Gramophone Magazine Editor's Choice

October 2012

Disc of the Month

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Handel: Saul

Awards:

Gramophone Awards 2013

Finalist - Baroque Vocal

Gramophone Magazine

Disc of the Month - October 2012

Label:

Coro

Catalogue No:

COR16103

Discs:

3

Release date:

3rd Sept 2012

Barcode:

0828021610325

Length:

2 hours 41 minutes

Medium:

CD (download also available)
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Handel: Saul


Christopher Purves (Saul), Sarah Connolly (David), Robert Murray (Jonathan), Elizabeth Atherton (Merab), Joélle Harvey (Michal), Mark Dobell (High Priest), Jeremy Budd (Witch of Endor) & Stuart Young (Ghost of Samuel)

The Sixteen, Harry Christophers

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Renowned for their Handel interpretations, Harry Christophers and his award winning choir, The Sixteen, add to their glittering catalogue of Handel discs with this new recording of Saul.

In his biblical oratorio, Saul, Handel wrote an epic work of great and noble drama and of thrilling musical inventiveness. Saul represents Handel’s first proper foray into oratorio and it is a masterpiece full of great and magical moments. It is bursting with exceptional music, extraordinary orchestration (replete with trombones, deepsounding drum and perky carillon), extended choruses both profound and ebullient, symphonies, concerto movements for organ, recitatives which explore the varying moods of the characters, and the most stunning arias.

In Saul Handel gifted soloists with roles of vivid characterisation and the artists on this disc are some of the finest Handelian interpreters of today including Christopher Purves - a baritone whose talent for dramatic realisation is matched by superb musical craftsmanship - and Sarah Connolly - whose intensely radiant performance of David on this CD confirms her status as one of our most sought-after Handel performers.

Both Christopher and Sarah sang with The Sixteen at the start of their careers, and Sarah released her first solo album Heroes and Heroines on CORO, and so it is with great pride that we welcome them back for this recording. Robert Murray, Elizabeth Atherton and Joélle Harvey along with Sixteen regulars, Mark Dobell, Jeremy Budd and Stuart Young, complete the stellar line-up of soloists on this new recording.

Saul

Act 1, Overture

Act I, Scene I, "How Excellent Thy Name", (Chorus of Israelites)

Act I, Scene I, Air. "An Infant Rais'd", (Merah)

Act I, Scene I, "Along the Monster" (Chorus)

Act I, Scene I, "The Youth Inspired" (Chorus of Israelites)

Act I, Scene I, "How Excellent Thy Name" (Chours of Israelites)

Act I, Scene I, "Hallelujah!" (Chorus of Israelites)

Act I, Scene II, Recitive. "He Comes, He Comes!" (Michal)

Act I, Scene II, Air. "O Godlike Youth" (Michal)

Act I, Scene II, Recitative. "Behold, O King" (Abner, Saul, David)

Act I, Scene II, Air. "O King, Your Favours" (David)

Act I, Scene II, Recitative "Oh Early Piety!" (Jonathan)

Act I, Scene II, Air. "What Abject Thoughts" (Merab)

Act I, Scene II, Recitative. "Yet Think On Whom This Honor" (Merab)

Act I, Scene II, Air. "Birth and Fortune I Despise!" (Jonathan)

Act I, Scene II, Recitative. "Go On, Illustrious Pair!" (High Priest)

Act I, Scene II, Air. "While Yet Thy Tide" (High Priest)

Act I, Scene II, Recitative. "Thou, Merab, First in Birth" (Saul, Merab)

Act I, Scene II, Air. "My Soul Rejects" (Merab, Michal)

Act I, Scene II, Sinfonia

Act I, Scene III, Recitative. "Already See the Daughters" (Michal)

Act I, Scene III, "Welcome, Welcome, Mighty King!" (Chorus of Israelites)

Act I, Scene III, Accompagnato. "What Do I Hear?" (Saul)

Act I, Scene III, "David His Ten Thousand Slew" (Chorus of Israelites)

Act I, Scene III, Accompagnato. "To Him Ten Thousands" (Saul)

Act I, Scene III, Air. "With Rage I Shall Burst" (Saul)

Act I, Scene IV, Recitative. "Imprudent Women!" (Johnathan, Michal)

Act I, Scene IV, Air. "Fell Rage and Black Despair" (Michal)

Act I, Scene V, Recitative. "Racked with Infernal Pains" (Abner)

Act I, Scene V, Air. "Oh Lord Whose Mercies" (David)

Act I, Scene V, Symphony (Harp)

Act I, Scene V, Recitative. "'Tis All in Vain" (Jonathan)

Act I, Scene V, Air. "A Serpent, in My Bosom Warm'd" (Saul)

Act I, Scene V, Recitative. "Has He Escap'd My Rage?" (Saul)

Act I, Scene V, Air. "Capricious Man" (Mehab)

Act I, Scene VI, Accompagnato. "O Filial Piety!" (Jonathan)

Act I, Scene VI, Air. "No, Cruel Father, No!" (Jonathan)

Act I, Scene VI, Air. "O Lord, Whose Providence" (High Priest)

Act I, Scene VI, "Preserve Him for the Glory" (High Priest)

Act II, Scene I, "Envy, Eldest Born of Hell" (Chorus)

Act II, Scene II, Recitative. "Ah, Dearest Friend" (Jonathan)

Act II, Scene II, Air. "But Sooner Jordan's Stream" (Jonathan)

Act II, Scene II, Recitative. "Oh, Strange Vicissitude!" (David, Jonathan)

Act II, Scene II, Air. "Such Haughty Beauties Rather Move" (David)

Act II, Scene II, Recitative. "My Father Comes" (Jonathan)

Act II, Scene III, Air. "Sin Not, O King, Against the Youth" (Jonathan)

Act II, Scene III, Air. "As Great Jehovah Lives, I Swear" (Saul)

Act II, Scene III, Air. "From Cities Stormed, And Battles Won" (Jonathan)

