Gramophone Magazine Editor's Choice

August 2013

Disc of the Month

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Beethoven: The Complete String Quartets Vol. 2

Awards:

Gramophone Magazine

Disc of the Month - August 2013

Label:

Zigzag

Catalogue No:

ZZT321

Discs:

4

Release date:

22nd April 2013

Barcode:

3760009293212

Length:

4 hours 47 minutes

Medium:

CD (download also available)

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Beethoven: The Complete String Quartets Vol. 2


Beethoven:

String Quartet No. 3 in D major, Op. 18 No. 3

String Quartet No. 5 in A major, Op. 18 No. 5

Grosse Fuge in B flat major, Op. 133

String Quartet No. 7 in F major, Op. 59 No. 1 'Rasumovsky No. 1'

String Quartet No. 8 in E minor, Op. 59 No. 2 'Rasumovsky No. 2'

String Quartet No. 10 in E flat major, Op. 74 'Harp'

String Quartet No. 13 in B flat major, Op. 130

String Quartet No. 15 in A minor, Op. 132

String Quartet No. 16 in F major, Op. 135


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After the first volume released in October 2012, this second volume completes the cycle of Beethoven Quartets given simultaneously by the Belcea Quartet in concert and on disc. Recorded live, like its predecessor, in the superb concert hall conceived by Britten at Aldeburgh, this volume couples quartets from different periods, including the last two (opp.132 and 135) and the Grosse Fuge (op.133). Here is how the Belcea Quartet describes this great cycle: ‘These sixteen quartets written some two hundred years form one of the most complete and powerful musical statements ever made. The completeness lies in their unprecedented intensity and in the astonishing development that can be traced between the early and the late works – a thirty-year-long revolution which altered forever the way we experience music. There is no end to exploration of Beethoven’s riches and yet what is most compelling is that his music speaks so directly to us as human beings. What seems to be the predominant impulse driving this music is man’s yearning for freedom, the unquenchable desire to expand his limits and to learn the truth about himself in this process.’

Ludwig van Beethoven: String Quartet No. 3 in D major, Op. 18 No. 3

I. Allegro

II. Andante con moto

III. Allegro

IV. Presto

Ludwig van Beethoven: String Quartet No. 5 in A major, Op. 18 No. 5

I. Allegro

II. Menuetto - Trio

III. Andante cantabile

IV. Allegro

Ludwig van Beethoven: Grosse Fuge for String Quartet in B flat major, Op. 133

Grosse Fuge for String Quartet in B-Flat Major, Op. 133

Ludwig van Beethoven: String Quartet No. 7 in F major, Op. 59 No. 1 'Razumovsky'

I. Allegro

II. Allegro vivace e sempre scherzando

III. Adagio molto e mesto

IV. Thème russe, allegro

Ludwig van Beethoven: String Quartet No. 8 in E minor, Op. 59 No. 2 'Razumovsky'

I. Allegro

II. Molto adagio

III. Allegretto

IV. Finale, presto

Ludwig van Beethoven: String Quartet No. 10 in E flat major, Op. 74 'Harp'

I. Poco adagio - Allegro

II. Adagio ma non troppo

III. Presto

IV. Allegretto con variazioni

Ludwig van Beethoven: String Quartet No. 13 in B flat major, Op. 130

I. Adagio ma non troppo - Allegro

II. Presto

III. Andante con moto, ma non troppo

IV. Alla danza tedesca, allegro assai

V. Cavatina, adagio molto espressivo

VI. Finale - Allegro

Ludwig van Beethoven: String Quartet No. 15 in A minor, Op. 132

I. Allegro sostenuto - Allegro

II. Allegro ma non tanto

III. Molto adagio

IV. Alla marcia, assai vivace

Ludwig van Beethoven: String Quartet No. 16 in F major, Op. 135

I. Allegretto

II. Vivace

III. Lento assai, cantante e tranquillo

IV. Grave, ma non troppo tratto - Allegro

The Independent

8th June 2013

****

“The vibrato-free molto adagio of the Opus 132 Quartet in A minor is stunning, but the first and second Razumovsky Quartets are equally arresting, with a wild tang at odds with this pristine ensemble's default sound.”

BBC Music Magazine

August 2013

****

“The chief characteristic of the Belcea Quartet's playing is, I would say, intensity...This is a major achievement, and though they will no doubt record these works again, it will always stand as a memorable set.”

