Gramophone Magazine Editor's Choice

January 2015

Disc of the Month

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Monteverdi Madrigali Volume 2: Mantova


Gramophone Magazine

Disc of the Month - January 2015

Catalogue No:




Release date:

29th Sept 2014




73 minutes


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Monteverdi Madrigali Volume 2: Mantova

Excerpts from Books IV, V and VI


Sfogava con le stelle (from Il quarto libro de madrigali)

Si ch'io vorrei morire

Voi pur da me partite

Anima dolorosa che vivendo

Piagn' e sospira

Cruda Amarilli (Book 5)

O Mirtillo, anima mia

Era l'anima mia

T'amo mia vita (Book 5)

E cosi a poco a poco

Lamento d'Arianna 'Lasciatemi morire'

Zefiro torna

Sestina – Incenerite spoglie

Ditelo, o fiumi, e voi, ch'udiste Glauco

Dara la notte il sol lume alla terra

Ma te raccogli, O Ninfa, in grembo 'l Cielo

Chiome d'oro (Book 7)

Dunque, amate reliqui, un mar di pianto

Questi vaghi concenti

excerpts from Books IV, V and VI



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With this album Les Arts Florissants inaugurate a three-volume series devoted to the finest pages of Monteverdi’s madrigals. Each volume will be linked to one of the cities that marked the composer’s life: the present opus dedicated to Mantova (extracts from Books IV, V and VI) will be followed by two others devoted to Cremona (April 2015 - Books I, II and III) and Venice (February 2016 - Books VII and VIII). These publications all draw on the indepth work carried out by Paul Agnew at the head of an ensemble that has already shone in this repertoire on numerous European stages. The birth of a milestone series, in a beautifully designed boxset, featuring a new text commissioned by Les Arts Florissants by René de Ceccatty, the renowned French writer.

Claudio Monteverdi: Quarto Libro di madrigali

I. Sfogava con le stelle

II. Si ch'io vorrei morire

III. Voi pur da me partite

IV. Anima dolorosa

V. Piagn' e sospira, e quand' i caldi raggi

Claudio Monteverdi: Quinto Libro di madrigali

I. Cruda Amarilli, che col nome ancora

II. O Mirtillo, Mirtill' anima mia

III. Era l'anima mia

IV. T'amo mia vita, la mia cara vita

V. E cosi a poco a poco

Claudio Monteverdi: Sesto Libro di madrigali, Lamento d'Arianna

I. Lasciatemi morire

II. O Teseo, o Teseo moi

III. Dove, dove è la fede

IV. Ahi, che non pur risponde

Claudio Monteverdi: Sesto Libro di madrigali: Zefiro torna, e 'l bel tempo rimena

Sesto Libro di madrigali: Zefiro torna, e 'l bel tempo rimena

Claudio Monteverdi: Sesto Libro di madrigali, Sestina

I. Incenerite spoglie, avara tomba

II. Ditelo, o fiumi, e voi, ch'udiste Glauco

III. Dara la notte il sol lume alla terra

IV. Ma te raccogli, O Ninfa, in grembo 'l Cielo

V. O chiome d'or, neve gentil del seno

VI. Dunque, amate reliqui, un mar di pianto

Claudio Monteverdi: Quinto Libro di madrigali

Questi vaghi concenti

The Guardian

27th November 2014


“As you would expect from this source, the performances are immaculate, the vocal colouring, the phrasing and the ensemble utterly refined. Some may prefer an earthier, more Italianate approach in this music, but the sheer accomplishment of Les Arts Florissants is hard to resist.”

Sunday Times

30th November 2014

“the vocalists — Agnew sings and directs from within the ensemble — give us Monteverdi’s own five-voice arrangement of Arianna’s Lament, delivered with the dramatic intensity and attention to textual clarity and dynamic variety that are the hallmarks of the ensemble’s Monteverdi.”

Early Music Review

December 2014

“This is a very impressive recording...The level of control and unanimity of the singers is astonishing, as is the huge sense of commitment to the words which permeate the recording. Some initial shock at the intensity of some passages and the closeness to the edge to which the singers push the dissonance, gives way to admiration...the singers of Les Arts Florissants have got the measure of Monteverdi's writing...This is definitely a must buy.”

