Gramophone Magazine Editor's Choice

March 2012

Disc of the Month

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Beethoven & Berg: Violin Concertos

Awards:

Presto Disc of the Week

13th February 2012

Presto Favourites

Recommended Recording

Gramophone Awards 2012

Best of Category - Concerto

Gramophone Magazine

Disc of the Month - March 2012

Building a Library

First Choice - October 2015

BBC Music Magazine

Disc of the month - April 2012

Catalogue No:

HMC902105

Discs:

1

Release date:

6th Feb 2012

Barcode:

3149020210529

Length:

68 minutes

Medium:

CD (download also available)
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Beethoven & Berg: Violin Concertos


Beethoven:

Violin Concerto in D major, Op. 61

Berg:

Violin Concerto 'To the Memory of an Angel' (1935)


CD

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“My first collaboration with Claudio Abbado – with the Mahler Chamber Orchestra in 2008 – opened my eyes to a new way of understanding and experiencing the Beethoven Violin Concerto. He then expressed the wish to perform Alban Berg’s Violin Concerto, this time with the Orchestra Mozart. It seemed to him to be an obvious and natural continuation of the project to record these two works in further rehearsals and in concert and to produce a CD of them.

To place these two masterpieces in such close proximity was something quite new for me. The rehearsals in Bologna in 2010 involved working on the two pieces directly after each other: the result was an intense journey through sorrow and suffering in Alban Berg, by way of the cathartic Bach chorale, to Beethoven at his most radiant, apparently leaving all earthly cares far behind him, which utterly enchanted every one of us.

To make music with Claudio Abbado is an infinite joy, a genuine key to the magic of music. I would like to express here my sincerest thanks for his confidence and my boundless admiration for his artistry.” Isabelle Faust

Read Presto's complete review of this disc here.

Alban Berg: Violin Concerto - 'To the Memory of an Angel'

I. Andante - Allegretto

II. Allegro - Adagio

Ludwig van Beethoven: Violin Concerto in D Major Op. 61

I. Allegro ma non troppo - Adagio

II. Larghetto

III. Rondo allegro

BBC Music Magazine

April 2012

*****

“listening to these wonderful performances side by side is cathartic...The journey is vividly delineated from the outset of the Berg. With Abbado drawing sonorities from his first-rate orchestra, Faust's limpid violin weaves subtly in and out of the music's dark and increasingly sorrowful fabric...The clouds immediately lift for the Beethoven...Faust's first entry is magical.”

The Times

3rd February 2012

****

“Each note appears to shine with an inner glow...Under [Faust's] fingers, her Stradivarius produces an astonishingly varied range of sound to meet the demands of Berg’s concerto...The luminous sound of Abbado’s orchestra, a continuing glory, infuses the [Beethoven] concerto with a real sense of joy; I don’t know of any other interpretation that wears such a smile so lightly. Faust is a wonder on this disc, but Abbado is even more so.”

The Telegraph

3rd February 2012

*****

“Abbado’s hand-picked ensemble...produces a sound that is thoroughly apt to the particular world of each piece. Faust’s timbre and spectrum of emotion are similarly judged and communicated with arresting maturity and sensibility. Likewise, she echoes the freshness and depth that Abbado stimulates in the orchestral playing of the Beethoven concerto, finding a mode of expression that is both lyrical and dynamic and contributing to a performance of real stature.”

Financial Times

4th February 2012

“seamlessly reconciles intensity with gentle expressivity”

Gramophone Magazine

March 2012

“The Beethoven and Berg Violin Concertos aren't commonly paired on disc. However, in this case it seems like an inspired piece of programme planning, with an account of the Berg that plumbs its depths of melancholy, setting off a radiant, life-affirming performance of the Beethoven...Outstanding performances of both concertos, then; I'll want to return to them often.”

Sunday Times

26th February 2012

“Faust has already demonstrated her empathy with music from Bach to Jolivet, but her collaboration with Abbado is inspired. Indeed, both find more beauty in this challenging score than most interpreters on disc: Abbado gets sumptuous Middle European textures from his Bologna-based orchestra, also wonderfully transparent and airy in the Beethoven concerto, treated like expanded chamber music....A glorious disc.”

Irish Times

24th February 2012

****

“The [Berg’s] expressive range, which includes vehemence as well as delicacy, is fully probed here.”

