Gramophone Magazine Editor's Choice

August 2012

Disc of the Month

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J S Bach: Motets


Gramophone Awards 2013

Winner - Baroque Vocal

Gramophone Magazine

Disc of the Month - August 2012

BBC Music Magazine

Choral & Song Choice - August 2012



Catalogue No:




Release date:

30th April 2012




72 minutes


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J S Bach: Motets

Recorded live in London, St John’s Smith Square, 2011

Bach, J S:

Motets, BWV225-230

Motet BWV Anh. 159 'Ich lasse dich nicht'



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Thirty years on from their acclaimed recording for Erato, Sir John Eliot Gardiner and the Monteverdi Choir return to the Bach Motets in a new SDG recording, taken from a concert in London last year at the end of a tour which saw performances in Italy, France, The Netherlands and Germany.

The Motets can be seen as some of Bach’s most perfect and hypnotic compositions. Through their extraordinary complexity and density, they require exceptional virtuosity and sensitivity of all the performers.

Each of them is endlessly fascinating, and each inhabits its own sound world, Bach's masterful use of canon, fugue and counterpoint, the brilliant exploitation of double-choir sonorities are perfectly matched by the Monteverdi Choir's virtuosity.

The album is packaged in a hard back book similar to our other releases. It contains 44 pages booklet with original notes by John Eliot Gardiner and texts in German, English and French.

Johann Sebastian Bach: Lobet den Herrn, alle Heiden, BWV 230

Lobet den Herrn, alle Heiden, BWV 230

Johann Sebastian Bach: Komm, Jesu, komm, BWV 229

Komm, Jesu, komm, BWV 229

Johann Sebastian Bach: Der Geist hilft unser Schwachheit auf, BWV 226

Der Geist hilft unser Schwachheit auf, BWV 226

Johann Sebastian Bach: Jesu, meine Freude, BWV 227

Jesu, meine Freude

Es ist nun nichts Verdammliches an denen

Unter deinen Schirmen

Denn das Gesetz des Geistes

Trotz dem alten Drachen

Ihr aber seid nicht fleischlich

Weg mit allen Schatzen

So aber Christus in euch ist

Gute Nacht, o Wesen

So nun der Geist

Weicht, ihr Trauergeister

Johann Sebastian Bach: Furchte dich nicht, ich bin bei dir, BWV 228

Furchte dich nicht, ich bin bei dir, BWV 228

Johann Sebastian Bach: Singet dem Herrn ein neues Lied, BWV 225

Singet dem Herrn ein neues Lied

Wie sich ein Vater erbarmet - Gott, nimm dich ferner unser an

Lobet den Herrn in seinen Taten

Johann Sebastian Bach: Ich lasse dich nicht, du segnest mich denn, BWV Anh. 159

Ich lasse dich nicht, du segnest mich denn, BWV Anh. 159

Sunday Times

6th May 2012

“performances of surpassing beauty and irresistible dancing energy.”

The Independent

4th May 2012

“Utterly sublime.”

BBC Music Magazine

August 2012


“the Monteverdi Choir can turn from Rottweiler into lamb in the blink of an eye...Some might fine Gardiner's approach theatrical; he could persuasively counter that the motets engage unflinchingly with matters of life and death...Gardiner trusts Bach's simplicity and inwardness as much as he relishes his complexity and drama.”

MusicWeb International

August 2012

“Delicacy and precision characterise the choral singing in every track. The balance between the voice groups allows every detail of the counterpoint to shine through...The singers give a real questing quality to all the counterpoint, as if they are exploring these intricate textures for the first time. Their approach to the homophonic textures is just as sophisticated.”

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Monteverdi: Il ritorno d'Ulisse in patria

Monteverdi: Il ritorno d'Ulisse in patria

Anizio Zorzi Giustiniani (Ulisse), Josè Maria Lo Monaco (Penelope), Roberta Mameli (Minerva), Makoto Sakurada (Telemaco, Eurimaco), Salvo Vitale (Nettuno), Giorgia Milanesi (Giunone) with Francesca Cassinari, Vincenzo Di Donato, Marco Bussi, Alessio Tossi, Roberto Balconi, Paolo Antognetti, Francesca Lombardi, Luca Dordolo, Marta Fumagall

La Venexiana, Claudio Cavina

Having previously directed much-admired recordings of both 'Orfeo' and 'Poppea' (not forgetting the madrigal books), Claudio Cavina now turns his attention to the enduring Homeric-inspired tale of constancy and virtue first performed in Venice over 350 years ago, Il ritorno d’Ulisse in patria. Conscious of the restrictions inherent in the single surviving score, now kept in Vienna, and that it is likely that Monteverdi was not the only composer involved for the original production, Cavina brings his deep understanding to bear on Monteverdi’s inspiration. In this latest artistic endeavour Claudio Cavina is joined by the instrumentalists of La Venexiana and a superb group of singers: Anicio Zorzi Giustiniani as Ulisse; Josè Maria La Monaco as Penelope; Makoto Sakurada and Roberta Mameli have starring roles and Cavina, himself, takes a singing role.

