Gramophone Magazine Editor's Choice

May 2015

Disc of the Month

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Smetana: String Quartets Nos. 1 & 2

Awards:

Presto Disc of the Week

13th April 2015

Gramophone Awards 2015

Winner - Chamber

Gramophone Magazine

Disc of the Month - May 2015

Label:

Supraphon

Catalogue No:

SU41722

Discs:

1

Release date:

20th April 2015

Barcode:

0099925417222

Length:

47 minutes

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CD (download also available)

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Smetana: String Quartets Nos. 1 & 2


Smetana:

String Quartet No. 1 in E minor 'From My Life'

String Quartet No. 2 in D minor


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Read Presto's complete review of this disc here.

Following their 2014 Gramophone Award-winning recording of Schubert’s String Quartet No. 14 in D minor 'Death and the Maiden' and the Quintet in C major, the Quartet are returning once again to the work of a Czech composer.

On their new CD the Quartet will be playing Bedřich Smetana’s Quartet No. 1 in E minor 'From My Life' and Quartet No. 2 in D minor.

Pavel Haas Quartet was formed in 2002 and bears the name of Pavel Haas (1899-1944), a Czech composer of the first half of the 20th century. Since 2004 the Quartet has won many prestigious awards, including first place in the Prague Spring International Music Festival, BBC Music Magazine Chamber Choice, the MIDEM Classical Award, and three Gramophone awards.

Gramophone wrote that the Pavel Haas Quartet "represents the best qualities of the Czech tradition – warmth, sonorousness, individuality, intensity.”

Bedřich Smetana: String Quartet No. 1 in E Minor "From My Life"

I. Allegro vivo appassionato

II. Allegro moderato a la polka

III. Largo sostenuto

IV. Vivace

Bedřich Smetana: String Quartet No. 2 in D Minor

I. Allegro

II. Allegro moderato - Andante cantabile

III. Allegro non piú moderato, ma agitato e con fuoco

IV. Finale - Presto

Sunday Times

3rd May 2015

“in their native repertoire they are well nigh incomparable. I have not heard an account of “From My Life”...that prepares us so starkly, in its turbulent opening Allegro vivo appassionato, for its tragic outcome...And it’s hard to imagine a more compelling or harrowing take on the less frequently programmed D minor quartet.”

Gramophone Magazine

“The PHQ understand absolutely the plasticity of Smetana’s vision and convey it unerringly, unshrinkingly – and in some ways even more convincingly than the Talich, which is saying something. This is extraordinarily bold playing – and they truly capture the sense that Smetana is writing symphonic quartet music.”

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Editor's Choice

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Mozart: Die Zauberflöte, K620

Mozart: Die Zauberflöte, K620

Recorded live at the De Nederlandse Opera, February 2014


Maximilian Schmitt (Tamino), Christina Landshamer (Pamina), Thomas Oliemans (Papageno), Brindley Sherratt (Sarastro), Íride Martínez (Königin der Nacht), Wolfgang Ablinger-Sperrhacke (Monostatos), Nina Lejderman ((Papagena)

Netherlands Chamber Orchestra, Chorus of Dutch National Opera, Marc Albrecht (conductor) & Simon McBurney (stage director)

Since its premiere in a tiny suburban theatre in Vienna, Die Zauberflote has delighted audiences young and old for over 200 years. Mozart's Singspiel seamlessly alternates seriousness and jollity, and combines philosophical ideas with a fairytale world of wondrous animals and magical musical instruments.

Emanuel Schikaneder's original production was theatrically inventive, and this new interpretation from director Simon McBurney emulates that in fresh and current terms.

Fusing music, technology and stagecraft, this exciting production gives Die Zauberflote a refreshing new treatment that is both thrilling and simple in its approach.

