Gramophone Magazine Editor's Choice

January 2013

Disc of the Month

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Vinci, Leonardo: Artaserse

Awards:

Presto Disc of the Week

12th November 2012

Gramophone Magazine

Disc of the Month - January 2013

Label:

Erato

Catalogue No:

6028692

Discs:

3

Release date:

1st Oct 2012

Barcode:

5099960286925

Length:

3 hours 7 minutes

Medium:

CD
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Vinci, Leonardo: Artaserse


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No less than five brilliant countertenors – including Max Emanuel Cencic and Philippe Jaroussky – join conductor Diego Fasolis and Concerto Köln for Artaserse by Leonardo Vinci (1690-1730). In early 18th century Italy, the Neapolitan-born composer was one of the brightest stars in opera, and Artaserse is considered his masterpiece.

This recording of Artaserse by Leonardo Vinci (1690-1730) – born in Naples and, during his short life, celebrated as one of Italy’s leading composers of opera – represents the fourth Virgin Classics collaboration between countertenor Max Emanuel Cencic and conductor Diego Fasolis. It follows an album of Handel arias, Handel’s opera Faramondo and, in 2011, Vivaldi’s opera Farnace, of which The Telegraph wrote: “The performance fairly crackles, with accomplished singing by the flamboyant countertenor Max Emanuel Cencic in the virtuoso title role”

In the words of musicologist Frédéric Delaméa, Artaserse, composed to a libretto by the great Metastasio that was also set by such figures as Gluck, Hasse, Galuppi, JC Bach, Myslivicek and (in English) Arne, “is a key work of baroque opera and the genius of Vinci is still too little known. This Virgin Classics recording, offering vocal and orchestral forces of exceptional quality, allows us to rediscover a figure who, in the course of his brief career, was one of the brightest stars of dramma per musica.” The status of Vinci as a composer, and of Artaserse as his masterpiece, is reflected in the observations of the French scholar and traveller Charles de Brosses, who, 10 years after Vinci’s death from poisoning, wrote: “Vinci is the Lully of Italy: true, simple, natural, expressive, writing in the most beautiful, uncontrived way for the voice ... Artaserse has a reputation as his finest work, and one of Metastasio’s finest too ... It is the most famous Italian opera.”

The opera, a story of the Persian emperor Artaxerxes, was first performed in 1730 at the Teatro delle Dame in Rome. At the time, a papal decree banned women from appearing on the stages of the city’s theatres, so the entire cast was male, with the female roles sung by castrati. This recording rises to the challenge of single-sex casting with a spectacular line-up of fine countertenors from around the world: Croatian-born Cencic, his frequent sparring partner, the Frenchman Philippe Jaroussky, Franco Fagioli (from Argentina), Valer Barna-Sabadus (from Romania) and Yuriy Mynenko (from Ukraine). Joining them from Germany are a lone tenor, Daniel Behle, and the brilliant Concerto Köln, a leading ensemble in historically informed performance.

Read Presto's complete review of this disc here.

Leonardo Vinci: L'Artaserse, Atto Primo

Allegro Sinfonia I

Grave Sinfonia II

Minuetto Sinfonia III

Leonardo Vinci: L'Artaserse, Atto Primo, Scena I

Addio. Sentimi Arbace (Arbace, Mandane)

Conservati fedele (Mandane)

Leonardo Vinci: L'Artaserse, Atto Primo, Scena II

Figlio, Arbace. Signor (Artabano, Arbace)

Fra cento affani (Arbace)

Leonardo Vinci: L'Artaserse, Atto Primo, Scena III

Coraggio o miei pensieri (Artabano, Artserse)

Su le sponde del torbido lete (Artabano)

Leonardo Vinci: L'Artaserse, Atto Primo, Scena IV+V

Qual vittima si svena! (Artaserse, Megabise) - Dove, principe, dove? (Semira, Artaserse)

Per pietà, bell'idol mio (Artaserse)

Leonardo Vinci: L'Artaserse, Atto Primo, Scena VI

Gran cose io temo (Semira, Megabise)

Sogna il guerrier le schiere (Megabise)

Leonardo Vinci: L'Artaserse, Atto Primo, Scena VII

Voi della Persia (Semira)

Bramar di perdere troppo affetto (Semira)

Leonardo Vinci: L'Artaserse, Atto Primo, Scena VIII+IX: Ah Mandane... Artserse (Artaserse, Mandane) - Signore. Amico. lo di te cerco (Artsbano, Artaserse, Mandane)

L'Artaserse, Atto Primo, Scena VIII+IX: Ah Mandane... Artserse (Artaserse, Mandane) - Signore. Amico. lo di te cerco (Artsbano, Artaserse, Mandane)

Leonardo Vinci: L'Artaserse, Atto Primo, Scena Xa,b,c: Artaserse, respira (Semira, Artaserse, Mandane, Artabano)

L'Artaserse, Atto Primo, Scena Xa,b,c: Artaserse, respira (Semira, Artaserse, Mandane, Artabano)

Leonardo Vinci: L'Artaserse, Atto Primo, Scena XI

Arbace è il reo (Megabise, Artasrse, Semira, Arbace, Artabano)

Deh respirar lasciatemi (Artaserse)

Leonardo Vinci: L'Artaserse, Atto Primo, Scena XII

E innocente dovrai tanti oltraggi soffrir (Arbace, Megabise, Semira, Mandane, Artabano)

Non ti son padre (Artabano)

Leonardo Vinci: L'Artaserse, Atto Primo, Scena XIII

Ma per qual fallo mai (Arbace)

Torna innocente e poi (Semira)

Leonardo Vinci: L'Artaserse, Atto Primo, Scena XIV

Mio ben mia vita... (Arbace, Mandane)

Dimmi che un empio sei (Madane)

No che non ha la sorte (Arbace)

Vo solcando un mar crudel (Arbace)

Leonardo Vinci: L'Artaserse, Atto Secondo, Scena I

Dal carcere o custodi (Artaserse, Artabano)

