festa!

Act 1: Recitativo Ed Aria: Or Dove Fuggo Io Mai?

Act 1: Ah! Per Sempre Io Ti Perdei

Act 1: T'appellan Le Schiere

Act 1: Scene E Deuetto: O Amato Zio, O Mio Secundo Padre!

Act 1: Chi Mosse A' Miei Desir Il Genitor?

Act 1: Core E Quartetto: Ad Arturo Onore

Act 1: A Te, O Cara

Act 1: Finale Primo: Il Rito Augusto Si Compia Senza Me

Act 1: Cavalier

Act 1: Figlia A Enrico, A Carlo Sposa

Act 1: Son Vergin Vezzosa

Act 1: Sulla Virginea Testa

Act 1: Ferma! Invan Rapir Pretendi

Act 1: Dov'è Arturo?

Act 1: Oh Vieni Al Tempio, Fedele Arturo

Act 1: Ma Tu Già Mi Fuggi?

Act 2: Introduzione E Romanza: Ah Dolor! Ah Terror!

Act 2: Cinta Di Fiori E Col Bel Crin Disciolto

Act 2: E Di Morte Lo Stral Non Sarà Lento

Act 2: Scena Ed Aria: O Rendetemi La Speme

Act 2: Qui La Voce Sua Soave Mi Chiamava E Poi Spari

Act 2: Vien, Diletto, È In Ciel La Luna

Act 2: Duetto - Finale Secondo: Il Rival Salvar Tu Dêi

Act 2: Se Tra Il Buio Un Fantasma Vedrei Bianco, Lieve ...

Act 2: Riccardo! Riccardo!

Act 2: Suoni La Tromba

Act 3: Uragano

Act 3: Romanza E Duetto: Son Salve, Alfin Son Salvo

Act 3: A Una Fonte Afflitto E Solo

Act 3: Qual Suon!

Act 3: Son Già Lontani

Act 3: Finì ... Me Lassa!

Act 3: Che Provò Lontan Da Me?

Act 3: Vieni, Veni Fra Questa Braccia

Act 3: Finale Terzo: Ancor S'ascolta Questo Suon Molesto

Act 3: Arturo? Lo Sciagurato?

Act 3: Cavalier, Ti Colse Il Dio

Act 3: Credeasi, Misera!

Act 3: Suon D'araldi?

BBC Music Magazine

January 2011

****

“Sutherland's sizeable voice moves round Bellini's ornate roulades with an ease that borders on the miraculous, defining the smallest notes with precision and setting them gracefully in the larger expressive context. The surrounding cast is impressive, too.”

bbc.co.uk

Graham Rogers

15th December 2010

“a fitting tribute to a phenomenal career. It captures Sutherland in sparkling form around the time she was on the verge of international stardom...the freshness and spontaneity on display in her role debut at Glyndebourne make this account uniquely special.The mono recording has been very well restored, sounding relatively crisp and clear”

Financial Times

19th November 2010

***

“You hear the star singer in full freshness of voice, in a vividly theatrical setting and without the mannerisms that came later...Sutherland is radiant, with clean trills, opulent tone and a thrillingly fearless top. Vittorio Gui conducts with characteristic style and French baritone Ernest Blanc is well worth hearing”

Gramophone Magazine

February 2011

“Her voice was at its freshest and there seemed no limit to the technical wonders she could perform...Her Elvira is a living creation...it is good to hear the voice in stage-perspective...A notable pleasure is added by the idiomatic singing of Ernest Blanc...Gui's direction is firm and unindulgent but the broad sweep of the ensembles works its spell”

International Record Review

December 2010

“The fioriture and trills provide a veritable master-class in technique. Diction is clearer than it would be in the first Sutherland recording of this role (1963). The girlishness she projects is unforced and irresistable...Even if you have one or both of Sutherland's commercially-recorded Puritanis, this version is essential for her contribution alone.”

Presto Classical

Katherine Cooper

October 2014

“Sutherland would go on to record the role of Elvira in starrier company (including with Pavarotti for a Decca studio recording) but there's something a bit special about this 1960 recording from the Glyndebourne Festival under Vittorio Gui, thanks to La Stupenda's early-career freshness and the palpable sense of a live performance.”

Click here for alternative recordings of this work.

Editor's Choice

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Verdi: Simon Boccanegra

Verdi: Simon Boccanegra

Recorded: 2010 live from the Royal Opera House


Plácido Domingo (Simon Boccanegra), Marina Poplavskaya (Amelia Grimaldi/Maria Boccanegra), Joseph Calleja (Gabriele Adorno), Ferruccio Furlanetto (Jacope Fiesco), Jonathan Summers (Paolo Albiani), Lukas Jakobski (Piero)

Royal Opera Chorus & Orchestra of the Royal Opera House, Antonio Pappano

“Crowning glory for triumphant Domingo” The Independent – 5 Stars

“In the lowest range of his voice he has always had mahogany where other tenors have chipboard” The Guardian

Plácido Domingo’s triumphant “return” to his baritone roots (his first debut with the Mexican National Opera, in 1959, was as a baritone), is captured in this stunning 2-DVD set of the Royal Opera House’s 2010 production of Verdi’s Simon Boccanegra. Domingo is joined by Marina Poplavskaya, Joseph Calleja, Ferruccio Furlanetto, Jonathan Summers and Lukas Jakobski in this Antonio Pappano conducted performance, directed by Elijah Moshinsky.

The Simon Boccanegra release features exclusive bonus material, including a “Back Stage with Plácido Domingo” featurette and an interview with director Moshinsky. There is an additional audio function which features introductions to each of the opera’s scenes (in English with subtitles).

