Gramophone Magazine Editor's Choice

April 2014

Disc of the Month

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Tchaikovsky: Piano Concertos Nos. 1 & 2

Awards:

Gramophone Magazine

Disc of the Month - April 2014

Label:

Mariinsky

Catalogue No:

MAR0548

Discs:

1

Release date:

10th Feb 2014

Barcode:

0822231854821

Length:

78 minutes

Medium:

SACD (download also available)

Format:

Hybrid Multi-channel
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Tchaikovsky: Piano Concertos Nos. 1 & 2


Tchaikovsky:

Piano Concerto No. 1 in B flat minor, Op. 23

Piano Concerto No. 2 in G major, Op. 44


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Since winning the 11th International Tchaikovsky Competition in 1998, Denis Matsuev has established a reputation as one of Russia's leading pianists. His début release on the Mariinsky label featuring Rachmaninov’s Piano Concerto No 3 and Paganini Variations, received widespread acclaim. His second Mariinsky release featured piano concerts by Shostakovich and Shchedrin, which was awarded Clef du Mois by ResMusica and ***** by Audiophile Audition. For his third release, Matsuev turns to the music of Tchaikovsky, with the two Piano Concertos. His first Piano Concerto is one of his most popular works: Tchaikovsky balances core motivic elements with a sense of lyrical spontaneity to create a technically challenging but instantly appealing work.

The Piano Concerto No.2 was dedicated to pianist Nikolai Rubinstein, with whom the composer had a close working relationship. Tchaikovsky wrote, “I want to dedicate it to N. G. Rubinstein in recognition of his magnificent playing of my First Concerto and of my Sonata, which left me in utter rapture after he performed it for me in Moscow.” After a tremendous piano cadenza in the first movement, Tchaikovsky allows other instruments to shine, with prominent solos for violin and cello in the second movement.

Other Tchaikovsky recordings on the Mariinsky label include a DVD/Bluray release of his last three symphonies, and 2011 Tchaikovsky Competition winner Daniil Trifonov’s interpretation of the first Piano Concerto on SACD.

In March and April Denis Matsuev joins the London Symphony Orchestra and Valery Gergiev for a European tour, with concerts in London, Paris and Turin.

Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky: Piano Concerto No. 1 in B-Flat Minor, Op. 23

I. Allegro non troppo e molto maestoso – Allegro con spirito

II. Andantino semplice – Prestissimo

III. Allegro con fuoco

Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky: Piano Concerto No. 2 in G Major, Op. 44

I. Allegro brillante e molto vivace

II. Andante non troppo

III. Allegro con fuoco

MusicWeb International

7th March 2014

“The performances are never less than technically assured and anyone coming to them with experience of other recordings will certainly find that Messrs. Matsuev and Gergiev offer an invariably interesting and often quite striking alternative approach.”

Gramophone Magazine

April 2014

“I doubt if you will ever hear [the B flat minor Concerto] more viscerally thrilling and sumptuously engineered than here. Listening to Matsuev and Gergiev is the aural equivalent of watching Federer and Nadal...If this isn't the greatest performance on disc, it is certainly now my personal benchmark...Matsuev and Gergiev give a similarly blistering account of the G major Concerto.”

Diapason

“An energetic reading, robust, demonstrative, flashy…Let us bow before the purely technical qualties of Matsuev, who swallows the deadliest features with speed and sometimes staggering accuracy.”

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Terezín: Refuge in Music

Terezín: Refuge in Music

Concert Live Recording from the Bayerische Akademie der Schönen Künste. [20 March 2012]


Anne Sofie von Otter (mezzo-soprano), Daniel Hope (violin), Bengt Forsberg (piano) & Bebe Risenfors (accordion, double bass, guitar)

75 years after the Reichspogromnacht (9 November 1938) Deutsche Grammophon is paying tribute to the musicians of the concentration camp “Terezin” (near Prague) with a follow-up to the immensely powerful Terezin CD which was released in 2007.

This DVD is now taking the story further with a 1h documentary film about the concentration camp, including interviews with Daniel Hope, Anne Sofie von Otter, and the Terezin survivors, as well as a full concert recording.

