Gramophone Magazine Editor's Choice

March 2015

Disc of the Month

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Steffani: Niobe Regina di Tebe

Awards:

Gramophone Magazine

Disc of the Month - March 2015

Label:

Erato

Catalogue No:

2564634354

Discs:

3

Release date:

12th Jan 2015

Barcode:

0825646343546

Length:

3 hours 42 minutes

Medium:

CD (download also available)
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Steffani: Niobe Regina di Tebe


Karina Gauvin (Niobe), Philippe Jaroussky (Anfione), Amanda Forsythe (Manto), Aaron Sheehan (Clearte), Terry Wey (Creonte), Jesse Blumberg (Poliferno), Colin Balzer (Tiberino) & José Lemos (Nerea)

Boston Early Music Festival Orchestra, Paul O’Dette and Stephen Stubbs (musical directors)

CD - 3 discs

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Agostino Steffani’s sumptuous 1688 opera Niobe, Regina di Tebe has proved a revelation to audiences since its first modern production in 2008. The spellbinding French countertenor Philippe Jaroussky, who appeared in its US premiere at the Boston Early Music Festival in 2011, stars in this new recording, with Canadian soprano Karina Gauvin in the title role of the proud, but tragic Theban queen.

Niobe, Regina di Tebe by Agostino Steffani (1654-1728) has proved a revelation to audiences since its rediscovery and its first modern production, staged in 2008 at Germany’s Schwetzingen Festival. Its sumptuous, expressive music has also attracted such virtuoso singers as countertenor Philippe Jaroussky – who describes it as “a beautiful bridge between Monteverdi and Handel” – and soprano Karina Gauvin, the two stars of this new recording, made in Autumn 2013 in collaboration with the Boston Early Music Festival and Radio Bremen.

Jaroussky, taking the role of King Anfione of Thebes, appeared in the first US performances of Niobe in Boston in 2011, prompting the New York Times to say that: “[in a] finely balanced cast ... the clear standout was the countertenor Philippe Jaroussky, who sang powerfully and sweetly and created a nuanced portrayal.” As the Boston Globe observed later in the year, “His voice combines a limpid purity of timbre, a weightless agility, and an elegant control of nuance that allows him to shade a single phrase with a multitude of colors.”

When Niobe, first seen in 1688, was staged at London’s Royal Opera House in 2010, The Independent enticingly summarised the work and its appeal: “Lust, ambition and grief are expressed extravagantly yet succinctly ... The arias are brilliant and abundant, propelled by athletic ground basses, interrupted by prowling kettle-drums, or sinuously laced with viola da gamba ... Composer, diplomat and theologian, Steffani knew how to tickle the interest of his audience, spiking Niobe's maternal hubris with adultery, magic spells, political intrigue, romantic sub-plots and the stock sardonic nurse who is there to comment on human folly. The opera was premiered in Munich's carnival season, and it shows. So do the diverse musical influences in Steffani's life: the stile antico training of his boyhood, an early baptism in Venetian opera, and a pivotal journey to Lully's Paris.”

Based on the Metamorphoses of Ovid, the opera offers a dramatic and tragic climax: punishing Queen Niobe for her disrespectful display of pride, the gods kill her 14 children. Such is her grief that she turns to stone, while her husband, King Anfione kills himself. As Opera Today wrote after Jaroussky’s performance in Boston in 2011: “Jaroussky sang all this movingly in his pure countertenor, none the less exciting for his prevailing calm. His style of ornament hewed scrupulously to the earlier, French style rather than the rapid divisions he performs in Handel’s operas, lingering to express ‘tormenti’, weeping his ‘pianti’, and at last (having stabbed himself) dying on a delicious fading melisma.”

“What I like about my character, Anfione, is that he is a King who would like to give up his power and just compose music,” explains Jaroussky. “He’s a little bit like Orfeo. In the middle of the opera, just by singing he magically builds new walls to defend his city ... His music is particularly beautiful. Niobe is a huge, challenging work, and it has me singing through my entire range. It’s in a very special style: very virtuosic and very touching. Steffani was a very original composer who helped to advance the style between the periods of Monteverdi and Handel. Sometimes his music sounds like Cavalli, sometimes like the young Handel – it’s very inspiring.”

In addition to Karina Gauvin – especially celebrated in Handel and praised by The Sunday Times for “her glinting soprano, bright-edged yet deliciously rounded and sensual ... used with rare understanding for character” – the cast includes the American soprano Amanda Forsythe as the young priestess Manto (she in fact sang the role of Niobe in Boston in 2011) and the Swiss tenor Terry Wey as the Thessalonian prince Creonte. Sharing the musical direction are Paul O’Dette and Stephen Stubbs, co-directors of the Boston Early Music Festival. “Our discovery of this unknown masterpiece has been very exciting,” says O’Dette. “Niobe is an extraordinary piece – with breathtaking music and intense drama.”

