Gramophone Magazine Editor's Choice

February 2014

Disc of the Month

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Beethoven: Cello Sonatas

Beethoven: Cello Sonatas


Beethoven:

Cello Sonatas Nos. 1-5 (complete) and variations

Horn Sonata in F major, Op. 17

arranged by Beethoven


Steven Isserlis (cello) & Robert Levin (fortepiano)

‘Isserlis’s playing always has spirit to spare. But the fortepiano ensures an even fresher sense of discovery to his cello odyssey’ (The Guardian)

In this new chamber recording, Steven Isserlis together with his regular collaborator, fortepianist Robert Levin, presents a magisterial and long-awaited compendium of Beethoven’s complete works for cello and piano, including Beethoven’s arrangement of his Op 17 Horn Sonata. The use of the fortepiano opens up a wealth of sonic possibilities for these works.

The five Cello Sonatas span Beethoven’s compositional epochs and comprise the most important cycle of cello sonatas in the entire repertoire. Isserlis writes that the composer ‘transforms himself from confident virtuoso to supreme master of classical form, and then beyond that to a mystic exploring strange new worlds of unearthly beauty—a wondrous transfiguration’.

Read Presto's complete review of this disc here.

“This set contains of the finest Beethoven performances you are likely to hear. Steven Isserlis is on blazing form: every note lives, every movement is characterised with infectious relish; his range is breathtaking. The ensemble with Robert Levin is dynamic, intimate, often electric.” BBC Music Magazine, January 2014 ****

“Isserlis commands attention first, if only for the extraordinary bass growl of his cello’s bottom register...Isserlis’s love of big, throbbing gestures is equally apparent further up his cello. But he never chews the scenery and the music’s drama fully deserves the duo’s strong emotions, firm accenting and virile leaps.” The Times, 10th January 2014 ****

“I don’t think you will ever hear a more spine-tingling performance of the adagio in the final sonata than this. Both performers take great care in the shaping of phrases, matching every articulation whilst being acutely aware of the relative importance of hidden themes and rhythmic figures.” Chris O'Reilly, Presto Classical, 6th January 2014

Presto Disc of the Week

6th January 2014

Presto Discs of 2014

Winner

GGramophone Awards 2014

Finalist - Chamber

GGramophone Magazine

Disc of the Month - February 2014

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Beethoven: Piano Trios Nos. 6 & 7

Beethoven: Piano Trios Nos. 6 & 7


Beethoven:

Piano Trio No. 6 in E flat Major, Op. 70 No. 2

Piano Trio No. 7 in B flat Major, Op. 97 'Archduke'


Isabelle Faust (violin), Jean-Guihen Queyras (cello) & Alexander Melnikov (Graff fortepiano)

By giving the stringed instruments the status of genuinely equal partners with the piano, it was Beethoven who gave the piano trio the form it was to retain throughout the 19th century. This album presents the composer's last two works in the genre, Op.70 No.2 dedicated to Countess Marie Erdödy, and the celebrated 'Archduke' trio, which marked the final public appearance of its composer.

Three eminent Beethovenians, Isabelle Faust, Jean-Guihen Queyras and Alexander Melnikov join forces here in performances that aim to highlight Beethoven's humour in their interpretation and set a new benchmark in the process. Their next project will be Schumann Piano Trios to be recorded in May and released in 2015.

“This ensemble is something of an A team. All play period instruments on this alluring disc, making for some ravishing textures” Sunday Times, 2nd February 2014

“Melnikov plays a restored fortepiano here...and it blends perfectly with Isabelle Faust's wonderfully attentive, selfless violin playing, and Jean-Guihen Queyras's inquiringly musical cello..these three players pitch [the Archduke] perfectly, always listening to each other and giving the textures a buoyancy and transparency that bring something fresh to every bar. Fascinating.” The Guardian, 6th February 2014 ****

“The playing throughout the trio is thoroughly attuned to the tone and emotional scope of the music, profoundly rapt in the andante and perkily whimsical, explosive and propulsive in the gloriously idiosyncratic finale.” The Telegraph, 20th February 2014 ****

“You might not think that a recording of two Beethoven piano trios could be all that newsy. But this one is exceptional. Three insightful and accomplished artists...give fresh, lithe and sensitive performances” New York Times, 19th February 2014

“The first thing you notice here is the timbre of the fortepiano, lightening the overall texture: in Melnikov’s hands it sometimes sounds like a gypsy dulcimer...The “Archduke” receives a delightfully intimate performance: the voicing of each instrument comes across with equal clarity, and the great Andante cantabile casts its spell afresh.” Financial Times, 8th March 2014 ****

“this new recording joins the others at the top of the tree and is worth buying even if you have one of them because of its unique selling point - the employment of a fortepiano.” MusicWeb International, 17th March 2014

“Melnikov works wonders with his 1828 Graff piano, managing to make it less clattery and more piano-like than in most other fortepiano recordings.” BBC Music Magazine, April 2014 *****

