Gramophone Magazine Editor's Choice

December 2014

Disc of the Month

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Schumann: Scenes from Goethe's Faust, WoO 3

Awards:

Gramophone Magazine

Disc of the Month - December 2014

Label:

BR Klassik

Catalogue No:

900122

Discs:

2

Release date:

29th Sept 2014

Barcode:

4035719001228

Length:

1 hour 55 minutes

Medium:

CD (download also available)

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Schumann: Scenes from Goethe's Faust, WoO 3

Live-Recording, Herkulessaal Munich, 18./19.01.2013


Christiane Karg (soprano), Mari Eriksmoen (soprano), Bernarda Fink (mezzo), Andrew Staples (tenor), Christian Gerhaher (baritone), Alastair Miles (bass), Tareq Nazmi (bass), Kurt Rydl (bass)

Chor & Symphonieorchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks, Daniel Harding

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Ever since his debut in 2005 with Berg's "Wozzeck" (concertante) with the Symphonieorchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks, Daniel Harding has regularly attracted public attention with spectacular concerts. With the "Faust Scenes" by Robert Schumann – Daniel Harding's first recording on the BR-KLASSIK label – the conductor presents us with a work that until now had long been on the fringes of the repertoire, Schumann having primarily attracted attention as a composer of lieder, piano works and chamber music. The exceptional baritone Christian Gerhaher succeeds, perhaps more than any others, in credibly and forcefully conveying the sheer diversity of expression in Goethe's literature here, and makes full use of his expertise as a profound lieder performer. He is joined by Christiane Karg as Gretchen, together with further internationally renowned soloists, the Chamber Choir of Augsburg Cathedral Boys' Choir, and the Bavarian Radio Choir.

Robert Schumann: Szenen aus Goethes Faust, WoO3

Ouvertüre

Pt. I: Szene im Garten

Pt. II: Gretchen vor dem Bild der Mater Dolorosa

Pt. III: Szene im Dom

Pt. IV: Sonnenaufgang. Die ihr dies Haupt umschwebt im luft'gen Kreise

Pt. IV: Sonnenaufgang. Thäler grünen, Hügel schwellen

Pt. IV: Sonnenaufgang. Des Lebens Pulse schlagen frisch lebendig

Pt. IV: Sonnenaufgang. So ist es also, wenn ein sehnend Hoffen

Pt. V: Mitternacht. Ich heiße der Mangel

Pt. V: Mitternacht. Vier sah ich kommen, drei nur gehn

Pt. V: Mitternacht. Die Nacht scheint tiefer tief hereinzudringen

Pt. VI: Fausts Tod

Pt. VII: Fausts Verklärung. Waldung, sie schwankt heran

Pt. VII: Fausts Verklärung. Ewiger Wonnebrand

Pt. VII: Fausts Verklärung. Wie Felsenabgrund mir zu Füßen

Pt. VII: Fausts Verklärung. Welch ein Morgenwölkchen schwebet

Pt. VII: Fausts Verklärung. Gerettet ist das edle Glied

Pt. VII: Fausts Verklärung. Gerettet ist das edle Glied

Pt. VII: Fausts Verklärung. Hier ist die Aussicht frei

Pt. VII: Fausts Verklärung. Dir, der Unberührbaren

Pt. VII: Fausts Verklärung. Alles Vergängliche ist nur ein Gleichnis

The Guardian

15th October 2014

****

“[Gerhaher brings] his matchless sensitivity to verbal meaning and colour to vocal writing, while Christiane Karg is the touching Marguerite...Harding’s handling of the whole span of the score is also deeply impressive. The detail is telling but never overdone, the build up to the glorious peroration paced very expertly.”

Financial Times

18th October 2014

***

“Some great baritones have recorded this little-performed work, but Christian Gerhaher is the equal of any, an inspiration in his fusion of poetry and music.”