“Lovelier voices than those of Anicio Zorzi Giustiniani and Jose Maria Lo Monaco have sung Ulysses and Penelope on disc, but few have been more moving in their final reconciliation. Roberta Mameli is an incisive Minerva, Salvo Vitale a cavernous Neptune, while Francesca Lombardi’s Melanto and Makoto Sakurada’s Eurimaco — doubling as Telemachus — make aural sex of their ecstatic love scene. An enthralling set.” Sunday Times, 6th May 2012

“The tone of the performance, dramatically expressive and crisply conversational, is set by Calvina himself; as well as conducting, his is the first voice to be heard, singing the role of Human Frailty in the prologue, and the sense of an ensemble performance is consistently conveyed...both José Maria Lo Monaco as Penelope and Anicio Zorzi Giustiniani as Ulysses are wonderfully, humanely characterised” The Guardian, 31st May 2012 ****

“There may be a touch too much vibrato for some, but it's not a sign of over-indulgence. Overall, this is a measured, well-paced performance in which the drama is propulsive rather than emotionally lingering or excessively probing...Cavina manages to integrate all characters great and small - the opera has never sounded more like a simmering pot of Venetian Carnival vaudeville - which is surely what it is.” International Record Review, June 2012

“Rhythms are well-sprung and tempi flexible. A well-schooled, youthful cast is led by Anicio Zorzi Giustiniani’s Ulysses and Josè Maria Lo Monaco’s Penelope, and the advantage of Italians singing in their mother tongue is self-evident. But it is not the most expressive of performances” Financial Times, 7th July 2012 ***

“this account by La Veneziana is one of the more lively versions on CD...Makoto Sakurada (who plays Telemaco and Eurimaco) has the finest voice; strong, responsive and agile...It is therefore a real disappointment that Ulisse (Anicio Zorzi Giustiniani) himself is so unfocused and weak...this performance never loses sight of Monteverdi's dramatic pace, and the intrumental playing throughout is more than commendable.” BBC Music Magazine, August 2012 ***

“Thanks to a hand-picked cast almost entirely made up of native speakers, Badoraro’s words are delivered with as much clarity as Monteverdi’s music.” Sunday Times, 9th December 2012

“Claudio Cavina and La Venexiana offer a superb recording of Monteverdi’s Ulisse; virtually complete and with attention to every textural nuance and melodic inflection.” CD Review

GGramophone Magazine

Editor's Choice - August 2012

Building a Library

First Choice - June 2015

Glossa - GCD920920

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Beethoven: Diabelli Variations

Beethoven: Diabelli Variations


Diabelli Variations, Op. 120

Diabelli Variations by Czerny, Hummel, Kalkbrenner, Kerzkowsky, Kreutzer, Liszt, Moscheles, Pixis, Mozart, Schubert & Beethoven

Andreas Staier (fortepiano after Conrad Graf)

As is his custom, Andreas Staier has gone back to the original manuscript of one of the most famous sets of variations in history: Beethoven’s 'Diabelli Variations'. He has not however, restricted his work to recording the magnum opus, since the CD begins with a selection of variations written by some of the other 50 composers Diabelli asked to take part in his project. Here you can discover the very first stirrings of Liszt’s virtuosity (aged 11), the music of Mozart’s son, the unexpected variations of Kreutzer and Kalkbrenner, and the 'Diabelli Variation' of a certain Franz Schubert. A thrilling musical investigation with Andreas Staier's own 'Introduction'.

"My intention with the Introduction was to create a sound-space that separates the twelve ‘preludes’, from Czerny to Schubert, from Beethoven’s great cycle. It’s a pause for breath in what is otherwise rigorously composed music. So I think the improvisatory element is perfectly appropriate here. And that way one can ensure that Diabelli’s waltz has the necessary freshness the second time it’s played. I keep to the essence of what can be made out from Beethoven’s sketch of 1819, and stay close to the theme. The striking three-note motif with the combination of the intervals of a semitone and a rising third suggests an echo of the finale from the Piano Sonata in D major op.10 no.3. But I didn’t develop the interval of the descending fourth in the sketch because it’s so clearly presented by Beethoven himself in the very first variation...

This fascinating manuscript allows us to infer Beethoven’s choleric and impatient sides, but not the ironic side to his character. The annotations show his worries and difficulties during a pretty laborious process of composition. What began as a fair copy increasingly turns into a working manuscript. With the dynamics of the handwriting and the many corrections and erasures, it provides a whole range of pointers to the composer’s intentions. It’s a treasure trove for the interpreter." Andreas Staier

“Staier's fortepiano is deliciously transparent, his musicianship revelatory.” The Independent on Sunday, 29th April 2012 *****

“Every now and then a CD comes along which paints a familiar piece in completely new colours. This one. The pianist Andreas Staier achieves this partly by playing on a copy of an early19th-century fortepiano...But the really interesting colours are the one Staier makes himself...the CD is a triumph of musical intelligence and sensitivity, which, despite its learning, sounds completely free and natural.” The Telegraph, 3rd May 2012

“It's safe to predict that very few people who hear this extraordinary performance...will have heard one quite like it before...his performance is about much more than special effects. Staier's variations of touch and tone and the nuances of his pedalling would be remarkable on a modern concert grand, let alone such an early instrument, while he is always alert to the ways in which he can articulate and alter the pacing” The Guardian, 16th May 2012