Simon Boccanegra is Verdi’s magnificent telling of a humble 14th century Genoan who rises to become Doge of the great city. The plot centres on the political intrigues between Boccanegra (Domingo) and his adversary, the aristocratic Jacopo Fiesco and the discovery of his long-lost daughter, Amelia. This story – though replete with an inevitable tragic conclusion – is ultimately one of hope, as the two great men are able to rise above their power-driven animosities to ensure peace amongst their beloved Genoa’s warring factions and by placing familial and civic love ahead of their own individual desires.

This stunning production garnered critical acclaim for Domingo and cast, especially Ferruccio Furlanetto.

Features exclusive bonuses: “Back Stage with Plácido Domingo” featurette, A video interview with director Elijah Moshinsky and audio introductions to each of the scenes (the DVD will include and option play with or without the introductions).

In a market full of Domingo birthday and anniversary reissue products, this 2-DVD release is a much anticipated new recording and performance.

Subtitles in Italian (Sung) English, German, French, Spanish

“His fitness for the role is undeniable. That noble face, that charismatic presence and powerful body: how well they suit the Doge’s office...And camera close-ups reveal Domingo the consummate and generous actor...there’s plenty of heat in the gutsy orchestra and Antonio Pappano’s loving conducting. And above all else there’s Domingo: courageous, still eloquent, an artist in a million.” The Times, 3rd December 2010 ****

“Domingo fans who enjoyed, or missed, the great tenor-turned-baritone singing the title role of Verdi's tragic hero will covet this live DVD recording of the Royal Opera's lavish Elijah Moshinsky staging. Includes a backstage documentary element fronted by that telly natural, Antonio Pappano.” The Observer, 19th December 2010

“No vocal Tarnhelm has suddenly magicked a different-sounding timbre for this voice: here is, simply, Domingo singing - and evidently enjoying singing - a part that's lower down...the bigger difference between the voices [in the confrontations with Fiesco] permits a greater antagonism of the characters and clarity of text...What we might here cheekily call the supporting cast are strong” Gramophone Magazine, February 2011

“his musicianship, his intelligence and artistry, his commitment, the still-beauty of his voice and the utter lack of strain required for him to sing this role properly are well in evidence...[Calleja] has a true Italianate ring, it is easy at the top, he acts well and his phrasing is both musical and impassioned...Pappano undestands the dark tint of this opera and plays it for all it is worth” International Record Review, January 2011

“his command of [the title-role] is vocally authoritative and dramatically compelling...Pappano's silky and taut conducting is superb, and tenor Joseph Calleja has never sounded better as Adorno.” Classic FM Magazine, March 2011 ***

“The result is far more than a vanity project...overall [Domingo] makes a remarkably moving and complex creation out of it...Summers is worn but malevolent in his sharply etched portrayal of the venomous Paolo. But the vocal honours go to Joseph Calleja, possessor of one of the loveliest tenor voices around, whose singing as Gabriele Adorno is consistently imaginative and discriminating.” BBC Music Magazine, March 2011 ****

GGramophone Magazine

DVD of the Month - February 2011

DVD Video

Region: 0

Format: NTSC

EMI - 9178259

(DVD Video - 2 discs)

$27.50

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Brahms: Handel Variations

Brahms: Handel Variations


Brahms:

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

Rhapsodies (2), Op. 79

Klavierstücke (6), Op. 118

Klavierstücke (4), Op. 119


Twenty years after his last Brahms disc, American pianist Murray Perahia has chosen to revisit this great composer’s works with a new recording featuring the great Handel Variations, Op. 24, a work Perahia considers on a par with Bach’s Goldberg variations. Alongside this are key works from Brahms’ middle and late piano periods. The Two Rhapsodies, Op.79 from his middle period, form the centrepiece of the disk and are deeply Romantic.

The album finishes with the introspective and autumnal Piano Pieces Opp.118 and 119, both from Brahms’ late period.

This is music of a mature composer performed by a pianist at the height of his powers. Murray Perahia has been an exclusive Sony Classical recording artist for almost 40 years, and is one of the most sought-after and cherished pianists of our time. He is the Principal Guest Conductor of the Academy of St. Martin in the Fields, with whom he has toured globally as conductor and pianist. In 2004 he was awarded an honorary KBE by Her Majesty The Queen, in recognition of his outstanding service to music.

Perahia’s previous recordings have garnered a Grammy® Award and several nominations, a Gramophone Award and a BBC Music Magazine Award.

“A prince amongst pianists” Financial Times

“Perahia deals seamlessly with the many subtle shifts of tempo, cementing the parts into a unified piece of light-spirited musicality that makes for a piquant contrast with the ten autumnal "Piano Pieces" from Brahms' late period, bridged here by the flightier "Two Rhapsodies".” The Independent, 19th November 2010 *****

“The virtuoso challenges of that set are met without ever drawing attention to their brilliance, and the way in which Perahia almost imperceptibly ratchets up the tension is exemplary...The Op 79 Rhapsodies balance power and poetry perfectly, the two sets of late pieces colonise their subtly different worlds with effortless ease. All hugely impressive.” The Guardian, 18th November 2010 *****

“[The miniatures] are held aloft by Perahia's unique ability to give each tiny piece close study and analysis, yet then to create a seemingly spontaneous flow of music-making. The B minor adagio (Op 119, No 1) is achingly beautiful, the G minor ballade (Op 118, No 3) fiercely impassioned.” The Observer, 28th November 2010

“Murray Perahia’s Brahms is outstanding in every way. He has the elegance to showcase the baroque inspiration of the Handel Variations, but also the sense of scale and architecture to encompass Brahms’s 30-minute musical journey...This is one of the most rewarding Brahms recitals currently available.” Financial Times *****

