Gramophone Magazine Editor's Choice

December 2012

Disc of the Month

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Tchaikovsky: Symphonies Nos. 4 & 5


Gramophone Magazine

Disc of the Month - December 2012



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Release date:

3rd Sept 2012




85 minutes


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Tchaikovsky: Symphonies Nos. 4 & 5

Recorded live at Southbank Centre’s Royal Festival Hall on 19 March and 4 May 2011


Symphony No. 4 in F minor, Op. 36

Symphony No. 5 in E minor, Op. 64

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Throughout his life, Tchaikovsky was preoccupied with the idea of Fate, describing it as ‘that fatal power which prevents one from attaining the goal of happiness’. This dark force haunts both the Fourth and Fifth symphonies, which each juxtapose some of Tchaikovsky’s most beautiful and graceful melodies with music of intense power and dark despair. Principal Conductor Vladimir Jurowski continues his journey through the composer’s six symphonies, leading the London Philharmonic Orchestra in these live concert recordings.

Since his appointment as Principal Conductor of the London Philharmonic Orchestra in 2007, Vladimir Jurowski has led the Orchestra in some of the finest recordings on the LPO label, including 2011’s popular and critically acclaimed Mahler Symphony No. 2.

Pyotr Il'yich Tchaikovsky: Symphony No. 4 in F minor, Op. 36

I. Andante sostenuto - Moderato con anima

II. Andantino in modo di canzone

III. Scherzo: Pizzicato ostinato - Allegro

IV. Finale: Allegro con fuoco

Pyotr Il'yich Tchaikovsky: Symphony No. 5 in E minor, Op. 64

I. Andante - Allegro con anima

II. Andante cantabile con alcuna licenza

III. Valse: Allegro moderato

IV. Finale: Andante maestoso - Allegro vivace

Sunday Times

23rd September 2012

“These dramatic accounts...demonstrate the complete musical empathy between the Russian-born conductor and his players in these works...Both performances sound thoroughly run-in, yet without a hint of routine. Tchaikovsky’s genius — and his inner turbulence — are revealed with devastating impact.”

BBC Music Magazine

December 2012

“I especially enjoy the finale [of the Fifth], which is taut and bracing; occasional stinging accents provide scintillating moments amid propulsive energy and momentum. On the whole, however, this Symphony receives a plainer treatment than I expected...the LPO acquits itself well, and climaxes possess all the fizz and firepower one could want.”

Gramophone Magazine

December 2012

“both these performances exemplify what makes Jurowski's approach to Tchaikovsky so special. The tension between the classical and the romantic is at the heart of things...The playing marked by a oneness with Jurowski's vision and, it goes without saying, a now well-established empathy between the players of the London Philharmonic and their principal conductor.”

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Berg: Wozzeck

Berg: Wozzeck

Georg Nigl (Wozzeck), Mardi Byers (Marie), Maxim Paster (Captain), Pyotr Migunov (Doctor) & Roman Muravitsky (Drum-major)

Orchestra & Chorus of the Bolshoi Theatre, Teodor Currentzis

Stage direction and set design: Dmitri Tcherniakov

In 2010, for the first time in its history, the Bolshoi Opera presented Alban Berg’s masterpiece 'Wozzeck'. Dmitri Tcherniakov’s truly historic production is now available in this DVD. The Russian director’s aim with this bold, sensitive transposition was “to highlight the hidden sorrows of a late 20th-century man dwelling in a megalopolis.” The redoubtably complex title role was entrusted to Austrian baritone Georg Nigl. Nigl studied with Kammersängerin Hilde Zadek. Over the last few years he has worked with, among others, Thomas Hengelbrock and his Baltasar Neumann Ensemble, Jordi Savall and his Hesperion XXI Ensemble, and Giovanni Antonini and Luca Pianca and their Il Giardino Armonico.

American soprano Mardi Byers plays Marie. A native of Colorado, she made her international debut as 'Tosca' in Lübeck and Elisabetta in 'Don Carlos' in Wiesbaden and Basel. She has also sung Donna Anna and Suor Angelica at the New York City Opera, as well as Elisabeth in 'Tannhäuser' and Ariadne. The Proms audience saw her in Mahler 8 in 2010 with Jiri Belohlavek.

Greek conductor Teodor Currentzis directs the Bolshoi Theatre Orchestra and Chorus. Artistic director of the Perm Opera and founder and musical director of the Musica Aeterna ensemble, Currentzis is now to be seen in the world’s leading venues: the Opéra de Paris, Opernhaus Zurich, Bayerische Staatsoper Munich, the Royal Opera House Covent Garden and the Teatro Real in Madrid.