Gramophone Magazine

August 2013

“Involved intensity is uppermost in the Belcea's ethos...This is the Belcea single-mindedly fathoming the emotional recesses of the composer's psyche, every interpretation steeped in a pregnancy of feeling, a vast recreative experience that harks back to the untrammelled foresight of the Busch Quartet at its best - but reconsidered and revitalised. Yes, it's that good.”

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Bach - Cantatas Volume 53

Bach - Cantatas Volume 53


Bach, J S:

Cantata BWV97 'In allen meinen Taten'

Cantata BWV177 'Ich ruf zu dir, Herr Jesu Christ'

Cantata BWV9 'Es ist das Heil uns kommen her'


This landmark series is nearly at its end in this antepenultimate recording. The three cantatas on this recording come from the first half of the 1730s and clearly show Bach’s affinity for instrumental colour and expressive melodies rich in syncopation and suspensions.

All three works are choral cantatas based on well-known hymns and are therefore more choral in style.

“The soloists blend delightfully with what is an impressively unified chorus. It almost goes without saying how well the instrumentalists of the Bach Collegium Japan respond. Suzuki brings everything together in masterly fashion...It really is hard to find fault when this music is presented in such an exemplary manner.” MusicWeb International, 4th July 2013

“Suzuki's performance forces, 12-voice choir (including soloists) and three-to-a-part violins, are superbly clean and tidy while allowing him a generous dynamic and dramatic range. Highly commended.” BBC Music Magazine, August 2013 ****

“This is a wonderful celebration of all-too-rare late Bach vocal works, revealed to us by Suzuki with joy and an impeccable understanding of its unique essence.” Gramophone Magazine, August 2013

“Suzuki has regained his energy and focus here. His solo singers and instrumentalists are in sparkling form, and he shapes the choruses beautifully, alert to the lyrical impulses that glide through Bach’s intricate rhythmic textures. This is Suzuki back to his beguiling best.” Early Music Today

GGramophone Magazine

Editor's Choice - August 2013

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Volodos plays Mompou

Volodos plays Mompou


Mompou:

Prelude No. 7 (Palmier d'étoiles )

Damunt de tu, nomes les flors

transcription by Arcadi Volodos

Scenes d'enfants

Hoy la tierra y los cielos me sonríen

transcription by Arcadi Volodos

El Lago (Le Lac)

Pour appeler la joie (Charme VI)

Prelude No. 12

Dialogues I, II

Música callada: excerpts


Arcadi Volodos is one of the world’s best pianists, celebrated as a “genius” and the “new Horowitz” for the unique combination of outstanding virtuosity and profound and expressive musicality.

Volodos devotes his new CD to the hardly known Catalan composer Frederic Mompou. He believes that Mompou’s solo piano works are of outstanding quality and open new worlds.

The fact that Mompou’s music is hardly known is a key to success for this CD. It can only reveal its deep und unique quality in the magnificent interpretation of Volodos.

The music of Catalonian composer Federico Mompou (1893-1987) is almost completely unknown today. Unjustly so, in the opinion of Russian star pianist Arcadi Volodos, who has devoted his new solo CD to this remarkable musical personality.

Carrying on the tradition established by his Spanish colleagues Enrique Granados and Isaac Albéniz, Mompou's works are subtle and delicate, mysterious and intimate, with a shimmering Impressionist palette. Mompou's role models are always in evidence in his many piano pieces: Chopin and Scriabin, Satie and Debussy. Yet in quiet, unobtrusive fashion, Mompou evolves a musical cosmos entirely his own from these models: his music is a true discovery.

Volodos has chosen for this CD pieces from the Mompou cycles Scènes d´Enfants (1915-18), Charmes (1920/21) and Música Callada (1959-67), which were among the composer's own favourites. In the last few years, Arcadi Volodos has regularly played works by the Catalonian composer in his recitals, prompting the Süddeutsche Zeitung to refer to his "deep sensitivity for inspired nuance".