“Staier finds unexpected colours in this most mercurial, witty and enigmatic of the late piano works. Anybody accustomed to the “plinky-plonk” sound of period instruments in modern...will be astonished at the spectrum of timbres Staier conjures from this fortepiano...A piano disc for the ages.” Sunday Times, 27th May 2012

“His interpretative approach scarcely needs describing: relatively straightforward in delivery, technically impeccable, making light of the inherent unevenness of the instruments...An outstanding achievement...which certainly whets the appetite for more Beethoven to come.” International Record Review, June 2012

“Staier's perfectly judged tempi, angular demeanour, characterful contrasts, biting accents and cumulative sweep add up to a performance that abounds with probing details yet never loses sight of the music's grand design...This is far away the most stimulating and best-played fortepiano Diabelli Variations on compact disc.” Gramophone Magazine, August 2012

“The endlessly ear-opening consequences are riveting; the wide-ranging aplomb of Beethoven's Variations could have been conceived with Staier's musical curiosity and flair in mind...This isn't just an indisputably great performance on fortepiano; it's a great performance full stop. Given Staier's virtuosity and insight, what price Hammerklavier next?” BBC Music Magazine, August 2012 *****

“the most infectiously joyous recording I have of the Diabellis. At times, Staier's performance makes me almost want to get up and dance … delicious, rich sound … Staier’s performance is lively, aggressive and full of joy. It is a delight to hear him play this work … this is a great recording of a great work, and one that any lover of Beethoven's piano works should get.” MusicWeb International, 24th September 2012

“He’s a pianist of endless imagination, who captures brilliantly both the darkness and the light of these extraordinary variations. Paradoxically, his period instrument makes this music sound even more startling, even more modern” Record Review, 18th June 2017

GGramophone Magazine

Editor's Choice - August 2012

Building a Library

First Choice - June 2017

BBC Music Magazine

Disc of the month - August 2012

BBC Music Magazine Awards 2013

Instrumental Finalist

Harmonia Mundi - HMC902091



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Bruckner: Symphony No. 9 in D Minor

Bruckner: Symphony No. 9 in D Minor

Four-movement version

Sir Simon Rattle conducts the Berliner Philharmoniker in Anton Bruckner’s Symphony No. 9 including the world premiere of the latest scholarly revision of the fourth movement that the composer left unfinished at his death.

Sir Simon and the Orchestra unveiled the new version at Berlin’s Philharmonie in early February 2012 and at New York’s Carnegie Hall the same month. “It was fascinating to hear this monumental symphony performed with [its new] final movement. After a quizzical opening and a strong statement of the main theme there are stretches of fitful counterpoint, brass chorales and ruminative passages that take you by surprise. Overall the music pulses with a hard-wrought insistence that crests with a hallelujah coda.” (The New York Times)

On 11 October 1896, the day he died, Bruckner was still desperately trying to finish the final movement of his ninth symphony. He had completed and orchestrated one third of the movement and sketched the layout for the entire finale. Unfortunately, for scholars attempting to construct the remaining two thirds of the movement, many of the manuscript pages were subsequently stolen by autograph hunters. Some of these pages have resurfaced in recent years and several attempts have been made to complete the last movement, including four prior versions by the current musicological team of Nicola Samale, Giuseppe Mazzuca, John Phillips and Benjamin-Gunnar Cohrs.

“From a fresh re-examination of the manuscripts it was possible to find some convincing new solutions, binding the music even better together.” (Benjamin-Gunnar Cohrs). With the benefit of 25 years of scholarship, this latest version is arguably the most comprehensive realisation of Bruckner’s sketches.

John Phillips adds, “The Finale is no musical curiosity, but an integral part of the work as its composer intended. Just as Beethoven designed his last symphony around its choral finale, Bruckner designed his Ninth around this huge, ultimately triumphant movement, synthesizing sonata form, fugue, and chorale. For the devoutly Catholic Bruckner, the symphony was to be his “homage to Divine majesty” […] The Adagio, his “Farewell to Life,” traces a gradual process of dissolution that leads us, spellbound, into the enigmatic music of the Finale [which] would end with a “song of praise to the dear Lord,” a “Hallelujah” borrowed from earlier in the work. And it is with this “Hallelujah” theme—the first entry of the trumpets in the Adagio—that the Ninth can so justly and so gloriously now conclude.”

In an interview for the Berlin Philharmonic's Digital Concert Hall, Sir Simon expressed his faith in the newly assembled four-movement version and begged audiences to be receptive to the new material. “There's a kind of myth that there are only sketches left of the last movement. In fact, there was really an emerging full score, complete almost to the end,” Rattle said, adding that Bruckner was writing in his most radical, forward-looking style in the Ninth, especially in the finale.

According to Gramophone, ‘to help listeners understand just how ‘complete’ the finale actually was at the time of Bruckner's death, Rattle compared the composer to an architect designing a cathedral. Indeed, Bruckner had the rather unique composition method of deciding how long his movements should be and then putting all the bars on the manuscript, numbered and with phrase lengths, even before writing the first note. “So actually, even when there are some empty pages, we know exactly how many bars there were and what kind of phrases there were,” concluded Rattle, explaining how much of the manuscript evidence was strewn throughout various collections. He also said that had the composer lived another two months, the finale would have been complete.’