The Independent

4th March 2012

“The unorthodox pairing...casts a curious spell in this thoughtful performance...Faust's chaste, pale sound is offset against stained-glass woodwind and serene brass in the Berg, while bassoonist Guilhaume Santana is a glamorous dancing partner in the Beethoven.”

The Arts Desk

21st April 2012

“Faust’s performance is special. There’s something warm and consolatory in her playing. She doesn’t overdo the sentimentality, and there’s as much rapture as regret. None of which would be possible without Abbado’s perfectly judged orchestral support; the violent outbursts in the second movement are rightly brutal and the work’s closing minutes are exquisite…Buy this disc for the Berg – possibly the work’s finest recording yet.”

Presto Classical

James Longstaffe

13th February 2012

“It is the elements of tragedy and loss that Faust brings out most effectively in her recording [of the Berg]; aside from an extraordinary tone and perfect intonation, you can feel the intent and conviction behind every single note she plays...Abbado is a master of orchestral balance...you can hear all of the tiny details and colours in the score. The orchestral playing is top-notch throughout…”

Presto Classical

James Longstaffe

“Claudio Abbado is again on conducting duty for this stylish recording of the Violin Concerto, this time with Orchestra Mozart, and with Isabelle Faust providing her most beautiful, singing tone throughout.”

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Editor's Choice

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Lully: Atys

Lully: Atys


Bernard Richter (Atys), Stéphanie d’Oustrac (Cybèle), Emmanuelle de Negri (Sangaride), Nicolas Rivenq (Célénus), Marc Mauillon (Idas), Sophie Daneman (Doris), Jaël Azzaretti (Mélisse), Paul Agnew (Le Sommeil) & Cyril Auvity (Morphée)

Danseurs Compagnie Fêtes galantes & Les Arts Florissants, William Christie (conductor) & Jean-Marie Villégier (director)

Carlo Tommasi (designer)

Patrice Cauchetier (costumes)

Francine Lancelot, Béatrice Massin (choreography)

William Christie: "There were a number of important moments in the history of the Arts Florissants, but there's one moment that obviously stands out - and that's the moment when we produced Atys." Christie had been approached by the director of the Paris Opera, Massimo Bogianckino, to think about putting on a Lully opera. Christie was advised by the Opéra-Comique's Thierry Fouquet that Quinault's libretto for 'Atys' would demand an extraordinary stage director - Jean-Marie Villégier took this role and he, together with Christie, created 'Atys'. The production marked the renaissance of Baroque Opera in France.

The American philanthropist Ronald P. Stanton has funded this 2011, Opera Comique production that has been described as 'one to see before you die', and it is clear that the magic of this show is still intact. Villégier has concentrated the tragedy in a unique backdrop of black marble, marked by furniture from the State Apartments of Versailles, and sumptuous costumes designed by Patrice Cauchetier with graceful choreography by the late Francine Lancelot revived by Béatrice Massin. The fabulous musicians and choir of Les Arts Florissants and the Jardin des Voix need no introduction here.

Last, but not least, we have the powerfully-projected Atys of Bernard Richter, admired mezzo, Stephanie d'Oustrac as Cybele, rival to the vibrant Sangaride, sung by soprano Emmanuelle de Negri. Discover this masterpiece of Lully magnified by the combined talents of William Christie and Jean Marie Villégier.

“Lully's music shines and dances in the hands of the now-veteran William Christie and his superbly understanding singers and players, but what will astonish those who doubt the drama of baroque opera is the sheer emotional power of the plot. The filming is formal rather than fluid. A triumph of postmodern authenticity.” The Observer, 19th February 2012

“this visually sumptuous production will satisfy the most diehard traditionalist. It's true that the sets and costumes are far removed from ancient Phrygia; but they do evoke the time of Louis XIV, Lully's patron. Bernhard Richter finds plenty of passion as Atys...Chorus, orchestra and conductor are first-class.” Gramophone Magazine, March 2012

GGramophone Awards 2012

Finalist - DVD Performance

GGramophone Magazine

DVD of the Month - March 2012

DVD Video

Region: 0

Format: NTSC

fRA - FRA006

(DVD Video - 2 discs)

$39.25

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Kirill Karabits conducts Tchaikovsky & Mussorgsky

Kirill Karabits conducts Tchaikovsky & Mussorgsky


Mussorgsky:

A Night on the Bare Mountain

orig. version

Pictures at an Exhibition

orch. Ravel

Tchaikovsky:

Symphony No. 2 in C minor, Op. 17 'Little Russian'


Following the success of their first release on ONYX, the BSO and Karabits turn to the Ukraine for the second release in the orchestra’s partnership with ONYX.