“Wozzeck on DVD is an extraordinary experience when one encounters well-directed singers who respond to the camera with the ease of film actors … Georg Nigl’s attractively light-timbred voice deals with this music so easily...[Byers] owns a youthfully lovely spinto instrument that can ‘float’ and let loose with equal ease … All in all a magnificent release” International Record Review, November 2012

“Everyone involved...knows exactly where they are going and gets there triumphantly...Nigl's carefully paced Wozzeck (far less 'expressionist' than we may be used to) and Byers's pitch-perfect everyday working woman of a Marie are ably supported...unless you cannot cope with the loss of an early-19th century period setting, this production will furnish the clearest possible expose of the Berg-Buchner drama.” Gramophone Magazine, December 2012

“there's little doubt that much credit for this significant revival must be given to Teodor Currentzis, whsoe committed conducting inspires the Bolshoi Theatre Orchestra to deliver an urgent account of the score...Tcherniakov has chosen to recast Wozzeck in a contemporary context, as a purely psychological drama exploring the inertia of life in the metropolis.” BBC Music Magazine, February 2013 ***

GGramophone Magazine

DVD of the Month - December 2012

DVD Video

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Bel Air Classiques - BAC068

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Alison Balsom: Sound The Trumpet

Alison Balsom: Sound The Trumpet

Royal Music of Purcell and Handel


Atalanta: Overture

Ode for the Birthday of Queen Anne HWV74 'Eternal source of light divine'

Iestyn Davies (countertenor)

Sento la gioia (Amadigi)

Trumpet Concerto in B flat major (trans. from Oboe Concerto No. 1, HWV 301)

Water Piece in D


King Arthur, Z628: excerpts

Suite from the Fairy Queen

Sound the trumpet, beat the drum, Z335

Iestyn Davies (countertenor)

Plainte - O, Let Me Weep (from The Fairy Queen, Z629)

Lucy Crowe (soprano)

In the year of Queen Elizabeth II’s Diamond Jubilee, Alison Balsom celebrates the heroic era of the Baroque trumpet in works by George Frideric Handel (1685-1759) and Henry Purcell (1658 or 1659-1695), whose anthems, odes, sinfonias and operas have provided the music for numerous royal celebrations from their own day to the present.

Joining forces with Trevor Pinnock, harpsichordist, conductor and pioneer of historical performance, and with the English Concert orchestra that he founded, Balsom demonstrates the versatility and expressive power of her valve-less instrument in original works and new arrangements. These include Purcell’s Sound the trumpet and Handel’s Eternal Source of light divine in duet with countertenor Iestyn Davies and Purcell’s The Plaint from The Fairy Queen in duet with soprano Lucy Crowe. Further repertoire includes suites from Purcell’s semi-operas King Arthur (1691) and The Fairy Queen (1692) in new arrangements by Balsom and Pinnock, Handel’s Water Piece in D Major HWV 341 and his Oboe Concerto No. 1 in B-flat Major HWV 301 transposed into C Major.

Alison Balsom is one of today’s most popular classical musicians. Having managed to break through to the mainstream without abandoning her musical integrity, she continues to draw ever-wider audiences for her performances and recordings of diverse repertoire.

Read Presto's complete review of this disc here.

“For historical accuracy, she plays the valve-less “natural” trumpet: it really does appear to offer a more direct access to the human voice, a quality confirmed when she duets with countertenor Iestyn Davies” The Independent, 13th October 2012 ****

“The music is glorious; so is Balsom’s artistry as she weaves a flawless path alongside Trevor Pinnock’s English Concert” The Times, 19th October 2012 ***

“when the instrument is played as fluidly agreeably as it is here, nobody could doubt that it is the right tool for the job...And it all works. This is rattling good music, and so easily does the trumpet fit into it that often it is hard to recall what the original scorings were anyway. Balsom, too, sounds utterly at home...and [is] wonderfully backed by the English Concert and the bright natural musicianship of Trevor Pinnock” Gramophone Magazine, December 2012

“Her distinctive tone remains clearly recognisable, despite the instrument's limitations. The timbre is sweeter, less aggressively strident than that of the modern trumpet, and she’s paired with Trevor Pinnock and the English Concert, providing crisp, bouncy support.” The Arts Desk, 1st December 2012