Documentary film by Dorothee Binding & Benedict Mirow

c. 60min incl. parts of the concert and further music material

Daniel Hope with Jazz guitarist Coco Schumann (a survivor of the Theresienstadt concentration camp) & in Terezin (see also: http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coco_Schumann)

Interview Daniel Hope with Pianist Alice Herz-Sommer, a survivor of the Theresienstadt concentration camp

Christian Gerhaher with Bebe Risenfors in Terezin

filmed parts with Anne Sofie von Otter

filmed parts with Daniel Hope

Subtitles: English and French

“As on the CD, the performances are unfailingly intense and committed, but an added dimension here is the personal contribution from all the artists who provide poignant verbal introductions to the music they perform.” BBC Music Magazine, February 2014 *****

“The film isn't a monumental guilt-trip; ultimately, it's about having a life beyond one of history's greatest tragedies...In the Munich concert, everyone is at their best...But the cost of performing this music is much more evident (everyone is on the verge of tears at various points) than on the 2008 CD.” Gramophone Magazine, April 2014

GGramophone Magazine

DVD of the Month - April 2014

BBC Music Magazine

DVD Choice - February 2014

DVD Video

Region: 0

Format: NTSC

DG - 0735077

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Jacobean Lute Music

Jacobean Lute Music


anon.:

A Scottish Dance

Draw Near to Me and Love Me

Hence to me Molly Gray

A Scottish Tune

Scottish Hunts Up

Prelude

John Come Kiss Me Now

Batchelar:

Mounsiers Almaine

Prelude

La jeune fillette

Courante

Pavin

Dowland:

A Fancy

The Battle Galliard

Mr John Langton's Pavan

Gaultier, J:

Courante

Cloches

Courante

Hely, C:

Fantasia

Saraband

Johnson, R:

Pavin

Fantasia

Robinson, T:

Merry Melancholy

A Galliard

Walking in a Country Towne

A Gigue

Spanish Pavan

A Gigue

A Toy

Row Well, you Mariners


From the reign of Henry VIII and onwards, the lute and its practitioners enjoyed the patronage of the very highest English society. Henry played the lute himself, as did his daughter Elizabeth I, who during one period employed as many as five lutenists at her court. In 1603, when she was succeeded on the throne by James I, the tradition was maintained: with his appointment of John Dowland the king increased the number of royal lutenists, while his queen, Anne of Denmark, played the lute herself. This royal enthusiasm for the lute influenced the aristocracy, and an English style of lute music was established. A large corpus of solo music has been preserved, mostly in manuscript sources, from which Jakob Lindberg has made a personal selection. This includes obvious candidates – such as John Dowland and Robert Johnson – but also pieces by the enigmatic Cuthbert Hely, whose work only survives in one single lute book, and by a certain ‘Gauthier' – possibly Jacques Gaultier, who had fled to England after killing an adversary in a duel. The inclusion of this French lutenist also serves to highlight the abundance of French lute music in Jacobean sources, especially, as heard here, in the form of courantes. Another favourite genre in many lute books are settings, often anonymous, of Scottish folk music, and this is also reflected in Lindberg's selection. One of the foremost exponents of the lute and this repertoire, Jakob Lindberg performs the programme on what is possibly the world's oldest lute in playing condition, built in c. 1590 – and thus almost exactly contemporary with the music on this disc.

“the lute music from this period represents some of the best ever written for the instrument...Under Lindberg's fingers, and on his beloved Sixtus Rauwolf lute (c1590), even the relatively straightforward anonymous Scottish pieces included here are imbued with the same affecting lyricism he lavishes on the [named] works.” Gramophone Magazine, April 2014

“The sound of Jakob Lindberg's lute, made by Sixtus Rauwolf in the last decade of the 16th century, is unusually warm...It a meticulously voiced recital that moves between court, theatre and tavern...Lindberg conjures an age that was as perilous as it was rich in musical invention.” BBC Music Magazine, April 2014 *****

Presto Discs of 2014

Finalist

GGramophone Magazine

Editor's Choice - April 2014

BBC Music Magazine

Instrumental Choice - April 2014

Super Audio CD

Format:

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BIS - BIS2055

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Schubert: Winterreise D911

Schubert: Winterreise D911


Gerald Finley (baritone) & Julius Drake (piano)

The Gramophone-award winning partnership of Gerald Finley and Julius Drake turns to perhaps the most celebrated song-cycle of them all. Schubert’s Winterreise is a masterpiece of despair, astonishing in its bleakness and enthrallingly mesmerizing as the journey continues. Finley brings all his considerable dramatic powers to his performance—and all but submerges them under the ice.