Tchaikovsky’s most overtly nationalistic symphony, his 2nd known as the ‘Little Russian’ uses folk songs from the Ukraine, and is the nearest the composer came to the musical and cultural ideals proposed by ‘The Mighty Handful’. This group of composers – Borodin, Balakirev, Rimsky-Korsakov, Cui and Mussorgsky rejected the Western influences on Russian culture, and looked to the music, folklore and history of Mother Russia for inspiration. Mussorgsky, probably the most naturally gifted of this group composed A Night on the Bare Mountain in 1867, and the original version heard here was not published until 1968. It is a striking work, quite shocking in it’s modernity, and a world away from Rimsky’s better known re-composition of the piece. The suite Pictures at an Exhibition was written for piano in 1874 and inspired by paintings by his friend Victor Harmann displays Mussorgsky’s great gift of graphic evocation. Ravel’s masterly orchestration was made in 1922.

“Karabits encourages the players to dig deep into the music, pounding out the rhythms sturdily, in the Tchaikovsky especially, rather than bustling ahead nervously. At 82 minutes this is a generous, as well as an enjoyable CD.” The Observer, 30th October 2011

“Strong rhythmic definition, clarity of orchestral texture and firmly controlled impetus give the Tchaikovsky a definite boost. Karabits coaxes a ripe, full sound from the Bournemouth players and encourages broad bowings from the strings that add weight to the sonority. Equally he allows for individual instrumental colours to tell..Karabits is an inspired architect.” The Telegraph, 11th November 2011 ****

“[it] has everything we expect from a Tchaikovsky interpreter of the Moscow school – colour, sweep, majesty, but not a whiff of indulgence. The Bournemouth orchestra responds with style and drive – all wind sections in superlative form – and a symphony that is often dismissed as a poor relation of its better known successors comes across as a masterpiece” Financial Times, 26th November 2011 *****

“The Musorgsky pieces are superbly performed...Bare Mountain's hair-raising opening sounding genuinely menacing rather than brash, and every cackle of the witches as impersonated by strings and woodwind brought to vivid life. Pictures, too, is a triumph, with Ravel's orchestration telling in every vignette.” BBC Music Magazine, February 2012 *****

“If there's a single distinguishing feature of this generously filled disc it's Karabits's determination to convey the grass-roots spirit of the themes which breathe life into these pieces...Characteristically, he is more mindful of the pianistic cragginess of Mussorgsky's Pictures at an Exhibition than of Ravel's finesse...Karabits is big-boned and earthy, and positively encourages coarser-grained sonorities from his Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra.” Gramophone Magazine, March 2012

GGramophone Magazine

Editor's Choice - March 2012

Onyx - ONYX4074

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Beethoven: The Late String Quartets, Opp. 127 & 131

Beethoven: The Late String Quartets, Opp. 127 & 131


Beethoven:

String Quartet No. 12 in E flat major, Op. 127

String Quartet No. 14 in C sharp minor, Op. 131


Brentano String Quartet: Mark Steinberg, Serena Canin (violins), Misha Amory (viola) & Nina Maria Lee (cello)

Founded in 1992, the New York-based Brentano Quartet is known for its interpretations combining perfect technique and matchless musicality. Those qualities are even more obvious in this series of late Beethoven quartets with this first volume bringing together the Op. 127 and 131.

This pure crystal of intelligence and brilliance will doubtless constitute a milestone.

“What is so satisfying about these performances recorded at Princeton University is the overall warmth of the playing, with speeds ideally chosen and never forced, with natural rubato and shading, and with wonderfully sustained pianissimos...This is a disc that makes one want to hear the Brentanos in the other late Beethoven quartets. Anyone who fancies this generous coupling need not hesitate.” Gramophone Magazine, March 2012

“This was Beethoven breaking new ground with the first of what he categorized as his 'late' quartets [Op. 127]. The Brentano Quartet tries to emphasize the shock...It is an understandable approach, but it does sound rather overdone...The Brentanos seem more naturally at home with the great C sharp minor Quartet...It is a splendidly conceived and splendidly executed performance.” International Record Review, February 2012

GGramophone Magazine

Editor's Choice - March 2012

A Musical Picture - up to 40% off

Aeon - AECD1110

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Who Are These Angels?

Who Are These Angels?

