Gramophone Magazine Editor's Choice

November 2012

Disc of the Month

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Leif Ove Andsnes: The Beethoven Journey (Piano Concertos Nos. 1 & 3)

Awards:

Gramophone Magazine

Disc of the Month - November 2012

BBC Music Magazine

Orchestral Choice - December 2012

Label:

Sony

Catalogue No:

88725420582

Discs:

1

Release date:

17th Sept 2012

Barcode:

0887254205821

Length:

68 minutes

Medium:

CD (download also available)
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Leif Ove Andsnes: The Beethoven Journey (Piano Concertos Nos. 1 & 3)


Beethoven:

Piano Concerto No. 1 in C Major, Op. 15

Piano Concerto No. 3 in C minor, Op. 37


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Over the next four seasons, the celebrated Norwegian pianist and newly-signed exclusive Sony Classical artist Leif Ove Andsnes will devote the majority of his performing and recording activities to the music of Beethoven.

‘The Beethoven Journey’ is a collaboration with the Mahler Chamber Orchestra, one of the world´s most acclaimed touring orchestras, on the move approximately 200 days each year. The 45 core members of the MCO come from 20 different countries and live all over Europe. The journey began with the live recording of Beethoven’s Piano Concertos Nos. 1 & 3 at Prague Spring Festival in the historic Rudolfinum building, where Andsnes is not only playing the piano but also directing the orchestra. Although Andsnes has an extensive discography ‘The Beethoven Journey’ is his first Beethoven recording.

Ludwig van Beethoven: Concerto for Piano and Orchestra No. 1 in C Major, Op. 15

I. Allegro con brio

II. Largo

III. Rondo - Allegro

Ludwig van Beethoven: Concerto for Piano and Orchestra No. 3 in C Minor, Op. 37

I. Allegro con brio

II. Largo

III. Rondo - Allegro

The Guardian

4th October 2012

****

“What these performances also have is a quality that is not always quite so obvious when he is alone on the concert platform – a real sense of enjoyment in playing, and the business of communicating that enjoyment to an audience...The incidental beauties – the articulacy of Andsnes's left hand is a marvel in itself, for instance – are all part of that, too.”

BBC Music Magazine

December 2012

*****

“It's an all-round winner of a disc, with superlative playing from both soloist and orchestra, and a recorded sound to match. Andsnes's view of the music is fairly traditional...[his] pedalling is a shade cautious, but he plays the piece so beautifully that there are no grounds for complaint...Overall, this looks set to be a highly enjoyable journey.”

Gramophone Magazine

November 2012

“there's a palpable sense of discovery, of living the music...You know you're in remarkable musical company before the piano has sounded a note...Of course, this isn't just down to the players: it's Andsnes's conception right from the start...What's also very striking is that these performances are not simply about elan and energy: they have a sense of gravitas, too, of rightness, that you find in the greatest Beethoven interpreters.”

International Record Review

December 2012

“has he gone forward or backward to Beethoven? The answer provided by these superb performances is: both. He has all of the power that Beethoven's writing often requires, yet his playing is also elegant and sometimes even understated...Let the journey continue!”

bbc.co.uk

4th December 2012

“some of the best Beethoven playing you will ever hear...clearly, this is music that Andsnes has been living with for many years – and it now emerges with an impressive maturity...The crisp, well-sprung playing in the introductions to both concertos could easily be mistaken for that of a period-instrument orchestra”

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Mendelssohn: Elijah, Op. 70

Mendelssohn: Elijah, Op. 70

(sung in English)


Rosemary Joshua (soprano), Jonty Ward (treble), Sarah Connolly (mezzo-soprano), Robert Murray (tenor) & Simon Keenlyside (baritone)

Wroclaw Philharmonic Choir, Gabrieli Young Singers' Scheme & Gabrieli Consort & Players, Paul McCreesh

At the time of its first performances in 1846, Elijah was hailed as one of the great oratorios alongside Handel’s 'Messiah'. It tells the story of the prophet with imposing grandeur, inspirational orchestration and beautiful arias, recitatives and choruses. This mighty piece requires even mightier orchestral and choral forces and the Gabrieli singers are reinforced by the talented Gabrieli Young Singers’ Scheme and the Wroclaw Philharmonic Choir. This recording sees over 440 musicians taking part, including 92 string players and over 300 singers.

Read Presto's complete review of this disc here.