“Up at the top of her range, or down below, fast or slow, she is in superb control and form...the lightness of the string accompaniments, the calm attention to springy rhythms, the unobtrusive sensitivity of the phrasing, all done without exaggerated emphasis or anachronistic flamboyance, are a sheer delight...[Pinnock] is surely a national treasure” International Record Review, December 2012

“This charming disc contains some of the most imaginative and polished trumpet playing you're ever likely to hear...Born-again authenticists may cavil at Balsom's vented trumpet, a modern development aiding intonation. But her flexible tuning, scrupulously focused to blend with the harmony, is a relief from the compromised tuning needed to play certain notes on true 18th-century instruments.” BBC Music Magazine, January 2013 *****

“the music-making is a joy from beginning to end. Alison Balsom’s playing is stunning. The tone and intonation are fabulous; the lip trills, ornaments and runs simply staggering. How she achieves this level of technical assurance on an instrument without valves is remarkable...Crowe’s rendition of The Plaint from Purcell’s The Fairy Queen is sensitively and beautifully sung and it’s obvious that there’s an equal musical partnership captured here” MusicWeb International, April 2013

“the easy rapport between soloist and band is evident from every bar of every work...One of the great pleasures of this disc is the seamless and apparently effortless blend of trumpet and each voice: Alison colours her timbre to take on almost crumhorn-ish tones when duetting with Crowe, whilst there’s plenty of ‘front’ and metal in the sound when she joins Davies for the more vigorous Purcell.” Katherine Cooper, Presto Classical, 8th October 2012

“One of the disc’s chief merits is the skill with which Balsom demonstrates the versatility of natural trumpets, reminding us that they are capable of a wide range of colours.” Early Music Today ****

Presto Disc of the Week

8th October 2012

GGramophone Magazine

Editor's Choice - December 2012

Warner Classics - 4403292



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Dvorak & Schumann: Piano Quintet

Dvorak & Schumann: Piano Quintet


Piano Quintet in A major, Op. 81


Piano Quintet in E flat major, Op. 44

Schumann’s Piano Quintet, composed in the autumn of 1842, was one of the earliest examples of the combination of piano with a string quartet – Boccherini, Dussek and Hummel had each produced one, and Schubert used the double bass in his ‘Trout’ Quintet. It instantly became one of Schumann’s most popular works. It was composed at a time of almost feverish industry – he composed his three string quartets Op.41, the Piano Quartet and a set of Fantasy Pieces for piano trio, all in 1842. The piano quintet is a captivating, almost spontaneous work, and is a brilliant example of Schumann’s inspiration from start to finish.

Dvorák’s Op.81 Piano Quintet stems from his attempt to revise an earlier piano quintet in A major from 1872. Dissatisfied with this work, he set upon composing a new one: the result composed in September 1887 is one of his most lovable works. A relentlessly sunny work, sometimes sentimental, always masterful.

“The qualities of both quintets are relished by Biss and the Elias players in these lively performances, though sometimes the balance — always tricky in this medium — favours the piano too much” Sunday Times, 30th September 2012

“playing of wonderful exuberance and fire in both works...these superb players could almost convince you Schumann was looking out on a cloudless sky when he wrote it.” The Observer, 7th October 2012

“As a pairing of the most popular piano quintets, this disc would make a useful Christmas stocking-filler. The interpretations are clean and unfussy.” Financial Times, 16th November 2012

“the ensemble is meticulously precise and the Elias’s intonation spotlessly clean” The Strad, December 2012

“highly assured performances of these two marvellous chamber works...this warmly recorded performance is most compelling when Schumann explores the extrovert side of his musical personality...While there are some caveats about the Schumann, the Biss/Elias partnership produces a wonderful performance of the Dvorak, conveying not only the freshness of its invention but also probing darker melancholic undercurrents.” BBC Music Magazine, Christmas 2012 *****

“From the very opening, the almost imperceptible variation of pulse suggests an intimate engagement with this music...This music thrives in performances of individuality and character...and that's what Biss/Elias offer in abundance. It's Schumann Quintet to place among the best of the rest and a Dvorak that I simply couldn't stop listening to.” Gramophone Magazine, December 2012

“one of the most enjoyable and compelling chamber recordings released this year” International Record Review, December 2012

GGramophone Magazine

Editor's Choice - December 2012

Onyx - ONYX4092



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Mozart: Don Giovanni, K527

Mozart: Don Giovanni, K527

Ildebrando D'Arcangelo (Don Giovanni), Luca Pisaroni (Leporello), Diana Damrau (Donna Anna), Joyce DiDonato (Donna Elvira), Rolando Villazón (Don Ottavio), Mojca Erdmann (Zerlina), Konstantin Wolff (Masetto), Vitalij Kowaljow (Il Commendatore)