“a captivating performance … recorded in very clear, natural sound … This terrific new Harmonia Mundi disc can be recommended unreservedly.” International Record Review, April 2014

“A cellist who tends towards introversion; a fortepianist who tends the other way. Put them together and something magical happens within the tensions they engender.” Gramophone Magazine, February 2014

Presto Discs of 2014

Finalist

GGramophone Awards 2014

Finalist - Chamber

GGramophone Magazine

Disc of the Month - February 2014

BBC Music Magazine

Chamber Choice - April 2014

BBC Music Magazine Awards 2015

Chamber Award Winner

Harmonia Mundi - HMC902125

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Editor's Choice

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Rachmaninov & Prokofiev: Piano Concertos

Rachmaninov & Prokofiev: Piano Concertos


Prokofiev:

Piano Concerto No. 2 in G minor, Op. 16

Rachmaninov:

Piano Concerto No. 3 in D minor, Op. 30


Twenty-four year old Chinese pianist Yuja Wang is widely recognized for playing that combines the spontaneity and fearless imagination of youth with the discipline and precision of a mature artist. Regularly lauded for her controlled, prodigious technique, Yuja’s command of the piano has been described as “astounding” and “superhuman,” and she has been praised for her authority over the most complex technical demands of the repertoire, the depth of her musical insight, as well as her fresh interpretations and graceful, charismatic stage presence. Following her San Francisco recital debut The San Francisco Chronicle wrote “The arrival of Chinese-born pianist Yuja Wang on the musical scene is an exhilarating and unnerving development. To listen to her in action is to re-examine whatever assumptions you may have had about how well the piano can actually be played,” and The Washington Post called Yuja’s Kennedy Center recital debut “jaw-dropping.”

“Making her virtuoso credentials clear throughout, Wang dismisses every difficulty with nonchalant ease...this is a talent with a vengeance, the youthful partnership with Dudamel is ideal and both performances, recorded in Caracas, are understandably greeted with storms of applause.” Gramophone Magazine, February 2014

“It’s a virtue rather than a shortcoming that Wang and Dudamel never push the music too hard or too fast...Where oomph is required, all concerned on DG can and do apply it.” MusicWeb International, 5th March 2014

Presto Discs of 2014

Finalist

GGramophone Magazine

Editor's Choice - February 2014

DG - 4791304

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Beethoven: Missa Solemnis in D major, Op. 123

Beethoven: Missa Solemnis in D major, Op. 123

Recorded live at the Barbican Hall, London, October 2012


“Performed to perfection and brought into new, terrifying life” – The Times *****

“A daringly coloured account, exuberant physicality... There was hardly a passage that did not show the result of Gardiner’s hallmark intelligence and audacity” – The Guardian *****

“Nothing short of rapid-fire choral entries will do, and the Monteverdi sopranos duly shone in their ecstatic embrace of the stratosphere –The Financial Times *****

This album was recorded live at the Barbican in 2012. It features soloists Lucy Crowe (soprano), Jennifer Johnston (mezzo), James Gilchrist (tenor), Matthew Rose (bass). Sir John Eliot Gardiner offers a daring reading of this piece. The ORR’s performance on period instruments is virtuosic and colourful; the Monteverdi Choir contributes arresting chorus parts. Composed “from the heart”, Beethoven’s epic Mass has been described a statement of highly personal religious faith. It is rarely heard in concert due to the large forces required and the exacting demand it places on all performers.

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

“Roger Montgomery plays with exemplary nobility and assurance on the natural horn, making fiendish “stopped” notes sound as easy as sleigh bells.” The Times, 7th December 2013 *****

“Gardiner’s intensity of phrasing – speed never the enemy of expression – combines with rapid-fire choral entries and a radiant quartet of soloists to create an incandescent performance” Financial Times, 7th December 2013 ****

“Gardiner’s live 2012 recording from the Barbican is faster and even more radical than his 1990 studio recording, with punchier choral articulation. But it, too, captures the desperate urgency and almost unbearable emotional intensity of this supreme work” Sunday Times, 15th December 2013

“the briskness never undermines the work's moments of transcendent beauty or near-operatic theatricality – the Dona Nobis Pacem has a cataclysmic climax” The Guardian, 2nd January 2014 ****

“I think that the 2012 reading transcends even the 1989 recording. For a start the orchestral playing is excellent...The contribution of the Monteverdi Choir is simply magnificent...The members of the solo quartet are individually excellent and also make a fine team...a powerful and superbly executed account of Beethoven’s choral masterpiece.” MusicWeb International, 22nd January 2014

“Such is the visceral intensity of the music-making, a certain girding of the loins may be required before a second hearing, but isn't that precisely how it should be with a work of this power and magnitude?” Gramophone Magazine, February 2014

“the whole performance is in almost all respects a triumph. The choir and orchestra are superbly drilled, and apart from occasional sharpness in some of the soloists' parts they too are first-rate.” International Record Review, March 2014

