Gramophone Magazine Editor's Choice

September 2015

Disc of the Month

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Rachmaninov Variations


Gramophone Awards 2016

Finalist - Concerto

Gramophone Magazine

Disc of the Month - September 2015

BBC Music Magazine

Instrumental Choice



Catalogue No:




Release date:

28th Aug 2015




78 minutes


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Rachmaninov Variations


Variations on a Theme of Chopin, Op. 22

Variations on a theme of Corelli, Op. 42

Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini, Op. 43

Philadelphia Orchestra, Yannick Nézet-Séguin





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In the great tradition of Russian pianist-composers, Trifonov may be rightly considered an heir to Rachmaninov - a passionate virtuoso at the keyboard and a Romantic spirit in his own compositions

With this album, the young artist pays tribute to his illustrious musical forefather with a fascinating programme comprising three sets of Rachmaninov Variations: the hyper-virtuostic Variations on a theme of Corelli and the rare Variations on a Theme of Chopin for solo piano, along with the famous and much-loved Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini for piano and orchestra.

Trifonov will perform the Paganini Rhapsody in most key markets through 2015-16; his previous performances received great critical acclaim: “A ravishing, startling and altogether convincing ‘Rhapsody’” (San Francisco Chronicle) // “We were drawn close in to the imaginative wonder of Rachmaninov's teeming invention” (The Times).

Sergey Vasil'yevich Rachmaninov: Rhapsody On A Theme Of Paganini, Op.43

Introduction. Allegro vivace - Variation 1 (Precedente)

Tema. L'istesso tempo

Variation 2. L'istesso tempo

Variation 3. L'istesso tempo

Variation 4. Più vivo

Variation 5. Tempo precedente

Variation 6. L'istesso tempo

Variation 7. Meno mosso, a tempo moderato

Variation 8. Tempo I

Variation 9. L'istesso tempo

Variation 10. L'istesso tempo

Variation 11. Moderato

Variation 12. Tempo di minuetto

Variation 13. Allegro

Variation 14. L'istesso tempo

Variation 15. Più vivo scherzando

Variation 16. Allegretto

Variation 17. Allegretto

Variation 18. Andante cantabile

Variation 19. A tempo vivace

Variation 20. Un poco più vivo

Variation 21. Un poco più vivo

Variation 22. Marziale. Un poco più vivo (Alla breve)

Variation 23. L'istesso tempo

Variation 24. A tempo un poco meno mosso

Sergey Vasil'yevich Rachmaninov: Variations On A Theme Of Chopin, Op.22

Tema. Largo

Variation 1. Moderato

Variation 2. Allegro

Variation 3. L'istesso tempo

Variation 4. L'istesso tempo

Variation 5. Meno mosso

Variation 6. Meno mosso

Variation 7. Allegro

Variation 8. L'istesso tempo

Variation 9. L'istesso tempo

Variation 10. Più vivo - Variation 12. Moderato

Variation 13. Largo

Variation 14. Moderato

Variation 15. Allegro scherzando

Variation 16. Lento

Variation 17. Grave

Variation 20. Presto

Variation 21. Andante

Variation 22. Maestoso – Tempo I


Daniil Trifonov: Rachmaniana

1. Andante improvizato

2. Andante nostalgico

3. Allegro con fuoco

4. Dolce romantico

5. (Without Indication)

Sergey Vasil'yevich Rachmaninov: Variations On A Theme Of Corelli, Op.42

Tema. Andante

Variation 1. Poco più mosso

Variation 2. L'istesso tempo

Variation 3. Tempo di menuetto

Variation 4. Andante

Variation 5. Allegro

Variation 6. L'istesso tempo

Variation 7. Vivace

Variation 8. Adagio misterioso

Variation 9. Un poco più mosso

Variation 10. Allegro scherzando

Variation 11. Allegro vivace

Variation 12. L'istesso tempo

Variation 13. Agitato

Intermezzo. A tempo rubato

Variation 14. Andante

Variation 15. L'istesso tempo

Variation 16. Allegro vivace

Variation 17. Meno mosso

Variation 18. Allegro con brio

Variation 19. Più mosso, agitato

Variation 20. Più mosso

Coda. Andante

BBC Music Magazine

December 2015

“the Philadelphians under Yannick Nézet-Séguin provide sterling support for Trifonov's stunning pyrotechnics. There are also moments of magical repose, Trifonov achieving astonishing beauty of tone and atmosphere in the almost impressionistic harmonies of Variations 11 and 17…this is clearly an outstanding version in an already overcrowded field.”