Running time: 156 minutes

Subtitles: EN/DE/FR/NE/JP/KO

Sound format: 2.0LPCM + 5.1(5.0) DTS

“This is a people's Magic Flute which restores the tale's naive power. It is sparkily conducted in light, historically aware tempi by Marc Albrecht, and acted and sung as a tightly worked ensemble piece....Subtle touches ease what we now find chauvinist and racist in the original...Ingenious. Recommended.” Gramophone Magazine, May 2015

“Freshness of vision, emotional openness, genuine ensemble theatricality, a robustly physical sense of adventure humorous and serious (but never portentous) by turns, and an underlying directorial trust in Mozart's music...among the most rewarding experiences of the opera I've had in nearly five decades of Magic Flute encounters.” BBC Music Magazine, June 2015 *****

GGramophone Magazine

DVD/Blu-ray of the Month - May 2015

Blu-ray Disc

Region: all

Opus Arte - OABD7133D

(Blu-ray)

$35.75

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CPE Bach: Symphonies

CPE Bach: Symphonies


Bach, C P E:

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

Sinfonia in A major, Wq. 182/4 (H660)

Hamburg Symphony in B minor, Wq. 182/5 (H661)

Symphony in F major, Wq. 183/3 (H665)

Symphony in E flat major, Wq. 179 (H654)


Avant garde. Eccentric. A maniac. Wild and adventurous. Off the wall. Extraordinary. No marketing hyperbole - this is how the player of the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment describe Carl Philip Emmanuel Bach and his music. One of the many children of JS Bach, CPE Bach always lived in his father’s shadow, and now is an almost unknown figure at least beyond the classical cogniscenti. How can such an unknown be considered a gamechanger? A listen to his music reveals just why - it constantly shifts, wrongfooting the listener when they least expect it with wild changes of direction and colour - it is bright, effervescent, and is a fascinating link between the music of his father (and the Baroque era) and Joseph Haydn (and the Classical era).

“These energetic, committed performances of five symphonies dating from between 1757 — when Haydn was first writing in the genre — and 1780 show the period band has lost none of its verve and enthusiasm for this strange, dramatic music from the dawn of the “classical” era.” Sunday Times, 8th February 2015

“Pity this recording — of an Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment concert under Rebecca Miller 13 months ago — couldn’t have been “rushed” out during Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach’s tercentenary year. Still, these five symphonies remind us why we should be enjoying his music regularly, not just in his 300th birthday year.” The Times, 7th February 2015 ****

“very fine accounts of five excellent sinfonias … If you do not know any orchestral Bach, this would be an excellent introduction.” Early Music Review, February 2015

“the music’s ebullient sense of discovery courses through the performances.” Financial Times, 21st February 2015

“the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment...play five of CPE Bach’s symphonies, calling on that “historically aware” timbre and manner of performance in which the OAE specialises and also finding the music’s pulse and heart...It is the sense of adventure that comes across vivaciously here in a fusion of stylistic taste, smooth and supple phrasing and an exuberant thrust.” The Telegraph, 15th March 2015 ****

“The OAE under Rebecca Miller play with an accuracy and passion that's infectious: this is among the most exciting, adrenalin-filled period instrument recordings you'll hear.” The Arts Desk, 18th April 2015

“Under Rebecca Miller's inspiriting direction , the crack players tear into the fast movements with disciplined craziness ... If you're still a CPE novice, I can't think of a better introduction to his brand of inspired eccentricity that these terrific, high-octane performances, live in every sense.” Gramophone Magazine, May 2015

GGramophone Magazine

Editor's Choice - May 2015

Signum Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment - SIGCD395

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Wagner: Der fliegende Holländer

Wagner: Der fliegende Holländer


Terje Stensvold (Der Holländer), Kwangchul Youn (Daland), Anja Kampe (Senta), Christopher Ventris (Erik), Jane Henschel (Mary), Thomas Russell (Der Steuermann)

Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, Chor des Bayerischen Rundfunks, WDR Rundfunkchor Köln & NDR Chor, Andris Nelsons

The Wagner year 2013 brought something special to the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra's concert schedule. The RCO pulled out all the stops with a full performance of this Wagner opera in concert version. Busy carving out an impressive career for himself and making his fifth appearance at Bayreuth last summer, Andris Nelsons has certainly earned his spurs as a Wagner specialist. He is led the RCO and a cast of international soloists in 'Der fliegende Holländer', an opera about the captain of an infamous Dutch ghost ship who can be freed only by a woman who consents to marry him.