Audiophile Audition

22nd December 2014

“Agnew not only directs but sings also, and the group that William Christie founded remains in tip-top shape…the sheer perfection of execution and vibrant tonality of these performances are hard to dismiss.”

Gramophone Magazine

January 2015

“Agnew's selection is impeccably judged...Les Arts Florissants have not so rich a sound as their Italian counterparts but the lighter timbre makes for a texture of rare transparency, an elfin capacity to render changes that can be properly breathtaking...And if you don't know a single volume should be enough to persuade you that you ought to have done, long ago.”

BBC Music Magazine

February 2015


“This group of performers is commendably aware of [the] move towards expressive freedom: we get from them searing moments of deep anguish...and mesmerising stillness...[and] the finest performance on disc of [the] last madrigal with its incredibly avant-garde dissonances.”

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Spirit, Strength & Sorrow

Spirit, Strength & Sorrow

Five settings of the Stabat Mater


Stabat Mater

Firsova, E:

Stabat Mater


Stabat Mater

Martin, M:

Stabat Mater

Scarlatti, D:

Stabat Mater a 10 voci

Spirit, Strength & Sorrow is the staggering result of The Sixteen’s third collaboration with the Genesis Foundation and demonstrates, once again, their joint commitment to nurturing new artistic talent. This CD features three brand new settings of the Stabat Mater from emerging composers, Alissa Firsova, Tõnu Kõrvits and Matthew Martin alongside those by Claudio Casciolini and Domenico Scarlatti.

Harry Christophers writes: ‘I find it staggering to think that it was only eight years ago when I first met John Studzinsiki. We had been invited to perform a very special work by Will Todd, aptly written for sixteen solo voices, which John had commissioned for his birthday. From this moment began a fruitful, meaningful and, above all, inspirational collaboration with John and the Genesis Foundation. Every project since has emanated from John’s devotion to the Catholic faith and his love of the wonderful poetry which encapsulates Christianity as well as his laudable mission to promote and nurture young talent.’

“Three new responses to the text, commissioned by John Studzinski’s Genesis Foundation, are sung here with faultless clarity by the Sixteen...Each is a significant contribution to the repertoire, sitting proudly alongside more familiar settings from Scarlatti and Casciolini, and all meticulously directed by Harry Christophers.” The Observer, 16th November 2014 ****

“All three [new works] are worth hearing and Domenico Scarlatti’s “Stabat Mater” makes a highly enjoyable Baroque companion for them.” Financial Times, 29th November 2014 ****

“All three [new settings] are touching and effective: imaginative in their choral sonorities and colouring of the text, skilfully balancing a strong feeling for tradition with a distinctive individual voice...At moments in their intimate and elegiac performance of the Scarlatti I wanted a dose of Latin theatricality. But in the new works their singing, technically and expressively, is beyond criticism.” Gramophone Magazine, January 2015

“Of the three contemporary works featured, Matthew Martin's is technically the most ambitious...It's an absorbing, highly accomplished piece of vocal writing, tailor-made to stretch a choir of The Sixteen's ability...For sinuous beauty, though, Domenico Scarlatti's gorgeous ten-part setting takes some beating, deliciously accompanied here by theorbo, harp and organ.” BBC Music Magazine, February 2015 ****

GGramophone Magazine

Editor's Choice - January 2015

Contemporary Music - up to 25% off

Coro Genesis Foundation - COR16127


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Hasse, J A: Siroe re di Persia

Hasse, J A: Siroe re di Persia

Dresden version (1763)

Max Emanuel Cencic (Siroe), Franco Fagioli (Medarse), Julia Lezhneva (Laodice), Juan Sancho (Cosroe), Mary-Ellen Nesi (Emira), Laureen Snouffer (Arasse)

Armonia Atenea, George Petrou

Read Presto's complete review of this disc here.

The world-premiere recording of Siroe re di Persia by Johann Adolf Hasse, whose music encapsulates the refined aristocratic cultural tastes of the European Ancien Régime. Offering true musical fireworks and delights, Siroe is led by Max Cencic in the title role with the vital orchestra of Armonia Atenea and their high-powered conductor, George Petrou: the same vibrant partnership which saw their first album on Decca, Handel’s Alessandro, win a clutch of top awards. Renowned for his gifts as a melodist, in Siroe Hasse offers a feast of rare vocal delights in the telling of a vivid story of passion, jealousy and intrigue.