For music lovers who discount the validity of any fourth movement to the Symphony No. 9, there is much to enjoy in the Berliner Philharmoniker’s performance of the first three movements: “Mr. Rattle and the Berlin players deftly balanced elements of Schubertian structure and Wagnerian turmoil in the mysterious first movement. The brutal power of the scherzo’s main theme was chilling, with the orchestra pummelling the dense, thick, dissonance-tinged chords. And Mr. Rattle laid out the threads of chromatic counterpoint in an organic, glowing and, when appropriate, gnashing account of the Adagio.” (The New York Times) For those with the intellectual curiosity to hear how accomplished Bruckner scholars have most recently realised the unfinished movement, it is performed here by the world-renowned team of Sir Simon Rattler and the Berliner Philharmoniker.

Read Presto's complete review of this disc here.

“Rattle assuredly paces the music's long paragraphs and musters a sense of the monumental...[His] interpretation...encompasses the full gamut of emotions from tenderness and nostalgia to some amazingly apocalyptic climaxes.” BBC Music Magazine, September 2012 *****

“the performance as a whole is utterly compelling. Rattle fully engages with the gripping drama of Bruckner's music...The climax is thrillingly majestic – the truly triumphant ending that Bruckner wanted. Rattle proves emphatically that there should be no more excuses for depriving the work of its resounding finale.” Graham Rogers,, 10th July 2012

“Rattle's performance is consistently involving. The vast arches and sudden climate changes in the Adagio third movement are particularly well handled...I can't think of many recent releases that are more musically important than this. If you love Bruckner's Ninth, you have a duty to hear it; and if you don't as yet know it and learn it from Rattle's recording, then you're in a very privileged position.” Gramophone Magazine, August 2012

“an 82-minute work complete with a final movement of sufficiently convincing Brucknerian symphonic argument, sound and scale. In short, a revelation...Lingering doubts from earlier Brucknerian encounters with Rattle are swept away...Finer advocacy and a more transforming experience from these live performances are difficult to imagine.” International Record Review, June 2012

“[once you've] heard Simon Rattle and the BPO in their glowing recent recording of the completed work, you may never wish to listen to the three-movement version again. Even if you’re not sold on the completion, Rattle’s performance of the first three movements is excellent” MusicWeb International, 16th April 2013

“Rattle gives the music the right amount of breadth but he also keeps it moving forward. It helps enormously that he has the peerless Berliner Philharmoniker at his disposal. The majesty of Bruckner’s great climaxes is enhanced by their sumptuous playing” MusicWeb International, June 2012

“Rattle is less interventionist than one might expect and surer of the work’s structure. Bruckner’s harmonies were never so daring as they were here – the scream of pain in the Adagio really terrifies...But the effect [the finale] has on one’s perception of the earlier movements is harder to come to terms with. This is essential listening, though -the Berlin brass are stunning in the last few minutes” The Arts Desk, 19th May 2012

“Rattle and the Berlin Philharmonic played it for the first time in February, and this recording is taken from those performances. Whether you like Rattle's approach or not – and sometimes, in the first movement especially, he pushes the music forward rather than letting it fill its natural space – the result seems authentic.” The Guardian, 24th May 2012 ****

“while there is undeniable logicality in the endless climbing repetitions and the echoes of the vaunting Wagnerian touches from the first movement, the added movement does tend to detract from the particularly fine treatment of the third movement Adagio” The Independent, 11th May 2012 ***

“The lustre of the Berlin Philharmonic’s horns and strings is marvellous to behold; phrasing often is velvet-smooth. Whatever the mood, Rattle’s players deliver with passion...At the same time, Rattle’s love of high drama may be indulged a fraction too much...Rattle conducts with missionary zeal, as if he believes in every note. And so he should.” The Times, 11th May 2012 ***

Presto Disc of the Week

28th May 2012

GGramophone Awards 2013

Finalist - Orchestral

GGramophone Magazine

Editor's Choice - August 2012

BBC Music Magazine

Disc of the month - September 2012

BBC Music Magazine Awards 2013

Orchestral Award Winner

Warner Classics - 9529692



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Arias for Guadagni

Arias for Guadagni

the first modern castrato


Vengeance, O come inspire me! (from Alfred)

Bach, C P E:

Symphony in D major, Wq. 183/1 (H663)


Ah! Non turbi il mio riposo (from Telemaco)

Orfeo ed Euridice (Orphée et Euridice): Dance of the Blessed Spirits

Ahimè! Dove trascorsi? (from Orfeo)

Che faro' senza Euridice? (from Orfeo ed Euridice)


Pensa a serbarmi, o cara


Saul: O Lord, whose mercies numberless

The raptur'd soul (from Theodora)

The Choice of Hercules: Yet can I hear that dulcet lay

Destructive War, thy limits know (from Belshazzar)

Hasse, J A:

Ah che dissi, infelice! (from Didone Abbandonata)