Agostino Steffani: Niobe, regina di Tebe, Act 1

Sinfonia

"Venga Clearte" (Anfione, Niobe, Nerea)

"Sollievo del mio seno" (Anfione, Niobe)

"Ecco à piè di chi impera" (Clearte, Nerea, Anfione)

"Miratemi begl'occhi" (Anfione)

"Splendetemi d'intorno" (Niobe, Clearte, Nerea)

"È felice il tuo cor" (Niobe)

"Che sento?" (Clearte, Nerea)

"Quasi tutte" (Nerea)

"Rio destin che pretendi" (Clearte)

"Son amante, e sempre peno" (Clearte)

"Della famosa Tebe" (Tiberino)

"Alba essulti, e il Lazio goda" (Tiberino)

"Suon di lontana caccia" (Tiberino, Manto)

Ritornello

"Oh valor; oh virtute" (Manto, Tiberino)

"Se la vita à me donasti" (Manto)

"Figlia ove sei" (Tiresia, Tiberino, Manto)

"Amor t'attese al varco" (Tiresia)

"Svelò fatal la piaga" (Tiberino, Manto)

"Tu non sai che sia diletto" (Tiberino)

"Oh d'amor troppo ignaro" (Manto)

"Vuoi ch'io parli, parlerò" (Manto)

Ritornello

"Dormi Creonte, e in tanto" (Poliferno, Creonte)

"Dove sciolti à volo i vanni" (Creonte)

"Sù, per goder ben tosto" (Poliferno)

"Nuovo soglio, e nuova bella" (Poliferno)

"Dell'alma stanca" (Anfione)

"Sfere amiche" (Anfione)

"Anfion mio desio" (Niobe, Anfione)

"Vorrei sempre vagheggiarti" (Niobe)

"Eccola" (Nerea, Clearte, Niobe, Anfione)

"E tu qual gelo, ò sasso" (Nerea, Clearte, Niobe)

"C'hò da morir tacendo" (Clearte)

"Forsennato vaneggia" (Nerea)

"Che agli assalti degli amanti" (Nerea) - Ritornello

"Ecco Tebe" (Poliferno, Creonte)

"Anderei fin nell'Inferno" (Creonte)

"Oh di Lico infelice" (Poliferno)

"Fiera Aletto" (Poliferno)

"Popoli o voi, ch'un tempo" (Anfione, Voci di popolo)

"Come padre, e come dio" (Anfione)

"Mà che miro? " (Anfione)

"Assistetemi" (Nerea)

"Niobe ove giungi" (Niobe, Anfione, Nerea)

"O d'insano ardimento" (Tiresia, Anfione, Nerea, Niobe)

"Mia fiamma, mio ardore" (Anfione, Niobe)

"Tu con lingua si sciolta" (Nerea) - "Numi datemi aita" (Tiresia, Manto, Tiberino)

"Di strali, e fulmini" (Tiresia)

"Discaccia il duolo" (Tiberino, Manto)

"Nel mio seno à poco à poco" (Manto)

"Oh stravaganza" (Tiberino)

"Quanto sospirerai" (Tiberino)

Melchior d'Ardespin: Steffani: Niobe, regina di Tebe, Act 1: Ballo dei cacciatori: Rigaudons & Gigue

Steffani: Niobe, regina di Tebe, Act 1: Ballo dei cacciatori: Rigaudons & Gigue

Agostino Steffani: Niobe, regina di Tebe, Act 2

Sinfonia - "Ritornate à gli abissi" (Poliferno, Creonte)

"Del mio ben occhi adorati" (Creonte)

"Il gran portento amici" (Clearte, Creonte, Poliferno)

"Voglio servir fedel" (Clearte)

"Vien al fine la bella" (Poliferno, Creonte, Niobe, Clearte)

"Qui la dea cieca volante" (Niobe)

"Giunge il rè" (Clearte, Niobe, Poliferno, Creonte, Anfione, Nerea)

"Ascendo alle stelle" (Anfione)

"Con fronti humiliate" (Niobe)

Melchior d'Ardespin: Steffani: Niobe, regina di Tebe, Act 2: Ballo: Entrée, Rondeau

Steffani: Niobe, regina di Tebe, Act 2: Ballo: Entrée, Rondeau

Agostino Steffani: Niobe, regina di Tebe, Act 2

"Numi tartarei" (Poliferno)

"Ove son? chi m'aita?" (Anfione)

"Dal mio petto o pianti uscite" (Anfione)

"Confuse potenze" (Tiresia)

"Ove quasi furente" (Tiberino, Tiresia)

"Fuggirò questo cielo" (Tiberino, Manto)

"Il tuo sguardo o bella mia" (Tiberino)

"Odi come diverso" (Manto)

"Tu ci pensasti poco" (Manto)

"Chi sei, dove mi guidi? " (Niobe, Poliferno)

"Stringo al seno un nume amante" (Niobe)

"Mira: già il dio guerriero" (Poliferno, Niobe)

"Lascio l'armi, e cedo il campo" (Creonte)

"Agevolò l'impresa" (Poliferno, Creonte, Niobe)

"T'abbraccio mia diva" (Creonte, Niobe)

"Gioite, godete" (Poliferno)

"Tù mi laceri il core" (Anfione, Tiresia)

"De numi la legge" (Tiresia)

"Et ancor neghittosi" (Anfione)

"Trà bellici carmi" (Anfione)

Ritornello

"De tebani pastori" (Clearte, Nerea)

"Non mi far pianger sempre" (Clearte)

"Ratto sen và" (Nerea, Manto, Tiberino)

"Hò troppo parlato" (Manto)

"Mi commove à pietade" (Nerea, Tiberino)

"Ci sei colto mio cor" (Tiberino)

"Oh che dolci concetti" (Nerea)

