Gramophone Magazine Editor's Choice

December 2011

Disc of the Month

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Schumann: String Quartets, Op. 41 Nos. 1-3

Awards:

Gramophone Awards 2012

Finalist - Chamber

Gramophone Magazine

Disc of the Month - December 2011

BBC Music Magazine

Disc of the month - December 2011

Label:

Chandos

Catalogue No:

CHAN10692

Discs:

1

Release date:

26th Sept 2011

Barcode:

0095115169223

Length:

74 minutes

Medium:

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Schumann: String Quartets, Op. 41 Nos. 1-3


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On this disc we present three masterpieces of the nineteenth-century chamber music repertoire: Schumann’s set of string quartets, Op. 41. The works are performed by the Doric String Quartet, exclusive Chandos artists and among the most impressive young quartets on the classical music scene today. They regularly perform at major festivals and venues throughout the UK as well as across continental Europe, Asia, and the US.

The three string quartets, Op. 41 make up Schumann’s only published contribution to the genre. They were completed during a period of intense creative activity in 1842. In February, Schumann noted in his diary that he was having ‘continual quartet thoughts’. In April and May, he devoted himself to studying the quartets by Beethoven, Haydn, and Mozart; in early June, the first two quartets were completed, and the third followed soon after in July that same year.

Brimming with the canons with which Schumann was so taken, as well as his characteristic turn of melody, these works all display in full the spirit that one would expect from this most romantic of romantic composers.

Schumann arranged for the first, private, performance of the quartets to take place on 13 September 1842, as a present for his wife, Clara, on her twenty-third birthday. Clara, always supportive of her husband’s efforts, praised them as ‘lucid, finely worked, and always in quartet idiom’. The esteemed theorist and composer Moritz Hauptmann said: ‘His [Schumann’s] first, which delighted me immensely, made me marvel at his talent… it is cleverly conceived and held together, and a great deal of it is very beautiful.’

Robert Schumann: String Quartet No. 1 in A minor, Op. 41, No. 1

I. Introduction: Andante espressivo - Allegro

II. Scherzo: Presto - Intermezzo

III. Adagio

IV. Presto

Robert Schumann: String Quartet No. 2 in F major, Op. 41, No. 2

I. Allegro vivace

II. Andante, quasi variazioni

III. Scherzo: Presto

IV. Allegro molto vivace

Robert Schumann: String Quartet No. 3 in A major, Op. 41, No. 3

I. Andante espressivo - Allegro molto moderato

II. Assai agitato - Un poco adagio - Tempo risoluto

III. Adagio molto

IV. Finale: Allegro molto vivace

The Observer

2nd October 2011

“The Dorics play with warmth, finesse and exciting attack.”

Sunday Times

9th October 2011

“Among numerous affecting details: the sinuous allegro opening of No 2; the driven upsurge of its scherzo; and the plangent sigh that is No 3’s andante espressivo introduction, rarely more espressivo than here.”

BBC Music Magazine

December 2011

*****

“Here's a disc that merits an especially big welcome...At last comes a strong challenger which brings together all three of these wonderful but so often misunderstood quartets. The play has all the fragile pathos, volatility, exuberance, and quirky humour one hopes to find in this music...The Doric Quartet also have a compelling sense of how Schumann's moods can turn on a musical sixpence...What more can one say?”

Classic FM Magazine

December 2011

****

“The starry young Doric Quartet delves into Schumann's fantastical worlds in a performance rich in both imagination and care. Applying a generally delicate approach, with thin vibrato expressively aided by the use of well-judged portamentaos, they draw out a wealth of nuances. The mood of intimacy, half-lights and many-shaded moods is enhanced by their efforts to find a 'period' style appropriate to Schumann and his whirlwind imagination.”