Cencic is supported by a truly stunning cast, with Decca’s award-winning Julia Lezhneva, countertenor Franco Fagioli (whose own debut album on DG will come soon), Juan Sancho, Mary-Ellen Nesi, and Lauren Snouffer.

Remarkably famous during his lifetime, the composer Hasse was acclaimed by his contemporaries as one of the most important artists of the 18th Century: the greatest singers of the time clamoured to perform in his operas.

Max Cencic & Parnassus Arts’ new stage production of Siroe premiered in June 2014 at Athens’ Megaron to enthusiastic acclaim from audience and critics alike, and will tour to Versailles and Vienna.

“one of the finest recordings of the year...the entire recording crackles with the energy of a staged performance...Cencic radiates nobility and stoicism, whilst Franco Fagioli chews the scenery in the very best sense of the phrase...but Lezhneva pretty much steals the show...Siroe truly deserves to be ‘praised to the skies’, as Metastasio once declared with glee – as do Armonia Atenea and all concerned with this breathtaking recording.” Katherine Cooper, Presto Classical, 3rd November 2014

“Petrou achieves an elusive dichotomy of orchestral delicacy and theatrical pace. Reams of recitatives crackle with dramatic conviction...Cencic's impassioned performance of Siroe's first aria...indicates how much Hasse's style influenced the 'Classical' generation...Fagioli is aptly cast as Siroe's evil little brother...Parnassus Productions earns kudos for its adventurous ambition to record a complete Hasse opera to such a high standard.” Gramophone Magazine, January 2015

“the cast seems unfazed by the technical challenges, though there’s rather more bravura than refinement...the soprano Julia Lezhneva shows that it is possible to negotiate Hasse’s vocal writing with stylishness and beauty of tone as well as accuracy.” The Guardian, 29th January 2015 ***

“a triumph. It reveals the full splendour of Hasse's score, from tender lyricism to eye-popping virtuosity...Petrou storms his way through the score, pushing the artists beyond what seems physically possible. Cencic and Fagioli clearly relish the challenge, as does Lezhneva...Cencic eventually eclipess the rest of the cast, conveying Siroe's virtue with fierce bravura. Virtuosic also is the playing of Armonia Atenea.” BBC Music Magazine, February 2015 *****

Presto Disc of the Week

3rd November 2014

Presto Discs of 2014


GGramophone Magazine

Editor's Choice - January 2015

BBC Music Magazine

Disc of the month - February 2015

Decca - 4786768

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Tchaikovsky: Iolanta

Tchaikovsky: Iolanta

Anna Netrebko (Iolanta), Sergey Skorokhodov (Vaudémont), Alexey Markov (Robert), Monika Bohinec (Martha), Junho You (Almerik), Lucas Meachem (Ibn-Hakia), Vitalij Kowaljow (King René), Luka Debevec Mayer (Bertrand), Nuška Rojko (Laura), Theresa Plut (Brigitte)

Slovenian Philharmonic Orchestra, Emmanuel Villaume

Read Presto's complete review of this disc here.

Following Anna Netrebko's astounding success in Salzburg's Il Trovatore production we are pleased to announce a very exciting opera release for the start of 2015, recorded during her U-Live tour in 2012.

Anna Netrebko performs Iolanta, the title role of one of Tchaikovsky’s most passionate, evocative scores and one of opera’s most enigmatic figures making the character her own and dedicating herself to championing this under-appreciated work.

In this live recording, maestro Emmanuel Villaume, with whom Netrebko collaborated on the successful “Souvenirs” album, leads a stellar cast comprising a number of Russia’s biggest opera stars (Markov, Skorokhodov, Kowaljow).

The hand-picked company of supporting artists makes this a significant addition to Netrebko’s discography and an artistically valuable addition to the DG catalogue.

Netrebko is scheduled for eight staged performances of Iolanta at the Metropolitan Opera in New York in January-February 2015, as well as a four-city U-Live produced European tour of concert performances and a Royal Albert Hall date later in the season.