“you will rarely if ever hear Mompou's introspection caught and held with greater affection and finesse...his playing is of an unfaltering poise and translucency. Sony's sound is ideal. This is a disc in a million.” Gramophone Magazine, August 2013

“this CD is the purest pianism, with a drifting, freely associative, visionary momentum” BBC Music Magazine, September 2013 *****

“Arcadi Volodos, showman virtuoso, playing the music of Federico Mompou, poetic loner? The match could hardly be more surprising - or successful...there's no doubting the artist's sincere affection and affinity for this music...This new disc only confirms the genius of Volodos” MusicWeb International, 30th August 2013

“I've never heard a bad CD of Mompou's music, but Volodos's, like Larrocha's, is in a class of its own. He creates the illusion that he is at one with the music; it is playing him as much as he is playing it. This piano powerhouse here demonstrates that he can colour and phrase this music as sensitively as any pianist currently on the scene.” International Record Review, September 2013

GGramophone Awards 2014

Winner - Instrumental

GGramophone Magazine

Editor's Choice - August 2013

BBC Music Magazine

Instrumental Choice - September 2013

BBC Music Magazine Awards 2014

Instrumental Finalist

Sony - 88765433262

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MacMillan: Tenebrae Responsories

MacMillan: Tenebrae Responsories

& other choral works


anon.:

Dignus est Agnus

MacMillan:

Tu es Petrus

Tenebrae Responsories

Alexander Hopkins (treble)

Summae Trinitati

Benedictus Deus

Ave maris stella

Tota pulchra es

After Virtue

Serenity

The Edinburgh Te Deum

Ecce sacerdos magnus

Processional on Tu es Petrus


Peter Stevens (organ)

Westminster Cathedral Choir & London Brass, Martin Baker

Westminster Cathedral Choir returns to acclaimed Scottish composer James MacMillan, whose powerful, passionate and luminous music has made him one of the best-loved choral composers of today.

Included on this recording is a dramatic setting of the Tenebrae Responsories, a spiritually engaging and emotionally involving work which relates back in its searing intensity and some of its choral effects to Seven Last Words from the Cross (1993) (recorded on Hyperion CDA67460), one of MacMillan’s seminal earlier works.

The choir is joined by London Brass for jubilant settings of Tu es Petrus, Summae Trinitati and Ecce sacerdos magnus.

“It's hard not to be impressed by the committed and well-disciplined singing of the Westminster Cathedral Choir, particularly its boys, who negotiate MacMillan's difficult melismatic writing and unintuitive harmonies with confidence...The London Brass players are no less enthusiastic, and yet refined.” International Record Review, July/August 2013

“MacMillan creates a magnificent effusion of sound, over which the trebles of the Westminster Cathedral Choir soar dramatically...[the Edinburgh Te Deum] is particularly valuable, further attesting to MacMillan's reputation as one of the finest living composers of ecclesiastical music. Martin Baker's direction is masterly.” BBC Music Magazine, August 2013 ****

“The combination of Westminster Cathedral Choir and MacMillan is irresistable. We are drawn immediately into their complicity by the jaw-dropping Tu es Petrus...inevitably the sound of the Westminster choristers adds something unique and the building's response buoys up MacMillan's arching lines” Gramophone Magazine, August 2013

“This is a splendid disc. The music... is compelling and full of interest. The performances by Martin Baker and his extremely fine choir strike me as well-nigh definitive...This is a disc that shows yet again that James MacMillan is one of the most articulate and compelling of contemporary composers.” MusicWeb International, 11th September 2013

GGramophone Magazine

Editor's Choice - August 2013

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Sibelius: Symphonies Nos. 1 & 4

Sibelius: Symphonies Nos. 1 & 4


Sibelius:

Symphony No. 1 in E minor, Op. 39

Symphony No. 4 in A minor, Op. 63


Symphonies Nos. 1 & 4 are poles apart in their musical style and make a highly interesting pairing for this new release. Symphony No. 1 is rooted in the symphonic tradition and has a particular tunefulness reminiscent of Tchaikovsky, whereas Symphony No. 4 is highly original and introverted, often being seen as modern and ‘cubist’ by listeners in the 1890s.

The Minnesota Orchestra and its music director Osmo Vänskä were highly praised for their previous release of Symphonies Nos. 2 & 5 (BISSACD1986), being called ‘a fine start to what may be the benchmark cycle for the 21st century’ by Gramophone, and nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Orchestral Performance.

Vänskä has really enhanced the quality of the Minnesota Orchestra since he took the position of musical director in 2003. He has since had his tenure extended many times and continues to carve an international reputation for the ensemble.

This release has advertising planned in Gramophone magazine as part of a ‘new orchestral features on BIS’.