Rendimi il caro amico (Artaserse)

Leonardo Vinci: L'Artaserse, Atto Secondo, Scena II

Son quasi in porto (Artabano, Arbace)

Mi scacci sdegnato! (Arbace)

Leonardo Vinci: L'Artaserse, Atto Secondo, Scena III+IV

I tuoi deboli affetti (Artabano, Megabise) - Figlia, e questi il tuo sposo (Artabano, Semira)

Amalo e se al tuo aguardo (Artabano)

Leonardo Vinci: L'Artaserse, Atto Secondo, Scena V

Ascolta o Megabise (Semira, Megabise)

Non temer ch'lo mai ti dica (Megabise)

Leonardo Vinci: L'Artaserse, Atto Secondo, Scena VI

Qual serie di sventure (Semira, Mandane)

Se d'un amor tiranno (Mandane)

Leonardo Vinci: L'Artaserse, Atto Secondo, Scena VII

A qual di tanti mali (Semira)

Se del fiume altera l'onda (Semira)

Leonardo Vinci: L'Artaserse, Atto Secondo, Scena VIII-X: Mio re, chiedono a gara (Megabise, Artaserse) - Artaserse pieta (Semira, Mandane, Artaserse)

L'Artaserse, Atto Secondo, Scena VIII-X: Mio re, chiedono a gara (Megabise, Artaserse) - Artaserse pieta (Semira, Mandane, Artaserse)

Leonardo Vinci: L'Artaserse, Atto Secondo, Scena XI

Tanto odio alla Persia (Arbace, Artaserse, Artabano, Mandane)

Per quel paterno amplesso (Arbace)

Leonardo Vinci: L'Artaserse, Atto Secondo, Scena XII

A prezzo del mio sangue (Artabano, Mandane)

Va tra le selve ircane (Mandane)

Leonardo Vinci: L'Artaserse, Atto Secondo, Scena XIII

Quanto, amata Semira (Artaserse, Semira)

Per quell'affetto (Semira)

Leonardo Vinci: L'Artaserse, Atto Secondo, Scena XIV

Dell'ingrata Semira (Artaserse, Artabano)

Non conosco in tal momento (Artaserse)

Leonardo Vinci: L'Artaserse, Atto Secondo, Scena XV

Son pur solo una volta (Artabano)

Così stupisce e cade (Artabano)

Leonardo Vinci: L'Artaserse, Atto Terzo: Perché tarda è mai la morte (Arbace)

L'Artaserse, Atto Terzo: Perché tarda è mai la morte (Arbace)

Leonardo Vinci: L'Artaserse, Atto Terzo, Scena I

Arbace. Oh dei, che miro! (Artaserse, Arbace)

L'onda dal mar divisa (Arbace)

Leonardo Vinci: L'Artaserse, Atto Terzo, Scena II

Quella fronte sicura e quel sembiante (Artaserse)

Nuvoletta opposta al sole (Artaserse)

Leonardo Vinci: L'Artaserse, Atto Terzo, Scena III

Figlio, Arbace, ove sei? (Artabano, Megabise)

Ardito ti renda (Megabise)

Leonardo Vinci: L'Artaserse, Atto Terzo, Scena IV

Trovaste, avversi dei (Artabano)

Figlio se più non vivi (Artabano)

Leonardo Vinci: L'Artaserse, Atto Terzo, Scena V

Alfin portai consolarti Mandane (Semira, Mandane)

Mi credi spietata? (Mandane)

Leonardo Vinci: L'Artaserse, Atto Terzo, Scena VI

Forsennata, che feci! (Semira)

Non è ver che sia contento (Semira)

Leonardo Vinci: L'Artaserse, Atto Terzo, Scena VII

Né pur qui la ritrovo (Arbace, Mandane)

Tu vuoi ch'io viva o cara (Arbace, Mandane)

Leonardo Vinci: L'Artaserse, Atto Terzo, Scena VIII

A voi popoli io m'offro (Artaserse, Artabano)

Lucido dio per cui l'april fiorisce (Artaserse)

Leonardo Vinci: L'Artaserse, Atto Terzo, Scena IX+X: Al riparo signor (Semira, Artaserse, Artabano) - Ferma o germano (Mandance, Artaserse)

L'Artaserse, Atto Terzo, Scena IX+X: Al riparo signor (Semira, Artaserse, Artabano) - Ferma o germano (Mandance, Artaserse)

Leonardo Vinci: L'Artaserse, Atto Terzo, Scena ultima a

Ecco Arbace, o monarca, a' piedi tuoi (Arbace, Artaserse, Mandane, Artabano)

Lucido dio per cui l'april fiorisce (Arbace, Artabano)

Leonardo Vinci: L'Artaserse, Atto Terzo, Scena ultima b

Ferma; è veleno (Artabano, Artaserse, Arbace, Mandane, Semira)

Giusto re, la Persia adora (Coro)

The Guardian

15th November 2012

*****

“the singing is epoch-making, above all from Fagioli, who seems to redefine the capabilities of the countertenor voice and take it beguilingly into territories new. Listen to him, and be seduced.”

BBC Music Magazine

Christmas 2012

***

“Jaroussky is agile and artless in the title role...Cencic (Mandane) offers both eloquent and virtuoso singing...Fagioli makes a compelling Arbace, flitting effortlessly from flamboyant vocal fireworks to liquid bel canto. Undoubtedly, this cast is fine and the vigorous orchestral playing is discerningly shaped by Fasolis.”

The Times

8th December 2012

****

“I was hooked...The range, lyrical invention and virtuosic demands of [Vinci]'s last stage masterpiece Artaserse — relating dark machinations in ancient Persia — are incredible. And this Concerto Köln performance, with Philippe Jaroussky first among falsetto equals, fizzes with energy”

bbc.co.uk

Charlotte Gardner

10th December 2012

“Vigorously rhythmic and highly dramatic, the opera has extraordinary energy, and some beautiful moments. This recording brings this all out, partly through the cracking tempi set by Diego Fasolis, partly through Concerto Köln's effervescent, historically informed performance, and partly through the sheer energy of the cast.”