"Questi giovani moderni" (Nerea)

Melchior d'Ardespin: Steffani: Niobe, regina di Tebe, Act 2: Ballo de' pastori: Rondeau, Menuet, Sarabande, Rigaudon I & II

Steffani: Niobe, regina di Tebe, Act 2: Ballo de' pastori: Rondeau, Menuet, Sarabande, Rigaudon I & II

Stephen Stubbs: Steffani: Niobe, regina di Tebe, Act 3: Sinfonia

Steffani: Niobe, regina di Tebe, Act 3: Sinfonia

Agostino Steffani: Niobe, regina di Tebe, Act 3

"Delle celesti soglie" (Creonte, Niobe)

"Amami, e vederai" (Niobe)

"Mà da qual nube interna" (Niobe, Creonte)

"Fuggi Creonte" (Poliferno, Creonte)

"Luci belle" (Creonte)

"Qui, dove muto, e solo" (Anfione, Niobe)

"Contro il Ciel" (Niobe)

"Nell'Egeo tempestoso" (Anfione)

"Hò perduta la speranza" (Anfione)

Melchior d'Ardespin: Steffani: Niobe, regina di Tebe, Act 3: Entrée

Steffani: Niobe, regina di Tebe, Act 3: Entrée

Agostino Steffani: Niobe, regina di Tebe, Act 3

"Con eterni legami" (Tiresia, Tiberino, Manto)

"Hor ch'è mio quel vago labro" (Tiberino)

"Foste al fine pietosi" (Manto, Niobe)

"Chiudetevi miei lumi" (Manto)

"Mi si toglia da gli occhi" (Niobe, Manto)

"Senza indugio" (Niobe, Clearte)

"Vinti sono i celesti" (Niobe)

"In mezzo al armi" (Niobe)

"Affè ch'è un brutto intrico" (Nerea)

"Che alla fè di donne amanti" (Nerea)

Entrée

"Tutta gioia, e tutta riso" - Accompagnato: "Ma lasso" (Clearte)

"Fin dove m'inseguite" (Anfione) - "Fermati" (Niobe, Anfione)

"Spira già nel proprio sangue" (Anfione, Niobe)

"Inopportuno arrivo" (Niobe)

"Funeste imagini" (Niobe)

Marcia di Creonte

"Doma è già Tebe" (Creonte, Poliferno, Tiberino, Manto, Tiresia)

"Hor voi felici amanti" (Creonte, Tiberino, Manto, Nerea)

"Di palme, e d'allori" (Creonte)

Ballo di soldati festeggianti: Chaconne

The Times

23rd January 2015

****

“as a crafter of spellbinding moments this composer...fully deserves a place in history...Steffani’s a true 17th-century European, blending influences from France, Italy and Germany. It’s a very potent mix. And his instrumentation is gorgeously multicoloured...there’s never a doubt over Jaroussky’s sweet arabesques, or the prideful throbbing of Gauvin’s Niobe.”

Sunday Times

8th February 2015

“Gauvin’s flinty soprano is ideal for her role, and while Jaroussky’s boyish tones never sound heroic, he is an expressive, musical artist who makes something special of Amphion’s laments. The supporting cast are stylists, and Steffani’s music — hovering somewhere between Alessandro Scarlatti and Lully — repays repeated listening.”

The Guardian

12th February 2015

***

“Karina Gauvin exudes hauteur as Niobe, opposite Philippe Jaroussky’s elegant, noble Anfione. Listen out for the star turns from Aaron Sheehan, rapturous as Niobe’s would-be lover Clearte, and Jesse Blumberg as the sinister yet meddling sorcerer Poliferno.”

BBC Music Magazine

March 2015

****

“it is a scrupulously detailed, slow-burning performance with an outstanding viol consort...The supporting roles are strongly cast...Jaroussky is at his best in music of penetrating sweetness and curdles under pressure. The laurels go to Gauvin, whose magnificent, creamy soprano ignites in the fury and anguish of Act III.”

Gramophone Magazine

March 2015

“Jaroussky sounds in his elements when Anfione ensconces himself in his Palace of Harmony...Gauvin captures not only Niobe's haughty pride and capricious cruelty but also her sensuality, folly and gullibility...The performance is never forced but always emotive...An exemplary testament of superb musicianship from all participants...this is a landmark event in Steffani's much-deserved rehabilitation.”

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Liszt: Piano Sonata

Liszt: Piano Sonata

& other works


Liszt:

Piano Sonata in B minor, S178

Sonetto 47 del Petrarca (Années de pèlerinage II, S. 161 No. 4)

Sonetto 104 del Petrarca (Années de pèlerinage II, S. 161 No. 5)

Sonetto 123 del Petrarca (Années de pèlerinage II, S. 161 No. 6)

Après une lecture du Dante, fantasia quasi sonata (Années de pèlerinage II, S. 161 No. 7)


Angela Hewitt’s notes for this important new album describe a teenager’s moment of revelation when she first came to appreciate the epic masterpiece that is the Liszt Piano Sonata. Here we have a heart-felt recording where this palpable sense of wonder is manifest alongside Hewitt’s enthralling technical facility at the keyboard.

The programme is completed by the second half of Liszt’s dazzling second Année de pèlerinage collection: the three Petrarch Sonnets and the noble Dante Sonata, the latter composed as a fund-raiser for the Bonn Beethoven monument in 1839.