“it's not difficult to understand why Gardiner wanted this particular performance perpetuated: fine as the Archiv version is, the new one has an electricity of a kind that's hard to generate under studio conditions.” BBC Music Magazine, April 2014 *****

GGramophone Awards 2014

Finalist - Choral

GGramophone Magazine

Editor's Choice - February 2014

SDG - SDG718

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CPE Bach: Württemberg Sonatas

CPE Bach: Württemberg Sonatas


Bach, C P E:

Keyboard Sonata in A minor, Wq. 49/1 (H30) 'Württemberg Sonata No. 1'

Keyboard Sonata in A flat major, Wq. 49/2 (H31) 'Württemberg Sonata No. 2'

Keyboard Sonata in E minor, Wq. 49/3 (H33) 'Württemberg Sonata No. 3'

Keyboard Sonata in B flat major, Wq. 49/4 (H32) 'Württemberg Sonata No. 4'

Keyboard Sonata in E flat major, Wq. 49/5 (H34) 'Württemberg Sonata No. 5'

Keyboard Sonata in B minor, Wq. 49/6 (H36) 'Württemberg Sonata No. 6'


Mahan Esfahani (harpsichord)

‘This Iranian-American has carved out a niche as his instrument’s leading champion … his success is founded on remarkable artistry’ (International Piano)

‘Such virtuosity and disarming presentation suggests that Esfahani could inspire a whole new appreciation of the instrument’ (The Guardian)

Hyperion is delighted to present the debut recording of the wonderful young harpsichordist Mahan Esfahani. He was the first harpsichordist to be named a BBC New Generation Artist or to be awarded a fellowship prize by the Borletti-Buitoni Trust.

Here Mahan Esfahani has recorded CPE Bach’s six ‘Württemberg’ sonatas, which were written in 1742–3 and published in 1744, and his thrillingly intense performances make the best possible case for this dramatic, beautifully written, endlessly imaginative but for some reason under-performed music. The sonatas range stylistically from initial stirrings of Sturm und Drang in keyboard music to sublime imitations of the human voice, with nods to the High Baroque and the idiom of CPE Bach’s more famous father. Mahan writes in his booklet notes that ‘Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach makes the most combative statement possible to assert his new musical language’.

“The sound of his instrument...enjoys a wide-ranging spectrum of timbres in Esfahani’s dexterous hands, but it is the verve of his allegros and the affecting pathos of his slow movements that mark him out as a special interpreter of this fascinating composer’s music in his tercentenary year.” Sunday Times, 12th January 2014

“Esfahani's at his most expressive in the slow movements...This, his first solo disc, provides a particularly welcome introduction onto the world stage for an artist matching, in expression CPE Bach himself.” BBC Music Magazine, February 2014 *****

“Esfahani's performances wonderfully convey the sense of the younger Bach flexing his muscles in the new musical language that he was involved in creating.... there's an almost fortepiano-like solidity to the sound, with crisp definition in both the high and low registers that matches its expressive ambitions perfectly.” The Guardian, 23rd January 2014 ****

“Esfahani makes coherence out of apparent incoherence...As for his playing, in the best sense it is anything but unpredictable: sure-minded and vividly realized, it holds the attention with ease and is a pleasure to hear. This is an excellent recording and it can be thoroughly recommended.” International Record Review, February 2014

“Esfahani’s booklet-note provides the listener with a convivial commentary in which he draws attention to CPE Bach’s ‘Janus-like musical personality’...The elusive fusion of thematic intricacy, ‘Baroque’ rhetoric and ‘proto-Classical’ Sturm und Drang offered by the instrument are caught perfectly by Esfahani’s supple touch and disarming sense of rhetorical pacing.” Gramophone Magazine, February 2014

Presto Discs of 2014

Finalist

GGramophone Awards 2014

Winner - Baroque Instrumental

GGramophone Magazine

Editor's Choice - February 2014

BBC Music Magazine

Disc of the month - February 2014

BBC Music Magazine Awards 2015

Newcomer Award

Hyperion & Helios - up to 50% off

Hyperion - CDA67995

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Che puro ciel

Che puro ciel

The Rise of Classical Opera


Bach, J C:

No, che non ha la sorte...Vo solcando un mar crudele (from Artaserse)

Gluck:

Se il fulmine sospendi (from Ezio)

Pensa a serbarmi, o cara (from Ezio)

Che puro ciel (Orfeo ed Euridice)

Vieni a' regni del riposo (from Orfeo ed Euridice)

Hasse, J A:

Dei di Roma, ah perdonate! (from Il Trionfo di Clelia)

Mozart:

Già dagli occhi il velo è tolto (from Mitridate, rè di Ponto)

Ah di si nobil alma (from Ascanio in Alba)

Perché tacer degg'io?...Cara, lontano ancora (from Ascanio in Alba)

Traetta:

Ah, se lo vedi piangere (from Antigona)

Dormi Oreste! (from Ifigenia in Tauride)

Ah, sì, da te dipende (from Antigona)


In the famous Preface to Alceste (1767), Christoph Willibald Gluck and his librettist Ranieri de' Calzabigi posited a new direction for opera. They spoke of moving beyond Baroque forms, of striving for a new naturalism in opera. They wanted, in Calzabigi's lovely phrase, to liberate the language of the heart. Taken from the height of this Reform period, the arias on this disc reveal composers exploring and experimenting, at struggle and at play, as they create the new forms that bring to opera the noble simplicity of the Classical era.