Gramophone Magazine

January 2013

“The prison scene that begins Act 3 indicates that Vinci was one of the finest opera composers of his age...The entire cast produces exceptionally good singing. Cencic and Jaroussky give a masterclass of dramatic countertenor singing, and Valer Barna-Sabadus and Yuriy Mynenko...are not far behind...The lone tenor Daniel Behle brings the treasonous Artabano vividly to life”

MusicWeb International

24th May 2013

“[Jaroussky] is a superb singer, brilliant, powerful, technically perfect and so beautiful of tone...[Fagioli's] Arbace is tremendous with breathtaking virtuosity...[Behle] surprises with a tone that is powerful and baritonal...this is one of the best baroque opera recordings I have heard. Don’t miss it!”

Presto Classical

Katherine Cooper

12th November 2012

“Vinci’s score is a revelation: there’s something so very distinctive about his raw, red-blooded sound-palette, and he has such imaginative ways with Metastasio’s famous metaphors...[Cencic] sings the king’s sister, Mandane, with blazing theatricality...[Fagioli] makes his mark here, fully exploiting the pathos and the virtuosic demands of the writing.”

Early Music Today

*****

“The music in the ‘galant’ Neapolitan style is irresistibly attractive...The singing is almost uniformly first-rate. Max Emanuel Cencic seems to have been the prime mover behind the project but it is Franco Fagioli, in the role of Arbace who has some of the most beguiling music...All is directed with vigour and panache by Diego Fasolis.”

Click here for alternative recordings of this work.

Editor's Choice

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Puccini: Tosca

Puccini: Tosca


Angela Gheorghiu (Tosca), Jonas Kaufmann (Cavaradossi), Bryn Terfel (Scarpia), Lukas Jakobski (Angelotti), Jeremy White (Sacristan), Hubert Francis (Spoletta), ZhengZhong Zhou (Sciarrone)

Orchestra and Chorus of the Royal Opera House Covent Garden, Sir Antonio Pappano (conductor), Jonathan Kent (director)

It is no exaggeration to say that the two performances of Tosca at the Royal Opera House in July 2011 - with Angela Gheorghiu, Jonas Kaufmann and Bryn Terfel as the leads - were opera history in the making and by far the hottest tickets in town.

For the majority of us who weren’t lucky enough to be there, it has been captured on this DVD, exclusively released by EMI.

Subtitles in Italian, English, German, Japanese, French & Spanish

“Gheorghiu makes a credible character out of Tosca...her voice keeps its beauty at all but the most high-pressure moments...Kaufmann scores a complete success as Cavaradossi...What he lacks in Italianate open tone, he makes up in brooding, dark colours...Neither of them would be likely to get the better of Bryn Terfel's bully of a Scarpia...The other dominant personality is Antonio Pappano, whose Puccini has never sounded better” Gramophone Magazine, January 2013

“Pappano's mastery of Puccinian pace and phrasing intensifies this turbulent score's onward surge, but he's also noticeable attentive to his singers...[Kaufmann's] cries of 'Vittoria!' are thrilling...and his acting never slackens...Tosca's mercurial character seems to resonate with [Gheorghiu] naturally...There are some decent Toscas on DVD already, but I'd start here.” BBC Music Magazine, February 2013 *****

“Jonas Kaufmann as Cavaradossi sings perhaps one of his greatest roles: E lucevan le stelle is unbelievably moving, and his cry of "Vittoria! Vittoria!" is guaranteed to make your hair stand on end! Angela Gheorghiu is a passionate Tosca, and Bryn Terfel unctuously oozes sleaze in a chilling portrayal of Scarpia.” James Longstaffe, Presto Classical, July 2014

GGramophone Awards 2013

Finalist - Opera

GGramophone Magazine

DVD of the Month - January 2013

BBC Music Magazine Awards 2014

DVD Award (Performance)

DVD Video

Region: 0

EMI - 4040639

(DVD Video)

$17.75

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Puccini: Tosca

Puccini: Tosca


Angela Gheorghiu (Tosca), Jonas Kaufmann (Cavaradossi), Bryn Terfel (Scarpia), Lukas Jakobski (Angelotti), Jeremy White (Sacristan), Hubert Francis (Spoletta), ZhengZhong Zhou (Sciarrone)

Orchestra and Chorus of the Royal Opera House Covent Garden, Sir Antonio Pappano (conductor), Jonathan Kent (director)

It is no exaggeration to say that the two performances of Tosca at the Royal Opera House in July 2011 - with Angela Gheorghiu, Jonas Kaufmann and Bryn Terfel as the leads - were opera history in the making and by far the hottest tickets in town.

For the majority of us who weren’t lucky enough to be there, it has been captured on this DVD, exclusively released by EMI.

Subtitles in Italian, English, German, Japanese, French & Spanish

“Gheorghiu makes a credible character out of Tosca...her voice keeps its beauty at all but the most high-pressure moments...Kaufmann scores a complete success as Cavaradossi...What he lacks in Italianate open tone, he makes up in brooding, dark colours...Neither of them would be likely to get the better of Bryn Terfel's bully of a Scarpia...The other dominant personality is Antonio Pappano, whose Puccini has never sounded better” Gramophone Magazine, January 2013

“Pappano's mastery of Puccinian pace and phrasing intensifies this turbulent score's onward surge, but he's also noticeable attentive to his singers...[Kaufmann's] cries of 'Vittoria!' are thrilling...and his acting never slackens...Tosca's mercurial character seems to resonate with [Gheorghiu] naturally...There are some decent Toscas on DVD already, but I'd start here.” BBC Music Magazine, February 2013 *****