Sunday Times

9th November 2014

“Harding scores with his casting: Christian Gerhaher’s Faust is incomparable, while Christiane Karg’s radiant Gretchen is the finest on disc. Alastair Miles is a formidable Mephisto and the smaller parts are excellently taken by Andrew Staples and Bernarda Fink. A record of the year, no doubt.”

BBC Music Magazine

Christmas 2014

****

“[Harding] shapes some elegant playing and clear choral textures, and there's some fine solo singing, notably from Christiane Karg, Bernarda Fink and Andrew Staples.”

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Berg: Lulu

Berg: Lulu


Barbara Hannigan (Lulu), Natascha Petrinsky (Geschwitz), Tom Randle (Maler & Neger), Dietrich Henschel (Dr. Schön/Jack the Ripper), Charles Workman (Alwa), Pavlo Hunka (Schigolch), Ivan Ludlow (Tierbändiger & Athlete)

Orchestre symphonique de la Monnaie, Paul Daniel

Stage direction: KRZYSZTOF WARLIKOWSKI

Set & costume designs: MALGORZATA SZCZESNIAK

Choreography: CLAUDE BARDOUIL

Dance & solos choreography: ROSALBA TORRES GUERRERO

Recording: La Monnaie, Brussels, 19 & 26/10/2012

Frank Wedekind’s work provided fertile ground for Berg's second opera, 'Lulu', considered one of the major works of the 20th century, but which remained unfinished due to his untimely death in 1935. Intoxicatingly enigmatic and deadly for those close to her: from the folly of love to the humiliation of vulgarity, she incites excess. After his production of 'Médée' (DVD & Blu-ray Bel Air Classiques), Krzysztof Warlikowski once again delves the innermost depths of the human psyche and chooses to tackle Lulu as a deeply moving requiem ‘to the memory of an angel’.

Paul Daniel conducts the Orchestre Symphonique de la Monnaie and Canadian soprano Barbara Hannigan gives a tremendous, never-to-be-forgotten account of the title role.

Running time 194 min.

Booklet FR / ENG / NL - Subtitles FR / ENG / DE / NL

16/9, NTSC / PCM Stereo, Dolby Digital 5.1

“rewarding viewing for all who appreciate this devastating work...this Lulu offers stupendous accuracy of pitch and rhythm...The performance is impeccably prepared musically, with the sensual qualities given full value, the maximum in rhythmic exactitude and abundant theatrical flair. The recorded sound is natural and full bodied.” International Record Review, December 2014

“It's a comparatively rare occurrence to encounter a performance on the opera stage that has such a magnetic visual and physical impact as Barbara Hannigan's portrayal of Berg's tragic heroine...Her absolute vocal mastery is marvellous...Many of the supporting protagonists in this torrid drama are no less compelling.” BBC Music Magazine, Christmas 2014 *****

“It’s an explicit, yet chilly interpretation of Berg’s masterpiece, hampered in places by Warlikowski’s decision to graft additional layers of imagery onto a work already heavy with meaning...Musically it’s superb. Barbara Hannigan gives everything she’s got and then some to the title role. Charles Workman is the finely lyrical Alwa; Dietrich Henschel, never bettered, the troubled Schoen. It’s nicely conducted by Paul Daniel, too.” The Guardian, 11th December 2014 ***

“Tall, slender and chameleonic, [Hannigan] stalks the stage compellingly...The voice itself is remarkably clear and clean: not the most sensuous instrument, perhaps, but one that is used with great intelligence and accuracy...Very impressive, too, are the orchestra and Paul Daniel, who is particularly adept at finding the score's drama and beauty.” Gramophone Magazine, December 2014

“this Lulu is irresistible because of Barbara Hannigan’s performances of the title role, one that is as sexy as it is vocally incandescent” Opera, March 2015

GGramophone Magazine

DVD of the Month - December 2014

DVD Video

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Format: NTSC

Bel Air Classiques - BAC109

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Visions Fugitives: Music for strings

Visions Fugitives: Music for strings


Bartók:

Divertimento for Strings, Sz. 113

Hindemith:

5 Stücke, Op. 44/4

Prokofiev:

Visions fugitives, Op. 22

Webern:

Five movements for String Quartet, Op. 5 (1909)


The music on this disc spans from the years before World War I to a few days before the outbreak of World War II. Bartók, Webern, Prokofiev and Hindemith were all central figures of their time, illustrating – and to an extent personifying – different approaches to modernism in music.

