Gramophone Magazine Editor's Choice

Awards Issue 2012

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Lieux retrouvés

Awards:

Gramophone Magazine

Disc of the Month - Awards Issue 2012

Building a Library

First Choice - January 2013

BBC Music Magazine

Chamber Choice - December 2012

Label:

Hyperion

Catalogue No:

CDA67948

Discs:

1

Release date:

1st Oct 2012

Barcode:

0034571179483

Medium:

CD

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Lieux retrouvés

Music for cello & piano


Adès:

Lieux retrouvés

with Thomas Adès (piano)

Fauré:

Cello Sonata No. 2 in G minor, Op. 117

with Thomas Adès (piano)

Janacek:

Pohádka (Fairy Tale) for Cello and Piano

with Thomas Adès (piano)

Kurtág:

For Steven - Im Memoriam Pauline Mara

Pilinszky János: Gérard de Nerval

György Kroó in memoriam

Schatten

Liszt:

Romance oubliée, for viola/cello/violin & piano, S. 132

with Thomas Adès (piano)

Die Zelle in Nonnenwerth, S382

with Thomas Adès (piano)

La Lugubre Gondola for cello & piano, S134

with Thomas Adès (piano)


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A cello recital with a difference from two maverick geniuses, displaying the fecundity of their collaboration. The world-famous cellist Steven Isserlis, one of the best-loved instrumentalists of today, joins forces with composer and pianist Thomas Adès, described by the New York Times as one of the most imposing figures in contemporary music.

This recording opens with three of Liszt’s arrangements for cello and piano—the dark plangency of Isserlis’s tone emphasizing their elegiac power. Janácek’s Pohádka (‘A Tale’) is based on a story with many magical elements, and it is this particular quality which Isserlis and Adès bring out in their aerial performance. The passionate ecstasy of Fauré’s Cello Sonata No 2 is deeply felt, and the elemental mysterious sadness of Kurtág’s miniatures leads the listener into the 21st century and to the ‘title track’ of this disc which Adès wrote for Isserlis himself. Lieux retrouvés is a characteristically thrilling tour de force, displaying influences from all the composers previously featured and many more. The writing for the cello reaches uncharted levels of difficulty. Isserlis in his thoughtful booklet notes describes it in pictorial terms of rivers and mountains—here’s Anthony Tommasini, again in the New York Times: ‘The rippling figures for piano and cello spin out in crazed, cyclic riffs; the crystalline piano harmonies sound as if the wind were rustling the chimes in the pagoda; the feisty, industrialized propulsive bursts in the finale.’

Liszt: Romance Oubliée, S 132

Romance Oubliée, S 132

Liszt: Die Zelle In Nonnenwerth, S 382

Die Zelle In Nonnenwerth, S 382

Liszt: Die Trauergondel, S 134, "La Lugubre Gondola"

Die Trauergondel, S 134, "La Lugubre Gondola"

Janácek: Pohádka (A Tale)

1. Con Moto

2. Con Moto

3. Allegro

Fauré: Cello Sonata No. 2 In G Minor, Op. 117

1. Allegro

2. Andante

3. Allegro Vivo

Kurtág: For Steven, In Memoriam Pauline Mara

For Steven, In Memoriam Pauline Mara

Kurtág: Pilinszky János, Gérard De Nerval

Pilinszky János, Gérard De Nerval

Kurtág: Schatten

Schatten

Kurtág: György Kroó In Memoriam

György Kroó In Memoriam

Adès: Lieux Retrouvés

1 Les Eaux

2 La Montagne

3 Les Champs

4 La Ville: Cancan Macabre

Sunday Times

30th September 2012

“Isserlis is furiously lyrical and concentrated [in the Adès], but no less so in the other works, which offer aptly Romantic-modern context for Adès’s inspiration.”

Gramophone Magazine

Awards Issue 2012

“This blissfully unhackneyed and brilliantly executed recital takes memory in all its facets as its theme...the recording throughout gives the players all the space and atmosphere they need to characterise the varied moods and textures of an unusually rewarding programme.”

BBC Music Magazine

December 2012

*****

“Match [Ades's playing] with the mellow sound and manner of Steven Isserlis's cello, and you have something very special. Their choice of repertory here - devised as an extended upbeat to Ades's Lieux retrouves at the end of the programme - is unusual, memorable, and wonderfully performed from start to finish.”

Financial Times

3rd November 2012

****

“Isserlis plays with almost tangible intensity and soul, while Adès finds charm and natural expression at every turn – a true musical dialogue.”

New York Times

25th December 2013

“an inspired grouping of diverse composers that highlights surprising musical connections between their styles”

Click on any of the works listed above for alternative recordings.