“Jonas Kaufmann as Cavaradossi sings perhaps one of his greatest roles: E lucevan le stelle is unbelievably moving, and his cry of "Vittoria! Vittoria!" is guaranteed to make your hair stand on end! Angela Gheorghiu is a passionate Tosca, and Bryn Terfel unctuously oozes sleaze in a chilling portrayal of Scarpia.” James Longstaffe, Presto Classical, July 2014

GGramophone Magazine

DVD/Blu-ray of the Month - January 2013

Blu-ray Disc

Region: all

EMI - 4040649

(Blu-ray)

$23.50

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Fauré: Requiem

Fauré: Requiem


Bach, J S:

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

ed. Helga Thoene

Gordan Nikolitch (violin)

St John Passion, BWV245: Ach Herr, lass dein lieb Engelein

Cantata BWV4 'Christ lag in Todesbanden': chorale

Den Tod niemand zwingen kunnt (Nobody could overcome death) from Cantata No. 4

St Matthew Passion: Wenn ich einmal soll scheiden

Fauré:

Requiem, Op. 48

Grace Davidson (soprano) & William Gaunt (baritone)

Tenebrae


LSO Live is delighted to renew its relationship with the magnificent Tenebrae choir, whose previous recordings on the label have included Berlioz’ 'L’enfance du Christ' and Handel’s 'Messiah'. As part of the 2011 City of London Festival, Tenebrae joined an ensemble from the LSO at St Paul’s Cathedral for a performance of the Fauré Requiem, preceded by a selection of Bach’s Chorales interspersed with Partitas performed by Gordan Nikolitch, leader of the LSO. The centrepiece of the programme was Helga Thoene’s remarkable arrangement of Bach’s choral themes with solo violin. The performance was restaged in May 2012 in the sublime acoustic of the Church of St Giles Cripplegate and recorded by LSO Live. The Fauré Requiem in D minor exists in three different versions, the John Rutter edition for chamber orchestra being performed here.

Following an Autumn tour of the USA, Tenebrae will perform a selection of Christmas concerts in December, followed by another tour of the USA in Spring 2013. Tenebrae sopranos will also feature in performances of 'Alice in Wonderland' at the Royal Opera House.

“[The Bach] doesn't quite work, and the sound is uneven, but the experiment is fascinating. Faure's Requiem, sensitively accompanied by the LSO Chamber Ensemble, is warmly performed, at once urgent and serene.” The Observer, 25th November 2012

“This remarkable, moving disc makes ingenious juxtapositions both vertically and horizontally...It is astonishing to hear the chaconne with the beautifully fitting chorale accompaniment Thoene has arranged.” Sunday Times, 16th December 2012

“it is a performance of extreme richness and opulence. Short's marvellously moulded phrases, long-drawn and exquisitely shaped...are vital elements in elevating this performance to the sublime. Not to be downplayed, however, is the exquisite singing of Tenebrae...In short, this is a devastatingly beautiful performance.” Gramophone Magazine, January 2013

“The playing of the London Symphony Orchestra Chamber Ensemble and their leader Gordon Nikolitch and the singing of Tenebrae and the two soloists are all exemplary. The problems here are not mostly of execution but, on two fronts, of conception...Nikolitch's performances of the four dances from the D minor Partita are riveting” BBC Music Magazine, February 2013 ***

“the performance of the Faure Requiem is outstanding, and very well recorded…Tenebrae is such an impressive vocal ensemble, and they avoid all the pitfalls of the cool, clean, clear school of chamber choir – full-blooded, passionate engagement with the dots and the texts, and the soloists are excellent as well. I’m pretty sure it’s a combination you won’t find anywhere else on disc.” CD Review, 5th January 2013

“This disc is a profoundly beautiful and supremely effective meditation on the theme of death and mourning...The singing of Tenebrae is marvellous here. Their blend is nothing short of sensational, and they fit the acoustic of St Giles’ Cripplegate as though it had been tailor made for them...perhaps the finest recorded performance of the Fauré Requiem I have come across...Short’s pacing of the work is masterful throughout” MusicWeb International, April 2013

GGramophone Magazine

Editor's Choice - January 2013

Building a Library

First Choice - July 2016

Super Audio CD

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LSO Live - LSO0728

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Janine Jansen plays Prokofiev

Janine Jansen plays Prokofiev


Prokofiev:

Violin Concerto No. 2 in G minor, Op. 63

London Philharmonic Orchestra, Vladimir Jurowski

Sonata for Two Violins in C Major, Op. 56

with Boris Brovtsyn (violin)

Violin Sonata No. 1 in F minor, Op. 80

Itamar Golan (piano)


Janine Jansen (violin)

Janine Jansen has been a top-selling artist since her debut recording in 2004 for Decca sold 300,000 records. A major star in Europe, especially the Netherlands, Jansen has frequently topped the classical charts and featured in the pop charts.

For this release, Jansen is accompanied in the concerto by the London Philharmonic Orchestra under its Russian-born Principal Conductor Vladimir Jurowski. When she played the work with the LPO in London as part of its 2012 “Prokofiev: Man of the People?” festival, The Times hailed her as “a violinist who is right now on matchless form … a player that you follow wherever she leads”

Composed in the mid1930s, on the eve of his return to the USSR, Prokofiev’s much-loved Violin Concerto No.2 boasts the same accessible tunefulness and emotional directness as his enduringly popular ballet Romeo and Juliet, whose love music is ravishingly recalled in the soaring, songlike lyricism of the concerto’s slow central movement. For contrast the concerto is coupled with two chamber works conceived in the same decade: the stark yet expressive Sonata for Two Violins (1932) and the darkly tragic Violin Sonata No.1 (1938–46), which constitutes the composer’s covert memorial to those many friends and colleagues lost during Stalin’s Great Terror and the subsequent World War.