“On a technical level it sounds impeccable. The polished string sonority, allied to trim woodwinds and meaty brass, gives the performances a completely different atmosphere to Vänskä’s first Sibelius cycle with the Lahti Sinfonia” Financial Times, 25th May 2013 ***

“Vänskä's approach now seems more interventionist; he's less willing to let the music to unfold at its own pace, urging it forward. While that certainly results in a thrilling account of the First Symphony, it does make the brooding opening of the Fourth and some of its later climaxes seem contrived and stage-managed” The Guardian, 30th May 2013 ***

“exceptional: incredibly tense and energetic, yet teeming with detail. The orchestral sound, lithe and sparse, suits Vänskä’s unsentimental approach. Look elsewhere if you want romantic bloom, but I find these crouching-tiger interpretations thrilling.” The Times, 27th April 2013 ****

“Vänskä’s latest thoughts on Sibelius are certainly worth hearing” MusicWeb International, 12th June 2013

“Another instalment in Osmo Vänskä's next-generation Sibelius cycle, turning from the poetic Lahti orchestra to the full-blooded Minnesota sound. And full-blooded the First certainly is...Altogether, Vänskä's new interpretations, sturdy and intense rather than richly Romantic, offer persuasive alternatives in a crowded market.” BBC Music Magazine, August 2013

“The passion and sweep of the First...is even more electric than in Lahti...[in the Fourth] this most stylistically advanced of Sibelius's symphonies emerges equally well as a hugely powerful utterance. With superb sound as always from BIS, this new disc has set the bar for all to follow and past ones to be measured against.” Gramophone Magazine, August 2013

GGramophone Magazine

Editor's Choice - August 2013

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Mahler: Symphony No. 4

Mahler: Symphony No. 4


“The greatest mix of colours that ever existed” was Gustav Mahler’s description of the third movement of his Fourth Symphony. Riccardo Chailly, one of the most adept interpreters of Mahler of our time, and the Gewandhaus Orchestra transformed the entire Fourth Symphony into this kaleidoscope of sound.

The unmistakable timbre of the orchestra has become synonymous with late Romantic repertoire and Mahler-esque style – it was described by Der Tagesspiegel as “uncommonly present, even in the thread-fine pianissimo, compact, concentrated, satin”. Once more, the connection between Chailly, the Gewandhaus Orchestra and Mahler proved to be exceptional: The way Chailly “moulded the music, which is so familiar to him, with loving gestures, confidently alluding to a thousand subtle details, allowing the orchestra to rise and fall – that is perfect.”

BONUS TRACKS

1. The Welte-Mignon Piano Player Device

2. Mahler plays Mahler – Symphony No. 4, 4th movement

3. Riccardo Chailly on interpreting Mahler's 4th Symphony with the Gewandhaus Orchestra

Picture Format DVD: NTSC 16:9

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

Region Code: 0 (worldwide)

Running Time: 61:14 min

Running Time Bonus: approx. 16 min

Disc Format: DVD-9

Subtitles: German, English, French, Japanese

Subtitles Bonus: German, English

“abundant virtues...a sense of naturally flowing tempi, an ear for inner parts within the whole, a vitality that captures the pristine glow of this most innocent of all Mahler symphonies. Chailly is not a narcissistic Mahlerian: there’s no self-indulgent milking of the music for effect.” Financial Times, 4th May 2013 ****

“a performance of enlightened literalism, distinguished by a simplicity of utterance and forthrightness that uncovers expressive depths which elude some modern interpreters...Chailly never overcooks the points of transition...Landshamer brings an awesome purity to the refrain of each Wunderhorn verse.” Gramophone Magazine, August 2013

GGramophone Magazine

Blu-ray of the Month - August 2013

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Mahler: Symphony No. 4

Mahler: Symphony No. 4


“The greatest mix of colours that ever existed” was Gustav Mahler’s description of the third movement of his Fourth Symphony. Riccardo Chailly, one of the most adept interpreters of Mahler of our time, and the Gewandhaus Orchestra transformed the entire Fourth Symphony into this kaleidoscope of sound.

