Gramophone Magazine Editor's Choice

Awards Issue 2014

Editor's Choice

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Joseph Moog plays Tchaikovsky & Scharwenka

Joseph Moog plays Tchaikovsky & Scharwenka


Scharwenka, X:

Piano Sonata No. 2 in E flat major Op. 36

‘Im Freien’ 5 Tonbilder, Op. 38, No. 1

‘Im Freien’ 5 Tonbilder, Op. 38, No. 2

Tchaikovsky:

Grand Sonata for Piano in G major Op. 37

Romance in F minor, Op. 5


Joseph Moog (piano)

Polish composer Franz Xaver Scharwenka was one of the most important and popular composer-pianists of the late 19th century, touring to the USA a total of 26 times. His four piano concertos were once cornerstones of the concerto repertoire. Sheet music for his 'Polish Dance' Op 3/1 sold into the millions, and the 1st Piano Concerto was admired by Liszt and Tchaikovsky, whose G major sonata is paired with Scharwenka’s 2nd sonata on Joseph Moog’s third CD for ONYX Classics. Scharwenka’s almost total neglect is unjustified: his concertos and sonatas definitely merit reappraisal.

Joseph Moog is fast becoming recognised as one of the most gifted and enquiring of the younger generation of pianists. His flawless technique and wide ranging repertoire has been praised by critics worldwide.

“Sviatoslav Richter and Mikhail Pletnev represent the chief competition [in the Tchaikovsky], but Moog is right up there with the requisite weight, agility and dazzling panache...Moog makes the same point [in the Scharwenka], deftly and fluidly shaping the romantic contours, igniting the fireworks” The Telegraph, 10th July 2014

“[Moog] gives a strong performance: rich and lavishly varied in sound, powerful, panoramically phrased with an impressive command of large-scale structure, and characterised with enough sleight-of-hand to persuade us (almost) that the Scherzo could even be the work of Schumann on an off-day...[Scharwenka], too receives a performance of exceptional polish, authority and conviction.” BBC Music Magazine, October 2014 ****

“It takes a real virtuoso to make the gnarly, block-like piano-writing of Tchaikovsky's underrated Grande Sonate sound pianistically idiomatic and supple. Joseph Moog not only succeeds in doing this but also delivers one of the modern era's best recordings of this work.” Gramophone Magazine, Awards Issue 2014

“Moog is a formidably equipped pianist.” International Record Review, November 2014

GGramophone Magazine

Editor's Choice - Awards Issue 2014

Onyx - ONYX4126

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Anna Prohaska: Behind the Lines

Anna Prohaska: Behind the Lines


Beethoven:

Die Trommel geruhret

Cavendish:

Wand'ring In This Place

Eisler:

Kriegslied eines Kindes (from Zeitungsausschnitte, Op. 11)

Panzerschlacht

Die letzte Elegie

Die Heimkehr

Ives, C:

In Flanders Fields

‘1, 2, 3'

Tom Sails Away

Liszt:

Jeanne d'Arc au bûcher, S293

Mahler:

Wo die schönen Trompeten blasen (Des Knaben Wunderhorn)

Poulenc:

Le Retour du sergent

Quilter:

Fear no More

Rachmaninov:

To my sorrow I have grown to love

Rihm:

Untergang, Op. 1

Schubert:

Kriegers Ahnung D 957, No. 2

Raste Krieger, Krieg ist aus (Ellens Gesang I), D837

Schumann:

Die beiden Grenadiere, Op. 49 No. 1

Der Soldat, Op. 40, No. 3

trad.:

Es geht ein dunkle Wolk herein

Traill:

My Luve's In Germanie

Weill, K:

Beat! Beat! Drums!

Dirge For Two Veterans

Wolf, H:

Der Tambour (No. 5 from Mörike-Lieder)

Der Soldat II (No. 6 from Eichendorff-Lieder)


Anna Prohaska (soprano), Eric Schneider (piano)

For her third solo album, Anna Prohaska tackles the worlds of peace and war in music - "Behind the Lines" draws a connection to World War I in this, the centenary year.

Joined by noted pianist Eric Schneider, she has programmed songs ranging from Beethoven, by way of Schubert, Schumann and Liszt, and turn-of-the-century composers Fauré, Mahler and Wolf, to the early-modern works of Weill and Eisler

For all German speakers, check out this feature of our cooperation partner Bayerischer Rundfunk, who documented the recording with Anna: http://www.br.de/radio/br-klassik/sendungen/allegro/anna-prohaska-aufnahmen-br-100.html

Read Presto's complete review of this disc here.

“This is a superbly conceived and wonderfully performed collection about war and its emotional impact...The imagination and care that has gone into this compilation is exceptional, and the results are totally compelling.” The Observer, 6th July 2014 *****

“Prohaska has a rich palette of expressive colours to draw on and she sings with effortless confidence through several languages and moods, sensitively partnered by her responsive pianist Schneider. This is a very rewarding disc, both moving and stirring.” The Telegraph, 22nd July 2014 ****

“it’s instantly apparent that you’re in the presence of a singer of blazing commitment and authority...In short, this is a mesmerising, powerful and frequently very moving disc, full of terrible beauty and of course especially pertinent this summer. I can see myself returning to it again and again for many years to come.” Katherine Cooper, Presto Classical, 28th July 2014

“Prohaska's performances fully embody the hugely varying needs of each songs, so much that one barely notices how she colours her voice...She simply allows you to feel the song with the clean, crisp delivery that has made her an important early-music singer.” Gramophone Magazine, Awards Issue 2014

“It’s hard to imagine a more fitting musical tribute to the millions of lives lost in conflict: this is brilliantly conceived programming performed with incredible artistry, giving equal weight to the song texts as well as their music...The cumulative effect is engrossing, atmospheric and moving.” Opera Now ****

Presto Disc of the Week

28th July 2014

Presto Discs of 2014

Finalist

DG - 4792472

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Vaughan Williams: Stars of the Night

Vaughan Williams: Stars of the Night

Songs and violin works


Vaughan Williams:

The Lark Ascending

arr. for violin and piano by composer

Matthew Trusler (violin) & Iain Burnside (piano)

Six Studies in English Folksong

arr. for violin and piano by composer

Matthew Trusler (violin) & Iain Burnside (piano)

Violin Concerto in D minor 'Concerto Accademico'

arr. by Constant Lambert for violin and piano

Matthew Trusler (violin) & Iain Burnside (piano)

Songs of Travel

for baritone and piano

Roland Wood (baritone) & Iain Burnside (piano)

The Pilgrim's Progress: three songs

arr. for baritone and piano by composer

Roland Wood (baritone) & Iain Burnside (piano)


“Wood is a fine musical story-teller, articulating words and melodies with equal sensitivity and care...The melodic architecture emerges clearly in Matthew Trusler's vital performance...Once again, Albion Records has given us a treasure trove of a disc full of fresh insights and sideways glances at familiar repertoire.” Gramophone Magazine, Awards Issue 2014

Albion Records - ALBCD018

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Byrd: The Three Masses

Byrd: The Three Masses


Byrd:

Mass for five voices

Mass for four voices

Mass for three voices

Ave verum Corpus


A new recording of the most perfect of Tudor masterpieces, Byrd’s three Mass-settings, from the cradle of their nineteenth-century rehabilitation. Westminster Cathedral Choir is enjoying a vintage period, and here we hear its trademark sound in all its glory: unfettered, natural singing from the trebles underpinned by warm yet clear tones from the gentlemen.

This recording celebrates Byrd’s Catholic Masses in two ways simultaneously. Most obviously, it addresses great and timeless works, which themselves address great and timeless liturgical texts. But at the same time it reminds us that the revival of Byrd’s Masses in the late nineteenth century was pioneered by Roman Catholic church choirs. This is a point worth pondering. Since the accession of Queen Elizabeth I in 1558, the choirs of England’s Protestant cathedrals and college chapels have had their own distinctive musical repertory, which has flourished and grown in unbroken tradition. The anthems and services of Thomas Tallis, for instance, have never fallen from cathedral use; they have been the epitome of Choral Evensong and Eucharist for more than four centuries. This Anglican repertory, however, is not what Roman Catholic worship requires. When major Catholic choral foundations were established in late Victorian and Edwardian England, at Downside Abbey, the Brompton Oratory, and above all at Westminster Cathedral, there was a quest for new and more relevant music; and it was at these places that William Byrd’s three Latin Masses were revived. Hence the pertinence of this recording; it celebrates that Catholic revival no less than it celebrates the works themselves.

“Westminster Cathedral Choir may sing them with more splendour and finesse than Byrd himself would have expected, yet the results are uplifting and moving. It's no slight to these musicians to say the disc is worth buying for the Byrd scholar John Milsom's incomparable notes: a masterly encapsulation of Tudor church music history in a few dense pages.” The Observer, 17th August 2014 *****

“unexaggerated performances, occasionally using solo voices for intimate effect.” Financial Times, 27th September 2014

“The Choir of Westminster Cathedral's approach is placid but not overly reverential: the longer-texted movements are formally clear and energetic where required...For the three-voice Mass the top voice is taken by a well-blended combination of boy altos and countertenors, making this the most distinctive interpretation of the three.” Gramophone Magazine, Awards Issue 2014

“Baker here boldly claims Byrd's three Masses for the Westminster Cathedral Choir...Despite the choir's muscle and numbers this disc's mood is intimate...Some Byrd devotees may object to Baker's preference for slow tempos, and his use of rallentandos to close movements. But the power of this performance is undeniable.” BBC Music Magazine, December 2014 *****

“the main challenge for Christie and Les Arts Florissants in The Ways of Zion is to keep the interest and momentum alive...But Christie meets the challenge head on, creating crests of passion which stand proud of the sea of misery...The singers of Les Arts Florissants...are certainly sensitive to other forms of dignity and grandeur, especially in Caroline's funeral anthem.” International Record Review, December 2014

“Martin Baker and his multitudinous singers...bring Byrd’s freeform melodic lines deftly into relief within a lush polyphonic texture, with emotional immediacy and a refreshing lack of fussiness” Choir & Organ, May 2015 ****

BBC Music Magazine

Choral & Song Choice - December 2014

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Bach - Secular Cantatas IV

Bach - Secular Cantatas IV


Bach, J S:

Cantata BWV205 'Zerreißet. Zersprenge, zertrümmert die Gruft'

Cantata BWV207 'Vereinigte Zwietracht der wechselnden Saiten'


Joanne Lunn (soprano), Robin Blaze (counter-tenor), Wolfram Lattke (tenor) & Roderick Williams (bass)

Bach Collegium Japan, Masaaki Suzuki

The two works on this disc perfectly illustrate a particular type of secular cantata, the so-called ‘dramma per musica’. In such works the libretto is constructed dramatically, and the singers embody various roles, such as gods and other characters from antiquity, and allegorical figures. The parallel with opera is apparent, although the ‘drammi per musica’ do without any scenic element. Bach primarily used the form in works intended for princely tributes or academic festivities: educated audiences could be expected to recognize the characters and literary traditions involved. Both cantatas recorded here are ‘academic’ cantatas, composed in honour of eminent members of the faculty at the University of Leipzig. BWV 205 celebrates the name day of Dr August Friedrich Müller (3rd August 1725), and takes us to Aeolia, where Aeolus, the King of the Winds, holds the mighty autumn storms captive until it is time to let them loose on the world. To prevent any disruption of the celebrations for Dr Müller, the goddess Pallas, among others, entreats Aeolus to keep the storms in check for a while longer. Grudgingly he concedes to her wish, but only after singing an aria full of splendid bluster (Wie will ich lustig lachen…). One year later, Bach composed the cantata BWV 207 for the appointment of Dr Gottlieb Kortte as ‘professor extraordinarius’. The young jurist enjoyed particular popularity among the young academics, who probably were the commissioners of the cantata. In this work it is virtues such as Diligence and Honour which take musical shape, singing the praise of the eminent academic. The cantata closes with a chorus, Kortte lebe, Kortte blühe!, wishing the new professor a long and flourishing life – unfortunately to little avail, as Dr Kortte died only five years later, at the age of 33.

“Bach Collegium Japan's trumpets and horns mount a thrilling assault to play without modern drilled holes to fix their intonation to the expectations of modern ears...The outstanding moment is Gratitude's 'Ätzet dieses Angedenken', in which Robin Blaze's gentle singing is accompanied by a lyrical pair of flutes.” Gramophone Magazine, Awards Issue 2014

“Unashamedly worldly works, written to honour the name-days of faculty members at the University of Leipzig, these Academic cantatas are no less enjoyable for their pragmatic origins. The virtues Digilence and Honour, as well as the deities Pallas and Aeolus, take to the stage to sing the praises of Doctors Müller and Kortte, and Masaaki Suzuki's Bach Collegium Japan are on their usual fine form.” David Smith, Presto Classical

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BIS - Suzuki Bach Cantatas - BIS2001

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From the Imperial Court

From the Imperial Court

Music for the House of Hapsburg


Clemens:

Carole magnus eras

Crecquillon:

Andreas Christi famulus

Despres:

Mille Regretz

Gombert:

Magnificat I

Mille regretz

Isaac:

Missa 'Virgo prudentissima'

Lobo, A:

Versa est in luctum

Morales, C:

Jubilate deo (1538)

Rue, P:

Absalon fili mi

Senfl:

Quis dabit oculis

Tallis:

Loquebantur variis linguis


Soprano and founder-member Kate Ashby talks to Presto's David Smith about From the Imperial Court here.

One of Europe’s most extraordinary ruling dynasties, the Hapsburgs ruled greater or lesser portions of Europe from the 11th century until 1918, their heyday coinciding with the supreme musical flourishing of the 16th century. Their rule saw a particular increase during the reign of Maximilian I, secured first by his marriage to Mary of Burgundy in 1477 and then by the union of their son Philip ‘the Handsome’ with Joanna ‘the Mad’ of Castille. Thus his grandson Charles V essentially ruled Spain, Germany, Austria, Burgundy and the Low Countries, before he in turn divided his territories between his son Philip II and his brother Ferdinand of Austria in 1555-6. As these successive generations enlarged their power and territory, they gathered around themselves the leading composers of the day. Stile Antico present music closely associated with Maximilian I, Charles V and Philip II in this programme of sumptuous works by Thomas Tallis and the finest Spanish and Flemish polyphonists of the 15th & 16th centuries.

“The young British ensemble Stile Antico sing exquisitely” Sunday Times, 14th September 2014

“The antique style of the conductorless choir Stile Antico is now familiar: impeccably tuned, carefully moulded, beautifully presented singing of intelligently planned anthologies...there is marvellously varied and powerful music here – more so than the rather uniform declamation suggests.” The Observer, 14th September 2014 ***

“Stile Antico reinforce their already formidable reputation: intonation and balance are always flawless; the sound of the voices is glorious, precise and absolutely crystal-clear; the music always moves along effortlessly with well-judged moments of pressure and relaxation, despite their having no conductor.” Gramophone Magazine, Awards Issue 2014

“Superbly recorded, it is a masterclass in outstanding breadth of interpretation, balance and total teamwork … the group’s ‘worker’s co-operative’ ethos continues to reap dividends with, on this occasion, results almost approaching perfection.” Choir & Organ, November 2014

“[a] well-chosen and beautifully recorded anthology of music for the Hapsburg court … The programme is extremely well conceived, and the booklet beautifully presented.” International Record Review, December 2014

“a welcome return for Stile Antico to this continental repertoire … if this is the music of melancholy, who needs to be happy?” Early Music Today, December 2014

“exciting and beautiful … Not only are the performances magically blended, but the recording captures this beautifully and weaves a web of sound around the listener, whether it’s in stereo or surround. In short, very good indeed.” MusicWeb International, 3rd February 2015

Presto Discs of 2014

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Harmonia Mundi - HMU807595

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Sacrifices

Sacrifices


Brossard:

Symphonies pour le Graduel SDB228, 229

Sonate en trio SDB221

Carissimi:

Historia di Jepthe

Charpentier, M-A:

Sacrificium Abrahae H 402

Le Reniement de Saint Pierre, H 424


La Nuova Musica, David Bates

David Bates leads La Nuova Musica in 'Sacrifices', a programme of intensely dramatic oratorios from the mid Baroque. Three poignant tales of denail and sacrifice: St Peter's denial of Christ; Abraham's [narrowly averted] sacrifice of his son Isaac; and the Old Testament story of Jepthe, the hero commander who, before leading the Israelites into battle against the Ammonites, vows to God that if he is victorious, he will sacrifice the first living thing he meets upon his return.

Unfortunately it is his darling daughter, who dances out to greet him with cymbals and flutes. Jepthe must honour his vow...

In a dramatic lament, the daughter [she is never named] asks the mountains to bewail her fate - they answer in echoes; this is followed by one of the most moving choruses in all 17th C music. Belgian soprano Sophie Juncker is the daughter [and one to watch].

La Nuova Musica is established in the UK with regular appearances at the London Handel, the Spitalfields and Aldeburgh International festivals, and has achieved worldwide recognition and outreach through a five-record deal with harmonia mundi USA. Its debut recording for the label, released in March 2012, a world premiere on CD of the 1712 version of Handel’s 'Il pastor Fido', was proclaimed as the arrival of “an exceptionally talented young British ensemble” (Opera magazine). A second release, of Handel and Vivaldi 'Dixit Dominus', followed in 2013. After its recent debut at Wigmore Hall – performing Francesco Conti’s 'L’Issipile' with an all-star cast – The Guardian acclaimed the group as going “from strength to strength”.

A disc of Handel, Bononcini and Ariosti arias, with countertenor Lawrence Zazzo, will be released on October 13th.

“The soft-edged clarity of this smoothly sonorous recording is a tasteful foil to the high levels of emotion, definitely and effectively conveyed by an excellent cast.” Choir & Organ, Autumn 2014

“Crucially, Bates brings to the fore the dramatic qualities of each oratorioBates always keeps a sense of pace in the long lines of this music...The ensemble singing is unconstrained and nothing short of radiant, and the de Brossard instrumental pieces offer both balance and the instrumentalists of La Nuova Musica the chance to bring colour and vibrancy to the record.” Early Music Today, Autumn 2014 ****

“the disc's star turn also resides here in Sophie Junker...This is a disc of much promise from a new generation of British Baroque performing talent.” Gramophone Magazine, Awards Issue 2014

“beautifully polished performances...poised, crisply articulated and impeccably balanced instrumental items...the players of La Nuova Musica reveal a magnificently vital and committed approach...Sophie Junker intriguingly evokes a girl who is part-temptress, part-innocent.” International Record Review, 9th March 2015

“beautifully performed … All three pieces…are a pleasure to hear, performed as they are by skilled and experienced members of this excellent ensemble … The line-up of singers here is impressive and gives all the colour and drama needed … Charpentier and Carissimi have established reputations to which this lovely issue simply adds lustre. Buy this, sit back and enjoy.” MusicWeb International, 22nd October 2014

“To these affecting narratives (separated by instrumental interludes by De Brossard), La Nuova Musica bring superbly straight tone, unerring tuning and plangent phrasing.” The Observer, 20th July 2014 ****

“Without the harrowing visual element one can more easily appreciate how intensely moving these cantatas are in their own right. Sacrifice may be the theme but sensuality predominates. Beautiful, cleanly etched singing and playing” The Times, 26th July 2014 ****

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Handel: Arias

Handel: Arias


Handel:

Quando mai (from Radamisto)

Mi lusinga il dolce affetto (from Alcina)

Verdi prati (from Alcina)

Sta nell'Ircana pietrosa tana (from Alcina)

Hercules: There in myrtle shades

Hercules: Cease, ruler of the day, to rise

Hercules: Where shall I fly?

Cara speme (from Giulio Cesare)

Con l'ali di costanza (from Ariodante)

Scherza, infida (from Ariodante)

Dopo notte (from Ariodante)


Hyperion is delighted to present a tour de force from the supreme mezzo-soprano of today, Alice Coote, accompanied by The English Concert and Harry Bicket, making their Hyperion debut. Coote performs a selection of Handel’s greatest arias from opera and oratorio, employing an extraordinary range of vocal and dramatic colour, tone and emotion to produce triumphant and moving interpretations of these masterpieces.

Every piece is a highlight. Handel’s Italian operas are represented by his first two Covent Garden operas, Alcina and the great tragedy Ariodante, and also Radamisto and Giulio Cesare in Egitto (perhaps Handel’s most popular opera today). Handel’s English oratorio Hercules contains music of utter beauty. Written to a libretto by Thomas Broughton based on Sophocles’ Trachiniae, it is a drama of sombre magnificence. At its centre is the tragic figure of Hercules’ wife Dejanira, a role to rival Saul as a study in the corrosive power of jealousy. Little is known about the ‘Miss Robinson’ who created the part. But the music that Handel wrote for her suggests that she must have been a fine singing actress. Alice Coote’s powers in this direction are unrivalled today.

“The wealth of virtues in Coote's recital include her intuitive sense of apposite, well-proportioned ornamentation and a sure feeling for just tempo...Occasionally I found her vibrato and vocal portamentos a little intrusive. But expressive singing with eloquent instrumental partnership make for a rewarding encounter.” BBC Music Magazine, October 2014 ****

“Coote is certainly no wallower; the crisp, directional, exuberant yet controlled coloratura fireworks of Stà nell’Ircana belie the sheer vocal heft she possesses, and the deft and fleet-footed playing of the English Concert never feels overbalanced. In fact, the sheer size of voice is thrilling, and it’s very good to hear an increasingly rare full-blooded interpretation of these operatic works.” Early Music Today

“The bronze-coloured mezzo of Alice Coote is well-suited to the virtuosity and drama in some of Handel’s greatest operas” Financial Times, 6th September 2014

“Coote and The English Concert remind us in no uncertain terms that these characters and scenes rank among Handel's supreme achievements as a dramatist...'Scherza infida' is sung with a breathtaking sincerity that puts Coote's interpretation right up there with Janet Baker and Lorraine Hunt for its emotional intelligence.” Gramophone Magazine, Awards Issue 2014

“How spoiled we are for great mezzos, and Coote is one of the most treasurable. There is some perfect singing on this disc – and the rest isn’t bad too...There is no showy emoting: everything here...is done with art rather than histrionics.” Opera Now ****

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Pumeza: Voice of Hope

Pumeza: Voice of Hope


 

The Click Song

Nathan Mdledle, Joseph Mogotsi, Rufus Khoza, Ronnie Sehume

Davashe:

Saduva (Hush I Hear You)

Lakutshon’ ilanga

Fedhile:

Malaika (My Angel)

Makeba:

Pata Pata

Iya Gaduza

Mozart:

Vedrai, carino (from Don Giovanni)

Puccini:

O mio babbino caro (from Gianni Schicchi)

Signore, ascolta! (from Turandot)

Donde lieta usci (from La Bohème)

Silinga:

Holilili

Thomas, N B:

The Naughty Little Flea

trad.:

Thula Baba

Volans:

Umzi Watsha (The House is Burning)


Pumeza Matshikiza (soprano)

An album charting new star Pumeza’s journey from South African Township to the Opera Houses of the world .

Growing up during apartheid in the townships of South Africa, Pumeza, by chance, heard singing from an open window at a music school. When she auditioned, the college bought her a plane ticket to London where she was immediately offered a full scholarship for the Royal College of Music.