“her silvery tone and searching musicianship ensure maximum intelligence and beauty...[Golan and Brovtsyn] play with Jansen as if joined at the hip. Whether the music’s fiery or delicate, this superb disc, gorgeously recorded, should give lasting pleasure.” The Times, 5th October 2012 *****

“Jansen’s playing is utterly beautiful and intelligently searching.” Sunday Times, 7th October 2012

“[Jurowski] judges the variety of weight and the palette of colour in the orchestral sonority ideally, and is ready with the essential instrumental dialogues with the soloist in the finale. The concerto is not exactly under-represented in the catalogue, but this penetrating, luminous and dynamic interpretation is one to linger over.” The Telegraph, 19th October 2012 *****

“this is an intelligent, challenging anthology, unafraid to show us Prokofiev’s underappreciated darker side. Beautifully recorded too.” The Arts Desk, 24th November 2012

“This splendidly recorded performance of the Second Concerto accentuates its stark and sudden contrasts...In the Sonata for two violins, Jansen and Brovtsyn employ a wide range of tone colour, matching each other in expansiveness and virtuosity.” Gramophone Magazine, January 2013

“Jansen is the most subtle of interpreters, and always a sensitive partner. In the Second Violin Concerto, she keeps sentiment at bay...She responds cannily to Prokofiev's pared-back orchestral forces. This is not the usual patchwork of ideas, but an argument that Vladimir Jurowski keeps urgently on the move with the LPO soloists...Jansen's colleagues in the companion pieces are her equals, too.” BBC Music Magazine, January 2013 *****

GGramophone Magazine

Editor's Choice - January 2013

Decca - 4783546

(CD)

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Handel: Finest Arias for Base Voice

Handel: Finest Arias for Base Voice


Handel:

Sibilar gl'angui d'Aletto (from Rinaldo)

Fra l’ombre e gl’orrori (from Aci, Galatea e Polifemo)

I rage, I melt, I burn…O ruddier than the cherry (from Acis and Galatea)

L'Allegro, il Penseroso ed il Moderato: If I give thee honour due

L'Allegro, il Penseroso ed il Moderato: Mirth, admit me of thy crew

La Resurrezione: Qual'insolita luce

La Resurrezione: Caddi, è ver

Deborah: Tears, such as tender fathers shed

Belshazzar: To pow'r immortal my first thanks are due

Impari ognun da Orlando (from Orlando)

Sorge infausta una procella (from Orlando)

Theodora, HWV 68: Racks, gibbets, sword and fire

Muzio Scevola, HWV13: Volate più dei venti

Vieni, o cara (from Agrippina)

Nel mondo e nell'abisso (from Riccardo Primo)

Mie piante, correte from Apollo e Dafne, HWV 122

Apollo e Dafne: Cara pianta

Alexander's Feast: Revenge, revenge, Timotheus cries

Semele: Leave me, loathsome light


‘With his acting chops and weighty bass-baritone, Purves in full cry is a splendid and fearful spectacle’ (The Times)

The magnificent Christopher Purves performs a recital of Handel’s bass arias. This unique collection demonstrates the range and brilliance of Handel’s writing for this voice, featuring a selection from Italian and English operas, English classical drama, Biblical oratorios, literary odes and a masque. Handel’s endlessly imaginative gift for characterization is fully explored here, with Purves commanding an extraordinary emotional and technical range from the buffo blustering of Polyphemus in Acis and Gatalea to the loving musings of Abinoam in ‘Tears, such as tender fathers shed’ from the oratorio Deborah.

“Possessing in effect two voices in one - a ringing, incisive high baritone with a sonorous bass extension...Purves's flair for specific characterisation enlivens every number on the disc...A counter...to the cliched notion that [Handel's] bass arias are all undifferentiated bluster.” Gramophone Magazine, January 2013

“Purves is a fine vocal actor, and we're continuously aware of the variety of Handel's style and the sharpness of his characterisation. The great moments are those in which the singing reveals the depths of Handel's psychological insight, above all in a scene from Aci, Galatea e Polifemo, in which the monster Polifemo is suddenly shown to have immense nobility of soul.” The Guardian, 10th January 2013 ****

“Purves’ voice has a noble timbre and is informed by the keenest intelligence” Financial Times, 19th January 2013

“one to treasure both for the sensitive and well-sustained singing of Christopher Purves and for the wonderfully wide expressive range of Handel's music...Purves has an acute ear, serving well his intonation and lively feeling for characterisation...The pleasure of single-voice recitals can sometimes be tempered by repetitive mannerisms or exaggerated gestures. Purves avoids both, ensuring enjoyment” BBC Music Magazine, February 2013 *****

“He relishes verbal dexterity, and the sound of his rolling consonants in Racks, gibbets, sword and fire from Theodora is not easily forgotten, He shakes the word ‘racks’ around his mouth like a dog savaging a toy doll...This outstandingly good disc offers a wide range of music, feeling, texture and mood. Singer and accompanying group are perfectly matched in a sympathetic church acoustic.” MusicWeb International, January 2013

“Purves not only gives a masterclass in characterisation in this collection of opera and oratorio arias, but also showcases a formidable range of nearly three octaves in the fiendishly difficult scene from Aci, Galatea e Polifemo. Equally characterful support from young ensemble Arcangelo under Jonathan Cohen.” Katherine Cooper, Presto Classical, August 2014

“Christopher Purves gives us masterful, dazzling and powerful performances of scenes from 15 of the composer’s dramatic works, lithely and splendidly supported by up-and-coming ensemble Arcangelo and conductor Jonathan Cohen. In short, this is the most outstanding album of its kind I’ve ever heard from any singer.” Early Music Today ****

GGramophone Awards 2013

Finalist - Vocal

GGramophone Magazine

Editor's Choice - January 2013

BBC Music Magazine

Opera Choice - February 2013

BBC Music Magazine Awards 2014

Vocal Finalist

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Elīna Garanča: Romantique

Elīna Garanča: Romantique


Berlioz:

La Damnation de Faust: D'amour l'ardente flamme

Donizetti:

L'ai-je bien entendu?… O mon Fernand (from La Favorite)

Gounod:

Ô ma lyre immortelle (from Sapho)

Faites- lui mes aveux (from Faust)

Plus grand dans son obscurité (from La Reine de Saba)