Richard Wigmore writes that ‘before Winterreise Schubert had composed individual songs of pathos and despair, even of apocalyptic terror. What was new about the cycle was the spareness and angularity of much of the writing, the work’s sustained godless pessimism and its obsessive exploration of a mind veering between delusion, ironic self-awareness and nihilistic despair. The water music, limpid, turbulent or benedictory, of Schubert’s earlier Müller cycle, Die schöne Müllerin, yields in Winterreise to musical emblems of trudging and stumbling, bareness and exhaustion, derangement and frozen, trancelike stillness’.

“one of the finest [Winterreises] I have ever heard. The merits of Finley's singing are well known. The beauty of his voice is a good place to start, and even referring to such matters as intonation and line seems impertinent when dealing with singing such as this.” International Record Review, March 2014

“Finley's [reading] is inward, poised, heartbreaking in holding back. The more quietude he brings to each song...the more potent his reading. Julius Drake, accompanying, is equally lyrical, fluent, expressive. Neither lets the music shout...The disc lends itself to repeated exploration” The Observer, 16th March 2014 ****

“Finley can exercise his lyrical powers in such songs as 'Der Lindenbaum'...but it is not a lyrical talent alone: more to the point, it is the spectrum of tonal colouring, inflection and instinctive phrasing which lend this performance of Winterreise such an absorbing sense of inner communion with the soul.” Gramophone Magazine, April 2014

“Perhaps more than any other recording the singer and the pianist are in equilibrium...if often sounds as if Julius Drake has just had an idea - and they are all good ones - and Gerald Finley picks up on it; or vice versa...This, to my mind the greatest of all bleak works of art, here receives its perfect rendering.” BBC Music Magazine, May 2014 *****

Presto Discs of 2014

Finalist

GGramophone Awards 2014

Finalist - Solo Vocal

GGramophone Magazine

Editor's Choice - April 2014

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Hyperion - CDA68034

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CPE Bach: Magnificat

CPE Bach: Magnificat


Bach, C P E:

Magnificat in D, Wq. 215 (H772)

Heilig (Te Deum Laudamus), Wq. 217 (H778)

Symphony in D major, Wq. 183/1 (H663)


Elizabeth Watts (soprano), Wiebke Lehmkuhl (alto), Lothar Odinius (tenor) & Markus Eiche (bass)

RIAS Kammerchor & Akademie für Alte Musik Berlin, Hans-Christoph Rademann

On April 9, 1786, Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach conducted a charity concert in Hamburg featuring three of his finest and most representative works: the Symphony Wq 183/1, the Magnificat (written in 1749 in the hope of succeeding his father as Cantor in Leipzig) and his stupendous 'Heilig' for double choir, of which he wrote, "It will be my swan song of this kind, and will serve to ensure that I shall not soon be forgotten after my death."

Released to celebrate the 300th anniversary of the composer's birth, this recording recreating the programme of this historic concert confirms the prophetic nature of the composer's words. Hans-Christoph Rademann leads the RIAS Kammerchor, Akademie für Alte Musik Berlin and a stellar cast of soloists (including soprano Elizabeth Watts) in definitive recordings of these fascinating and innovative works.

Read Presto's complete review of this disc here.

“Hans-Christoph Rademann finds eloquence in the choral music and lets the Berlin Akademie rip with edgy tone in the symphony.” The Observer, 2nd February 2014 ***

“Chorus and orchestra launch the work in exhilarating style, as Bach emulates his father’s trumpety celebratory style, but with Vivaldian panache...This is a glorious disc.” Sunday Times, 16th February 2014

“The three works featured here represent what C P E Bach considered his finest achievements...The arias and chorales in his Magnificat echoes his father J S Bach’s Mass in B minor, as if emphasising his lineage... rendered with grace by the Akademie Für Alte Musik Berlin.” The Independent, 22nd February 2014 ****