The album celebrates her journey, with beautiful music from her native South Africa including the moving lullaby Thula Baba (Hush, My Baby), the anthem Freedom Come all Yee and music from some of the most famous operas, including Puccini O Mio Babbino Caro.

Pumeza is a leading artist with the Stuttgart Opera.

“The colours in the haunting, spare accompaniment [of 'Umzi Watsha'] are conveyed with expert precision by the versatile Aurora Orchestra conducted by Iaian Farrington, who should also be congratulated for his arrangements...Pumeza's Mimi is lovingly sung...but 'O mio babbino cao' is a trifle too heavy.” Gramophone Magazine, Awards Issue 2014

Decca - 4787605

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Mozart: String Quartets Nos. 14, 16 & 19

Mozart: String Quartets Nos. 14, 16 & 19

String Quartets dedicated to Joseph Haydn


Mozart:

String Quartet No. 16 in E flat, K428

String Quartet No. 19 in C major, K465 'Dissonance'

String Quartet No. 14 in G major, K387 'Spring'


When he dedicated a set of six quartets to Haydn in 1785, Mozart was acknowledging the latter's supremacy in this genre. However, Mozart did more than just imitate him; he integrated Haydn's innovations into his own style, thereby producing a new milestone of Viennese Classicism. The three quartets played here by Cuarteto Casals are among Mozart's finest and are truly masterpieces of the genre.

“They launch into every movement with tremendous relish, on such a tide of rich, deep string tone that they could be playing Brahms or Dvořák, and it comes with equally full-blooded, expressive inflections. It is very involving to begin with, as such musical generosity draws you into the performance – welcomes you almost. But after a while it all seems a bit too obvious and generalised.” The Guardian, 4th September 2014 ***

“They fit three of the “Haydn” quartets (including the “Dissonance”) on to this single disc, thanks to generous playing-time and skipping some repeats, and the performances are strong-willed, bold in contrasts, almost Beethovenian in their mettlesome thrust.” Financial Times, 12th September 2014

“Cuarteto Casals shatter a glass ceiling of historic inhibitions and camouflage nothing. Enshrined herein is a rare order of musicianship.” Gramophone Magazine, Awards Issue 2014

“the period players of Cuarteto Casals reveal an intimate uderstanding of the special qualities of Mozart's quartet style...virtually every phrase is brought to life and coloured by some variations of bow pressure or speed, or vibrato...The recorded sound is fine-grained and vibrant.” BBC Music Magazine, November 2014 ****

“This triptych of Mozart performances is of the highest calibre, captured by a close recording whose revealing detail exposes no weakness among the players.” The Strad, November 2014

GGramophone Magazine

Editor's Choice - Awards Issue 2014

Harmonia Mundi - HMC902186

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Sofia Gubaidulina: Repentance

Sofia Gubaidulina: Repentance


Gubaidulina:

Repentance, for cello, bass and guitars

for cello, three guitars and double bass

Serenade

for solo guitar

Piano Sonata

Sotto voce

world première recording


Jacob Kellermann (guitar), Lucas Brar (guitar), Franz Halász (guitar), Hariolf Schlichtig (viola), Wen-Sinn Yang (cello), Philipp Stubenrauch (double bass), Débora Halász (piano)

Within the output of Sofia Gubaidulina, solo and chamber music occupies a position of prominence; she has written more than eighty such works. One of the earliest is the brief – and not really typical – Serenade for solo guitar from 1960, composed as a commission from a Moscow publishing house for inclusion in a collection of guitar compositions. The composer was asked to write a piece not overly difficult or progressive, and has later described the result as ‘music for pleasure’. Demonstrating a particular closeness to the guitar, Gubaidulina’s later writing for it has exploited its sound spectrum in previously unimagined ways. Two further works involving the guitar are included here, with Repentance from 2008 being a reworking of an earlier work, just as its title is a translation of the original’s Italian one, Ravvedimento. Her latest work involving the guitar, and also the latest on this disc (and a world première recording) is Sotto voce for viola, double bass and two guitars. About this unusual combination, Gubaidulina has remarked: ‘It fascinated me on account of its dark colour and its potential for contrast between a muted, almost whispered sotto voce sound and that particular sort of expressivity that low-pitched instruments possess’. Each with a duration of more than 20 minutes, these two works frame the equally substantial but much earlier Piano Sonata. Looking back at her youth, the composer has described the piano in her family home as ‘the only light’ in ‘a fairly grey and uninteresting existence’. Striking features of the sonata include borrowings from jazz and the twelve-tone row which underpins all its three movements – a nod towards the dodecaphony through which Gubaidulina asserted her place in the Russian musical avant-garde at an early stage. This varied and fascinating journey into the world of Sofia Gubaidulina’s chamber music is given us by a Munich-based group of eminent musicians.

“Gubaidulina shows how viable the post-Shostakovich explosion of Russian compositional activity has remained...this release is a must for its substantial additions to the still-expanding Gubaidulina discography.” Gramophone Magazine, Awards Issue 2014

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Grieg, Janacek & Kodaly: Cello Sonatas

Grieg, Janacek & Kodaly: Cello Sonatas


Grieg:

Cello Sonata in A minor, Op. 36

with Shai Wosner (piano)

Janacek:

Pohádka (Fairy Tale) for Cello and Piano

with Shai Wosner (piano)

Presto for Cello & Piano

with Shai Wosner (piano)

Kodály:

Sonata for Solo Cello, Op. 8


Danjulo Ishizaka (cello)

Cellist Danjulo Ishizaka, a former BBC Radio3 New Generation Artist, is now in demand with leading orchestras and conductors worldwide. He made his Vienna Musikverein debut in 2003; his BBC Proms debut in 2006. He has also performed at Carnegie Hall in New York. In 2012 he was awarded the Hideo Saito Memorial Fund Award, one of Japan’s most prestigious music awards Danjulo and fellow ONYX artist Shai Wosner have chosen a programme of works with strong roots in folk music which speak their characteristic national language very clearly. Together with Bartók, Kodály was a true pioneer in exploring and collecting melodies from the Hungarian folk tradition. Leoš Janácek’s 'Pohádka', on the other hand, turns beyond the folk tradition to another aspect that all cultures have in common: the fairy tale. Like his Hungarian counterparts, he too collected many of his country’s folk songs, observing and studying his compatriots’ language with a view to how it functioned in a melodic sense. He had a keen sensibility for the sounds of nature, and incorporated all these elements into his music. Grieg’s great Sonata combines folkloric and magical elements in equal measure and paints a sonic picture of Norwegian culture.

“he maintains a ferociously individual voice...But it is in the Kodaly that Ishizaka seems most at home...this dazzling recital can leave the listener in no doubt of the specialness of Ishizaka's playing.” Gramophone Magazine, Awards Issue 2014

“This recital is well worth serious attention … connoisseurs of fine cello playing should certainly try to hear this disc: Ishizaka is a wonderful musician.” International Record Review, November 2014

“Danjulo Ishizaka and Shai Wosner are mesmerisingly brilliant in this superbly recorded and imaginatively programmed recital.” The Strad, October 2014

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Elgar: Symphony No. 1

Elgar: Symphony No. 1


Elgar:

Symphony No. 1 in A flat major, Op. 55

Cockaigne Overture, Op. 40 'In London Town'


Conducting this all-Elgar programme is Sakari Oramo, the Finnish conductor who has been all but adopted by English music-lovers and orchestras - for ten years he was music director of the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, and since 2013 he holds the post as chief conductor of the BBC Symphony Orchestra.

It was during the winter of 1900–01 that Elgar began to sketch what he hoped would turn into his first symphony. However, the sketches were quickly absorbed into several shorter pieces, one of which was the Cockaigne overture - an unashamedly populist portrait of ‘old London town’.

As for the First Symphony, seven years would pass before its première in Manchester and subsequent London performance.

“Oramo uses a lot of rubato in the scherzo and at times you can feel it lurching into a slower gear with a sudden clunk. It’s like being in the car with someone who is learning how to use the clutch...That’s my only complaint about a performance which is outstanding all the way through...A First Symphony that only just misses perfection.” MusicWeb International, 1st July 2014

“It's a finely judged and paced performance, one that avoids extremes but still manages to give a tremendous sense of cumulative momentum to the whole work...Oramo has always obtained a wonderfully refined string tone from the orchestras he conducts, and the hushed playing of the Royal Stockholm Philharmonic...is strikingly effective.” The Guardian, 31st July 2014 ****

“There’s nothing portentous about the performance: take the athleticism demanded of the band by Oramo in the Scherzo — full of bright, good-natured humour — and the dashing final Allegro. It’s good news that non-Brits can respond to this music with such affection and authenticity.” Sunday Times, 3rd August 2014

“Oramo's commendably trim and purposeful conception is clearly the result of painstaking preparation and he certainly knows his way round the score; scarcely a fleck of detail escapes his eagle eye, and the antiphonally divided fiddles are an enormous boon...Oramo's reading of the main work has enough in the tank to merit investigation by any Elgarian seeking a fresh view.” Gramophone Magazine, Awards Issue 2014

“Oramo has secured a vibrant, electric orchestral sound that underpins everything, making even the slow introduction seem exuberant underneath its finely judged nobilmente breadth...The orchestra offers similarly big-hearted, vital playing in Cockaigne. The opening theme kicks up its heels cheekily.” BBC Music Magazine, November 2014 ****

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Fasch: Quartets and Concertos

Fasch: Quartets and Concertos


Fasch, J F:

Quadro in F major for Violin, Oboe, Bassooon & Basso Continuo

Quadro in D minor for Oboe, Violin, Bassoon & Basso Continuo

Quartet in G Minor

Recorder Concerto in F Major

Concerto in C major for Bassoon concertato, 2 Violins, Viola & Harpsichord

Quartet with Horn in F Major

Quartet with recorder in B flat Major

Quadro in B flat major for Recorder, Oboe, Violin & Basso Continuo


Ensemble Marsyas’ recording of Johann Fasch’s finest chamber music demonstrates why the man and his music were so appreciated in his own lifetime.

Founding member Peter Whelan and ‘the queen of the recorder’ (BBC Radio 3) Pamela Thorby are the soloists challenged with meeting the virtuoso demands of this engaging music. The four-movement Quartet in B-flat Major for recorder, oboe, violin and continuo is among one of Fasch’s most popular works; full of catchy tunes and contrapuntal ingenuity in equal measure, virtuosity is demanded from all concerned.

The Concerto in F Major for recorder and strings was only recently attributed to Fasch. It is full of characteristic Fasch-isms and of the same dramatic quasi-recitative style as his Bassoon Concerto. Ensemble Marsyas’ debut ‘Zelenka: Sonatas’, featuring some of the most spectacularly challenging music ever written for wind instruments, was named ‘Chamber Choice’ by BBC Music Magazine.

Ensemble Marsyas was awarded both first prize and the audience prize at the 2007 Brugge International Competition. Each member has since established themselves at the forefront of their profession and individually they have been awarded accolades by both critics and the recording industry alike. The Edinburgh based chamber group comprises the best of a new generation of musicians specialising in early music from across Europe.

“This may not be the most startling or inventive music harmonically, but they use the resources of their chosen instruments brilliantly. While Pamela Thorby's recorder is crisp and reliable, the real star is Peter Whelan's bassoon, burbling through its vast range with dancing precision” The Observer, 13th July 2014 ***

“This recording should send Baroque music lovers clamouring for more...[Ensemble Marsyas] subtly vary and enrich the quartet textures...The real star of the show, however, is the bassoon. Fasch infused his bassoon parts with versatility...Enormously enjoyable.” Gramophone Magazine, Awards Issue 2014

“Wind players, and indeed all of us who respond to the rich textures and warm colours of this music, will find much here that's delightful...Thorby's playing in the two works with recorder is fluent and sensitively articulated. All is carefully documented and sympathetically recorded - this msuic positively flourishes in the hands of the Ensemble Marsyas.” BBC Music Magazine, November 2014 *****

BBC Music Magazine

Chamber Choice - November 2014

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Dvorak: Symphony No. 6 & American Suite

Dvorak: Symphony No. 6 & American Suite


Dvorak:

Symphony No. 6 in D major, Op. 60

American Suite in A major, Op. 98a(b)


"The Americans expect great things of me,’ Dvorák wrote in November 1892 to his friend Josef Hlávka, ‘and the main thing, so they say, is to show them the way to the promised land and kingdom of a new and independent art, in short, to create a national music."

Dvorák’s years in the New World were, from an artistic point of view, unquestionably the most fertile of his entire career. In addition to the Ninth Symphony, he wrote there, among others, the Quartet Op.96 and the Quintet Op.97, the Biblical Songs, the Te Deum and the Cello Concerto. The Suite Op.98, which has only acquired the nickname ‘American’ in more recent times, was composed in the spring of 1894 for piano. A year later, shortly before returning to Prague, Dvorák arranged it for orchestra. Written when he was director of the National Conservatory of Music in New York, it is an exotic patchwork of Amerindian and Afro-American music but with a pronounced Bohemian accent. In these superb performances by the Luzerner Sinfonieorchester led by James Gaffigan, both the charm and folk elements of these works are clearly in evidence.

“Gaffigan's tempo in the first movement of the Symphony is on the fast side, but this imparts a strong sense of direction...Gaffigan's performance of the American Suite is as delightful as the music; melody is well to the fore with no sense of this unpretentious music being patronised.” BBC Music Magazine, October 2014 ****

“Switzerland’s oldest orchestra and conductor James Gaffigan make a beguiling, expert team.” The Observer, 5th October 2014 ****

“This is a thoroughly enjoyable new recording of Dvorak’s Sixth Symphony which has the advantage of an unusual and attractive coupling … James Gaffigan paces the music expertly … Gaffigan’s disk gives a sensitively shaped, straightforward and effective reading of the work, very engagingly played. He has a fine ear for detail, and the Lucerne players bring out plenty of the inner working of Dvorak’s orchestration.” International Record Review, October 2014

“Lightness, transparency, geniality, warmth and a keen sense of symphonic inexorability - these and other admirable qualities keep the first movement...consistently engaging. His pacing is near ideal...This is a wonderful CD, my first encounter with Gaffigan and his players. I can't wait to hear more.” Gramophone Magazine, Awards Issue 2014

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The Classical Piano Concerto 1: Dussek

The Classical Piano Concerto 1: Dussek


Dussek, J L:

Piano Concerto in G major, Op. 1, No. 3

Piano Concerto in C major, Op. 29

Piano Concerto in E flat major, Op. 70


Howard Shelley (piano & conductor)

Ulster Orchestra

Following on from Hyperion’s hugely popular ‘Romantic Piano Concerto’ series, the ‘Classical Piano Concerto’ focuses on the lesser-known concertos from the dawn of the genre. Between about 1770 and 1820—the high classical period dominated by Mozart, Haydn and Beethoven—musicians including Clementi, Cramer, Dussek, Steibelt, Woelfl and others made their names as composers and performers of piano concertos. This series aims to be the first in-depth recorded survey of this forgotten repertoire.

This first volume features three of Bohemian virtuoso Jan Ladislav Dussek’s eighteen piano concertos, taken from different points in his career. As a group, these pieces are a fascinating study, with most of the earlier works largely reflecting the Mozartian model, and the later ones revealing stylistic traits sometimes at odds with the late eighteenth-century conception of the form, and anticipating future developments in the genre.

There could be no finer guide to the hidden gems of this repertoire than Howard Shelley, whose recordings of Clementi keyboard works, and Mozart and Hummel piano concertos, have received such acclaim. He appears here as pianist / conductor with the Ulster Orchestra.

Read Presto's complete review of this disc here.

“Shelley has been a stalwart of the Romantic series of concertos, and so it seems fitting that he has been chosen to do the honours here. He brings his customary elegance to every bar, and it's a delight to listen to him, with immaculate passagework and tender playing in the slow movements. I look forward to hearing further volumes in this series!” James Longstaffe, Presto Classical, 21st July 2014

“bright, buoyant and restlessly busy” Financial Times, 20th August 2014

“Whatever one's reaction to and perception of Dussek's music, Shelley's role in this enterprise should not be lightly acknowledged...This is skill and dedication of a high order and I can't think of another living pianist who can equal him in this particular field of musical endeavour.” Gramophone Magazine, Awards Issue 2014

“This disc presents three refreshing and delightful pieces to launch a new classical piano concerto series from Hyperion...One must applaud both Hyperion’s enterprise and Shelley’s dedication to bring this music to our attention.” International Piano ****

Presto Disc of the Week

21st July 2014

Presto Discs of 2014

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Beethoven: The Creatures of Prometheus, Op. 43

Beethoven: The Creatures of Prometheus, Op. 43


As part of a major partnership with Parnassus Arts (which previously brought Handel’s Alessandro and ROKOKO, the January 2014 solo album from Max Emanuel Cencic), this is the first album from the Athens-based orchestra and their conductor.

Rejecting academic coolness, Armonia Atenea, under the baton of conductor George Petrou, injects dramatic energy and bright colour to Beethoven’s bold ballet score

Beethoven’s ballet music was written in 1801 (between the First and Second symphonies) and the theme from the overture provided the subject for the finale of the Eroica Symphony and Eroica Variations

Based on the Greek fire-stealing myth, the story of The Creatures of Prometheus is conveyed with music full of drama and verve, but was the only ballet score that Beethoven wrote

Armonia Atenea and George Petrou’s Decca recording of Handel’s Alessandro has received numerous accolades including the Stanley Sadie Handel Recording Prize, the ‘Complete Opera CD of the Year Award’ at the International Opera Awards, a nomination for the Opera of the Year by viewer of Mezzo TV, as well as being singled out by Classica, Diapason, Fono Forum and the BBC Music magazine

“For all the star quality, the performance remains a supremely ensemble effort, singers and instrumentalists striking sparks off each other under the energised and energising musical direction of George Petrou.” BBC Music magazine (of Alessandro)

“Petrou, conducting Armonia Atenea on period instruments, has full measure of the music’s dramatic qualities, which can be sinewy (No 2) or gently bucolic (No 10). The refined shaping, firm attack and piquant timbres underline the strength and suppleness of Beethoven’s inspiration.” The Telegraph, 4th September 2014 ****

“a recording that has you an the edge of your seat...The grainy sound of the period instruments gives a lightness and transparency to the texture, and George Petrou keeps the music moving so that you can easily imagine it being danced...playing that's subtle and individual - chamber music on a large scale.” BBC Music Magazine, October 2014 *****

“The Overture is regularly played, the rest largely forgotten. But this beginning might impel you to listen to the lot...Petrou, though anything but prosaic that he is keen to move the music on...[the disc] varies from excellent to outstanding, from a group bristling with enthusiasm.” Gramophone Magazine, Awards Issue 2014

BBC Music Magazine

Orchestral Choice - October 2014

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Berlioz: Harold en Italie

Berlioz: Harold en Italie


Berlioz:

Harold en Italie, Op. 16

Reverie et Caprice, Op. 8

Le carnaval romain Overture, Op. 9

Benvenuto Cellini Overture


Lisa Berthaud (viola) & Giovanni Radivo (violin)

Orchestre National de Lyon, Leonard Slatkin

Drawing on the adventures of Byron’s Childe Harold and the composer’s own Italian experiences as a Prix de Rome winner, Harold en Italie was intended for the great violinist Paganini who, having initially rejected the work, later repented, giving it his highest praise. The brilliant concert overtures Benvenuto Cellini and Le carnaval romain are among Berlioz’s most popular works. Quickly taken up by several celebrated violinists of the time, the elegant Rêverie et Caprice is his only work for solo violin and orchestra. Leonard Slatkin’s Lyon recording of Berlioz’s Symphonie fantastique (8572886) has been acclaimed as “quite simply one of the best on disc” by MusicWeb International.

Leonard Slatkin and the Orchestre National de Lyon have already booked a remarkable success with their Grammy nominated recording of Berlioz’s Symphonie fantastique (8572886), which was also a MusicWeb International ‘Recording of the Month’. It was also dubbed “the most amazing performance and recording of the work I’ve ever heard” by Fanfare.

Internationally renowned conductor Leonard Slatkin is currently music director of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra and of the Orchestre National de Lyon and principal guest conductor of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra. He is also the author of a new book entitled Conducting Business. His more than 100 recordings have brought seven GRAMMY® Awards and 64 GRAMMY® Award nominations. He has received many other honours, including the 2003 National Medal of Arts, France’s Chevalier of the Legion of Honour and the League of American Orchestras’ Gold Baton for service to American music.

“here [Harold] comes across as a winner...The Lyon orchestra luxuriates in Berlioz’s instrumental colours, and the fillers include swaggering renditions of the Benvenuto Cellini and Roman Carnival overtures.” Financial Times, 8th August 2014 ****

“Berthaud's first viola solo, backed by the harp and interspersed with expressive clarinets, is beautifully played. Slatkin lilts us into the main Allegro as persuasively as anyone this side of the analogue divide...The two overtures are excellently played, both benefiting from Slatkin's familiar skill at clarifying orchestral textures.” Gramophone Magazine, Awards Issue 2014

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The Romantic Cello Concerto, Vol. 5: Saint-Saëns

The Romantic Cello Concerto, Vol. 5: Saint-Saëns


Saint-Saëns:

Cello Concerto No. 1 in A minor, Op. 33

BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, Andrew Manze

Cello Concerto No. 2 in D minor, Op. 119

BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, Andrew Manze

La Muse et le Poète, Op. 132

Antje Weithaas (violin)

BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, Andrew Manze

Allegro Appassionato in B minor Op. 43

BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, Andrew Manze

Le carnaval des animaux: Le Cygne

Julia Lynch (piano) & Judith Keaney (piano)


Natalie Clein adds a remarkable collection of Saint-Saëns’ music for cello and orchestra to her impressive discography. Clein first came to prominence when she won the BBC Young Musician of the Year award in 1994; it is appropriate that she performs the music of an extraordinary child prodigy.

The first cello concerto has always been one of Saint-Saëns’ most popular pieces, Casals choosing it for his London debut in 1905. It is a gloriously playful piece that carries the listener along on a melodic and emotional rollercoaster, from the jaunty opening to the eloquence of the second movement minuet, with a persistent yearning threading its way throughout. The second concerto will be less familiar to listeners. The soloist for whom it was written, Joseph Hollman, was an energetic, muscular player and Saint-Saëns seems here to turn his back on the suave style of the first concerto. When Saint-Saëns’ pupil and friend Gabriel Fauré chose the concerto as a Conservatoire test piece, the composer was duly grateful, but admitted ‘it will never be as well known as the first; it’s too difficult’. This it certainly is, with many solo passages, huge leaps and runs that require two staves to accommodate them, and a large amount of doublestopping. Natalie Clein meets these challenges with marvellous technique, musicianship and the passion for which she has become so well known.