“Mehta shows how [coloratura passages] can have real expressive point and dramatic purpose, while his purity of line in quiet passages is ravishing...René Jacobs's meticulous accompaniments with the Akademie für Alte Musik add the finishing touches.” The Guardian, 14th November 2013 ****

“a well-chosen showcase, Mehta’s dramatic instincts are effectively deployed, and the accompaniments in the recitatives are handled with all the fluency we’ve come to expect from Jacobs complete Mozart opera recordings” CD Review, 16th November 2013

“if you have an ear for the tragic passions beneath the music’s formal contours, you will succumb to its expressive grace, especially with interpreters as persuasive as Mehta and the Akademie für Alte Musik Berlin under René Jacobs.” Financial Times, 21st December 2013 ****

“Jacobs and Bejun Mehta unleash the primal energies buried in magnificent yet largely forgotten operas...Jacobs's abrupt tempo twists, the instrumentalists' boldness and the chorus's power make such ensemble sections as electrifying as Mehta's solos. This is a daring and important retelling of the story of Classical opera.” BBC Music Magazine, February 2014 *****

“Always acutely alive to text and dramatic situation...Mehta's dramatic involvement elevates some rather routine invention in the items by the teenage Mozart...The most enjoyable, intelligently planned countertenor recital to have come my way in years.” Gramophone Magazine, February 2014

“Mehta tackles the tumultuous emotions and bravura technicalities of the great accompanied recitatives and arias that these innovative composers provided for the finest singers of the age. He provides solid style and a strong sense of purpose.” Opera Now ***

GGramophone Awards 2014

Finalist - Recital

GGramophone Magazine

Editor's Choice - February 2014

BBC Music Magazine

Opera Choice - February 2014

Harmonia Mundi - HMC902172

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Beethoven: Piano Sonatas Volume 2

Beethoven: Piano Sonatas Volume 2


Beethoven:

Piano Sonata No. 11 in B flat major, Op. 22

Piano Sonata No. 12 in A flat major, Op. 26 'March Funebre'

Piano Sonata No. 13 in E flat major, Op. 27 No. 1 'Quasi una fantasia'

Piano Sonata No. 14 in C sharp minor, Op. 27 No. 2 ‘Moonlight'

Piano Sonata No. 15 in D major, Op. 28 'Pastorale'

Piano Sonata No. 16 in G major, Op. 31 No. 1

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

Piano Sonata No. 18 in E flat major, Op. 31 No. 3 'The Hunt'

Piano Sonata No. 19 in G minor, Op. 49 No. 1

Piano Sonata No. 20 in G major, Op. 49 No. 2

Piano Sonata No. 21 in C major, Op. 53 'Waldstein'

Andante Favori in F, WoO 57


Jean-Efflam Bavouzet returns for the second volume of his survey of Beethoven’s Piano Sonatas. The project, set to conclude with Vol. 3 in 2014, runs alongside his complete recording of Haydn’s Piano Sonatas. Vol. 1 of the Beethoven series was critically acclaimed, BBC Music calling the performances ‘distinguished and virtuosic’ and Fanfare remarking that ‘his readings will withstand the test of time’. In this release Bavouzet performs the sonatas published between 1800 and 1804.

This period marked a transitional stage in Beethoven’s work and the arrival of his middle period. Included are the two Op. 27 sonatas, both modified ‘quasi una fantasia’ that break away from traditional forms. One of these, the ‘Moonlight’ Sonata, features one of his best-known movements, the opening Adagio sostenuto, which unfolds like a baroque prelude with its famous rolling triplets and lamenting melody. The ‘Waldstein’ Sonata, Op. 53 is one of the glories of Beethoven’s middle period and surpasses all his previous sonatas in scope and scale. Also recorded here is the Andante in F, a piece originally intended as the slow movement to the ‘Waldstein’. Although later replaced by a shorter Adagio molto this is a charming piece in its own right and quickly became one of Beethoven’s most popular works after being published alone as the Andante favori.