“Time and again Brahms's potential for strenuousness and opacity is clarified with a superfine musical intelligence and technique...I doubt whether the concluding and exultant fugure has often been given with a more formidable yet lightly worn articulacy in its entire history...you may well wonder when you last heard a pianist with a more patrician disregard for all forms of bloated excess of exaggeration.” Gramophone Magazine, February 2011

“Perahia brings his customary mastery to piano works by Brahms, a composer he is not usually associated with but whose blend of lyricism and rigour suits his gifts perfectly...Throughout, Perahia shapes the phrases in long-breathed arcs while bringing out every detail.” The Telegraph, 14th January 2011 ****

“His long experience with Bach's keyboard works gives him a natural point of entry to the Variations on a Theme of Handel, which is taken at quite fast tempos...Yet Perahia never draws attention to the technical challenges, and the music seems to flow out of him with complete naturalness.” BBC Music Magazine, February 2011 *****

“The middle period Rhapsodies are beautifully rounded. with the composer's bold heroics matched with lyrical, poetic playing. The final ten pieces are intimate and reflective, played with an intense mastery that is wonderful.” Classic FM Magazine, February 2011 *****

“This an astonishing performance, full of superb understanding and technical mastery...His command of the work is complete” International Record Review, January 2011

“one of [Perahia's] finest CDs yet. The set of Handel Variations is both elegant and totally authoritative...Excellent, vivid recording makes this an indispensable example of Perahia's special identification with the composer” Penguin Guide, 2011 edition

GGramophone Awards 2011

Best of Category - Instrumental

GGramophone Magazine

Editor's Choice - February 2011

BBC Music Magazine

Disc of the month - February 2011

Sony - 88697727252

(CD)

$14.00

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Stravinsky: The Soldier’s Tale

Stravinsky: The Soldier’s Tale


Berg:

Adagio - 2nd movement of the Chamber Concert

Schoenberg:

Chamber Symphony No. 1 in E major, Op. 9

arr. Webern

Stravinsky:

L'Histoire du Soldat

Sung in English

Sir John Gielgud (narrator), Tom Courtenay (The Soldier), Ron Moody (The Devil)

Octet for Wind Instruments

Pastorale

Ragtime, for eleven instruments

Septet

Concertino


Boston Symphony Chamber Players

Recordings: Symphony Hall, Boston, USA, May 1972 (The Soldier’s Tale: music), December 1974 (Octet, Pastorale, Ragtime, Septet, Concertino), April 1978 (Berg: Adagio, Schoenberg: Chamber Symphony); Polydor Studios, London, UK, July 1975 (The Soldier’s Tale: speech)

Stravinsky’s tongue-in-cheek morality masterpiece, The Soldier’s Tale, is one of his cleverest and most enduring works, here receiving its first outing on CD, following several requests. It boasts a stellar cast, not only of musicians, drawn from the Boston Symphony and soloists in their own right, but also of the narrators/actors – Sir John Gielgud, Tom Courtenay and Ron Moody, with English texts by Michael Flanders & Kitty Black.

The couplings include the BSCP’s complete LP of chamber music by Stravinsky (the Concertino and Septet being released on CD for the first time), and also works by Schoenberg and Berg, previously unissued internationally on CD.

“absolutely sparkling playing...The playing and recording are excellent throughout” Records and Recording

“John Gielgud is a most beguiling narrator … Ron Moody makes a suitably sinister-sounding devil … A really outstanding issue” EMG Newsletter

“These Boston players give immaculately polished accounts of all five [chamber] works … The recording is excellent – clear without dryness, warm without over-resonance” Gramophone Magazine

GGramophone Magazine

Re-issue of the Month - February 2011

Building a Library

First Choice (complete) - May 2013

Australian Eloquence - ELQ4803300

(CD - 2 discs)

$12.75

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Bizet: Clovis et Clotilde & Te Deum

Bizet: Clovis et Clotilde & Te Deum


Bizet:

Clovis et Clotilde

Katarina Jovanovic (soprano), Philippe Do (tenor) & Mark Schnaible (bass)

Te Deum

Katarina Jovanovic (soprano) & Philippe Do (tenor)

Choeur Régional Nord – Pas-de-Calais


This fascinating disc presents the young Georges Bizet’s first composition after having won the prestigious Prix de Rome, the grandiose Te Deum, which remained unpublished until 1971.

It is coupled with his Prix de Rome cantata Clovis et Clotilde, which recounts the tale of the Frankish King Clovis’s conversion to Christianity by his wife Clotilde.

Both scores are abundantly theatrical, as one would expect from the future composer of Carmen (8660005-07), and are performed by three outstanding young singers and two internationally renowned French ensembles directed by the distinguished conductor Jean-Claude Casadesus.

“Plainly, even in his teens, Bizet had a fully developed talent...There are many moments to cherish, notably Clotilde's prayer, starting on an exquisitely delicate pianissimo. Otherwise Jovanovic is fearless in tackling exposed top notes cleanly and precisely...The Te Deum makes an ideal coupling...in every way a delightful discovery.” Gramophone Magazine, February 2011

“Bizet's cantata, which won him the Prix de Rome in 1857, contains some lovely moments and a few characteristic things...It shows Bizet the orchestrator far beyond the apprentice stage...Jovanovic float[s] beautiful high notes” BBC Music Magazine, February 2011 ***

“[Casadesus] is clearly very fond of [Clovis et Clotilde], conducting it with great panache and making the best possible case for it...In its gawky way I find [the Te Deum] quite fun, especially in a performance as engaging as this one: Casadesus keeps the orchestra light on its feet, the chorus is enthusiastic and Jovanovic and Do contribute solid solos.” International Record Review, March 2011

“Two colourful youthful works, full of ardour, and worth consideration.” MusicWeb International, January 2011

GGramophone Magazine

Editor's Choice - February 2011

Naxos - 8572270

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Bruckner: Symphony No. 6 in A major

Bruckner: Symphony No. 6 in A major


Recorded live at Southbank Centre’s Royal Festival Hall, London, on 4 November 2009.