The unmistakable timbre of the orchestra has become synonymous with late Romantic repertoire and Mahler-esque style – it was described by Der Tagesspiegel as “uncommonly present, even in the thread-fine pianissimo, compact, concentrated, satin”. Once more, the connection between Chailly, the Gewandhaus Orchestra and Mahler proved to be exceptional: The way Chailly “moulded the music, which is so familiar to him, with loving gestures, confidently alluding to a thousand subtle details, allowing the orchestra to rise and fall – that is perfect.”

BONUS TRACKS

1. The Welte-Mignon Piano Player Device

2. Mahler plays Mahler – Symphony No. 4, 4th movement

3. Riccardo Chailly on interpreting Mahler's 4th Symphony with the Gewandhaus Orchestra

Picture Format BD: NTSC 16:9

FULL HD

Sound Formats BD: PCM Stereo, DTS HD Master Audio

Region Code: 0 (worldwide)

Running Time: 61:14 min

Running Time Bonus: approx. 16 min

Disc Format: BD 25

Subtitles: German, English, French, Japanese

Subtitles Bonus: German, English

“abundant virtues...a sense of naturally flowing tempi, an ear for inner parts within the whole, a vitality that captures the pristine glow of this most innocent of all Mahler symphonies. Chailly is not a narcissistic Mahlerian: there’s no self-indulgent milking of the music for effect.” Financial Times, 4th May 2013 ****

“a performance of enlightened literalism, distinguished by a simplicity of utterance and forthrightness that uncovers expressive depths which elude some modern interpreters...Chailly never overcooks the points of transition...Landshamer brings an awesome purity to the refrain of each Wunderhorn verse.” Gramophone Magazine, August 2013

GGramophone Magazine

DVD of the Month - August 2013

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Casella: Orchestral Works Volume 3

Casella: Orchestral Works Volume 3


Casella:

Italia, Op. 11

Introduzione, Corale e Marcia, Op. 57

Sinfonia (Symphony No. 3), Op. 63


This is the third volume in our survey of orchestral works by Alfredo Casella, which forms part of the ongoing Italian Music series with the BBC Philharmonic and Gianandrea Noseda. Both the two previous volumes have been very well received by reviewers and the buying public alike, with David A. McConnell of MusicWeb International commenting: ‘I am once again dumbstruck by how engaging and wonderful this music is. The orchestra plays its collective heart out, and the Chandos recording is stunning in its realism and impact.’

Casella was a fervent Italian patriot, as his Symphonic Rhapsody Italia so aptly demonstrates. In this one-movement work, the composer focuses on just two contrasting destinations in Italy: Sicily – impoverished, sun scorched, and superstitious; and Naples – bustling and carefree. Like Richard Strauss before him, in Aus Italien of 1886, Casella makes clever use of folk tunes, which he found in Favara’s Canti della terra e del mare di Sicilia. Unlike Strauss, though, Casella knew that Funiculì funiculà was not in fact a true folksong, but rather the work of the composer Luigi Denza, and in acknowledging this managed to avoid the copyright troubles that Strauss got into over its usage.

It was through his admiration for Stravinsky that Casella later found neoclassicism, a style which is strongly evident in the driving rhythms, tunefulness, and colourful orchestration of the third Symphony. The work was commissioned to celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and it premiered to great acclaim in March 1941. Later it took Dresden and Vienna by storm, where it was conducted by the composer himself and Wilhelm Furtwängler, respectively.

Stravinsky’s influence is present also in the final work on this disc: Introduzione, Corale e Marcia for large orchestral forces. Structurally it may derive from César Franck’s Prélude, choral et fugue and Prélude, aria et final, but Stravinsky is there too, in the stylistic inspiration for the main theme of the Introduzione in particular, and also within the melodic material and tempo changes in the concluding Marcia.

“The performances are exceptional: even by their own standards, Noseda and the BBC Philharmonic have done nothing finer.” The Guardian, 13th June 2013 *****

“Those who have been following Noseda’s Casella series will be keen to add this disc to the collection...There is a whole spectrum of influences at work on Casella, but they are subsumed into a personal, dynamic style that the BBC Philharmonic conveys with sinew and spirit.” The Telegraph, 20th June 2013 ****

“The BBC Philharmonic is an outstanding orchestra who maintain excellent form throughout. Their playing of these multicoloured works is ideal. I love the way they can easily generate thrusting intensity then seamlessly shift to episodes of tender serenity. Noseda’s stunning interpretation of the Symphonymakes a splendid case for this marvellous work” MusicWeb International, 15th July 2013

