Gramophone Magazine Editor's Choice

June 2015

Disc of the Month

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Schubert: Sonatas, Impromptus & Moments Musicaux

Awards:

Gramophone Magazine

Disc of the Month - June 2015

BBC Music Magazine Awards 2016

Instrumental Finalist

Label:

ECM

Catalogue No:

4811572

Series:

New Series

Discs:

2

Release date:

7th April 2015

Barcode:

0028948115723

Length:

2 hours 25 minutes

Medium:

CD (download also available)
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Schubert: Sonatas, Impromptus & Moments Musicaux


Schubert:

Hungarian Melody in B minor D817

Piano Sonata No. 18 in G major, D894

Moments Musicaux (6), D780, Op. 94

Allegretto in C minor, D915

4 Impromptus, D935

Piano Sonata No. 21 in B flat major, D960


András Schiff (fortepiano)

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Sir András Schiff’s reputation as one of the great interpreters of the work of Franz Schubert is long-established and he has always maintained that Schubert’s music is amongst the most moving ever written. Schiff underlined the point on his ECM New Series album with the C Major fantasies at the end of the 1990s, and he does so again on this remarkable recording. Two Schubert Sonatas (D894 & D960), the six Moments musicaux, Four Impromptus (D 935), the ‘Hungarian Melody’ and an Allegretto are addressed on a period instrument, the fortepiano. The pianist says: “My fortepiano was built by Franz Brodmann in Vienna in 1820. It is to me ideally suited to Schubert’s keyboard works. There is something quintessentially Viennese in its timbre, its tender mellowness, its melancholic cantabilità...It is in the quiet and quietest moments when Schubert - like nobody else - touches our hearts.”

Elsewhere in an absorbing booklet essay, Schiff notes: “Finding the right venue is essential. The room must not be too large, its acoustics, proportions, resonances and atmosphere should be ideally attuned to the needs of the fortepiano. Such a hall is the Kemmermusiksaal H.J. Abs of the Beethoven-Haus in Bonn.” It was there that these memorable recordings were made in July 2014.

Franz Schubert: Ungarische Melodie in h-moll, D. 817

Ungarische Melodie in h-moll, D. 817

Franz Schubert: Sonate in G-Dur, Op.78, D. 894

Molto moderato e cantabile

Andante

Menuett. Allegro moderato – Trio

Allegretto

Franz Schubert: Moments musicaux, Op.94, D. 780

Moderato in C-Dur

Andantino in As-Dur

Allegro moderato in f-moll

Moderato in cis-moll

Allegro vivace in f-moll

Allegretto in As-Dur

Franz Schubert: Allegretto in c-moll, D. 915

Allegretto in c-moll, D. 915

Franz Schubert: Vier Impromptus, Op.142, D. 935

Allegro moderato in f-moll

Allegretto in As-Dur

Andante in B-Dur

Allegro scherzando in f-moll

Franz Schubert: Sonate in B-Dur, D. 960

Molto moderato

Andante sostenuto

Scherzo. Allegro vivace con delicatezza – Trio

Allegro ma non troppo – Presto

The Observer

3rd May 2015

****

“Schiff conjures wisp-like sonorities and never makes an ugly sound, and the Moments musicaux crackle with incisive effects. The smaller pieces work best, while the sonatas are quite difficult to sustain.”

Financial Times

9th May 2015

****

“[Schiff] shows how [the fortepiano's] muted, delicate sound can transform Schubert for modern listeners. Two of the piano sonatas, the G Major, D894, and the late B Flat, D960, speak to us as if in an intimate tête-à-tête. The Moments musicaux, D 780, and the Four Impromptus, D 935, smile with informal grace.”

Sunday Times

17th May 2015

“Schiff’s Schubert is a known quantity: his comprehensive Decca set of the keyboard works remains a classic, but the sounds here are unexpected...Schiff, a self-confessed period-instrument convert, returns to the great G and B major sonatas, the second set of Impromptus and Moments Musicaux, making them sound hot off the press, fresh and new.”

Classical Music

May 2015

*****

“[The 1820 Brodmann instrument] sounds glorious: its tone and action seem ideally to suit these works…let us hope there is more to come.”