“Hewitt allows [the Sonata's] huge single-movement span to unfold with a sense of space and a purposeful clarity - qualities akin to the manner of Beethoven's late sonatas...Hewitt, a hugely experienced Bach-performer, delivers [the Allegro] at an unexaggerated pace, and with a precisely articulated vividness that works superbly.” BBC Music Magazine, April 2015 ***/****

“What enviable poise and expressive beauty to launch the central Andante...Hewitt holds her own to such an extent that she makes you forget all about odious comparisons and listen instead to one of the great milestones in all music...This is possibly the very finest of Angela Hewitt's many recordings.” Gramophone Magazine, March 2015

“Hewitt’s Liszt interpretations are both exquisite and dramatic, at once finely thought-out and exalting. From the first bar, the Sonata is invested with a freshness...Wise long pauses are left between items, time in which to forget every music you ever knew.” Sunday Times, 8th February 2015

“Hewitt has a refreshing attitude to Liszt...Virtuosity is only the start [of the Dante Sonata]. Here, in the B minor sonata and in the three youthful Petrarch Sonnets, Hewitt is magisterial. For many years Bach has been her calling card. Her Liszt is, if anything, yet more compelling.” The Observer, 1st February 2015 ****

“She recognises that the sonata is a work of emotional extremes, but of extremes that are close-knit and have a clear expressive focus...Hewitt’s interpretation scores over those that veer from one dramatic incident to another without paying due attention to the shaping of the quieter moments of bliss and repose.” The Telegraph, 1st March 2015 ****

“Elegant and immaculate in both musicianship and platform wardrobe, the pianist Angela Hewitt doesn’t immediately rush to mind when considering the wild music of Liszt...Even if her approach sometimes rubs against the music’s grain, the poise and clarity of her textures and phrasings still brings major pleasures.” The Times, 6th February 2015 ****

GGramophone Magazine

Editor's Choice - March 2015

Hyperion & Helios - up to 50% off

Hyperion - CDA68067

(CD)

Normally: $15.25

Special: $11.89

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Guillaume de Machaut : The dart of love

Guillaume de Machaut : The dart of love


Grant, Denis Le:

Se je chant mains que ne suelh

Machaut:

Il m'est avis qu'il n'est dons de Nature, B22

Se vous n'estes pour mon guerredon nee

Amour et biaute/Quant en moy voint/Amara valde, M1

S'Amours tous amans joir/S'il estoit nulz qui pleindre/Et gaudebit cor vestrum, M6

Phyton, le mervilleus serpent, B38

Ay mi! dame de valour

Se j'aim mon loyal ami/Lasse! comment oublieray/Pour quoy me bat mes matris?, M16

Pour ce que tous mes chans fais

Helas, tant ay doleur et peinne

Sans cuer, dolens, R4

Fins cuers doulz/Dame, je sui cilz/Fins cuers doulz, M11

Rose, liz, printemps


Western music as we know it today—many individual lines of whatever nature combining in whatever manner into a single whole—has its roots in the fourteenth century, and most famously in the pioneering works of Guillaume de Machaut. Why he chose to set his remarkable poetry to music in this way we may never know, but the results continue to hold those who hear it enraptured.

Few groups have matched The Orlando Consort—formed in 1988 specifically to explore this repertoire—in capturing and recording the essence of Machaut. This is the second volume in their Machaut Edition for Hyperion.

“The second anthology in the Orlando Consort’s Machaut marathon…[is] characterised by supreme text- sensitivity and beauty of tone. One marvels at their trademark exquisite balance and their ability to reveal even the most complex of Machaut’s structures with enviable agreement and ensemble.” Early Music Today

“Machaut, in the skilled hands of these musicians, turns these brutalities into music of ethereal purity, pulsating with poised, almost jaunty rhythms. Music for quiet concentration.” The Observer, 25th January 2015 ****

“Much of the time the musical and textual argument puts the spotlight on the consort's younger members, the countertenor Matthew Venner and the higher tenor Mark Dobel...Their agility and Venner's clear, well-modulated timbre and admirably control of phrasing play no small part in the Orlandos' rejuvenation.” Gramophone Magazine, March 2015

“Here we get a mix of 13 songs and motets taken from across his output, sung with suavity and control…'Quant en moy/Amour' provides a lesson in quiet poise and ensemble” BBC Music Magazine, June 2015 ****

GGramophone Magazine

Editor's Choice - March 2015

Hyperion & Helios - up to 50% off

Hyperion - CDA68008

(CD)

Normally: $15.25

Special: $11.89

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Hindemith: Sonatas for piano and….

Hindemith: Sonatas for piano and….


Hindemith:

Violin Sonata in G minor, Op. 11 No. 6

Isabelle Faust (violin)

Sonata for Trumpet and Piano

Jeroen Berwaerts (trumpet)

Sonata for Alto Horn & Piano in E flat major

Teunis van der Zwart (althorn)

Sonata for Trombone and Piano

Gérard Costes (trombone)

Sonata for Cello & Piano in E major (1948)

Alexander Rudin (cello)


Alexander Melnikov talks to Presto's David Smith about the disc here.