“[Netrebko] has never been better than here, where her head and heart are so self-evidently engaged. Her opening ariosa establishes the glorious complexion of her voice - a creamy, dark coloration extending unblemished throughout the range...The refinement of Villaume's conducting is a constant source of delight: it nuances and tempers even the most wholehearted flights of fancy.” Gramophone Magazine, January 2015

“Tchaikovsky’s last opera is a flawed piece capable of reaching realms of longing romanticism others cannot...Netrebko is on a crusade to make it better known in the West...The other singers are pretty good – the lyrical Vitalij Kowalyow as René, Lucas Meachem a velvety Ibn Hakia, Sergey Skorokhodov’s beautifully smooth, masculine tenor Vaudémont full of romantic ardour.” Opera Now ***

“the Slovenian Philharmonic delivers impressive wind sonorities in a score packed with striking instrumental details...Netrebko never once disappoints. She sings in Russian, and there’s music just in the milky way she pronounces a word like lyubimuyu (favourite)...Skorokhodov’s Vaudémont is the ardent lover personified.” The Times, 30th January 2015 ***

“Tchaikovsky’s score is one of his most effusive lyrical outpourings, with passages of heart-stopping beauty. Netrebko, singing in her own language, is unsurpassable in this music. Her lyric soprano voice is at its peachiest, opening out thrillingly for ecstatic climactic high notes. Her Vaudemon(t) is Sergei Skorokhodov, the finest new Russian tenor since Galuzin. I’ll be surprised if any opera recording surpasses this in 2015.” Sunday Times, 18th January 2015

“Netrebko’s at her absolute best in this role, which really plays to her strengths. Much of the music lies in the voluptuous middle of her voice and she never sounds pushed or over-parted...Her colleagues are no less impressive, particularly the steely-voiced tenor Sergey Skorokhodov who sings with tireless ardour and real poetry as her lover Vaudemont and Vitalij Kowaljow as her tormented father.” Katherine Cooper, Presto Classical, 12th January 2015

“Netrebko sounds radiant, if improbably imperious as the young, blind princess, who magically finds love and sight in the arms of the smitten Count Vaudémont, sung by rousing tenor Sergey Skorokhodov. Emmanuel Villaume conducts a very decent supporting cast.” Financial Times, 17th January 2015 ****

“[Netrebko’s] commitment is never in doubt, nor her artistry. Her deployment of unearthly, veiled tones in the opening scenes suggest a waif-like figure troubled by emotions she can barely comprehend. Later, as light enters Iolanta’s life for the first time, her terror and rapture are quite shockingly vivid.” The Guardian, 21st January 2015 ***

“Tchaikovsky might have written the role of Iolanta...with Anna Netrebko in mind, so perfectly does it suit her impulsive musical style and heart-on-sleeve warmth of personality...Villaume’s forthright conducting and the ardent Slovenian Philharmonic Orchestra bring things to boiling point.” The Telegraph, 31st January 2015 ****

“Netrebko sounded gloriously comfortable in her native language and pouring out a stream of gold-shot-with-silver sound even throughout the range. I doubt if the role has been sung better in living memory.” Opera

Presto Disc of the Week

12th January 2015

Presto Discs of 2015


GGramophone Magazine

Editor's Choice - January 2015

DG - 4793969

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Verdi: Requiem

Verdi: Requiem

Live from the Golden Hall of Vienna’s Musikverein, 2013

Krassimira Stoyanova (soprano), Marina Prudenskaja (mezzo-soprano), Saimir Pirgu (tenor) & Orlin Anastassov (bass)

Chor und Symphonieorchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks, Mariss Jansons

Conducting the brilliantly disposed Bavarian Radio Chorus and Symphony Orchestra, Mariss Jansons transforms the Golden Hall of Vienna’s Musikverein into a heavenly anteroom. From the very first, hushed measures, the orchestra “once again impressively demonstrates its leading rank among the German orchestras” (Die Presse).