Se resto sul lido (from Didone Abbandonata)

Odi colà la frigia tromba? (from Didone Abbandonata)

A trionfar mi chiama (from Didone Abbandonata)

Smith, J C:

Say, lovely Dream! (from The Fairies)

British countertenor Iestyn Davies is one of the fastest rising stars on the concert and opera circuit. Following his highly acclaimed recording of Porpora cantatas, he returns for a second solo album with Hyperion, a selection of arias written for Gaetano Guadagni. Italian-born Guadagni was the first ‘modern’ castrato, famed all over Europe for the lyric purity of his voice and his powerful, naturalistic acting style. Not only did he enjoy a close artistic relationship with Handel, who nurtured Guadagni’s voice to fit the alto roles in his English oratorios, but he effectively created the role of Orpheus in Gluck’s Orfeo ed Euridice, an opera he thoroughly made his own. Here, Iestyn Davies is joined again by the renowned period-instrument band Arcangelo, directed by Jonathan Cohen.

“Davies sings them superlatively well.” Sunday Times, 27th May 2012

“Davies includes some of the showstoppers written for [Guadagni] by Handel and Arne, delivering them with wonderful finesse and flawless tone. Orfeo itself, however, lies awkwardly for a counter-tenor, and Davies is occasionally forced to sacrifice intensity for the sake of integrity of line. The orchestral playing, from Arcangelo under Jonathan Cohen, is exquisite.” The Guardian, 7th June 2012 ****

“I think that if I had to nominate a CD to represent Iestyn Davies this one would be my choice.” International Record Review, July/August 2012

“Through his effortless line, countertenor Iestyn Davies revivifies Guadagni's Orphic powers...Whether drawing out sustained notes or knitting together filigreed coloratura, he is a paragon of gallant taste: poised, cool, elegant...Jonathan Cohen and his ensemble Arcangelo capture the rapid, unexpected twists of the younger Bach's radical imagination...this [is] a refreshingly ambitious and superbly realised recording.” BBC Music Magazine, August 2012 *****

GGramophone Awards 2012

Best of Category - Recital

GGramophone Magazine

Editor's Choice - August 2012

Hyperion & Helios - up to 50% off

Hyperion - CDA67924


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Vivaldi: La cetra - 12 concerti, Op. 9

Vivaldi: La cetra - 12 concerti, Op. 9

Rachel Podger (violin)

Holland Baroque Society

After recording Vivaldi's set of Violin Concertos 'La Stravaganza', Opus 4, in 2003, Rachel Podger has been immersed in music by Mozart and Bach on disc. But it has now felt right to come back to the Venetian Maestro, whose sense of drama she adores: “This time I chose his opus 9, the set of 12 Violin concertos entitled 'La Cetra'. There are plenty of jewels in this set, just as in 'La Stravaganza', with even higher technical demands made on the soloist including many, often exotic experimental effects.”

"What I like most of all is her evident relish of the virtuoso demands that the music makes: she rises splendidly to them, making the most of Vivaldi’s extravagant writing” Gramophone: Awards 2003 (Vivaldi, 'La Stravaganza')

“Podger has one of the sweetest tones of any period-instrument violinist.” BBC Music Magazine (Bach Violin Concertos)

Read Presto's complete review of this disc here.

“Personality and charisma can easily be found in Rachel Podger’s account of Vivaldi’s violin concertos...the elegant energy in her phrasing is adorable...contrasts are vivid, the drama is considerable, and the orchestra’s sonic tapestries bring their own special joy.” The Times, 22nd June 2012 ****

“The variety of Op 9 astounds the ear, especially in these feisty readings, which emphasise the folksy roots of the dance movements and lend them an almost funky modernity. The highlight here is the B flat major double concerto — with Judith Steenbrink as second soloist” Sunday Times, 24th June 2012

“The music world is inestimably the better for Rachel Podger...Everything she touches comes to life in a way that is not only satisfying musically but also representative of the human spirit at its most vital...Podger reveals unexpected depth and variety of expression in the music...Podger wears her virtuosity lightly, and the relationship with the Holland Baroque Society players is clearly one of mutual inspiration.” Financial Times, 14th July 2012 *****

“Unlike some of her continental rivals Podger's light bowing and well-judged tempos effortlessly discover the tenderly poetic content of Vivaldi's music, and here that dimension is abundant...Podger's playing radiates expressive warmth and we can only delight in the spontaneous rapport that she feels with the mature idiom of these wonderful concertos.” BBC Music Magazine, August 2012 ****

“This is really attractive music to listen to, and with performances as full of vitality as these there is something immensely satisfying for the listener. Everything is carefully and beautifully phrased, and you sense a real chemistry between Podger and Holland Baroque Society...they bring a real energy and drive to the performances, while clearly listening and responding appropriately to every subtle nuance which Podger inflects in this music.” Chris O'Reilly, Presto Classical, 25th June 2012

Presto Disc of the Week

25th June 2012

GGramophone Awards 2013

Finalist - Baroque Instrumental

GGramophone Magazine

Editor's Choice - August 2012

Super Audio CD


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Channel - CCSSA33412

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Bruckner: Symphony No. 5 in B flat major

Bruckner: Symphony No. 5 in B flat major

Nowak edition

at LUCERNE FESTIVAL in Summer 2011

“Abbado’s approach to the music of Bruckner is soft and songlike, at times tense and urgent, but constantly filled with warmth of feeling” – not only the Neue Zürcher Zeitung is full of praise when Claudio Abbado and the Lucerne Festival Orchestra play Bruckner.