Act II, Scene IV, Recitative. "Appear, My Friend" (Jonathan, Saul)

Act II, Scene IV, Air. "Your Words, O King, My Loyal Heart" (David)

Act II, Scene IV, Recitative. "Yes, He Shall Wed My Daughter!" (Saul)

Act II, Scene V, Duet. "O Fairest of Then Thousand Fair" (Michal, David)

Act II, Scene V, "Is There a Man, Who All His Ways" (Chorus)

Act II, Scene V, Sinfonia

Act II, Scene VI, Recitative. "Thy Father Is As Cruel" (David)

Act II, Scene VI, Duet. "At Persecution I Can Laugh" (David, Michal)

Act II, Scene VII, Recitative. "Whom Dost Thou Seek?" (Michal, Doeg)

Act II, Scene VII, Air. "No, No, Let the Guitly Tremble" (Michal)

Act II, Scene VIII, Recitative. "Mean As He Was, He Is My New Brother" (Merab)

Act II, Scene VIII, Air. "Author of Peace" (Merab)

Act, II, Scene IX, Saul at the Feast of the New Moon. (Symphony)

Act, II, Scene IX, Saul at the Feast of the New Moon. Accompagnato. "The Time At Length Is Come" (Saul)

Act II, Scene X, Recitative. "Where Is the Son of Jesse?" (Saul, Jonathan)

Act II, Scene X, "Oh Fatal Consequence" (Chorus)

Act III, Scene I - Saul Disguised, at Endor: Accompagnato. "Wretch That I Am, of My Own Ruin Author!" (Saul)

Act III, Scene I - Saul Disguised, at Endor: Accompagnato. "'Tis Said, Here Lives a Woman" (Saul)

Act III, Scene II - Saul and the Witch of Endor: Recitative. "With Me What Would'st Thou?" (Witch, Saul)

Act III, Scene II - Saul and the Witch of Endor: Air. "Infernal Spirits, By Whose Pow'r" (Witch)

Act III, Scene III - Apparition of Samuel: Accompagnao. "Why Hast Thou Forc'd Me from the Realms of Peace?" (Samuel, Saul)

Act III, Scene III - Appartition of Samuel: Sinfonia

Act III, Scene IV, Recitative. "Whence Comest Thou?" (David, Amalekite)

Act III, Scene IV, Air. "Impious Wretch, of Race Accurst!" (David)

Act III, Scene IV, Dead March (Symphony)

Act III, Scene V - Elegy on the Death of Saul and Jonathan: "Mourn, Israel, Mourn Thy Beauty Lost" (Chours)

Act III, Scene V - Elegy on the Death of Saul and Jonathan: Accompagnato "Oh, Let It Not in Gath Be Heard" (High Priest)

Act III, Scene V - Elegy on the Death of Saul and Jonathan: Air. "From This Unhappy Day" (Merab)

Act III, Scene V - Elegy on the Death of Saul and Jonathan: Air. "Brave Jonathan Hi Bow Never Drew" (David)

Act III, Scene V - Elegy on the Death of Saul and Jonathan: Chorus."Eagles Were Not So Swift As They..." (Israelites)

Act III, Scene V - Elegy on the Death of Saul and Jonathan: Air. "In Sweetest Harmony They Lived" (Michal)

Act III, Scene V - Elegy on the Death of Saul and Jonathan: Solo/Chorus. "Oh Fatal Day!" (David, Israelites)

Act III, Scene V - Elegy on the Death of Saul and Jonathan: Recitative. "Ye Men of Judah, Weep No More!" (High Priest)

Act III, Scene V - Elegy on the Death of Saul and Jonathan: Chorus. "Gird on Thy Sword, Thou Man of Might" (Israelites)

Harry Christophers discusses new Saul recording by The Sixteen

Members of The Sixteen discuss their roles

Gramophone Magazine

October 2012

“[Christophers's] ever-sure handling of choruses, sensitivity to the needs of solo singers and affinity for the orchestral grandeur or Handel's most elaborate score mark him out as an honest, natural Handelian conductor...Purves charms, broods, fumes implacably, plots villainously and confronts his doom vividly in the manner of a Shakespearean tragedian...The Sixteen's first-class account of Saul is magnificent in every way that matters most.”

The Times

7th September 2012

****

“With his acting chops and weighty bass-baritone, Purves in full cry is a splendid and fearful spectacle. But balm is at hand from Sarah Connolly’s David...She’s at her peak singing O Lord, Whose Mercies Numberless in Act I, channelling her eloquence through the words rather than any elaborately beautified tone...Buy with confidence.”

Sunday Times

16th September 2012

“Christopher Purves gives vent to Saul’s paranoia with trenchant diction and fulminating delivery of Handel’s angry coloratura. Sarah Connolly’s David is the other star, unusually but apparently authentically cast in a role once thought to have been written for a countertenor.”

International Record Review

October 2012

“Christophers is, on the whole, a lively and mainstream Handelian...The set is worth having for Connolly's singing of [David's] aria alone...Purves's volatile Saul strikes me, too, as a prime asset...none of his colleagues in the older sets suggests the gradual slide into paranoia and derangement as Purves does here. His text is immaculate, his coloratura clean and precise, never blustery.”

BBC Music Magazine

Christmas 2012

****

“the choruses are always beautifully contoured, as is the incisive playing of The Sixteen's house band. Christopher Purves and Sarah Connolly all but steal the show: Purves's splenetic Saul is a satisfyingly multi-layered creation...Connolly's 'O Lord, whose mercies' proves a spellbinding vindication of casting a sophisticated velvety mezzo”

Early Music Today

“[Connolly's and Purves's] performances could not be bettered. Indeed, the whole cast is excellent, with Robert Murray (Jonathan) and Joélle Harvey (Michal) also on sparkling form, as are the chorus and orchestra. Christophers paces the drama perfectly, and draws out every emotional nuance throughout; he deserves the highest praise for this outstanding achievement.”