Anton Bruckner began writing his Sixth Symphony after the Third had received a disappointing public reaction, and the Fourth and Fifth symphonies still remained unheard. His indefatigable need to compose here results in a work of graceful unity; and one that contains some of the loveliest music he ever wrote.

This fine recording, under Christoph Eschenbach, is the fourth Bruckner Symphony disc to be released on the LPO Label: the Fourth, Seventh and Eighth, conducted by Tennstedt, were released in 2006, 2007 and 2008 respectively.

Eschenbach is one of the most interesting and inspiring conductors around. And this recording of Bruckner’s Sixth is testimony to this inspiring talent. Eschenbach draws the most amazingly rich sonority from the LPO. Eschenbach’s interpretation and intent is clear from the outset: the first movement opening with a beautifully articulated rhythmic motive in the strings, wisely with the first and second violins divided. The Adagio is not especially slow, yet never sounds hurried or pushed. As the Adagio progresses it seems to naturally slow, but not enough to ever feel as it drags. In the Finale Eschenbach is a master in conveying a sense of the mysterious or sacred emerging.

“This present performance...has a good many laudable virtues, lightness of texture being one of them...The noble - and potentially tricky - finale is very skilfully handled...But perhaps the most remarkable aspect of the performance is the Adagio, a very broad 20 minutes, beautifully sung by all the sections” Gramophone Magazine, February 2011

“this orchestra has long had an impressive way with Bruckner's music...this performance confirms the tradition, and more...[The LPO's] horn section, so important in Bruckner, is as impressive as you'll hear anywhere. And Christoph Eschenbach's conducting shapes the long musical paragraphs with a sure and purposeful touch.” Classic FM Magazine, April 2011 *****

GGramophone Magazine

Editor's Choice - February 2011

LPO - LPO0049

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$10.50

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Mozart: Piano Sonatas 1-18 (complete)

Mozart: Piano Sonatas 1-18 (complete)


South African-born, London resident Daniel-Ben Pienaar makes his Avie debut with an ambitious recording project: the complete Piano Sonatas by Mozart.

Pienaar is a completist. Recent surveys, both on the concert platform and in the recording studio, include Bach’s Well-Tempered Clavier, Chopin’s Complete Waltzes, Schubert’s Complete Sonatas, and the complete keyboard works by Orlando Gibbons. He arrives on Avie with another major project in tow: the complete Piano Sonatas by Mozart. An active recitalist and chamber musician, and professor at the Royal Academy of Music, Pienaar has a number of critically acclaimed independent releases under his belt, but this recording represents and uncommon synergy between artist, repertoire and production values. In Gramophone Award-winning producer Jonathan Freeman-Atwood, Pienaar found a special simpatico which he found “profoundly enabling”, resulting in a creative recording process specific in relation to the music in hand.

Pienaar presents the works chronologically over five CDs, illustrating Mozart’s compositional trajectory which represents all of the major stylistic and emotional shifts in his mature career, with the earliest dating from his twentieth year, through his Viennese period, and the final works which were written towards the end of his all too brief life.

Critical acclaim:

“Daniel-Ben Pienaar's performances are quite simply stunning. The instrument he plays matters much less than his musicianship, which is evident at every turn.” Gramophone

“A kaleidoscope of colours and textures in performances that combined the dramatic with the ethereal, the monumental with the intimate” International Piano

“One factor strikes immediately: there is not a whiff of bygone reverential, even obsequious attitudes to Mozart that still cast faint shadows among some pianists...But as his performance of the Alla turca Sonata, K331 shows, technique isn't allowed to edge ahead of emotional and intellectual depth.” Gramophone Magazine, February 2011

“This Mozart...strikes me as one of the most completely satisfying surveys of this still undervalued music ever committed to disc...This is Mozart on the threshold of his genius; Pienaar responds with an astonishing range of expression and colour. I can think of no recent set that takes the music so honestly at face value.” Sunday Times, 9th January 2011 *****

“His avowed aim in playing Mozart is to avoid the elegance and gracefulness of traditional performance-practice, and to bring out instead the music's nervous energy.” BBC Music Magazine, February 2011 ***

“Pienaar reveals Mozart's sonatas in aural technicolour...In the earlier sonatas Pienaar finds a raw emotional authenticity of response...He delivers dazzling fingerwork aplenty in playing that's fearsomely intelligent, articulate, insightful and, though very personal, so musically clued-in that it rings true to Mozart's spirit.” Classic FM Magazine, March 2011 *****

GGramophone Magazine

Editor's Choice - February 2011

Avie - AV2209

(CD - 5 discs)

$33.25

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JS Bach: Missae Breves BWV 233 & 236

JS Bach: Missae Breves BWV 233 & 236


Bach, J S:

Mass in F major, BWV233

Mass in G major, BWV236


After the success of the first volume of Missae Breves, released in 2008 and awarded a Diapason d’Or de l’Année, the release of this second volume is of significance, both for Alpha and for Pygmalion.

The Missae Breves from J.S. Bach have been considered as pastiches for a long time. Nevertheless, they are expressions of musical genius. Whatever the purpose they have been written for, these Lutheran Masses are a fascinating discovery.