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Vaughan Williams/McEwen: Flos Campi & Viola Concerto

Vaughan Williams/McEwen: Flos Campi & Viola Concerto


McEwen:

Viola Concerto

Vaughan Williams:

Suite For Viola And Orchestra

Flos Campi


Lawrence Power has established himself as the most sought-after violist of his generation and his sumptuous tone and persuasive interpretations have lead to many comparisons with the pioneering British violist Lionel Tertis. Indeed, the three works on this disc were written for Tertis, who did so much to broaden the instrument’s musical repertoire and raise its status to an accepted solo instrument.

The two Vaughan Williams works display an unabashed romanticism and pastoral elegance. Flos Campi, meaning ‘Flower of the field’, was completed in 1925 and puzzled audiences with its ambiguous form and unusual orchestration.

Despite the prominent solo viola and wordless chorus, it is neither a concerto nor a choral work. The seamless viola line moves in unity with the orchestra and the chorus appears as a body of instruments, creating an effect of mesmerizing beauty and calm. The little-performed Suite for viola and small orchestra was written ten years later and contains some of the composer’s most lyrical inventions.

The lush orchestration and memorable themes in Sir John McEwen’s 1901 concerto expose this large-scale work as a neglected gem of the viola repertoire and Power’s performance is sure to set a new benchmark. The BBC National Orchestra of Wales, under the expert and unfailingly sensitive guidance of Martyn Brabbins, provides expert backing throughout.

“Lawrence is the perfect advocate for both [Vaughan Williams] works, with his rich, warm, sensuous tone and flamboyant virtuosity. His playing is just as persuasive in the Viola Concerto of the Scot John McEwan...This is easy-going late-Romantic music, with several nods to Brahms..the disc is unmissable for [Power's] immaculate VW” Sunday Times, 6th November 2011

“Lawrence Power, using an Italian viola made in 1610, plays with a tone as dark as a cello, and a technique as agile as a violinist's: the ideal combination. The largely neglected Scottish composer John Blackwood McEwen wrote his ambitious viola concerto in 1901 – a lyrical, almost Brahmsian work worth discovering...decidedly a favourite of 2011.” The Observer, 13th November 2011

“John McEwen’s Viola Concerto is a warm-hearted piece played with commitment by Power, while the two works by Vaughan Williams bring out the viola’s tender melancholy.” The Telegraph, 11th November 2011 ***

“[Power's] every phrase pulsates with an inner glow. He also captures unerringly the sense of mystery and veiled threat that haunts the unforgettable Flos Campi...The McEwen Concerto is a three-movement barnstormer in the Bruch tradition, which Power plays with a majestic virtuosity that fires on all cylinders.” Classic FM Magazine, February 2012 *****

“Power makes a strong case for [the Suite], investing in it playing of great power, focus and warmth...[Flos Campi] has not been better recorded than here.” Classical Music, 19th November 2011 ****

“Power's playing is wonderfully varied, at times delicate and poetical, at others broad, passionate and generous. This is especially so in the case of the two works by Vaughan Williams...This is a must-have for all lovers of Vaughan Williams and British music in general!” Gramophone Magazine, December 2011

GGramophone Magazine

Editor's Choice - December 2011

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Purcell: Twelve Sonatas of three parts (1683)

Purcell: Twelve Sonatas of three parts (1683)


This second Purcell release by Retrospect Trio has been hotly anticipated since its debut recording, a Finalist at the 2009 Gramophone Awards, was released; BBC Music Magazine described the follow up as “a mouthwatering matter of urgency."

The four Baroque instrumentalist super stars - Sophie Gent (violin), Matthew Truscott (violin), Jonathan Manson (cello and viola da gamba) and Matthew Halls (director, keyboards) - are reunited in ‘Henry Purcell: Twelve Sonatas in Three Parts’.

Recorded at St George’s, Chesterton, the recording beautifully captures the timeless beauty of Purcell’s most highly regarded instrumental works.

Founded by Matthew Halls, Retrospect Ensemble takes its musicians and audiences on an exciting journey, exploring the repertoire of four centuries and embracing the practices, styles and aesthetics of former ages with renewed vigour and a fresh approach.