“It is the light airiness of Natalie Clein's approach that works so well here...she finds a golden timbre and fleet elegance, matched by Andrew Manze and the effervescent BBC Scottish forces. This is as close as you'll get to musical champagne; I've a feeling Saint-Saens would have approved.” BBC Music Magazine, October 2014 ****

“this Hyperion programme has much going for it, not least in that it features the mature, sensitive artistry of Natalie Clein. Her spirit in this music is matched by that of the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra under Andrew Manze, with passion, reflectiveness, architectural sweep and refinement in phrasing and dynamic colouring all finding common ground.” Gramophone Magazine, Awards Issue 2014

BBC Music Magazine

Concerto Choice - October 2014

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Rimsky Korsakov: Scheherazade, Op. 35

Rimsky Korsakov: Scheherazade, Op. 35


This disc marks the beginning of an new recording relationship between Chandos Records and the Toronto Symphony Orchestra. Conducting this performance of Rimsky-Korsakov’s ever popular symphonic suite Sheherazade is Peter Oundjian, who this season celebrates his tenth year as Music Director of the Orchestra. After a recent performance of the work, the Toronto Star praised Oundjian and the ‘remarkably polished’ TSO for their ‘élan and dynamic punch’.

Many composers have drawn inspiration from the collection of folklore known as the Arabian Nights but none has captured the imagination so vividly as Nikolay Rimsky-Korsakov in Sheherazade, composed in 1888. In the story, Sheherazade escapes the murderous intent of her husband, the Sultan Schariar, by entertaining him with fascinating tales every evening for 1001 nights. Rimsky-Korsakov’s four movements allude to individual episodes and images from the stories in dazzling orchestral colour.

The suite opens with a stern and strident brass theme representing the bloodthirsty Sultan. A winding melody for solo violin that returns throughout the work represents the answering voice of Sheherazade. The kaleidoscopic second movement has the character of a scherzo while the third is tender and lyrical. The finale is a boisterous and exuberant carnival, calmed by the return of Sheherazade’s theme which brings the work to a serene conclusion.

“The main hero of this recording is the Toronto Symphony Orchestra's lead violinist, Jonathan Crow. His Sheherazade...is a feisty, fearless and engaging storyteller...Crow's playing is almost enough to make this recording a prime version.” BBC Music Magazine, October 2014 ***

“Certainly they play well together as an orchestral team, and the soloists come forwards with well-placed contributions in Rimsky-Korsakov's colourful score...What is so far missing is the capacity for the conductor to entrust more to the players...Nevertheless this is a good performance, scrupulously recorded.” Gramophone Magazine, Awards Issue 2014

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Haydn: Symphonies Nos. 92, 93, 97, 98 & 99

Haydn: Symphonies Nos. 92, 93, 97, 98 & 99


Haydn:

Symphony No. 92 in G major 'Oxford'

Symphony No. 93 in D major

Symphony No. 97 in C major

Symphony No. 98 in B flat major

Symphony No. 99 in E flat major


Read Presto's complete review of this disc here.

The late Sir Colin Davis and the London Symphony Orchestra present a collection of Haydn’s London Symphonies alongside the spirited Oxford Symphony. Sir Colin Davis was long recognised as a pre-eminent Haydn interpreter. During his Indian summer with the orchestra he recorded both 'The Creation' and 'The Seasons' for LSO Live. The symphonies presented here were recorded in 2011 and make for revelatory listening.

Entering a new chapter after the death of Prince Nikolaus Esterházy, Haydn’s forward-looking late symphonies were conceived on a large scale and exude all the hallmarks of the composer’s protean maturity. Surpassing even his own high standards and received to an enormous success, their expressive strength and inventive mastery of form gave his international reputation a substantial boost: Haydn’s contrapuntal mastery and thematic rigour are laid bare for all to see.

“If anyone complains that the forces used are too large, they should remember that Haydn, like Mozart and Beethoven, liked big orchestras. In any case, the string textures Davis secures are irreproachably crisp and clear, and the rhythms vital. Not to be missed.” Sunday Times, 6th July 2014

“Davis’s tempi may be gentler than in his prime, and the LSO cannot match the lightness of period-instrument orchestras, but there is geniality and gracefulness aplenty.” Financial Times, 2nd August 2014 ****

“An unexpected and wonderful bonus to Colin Davis’s discography…Such affection is immediately established with the beginning of the irrepressible ‘Oxford’ Symphony...This is a release to treasure for great music and magnificent readings…with a conductor who tapped so perceptively and benevolently into this imaginative and indestructible music.” classicalsource.com, July 2014

“The performance is notably warmer and more personal [than his earlier accounts], it glows with affection for this life-enhancing music...[the Adagio of No. 99] unfolds with a sublime serenity that is quite special...Those who love Haydn should hear this set.” BBC Music Magazine, October 2014 ****

“Sir Colin's affinity with and love for this music is palpable as he (very audibly) hums and sings along, and the hard-bitten LSO have clearly caught the bug too, playing with style and sensitivity for their erstwhile chief.” Gramophone Magazine, Awards Issue 2014

“If I had to choose one word to sum up these performances, it would be poise. Everything is elegant and refined...these performances simply radiate joy: you can almost see Davis's benevolent smile as he conducts Haydn's delightful slow movements, and the Allegro movements burst forth with delight. Even if you already have several recordings of these symphonies, I really can't recommend these new performances highly enough.” James Longstaffe, Presto Classical, 30th June 2014

Presto Disc of the Week

30th June 2014

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Leif Ove Andsnes: The Beethoven Journey (Piano Concerto No. 5 & Choral Fantasy)

Leif Ove Andsnes: The Beethoven Journey (Piano Concerto No. 5 & Choral Fantasy)


Beethoven:

Piano Concerto No. 5 in E flat major, Op. 73 'Emperor'

Fantasia for Piano, Chorus and Orchestra in C minor, Op. 80

Prague Philharmonic Choir


The celebrated Norwegian pianist completes his multi-annual collaborative journey with the Mahler Chamber Orchestra, dedicated to Beethoven’s five piano concertos. The Beethoven Journey is a four-year collaborative project between celebrated pianist Leif Ove Andsnes and the Mahler Chamber Orchestra. Together they have recorded all of Beethoven’s Piano Concertos, as well as the Choral Fantasy, with Andsnes not only playing but also directing the orchestra. The series began with the live recording of the Piano Concertos 1 & 3 at the Prague Spring Festival in the historic Rudolfinum building. The second CD, Piano Concertos 2 & 4, was recorded in London in 2013, and the final album was recorded again live at the Prague Spring Festival in 2014. Leif Ove Andsnes has devoted the majority of his performing and recording activities in the last 3 years to the music of Beethoven. Although Andsnes has an extensive discography, “The Beethoven Journey” is his first Beethoven recording ever.

“Andsnes manages to be lithe and spontaneous-sounding, and doesn't overplaying hints of melodrama...In a way Andsnes reminds me of Schnabel in his sureness of touch, albeit in a very different style...The unanimity in the closing bars between Andsnes and his orchestra says it all. Having used up my stash of superlatives, all I can say is: go buy.” Gramophone Magazine, Awards Issue 2014

“There is no absence of weight here or of rhythmic sinew, but the range of softer dynamics and the flux of light and shade are truly remarkable. With Andsnes, every note counts, and the Mahler Chamber Orchestra complements him in definition and refined phrasing. These are Beethoven performances of arresting maturity, stylistic acumen and utter delight.” The Telegraph, 10th January 2015 *****

“Andsnes's view of the Emperor Concerto's slow movement may strike some listeners as less contemplative and poetic than usual, and it may be that his interpretation of the piece will deepend over time, but it's beautifully played...Particularly notable in Andsnes's performance of the first movement is the mysterious approach to the recapitulation, where he and the orchestra vividly convey the feeling of the music holding its breath.” BBC Music Magazine, March 2015 *****

Presto Discs of 2014

Finalist

GGramophone Magazine

Editor's Choice - Awards Issue 2014

Sony Leif Ove Andsnes The Beethoven Journey - 88843058862

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Handel & Porpora: Arias

Handel & Porpora: Arias


Handel:

Se bramate d’amar chi vi sdegna (from Serse)

Frondi tenere e belle ... Ombra mai fù (from Serse)

Ombra mai fu (from Serse)

Sta nell'Ircana pietrosa tana (from Alcina)

Scherza, infida (from Ariodante)

Dopo notte (from Ariodante)

Porpora:

Alto Giove (from Polifemo)

Vaghi amori (from Festa d'Imeneo)

Dolci freschi aurette...Nell'attendere il mio bene (from Polifemo)


Julie Boulianne (mezzo soprano)

Clavecin en concert, Luc Beauséjour

Mezzo-soprano Julie Boulianne along with Clavecin en concert and its artistic director Luc Beauséjour present an exceptionally colourful chapter in the history of music on their new recording for the Analekta label. The 9 arias that make up this album are taken from operas that were presented between 1735 and 1738, at a time when two of London's opera houses were waging a heated battle.

London, 1734: the political atmosphere between Robert Walpole's (Whig Party) supporters and opponents was explosive. There was a special kind of war on the horizon. The battle field: the Opera. A certain composer who had moved from Germany a few years earlier was seeing his popularity rise to new heights. His name: Georg Friedrich Handel. But this rise was not to be without hurdles. Nicolo Porpora, the rising star of Europe's musical atmosphere, and whose magnificent reputation spoke for itself, was called upon. Both sides confronted one another and upped the ante: on one side, the Royal Academy of Music, with Handel, favourite of the royal power; on the other side, the Opera of Nobility, established by a group of nobles who wanted to counter Handel's dominance. At the end of this long struggle, which will have incurred substantial financial losses on both sides, Handel and Porpora will nonetheless have left a few masterworks for generations to come.

From Handel, here are some arias from Serse, one of the most played operas to this day, with its most famous aria "Ombra mai fu". Are also on the program, an aria from the opera Alcina, a true masterpiece, and another from Ariodante, one of the famed composer's most inventive works. From Porpora, two of the album's pieces feature the natural flow of the opera Polifemo; an opera composed for the “star” of that era, castrato Carlo Broschi, known as Farinelli.

“Beausejour's unmannered and judicious direction and his excellent small band Clavecin en Concert provide astutely characterised platforms for Julie Boulianne's elegantly sincere singing...I'm glad to have heard these sensitive and refreshing performances.” Gramophone Magazine, Awards Issue 2014

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Rachmaninov: Monna Vanna (Act 1) & Songs

Rachmaninov: Monna Vanna (Act 1) & Songs


Rachmaninov:

Monna Vanna: Opera in one act

Moscow Conservatory Opera Soloists: Evgeniya Dushina, Vladimir Avtomonov, Dmitry Ivanchey, Edward Arutyunyan, Mikhail Golovushkin

Moscow Conservatory Students Choir, Moscow Conservatory Students Symphony Orchestra, Vladimir Ashkenazy

At my window, Op. 26 No.10

Soile Isokoski (soprano) & Vladimir Ashkenazy (piano)

Night is sorrowful, Op. 26 No.12

Soile Isokoski (soprano) & Vladimir Ashkenazy (piano)

Lilacs, Op. 21 No. 5

Soile Isokoski (soprano) & Vladimir Ashkenazy (piano)

The Rat-Catcher, Op. 38 No. 4

Soile Isokoski (soprano) & Vladimir Ashkenazy (piano)

Vocalise, Op. 34 No. 14

Soile Isokoski (soprano) & Vladimir Ashkenazy (piano)

How fair this spot, Op. 21 No. 7

Soile Isokoski (soprano) & Vladimir Ashkenazy (piano)

Sleep, Op.38, No. 5

Soile Isokoski (soprano) & Vladimir Ashkenazy (piano)


Rachmaninov’s rarely heard, and unfinished opera, Monna Vanna is recorded here in a newer edition by Gennadi Belov and led by Vladimir Ashkenazy, an iconic artist and expert in Russian music.

This recording of Monna Vanna is a world première recording of the sung Russian version – the language in which Rachmaninov originally intended the opera to be performed.

Rachmaninov wrote Act 1 of Monna Vanna in 1907, whilst also completing some of his major works: Symphony No. 2 and his first piano sonata. Rachmaninov never completed the work and it fell into oblivion until it was finally premièred in New York, 1984.

The Second part of this disc features the Finnish soprano Soile Isokoski. She records seven songs by Rachmaninov – including the hauntingly beautiful Vocalise – and is accompanied by Ashkenazy on piano.

“Ashkenazy and his forces inject considerable dramatic impetus into the music...this is a tantalising disc of a what-might-have-been, Vladimir Avtomonov's rich, fluid baritone bearing the brunt of the action.” Gramophone Magazine, Awards Issue 2014

“It’s characteristic mature, if not memorable, Rachmaninov, well sung by students. If the songs will entice collectors, completists will have to have the Monna Vanna.” Sunday Times, 3rd August 2014

Ondine - ODE12492

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Meyerbeer: Vasco de Gama (original version of L'Africaine)

Meyerbeer: Vasco de Gama (original version of L'Africaine)


Guibee Yang (soprano), Martin Gabler (bass), Kouta Rasanen (bass), Rolf Broman (bass), Bernhard Berchtold (tenor), Anton Reimer (tenor), Pierre-Yves Pruvot (bass), Claudia Sorokina (soprano), Tiina Penttinen (mezzo-soprano), Thomas Frob (tenor), Thomas Seidel (tenor), Bjorn Werner (bass), Stefan Kringel (bass), Tommaso Randazzo (tenor)

Robert Schumann Philharmonie, Chor der Oper Chemnitz, Frank Beermann

Completed by Meyerbeer four months prior to his death he called the opera Vasco de Gama, but it came to be known to posterity as L'Africaine (The African Woman). Now how did this happen? Meyerbeer had been working on the opera since 1837, and L'Africaine was its original title. Eugène Scribe's libretto told the story of an African princess who is unhappily in love with a Portuguese naval officer. After some initial enthusiasm Meyerbeer soon had his doubts about the subject. Years of revision and rejection followed. It was not until 1849, following Le Prophet, did he resumed his work on it. The Portuguese seafarer now became the historical explorer Vasco da Gama. Since he had discovered the sea route to India, the setting had to be transferred from Africa to India. As a result, Meyerbeer changed the opera's title to Vasco de Gama. This edition by Jügen Schläder is based on the last published and unpublished material left by Meyerbeer on his death. This is the first time this version has been release on CD.

“The performance is excellent. The girlish tones of Guibee Yang's Ines make an effective contrast with Claudia Sorokina's rounder Selika. Bernhard Berchtold sounds suitably heroic as Vasco...Beermann, the chorus and the orchestra are all splendid.” Gramophone Magazine, Awards Issue 2014

“Fétis's alterations consisted largely of cuts and re-orderings, the aim of which, ostensibly, was to bring the opera within manageable length, and to improve narrative clarity...The best performance comes for Guibee Yang as Inês, psychologically perceptive and quite beautifully sung.” The Guardian, 6th August 2014 ***

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Mad Rush: Piano Music

Mad Rush: Piano Music


Glass, P:

Opening

Metamorphosis I-V

Mad Rush

Dead Things

Wichita Vortex Sutra


Sally Whitwell (piano)

Philip Glass is that rarest of contemporary ‘classical’ composers – a musician who has revolutionised the way art music is composed and found a massive audience in doing so. As much a pop and cult phenomenon as he is a descendant of Beethoven, Glass’ music has been used in classic films like Koyanisqaatsi and The Hours. But it’s in his music for solo piano that the essence of his art is revealed. In this groundbreaking album from Australian pianist Sally Whitwell – the first of its kind ever to be recorded in Australia – all of Glass’ finest solo piano music is represented. The fabulous Australian Stuart & Sons piano has been deployed for this recording its crystalline tones ideally suited to Glass’ hypnotically beautiful music.

“It is [the] ability to step back and communicate the music's overarching sweep without losing sight of the details that marks out Whitwell's recording from any number of recordings of Glass's piano music...For Whitwell it's all about connection and communication, and 'Mad Rush' manages that in abundance.” Gramophone Magazine, Awards Issue 2014

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Lise de la Salle plays Schumann

Lise de la Salle plays Schumann


Schumann:

Kinderszenen, Op. 15

Abegg Variations, Op. 1

Fantasie in C major, Op. 17


"I’ve always listened to a lot of Schumann. He fascinated me when I was a little girl of six or seven. I’ve always been attracted by the manic side of him, his very individual ‘touch’, and I’ve always loved surrendering myself to his music. I feel very close to it. But although Schumann is one of the composers I get most out of, I waited a long time before I played him ‘seriously’... I think I didn’t want to risk being disappointed by myself. I couldn’t bring myself to imagine that everything I had dreamt about this music might not take shape exactly as I wanted. So I waited until I was completely ready, and that moment came a few years ago. The Fantasie was the apotheosis of those dreams of mine. So I built this programme around it. As for the Kinderszenen, I often played the piece Der Dichter spricht as an encore; I think it’s extraordinarily evocative, yet without any trace of technical demonstration – the power it packs into just a few notes is deeply moving to me. In a recording, I especially like to take the listener by the hand and set out to show him or her the greatest possible number of things. I always try to find a trajectory in my programmes. That’s what we have on this disc: beginning with the Fantasie as my starting-point, I double back to the very start of Schumann’s career with the Abegg Variations, then I follow the course of the short pieces, very varied in atmosphere, that make up the Kinderszenen. A musical journey needs those contrasts, and Schumann draws the essence of emotion from them." Lise de la Salle

At the age of 14, Lise de la Salle's first recording (Ravel, Rachmaninov) marked the start of her collaboration with Naïve.

In 2004, her second album (Bach, Liszt) was named CD of the Month by Gramophone. This was followed in 2007 by a third CD, the First Concertos of Shostakovich, Liszt, and Prokofiev with Lawrence Foster and the Gulbenkian Orchestra, which won the same distinction in Gramophone. In 2008 came a double album of Mozart and Prokofiev featuring a DVD (Lise de la Salle, Majeure!) directed by Jean-Philippe Perrot, which was named Editor’s Choice in Gramophone and BBC Music Magazine Choice. The year 2010 saw the release of a Chopin recording, featuring the Second Concerto with the Dresden Staatskapelle under Fabio Luisi and the four Ballades. The most recent additions to her discography are a Liszt programme and 'Lise de la Salle: A Portrait.'

“The intimacy she brings to the smaller pieces — a rapt Träumerei, best known of the Op 15 collection — makes way for her majestic account of Op 17, the composer’s grandest masterpiece for his own instrument.” Sunday Times, 13th July 2014

“Her selection is sufficiently individual to make comparison a marginal issue, and so too is her playing, which once more displays a distinctive personal eloquence...For Clara Schumann the Fantasie was beyond wonder. Such unbridled joy is reflected in de la Salle's bold and impassioned response.” Gramophone Magazine, Awards Issue 2014

“The ebb and flow of phrases in Variation 2 … is ‘delicious’, as the French would say … surely, this is one of the best recordings of this work … [de la Salle] certainly has the fingers and the arms for almost any task she might undertake, and I look forward very much to following her career.” International Record Review, October 2014

“Immaculate in their textual clarity, virtuosic and elegant in tone, these are highly accomplished, keenly considered performances by an artist of conspicuous refinement.” BBC Music Magazine, November 2014 ***

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Peter Seabourne: Steps Volume 4

Peter Seabourne: Steps Volume 4

Libro di Canti Italiano


Seabourne:

Libro di Canti Italiano


Fabio Menchetti (piano)

Steps is an ongoing “compositional travelling companion”. Already into five large volumes with more to come. The series is dedicated to the young pianist (Giuseppe Modugno) whose precocious playing helped rekindle Peter Seabourne’s compositional spark after a thirteen year silence. Fabio Menchetti is the highly talented pianist on this next creative volume of Pete Seaborne’s work.

“the artistry of Fabio Menchetti is its own justification, even if the sound could have done with a little more ambience.” Gramophone Magazine, Awards Issue 2014

“Peter Seabourne’s aphoristic music has such a lyrical quality that it is immediately appealing.” Pizzicato, December 2016

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Robert de Visée: Confidences Galantes

Robert de Visée: Confidences Galantes


Visée:

Suite for Theorbo in E minor

Suite for Theorbo in B minor

Suite in G minor

Suite for Theorbo in D major


Fred Jacobs (French theorbo)

Metronome announces a new CD and download release of “Confidences Galantes” of the music of Robert de Visée for theorbo performed by Fred Jacobs.

Robert de Visée was a court musician and composer for Louis XIV and a member of the King’s personal chamber ensemble “La Chambre du Roi” along with Francois Couperin, Marin Marais, and Antoine Forqueray. In 1716 he published his “Pièces de Théorbe” after more than thirty years service in the king’s service. He is documented as performing at the royal bedside. The theorbo was the largest instrument of the lute family in fashion at the end of the 17th century. Lavish, dramatic looking, the instrument even today looks somewhat outlandish in the concert hall. But its rich bass range was the cutting edge of instrument technology at the period and it took a key part in continuo ensemble in early baroque composition. The instrument that Fred Jacobs plays was reconstructed from contemporary drawings and one surviving instrument by Michael Lowe the well known English luthier.

This disc is dedicated to Gusta Goldschmidt, a teacher of Fred Jacobs and an inspiration to a whole generation of early music performers in the Netherlands and around the world. For example she performed with distinction (indeed stole the show) at the first Lute Society of Great Britain summer school in 1967!

This release is the second in a series devoted to De Visée. The first “Pièces de Théorbe” METCD1072 was released in 2008 and received enthusiastic reviews: “an absolutely splendid recording” Early Music and in France “10” from Classica – Répertoire.

Fred Jacobs is a leading performer of the French theorbo. His discs and recitals as a soloist and accompanist have been well reviewed. He teaches the lute and the theorbo at the Amsterdam Conservatoire. In addition to these solo releases by Metronome, he also appears in the Locke Consort recordings of Matthew Locke released by Metronome

“while the lighter courantes, gigues and gavottes have a peculiar charm all their own, it's in the agreeably melancholic shadows of the sarabadnes especially that both musician and instrument really come into their own.” Gramophone Magazine, Awards Issue 2014

“[Jacobs] is not merely technically but displays a deep understanding for, and profound empathy with, de Visée and the French Baroque. There’s simply no one else playing the French repertory to this standard – and it’s a gold standard.” International Record Review, December 2013

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Diana Gabrielyan plays Stravinsky, Shostakovich, Babajanyan & Mansuryan

Diana Gabrielyan plays Stravinsky, Shostakovich, Babajanyan & Mansuryan


Babadzhanian:

Elegy

Impromptu

Vagarshapat Dance

Pictures (6)

Mansurian:

Three Pieces for the Low Keys

Shostakovich:

Piano Sonata No. 1, Op. 12

Stravinsky:

Piano Sonata (1924)


Diana Gabrielyan (piano)

With this record pianist Diana Gabrielyan explores the musical richness of the 20th century in Russia and her native Armenia from two separate historical periods: post-World War I, with sonatas by Stravinsky and Shostakovich, and post-World War II, with the compositions by Babajanyan and Mansurian. She says: “Though characterized by strong internal contradictions, almost diametrically opposed to one another, and spanning compositional languages from neoclassicism to serial and 12-tone technique, they somehow manage to represent different aspects of a single reality: man always looking for a better world.”

The purity and the intellectual elegance of Stravinsky’s neo-classical sonata lead us to an ideal world is shattered by Shostakovich’s sonata, a work with a revolutionary spirit and musical portrait of the Great War, with strong harmonies and dissonances pushed to the extreme. Arno Babajanyan’s pieces are music of Diana’s heart and soul. Despite employing 12-tone method, Babajanyan “conjures pictures that are purely Armenian, confirming the evergreen spirit of a thousand-year-old people”. The disc concludes with Tigran Mansurian’s Three Pieces, “a fantastic journey into a mysterious and infinite universe, where every note is a shining star”.