The four outstanding soloists fuse together to project a vast range of emotions, from whispered reverence to emotional upheavals. While Bulgarian soprano Krassimira Stoyanova has been closely associated with the Wiener Staatsoper for several years now, mezzo-soprano Marina Prudenskaya has been steadily building her international career, one major role after another. Albanian-born tenor Saimir Pirgu was chosen by Claudio Abbado at the young age of 22 to sing Ferrando in “Così fan tutte.” Bulgarian bass Orlin Anastassov, meanwhile, has established himself as a superb Verdi singer.

Verdi’s “Messa da Requiem” is in itself a work of superlatives: a towering structure of blazing brass, mighty choral masses and tour-deforce passages for four soloists... a work of deepest and most heartfelt intimacy... a mass for the dead without any mawkish undertones... Quite possibly the foremost achievement in 19th-century liturgical music.

Sound Format: PCM Stereo, DD 5.1

Picture Format: 16:9

DVD Format: DVD 9 / NTSC

Subtitles: GB, DE, FR

Running Time: 91 mins

FSK: 0

“[Jansons's] Requiem is a series of coups d'etat in which the returns of the actual 'Dies irae' or the launch of 'Rex tremendae majestatis' are exciting aural shocks. He also devotes much time to enjoying slow quiet endings of movements for emotional effect...The choir (prepared by Michael Gläser] is superb from its quiet but very clear beginning onwards. It's atmospherically filmed without encompassing a tour of the venue.” Gramophone Magazine, January 2015

“the soloists form a worthwhile and generally high quality quartet. Krassimira Stoyanova's soprano is even and expressive, and she brings real urgency to proceedings...[Prudenskaya] produces steady, lovely tone throughout...Pirgu supplies bold and bracing vocalism...Jansons draws a performance of fluidity and wide dynamic range from his visiting Bavarian forces.” BBC Music Magazine, March 2015 ****

GGramophone Magazine

DVD of the Month - January 2015

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The Spy’s Choirbook

The Spy’s Choirbook

Agricola, A:

Dulces exuviae


Nesciens mater

O Domine Iesu Christe/Et sanctissima mater tua

Maxsimilla Christo amabilis

Sancta et immaculata virginitas

Dulcissima virgo Maria

Tota pulchra es amica mea/O pulcherrima mulierum/Salve

O sancta Maria virgo virginum

Recordamini quomodo praedixit filium

O beatissime Domine Iesu Christe/Fac me de tua gratia ut

Ave sanctissima Maria

Congratulamini mihi omnes

Alma Redemptoris Mater

Dulces exuviae

Iesus autem transiens


Descendi in hortum meum (attr.)

Fama malum

Missus est Gabriel angelus: excerpt

Dulces exuviae

Absalon Fili Mi

Tribulatio et angustia invenerunt me


Adiutorium Nostrum

Sancta Trinitas

Egregie Christi martir Christophore


Dulces exuviae


Anima mea liquefacta est Invenerunt me/Filiae Ierusalem

Mouton, J:

Celeste beneficium

Ecce Maria genuit nobis

Dulces exuviae

Rue, P:

Ave regina caelorum source

Vexilla regis

Doleo super te


Sancta Maria succurre miseris/O werder mondt


Verbum bonum et suave

Alamire & English Cornett & Sackbut Ensemble, David Skinner

Among the musical treasures in the British Library is MS Royal 8.g.vii, a sumptuous choirbook prepared for Henry VIII and his first queen Catherine of Aragon. It was produced by Petrus Alamire, who not only headed one of the finest musical scriptoriums of the age but acted as a spy for Henry against Richard de la Pole, a Plantagenet claimant to the English throne.

The choirbook, gifted to the royal couple in around 1516, contains 34 motets, many of them unique to this manuscript and includes masterworks by the leading French and Franco-Flemish composers of the age including Josquin Desprez, Jean Mouton, Heinrich Isaac, Antoine de Févin, and Pierre de la Rue.