“Step into Victorian Birmingham with Paul McCreesh’s “authentic” recording of Mendelssohn’s epic Old Testament oratorio...The thumping grandeur of the big choruses is magnificent. But against that must be placed McCreesh’s tendency to insert wallowing rallentandos before every transition, and fuzzy choral diction.” The Times, 1st September 2012 ***

“the choral singing is a marvel.” Sunday Times, 2nd September 2012

“one of the striking aspects of the performance is the way that Paul McCreesh so naturally places the great set pieces within the context of a multifaceted expressive whole...familiar moments in Elijah sound newly minted here, McCreesh approaching them with polished, fluent phrasing and using the period instruments of his orchestra to underpin emphases and to add vibrant colour.” The Telegraph, 15th September 2012

“McCreesh here totally re-imagines it: the big choruses are transparent as well as massively impressive...and there is no danger of religiosity in the fresh-voiced solos of Rosemary Joshua, Sarah Connolly and Simon Keenlyside...In all, a spectacularly successful reinvention of the British choral tradition.” The Observer, 23rd September 2012

“Connolly sings with mellifluous tone and Simon Keenlyside is an Elijah of spirit and intelligence: he may not have the sheer weight of a Bryn Terfel, but he's alive to every shift of meaning and his diction is, as ever, impeccable. The gut strings, unimpeded by vibrato, bring splendid urgency to the texture” BBC Music Magazine, November 2012 ****

“Miraculously, McCreesh succeeds in relating Elijah’s sound world to Mendelssohn’s more familiar, lighter-sounding works while never underplaying the performance’s staggering heft. The combined choirs produce a sonority which has to be heard to be believed. The doomy, dramatic numbers are simply terrifying...McCreesh’s Berlioz disc was a highlight of 2011; this Elijah is even better. Flawless, in other words.” The Arts Desk, 6th October 2012

“There’s a definite histrionic side to the role and Keenlyside doesn’t short-change us but when listening to him I was reminded again and again what a fine lieder singer he is...[Ward is] clear and accurate and shows excellent breath control. Furthermore, his pitching is spot-on...The orchestral playing is superb...This is a marvellous recording of Elijah...Anyone who cares about this fine work should try to hear it.” MusicWeb International, October 2012

“The sound is massive when required, but the articulation is never unwieldy and there is delicacy too … [the organ is] a splendid beast and, except in one instance, you would never know that it was dubbed on electronically...Sarah Connolly and Rosemary Joshua are both excellent. From the crib of ‘Death and the Maiden’ at the opening to the final ‘Amen’, this is a triumph.” Gramophone Magazine, November 2012

“unashamedly committed and thoroughly dramatic…this a reading to make one hear Mendelssohn’s masterpiece anew…The recording is beautifully presented in an exquisitely designed ‘book format’” Choir & Organ, November/December 2012

“McCreesh’s tempi are well judged and help build the real power and drama of this performance. This is big, grand choral singing of the Victorian scale, not always subtle but hugely effective...In all this is staggeringly good. Approaching the work in this way fills a gap which I didn’t even realise was there, but now I’ve heard it I think it will be first choice for a while to come. Thoroughly recommended.” Chris O'Reilly, Presto Classical, 27th August 2012

Presto Disc of the Week

27th August 2012

GGramophone Magazine

Editor's Choice - November 2012

Signum Winged Lion - SIGCD300

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Elgar: The Apostles, Op. 49

Elgar: The Apostles, Op. 49


Rebecca Evans (The Angel Gabriel/The Blessed Virgin Mary), Alice Coote, (Mary Magdalene/Narrator 2), Paul Groves (Narrator 1/John), Jacques Imbrailo, (Jesus), David Kempster, (Peter) & Brindley Sherratt (Judas)

Hallé & Hallé Youth Choir & Hallé Choir, Sir Mark Elder

This new release presents the oratorio planned to open the trilogy, the lesser known and hitherto rather under-served work The Apostles , in a performance which the Guardian described as being ‘revelatory’. This retelling of Christ's Passion from the viewpoint of His followers features extensive and effective use of and choral writing which is arguably an advance on that of Gerontius with the work’s closing section – depicting Christ’s Ascension to heaven – thought to be one of the most poignant ever written.

Latest release in Elder and Halle’s renowned Elgar series.

Recorded live at sell out Bridgewater Hall concert.

The performance benefits from extensive research by Mark Elder, including study of a proof copy of the vocal score which he matched with what Elgar himself conducted in 1921, reinstating the semichorus of nine male voices, sung here by an ensemble Elder specially selected from the Royal Northern College of Music.

The recording is probably the first since Elgar conducted The Apostles in Hereford on 7 September 1921, at the Three Choirs Festival, to incorporate Elgar’s intentions at several points in the oratorio Elgar included a part for a shofar, an ancient Hebrew instrument made of ram’s horn. In most performances this is imitated by modern instruments, but for this recording Sir Mark Elder features a genuine shofar player.