Pierre Petit wrote in Le Figaro: “At the age of 13, Diana Gabrielyan shows overwhelming presence, passion and sense of style”. Born in Yerevan, Armenia, she began her musical studies with her mother, and gave her first solo recital in the Aram Khachaturian House-

Museum aged nine. She has lived in Italy since 1998. She graduated with distinction from the S. Cecilia Conservatory, Rome, receiving a special prize for the best degree in Rome in 2005. The winner of many national and international competitions, including the first prize at the “International Young Talents Competition”, she performs extensively, participating in festivals and playing in venues such as the Rome Opera House, the Malibran Theatre in Venice, the Unesco Salle de Cinema, and Citè des Arts in Paris. Since 2010 she has been studying at the prestigious International Piano Academy in Imola, under the supervision of M° Boris Petrushansky. This is Gabrielyan’s international recording debut.

“Throughout she displays a clear, delicate touch, and a refusal to grandstand even when the virtuoso nature of the music invites it. The varying moods of the fascinating Sonata Op. 11 by Shostakovich come to vivid life under her hands...but it's the clutch of pieces by Stravinsky which really reveal her musical intelligence.” BBC Music Magazine, August 2014 ****

“She opens with the second of Stravinsky's sonatas...And if her performance is less spiky than some, it is more musicianly than many...Odradek admirably reflects performances that are fleet and elegantly proportioned.” Gramophone Magazine, Awards Issue 2014

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A night with Friedrich Gulda

A night with Friedrich Gulda

Concert from the Münchner Klaviersommer 1995


Friedrich Gulda, featuring The Paradise Trio (with Barbara Dennerlein), The Paradise Girls & DJ Vertigo

„They want to have fun from dusk till dawn. In this, Mr Mozart and the ravers are quite alike.” If you want to get to the bottom of this statement by Friedrich Gulda, the concert „A night with Friedrich Gulda“ of the Munich Klaviersommer 1995 provides the perfect opportunity.

Gulda, the ingenious piano virtuoso, performs classic Mozart sonatas, just to have a party thereafter with the Paradise Trio, the Paradise Girls and DJ Vertigo. The programme includes compositions by Barbara Dennerlein – as well as Techno Music.

Gulda, born 1930 in Vienna, is regarded as one of the cross-over pioneers of his time – after a breathtaking classical career he turned towards Jazz, and later even to electronic music. His compositions as well as his live performances are legendary – they are the refreshing credentials of an unconventional genius.

“You have to realize, that it’s all connected, that Mozart’s music is immensely dance-like and related to Techno in a figurative sense. The differences can be seen by every idiot. But to see the connections you have to be really smart.” (Friedrich Gulda)

Sound Format: PCM Stereo

Picture Format: 4:3

DVD Format: DVD 9 / NTSC

Running Time: 85 mins

FSK: 0

“The atmosphere is glitzy Las Vegas ballroom. The audience is gagging for a good time and Gulda is received rapturously...Gulda's Mozart - perhaps not surprisingly - has a lilt and a swing that is aided and abetted by a clean-cut, almost Baroque sensbility that holds Romanticism in disdain...let no one doubt that this is top-drawer Mozart-playing.” Gramophone Magazine, Awards Issue 2014

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Arthaus Musik - 101674

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Night Stories: Jenny Lin

Night Stories: Jenny Lin


Chopin:

Nocturne No. 1 in B flat minor, Op. 9 No. 1

Nocturne No. 13 in C minor, Op. 48 No. 1

Debussy:

Clair de Lune (from Suite Bergamasque)

Les soirs illuminés par l'ardeur du charbon

Fauré:

Nocturne No. 3 in A flat major, Op. 33 No. 3

Glazunov:

Etude La Nuit, Op. 31, No. 3

Glinka:

Nocturne in F minor 'Separation'

Grieg:

Lyric Pieces Op. 54: No. 4 - Nocturne

Griffes:

The Night Winds

Liszt:

Liebestraum, S541 No. 3 (Nocturne in A flat major)

Lourié:

A Phoenix Park Nocturne

Paderewski:

Nocturne in B flat Op. 16 No. 4

Schumann:

In der Nacht, Op. 12 No. 5

Tchaikovsky:

Nocturne Op. 10 No. 1

Turina:

Silueta nocturna (from El castillo de Almodóvar), Op. 65, No. 1


Jenny Lin (piano)

The night has always been a time of enchantment; it embodies the uncanny, but also the romantic side of human existence. For her new Hänssler release Jenny Lin has selected a program of night pieces that speak to both the sensual and more complex psychological aspects of nocturnal experiences – from Debussy’s "Clair de lune" to Arthur Lourié‘s "A Phoenix Park Nocturne" to Liszt's "Liebestraum" she evokes sounds, dancing, romance, far from everyday experiences, whispering of things hidden from the light of day.

She evokes thoughts and visions from a shadowy realm that draws us into our inner world. A dramatically styled CD, perfectly expressive of human longing for the other side.

“Her opening selection, Debussy's 'Clair de lune', is starkly deliberate, straightforward and kitsch-free...The Griffes, Glinka, Turina and Lourie selections inspire some of Lin's most ravishing playing on disc...this beautifully engineered release is a welcome addition to Lin's diverse and distinct discography.” Gramophone Magazine, Awards Issue 2014

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Rarities of Piano Music at the Husum Festival 2013

Rarities of Piano Music at the Husum Festival 2013


Chopin:

Mazurka in A minor, Op..posth.

Ludmil Angelov (piano)

Friedman, I:

Passacaglia for Piano, Op. 44

Sofja Gülbadamova (piano)

Grieg:

Dance from Jølster, Op. 17 No. 5

Håvard Gimse (piano)

Korngold:

Märchenbilder (Fairytale Pictures), Op. 3

Artur Pizarro (piano)

Michalowski:

Mazurka in C sharp minor, Op. 17

Ludmil Angelov (piano)

Ornstein:

Piano Sonata No. 4, S360

Cecile Licad (piano)

Sibelius:

Sonata in F major, Op. 12

Jean-Frédéric Neuberger (piano)

Belshazzar's Feast Suite, Op. 51

Henri Sigfridsson (piano)

Sinding:

Impromptu, Op. 31 No. 4

Håvard Gimse (piano)

Tveitt:

Family Silver (Arvesylv)

Håvard Gimse (piano)


The highly acclaimed Piano Festival Founded in 1987, the annual Rarities of Piano Music Festival in the North German town of Husum, is a major event. Danacord is proud to release the recording from the 27th Festival in 2013 featuring again rare piano music played by some of the leading pianists of today.

“An odd collection of pieces but some fascinating finds in the form of Sibelius's Belshazzar's Feast and Ornstein's remarkable Fourth Sonata; the pianism throughout is first-class.” BBC Music Magazine, Christmas 2014 ****

“a cornucopia of riches played in dazzling and superb style by pianists who can let their hair down and rejoice, free from alien criticism and commercial considerations...Ludmil Angelov could hardly be more glowing in a Chopin Mazurka...Pizarro is elegant and seductive in two Korngold Fairy Tales...What more could you wish for?” Gramophone Magazine, Awards Issue 2014

“This is a most thought-provoking selection of music culled from a week of piano music-making at Husum. Each piece is superbly played as even the briefest glance at the performers would lead one to expect. A highly attractive survey of the byways of largely romantic piano music.” MusicWeb International, August 2014

Danacord Husum Festival Rarities - DACOCD739

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The Rascal and the Sparrow

The Rascal and the Sparrow

Poulenc meets Piaf


Bernheim:

Paris

Bouquet:

Je sais comment

Dumont:

Mon Dieu!

Non, je ne regrette rien

Louiguy:

La Vie en Rose

Monnot:

Hymne a l'amour

Un grand amour

Les amants d'un jour

Mon légionnaire

C'est à Hambourg

Pompa-Baldi:

Improvisation no 15 'Hommage à Edith Piaf'

Poulenc:

Les chemins de l'amour

Rosemonde

Berceuse

Metamorphoses : Reine des mouettes

Métamorphoses: C'est ainsi que tu es

C

Le Pont

Je n'ai envie que de t'aimer

Couplets bachiques

Nos souvenirs qui chantent

Le départ

Le dernier mazour

Attributs (No. 1 from Cinq poèmes de Ronsard)

Montparnasse

Hyde Park

Vous n'écrivez plus?


Antonio Pompa-Baldi (piano)

Arrangements and elaborations for solo piano of songs made famous by Edith Piaf (1915-1963) and songs by Francis Poulenc (1899-1963).

2013 marks the 50th anniversary of the passing of Both Edith Piaf and Francis Poulenc.

The Rascal and the Sparrow brings together the art of both of these musical icons for the first time: Songs made famous by Piaf and Poulenc's own art songs are given a new voice through elegant arrangements for solo piano.

Though the two may never have met, their two personalities possessed many points in common. Poulenc's original work for solo piano, his Improvisation #15 "Hommage a Edith Piaf", is the inspiration and the bridge between their worlds on this album.

Antonio Pompa-Baldi makes his Steinway label debut with this release. His own arrangements of the Poulenc songs weave through Italian composer Roberto Piana's "elaborations" of Piaf's music, creating an ingenious and beautiful musical conversation.

“A treasure chest of delights, this is a richly inclusive view of Parisian life, of joy and torment, of love lost and found...no praise could be high enough for Pompa-Baldi's pianism, which is of an endlessly enticing elegance and finesse...I guarantee that unless you are a puritan you will be lost forever.” Gramophone Magazine, Awards Issue 2014

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An die Geliebte: Julian Prégardien

An die Geliebte: Julian Prégardien


Beethoven:

An die ferne Geliebte (To the distant beloved), Op. 98

Resignation, WoO 149

Strauss, R:

Mädchenblumen (4 songs), Op. 22

Weber:

Die Temperamente bei dem Verluste der Geliebten

Wolf, H:

Mörike-Lieder


Julian Prégardien (tenor) & Christoph Schnackertz (piano)

Unrequited love was the wellspring of countless songs and poems in the Romantic era. Young tenor Julian Prégardien presents his first solo lied album with a diverse programme of 19th century art songs. Certain moments are full of heartbreak, others more tongue-in cheek; Julian Prégardien invites us to join him on his exploration of the Romantic era in a quest for the (distant) beloved, from the very first song cycles by Beethoven and Weber to the height of the genre in the lieder of Wolf and Strauss.

The young German tenor Julai Prégardien has recently received a lot of attention on the operatic stage, concert platform,

as well as in chamber music. From 2009-2012 he was a permanent member of the Frankfurt Opera. In concerts he has gained an excellent reputation mainly as a Bach interpreter. This was demonstrated in the first instance in 2010 with the release of a recording of the St. Johnˆ Passion, in which he sang the Evangelist: a role he has since repeated elsewhere.

“his voice [is] sweeter and silker than his father's, but characterised by that same delectable enunciation and high intelligence...It's a painstakingly researched and meticulously prepared recital...Both Pregardien and his excellent pianist Christoph Schnackertz, exquisitely capture the quicksilver, volatile spirit of Wolf's responses.” BBC Music Magazine, September 2014 *****

“Beethoven's exquisite song-cycle immediately proclaims the 30-year-old tenor's Lieder credentials: a gentle, lyrical timbre, plus an unforced sensitivity to text (a chip off the old block here) and the cycle's oscillations between reverie and excited urgency...a notable debut from a young tenor to watch.” Gramophone Magazine, Awards Issue 2014

BBC Music Magazine

Choral & Song Choice - September 2014

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Warlock: Choral Music

Warlock: Choral Music


Warlock:

The Full Heart

Corpus Christi

Bethlehem Down


Rachel Haworth (organ)

The Carice Singers, George Parris

Peter Warlock’s choral works sit firmly in the great English lineage. The music ranges from Hymns to the Virgin to carols, many spiced with his own ‘melody of chords’ and his typically tangy harmonies. Some of Warlock’s most beautiful and sensitive settings are to be heard, not least Corpus Christi and Bethlehem Down, whilst there is also a very rare setting in Cornish (track 21), recorded for the first time in that language.

“It's good to have so many of Warlock's choral settings on one disc, sensitively performed by this technically confident group of singers.” BBC Music Magazine, October 2014 ***

“there's a freshness to the choir's tone that lends itself to the folk-simplicity of Warlock's texts and settings...These young voices blend and tune beautifully together but lack the focus and rhetorical muscularity that so much of this music needs to brace its melodic sweetness.” Gramophone Magazine, Awards Issue 2014

“Those redoubtable Naxos talent-scouts have done it again; here is a fine young choir appearing for the first time on a commercial disc...Their quality is easily perceived from the number of soloists they are able to provide for this recording, all of whom sing with great accomplishment - with special mention for Lottie Bowden in Balulalow, and tenor Thomas Drew in Corpus Christi.” MusicWeb International, 10th October 2014

“The youthful Carice Singers perform these part songs with vigorous attention to detail and, a few tiny slips of intonation aside, beautifully blended tone. Hugo Popplewell is the wistful soloist in Ireland’s Sea Fever. This is music of heat haze, hey-nonny wistfulness: ideal high-summer listening.” The Guardian, 31st July 2016 ***

Naxos - 8573227

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Stanford: Mass in G

Stanford: Mass in G

and other choral works


Edwards, P:

I will lift up my eyes

Parry:

Songs of Farewell

Jerusalem

Dear Lord and Father of Mankind (Repton)

Stanford:

Mass in G

World Premiere Recording


The Choir of Exeter College, Oxford, George de Voil

EMRCD021 features a choral work by one of the giants of British music, recorded here for the first time over a century after its composition. The Mass in G by Charles Villiers Stanford was completed in 1892 and is notable for its opulence, employing a full orchestra and vocal soloists as well as chorus; and its colourful, characterful setting of the liturgical text shows Stanford at the height of his powers – a master of structure, form and musical architecture.

The Mass in G is complemented on this disc with works by another highly significant musical figure, C. Hubert H. Parry. His ‘Songs of Farewell’ are gems of choral writing, their intricately shaped lines and finely crafted textures pointing with a profound poignancy the meaning of their texts; the hymn ‘Dear Lord and Father of mankind’ and, especially, the unison song ‘Jerusalem’ are familiar and well-loved settings; whilst the processional ‘I was glad’, written for the coronation of Edward VII and performed at every coronation since, has a verve and splendour that epitomise the grandeur of ceremony.

Stanford and Parry may be said to represent the beginning of the English choral tradition and this new disc acknowledges their lasting influence.

“Stanford’s Mass contains a good deal of very attractive, expertly crafted music...Happily, it now comes to us in a good and committed recording...Both choir and orchestra make a good showing...The acoustic of Keble College Chapel is somewhat resonant when the full forces are deployed but still the engineers have achieved good results and you can hear plenty of detail.” MusicWeb International, 14th May 2014

“The Choir of Exeter College, Oxford, is one of the very few that has consistently produced performances that stand up as fully professional...there is real delicacy, detail and momentum in all the performances.” Gramophone Magazine, Awards Issue 2014

EM Records - EMRCD021

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Nachtviolen

Nachtviolen

Schubert Lieder


Schubert:

An den Mond in einer Herbstnacht, D614 (Schreiber)

Hoffnung, D295

Im Janner 1817 (Tiefes Leid) D876

Abschied D475 (Mayrhofer)

Herbst, D945

Über Wildemann D884 (Ernst Schulze)

Der Wanderer, D649 (Friedrich von Schlegel)

Der Wanderer an den Mond D870 (Seidl)

Der Zwerg, D771 (Collin)

Abendstern, D806

Im Walde D834

Nach einem Gewitter D561 (Mayrhofer)

Der Schiffer D694 (F von Schlegel)

An die Nachtigall, D196 (Holty)

Totengräberweise D869 (Schlechta)

Frühlingsglaube, D686

Nachtviolen D752 (Mayrhofer)

Abendlied fur die Entfernte, D856 (Schlegel)

Wehmut, D772 (Collin)

Der Strom, D565 (poet unknown)

Der Hirt D490 (Mayrhofer)

Lied eines Schiffers an die Dioskuren D360 (Mayrhofer)

Nachtgesang D314 (Kosegarten)

Der Sänger am Felsen, D482


Christian Gerhaher (baritone), Gerold Huber (piano)

This album is a great introduction to the deeply absorbing world of Schubert's songs. It features a very personal collection of Schubert songs chosen by Christian Gerhaher, who has performed these songs for many years and has a profound connection to them. The album includes a detailed booklet text with a separate paragraph detailing each song.

Schubert set the verse of over 100 poets to music, composing approximately 650 songs. He selected biblical texts and poetry from classical Greece, the Renaissance, the Enlightenment and the early Romantic era, the poets including Goethe, Schiller, Shakespeare, Petrarca and Heine as well as his Austrian contemporaries and friends.

About Christian Gerhaher

Christian Gerhaher's exemplary lied interpretations with Gerold Huber set standards – their recordings have repeatedly been highly acclaimed. The lied duo appears on the stages of major international recital venues, for instance at the Wigmore Hall in London, in the Carnegie Hall in New York, the Concertgebouw Amsterdam, the Cologne and Berlin Philharmonie, the Konzerthaus and the Musikverein in Vienna.

Christian Gerhaher is a regular guest at the Schwetzingen Festival, the Rheingau Music Festival, the London Proms, the Edinburgh and Lucerne Festivals, the Salzburg Festival, as well as the Aspen and Tanglewood Festivals in the USA.

After the successful world premiere of Heinz Holliger's cycle Lunea on 23 fragments by Nikolaus Lenau in spring 2013, the season 2013/2014 will see/has seen the premieres of two other new works – both dedicated to him: In the fall a new song cycle by Jörg Widmann with performances in Vienna, Frankfurt, London and Luxembourg (combined with Schumann and Fauré) as well as Goethe's Harzreise im Winter by Wolfgang Rihm – an exciting program juxtaposing settings on Goethe's texts by Wolfgang Rihm and Franz Schubert. The premiere will take place in June 2014 at the Mozart Festival Würzburg followed by concerts at the Rheingau Musik Festival and the Salzburg Festival.

“Beautifully judged playing from pianist Gerold Hubersupports the silky lightness of Gerhaher at his most intimate in these 24 songs; though there are flashes of steel beneath the gossamer that are all the more exciting for their sparse deployment.” The Observer, 13th July 2014 ****

“Gerhaher’s outstanding qualities – a heavenly baritone, crisp diction, intelligent address – once again find an echo in Huber’s pianism.” Financial Times, 26th July 2014 ****

“Gerhaher brings his special qualities, the most beautiful lyric baritone voice of any lieder specialist I know, entirely natural and immaculate German diction, and musical and expressive insights that mark him out as one of the greatest lieder singers of any age...the entire programme is vintage Schubert and vintage Gerhaher.” Sunday Times, 10th August 2014

“gently beautiful and deeply rewarding...Gerhaher simply lets the music flow through him, his voice its unassuming servant. The pitching is immaculate, the breath control so easeful as to be imperceptible. He seems incapable of making an ugly sound.” The Telegraph, 15th September 2014 *****

“With his lyric high baritone at its freest, Gerhaher has the uncommon gift of making everything alive, specific, while always sounding natural...a superlative recital by a singer who for vocal beauty, poetic insight and expressive immediacy is surely unsurpassed in Lieder today.” Gramophone Magazine, Awards Issue 2014

“One of the most symbiotic partnerships in chamber music...Friends since childhood, they have performed lieder since they were teenagers. This recording of works by Schubert is a marvel of the fusion of text and melody, suffused with the beauty of Mr. Gerhaher’s mellow, smooth timbre.” New York Times, 18th December 2014

GGramophone Awards 2015

Winner - Solo Vocal

GGramophone Magazine

Editor's Choice - Awards Issue 2014

Sony - 88883712172

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Connection: Three Song Cycles of Jake Heggie

Connection: Three Song Cycles of Jake Heggie


Heggie:

Natural Selection (5)

Songs and Sonnets to Ophelia

Eve-Song (8)


Regina Zona (soprano), Kathleen Tagg (piano)

Famed for his operatic music, Jake Heggie has always been a devoted and prolific songwriter. Three early song cycles for soprano and piano feature in this release, each cycle exploring the many varied facets of the three women depicted, who include Ophelia and Eve. Each was written for a specific singer and they all reflect Heggie’s very personal and exciting lexicon of musical influences, which range from folk and jazz to art song and music theater.

“Throughout these cycles, Heggie reveals an adept handling of the voice-and-piano medium - for all that the vocal line could have benefited from more expressive variety...Yet it would be wrong to deny the ready appeal of these songs, not least with Regina Zona and Kathleen Tagg as such sympathetic exponents.” Gramophone Magazine, Awards Issue 2014

Contemporary Music - up to 25% off

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Haydn: The Seasons

Haydn: The Seasons


The Seasons, a late work of Haydn's and the last oratorio he wrote, is a musical manifesto addressed to nature and the countryfolk, breaking ground with its hitherto unexplored subject-matter as it heralds the dawning Romantic era in music.

"Jubilation!" (Kronen Zeitung) in the Great Festival Hall in Salzburg for Joseph Haydn's oratorio The Seasons with Nikolaus Harnoncourt conducting the Vienna Philharmonic and for Michael Schade, Florian Boesch and Dorothea Röschmann in the solo parts, enhanced by the well-rehearsed choir of the Vienna State Opera.

Nikolaus Harnoncourt tunes his "Wiener" to peak performance and shows as few others can how "to coax the tenderest expressive pianissimo shiver from the violins and violas into the almost inaudible", enthuses the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung

Including the documentary “Nikolaus Harnoncourt rehearsing Joseph Haydn’s The Seasons” by Eric Schulz.

In the succesful Salzburg Festival serial design and with luxury slipcase.

Picture format DVD: NTSC - 16:9

Sound format DVD: PCM Stereo, Dolby Digital 5.1

Region code: 0 (worldwide)

Subtitles: English, German, French

Booklet notes: English, German, French

Running time: 150 mins performance + 25 mins documentary

German FSK: 0

“this is a splendid, inspiriting performance of a life-giving work. It's superbly executed by a 60-strong VPO, given a quasi-period makeover by Harnoncourt, and the elite of the Vienna State Opera Chorus, whose firm-toned sopranos are a world away from the fruity warblers of old...Boesch is a robust, genial Simon in the earlier parts of the oratorio.” Gramophone Magazine, Awards Issue 2014

DVD Video

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Format: NTSC

EuroArts - 2072678

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Grieg: Garborg, Vinje, Ibsen

Grieg: Garborg, Vinje, Ibsen


Grieg:

Haugtussa, Op. 67

12 Melodies to poems by A.O. Vinje, Op. 33


Marianne Beate Kielland (mezzo-soprano), Nils Anders Mortenson (piano)

Gramophone Magazine wrote of Marianne Beate Kielland: “The mezzo-soprano is quite outstanding: strong, firm, sensitive in modulations, imaginative in her treatment of words, with a voice pure in quality, wide in range, and unfalteringly true in intonation.”