“Noseda encourages the BBC Philharmonic to give of their considerable best throughout) the exuberant yet marvellously controlled orchestral playing towards the close of Italia really does raise the roof)...A very strong recommendation.” Gramophone Magazine, August 2013

“This is attractive music and the BBC Philharmonic under Noseda are strong advocates.” BBC Music Magazine, October 2013 ****

GGramophone Magazine

Editor's Choice - August 2013

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Martha Argerich & Friends: Live from the Lugano Festival 2012

Martha Argerich & Friends: Live from the Lugano Festival 2012


Brahms:

Variations on a theme by Haydn for two pianos, Op. 56b 'St Anthony Variations'

Martha Argerich (piano), Nicholas Angelich (piano)

Debussy:

La Mer

transcribed for Three Pianos by Carlo M. Griguoli

Giorgia Tomassi (piano), Carlo Maria Griguoli (piano), Alessandro Stella (piano)

Dvorak:

Piano Quartet No. 2 in E flat, Op. 87

Polina Leschenko (piano), Ilya Gringolts (violin), Nathan Braude (viola), Torleif Thedéen (cello)

Mahler:

Piano Quartet (in one movement) in A minor

Lily Maisky (piano), Sascha Maisky (violin), Lyda Chen (viola), Mischa Maisky (cello)

Martucci:

Theme & Variations in E flat, Op. 58

Nelson Goerner (piano), Rusudan Alavidze (piano)

Medtner:

Piano Quintet in C major Op. post

Lilya Zilberstein (piano), Dora Schwarzberg (violin), Lucia Hall (violin), Nora Romanoff-Schwarzberg (viola), Jing Zhao (cello)

Mores:

Taquito militar

transcribed by A. Petrasso

Martha Argerich (piano), Ale Petrasso (piano)

Mozart:

Sonata for Piano duet in D major, K381

Maria João Pires (piano), Martha Argerich (piano)

Piano Concerto No. 25 in C major, K503

Martha Argerich (piano)

Orchestra della Svizzera Italiana, Jacek Kaspszyk

Prokofiev:

Violin Sonata No. 2 in D major, Op. 94a

Renaud Capuçon (violin), Martha Argerich (piano)

Schumann:

Stücke im Volkston (5), Op. 102

Gautier Capuçon (cello), Martha Argerich (piano)

Smetana:

Sonata movement for 2 pianos, 8 hands in E minor

Martha Argerich (piano), Lilya Zilberstein (piano), Anton Gerzenberg (piano), Daniel Gerzenberg (piano)

Rondo for 2 pianos, 8 hands in C major

Martha Argerich (piano), Lilya Zilberstein (piano), Anton Gerzenberg (piano), Daniel Gerzenberg (piano)


EMI Classics is pleased to release the 10th annual 3CD set of highlights from the Progetto Martha Argerich in Lugano, “the delightful festival where youth meets experience and both benefit” (Gramophone). The Times described Argerich’s Lugano Festival as “community music-making on a deluxe scale, with performers and listeners mutually uplifted by music’s wonders”. The set is being released in anticipation of the Festival’s 2013 season.

Reviewing the 2011 Live from Lugano release, Nicholas Kenyon wrote in The Observer, “There are not many reliable annual treats among classical CDs these days, but the series of live recordings from Martha Argerich's Lugano festival are now a highlight of each year.” Andrew Clark in the Financial Times wrote, “Every June [Argerich] and a clutch of friends and protégés make music in a style that reflects her free spirit and total dedication. Even when Argerich is not playing, she seems to inspire the performance.”

In addition to Argerich, the performers in 2012 included many familiar names from previous Live from Lugano releases, among them the violinist and cellist brothers Renaud and Gautier Capuçon and pianist Nicholas Angelich, all of whom record for Virgin Classics. The current set also welcomes back Mischa Maisky, Lilya Zilberstein, Polina Leschenko, Dora Schwarzberg, Nora Romanoff-Schwarzberg, Lyda Chen, Ilya Gringolts, Georgio Tomassi, Carlo Maria Griguoli and Alessandro Stella. Newcomers include the pianists Maria João Pires and Nelson Goerner.