Their interpretation of his awe-inspiring Fifth Symphony reflects the composer’s burgeoning powers and exquisite compositional artistry. As The Guardian poetically states: “The composer himself, one suspects, might have leapt to embrace Abbado as an ideal interpreter.”

Picture Format DVD: NTSC 16:9

Sound Formats DVD: Dolby Digital 5.1, DTS 5.1, PCM Stereo

Region Code: 0 (worldwide)

Running Time: 80:33 min

Disc Format: DVD-9

FSK: 0

“This performance curtails the silences in the interests of the Italian conductor Claudio Abbado’s linear approach...This is Bruckner sunny side up, lending a molto espressivo bloom to the string cantilenas in the opening movement and a con amore sparkle to the brass chorales. The orchestra, combining old friends and young talents, radiates a fabulously chamber-musical quality.” Financial Times, 2nd June 2012 ****

“Abbado keeps the music on the move; textures are full rather than thick...Abbado himself is invariably the main focus of attention and he's wonderful to watch: theatrical posing and outsize gestures are evidently foreign to his nature...The players vary in age and appearance: no stiffening dress-code clamps down with unwarranted formality, just well-dressed men and women totally into the business of making great music. And boy, do they deliver!” Gramophone Magazine, August 2012

GGramophone Awards 2012

Best of Category - DVD Performance

GGramophone Magazine

DVD of the Month - August 2012

DVD Video

Region: 0

Format: NTSC

Accentus Music - ACC20243

(DVD Video)


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Handel: Alceste

Handel: Alceste

This recording of Alceste is performed by the Early Opera Company and Christian Curnyn, whose other Handel recordings for Chandos have all received glowing accolades: Semele, for instance, was an Editor’s Choice in Gramophone and one of the Records of 2007 in The Sunday Times. The recording of Flavio was nominated for a Gramophone Award in 2011, in the Baroque Vocal category.

In Alceste, Admetus, the terminally ill King of Thessaly, is promised by Apollo that he can defer his premature death if another person volunteers to die in his place. Alcestis, the beloved wife of Admetus, bravely sacrifices herself to die in his place. The hero Hercules visits his grieving friend Admetus, resolves to travel to Hades, overpowers Pluto, returns Alcestis to the world of the living, and restores her to Admetus.

The production of Alceste was initially envisaged as an expensive collaboration between the Scottish-born novelist and playwright Tobias Smollett, the Covent Garden company of actors and singers, the theatre owner and manager John Rich, the prestigious composer Handel, and the elaborate scenery designer Giovanni Servandoni. However, soon after full rehearsals began, Alceste was aborted permanently for reasons that are unclear. One theory to explain the cancellation is that the lavishness of the production became too expensive for Rich to risk box-office failure – another is that the temperamental Smollett quarrelled violently with the theatre owner, who might have responded by cancelling the production. Whatever the reason behind the cancellation, Smollett’s abandoned script for the play was lost, and only Handel’s incidental music survives today.

Although Handel never performed his music for Alceste, he characteristically found plenty of practical uses for it.

He adapted several sinfonias, choruses, and arias to form the majority of the music for The Choice of Hercules, and several other numbers were later used in revivals of Belshazzar and Alexander Balus.

Read Presto's complete review of this disc here.

“The score is of superlative quality and shows that Handel understood perfectly that for this quintessentially English theatrical impact the music had to make its impact immediately...Curnyn understands this too, and this performance has wonderful breadth...Crowe brings a gorgeous sensuality to ['Gentle Morpheus']...Hulett paces and phrases his short final aria 'Tune your harps' beautifully...Foster-Williams is impressively implacable in his single aria” International Record Review, May 2012

“agreeable sequence of music with one show stopper, Calliope’s Gentle Morpheus, which is the highlight here, as sung by Lucy Crowe, warmer and more sensual than the classic account by Emma Kirkby...[with] Curnyn’s choral and orchestral forces on sparkling form, the disc offers more than an hour of Handelian delight.” Sunday Times, 13th May 2012

“Curnyn's lively and sensitive approach makes a strong case for this little-known score.” Graham Rogers,, 28th May 2012

“Curnyn's delicious recording of the surviving score is amplified with a sinfonia from Admeto and a passacaglia from Radamisto. These fizzily, sexily swung orchestral additions emphasise the parallels between Handel's incidental music and Purcell's music for King Arthur, The Fairy Queen and The Tempest...Alcestis's journey to the Underworld is enchanting, with Curnyn's fleet strings, intimately proportioned chorus, and polished soloists” BBC Music Magazine, July 2012 *****