Considered today one of Scandinavia’s leading singers, Marianne Beate Kielland performs regularly on major concert stages in Europe and Japan.

“Kielland brings to [Haugtussa] a gleaming voice, lit with cool sunlight from the north, and a native Norwegian's way with the words. There is a simplicity and directness about this performance, mirrored in Nils Anders Mortensen's accompaniments, that brings a deep-seated kind of satisfaction.” Gramophone Magazine, Awards Issue 2014

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Haydn: The Seasons

Haydn: The Seasons


The Seasons, a late work of Haydn's and the last oratorio he wrote, is a musical manifesto addressed to nature and the countryfolk, breaking ground with its hitherto unexplored subject-matter as it heralds the dawning Romantic era in music.

"Jubilation!" (Kronen Zeitung) in the Great Festival Hall in Salzburg for Joseph Haydn's oratorio The Seasons with Nikolaus Harnoncourt conducting the Vienna Philharmonic and for Michael Schade, Florian Boesch and Dorothea Röschmann in the solo parts, enhanced by the well-rehearsed choir of the Vienna State Opera.

Nikolaus Harnoncourt tunes his "Wiener" to peak performance and shows as few others can how "to coax the tenderest expressive pianissimo shiver from the violins and violas into the almost inaudible", enthuses the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung

Including the documentary “Nikolaus Harnoncourt rehearsing Joseph Haydn’s The Seasons” by Eric Schulz.

In the succesful Salzburg Festival serial design and with luxury slipcase.

Picture format Blu Ray: BD in 1080i Full HD – 16:9

Sound format Blu Ray: PCM Stereo, DTS HD Master Audio 5.1

Region code: All (worldwide)

Subtitles: English, German, French

Booklet notes: English, German, French

Running time: 150 mins performance + 25 mins documentary

German FSK: 0

“this is a splendid, inspiriting performance of a life-giving work. It's superbly executed by a 60-strong VPO, given a quasi-period makeover by Harnoncourt, and the elite of the Vienna State Opera Chorus, whose firm-toned sopranos are a world away from the fruity warblers of old...Boesch is a robust, genial Simon in the earlier parts of the oratorio.” Gramophone Magazine, Awards Issue 2014

Blu-ray Disc

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EuroArts - 2072674

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$35.75

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Adoramus Te

Adoramus Te

Motets, songs and consort music by William Byrd and Peter Philips


Byrd:

Adoramus te Christe

With lilies white, consort song for voice & 4 viols

Wretched Albinus, consort song for voice & 4 viols

Domine secundum actum meum

How vain the toils

Constant Penelope

Attollite portas

Haec dicit Dominus

Ah silly Soul

Philips, P:

Pavana & Galliardo

Passamezzo Pavan

Viæ Sion lugent

Trio in the third mode

Ego sum panis/Et panis quem

Fantazia No.1 a6

Fantazia No.2 a6

Pavana Dolorosa

Galiarda Dolorosa

Trio in the first mode

Pater noster


The award-winning Rose Consort of Viols takes its name from the celebrated family of viol makers whose work spanned the flowering of the English consort repertoire. With its blend of intimacy, intricacy, passion and flamboyance, this music (ranging from Taverner and Byrd, to Lawes, Locke and Purcell) forms the basis of the Rose Consort’s programmes. Their concerts often include guest soloists such as mezzo-soprano Clare Wilkinson, featured on this recording.

The Consort performs regularly at the York Early Music Festival and have also performed at the BBC Proms, London’s Cadogan Hall with vocal ensemble Tenebrae and National Gallery as well as venues throughout Europe, Canada and the USA.

Focusing on two eminent composers from the English Renaissance period, this disc of historic gems includes Philips’ earliest surviving piece ‘Pavan’ dated as 1580 and two works published in Byrd’s last song collection from 1611. It is suggested that Philips’ intense ‘Pavana Dolorosa’ was composed in 1593 while the composer was incarcerated on suspicion of plotting against Queen Elizabeth and although none of his original fantasias for viols have survived, Jacobean players frequently took vocal pieces to perform instrumentally. This is the case with the two six part pieces also featured on this disc, now given the title Fantazia. The collection also includes rare examples of Byrd’s writing for voice and five viols, in which he uses the treble to create a delicate descant above the sung line and Latin motets. Byrd was preoccupied by the composition and publication of motets set to sacred texts in Latin throughout his career, despite the scarce opportunities for them to be performed in public during his lifetime in Protestant England.

“These are impressive interpretations. The Rose Consort's tone is placid and soft-centred but they cope very well with energetic passagework. This isn't faint praise...Clare Wilkinson turns in perhaps the finest performances I can remember from her in this repertory.” Gramophone Magazine, Awards Issue 2014

“The playing by the Rose Consort is refined and blanaced without any of the bass-heavy fuzziness that one sometimes hears from viol groups...The motets are performed with just one of the parts being sung - a practice attested to from the period. Luckily that voice belongs to the experienced and reliable Clare Wilkinson.” BBC Music Magazine, Christmas 2014 ****

“The Rose Consort’s playing is precise and effortless. Phrasing is beautifully executed both on an individual level and as an ensemble but it is their interaction with Clare Wilkinson which dazzles here…Highly recommended.” Early Music Today, May 2015 *****

GGramophone Awards 2015

Finalist - Early Music

GGramophone Magazine

Editor's Choice - Awards Issue 2014

Deux-Elles - DXL1155

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Bach Cantatas: Recreation for the Soul

Bach Cantatas: Recreation for the Soul


Bach, J S:

Cantata BWV78 'Jesu der du meine Seele'

Cantata BWV150 'Nach dir, Herr, verlanget mich'

Cantata BWV147 'Herz und Mund und Tat und Leben'


Bach's ambition to compose a body of 'well-regulated church music' – liturgical music for the entire church calendar – produced a wealth of sacred cantatas. Around two hundred have survived, and are an eloquent expression of his opinion that 'true music should be for the honour of God and the recreation of the soul'. That comment – made with respect to the art of realising a figured-bass (where harmony is indicated by numbers) – seems appropriate to this collection, since the choice of these glorious works was influenced by a consideration of number symbolism and other extramusical devices. That this most cerebral music touches the emotions so keenly might seem a paradox, but as a performer, analysing the possible thinking behind Bach's musical decisions brings the composer closer. (Peter Harvey, liner notes)

The Magdalena Consort was founded in 2008 by Peter Harvey and is acclaimed for its virtuoso chamber performances of sacred vocal music from Monteverdi to Bach. In addition to using period instruments, the group aims to perform with historically appropriate numbers of players and singers, which encourages the chamber-music approach which is central to its vivid sound. Joshua Rifkin was the first to argue that Bach commonly performed his vocal works with one singer per part, rather than employ a 'choir' in the traditional sense, and it is this approach that the Magdalena Consort adopts. It is fair to say that there is still a healthy debate surrounding the question, but, from a performer's perspective, this approach facilitates communication between the performers so that the counterpoint – the independence of individual musical lines which so strongly characterises Bach's music – can be enjoyed with the maximum freedom. The singers associated with the Magdalena Consort are well established as international soloists, besides having considerable experience of ensemble singing, and the instrumentalists are drawn from some of the world's best-known period instrument orchestras and chamber groups.

“Buoyant and agile in performance, small in scale and steeped in the best traditions of period playing – putting musicality over scholarship – the Magdalena Consort was founded in 2008 by bass/director Peter Harvey...The Magdalenas are the next generation, heading out alone. if you don’t know them, try this brilliant disc.” The Observer, 21st September 2014 ****

“The four voices are fairly matched with each other, less so with their instrumental colleagues, and Harvey leads unfailingly elegant interpretations. At each turn, however, they yield to the textual and expressive detail of The Bach Players.” Gramophone Magazine, Awards Issue 2014

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Frescobaldi: Messa sopra l'aria della Monica & Motets

Frescobaldi: Messa sopra l'aria della Monica & Motets


Frescobaldi:

Messa sopra l'aria della Monica

Introit civitas Hierusalem

Toccata II

Iesu flos Mater Virginis

Capriccio V sopra la bassa fiamenga

Communio ego sum panis

Gregorian Chant:

Gospel dominus vobiscum

Per omnia saecula saeculorum... Pater noster...

Ite, missa est... Deo gratias


Guiseppe Maletto (tenor), Roberto Abbondanza (baritone), Michel van Goethem (counter-tenor), Attilio Cremonesi (organ), Pascal Bertin (counter-tenor), Furio Zanasi (baritone)

Il Teatro Armonico, Alessandro De Marchi

From 1608 Frescobaldi was the organist at St Peter's Basilica in Rome. In 1615 a new basilica was built with two fine organs upon which Frescobaldi performed his famous improvisatory toccatas during ceremonial occasions but he was also expected to provide vocal and choral works for his patron, the Ferrara based Este efamily. It is likely that the Mass 'Sopra l’aria della Monica' was performed in the basilica and based on a popular tune. The 'aria della Monica' was a secular song, quite often used for keyboard variations and instrumental compositions. The mass reflects common practice in Rome in that is scored for eight voices in two choirs and is a beautifully crafted example of late 17th-century Italian church music. Amongst the singers are such familiar names as Rossana Bertini, Giuseppe Maletto (both La Venexiana, La Compagnia del madrigale), Marco Beasley, or Furio Zanasi. Musical direction is in the able hands of Alessandro De Marchi. Formerly available on the Symphonia label, recorded in 1993. Virtually no competition.

“very fine instrumental playing and the rare opportunity to enjoy Frescobaldi’s finest sacred music in a liturgical context.” Early Music Review, October 2014

“The sound is often a bit rough around the edges but the fluent and skilful performance of the three-part motet Ego sum panis vivus...contradicts criticism by the 17th-century writer Antimo Liberati that Frescobaldi was 'unhappy and inept as a composer of vocal music'.” Gramophone Magazine, Awards Issue 2014

Christophorus entrée - CHE01932

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Folksongs

Folksongs


Berio:

Folk Songs

for mezzo-soprano and 7 instruments

Gérard Caussé (viola), Raphaël Perraud (cello), Bastien Pelat (flute), Raphaël Sévère (clarinet), Iris Torossian (harp), Adrien Perruchon, Camille Baslé (percussion)

Brahms:

Two songs for contralto with viola obbligato, Op. 91

Wiegenlied, Op. 49 No. 4 (Lullaby)

Falla:

Siete Canciones populares españolas

Granados:

Tonadillas: No. 11, El tra la la y el punteado

Tonadillas: No. 3, La maja dolorosa

Tonadillas: No. 8, El mirar de la maja

Obradors:

El Vito (from Canciones clásicas españolas)

Aquel sombrero de monte


Nora Gubisch (mezzo soprano) & Alain Altinoglu (piano)

"A little of the music that we are" Nora Gubisch and Alain Altinoglu

After opening up frontiers with Ravel’s Greek and Hebrew songs in their last disc together, Nora Gubisch and Alain Altinoglu now give us a chance to hear an even more cosmopolitan world, guided by their mixed origins, their roots: “Our personal geography is pretty varied: I am of Armenian descent, while Nora possesses both Spanish and German ancestry.”

This warm recording includes a new recording of Berio’s Folk Songs, for which Nora Gubisch’s research on diction and the traditional sources (especially in Azerbaidjan) has been advantageous.

“a lovely folk-song set of mainly Spanish composers...Gubisch’s singing often lacks the artlessness demanded, though; the best performances are reserved for intimate readings of Brahms’s two Op 91 settings and his celebrated Wiegenlied.” Sunday Times, 6th July 2014

“Gubisch's lived-in, streetwise mezzo sounds good in Berio and Falla, but is graceless in Obradors and too self-consciously raunchy for Granados...Altinoglu is a terrific pianist and a no-nonsense conductor for the Berio.” The Guardian, 10th July 2014 ***

“Gubisch manages to suggest the presence of Berberian in a remarkable way in the Berio, though she certainly does not try to imitate her; the accompaniment is as sensitive as could be imagined...I'd say that it was in the Brahms songs that Gubisch feels most at home.” Gramophone Magazine, Awards Issue 2014

Naive - V5365

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In Praise of St Columba

In Praise of St Columba

The Sound World of the Celtic Church


Os mutorum, lux cecorum

Loquebar de testimoniis tuis

River Erne horn duet

Adiutor laborantium

Sanctorum piissime Columba

Lauda anima mea Dominum

Noli Pater

Carne solutus pater Columba

Amen dico vobis

Liberasti nos Domine

Cantemus in omni die

Altus prosator

Volens Ihesus linire

Laudate Dominum (Psalm 150)

The Desperate

Battle of the Birds


This groundbreaking programme from Geoffrey Webber’s consistently inventive choir seeks to recreate three distinct sound-worlds: 7th-century hymns from Iona, 10th-century chants from Celtic foundations in Switzerland, and 14th-century Columban antiphons from the Inchcolm libellus. As well as the evidence of early notation and of drawings and other indications of instrumentation, the performance styles – developed in an exciting extended collaboration with scholar and piper Barnaby Brown – are informed by oral traditions from as far afield as Sardinia and the Outer Hebrides.

The Choir have often specialised in the rediscovery of forgotten choral repertories, including previously unpublished music from within the English choral tradition and beyond, and their five recordings on Delphian reflect this. Among the accolades their previous releases have received, their 2011 recording of music by the leading British composer Judith Weir (Delphian DCD34095) was BBC Music Magazine’s Choral and Song Choice in December 2011. The choir has also joined together with the Choir of King’s College London in two recording projects.

“Who can say whether these interpretations of chants and hymns from the early Celtic church are authentic, but they have been done with intelligence, musicality and enthusiasm…[the choir] give a bracing vigour and unusual freedom to this ancient music.” The Observer, 6th July 2014 ****

“quite exceptional on every level … [Brown, the Caius College Cambridge Choir and Simon O’Dwyer] bring to life seventh century monastic life… an utterly compelling disk; I might single out the prayer Noli Pater as a particularly magical moment; young voices working at an extraordinarily high level of commitment and interpretation.” Early Music Today, Autumn 2014 *****

“Every interpretative choice made by conductor Geoffrey Webber sounds musically justified, the evidence for them documented in detail in the booklet … a magnificent sound, and hopefully unlike anything you've ever heard – like a couple of musically-literate whales singing an aria.” The Arts Desk, 6th September 2014

“Webber and his choristers have produced a generously filled disc that seeks to recreate three distinct sound worlds...Everything is performed with a missionary zeal...hauntingly beautiful.” Gramophone Magazine, Awards Issue 2014

“What with improvisation, vocal imitations of traditional singers, unusual instruments and scholarly delving, Geoffrey Wheeler, Barnaby Brown and Delphian have produced a generously filled and decidedly ambitious disc. These qualities are matched by the choir and the rest of the performers who have prepared and performed both immaculately and with imagination.” MusicWeb International, 30th September 2014

BBC Music Magazine

Choral & Song Choice - October 2014

Delphian - DCD34137

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Love’s Minstrels

Love’s Minstrels


Holst:

Vedic Hymns, Op. 24

Ireland:

3 Masefield Ballads

Quilter:

Five Shakespeare Songs Op. 23

trad.:

Drink to me only with thine eyes

arr. Healey Willan

Ae fond kiss

arr. Healey Willan

Londonderry Air

arr. Healey Willan

Loch Lomond

arr. Healey Willan

Vaughan Williams:

The House of Life


Philippe Sly (bass-baritone) & Michael McMahon (piano)

Under the ANALEKTA label, charismatic bass-baritone Philippe Sly takes us back to an era, which may not be so distant in time (the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th), but that is light years away from our own century and points of reference. Here is LOVE'S MINISTRELS, the third album for this talented young man with a rich and strong voice. Philippe Sly, with all the sensitivity and intriguing power of his exceptional voice, delivers 21 songs frozen between two eras. He is accompanied on the piano by the amazing Michael McMahon, the partner of choice for some of the best Canadian singers.

The album brings together five composers whose works praise the legacy of the sometimes near, sometimes distant past. These works passionately bring to mind bucolic England, when British and Western history is making its way into a thriving new world.

These are the works of Ralph Vaughan William (1872-1958), based on poems by Dante Gabriel Rossetti (1828- 1882), a six-poem cycle; three ballads by John Ireland (1879-1953), based on the writings of John Masefield (1878-1967), poems that exalt the beauty of the landscapes and the dramatic lives of sailors. There are also five poems by William Shakespeare (1564-1616), set to music by Roger Quilter (1877-1953), a composer whose songs are largely inspired by England's well-known musical heritage; as well as four songs by the British composer who emigrated to Canada, Healey Willan (1880-1968), based on well-known poems, including one of the most often cited poems in English literature, Drink to me only with thine eyes. Also on the program, three songs that have evolved in the incantatory and contemplative sphere of Vedic hymns, a tradition that goes back to the 15th century B.C., works by Gustav Holst (1874-1934).

At the turn of the 20th century, in England especially, the pre-industrial era laid the foundation for this modern world. Here we have four-wheeled vehicles passing horse-drawn carriages on the streets, and the noise of heavy machinery overwhelms the soft murmur of the mill. The world will never be the same again. Philippe Sly and his accompanist, Michael McMahon, momentarily look away from their own points of reference and show great aesthetic sensitivity by transcending the distance between both worlds. In this century that suddenly became a brutal reality, this music provides a safe haven. It leaves the obvious mark of a dream full of romanticism and idealism at a time when humanity is at the crossroads and has just reached the point of no return.

“Sly possesses a fine, velvet bass-baritone voice, clear diction and splendid, true intonation...In terms of his handling of dynamics, nuance of language and the poetry he brings to the long melodic lines of much of this music, I give full marks. Occasionally missing is a more pronounced sense of characterisation and more involvement in the text itself.” Gramophone Magazine, Awards Issue 2014

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Gluck: La Clemenza di Tito

Gluck: La Clemenza di Tito

world premiere recording


Rainer Trost (Tito Vespasiano), Laura Aikin (Vitellia), Raffaella Milanesi (Sesto), Arantza Ezenarro (Servilia), Valer Sabadus (Annio) & Flavio Ferri-Benedetti (Publio)

L'arte del mondo, Werner Ehrhardt

The opera is starring countertenor Valer Sabadus - one of opera's most exciting newcomers - now exclusively signed to Deutsche Harmonia Mundi, a division of Sony Classical. Christoph Willibald Gluck, widely known for fundamentally reforming the 'opera seria' wrote some of the greatest and exemplary masterpieces of this great genre before he started his famous reform of the opera. This makes this work a fascinating and enlightening piece in the puzzle for the evolution of opera and the eminent character Gluck. Gluck's setting of La Clemenza was first performed in Naples in 1752, ten years before his first reform opera.

‘La Clemenza di Tito’ is an exemplary 'opera seria' and a masterpiece of this genre, based on a libretto by the famous Pietro Metastasio. Metastasio’s libretti have been set to music more than any other writer, ever! For example, the libretto of ‘La Clemenza di Tito’ has been set to music 40 times. This world premiere recording by the ensemble l’arte del mondo imposingly shows the exceptional skills of one of the most influential opera composers of all time and reveals a rather unknown side of this outstanding visionary.

The orchestra l’arte del mondo is rooted in the Early Music tradition, but also plays on modern instruments with the same passion, performing repertoire that goes up to the Romantic period. Since it was founded, the ensemble has been invited to appear at many major festivals and concert series such as the Ludwigsburg Schlossfestspiele, the Bonn Beethoven Festival, the Schwetzingen Festival and the Sanssouci Music Festival in Potsdam. l’arte del mondo has also played at such illustrious venues as Konzerthaus Berlin, the Cité de la musique in Paris, the Düsseldorf Tonhalle, the Festspielhaus Baden-Baden and Munich's Herkulessaal.

Synopsis

Rome, 79 A.D - The new emperor Titus has ascended the throne. He has been involved with the Judean princess Berenike, but ends the relationship for reasons of state, and against his personal inclination. Vitellia, the daughter of an overthrown former emperor, sees herself as the rightful bride of the new emperor Titus and feels discriminated against in favour of Berenike, and she starts to instigate a rebellion against Titus with one of the new ruler's friends, Sextus, her devoted admirer. Sextus’s sister Servilia in turn loves a certain Annius, who loves her in return: an altogether favourable state of affairs, were it not for the fact that Titus has now decided to woo Servilia in Berenike's place. Sextus is startled by the news, but Annius is willing to abandon his love out of loyalty to Titus. But Servilia makes no move to change her fiancé so quickly, and affirms her loyalty to Annius. She then confesses to Titus that she is in love with Annius. Impressed by this step, the emperor withdraws his proposal of marriage and praises Servilia's honesty.

Later Vitellia learns that she has been selected as the new empress. Vitellia is surprised and delighted by the news, but unfortunately Sextus has already stabbed the emperor to death with his own hands. Later on it turns out that Titus is still alive, and that Sextus apparently killed someone who looked like the emperor. Sextus and Annius swap cloaks in order to cover up Sextus’s guilt. Titus then learns of the uprising. Because Annius is wearing a cloak with the emblem of the conspirators on it the others take him for the ringleader. But a little while later it becomes clear to the prefect Publius that it's Sextus who was behind the plot.

Titus is reluctant to sign the death warrant and interrogates Sextus himself. But in order to protect the true ringleader, Vitellia, Sextus says nothing in his own defence, so that he must now prepare to die. Titus is at odds with his fate as ruler, and decides, contrary to all political wisdom, to display clemency. Meanwhile Vitellia overcomes her misgivings and decides to reveal herself to Titus. The emperor is about to publicly pardon Sextus when Vitellia confesses her crimes. To everyone's amazement, the surprised Titus forgives all the conspirators. He admits that he can no longer marry Vitellia under the circumstances, but decides that she shall wed Sextus instead. As nothing more stands in the way of Sevilia and Annius getting married, a double wedding ceremony is announced. But the good-hearted Emperor Titus declares that he intends to remain single.

“The best performances here are Rainer Trost’s heroic Tito, Laura Aikin’s spitfire Vitellia and the sensational young “sopranist” Valer Sabadus’s Annio.” Sunday Times, 17th August 2014

“this cast is vocally an assured one, and the performance under Werner Ehrhardt is certainly highly energised, perhaps occasionally just a bit too much so.” The Guardian, 21st August 2014 ***

“Structurally this is opera seria at its most formal...[Trost] remains a fine Classical stylist...Aikin, fearless in attack, dazzling in coloratura, brings vocal glamour and fiery temperament to Vitellia's music...Anyone curious about pre-Orfeo Gluck should find plenty to enjoy in both the music and the skilled, carefully prepared performance.” Gramophone Magazine, Awards Issue 2014

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Andriessen, L: La Commedia

Andriessen, L: La Commedia


Claron McFadden, Cristina Zavalloni, Jeroen Willems, Marcel Beekman

Dutch National Opera, Jan Maarten Koeman

Nonesuch Records releases Louis Andriessen's Grawemeyer Award-winning La Commedia on June 9. The film opera, a collaboration with director Hal Hartley, is based on Dante's Divine Comedy, with additional texts from the 16th-century German theologian Sebastian Brant, the 17th-century Dutch dramatist Joost van den Vondel, and the Old Testament's "Song of Songs”. This Dutch National Opera production features the Asko and Schönberg Ensembles, led by Reinbert de Leeuw, with vocal soloists Claron McFadden (Beatrice), Cristina Zavalloni (Dante), Jeroen Willems (Lucifer/Cacciaguida), and Marcel Beekman (Casella). The children's choral parts are sung by Waterland's Kinderkoor De Kickers, conducted by Jan Maarten Koeman.