Editor's Choice

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Johan Svendsen: Orchestral Works Volume 2

Johan Svendsen: Orchestral Works Volume 2


Svendsen:

Cello Concerto

Truls Mørk (cello)

Symphony No. 2 in B flat major, Op. 15

Norsk Rapsodi No. 3, Op. 21

Norsk Rapsodi No. 4, Op. 22


Having recently concluded his Halvorsen series, Neeme Järvi continues his Nordic project with the Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra. This is Volume 2 in the survey of orchestral works by the Norwegian composer Johan Svendsen, a contemporary of Grieg.

In the Cello Concerto, the orchestration is perhaps more introvert than what we usually hear in Svendsen’s music.

His Violin Concerto is in the conventional three movements, but here he experimented with the form and designed the concerto in just one movement, enclosing a slow section within a large-scale sonata-allegro structure. The work speaks to the poetic capabilities of the solo instrument, rather than relying on virtuoso passages, and in this respect it demands a cellist capable of bringing out the work’s subtle lyrical qualities. Charged with this task is the Norwegian cellist Truls Mørk, described by The Daily Telegraph as ‘a player of angelic grace and purity of tone’, whose discography spans from a Grammy-award-winning recording of Shostakovich’s Cello Concertos to a critically acclaimed recording of Bach's Suites for Solo Cello.

Svendsen was the first really successful Norwegian symphonist. In fact, Grieg is said to have been so overwhelmed by Svendsen’s first symphony that he was persuaded to dismiss his own, and focus on more intimate genres. Svendsen’s second symphony is as optimistic and youthful as the first, yet perhaps more organically developed and less edgy. The second movement is one of Svendsen’s most captivating and deeply felt pieces, moving through several beautiful melodies to arrive at an intensified climax.

Svendsen also wrote four Norwegian Rhapsodies, of which Nos 3 and 4 are recorded here. The set as a whole draws on seventeen Norwegian folk songs and fiddle tunes. The composer picked most of them from Ludvig Mathias Lindeman’s collection Ældre og nyere norske Fjeldmelodier (Older and Newer Norwegian Mountain Melodies).

“Mørk makes the most of the lyrical solo opportunities in the concerto, which telescopes traditional three-movement form into a single sonata movement wrapped around a central intermezzo, while Järvi and the Bergen Philharmonic give the symphony a real sense of momentum, without ever attempting to disguise what it owes to Schumann and Mendelssohn.” The Guardian, 6th September 2012 ***

“[The Cello Concerto] is a fascinating and addictive work that deserves more airings...But Jarvi and his Norwegians are on scintillating form throughout and the Cello Concerto and dark readings of the Symphony are to be treasured.” Gramophone Magazine, Awards Issue 2012

“volume 2 offers Svendsen at his most original and entertaining. The two Norwegian Rhapsodies see him at his most attractively nationalistic, whilst Truls Mørk is a persuasive advocate of the short, subtle but always deeply lyrical cello concerto.” MusicWeb International, 11th June 2013

GGramophone Magazine

Editor's Choice - Awards Issue 2012

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Stephen Hough's French Album

Stephen Hough's French Album


Alkan:

La chanson de la folle au bord de la mer, Op.31 no.8

Bach, J S:

Toccata & Fugue in D minor, BWV565

arr. Alfred Cortot & Stephen Hough

Keyboard Concerto No. 5 in F minor, BWV1056: arioso

arr. Alfred Cortot

Chabrier:

Pièces pittoresques (10): No. 2, Mélancolie

Chaminade:

Automne, Op. 35 No. 2

Debussy:

Clair de Lune (from Suite Bergamasque)

Delibes:

Sylvia - Pizzicato

arr. Stephen Hough

Fauré:

Nocturne No. 6 in D flat major, Op. 63

Improvisation in C sharp minor, Op. 84 No. 5

Impromptu No. 5 in F sharp minor Op. 102

Barcarolle No. 5 in F sharp minor Op. 66

Liszt:

Réminiscences de La juive - Fantaisie brillante S409a

Massenet:

Crépuscule

arr. Stephen Hough

Poulenc:

Mélancolie

Nocturne No. 4 in C minor 'Bal fantôme'

15 Improvisations, No. 8 in A minor

Ravel:

Alborada del gracioso (Miroirs No. 4)


Exquis! Stephen Hough presents an enchanting programme of French music, played with the filigree perfection and total command of the music’s expressive world that make him one of the most admired pianists of today. In typical Houghian style this recital is full of surprises and lesser-known gems from the repertoire, as well as works by the masters Fauré, Ravel, Debussy and Poulenc. A particular delight is Hough’s own arrangement of the Massenet song Crépuscule, a ravishing exercise in creative yet faithful transcription. This release is both a tribute to the lyric genius which flowered in nineteenth- and twentieth-century France, and a glimpse into the musical mind of a great pianist.

Read Presto's complete review of this disc here.