Retrospect performs regularly at Wigmore Hall and Cadogan Hall, London, and has appeared at major UK festivals including the Edinburgh International Festival and Norfolk and Norwich Festival.

Matthew Halls has established himself as one of today’s leading young conductors. A former Artistic Director of The King’s Consort, he has conducted in prominent venues throughout the UK and Europe.

“The crushing dissonances produced by Sophie Gent and Matthew Truscott (alternating as first and second violinists) give the adagio and grave movements a sensuous piquancy, while the spirit of the dance sparkles irresistibly in the allegros and canzonas. Matthew Halls, on organ and harpsichord, and Jonathan Manson, on bass viol, supply gravitas and tonal variety. Entrancing.” Sunday Times, 2nd October 2011

“[the Retrospect Trio] speak the language of Purcell as naturally as if it was their mother tongue. There isn't a nuance that escapes them...The conversational cut and thrust is always dapper and supremely cogent, the textures elucidated with a springy clarity, and the transitions from section to section are dispatched with instinctive fluency and decisiveness. It's superbly recorded as well.” BBC Music Magazine, December 2011 *****

“They engage with these youthful masterpieces with exuberance, lightness and respect for their dazzling genius. They thrill in the fugal Canzonas and move us in the profound Adagios.....Matthew Halls alternates between breathy organ and sparkling harpsichord, improvising freely and binding a beautifully balanced ensemble. The Retrospect Trio trample on previous views that these works are sub-standard Purcell.” Classic FM Magazine, December 2011 *****

“Sophie Gent and Matthew Truscott are so well matched as violin soloists, supported by Jonathan Manson’s gorgeous bass viol. Time stands still in several of Purcell’s incredibly concentrated slow movements – it’s with disbelief that you read the track listing and note that some last barely a minute. Which is not to say that this is a disc of gloomy Baroque navel-gazing - the faster movements really dance in these players’ hands.” The Arts Desk, 12th November 2011

“these performances convey rhetorical suggestions of speaking intimately, unforced breathing, and listening attentively. The Retrospect Trio achieves rich sonorities when Purcell springs extraordinary harmonic surprises, such as the dizzying chromatic sequence in the Adagio of No. 3 and melancholic C minor passages throughout No. 9. These delightful endeavours should win plenty of friends.” Gramophone Magazine, December 2011

GGramophone Magazine

Editor's Choice - December 2011

BBC Music Magazine

Chamber Choice - December 2011

BBC Music Magazine Awards 2012

Chamber Finalist

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Lamentazione

Lamentazione


Caldara:

Crucifixus a 16 voci

Legrenzi:

Quam amarum est Maria

Leo:

Miserere mei, Deus

Lotti:

Crucifixus a 10

Crucifixus in 8 parts

Scarlatti, D:

Stabat Mater a 10 voci


Choir of Les Arts Florissants & Les Arts Florissants, Paul Agnew

The singers of Les Arts Florissants, “a golden choir” under the direction of tenor Paul Agnew, perform elaborate unaccompanied sacred works by Alessandro and Domenico Scarlatti, Leonardo Leo and Antonio Caldara, recorded in the Benedictine abbey at Ambronay in eastern France.

Les Arts Florissants, one of the most influential and prolific ensembles in the world of historically informed performance, was founded in 1979 by William Christie, who now regularly shares conducting duties with Paul Agnew, best known for his achievements as a tenor – not least with Les Arts Florissants.

In September 2010, as part of the annual festival at Ambronay in eastern France, not far from the Swiss border, Agnew directed the singers of Les Arts Florissants in a concert at the village’s 9th-century Benedictine Abbey. It presented a number of masterpieces of church music by Italian baroque composers: the Neapolitans Alessandro Scarlatti (1660-1725), Domenico Scarlatti (1685-1757) and Leonardo Leo (1694-1744), and the Venetian Antonio Caldara (1670-1736), who took charge of music at the imperial chapel in Vienna.