In the composer's words, "The simultaneous existence of heaven, purgatory, and hell; parallels between various scenes; and the use of film and stage effects all create the complexity that is necessary to do justice to Dante's greatest creation. To this end, all events portrayed on the film screen and on stage, including dance, the spoken word, and song, should be regarded as a reaction to the music."

Dutch composer Louis Andriessen's music has explored politics, time, velocity, matter, and mortality in five works for large ensemble: De Staat (Nonesuch, 1991), De Tijd (Nonesuch, 1993), De Snelheid, De Materie (Nonesuch, 1996), and Trilogy of The Last Day. In addition to La Commedia, his stage works include the operas Writing to Vermeer (Nonesuch, 2006) and Rosa: The Death of a Composer (Nonesuch, 2000), as well as the monodrama Anaïs Nin. Nonesuch also released an album with his De Stijl and M Is for Man, Music, Mozart in 1994.

Hal Hartley is an American independent filmmaker (writer, director, producer, and composer) active since 1989. His films include Trust (1990, winner best screenplay Sundance Film Festival), Henry Fool (1998, winner best screenplay Cannes Film Festival), and Meanwhile (2010). He has written and staged his play Soon at the Salzburg Festspiele in Austria (1998) and in America (2001). His association with Louis Andriessen began with the short film The New Math(s) in 1999. Hartley has just completed shooting his 13th feature film, Ned Rifle. He lives in New York.

“it is encouraging to hear Andriessen himself shifting his language decisively away from everybody else's pigeonholed view of his music...Reinbert de Leeuw directs the combined ASKO and Schonberg ensembles with clinical, steadfast accuracy - getting music of this complexity right must be hell.” Gramophone Magazine, Awards Issue 2014

“The intersecting between stage and film is beautifully handled in the DVD. It represents a huge advance over an early example of the technique. The score, five movements of about twenty minutes each, is enormously attractive. Andriessen’s music shows the influence of Messiaen in rhythm and melody, though the harmonic sense is pared down.” Opera News, October 2014

Nonesuch - 7559795900

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Caldara: In dolce amore

Caldara: In dolce amore

All the arias and cantatas on this album are world premiere recordings.


Caldara:

Pensieri di amante (from Scipione nelle Spagne)

Begl’occhi adorati - Cantata

Rotte l’aspre catene - Cantata

In dolce amore (from Scipione Africano)

Numi, se giusti siete (from Adriano in Siria)

Se tutti i mali miei (from Demofoonte)

Figlia a Roma (from Scipione Africano)

Chi mai d’iniqua stella (from Temistocle)

Credea Niso - Cantata

Una donna (from I disingannati)


CANTATAS AND OPERAS – the twin pillars of secular vocal music of the baroque period. Few composers – though there are some notable exceptions – eschewed these genres if only because a set of cantatas, engraved or copied professionally and strategically dedicated, could be a comparatively inexpensive starting point for a career while opera lured with prospects of fame and fortune.

The Venetian-born Antonio Caldara (1670–1736) certainly was no exception. His set of twelve cantatas (Op. 3) appeared in 1699; his operas had been staged in theatres in Venice before his move to the court at Mantua in 1700. But with his appointment as maestro da cappella to Francesco Maria Ruspoli, prince of Cerveteri, in Rome from mid-1709 and then as vice-Kapellmeister to the imperial court at Vienna from June 1716, he encountered environments that required intense concentration on the cantata in one and on opera in the other.

In the seven years up to his departure for Vienna Caldara supplied Ruspoli with some 200 cantatas – but no more than three operas. The explanation lies in the ‘conversazioni’ that Ruspoli held in his palazzo on most Sundays throughout the year. At these, eminent clergy and diplomats, cognoscenti of the arts and friends of Ruspoli would hear their host’s small instrumental ensemble and some of his singers in new cantatas from his immensely prolific maestro. Nearly all of these are for soprano or contralto voice and most have a sequence of recitative – aria – recitative – aria. Many begin with an ‘introduzione’ comprising of two well-contrasted allegro movements. ‘Introduzioni’ and arias alike are scored for 3 strings (two violins and a bass line) or unison violins and continuo. Six arias of these three cantatas are intimate rather than grandiose, whether in their overall dimensions, slender accompaniments or small-scale musical ideas, and above all in their texts that deal with personal experiences of love: cruel, unrequited, possessive, delightfully painful, or sweet.

“Academia Montis Regalis and Alessandro De Marchi accompany with robust directness or lighter delicacy as required, and Johannsen's versatile singing helps to reveal an enriching glimpse of Caldara's virtues.” Gramophone Magazine, Awards Issue 2014

Deutsche HM - 88843011692

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Strauss, R: Ariadne auf Naxos

Strauss, R: Ariadne auf Naxos

Recorded live at Glyndebourne Festival Opera, Lewes, March 2013


Soile Isokoski (Ariadne), Kate Lindsey (Composer), Laura Claycomb (Zerbinetta), Sergey Skorokhodov (Bacchus), Thomas Allen (Music Master), Dmitri Vargin (Harlequin), James Kryshak (Scaramuccio), Torben Jürgens (Truffaldino), Andrew Stenson (Brighella), Ana Maria Labin (Naiad), Gabriela Iştoc (Echo), Adriana Di Paola (Dryad), William Relton (Major-Domo), Frederick Long (Lackey), Michael Wallace (Wig-Maker), Stuart Jackson (Officer)

London Philharmonic Orchestra, Vladimir Jurowski (conductor) & Katharina Thoma (director)

Director Katharina Thoma sets Richard Strauss’s comedy in a country house in the South Downs (a surrogate for Glyndebourne), immediately before and during the Second World War. Hofmannsthals’ conceit – that a hapless young composer has to accept the simultaneous performance of his new tragic opera with a burlesque from a commedia dell’arte troupe - is turned into a touching wartime drama of nurses, invalids, airmen – and of painful delusions and soul-searching, before final happiness.

Excellent cast led by Thomas Allen as the Music Master and Soile Isokoski as Ariadne.

Extra features: When Two Worlds Collide, Thomas Allen at Glyndebourne, Vladimir Jurowski on his final production as Music Director and a cast gallery.

Running time: 128 minutes

Subtitles: EN/FR/DE/KO

Sound format: 2.0LPCM + 5.1(5.0) DTS

“Ariadne and Bacchus have rarely been so 'absolutely human'. Soile Isokoski's suicidal patient rings truer than any heroine I've ever seen - and perhaps this is the role's most luminously sung performance...Skorokhodov, as a wounded airman, has lungs of steel and can act, too. Laura Claycomb is a decoration-perfect Zerbinetta, and she makes every gesture meaningful.” BBC Music Magazine, October 2014 *****

“Thoma's production moves the action of the Prologue to an English country house in the early 1940s...The idea is executed well, and there are plenty of nice directorial touches...Lindsey's Composer is beautifully detailed and, though a mezzo, her voice has a soprano-like colour and ease. Thomas Allen's Music-Master is excellent.” Gramophone Magazine, Awards Issue 2014

BBC Music Magazine

Opera Choice - October 2014

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Strauss, R: Ariadne auf Naxos

Strauss, R: Ariadne auf Naxos

Recorded live at Glyndebourne Festival Opera, Lewes, March 2013


Soile Isokoski (Ariadne), Kate Lindsey (Composer), Laura Claycomb (Zerbinetta), Sergey Skorokhodov (Bacchus), Thomas Allen (Music Master), Dmitri Vargin (Harlequin), James Kryshak (Scaramuccio), Torben Jürgens (Truffaldino), Andrew Stenson (Brighella), Ana Maria Labin (Naiad), Gabriela Iştoc (Echo), Adriana Di Paola (Dryad), William Relton (Major-Domo), Frederick Long (Lackey), Michael Wallace (Wig-Maker), Stuart Jackson (Officer)

London Philharmonic Orchestra, Vladimir Jurowski (conductor) & Katharina Thoma (director)

Director Katharina Thoma sets Richard Strauss’s comedy in a country house in the South Downs (a surrogate for Glyndebourne), immediately before and during the Second World War. Hofmannsthals’ conceit – that a hapless young composer has to accept the simultaneous performance of his new tragic opera with a burlesque from a commedia dell’arte troupe - is turned into a touching wartime drama of nurses, invalids, airmen – and of painful delusions and soul-searching, before final happiness.

Excellent cast led by Thomas Allen as the Music Master and Soile Isokoski as Ariadne.

Extra features: When Two Worlds Collide, Thomas Allen at Glyndebourne, Vladimir Jurowski on his final production as Music Director and a cast gallery.

Running time: 128 minutes

Subtitles: EN/FR/DE/KO

Sound format: 2.0LPCM + 5.1(5.0) DTS

“Ariadne and Bacchus have rarely been so 'absolutely human'. Soile Isokoski's suicidal patient rings truer than any heroine I've ever seen - and perhaps this is the role's most luminously sung performance...Skorokhodov, as a wounded airman, has lungs of steel and can act, too. Laura Claycomb is a decoration-perfect Zerbinetta, and she makes every gesture meaningful.” BBC Music Magazine, October 2014 *****

“Thoma's production moves the action of the Prologue to an English country house in the early 1940s...The idea is executed well, and there are plenty of nice directorial touches...Lindsey's Composer is beautifully detailed and, though a mezzo, her voice has a soprano-like colour and ease. Thomas Allen's Music-Master is excellent.” Gramophone Magazine, Awards Issue 2014

BBC Music Magazine

Opera Choice - October 2014

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Wagner: Der fliegende Holländer

Wagner: Der fliegende Holländer

Recorded live at the Bayreuth Festival Theatre, July 2013


Samuel Youn (Der Holländer), Franz-Josef Selig (Daland), Ricarda Merbeth (Senta), Tomislav Muzek, (Erik), Christa Mayer (Mary), Benjamin Bruns (Der Steuermann)

Bayreuth Festival Orchestra & Chorus, Christian Thielemann (conductor) & Jan Philipp Gloger (director)

Last year’s revival of Jan Philipp Gloger’s controversial 2012 production was greeted (as so often in Bayreuth) with huge acclaim. He translates the tale of the Dutchman, whose travails can only be redeemed through the unconditional love of a woman (Senta), to a future time, where part-human/part-cyborgs grind out an existence in a world completely subservient to business and commerce. In the modern fan-making factory, which replaces the world of Senta and her fellow seamstresses, we see a final tableau in which the Dutchman’s and Senta’s heavenly union is ‘commemorated’ by the factory workers now producing souvenir statuettes of the couple. The production stars Samuel Youn, Ricarda Merbeth, and Franz-Josef Selig, and is conducted by Christian Thielemann, arguably the greatest Wagnerian conductor of today.

Running time: 140 minutes

Subtitles: EN/FR/DE/KO

Sound format: 2.0LPCM + 5.1(5.0) DTS

“Musically, this performance is on such a high level that, if released in an audio-only format, it wuold be among the best live recordings out there. Youn is a particular revelation, with bass qualities to establish the character's emotional weight but also effective baritonal colours.” Gramophone Magazine, Awards Issue 2014

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Wagner: Der fliegende Holländer

Wagner: Der fliegende Holländer

Recorded live at the Bayreuth Festival Theatre, July 2013


Samuel Youn (Der Holländer), Franz-Josef Selig (Daland), Ricarda Merbeth (Senta), Christa Mayer (Mary), Tomislav Muzek (Erik), Benjamin Bruns (Der Steuermann)

Bayreuth Festival Orchestra & Chorus, Christian Thielemann (conductor) & Jan Philipp Gloger (director)

Last year’s revival of Jan Philipp Gloger’s controversial 2012 production was greeted (as so often in Bayreuth) with huge acclaim. He translates the tale of the Dutchman, whose travails can only be redeemed through the unconditional love of a woman (Senta), to a future time, where part-human/part-cyborgs grind out an existence in a world completely subservient to business and commerce. In the modern fan-making factory, which replaces the world of Senta and her fellow seamstresses, we see a final tableau in which the Dutchman’s and Senta’s heavenly union is ‘commemorated’ by the factory workers now producing souvenir statuettes of the couple. The production stars Samuel Youn, Ricarda Merbeth, and Franz-Josef Selig, and is conducted by Christian Thielemann, arguably the greatest Wagnerian conductor of today.

Running time: 140 minutes

Subtitles: EN/FR/DE/KO

Sound format: 2.0LPCM + 5.1(5.0) DTS

“Musically, this performance is on such a high level that, if released in an audio-only format, it wuold be among the best live recordings out there. Youn is a particular revelation, with bass qualities to establish the character's emotional weight but also effective baritonal colours.” Gramophone Magazine, Awards Issue 2014

Blu-ray Disc

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Opus Arte Bayreuther Festspiele - OABD7147D

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Wagner: Arias & excerpts from Tannhäuser, Tristan & Götterdämmerung

Wagner: Arias & excerpts from Tannhäuser, Tristan & Götterdämmerung


Wagner:

Tannhäuser: Overture and Venusberg Music

Dich, teure Halle (from Tannhauser)

Tristan und Isolde: Prelude to Act 1

Mild und leise 'Isolde's Liebestod' (from Tristan und Isolde)

Götterdämmerung: Siegfried's Funeral March

Starke Scheite schichtet mir dort 'Brünnhilde's Immolation Scene' (from Götterdämmerung)


CD+BOOK

Released to coincide with the opening of the 2014-2015 opera season in Bordeaux and to continue the celebration of the Wagner bicentenary, Paul Daniel accompanies the young American dramatic soprano Heidi Melton who has been called “the Wagnerian voice we have been waiting for since Flagstad and Nilsson” (La Presse), and a voice that is “big, gleaming and tonally resplendent.” (San Francisco Chronicle). Ms. Melton sang her first 'Siegfried' Brünnhilde in concert with Opéra National de Bordeaux, as well as the “Immolation Scene” and “Liebestod” for Wagner concerts in Bordeaux and on tour in France. From the most vibrant pages of 'Tristan and Isolde' to the wonder of the 'Twilight of the Gods', through the famous overture to 'Tannhäuser', here are some captivating aspects of the master of Bayreuth's art which are played by an enthusiastic Orchestre National Bordeaux Aquitaine.

“[Melton] displays great assurance and considerable accomplishment in this trio of vocal items. Placed well forward of the orchestra, she has no obvious technical weaknesses.” Gramophone Magazine, Awards Issue 2014

Actes Sud - ASM22

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Weir: The Vanishing Bridegroom

Weir: The Vanishing Bridegroom


Ailish Tynan (soprano), Anna Stéphany (mezzo), Andrew Tortise (tenor), Owen Gilhooly (baritone) & Jonathan Lemalu (bass baritone)

BBC Singers & BBC Symphony Orchestra, Martyn Brabbins

Judith Weir talks to Presto's Katherine Cooper about The Vanishing Bridegroom here.

Judith Weir's opera, commission by Glasgow District Council for the 1990 City of Culture celebrations, takes three Scottish folktales, all concerned with disappearance: The Inheritance features a runaway bride, a singing forest and a lost sum of gold; The Disappearance tells of a man abducted by supernatural forces; and The Stranger is the story of an independent-minded girl wooed by the devil in disguise.

Weir's writing combines lush descriptive soundscapes with ethereal choruses and Gaelic folk melodies; the romanticism of the three tales is offset by the sardonic humour and down-to-earth attitude of their protagonists, and of the composer herself.

Judith Weir's operas have been staged by the Royal Opera House Covent Garden, Bregenz and many others. • She was awarded the Queen's Medal for Music in 2007.

Weir has been commissioned by the CBSO, Boston Symphony Orchestra and the Minnesota Orchestra.

She celebrates her 60th birthday this year.

“a composer of integrity, [Weir] communicates intelligently with different audiences and ages. This timely release of The Vanishing Bridegroom (1990), her most successful opera, underscores her gift for concision, ambiguity and sound-pictures of sophisticated lyricism.” Financial Times, 8th August 2014 ****

“Weir has always excelled at writing music in miniature, and her skill at pinpointing an idea, an atmosphere, a musical realm in a few deft strokes is fully on display in The Vanishing Bridegroom...A bleak atmosphere pervades the opera, yet the score is full of life.” Gramophone Magazine, Awards Issue 2014

“Weir’s textures never become muddy thanks to the excellent engineering and superb performances. Brabbins leads a well-paced reading that follows every twist and turn of Weir’s colourful score. Soprano Anna Stéphany and bass-baritone Jonathan Lemalu give particularly strong performances in the final tale.” Opera Now ****

“this excellent recording by BBC forces of her 1990 opera shows why she is so highly rated. Weir ingeniously meshes three Scottish folk tales...conveyed in pithily sardonic music. Excellent performances, especially by Jonathan Lemalu in the title-role.” The Times, 19th July 2014 ****

Presto Discs of 2014

Finalist

BBC Music Magazine

Opera Choice - November 2014

Contemporary Music - up to 25% off

NMC - NMCD196

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Vladimir Jurowski conducts Zemlinsky

Vladimir Jurowski conducts Zemlinsky


Zemlinsky:

Eine Florentinische Tragödie Op. 16

Heike Wessels (mezzo soprano), Sergey Skorokhodov (tenor) & Albert Dohmen (baritone)

Songs (6) to poems by Maurice Maeterlinck, Op. 13

Petra Lang (mezzo soprano)


Recorded live at Southbank Centre’s Royal Festival Hall, London, on 22 September 2010 (Six Maeterlinck Songs) and 26 September 2012 (A Florentine Tragedy).

Mezzo-soprano Petra Lang is the soloist in the rarely performed Six Maeterlinck Songs. One of the most sought-after performers in the Austro-German song repertoire, Lang captures perfectly the dark foreboding and eerie, dreamlike quality of the songs.

Zemlinsky’s one-act opera A Florentine Tragedy is based on an unfinished play by Oscar Wilde. Set in 16th-century Florence, the opera tells of jealousy, betrayal and ultimately murder, and was described as ‘a splendid work’ by Zemlinsky’s pupil and brother-in-law, Arnold Schoenberg.

Both works reference Zemlinsky’s unrequited love for Alma Schindler, who eventually chose the international star conductor Mahler as her husband. Zemlinsky never got over this, and when Alma saw A Florentine Tragedy she was furious at what she saw as the depiction of herself, Mahler and her affair with Walter Gropius.

This recording is the only currently available physical/CD pairing of these two works, both of which are rarely recorded and not readily available elsewhere.

Read Presto's complete review of this disc here.

“The performance is terrific – the LPO draw out all of the score’s terrible beauty, and Jurowski’s pacing really turns the dramatic screw. All the singers were new to me, and Heike Wessels in particular is tremendous as the sullen, frustrated Bianca...her huge dark sound glints and surges to thrilling effect.” Katherine Cooper, Presto Classical, 23rd June 2014

“Jurowski's belief in both [works] is never in doubt and his thoughtful yet intense conducting is matched by playing of exquisite if sinister detail from the London Philharmonic.” The Guardian, 10th July 2014 ****

“a gory tale of illicit love, portrayed in sumptuous orchestral colours, its intensity barely contained until the denouement...Jurowski’s performance makes a thrilling appeal to the imagination, abetted by visceral contributions from the three soloists.” Financial Times, 19th July 2014 ****

“Jurowski demonstrates a masterly control of dramatic pace, ratcheting up the tension slowly but surely so that the final denouement reaches a devastating climax. The LPO proves superbly responsive to Jurowski's demands. The opera's protagonists...vividly project the mendacious nature of the drama.” BBC Music Magazine, October 2014 *****

“it's a short piece whose cumulative power is extremely impressive...Jurowski and the LPO capture both its passion and its restrain well. It's a reading of remarkable orchestral clarity and lucidity...[Dohmen] remains imposing and authoritative, even if the voice is rather dry...Wessels is a gloriously voluptuous and vibrant Bianca.” Gramophone Magazine, Awards Issue 2014

“A masterly account of Zemlinsky’s intense one-act opera...All three parties to the doomed love triangle are supremely well-sung, especially Wotan-du-jour Albert Dohmen.” Classical Music *****

Presto Disc of the Week

23rd June 2014

Presto Discs of 2014

Finalist

LPO - LPO0078

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R. Strauss: Wind Sonatinas

R. Strauss: Wind Sonatinas


Strauss, R:

Sonatina No. 1 in F major for 16 wind instruments, AV 135 'Aus der Werkstatt eines Invaliden'

Sonatina No. 2 (Symphony) in E flat major for 16 wind instruments, AV 143 'Fröhliche Werkstatt'


Armonia Ensemble

2014 is the 150th anniversary of the birth of Richard Strauss.

Wunderkind - composer of over 200 works, brilliant conductor, catalyst of the modern, perfecter of late Romanticism. The Wind Sonatas written by Strauss are amongst the most beautiful creations of the late Romantic period. Reason enough for the armonia Ensemble, comprised of leading soloists from the acclaimed Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra who have dedicated themselves to large-scale chamber music pieces for wind instruments, to take on these late works by the composer. Perhaps Strauss, approaching 80, was inspired by childhood memories as he returned to the wind ensemble.

His father Franz played the horn in the Munich Court Opera and the warm timbre of the instrument accompanied the boy’s earliest years. He was still a student when he composed the subtle shades of the Serenade in E Flat (1881) and Suite in B flat Op.4 (1884). Both were written for a 13 wind ensemble. Strauss picks up the same thread, two threads in fact, over 60 years later. In 1943 he writes the Sonatina No.1 in F major, giving it the title "From An Invalid’s Workshop" - a reference to a bout of influenza he had recently overcome. He extended the clarinet family, having discovered the riches of its timbres in a wind orchestra in 1900. The Sonatina reveals the full harmonic mastery and nuanced tonal colour of the mature Strauss. A year later Strauss writes Sonatina No.2 in E flat major, entitled "The Happy Workshop". Despite the tragic circumstances of war, this is strikingly cheerful music.

“The appropriately named Armonia Ensemble are members of the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra who all understand how to blend perfectly as well as take solos, and they are surely perfectly balanced by the recording. Altogether a most rewarding coupling.” Gramophone Magazine, Awards Issue 2014

“these are escapist pieces, graceful and genial, never remotely challenging. They are presented with all the elegance they need by the Armonia Ensemble, which has the wind section of one of the greatest orchestras in Europe, the Leipzig Gewandhaus, as its core.” The Guardian, 17th July 2014 ****

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Somis: Violin Sonatas, Op. 1

Somis: Violin Sonatas, Op. 1

Amsterdam, 1717


Kreeta-Maria Kentala (violin), Lauri Pulakka (cello) & Mitzi Meyerson (harpsichord)

Mitzi Meyerson likes to come up with surprising musical finds or rediscoveries and her latest, the Opera Prima of Giovanni Battista Somis, is as fascinating as her recordings devoted to Richard Jones and Gottlieb Muffat. Indeed, the harpsichordist chanced upon the score for this set of Baroque violin sonatas – first published in 1717 – when investigating the music of Richard Jones in the British Library, finding thereby another trove of forgotten Baroque gems. Somis worked for the Dukes of Savoy, initially in Turin, in the early 18th century, but studied with Corelli in Rome, later befriended Vivaldi, and himself taught many subsequent prominent violinists, including Jean-Marie Leclair. Known as a virtuoso on the violin himself (and he is even said to have composed 152 violin concertos!), Somis even performed at the Concert Spirituel in Paris. This, his first collection of sonatas, was dedicated to the powerful Regent of Savoy, Marie-Jeanne-Baptiste de Savoie, the mother of the future duke, Vittorio Amedeo II. The music is often very galant and perfectly combines Italian and French features. Together with violinist Kreeta-Maria Kentala and cellist Lauri Pulakka, Meyerson fully enters into the Baroque spirit of transcribing and arranging on this Glossa recording by varying these 12 three-movement sonatas with all the stylistic experience and insight that the modern-day musicians can offer.