“There are some really sumptuous sonorities in this music and the temptation in performance must sometimes be to overplay them. That is never the case here though, as the careful balance between expression and restraint seems very well judged throughout.” Chris O'Reilly, Presto Classical, 10th February 2014

“a fine reconstruction of the second half of a concert [CPE Bach] conducted in Hamburg on Palm Sunday, 1786. So vivacious is the choral singing and orchestral playing under Hans-Chrisoph Rademann that it's a shame they did not include every work from that occasion.” BBC Music Magazine, April 2014 ****

“The energetic and committed performances of the Akademie fur Alte Musik Berlin and the RIAS Kammerchor under Hans-Christoph Rademann make this music a joy to listen to ... an excellent introduction to C.P.E Bach’s work.” Early Music Today, May 2014

“Hans-Christoph Rademann gets some splendid playing from the Akademie für Alte Musik Berlin and directs the performance with flair and evident empathy for the music.” MusicWeb International, 11th April 2014

“’Vitality’ is the essential ingredient of the performances recorded here … Elizabeth Watts shapes her phrases beautifully with a sure sense of direction … thrilling stuff.” International Record Review, April 2014

“Rademann and his Berlin forces make the strongest possible case for it, with fresh, athletic choral singing, playing of crackling, fizzing energy and excellent solo work...This is the finest recording of CPE’s choral masterpiece I have heard....set to be one of the discs of the CPE anniversary year.” Gramophone Magazine, April 2014

Presto Disc of the Week

10th February 2014

Presto Discs of 2014

Winner

GGramophone Awards 2014

Winner - Baroque Vocal

GGramophone Magazine

Editor's Choice - April 2014

Harmonia Mundi - HMC902167

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Bruckner: Symphony No. 9 in D Minor

Bruckner: Symphony No. 9 in D Minor


Bernard Haitink, internationally renowned for his interpretations of Bruckner, returns at the helm of the LSO following his acclaimed recording for the label of the fourth Symphony.

Bruckner’s symphonies are often described as ‘Gothic cathedrals in sound,’ an apt description considering the composer’s devout faith and early vocation as an organist. He died before he could finish his 9th Symphony but within its three movements can be found some of his most complete music, imbued with a sense of deep solace and resolution.

Bernard Haitink’s Beethoven Symphony cycle received the title of Benchmark Beethoven Cycle from BBC Music Magazine. Haitink has also released a complete Brahms Symphony cycle and Strauss’ 'Eine Alpensinfonie' to international acclaim.

“Haitink, as ever, maintains a magisterial grasp on the architectural span of Bruckner’s final “cathedral in sound”. In his 85th year, he is the doyen of the world’s great Brucknerians. His latest interpretation of the Ninth is not to be missed.” Sunday Times, 19th January 2014

“[Haitink] holds all in control...The LSO plays with a transparency and poise that cuts through even the most climactic, brass-laden fortissimos. Committed Bruckner lovers will want this in their collection. More tentative fans will be rewarded by the clarity and tautness of this live recording.” The Observer, 23rd February 2014 ****

“this performance from last year with the London Symphony Orchestra on stupendous form seems to mark a pitch of understanding and communication which it wouldn't be possible to surpass. There are several performances of this work that I take as doing it justice, and this ranks among them.” BBC Music Magazine, April 2014

“Where other interpreters soften Bruckner's vision, Haitink is uncompromisingly architectural, no texture self-consicouly beautified, no transition rendered falsely emotive, little reassurance offered except in passing...the LSO play quite superbly for Haitink...You won't quickly forget those stern, unyielding climaxes.” Gramophone Magazine, April 2014

“The orchestra are in rapt, highly communicative mode and Haitink builds those Brucknerian layers as only a master can...his steady, forensic approach offers much in terms of grip, detail and architectural strength...A magnificent performance; up there with the very best.” MusicWeb International, 4th December 2014

“The manner in which he (Haitink) controls the immense Misterioso is exemplary.” Diapason

Presto Discs of 2014

Finalist

GGramophone Awards 2014

Shortlisted - Orchestral

GGramophone Magazine

Editor's Choice - April 2014

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LSO Live - LSO0746

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Augusta Read Thomas: Selected Works for Orchestra

Augusta Read Thomas: Selected Works for Orchestra


Thomas, Augusta:

Aureole for orchestra

DePaul University Symphony, Cliff Colnot

Words of the Sea for orchestra

Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Pierre Boulez

In My Sky at Twilight

Christine Brandes (soprano)

Chicago Symphony Orchestra MusicNOW Ensemble, Pierre Boulez

Carillon Sky

Baird Dodge (violin)

Chicago Symphony Orchestra MusicNOW Ensemble, Oliver Knussen,

Terpsichore’s Dream

Chamber Orchestra, Cliff Colnot

Silver Chants the Litanies

Southern Methodist University Wind Ensemble, Jack Delaney


Among today's composers, Thomas has remained consistent in blazing her own path. In this she has undoubtedly been aided by her cosmopolitan training, having studied with, among others, Alan Stout (Northwestern University, 1983-87), Oliver Knussen (Tanglewood, 1986, 1987, 1989) and Jacob Druckman (Yale University, 1988), as well as one final year in London at the Royal Academy of Music (1989).

Her music has travelled worldwide over the years through the advocacy of figures such as Mstislav Rostropovich, Pierre Boulez, Daniel Baremboim, Christoph Eschenbach, Oliver Knussen, Esa Pekka Salonen, William Boughton and Sir Andrew Davis among many others. But names, appointments and honours in themselves cannot give an indication of what Thomas' music sounds like. And the music itself defies any easy verbalisation. Divining influences can give some indication as long as it is borne in mind that knowledge of said influences is no substitute for listening to the actual music. Thomas' long-standing study of Jazz has imparted a sense of rhythm notable for its combination of drive and elasticity. Figures as diverse as Byrd, Bach, Chopin, Mahler, Debussy, Berg, Stravinsky, Berio, Knussen, George Benjamin, Ellington,

Coltrane and Dutilleux certainly furnish clues as to how Thomas' music has attained its formal fluidity, a lyricism high-flown and diaphanous by turns, a harmonic language that can move between tart, flavoursome dissonance and warm consonance with an enviable naturalness, and an orchestrational instinct of pyrotechnic virtuosity.

“Thomas's confident handling of a chamber orchestra is perhaps the most impressive aspect of the pieces in this collection...Terpsichore's Dream for chamber orchestra from 2007 is a parade of glittering musical images that steadily gains energy; it would make a great work-out for any ensemble.” The Guardian, 6th February 2014 ****

“The performances are as persuasive as expected given the involvement of such as Pierre Boulez and Oliver Knussen...One can only await Vol. 2 of this series with impatience.” Gramophone Magazine, April 2014

GGramophone Awards 2014

Shortlisted - Contemporary

GGramophone Magazine

Editor's Choice - April 2014

Nimbus Alliance Recordings of Works by Augusta Read Thomas - NI6258

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$16.25

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Sheppard: Sacred choral music

Sheppard: Sacred choral music


Sheppard, J:

Libera nos 1 & II

Reges Tharsis et insulae

Gaude virgo Christiphera

Sacris solemniis

Paschal Kyrie

Cantate Mass

Adesto sancta Trinitas II

Hodie nobis caelorum rex

Verbum caro factum est


Following Gramophone Editor’s Choices for their recent excursions into the sacred music of Bruckner and of Gabriel Jackson, Duncan Ferguson and the Choir of St Mary’s Cathedral, Edinburgh return, in their fourth disc together, to the epoch of their first recorded triumph, the early 16th century. Their 2010 Taverner disc won plaudits for its exhilarating freshness and panache and the choir bring the same musical and liturgical integrity to music by Taverner’s near contemporary, John Sheppard, Informator Choristarum at Magdalen College, Oxford (where Ferguson himself was a more recent organ scholar).

Centred on Sheppard’s most extended and ecstatic composition, the 'Missa Cantate', this wide-ranging collection also includes the rarely-heard 'Gaude virgo Christiphera', Sheppard's only surviving votive antiphon (with a new reconstruction of the treble part), and the first recording of 'Adesto sancta Trinitas II'. Most remarkable of all is the performance level to which Ferguson has now brought this choir, and the expressive force given to the music by the astonishing agility of voices in the vast cathedral acoustic.