The younger Scarlatti’s Stabat Mater forms the lynchpin of this programme of sorrowful, a cappella pieces, which was recorded at Ambronay prior to the concert. It evokes the rigorous period of Lent, when, with the theatres shut, the public was deprived of operatic pleasures. Music-lovers could find compensation in this religious music since, as the regional newspaper Le Progrès reported in its review of the Ambronay concert, the composers produced: “sensual, richly ornamented music which places considerable demands on the singers and, above all, on the conductor, who must ensure its polyphonic contours and the transparency of the vocal lines.”

Under the headline “A golden choir”, the review went on to say that: “The choir fulfilled its role perfectly. Beyond the quality of the voices, often in the soloist class, and the supple and appealing tonal blend, the fluidity of the transitions and the precision of articulation proved that the ensemble … has few (if any) rivals in this repertoire.”

“Paul Agnew's direction throughout is exemplary, rendering Domenico Scarlatti's "Stabat Mater" with poise and piety, and expertly navigating Leonardo Leo's ingenious interplay of choirs and plainsong in his "Miserere a due cori".” The Independent, 16th September 2011 ****

“Paul Agnew here makes a stunningly successful recording debut as conductor...this disc's unusual blend of authority and intimacy sets Agnew apart from Christie...this performance's bravura makes it a benchmark, and flags the advent of an exciting new recording career.” BBC Music Magazine, November 2011

“Fabulous pile-ups of dissonances and a polychoral lushness characterise most of the music, sung with exemplary clarity and expression by Les Arts Florissants under the British tenor, Paul Agnew. The astringency of the upper voices gives more bite to those spine-shivering discords.” The Times, 8th October 2011 ****

“Regardless of occasional flaws inevitable from a live recording, textural transparencies resonate around the lovely Ambronay acoustic. The Choir of Les Arts Florissants is on exceptionally good form...Leo's Miserere (1739) is sung with the boldness, authority, lamentation and soft compassion that the composer variously demands...Agnew and his choir deserve plaudits for a masterly and valuable recording.” Gramophone Magazine, December 2011

GGramophone Magazine

Editor's Choice - December 2011

Erato - 0709072

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In the Beginning

In the Beginning


Copland:

In the Beginning

Gombert:

Lugebat David Absalon 8vv

Holst:

Nunc dimittis, H127

Jackson, Gabriel:

In the Beginning was the Word

Lukaszewski:

Nunc dimittis

Palestrina:

Nunc dimittis

Weelkes:

When David Heard

Whitacre:

When David Heard


Beth Mackay (mezzo-soprano) & Natasha Tyrwhitt-Drake (organ scholar)

Choir of Merton College, Oxford, Benjamin Nicholas & Peter Phillips (directors)

Founded as recently as 2008, the new Choir of Merton College, Oxford is rapidly emerging as a major force in collegiate choral music. On this, their debut recording, the choir’s two directors helm a diverse programme that reflects the range and reach of the choir’s daily repertoire. Bookended by two pieces titled In the Beginning Gabriel Jackson’s ravishing version of the rarely-set Johannine Prologue, Copland’s glowing account of the first seven days of creation – this disc offers a themed sequence of Renaissance and modern classics, all captured in sumptuous sound in the radiant acoustics of Merton’s famous chapel.

“Plainly, this is a fine choir, and a worthy rival to the other mixed-voice Oxbridge ensembles that have flourished in recent times.” Sunday Times, 18th September 2011

“if a handbook were to be written on How to Instantly Form a Crack Professional Choir, then they should be asked to write it...the new Merton College Choir has leap-frogged its way almost to the top of the collegiate choral pile...their mellow timbre is beautifully flecked with upper-register light. Highly versatile, they're well capable of taking on a silvery-sharp edge when called for by the music...A stunning recording debut” Charlotte Gardner, bbc.co.uk, 23rd September 2011

“This fine disc showcases the standards already achieved across a wide repertoire...The choir sounds secure; just a little stridency from the sopranos needs attention. And the young singers revel in the luscious clusters of Whitacre and Jackson.” The Times, 8th October 2011 ***