New Choral Music by James MacMillan


MacMillan:

And lo, the Angel of the Lord

The Strathclyde Motets: Qui meditabitur

The Strathclyde Motets: O Radiant Dawn

The Strathclyde Motets: Lux aeterna

The Strathclyde Motets: Os mutorum

Bring us, O Lord

The Strathclyde Motets: Canticle of Zachariah

Benedictus Deus

Advent Antiphon

The Strathclyde Motets: Pascha nostrum immolutes est

Who are these Angels?

Think of how God loves you

The Strathclyde Motets: Benedicimus Deum caeli

Mass of Blessed John Henry Newman


Cappella Nova, Alan Tavener

Cappella Nova follow on from their “undeniably beautiful” (The Financial Times) Linn debut, ‘James MacMillan – Tenebrae’, with their second volume of choral works by the leading contemporary composer.

The outstanding Scottish group have a unique relationship with James MacMillan, the composer having written several works for them.

All of the tracks are premiere recordings, recorded under the supervision of the composer. Included is the last of the Strathclyde Motets – seven having been included on ‘Tenebrae’.

Also included is the mass James MacMillan wrote specifically for Pope Benedict XVI’s visit to Scotland in September 2010, sung by over 150,000 people.

Cappella Nova is “famous for its performances of contemporary music” (The Guardian), having commissioned and premiered more than 60 new works since 1986.

Besides appearances in many British festivals, the group has toured many times abroad, including several visits to Europe and the USA.

James MacMillan launched his international career at the BBC Proms in 1990 with the critically acclaimed The Confession of Isobel Gowdie. Since then MacMillan has been awarded a CBE (January 2004) and has created one of the strongest portfolios of contemporary compositions with many award-winning recordings and acclaimed concert performances worldwide.

“The group's engagement with the music registers throughout this important release, touching everything from the technical challenges of the second series of Strathclyde motets to the comparably demanding simplicity of MacMillan's papal Mass...The breadth of the composer's ideas and his myriad expressive contrasts, reinforced by superb singing and instrumental contributions and gold-standard recorded sound, hold the ear and invite repeated listening.” Classic FM Magazine, March 2012 *****

“Cappella Nova present illuminating performances which perfectly capture MacMillan's profound sense of the sacred, but here the sense of looking back over the centuries is especially strong...[an] essential addition to the rapidly growing discography of one of Britain's most self-assured musical voices.” Gramophone Magazine, March 2012

“Approachable without being apologetic, emotional but with a sense of dignity, the best of these works can both delight and challenge...Everything is performed with elegance and the requisite intensity, and the recordings are clear and atmospheric.” BBC Music Magazine, March 2012 ****

“Above all, this is beautiful, affecting music that is also severely practical...one of the chief pleasures of listening to it resides in the ease of imagining taking part in a performance. As with the earlier MacMillan release, Cappella Nova under Tavener's direction delivers performances every bit as luminous and attractive as the music itself.” International Record Review, May 2012

“This is an absorbing disc. It is full of interest and I admire greatly the way in which the composer responds to the words he is setting. Through his music he enriches and enhances them – as a good musical setting of words always should. We are challenged at times but it’s always accessible.” MusicWeb International, August 2012

GGramophone Magazine

Editor's Choice - March 2012

Contemporary Music - up to 25% off

Linn - CKD383

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Stimme der Sehnsucht

Stimme der Sehnsucht

Lieder by Pfitzner, Strauss & Mahler


Mahler:

Kindertotenlieder

Pfitzner:

Stimme der Sehnsucht

Nachts Op. 26 No. 2

Willkommen und Abschied, Op. 29, No. 3

Lockung Op. 7 No. 4

Nachtwanderer, Op. 7 No. 2

Zum Abschied meiner Tochter, Op. 10 No. 3

Strauss, R:

Ständchen, Op. 17 No. 2

Des Dichters Abendgang, Op. 47 No. 2

Schlechtes Wetter, Op. 69 No. 5

Nachtgang Op. 29 No. 3

All mein Gedanken ... Op. 21 No. 1

Befreit, Op. 39 No. 4

Zueignung, Op. 10 No. 1


Christianne Stotijn (mezzo soprano) & Joseph Breinl (piano)

"In 'Stimme der Sehnsucht,' a poem by Carl Busse, the voice of longing is depicted as a mysterious whispering sound, a dark and confused spirit from Thule, a mythical island beyond the boundaries of the world. Edgar Allan Poe’s poem 'Dream-land' portrays Thule as a surreal realm of melancholy and dread, while Rainer Maria Rilke wrote: ‘That is longing: living in turmoil and having no home in time'." Christianne Stotijn

Christianne Stotijn’s recital of Lieder by Pfitzner, Mahler and Strauss confronts powerful emotions – longing, loving, grief, and a desperate wish to turn the clock back to happier times. The collection is dominated by the theme of night, an exploration of dreams, restlessness and darkness.