“This revelatory disc offers compelling evidence that [Sheppard] has been grossly underrated... The polyphony is rich, the use of dissonance masterly, and great arches of music compellingly sustained...[the choir] sings with fervour and plangent clarity.” The Times, 11th January 2014 ****

“His fantastically elaborate Gaude virgo Christiphera suits the delightfully deft voices of St Mary's Cathedral, Edinburgh, as does another revelation: Hodie nobis caelorum rex...with a little choir of trebles and a tenor singing Gloria in Excelsis way off in the distance. Magical.” The Observer, 19th January 2014 ****

“these pieces show [Sheppard] to be fully the equal of Byrd, Tallis and Taverner. With its ecstatic, keening trebles layered over a densely woven bed of lower-register voices, 'Libera nos, salva nos I' makes a sublime short opener... 'Reges Tharsis et insulae' exploits the cathedral’s wonderful acoustics to the fullest” The Independent, 25th January 2014 ****

“[Sheppard] is no mean composer. Here are beautifully shaped performances of the great Missa Cantate, the serenely luxuriant Libera nos, salva nos I and other works with rich and perpetually active textures.” Sunday Times, 23rd February 2014

“Perhaps the most striking feature of this recording from the Choir of St Mary's Cathedral Edinburgh is the way in which the trebles seem perfectly integrated within the ensemble...The rest of the choir is equally well matched and solid, and the whole is recorded with admirable presence and clarity.” Gramophone Magazine, April 2014

GGramophone Magazine

Editor's Choice - April 2014

Delphian - DCD34123

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1930s Violin Concertos, Vol. 1

1930s Violin Concertos, Vol. 1


Barber:

Violin Concerto, Op. 14

New York Philharmonic Orchestra, David Robertson

Berg:

Violin Concerto 'To the Memory of an Angel' (1935)

Staatskapelle Dresden, David Robertson

Britten:

Violin Concerto in D minor Op. 15

Boston Symphony Orchestra, Juanjo Mena

Hartmann, K:

Concerto Funèbre for violin & string orchestra

Sejong Soloists

Stravinsky:

Violin Concerto in D

BBC Symphony Orchestra, David Robertson


Gil Shaham (violin)

The 1930s was an incredibly rich decade for the violin concerto, thriving on what was the uncertainty of the age. Over 30 violin concertos materialized across the decade, with well over a dozen - from Stravinsky and Berg’s through to Barber’s and Britten’s concertos - all commanding iconic status within the violinist’s repertory.

Gil Shaham is the leading violinist of his generation. He was awarded an Avery Fisher Career Grant in 1990, and in 2008 he received the coveted Avery Fisher Prize. In 2012, Gil was named 'Instrumentalist of the Year' by Musical America, citing his “special kind of humanism”. Combine this “humanism” with a flawless technique and his generosity of spirit, and the musical results are nothing short of inspired.

Gil’s recording of the Barber Violin Concerto displays his trademark rich soulfulness as well as the sounds of urban America when called for - skyscrapers and sirens clearly manifest themselves in the last movement. The weeping, if not lamenting, solo violin in the Berg concerto, harmonized with very poignant 12-tone chords, reveals emotionally charged heart on sleeve mourning in this recording.

For Hartmann’s Concerto funebre, Gil is reunited with acclaimed Sejong Soloists, with whom he has recorded Mendelssohn’s octet and Haydn concerti (CC08), the New York Times observing from a concert performance of the Hartmann that Shaham “perfectly characterized the work’s anguished and occasionally angry spirit”.

Stravinsky’s Violin Concerto is a concerto with which Gil and conductor David Robertson have performed together countless times. The result is an interpretation which is luminous, light and dancing, The Times noting from this performance that “Shaham’s interpretation was exceptionally spirited and fresh, always at one with the incisive accompaniment from Robertson’s orchestra”.

Benjamin Britten’s concerto is arguably the most challenging to play on this collection and the most sobering work here, and shows another side of Shaham’s musical personality. A work with a martial-like drama, and for the most part a forceful, bordering on violent, execution of the work unfolds, interspersed - where called for - by an ethereal sound world bordering on the surreal. The tonal ambiguity at the end of the third movement is positively haunting. In concert, the Chicago Classical Review noted “This is music that fits Gil Shaham like a well-tailored glove.”

Read Presto's complete review of this disc here.