“His latest album recital is among the most enjoyable. “A sort of musical dessert trolley,” he calls it — a trolley where you want to eat everything in sight...The Fauré selections best display Hough’s connoisseur’s touch...The lighter French spirit surfaces in Hough’s own arrangements of Délibes and Massenet, delivered with delicious wit and grace.” The Times, 31st August 2012 ****

“it's a superlative performance [of Alborada del gracioso] by any standards, including repeated notes that turn me green with envy.” BBC Music Magazine, October 2012 ***

“personal touches make Hough the artist he is, but I can imagine some musical Francophiles balking at his free interpretation of Fauré’s D flat Nocturne, and more so at his eccentric Debussy (Clair de lune). Yet there are compensations aplenty: Ravel’s Alborada del gracioso and Fauré’s F sharp minor Impromptu are glitteringly played.” Sunday Times, 2nd September 2012

“a substantial feast of of masterly pianism...Hough can be too coolly objective at times but in this repertoire, perhaps paradoxically, the expressive simplicity of his playing can make your eyes burn. In Clair de lune and Chaminade's once ubiquitous Automne, now rarely heard, Hough conjures up a heart-catching melancholy that put me in mind of Cherkassy. I can't offer higher praise.” Gramophone Magazine, Awards Issue 2012

“[Hough’s] one of those keyboard polymaths who’s at home in whatever music he chooses to play, invariably casting new light on the familiar in the process. And the better-known items here do delight...But you’ll want this for the rarities...playing and recording are beyond reproach.” The Arts Desk, 6th October 2012

“what struck me on first hearing was the consistent clarity of his approach. In lesser hands a programme like this could so easily dissipate into a series of soft-focus washes of sound, but even in the most familiar pieces I found myself becoming aware of countermelodies and overarching phrases which had never before caught my attention.” Katherine Cooper, Presto Classical, 3rd September 2012

Presto Disc of the Week

3rd September 2012

GGramophone Magazine

Editor's Choice - Awards Issue 2012

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Rossini: La scala di seta

Rossini: La scala di seta

Recorded live at Rossini Opera Festival, Pesaro, August 2009


Daniele Zanfardino (Dormont), Olga Peretyatko (Giulia), Anna Malavasi (Lucilla), José Manuel Zapata (Dorvil), Carlo Lepore (Blansac) & Paolo Bordogna (Germano)

Haydn Orchestra of Bolzano and Trento, Claudio Scimone (conductor) & Damiano Michieletto (stage director)

Rossini's sparkling La scala di seta of 1812 weaves a burlesque tale of gentlemen climbing in and out of a lady's bedchamber on a silken ladder. Damiano Michieletto's modern-day production from the Rossini Festival in Pesaro sets the action in the tworoom apartment of the heroine Giulia, sung with 'wonderful suppleness' (Opernwelt) by Olga Peretyatko. The production also features a spectacular grand aria for Blansac (Carlo Lepore) extraneous to the work. Leading a young and spirited cast of Rossini specialists is maestro Claudio Scimone, a key figure in the international Rossini Renaissance.

The Rossini Opera Festival in Pesaro, the composer’s birthplace, is internationally renowned for its innovative stagings and musically impeccable productions.

This colourful and exuberant production was staged by Daminano Michieletto, “one of the truly new voices in stage direction today” (L’Unita). Damiano Michieletto made his international debut at the Wexford Opera Festival in 2003 with a highly-acclaimed production of Weinberger’s Svanda Dudák, named Opera Production of the Year by the Irish Times.

Claudio Scimone, a key figure in the international Rossini Renaissance, conducts the Orchestra di Bolzano e Trento and leads a cast of Rossini specialists including Daniele Zanfardino, Olga Peretyatko and Anna Malavasi.

Running time: 127 minutes

Subtitles: EN/FR/DE/ES

Sound format: 2.0LPCM + 5.1(5.0) DTS

“The cast is uniformly good. With her film-star looks and shiny top register, Olga Peretyatko has a lot of fun as Giulia, Carlo Lepore shows off as the vacuous Blansac, Jose Manuel Zapata makes an engaging Dorvil, and Paolo Bordogna proves an expert clown in the buffo role of Germano.” BBC Music Magazine, October 2012 ****

“The most appealing member of the cast is Olga Peretyatko as young Giulia, who is exceptionally attractive...and sings with a lyric sheen, until her soprano gets fluttery at the very top. Jose Manuel Zapata's tenor brings a Mediterranean warmth to the role of Dorvil, though a tearing sound disfigures some of his top notes...The authoritative presence of Claudio Scimone in the pit is a plus, ensuring a clean-cut Rossini style” Gramophone Magazine, Awards Issue 2012

“[Lepore] puts in a very fine effort as Blansac, moving and reacting convincingly and singing with a firmness of tone which makes the character stronger and more realistic, perhaps supplying a better voice than Rossini's original interpreter...Jose Manuel Zapata manages the coloratura with no discernible difficulty but his top notes become thin and lose quality...[Peretyatko] both sounds and looks good. Her voice has a shine and a command of coloratura.” International Record Review, July/August 2012