Lalo:

De tous côtes j'apercois...Lorsque je t'ai vu soudain (from Le Roi d'Ys)

Saint-Saëns:

Mon cœur s'ouvre à ta voix (from Samson et Dalila)

Tchaikovsky:

Da, chas nastal! (from Joan of Arc)

Vaccai:

E questo il loco...Ah! se tu dormi, svegliati (from Giulietta e Romeo)


Elīna Garanča (mezzo)

Filarmonica del Teatro Comunale di Bologna, Yves Abel

In Romantique, Elīna Garanča makes a smashing return to the studio and puts her imprint upon the big Romantic repertory, brilliantly portraying such different heroines as Tchaikovsky’s Joan of Arc (The Maid of Orléans), Gounod’s Sapho and Saint-Saëns’ Dalila

Elīna Garanča’s mezzo-soprano is velvet; she is a stunning figure on stage; her formidable technique encompasses repertoire from Mozart and bel canto to dramatic roles and contemporary music

Conductor Yves Abel’s penchant for the voice and skill at leading an orchestra draws beautiful sound and potent drama from the Filarmonica del Teatro Comunale di Bologna. Elīna Garanča’s rapport with this orchestra is deeper than ever.

“If we needed more evidence that the Latvian mezzo is shaping up to be one of the 21st century’s greatest voices, this superb album of 19th-century arias supplies it in buckets. From top to bottom her timbre is rich and firm and her intonation virtually infallible...Pure vocal bliss.” The Times, 6th October 2012 *****

“She has an intensely lyrical voice, lithe enough for ornamentation but also honing a dusky quality which is immediately appealing in the repertoire selected for this disc...Overall, this is a splendid operatic recital...[and] should appeal to aficionados of fine singing, especially in French repertoire somewhat 'off the beaten track'.” International Record Review, December 2012

“Marguerite's soliloquy, accompanied by an eloquent cor anglais, is movingly done...[as Dalila] Garanca is sensuous without being vampish - quite an achievement in this part...[She] moves effortlessly from top to bottom without ever sacrificing beauty of tone...Fans - and others - need not hesitate.” Gramophone Magazine, January 2013

“She describes herself as a lyric mezzo, but many roles here suggest considerable power, emphasised by the echoey recording...Her French isn't perfect, but it's very good, and she relishes the lyrical lines of Gounod's little-known Sapho and Queen of Sheba...A fine collection.” BBC Music Magazine, January 2013 ****

GGramophone Magazine

Editor's Choice - January 2013

DG - 4790071

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Beethoven: Symphonies Nos. 5 & 7

Beethoven: Symphonies Nos. 5 & 7

Recorded live in Carnegie Hall, New York City in October 2011


Beethoven:

Symphony No. 7 in A major, Op. 92

Symphony No. 5 in C minor, Op. 67


Nearly twenty years after their acclaimed Beethoven Symphonies recordings for Deutsche Grammophon, Sir John Eliot Gardiner and the Orchestre Révolutionnaire et Romantique returned to this repertoire for the first time last year, in a tour that took them to London, Philadelphia, Washington and New York. The concert in Carnegie Hall was broadcast live by WQXR, who kindly agreed to make the recording available to us to release on our label.

Sir John Eliot’s Gardiner’s reading of these familiar pieces highlights their revolutionary origin.

Performing on period instruments, the ORR brings light, clarity and brisk energy, as well as a warm and genuinely thrilling sound.

The Seventh, famously described by Wagner as the “apotheosis of the dance”, stands out by its sheer physical energy expressed in its many obsessively repetitive passages. The Fifth, often considered to be a deeply personal piece, also reveals echoes of revolutionary songs.

The album is packaged in a digipack and contains a 36 pages booklet with original notes by BBC presenter and music journalist Stephen Johnson.

“the electricity in the air is almost tangible. Gardiner is merciless in his demands...The tempo is often exhilarating, the playing always vital, edgy and thrillingly fluent. This is the most exciting Beethoven release you are likely to hear this year.” The Observer, 14th October 2012

“The pace still feels driven, the tension high, but there’s a greater sense of fun and a touch more colour now. You sense that Gardiner’s Orchestre Révolutionnaire et Romantique now have these difficult pieces under their collective skin, and can now project them with a little more spontaneity and freedom. This Fifth seethes, bubbles and spits in places...Symphony no 7 is better still, its rapt introduction leading to an astonishing, punchy Vivace.” The Arts Desk, 20th October 2012

“Even if Weber didn’t make the famous remark attributed to him — “Beethoven is ripe for the madhouse” — you can understand his reaction. Played as the ORR play it, it can still make your hair stand on end.” Sunday Times, 28th October 2012

“The execution is fabulous, the (superlative) stylistic foundation always at the service of the music’s rhythm, energy and inner logic...With every performance of these symphonies, the listener ought to be taken aback at the revolutionary force of Beethoven’s language. Where many fail, Gardiner succeeds.” Financial Times, 24th November 2012 ****

“So palpable is the excitement of these live performances that it almost comes as a shock that the applause has been excised...Gardiner and his resplendent Orchestre Révolutionnaire et Romantique rejoice here in the sheer physicality of the music...These are the kind of performances that remind us of what a revolution of reassessment period-instrument bands provoke.” Gramophone Magazine, January 2013

“after hearing these explosive, invigorating and electrifying performances, we are reminded once again of the ferocious intensity that must have shell-shocked 19th-century Viennese audiences...Gardiner brings tremendous rhythmic drive and irresistable forward momentum to both Symphonies and revels in the sheer audacity of Beethoven's orchestration” BBC Music Magazine, January 2013 ****

“These are thrusting, dynamic performances...though the music is played very speedily there’s no skating over Beethoven’s drama and argument.” MusicWeb International, November 2012