Mahler Chamber Orchestra, Yannick Nézet-Séguin

This thrilling recording around concert performances at the Baden-Baden Festspielhaus is set to be a milestone in at least two ways:-

It marks the beginning of an extended Deutsche Grammophon collaboration with rising star Yannick Nézet-Séguin – the young French-Canadian maestro - “surely the most exciting talent of his generation” (Edward Seckerson, The Independent, January, 2011) who has already been celebrated from the Metropolitan Opera House New York to Royal Opera House Covent Garden, La Scala Milan and the Salzburg Festival.

It is the first of a new Deutsche Grammophon cycle of Mozart’s seven main operas in collaboration with Festspielhaus Baden-Baden, Universal Music Arts & Entertainment, with the generous and kind support of Rolex and an enthusiastic advocate – Rolando Villazón - in love with Mozart!

A truly remarkable cast of world opera stars comes together for a breath-taking concert performance of Mozart’s Don Giovanni, with Mahler Chamber Orchestra under the baton of Yannick Nézet-Séguin.

Read Presto's complete review of this disc here.

“There’s too much crooning and pitch-bending from d’Arcangelo, in particular. However, DiDonato’s Mi tradì is sublime and Mojca Erdmann’s gorgeously embellished Zerlina is delicious.” The Times, 10th November 2012 ***

“D'Arcangelo's full bass allows this Giovanni to register as a vocal heavyweight, a dominant male who's also an expert seducer...Nézet-Séguin supplies plenty of character, with effective tempos and dramatically conceived music-making...this is definitely one of the best accounts of the opera to appear in a while.” BBC Music Magazine, Christmas 2012 ****

“Nézet-Séguin makes a strong showing here, a dramatic conductor with a foot in both the big Romantic and the “historically aware” Mozartian camps...[Villazon] is in good voice, but his style is anachronistic and lachrymose. Ildebrando d’Arcangelo is a saturnine, bassy Don, but I wish he had swapped roles with Luca Pisaroni’s lithe, witty Leporello.” Sunday Times, 25th November 2012

“[D'Arcangelo] brings a devilish charm to the anti-hero's reckless libertinism...The climax of the First Act displays Nézet-Séguin's undoubted skill in balancing the multitude of elements...with a lightness of touch that doesn't betray the lowering clouds gathering about Don Giovanni's future.” The Independent, 24th November 2012 ****

“Nezet-Seguin proves himself to be a superb Mozartian...his pacing can't be faulted...Erdmann confirms the promise of her recital disc...As for Joyce DiDonato, you would have to go a long way to hear such superb breath control in 'Mi tradi'...Villazon was not an obvious choice for Don Ottavio: full-on Latin passion rather than sculptured, north European elegance...Pisaroni really acts with his voice without sacrificing beauty of tone.” Gramophone Magazine, December 2012

“this Don Giovanni is more distinguished than the sum of its parts thanks to Nézet-Séguin's powerful and dynamic conducting of the Mahler Chamber Orchestra, which plays with terrific flair and élan...For fans of these particular singers, the set will be a must-buy, but even for the sceptical there is plenty to challenge and stimulate here, and the best of the soloists - Pisaroni, DiDonato, intermittently D'Arcangelo - are outstanding.” International Record Review, December 2012

“[Nezet-Seguin] combines the well-defined articulation of an historically informed approach with the full-bodied sound of a modern orchestra...The most exciting and consistently well-sung Don Giovanni to appear for several years, this set is strongly recommended.”, 14th January 2013

“d’Arcangelo’s virile, attractively rough-round-the-edges bass-baritone sounds better than ever before on disc...The opera’s not short on terror even before the supernatural rears its head, this has to be one of the most frightening Giovannis I’ve ever heard...Both the ‘Donnas’ are thrillingly sung, full of nuance and vocal drama that leaps out of the speakers.” Katherine Cooper, Presto Classical, 10th September 2012

Presto Disc of the Week

10th September 2012

GGramophone Magazine

Editor's Choice - December 2012

BBC Music Magazine

Opera Choice

DG - 4779878

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Parry: Orchestral and Choral Works

Parry: Orchestral and Choral Works

Foreword by HRH The Prince of Wales


The Glories of Our Blood and State

Te Deum (Coronation)


Amanda Roocroft (soprano)



original orchestration

Amanda Roocroft (soprano)

Suite from ‘The Birds’ (Aristophanes)

BBC National Chorus and Orchestra of Wales, Neeme Järvi

With a foreword by the long-standing Parry enthusiast HRH The Prince of Wales, this release features orchestral and choral works spanning the length of Parry’s composing life, many of which are recorded here for the first time.