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Berg: Lulu

Berg: Lulu

Recorded at the Felsenreitschule during the Salzburg Festival 2011


Patricia Petibon (Lulu), Pavol Breslik (The Painter/A Negro), Michael Volle (Dr. Schön/Jack the Ripper), Cora Burggraaf (Dresser/High_School Boy/Groom), Franz Grundheber (Schigolch), Thomas Piffka (Alwa), Thomas Johannes Mayer (An Animal Tamer/Rodrigo), Heinz Zednik (The Prince/The Manservant), Andreas Conrad (The Marquis), Martin Tzonev (The Theatre Manger/The Banker), Emilie Pictet (A Fifteen-year-old girl), Cornelia Wulkopf (Her Mother)

Wiener Philharmoniker & Upper Austrian Jazz Orchestra, Marc Albrecht (conductor) & Vera Nemirova (stage director)

Vera Nemirova, staging

Vera Nemirova’s challenging production of Berg’s operatic masterpiece Lulu won critical acclaim when first seen at the Salzburg Festival in 2010, and was successfully repeated in 2011, when the production was filmed for DVD.

Supporting Nemirova’s powerful vision of corruption, decadence and death were the highly praised set designs by the young German artist Daniel Richter.

Musically the production was led with style and assurance by the brilliant young German conductor Marc Albrecht, currently director of the Netherlands Opera. Singing Lulu with allure and passion was the lauded French soprano Patricia Petibon, whose charms gripped an outstanding cast of top European singers.

Lulu is a very rarely performed work, which was also left unfinished by the composer. This performance includes the missing 3rd act, which was completed by Friedrich Cerha, winner of the Salzburg Music Award 2010.

Picture format DVD: 1080i - 16:9

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

Region code: 2,3,4,5,6,8

Subtitles: English, French, German, Italian, Chinese, Japanese, Korean

Booklet notes: English, German, French

Runnning time: 173 mins

“Nemirova's vibrant Salzburg production deliberately removes Berg's provocative opera from direct association with a specific time or place, placing the drama in a more mythical context...Almost all the major protagonists are powerfully drawn...But the real stars of this superb performance are undoubtedly the Vienna Philharmonic and conductor Marc Albrecht, who bring a glorious richness, warmth and emotional intensity to Berg's astonishing score.” BBC Music Magazine, February 2013 *****

“Musically there is plenty to admire...Ultimately, it is Volle as Dr Schon and Jack the Ripper who impresses most...Petibon's background in early music may be thought to give her an unusual degree of vulnerability...After a cautious start, her performance gains conviction as it proceeds...this is one of those recordings that takes time to reach the dark, disturbed heart of Berg's most ambivalently poised and perturbing work” Gramophone Magazine, Awards Issue 2012

“The singing and acting of Patricia Petibon as Lulu is magnificent. She is that rare creature, a singer with the face and figure of a model...One does not have to wonder why men fall under her spell and even die of it...Almost all of the staging and costuming is dedicated to the service of this music. It is not necessary to suspend one's disbelief as so often happens in current opera staging: here one is gripped from beginning to the disturbing and bloody end.” MusicWeb International, August 2012

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Shostakovich: String Quartets Nos. 3, 4 & 7

Shostakovich: String Quartets Nos. 3, 4 & 7


Shostakovich:

String Quartet No. 3 in F major, Op. 73

String Quartet No. 4 in D major, Op. 83

String Quartet No. 7 in F sharp minor, Op. 108


Meta4

In recent years, the Finnish string quartet Meta4 has become one of the world’s top quartets. The ensemble won the Shostakovich Competition in Moscow in 2004, so are well qualified to record these works. Their first release of Haydn’s Op.55 quartets won an Echo Klassik Award.

“Unlike most of their peers, Meta4 have found their way to the particular world of musicality that Shostakovich inhabits...Listen to the highly contrapuntal central section of the first movement of the Thrid Quartet and marvel at the range and precision of colour and articulation...I'm not sure I've ever heard the opening folk-like Allegretto of No. 4 more subtly explored” Gramophone Magazine, Awards Issue 2012

GGramophone Magazine

Editor's Choice - Awards Issue 2012

Hänssler - HAEN98644

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Cavalli: La Didone

Cavalli: La Didone

Recorded live at the Théâtre de Caen, October 2011


Anna Bonitatibus (Didone), Kresimir Spicer (Enea), Xavier Sabata (larba), Maria Streijffert (Ecuba) & Katherine Watson (Cassandra)

Les Arts Florissants, William Christie (conductor) & Clément Hervieu-Léger (director)

One of the first operas deserving of the name, Didone is our first surviving musical version of the famous episode in Virgil's Aeneid where the Trojan hero loves and then cruelly leaves the noble Dido. Cavalli learnt at the feet of Monteverdi, and his dramatic transformation of the story is all the more expressive for its intimacy, worthy of the examples set by his master. At the centre of this bold and simple staging – the first opera production by comic actor Clément Hervieu-Léger – is the Queen of Carthage herself, sung with uncompromising intensity by Anna Bonitatibus. William Christie and his singers and players show themselves entirely attuned to the world of Cavalli, where meaning and music fuse.