“Curnyn and his trim period band give full value to the music's sensuous charm, phrasing alluringly in the slower numbers and keeping the rhythms lithe and springy...Andrew Foster-Williams is incisive without bluster in Charon's balefully cheerful 'Ye fleeting shades'. Benjamin Hulett is both mellifluous and athletic in his three arias, while Lucy Crowe displays her nimble coloratura technique in the frolicking 'Come fancy' and brings a limpid purity of line to 'Gentle Morpheus'” Gramophone Magazine, August 2012

“There's a real sense of ceremonial majesty in the choruses, and the solo singing is exceptionally fine. Benjamin Hulett tackles his exacting coloratura numbers with great elegance, while Andrew Foster-Williams has fun as Charon...Best of all, though, is Lucy Crowe, who gets to sing Gentle Morpheus, Son of Night, one of the most beautiful things in Handel's entire output” The Guardian, 12th July 2012 ****

“[Hulett] impresses with his easy mellifluous voice, lovely sense of line and nice crisp ornamentation... if you haven't yet made the acquaintance of Handel's personable score, then this is the time to do so and this is the recording to go for.” MusicWeb International, July 2012

“Some of the finest music was written for the soprano...and Lucy Crowe is ravishing: it’s worth getting this disc just to hear her liquid middle register and hypnotic phrasing in the beautiful ‘Gentle Morpheus’. Andrew Foster-Williams is gleefully baleful as the infernal oarsman Charon, and Benjamin Hulett sings with distinctive tone and a fine sense of line in his three gorgeous arias.” Katherine Cooper, Presto Classical, 14th May 2012

Presto Disc of the Week

14th May 2012

GGramophone Magazine

Editor's Choice - August 2012

BBC Music Magazine

Opera Choice - July 2012

BBC Music Magazine Awards 2013

Opera Award Winner

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Chandos Chaconne - CHAN0788


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Debussy: Orchestral Works

Debussy: Orchestral Works


L'Enfant prodigue: Cortege et Air de danse

L'Enfant prodigue: Prélude

Printemps, suite for piano 4 hands or orchestra, L. 61

Prélude à l'après-midi d'un faune

Marche Écossaise

Trois Nocturnes

La Mer

Images for orchestra

Jeux - Poème dansé

Berceuse héroïque

Recognised internationally as a conductor of the highest calibre, Stéphane Denève took up the post of Music Director of the Royal Scottish National Orchestra in 2005, and has since attracted attention from audiences and critics alike. This May, the conductor bids a fond farewell to Scotland and the RSNO with a series of ‘Au Revoir’ concerts, and of course, this disc of orchestral works by Debussy.

After the impact made by the production of Pelléas et Mélisande in 1902, the next orchestral work by Debussy was awaited with intense interest. La Mer did not disappoint, and is today widely considered to have been crucial in its influence on twentieth-century music. After completing this work, Debussy spent no fewer than seven years wrestling with what were to become Images for orchestra. Some critics were puzzled by the work and suggested that Debussy’s talent might have dried out. They were promptly put right in an article by Ravel, who accused them of ‘slowly closing their eyelids before the rising sun amid loud protestations that night is falling’.

With a sultry flute solo, Prélude à l’après-midi d’un faune opened an astonishing new world for western music. Debussy based this composition on a poem by Mallarmé, who wrote to the composer: ‘I have come from the concert, deeply moved: A miracle! that your illustration of L’Après-midi d’un faune should present no dissonance with my text, other than to venture further, truly, into nostalgia and light…’

The three Nocturnes feature some of Debussy’s most imaginative orchestral writing. In the words of the composer, ‘the title Nocturnes is… not meant to designate the usual form of a nocturne, but rather all the various impressions and the special effects of light that the word would suggest’. Debussy provided descriptions of the three movements. ‘Nuages’, for example, depicts ‘the slow, melancholy procession of the clouds, ending in a grey agony tinged with white’, and also the experience of standing ‘on the Pont de Solférino very late at night. Total silence. The Seine without a ripple, like a tarnished mirror’.

“his Debussy is his own, muscular yet transparent, colouristic yet atmospheric and mysterious...Even that symphonic warhorse La Mer sounds freshly reimagined by the young Frenchman, whose sense of the music’s ebb and flow, with surging climaxes, is ideal way to acquire Debussy’s orchestral masterpieces” Sunday Times, 3rd June 2012

“Denève still summons a sensuous bloom in the Prélude, and thanks to his influence, the RSNO proves better than the French at their own game: these are among the most seductive Debussy performances I have heard in years.” Financial Times, 9th June 2012 ****

“Denève has clear ideas about the lucidity of Debussy’s scoring and he conducts the orchestra in a way that brings the poetic or visual pictures that inspired the music vividly and freshly to life...All are performed with finesse and with a combination of energy, discretion and colour that give them a luminous quality.” The Telegraph, 22nd June 2012 ***

“Denève shows how precise were [Debussy's] choices of instrumental colour and how well-defined and animated the images he was expressing through his music...There is nothing vague about these performances; rather they convey both the dynamism and the delicacy of the music with understanding and stimulating freshness.” Gramophone Magazine, August 2012

“his meticulous attention to detail is impressive, but what should be a complex, living seascape remains stubbornly one-dimensional...Outwardly brilliant, inwardly dull. Perplexing.” MusicWeb International, August 2012