“These beautifully sculpted performances present a perspective on Bach which is committed to beauty of sound...but allied to a structural coherence which combines elegance and grip...this outstandingly engaging, visceral and characterful disc keeps some of the best till last: a rich but deeply sorrowful reading of the funeral motet, 'O Jesu Christ, mein Leben's Licht'” Gramophone Magazine, February 2011

GGramophone Magazine

Editor's Choice - February 2011

A Musical Picture - up to 40% off

Alpha - ALPHA170

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Dinastia Borgia: The Borgia Dynasty

Dinastia Borgia: The Borgia Dynasty

Chiesa a potere nel Rinascimento


PART ONE [CD 1]

Paths to power: the origins and expansion of a dynasty ca. 1238 – 1492

I - The origins and rise of the Borgia family

1063 Muslim Valencia

1 Mowachah Billadi Askara Min adbi Llama (arab-andalus music) 3’40

1238 Conquest of Valencia by James I

2 Ductia (CSM 123) instr. 3’37

1378 Birth of Alfonso de Borja, the future Pope Callistus III

3 Saltarello - Guillaume Dufay / Jordi Savall 2’13

1417 End of theWestern Schism

4 Da Pacem - Gilles Binchois 2’02

1423 Alfonso the Magnanimous’s military expeditions to Naples

5 Deserts d’amichs, de béns e de senyor (rec.) 3’04

1431 Birth of Rodrigo de Borja

6 Rondeau (instrumental) “Ce jour” - Guillaume Dufay / Jordi Savall 2’26

1438/42 - King Alfonso V to Italy: To the conquest of Naples

7 Strambotto-caccia: Correno multi cani - Anonymous (Montecassino Songbook) 1’46

1442 Naples, capital of the Crown of Aragon

8 Zappay lo campo (instr.) - Anonymous (Montecassino Songbook) 2’26

1444 Alfonso de Borja is appointed cardinal

9 Ave Maris Stella - Guillaume Dufay 0’56

1453 Fall of Constantinople

10 Makam Muhayyer “Küme” uşūleş Düyek - Acemler (War turkish march) 3’27

II - The demise of the Three Cultures and the conquest of power: the Vatican

1455 Alfonso de Borja is Pope Callistus III. He proclaims the Crusade against the Turks

11 Exultet caelum cum laudibus - Anonymous (Montecassino Songbook) 4’48

1456 Callistus III revokes the sentence of the trial of 1431 condemning Joan of Arc

12 Adoramus te - Anonymous (Montecassino Songbook) 2’24

1455-58 Ferrante I, King of Naples

13 Viva, viva Rey Fernando - Anonymous (Montecassino Songbook) 3’35

1458 King Alfonso V dies on 27th June and Callistus III dies on 6th August

14 Miserere nostri / Vexilla regis - Anonymous (Montecassino Songbook) 1’58

1459 Death of Ausias March

15 La gran dolor (rec.) - Ausiàs March 3’42

1474 Birth of Cesare Borgia

16 El cervel mi fa (instr.) - Anonymous 1’39

1478 Sixtus VI excommunicates Lorenzo “the Magnificent”

17 Patres nostris peccaverunt - Johannes Cornago 2’17

1480 Birth of Lucrezia Borgia

18 De Tous biens plaine - Haine van Guizeghem / Josquin Des Prez 3’26

1489 Prince Djem, the brother and rival of Bayazid II, a hostage in the Vatican

19 Anonymous Ottoman - Taksim & Dance 4’40

January 1492 - The end of the Kingdom of Granada

20 Viva el Gran Rey Don Fernando - Carlo Verardi 5’08

April 1492 - Death of Lorenzo de’ Medici “the Magnificent”

21 Lamento per la morte di Lorenzo Il Magnifico - Heinrich Isaac 7’23

July 1492 - The Jews are expelled from Spain

22 Romance: La rosa enflorece - Anonymous Sefardí 5’19

PART TWO [CD 2]

Supremus est mortalibus: The culmination and end of a dream

1492 – 1509

III - The culmination and end of a dream

August 1492 - Rodrigo Borja is elected Pope, taking the name of Alexander VI

1 Salve regis Mater / Hic sacerdos - Marbriano de Orto 9’10

1493 Alexander VI gives refuge to the Jews of Sepharad

2 Hebrew song of peace Adonay - Anonymous (Sinagogal Song) 2’27

1493 Marriage of Lucrezia Borgia to Giovanni Sforza

3 Elogio de Lucrecia - B. Accolti (rec.) 0’34

1495 Deaths of Prince Djem & J. Ockeghem

4 Déploration pour la mort de J. Ockeghem - Josquin Des Prez 3’55

1496 Capitulation of the Viceroy of Naples

5 Fortuna desperata - Anonymous 1’49

1497 Murder of Giovanni Borgia, Duke of Gandia

6 Absalon fili mi - Josquin Des Prez 3’29

1498 Lucrezia marries Alfonso of Aragon

7 Un cavalier di Spagna - Anonymous 4’44

23 May 1498 - Torture and execution of Savonarola

8 Drums & bells 1’10

1498 Birth of Rodrigo, the son of Lucrezia and Alfonso

9 Une musique de Buscaye (instr.) - Josquin Des Prez 2’57

1499 Cesare Borgia marries Charlotte of Albret

10 Donna contro la mia voglia - Philippus de Lurano 3’29

31 .10.1501 - Eclogues to Rome. The black legend.