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Editor's Choice

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Verdi: Les vêpres siciliennes

Verdi: Les vêpres siciliennes

Live at the Royal Opera House Covent Garden, 2013


Lianna Haroutounian (Helene), Bryan Hymel (Henri), Erwin Schrott (Procida), Michael Volle (Guy de Montfort), Michelle Daly (Ninetta), Neal Cooper (Thibault), Nico Darmanin (Daniéli), Jung Soo Yun (Mainfroid), Jihoon Kim (Robert), Jean Teitgen (Le Sire de Béthune) & Jeremy White (Le Comte de Vaudemont)

Royal Opera Chorus, Orchestra of the Royal Opera House, Antonio Pappano (conductor) & Stefan Herheim (stage director)

Alexander Meier-Dörzenbach - Dramaturg

Philipp Fürhofer - Set designs

Gesine Völlm - Costume designs

Anders Poll - Lighting design

André de Jong – Choreography

“Grand opera at its grandest – a gorgeous visual and musical treat,” declared The Telegraph of this lavish production of Verdi’s rarely-performed Les Vêpres siciliennes, the magnificent five-act grand opéra that first took Paris by storm in 1855.

Presented in its Covent Garden premiere in Autumn 2013, this staging – directed by Stefan Herheim and conducted by the Royal Opera’s Music Director, Verdi specialist Sir Antonio Pappano – went on to win the prestigious Olivier Award for Best New Opera Production. The Sunday Times hailed it “the best the Verdi year in Britain has to offer,” praising the standout event of the Verdi bicentenary celebrations. “The Royal Opera has done its favourite composer proud.”

Over the years, the opera has become better known in its Italian version (I vespri siciliani), but Verdi wrote it to a French libretto (by the celebrated Eugène Scribe) and adopted elements of the musical style of Giacomo Meyerbeer, who in the 1830s and 1840s defined the quintessentially Parisian genre of grand opéra. After its premiere La Presse stated that: “Verdi's music has conformed to the procedure invented by French genius without losing anything of its Italian ardour.” Although it saw Verdi moving away from the tight dramatic structures and daring innovations of Rigoletto, Il trovatore and La traviata – the ‘Big Three’ that directly preceded it – its epic scale and rich colours paved the way for masterpieces like La forza del destino, Don Carlos and Aida.

Herheim, whose reputation was cemented with his production of Parsifal at Bayreuth in 2008, is a director with a flair for spectacle – and a sense of irony – who rarely takes an operatic scenario at face value. Rather than telling a story of 13th-century conflict between the Sicilians and their French oppressors, his production, transposed to the mid-19th century, provides a commentary on the extravagant world of Parisian opera with its politics, exploitation and betrayals. “The story is told very clearly,” explained Pappano in an interview, “but it's a discussion not only about the French against the Sicilians, but about art and the raping of art, and how art is used … It's a beautiful production; visually stunning and musically sumptuous.' The Financial Times praised the maestro for “the sense of scale and style that [he] brings to the score,” while the Observer spoke of “exciting singing and top orchestral playing under the baton of that matchless Verdi devotee, Antonio Pappano.”

All four leading roles in Les Vêpres siciliennes require exceptional singers, but the soprano and tenor must meet almost superhuman demands. Considered one of the most promising Verdians of her generation, the French-trained Armenian soprano Lianna Haroutounian rises to all these challenges as the Duchess Hélène. American tenor Bryan Hymel, whose recital album Héroïque is also released on Warner Classics in February 2015, takes on one of Verdi’s highest tenor roles. “Bryan Hymel was the admirable and ardent Henri,” wrote Opera magazine, “with his turbo-boosted bel canto tenor rising fearlessly to the top notes.” His father (and enemy) Montfort is sung by the imposing and charismatic baritone Michael Volle, and the bass Erwin Schrott gives a starry performance as the fanatical Procida. He unforgettably appears in a sparkling black ball-gown in the final scene, which culminates not in a massacre (as per the libretto) but in a dazzling coup de théâtre as the stage spotlights are turned mercilessly on the audience. As The Evening Standard wrote: “virtuoso stagecraft put to thought-provoking and dramatically powerful ends.”

Duration: 181 minutes 38 sec.

Languages: Sung in French, with subtitles available in English, German, Italian, Spanish

Audio spec: Stereo, Dolby Digital 5.1, NTSC – All regions – 16:9

Extras: Making off 6 minutes 30 sec.