“Teasing title, glorious music...The history is fascinating; so is the fabulous music, a tour d’horizon of early 16th-century polyphony, sonorously delivered by the choir Alamire and English Cornett and Sackbut Ensemble under David Skinner.” The Times, 11th October 2014 *****

“The performances are meticulous, the recorded sound rich and warm, and the effect often sumptuous, though at times perhaps a bit too dense for some tastes” The Guardian, 23rd October 2014 ****

“34 four-voice motets from the first decade of the century by French and Franco-Flemish composers, giving a magnificent panorama of the repertory. Most of them have never been recorded before. Most of the music is performed by mixed voices alone, a small group sounding gorgeous throughout.” Gramophone Magazine, January 2015

“Skinner's scholarly expertise both strengthens and weakens his conducting. Cadences, modal shifts and points of imitation steer his reading. Especially when the English Cornett & Sackbutt Ensemble joins the voices, Skinner illuminates the sophistication of Franco-Flemish motet writing.” BBC Music Magazine, January 2015 ****

Presto Discs of 2014


GGramophone Awards 2015

Winner - Early Music

GGramophone Magazine

Editor's Choice - January 2015

Obsidian Records - CD712

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Berio: Sinfonia & Calmo

Berio: Sinfonia & Calmo



Virpi Räisänen (mezzo-soprano)

Quattro versioni originali della Ritirata Notturna di Madrid di L Boccherini


Ondine continues its exciting releases focusing on 20th century masterpieces together with conductor Hannu Lintu and the Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra. This release is dedicated to the orchestral works by the pioneer of Italian modernism Luciano Berio.

Berio’s 5-movement Sinfonia, is undoubtedly his most well-known work, written for the New York Philharmonic and dedicated to Leonard Bernstein. It has become one of the key works and principle musical manifestations of the 1960s bringing together collage technique and modernism.

“Any singer must exorcise the ghost of Cathy Berberian in this and other vocal works of Berio and...Virpi Räisänen has the measure of it...In Hannu Lintu's marvellous new recording I hear and admire a rediscovery of the impatience and invention that drove Berio to write it, in the forward, piano-led instrumental balance and the unapologetic grandeur of the finale's climax.” Gramophone Magazine, January 2015

“The Ondine recording is also something of an exercise in hyper-reality, but the 5.0 surround experience is truly remarkable, and at times genuinely overwhelming. The performance is tremendously idiomatic and convincing. This production is an all-round winner from beginning to end.” MusicWeb International, 4th December 2014

GGramophone Magazine

Editor's Choice - January 2015

Super Audio CD


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Corelli: Six Sonatas, Op. 5

Corelli: Six Sonatas, Op. 5


Violin Sonata Op. 5 No. 12 in D minor (La folia)

Violin Sonata Op. 5 No. 7 in D minor

Sonata in C, Op. 7 No. 9

Violin Sonata Op. 5 No. 11 in E major

Violin Sonata Op. 5 No. 8 in E minor

Violin Sonata Op. 5 No. 10 in F major

Michala Petri (recorder) & Mahan Esfahani (harpsichord)

Corelli was one of the most popular composers of his day (early 18th century), yet only a small amount of his original output exists. Presented on this unique recording are transcriptions for recorder of six of the violin sonatas from the Opus 5 collection. Transcriptions of this nature were perfectly acceptable and augmented by improvisations and ornamentations from the performers.

The relationship between these two fine musicians – both can be considered to be in the very top tier of ther respective instruments – manifests itself in a superlative performance which gives free rein to their creativity and virtuosity.

“if you're happy enough with just harpsichord accompaniment alone, then look no further than Petri's and Esfahani's immaculately played and diligently prepared new accounts, which seem in every way the last word in tasteful and elegant musicianship, with a magical recording to boot.” International Record Review, December 2014

“It's rare to experience the level of artistic rapport heard on this recording from [Petri and Esfahani]...In Petri's capable hands, the recorder becomes a medium through which she conveys a more vocal interpretation of thematic material than ever a violin could...Esfahani crafts the most imaginative and engaging accompaniments and repartee I have ever heard.” Gramophone Magazine, January 2015

“Petri and Esfahani's is an invigorating ensemble effort, each sparking off the other to foster a captivating directness whether sparkling or soulful. Nothing is safe or reverential, and yet there's no iconoclastic agenda either.” BBC Music Magazine, February 2015 *****

GGramophone Magazine

Editor's Choice - January 2015

BBC Music Magazine

Chamber Choice - February 2015

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Dvorak: Requiem, Op. 89

Dvorak: Requiem, Op. 89

Christiane Libor (soprano), Ewa Wolak (alto), Daniel Kirch (tenor) & Janusz Monarcha (bass)

Warsaw Philharmonic Orchestra and Choir, Antoni Wit

Antonín Dvořák’s huge popularity in England was built largely on the success of his Stabat Mater, which he had conducted there in 1884 and 1885. It was well suited to the country’s choral traditions and led eventually to a commission for a Requiem, which was premièred in Birmingham in 1891. Written in ten months during tours to Russia, England and Germany, its success was immediate. Sitting closer to the tradition of Cherubini than Verdi, its tone is compassionate and reflective, devoid of unnecessary drama, and movingly crafted with great sophistication.