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Puccini: Il Trittico

Puccini: Il Trittico

Recorded live at the Royal Opera House, September 2011


Il Tabarro

Lucio Gallo (Michele), Aleksandrs Antonenko (Luigi), Eva-Maria Westbroek (Giorgetta), Alan Oke (Tinca), Jeremy White (Talpa), Irina Mishura (La Frugola), Ji-Min Park (Venditore), Anna Devin, Robert Anthony Gardiner (Due Amanti)

Suor Angelica

Ermonela Jaho (Suor Angelica), Anna Larsson (La Zia Principessa), Eryl Royle (Suor Osmina), Anna Devin (Suor Genovieffa), Kathy Batho (Novice), Elizabeth Key (Suor Dolcina), Elizabeth Woollett (Nursing Sister), Gillian Webster, Kathleen Wilder (Due Cercatrici), Irina Mishura (La Badessa), Elizabeth Sikora (Maestra delle Novizie), Elena Zilio (La Suora Zelatrice)

Gianni Schicchi

Lucio Gallo (Gianni Schicchi), Ekaterina Siurina (Lauretta), Francesco Demuro (Rinuccio), Elena Zilio (Zita), Rebecca Evans (Nella), Marie McLaughlin (La Ciesca), Jeremy White (Betto di Signa), Gwynne Howell (Simone), Robert Poulton (Marco), Alan Oke (Gherardo), Filippo Turkheimer (Gherardino), Henry Waddington (Maestro Spinelloccio), Enrico Fissore (Ser Amantio di Nicolai), Daniel Grice (Pinellio), John Molloy (Guccio)

Royal Opera Chorus & Orchestra of the Royal Opera House, Antonio Pappano (conductor) & Richard Jones (director)

This is The Royal Opera’s first complete presentation of Puccini’s Il trittico since 1965. Leading director Richard Jones staged his witty, darkly comic realization of Gianni Schicchi for The Royal Opera in 2007, and here he completes the trio.

3 DVDs for the price of 1

Leading director Richard Jones staged his witty, darkly comic realization of Gianni Schicchi for The Royal Opera in 2007.

The production was revived in 2012 and here he completes the trio with two new productions of Il Tabarro and Suor Angelica.

Antonio Pappano conducts an acclaimed cast including Eva-Maria Westbroek, Ermonela Jaho, Lucio Gallo, Elena Zilio and rising star Francesco Demuro.

These three one-act works were broadcast on BBC Radio 3 and went to cinemas world-wide in February 2012.

Running time: 180 minutes

Subtitles: EN/FR/DE/ES

Sound format: 2.0LPCM + 5.1(5.0) DTS

“a triumph...three wonderfully directed and expertly acted productions. Add in Pappano's impeccable conducting and his valuable introductions to the pieces, and you have a nigh-on ideal Trittico.” BBC Music Magazine, September 2012 *****

“In the theatre, Suor Angelica packed a stronger punch [than Il Tabarro]. Here, on DVD, it is little short of devastating...Jaho's youthful vulnerability is deeply moving...Gianni Schicchi is a wicked 1960s delight...Outstandingly filmed, this set marks a high point for live opera on DVD...I have no hesitation in making this new Trittico the top recommendation.” Gramophone Magazine, October 2012

“Pappano draws consistently fine playing from the orchestra...Gallo is in very good from as Michele...Westbroek gives her all in Giorgetta's contrasting scenes...Jaho dominates [Suor Angelica], of course, and in a role which she had never sung before...Gallo exhibits his facility for comic roles [in Schicchi]...One will have to look far to find a better trio of performances than these” International Record Review, September 2012

“Pappano conducts a riotously raucous Schicchi, a bleak, foreboding Tabarro, and a poignant Suor Angelica in this 2007 Covent Garden production by Richard Jones. I can't think of a better cast for Tabarro than Lucio Gallo, Aleksandrs Antonenko, and Eva-Maria Westbroek, and Ermonela Jaho is a harrowingly sorrowful Suor Angelica. Wonderful stuff.” James Longstaffe, Presto Classical, July 2014

GGramophone Awards 2013

Winner - Opera

GGramophone Magazine

Blu-ray of the Month - October 2012

BBC Music Magazine

DVD & Blu-ray Choice - September 2012

Blu-ray Disc

Region: all

Opus Arte Royal Opera House Collection - OABD7102D

(Blu-ray)

$35.50

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Puccini: Il Trittico

Puccini: Il Trittico

Recorded live at the Royal Opera House, September 2011


Il Tabarro

Lucio Gallo (Michele), Aleksandrs Antonenko (Luigi), Eva-Maria Westbroek (Giorgetta), Alan Oke (Tinca), Jeremy White (Talpa), Irina Mishura (La Frugola), Ji-Min Park (Venditore), Anna Devin, Robert Anthony Gardiner (Due Amanti)

Suor Angelica

Ermonela Jaho (Suor Angelica), Anna Larsson (La Zia Principessa), Eryl Royle (Suor Osmina), Anna Devin (Suor Genovieffa), Kathy Batho (Novice), Elizabeth Key (Suor Dolcina), Elizabeth Woollett (Nursing Sister), Gillian Webster, Kathleen Wilder (Due Cercatrici), Irina Mishura (La Badessa), Elizabeth Sikora (Maestra delle Novizie), Elena Zilio (La Suora Zelatrice)

Gianni Schicchi

Lucio Gallo (Gianni Schicchi), Ekaterina Siurina (Lauretta), Francesco Demuro (Rinuccio), Elena Zilio (Zita), Rebecca Evans (Nella), Marie McLaughlin (La Ciesca), Jeremy White (Betto di Signa), Gwynne Howell (Simone), Robert Poulton (Marco), Alan Oke (Gherardo), Filippo Turkheimer (Gherardino), Henry Waddington (Maestro Spinelloccio), Enrico Fissore (Ser Amantio di Nicolai), Daniel Grice (Pinellio), John Molloy (Guccio)

Royal Opera Chorus & Orchestra of the Royal Opera House, Antonio Pappano (conductor) & Richard Jones (director)

This is The Royal Opera’s first complete presentation of Puccini’s Il trittico since 1965. Leading director Richard Jones staged his witty, darkly comic realization of Gianni Schicchi for The Royal Opera in 2007, and here he completes the trio.