GGramophone Magazine

Editor's Choice - August 2012

Super Audio CD


Hybrid Multi-channel

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Chopin Recital 2

Chopin Recital 2


Polonaise No. 2 in E flat minor, Op. 26 No. 2

Waltz No. 14 in E minor, Op. post., KKIVa:15, B 56

Waltz No. 3 in A minor 'Grande Valse Brillante', Op. 34 No. 2

Waltz No. 8 in A flat major, Op. 64 No. 3

Ballade No. 2 in F major, Op. 38

Prelude Op. 28 No. 10 in C sharp minor

Prelude Op. 28 No. 11 in B major

Prelude Op. 28 No. 13 in F sharp major

Fantasia in F minor, Op. 49

Nocturne No. 16 in E flat major, Op. 55 No. 2

Mazurka No. 5 in B flat major, Op. 7 No. 1

Mazurka No. 50 in A minor 'Notre Temps'

Mazurka No. 32 in C sharp minor, Op. 50 No. 3

Scherzo No. 2 in B flat minor, Op. 31

Janina Fialkowski’s first Chopin recital received marvellous reviews and ATMA is delighted to release a second collection.

“This is some of Chopin’s greatest music and the playing is sheer bliss.” Sunday Times. “Her technical brilliance is matched by the vivid originality of her interpretations.” Independent – Album of the Week.

“you only have to listen to the Scherzo No 2 to realise she remains a supreme Chopin stylist, combining temperament with an unsentimental touch.” Financial Times, 19th May 2012 ****

“to an even greater extent than before, her performances blaze and challenge with a potent and highly individual sense of drama...For Fialkowska, Chopin can take on something of the dark-hued austerity of late Liszt...there is never any doubting her strength of purpose. All this is a striking advance on earlier recordings, with their earlier recordings, with their more conventional notion of interpretation, and to crown it all Fialkowska has been superbly recorded.” Gramophone Magazine, August 2012

“This is a rich and illuminating find. From the outset you sense Janina Fialkowska's innate, developmental grasp of drama - of the connection between phrases and their dynamic character. Then there's the sheer life in her playing, reflected in the perfectly nourished and shrewdly apportioned sound...her pacing and exceptional graps of musical narrative is a masterclass in the art of pianistic rhetoric.” BBC Music Magazine, August 2012 *****

GGramophone Magazine

Editor's Choice - August 2012

BBC Music Magazine Awards 2013

Instrumental Award Winner

Atma - ACD22666



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Sir Adrian Boult conducts Brahms & Elgar

Sir Adrian Boult conducts Brahms & Elgar


Symphony No. 3 in F major, Op. 90

Royal Albert Hall, London, 6 August 1977


Symphony No. 1 in A flat major, Op. 55

Royal Albert Hall, London, 28 July 1976

One of the great British conductors of the 20th century, Sir Adrian Boult studied under the legendary Arthur Nikisch in Berlin, which makes his Brahms interpretations so special.

Similarly his friendship with Sir Edward Elgar ensured that all his interpretations of the composer’s works were without question authoritative, achieving an iconic status.

The Proms recording of Brahms’s Symphony No.3 from 1977 is in superb stereo and represents Boult’s ‘golden years’. He recorded two cycles of Brahms symphonies in 1954 and in the 1970s but all in the studio, whereas this ICA recording catches him ‘live’ producing a sense of drama and passion. Martin Cotton comments in his booklet notes, ‘Perhaps most surprising is the final Allegro where there is an organic shape to the movement which doesn’t compare with the rather more staid LSO (studio) recording of seven years earlier.’ In his notes, Martin Cotton emphatically states that the 1976 ‘live’ recording in wonderful stereo of Elgar’s Symphony No.1 from the Proms, ‘is completely astonishing’. Boult, one of the last living conductors to have known Elgar, had effectively been blessed by him: ‘I feel that my reputation in the future is safe in your hands’ – and here he gives what is arguably his greatest performance of the work. Cotton attended the 1976 concert and describes it as ‘one of the greatest musical experiences of my life’.

Boult’s recent recording of Brahms’s Symphony No.1 coupled with Elgar’s Enigma Variations (ICAC5019) was acclaimed in International Record Review: ‘This is a very powerful reading, from the quite fast introduction of the first movement to the triumphal close. Much the same can be said of the Elgar “Enigma” Variations from the Royal Albert Hall Centenary Concert in 1971, again with the BBCSO. Boult keeps “Nimrod” flowing, but in the finale his speeds are more flexible – starting steadily, then pushing on. It all works extremely well.’

This CD represents stunning value at over 81 minutes long.

“the sense of joyous homecoming in the closing pages is truly overwhelming in its cumulative impact and rightly accorded a thunderous ovation. There's much that is cherishable, too, in the performance of Brahms's Third...Again, Boult's contribution evinces a sureness of purpose, unassuming honesty and lofty wisdom that stem from a lifetime's experience...generous coupling that shows the veteran Boult at his inimitable best. Absolutely not to be missed.” Gramophone Magazine, August 2012

GGramophone Magazine

Re-issue of the Month - August 2012

ica classics Legacy - ICAC5063



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