“Every semi-quaver is beautifully articulated and precisely enunciated, but there is a long-breathed grandeur to the sound that positively glows in the resonant acoustic.” MusicWeb International, February 2015

“this tempestuous performance would be worth having for chorus and orchestra alone, but it has strong soloists too: Terje Stensvold, warm and only too chillingly persuasive in the title role; Anja Kampe an urgent, obsessed Senta...There’s no shortage of great recordings out there, but if the excitement and risk of live performance appeals, this is a must.” The Observer, 8th March 2015 ****

“Stensvold's Dutchman is noble and warm-toned, but conveys little deep feeling...That leaves the honours to Jane Henschel's lively Mary, and still more to Anja Kampe's Senta. Her voice has hardened somewhat...but her expressive power more than compensates, a compellingly passionate, impetuous performance.” BBC Music Magazine, April 2015 ***

“The conductor and his orchestra are exciting throughout … there’s always time and (musical) balance for the provate moments in a basically swift traversal of the score … Stensvold’s enunciation of the role through the text is both moving and understanding … Fine recording. Hugely recommended.” Gramophone Magazine, May 2015

“Ventris is an ardent yet sensitively attuned Erik and Russell Thomas a fresh voiced, agile Steersman. Anja Kampe provides one of the best Sentas on disc … there’s a welcome fullness and firmness to her tone at all levels of pitch and dynamic, together with a sense of identification with the character’s obsessiveness … a well performed account of Wagner’s Hollander” Wagner Journal, June 2015

GGramophone Magazine

Editor's Choice - May 2015

RCO Live - RCO14004

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Walton: Symphony No. 2 & Cello Concerto

Walton: Symphony No. 2 & Cello Concerto


Walton:

Symphony No. 2

Cello Concerto

Paul Watkins (cello)

Improvisations on an Impromptu of Benjamin Britten


Edward Gardner conducts the BBC Symphony Orchestra in late music by Walton. It follows the success of his recording of Walton’s Symphony No. 1 and Violin Concerto – one of Chandos’ best-selling recordings for 2014. With an air of relaxation that differs from the tension of his previously recorded early works, the music on this album is likely to cause as much excitement.

Walton’s Second (and last) Symphony was commissioned for the 750th anniversary, in 1957 – 58, of the founding of the city of Liverpool, but, delayed by the composition of the Cello Concerto, it was only premiered in 1960. Scored for a large and colourful orchestra, it is based on the same model as the Third Symphony of Albert Roussel, with a similarly compact duration and the use of the key of G minor, and a concentration on angular melodies, sharply dissonant harmonies, and motoric rhythms.

The Cello Concerto was premiered in London in 1957 by the BBC Symphony Orchestra itself. The cello soloist is Paul Watkins, exclusive on Chandos, highly praised as a member of the Emerson String Quartet, but also the Artistic Director, since last year, of the Great Lakes Chamber Music Festival of Detroit. In this piece, the traditional structure of Walton’s earlier concertos – a moderately paced opening movement followed by a central scherzo – ends in a rich finale consisting of a theme and four ‘improvisations’. The concept of ‘improvisation’ occurs again in the last work on the disc, based on the ‘Impromptu’ of Benjamin Britten’s Piano Concerto.

“Lavishly reproduced in surround sound, these accounts of three of Walton’s later, comparatively neglected works are as superbly thought out as they are atmospherically recorded...The heartwarming Cello Concerto finds a masterly exponent in Watkins.” Sunday Times, 8th March 2015

“The Symphony No. 2 gets a performance of élan from Edward Gardner and the BBC Symphony Orchestra.” Financial Times, 14th March 2015

“If a new Walton release can finally put paid to the notion that his music somehow 'went off' after his move to the Italian island of Ischia in 1956, then this must be it. And the performances of these late-ish works are on a level that have you wishing that the composer had lived to hear them.” BBC Music Magazine, April 2015 *****

“[These issues] are on balance the greatest recorded performances of these three demonstrable masterpieces it has been my pleasure to hear…there is nothing egotistical in these splendid interpretations, and the result is a set of consistently satisfying performances of the highest musical grasp and understanding. I cannot imagine anything finer than these.” International Record Review, March 2015

“Edward Gardner directs a superbly perceptive account of Walton's Second Symphony, exhilarating in its purposeful thrust…make no mistake: with cracking playing from the BBC SO, Gardner's is a conspicuously insightful reading of this underrated score…a gem of a disc.” Gramophone Magazine, May 2015

“from [Watkins's] very first entry it’s clear that his is going to be a thoughtful interpretation, full of beautiful tone in the introspective first movement, but also impressively virtuosic in the second...in Gardner’s hands [The Second] comes across as a completely convincing symphonic statement. The playing is unfailingly committed and colourful, with a sensationally scintillating account of the slow movement being a particular highlight for me.” James Longstaffe, Presto Classical, 18th December 2015