Hindemith composed more than 30 sonatas for the most diverse instruments – all of which he was capable of playing himself! This fascinating selection of works written between 1935 (when he became persona non grata in Nazi Germany) and 1948 (the brilliant Cello Sonata for Piatigorsky) is played by some of today’s finest soloists, with the guiding spirit of Alexander Melnikov at the piano. How often does one hear a sonata for Althorn? Especially one published along with a poem by the composer?

“Melnikov proves to be the perfect chamber musician, knowing exactly when to assert himself and when to let his colleagues have the limelight...The real stars, though, are athletic trombonist Gérard Costes, and trumpeter Jeroen Berwaerts, who combines lyrical warmth with an intensity that is often breathtaking.” The Guardian, 22nd January 2015 ****

“These three brass sonatas generally come across with more subtlety than on the well-known recordings by Glenn Gould and friends. Anchoring this new project, Alexander Melnikov is a superbly thoughtful and questing pianist. Isabelle Faust finds the Apollonian restraint of the E major Sonata for Violin and Piano yet also its intensity” BBC Music Magazine, March 2015 *****

“Melnikov's role parallels that of Glenn Gould but his accounts are less wayward than the Canadian's, his soloists generally stronger...this is a magnificent disc, with leading or contending versions of all the works in terrific, beautifully balanced Harmonia Mundi sound. Let's hope Melnikov & Co return record some more.” Gramophone Magazine, March 2015

“a most attractive anthology...every performance is of the highest character...Melnikov's contributions throughout are outstanding. Recorded in ideally clear sound, and with interesting notes, this is a really fine disc that deserves to do very well. It should be snapped up by every Hindemith collector.” International Record Review, March 2015

“There are some front-ranking performances here in a programme that makes chronological and artistic sense.” MusicWeb International, April 2015

GGramophone Magazine

Editor's Choice - March 2015

BBC Music Magazine

Chamber Choice - March 2015

Harmonia Mundi - HMC905271

(CD)

$14.00

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Les Vents Français: Winds & Piano

Les Vents Français: Winds & Piano


Beethoven:

Quintet in E flat major for piano and winds, Op.16

Caplet:

Quintet for flute, oboe, clarinet, bassoon & piano

Farrenc:

Sextet, Op. 40 in C minor for Piano, Flute, Oboe, Clarinet, Horn & Bassoon

Mozart:

Quintet for Piano and Winds in E flat, K452

Poulenc:

Sextet for piano and wind quintet, Op. 100

Rimsky Korsakov:

Quintet in B flat major for piano, flute, clarinet, horn & bassoon

Roussel:

Divertissement for wind quintet & piano, Op. 6

Thuille:

Sextet in B flat major, Op. 6


Les Vents Français

Les Vents Français have been described as “the wind-quintet equivalent of a supergroup”. The ensemble’s five members – Emmanuel Pahud, Paul Meyer, Francois Leleux, Gilbert Audin and Radovan Vlatković, all world-renowned soloists in their own right – are joined by pianist Eric Le Sage for a fascinating 3-CD programme of chamber music that spans three centuries and the French, Austro-German and Russian repertoires.

Despite the group’s name, only three of its members are in fact French. Emmanuel Pahud – considered the finest flute-player in the world, and a member of the Berlin Philharmonic as well as a celebrated soloist – was born in Switzerland, while the horn-player Radovan Vlatković is from Croatia. Officially flying the tricolore are clarinettist Paul Meyer, oboist Francois Leleux and bassoonist Gilbert Audin. Together, the five musicians offer playing that, in the words of International Record Review, is “practically unbeatable” and which prompted this response from The Times, writing of their previous release: “If you buy just one wind-quintet recording in your life, buy this fabulous double album. Les Vents Français are so precise, yet full of fun, subtleties and flights of virtuosity as they tackle 19th- and 20th-century classics ... Impertinent, insouciant, irresistible.”

This new 3-CD collection offers a programme that ranges more widely, spanning Classicism, Romanticism and Modernism, and France, Austro-Germany and Russia. Les Vents Français team up with the French pianist Eric Le Sage – who has been praised by BBC Music Magazine for “pianism and musicianship of a rare order” – for richly varied repertoire: quintets/sextets by Mozart, Beethoven, Rimsky-Korsakov, Poulenc, Roussel and three lesser-known composers – André Caplet (1878-1925), best known for his orchestrations of piano works by his friend Debussy, Louise Farrenc (1804-1875), celebrated in her lifetime as a Paris-based composer, pianist, teacher and scholar, and the Austrian Ludwig Thuille (1861-1907), who lived in Munich, was friendly with Richard Strauss and who favoured chamber music and opera.

This fascinating anthology of music for wind ensemble and piano will once again give listeners a chance to appreciate the special talents of Les Vents Français. In the words of BBC Music Magazine: “Individually, they play with attractive timbre and immaculate intonation and articulation. Collectively, they blend their colours with great finesse, within dynamics ranging from cushioned pianissimo to bright fortissimo.”