The Apostles features mystic choruses and vivid orchestration, perfectly suited to Hallé forces.

“It's hard to believe that this detailed account was sourced from a concert – there is very little extraneous noise, while the placing of the soloists, the three choruses and the off-stage shofar seems perfectly natural...Elder's performance has shown that, though the narrative thread is sometimes quite weak, the best of the score is top-quality Elgar.” The Guardian, 29th August 2012 ****

“The musical idiom is home territory for Mark Elder and the Hallé...The choruses sound magnificent, but Elder has a tendency to stretch the slow music and over-egg the climaxes, bringing out the bombastic side of Elgar.” Financial Times, 15th September 2012 ***

“It has all the tension and excitement of live performance, rising to incandescence in the closing pages, and Mark Elder has perfect control of the large forces and dramatic pacing. Brindley Sherratt is an affecting, dark-voiced haunted Judas, Jacques Imbrailo an authoritative Jesus...I'm inclined to rate this new Halle version the most nearly definitely Apostles yet.” BBC Music Magazine, November 2012 *****

“All six of the soloists...are outstanding...The Halle Choir is splendid throughout, firm and incisive in attack, and splendidly recorded...The Halle Orchestra players seem to be Elgarians to a man or woman...It is typical of the thoroughness with which this Halle version has been prepared that it should...trump the hand of its few but still worthy predecessors, and qualify as the new Apostles of choice.” International Record Review, October 2012

“Elder’s Hallé choirs sing splendidly. They’re most attentive to Elgar’s many instructions regarding dynamics, the words are clear and the choral tone is always well focused...At the end of the day the triumph is Mark Elder’s...Elder is convincing throughout and in every respect. Both Boult and Hickox offer insightful interpretations but neither trump Elder...this superb Apostles is a mandatory purchase for all Elgar enthusiasts” MusicWeb International, August 2012

“not only does Elder obtain playing and singing of the utmost accomplishment and sensitivity, his hugely penetrating interpretation evinces an idiomatic pliancy, sure dramatic instinct and iron grip...Coote makes a memorably involving Mary Magdalene while Brindley Sherratt shines in a deeply sympathetic portrayal of Judas...A set absolutely not to be missed.” Gramophone Magazine, November 2012

“An undoubted highlight of Sir Mark Elder's tenure of the Hallé has been his series of Elgar recordings, and this account of The Apostles is surely one of the best. A magnificent cast...and there is plenty of impressively enthusiastic singing from the Hallé Choir.” James Longstaffe, Presto Classical, May 2014

GGramophone Awards 2013

Winner - Choral

GGramophone Magazine

Editor's Choice - November 2012

BBC Music Magazine

Choral & Song Choice - November 2012

BBC Music Magazine Awards 2013

Recording of the Year & Choral Award Winner

Hallé - Elder Elgar Series - CDHLD7534

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JS Bach: Sonatas & Partitas BWV1001-3

JS Bach: Sonatas & Partitas BWV1001-3


Bach, J S:

Sonata for solo violin No. 1 in G minor, BWV1001

Partita for solo violin No. 1 in B minor, BWV1002

Sonata for solo violin No. 2 in A minor, BWV1003


Isabelle Faust hit the Classical charts earlier this year with her mesmerising recording of Beethoven and Berg with Claudio Abbado. She followed up with some welcome live appearances here in the UK, which included the Brahms' concerto at the Barbican with frequent collaborators Jiri Belohlavek and the BBCSO.

Isabelle's recordings have won prizes since her harmonia mundi debut in 1997 which earned her a Gramophone Young Artist Award. In 2010 her Beethoven Violin Sonatas with Alexander Melnikov also won. The afore-mentioned Beethoven-Berg has been awarded Gramophone Recording of the Month, Daily Telegraph Classical CD of the Week, Times CD of the Week, Classic FM Disc of the Week, Sunday Times CD of the Week, BBC Music Magazine Recording of the Month and CD Review Disc of the Week.

Now she returns to J.S. Bach for a second volume of what Andrew McGregor described in such glowing terms: "there’s some of the best-judged ornamentation I’ve heard in repeated passages. The recording is utterly self-effacing, in just the right way, and my only complaint is that the job’s half done...I’m impatient for the rest! Harmonia Mundi is the label, it’s released this coming Monday, and the notes are excellent as well." CD Review, BBC Radio 3, 27 March 2010

Isabelle is shortlisted for the Gramophone Best Artist Award 2012. Her next concert in the UK is at the Wigmore Hall, October 29 with Alexander Melnikov and Jean-Guihen Queyras.