Presto Discs of 2015

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GGramophone Magazine

Editor's Choice - May 2015

Building a Library

First Choice - May 2015

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Grieg & Grainger: Cello works

Grieg & Grainger: Cello works


Grainger:

Scandinavian Suite

Grieg:

Cello Sonata in A minor, Op. 36

Intermezzo in A minor

Violin Sonata No. 3 in C minor, Op. 45: II. Allegretto espressivo alla Romanza

arr. by the composer for cello and piano

Andante con moto in C minor for Piano Trio

Lars Bjornkjaer (violin)

Nielsen:

Saenk kun dit hoved, du blomst, Op. 21 No. 4

transcription


Andreas Brantelid (cello) & Christian Ihle Hadland (piano)

After a meeting in 1906 in London, Grainger visited Grieg in Bergen the following year, only two months before the older composer passed away. The Danish-Swedish cellist Andreas Brantelid and his Norwegian chamber music partner Christian Ihle Hadland now turn to a programme of cello works by the two composers, opening with Grieg’s celebrated Cello Sonata. They also include less well-known pieces, however, such as the composer’s arrangement of the Allegretto from his third violin sonata, and an Andante con moto intended as part of a never completed piano trio, in which they are joined by the violinist Lars Bjørnkjær. Discovered after Grieg’s death, the piece would have to wait more than 70 years before receiving its first performance.

“Brantelid's feverish energy, tonal and textural range add something new. The Andante has a glistening innocence, while the sense of rough, spontaneous dance in the finale pulls the music closer to its roots. That feisty quality ignites the Scandinavian Suite of [Grainger]...Nielsen's poignant Op. 21 song 'Just bow your head, oh flower' is an inspired encore. Blink and you could be sitting in a sunny wooden parlour in Funen, Denmark.” BBC Music Magazine, Awards Issue 2015 *****

“Brantelid is certainly virtuoso - try the cadenza-like passages and, indeed, the Allegro finale of the Sonata in general. He also finds a lovely colour for his instrument as it imitates the Halling-style fiddle leading the dance. But he never swamps the essential melodic simplicity of the music with misleadingly compensatory colour. Hugely recommened.” Gramophone Magazine, May 2015

“Very fine performances of splendid music.” MusicWeb International, May 2017

GGramophone Magazine

Editor's Choice - May 2015

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Schubert: Fantasie

Schubert: Fantasie


Schubert:

Piano Sonata No. 18 in G major, D894

Hungarian Melody in B minor D817

Fantasie in F minor for piano duet, D940

with Jacques Rouvier (piano)

Allegro in A minor 'Lebensstürme', D947


David Fray (piano)

David Fray returns to Schubert with his much-anticipated second recording of the composer’s piano music, a collection of passionate late works. Along with the Sonata in G D894 ‘Fantasie’ and the Hungarian Melody D817, Fray presents two duets for piano four-hands, both composed in the last year of Schubert’s life: the Fantasia in F minor D940 and the towering Allegro in A minor D947, ‘Lebensstürme’ (‘Storms of Life’). Fray invited Jacques Rouvier, his mentor and renowned teacher from the Paris Conservatoire, to join him in the studio, making this album a true labour of love.

“Few pianists have been more acutely sensitive to Schubert's complex inner world” Gramophone

The young French pianist’s Schubert interpretations are universally admired, both on disc and in recital. In its review of Fray’s 2009 album of the Moments musicaux and Impromptus D899, The Guardian praised his “discerning musicality… the sheer lucidity and polish of Fray’s playing, its exceptional command of colour and touch and the way he invariably uses that range of sound to point up musical structures in a meaningful way.” Gramophone declared it “a Schubert disc of the rarest distinction”, while BBC Music Magazine joined the fray with: “What’s immediately striking about his Schubert playing is its refinement, and variety of colour.”

Although Schubert composed over 20 sonatas, only three were published during his lifetime, of which the ‘Fantasie’ G Major Sonata D894, published in 1826, was the last. After Schubert’s death, Robert Schumann described this masterpiece as the "most perfect in form and conception" of all Schubert's sonatas.