This varied programme touches in turn on neo-classical and neo-baroque idioms, folk music, atonality and impressionism.

“This is an attractive programme, superbly performed and recorded with an ideal balance between detail and atmosphere in 5.0 surround sound. From solos to the weightiest of tuttis this is a band which punches way above its chamber weight. Musical satisfaction and involvement is created at every turn of the music’s pages.” MusicWeb International, 2nd December 2014

GGramophone Magazine

Editor's Choice - December 2014

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Langgaard: String Quartets Volume 3

Langgaard: String Quartets Volume 3


Langgaard, R:

String Quartet No. 5, BVN 189

String Quartet Movement Italian Scherzo BVN 408

String Quartet Number 1 BVN 68


Rued Langgaard's string quartets are passionate works from the eccentric composer's youth. This third and concluding release in the Gramophone Award-winning Nightingale String Quartet's acclaimed CD series presents the premiere recording of Langgaard's very first string quartet, which the composer began at the age of 21 in 1914. Like the subsequent quartets it is shot through with moving musical references to the fateful summer the year before, when the composer met the (hopeless) love of his life.

“Thei Langaard cycle is bringing this maverick composer the kind of broader recognition he always deserved, and their playing on this final volume lives up to the sky-high standards they have led us to expect.” Gramophone Magazine, December 2014

“Both works, and a tiny Italian Scherzo, are lovingly played by the young Nightingale Quartet, with the colouring and shaping of each phrase carefully considered. This disc completes the group's much admired three-disc series of all the quartets.” BBC Music Magazine, March 2015 *****

Presto Discs of 2014

Finalist

GGramophone Magazine

Editor's Choice - December 2014

Super Audio CD

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Dacapo - 6220577

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Tavener: Akhmatova Requiem

Tavener: Akhmatova Requiem


Tavener:

Akhmatova Requiem

Phyllis Bryn-Julson (soprano) & John Shirley-Quirk (bass-baritone)

BBC Symphony Orchestra, Gennady Rozhdestvensky

Russian Folk Songs (6)

Elise Ross (soprano)

The Nash Ensemble


John Tavener first came to public attention in 1968 with the premiere of his oratorio The Whale at the inaugural concert of the London Sinfonietta; The Beatles subsequently recorded this piece on their Apple label.

Akhmatova Requiem will be performed at London's Barbican on 5 October as part of BBC Total Immersion: John Tavener Remembered Tavener's avant-garde style of the seventies contrasts with the contemplative beauty of his later works, for which he is best known, yet he spirituality and mysticism is still present.

Akhmatova Requiem (1980) sets a sequence of poems written during the Stalinist purges of the 1930s by Anna Akhmatova, describing the terror of having her family and friends arrested and imprisoned, and the lines of relatives waiting hopelessly outside Leningrad jail. To her poems, Tavener added prayers from the Russian Orthodox funeral service which are sung on this recording by bass-baritone John Shirley-Quirk.

Six Russian Folk Songs (1978) represent, in the composer's words, 'a musical sigh of relief' and a complete contrast to the pain and sorrow of the Requiem; they were written for the Nash Ensemble's 15th anniversary in 1979. Simple settings of folk lyrics, their melodic nature recalls Tchaikovsky's songs.

This recording was previously issued by Carlton Classics in its BBC Radio Classics series.