3 DVDs for the price of 1

Leading director Richard Jones staged his witty, darkly comic realization of Gianni Schicchi for The Royal Opera in 2007.

The production was revived in 2012 and here he completes the trio with two new productions of Il Tabarro and Suor Angelica.

Antonio Pappano conducts an acclaimed cast including Eva-Maria Westbroek, Ermonela Jaho, Lucio Gallo, Elena Zilio and rising star Francesco Demuro.

These three one-act works were broadcast on BBC Radio 3 and went to cinemas world-wide in February 2012.

Running time: 180 minutes

Subtitles: EN/FR/DE/ES

Sound format: 2.0LPCM + 5.1(5.0) DTS

“a triumph...three wonderfully directed and expertly acted productions. Add in Pappano's impeccable conducting and his valuable introductions to the pieces, and you have a nigh-on ideal Trittico.” BBC Music Magazine, September 2012 *****

“In the theatre, Suor Angelica packed a stronger punch [than Il Tabarro]. Here, on DVD, it is little short of devastating...Jaho's youthful vulnerability is deeply moving...Gianni Schicchi is a wicked 1960s delight...Outstandingly filmed, this set marks a high point for live opera on DVD...I have no hesitation in making this new Trittico the top recommendation.” Gramophone Magazine, October 2012

“Pappano draws consistently fine playing from the orchestra...Gallo is in very good from as Michele...Westbroek gives her all in Giorgetta's contrasting scenes...Jaho dominates [Suor Angelica], of course, and in a role which she had never sung before...Gallo exhibits his facility for comic roles [in Schicchi]...One will have to look far to find a better trio of performances than these” International Record Review, September 2012

“Pappano conducts a riotously raucous Schicchi, a bleak, foreboding Tabarro, and a poignant Suor Angelica in this 2007 Covent Garden production by Richard Jones. I can't think of a better cast for Tabarro than Lucio Gallo, Aleksandrs Antonenko, and Eva-Maria Westbroek, and Ermonela Jaho is a harrowingly sorrowful Suor Angelica. Wonderful stuff” James Longstaffe, Presto Classical, July 2014

GGramophone Awards 2013

Winner - Opera

GGramophone Magazine

DVD of the Month - October 2012

BBC Music Magazine

DVD Choice - September 2012

BBC Music Magazine Awards 2013

DVD Finalist

DVD Video

Region: 0

Format: NTSC

Opus Arte Royal Opera House Collection - OA1070D

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$29.50

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Edition Staatskapelle Dresden - Volume 33

Edition Staatskapelle Dresden - Volume 33


Mahler:

Symphony No. 2 'Resurrection'


Charlotte Margiono (soprano) & Jard van Nes (alto)

Chor der Sächsischen Staatsoper Dresden, Sinfoniechor Dresden & Staatskapelle Dresden, Bernard Haitink

“the strings have a warmly cosseting quality, the winds are mellifluous, the brass powerful but cleanly focused...The voices are well balanced and Haitink's willingness to let the music breathe while never allowing it to sag (just listen to how the first movement gains momentum) benefits Mahler's structural design...A great recording, then” Gramophone Magazine, October 2012

GGramophone Magazine

Editor's Choice - October 2012

Profil Medien Edition Staatskapelle Dresden - PH07040

(CD - 2 discs)

$20.75

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Messiaen: Turangalîla Symphony

Messiaen: Turangalîla Symphony


Steven Osborne (piano) & Cynthia Millar (ondes Martenot)

Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra, Juanjo Mena

‘The Messiaen Monster’, ridiculed by critics at its premiere—in the best tradition of works of genius—is now ‘established as one of the most astonishing classics of the twentieth century’, as Nigel Simeone writes in the booklet of this brilliant new release. The joyful generosity of the orchestral writing and kaleidoscopic nature of the musical invention make Turangalîla one of Messiaen’s most characteristic and appealing works, considered by many to be his masterpiece. As well as the distinctive sound of the ondes martenot, the other striking feature is the virtuoso piano part—it is in some ways a concerto, although the sheer scale of the orchestral contribution belies that specific title. Rarely has it been more explosively performed than here, with an acknowledged living master of Messiaen’s piano music, Steven Osborne, at the keyboard.

“Osborne copes faultlessly here, negotiating the bustle of the more intense movements with precision and smooth power, while the more reflective passages such as the "Jardin du Sommeil d'amour" are treated with fluid grace and understanding.” The Independent, 28th July 2012 ****

“The virtue of this studio recording is, paradoxically, that it doesn’t get carried away. The balance of instrumental sound is exemplary, without compromising atmosphere or momentum, and there are virtuoso contributions from Steven Osborne in the easily overlooked piano part and from Cynthia Millar” Financial Times, 11th August 2012 ****

“Mena doesn’t attempt to tone down the vulgarity or smooth the out the textures. He’s impetuous, excitable, the Bergen players managing to keep up with his swift tempi. There’s plenty of muscle on display, but the softer episodes are gorgeous...Osborne’s handling of the fiendish piano solo is effortless...Unmissable – this is already among the most uplifting discs you’ll hear all year.” The Arts Desk, 11th August 2012

“any performance must keep sight of the romantic, sometimes disturbing, core of the work. This is clearly understood in this performance from Juanjo Mena and the Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra...the essentials are there...[Osborne] brings authority to the piano cadenzas and poetry to the filigree passages, while the orchestra players are clearly having fun.” BBC Music Magazine, September 2012 ****

“A unity of vision between pianist and conductor helps make this Turangalila prevail where others are compromised...the concentrated meditative quality Mena and Osborne lend to the sixth movement rotates the symphony on its axis...No other conductor gets inside Messiaen's overlapping currents of cyclic time like Mena.” Gramophone Magazine, October 2012