This is a thoughtful and moving programme from one of the outstanding mezzos of our time. Christianne Stotijn’s previous recordings for ONYX have been praised and her song recital CD 'Tchaikovsky Romances' (ONYX4034) was awarded a BBC Music Magazine Award in 2010.

“Stotijn confronts [Kindertotenlieder's] emotions with acute sensitivity, and then leaves us with the benediction of Strauss’s “Morgen!”. A connoisseur’s recital.” The Telegraph, 2nd December 2011 ****

“Stotijn's latest well-earned recital disc takes the imaginative high ground right at the start...In the booklet-notes, Stotijn eloquently explains why they travelled to Schiermonnikoog (or 'Grey Monk Island') for the shoot, and how she chose the programme. The programme matters most, of course, though all the incidentals help make this a winner. The Richard Strauss sequence has its own logic of lively versus reflective” BBC Music Magazine, February 2012 *****

“a singer whose voice and intelligence melded seamlessly with words, vocal line and whatever dramatic concert was at hand...Stotijn's vivid performances make you examine the texts anew just to appreciate her sudden burst of vocal colour ('Zueignung' goes into the Jessye Norman zone) or her onomatopoeic effects, which give the characters within the songs a near-physical presence....Stotijn is God's gift to Christa Ludwig admirers.” Gramophone Magazine, March 2012

GGramophone Magazine

Editor's Choice - March 2012

BBC Music Magazine

Choral & Song Choice - February 2012

Onyx - ONYX4075

(CD)

$15.25

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Bach, J S: Sonatas & Partitas for solo violin

Bach, J S: Sonatas & Partitas for solo violin


Bach, J S:

Sonatas & Partitas for solo violin, BWV1001-1006

Pisendel:

Sonata for Violin Solo in A minor


After The Four Seasons, the Bach violin concertos, and the sonatas of Matteis, Amandine Beyer presents her vision of the Sonatas and Partitas, one of the pillars of the repertoire, coupled with the solo sonata of Pisendel, the best-known German violinist of his generation, who met Bach at Weimar.

“These are fresh, spirited, finely judged performances. The tempi of the fast movements never seem too quick, though they often prove faster than those of other period players, and the slow movements are superbly paced...Beyer never plays on the listener's emotions but instead maintains a sliver of detachment that, in the context of her stylish performances, seems appropriate for music that is almost 300 years old...An enormously enjoyable set.” Gramophone Magazine, March 2012

“Beyer's playing is outstanding for her consistently sensitive delivery - finely chiselled in details but always organic with a keen ear for the music's broader harmonic direction. Although it invites and deserves close attention it does not overtly seek it...Her playing is at its finest...where it is at its most self-effacing: in the ear- and finger-defying polyphony Bach frequently demands from his player.” International Record Review, February 2012

GGramophone Magazine

Editor's Choice - March 2012

A Musical Picture - up to 40% off

Zigzag - ZZT110902

(CD - 2 discs)

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Beethoven: The Early String Quartets

Beethoven: The Early String Quartets

In Concert at the Library of Congress 1943-1962


Beethoven:

String Quartets No. 1-6, Op. 18


The release of this two-disc set completes the Budapest String Quartet's historic Beethoven string quartet cycle, recorded at the Library of Congress's Coolidge Auditorium. Both the middle and late Quartets from this cycle (BRIDGE9099A/C and BRIDGE9072A/C) have frequently been cited as among the finest recordings ever made of Beethoven's singular masterpieces. The present recordings of Beethoven's six Op. 18 quartets were selected from performances given during the Budapest's 22-year long residency at the Library. In addition to the six quartets, a short track drawn from a Budapest String Quartet rehearsal (1944) is included on disc two.

“It’s been well worth the wait for these performances. Restoration has done what it can for the boxy originals, but the energy and drive of the playing will make up for that.” MusicWeb International, March 2012

GGramophone Magazine

Re-issue of the Month - March 2012

Bridge - BRIDGE9342A/B

(CD - 2 discs)

$16.00

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