“Certainly her break-neck tempi for the Corrente and Doubles of the Partita owe more to so-called “authentic” practitioners, but her spectrum of colours and expression — digging into her G-string for maximum intensity — harks back to the virtuoso tradition...She brings them vividly to life here, sounding as if they were fresh off the page.” Sunday Times, 19th August 2012

“As you would expect from this most immaculate and intelligent of today's violinists, the performances are very well prepared...Yet there is still a wonderful security and confidence about her approach, a flexibility in her phrasing, and a remarkable control of dynamic and colour.” The Guardian, 23rd August 2012 ****

“In some of the most challenging violin music ever written, she displays masterly technique...Despite some daring tempos, Faust retains a totally secure pulse through all the technical contortions. She places admirable faith in Bach's fair copy of the score...[and] in alluringly sensitive in gentler movement.” BBC Music Magazine, November 2012 *****

“Unbeatable playing in the conclusion to a benchmark Bach project” The Strad, November/December 2012

“Faust’s playing of these extraordinary pieces of surpassing musical interest and lyrical content sits comfortably at the uppermost echelons of the league table … Faust is at her heart a poetic player with a warm sound, a tightly controlled vibrato and an athletic technique … A rewardingly stimulating release, beautifully recorded.” International Record Review, November 2012

“She creates a feeling that, although there is a deep musiucal understanding behind her performance in which she has quiet confidence, there is no overarching ego trying to make the intricate counterpoint bend to her will.” Gramophone Magazine, November 2012

GGramophone Magazine

Editor's Choice - November 2012

Harmonia Mundi - HMC902124

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Benjamin Grosvenor plays Rhapsody in Blue

Benjamin Grosvenor plays Rhapsody in Blue


Gershwin:

Rhapsody in Blue

Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra, James Judd

Love Walked In

Ravel:

Piano Concerto in G major

Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra, James Judd

Prélude

Saint-Saëns:

Piano Concerto No. 2 in G minor, Op. 22

Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra, James Judd

Le carnaval des animaux: Le Cygne


Nineteen year old British pianist Benjamin Grosvenor is internationally recognized for his electrifying performances and penetrating interpretations.

Following his highly successful debut album on Decca Classics (the youngest British musician to sign to Decca, and the first British pianist to join the label in almost 60 years) Benjamin will record his second disc featuring some of the foremost romantic piano concertos accompanied by the lush textures of the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra.

Read Presto's complete review of this disc here.

“Grosvenor and the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic achieve a fine balance between [the Ravel's] urban bustle and more reflective passages...[Rhapsody in Blue is] less cluttered and more demotic in style, with more of a swing than in some stiffer, stuffier versions.” The Independent, 11th August 2012 ****

“in an age of ready-made virtuosos, his gifts are already distinctive — poetic, romantic, almost old-school in the way he makes phrases teeter on the edge of a pause or when one hand hesitates before the other in laying down a texture...Grosvenor’s rendition of the Rhapsody is definitely European, warmly sensuous rather than American pizzazz.” The Times, 10th August 2012 ***

“reservations pale into Beckmesserish scratchings besides the delights of this disc and especially of Grosvenor's pianism. I can only concur with other critics who hear in his tone and phrasing echoes of a golden age...For me, his playing of the Godowsky version of Saint-Saens's Swan is a high point...A champagne disc - fizz and finesse.” BBC Music Magazine, October 2012 *****

“His playing belies his youth; this is deliciously individual, mature pianism. The sound is warm, the style impulsive, affectionate. He’s not striving for technical perfection (though you won’t find any fluffs here), more content to draw the listener in and spin a good yarn...Immaculate, characterful orchestral playing from James Judd and the RLPO too” The Arts Desk, 30th September 2012

“he opens [the Saint-Saens] with a rhetorical grandeur before setting the keyboard ablaze with a burst of swaggering, supercharged virtuosity...He has technique to burn and his pungency and force are things to marvel at...Grosvenor's Ravel brims over with individual touches...while in Gershwin his virtuosity is once more exultant rather than brash...Grosvenor's is, at the least, a talent in a thousand.” Gramophone Magazine, November 2012

“he has a sparkle and spontaneity to his playing” Chris O'Reilly, Presto Classical, 6th August 2012

Presto Disc of the Week

6th August 2012

GGramophone Magazine

Editor's Choice - November 2012

Decca - 4783527

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The Romantic Violin Concerto 13 - Schumann

The Romantic Violin Concerto 13 - Schumann


Schumann:

Violin Concerto in D minor, WoO 23

Violin Concerto in A minor, Op. 129 (arranged from the Cello Concerto)

Fantasie in C major for Violin and Orchestra, Op.131


Hyperion is pleased to present a thirteenth volume of the Romantic Violin Concerto. Although frequently featuring virtuoso showpieces by the composer–violinists of the nineteenth century, this series also includes works of great musical interest which for one reason or another have not entered the repertoire. The performance history of all three pieces recorded here is indissolubly linked with the turmoil of Schumann’s last years.