Schubert spent the summers of 1818 and 1824 at the chateau of Count Johann Karl Esterházy (of the same Hungarian noble family that had been patron to Haydn), where he taught the Count’s two daughters. There he was exposed to the lively Magyar rhythms and tunes that infuse the Ungarische Melodie D817, a gem he composed in 1824 on his return to Vienna, but which went unpublished until a century after his death.

One of Schubert’s favourite forms of chamber music was the piano duet – he composed some 60 works in the genre. The Fantasia in F minor of 1828 is his last and most poetic contribution to the form as well as one of the most important works in his oeuvre.

In addition to David Fray, Jacques Rouvier – Professor of Piano at the Paris Conservatoire since 1979 – counts some of today’s most illustrious international virtuosos among his former students, including Arcadi Volodos and Hélène Grimaud.

“this new Schubert disc is exceptionally thoughtful and touching...he is joined by his mentor, the famous teacher Jacques Rouvier, for the great F minor Fantasia, where the playing is tougher, and then for the Allegro Lebensstürme in A minor: an unusually satisfying recital.” The Observer, 15th February 2015 ****

“This is a mightily impressive release with Fray and his partner Rouvier creating a wide range of colour in what are passionately felt interpretations. The interplay between the players is a constant pleasure...Fray’s variety of touch and dynamic control combined with a remarkable insight provides breathtaking results.” MusicWeb International, February 2015

“David Fray’s playing of the sonata, and of the brief, haunting Hungarian Melody, D817, is a delight. He and Jacques Rouvier give an unusually Gallic account of the F minor Fantasy.” Sunday Times, 1st March 2015

“The pianism is exemplary. David Fray has probably never hit an ugly note, nor failed to produce textures of luminous clarity and seductive depth and colour...Beautiful, certainly, in its way; but static.” BBC Music Magazine, Awards Issue 2015 ***

“David Fray is alive to the way the music moves at every point and skilled at evoking worlds of sound beyond the piano…Jacques Rouvier was David Fray's teacher. They make superb duettists, and I think one would have to go back to Murray Perahia and Radu Lupu - long ago - to find a far-reaching version of the F minor Fantasia as fine as theirs.” Gramophone Magazine, May 2015

GGramophone Magazine

Editor's Choice - May 2015

Erato - 2564616699

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$14.00

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In the Midst of Life

In the Midst of Life

Music from the Baldwin Partbooks I


Byrd:

Circumdederunt me

Audivi Vocem De Caelo a5

Gerarde:

Sive vigilem

Mundy, W:

Sive vigilem

Parsons, R:

Libera me, Domine from Responds for the Dead

Peccantem me, quotidie from Responds for the Dead

Credo quod Redemptor

Sheppard, J:

Media vita

Tallis:

Nunc Dimittis for 5 voices

Taverner:

Quemadmodum a 6


Contrapunctus, Owen Rees

Shortlisted for the Gramophone Early Music Award in 2014, Contrapunctus releases an album of motets from the Baldwin Tudor partbooks, on the theme of mortality. Conducted by Owen Rees, the album includes Sheppard’s epic 'Media vita' and works by Byrd, Parsons, Mundy, Taverner, Gerarde and Tallis, with Contrapunctus’s own reconstructions of the missing tenor parts.

“Rees’s choir brings an intensity of sound and dramatic dynamics, in music that contemplates the pain of death in ecstatic elation and sublime devotion.” Sunday Times, 22nd February 2015

“The singing throughout is consistently full-toned and focussed, but essentially for this repertoire constantly ready with expressive crescendos and decrescendos to mark textual changes in mood. With its nine highly experienced singers (boosted to ten for the larger works) Contrapunctus is the ideal group for this superb repertoire, and I look forward with eager anticipation to future CDs in this series.” Early Music Review, 20th February 2015

“Borrowing its title from the openings of the Nunc dimittis, the subject here is mortality and fear of the Day of Judgment. Rees’s accompanying notes tell a fascinating story of the survival of these partbooks. Whether you listen in Lenten penitence or in general hope of spiritual balm, the message is universal, the singing superb.” The Observer, 29th March 2015 ****

“Contrapunctus has chosen quite a low pitch and that enhances the richness, and you’ll hear the distinct vocal personalities in the group...as well as the slow, steady sense of pulse which we enjoyed, and the intriguing ambivalence between awe and fear, the vulnerability of the human condition.” CD Review, 18th April 2015