“In a generously imaginative gesture that can only benefit the future of British choral music, the college recently set up a new foundation, training 18 scholars. The results are already outstanding; Nicholas and Phillips draw a wonderfully fresh, vibrato-free sound from their young singers, who seem particularly at home in new repertoire” The Observer, 23rd October 2011

“The Choir of Merton College was formed in 2008. It makes a typically English sound – it’s all to do with the clarity of diction and the flawless intonation. The basses are nicely present but never overwhelm what’s above them, and the Merton College Chapel acoustic gives the choral sound a glow which is never too resonant...It’s hard not to love this disc for its sheer chutzpah – tackling music from five centuries and never putting a foot wrong.” The Arts Desk, 5th November 2011

“The 18 uninterrupted minutes of Copland's a cappella In the Beginning are a major test of any choir's stamina and concentration, and it's one the Mertonians pass with confidence...[Beth Mackay] presents the creation narrative with vivid buoyancy, and she is responded to keenly by the body choral, whose brightness of tone and attack enliven what can easily become a dry and turgid piece of storytelling.” BBC Music Magazine, December 2011 ****

“Listening to their superb performances and seamless blending of voices, it's hard to believe that the choir is only four years old.They have a vast range of dynamics and vocal colouring, and they're fully responsive to the different styles...An intensely moving recording, strongly recommended.” Gramophone Magazine, December 2011

“The choir is astonishingly accomplished for such a new starter and the standard has been set high, not that there is any surprise in that...[the Copland is] a superlative summation of the new Merton College Choir's achievement that in its own right is sufficient to recommend the entire disc.” International Record Review, January 2012

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Bernard Herrmann: Moby Dick & Sinfonietta for Strings

Bernard Herrmann: Moby Dick & Sinfonietta for Strings


Herrmann, B:

Moby Dick – A Cantata

Richard Edgar-Wilson (tenor) & David Wilson-Johnson (baritone)

Sinfonietta for Strings


Bernard Herrmann, born in New York in 1911 to Russian immigrants, is best known today as a composer of film music. Most notably he worked with Alfred Hitchcock on classic productions such as North by Northwest, Vertigo, and Psycho, as well as on Orson Welles’s Citizen Kane and Martin Scorsese’s Taxi Driver. But despite his strong ties to Hollywood, Herrmann always thought of himself as a composer who worked in film, and never as a ‘mere’ film composer.

It was during his years as conductor and composer with the CBS Symphony Orchestra that Herrmann got the inspiration for Moby Dick – A Cantata. Initially, Herrmann intended the work as an opera, but he soon concluded that the stage was not an ideal medium for a musical version of Moby Dick – and a purely orchestral work could not make use of Herman Melville’s prose. A successful compromise was the cantata form, and Herrmann completed the work in 1938. It was premiered by John Barbirolli and the New York Philharmonic on 11 April 1940, the conductor describing the work as the most important work that he had heard from a young American composer.

For a short period in the early 1930s, Herrmann was inspired by the works of Arnold Schoenberg and his followers. The infatuation did not last long. It culminated – and ended – with the Sinfonietta for Strings of 1935 – 36, a work which never received a public performance. The Sinfonietta remained forgotten until the early 1960s when Herrmann adopted it as a model for the latter half of his famous film score to Hitchcock’s Psycho, which illustrates Norman Bates’s disturbed state of mind. This disc presents the premiere recording of the Sinfonietta in its original version.

The works are performed by the Danish National Symphony Orchestra, joined by the Danish National Choir in Moby Dick, under the direction of Michael Schønwandt, Music Director of the Royal Danish Orchestra and the Royal Opera in Copenhagen, and Principal Conductor of the Netherlands Radio Chamber Philharmonic.