“The Warsaw Philharmonic Choir are in fine collective voice...The quartet of soloists are magnificent...Orchestrally, this is a stunning performance. Perfectly blended woodwind are clearly focused on a wide-spread bed of strings. The recording is vividly engineered and everyone involved is on top form. A bargain.” Gramophone Magazine, January 2015

“The string playing is marvellous and the woodwind, so important in this work, are refined and ethereal. The choir also holds its own against the Czechs – you only need to listen to the Introitus to be convinced” MusicWeb International, February 2015

GGramophone Magazine

Editor's Choice - January 2015

Naxos - 8572874-75

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Sir John Eliot Gardiner conducts Mendelssohn & Schumann

Sir John Eliot Gardiner conducts Mendelssohn & Schumann


Symphony No. 3 in A minor, Op. 56 'Scottish'

Hebrides Overture, Op. 26


Piano Concerto in A minor, Op. 54

Maria João Pires (piano)

LSO Live presents the first in a series exploring the complete symphonies of Felix Mendelssohn under the baton of Sir John Eliot Gardiner. Also featured on this release is the eminent Portuguese pianist, Maria João Pires, in the inaugural concerto recording on the label.

Inspired by his travels to the British Isles and full of the influence of the rolling Scottish landscape, both Mendelssohn’s Symphony No. 3 ‘Scottish’ and his Hebrides Overture (‘Fingal’s Cave’) are amongst the composer’s most popular and celebrated works.

Sir John Eliot Gardiner writes of this coupling: "Even if they spoke with different accents these genial Romantics were united in their ambitious fervour for ‘abstract’ music to be acknowledged as having the same expressive force as poetry, drama or the literary novel. The three works on this album exemplify the endeavour and range of invention of two of them, friends and colleagues in Leipzig."

This recording will be released in both SACD and pure audio Blu-ray formats, allowing both the London Symphony Orchestra and Sir John Eliot’s performance to be seen and heard to full effect.

DSD recording, live at the Barbican, 21st January 2014

Video/ audio 2.0 Stereo and multi-channel (5.0)

Audio + bonus video material/digital (Blu-ray video of the entire concert plus Pires's encore).

Concert Reviews:

"This was the London Symphony Orchestra; but, with violins and violas standing and with a new suppleness and brilliance in their voice, they sounded Romantic and revolutionary. There was a brisk stepping-out, a bracing scent of the tangle o’ the isles, and tiny, drawn-back moments to glimpse the Romantic sublime." The Times****

"The opening of the Intermezzo was supremely graceful with Pires and the LSO’s cellos creating a chamber music intimacy in the ensuing dialogue. The cultivated way in which Pires and the LSO took up and finished phrases was masterful. The finale was a whirling dance with Pires really revving up the momentum while at the same time bringing out the fanciful elements in the score. The coda was played with gusto, bringing the piece to a sparkling conclusion." Seen and Heard

“As you would expect from the LSO brass section, the trumpets soar and blaze when appropriate, but it’s really the woodwind who excel [in The Hebrides]...Pires seems to focus on lyricism over drama, and that’s no bad thing [in the concerto]...It’s in [the Scottish] symphony that Gardiner’s credentials as a proponent of so-called historically-informed performance are most evident” James Longstaffe, Presto Classical, 20th October 2014

“a reading formed by life experience…Pires is supported by conductor and orchestra magnificently...I’ve never heard so much of the orchestral colour and detail in any other Schumann recording … My anticipation that this might be a special recording has been met.” MusicWeb International, 30th October 2014