“Pappano draws some exquisitely supple playing from the strings and woodwind, holding plenty of energy in reserve for the grand confrontations and choruses where the brass blaze with Berlioz-like ferocity. Pappano's skill inteasing tension from a dramaturgically uneven work is not matched by Herheim...[Hymel] takes the laurels for delivering an emotionally truthful and sophisticatedly sung performance.” BBC Music Magazine, June 2015 *****

“Getting a grand opera on a grand opera-house stage costumed at the time of its premiere has been done before - but has rarely felt so apt as here...musically we're one an almost permanent cloud nine. Pappano gets huge power and tension from the ensemble, and paces the long evening to perfection...sound and balance are good, and the filming has a real sense of the style of the show.” Gramophone Magazine, June 2015

GGramophone Magazine

DVD of the Month - June 2015

Blu-ray Disc

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Warner Classics - 2564616431

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$22.00

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Verdi: Les vêpres siciliennes

Verdi: Les vêpres siciliennes

Live at the Royal Opera House Covent Garden, 2013


Lianna Haroutounian (Helene), Bryan Hymel (Henri), Erwin Schrott (Procida), Michael Volle (Guy de Montfort), Michelle Daly (Ninetta), Neal Cooper (Thibault), Nico Darmanin (Daniéli), Jung Soo Yun (Mainfroid), Jihoon Kim (Robert), Jean Teitgen (Le Sire de Béthune) & Jeremy White (Le Comte de Vaudemont)

Royal Opera Chorus, Orchestra of the Royal Opera House, Antonio Pappano (conductor) & Stefan Herheim (stage director)

Alexander Meier-Dörzenbach - Dramaturg

Philipp Fürhofer - Set designs

Gesine Völlm - Costume designs

Anders Poll - Lighting design

André de Jong – Choreography

“Grand opera at its grandest – a gorgeous visual and musical treat,” declared The Telegraph of this lavish production of Verdi’s rarely-performed Les Vêpres siciliennes, the magnificent five-act grand opéra that first took Paris by storm in 1855.

Presented in its Covent Garden premiere in Autumn 2013, this staging – directed by Stefan Herheim and conducted by the Royal Opera’s Music Director, Verdi specialist Sir Antonio Pappano – went on to win the prestigious Olivier Award for Best New Opera Production. The Sunday Times hailed it “the best the Verdi year in Britain has to offer,” praising the standout event of the Verdi bicentenary celebrations. “The Royal Opera has done its favourite composer proud.”

Over the years, the opera has become better known in its Italian version (I vespri siciliani), but Verdi wrote it to a French libretto (by the celebrated Eugène Scribe) and adopted elements of the musical style of Giacomo Meyerbeer, who in the 1830s and 1840s defined the quintessentially Parisian genre of grand opéra. After its premiere La Presse stated that: “Verdi's music has conformed to the procedure invented by French genius without losing anything of its Italian ardour.” Although it saw Verdi moving away from the tight dramatic structures and daring innovations of Rigoletto, Il trovatore and La traviata – the ‘Big Three’ that directly preceded it – its epic scale and rich colours paved the way for masterpieces like La forza del destino, Don Carlos and Aida.

Herheim, whose reputation was cemented with his production of Parsifal at Bayreuth in 2008, is a director with a flair for spectacle – and a sense of irony – who rarely takes an operatic scenario at face value. Rather than telling a story of 13th-century conflict between the Sicilians and their French oppressors, his production, transposed to the mid-19th century, provides a commentary on the extravagant world of Parisian opera with its politics, exploitation and betrayals. “The story is told very clearly,” explained Pappano in an interview, “but it's a discussion not only about the French against the Sicilians, but about art and the raping of art, and how art is used … It's a beautiful production; visually stunning and musically sumptuous.' The Financial Times praised the maestro for “the sense of scale and style that [he] brings to the score,” while the Observer spoke of “exciting singing and top orchestral playing under the baton of that matchless Verdi devotee, Antonio Pappano.”