“The nervous, abrupt chords in the first movement of Op 31, No 1 jump out and bite us. He’s equally impressive capturing the music’s playful mischief and sudden poetic revelations. So much here is brilliantly achieved and so sharply polished that the few moments of dullness take us by surprise.” The Times, 10th January 2014 ****

“Bavouzet proves he has the elegance for the early sonatas and the pianistic command for Beethoven’s larger forms...The “Moonlight” radiates mystery and momentum, the “Tempest” has fabulous intensity (and a graceful touch), while the “Waldstein” is treated to a performance of unmitigated rapture.” Financial Times, 11th January 2014 ****

“At its best, his playing is engaging and fresh; there's never a hint of staleness about even the most familiar music...While some might feel increasingly short-changed by these performances, others who admire the polish and assurance of Bavouzet's playing as well as the surface slickness that goes with it, may well enjoy every one of these performances.” The Guardian, 16th January 2014 ****

“he plays a rich-sounding modern instrument, and Chandos supplies its usual feather-bed acoustic. Yet whenever there's a chance to be abrasive, Bavouzet seizes it, and he relishes the opportunities Beethoven gives him to sound wispy and 'French'.” BBC Music Magazine, February 2014 ****

“Those following his Beethoven cycle will not be disappointed by what is on offer here and the final volume can be only keenly awaited.” International Record Review, February 2014

“This second volume is lucid yet intense in the poised Opus 31 sonatas and vital in the 'Waldstein.'” Gramophone Magazine, March 2014

GGramophone Magazine

Editor's Choice - February 2014

Chandos - up to 40% off

Chandos Bavouzet Beethoven Piano Sonatas - CHAN10798(3)

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Heggie: Moby-Dick

Heggie: Moby-Dick

From the War Memorial Opera House


Jay Hunter Morris (Captain Ahab), Stephen Costello (Greenhorn), Jonathan Lemalu (Queequeg), Morgan Smith (Starbuck), Talise Trevigne (Pip), Matthew O'Neill (Flask) and Robert Orth (Stubb)

San Francisco Opera, Patrick Summers

Along with Lucrezia Borgia this is the first EuroArts release in cooperation with the San Francisco Opera,internationally recognized as one of the top opera companies in the world

"Achingly beautiful, magnificently sung and gorgeously staged ... the audience responded with an eight-minutestanding ovation" (Associated Press).

Composer Jake Heggie, in his "finest creation since Dead Man Walking," and librettist Gene Scheer adapt HermanMelville's meditation on man and the sea into "a vibrant, compelling piece of musical theater" (San FranciscoChronicle).

Captain Ahab is played by the Grammy-winning tenor Jay Hunter Morris and principal guest conductor PatrickSummers conducts a cast of brilliant singing actors.

Bonus material (51 mins) includes artist interviews and production timelapse.

Picture format DVD: NTSC 16:9

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

Region code: 0 (worldwide)

Subtitles: English, German, French, Japanese, Korean

Booklet notes: English, German, French

Running time: 142 + 51mins German FSK: 0

“[Hunter Morris] seizes all the dramatic opportunities as Captain Ahab...Lemalu brings musical depth to Queequeg, and Stephen Costello's Greenhorn and Morgan Smith's Starbuck are strong. Beautifully filmed in an atmospheric set enlivened by high-tech nautical projections, this performances makes it easy to see what all the excitement has been about.” BBC Music Magazine, February 2014 ****

“in this DVD, Moby Dick emerges as an opera that has everything, and takes its place alongside the esteemed oceanic operas Billy Budd and L'amour de loin. Thanks to computer imagery, the seascapes are indeed possible...Overall, the score's thematic development is the work of a master composer.” Gramophone Magazine, February 2014

“[Hunter Morris's] portrait of the demented and ultimately doomed Captain is full of subtlety and depth...Another powerful focal point is the Queequeg of bass Jonathan Lemalu, again not just powerfully sung but vividly characterized...Stephen Costello makes something surprisingly touching, vocally and dramatically, out of the smaller part of the novice Greenhorn.” International Record Review, March 2014

“Heggie seizes all the opportunities that are afforded him...[Hunter Morris's] voice rings out loud and clear with thrilling top notes. Stephen Costello as the contrasting tenor Greenhorn, more lyrical in tone, phrases his music with great skill and much beauty in his floated high notes...[Morgan Smith] produces a wealth of Verdian tone” MusicWeb International, 9th January 2014

“if you eschew contemporary opera as overly dissonant, the tonalities of this work will assuage your fears...Foglia’s production for San Francisco is visually stunning and the use of projections means that it works well on screen...Hunter Morris is an Ahab who resists overplaying the part, his idiosyncratic Heldentenor cutting through the music.” Opera Now ****

GGramophone Magazine

DVD of the Month - February 2014

DVD Video

Region: 0

Format: NTSC

EuroArts San Francisco Opera - 2059658

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$20.50

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Heggie: Moby-Dick

Heggie: Moby-Dick

From the War Memorial Opera House


Jay Hunter Morris (Captain Ahab), Stephen Costello (Greenhorn), Jonathan Lemalu (Queequeg), Morgan Smith (Starbuck), Talise Trevigne (Pip), Matthew O'Neill (Flask) and Robert Orth (Stubb)

San Francisco Opera, Patrick Summers

Along with Lucrezia Borgia this is the first EuroArts release in cooperation with the San Francisco Opera,internationally recognized as one of the top opera companies in the world

"Achingly beautiful, magnificently sung and gorgeously staged ... the audience responded with an eight-minutestanding ovation" (Associated Press).