The repertoire of Martha Argerich and Friends – Live from Lugano 2012 puts the piano at the centre of the programming, focusing particularly on piano duets and rarely performed and recorded compositions. There is a group from the Austro-German Classical and Romantic tradition, followed by works from Slavic composers, sounds from Italy and France and, as a send-off, a two piano arrangement of an Argentinean tango. The performance of Mahler’s Piano Quartet is something of a family affair, performed by Ms Argerich’s longest-standing artistic collaborator Mischa Maisky, his pianist daughter Lily and violinist son Sascha and Ms Argerich’s daughter Lyda Chen. The orchestral work in this year’s set is Mozart’s Concerto K503 with Argerich and the Orchestra della Svizzera Italiana conducted by Jacek Kaspszyk.

Martha Argerich’s passion, technical virtuosity, temperament, commitment and supreme artistry have illuminated the music world and left audiences spellbound since she won the 1964 International Chopin Competition. Reluctant to perform solo for many years, she has continued to perform chamber music and concertos with orchestra where, in her own words, “I feel the musicians moving about. I watch them and I also move. I’m more natural.”

EMI Classics marked the occasion of Martha Argerich’s 70th birthday in 2011 with the release of four multi-disc sets bearing some of her finest performances from 1965 to 2009.

Few artists have nurtured and promoted emerging young musicians with the level of personal commitment shown by Martha Argerich. In the process, she has created inspired chamber music partnerships mixing established and up-and-coming artists. After setting up Meeting Point at Beppu, Japan in 1996 and the Martha Argerich Festival in Buenos Aires in 1999, the pianist decided to create a similar gathering of musical minds in Europe. The southern Swiss town of Lugano was identified as an ideal setting for a project based on the spirit of building a community of close-knit relationships among young and established artists and the Progetto Martha Argerich was launched in 2002. More than a decade later, the Festival continues to retain its original experimental ‘feel’ because of the original programming and the emergence of new performing talents. Geoffrey Norris in The Daily Telegraph wrote, “It is always instructive to see who has been invited to perform at the Progetto Martha Argerich in Lugano, because the cast list is a reliable guide to some of the most exciting talent in the musical world today.”

The twelfth season of the Martha Argerich Project will take place from 9 June to 3 July 2013 and will include performances by many of the artists on this set.

EMI would like to dedicate these recordings to the memory of Jurg ‘Abdul’ Grand, who founded the Martha Argerich Project at the 2002 Festival and co-directed the 2002 and 2003 events.

“Everything Martha Argerich touches turns to gold, not only her own piano playing but those around her whom she evidently inspires to new heights.” (The Observer)

“These discs are a reminder of a unique, ever-formidable and enchanting artist.” (Gramophone)

Read Presto's complete review of this disc here.

“Several of the ensembles could have benefited from more sustained period of rehearsal, yet they still communicate vibrancy and the sheer enjoyment possible when fine musicians get together to play chamber music in a relatively relaxed environment. Martha Argerich is the dominating presence, her performances among the most memorable in the set.” BBC Music Magazine, August 2013 ****

“every bit as captivating as previous instalments...The only time [Argerich] plays solo is in Mozart’s “Piano Concerto No 25”, almost every note of which she invests with her beguiling sense of discovery: a fabulous, thrills-and-spills performance in which the Argentine pianist, now in her 70s, defies her age.” Financial Times, 4th May 2013 *****

“they tread the fine line between the immediacy and drama of live performance and the accuracy needed for the repeat listening of recorded performance with great dexterity. Each performance on the discs of the 2012 festival is so immaculate that it is an unfailing surprise when the applause appears at the end of a track” Gramophone Magazine, August 2013

“Argerich’s only solo performance on this set is Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 25, K403, which ends the first disc. It is a stunning reading, every note carefully thought about, with touch, balance and phrasing immaculate and her beautiful lyricism reminding us exactly why she is widely regarded as one of the finest pianists on the planet...a true ‘must-have’ if ever there was one!” Chris O'Reilly, Presto Classical, 13th May 2013

“Even the more traditional repertoire tends to emerge piping hot. Nothing is hotter than Argerich and Nicholas Angelich’s electrifying romp through the two-piano version of Brahms’s Variations on a Theme by Haydn, a marvel of fleet fingering and communal joy.” The Times, 17th May 2013 ****

Presto Disc of the Week

13th May 2013

GGramophone Awards 2014

Shortlisted - Chamber

GGramophone Magazine

Editor's Choice - August 2013

Warner Classics Martha Argerich Lugano Festival - 7211192

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Katherine Bryan plays Flute Concertos by Christopher Rouse and Jacques Ibert

Katherine Bryan plays Flute Concertos by Christopher Rouse and Jacques Ibert


Debussy:

Syrinx for solo flute

Ibert:

Concerto for Flute & Orchestra

Martin, F:

Ballade for Flute, String Orchestra and Piano

Rouse, C:

Flute Concerto


Young flautist Katherine Bryan is rapidly establishing her place as one of Britain’s bright musical stars of the future.