“the violinist plays cleanly with a strong sound … his ornamentation is plentiful but tasteful. The recorded balance between the instruments is good and tempos well chosen. As I said, strongly recommended.” Early Music Review, August 2014

“The performances are, in the main, impressive. The overall sound is good and Kreeta-Maria Kentala plays with lively expression, introducing imaginative decoration, especially in the adagios. And she's very well supported.” Gramophone Magazine, Awards Issue 2014

“These are marvellously gifted musicians, each performing on beautiful historical instruments. Meyerson is, as always, a brilliant and expressive harpsichordist and Pulakka gives lively and stylish support. Kentala’s violin playing is suave and nimble, with touches of sly wit and copious ornamentation … well worth hearing.” International Record Review, October 2014

“Kentala’s interpretations of this significant but unfairly neglected repertoire are intelligent and imaginative. She is a stylish violinist…Mitzi Meyerson provides inventive harpsichord accompaniments and cellist Lauri Pulakka clearly enjoys every opportunity to participate in melodic dialogue or imitation…their creative thirst certainly brings the music to life.” The Strad, January 2015

Glossa - GCD921807

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Rachmaninov & Tchaikovsky: Piano Trios

Rachmaninov & Tchaikovsky: Piano Trios


Rachmaninov:

Trio élégiaque No. 1 in G minor, Op. post.

Tchaikovsky:

Piano Trio in A minor, Op. 50 'In Memory of a Great Artist'


Trio Testore: Franziska Pietsch (violin), Hans-Christian Schweiker (cello) & Hyun-Jung Kim-Schweiker (piano)

After a successful release of Brahms Piano Trios, Audite present a second SACD with the Trio Testore. It sheds light on a moving concept in Russian chamber music as both Tchaikovsky‘s and Rachmaninov‘s works are conceived as dedications and memorials.

Tchaikovsky composed his only Piano Trio in memory of Nikolai Rubinstein, his mentor and friend. He paid tribute to Rubinstein’s pianistic brilliance with the work’s demanding piano part, but integrated it also into the communicative context with two equal partners: symbolically, the virtuoso receives support and stimulation from them. Rachmaninov took this two-movement work and its fundamentally elegiac character as a model when he composed his First Piano Trio. Even at the tender age of 17 he was able to mould essential elements of his style and melodic invention. The history of the dedications of the works determines their individual form and their personal, passionate message.

“Trio Testore tackle the earlier of the Rachmaninov trios, cast in a single movement, with a mix of tenderness and raw emotion; it is not a masterwork; but with the sensibility that these players reveal, it comes across with touching sincerity.” Gramophone Magazine, Awards Issue 2014

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Julius Röntgen: Chamber Music, Volume One

Julius Röntgen: Chamber Music, Volume One

Music for Violin and Piano I


Röntgen:

Romanze in G minor

Violin Sonata in E major, Op. 40

Phantasie for solo Violin

Suite Aus Jotenheim

Sonata Trilogica


Atsuko Sahara (violin) & John Lenehan (piano)

The German-Dutch composer Julius Röntgen (1855–1932) composed an astonishing number of works: 25 symphonies, 17 concerti, 32 string quartets, 16 string trios, 14 piano trios, many sonatas for his five string-player sons, as well as works in almost every other genre. This vast output has at last begun to emerge from obscurity, with a number of recordings testifying to his astonishing craftsmanship and exquisite sense of melody, balancing skill and spontaneity.

The works recorded here confirm his extraordinary ability to write one gorgeous tune after another. All these works are receiving their first recordings here; Aus Jotunheim, based on Norwegian folktunes and composed as a present for Grieg and his wife, was first written for violin and piano and that version gets a first recording here, too.

Atsuko Sahara, who has been playing the violin since the age of four, studied in Tokyo and Vienna. She has given recitals at the Newport Music Festival in the USA and the Lake District Summer Music festival in England as well as in India, Japan, Kazakhstan and Scotland. She is a member of the Ensemble of Tokyo and Geidai Philharmonia. John Lenehan has appeared as soloist with leading orchestras at home and abroad and has made more than 60 CDs. He is also active as a composer and has written and arranged for Angelika Kirchschlager, Kennedy, Julian Lloyd Webber, Tasmin Little and Emma Johnson.

“Röntgen's melodic fecundity is heard in the Brahmsian E major Sonata and the Grieg-inspired Aus Jotunheim, whereas darker resonances infuse the later Sonata trilogica.” BBC Music Magazine, October 2014 ****

“Most attractive of all is the folk suite Aus Jotunheim...Sahara plays it, the G minor Romanze (1920) and the sonatas very prettily, one or two minor issues with intonation aside, superbly accompanied by John Lenehan.” Gramophone Magazine, Awards Issue 2014

“The well-recorded performances from Atsuko Sahara and John Lenehan are good, though maybe greater variegation of tone colour from the violinist could have enlivened the music still more. Nevertheless these are most attractive pieces, sensitively played.” MusicWeb International, 13th October 2014

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James MacMillan: Visions of a November Spring

James MacMillan: Visions of a November Spring


MacMillan:

Etwas zurückhaltend

premiere recording

Visions of a November Spring (String Quartet No. 1)

For Sonny

premiere recording

String Quartet No. 3

premiere recording


Edinburgh Quartet

"For fifty years the Edinburgh Quartet has been one of the leading chamber ensembles of the UK," wrote the quartet’s patron James MacMillan on the occasion of their 50th anniversary in 2010. "I feel proud to be associated with them as they enter their second half-century under the dynamic leadership of Tristan Gurney, providing some of the most exciting performances in the business."

Exciting is certainly the word to describe these marvellously idiomatic, intensely virtuosic readings of MacMillan’s own music. Spanning his career from 1982 to 2011, they provide three snapshots of his evolving style: an intriguing tissue of Wagnerian referentiality; a burst of youthful energy with touches of the visionary; and the sovereign integration of folk and discursive elements in String Quartet No 3.

A moving short tribute, 'For Sonny', shows another side to this ceaselessly inventive composer’s output. The Edinburgh Quartet was founded in 1960 and quickly became established as one of Britain’s foremost chamber ensembles. It achieved international recognition after winning the Contemporary Prize at the Evian-les-Bains String Quartet Competition and has since toured extensively across Europe, the Far East, North and South America and the Middle East, as well as appearing regularly at venues across the UK. The Quartet has always been a champion of new music and has worked with many important and prolific composers of our age including James MacMillan, Michael Tippett and Howard Blake.

“Visions of a November Spring [is] an important work of stylistic transition, its title reflecting an opening to new modes of expression, its mood at once lyrical and aggressive. The poignant miniature, For Sonny (2011), and the String Quartet No 3 (2007), at once lyrical, ecstatic and ethereal, complete this wide-ranging, vividly played recording.” The Observer, 10th August 2014 ****

“The performances by the Edinburgh Quartet … seem in so far as I can judge to be impeccably tuned and delivered … Even when the music is at its most searing, there is always a sense of thematic development which draws the listener onwards. One looks forward with anticipation to the second volume in this series.” MusicWeb International, 9th September 2014

“The outstanding Edinburgh Quartet deliver every detail of these sometimes complex scores with total commitment, communicating them with passion and intensity. With an excellent recorded sound, this is a superb and valuable addition to the discography of MacMillan's purely instrumental music.” Gramophone Magazine, Awards Issue 2014

“I am astonished by these players, by their complete immersion in MacMillan’s sound-world, their nerve and by their communicative power.” International Record Review, November 2014

Contemporary Music - up to 25% off

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Mozart Arranged

Mozart Arranged


Mozart:

Piano Sonata No. 16 in C major, K545 'Facile'

Julie Adam and Daniel Herscovitch (pianos)

Piano Sonata No. 15 in F major, K533/494

Julie Adam and Daniel Herscovitch (pianos)

Piano Sonata No. 5 in G, K283

Julie Adam and Daniel Herscovitch (pianos)

Fantasia in C minor, K475

Julie Adam and Daniel Herscovitch (pianos)

Piano Sonata No. 14 in C minor, K457

Julie Adam and Daniel Herscovitch (pianos)

Grande Sestetto Concertante after K364 (K320d)

Australia Ensemble

Clarinet Quintet in A major, K581

Australia Ensemble

Horn Quintet in E flat, K407

Australia Ensemble


This double album is full of surprises and puts Mozart’s music into a new perspective fully realising the limitless adaptability of his music, as was commonplace in the 17th and 18th centuries.

Mozart Arranged is a journey through adaptations and arrangements of Mozart’s chamber music from his Grande Sestetto Concertante and Clarinet Quintet, through to adaptations of his piano sonatas for two pianos by Norwegian Edvard Grieg. The performances here are all arrangements of music that Mozart would have most certainly approved.

Mozart’s sonatas arranged for two pianos are more ‘adaptations’ than arrangements. Grieg augments the original sonatas, Mozart’s original remains unaltered as the primo piano and the Grieg influence is in the second piano part serves to contemporise the sonatas - 19th century crossover - and as Grieg was also a very capable pianist these are very considered works. When first released back in 1990s this recording from Julie Adam and Daniel Herschovitch was a world premiere recording, their performances here very much conveying Grieg and Mozart in dialogue, speaking and listening to each other.

The Australia Ensemble is the establishment chamber ensemble in Australia. All musicians are instrumental leaders in their field and although recorded in the 1990s all members remain with the ensemble some 20 years later. Violinist Dene Olding is currently concert-master of the Sydney Symphony Orchestra, and a noted soloist and founder for the Goldner String Quartet. Dimity Hall has a love of chamber music having been principal second violin of the Australian Chamber Orchestra as well as violinist in the Goldner String Quartet, along with violist Irina Morozova and cellist Julian Smiles.

“Essential listening! Grieg's Romanticism-filtered, two-piano takes on the Sonatas are charming. The other arrangements, too, are played with a lovely crisp elegance.” BBC Music Magazine, November 2014 *****

“Julie Adam and Daniel Herscovitch play charmingly and are well recorded, the latter a shade less discreet than the former when playing the Grieg part.” Gramophone Magazine, Awards Issue 2014

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Holliger: Romancendres, Feuerwerklein, Chaconne, Partita

Holliger: Romancendres, Feuerwerklein, Chaconne, Partita


Holliger:

Romancendres for cello & piano

Feuerwerklein zum 'quatorze juillet' for piano solo

Chaconne

Partita


Daniel Haefliger (cello) & Gilles Vonsattel (piano)

Two wonderful instrumentalists show their reverence for one of the great composers of our time: the cellist Daniel Haefliger and the pianist Gilles Vonsattel play works by Heinz Holliger on the new CD in the Artist-Consort series from GENUIN. The works range from early pieces to the composer's current production, revealing a downright astonishing stylistic variety. From the sonic journeys of discovery of the Chaconne (1975) to the explosions in colour of the Feuerwerklein (Little Fireworks, 2012), from almost inaudible processes of amalgamation in Romancendres to the relentlessly interminable rhythms in the final movement of the Partita. An outstanding retrospective, performed splendidly!

“these vignettes make for fascinating listening...The 1975 Chaconne is a bravura piece of cello-writing, very much of its time but bracing, and brilliantly executed by the soloist.” Gramophone Magazine, Awards Issue 2014

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Brahms & Schönberg

Brahms & Schönberg


Brahms:

Serenade No. 1 in D major, Op. 11

Original Version for Nonet arr. by Alan Boustead

Orchestra of the Swan

Schoenberg:

Verklärte Nacht, Op. 4

Sextet Version

Ensemble Epomeo et al


Kenneth Woods

Recorded live as part of the Deal Festival, Kent and the Two Rivers Festival, Bushell Hall, Birkenhead School.

This disc documents the emerging mastery of two of music history's most powerful and closely linked artistic personalities -- Brahms and Schönberg, pairing the original chamber versions of the seminal works of their early maturity, which were primarily known through performances by much larger orchestral forces. Brahms's profound influence on Schönberg is clearly evident in his books and essays on Brahms's music as well as his arrangement of the Brahms Piano Quartet in G minor for full orchestra, now a staple of the orchestral repertoire.Schönberg's Verklärte Nacht is the key work in which his musical personality truly emerged onto the world stage. For much of the last hundred years, the work has been heard in his own arrangement for string orchestra but for our recording, the String Trio Ensemble Epomeo (Caroline Chin, David Yang and Kenneth Woods) have been joined by a stellar team of colleagues (Diane Pascal, Tom Hankey and Matthew Sharp) for a stunning performance of Schönberg's original version for string sextet, written in 1899, performed live during the 2013 Deal Festival. Brahms's beautiful Serenade in D major, written when he was 25, is a symphony in all but name and was his first major orchestral work. Brahms originally wrote the work for nonet before expanding it for larger forces on the advice of Joachim. Composer Alan Boustead has lovingly reconstructed the lost original version of this work for solo strings, flute, two clarinets, bassoon and horn, heard here in a scintillating performance by players from the Orchestra of the Swan conducted by their Principal Guest Conductor, Kenneth Woods whose first disc for SOMM's Schönberg chamber versions of Mahler's Das Lied von der Erde and Lieder Eines fahrenden Gesellen (SOMM0109) received an "IRR OUTSTANDING" and was hailed by MusicWeb as "something that every lover of Mahler should hear.

“Few will have heard this nonet version of the Serenade...In this live recording a slightly chubby ugly duckling in its orchestral format suddenly achieves lightness and clarity. Thanks to this aptly named Stratford-based ensemble, it has turned into a swan.” The Observer, 3rd August 2014 ***

“This pair of one-off live performances relives and condenses the battle over music in the second half of the 19th century...The dryness of the first violin-playing in Verklärte Nacht belongs to the effect of the performance as a whole, which majors on delicate tracery and does not attempt to compete with the weight of sonority afforded by the expanded version.” Gramophone Magazine, Awards Issue 2014

“The principal players of the Orchestra of the Swan are a thoroughly accomplished group, the strings in particular achieving an impressive homogeneity and pleasing tonal blend...There's high praise, too, for the excellently balanced and well-matched pairs of clarinets and horns, and for the keenly authoritative flair of Wood's direction.” International Record Review, December 2014

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Adolphe Blanc: String Quintets Nos. 3, 4 & 7

Adolphe Blanc: String Quintets Nos. 3, 4 & 7


Blanc:

String Quintet No. 3 in D major

String Quintet No. 4 in E flat major

String Quintet No. 7 in E flat major


Faberge Quintet: Rodrigo Reichel, Frauke Kuhlmann, Bettina Lenz (violin), Gerhard Sibbing (viola), Sven Forsberg (cello), Peter Schmidt (double bass)

In quintet music with double-bass two great works stand out: Dvorak’s famous String Quintet op. 77 and the even better-known Trout Quintet by Schubert. Most audiences would be hard put to name further valuable works for this arrangement of strings but Hamburg’s Fabergé Quintet have rediscovered three such and deservingly recorded them for the first time: the String Quintets Nos. 3, 4 and 7 by the 19th-century French composer Adolphe Blanc (1828-1885). Classical or romantic chamber music was little composed between 1820 and 1870 in France, the public being excited primarily by opera and instrumental programme music, but amongst the serious composers of French chamber music during this period - aside from George Onslow and Louise Farrenc - was the violin and viola player Adolphe Blanc. He studied at the Paris Conservatoire with Fromental Halévy (the teacher of Gounod and Bizet) and at times worked as the orchestra conductor of the respected Parisian “Theatre Lyrique”. Blanc’s chamber music is extensive: as well as seven string quintets, he penned string trios and quartets, piano trios, quartets and quintets and a septet for wind, strings and piano.

Formally Blanc generally oriented his compositions to the established if by his time already somewhat outdated patterns of the Viennese classics. How originally and inventively he was able to write within this framework is proven for the first time by the five members of the NDR Symphony Orchestra who comprise the Fabergé Quintet in the three remarkable string quintets they have recorded here.

“Although he was French, Blanc's chamber music has a tone inherited directly from Haydn...there is enough rhythmic drive through all the quintets, brought out with enough infectious energy by the Faberges (particularly in the Tarantella of the Seventh Quintet) to make this recording far more than a chamber music curiosity.” Gramophone Magazine, Awards Issue 2014

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Beethoven: Complete Works for Cello & Piano

Beethoven: Complete Works for Cello & Piano


Beethoven:

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

Variations (12) on "See the conquering hero comes" for Cello and Piano, WoO 45

Cello Sonata in F major, Op. 17 (transcribed by Beethoven from horn sonata)

Variations (12) on "Ein Mädchen oder Weibchen" for Cello and Piano, Op. 66


France Springuel (cello), Jan Vermeulen (fortepiano)

Without exaggeration we can say Beethoven has introduced a new chamber music genre: the sonata for (forte) piano and cello. With the exception of a few string quartets, Haydn and Mozart treat the cello in their chamber music mainly as a base instrument or as part of the basso continuo, with few melodic lines. With his sonatas for piano and cello, Beethoven places both instruments as if they were on the same level and herewith makes a start for further evolution and development of the genre.

“Springuel's cello...has a distinctive ardency in high-lying lyrical passages that seems to come from within, or at least from more than just having vibrato trowelled on. Where these performances are less than successful to my ear is when a deeper and wiser involvement is needed.” Gramophone Magazine, Awards Issue 2014

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Wagner: Der Ring des Nibelungen

Wagner: Der Ring des Nibelungen


Alwyn Mellor (Brunnhilde), Stefan Vinke (Siegfried), Greer Grimsley (Wotan), Stephanie Blythe (Fricka), Margaret Jane Wray (Sieglinde), Stuart Skelton (Siegmund)

Seattle Opera, Seattle Opera Chorus and Seattle Symphony Orchestra, Asher Fisch

Commemorating the three-decade tenure of Seattle Opera General Director Speight Jenkins, the Seattle Ring is luxuriously packaged in a sturdy box, containing 14 CDs in colour cardboard wallets and five perfect-bound books - one for each of the Ring’s four librettos in original German with English translations, plus a commemorative four-colour booklet containing essays by Speight Jenkins and numerous photos documenting the acclaimed 2013 Seattle Ring.

Nearly 40 years ago, a small, regional company in the Pacific Northwest of the United States decided to scale arguably the greatest height of the operatic repertoire, Wagner’s Ring. That amazing feat launched a legendary tradition that has become universally known as the Seattle Ring, a destination for the cycle’s legions of devotees from around the world.

Now the fabled history of the Seattle Ring has been captured for commercial release for the very first time. Recorded live during the 2013 season, the production recreates the immediacy of the theatre-going experience and the realism of the superb Seattle cast, which includes Alwyn Mellor as Brunhilde, Stefan Vinke as Siegfried, Greer Grimsley as Wotan, Stephanie Blythe as Fricka, Margaret Jane Wray as Sieglinde, and Stuart Skelton as Siegmund. From the pit, Israeli-born Asher Fisch conducts the Seattle Symphony Orchestra.

“Grimsley's Wotan...has something of the centred warmth and sound of Norman Bailey's...The Walsung twins give good value...[Mellor] has an attention to detail and dynamics reminiscent of Anne Evans. She never forces, never shows off but steers through the part with a beacon-like concentration...the musical achievement here is more than good enough to demand attention outside Seattle.” Gramophone Magazine, Awards Issue 2014

“Fisch conducts the Seattle Symphony Orchestra with mixed results. One positive is that this Ring gains strength as it progresses, the negative being that it doesn’t start with much conviction...Greer Grimsley’s Wotan dominates, with noble, stentorian tone and a true sense of power.” Opera Now

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Manfred Honeck conducts Dvorak & Janacek

Manfred Honeck conducts Dvorak & Janacek


Dvorak:

Symphony No. 8 in G major, Op. 88

Janacek:

Jenufa – Suite

conceptualized by Manfred Honeck, realized by Tomas Ille


Thrilling Live Performances From The Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, In Brilliant Audiophile Sound!

San Francisco - is release is the second in the "Pittsburgh Live!" series of multi-channel hybrid SACD releases on the fresH! series from reference recordings.

For more than 116 years, the Pittsburgh symphony orchestra has been known for its artistic excellence. The PSO has a rich history of the world’s finest conductors and musicians. Past conductors include the legendary names of reiner, steinberg, Previn, Maazel,and other greats. This tradition was furthered in fall 2008, when celebrated austrian conductor Manfred Honeck became Music Director of the Pittsburgh symphony orchestra.

The PSO is critically acclaimed as one of the world’s greatest orchestras, and has completed more than 36 international tours, including 20 european tours, eight trips to the far east, and two to south america. The PSO was the first American Orchestra to perform at the vatican in January 2004 for the late Pope John Paul II, as part of the Pontiff’s silver Jubilee celebration.

The PSO also has a long history in the areas of recordings and radio concerts. as early as 1936, the PSO broadcast coast-to-coast, receiving increased national attention in 1982 when it began network radio broadcasts on Public radio international. The Pri series with the Pso can be heard on classical WQeD-fM 89.3 in Pittsburgh. Many PSO recordings remain in print and available, and they have won critical acclaim and many awards.

This release and the entire "Pittsburgh Live!"series are recorded and mastered by the team at soundmirror, whose outstanding orchestral, solo, opera, and chamber recordings have received over 70 graMMy nominations and awards!

Soundmirror has recorded for every major classical record label, now including reference recordings.

FRESH! is part of reference recordings’ mission to encourage new artists and give them a strong platform for promotion and sales nationally and internationally.

“Honeck's interpretation is rich in imagination and the playing of the Pittsburgh Symphony scales the heights...I would say that Manfred Honeck is one of the few remaining masters of the rostrum whose CDs - and there are all too few of them - are events to cherish.” Gramophone Magazine, Awards Issue 2014

GGramophone Magazine

Editor's Choice

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Debussy: Orchestral Works

Debussy: Orchestral Works


Debussy:

Rhapsody for clarinet & piano (or orchestra), L. 116 'Première rapsodie'

Dirk Altmann (clarinet)

Images for orchestra: III. Rondes de Printemps

Images for orchestra: I. Gigues

Images for orchestra: II. Ibéria

Prélude à l'après-midi d'un faune

Rhapsody for alto saxophone & piano (or orchestra), L. 98

Daniel Gauthier (saxophone)


The "Afternoon of a Faun“ together with the orchestral "Images" are among Claude Debussy’s best known and most popular compositions. Both works show different sides of the composer: "Afternoon of a Faun" is a textbook example of musical impressionism, while about the "Images", the composer himself said that his goal was to “try to achieve something different – an effect of reality”. The scores contrast well with the two Rhapsodies: the one for clarinet, called the "first" Rhapsody, was sketched out within a few weeks at the end of 1909, while the "second" Rhapsody for saxophone was only completed and orchestrated after the death of its author. The Stuttgart Radio Symphony Orchestra (SWR) and conductor Heinz Holliger manage to bring out the evocative, dynamic colors and peculiarities to be found in all of these works with precision.