Composer Jake Heggie, in his "finest creation since Dead Man Walking," and librettist Gene Scheer adapt HermanMelville's meditation on man and the sea into "a vibrant, compelling piece of musical theater" (San FranciscoChronicle).

Captain Ahab is played by the Grammy-winning tenor Jay Hunter Morris and principal guest conductor PatrickSummers conducts a cast of brilliant singing actors.

Bonus material (51 mins) includes artist interviews and production timelapse.

Picture format BLU-RAY DISC: 1080i Full HD 16:9 Sound format BLU-RAY DISC: PCM Stereo, DTS DH Master Audio Region code: All (worldwide)

Subtitles: English, German, French

Booklet notes: English, German, French

Running time: 142 + 51mins German FSK: 0

“[Hunter Morris] seizes all the dramatic opportunities as Captain Ahab...Lemalu brings musical depth to Queequeg, and Stephen Costello's Greenhorn and Morgan Smith's Starbuck are strong. Beautifully filmed in an atmospheric set enlivened by high-tech nautical projections, this performances makes it easy to see what all the excitement has been about.” BBC Music Magazine, February 2014 ****

“in this DVD, Moby Dick emerges as an opera that has everything, and takes its place alongside the esteemed oceanic operas Billy Budd and L'amour de loin. Thanks to computer imagery, the seascapes are indeed possible...Overall, the score's thematic development is the work of a master composer.” Gramophone Magazine, February 2014

“[Hunter Morris's] portrait of the demented and ultimately doomed Captain is full of subtlety and depth...Another powerful focal point is the Queequeg of bass Jonathan Lemalu, again not just powerfully sung but vividly characterized...Stephen Costello makes something surprisingly touching, vocally and dramatically, out of the smaller part of the novice Greenhorn.” International Record Review, March 2014

“Heggie seizes all the opportunities that are afforded him...[Hunter Morris's] voice rings out loud and clear with thrilling top notes. Stephen Costello as the contrasting tenor Greenhorn, more lyrical in tone, phrases his music with great skill and much beauty in his floated high notes...[Morgan Smith] produces a wealth of Verdian tone” MusicWeb International, 9th January 2014

“if you eschew contemporary opera as overly dissonant, the tonalities of this work will assuage your fears...Foglia’s production for San Francisco is visually stunning and the use of projections means that it works well on screen...Hunter Morris is an Ahab who resists overplaying the part, his idiosyncratic Heldentenor cutting through the music.” Opera Now ****

GGramophone Magazine

DVD/Blu-ray of the Month - February 2014

Blu-ray Disc

Region: all

EuroArts San Francisco Opera - 2059654

(Blu-ray)

$35.75

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Corelli: The Complete Concerti Grossi

Corelli: The Complete Concerti Grossi


Corelli:

Concerti grossi, Op. 6 (12, complete)

Sinfonia, WoO 1, to the oratorio Santa Beatrice d'Este

Sonata a quattro in G minor, WoO 2


There is nothing surprising in the fact that Amandine Beyer and her ensemble Gli Incogniti should tackle Arcangelo Corelli's Concerti Grossi, Op. 6. Indeed, the 12 concerti making up this opus represent a form of apogee of this musical genre in the Baroque era and, at the same time, testimony to the great Italian composer's exceptional talent as a violinist and conductor.

Amandine Beyer recorded these concerti in concert, at the Arsenal in Metz, France, once again demonstrating her dual talent as violinist and 'band leader', who already dazzled listeners with her recording of Vivaldi's Four Seasons and which is indispensable in performing such a cycle.

Let us wager that this recording, alternating between jubilation and meditation, and honouring the 300th anniversary of Arcangelo Corelli's death, will mark a milestone in the interpretation of these magnificent works.

“These are elements of real character which keep everything alive and filled with novelty, without becoming wearingly mannered. All in all this is the kind of release which can solve all your Corelli Op. 6 problems in one go, and I for one don’t feel the need to seek much further to have the best from this music.” MusicWeb International, 5th January 2014

“Entirely devoid of contrived preciousness or formulaic complacency, this is simply magnificent.” Gramophone Magazine, February 2014

GGramophone Awards 2014

Finalist - Baroque Instrumental

GGramophone Magazine

Editor's Choice - February 2014

A Musical Picture - up to 40% off

Zigzag - ZZT327

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Wolfgang Holzmair & Imogen Cooper: Songs by Schumann & Reimann

Wolfgang Holzmair & Imogen Cooper: Songs by Schumann & Reimann

Recorded live at Wigmore Hall, London, on 14 December 2010


Reimann, A:

Nachtstück

Schumann:

Mein Wagen rollet langsam, Op. 142 No. 4

Es leuchtet meine Liebe, Op. 127 No. 3

Der arme Peter, Op. 53 No. 3

Abends am Strand, Op. 45 No. 3

Die beiden Grenadiere, Op. 49 No. 1

In der Fremde (No. 1 from Liederkreis, Op. 39)

Die Stille (No. 4 from Liederkreis, Op. 39)

Mondnacht (No. 5 from Liederkreis, Op. 39)