Running time: 176 minutes

Subtitles: EN/FR/DE

Sound format: 2.0LPCM + 5.1(5.0) DTS

“With a small orchestra of solo strings, continuo and a couple of woodwind, the focus is very much on the declamatory skills of the singers. Anna Bonitatibus is outstanding, especially in her confrontation, impassioned but dignified, with Aeneas...elegant, well-paced conducting from William Christie.” Gramophone Magazine, Awards Issue 2012

“It's a fascinating piece. Cavalli treats Giovanni Busenello's libretto with dignity in a responsive setting...So, too, does Hervieu-Leger, capturing its complex narrative and emotional interaction with flair...there are no weak links in the cast, who impress as a real ensemble of actors...as always, Les Arts Florissants perform with enormous style.” BBC Music Magazine, November 2012 *****

“Anna Bonitatibus as Dido is first-class; her powerful mezzo voice is as resplendent as her wonderful name and Krešimir špicer’s Æneas is hardly far behind...Christie’s direction can almost be taken to guarantee a fine performance and that’s the case here...If you wish to have only one Cavalli recording in your collection, this would vie strongly for that honour” MusicWeb International, October 2012

GGramophone Magazine

Editor's Choice - Awards Issue 2012

BBC Music Magazine

DVD Choice - November 2012

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Cavalli: La Didone

Cavalli: La Didone

Recorded live at the Théâtre de Caen, October 2011


Anna Bonitatibus (Didone), Kresimir Spicer (Enea), Xavier Sabata (larba), Maria Streijffert (Ecuba) & Katherine Watson (Cassandra)

Les Arts Florissants, William Christie (conductor) & Clément Hervieu-Léger (director)

One of the first operas deserving of the name, Didone is our first surviving musical version of the famous episode in Virgil's Aeneid where the Trojan hero loves and then cruelly leaves the noble Dido. Cavalli learnt at the feet of Monteverdi, and his dramatic transformation of the story is all the more expressive for its intimacy, worthy of the examples set by his master. At the centre of this bold and simple staging – the first opera production by comic actor Clément Hervieu-Léger – is the Queen of Carthage herself, sung with uncompromising intensity by Anna Bonitatibus. William Christie and his singers and players show themselves entirely attuned to the world of Cavalli, where meaning and music fuse.

Running time: 176 minutes

Subtitles: EN/FR/DE

Sound format: 2.0LPCM + 5.1(5.0) DTS

“It's a fascinating piece. Cavalli treats Giovanni Busenello's libretto with dignity in a responsive setting...So, too, does Hervieu-Leger, capturing its complex narrative and emotional interactions with flair. There are no weak links in the cast, who impress as a real ensemble of actors...as always, Les Arts Florissants perform with enormous style.” BBC Music Magazine, November 2012 *****

“With a small orchestra of solo strings, continuo and a couple of woodwind, the focus is very much on the declamatory skills of the singers. Anna Bonitatibus is outstanding, especially in her confrontation, impassioned but dignified, with Aeneas...elegant, well-paced conducting from William Christie.” Gramophone Magazine, Awards Issue 2012

“Anna Bonitatibus as Dido is first-class; her powerful mezzo voice is as resplendent as her wonderful name and Krešimir špicer’s Æneas is hardly far behind...Christie’s direction can almost be taken to guarantee a fine performance and that’s the case here...If you wish to have only one Cavalli recording in your collection, this would vie strongly for that honour” MusicWeb International, October 2012

GGramophone Magazine

Editor's Choice - Awards Issue 2012

BBC Music Magazine

DVD/Blu-ray Choice - November 2012

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Amoretti

Amoretti

Arias by Mozart, Gluck and Gretry


Gluck:

Soumis au silence (from Orphée et Eurydice)

Sacre piante (from Il Parnaso Confuso)

In mezzo al mar crudele (from Telemaco ossia l'Isola di Circe)

Adieu, conservez dans votre âme (from Iphigénie en Aulide)

Gretry:

Comme un éclair (from La Fausse Magie)

Il va venir...Pardonne, o mon juge (from Silvain)

Au bien supreme (from Lucile)

Mozart:

Amoretti, che ascosi qui siete (from La Finta Semplice)

Ferma aspetta...Infelice affetti miei (from Ascanio in Alba)

Lungi da te, mio bene (from Mitridate, Rè di Ponto, KV87)

Biancheggia (from Il Sogno di Scipione)

Fra i pensier più funesti (from Lucio Silla)


Following on from her recent appearance on BBC Radio 3's 'In Tune', the acclaimed soprano Christiane Karg performed with Glyndbourne Touring Opera in the 2010/2011 season. An interview with her appeared in the May issue of BBC Magazine this year. This compilation takes the listener on an emotional roller-coaster ride.