GGramophone Magazine

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Ireland: Piano Concerto in E Flat

Ireland: Piano Concerto in E Flat


Ireland:

Piano Concerto in E flat major

Legend

First Rhapsody

Pastoral

World Première Recording

Indian Summer

World Première Recording

A Sea Idyll

Three Dances


John Ireland’s radiant Piano Concerto was written for his protégée Helen Perkin, and is infused with her sense of vitality. The result is a brilliant work of high spirits and expressive longing. Perkin also premièred Legend, a dark, brooding evocation of the ancient landscape of Harrow Hill on the Sussex Downs. Of the solo piano works, the First Rhapsody is earlier, virtuosic, and in the Lisztian tradition, whereas Indian Summer is a rural postcard of beguiling simplicity. John Lenehan has recorded three volumes of Ireland’s solo piano music (8553700, 8553889 and 8570461) to universal admiration: ‘Lenehan offers a uniquely vital and dramatic reading of the sonata.’ (MusicWeb International on Vol. 3)

“John Ireland’s Piano Concerto of 1930 receives a thoroughly sympathetic, lucid performance, as does the ominously darker Legend of three years later...A delightful disc.” The Telegraph, 29th September 2011 *****

“alert to the work's many changes of mood and wide range of pianistic demand. I particularly like [Lenehan's] musing, elegiac take on the haunting slow movement, and the orchestral playing is impressively responsive throughout...It's good to have new recordings of the Sea Idyll and the cheerful Three Dances, too.” BBC Music Magazine, December 2011 ****

“as John Lenehan's finely nuanced performance with John Wilson and the Liverpool orchestra shows, it's a pleasant enough work, predominantly introspective without extravagant displays of virtuosity, and which in its finale unexpectedly flirts with neoclassicism.” The Guardian, 22nd December 2011 ***

“a splendid new recording of what is undoubtedly the finest of all British piano concertos...Lenehan has already recorded a great deal of Ireland's piano music for Naxos with distinction and he is again at his finest here...the RLPO is on first-class form under the understanding direction of John Wilson, who is renowned as a passionate advocate of English music...A CD not to be missed by all lovers of English music.” Gramophone Magazine, December 2011

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Saariaho: D’OM LE VRAI SENS

Saariaho: D’OM LE VRAI SENS


Saariaho:

D’OM LE VRAI SENS for solo clarinet and orchestra

Kari Kriikku (clarinet)

Laterna Magica for large orchestra

Leino Songs for soprano and orchestra

Anu Komsi (soprano)


This new release features the much-awaited première recording of Finnish composer Kaija Saariaho’s first clarinet concerto D’OM LE VRAI SENS.

Kaija Saariaho (b. 1952) is one of the internationally leading composers of today, and the 2011–12 Composer-in-Residence at New York’s Carnegie Hall.

In the composer’s words, “the general idea of this piece is based on the famous medieval tapestries called La Dame à la Licorne [displayed at the Musée de Cluny in Paris]. The subject matter is the five senses and the ‘sixth sense.’”

Featuring star clarinetist Kari Kriikku, this recording brings together several of Finland’s finest ambassadors of music. Kriikku has inspired many other native composers to write concertos for him, subsequently recorded for Ondine: Magnus Lindberg (ODE 1038-2: 2006 BBC Music Magazine Award & Classic FM Gramophone Award), Uljas Pulkkis, Jukka Tiensuu, Kimmo Hakola, and Jouni Kaipainen.

The Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra, here led by its chief conductor Sakari Oramo, performed the acclaimed world première performance in September 2010.

Also included are the 20-minute orchestral piece Laterna Magica co-commissioned by Stiftung Berliner Philharmoniker and Lucerne Festival, and a cycle of four Leino Songs, written for the acclaimed soprano Anu Komsi.