Schumann’s Violin Concerto in D minor had to wait till 1937 for its premiere and has never become a standard work, but in the hands of Anthony Marwood it sounds remarkable. The Phantasie, by contrast, was lauded at its premiere and performed a number of times by Joachim. The Violin Concerto in A minor was arranged by Schumann from his Cello Concerto of the same opus number and is an important work in its own right.

Marwood’s great technique and thoughtful musicianship have made him increasingly an artist to notice, and he performs frequently in Australia and America as well as throughout Europe. Here he is accompanied by Hyperion’s ‘house band’, the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, under the baton of Douglas Boyd.

“There's little Marwood can do to disguise the shortcomings of the solo writing [of the D minor concerto], or the repetitions of the finale, but he and the BBC Scottish Symphony under Douglas Boyd go at it with a great deal of enthusiasm, with the solo line very prominent in the sound picture.” The Guardian, 29th August 2012 ***

“in a performance as strong and imaginative as this one by Anthony Marwood its impact is considerable. The sinew of the first movement, with its bold opening statement and toughness of inner workings, is contrasted with the mellow, reflective lyricism of the central slow one...There are firm Schumann fingerprints all over the score, and it fully merits the passionate advocacy that it receives here” The Telegraph, 6th September 2012

“Marwood's tone is notably characteristically focused with a notable sweetness which is matched by Wallin...Boyd and his Scottish players set ideal tempi in outer movements, enabling Marwood to negotiate fearlessly the fairly awkward and largely middle-range-lying solo writing...Utterly winning and authoritative.” Gramophone Magazine, November 2012

“[Marwood's] tone is sweetly centred, and avoids excessive contrasts between the upper and lower strings, so equalisation is the name of the game. So, too, is a certain chamber-scaled approach, with give-and-take with the orchestral wind principals...Marwood and Douglas Boyd keep the music on the go and bring out its felicitous colour” MusicWeb International, December 2012

GGramophone Magazine

Editor's Choice - November 2012

Hyperion & Helios - up to 50% off

Hyperion - The Romantic Violin Concerto - CDA67847

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Nobuyuki Tsujii Live at Carnegie Hall

Nobuyuki Tsujii Live at Carnegie Hall

Recorded at Carnegie Hall, November 10, 2011


Beethoven:

Piano Sonata No. 17 in D minor, Op. 31 No. 2 'Tempest'

Chopin:

Prelude Op. 28 No. 15 in D flat major ‘Raindrop'

Foster, S:

I Dream of Jeanie with the Light Brown Hair

arr. Tsujii

Liszt:

Un Sospiro from 3 Concert Studies, S144 No. 3

Concert Paraphrase on Rigoletto, S.434 after Verdi's opera

Mussorgsky:

Pictures at an Exhibition (piano version)

Musto:

Improvisation and Fugue

Tsujii:

Elegy for the Victims of the Earthquake and the Tsunami of March 11, 2011


On November 10, 2011, Nobuyuki Tsujii, the blind pianist from Japan who was the winner of the Van Cliburn International Piano Competition Gold Medal in 2009 appeared on the stage of Carnegie Hall.

His dream had come true. Arguably the most important event in the career of any performer, for “Nobu” it was a miracle. With his brilliant technique and beautiful tone, he contrasts familiar warhorses with newer pieces, including one of his own compositions, written in memory of the victims of the Japanese earthquake and tsunami in March 2011. Nobu brought the usually reserved Carnegie Hall audience to its feet.

Interviewed after Nobuyuki Tsujii’s recital, Van Cliburn observed: ‘What a thrill to hear this brilliant, very gifted, fabulous pianist. You feel God’s presence in the room when he plays. His soul is so pure, his music is so wonderful and it goes to infinity, to the highest heaven.’