“it is a relief to encounter a light soprano who can sing the most demanding high notes and coloratura without sounding hard pressed, metallic and shrill.” Sunday Times, 5th August 2012

“The Gluck items are all done with style but it's the airs by Gretry that make the disc so desirable. Listen to the excerpt from Silvain, a complete scena only five minutes long, and you will be hooked.” Gramophone Magazine, Awards Issue 2012

“Karg's voice is much more than a soubrette: she numbers Pamina, Musetta and Ann Trulove in her ever-growing repertory...Cohen's Arcangelo...adds to the colour and provides stylish playing under his baton.” International Record Review, October 2012

“an extremely attractive potpourri - and it's extremely attractively executed by Christiane Karg...she's an expert technician with a lovely bright voice. She is also a responsive, intelligent mood-creator and stylist...these polished performances, excellently supported by a British conductor and period band, should give much pleasure.” BBC Music Magazine, November 2012 ****

“Jonathan Cohen's crack ensemble Arcangelo is making a name for itself...Karg's sound is clear and effortlessly stratospheric, though the sound can be hard.” The Observer, 3rd March 2013

GGramophone Magazine

Editor's Choice - Awards Issue 2012

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Wagner: Lohengrin

Wagner: Lohengrin


Klaus Florian Vogt (Lohengrin), Annette Dasch (Elsa), Susanne Resmark (Ortrud), Gerd Grochowski (Friedrich von Telramund), Markus Brück (Der Heerrufer des Königs), Günther Groissböck (Heinrich der Vogler)

Rundfunk-Sinfonieorchester Berlin & Rundfunkchor Berlin, Marek Janowski

The latest release in this unique Wagner edition. Previously, Parsifal was BBC Music Magazine’s recording of the Month; “… spontaneity of something which has sunk so deeply into the performers’ minds and souls that they can throw caution to the wind.”

“Janowski has matured into the most reliably impressive Wagner conductor of our time...[Vogt] has a lovely voice, though it occasionally sounds thin; but he is expressive, intelligent and convincing. So is his Elsa, soprano Annette Dasch. The villains match them, especially mezzo-soprano Susanne Resmark as Ortrud, who calls on the pagan gods with thrilling panache...I await the rest of the Pentatone series with impatience.” BBC Music Magazine, October 2012 *****

“As early as the Prelude the quality of the audio shines: the separation of the strings is spotless and crystal-clear...the music, as it should, shimmers in mid air. And so it goes throughout the performance...[Vogt’s] singing is outstandingly beautiful and sensitive, and you get used to the small-but-gleaming sound after a while...Lohengrin is supposed to be otherworldy, and Vogt’s sound certainly is.” Classics Today

“[Dasch] is the ne plus ultra in slim-sounding, girlish Elsas. But it sounds and works so beautifully...[Vogt's] understanding of the part triumphs, there is much lovely quieter singing and he is able to bring special atmosphere to the Grail narration...Resmark is pushed at times by the tessitura...but gives such a firecracker Ortrud that no one should care...There's a terrifyingly long list of worthwhile Lohengrin recordings, to which this newcomer is a serious competitor” Gramophone Magazine, Awards Issue 2012

“This is a Lohengrin to be listened to in Bruckner mode: revel in the sound of chorus and orchestra and put up with the voices, though I am sure some will react differently to Vogt's Lohengrin.” International Record Review, September 2012

“The shimmering “holy” textures of [the Act I prelude is] evidence of the sonorous string culture of this Berlin band, as remarkable as that of its Rattle- and Barenboim-led rivals. Janowski is a master Wagnerian, but his swift tempi and propulsive momentum are the antithesis of Barenboim’s more spacious Wagner.” Sunday Times, 15th July 2012

GGramophone Magazine

Editor's Choice - Awards Issue 2012

BBC Music Magazine

Opera Choice - October 2012

Super Audio CD

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Pentatone Marek Janowski Wagner Opera Cycle - PTC5186403

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Prokofiev: The War Sonatas

Prokofiev: The War Sonatas


Prokofiev:

Piano Sonata No. 6 in A major, Op. 82

Piano Sonata No. 7 in B flat major, Op. 83

Piano Sonata No. 8 in B flat major, Op. 84


Boris Giltburg was selected by the great Zubin Mehta as the winner of the first Pnina Salzman Prize in Israel 2011 and has won many other prestigious prizes, including the top prize and Audience Prize in the Santander International Piano Competition, and second prize and Best Classical Concerto in the Artur Rubinstein Competition.