“These are top-notch performances of not always top-notch music. The piano quintets of Mozart and Beethoven need no special pleading, and this international ensemble are at their best in the dreamy opening and the finale’s cadenza of the Mozart.” The Observer, 23rd November 2014 ***

“The playing sparkles. None of these pieces will challenge the intellect, but each in turn tickles the senses.” Financial Times, 3rd January 2015 ****

“Three CDs worth of Gallic exuberance to blow away those January blues.” The Times, 3rd January 2015 ****

“[The ensemble] bring spirit, clear perspective and a good deal of wit and charm to a wide spectrum of music both familiar and rather less so...The musical mix here is fascinating and refreshing, the performances exuding the sense of pleasure that Les Vent Français derive from playing it.” Sunday Times, 25th January 2015 ****

“This is a positive dream team, who not only capture the music's individual spirit but also clearly enjoy doing so...the set as a whole is a compelling compendium of creative variety unified by matchless musicianship.” Gramophone Magazine, March 2015

GGramophone Magazine

Editor's Choice - March 2015

Warner Classics - 2564623185

(CD - 3 discs)

$15.25

(also available to download from $21.00)

In stock - usually despatched within 1 working day.

Pärt: Tintinnabuli

Pärt: Tintinnabuli


Pärt:

Seven Magnificat Antiphons

Magnificat

... which was the son of ...

Nunc dimittis

The Woman With The Alabaster Box

Tribute to Caesar

I am the true vine

Triodion


“Stripping down the number of voices in Pärt has palpable benefits...Not that there's any sense of power missing: in the tutti of the Magnificat, the crescendos are ringing, and again one notes how cleanly the passing of musical narrative from part to part is realised with fewer voices.” BBC Music Magazine, April 2015 ****

“the purity of The Tallis Scholars' sound provides the perfect scaffolding for the pieces on this disc...And in their performance...The Tallis Scholars have presented their chosen repertoire in the way they have always done best - as a sound world of profound beauty.” Gramophone Magazine, March 2015

“[From the opening bars] this disc of unaccompanied choral works from The Tallis Scholars and Peter Phillips announces itself as one of the great Pärt recordings…The Tallis Scholars display a profound consanguinity with Pärt's music: its immobility, its objectivity, its non-developmental aesthetic. Composer and interpreters could hardly be better matched…[this is] a disc of quite exceptional, at times heart-stopping, beauty. While there may be other Pärt recordings in this, his 80th birthday year, it is difficult to imagine there being a finer one than this.” International Record Review, May 2015

“I’ve heard several fine performances of [the Sieben Magnificat-Antiphonen] in the past but I fancy this present recording may well be the best I’ve ever experienced....these are absolutely outstanding performances. The singing is beyond reproach and the Tallis Scholars penetrate to the heart of Arvo Pärt’s music...I doubt that in the coming year there will be many tributes to Arvo Pärt that surpass the excellence of this one.” MusicWeb International, February 2015

“the Tallis Scholars bring their own unblemished radiance to this glowing music.” The Observer, 15th March 2015 ****

“The forces are modest, just two voices to a part, perfect for spreading clarity and light. Purity of tone, perfect pitch, ensemble poise...For all Phillips’s iron control, these performances are never coldly correct. We know these are human beings singing...This is a gorgeous and inspiring album.” The Times, 13th March 2015 *****

Presto Discs of 2015

Finalist

GGramophone Magazine

Editor's Choice - March 2015

Gimell - CDGIM049

(CD)

$15.25

In stock - usually despatched within 1 working day.

Rachmaninov: Music For Two Pianos

Rachmaninov: Music For Two Pianos


Rachmaninov:

Symphonic Dances, Op. 45

arr. for two pianos by Rachmaninov. First Release

Martha Argerich (piano) with Nelson Goerner (piano)

Suite No. 1 (Fantaisie-tableaux), Op. 5

Martha Argerich (piano) with Lilya Zilberstein (piano)

Suite No. 2 for Two Pianos, Op. 17

Martha Argerich (piano) with Gabriela Montero (piano)

Six Pieces, Op. 11

for piano four hands

Lilya Zilberstein, Martha Argerich (piano four hands)

Pieces (2) in A major for piano 6 hands - Waltz & Romance

Daniel Gerzenberg, Anton Gerzenberg, Lilya Zilberstein (piano six hands)

Russian Rhapsody for two pianos, Op. post.

Lilya Zilberstein, Alexander Mogilevsky (pianos)


Martha Argerich’s long career has taken in many outstanding solo performances, but she has often professed to feeling ‘lonely’ on stage. This CD showcases the area in which she feels truly at home: her extensive and fruitful collaborations with other first-class musicians. Among the many younger pianists she has taken under her wing at her academy in Lugano are Lilya Zilberstein, who rose to fame in the 1990s and whose sparkling playing is also featured on this disc, as well as Nelson Goerner, whose collaboration with Argerich in Rachmaninov’s nostalgic Symphonic Dances is released here for the first time.

“It is...rather more than a convenient repertoire compendium because, taken overall, there are few finer versions anywhere of each title...All in all, a Rachmaninov-fest to savour.” Gramophone Magazine, March 2015

GGramophone Magazine

Re-issue of the Month - March 2015

Warner Classics - 2564623594

(CD - 2 discs)

$14.00

(also available to download from $15.00)

In stock - usually despatched within 1 working day.

Andris Nelsons conducts R. Strauss

Andris Nelsons conducts R. Strauss


Strauss, R:

Also sprach Zarathustra, Op. 30

recorded 2013 at the Royal Concertgebouw

Macbeth, Op. 23

recorded 2013 at the Royal Concertgebouw

Till Eulenspiegels lustige Streiche, Op. 28

recorded 2014 at the Royal Concertgebouw


Andris Nelsons is one of the most sought-after young conductors on theinternational scene today. He is the Music Director of the Boston Symphony Orchestra, starting from the 2014/2015 season and he worked with the mostimportant orchestras all over the world incl. Berliner Philharmoniker, WienerPhilharmoniker, Concertgebouw Orchestra, New York Philharmonic, PhilharmoniaOrchestra etc. He too is a regular guest at Covent Garden, the MET, WienerStaatsoper, Deutsche Staatsoper and Bayreuth Festival.