11 Villancico: Si abrá en estre baldrés - Juan del Enzina 1’3

July 1503- Lucrezia meets the poet and Humanist Pietro Bembo

12 Soneto: Amor la tua virtute - Arcadelt / Bembo 2’43

18.08.1503- Fatal illness and death of Alexander VI

13 Requiem - Josquin Des Prez 4’17

IV - The age of upheavals and Humanism: the Sibyl and the Prophecies of the Book of Revelation

1505 Lucrezia Duchess of Ferrara

14 Pavana alla Ferrarese - Joan Ambrosio Dalza 2’28

1506 Lucrezia at the court of Ferrara

15 Éloge de la duchesse de Ferrara (rec.) - Fondraglia 1’37

1507 Death of Duke Valentine (Cesare Borgia) during the siege of Viana

16 Epitafio: Aquí yaze en poca tierra - Fernández de Oviedo 3’33

Lament for the death of Cesare

17 Castalios latices ploranda (rec.) - Ercole Strozzi 2’47

1508 Murder of Ercole Strozzi, Lucrezia’s confidant

18 Agnus Dei (Missa Hercules Rex) - Josquin Des Prez 3’02

The trumpets of the Apocalypse

19 Fanfaria - Jordi Savall 1’46

20 The Song of the Valencian Sibyl - Anonymous / Gandia Songbook

Refrains: Alonso and Bartomeu Cárceres

Al jorn del judici 0’54

D’una Verge naixera 1’55

Mostrar-s’han quinze senyals 2’26

D’alt dels cels devallara 2’09

Portara cascu escrit 2’34

Als bons dara goig etern 2’36

Mare de Deu pregau per nos 3’08

Vosaltres tots que escoltau 2’53

PART THREE [CD 3]

From the turbulent “reign” of Alexander VI to the spiritual triumph of St Francis Borgia

1510 – 1572 (1671)

V - Battles and truces: military and political responsibilities

1510 Birth of Francisco de Borja

1 Fantasia I (harp) - Lluís del Milà 2’02

1515 Francis I is King of France. Victory of Marignan

2 La Batalla (instr.) - Janequin / Susato 2’08

1519 Death of Lucrezia. Death of Emperor Maximilian

3 Motet: Proch dolor - Josquin Des Prez 3’49

1520 War of the Guilds

4 La guerra: Todos los buenos soldados - Mateu Flecha 1’46

1526 Ferdinand of Aragon is installed at Valencia

5 Fantasia II (harp) - Lluís del Milà 5’39

The Court of the Duke of Calabria

6 Tau garçó la durundena - Bartomeu Cárceres 2’08

1529 Marriage of Francisco de Borja to Eleanor de Castro

7 Meis olhos van por lo mare - Anonymous Portuguese 2’25

1536 Garcilaso de la Vega dies in the arms of Francisco de Borja

8 Égloga III (1536) Aquella voluntad honesta y pura (rec.)

1538 Truce of Nice between Francis I and Charles V

9 Jubilate Deo omnis terra - Cristóbal de Morales 6’28

1539 Francisco de Borja is appointed Viceroy of Catalonia

10 Pavana “O voy” - Juan Román (C. M. Palacio) 2’22

VI - Renunciation and spiritual transformation

1549 Profession of faith

11 Credo in unum Deum - Francesc Borja (attributed) 5’41

1550 Departure from Gandia

12 Kyrie I (harp) - Venegas de Henestrosa 1’33

1555 Meeting with Teresa of Avila

13 Alma buscarte has en Mi - Teresa de Jesús 7’17

1555 Francisco de Borja is present at the death of Joanna the Mad (at Tordesillas)

14 Lachrimosa dies illa - Cristóbal de Morales 1’11

1556 Abdication of Charles V

15 Mille regrets - Josquin Des Prez / Luys Narváez 2’45

VII Final years, death and canonization of Francisco de Borja

1565 The Turks attack Malta

16 Improvisation & Dance – Traditional Turkish, anonymous. 3’30

1571 Victory of Lepanto

17 Fanfare - Anonymous 1’07

24.08.1572- Journey to Paris. St Bartholemew’s Day Massacre

18 Psalm 35: Deba contre mes debateurs - Claude Goudimel 3’46

30.09.1572 - Death of Francisco de Borja

19 Réquiem: Pie Jesu Domine - Cristóbal de Morales 1’41

22.09.1609 - Edict of expulsion of the Moriscos

20 El Rey y por S.M. Don Luis Carrillo (rec.) - Page 34 (Valencia 1611) 5’30

21 Improvisation - Moorish Lament 4’18

1671 Canonization of Francisco de Borja

22 Pange Lingua gloriosi (Gregorian) - Anonymous 5’22

Tiento XVII from “Pange Lingua” - Joan Cabanilles


Montserrat Figueras, Pascal Bertin, Lluis Vilamajó & Marc Mauillon

La Capella Reial de Catalunya & Hesperion XXI, Jordi Savall

3 hybrid SACD + 1 DVD documentary

PAL format - all zones

Deluxe book 244 pages Eng, Sp.

Total times : 70'58 + 75'54 + 75'35 (music)

Coinciding with the 500th anniversary of the birth of Saint Francis Borgia, Fourth Duke of Gandia, Jordi Savall and Alia Vox offer a visually lavish and artistically comprehensive new release entitled Dinastia Borgia.

Savall’s latest musicological/historical quest focuses on music from the time of the Borgia dynasty, including works by composers such as Isaac, Dufay and Morales, from Pope Alexander VI/6 and two of his children, Cesare and Lucrezia, through to Francis Borgia, Jesuit priest and, perhaps, composer. For five centuries, scholars have studied and debated the role of the Borgias in Renaissance history. Although their name is synonymous with Papal corruption and they were undoubtedly malevolent and immoral, as patrons of the arts, the Borgias were also instrumental in the period’s explosive growth of culture. The fascinating story of their life and legacy (both good and evil) still has the power to inspire the imagination. With this dramatic historical and artistic backdrop, Savall and his fellow musicians shed new light on this unique (and at times bloody) era in Western history, revealing first-rate musicians, the vital role of original instruments in performing this type of music and the importance of reconstructing original scores. Above all, it reflects the multi-faceted talents of Jordi Savall as director, researcher and performer.