“Holliger brings an infallible ear for timbre to bear on this programme...The range of sonority and mix of colours that Holliger draws from the Stuttgart orchestra is an especially attractive feature of this disc...Coupled with Holliger's instinctive feel for the music's natural pace and contour, these are captivating performances.” Gramophone Magazine, Awards Issue 2014

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Bruckner: Symphony No. 00 in F minor 'Study Symphony'

Bruckner: Symphony No. 00 in F minor 'Study Symphony'


The Study Symphony is a summing-up of the craftsmanship acquired by Anton Bruckner – it did not particularly serve the development of his own artistic profile.

“It is”, evaluates his biographer Matthias Hansen, “as if Bruckner – one last time – wanted to play through what he had learned, taking great trouble and care not to forget the slightest detail”. Here, Bruckner tested the limits of the classical-romantic models, according to Hansen, “with a ‘borrowed’ looseness and flexibility, even with elegance” that he then dropped with the Symphony No.0.

“This minor piece has had a surprising number of recordings - more than his masterpieces had 50 years ago. Simone Young's live performance in her ongoing series is as good as any, and well recorded.” BBC Music Magazine, November 2014 ****

“this latest instalment of Simone Young's Bruckner cycle has the sturdiness of an old oak: roots deep in the earth, branches of wisdom...The Philharmoniker Hamburg roared in Young's Bruckner Eighth but here they approach the material with poker-faced restraint and delicacy. This is a disc that makes you listen with fresh ears to this slice Brucknerian juvenilia.” Gramophone Magazine, Awards Issue 2014

“The Hamburg Philharmonic plays well... The depth and clarity of the sound are winning…” MusicWeb International, 28th March 2017

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Havergal Brian: Symphonic Dances from The Tigers

Havergal Brian: Symphonic Dances from The Tigers


Brian:

Symphonic Dances from The Tigers

Foulds:

Pasquiande Symphonique No. 1


Luxembourg Radio Symphony Orchestra, Leopold Hager

Havergal Brian’s first opera, The Tigers, was begun in the middle of World War I – he called it ‘a distraction from war horrors’ – and is essentially a satire on the shambolic unpreparedness of the British army in training on the home front. This CD features the only complete recording of the Symphonic Dances which Brian adapted from the operatic score and the only available recording of Fould’s Pasquinade Symphonique No. 1.

“The Brian is good but the Foulds is magnificent. This is a fine disc with clean, immediate sound. It is a little studio bound but there is excellent clarity. The choice of orchestra and conductor may appear to be unusual for the repertoire but they do a fine job.” MusicWeb International, 13th June 2014

“Brian's scintillating orchestral textures still show up brightly in these sympathetic and virtuoso accounts. The sound is a touch studio-bhound but still crystal clear, comparing favourably with previous incarnations.” Gramophone Magazine, Awards Issue 2014

“Hagler proves as adept in uncovering the recondite humour as the elusive profundities of these extracts from an opera that marked Brian’s emergence as a composer of stature…the Luxembourg forces render this music with real expressive acuity and Hager directs with unassuming authority…the very real qualities of these readings should ensure they retain their place on the shelves of Brian and Foulds advocates.” International Record Review, November 2014

“These extracts from Brian's comic-satirical opera offer subtle invention besides his compulsive prolixity, and appeal much more strongly than Foulds's fluent but characterless Pasquinade. Clear, classy performances.” BBC Music Magazine, Christmas 2014 ****

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Per Monsieur Pisendel 2

Per Monsieur Pisendel 2


Albinoni:

Violin Sonata in B flat major for Signor Pisendel

Montanari:

Sonata for violin & continuo in D minor

Pisendel:

Sonata for Violin Solo in A minor

Sonata in C minor for strings and continuo

Vivaldi:

Sonata for Violin and Continuo in A major RV 29

Violin Sonata in F major, RV19


Adrian Chandler (violin), Gareth Deats (cello), Thomas Dunford (theorbo) & Robert Howarth (harpsichord)

La Serenissima

With ‘Per Monsier Pisendel 2’, Adrian Chandler and La Serenissima hark back to their debut album, performing violin sonatas by Vivaldi, Albinoni, Pisendel and Montanari with stunning virtuosity.

Adrian Chandler returns to where it all began. Per Monsieur Pisendel (AV0018) was the debut album by the Vivaldi enthusiast released on Avie in 2003, launching a recording career that has earned international plaudits, awards, chart-topping albums and recognition as one of the world’s leading authorities on the music of Vivaldi and his Italian baroque contemporaries. Per Monsieur Pisendel 2 brings together works by the dazzling German violinist’s teachers Antonio Montanari and the Red Priest, the last “Pisendel” sonata by Albinoni, and two sonatas by the Saxon himself, including the fiendish unaccompanied sonata which inspired Bach to compose his six similarly-scored works.

Shining through Adrian’s erudition is stellar music performed with laser beam precision.

“With his sumptuous and brilliant readings of two sonatas — one unaccompanied, the other supported by his excellent continuo team — the baroque violinist Chandler demonstrates again the justness of his devotion to the cause of Johann Georg Pisendel.” Sunday Times, 17th August 2014

“Most remarkable of all is the Sonata in A minor, a truly virtuoso piece which is said, not without justification, to have inspired Bach's Sonatas and Partitas for solo violin. It is given here in a quite breathtakingly effective performance by Adrian Chandler, whose effortless and stylish command of the writing brings Pisendel's legendary fully alive.” Gramophone Magazine, Awards Issue 2014

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Two x Four

Two x Four


Bach, J S:

Concerto for Two Violins in D minor, BWV1043

Clyne:

Prince of Clouds

World Premiere Recording

Glass, P:

Echorus

Ludwig, D:

Seasons Lost

World Premiere Recording


Jennifer Koh (violin), Jaime Laredo (violin)

Curtis 20/21 Ensemble, Vinay Parameswaran

Renowned violinists Jennifer Koh and her distinguished mentor Jaime Laredo illuminate captivating connections between composers across the centuries, in Two x Four, an album of four double-violin concertos, performed with the Curtis 20/21 Ensemble conducted by Vinay Parameswaran. The compositional touchstone is J.S. Bach’s Violin Concerto in D minor, BWV 1043, an innovative work that introduced new ways for two solo violins to converse with each other and with orchestra. Koh and Laredo leap from the Baroque to the late 20th-century for Philip Glass’s attractive, hypnotically undulating Echorus on the theme of compassion. Two new works commissioned expressly for the project receive world premiere recordings. Anna Clyne’s impressionistic Prince of Clouds is “a winner . . . . This is music one can listen to again and again and find new things to appreciate each time” (Chicago Tribune). David Ludwig’s evocative Seasons Lost, a contemporary counterpart to Vivaldi’s Four Seasons, is “full of beautiful ideas contrasting with playful/menacing Vivaldian gestures” (Philadelphia Inquirer).

Produced by multiple Grammy Award winner Judith Sherman, Two x Four mirrors the performers’ groundbreaking concert program of the same name, which they recently toured across the U.S. Time Out New York calls the project “intrepid violinist Jennifer Koh’s latest programming brainstorm.” “‘Two x Four’ Equals Sublime,” proclaimed Philadelphia’s LocalArtsLive. Record buyers are already aware of Koh’s keen instincts for connecting Bach with later composers through her Cedille album Bach and Beyond Part 1, named one of the best recordings of 2012 by the New York Times

Koh’s tour schedule for the first half of 2014 includes, in chronological order, Tokyo; Milwaukee, Wis.; Cincinnati, Ohio; New York (Miller Theater and Carnegie Hall); Düsseldorf, Germany; Aspen, Colo.; Metz, France; Berlin, Germany; Lahti, Finland; Santa Fe, NM; Los Angeles (a Two x Four concert).

“The disc as a whole doesn't make a compelling statement but has its charms. Koh and Laredo duet beautifully in Bach.” Gramophone Magazine, Awards Issue 2014

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Vivaldi: Solo Concertos for various instruments

Vivaldi: Solo Concertos for various instruments


Vivaldi:

Flute Concerto in F major, RV 99

Flute Concerto RV 429

Bassoon Concerto, RV 504 in B flat major

Cello Concerto in G minor, RV417

Concerto in G minor RV 106

Oboe Concerto in C major, RV450

Concerto in G minor, RV107


Barocksolisten München

18th-century Venice had a unique system of social support that brought great economic, social and cultural benefits to the “Floating City“. Among the services offered Venice’s poor were a network of orphanages, including the Ospedale della pietà which served as the highest-ranking school of music in the eighteenth century. It was here that Antonio Vivaldi composed his many concertos for "his" orphan girls. The orchestra and Vivaldi himself became increasingly famous throughout Europe. The musicians of the orchestra were masters of their craft, as you can hear from the quality and technical demands made on the players. Whether it's the Bassoon Concerto RV 504, the Oboe Concerto RV 450, the Chamber Concerto RV 99 or the Flute Concerto RV 429, - the highest level of expression is always required in addition to the sheer virtuosity, and the Baroque Soloists Munich approaches each challenge without hesitation or compromise. This is a beautifully performed CD featuring a program of rare and exquisite works from the pen of the “Red Priest.”

“The Barocksolisten Munchen turn in a dazzling sequence of performances which show off their respective solo instruments to great effect, with quite breathtaking athletic playing in some of the faster movements and hauntingly elegiac moments in some of the central slow ones...All in all, this is a fine debut.” Gramophone Magazine, Awards Issue 2014

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Zubin Mehta conducts Stravinsky and Mahler

Zubin Mehta conducts Stravinsky and Mahler


Mahler:

Symphony No. 1 in D major 'Titan'

Stravinsky:

The Rite of Spring


Australian World Orchestra, Zubin Mehta

In 2012, conductor Alex Briger brought together for the first time Australia’s orchestral diaspora - musicians born, bred or trained in Australia, now largely working overseas – and the Australian World Orchestra was born. AWO based out of Sydney, is now an annual event and this recording is the result of the orchestra working under Zubin Mehta in 2013. These performances take Briger’s original idea to a whole new level, this musical offering achieving a quality which unites musicial and artistic aspirations. Under Mehta, the AWO produces a richly coloured reading of The Rite of Spring, heard here in a revelatory pairing with Mahler’s first symphony in its original five-movement version. Mahler is a composer synonymous with Mehta. Zubin Mehta has conducted Mahler in concert extensively for over five decades the world over including orchestras sharing a direct hertitage with the composer the New York Philharmonic, of which Mehta has been their longest serving Principal conductor, and Vienna Philharmonic being two such orchestras. Mahler’s Symphony No.1 is the symphony Mehta chose to program when celebrating his 50th anniversary debut with the Berlin Philharmonic in 2012. AWO attracts Australian musicians from far and wide. Notable Australian’s violinist Natalie Chee, concert-master of the SWR Orchestra in Stuttgart, through to violist Toby Lea, principal viola in the Vienna Philharmonic are two of over 50 attracted back along with musical colleagues from the Bavarian Radio, Singapore Symphony, Philadelphia, Osnabruck Symphony, Comiche Opera, Chicago Symphony, and Gewandhaus Orchestras.

To the delirious Sydney Opera House audience at the conclusion of the concert and pointing to the orchestra behind him Mehta said: “Do you realise what you’ve got here?” After a resounding “Yes” from the audience, the 77-year-old maestro added: “Don’t let go of them!”

This whole project is put together in 7 days and if nothing else it is clearly evident that maestro Mehta extracts impressive energy from the assembled forces!

For downloads, see ABC359622A (Stravinsky) and ABC359622B (Mahler).

“the sense of occasion in both performances is inescapable, whether you warm to their demonstrably grandiose manner or not. The Rite of Spring throws its credentials down from the get-go...It's a lumbering beast of a performance...The Mahler is writ similarly large but, drawing upon Mehta's Viennese credentials, it has an echt authenticity and turn of phrase that is never less than enticing.” Gramophone Magazine, Awards Issue 2014

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Larsson: Orchestral Works, Vol. 1

Larsson: Orchestral Works, Vol. 1


Larsson, L-E:

Symphony No. 1 in D Major, Op. 2

The Winter's Tale, four vignettes

Lyric Fantasy, Op. 54

Musik for orkester (Music for Orchestra), Op. 40

Pastoral


Larsson currently continues to number among the most popular composers of classical modernism in Sweden. Their popularity of course is explained in part by the fact that both continued to abide by the tradition of tonality without being epigonic reactionaries. Andrew Manze, to whom cpo owes a wonderfully inspired edition of the Brahms symphonies, is now presenting a new recording with Larsson’s most important symphonic works as performed by his very own Helsingborg Orchestra.

“Urbane, colourful pieces by a 20th-century Swedish Romantic, overshadowed by the serialist avant-garde. The Symphony, written when he was 20, already has an individual voice, and Manze wins us over.” BBC Music Magazine, November 2014 ****

“The writing is undeniably deft, not least in the handling of the orchestra, and full of lyric appeal and charm...splendidly idiomatic playing from the Helsingborg Symphony Orchestra under the inspiring direction of departing Chief Conductor Andrew Manze, who has developed into one of the most gifted present-day occupants of the podium. CPO's sound is gorgeous.” Gramophone Magazine, Awards Issue 2014

“Music of substance and stature, eloquently played and beautifully recorded; a new and significant journey has just begun.” MusicWeb International, 25th June 2014

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Ross Harris: Cello Concerto & Symphony No. 4

Ross Harris: Cello Concerto & Symphony No. 4


Harris, Ross:

Cello Concerto

Symphony No. 4 ‘To the Memory of Mahinārangi Tocker’


Li-Wei Qin (cello) & Robert Ashworth (viola)

Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra, Garry Walker & Brett Dean

Commissioned by the Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra, Ross Harris’s Fourth Symphony is a tribute to and a portrait of poet and songwriter Mahinārangi Tocker. Her movingly evocative words and songs serve as references for each movement, while a solo viola increasingly takes on her character and personality. The Cello Concerto was inspired by the brilliant playing of cellist Li-Wei Qin, its single continuous movement a dramatic dark-to-light journey filled with rich singing lines and extravagant virtuosity. Ross Harris’s Symphonies 2 and 3 can be heard on Naxos 8572574.

“Harris evidently possesses a richly stocked imagination and his deeply felt, rewardingly meaty portrait-in-sound is as exuberantly inventive as it is meticulously crafted...Both performances are admirable. Garry Walker and Brett Dean secure exemplary results from the Auckland orchestra, and Li-Wei Qin lends hugely eloquent advocacy to the concerto.” Gramophone Magazine, Awards Issue 2014

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Tchaikovsky & Grieg: Piano Concertos

Tchaikovsky & Grieg: Piano Concertos


Grieg:

Piano Concerto in A minor, Op. 16

Tchaikovsky:

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


Stewart Goodyear (piano)

Czech National Symphony, Stanislav Bogunia

This album marks Stewart Goodyear's debut on Steinway & Sons and is the first orchestral recording released on the label.

The Canadian pianist is a notable concert soloist and has performed with New York Philharmonic, Los Angeles Philharmonic, Royal Liverpool Philharmonic, Toronto Symphony Orchestra, and the Philadelphia Orchestra, among many.

In 2013, Stewart Goodyear gave a series of marathon performances in the US of the complete Beethoven Piano Sonatas performing the complete cycle in a single, eleven-hour performance at each venue.

“What immediately strikes you about this recording is not the execution of the familiar opening pages of the Tchaikovsky but the unfamiliar sound picture...Without reducing the drama of the music, it allows the detail of this symphonic score to be heard with almost chamber-like lucidity, aided by the finely judged balance between the Czech players and the talented Stewart Goodyear.” Gramophone Magazine, Awards Issue 2014

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Ben Foskett: Dinosaur

Ben Foskett: Dinosaur


Foskett:

Five Night Pieces

Richard Uttley (piano)

Hornet II

Mark van de Wiel (clarinet)

London Sinfonietta, Geoffrey Paterson

From Trumpet

Hallé, Nicholas Collon

On From Four

Psappha, Nicholas Kok

Dinosaur

Eric Lamb (flute)

Cinq Chansons à Hurle-Vent

Jean-François Becquaert (soprano saxophone) & Raphaële Kennedy (soprano)


Ben Foskett studied with Edwin Roxburgh and Simon Bainbridge at the Royal College of Music and the Royal Academy of Music respectively. He has been commissioned by amongst others, the London Sinfonietta, the BBC Symphony Orchestra and Psappha.

Foskett has worked with the dance company Thresh for a number of years with performances in New York, London and Portugal, culminating in 2008 with a large scale piece, The Absent Lover, which was premiered in Chennai, India. He has also written a full length narrative ballet for the London Children's ballet.

This survey of Ben Foskett's work spans 10 years, from the brooding Five Night Pieces for piano (2002) to Cinq Chansons a Hurle-Vent - a deceptively simple setting of poems by French writer Laure Salama, written from the point of view of different characters in Wuthering Heights, for soprano and saxophone.

Between these come the orchestral From Trumpet, built up from a single rhythmic cell; the elegaic On from Four, commissioned for Manchester ensemble Psappha for the 400th anniversary of Hatfield House; and Hornet II, a virtuoso showpiece for clarinettist Mark van de Wiel and London Sinfonietta.

Finally, and written specially for this album, Dinosaur for solo flute was inspired by Gilad Visotsky's idiosyncratic cover design.

“The excellence of the performances enhances a disc that leaves one fascinated as to where Foskett is headed next.” Gramophone Magazine, Awards Issue 2014

“The early Five Night Pieces, for piano, played by Richard Uttley, have a lucid modernist assurance, but Foskett’s 2009 Prom commission, the orchestral From Trumpet, is something else again: big, monolithic, broodingly textured, with a rich internal drama.” Sunday Times, 8th June 2014

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Lisa Batiashvili: Bach

Lisa Batiashvili: Bach


Bach, C P E:

Trio in B minor for flute, violin and basso continuo, Wq 143

Lisa Batiashvili (violin), Emmanuel Pahud (flute), Peter Kofler

Bach, J S:

Concerto for Oboe & Violin in C minor, BWV1060

François Leleux (oboe)

Kammerorchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks, Radoslaw Szulc

Cantata BWV156 'Ich steh mit einem Fuß im Grabe': I. Sinfonia

Kammerorchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks, Radoslaw Szulc

Violin Concerto No. 2 in E major, BWV1042

Lisa Batiashvili (violin)

Kammerorchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks, Radoslaw Szulc

Sonata for solo violin No. 2 in A minor, BWV1003

Lisa Batiashvili (violin)

St Matthew Passion, BWV244: Erbarme dich

François Leleux (oboe)

Kammerorchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks, Radoslaw Szulc


Lisa Batiashvili presents a fine selection in chamber and orchestral music of popular, but also newly recorded Bach pieces.

This includes the first ever recording of Bach’s famous aria “Erbarme Dich, mein Gott” in a transcription for violin, oboe and orchestra on Deutsche Grammophon.

First ever recording of C. Ph. E. Bach’s Trio Sonata in b flat minor for violin, flute and BC on Deutsche Grammophon. For this Lisa teams up with the world’s famous flutist from Berliner Philharmoniker, Emmanuel Pahud.

For one of the real hits on that CD, the double concerto for violin and oboe BWV 1060, Lisa collaborates with her husband, the oboist Francois Leleux. An interpretation from the heart!

“Batiashvili’s violin is seductive and the spirit lively – a pleasing, middle-of-the-road selection.” Financial Times, 20th August 2014

“No one could call it a lazily made programme, though whether it is one that really hangs together is a little questionable. What it does do is allow Batiashvili to demonstrate her refined musicianship and technical skills in a range of contexts, as well as her good taste...a disc full of classy music-making.” Gramophone Magazine, Awards Issue 2014

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Benjamin, G: Written on Skin

Benjamin, G: Written on Skin

Recorded live at the Royal Opera House, March 2013


Christopher Purves (Protector), Barbara Hannigan (Agnès), Bejun Mehta (First Angel/Boy), Victoria Simmonds (Second Angel/Marie) & Allan Clayton (Third Angel/John)

Royal Opera Chorus & Orchestra of the Royal Opera House, George Benjamin (conductor) & Katie Mitchell (director)

Text: Martin Crimp

When Written on Skin had its premiere at the 2012 Festival d'Aix-en-Provence, conducted by George Benjamin himself, it received a standing ovation. The opera's arrival at Covent Garden in 2013 was eagerly anticipated, and provided audiences with the opportunity to experience the work of two of Britain's greatest living artists. Benjamin previously collaborated with playwright Martin Crimp on Into the Little Hill, a magical retelling of the Pied Piper fairytale, and for this new work they joined forces with acclaimed stage director Katie Mitchell. For all three, the production marked their main-stage debut at the Royal Opera House.

The tale, inspired by a medieval legend, tells of an ill-fated troubadour, drawn into a liaison with an innocent maiden. But they are observed by the jealous eye of her protector, who wreaks a shocking revenge on the young couple.

Written on Skin draws on a 12th-century Occitan legend about the troubadour Guillaume de Cabestanh.

Extra features: Interview with George Benjamin, Introduction to Written on Skin and a Cast gallery.

Running time: 89 minutes

Subtitles EN/FR/DE/JA

Sound format: 2.0LPCM + 5.1(5.0) DTS

“Benjamin's contribution is the most consistently impressive facet...Mehta makes much of the Boy's enigmatic presence without ever becoming a cipher for the vulnerabilties of others...The DVD conveys much of the claustrophobic power of this production...Make no mistake, this is an opera certain to endure.” International Record Review, March 2014

“This is an outstanding release in every way...Benjamin's extraordinary music is breathtaking in its lightly worn compositional virtuosity...The cast is sensational...Hannigan deserves all the superlatives in the dictionary...make no mistake: this is a true masterpiece.” BBC Music Magazine, April 2014 *****

“The vocal writing for the most part feels intimate and conversational...Mehta touches chords of the unearthly...More mesmerizing still, Barbara Hannigan's Agnès displays a fawnlike persona that belies the maelstrom within...Hannigan's rounded, lyrical soprano makes music even of her most jagged lines, clear up to a sustained, climactic "scream" on high C.” Opera News, May 2014

“Benjamin’s score ranges from passages of exquisite iridescence, revealing his debt to Debussy and Ravel, to climaxes that explode with an orchestral violence new to his work...The cast is excellent, especially Barbara Hannigan as the wife, combining vocal trapeze-work with a thoroughly modern dramatic intensity, and Christopher Purves in the Golaud-like role of the husband...A new opera that will surely repay repeated viewings.” Gramophone Magazine, Awards Issue 2014

“This is one of the best filmed operas I’ve ever seen...Williams’ intelligent direction would be meaningless if the cast could not deliver: but they do … and magnificently. The quality of the acting is absolutely superb.” MusicWeb International, July 2014

Presto Discs of 2014

Finalist

GGramophone Awards 2014

Winner - Contemporary

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Opus Arte Royal Opera House Collection - OA1125D

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