Parry is simultaneously one of Britain's best-known and least-known composers. Jerusalem (recorded here in Parry’s original orchestration) is almost a national hymn, regularly performed at rugby grounds, schools, Women's Institute meetings, and at the Last Night of the Proms. Yet until very recently few knew much about Sir Charles Hubert H. Parry, who in his day was described by Sir Edward Elgar as ‘the leader of art in this country’.

In 2010, HRH The Prince of Wales thrust Parry back into the limelight when in the BBC documentary The Prince and the Composer, he set out to discover more about the man behind the music, with the help of members of Parry's family, scholars, and performers. In April 2011, HRH once again placed Parry centre stage, as Jerusalem was performed at the Royal Wedding of his eldest son and daughter-in-law, The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge.

Several other pieces on this recording have strong ties to members the Royal Family. The Magnificat of 1897 was dedicated to Queen Victoria on her Diamond Jubilee, and the Te Deum was composed for the Coronation of George V in 1911. The orchestral suite from the incidental music to The Birds features the famous march which was played at the wedding of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, and again as the processional march for the Queen’s arrival at the Royal Wedding in 2011.

Also on this disc is England, which was sung at the eightieth birthday concert of Sir Adrian Boult at the Royal Albert Hall in 1969.

The works are performed by the BBC National Chorus and Orchestra of Wales, with the soprano Amanda Roocroft, under Neeme Järvi who this year celebrates both his seventy-fifth birthday and an impressive thirty-year-long recording career with Chandos Records.

“This “heritage” release rewards close listening; a selection of choral and orchestral works by Sir Charles Parry mostly of outstanding merit, conducted by Neeme Järvi. Empty rhetoric is avoided, and much is mellifluously thoughtful...This is a CD well worth waving the flag for.” The Times, 19th October 2012 ****

“This is breast-swelling stuff...the BBC National Orchestra of Wales gives warmly sympathetic renditions of music which was probably completely unfamiliar to them before the recording sessions. The Chandos sound is excellent.” BBC Music Magazine, Christmas 2012 ****

“Altogether the disc represents one of the most important Parry issues for many years, a credit to all the performers, not least the warmly committed conductor, Neeme Jarvi, drawing the whole ensemble together. Warm, atmospheric sound too.” Gramophone Magazine, December 2012

“Though I feel the programme as a whole is a rather patchy representation of Parry, there's no doubt it's a valuable and timely addition to his discography. Järvi directs performances full of energy that sound entirely idiomatic, the orchestra responds with enthusiasm and the BBC National Chorus of Wales sings its collective heart out in the big moments.” International Record Review, December 2012

GGramophone Magazine

Editor's Choice - December 2012

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Britten: A Ceremony of Carols & St Nicolas

Britten: A Ceremony of Carols & St Nicolas


A Ceremony of Carols, Op. 28

Sally Pryce (harp), Katherine Watson (soprano) & Zoë Brown (soprano)

St Nicolas, Op. 42

Allan Clayton (tenor)

City of London Sinfonia, Holst Singers & Temple Church Choristers

2013 sees the centenary of Benjamin Britten’s birth and Hyperion starts celebrating early with this disc of two of the composer’s most popular choral works, both with a Christmas relevance.

The cantata Saint Nicolas tells the story of the original ‘Santa Claus’, a fourth-century saint whose acts—revitalizing three boys who had been pickled by an unscrupulous landlord being among the more dramatic—led to his canonization as patron saint of children and sailors. Britten’s lively setting is distinctly operatic, full of incident and colour—with the story brought ‘home’ through the use of congregational hymns. The part of Nicolas (here sung magnificently by Allan Clayton, already acclaimed as the heir to Peter Pears and Anthony Rolfe Johnson) is one of Britten’s great heroic tenor roles.

A Ceremony of Carols is a setting for treble voices and harp of some of the medieval texts which Britten loved so much, and is heard every Christmas in cathedrals, churches and concert halls throughout the land. This fresh, sparkling performance completes a thoroughly festive release.