Wehmut (No. 9 from Liederkreis, Op. 39)

Zwielicht (No. 10 from Liederkreis, Op. 39)

Schöne Fremde (No. 6 from Liederkreis, Op. 39)

Gedichte (12) von Justinus Kerner Op. 35

Trost im Gesang, Op. 142 No. 1

encore

Sängers Trost Op. 127 No. 1 (Justinus Kerner)

encore


Wolfgang Holzmair (baritone) & Imogen Cooper (piano)

Since making his Wigmore Hall debut and launching his career in 1989, baritone Wolfgang Holzmair has enjoyed an international reputation as one of the finest recitalists of his generation. His outstanding artistic relationship with Imogen Cooper has led to many critically acclaimed performances; their bewitching story-telling and searching interpretations are world-renowned.

To mark Holzmair’s retirement from the recital platform, this Wigmore Hall Live disc features a delightful selection of Schumann Lieder, including some highlights from Liederkreis Op. 39, some lesser-known settings of Heine and Kerner Lieder and the final cycle of his fruitful Liederjahr. The disc frames the cycle 'Nachtstück' by composer Aribert Reimann, which sets four poems by the celebrated poet Eichendorff. This insightful and passionate performance promises to be a touching memento as we bid a sad farewell to Holzmair from the recital platform.

“Holzmair's way with Schumann has always been special: his light, soft-grained baritone senses out the half-tones, the shadows, the emotional fragility of the composer's Lieder...Cooper responds perceptively to the piano's anticipation and empathising with Holzmair's lyricism.” BBC Music Magazine, February 2014 ****

“Holzmair could, with such seemingly effortless control of breath and lyrical line, float Eichendorff's text of tenderness and tranquillity. Imogen Cooper provides a judiciously proportioned accompaniment, supportive, sensitive and supply responsive...a recital that brings together two artist who are in complete harmony with the repertoire and with another.” Gramophone Magazine, February 2014

GGramophone Awards 2014

Shortlisted - Solo Vocal

GGramophone Magazine

Editor's Choice - February 2014

Wigmore Hall Live - WHLIVE0063

(CD)

$10.50

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Handel: Orlando

Handel: Orlando


Owen Willetts (Orlando), Karina Gauvin (Angelica), Allyson McHardy (Medoro), Amanda Forsythe (Dorinda), Nathan Berg (Zoroastro)

Pacific Baroque Orchestra, Alexander Weimann

The complete version of Orlando, considered to be one of Handel’s most successful operas, is presented for the first time on a Canadian label.

Singing the title role is the English countertenor Owen Willetts, a rising figure on the international scene. He is joined by the American soprano Amanda Forsythe, and several of the finest Canadian singers: Karina Gauvin, Allyson McHardy, and Nathan Berg.

The Pacific Baroque Orchestra (PBO) is the only professional period-instrument orchestra west of Toronto. Under the direction of renowned conductor and harpsichordist Alexander Weimann, the PBO is recognized as one of Canada’s most exciting and innovative ensembles performing “early music for modern ears.”

This recording was produced following Orlando’s performances at the 2012 Vancouver Early Music Festival.

“Weimann's pacing of the action, choice of tempi and shaping of orchestral ritornellos are freshly marvellous...Berg's articulation of his coloratura and calmly authoritative characterisation are spot-on...Rare misfires are only minor quibbles about one of the most consistently charming Handel opera recordings I've reviewed in ages.” Gramophone Magazine, February 2014

“[Gauvin's] Angelica offers possibly her finest recorded singing to date...flexibility, style, unaffected dignity...[Weimann] gives a highly intelligent, responsive reading and connects strongly with each vocal soloist...this release is certainly competitive where the superb ladies in the cast are concerned.” International Record Review, February 2014

“The Pacific Baroque Orchestra...plays with irresistible energy and the singers are alert and eloquent.” New York Times, 29th January 2014

“Nathan Berg brings impressive gravitas to Zoroastro and Amanda Forsythe is an appealingly bright-toned Dorinda” Early Music Today

GGramophone Magazine

Editor's Choice - February 2014

Atma - ACD22678

(CD - 3 discs)

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Ligeti: Violin Concerto, Lontano, Atmosphères & San Francisco Polyphony

Ligeti: Violin Concerto, Lontano, Atmosphères & San Francisco Polyphony


Ligeti:

Violin Concerto

Benjamin Schmid (violin)

Lontano

Atmosphères

San Francisco Polyphony


Ligeti’s works on this disc provide an excellent cross-section of the metamorphosis in his compositional technique over a period of 30 years.

The Violin Concerto incorporates influences from Medieval and Renaissance music, from late Romantic music and various contemporary styles.