“Mena has a tremendous grip on the score and a real sense of its epic sweep. That sense of sweep, however, is not at the expense of attention to detail; Mena clearly has every aspect of this score at his fingertips...the playing of the Bergen Philharmonic is first class.” MusicWeb International, August 2012

GGramophone Magazine

Editor's Choice - October 2012

Hyperion & Helios - up to 50% off

Hyperion - CDA67816

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Elias String Quartet play Haydn & Schumann

Elias String Quartet play Haydn & Schumann


Grant, Donald:

Lament for Mulroy

Haydn:

String Quartet, Op. 64 No. 6 in E flat major

Schumann:

String Quartet No. 1 in A minor, Op. 41 No. 1


Elias String Quartet: Sara Bitlloch, Donald Grant (violins), Martin Saving (viola) & Marie Bitlloch (cello)

The Elias String Quartet returns to Wigmore Hall Live with a much anticipated disc of Haydn and Schumann, recorded live in concert, September 2010.

Formed at the Royal Northern College of Music in 1998, the ensemble quickly became established among the leading quartets performing internationally today, and is now supported by the prestigious Wigmore Hall Emerging Talent scheme. Widely praised for the vibrancy and intensity of its performances, the quartet has received particular critical acclaim for recent recordings, and in April 2010 its disc of Mendelssohn, Mozart and Schubert on the Wigmore Hall Live label [WHLIVE0028] received the BBC Music Magazine Newcomer Award.

“a keen feeling for musical character, immaculate ensemble, lively articulation and just the right degree of vibration to ensure both warmth and clarity of sound...the Elias genuinely catch the ardent waywardness of Schumann spirit. They also make something mesmeric of the sudden, still, drone-based episode near the end of the rustic-style finale.” BBC Music Magazine, August 2012 ****

“Slender tone, soft, delicate and withdrawn greets you at the start of Schumann's first Quartet, the Introduzione played Andante espressivo as instructed. The Elias String Quartet observe the metronome marking ((as they do in the other movements too) but there isn't a hint of rigidity...the Elias make their points and there is no lack of variety in mood” Gramophone Magazine, October 2012

“They make a beautiful sound, burnished yet translucent, and play with vigour and subtlety. On the strength of these performances, I find their fluid, yielding style more suited to Schumann than to Haydn...The Schumann is a delight.” Sunday Times, 3rd June 2012

“It's a fascinating programme: the Haydn features a dazzling presto finale brimming with theatrical gaiety and virtuoso flair, while the Schumann is explored with marvellous collective vigour and sensitivity – the pulsing drive of both the scherzo and the finale disguising the deft lightness of the bowing.” The Independent, 13th April 2012

GGramophone Magazine

Editor's Choice - October 2012

Wigmore Hall Live - WHLIVE0051

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Christian Gerhaher: Ferne Geliebte (Distant Beloved)

Christian Gerhaher: Ferne Geliebte (Distant Beloved)


Beethoven:

An die ferne Geliebte (To the distant beloved), Op. 98

Adelaide, Op. 46

Berg:

5 Orchesterlieder nach Ansichtskartentexten von Peter Altenberg, Op. 4

Haydn:

Trost unglucklicher Liebe, Hob. XXVIa:9

Geistliches Lied, Hob. XXVIa:17

Das Leben ist ein Traum, Hob. XXVIa:21

Schoenberg:

Das Buch der Hängenden Gärten, Op. 15


Christian Gerhaher (baritone) & Gerold Huber (piano)

Christian Gerhaher is the outstanding Lieder singer of our time. His recordings of the art songs and song cycles by Schubert, Schumann, Brahms and Mahler possess reference status, and have been awarded many major prizes. In the UK alone his awards include the 2009 BBC Music Magazine Award for Vocal Performance, a Gramophone award in 2006, and in 2011 he won the Olivier Outstanding Achievement in Opera award.

Gerhaher now presents his first ‘concept album’, which is at the same time his first album of songs by multiple composers in 10 years.

‘Ferne Geliebte’ (Distant Beloved) juxtaposes compositions from the two great Vienna schools, Viennese Classicism on the one hand, represented by Haydn and Beethoven, and the Second Viennese School with Schönberg and Berg on the other. The connection between them all is their preoccupation with loneliness, longing and hopeless love.

Christian Gerhaher is accompanied on the piano by his permanent duo partner Gerold Huber.

“He treats the cycles with the same care for the meaning of every word, beauty of tone, subtle emphasis and shading...Both the Schoenberg and the Berg are usually sung by a soprano or mezzo...But hearing them juxtaposed in such poised performances – Gerold Huber is Gerhaher's acutely sensitive partner – seems totally logical.” The Guardian, 14th June 2012 *****

“Rather than a purely beautiful voice, Gerhaher's approach is intently text-focused, making the consonants sound as strongly as the vowels, responsive to every twist and turn of the poetry.” The Observer, 17th June 2012

“Gerhaher delivers text so incisively and with such vitality that these songs leap from the page more vividly than ever before. I doubt that the Schoenberg and Berg cycles have been more lyrically sung, either. Huber’s expressive playing is vital to this indivisible partnership’s most challenging, but ultimately most rewarding, achievement on disc.” Sunday Times, 9th July 2012

“Gerhaher is an unrivalled lieder singer, and his partnership with Huber is a reproof to the one-night-stand recitals brokered by many record labels.” The Independent on Sunday, 22nd July 2012

“Admirers of Gerhaher...will need no encouragement to...be re-acquainted with his beautiful baritone, clean diction and highly cultivated interpretative stance. The programme he has selected with pianist Gerold Huber will not, however, appeal to everyone...though the softness of Gerhaher’s timbre and the intelligence of his word-painting gives them an ideally seductive cushion.” Financial Times, 4th August 2012 ***