An exceptionally busy and versatile performer, he recently replaced Denis Matsuev at one day’s notice performing Rachmaninov’s Piano Concerto No.3 on tour in Germany.

This CD is the culmination of many months of constant performance and study of Prokofiev’s War Sonatas, and the highly detailed and insightful booklet notes have also been written by Boris.

“Giltburg brings them right up to date with playing of terrific panache and personality, digging deep into the fabric of the music to illuminate its emotional content and harnessing an authoritative bravura to underline the savagery and nervy energy that the scores often convey...These are powerful, intuitive performances, executed with stylistic understanding and arresting presence.” The Telegraph, 31st August 2012 *****

“Putting my head above a parapet, I have to say that these performances of Prokofiev's three 'War' Sonatas...eclipse all others on record - even those tirelessly and justifiably celebrated performances by Richter and Gilels...[Giltburg's] blistering, all-inclusive technique allows him to range from the merest whisper...to an elemental uproar that never degenerates into coarseness or mere violence.” Gramophone Magazine, Awards Issue 2012

GGramophone Magazine

Editor's Choice - Awards Issue 2012

Orchid Classics - ORC100023

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Xaver Dussek: Four Symphonies

Xaver Dussek: Four Symphonies


Dussek, F X:

Symphony in G major (Altner G4)

Symphony in B flat major (Altner Bb2)

Symphony in A major (Altner A3)

Symphony in B flat major (Altner Bb3)


Helsinki Baroque Orchestra, Aapo Häkkinen

Mozart’s friend Franz Xaver Dussek (in whose summer villa he completed Don Giovanni) was a pianist, celebrated teacher and the leading composer of instrumental music in Prague. Like his compatriot Vanhal, Dussek completed his musical training in Vienna and, unsurprisingly, his works reflect the strong influence of composers such as Hofmann, Haydn and Dittersdorf. Dussek’s symphonies, most of which appear to have been composed in the 1760s and 1770s, are works of great charm and vivacity, cleverly orchestrated and full of striking melodic ideas as this recording amply demonstrates.

“Häkkinen directs from a fortepiano, appropriately so. He uses it to decoarte lines and enhance tonal colour, eschewing the infuriating anachronism of emphasising harmonic rhythm...[in the Andante of Bb3, Häkkinen] inspires his musicians into a softly atmospheric evocation of pastoral spaciousness interspersed with shadows of gentle agitation. Excellent.” Gramophone Magazine, Awards Issue 2012

GGramophone Magazine

Editor's Choice - Awards Issue 2012

Naxos - 8572683

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Stravinsky & Martin: Violin Concertos

Stravinsky & Martin: Violin Concertos


Honegger:

Movement symphonique No. 1 'Pacific 231'

Movement symphonique No. 2 'Rugby'

Martin, F:

Violin Concerto

Baiba Skride (violin)

Stravinsky:

Violin Concerto in D

Baiba Skride (violin)

Circus Polka


For her previous CD on the ORFEO label, Baiba Skride recorded two highly Romantic violin works by Brahms and has now turned her attention to two 20th-century violin concertos whose composers struck out in extremely individual directions while drawing on traditional formal models.

In his single contribution to the medium, the worldly Stravinsky drew on his knowledge of the whole history of music and explicitly appealed to the model of Johann Sebastian Bach in composing a work that is rigorously structured and at the same time playful in a neo-Baroque spirit. It would be harder to find a more different approach to the template of the traditional three-movement concerto than that found in the piece by the Swiss composer Frank Martin. In its atmospheric density it recalls Martin’s setting of Shakespeare’s The Tempest, dominated, as it were, by the mysterious, fairytale-like but also capricious and lively spirit of Ariel. Baiba Skride finds the right tone not only for the veiled sonorities of this piece but also for the tremendous sense of brightness that overwhelms the writing towards the end. Her enormous stylistic flexibility also comes to the fore in the Stravinsky Concerto, to which she brings a sense of crystalline radiance. The BBC National Orchestra of Wales and its principal conductor Thierry Fischer are not only ideal partners, they also complement the programme with three almost contemporary orchestral works, all of which are classic examples of the way in which composers’ understanding of form – in this case, programme music – changed in the 20th century. In Honegger’s Pacific 231 and Rugby, the orchestra impresses us with its ability to conjure up the sounds of a speeding train and of rugby players running to and fro. The orchestra completes the programme on a note of grotesque jollity with Stravinsky’s Circus Polka, the quotation-like character of which – in this case, Schubert – may also be said to hold together the programme as a whole, with its two violin works in central position, invariably maintaining the greatest originality in this act of musical re-creation.