“this heartfelt setting of Anna Akhmatova's blistering condemnation of Stalinist atrocities still packs an enormous punch...The Requiem grips from the start...Phyllis Bryn-Julson is on strong form, portraying outrage with convincing passion while avoiding operatic melodramatics...the Requiem is, against all odds, ultimately uplifting, paying tribute to the resilience of the human spirit.” BBC Music Magazine, March 2015 ****

GGramophone Magazine

Re-issue of the Month - December 2014

Contemporary Music - up to 25% off

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La Fauvette Passerinette

La Fauvette Passerinette

A Messiaen premiere with birds, landscapes and homages


Benjamin, G:

Fantasy on Iambic Rhythm

Dutilleux:

D’ombre et de silence

Messiaen:

Preludes (8): La Colombe

Pièce pour le tombeau de Paul Dukas

Ile de Feu 1 from 4 Etudes de rythme

Le traquet stapazin (Black-eared Wheatear)

La Fauvette passerinette

Morceau de lecture à vue

Murail:

Cloches d'adieu, et un sourire

Ravel:

Oiseaux tristes (Miroirs No. 2)

Sculthorpe:

Stars (from Night Pieces)

Stockhausen:

Klavierstück VII

Klavierstück VIII

Takemitsu:

Rain Tree Sketch II

Young, D:

River (from Dreamlandscapes, Book 2)

plus:

Anderson: Etude No 1


Peter Hill (piano)

In 2012, leading pianist and Messiaen scholar Peter Hill made a remarkable discovery among the composer’s papers: several pages of tightly written manuscript from 1961, constituting a near-complete and hitherto unknown work for piano. Hill was able to fill in some missing dynamics and articulations by consulting Messiaen’s birdsong notebooks, and gave the work’s first public performance in the autumn of 2013.

Here, then, he follows his acclaimed Bach recordings for Delphian with a return to the music in which he first made his reputation, setting this glittering addition to Messiaen’s piano output in the context both of the composer’s own earlier work and of music by the many younger composers on whom Messiaen was a profound influence – from Stockhausen and Takemitsu to George Benjamin, who like Hill himself worked closely with the composer in the years before his death.

One of the leading British pianists of his generation, Peter Hill worked with Messiaen between 1986 and 1991 while recording the composer’s complete piano works. The series was described by the New York Times as "one of the most impressive solo recording projects of recent years", and won Messiaen’s endorsement: "Beautiful technique, a true poet: I am a passionate admirer of Peter Hill’s playing." His research on Messiaen continues and a book on 'Catalogue d’oiseaux' is in preparation.

Hill’s recordings for Delphian of Bach’s 'The Well-Tempered Clavier' – two volumes, each comprising 2 CDs – have received outstanding reviews: Book 2 (Delphian DCD34101) was CD of the Week on BBC Radio 3.

“La Fauvette Passerinette represents a path Messiaen never followed further...As Hill’s performance shows, however, it’s an utterly convincing and thrilling piece of piano writing – a fierce, sustained 11-minute study as rigorous as Messiaen’s piano works of the late 1940s...Altogether, it is a hugely rewarding and important disc.” The Guardian, 22nd October 2014 ****

“Hill has devised a fascinating sequence to contextualise this first recording of an 11-minute virtuoso piece he discovered in Messiaen’s posthumous papers...as performed here, [it] is bitingly fresh and chattery, plausibly ornithological.” Sunday Times, 2nd November 2014

“Hill places the new work within an exceptionally well-crafted recital in which Messiaen's music is a recurrent thread in a span of resonances, influences and affinities...Whether in Dutilleux or Peter Sculthorpe, Murail or Takemitsu, Hill's provides a masterclass in capturing a composer's idiom with warmth and humanity.” BBC Music Magazine, December 2014 *****

“What a discovery! La Fauvette Passerinette is a stunning 11-minute piano solo — joyous, syncopated and virtuosic...It was rediscovered recently by Peter Hill, who sends its birdsong-based fantasies soaring fabulously on a fascinating disc that puts the French maître in the context of contemporaries...and pupils.” The Times, 8th November 2014 ****