All four leading roles in Les Vêpres siciliennes require exceptional singers, but the soprano and tenor must meet almost superhuman demands. Considered one of the most promising Verdians of her generation, the French-trained Armenian soprano Lianna Haroutounian rises to all these challenges as the Duchess Hélène. American tenor Bryan Hymel, whose recital album Héroïque is also released on Warner Classics in February 2015, takes on one of Verdi’s highest tenor roles. “Bryan Hymel was the admirable and ardent Henri,” wrote Opera magazine, “with his turbo-boosted bel canto tenor rising fearlessly to the top notes.” His father (and enemy) Montfort is sung by the imposing and charismatic baritone Michael Volle, and the bass Erwin Schrott gives a starry performance as the fanatical Procida. He unforgettably appears in a sparkling black ball-gown in the final scene, which culminates not in a massacre (as per the libretto) but in a dazzling coup de théâtre as the stage spotlights are turned mercilessly on the audience. As The Evening Standard wrote: “virtuoso stagecraft put to thought-provoking and dramatically powerful ends.”

Duration: 181 minutes 38 sec.

Languages: Sung in French, with subtitles available in English, German, Italian, Spanish

Audio spec: Stereo, Dolby Digital 5.1, NTSC – All regions – 16:9

Extras: Making off 6 minutes 30 sec.

“Pappano draws some exquisitely supple playing from the strings and woodwind, holding plenty of energy in reserve for the grand confrontations and choruses where the brass blaze with Berlioz-like ferocity. Pappano's skill inteasing tension from a dramaturgically uneven work is not matched by Herheim...[Hymel] takes the laurels for delivering an emotionally truthful and sophisticatedly sung performance.” BBC Music Magazine, June 2015 ***

“Getting a grand opera on a grand opera-house stage costumed at the time of its premiere has been done before - but has rarely felt so apt as here...musically we're one an almost permanent cloud nine. Pappano gets huge power and tension from the ensemble, and paces the long evening to perfection...sound and balance are good, and the filming has a real sense of the style of the show.” Gramophone Magazine, June 2015

GGramophone Magazine

DVD of the Month - June 2015

DVD Video

Region: 0

Warner Classics - 2564616434

(DVD Video - 2 discs)

$20.75

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Mahler: Symphony No. 9

Mahler: Symphony No. 9


Read Presto's complete review of this disc here.

The stunning new recording by one of the undisputed contemporary Mahlerians,Ivan Fischer.

The Ninth Symphony was the last score completed by Mahler, and it could well be that this was how he originally meant it to be. With Beethovens Ninth and the unfinished Ninth by Bruckner in the back of his mind, he was deeply superstitious about symphonies and the number nine. At least, that is what his wife Alma had to say. But did he really intend the work to be nothing less than a farewell to life, as the moving final movement seems to suggest? And as it has so often been interpreted by Mahler specialists?

According to the conductor Leonard Bernstein, the last pages of the symphony are the most musically realistic description of death itself.

“Fischer gives us the edginess of Bernstein without his tendency to wallow. ...it's the small things that so often strike sparks - exposed timpani properly tuned, problematic textures rendered with airy chamber-like luminosity…[this issue] is in a very special class, a sonic dazzler, quite apart from its bold musical qualities. A potential Award-winner!” Gramophone Magazine, June 2015

“This orchestra can seem as if it is making chamber music, as is so necessary in Mahler’s music, and its turn-on-a-sixpence responses to Fischer’s Urging makes this an exhilarating recording.” CD Review

“Fischer is faithful to Mahler’s score, yet lays bare this music’s poignant sense of a leave-taking, even if it was not to be the composer’s last word on the symphony.” Sunday Times, 14th June 2015

“Mahler’s long farewell...is given heartbreaking intensity and tenderness by the Budapest Festival Orchestra, always an ensemble of great character and conviction...And what a fine Mahlerian [Fischer] is: this account is superb for the orchestra’s deep, old-world sound, for a generosity of expression that clinches the work’s turmoil but draws radiantly life-affirming conclusions.” The Guardian, 4th June 2015 *****

“You can always expect insights from Iván Fischer's energised Budapest Festival Orchestra, and he has his own distinctive view on this most traumatic and ultimately transcendent of symphonies…for those who can't have too much of this masterpiece, Fischer is essential for further enlightenment.” BBC Music Magazine, August 2015

Presto Disc of the Week

18th May 2015

Presto Discs of 2015

Winner

GGramophone Magazine

Editor's Choice - June 2015

Super Audio CD

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Channel Iván Fischer Mahler Symphonies - CCSSA36115