GGramophone Magazine

Blu-ray of the Month - November 2012

Blu-ray Disc

Region: all

EuroArts - 2059084

(Blu-ray)

$35.75

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Nobuyuki Tsujii Live at Carnegie Hall

Nobuyuki Tsujii Live at Carnegie Hall

Recorded at Carnegie Hall, November 10, 2011


Beethoven:

Piano Sonata No. 17 in D minor, Op. 31 No. 2 'Tempest'

Chopin:

Prelude Op. 28 No. 15 in D flat major ‘Raindrop'

Foster, S:

I Dream of Jeanie with the Light Brown Hair

arr. Tsujii

Liszt:

Un Sospiro from 3 Concert Studies, S144 No. 3

Concert Paraphrase on Rigoletto, S.434 after Verdi's opera

Mussorgsky:

Pictures at an Exhibition (piano version)

Musto:

Improvisation and Fugue

Tsujii:

Elegy for the Victims of the Earthquake and the Tsunami of March 11, 2011


On November 10, 2011, Nobuyuki Tsujii, the blind pianist from Japan who was the winner of the Van Cliburn International Piano Competition Gold Medal in 2009 appeared on the stage of Carnegie Hall.

His dream had come true. Arguably the most important event in the career of any performer, for “Nobu” it was a miracle. With his brilliant technique and beautiful tone, he contrasts familiar warhorses with newer pieces, including one of his own compositions, written in memory of the victims of the Japanese earthquake and tsunami in March 2011. Nobu brought the usually reserved Carnegie Hall audience to its feet.

Interviewed after Nobuyuki Tsujii’s recital, Van Cliburn observed: ‘What a thrill to hear this brilliant, very gifted, fabulous pianist. You feel God’s presence in the room when he plays. His soul is so pure, his music is so wonderful and it goes to infinity, to the highest heaven.’

Picture format: NTSC 16:9

Sound formats: PCM Stereo, HD Master Audio

Region code: 0

Booklet notes: English, German, French

Running time: 97 mins

“An extraordinary gift and phenomenal effort have taken Tsuji's skills a long way, but there are higher levels of interpretation to reach.” BBC Music Magazine, November 2012 ***

“he is simply a stunningly gifted pianist. Still, one cannot withhold a sense of wonder while watching him play. How on earth, you ask, does he do it?...don't stop watching after the final [encore]. Something happens that will have you reaching for the tissues. I won't spoil it. You'll have to experience this extraordinary recital for yourself.” Gramophone Magazine, November 2012

GGramophone Magazine

DVD of the Month - November 2012

DVD Video

Region: 0

Format: NTSC

EuroArts - 2059088

(DVD Video)

$29.75

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Ravel: Mélodies

Ravel: Mélodies


Ravel:

Histoires naturelles (5)

Trois chansons madécasses

with Magali Mosnier (flute) & Jérôme Pernoo (cello)

Nahandove, Aoua! Il est doux

Manteau de fleurs

Noël des jouets

Chanson de la mariée

Là-bas, vers l’eglise

Quel galant m’est comparable

Chanson des cueilleuses de lentisques

Tout gai!

Tripatos

Les grands vents venus d'outre-mer

Sur l'Herbe

Ronsard à son âme

Rêves

Deux mélodies hébraïques


Nora Gubisch (mezzo-soprano) & Alain Altinoglu (piano)

The mélodies presented here were written between 1903 and 1927. They display in exemplary fashion the different facets of the art of Ravelian song. Some malcontents have declared them 'unclassifiable'. In fact, what is striking here is the diversity, the eclecticism, the independence of the composer when he chooses, as encounters and opportunities crop up, to illustrate a poem by Verlaine, to set to music the prose of Jules Renard, or to harmonise a Greek or Hebrew tune.

This footloose stroll through different times and cultures gives us an insight into the composer's inquiring mind, his determination to follow his wishes and desires, without noisily drawing attention to himself, yet tranquilly standing his ground in his personal world while apparently indifferent to the scandals he quite involuntarily provoked. The song texts reflect Ravel's literary culture, his interest in and respect for literature, which had been as Integral a part of his life as music ever since his adolescence, when, in the company of Ricardo Vines (great-great-uncle of Nora Gubisch), he frequented the bookshops and the second-hand booksellers along the Seine.

After musical studies at the Radio France Maîtrise and piano study with Catherine Collard, mezzo-soprano Nora Gubisch was awarded first prize for singing at the Paris Conservatoire, going on to study with Vera Rózsa, who became her principal teacher and mentor. She quickly earned leading rôles with the Paris Opéra, La Scala, Milan, San Francisco Opera, Salzburg, Aix-en-Provence and the BBC Proms. She has been a guest of the Vienna, New York and Munich Philharmonic Orchestras, Dresden Staatskapelle, Orchestre de Paris and London Symphony Orchestra, with conductors including Sir Colin Davis, Lorin Maazel, Georges Prêtre and Nikolaus Harnoncourt. She has formed a duo with pianist and conductor, Alain Altinoglu, now her husband, and has recorded many songs.