For her second recording on Linn, the in-demand concerto soloist performs a selection of 20th century concertos plus Debussy’s Syrinx and Frank Martin’s Ballade.

The Flute Concerto by American composer Christopher Rouse is among his most successful and widely performed works since its debut in 1994. Rouse’s concerto calls for astonishing pyrotechnics for both the flute and the orchestra; Katherine is able to showcase the sheer quality of her technique and her playing.

French composer Jacques Ibert’s Concerto for Flute and Orchestra is one of the best-loved and most frequently performed concertos in the flute repertoire. Full of humour, virtuosity and intense technical challenges for the soloist, it is characteristic of Ibert’s eclectic, versatile compositional style.

Despite being only a little over three minutes long, Debussy’s Syrinx has achieved iconic status and is regarded as an essential piece in any serious flautist’s repertoire.

Martin’s Ballade features wide harmonic leaps and tests the full range of the instrument, not least with a memorable section for the low register which sees Katherine relish the challenge.

Katherine Bryan is a rising star having appearing as concerto soloist with leading orchestras worldwide, as well as being principal flautist with the RSNO.

Katherine has appeared at major international festivals as both concerto soloist and recitalist. She has given live broadcasts on Classic FM, BBC Radio 3 and BBC television.

Katherine was a prize-winner at the Royal Overseas League Music Competition in London, the Young Concert Artists International Competition in New York and was a finalist in the BBC Young Musician of the Year for three consecutive competitions. She was also awarded the Julius Isserlis Scholarship by the Royal Philharmonic Society.

“Bryan certainly has complete mastery of the [Rouse's] technical and expressive demands, as she does in Ibert's Concerto of 1933...Her playing of Debussy's Syrinx, the ne plus ultra of the solo flute repertoire, is exquisitely eloquent.” Gramophone Magazine, August 2013

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Editor's Choice - August 2013

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Janáček: Sinfonietta & Taras Bulba

Janáček: Sinfonietta & Taras Bulba

Recorded at the Rudolfinum, Prague, June 22-24 and 29, and September 30, 2012.


Janacek:

Sinfonietta

Taras Bulba

The Fiddler's Child

The Ballad of Blaník


The first new Czech recording of Janacek’s Sinfonietta and symphonic poems in many years.

Janácek did not write a great quantity of symphonic works. Besides the Lachian Dances and an outline of the symphony Danube, they merely number the four compositions on this CD: three symphonic poems and the celebrated Sinfonietta. The symphonic poems, created within eight years between 1913 and 1920, reflect the turbulent political events and social tensions of the time, as well as Janácek’s keen interest in Czech and Russian literature. The Ballad of Blaník is based on a poem by Jaroslav Vrchlický, while The Fiddler’s Child was written to verses by Svatopluk Èech.

When reading Gogol’s novella Taras Bulba, Janacek was impressed by its hero, a Cossack chieftain, and referred to the author as the “prophet of the Slavs”. Sinfonietta, indisputably the most significant Janacek orchestral piece, was premiered in June 1926 in Prague by Václav Talich with the Czech Philharmonic. Tomáš Netopil, the winner of the Sir Georg Solti International Conducting Competition and a regular guest of leading orchestras (Berliner Philharmoniker, London Philharmonic, etc.) and prestigious opera stages worldwide, has materialised his singular vision of Janacek’s music in the recording made with the splendid Czech Radio Symphony Orchestra.

“[in The Ballad of Blaník & the Fiddler's Child] Netopil shows that he is a subtle and meticulous Janáček interpreter, while the Prague players prove they can produce playing of real delicacy and tonal refinement.” The Guardian, 23rd May 2013 ***

“A superb programme...The substantially gifted Tomáš Netopil has the full measure of all four works...You hear everything and yet not a single note obtrudes. An absolute winner.” Gramophone Magazine, August 2013

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Editor's Choice - August 2013

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