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L'heure exquise: Alice Coote

L'heure exquise: Alice Coote

A French Songbook


Bachelet:

Chère nuit

Berlioz:

Le Spectre de la rose (from Les nuits d'été, Op. 7)

Chabrier:

Toutes les fleurs

L'ile heureuse

Chausson:

Le temps des lilas

Debussy:

La Grotte

Fauré:

Le secret Op. 23 No. 3

Fleur jetée, Op. 39 No. 2

Gounod:

Sérénade

Au printemps

Hahn, R:

L'heure exquise

Les étoiles (No. 9 of Douze Rondels)

Fumée

La Chère Blessure

Koechlin:

Novembre, Op. 22 No. 2

Poulenc:

Les chemins de l'amour

Voyage à Paris

Hotel

La grenouillère, Op. 5

Voyage

Saint-Saëns:

Aimons-nous

Soirée En Mer

Satie:

Je te veux


Alice Coote (mezzo) & Graham Johnson (piano)

Alice Coote is the darling of the world’s opera stages and recital halls—to the extent that her solo recordings are rare events. In this much-anticipated French Songbook, Graham Johnson lends his incomparable insight to this most remarkable of talents on an emotional rollercoaster through twenty-three songs of Gallic love in all its guises.

“The beauty of Alice Coote’s mezzo-soprano glows with radiance.” Financial Times, 9th May 2015

“Coote is in sumptuous voice, Johnson in his element.” Sunday Times, 10th May 2015

“this is a beautifully formed recital shining different lights on a central theme. It is distinguished by Coote’s thorough absorption in the stylistic character of each song, conveying their individual sentiments and sensitivities with her rich, liquid mezzo and relishing the colouristic potential of the poetic texts. Graham Johnson’s piano accompaniments are, as ever, wonderfully apt and complementary to the voice” Gramophone Magazine, June 2015

GGramophone Awards 2016

Finalist - Solo Vocal

GGramophone Magazine

Editor's Choice - June 2015

Hyperion & Helios - up to 50% off

Hyperion - CDA67962

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Handel: L'Allegro, il Penseroso ed il Moderato

Handel: L'Allegro, il Penseroso ed il Moderato


Gillian Webster (soprano), Laurence Kilsby (treble), Jeremy Ovenden (tenor), Peter Harvey (baritone), Ashley Riches (bass), William Whitehead (organ)

Gabrieli Consort & Players, Paul McCreesh

Paul McCreesh talks to Presto's David Smith about the project here.

Following in their series of Gramophone Award and BBC Music Magazine Award winning recordings, Gabrieli’s first Handel recording in over a decade is particularly special – recreating in painstaking detail the very first performance of L’Allegro, il Penseroso ed il Moderato, given in 1740, with additional instrumental repertoire including a Handel organ concerto and two concerti grossi.

With a reputation as peerless Handelians, Paul McCreesh and the Gabrieli Consort & players bring meticulous research to every performance and recording project, and are joined on this disc by a stunning selection of soloists.

“McCreesh’s superb Gabrieli Consort and Players present all this...with flair, a pristine sense of style and infectious energy...full marks for the remarkably assured boy treble Laurence Kilsby, making his last recording before his voice broke.” The Times, 15th May 2015 ****

“Handel’s ravishing score, here realised to perfection by Paul McCreesh and his Gabrieli forces, evokes these scenes with colourful precision...A glorious recording: I cannot recommend it too highly.” The Observer, 24th May 2015 *****

“Jeremy Ovenden sings with rounded, mellifluous tone and audible delight in Milton's imagery...Handel lovers can hardly fail to enjoy the mingled finesse and hedonistic delight of this new recording, its attractions enhanced by a stimulating essay from Handel scholar Ruth Smith.” Gramophone Magazine, June 2015

“McCreesh’s direction is both alert and expressive, and his soloists are very fine. Gillian Webster shines in Penseroso’s famous nightingale aria, Sweet bird, and in the only duet in which mirth and melancholy come together — the sublime As steals the morn, one of Handel’s greatest hits.” Sunday Times, 31st May 2015

“It’s a joy to hear the Gabrielis give us Handel again. The attention to detail, the vibrant tone, the briskly invigorating tempi, and the seamless ensemble are everything you could wish for.” Hi-Fi Plus, June 2015