“a recital of rare and compelling musical intelligence and integrity of response...But as well as the intellectual satisfaction of this recital, there is also the sheer delight of Gerhaher's superbly cultivated baritone, and his outstanding artistry. If ever art concealed art, it is here” BBC Music Magazine, September 2012 *****

“The Beethoven cycle immediately reacquaints us with Gerhaher's familiar virtues of a beautiful, even voice and unforced clarity of diction...Others have portrayed more suggestively the highly coloured, alien dream-world the cycle seems to inhabit...but few have shown how intimately Stefan George's poems determine the pitches and rhythms of Schoenberg's singing combines lyrical beauty with meticulous detail.” Gramophone Magazine, October 2012

“Gerhaher is now clearly at the peak of his career, as regards his ability to align beauty of sound to remarkably sincere and unfussy delivery of text...The whole of the programme is presented with consistently elegant and thoughtful artistry...[Huber is] a superbly sensitive partner throughout” International Record Review, September 2012

GGramophone Magazine

Editor's Choice - October 2012

BBC Music Magazine Awards 2013

Vocal Finalist

Sony - 88691935432

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Shostakovich: Prologue to Orango & Symphony No. 4

Shostakovich: Prologue to Orango & Symphony No. 4


Shostakovich:

Symphony No. 4 in C minor, Op. 43

Prologue to Orango

World Premiere Recording. Orchestrated by Gerard McBurney


Commissioned to commemorate the 15th anniversary of the October Revolution in 1932, Orango tells the fantastical story of a human-ape hybrid, who, through a combination of sleazy journalism, stock-exchange swindles and blackmail, rises to become a ruthless newspaper baron

Because of its explosive political and musical content, Shostakovich left Orango unfinished. The score remained forgotten until 2004, when a 13 page piano score was found in Moscow

At the request of the composer’s widow, Gerald McBurney orchestrated the Prologue to Shostakovich’s lost opera. Its World Premiere took place at Walt Disney Hall on December 2nd, 2011, with the Los Angeles Philharmonic conducted by Esa-Pekka Salonen

On a Mahlerian scale and ranging from the darkest tragedy to dreamlike sequences of music-hall and silent-film music, Shostakovich’s Fourth Symphony is one of his most dramatic and revolutionary symphonic works. Forced by austere Soviet authorities to withdraw the radical symphony shortly before its premiere, the work was first heard in public over twenty five years later, when the composer is reported to have said, “I think in many ways the Fourth is greater than my later symphonic efforts”

The booklet contains essays by orchestrator Gerald McBurney, who tells the story of Orango’s rediscovery, and by renowned iconoclast director, Peter Sellars, who staged the work at its long-awaited Los Angeles premiere.

Read Presto's complete review of this disc here.

“The Prologue makes a curious yet first-rate companion to the mighty Shostakovich Four. Salonen's approach to this half-human, half-monster Symphony is well-calculated...the LA recording adds much to our understanding of an extraordinarily complex giant.” BBC Music Magazine, October 2012 ****

“[The Prologue] comes rip-roaringly off the surviving piano score in Gerard McBurney's spookily authentic orchestration...It's a composerly account [of the Fourth] in which every thematic connection, however oblique, has something to say. Clarity is forensic, with the Los Angeles Philharmonic achieving levels of precision that can...totally suspend disbelief.” Gramophone Magazine, October 2012

“McKinny is a Master of Ceremonies of tangible malevolence...Salonen gets a lively response from his choral and orchestral forces, pointing up the music's humour to the audible enjoyment of the audience...this occasion may well be the first time [Salonen] has tackled one of the symphonies. The Fourth is the right choice in that its combining wilfully disparate material with an essentially pluarlistic idiom plays to this conductor's interpretative strengths.” International Record Review, September 2012

“does the prologue work as a stand-alone piece? Emphatically, yes...This is vintage Shostakovich, big, bold and biting, the fine soloists and chorus believably balanced...McBurney and Salonen exercise good judgment with this intriguing score..Worth it for Orango alone; look elsewhere for the symphony.” MusicWeb International, June 2012

“Dramatically, there are echoes and anticipations of other twentieth-century opera...McKinny makes an oleaginous, sinister Master of ceremonies...[Brancoveanu] his role in the Prologue gives him little to work with other than a series of groans, yawns and the odd inarticulate phrase, but even with these limited resources he manages to convey the ape’s dangerous pent-up strength and almost Calibanesque poetic sensibility.” Katherine Cooper, Presto Classical, 2nd July 2012

“Even if some of the music [of Orango] sounds thin in this Gerard McBurney orchestration, Esa-Pekka Salonen’s LA forces give it five-star treatment — the rising American tenor Michael Fabiano is outstanding — and it serves as an agreeable bonne bouche to Salonen’s stupendous account of the bewildering Fourth” Sunday Times, 9th July 2012

“[Orango's] trenchant wit and seriousness of satirical purpose leave you wishing more of it had survived...Salonen conducts [the Fourth] with cool lucidity and a sense of remorseless logic...The immense climax of the finale isn't as shattering as it could be, but elsewhere Salonen's fondness for clear textures is very much in evidence, and often admirable.” The Guardian, 12th July 2012 ****

“the piano score of the prologue to Shostakovich's abandoned opera Orango blazes with colour in Gerard McBurney's orchestration.” The Independent, 1st July 2012 ****

“Salonen’s forces throw themselves into the affray with plenty of pep. Ryan McKinny acquits himself well as the Entertainer, master of ceremonies at a big Soviet rally...the [Symphony] cackles and grimaces with more vigour than Orango...there’s a bright heat and clarity here” The Times, 29th June 2012 ***

Presto Disc of the Week

2nd July 2012

GGramophone Magazine

Editor's Choice - October 2012

DG - 4790249

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Vadim Gluzman: par.ti.ta

Vadim Gluzman: par.ti.ta


Auerbach:

par.ti.ta for violin solo

Bach, J S:

Partita for solo violin No. 2 in D minor, BWV1004

Partita for solo violin No. 3 in E major, BWV1006

Ysaÿe:

Sonata for solo violin in A minor, Op. 27 No. 2


Vadim Gluzman (violin)

Vadim Gluzman here presents his newest project for BIS: a disc combining two partitas by J.S. Bach with two works by Eugène Ysaÿe and Lera Auerbach.