“If you're looking for an alternative take on these two symphonies, then this live recording with John Eliot Gardiner conducting the Orchestre Révolutionnaire et Romantique is ideal. The period-instrument orchestra bring a pleasing clarity to the textures, and Gardiner's often swift tempos (for example in the outer movements of the Fifth) brush away any cobwebs that might have been allowed to accumulate over the years.” James Longstaffe, Presto Classical

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Editor's Choice - January 2013

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Elgar: The Longed-for Light

Elgar: The Longed-for Light

Elgar's Music in Wartime


Elgar:

Polonia

Carillon, Op. 75

for speaker & orchestra

Simon Callow (speaker)

Sospiri, Op. 70

Une Voix dans le Désert

for speaker, soprano & orchestra

Simon Callow (speaker) & Susan Gritton (soprano)

Carissima

Le Drapeau Belge

for speaker & orchestra

Simon Callow (speaker)

Rosemary

The Sanguine Fan, Op. 81

Sursum corda, Op. 11


The outbreak of the Great War caused Elgar much anguish and depression and the music composed during these years reflects his sorrow and deep patriotism.

Apart from Elgar’s early Sursum Corda Op. 11 (composed in 1894), this disc takes us on a musical journey from shortly before the war began to the composer’s last wartime orchestral work, The Sanguine Fan, a shaft of light during the darkest days of the war in 1917. The music on this disc, although not premiere recordings (they were originally recorded by the HMV label), this is the first modern recording not only of these works but also to provide a unique survey of Elgar’s compositions of this time.

Performed by the BBC Concert Orchestra and conducted by John Wilson, this CD also includes Susan Gritton and the renowned actor Simon Callow who is the speaker on Le Drapeau Belge Op 79.

Read Presto's complete review of this disc here.

“Un Voix dans le désert, Carillon and Le Drapeau Belge are melodramas to wartime verse by the Belgian Emile Cammaerts, vigorously proclaimed by Callow, with a taut solo from Gritton halfway through the first. More interesting agitprop is the purely orchestral Polonia” Sunday Times, 18th November 2012

“Here's a supremely enjoyable Elgar survey centred around a clutch of works composed during the Great War...Throughout, the BBC Concerto Orchestra respond with bright-eyed conviction and commendable polish for John Wilson, whose endearingly communicative, shapely and affectionate readings...hold their own...Elgarians shoudl ceratinly lend an ear to this entreprising and rewarding Somm anthology” Gramophone Magazine, January 2013

“This is a rewarding disc, giving us opportunities to hear some Elgar scores that rarely see the light of day. John Wilson is in evident sympathy with the music and secures consistently fine playing from the BBC Concert Orchestra...The texts are included - though you won’t need them to follow Simon Callow’s speech, so clear is his diction” MusicWeb International, 26th April 2013

“none of these pieces offers first-rate poetry, but Callow’s performance is so commanding that one hardly notices, and he clearly relishes moments such as the opening “Sing, Belgians, Sing!” of Carillon...With excellent performances all-round, the disc is a great place to start if you’re looking to explore the lesser-known works of Elgar.” James Longstaffe, Presto Classical, 5th November 2012

Presto Disc of the Week

5th November 2012

GGramophone Magazine

Editor's Choice - January 2013

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Oliver Knussen: Autumnal

Oliver Knussen: Autumnal


Knussen:

Choral

BBC Symphony Orchestra, Oliver Knussen

Autumnal

Alexandra Wood (violin) & Huw Watkins (piano)

Whitman Settings

Claire Booth (soprano) & Ryan Wigglesworth (piano)

Secret Psalm

Alexandra Wood (violin)

Prayer Bell Sketch

Ryan Wigglesworth (piano)

Violin Concerto

Leila Josefowicz (violin)

BBC Symphony Orchestra, Oliver Knussen

Requiem: Songs for Sue

Claire Booth (soprano)

BCMG, Oliver Knussen

Ophelia's Last Dance

Huw Watkins (piano)


Knussen started composing at the age of 6. In 1968, aged 15 he stepped in to conduct his Symphony's premiere at the Royal Festival Hall after István Kertész fell ill. Upon hearing this, Daniel Barenboim asked him to conduct the work's first two movements in New York a week later.

Composer/conductor Oliver Knussen celebrates his 60th birthday this year.

This disc features the dynamically virtuosic violinist Leila Josefowicz, who has worked with many of today's leading composers – including John Adams and Oliver Knussen – and is a strong advocate of new music.

Oliver Knussen is a huge infl uence on the contemporary British music scene - not only as composer, but as conductor, teacher, programmer and artistic director. Despite having started composing as a teenager, his oeuvre is relatively small – partly due to his busy schedule as a conductor (he must surely hold the record for premiere performances!), but also because every bar he writes is measured against all the music that he knows and loves.

This new recording, to celebrate Olly's 60th birthday, is a chronological tour of his work, starting with the brooding orchestral Choral, and the poetic Autumnal for violin (both written in the 1970s), through to Ophelia's Last Dance from 2010. Requiem: Songs for Sue, was written following the death of his wife in 2003, and sets texts by poets who were important to them both – from Emily Dickinson's poem to her sister Sue, "Is it true, dear Sue?" to works by Antonio Machado, WH Auden and Rainer Maria Rilke – the latter translated by Olly's friend and musical collaborator Alexander Goehr.

Also on this disc is a live recording of Knussen's luminous Violin Concerto, performed at the BBC Proms by one of the world's exemplary soloists (and ex-Chanel model) Leila Josefowicz.