“As [Lintu] prises open Ligeti's mulched-up woodwind micropolyphony...time feels curiously suspended, the high-speed urgency of the music hurtling forwards slowly and unobtrusively...Ligeti's music...is too often reduced these days to the status of modernist lollipops. But Lintu finds something fresh by reconnecting with its radical core.” Gramophone Magazine, February 2014

GGramophone Magazine

Editor's Choice - February 2014

Ondine - ODE12132

(CD)

$15.25

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Verdi at the MET

Verdi at the MET

Legendary Performances from The Metropolitan Opera


Verdi:

La Traviata

1935

Rosa Ponselle (Violetta), Frederick Jagel (Alfredo), Lawrence Tibbett (Germont), Elda Vettori (Flora), Henriette Wakefield (Annina), Angelo Bada (Gastone), Paolo Ananian (Dottore Grenvil), Alfredo Gandolfi (Barone Douphol), Millo Picco (Marchese d'Obigny)

Ettore Panizza

Otello

1940

Giovanni Martinelli (Otello), Elisabeth Rethberg (Desdemona), Lawrence Tibbett (Iago), Alessio De Paolis (Cassio), Giordano Paltrinieri (Rodrigo), Nicola Moscona (Lodovico), George Cehanovsky (Montano), Thelma Votipka (Emilia), Wilfred Engelman (Un Araldo)

Ettore Panizza

Un ballo in maschera

1940

Jussi Björling (Riccardo), Alexander Svéd (Renato), Zinka Milanov (Amelia), Bruna Castagna (Ulrica), Stella Andreva (Oscar), Arthur Kent (Silvano), Norman Cordon (Samuele), Nicola Moscona (Tom), John Carter (Un Giudice), Lodovico Oliviero (Un servo)

Ettore Panizza

Rigoletto

1945

Leonard Warren (Rigoletto), Bidù Sayão (Gilda), Jussi Björling (Il Duca), Norman Cordon (Sparafucile), Martha Lipton (Maddalena), Thelma Votipka (Giovanna), William Hargrave (Monterone), George Cehanovsky (Marullo), Richard Manning (Borsa), John Baker (Conte di Ceprano), Maxine Stellman (Contessa di Ceprano), Thelma Altman (Un paggio)

Cesare Sodero

Falstaff

1949

Leonard Warren (Falstaff), Regina Resnik (Alice Ford), Cloe Elmo (Mistress Quickly), Giuseppe di Stefano (Fenton), Licia Albanese (Nannetta), Giuseppe Valdengo (Ford), Leslie Chabay (Dr. Cajus), Martha Lipton (Meg Page), Lorenzo Alvary (Pistola), Alessio De Paolis (Bardolfo)

Fritz Reiner

Simon Boccanegra

1950

Leonard Warren (Simon Boccanegra), Mihály Székely (Fiesco), Astrid Varnay (Amelia), Richard Tucker (Adorno), Giuseppe Valdengo (Paolo), Lorenzo Alvary (Pietro), Maxine Stellman (Un'ancella), Paul Franke (Un capitano dei balestrieri)

Fritz Stiedry

La forza del destino

1952

Luben Vichey (Il Marchese di Calatrava), Zinka Milanov (Leonora di Vargas), Leonard Warren (Don Carlo), Richard Tucker (Don Alvaro), Mildred Miller (Preziosilla), Gerhard Pechner (Fra Melitone), Laura Castellano (Curra), Jerome Hines (Padre Guardiano), Algerd Brazis (Un Chirurgo)

Fritz Stiedry

Macbeth

1959

Leonard Warren (Macbeth), Leonie Rysanek (Lady Macbeth), Jerome Hines (Banco), Carlo Bergonzi (Macduff), William Olvis (Malcolm), Carlotta Ordassy (Dama), Gerhard Pechner (Medico)

Erich Leinsdorf

Nabucco

1960

Cornell MacNeil (Nabucco), Eugenio Fernandi (Ismaele), Cesare Siepi (Zaccaria), Leonie Rysanek (Abigaille), Rosalind Elias (Fenena), Bonaldo Giaiotti (Gran Sacerdote), Paul Franke (Abdallo), Carlotta Ordassy (Anna)

Thomas Schippers

Aida

1967

Leontyne Price (Aida), Carlo Bergonzi (Radamès), Grace Bumbry (Amneris), Robert Merrill (Amonasro), Jerome Hines (Ramphis), Luigi Sgarro (Il Re di Egitto), Lilian Sukis (Una Sacerdotessa), Robert Nagy (Un Messaggero)

Thomas Schippers


Ten recordings of legendary performances capture the drama of Verdi’s great operas as they were performed live at The Metropolitan Opera in New York. The series covers four decades, starting with La Traviata in 1935, and features some of the best-loved voices and conductors of the twentieth century. The famous pairing of tenor Richard Tucker and baritone Leonard Warren can be heard in versions of Simon Boccanegra (1950) and La Forza del Destino (1952). In the concluding recording, dating from 1967, Carlo Bergonzi, Grace Bumbry and Robert Merrill sing leading roles in Aida. These historic broadcasts, restored to make them available on CD, bring great interpretations of Verdi’s masterpieces back to life.

GGramophone Magazine

Re-issue of the Month - February 2014

Sony - 88883721202

(CD - 20 discs)

$72.50

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