The Partita No.2 was described as ‘one of the most wonderful, most incomprehensible pieces of music’ by Brahms, and is followed on the disc by Auerbach’s par.ti.ta, composed specifically for Vadim Gluzman.

In Ysaÿe‘s Sonata in A minor the parallels with the Partita No.3 are very strong. It was composed in 1924 as the second of a set of six, each sonata dedicated to a fellow violin virtuoso, and although the affinity is obvious, he incorporates elements wholly alien to Bach.

Vadim Gluzman’s previous discs on BIS have ranged from solo works and chamber music by Lera Auerbach, Arvo Pärt and Alfred Schnittke, to the great violin concertos by Bruch and Tchaikovsky.

“It all makes for fascinating listening. Gluzman has an agile technique and tonal range that fit him well for the demands of the D minor Partita’s great chaconne and for the other difficulties in this music, but, more importantly, he projects both a sense of style and an interpretative personality that give his playing a magnetic presence.” The Telegraph, 17th August 2012 ****

“it's good to hear even a little sense of struggle as he conquers Ysaye's demanding writing. The ten short movements of Auerbach's par.ti.ta refract Bach through a contemporary prism and Gluzman finds even more colour and concentration, captured by the in-depth recording.” BBC Music Magazine, October 2012 ***

“Gluzman plays the outer movements [of the Ysaye] with the virtuoso panache that must have been in the composer's mind...Gluzman shows himself to be a fine Bach-player, too. Occasionally I longed for the subtle illumination of phrasing, the sort of light and shade that's much easier to achieve with a Baroque bow...But each movement has a sense of life and poise; the Chaconne is especially impressive” Gramophone Magazine, October 2012

GGramophone Magazine

Editor's Choice - October 2012

Super Audio CD

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The Word Unspoken

The Word Unspoken

Sacred Music by William Byrd & Philippe de Monte


Byrd:

Cantiones Sacrae I

Quomodo cantabimus

Monte, P:

Motets Book V


Gallicantus, Gabriel Crouch (director)

William Byrd, favourite of Queen Elizabeth I, was a confirmed and practising Catholic who worshipped in defiance of the Queen. His status and perhaps even his life was preserved thanks partly to the undeniable mastery of his music, and to the fact that he was careful to maintain an output of music appropriate for a Protestant Rite (simple and English) as well as a Catholic one (florid and Latin).

Byrd was by no means the only major Catholic composer working in England during these years. Furthermore, there were English composers whose faith drove them to work abroad, as well as foreign composers who offered sympathy and encouragement to English Catholics. Included in this latter category was the Flemish composer Phillipe De Monte who entered into a fascinating compositional correspondence with Byrd. Verses of Psalm 136 ‘Super Flumina Babylonis’ (containing many allegorical references to the plight of catholics unable to practice their faith openly) were set to music and exchanged, in what is now seen as an encoded message of mutual support and friendship between brothers in faith.

The texts reveal the Catholic community’s sense of isolation: “How shall we sing the Lord’s song in a strange land?”, Quomodo Cantabimus; and bereavement: “Jerusalem is wasted”, Ne Irascaris, and the elaborate, poetic nature of the encoded messages distributed within it through music.

The early-music consort Gallicantus (led by former King's Singer Gabriel Crouch) is drawn from the ranks of recent BBC Music Magazine award-winning choir Tenebrae.

“The intensity of the music is reflected in Gallicantus’s beautifully shaped performances, even if we miss now the raw sense of peril that English Catholics must then have felt.” Sunday Times, 9th July 2012

“The ensemble's view of this repertory, though hardly new, is delivered with such intelligence and rhetorical persuasiveness that the cumulative weight of their Byrd, in particular, is well-nigh symphonic in effect...Only the most prejudiced critics of 'the English sound', I'd say, could dispute that Gallicantus achieves something rather special here.” Gramophone Magazine, October 2012

GGramophone Magazine

Editor's Choice - October 2012

Signum - SIGCD295

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Gabriel Jackson: Beyond The Stars

Gabriel Jackson: Beyond The Stars

Sacred Choral Works II


Jackson, Gabriel:

The Glory of the Lord

Fanfare for St Mary’s

(organ solo)

The Christ-child

Hymn to St Margaret of Scotland

Jesu, Rex admirabilis

Ah, mine heart

Missa Sanctae Margaretae

Justorum animae

Vidi aquam

Let us all rejoice in the Lord

In all his works

The Land Of Spices

Ecce venio cito


Celebrating his 50th birthday in 2012, Gabriel Jackson has had a long and close association with the choir of St Mary’s Cathedral. Under Duncan Ferguson’s dynamic direction, they bring a special authority, and all their characteristic verve and intensity, to a sequence of recording premieres that centres on the florid 'Hymn to St Margaret of Scotland', newly written for the choir.

Sumptuously recorded, this is a dazzling window into the luminous world of Gabriel Jackson.