“Contrapunctus are special...These are understated performances whose moment-to-moment drama is less striking than the long, aching arcs they achieve over five or six minutes - director Owen Rees shows his experience here, making a case for a conductor in a climate in which musical democracy is increasingly king.” Gramophone Magazine, May 2015

“ There’s lovely balance and clarity of sound from as fine a clutch of voices...as one might wish” Choir & Organ, May 2015

“Contrapunctus really knows what to do with these pieces and from the very first item...the tuning is superb and the ensemble rock solid. Moreover, Owen Rees's interpretations are revelatory and even visionary...The next volume is keenly awaited.” BBC Music Magazine, August 2015 *****

Presto Discs of 2015

Finalist

GGramophone Magazine

Editor's Choice - May 2015

BBC Music Magazine

Choral & Song Choice - August 2015

Signum - SIGCD408

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Mozart: Die Zauberflöte, K620

Mozart: Die Zauberflöte, K620

Recorded live at the De Nederlandse Opera, February 2014


Maximilian Schmitt (Tamino), Christina Landshamer (Pamina), Thomas Oliemans (Papageno), Brindley Sherratt (Sarastro), Íride Martínez (Königin der Nacht), Wolfgang Ablinger-Sperrhacke (Monostatos), Nina Lejderman ((Papagena)

Netherlands Chamber Orchestra, Chorus of Dutch National Opera, Marc Albrecht (conductor) & Simon McBurney (stage director)

Since its premiere in a tiny suburban theatre in Vienna, Die Zauberflote has delighted audiences young and old for over 200 years. Mozart's Singspiel seamlessly alternates seriousness and jollity, and combines philosophical ideas with a fairytale world of wondrous animals and magical musical instruments.

Emanuel Schikaneder's original production was theatrically inventive, and this new interpretation from director Simon McBurney emulates that in fresh and current terms.

Fusing music, technology and stagecraft, this exciting production gives Die Zauberflote a refreshing new treatment that is both thrilling and simple in its approach.

Running time: 156 minutes

Subtitles: EN/DE/FR/NE/JP/KO

Sound format: 2.0LPCM + 5.1(5.0) DTS

“This is a people's Magic Flute which restores the tale's naive power. It is sparkily conducted in light, historically aware tempi by Marc Albrecht, and acted and sung as a tightly worked ensemble piece....Subtle touches ease what we now find chauvinist and racist in the original...Ingenious. Recommended.” Gramophone Magazine, May 2015

“Freshness of vision, emotional openness, genuine ensemble theatricality, a robustly physical sense of adventure humorous and serious (but never portentous) by turns, and an underlying directorial trust in Mozart's music...among the most rewarding experiences of the opera I've had in nearly five decades of Magic Flute encounters.” BBC Music Magazine, June 2015 *****

GGramophone Magazine

DVD/Blu-ray of the Month - May 2015

DVD Video

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Opus Arte - OA1122D

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Vaughan Williams & James Macmillan: Oboe Concertos

Vaughan Williams & James Macmillan: Oboe Concertos


Britten:

Suite on English Folk Tunes 'A Time there was', Op. 90

Nicholas Daniel (cor anglais)

James MacMillan

MacMillan:

One for chamber orchestra

James MacMillan

Oboe Concerto

dedicated to Nicholas Daniel

Nicholas Daniel (oboe)

James MacMillan

Vaughan Williams:

Oboe Concerto in A minor

Nicholas Daniel (oboe & conductor)


Two major British oboe concertos featuring soloist Nicholas Daniel with the Britten Sinfonia. Composer James MacMillan conducts the world premiere recording of his own Concerto (dedicated to Nicholas Daniel), as well as his 2012 composition 'One' and the Britten 'Suite on English Folk Tunes: A Time There Was'. The oboist himself directs the Ralph Vaughan Williams concerto, the work with which he won the BBC Young Musician of the Year Competition at the age of 18.