“I’ve always been a huge admirer of Gil Shaham’s warm and rich playing, and this music really suits him perfectly. He is an immensely passionate player, although always careful not to over-indulge...there is a real sense of occasion about these recordings, yet they still sound technically virtually faultless and the balance and general recorded sound is superb.” Chris O'Reilly, Presto Classical, 3rd March 2014

“What first struck me about this initial colume is how Shaham, a fine musician even 20 or so years ago, has matured as a player...his range of expression wider, more sensitive to the rise and fall of a phrase...this is a most distinguished release and I can't wait for the second instalment.” Gramophone Magazine, April 2014

“this poignant 1939 work [the Hartmann] gets an edge of the seat performance. Shaham is as convincing in the menacing central scherzo as in the plangent outer movements, and the same qualities surface in the Berg. Here the recorded balance is contrived at times...But there's power in the tuttis, and the wind-down into the Bach chorale is beautifully paced.” BBC Music Magazine, May 2014 ****

“He finds unexpected parallels of rhapsodic beauty in Barber and Berg, captures the introspective intensity of Hartmann’s Concerto funèbre and infuses Stravinsky with wit and surprising tenderness. Best of all is Britten’s concerto – a performance of rare subtlety and feeling.” Financial Times, 3rd May 2014 ****

Presto Disc of the Week

3rd March 2014

Presto Discs of 2014

Finalist

GGramophone Magazine

Editor's Choice - April 2014

Canary Classics - CC12

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Weinberg: Orchestral & Chamber Works

Weinberg: Orchestral & Chamber Works


Weinberg:

Sonata for Solo Violin No. 3, Op. 126

String Trio, Op. 48

Sonatina for Violin & Piano, Op. 46

Concertino, Op. 42

Symphony No. 10, Op. 98


Gidon Kremer (violin & director), Daniil Grishin (viola), Giedre Dirvanauskaite (cello), Daniil Trifonov (piano)

Kremerata Baltica

The music of Mieczyslaw Weinberg is finally beginning to get the hearing it has long deserved. Weinberg’s lifetime spanned the 20th century: born 1919 in Warsaw, he died 1996 in Moscow, in semi-obscurity. Along the way, his allies and supporters had included Dmitri Shostakovich, who considered him one of the great composers of the age. This double album by violinist Gidon Kremer and his Kremerata Baltica, recorded in Neuhardenberg and Lockenhaus, makes an excellent case for that claim.

Effectively a portrait album, it opens with one of Weinberg’s most remarkable creations, the extraordinary and complex third violin sonata of 1978 brilliantly performed by Gidon Kremer. The violinist ranks this work alongside Bartók’s Sonata for Solo Violin as one of the masterpieces for the instrument. With friends (including star pianist Daniil Trifonov) he explores some chamber music - the Trio op 48 (composed 1950) and the Sonatina op.46 (1949) - and the commitment and skills of the Kremerata musicians are brought to bear on two strikingly-contrasting compositions for string orchestra, the graceful and lyrical Concertino op. 42 (1948) and the adventurous and gripping Symphony No 10 (1968), bringing 12-tone rows and chordal structure into unexpected juxtapositions.

Latvian-born master violinist Gidon Kremer founded Kremerata Baltica in 1997 to foster outstanding young musicians from Latvia, Estonia and Lithuania, the three Baltic States.

Their other ECM recordings are Hymns and Prayers with works by Tickmayer, Franck and Kancheli; a pairing of the adagio of Mahler’s unfinished Symphony No 10 and the 14th Symphony of Shostakovich; Schubert’s G Major String Quartet orchestrated by Victor Kissine; Gubaidulina’s Lyre of Orpheus; Kancheli’s In l’istesso tempo; Kissine’s Between Two Waves, and, in the Edition Lockenhaus box set, Messiaen’s Trois petites Liturgies de la Présence Divine and Strauss’s Metamorphosen.