“You will have to go a long way to hear choral singing finer than this. Take such matters as tuning, blend and diction as read: they are superb. Instead, let us cut to the astonishingly communicative nature of the singing. This is unforgettable...Trebles lines don't just soar...they take wing with a kind of elated abandon...indeed, it seems clear to me that all the performers are inspired by, almost possessed by, this inspired music.” International Record Review, July/August 2012

“the choir rises to and surmounts every challenge. More than that, their performances have tremendous conviction and assurance. Duncan Ferguson has clearly trained his choir superbly. The organ playing of Nicholas Wearne is excellent throughout.” MusicWeb International, July 2012

“a collection of 16 of [Jackson's] endlessly inventive and stimulating choral pieces, some the fruit of his happy association with the excellent choir of St Mary's, Edinburgh. The mix of boys and girls on the treble line...lends a spacious elegance to the sound and a pleasing variety of solo sonorities...Highly recommended.” The Observer, 20th August 2012

“It's the sheer fervour of the singing in Gabriel Jackson's The Glory of the Lord which gets you as it leaps, skids and (at the conclusion) yelps its paean of praise into the vibrant acoustic...The piece is bursting with the desire to worship, and the performance by the Cathedral's choir is scintillating...Filled to overflowing with verve and commitment.” BBC Music Magazine, September 2012 *****

“Throughout it all runs an almost tiresomely festive mood, punctuated by jubilant choral shouts and sparkling organ passagework...since the arrival of Duncan Ferguson in 2007 [the choir] has turned into one of Scotland's (indeed one of Britain's) musical jewels...It's easy to get so wrapped up in the ravishing delights of Jackson's writing that you forget the astonishing quality of these performances...a disc of unrelenting impressiveness.” Gramophone Magazine, October 2012

GGramophone Magazine

Editor's Choice - October 2012

Contemporary Music - up to 25% off

Delphian - DCD34106

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Bruckner: Symphony No. 4 in Eb Major 'Romantic'

Bruckner: Symphony No. 4 in Eb Major 'Romantic'


Continuing Signum’s series of live orchestral releases with the Philharmonia Orchestra, on this new disc Christoph von Dohnányi leads a performance of Bruckner’s Symphony No.4, 'Romantic'.

Bruckner stands out from other 19th-century symphonists; his large-scale works demonstrate a unique fusion of conservative and radical elements, notably influenced by composers such as Wagner and Beethoven. He appended not only the title ‘Romantic’ but even included a programme for the Fourth Symphony, sometime after composition. Though he later withdrew it, the scenario is a mediaeval Romantic ideal, where knights awaken to the sound of horns, rejoice and repair to prayer, before the inevitable hunt and ensuing festivities.

“By graduating both dynamics and intensity, von Dohnanyi studiously avoids that sense of periodic hiatus less attentive interpreters can often convey. The result is that the performance possesses a compelling feeling of being a singular rather than a disparate organism.” Sunday Times, 13th May 2012

“The Royal Festival Hall perhaps doesn't offer the kind of spacious acoustic most suited to Bruckner's orchestration...Nonetheless, this is a largely enjoyable performance” BBC Music Magazine, September 2012 ***

“There's much worth celebrating on this excellent new (or newish) recording of Bruckner's Fourth Symphony...Dohnanyi has a convincing take on the way the Fourth's arching phrases function in relation to its rhythmic aspect, so that while the string lines soar, the brass and timpani help focus the score's structural foundations” Gramophone Magazine, October 2012

GGramophone Magazine

Editor's Choice - October 2012

Signum Philharmonia Orchestra - SIGCD256

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Richard Strauss: Songs

Richard Strauss: Songs


Strauss, R:

Der Stern, Op. 69 No. 1

Einerlei, Op. 69 No. 3

Schlechtes Wetter, Op. 69 No. 5

Muttertändelei, Op. 43 No. 2

Ruhe, meine Seele!, Op. 27 No. 1

Cäcilie, Op. 27 No. 2

Blauer Sommer, Op. 31 No. 1

Das Rosenband, Op. 36 No. 1

Leises Lied, Op. 39 No. 1

Wiegenlied, Op. 41 No. 1

Des Dichters Abendgang, Op. 47 No. 2

Winterweihe, Op. 48 No. 4

Ständchen, Op. 17 No. 2

Meinem Kinde, Op. 37 No. 3

Drei Lieder der Ophelia Op. 67

Ich wollt ein Sträusslein binden, Op. 68 No. 2

Zueignung, Op. 10 No. 1

Die Nacht, Op. 10 No. 3

Die Verschwiegenen, Op. 10 No. 6

Die Zeitlose, Op. 10 No. 7

Allerseelen, Op. 10 No. 8

Waldseligkeit, Op. 49 No. 1

Ach, was Kummer, Qual und Schmerzen, Op. 49 No. 8

Morgen, Op. 27 No. 4


Felicity Lott (soprano) & Graham Johnson (piano)

This delightful recital of Strauss songs by Dame Felicity Lott focuses on songs composed between 1885 and 1901, the years of Strauss’s richest song-writing genius.

Partnered by her long-time collaborator, Graham Johnson, Dame Felicity sings various Nocturnes and Fantasies, songs about flowers, and then, grouped as “Valedictions and Lullabies”, some of Strauss’s best-known songs, including Allerseelen and Muttertändelei.

The disc concludes with one of his best-loved songs, ‘Morgen’. This is the last of the four Op.27 wedding-gift songs for his wife, Pauline de Ahna: “…breathless rapture turned into music, one of the great songs of the world…” [Michael Kennedy, 2003]

Dame Felicity Lott is considered one of the greatest sopranos of the 21st Century. Her operatic repertoire ranges from Handel to Stravinsky; and her formidable international reputation is as an interpreter of the great roles of Mozart and Strauss.

Graham Johnson is recognised as one of the world’s leading vocal accompanists. He was made an OBE in the 1994 Queen's Birthday Honours list and he was also made an Honorary Member of the Royal Philharmonic Society in February 2010.

“Lott was still at her peak when these recordings were made in 2002, and has a background of great affinity with the Strauss muse...Her voice and phrasing are still at their glorious finest, and so is her partnership with Johnson. The result is a magical recital, naturally recorded.” Gramophone Magazine, October 2012

“With Johnson's charmingly modest and unfailing attendance, this is a recital peppered with exquisite moments of Olympian power and heroic breath control from Lott. These qualities give the lie to the fact that her remarkable voice is into its sixth decade! It is almost ideal for Strauss here: warmly lyrical, clear, lithe and sensuously intoned, majestic in its dynamic and emotional colourings.” MusicWeb International, August 2012

GGramophone Magazine

Re-issue of the Month - October 2012

Champs Hill Records - CHRCD037

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$13.00

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