“Hill's realisation forms a rewarding substantial centrepiece to this outstanding recital disc. The whole point is to put Messiaen himself in a stimulating context...The appeal of the disc is greatly enhanced by the exceptional quality of the recording, with every facet of Hill's uncompromisingly extensive expressive range vividly captured.” Gramophone Magazine, December 2014

“this generously filled disc [is] a serious study for both concentrated and extended reading.” International Record Review, January 2015

“With a beautiful recorded balance equally capturing the subtle colours and drama of both the music and Peter Hill’s performances, this is both a piano recording of demonstration quality and a musical experience to treasure.” MusicWeb International, 7th January 2015

“he knows how to make a sound like bronze, like those pianists from before the first world war. There it is: you’re hooked … the depth of his sound, the kaleidoscope of attacks, the intelligence of the pedalling are unfailing.” Diapason, April 2015

GGramophone Magazine

Editor's Choice - December 2014

BBC Music Magazine

Instrumental Choice - December 2014

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Rameau: Pièces de clavecin

Rameau: Pièces de clavecin


Rameau:

Suite in A minor from Nouvelles suites de pièces de clavecin (c1729–30)

Suite in E minor from Pièces de clavecin (1724, revised 1731)

Suite in D Major

Menuet en rondeau in C major

Suite in A minor from Nouvelles suites de pièces de clavecin (c1729–30)

Suite in G minor from Nouvelles suites de pièces de clavecin (c1729–30)

La Dauphine

Les petits marteaux


Mahan Esfahani (harpsichord)

Mahan Esfahani talks to Presto's David Smith about Rameau and his career to date here.

Gramophone-Award-winning harpsichordist Mahan Esfahani has recorded Rameau’s Pièces de clavecin in the historic setting of the Music Room at Hatchlands Park in Surrey. This is a masterclass for the instrument, confirming this young artist as a truly great player: in the words of International Record Review ‘his technique is beyond criticism and his inherent musicianship goes far deeper than mere surface understanding … it is difficult not to warm to such a musician’.

This double album comprises the whole of Rameau’s output of keyboard suites, and Esfahani rejoices in its wealth of genius, its excitement and drama. Rameau is a composer whose revival is ongoing, and his unique combination of the witty and the cerebral, the light and the curmudgeonly, abounds throughout his harpsichord music.

“[CPE Bach's] blend of tradition...and audacity...all captured with unfailing insight by Mahan Esfahani - is contintually beguiling...Esfahani's playing is always considered and often brilliant. At times, the articulation could have been more delicately nuanced, but as a whole this is a splendid guide to Rameau's harpsichord music.” BBC Music Magazine, Christmas 2014 ****

“a special player of his sometimes brittle and recalcitrant instrument. I don’t think I have heard a harpsichord sound as supple and rich in colours as the beautiful Ruckers-built (1636), Hemsch-adapted (1763) instrument he plays in these wonderful pieces.” Sunday Times, 21st December 2014

“Mahan Esfahani brings such portrayals vividly to life, and also offers sparkling accounts of less exotic items…utterly entrancing” Early Music Today, May 2015 *****

“a key factor in determining the longevity of an interpretation is the degree to which the performer succeeds in characterising the music and, on this point alone, top marks must go to Mahan Esfahani, who seems always to have its measure and brings unfailing wit, affection, fluency and pacing to his interpretations.” Gramophone Magazine, December 2014

GGramophone Awards 2015

Finalist - Baroque Instrumental

GGramophone Magazine

Editor's Choice - December 2014

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Helen Grime: Night Songs

Helen Grime: Night Songs


Grime:

Virga

Into the faded air

Clarinet Concerto

Lynsey Marsh (clarinet)

A Cold Spring

Everyone Sang

Night Songs

Near Midnight


Hallé & Hallé Soloists, Sir Mark Elder & Jamie Phillips

Debut Discs is a 4-year series in collaboration with BA (Hons) Graphic Design students at Central Saint Martin’s College of Arts and Design who have designed the cover artwork for the series.