“The performances, several from the artists such as Josefowicz and Claire Booth for whom the works were written, are superb, and much of the music ranks among the finest composed in this country in recent decades.” The Guardian, 26th September 2012 *****

“this CD should do more than any live performance to tell the world what a treasure he is. The Walton-esque Violin Concerto, Knussen’s masterpiece, is played with dazzling artistry by Josefowicz...[the Requiem is] sung with nightingale seductiveness by Claire Booth.” Financial Times, 20th October 2012 ****

“an enthralling tribute to one of the greatest of contemporary composers...This disc offers us contemporary music to swoon over...Knussen’s ear for colour rarely falters...He can suggest music of the past without ever resorting to parody...This is music which just works. Try and whistle back the melodies, and you’d struggle, but Knussen’s skills as an orchestrator and architect always win the listener over.” The Arts Desk, 2nd December 2012

“Claire Booth brilliantly manages the music's kaleidoscopic shifts of rhetorical focus and is equally successful in the earlier group of Whitman settings, given here in the version with piano accompaniment.” Gramophone Magazine, January 2013

GGramophone Awards 2013

Finalist - Contemporary

GGramophone Magazine

Editor's Choice - January 2013

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Patricia Petibon: Nouveau Monde

Patricia Petibon: Nouveau Monde

Baroque Arias & Songs


anon.:

Cachua a voz y bajo Al Nacimiento de Christo Nuestro Señor (from Codex Martinez Compañon)

Tonada la Lata a voz y bajo, para bailar cantando (from Codex Martinez Compañon)

Mon amy s’en est allé

Tonada la Lata el Congo a voz y bajo para baylar cantando (from Codex Martinez Compañon)

Greensleeves to a ground

Bailly:

Yo soy la locura

Charpentier, M-A:

Quel prix de mon amour (from Medée)

Prélude...Noires filles du Styx (from Medée)

Dieu du Cocyte et des Royaumes sombres (from Medée)

Handel:

No se emendará jamás, HWV 140

Nebra Blasco:

El bajel que no recela (from Vendado es amor, no es ciego)

En amor, pastorcillos, no hay quien distinga (from Vendado es amor, no es ciego)

Purcell:

When I am laid in earth (from Dido and Aeneas)

Fairest Isle (from King Arthur)

Rameau:

Rondeau – Forêts paisibles (from Les Indes Galantes)

Les Indes galantes: Tempête : La nuit couvre les cieux !

trad.:

J’ai vu le loup, le renard et la belette


Patricia Petibon (soprano)

La Cetra Baroque Orchestra, Andrea Marcon

Admired for her remarkable creative imagination and exemplary musicianship, soprano Patricia Petibon, in her newest album for Deutsche Grammophon, offers a treasure-trove of fascinating Baroque curiosities guaranteed to enthral both the Baroque aficionado and the casual listener.

Nouveau Monde is conceived as a journey from the Old to the New World, a spell-binding collection of arias, songs and pieces from European composers (Charpentier, Händel, Rameau, Purcell) that testify to their composers’ fascination with the exoticism of recently-discovered lands, as well as South American folksongs which boast exceptional rhythmic energy and colour

Spectacularly accompanied by the La Cetra Baroque Orchestra under the excelling direction of Andrea Marcon – who also stands out as a Baroque organist and harpsichordist - Patricia enchants our senses with a mélange of 17th-century arias and folk songs from England, France, Spain, and Latin America

As a follow-up to her best-selling Rosso and Melancolía albums, Patricia Petibon’s 2012 release is guaranteed to be one of the most popular and sought-after Baroque releases of the year

“Conquest is one theme, confession another; the whole a breakneck A-Z of Baroque song from airs de cours to zarzuela.” BBC Music Magazine, Christmas 2012 ****

“'Nouveau Monde' is a tightly thought-through and arranged and compelling programme, a tour de force for its performer/compiler, most atmospherically recorded. Compulsive, repeatable listening.” Gramophone Magazine, January 2013

GGramophone Magazine

Editor's Choice - January 2013

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Plorer, Gemir, Crier: Hommage to Johannes Ockeghem

Plorer, Gemir, Crier: Hommage to Johannes Ockeghem


 

Ergone Canticuit

Johannes Lupus

Busnois:

In hydraulis

Despres:

La Déploration de Johannes Ockeghem

Obrecht:

Missa Sicut Spina Rosam

Rue, P:

Plorer, gemir - Requiem


The oeuvre of Johannes Ockeghem influenced, indeed directly inspired a considerable number of musicians who were contemporary with or came immediately after the Master of Tours. Many of these talented composers took one of his works as a model, thus bearing eloquent testimony to their admiration for him.

All of them visited him and helped to popularise the image of him as a benevolent ‘father figure’ to this amazing caste of singers and composers.

Ockeghem’s death at a ripe old age in 1497 greatly affected the brilliant generation that was in the process of making the transition between the Middle Ages and the Renaissance, and naturally led to the creation of some deeply moving music. Four motets covering a wide stylistic range, a complete polyphonic mass and an extraordinary poem of lamentation make up this touching tribute to Johannes Ockeghem from his colleagues and friends.

The works assembled on this CD represent the highpoint of Franco-Flemish counterpoint and illustrate the imperceptible shift from Middle Ages to Renaissance thanks to this sublime music sublimated by the death of the great master. They are sung here according to the tradition of the great cathedrals and collegiate churches: a cappella, with one or two singers to a part as the works require.

“This performance [of the Obrecht] is so well judged that it positively invites repeated listening...[Diabolus in Musica's] sound is quite distinctive; grainy, but not obtrusively so.” Gramophone Magazine, January 2013

GGramophone Magazine

Editor's Choice - January 2013

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Debussy: Pelléas et Mélisande

Debussy: Pelléas et Mélisande


Camille Maurane (Pélleas), Suzanne Danco (Mélisande), Henri-Bertrand Etcheverry (Golaud), Oda Slobodskaya (Geneviève), André Vessières (Arkel), Marjorie Westbury (Yniold), Ernest Frank (Le Berger, Le Medicin)

Philharmonia Orchestra, BBC Chorus, Désiré-Émile Ingelbrecht

“Ingelbrecht transformed Walter Legge's young Philharmonia in little time into a virtuoso version of a French theatre orchestra, evidently enjoying his work with the orchestra's star wind players. His Franco-Belgian-Russian cast had much experience in this work...It's an important contribution to our perception of Debussy's opera” Gramophone Magazine, January 2013

GGramophone Magazine

Re-issue of the Month - January 2013

Testament - SBT31484

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