The Borgia family originated from Valencia in Spain and became prominent during the Renaissance in Italy, especially when Rodrigo, a cunning intriguer, was elected Pope in 1492, taking the name Alexander VI. He had several acknowledged children, of which Lucrezia and Cesare were best known. The Borgias have been accused of many different crimes, generally on considerable evidence, including adultery, simony, theft, rape, bribery, incest, and murder (especially murder by arsenic poisoning. Cesare, with his father's backing, tried to become the ruler of Italy. But in 1503, Pope Alexander died suddenly. Cesare's intrigues collapsed, and he went off to Spain. Lucrezia was also rumoured to be a notorious poisoner. She married three times, and after the fall of her father and brother, remained the respected consort of the Duke of Ferrara.

Saint Francis Borgia was a grandson of Rodrigo through another son, Giovanni. After a career in the service of the kings of Spain, he entered the priesthood and became a Jesuit. He eventually rose to be the third Father General of the order.

Thanks to the elite ensembles Hespèrion XXI and La Capella Reial de Catalunya, Jordi Savall delivers the soundtrack of a time during which cruelty and beauty were mixed as never before. A bonus DVD (details the creative process which enables Jordi Savall to bring this era back to life.

“The musical legacy of the Borgia dynasty? Some mistake, surely — aren’t this family of kings and popes renowned for their poisonings and unfettered sex? ...In another of his history spectaculars, Savall and his devoted musicians go beneath the headlines...This collection is a treasure chest and the performances are blissfully vivid.” The Times, 11th December 2010 ****

“The start, in Muslim Valencia in the 13th century, is illustrated by a piece for voice and oud; later, the Borja pope Alexander VI's offer of refuge to Sephardic Jews is accompanied by a Hebrew song of peace, and instrumental and choral pieces by western composers such as Dufay, Isaac, Josquin and Ockeghem serve similar functions elsewhere in the historical narrative.” The Guardian, 16th December 2010 **

“One might expect that, with the Borgias, all roads would lead to Rome, but in this case most lead back to Catalonia...Savall's own presence, as both leader and principal viol player, can always be felt. His string, wind, brass and percussion players are superb...His wife, the soprano Montserrat Figueras, makes beautifully positioned cameo appearances on each disc. Hats off!” Gramophone Magazine, February 2011

“The spicy family saga allows Jordi Savall the freedom to evoke a vibrant and eclectic soundscape...Savall animates the whole to fine effect, drawing performances which range from the poetic to the bellicose...an impressive musical journey which enhances our understanding of a powerful clan and its enduring cultural impact.” BBC Music Magazine, February 2011 ****

GGramophone Magazine

Editor's Choice - February 2011

Super Audio CD

Format:

Hybrid Multi-channel

Alia Vox - up to 25% off

Alia Vox - AVSA9875

(SACD - 3 discs)

Normally: $40.50

Special: $30.37

Usually despatched in 2 - 3 working days.

Brahms: Ein Deutsches Requiem, Op. 45

Brahms: Ein Deutsches Requiem, Op. 45


Something new is always to be expected whenever Nikolaus Harnoncourt turns his attention to an important piece of music. In recent years he has been giving audiences a fresh view on some of the masterpieces of Romantic and late-Romantic music. His account of Brahms’ German Requiem is based on a thorough study of the composer’s ideas on how it should be performed. His is a sensitive interpretation that takes a completely new approach to the work. Technically and artistically, the new disc is a perfect record of the concert given in Vienna in December 2007, which was greeted enthusiastically by music press and audiences alike.

A high-profile line-up comprises the Arnold Schoenberg Choir, whose connection with Harnoncourt goes back more than thirty years, and the Vienna Philharmonic, one of the world’s greatest orchestras. The two solo vocal parts are ideally cast with soprano Genia Kühmeier and internationally-renowned baritone Thomas Hampson.

In 2009 Harnoncourt was honoured with the much-deserved Gramophone Lifetime Achievement Award.

“…Nikolaus Harnoncourt shows no sign of reining in his insatiable musical curiosity” The Guardian

“a tireless pioneer” The Observer

“Tempos are slow, sometimes even stolid, yet Harnoncourt achieves effects of extraordinary intensity...the superb Arnold Schoenberg Choir respond willingly to his every demand...Genia Kühmeier achieves an exceptionally beautiful interpretation, both consolatory and finely-nuanced, of 'Ihr habt nun Traurigkeit'” BBC Music Magazine, January 2011 ****

“it’s a generally slow-paced account (72 minutes), and the Vienna Philharmonic sound is unashamedly plush...The formidable Arnold Schoenberg Choir is a major asset, more than capable of sustaining drawn-out phrases with unflagging energy, its tone rich and radiant but also superbly clear.” Graham Rogers, bbc.co.uk, 2nd November 2010

“The veteran Austrian's often irritating brand of fussiness works to revelatory advantage here, illuminating countless details while underpinning the overarching symmetry of the score...The Vienna Philharmonic's strings treat vibrato as their forebears would have done, as an ornament, not a permanent condition...it's deeply considered, exquisitely realised and genuinely consoling.” Classic FM Magazine, February 2011 ****

“the performance is both beautifully shaped (especially from the woodwinds) and devotional in spirit. The closing "Selig sind die Toten" presents a warming richness of texture, the underlying rhythmic pulse admirably clear, while the sombre processional of "Denn alles Fleisch" builds well” Gramophone Magazine, February 2011

“Harnoncourt has it purring along from the start, plumping up a generous cushion of sound on which to float the equally impressive Arnold Schoenberg Choir, who luxuriate in Brahms's glorious vocal lines. Thomas Hampson and Genia Kuhmeier are in terrific form” The Observer, 7th November 2010

GGramophone Magazine

Editor's Choice - February 2011

RCA - 88697720662

(CD)

$14.00

(also available to download from $10.00)

Usually despatched in 3 - 4 working days. (Available now to download.)