“Layton’s soprano and mezzos affect a purity that sounds “boyish”...Clayton’s Nicolas is more youthful-sounding than his predecessors (Pears, Tear, Langridge), but Layton captures the mystery-play-like drama of the saint’s life story.” Sunday Times, 30th September 2012

“A Christmas disc to savour.” Financial Times, 10th November 2012

“Layton’s singers do project beautifully, and their sheer security makes this Ceremony a gorgeous, invigorating experience...The moment when the adult Nicolas (beautifully sung by tenor Allan Clayton) suddenly reveals himself in The Birth of Nicolas will induce goose pimples of delight in sceptical listeners.” The Arts Desk, 17th November 2012

“The young ladies of Trinity College Cambridge Choir here are pleasantly smooth without becoming unctuously so. Yet neither do they lack ruggedness...Clayton is magnificent” MusicWeb International, November 2012

“Layton's flowing speeds underline the dramatic sequence of the carols...All the solo performances are impeccably shaped and harpist Sally Pryce makes light work of the fiendish accompaniments...Clayton makes the role of Nicolas entirely his own. What a glorious voice!...This is a beautiful and deeply affecting recording.” Gramophone Magazine, December 2012

“The clear-toned adult voices of the Choir of Trinity College, Cambridge, highlight qualities in the work often missed when performed by the more usual boys' choir...Perhaps Trinity sound too well-behaved to match the boisterous enthusiasm boys typically bring...[though] the gains in terms of technical assurance and expression make this a welcome recording of a well-loved work.” BBC Music Magazine, January 2013 ****

“The ladies of the choir give a polished and fresh performance with a good amount of purity of sound, while Stephen Layton keeps the tempos moving convincingly. Women rather than boys may not be to everyone’s taste but it is mightily impressive nonetheless. Meanwhile Allan Clayton makes a thoroughly excellent St Nicolas.” Chris O'Reilly, Presto Classical, 3rd December 2012

Presto Disc of the Week

3rd December 2012

GGramophone Magazine

Editor's Choice - December 2012

Hyperion & Helios - up to 50% off

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Bartók, Eötvös & Ligeti: Violin Concertos

Bartók, Eötvös & Ligeti: Violin Concertos


Violin Concerto No. 2, Sz 112

Frankfurt Radio Symphony Orchestra



Frankfurt Radio Symphony Orchestra


Violin Concerto

Ensemble Modern

This is the fourth recording by Patricia Kopatchinskaja on naïve; the second in the concerto repertoire. The collaboration with conductor/composer Peter Eötvos and the programme is an intense series of connections. Between Bartok, Ligeti, Eotvos and Kopatchinskaja, there are many links: Hungary, the land of the 3 composers featured; Peter Eötvos was the conductor of the first performance of the second version of Ligeti violin concerto, in 1992, with Ensemble Modern; Patricia Kopatchinakaja and Peter Eötvös have been working together for 4 years, performing several concertos, including those recorded here.

Beyond those connections, this recording features 2 highs from 20th century violin repertoire and the world premiere recording of Eötvös’ 'Seven' which refers to the loss of the Columbia space shuttle in 2003, and which caused the death of all seven of its occupants.

“Between heaven and earth, past and future, I sank for a moment into the Hungarian cosmos and sensed whispers, fragments and signs of living and immortal souls. From light and darkness, dream and wakefulness, music burst forth.” Patricia Kopatchinskaja

Read Presto's complete review of this disc here.

“Patricia Kopatchinskaja is clearly an immensely able violinist, and she projects the Eötvös with wonderful confidence, but her rather brittle style is better suited to the sparkling polyrhythms of Ligeti's work than to Bartók's brand of neoclassicism” The Guardian, 22nd November 2012 ***

“Kopatchinskaja performs these three concertos by composers born in Hungary with her trademark panache and the recorded balance gives her all due prominence. The importance of the orchestral contribution can't be denied, however, and there's an impressive sense of common purpose and collaborative zeal throughout.” Gramophone Magazine, December 2012

“These three Hungarian concertos are all impressive works...Despite the huge technical challenges thrown at her, Patricia Kopatchinskaja plays with a deep and selfless understanding of each score.” Sunday Times, 6th January 2013

“An embarrassment of riches here - it’s hard to know where to start...Kopatchinskaja’s performance [of the Bartók] is gutsy, gritty and astringent...[the Ligeti] is is bonkers, but in an incredibly sophisticated, profoundly musical way...[the Eötvös] is a brilliantly scored yet elusive work.” The Arts Desk, 12th January 2013