The RCO is one of the best orchestras in the world.

This programme includes Richard Strauss´ popular works Also sprach Zarathustraand Till Eulenspiegel.

SOUND FORMAT DVD: PCM Stereo, dts 5.1

PICTURE 16:9, HD

BOOKLET: E, G, F

TOTAL RUNNING TIME. 80 MINS

“[Macbeth] receives a fine, predictably classy performance...with Nelsons underlining the granitic power of its narrative effectively...Nelsons's interpretation [of Also sprach] is in many respects close to his Birmingham account...There's definitely the same welcome flexibility and lack of grandstanding...Nelson's podium manner is relaxed and warm, characteristics that seep through into the playing.” Gramophone Magazine, March 2015

“The physicality of Nelsons's conducting...is assuredly part of his attraction...Aside from Nelsons's gymnastics, the players' ease and palpable enjoyment regularly catch the cameras' eyes.” BBC Music Magazine, April 2015 ****

GGramophone Magazine

DVD of the Month - March 2015

DVD Video

Region: 0

Format: NTSC

C Major - 718908

(DVD Video)

$27.25

Usually despatched in 2 - 3 working days.

Andris Nelsons conducts R. Strauss

Andris Nelsons conducts R. Strauss


Strauss, R:

Also sprach Zarathustra, Op. 30

recorded 2013 at the Royal Concertgebouw

Macbeth, Op. 23

recorded 2013 at the Royal Concertgebouw

Till Eulenspiegels lustige Streiche, Op. 28

recorded 2014 at the Royal Concertgebouw


Andris Nelsons is one of the most sought-after young conductors on theinternational scene today. He is the Music Director of the Boston Symphony Orchestra, starting from the 2014/2015 season and he worked with the mostimportant orchestras all over the world incl. Berliner Philharmoniker, WienerPhilharmoniker, Concertgebouw Orchestra, New York Philharmonic, PhilharmoniaOrchestra etc. He too is a regular guest at Covent Garden, the MET, WienerStaatsoper, Deutsche Staatsoper and Bayreuth Festival.

The RCO is one of the best orchestras in the world.

This programme includes Richard Strauss´ popular works Also sprach Zarathustraand Till Eulenspiegel.

SOUND FORMAT Blu-ray: PCM 2.0, dts-HD MA 5.0

PICTURE 16:9, HD

BOOKLET: E, G, F

TOTAL RUNNING TIME. 80 MINS

“[Macbeth] receives a fine, predictably classy performance...with Nelsons underlining the granitic power of its narrative effectively...Nelsons's interpretation [of Also sprach] is in many respects close to his Birmingham account...There's definitely the same welcome flexibility and lack of grandstanding...Nelson's podium manner is relaxed and warm, characteristics that seep through into the playing.” Gramophone Magazine, March 2015

“The physicality of Nelsons's conducting...is assuredly part of his attraction...Aside from Nelsons's gymnastics, the players' ease and palpable enjoyment regularly catch the cameras' eyes.” BBC Music Magazine, April 2015 ****

GGramophone Magazine

DVD/Blu-ray of the Month - March 2015

Blu-ray Disc

Region: all

C Major - 719004

(Blu-ray)

$35.75

Usually despatched in 2 - 3 working days.

Haydn & Hummel: Piano Trios

Haydn & Hummel: Piano Trios


Haydn:

Piano Trio No. 5 in G minor, Hob.XV:1

Piano Trio No. 25 in E minor, Hob.XV:12

Piano Trio No. 43 in C Major, Hob.XV:27

Hummel, J:

Piano Trio No. 2 in F major, Op. 22


Trio Chausson

Joyful, dramatic, intense or light-hearted, the keyboard trio occupies a significant place in the output of Joseph Haydn. Some 40 years separate his Trio in G minor from the Trio Op.22 of Johann Nepomuk Hummel, that remarkable virtuoso whose melodic gift won him the admiration of Mendelssohn. These works testify to the continuous development of a form that evolved in parallel to the sonata. They also allow us to bring together two composers who were in regular contact at the court of the Esterházy princes.

“Trio Chausson's interpretation...abounds in harmonic pointing and expressive detail, the brighter lights of the exposition running into a sombre development with a dark-hued fugato...Never trivial, de Larochelambert weights both individual notes and chords with care, his colleagues matching his rhythmic patterns...An outstanding disc.” Gramophone Magazine, March 2015

GGramophone Magazine

Editor's Choice - March 2015

Mirare - MIR271

(CD)

$15.25

(also available to download from $10.00)

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.)