“[Skride] plays with intensity, intelligence and scything virtuosity.There’s not an ounce of sentimentality about her interpretations, but plenty of passion. Here she plays Stravinsky’s neoclassical Violin Concerto with an attack that often comes close to being savage; yet makes the wonderful Bach-like Aria II sound sinuously beautiful.” The Times, 30th June 2012 ****

“crisp, supple performances...Stravinsky's Violin Concerto sounds strong, spiky and taut, yet lyrical. Frank Martin's lean but expressive 1951 concerto has a wistful, evanescent mood...The BBC National Orchestra of Wales, well drilled by Thierry Fischer, give muscular support and enjoy themselves in Honegger's Rugby” The Observer, 15th July 2012

“Skride's way with Stravinsky's Violin Concerto confirms it as a masterpiece of grace, charm and scintillating joie de vivre...Skride engages happily with the [Martin's] beguiling range of light and shade and quietly insistent invention. In both works, Thierry Fischer and the orchestra offer stylish accompaniments. Generous fill-ups, too” BBC Music Magazine, September 2012 *****

“Skride has the measure of its hybrid nature, striking a ideal balance between its Classical/Baroque cut and thrust and its Romantic inclinations...harmonic support in the orchestral strings is more sensitively heard and 'aware' than I have experienced in any recording of the piece. But then it's the interplay of voices that consistently springs surprises. All credit to Thierry Fischer, producer Andrew Keener and, of course, the big-personality wind soloists of the BBC National Orchestra of Wales.” Gramophone Magazine, Awards Issue 2012

GGramophone Magazine

Editor's Choice - Awards Issue 2012

BBC Music Magazine

Orchestral Choice - September 2012

Orfeo - C849121A

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Holmboe: Chamber Symphonies

Holmboe: Chamber Symphonies


Holmboe:

Chamber Symphony No. 1, Op. 53

Chamber Symphony No. 2, Op. 100 'Elegy'

Chamber Symphony No. 3, Op. 103a 'Frise' (Frieze)


Lapland Chamber Orchestra, John Storgårds

These are World premiere recordings of Vagn Holmboe's 3 masterly chamber symphonies, performed by an expert Finnish team. The Finnish conductor John Storgårds really stands out. In 2008 John Storgårds was appointed chief conductor of the Helsinki Philharmonic, one of Scandinavia’s best and most tradition-rich orchestras. He is also artistic director of the magical Lapland Chamber Orchestra and since 2012 Principal Guest Conductor of BBC Philharmonic.

Vagn Holmboe’s three chamber symphonies span the period when the Danish composer immersed himself in symphonic works; they are a fine demonstration of his preoccupation with the processes of nature and the idea of musical metamorphoses.

“The grandeur Holmboe elicits from his small ensemble and basic thematic material is a lesson in compositional craft, the creation of a whole (considerably) greater than the sum of its parts...Excellent performances, superb sound: you will not hear a finer disc this year.” Gramophone Magazine, Awards Issue 2012

GGramophone Magazine

Editor's Choice - Awards Issue 2012

Super Audio CD

Format:

unknown

Dacapo - 6220621

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Zdenek Chalabala conducts Rimsky-Korsakov & Khachaturian

Zdenek Chalabala conducts Rimsky-Korsakov & Khachaturian


Khachaturian:

Gayane (ballet highlights)

Mussorgsky:

A Night on the Bare Mountain

ed. Nikolay Rimsky-Korsakov

Rimsky Korsakov:

Scheherazade, Op. 35


Owing in large part to their exotic inspiration, Rimsky-Korsakov’s Sheherazade and Aram Khachaturian’s Gayane are among the most beautiful and most frequently performed Russian and Soviet works of music. The creator of Sheherazade, who as a young navy officer travelled the oceans, was enchanted by the Oriental collection of stories and folk tales The One Thousand and One Nights.

Yet Rimsky-Korsakov’s colourful instrumentation also gave lustre to another work, Mussorgsky’s fantasia Night on Bald Mountain, with its dramatic depiction of a wild Sabbath of witches. Khachaturian’s ballet suite Gayane includes Armenian folk melodies, which were the composer’s most powerful inspiration and undoubtedly helped to earn the piece global popularity (the celebrated Sabre Dance is one of the most frequently played compositions worldwide). The recordings of all three works were made between 1953 and 1955, the paramount period of Zdeněk Chalabala, the chief conductor of Prague’s National Theatre Opera at the time. The great imagination with which he tells stories, combined with the inimitable timbre of the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra, makes these recordings truly remarkable. Yet another treasure appearing on CD for the first time…

“Chalabala's greatest claim to fame was as an opera conductor...and if asked to name his principal quality in purely orchestral music it would be that same theatrical flair...All the recordings have been well transferred and, provided you're not monophobic, this exciting double-pack should earn itself a favoured place in your collection, certainly for this repertory.” Gramophone Magazine, Awards Issue 2012

GGramophone Magazine

Re-issue of the Month - Awards Issue 2012

Supraphon - up to 30% off

Supraphon - SU40942

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