Khachaturian: Spartacus & Gayaneh Ballets (excerpts)

Khachaturian: Spartacus & Gayaneh Ballets (excerpts)


Khachaturian:

Spartacus (excerpts)

Gayane (ballet highlights)


‘Not a hair of a note was out of place; this was a performance by a world-class orchestra’ The Times

Kirill Karabits is without doubt one of the most exciting conductors of the younger generation.

Now principal conductor of the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra, his reputation over two seasons has continued to spread around the world, and the steady stream of great artists working with him and the BSO is testament to his artistry and huge talent.

This CD is the first release in the new partnership between the BSO and ONYX.

Khachaturian’s vividly colourful and deliciously tuneful ballet scores have been popular as orchestral showpieces ever since the ballets had their premieres.

Kirill has made his own selection from the score, and those who want the famous Adagio from Spartacus and the Sabre Dance from Gayaneh will not be disappointed!

The second BSO release from ONYX will appear in 2011, and the programme will be Tchaikovsky’s Second Symphony and Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition.

“Karabits is notably good on the contrast between Roman decadence and revolutionary nobility...though Karabits is more interested in love than armies, the one fight scene he includes is electrifying...But it's the hair-raising Lezginka, placed earlier, that leaves you open-mouthed.” The Guardian, 11th November 2010 ****

“the consistently rewarding feature is the way that Karabits so astutely guides the BSO in terms of colour, rhythm and shapely phrasing, bringing admirable delicacy to these scores as well as the ripeness for which they are renowned.” The Telegraph, 12th November 2010 ****

“Karabits downplays the bodice-ripping elements, seamlessly blending perfumed woodwind and strings. An intelligent reading of music that nevertheless smacks of figure-skating.” The Independent on Sunday, 5th December 2010

“[Karabits] is totally sympathetic to Khachaturian's music and includes most of the best numbers from both ballets...This is now easily the best disc of Khachaturian's music in the catalogue, full of vibrant life and seductive lyricism, and the recording (made this year in the Lighthouse, Poole) is first class in every respect. Not to be missed.” Gramophone Magazine, February 2011

“Karabits elicits thrillingly bright tone from the Bournemouth players who take naturally to the off-beat rhythms and joyful, holiday atmosphere of both ballets. The strings are rich-toned in the Dance of the Girls and Aysha Monologue and the wind calls on fine soloists.” Classic FM Magazine, February 2011 ***

“The performances of these flamboyantly colourful scores are very fresh indeed, and the coupling of The Seasons, with Ansermet conducting, is very good too...The Bournemouth orchestra plays splendidly and the recording (apparently made in the Poole Lighthouse!) is expansive and wide-ranging.” Penguin Guide, 2011 edition

GGramophone Magazine

Editor's Choice - February 2011

Onyx - ONYX4063

(CD)

$15.25

(also available to download from $10.00)

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

James Ehnes plays Mendelssohn

James Ehnes plays Mendelssohn


Mendelssohn:

Violin Concerto in E minor, Op. 64

Philharmonia Orchestra, Vladimir Ashkenazy

Octet in E flat major, Op. 20

Seattle Chamber Music Octet


James Ehnes (violin)

Mendelssohn’s E minor violin concerto is one of the composer’s greatest works, and one of the most popular violin concertos in the repertoire.

Making his first recording of the work, James Ehnes is partnered by Vladimir Ashkenazy and the Philharmonia, recorded live.

The astonishingly precocious Octet, written when Mendelssohn was just 16, is given a sparking and vivacious performance by James and his friends from the Seattle Chamber Music Society.

His previous ONYX release of the Paganini 24 Caprices was universally praised by reviewers worldwide.

“The Octet has rarely sounded more symphonic as Ehnes and his Seattle friends demonstrate all the energy and wit of chamber playing at its most dazzling. Ehnes gives an elegant, refined account of the Violin Concerto that highlights its unconventional structure, but it's not without emotion. Including the exhilarating Octet makes it unmissable.” Classic FM Magazine, March 2011 *****

“The first thing that hits you about Ehnes's reading is the rhythmic propulsion of the concerto's outer movements, which lifts the music, revealing its glorious bone-structure...the sense is of a joyous, exhilarating ride rather than anything overly driven...Another aspect which is particularly winning is the creaminess of Ehnes's lower register...this is absolutely up there with the best of them.” Gramophone Magazine, February 2011

“His tone...is sweet in all registers and the intonation true” International Record Review, January 2011

“Ehnes nevertheless manages to rejuvenate the work and illuminate it in new ways; but to be honest, I've chosen this disc at least as much for the Octet as for the Concerto. The Seattle Chamber Music Octet produce a gloriously rich sound that gripped me from the opening bars!” David Smith, Presto Classical, December 2014

“Brisk tempi mark out James Ehnes's reading of Mendelssohn's perennial concerto; there is nothing cloying or sentimental, even in the luscious slow movement where lesser violinists are tempted to wallow. Instead, he gives a beautifully sincere, unaffected performance” The Observer, 21st November 2010

“Ehnes’s gorgeous, supple tone is combined with that instinct for a composer’s distinctive character that makes his interpretations so compelling. Ashkenazy conducts with delicacy and strength...Ehnes’s innate sensibility draws him into the music’s milieu for a performance that is outstanding and unreservedly recommended.” The Telegraph, 19th November 2010 *****

GGramophone Magazine

Editor's Choice - February 2011

Onyx - ONYX4060

(CD)

$15.25

(also available to download from $10.00)

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

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