“The choral elements are scrupulously handled by the Gabrieli Consort, and the soloists are choice. Gillian Webster is the light, bright soprano, Laurence Kilsby the delightful treble tenor Jeremy Ovenden brings his words to life, while Peter Harvey provides a solid baritone and Ashley Riches a confident bass.” BBC Music Magazine, August 2015 *****

“The singing, from all soloists and chorus, has tremendous character and clarity, fizzing with excitement or languishing in lovely legato, and soprano Gillian Webster carries all before her with grace, easy elegance, and a ravishing range of vocal colour. McCreesh finds all the expressive opportunities in a blissful production, at times breathtakingly beautiful.” Choir & Organ, September – October 2015

Presto Discs of 2015

Finalist

GGramophone Magazine

Editor's Choice - June 2015

Signum - SIGCD392

(CD - 2 discs)

$22.75

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Lawes, W: The Royall Consorts

Lawes, W: The Royall Consorts


Elizabeth Kenny (theorbo), Daniel Hyde (organ)

Phantasm

Described as ‘one of the greatest collections of ensemble dance music ever composed’, Lawes’ Royal Consort is full of astounding moments of striking musical invention.

Guest musicians Elizabeth Kenny on theorbo, Emily Ashton on tenor viol and organist Daniel Hyde join Phantasm to honour the celebrated English Renaissance composer.

This sublime collection boasts a range and depth of expression, which excites both mind and body through Lawes’ startlingly individual pieces.

This recording is the first complete recording of Lawes’ version of the Royal Consorts for four viols and theorbo.

Phantasm, under the direction of Laurence Dreyfus, presents a passionate and insightful look into this adventurous music.

The result is a rich and warm recording of technical brilliance that takes the listener deep into the harmonically rich world of Lawes.

Phantasm’s previous recording of Lawes, Consorts to the Organ, was both a Gramophone Awards finalist and a BBC Music Magazine Award nominee in 2013.

Phantasm has been widely acclaimed for its previous recordings with Linn: its 2011 recording of William Byrd was named ‘Disc of the Month' by BBC Music and its 2009 Linn debut of music by John Ward was described as ‘stunning' by Gramophone.

Critics have described the ensemble and its recordings as ‘intoxicating', ‘revelatory', ‘electrifying' and ‘interpretations pervaded by a truly burning spirit'.

The award-winning ensemble has been applauded across the globe for its moving performances and is recognised as the most exciting viol consort active on the world scene today.

Phantasm’s international members (from Britain, Finland and the US) are based in Oxford where they are Consort-in-Residence and regularly collaborate with Magdalen College Choir under its director, Daniel Hyde.

“The viol music of William Lawes is like nothing else: weird phrase lengths, irreverent weightings and rogue, sumptuous harmonies that will make you gasp out loud every time...the Phantasm players really run with it: twist after turn of lapping, pliant lines and spirited counterpoint, all done with a real sense of swing. The ensemble sound is luxuriantly rich, powered by Elizabeth Kenny’s feisty theorbo strumming.” The Guardian, 7th May 2015 *****

“Phantasm's playing brims with imaginative fantasy and dance-like momentum…a pleasing broadening of textures is injected into this beguiling survey by the additional tenor violist Emily Ashton and organist Daniel Hyde in some denser six-part sets” Gramophone Magazine, June 2015

“Vivid, arresting and harmonically bold, Lawes’ seemingly endless invention is matched by playing here of startling concentration and energy.” Classical Music, May 2015

“The musicians respond to Lawes's complex and variegated emotions with playing by turns buoyant and vigorous, graceful and serene. They delight, too, in his quirky wit...[in Consorts to the Organ] the players discourse with subtle rhetoric and high seriousness, underscoring the music's pervasive melancholy.” BBC Music Magazine, August 2015 *****

GGramophone Awards 2016

Finalist - Baroque Instrumental

GGramophone Magazine

Editor's Choice - June 2015

BBC Music Magazine Awards 2016

Chamber Finalist

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Bach, J S: Cello Suites Nos. 1-6, BWV1007-1012

Bach, J S: Cello Suites Nos. 1-6, BWV1007-1012


David Watkin (cello)