Debut Discs has the ambassadorial support of Sir Peter Maxwell Davies.

The series features the composers Huw Watkins, Dai Fujikura, Sam Hayden, Richard Causton, Joseph Phibbs, Larry Goves, Ben Foskett and Charlotte Bray.

Born in 1981, Helen Grime studied oboe with John Anderson and composition with Julian Anderson and Edwin Roxburgh at the Royal College of Music. In 2003 she won a British Composer Award for her Oboe Concerto, and was awarded all the major composition prizes in the RCM. In 2008 she was awarded a Leonard Bernstein Fellowship to study at the Tanglewood Music Center. She became a lecturer in composition at the Department of Music at Royal Holloway, University of London, in January 2010. She was appointed Associate Composer to the Hallé in 2011.

Helen has had works commissioned by some of the most established performers including London Symphony Orchestra, BCMG, Britten Sinfonia, BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra and the Tanglewood Music Center. Conductors who have performed her work include Daniel Harding, Pierre Boulez and Yan Pascal Tortelier. Her work Night Songs was commissioned by the BBC Proms in 2012 and premiered by the BBC Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Oliver Knussen. Grime's Near Midnight receives its London Premiere at this year's BBC Proms (9 August) with the Hallé & Sir Mark Elder.

“a fine introduction to an important voice in contemporary music. Performances are spot-on, not least from the orchestra’s assistant conductor, Jamie Phillips, making an auspicious debut on disc.” Classical Music *****

“The performances are a tribute to the dedication of Hallé players, whether in orchestral or ensemble guise, and have all been recorded with the spaciousness and immediacy which this music needs.” Gramophone Magazine, December 2014

“Grime (b.1981) is a composer of keen accomplishment in a bright modern mode — glittery, incisive, full of leaping lines and incandescent climaxes — perhaps originating in the harmonically astute, orchestrally virtuosic music of figures such as Oliver Knussen and Magnus Lindberg.” Sunday Times, 28th September 2014

GGramophone Magazine

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Hartmann, K: Simplicius Simplicissimus

Hartmann, K: Simplicius Simplicissimus


Juliane Banse (soprano), Peter Marsch (tenor), Will Hartmann (tenor)

Netherlands Radio Philharmonic Orchestra & Netherlands Radio Choir, Markus Stenz

This Hybrid SACD recording of Karl Amadeus Hartmann’s unique anti-war opera Simplicius Simplicissimus marks an important step in the continuing reappraisal of his oeuvre, following Challenge Classics’ recent release of all eight symphonies by the 20th century German composer (CC72583). Recorded live at the opera’s Dutch premiere in 2012, Markus Stenz conducts the Netherlands Radio Philharmonic Orchestra, Netherlands Radio Choir and a fine cast of singers led by celebrated soprano Juliane Banse in the title role.

Karl Amadeus Hartmann ranks among the leading German composers of the 20th century.

A substantial amount of his music, which includes eight symphonies and chamber works, had its origins in one of the darkest eras in world history, the years between 1933 and 1945 when the Nazis were in power. This period, in which Hartmann gradually withdrew from public life, represented a decisive turning point in his creative development. Before that time Hartmann had adopted a neoclassical style, but with no prospect of any performances of his work in sight, he subsequently created a musical language which, besides bearing the influences of Bach, Bruckner and Beethoven, was also highly indebted to those composers whose music the Nazis had banned, such as Mahler, Berg, Stravinsky, Prokofiev and Bartók. He employs this language not only in his symphonies and many of his chamber works, but also in his anti-war opera Simplicius Simplicissimus, based on the 1669 novel Der Abenteuerliche Simplicissimus by Hans Jakob Christoffel von Grimmelshausen. Simplicius Simplicissimus was originally written for voices and chamber orchestra in the mid-1930s and first performed in 1948, but Hartmann went on to score it for full orchestra in 1956. It is the latter version that Stenz chose for this recording.