“Kopatchinskaja marries consummate technical brilliance and an amazing aural imagination wiuth a capacity to bring completely new interpretative perspectives to some very familiar music. This...may well be her finest achievement to date. She is absolutely in her element, drawing on her vast experience of eastern European folk music to create a sound palette that encompasses a staggering range of colours and inflections.” BBC Music Magazine, February 2013 *****

“this is playing with real bite … her dynamic range is frequently daring … In Kopatchinskaja, Eotvos couldn’t wish for a more committed advocate for his concerto, completing an absorbing, fascinating release” International Record Review, February 2013

“She is clearly the dominant force in these recordings, though Peter Eötvös does not take a backseat in his partnership role. With immediate sound, these impassioned performances grab you from the beginning and never let go.” MusicWeb International, March 2013

“Kopatchinskaja’s recording [of the Bartók] lacks nothing of the bite and raw energy integral to this work, and it is hard not to be drawn into such a vigorous and passionate performance.” Chris O'Reilly, Presto Classical, 23rd September 2013

Presto Disc of the Week

23rd September 2013

GGramophone Awards 2013

Record of the Year

GGramophone Magazine

Editor's Choice - December 2012

BBC Music Magazine

Orchestral Choice - February 2013

40 Years of the Gramophone Awards

Naive - V5285

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Deluxe edition


Schiere invitte, non tardate (from Alarico il Baltha)

Ogni core può sperar (from Servio Tullio)

Ove son? Chi m'aita? In mezzo all'ombre...Dal mio petto (from Niobe)

Più non v'ascondo (from Tassilone)

Amami, e vederai (from Niobe)

T'abbraccio, mia Diva...Ti stringo, mio Nume (from Niobe)

Philippe Jaroussky (countertenor)

Mie fide schiere, all'armi!...Suoni, tuoni, il suolo scuota (from I trionfi del fato)

Sposa, mancar mi sento...Deh non far colle tue lagrime (from Tassilone)

Non prendo consiglio (from La superbia d'Alessandro)

Si, si, riposa, o caro...Palpitanti sfere belle (from Alarico il Baltha)

Notte amica al cieco Dio (from La libertà contenta)

Combatton quest'alma (from I trionfi del fato)

Philippe Jaroussky (countertenor)

A facile vittoria (from Tassilone)

Tra le guerre e le vittorie (from La superbia d'Alessandro)

Foschi crepuscoli (from La libertà contenta)

Dell'alma stanca a raddolcir le tempre...Sfere amiche, or date al labbro (from Niobe)

La cerasta più terribile (from La lotta d'Hercole con Acheloo)

Serena, o mio bel sole...Mia fiamma/Mio ardore (from Niobe)

Philippe Jaroussky (countertenor)

Dal tuo labbro amor m'invita (from Tassilone)

Deh stancati, o sorte (from La libertà contenta)

Svenati, struggiti, combatti, suda (from La libertà contenta)

Padre, s'è colpa in lui (from Tassilone)

Timori, ruine (from Le rivali concordi)

Morirò fra strazi e scempi (from Henrico Leone)

Non si parli che di fede (from Marco Aurelio)

Autumn 2012 marks the release of Mission, a sensational new album from the world’s best-selling classical artist, Cecilia Bartoli, and a project with international politics, religious conflict, diplomatic secrecy, spying and sensational music at its heart.

The album showcases the music of a little-known Italian composer and will include solo arias of various moods and styles, several duets, solo numbers with chorus - all sung in Italian - and instrumental interludes that create an organic transition from one piece to the next and an arc that reaches from the beginning to the end of the album.

Such was the appeal of the project that longtime Bartoli admirer and global best-selling author Donna Leon decided to write a mystery novel - Jewels of Paradise - to accompany Cecilia’s album, which uses the mystery surrounding the composer’s story as the centre of its plot. Jewels of Paradise will be released simultaneously with Cecilia Bartoli’s album in English (UK and USA), German, French, Dutch, Spanish and Catalan.

Among the distinguished names appearing on Mission is star French counter-tenor Philippe Jaroussky who features in a first-time collaboration with Cecilia on a selection of duets, alongside the Coro della Radiotelevisione Svizzera, the period orchestra I Barocchisti from Lugano, Switzerland, and conductor Diego Fasolis.

A cinematographic vision of the album directed by Olivier Simonnet and filmed in the historic Galerie des Glaces (Hall of Mirrors) and in the gardens of the Chateau de Versailles will be available on DVD later in the year.

Read Presto's complete review of this disc here.