“arrestingly varied stuff, ranging from late Romanticism to stringent neo-Classicism and passages of real anguish” The Times, 14th February 2014 ****

“There's one startingly impressive work here, the Third Sonata for unaccompanied violin from 1979, which Kremer delivers with the unswerving commitment and intensity he brings to everything he tackles, familiar or unfamiliar, and making his comparison of it with Bartók's solo sonata not at all far-fetched.” The Guardian, 20th February 2014 ***

“Kremer himself opens his survey with a masterly account of the Sonata No. 3...The other three works...show the composer's more genial side. Kremer and his colleagues are in tune with that too...his interpretative daring and technical resources bring out qualities others miss and make each piece more urgently communicative than ever before.” Gramophone Magazine, April 2014

“Kremer’s playing is superb as one would expect and shows complete understanding of the material by a violinist who has clearly lived with the work for some considerable time. The Kremerata Baltica is a fantastically impressive ensemble whose every fibre is strained to ensuring readings of the highest quality.” MusicWeb International, 2nd May 2014

“Kremer and his associates deliver incisive, committed performances...a fascinating piece, performed here with great brilliance.” BBC Music Magazine, July 2014 *****

Presto Discs of 2014

Finalist

GGramophone Magazine

Editor's Choice - April 2014

ECM New Series - 4810669

(CD - 2 discs)

$25.50

(also available to download from $19.25)

Usually despatched in 2 - 3 working days. (Available now to download.)

Langgaard: String Quartets Volume 2

Langgaard: String Quartets Volume 2


Langgaard, R:

Rosengaardsspil (Rose Garden Play), BVN 153

String Quartet in A flat major, BVN 155

String Quartet No. 4, BVN 215 'Summer Days'


Rued Langgaard’s string quartets are passionate works from the eccentric composer's youth. This recording series presents all 9 quartets together for the first time in the distinctly dramatic interpretation of the prizewinning Nightingale String Quartet. With this release we have reached the world premiere recording of Rosengaardsspil (Rose Garden Play)

“Besides Langgaard's delightful, fundamentally hospitable music, the NSQ's interpretations are also most commendable...A blend of expressive astuteness and technical self-confidence leaves the whole project smelling aptly of roses.” MusicWeb International, 15th March 2014

“As in their first Langgaard disc the Nightingales play this music with an understanding and love that puts competitors in the shade. And it's all beautifully recorded. Recommended - so long as you start with Rose Garden Play!” BBC Music Magazine, April 2014 *****

“this is a highly impressive reading of a work [Rose Garden Play] anticipating Janacek's quartets in sheer emotional acuity...The A flat Quartet is music of greater poise and restrain...A winning account of a work whose standing outside the numbered series can only have hindered its progress...One can only look forward to the final release in this important and worthwhile series.” Gramophone Magazine, April 2014

GGramophone Magazine

Editor's Choice - April 2014

Super Audio CD

Format:

Hybrid Multi-channel

Dacapo - 6220576

(SACD)

$15.25

(also available to download from $10.00)

Usually despatched in 2 - 3 working days. (Available now to download.)

Tavener: The Veil of the Temple

Tavener: The Veil of the Temple


Patricia Rozario (soprano)

Choir of the Temple Church, Holst Singers & Members of the English Chamber Orchestra, Stephen Layton

“I regard The Veil of the Temple as the supreme achievement of my life and the most important work that I have ever composed.” Sir John Tavener

Signum Records are proud to re-release the landmark recording of Sir John Tavener’s 'The Veil of the Temple'. This 2CD set captures the concert-version of this 8-hour work, composed to last through the night until dawn in the manner of the grand vigils of the Orthodox Church. Combining the psalms of a number of different religious, Tavener skilfully blends together a work that is truly all-encompassing in its scale and spiritual fervour. [Originally released on RCA, 2003]

“The performances reflect Tavener’s instruction that they should be “sung and played with restrained ecstasy” rather than excitement or melancholy, a guidance that ensured the “Funeral Canticle” made a sublimely peaceful send-off for the composer’s father.” The Independent, 8th February 2014 ****

“Performance and recording are outstanding. An essential testimony to the vitality of the musical and spiritual vision of the final creative phase of one of Britain's greatest composers.” Gramophone Magazine, April 2014

GGramophone Magazine

Re-issue of the Month - April 2014

Contemporary Music - up to 25% off

Signum - SIGCD367

(CD - 2 discs)

Normally: $22.75

Special: $17.06

(also available to download from $20.00)

Usually despatched in 2 - 3 working days. (Available now to download.)

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