“Markus Stenz's fine performance – with an oustanding Juliane Banse as the naive shepherd boy, Simplicius... – was recorded in 2012 at one of Netherlands Radio's invaluable Saturday matinees...Stenz and his cast capture [its] raw intensity very truthfully.” The Guardian, 4th September 2014 ****

“Leading a strong cast, Juliane Banse as the shepherd brilliantly meets the soprano part's technical challenges while evoking the naivety of the idealistic character...[Stenz] proves himself an ideal exponent of conviction and intensity.” BBC Music Magazine, Christmas Issue 2014 ****

“The cast throughout is an excellent one. In particular, Juliane Banse makes of the title role a 'holy fool' of slowly intensifying awareness, her rich-toned soprano pivoting between song and speech with assurance...Stenz sets alert and attentive playing from the Netherlands Radio Philharmonic: his rendering of the Overture...is the most persuasive yet on disc.” International Record Review, December 2014

GGramophone Magazine

Editor's Choice - December 2014

Super Audio CD

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Challenge Classics - CC72637

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Vivaldi: Concerti per flauto

Vivaldi: Concerti per flauto


Vivaldi:

Flautino Concerto in C major, RV443

Flute Concerto, Op. 10 No. 2 in G minor, RV 439 'La notte'

Concerto in D major RV95 'La Pastorella'

Concerto in D minor, RV566

Concerto in B flat Major for recorder, strings and basso continuo, RV 375

Concerto in G minor, RV 103

Concerto in D major, RV 90 'Il Gardellino'


"The music of Antonio Vivaldi radiates vital energy, celebrates affective states at their most intimate, artfully mimics natural phenomena, and tells stories full of blazing colours, heady fragrances, humour, imagination, exuberance, tenderness, and melancholy. It is a joy, a challenge and a privilege for me, after many Vivaldian experiences on the concert platform, to present this music on record. Fortunately for us, Vivaldi left us a magnificent repertory not only for violin, but also for the recorder. In addition to using it in many other musical genres, he called on the 'flauto' as a soloist in different timbral groupings and instrumental combinations in some twenty concertos, and raised the instrument and its expression to a new dimension. I would like to present the concerti per flauto in their original scoring for wind and orchestra, a brilliant ensemble concerto (concerto con molti stromenti) and an effervescent flautino concerto as I think they were conceived and may have sounded three hundred years ago. But I also wanted to try something new, and so I arranged for the flauto, a late work of Vivaldi, the Violin Concerto RV 375, which represents the new galant, singing style, no longer designed for the clear articulation of the recorder. Some arpeggios have been modified by analogy with the typical idiom of the maestro’s writing for recorder, and the upward transposition of a fourth makes the work sound warm and ethereal in the key of E flat major. Here the solo diva illuminates all the rich invention that is implied and expressed in Vivaldi’s late style. What hidden treasures for the recorder lie hidden in these late works; what a pity that Vivaldi himself did not want to bring them out; but how lucky we are that the music of the Prete Rosso has so much to offer us! Grazie, Signor Vivaldi!" Maurice Steger

“Vivaldi’s concertos for recorders are works of rare theatricality … The Swiss recorder player Maurice Steger rings the changes in seven demanding concertos … The brio and élan of the playing are so unfailingly infectious that you may find it hard to listen without a smile on your face.” Irish Times, 24th October 2014 *****

“This wonderful compilation will find its most appreciative audience in recorder enthusiasts or fans of Vivaldi. However, I found the whole collection delightful, with outstanding, dedicated performances and excellent sound quality.” Audiophile Audition, 20th November 2014

“Steger does play incredibly fast, with a firework display of stunning articulation …I’d certainly recommend buying this one.” Early Music Review, December 2014

“Steger revels in complex ornamentation, virtuoso high-speed articulation and as much contrast as can be mustered from the recorder…Spectacular virtuosity can become tiresome if not supported by superlative musicianship, and Maurice Steger is one of those performers you could imagine acquiring the legendary status of a Paganini were he to have been an exponent in a bygone era.” MusicWeb International, 23rd December 2014