“The Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra partner Kriikku admirably in this enchanting concerto and under Oramo's sensitive direction provide beguiling accompaniments for Anu Komsi in the four Leino Songs...[Laterna magica] is a filigree tone-poem with a soul of steel that showcases the Finnish orchestra splendidly. Ondine's demonstration sound caps a marvellous issue.” Gramophone Magazine, December 2011

GGramophone Awards 2012

Finalist - Contemporary

GGramophone Magazine

Editor's Choice - December 2011

BBC Music Magazine Awards 2013

Premiere Award

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Stravinsky: L’Oiseau de feu

Stravinsky: L’Oiseau de feu


 

Les Orientales

ballet by Arensky, Glazunov, Grieg & Sinding

Stravinsky:

The Firebird


After the success of the Paris season of the Ballets Russes in 1909, Serge Diaghilev commissioned Stravinsky for a ballet inspired by the traditional Russian tale, 'The Firebird'. On 18 May 1910, the score was completed and on 25 June of the same year, the ballet was performed to great acclaim at the Opéra de Paris.

Thanks to his bewitching composition, Rimsky-Korsakov’s young pupil, then aged 27, was cast into the spotlight of the international music scene. In 19 scenes, the ballet tells the story of Ivan Tsarevich, the young prince who sets out in search of the firebird and ends up captive in the enchanted garden of Kashchei the Immortal… Deploying string and wind instruments crafted in French workshops, gut strings, and a playing style straight out of Conservatoire de Paris master classes, the Ballets Russes orchestra was, above all, a French affair.

A century later, Les Siècles and François-Xavier Roth have reconstituted the orchestra which accompanied the Ballets Russes in 1910, and, assisted by the musicologist François Dru, they have also reconstructed 'Les Orientales', which was first performed 25 June 1910 as a prelude to 'The Firebird'.

This composite ballet combines various different works from the 19th century, with in particular, compositions by Glazunov, Sinding, Arensky and Grieg. The orchestrations of 'Djinn' by Grieg and 'Danse Orientale' by Sinding have been created, respectively by Bruno Mantovani and Charlie Piper.

“This is fabulous: young French musicians performing Stravinsky’s ballet on period instruments similar to those used by the Ballets Russes orchestra at the 1910 premiere in Paris. But it’s no dusty academic exercise. Under François-Xavier, Roth’s scintillating direction the playing is breathtakingly virtuosic and the timbres produced by the narrow-bore brass and antique woodwinds is entrancing.” The Times, 15th October 2011 *****

“An intriguing concept recreates the 1910 premiere concert of arguably Stravinsky's first masterpiece, with crack period band Les Siecles sounding especially vivid.” Classical Music, 22nd October 2011 ***

“It all works brilliantly – perhaps the most entertaining 20 minutes of orchestral music I’ve heard all year...The lean, transparent sound [in The Firebird] is a real plus – linking the work more closely with its two successors, and there’s a suppleness and flexibility to Roth’s direction which is effortlessly matched by his players.” The Arts Desk, 22nd October 2011

“This is a fascinating recording...The Firebird is the undoubted star of this show, and its orchestral plumage is subtly different here from other performances. Surprisingly, perhaps, this is more apparent with the strings than the wind, even though the timbre of the latter is distinctive...Roth drives the music with a sure touch for dramatic pacing to ensure that it's more magical Firebird than undercooked turkey.” BBC Music Magazine, December 2011 *****

“This is no ordinary recording of a well-worn Stravinsky masterpiece...The playing is electrifying and visceral, capturing the steely brilliance of the score – flashes of colour and an energy that had me sitting excitedly on the edge of my seat.” The Scotsman, 24th October 2011 *****

“The pairing is a first on disc, and only serves to emphasise the astounding originality of Stravinsky’s music...Les Siècles are exhilaratingly virtuosic in action pieces such as the capture of the Firebird by Tsarevich Ivan. There are more rhythmically incisive modern-instrument accounts of the Infernal Dance, but Roth’s works brilliantly in context. There is much that is revelatory here.” Sunday Times, 30th October 2011

“[Les Orientales] is played here with suitable flamboyance...an excellently played, brightly recorded performance of the ballet, conducted with verve by Francois-Xavier Roth. Certainly the orchestra has a clarity which gives a well-lit quality to Stravinsky's Rimsky-Korsakovian orchestration, his model, and there is no lack of vitality wioth movements such as Kaschey's dance. Well worth hearing.” Gramophone Magazine, December 2011

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Editor's Choice - December 2011

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