“He is arguably Britain’s most virtuosic and adventurous instrumentalist and as mesmerising a talent now, at 53, as he was when he won the BBC Young Musician of the Year competition 35 years ago...The oboe writing [in the Macmillan] is insanely demanding throughout; Daniel is stunning.” The Times, 11th April 2015 *****

“A fine showcase for Daniel’s mellifluous playing, the disc is still more than that, ending with a lovely account of Britten’s Suite on English Folk Tunes, and teasing one with a magical, five-minute piece by MacMillan...It is simply (complexly!) a monody passed round the players, glistening as it goes.” Sunday Times, 26th April 2015

“Oboists may feel ruefully that musical history owes them a showpiece. They have one now: MacMillan’s Oboe Concerto turns the soloist into a nimble-footed musical athlete, a star opera singer, a dazzling Highland dancer, all in the space of three varied movements. Nicholas Daniel makes the most of its virtuoso opportunities, raising the elegiac slow movement to intense heights.” Financial Times, 25th April 2015 ****

“Not only so his [Nick Daniels'] flawless discipline, liquid tone, exquisite chiaroscuro and seemingly superhuman breath control crush the ear, but he also encourages his colleagues to give their polished and raptly committed best ... Excellent sound and truthful balance throughout: this anthology merits a strong recommendation.” Andrew Achenbach, Gramophone Magazine, May 2015

“On this disc of delightfully summery music, the emphasis is initially on the pastoral: the airborne lyricism of Vaughan Williams’ Oboe Concerto, its liquid lyricism shaped with velvet perfection by soloist Nicholas Daniel and the Britten Sinfonia … MacMillan’s own Oboe Concerto introduces a feistier mood, its nimble virtuosity playfully executed by the same soloist.” The Scotsman, 2nd May 2015

“This is a bravura display by Daniel, with lightly assured playing from the always-rewarding Britten Sinfonia.” The Observer, 24th May 2015 ****

“[a] strongly performed collection.” Irish Times, 27th May 2015

“[Daniel] tends to let the tempo slacken when the harmonic pulse slows down [on the Vaughan Williams]...it's hard to complain when that leaves more space for his consistently golden tone...MacMillan also conducts his One, a luminously scored monody.” BBC Music Magazine, August 2015 *****

Presto Discs of 2015

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GGramophone Magazine

Editor's Choice - May 2015

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BBC Music Magazine Awards 2016

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Marenzio: Quinto Libro di Madrigali a sei voci

Marenzio: Quinto Libro di Madrigali a sei voci


Elena Biscuola (mezzo-soprano)

La Compagnia del Madrigale

La Compagnia del Madrigale’s subtle, yet powerful advocacy of great Italian madrigals continues with Marenzio's 'Quinto Libro di Madrigali a sei voci' from 1591. Their previous recordings including the recent award-winning 'Primo Libro', have demonstrated their fresh approach, imbued with invaluable years of experience in other groups such as La Venexiana and Concerto Italiano. From 2016 La Compagnia have been invited to join the concert season at Wigmore Hall. Marenzio’s 'Quinto Libro' was dedicated to Virginio Orsini, Duke of Bracciano, on the occasion of his marriage to Flavia Peretti: a wedding album full of the latest musical and poetical techniques. The "Canzon de’ baci", with words by Guarini, for example, is a marvel of its kind. However, below the surface polish of elegant and stylised Late Renaissance vocal music lurks a dramatic tale, conjured up by Marco Bizzarini in his booklet essay; of crimes of honour and passion, hired assassins and feuds between powerful aristocratic families… La Compagnia del Madrigal’s rendition of Marenzio’s madrigals is captured by, and presented with, the Glossa production hallmarks you would expect.

“the singers infuse their accounts with the true spirit of chamber music and, as native Italian speakers, are highly responsive to the drama and nuances of the texts...offering ardent and expressive readings to convey heady emotions and vibrant imagery. The sound is lush but never forced, individual lines are sharply etched while ensemble and intonation are flawless.” BBC Music Magazine, Awards Issue 2015 *****

“This CD by the superb Compagnia del Madrigale is something of a masterclass in madrigal singing…[a] perfect blend of clearly defined voices, achieved interestingly without a conductor…this CD confirms Luca Marenzio as one of the most underrated madrigal composers in spite of recent efforts to bring his music to wider attention.” Early Music Review, 22nd February 2015

“this album sets a new standard for madrigal performance. The singing is effortlessly serene and polished, yet the voices can turn to harsh and anguished in a split second when the text demands it; the balance (both in terms of volume and of importance of the voices – the group credits no conductor and jointly produced the disc) is ideal; and Glossa’s customary excellent engineering means that the singers are captured beautifully.” Early Music Today, June/August 2015