“Boy can Steger play the recorder! This is high-octane playing, matched by sensational playing from I Barocchisti.” Classical Music, January 2015

“quite wonderful, with Steger’s phrasing and articulation balancing the meditative and the dance-like…it’s a credit to Meyer’s artistry that what comes to the fore is not so much his considerable technical gifts but a shimmering, shifting tonal and timbral palette that’s equally a credit to Fasolis and I Barocchisti’s stylish playing.” International Record Review, February 2015

“Steger's virtuosity is, from a listener's viewpoint and indeed from his own, breathtaking, and he loses no opportunity in demonstrating it. For my taste, though, there is too much gimmickry in his realisations of the music...it is Steger's violin concerto arrangement that comes off most convincingly.” BBC Music Magazine, March 2015 ***

GGramophone Magazine

Editor's Choice - December 2014

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Haydn: String Quartets, Vol. 1

Haydn: String Quartets, Vol. 1


Haydn:

String Quartet, Op. 20 No. 1 in E flat major

String Quartet, Op. 20 No. 2 in C Major

String Quartet, Op. 20 No. 3 in G minor

String Quartet, Op. 20 No. 4 in D major 'Sun'

String Quartet, Op. 20 No. 5 in F minor

String Quartet, Op. 20 No. 6 in A Major


Haydn’s six Op. 20 string quartets are milestones in the history of the genre. He wrote them in 1772 for performance by his colleagues at the Esterházy court and, unusually, not specifically for publication. Each one is a unique masterpiece and the set introduces compositional techniques that radically transformed the genre and shaped it for centuries to come. Haydn overturns conventional instrumental roles, crafts remarkably original colours and textures, and unlocks new expressive possibilities in these works which were crucial in establishing the reputation of purely instrumental music. The range within the quartets is kaleidoscopic. From the introspective, chorale-like slow movement of No. 1 via the terse and radical quartet No. 3 in G minor to the comic spirit of the fourth in D major, each of the quartets inhabits a distinct musical world. For many, this is some of the greatest music Haydn ever wrote.

Playing these seminal works is one of the world’s finest young ensembles, the Doric String Quartet. As well as having already produced a string of acclaimed recordings on Chandos, the group has been widely praised for its live performances of Haydn’s works. The Sunday Telegraph wrote that ‘Haydn and the Doric are a perfect match… Unequivocally, these were performances of terrific panache and perception, seeming to get right under the skin of Haydn’s creative genius’.

“The spirit and stylistic understanding that the Doric brings to this music is a constant joy, coupled with clarity of articulation, refined but unfussy nuances of dynamics and emphasis, and a thorough appreciation of the instrumental democracy and conversational ease that Haydn established in this music and which made it such a landmark in the art of quartet-writing.” The Telegraph, 27th October 2014 ****

“The musicians of the Doric String Quartet respond with imagination to each fresh idea, bringing into play a lightness of touch, much spirit and — this being Haydn — wit. Above all, they fill the two-disc set with affection for Haydn’s inexhaustible creativity.” Financial Times, 5th December 2014 ****

“Thoughtfulness is uppermost. Allied to precision in articulation is a flexibility in the scansion and shaping of phrases, of notes timed through a remarkable understanding of rubato, of a range of expressive resilience that gives even the smallest of episodes in a long line their own character without distorting structure or disturbing flow.” Gramophone Magazine, December 2014

“The Doric Quartet, making sparing use of vibrato, play with much sensitivity. Their slow movements, in particular, are beautifully done...But elsewhere a determination to characterise the music all too often leads to exaggerated pauses and tempo fluctuations that threaten its coherence.” BBC Music Magazine, January 2015 ***

GGramophone Awards 2015

Finalist - Chamber

GGramophone Magazine

Editor's Choice - December 2014

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