Tetzlaff Quartett play Mendelssohn & Berg

Tetzlaff Quartett play Mendelssohn & Berg


Berg:

Lyric Suite - for string quartet (1926)

Mendelssohn:

String Quartet No. 2 in A minor, Op. 13


Tetzlaff Quartett

“assurance and engagement are fully evident here, and it's not just in the response to the variety of tone and timbre asked for, but in the care over intonation - always a potential problem in non-tonal music...The Tetzlaff Quartet find the strength of the underlying pulse within the music, and draw all the threads of this most beautiful work together.” BBC Music Magazine, March 2015 *****

“Their combined sound is highly refined and honed, resulting in a tautness of approach that gives Mendelssohn's A minor Quartet real potency and drive. Even in the most driven passages, textures always have a sparkling clarity...the Tetzlaff reveal [the Berg's] extraordinary beauties. They are alive to every nuance, every emotional change of this highly charged music.” Gramophone Magazine, March 2015

“This recording reinforces the [Tetzlaff Quartet]'s technical excellence and interpretive conviction…[the Lyric Suite is] instilled with that cumulative intensity which draws all six movements into a taut and unremitting continuity…[their Mendelssohn] is a perceptive account of music whose wresting of innovation out of tradition has arguably gained in significance over time.” International Record Review, March 2015

GGramophone Magazine

Editor's Choice - March 2015

Avi Music - AVI8553266

(CD)

$16.00

(also available to download from $10.00)

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

Michael Collins plays clarinet sonatas

Michael Collins plays clarinet sonatas


Brahms:

Clarinet Sonata No. 1 in F minor, Op. 120 No. 1

Clarinet Sonata No. 2 in E flat major, Op. 120 No. 2

Reinecke:

Sonata for flute & piano in E major 'Undine', Op. 167

Introduction & Allegro appassionata in C minor, Op. 256


Michael Collins (clarinet) & Michael McHale (piano)

On this CD, Michael Collins performs Brahms’s and Reinecke’s clarinet sonatas with the pianist Michael McHale. Their collaboration on Chandos has been successful, from their Lyrical Clarinet album – which received five stars from BBC Music (performance and recording) – to their two acclaimed volumes of British Sonatas, a ‘self-recommending Chandos series’ (Musicwebinternational. com).

The two clarinet sonatas were written after Brahms had declared that his compositional career was at an end. He dedicated them to the clarinettist Richard Mühlfeld, whom he much admired. Even if the composer described them as ‘two modest sonatas with piano’, these are works of moving and dramatic intensity, with both the first movement of the F minor and the central Scherzo of the E flat Sonata marked Allegro appassionato. Michael Musgrave (a Brahms specialist) indeed associates the F minor key of No. 1, so often used by Brahms, with ‘passionate, rhetorical expression and formal adventure’; lyrical expressivity is most evident in the serene music of the first movement of No. 2. The latter is unconventionally in three movements, each in the tonic key, and this tonal planning unfolds as a single, continuous, and circular design.

Brahms’s works were devotedly promoted by the composer, conductor, pianist, and teacher Carl Reinecke, whose prodigious output has not fared as well as the music of Brahms, though the chamber music has perhaps proved relatively more durable. Both the Sonata Undine, originally written for flute and piano, and Op. 256 refer to works by Schumann, respectively Kreisleriana and the Concertstück, Op. 92 for piano and orchestra, also known as ‘Introduction and Allegro appassionato’.

“Brahms called Muhlfeld 'a master of his beautiful instrument', an epithet that could be extended to Collins who, with McHale, offers joyous performances of these lyrical but unsurprisingly cogent works...This is a most desirable issue, with a recording that balances the two instruments perfectly.” Gramophone Magazine, March 2015

GGramophone Magazine

Editor's Choice - March 2015

Chandos - up to 40% off

Chandos - CHAN10844

(CD)

Normally: $15.25

Special: $12.20

(also available to download from $10.00)

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

Echoes From An Empire: Karim Said

Echoes From An Empire: Karim Said


Bartók:

3 Rondos on Slovak Folk Tunes, BB 92, Sz. 84

Berg:

Piano Sonata, Op. 1

Enescu:

Suite for Piano No. 2 in D major, Op. 10

Janacek:

Piano Sonata 1.X.1905 in E flat minor, JW VIII/19 'From the Street'

Schoenberg:

Klavierstücke (3), Op. 11

Webern:

Sonata Movement (Rondo) for piano


Karim Said (piano)

Praised for the 'self-effacing intensity and intelligence' of his playing, young Jordanian-born pianist Karim Said hailed by International Piano magazine as 'one to watch' here presents a compelling programme of early twentieth-century music selected to mark the First World War centenary and which reveals his captivating style. Six unique personal languages are explored in this debut album, as Said recounts a period of dramatic social and artistic change that gave rise to an early modernist style imbued with fragments of the Romantic past.

“Said treats every work on its own merits, in its own language. The personality and significance of each composer is subtly etched with remarkable skill...A gripping recital, tellingly designed and very impressively played.” BBC Music Magazine, June 2015 ****

“Berg's Piano Sonata, Op. 1 is given a full-blooded, lucid reading...The real discovery of the disc is Enescu's rarely heard Suite No. 2 in D...Worth the price of this classily produced and superbly executed disc alone.” Gramophone Magazine, March 2015

“Said is clearly a pianist to follow...Said shows himself to be a wonderfully full-blooded interpreter of this music, in which the vestiges of late romanticism constantly butt up against the early stirrings of modernism.” The Guardian, 8th January 2015

GGramophone Magazine

Editor's Choice - March 2015

Opus Arte - OACD9029D

(CD)

$16.00

(also available to download from $10.00)

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

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