“one of the finest performances of Schumann's Piano Concerto that I have ever heard...[Pires's] performance is as pristine and common-sensical as it is soulful and beguilingly expressive. The whole thing is absolutely wonderful, and an education.” Herald Scotland, 9th November 2014

“Gardiner's Hebrides Overture must be one of the most thrilling ever recorded, adding volleys of sea-spray to well-navigated execution...Ebb and flow is of the essence in this proto-Wagnerian masterpiece and a subtle use of vibrato...Gardiner makes a beeline for individual instrumental details, keeping important woodwind lines to the fore.” Gramophone Magazine, January 2015

“this ‘Scottish’ symphony is fresh, vital and even thrilling (a word that doesn’t always come up in discussions of Mendelssohn) as any I’ve ever heard…at its best it is so good that it can be recommended without hesitation.” International Record Review, January 2015

“[Pires] has the enviable ability to make everything sound fresh but natural, and her tone is enchanting...The definition on [the Blu-ray] is superb and the camera work actually helps the viewer understand the music.” BBC Music Magazine, February 2015 ***/*****

Presto Disc of the Week

20th October 2014

Presto Discs of 2014


Presto Favourites

Recommended Recording

GGramophone Magazine

Editor's Choice - January 2015

Up to 30% off LSO Live

LSO Live - LSO0765

(SACD + Blu-ray Audio - 2 discs)

Normally: $16.25

Special: $12.18

(also available to download from $8.00)

This item is currently out of stock at the UK distributor. You may order it now but please be aware that it may be six weeks or more before it can be despatched. (Available now to download.)

Guiomar Novaes: The complete published 78-rpm recordings

Guiomar Novaes: The complete published 78-rpm recordings


Tango (No. 2 from Espana, Op. 165)

Evocación (from Iberia, book 1)

Triana (from Iberia, book 2)

Bach, J S:

Toccata in D major, BWV912


The Ruins of Athens: Turkish March


Mazurka No. 23 in D major, Op. 33 No. 2

Ballade No. 3 in A flat major, Op. 47

Couperin, F:

Pièces de clavecin I: Ordre 1ème in G major: La Fleurie ou La Tendre Nanette




Orfeo ed Euridice (Orphée et Euridice): Dance of the Blessed Spirits

Iphigenie en Aulide: Gavotte

Caprice sur les Airs de Ballet d’Alceste

Gottschalk, L:

Grand Fantasy on the Brazilian National Anthem

Grand Fantasy on the Brazilian National Anthem

Guarnieri, C:



Le petit âne blanc (from Histoires)

Levy, A:

Tango Brasileiro


Two Concert Studies, S145/R6: Gnomenreigen; Waldesrauschen


Hexentanz (Witches' Dance), Op. 17, No. 2


Song without Words, Op. 62 No. 6 in A major 'Spring Song'


Jeune Fille au Jardin


Guitare, Op. 45. No. 2

La Jongleuse, Op. 52 No. 4


Rondo in A minor, K511


Nocturne in B flat Op. 16 No. 4




Pinto, O:

Cenas Infantis


Nocturne in G Op. 75 No. 8

Scarlatti, D:

Keyboard Sonata K450 in G minor

Keyboard Sonata K125 in G major

Strauss, R:

Ständchen, Op. 17 No. 2


O Polichinelo (from Prole do Bebê, book 1)


As Três Marias

A Prole do Bebê, book 1: Branquinha

A Prole do Bebê, book 1: A Pobrezinha


Guiomar Novaes (piano)

This double album draws together for the first time all the published 78-rpm recordings made by Brazilian Guiomar Novaes. She is better known today for her later recordings from the LP era, but these early miniatures, recorded between 1919 and 1947, have been claimed to give a better idea of Novaes' considerable pianistic worth.

“a musical personality of a beguiling charm, a quality rarely encountered in today's more severe musical climate...You are reminded, too, of a naturalness and insouciance far removed from so many of today's recordings, where over-editing can such the very lifeblood out of a performance...Playing then of another age and time, a sheer magic beautifully presented and with outstanding transfers.” Gramophone Magazine, January 2015

GGramophone Magazine

Re-issue of the Month - January 2015

APR - APR6015

(CD - 2 discs)


(also available to download from $20.00)

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

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