“Ravel effected an understated formal revolution in vocal music, the pieces performed here by mezzo-soprano Nora Gubisch with pianist Alain Altinoglu being notable for their commitment to textual interpretation rather than sheer operatic grandeur.” The Independent, 18th August 2012 ***

“Not since the incomparable Régine Crespin...has a female French singer brought such insights and vocal allure to her native song repertoire as Nora Gubisch...Her voice remains youthful and bright, but capable of producing a wide spectrum of timbres for the very different demands of this challenging Ravel programme...The Kaddish can surely have never been more moving than it sounds on this fabulous disc.” Sunday Times, 26th August 2012

“It is a long, long time since anyone delved into Ravel’s songs as persuasively as Gubisch and her regular accompanist. The French mezzo-soprano has a full, voluptuous voice, but the key to her artistry lies in the idiomatic touch she brings to the music, based on her understanding of the texts and the difference it makes to the musical line...An outstanding recital.” Financial Times, 1st September 2012 *****

“One of the many attractions of this lovely disc is the exceptionally thoughtful booklet essay by Nina Vines … The recording is very fine and natural, with excellent balance … as fine a performance as I have ever heard … The individual songs are splendid” International Record Review, November 2012

“Altinoglu exploits the colours and textures with the utmost eloquence … Gubisch, with a vocal timbre of mellifluous beauty and well-focused richness, responds with the striking malleable spectrum of sensibility to the varied scenarios that Ravel encapsulates.” Gramophone Magazine, November 2012

“[Gubisch] combines a beautiful voice with intelligence, crisp diction and a real sense of style...I would guess she's lived with this music for a long time...this is a disc from which young and even less young singers can learn a great deal. 'Aoua!', the central song of the Chansons madecasses, is truly terrifying, as it ought to be.” BBC Music Magazine, Christmas 2012 *****

“A satisfying collection of songs with piano accompaniment from mezzo-soprano Nora Gubisch and pianist Alain Altinoglu. As well as delightful accounts of works such as Deux mélodies hébraïques and Trois chansons madécasses, they also treat us to a characterful performance of the Histoires naturelles, and other rarities.” James Longstaffe, Presto Classical, August 2014

GGramophone Magazine

Editor's Choice - November 2012

Naive - V5304

(CD)

$14.00

(also available to download from $10.00)

This item is currently out of stock at the UK distributor. You may order it now but please be aware that it may be six weeks or more before it can be despatched. (Available now to download.)

Victoria: Officium Defunctorum

Victoria: Officium Defunctorum


Victoria:

Officium Hebdomadae Sanctae: O Domine Iesu Christe

Domine non sum dignus

Salve Regina

Vadam et circuibo civitatem

Requiem 1605 'Officium defunctorum'


Tomás Luis de Victoria is definitely one of the most important composers in the music history of Spain. His masterpiece is the ‘Officium Defunctorum’, published in Madrid in 1605. In this requiem – written for the funeral of Maria of Austria, daughter of Emperor Charles V – the composer reached a mystical intensity of expression.

Philippe Herreweghe just loves composers “who know how to build entire worlds with sounds, recognizable from the first notes, profound and full of richness”. For him Tomás Luis de Victoria is one of them, “one of the greatest musical minds ever”.

So it was an obvious choice for Philippe Herreweghe to make a recording of this heavenly ‘Officium Defunctorum’. And… of course Collegium Vocale Gent – with its cristal clear sound – is the perfect instrument to perform such music. Looking forward to the first renaissance project of Philippe Herreweghe and Collegium Vocale Gent for the label Phi!

“The 13 voices are as finely balanced and harmonious as you could wish, and throughout the recording there is immaculate tuning and exceptional attention to detail. The sense of architecture in the motet Versa est in luctum, for example, is wonderfully judged” BBC Music Magazine, Christmas 2012 ****

“The [Requiem]'s dramatic potential is not overtly exploited but rather suggested, such is the concentrated, cut-glass quality of the singing at its best...Fine as this account of the Requiem undoubtedly is, the series of accompanying motets contains some of the disc's finest singing.” Gramophone Magazine, November 2012

“Herreweghe explores evey inflection of Victoria's score, includingt its restrained drama and grief transfigured by faith. The plainchant passages are sung with exceptional fluency and grace...The singers' diction is strikingly clear without seeming exaggerated...[Herreweghe] and his choir obviously understand each other and Victoria's music at the deepest level. A masterly recording in every way.” International Record Review, December 2012

“a CD of such beauty that it needs to be heard by every lover of Renaissance choral music. The music itself is stunning...Herreweghe’s 13 singers do it justice with performances that strike a perfect balance between lusciousness and clarity, expression and nobility.” The Times, 18th August 2012 *****