“Self-critical perspective is clearly not a problem for these artists ... the unfurling description of of a lover's kisses permit all kinds of glorious opportunities for the singers' seemingly telepathic understanding for chiaroscuro, impeccable tuning and innate grammatical sense” Gramophone Magazine, May 2015

“There can be little doubt that right now La Compagnia del Madrigale is worldwide the best ensemble for the performance of Italian madrigals … The result is a very compelling disc. If you love Italian madrigals you definitely should not miss it” MusicWeb International, March 2016

“a magnificent collection notable for the dramatic and emotional treatments of the poetry. Led by Rossana Bertini’s secure and beguiling soprano on the top line, La Compagnia del Madrigale make passionate advocates of this extraordinary music.” Sunday Times, 15th February 2015

“La Compagnia di Madrigale, who released the first book of Marenzio’s madrigals two years ago, treat these settings rather decorously; though their singing is ravishingly beautiful, some of it is a bit on the reserved side, and there are moments when less chasteness and a bit more earthiness would be welcome.” The Guardian, 5th March 2015 ***

GGramophone Magazine

Editor's Choice - May 2015

Glossa - GCD922804

(CD)

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Horowitz plays Scriabin

Horowitz plays Scriabin

Remastered


Scriabin:

Piano Sonata No. 3 in F sharp minor, Op. 23

The RCA Victor Studio Recordings

Prelude, Op. 11 No. 1 in C major

Prelude, Op. 11 No. 10 in C sharp minor

Prelude, Op. 11 No. 9 in E major

Prelude, Op. 11 No. 3 in G major

Prelude, Op. 11 No. 16 in B flat minor

Prelude, Op. 11 No. 13 in G flat major

Prelude, Op. 11 No. 14 in E flat minor

Prelude, Op. 15 No. 2 in F sharp minor

Prelude, Op. 16 No. 1 in B major

Prelude, Op. 13 No. 6 in B minor

Prelude, Op. 16 No. 4 in E flat minor

Prelude, Op. 27 No. 1 in G minor

Prelude, Op. 51 No. 2 in A minor

Prelude, Op. 48 No. 3 in D flat major

Prelude, Op. 67 No. 1

Prelude, Op. 59 No. 2

Prelude, Op. 11 No. 5 in D major

Prelude, Op. 22 No. 1 in G sharp minor

Étude Op. 2 No. 1 in C sharp minor

Poème in F sharp major, Op. 32 No. 1

The Columbia Studio Recordings

Étude Op. 2 No. 1 in C sharp minor

Étude Op. 8 No. 12 in D sharp minor

Feuillet d'album, Op. 45 No. 1

Étude Op. 8 No. 2 in F sharp minor

Étude Op. 8 No. 11 in B flat minor

Prelude, Op. 8 No. 10 in D flat major

Étude Op. 8 No. 8 in A flat minor

Étude Op. 42 No. 3 in F sharp major 'La Moustique'

Étude Op. 42 No. 4 in F sharp major

Étude Op. 42 No. 5 in C sharp minor

Poèmes, Op. 69 Nos. 1 & 2

Vers la flamme, Op. 72

Albumblatt, Op. 58

Étude Op. 65 No. 3 in G major

Piano Sonata No. 9, Op. 68 'Black Mass'

Live Recordings

Poème in F sharp major, Op. 32 No. 1

Étude Op. 2 No. 1 in C sharp minor

Piano Sonata No. 10, Op. 70

Piano Sonata No. 5 in F sharp major, Op. 53

Étude Op. 8 No. 12 in D sharp minor

Étude Op. 8 No. 7 in B flat minor

Étude Op. 42 No. 5 in C sharp minor

Piano Sonata No. 9, Op. 68 'Black Mass'

(alternate version - 25th February, 1953)


Sony Classical presents "Horowitz plays Scriabin" remastered, celebrating Russian composer & pianist Alexander Scriabin (1872 - 1915) and featuring the complete authorized studio recordings by Vladimir Horowitz, newly remastered from the original analogue tapes and discs. A mid-price x3 CD set DISC 1: The RCA Victor Studio Recordings - Remastered (x20 trks). DISC 2: The Columbia Studio Recordings - Remastered (x15 trks). DISC 3: Live Recordings (x9 trks).

GGramophone Magazine

Re-issue of the Month - May 2015

Sony - 88875038372

(CD - 3 discs)

$19.00

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