“Watkin's profound musicianship is more than enough to accelerate this recording of Bach's Cello Suites to the top of the tiny league of 'definitive' recordings...it's as if all the work that Watkin has ever done on these pieces has been absorbed absolutely and then reproduced in a performance that is able to be completely original in its voice at the same time as never producing a phrase that jars in its unsubtlety, or presents an ego that overarches the music.” Gramophone Magazine, June 2015

“Using two historic instruments and playing on gut strings, David Watkin gives a definitive period instrument account of Bach’s six solo Cello Suites. It should be in any Bach lover’s collection. One can only marvel at Watkin’s range of colour, his elegance, his verve, variety and spontaneity – above all his understanding of line and pulse.” The Observer, 19th July 2015 *****

Presto Discs of 2015

Finalist

GGramophone Awards 2015

Winner - Baroque Instrumental

GGramophone Magazine

Editor's Choice - June 2015

BBC Music Magazine Awards 2016

Instrumental Winner

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English Hymn Anthems

English Hymn Anthems


Bairstow:

Blessed City, heavenly Salem

Davies, Walford:

O sons and daughters

Dyson:

Three Songs Of Praise: No. 1 'Praise'

Harris, W:

O what their joy and their glory must be

Ireland:

Vexilla Regis

Parry:

Hear my words, ye people

Chorale Preludes (7), Set 2: 'Eventide'

Stanford:

O for a closer walk with God, Op. 113 No. 6

Vaughan Williams:

Prelude on 'Rhosymedre'

Lord, Thou has been our refuge

Whitlock, P:

Jesu, grant me this I pray

Wood, C:

God omnipotent reigneth


The first release of 2015 from the Choir of King’s College, Cambridge presents the choir singing anthems based on hymn tunes from the Anglican choral tradition.

'English Hymn Anthems' continues the choir’s active commitment to expanding the popular understanding of choral repertoire through original research and recording. Highlights include Parry’s epic' Hear my words, ye people' and 'Lord, Thou has been our refuge' by Vaughan Williams, featuring the trumpeter Alison Balsom. It provides at once a survey of traditional services at King’s College Chapel and a window into the little-known form of the hymn-anthem. The album joins the label’s other critically-acclaimed recordings including the chart-topping 'Favourite Carols from King’s', debut release 'Nine Lessons and Carols', which reached number 2 in the UK Specialist Classical Chart, 'Mozart Requiem Realisations', and the celebrated Fauré 'Requiem' which received Recording of the Month from BBC Music Magazine, number 4 on Classic FM’s Albums of 2014 and an IRR Outstanding from International Record Review. The album’s release will be accompanied by an extensive international press and marketing campaign. At the end of March 2015, the choir will embark on a tour of the United States, performing a repertoire of sacred choral music including repertoire from this album.

King’s College Choir owes its existence to King Henry VI, who envisaged the daily singing of services in his magnificent chapel; the 16 choristers are educated at King’s College School, whilst the 14 choral scholars and two organ scholars study a variety of subjects in the College. This remains the Choir’s raison d’être, but its worldwide fame and reputation, enhanced by its many recordings and broadcasts, has led to high-profile performances around the world. The highlight of the choral year is the worldwide live radio broadcast of the renowned Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols and the television broadcasts of Carols from King’s and Easter from King’s.

“The King's performance [of the Parry] is predictably idiomatic, if a touch carefully preened and respectful...[Ireland's] is a more explicitly dramatic setting, and the singers seem to relish this...Parker Ramsay's organ accompaniment is a model of intelligent supportiveness.” BBC Music Magazine, Awards Issue 2015 ****

“The airy acoustic of the chapel coupled with the fine Harrison & Harrison (mostly) organ help to define a peculiarly and uniquely English sound, especially suited to the repertoire on this fine disc...this is King's playing to its considerable strengths at all levels” Gramophone Magazine, June 2015

GGramophone Magazine

Editor's Choice - June 2015

Super Audio CD

Format:

Hybrid Multi-channel

Kings College - KGS0004

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Tintomara

Tintomara


Damase:

Trio for trumpet, trombone and piano

Maier, F M:

Slipstream for trombone solo and loop station

Michel, J-F:

Eastwind for trumpet, trombone and brass ensemble

Padding:

One Trumpet

Purcell:

Sound the trumpet, beat the drum, Z335

baroque guitar, cello, organ

My dearest, my fairest (from Pausanius, the Betrayer of his Country, Z585)

cello, theorbo

Hark how the songsters of the grove (from Timon of Athens, Z632)

2 recorders, cello, theorbo, organ

Rabe, F:

Tintomara for trumpet and trombone

Ravel:

Piano Trio in A minor: Passacaille


Wim Van Hasselt (trumpet) & Jorgen Van Rijen (trombone)

On this programme the performers explore the versatile, ambiguous character, the range of colours, possibilities and even boundaries of the combination of trumpet and trombone, in which the soprano voice of the trumpet forms a wonderful combination with the tenor of the trombone.

The cd is named after Folke Rabe’s composition ‘Tintomara’ - a dualistic figure from The Briar Rose Book by the Swedish author Jonas Love Almqvist (1793- 1859) - which reflects the male and female character of the trumpet and trombone. Duets and a diversity of arrangements but also solo works for trumpet and trombone make this a rich and surprising release.

“There is indeed little that these players cannot project in terms of multifacted lyricism, colour and dramatic presence, and this is matched by the very best in modern brass programming…all the facets of this project are outstanding and it starts with a dazzling sound.” Gramophone Magazine, June 2015

GGramophone Magazine

Editor's Choice - June 2015

Super Audio CD

Format:

Hybrid Multi-channel

Contemporary Music - up to 25% off

Channel - CCSSA36315

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Maxim Rysanov plays Martinu

Maxim Rysanov plays Martinu


Martinu:

Rhapsody-Concerto for Viola and Orchestra

BBC Symphony Orchestra, Jiří Bělohlávek

Three Madrigals for Violin and Viola (Duo No. 1), H. 313

Alexander Sitkovetsky (violin)

Duo for Violin and Viola No. 2, H. 331

Alexander Sitkovetsky (violin

Sonata for Viola & Piano, H. 355

Katya Apekisheva (piano)


Maxim Rysanov, one of today's leading viola players, explores Martinů’s clear fascination with the viola on this disc, opening with the Rhapsody-Concerto from 1952. In this lyrical two-movement work, Rysanov is supported by the BBC Symphony Orchestra, conducted by the eminent Martinů expert Jiří Bělohlávek. The two Duos for violin and viola which follow are slightly earlier (from 1947 and 1950, respectively). Here the young Russian violinist Alexander Sitkovetsky joins Rysanov, in two scores where exacting technical demands bring the reward of an astonishing richness in sounds and variety from such a sparse instrumentation. Maxim Rysanov closes the disc in the company of the pianist Katya Apekisheva, performing the Viola Sonata of 1955 – like the Rhapsody-Concerto in two movements, with a tough, passionate mood that often recalls the composer's better-known cello sonatas.

“It makes perfect sense that Bohuslav Martinů was a fan of the viola; the instrument’s generous, conversational voice is exactly right for his music, and this recording from Ukrainian violist Maxim Rysanov is easy proof of why...Rysanov clinches the shifting characters and always makes his lines sing; conductor Jiří Bělohlávek draws warmth and brawn from the BBC Symphony Orchestra.” The Guardian, 7th May 2015 ****

“Rysanov plays…with great expression and there's a spring in his step…the Viola Sonata, with Katya Apekisheva in strong support, is the most discursive of the pieces here but she and Rysanov have the measure of it. That distinctive measured dance tune at 1'44 which returns as the first movement's coda is pure magic in their hands. A Martinu CD to play again and again.” Gramophone Magazine, June 2015

“Rysanov, the tone of his 1780 Guadagnini viola a miraculous combination of dark vigour with the translucency of a viola d'amore, has the most idiomatic partner in Jiri Belohlavek conducting the BBC Symphony Orchestra. The consonance with violinist Alexander Sitkovetsky in the two Duos of 1947 and 1950 is even more mirculous. They play as one, swooping under and over each other.” BBC Music Magazine, August 2015 *****

GGramophone Awards 2016

Shortlisted - Concerto

GGramophone Magazine

Editor's Choice - June 2015

Super Audio CD

Format:

Hybrid Multi-channel

BIS - BIS2030

(SACD)

$15.25

(also available to download from $10.00)

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

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