GGramophone Magazine

Editor's Choice - November 2012

A Musical Picture - up to 40% off

PHI - LPH005

(CD)

Normally: $15.75

Special: $12.12

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Ravel & Debussy: String Quartets

Ravel & Debussy: String Quartets


Debussy:

String Quartet in G minor, Op. 10

Ravel:

String Quartet in F major


Talich Quartet: Jan Talich, Roman Patocka (violins), Vladimir Bukac (viola) & Petr Prause (cello)

This new recording devoted to quartets by Debussy and Ravel, bearing the Slavic accent of Prague's Talich Quartet, is truly marvellous. The album represents a new phase in the quartet’s career that will highlight the sheer versatility of this talented group, so proud of its illustrious roots.

NEW RECORDING 2012

“Fresh light brought to a familiar coupling of French quartets … the Talich Quartet somehow manage to cover all bases, playing with an exquisite sensitivity to phrase and instrumental balance … two highly accomplished performances” The Strad, November /December 2012 ****/*****

“The second movement scatters pizzicato notes across the stave in a virtuosic display, but it’s the aggression of the quartet’s leader, Jan Talich Jnr, in the bowed recitative phrases which impress.” International Record Review, November 2012

“supreme performances...the interpretations are so organically and seamlessly imagined…The subtlety, beauty and sinew of the playing are simply amazing” Gramophone Magazine, November 2012

GGramophone Magazine

Editor's Choice - November 2012

La Dolce Volta - LDV08

(CD)

$16.75

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Berlioz: Grande Messe des Morts, Op. 5 (Requiem)

Berlioz: Grande Messe des Morts, Op. 5 (Requiem)

Saal 1, Funkhaus, Cologne, 26 August 1956


Nicolai Gedda (tenor)

Chor des Norddeutschen Rundfunks, Kölner Rundfunkchor & Kölner Rundfunk-Sinfonie-Orchester, Dimitri Mitropoulos

The Greek-born Dimitri Mitropoulos (1896–1960) was incredibly gifted – his photographic memory allowed him to conduct without a score in concert and also in rehearsal! After studies in Athens, Brussels and Berlin, he took various posts in Greece. In 1930, Mitropoulos played the solo part in Prokofiev’s Piano Concerto No.3 with the Berlin Philharmonic and conducted the work from the keyboard, becoming the first modern musician to do so. He made his US debut in 1936 and went on to become principal conductor of the Minneapolis Symphony Orchestra (1937–1949) and then music director of the New York Philharmonic (1951–1957), where he was eventually succeeded by Leonard Bernstein. He expanded the repertoire of the NYPO and championed Mahler’s symphonies in particular. Mitropoulos was also a major figure at New York’s Metropolitan Opera House and became its principal conductor in 1954. He died in Milan aged 64 rehearsing Mahler’s Symphony No.3.

In the mid-1950s, Mitropoulos frequently visited Cologne to perform with the Kölner Rundfunk-Sinfonie-Orchester, whose broadcasts have been well documented by ICA Classics. Releases include Mitropoulos’s last ever performance: a compelling account of Mahler’s Symphony No.3 (ICAC5021) which was awarded the prestigious Toblacher Komponierhäuschen International Record Prize in 2011.

Mitropoulos conducted Berlioz’s massive Requiem with its chorus of over 200 voices and offstage brass at the Salzburg Festival on 15 August 1956. This Cologne performance followed on 26 August 1956.

This ICA release is the first official recording using the original WDR master tapes. The sound from the 1956 tapes is incredible by any standards.

The tenor soloist in the Sanctus is the young Nicolai Gedda.

The performance is contained on one CD running for over 82 minutes.

“[a] deeply felt Requiem, still high-voltage despite mono sound.” BBC Music Magazine, September 2012 *****

“There is some slight cause for alarm at the beginning, with a ragged entry from the sopranos. But the choir soon settles down and by the time he reaches the 'Dies irae', Dimitri Mitropoulos has really got into his stride...The hushed ending of the Agnus Dei sets the seal on a remarkable performance.” Gramophone Magazine, November 2012

“our first encounter with the combined Cologne choirs isn’t ideal [but] I must encourage you to persevere because the performance soon settles and the singers make a pretty good job of Berlioz’s demanding writing...Mitropoulos has the measure of this vast score and is able to convey its gaunt majesty, its beauty and its grandeur.” MusicWeb International, January 2013

GGramophone Magazine

Re-issue of the Month - November 2012

ica classics Legacy - ICAC5075

(CD)

$13.75

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

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