“Steffani’s art is elegantly expressive, Italianate with French dressing...Several brazen display arias are here...Bartoli leaps around the vocal ladder with customary gusto and a rather too vigorous vibrato. The pleasures are subtler when the music is simpler and the voice quieter...Notte amica, say, from La Libertà contenta, or the silky caress of Sfere amiche...These two tracks were definitely worth Bartoli shaving her head.” The Times, 21st September 2012 ***

“Bartoli’s programming instincts are immaculate in terms of musical and emotional variety; she is compelling in pearly arioso and slow numbers, less so in bravura ones.” Sunday Times, 14th October 2012

“she sweeps through 25 numbers flexing her well-rehearsed vocabulary of flighty fioritura, expressive mannerism and tender vocalità. The melting duets with countertenor Philippe Jaroussky are worth hearing” Financial Times, 20th October 2012 **

“Bartoli's vocal mannerisms vex and delight – sometimes simultaneously. But for those seduced by the 2010 Royal Opera House production of Niobe, Regina di Tebe, this selection will be irresistible.” The Independent on Sunday, 18th November 2012 ****

“Bartoli's plummy mezzo soars, smoulders and seduces, milking the music's vocal and expressive scope to dramatic effect. It's hard to resist her sparkling personality and infectious passion for this repertoire...the animated playing of I Barocchisti enhance the sheer theatre and scale of Steffani's talent...this is truly a revelatory disc.” BBC Music Magazine, Christmas 2012 *****

“Among the opera arias Ms. Bartoli dug up in the archives are some treasures, hypnotic, slow numbers in which voice and accompanying strings circle each other like spinning planets and jubilant vehicles for her rapid-fire coloratura singing. Mr. Fasolis stokes the fire with an impetuous period-instrument ensemble.” New York Times, 23rd November 2012

“Bartoli is to be both congratulated and thanked for this project...Her dazzlingly virtuoso and urgently expressive performances betoken nothing less than total commitment, with every single aria delivered with as much dramatic intensity and focus as if it had been lifted straight from a fully staged is hard to know what more one could ask for.” Gramophone Magazine, December 2012

“I can't think of another singer who brings such variety of colour, nuance and pathos to slow numbers...Bartoli's performance of the more bravura more questionable...Vocal fireworks have always been essential weapons in the Bartoli armoury, but they are now sounding rusty...I don't want to end on a negative note, as there is much to admire and even love here...'Mission' is in every sense a collector's item.” International Record Review, December 2012

“conspicuously cosmopolitan music: melodically it often feels very Italian, yet the influence of French courtly dances is also present, and there are other passages which sound almost Hispanic or Moorish...the recital opens with a veritable inferno of pyrotechnics...but the collection also showcases Steffani’s lyrical gifts and Bartoli’s incomparable way with long-breathed lachrymose lines.” Katherine Cooper, Presto Classical, 15th October 2012

“The music itself is startlingly good...and is magnificently performed here by Bartoli, in thrillingly bravura voice...There’s a colourful array of arias, from rousing battle cries, with trumpet and percussion, to heartfelt, Strozzi- like laments, but it’s the lingering beauty of Steffani’s melodic lines that will hold you spellbound.” Early Music Today

Presto Disc of the Week

15th October 2012

GGramophone Magazine

Editor's Choice - December 2012

Decca - 4784732



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Bruno Walter’s Mahler: The Early New York Recordings

Bruno Walter’s Mahler: The Early New York Recordings


Symphony No. 1 in D major 'Titan'

Symphony No. 2 'Resurrection'

New York Philharmonic Symphony Orchestra & Westminster Choir, Bruno Walter

This account of the “Resurrection” is notably more rhetorical and dramatic than Walter’s several later recordings.

Bruno Walter had a missionary zeal for Mahler’s multidimensional music.

These are two previously unreleased recordings.

“The notion that Bruno Walter’s Mahler was “soft-centred” used to be a commonplace of English criticism...These [performances], previously unissued and taken from broadcasts from Carnegie Hall, New York, in 1942, confirm that his approach was anything but soft. They bristle with fierce energy and whiplash playing. No 1 is particularly impressive.” Sunday Times, 26th August 2012

“Rhetoric and searing drama charge the first movement with unprecedented levels of intensity...As to the closing minutes, no performance in my experience quite equals them for a sense of unbridled exhilaration, the Westminster Choir singing their hearts out like no other on disc. It'll likely move you to tears and I have no hesitation whatever in naming this the pre-eminent 'historic' Mahler Second” Gramophone Magazine, December 2012

GGramophone Magazine

Re-issue of the Month - December 2012

Music & Arts - MACD1264

(CD - 2 discs)


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