New York Times

11th December 2015

“As if a sumptuous, tender account of the “Rhapsody on a Theme by Paganini” were not enough, Mr. Trifonov offers uncannily fine interpretations of Rachmaninoff’s variations on themes by Chopin and Corelli.”

Presto Classical

Chris O'Reilly

18th December 2015

“he demonstrates his effortless, incredible technique, combined with a maturity in music making way beyond his years.”

Gramophone Magazine

September 2015

“The opening bars tell you this is going to be a good ‘Pag Rhap’. As things turn out, it is a great one, up there with the very best...While Trifonov revels in the pianistic gymnastics, he is also alert to the moments of mischief...Trifonov and Nézet-Séguin do seem genuinely to be a meeting of musical minds.”

Gramophone Magazine

“The opening bars tell you this is going to be a good ‘Pag Rhap’. As things turn out, it is a great one, up there with the very best. That includes the indispensable benchmark recording with the composer and the same orchestra made in 1934…while Trifonov revels in the pianistic gymnastics, he is also alert to the moments of mischief…Trifonov and Nézet-Séguin do seem genuinely to be a meeting of musical minds”

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Grieg & Moszkowski: Piano Concertos

Grieg & Moszkowski: Piano Concertos


Piano Concerto in A minor, Op. 16


Piano Concerto in E major, Op. 59

Joseph Moog (piano)

Deutsche Radio Philharmonie Saarbrucken Kaiserslautern, Nicholas Milton

Joseph Moog has established an enviable reputation as one of the most impressive virtuoso pianists of the younger generation. His catholic tastes embrace both the core repertoire and many works from its backwaters – works that were once warhorses, but have for no apparent reason fallen into unjust neglect. The Moszkowski piano concerto on this new CD is such a work. Overflowing with memorable tunes, the piano writing and indeed the handling of the orchestra marks this out as a very skilfully constructed work. Do not expect moments of profundity or an emotional roller coaster: just marvel at the fluidity and brilliance of Moszkowski’s writing. This is salon music of the highest order, and none the worse for that!

Moog couples the Moszkowski with one of the concertos in the repertoire whose fortunes have not waned – the evergreen Grieg concerto which never fails to impress the listener.

“Whatever scintillates and delights is here in super-abundance…from Moog everything sparkles and thunders. A virtuoso to the manner born, notes stream from his fingers like cascading diamonds, his playing alive with what David Fanning so wittily called 'the boggle factor'.” Gramophone Magazine, September 2015

“I have to applaud this young firebrand’s enthusiasm, energy and commitment. For those who savour accomplished pianism and musicianship, I would invite them to spend an hour basking in some terrific music-making. Definitely a winner.” MusicWeb International, July 2015

“Moog pairs the Grieg with the entertaining Moszkowski E major Concerto, an innovation that is worth five stars on its own. Other recordings of this concerto are cast aside by Moog’s charm, élan and committed musicality. Orchestral support from the Deutsche Radio Philharmonie Saarsbrucken Kaiserslautern and Nicholas Milton is lively and the recording is clear and well focused.” Pianist Magazine, August/September 2015

“Moog surmounts the piece’s formidable technical hurdles to make sumptuous, glistening and, indeed, memorable music. The disc would be worth having for the Moszkowski alone, but the Grieg acquires a freshness and new momentum in the clarity, panache and melodic warmth that Moog brings to it.” The Telegraph, 20th June 2015 *****

GGramophone Magazine

Editor's Choice - September 2015

Onyx - ONYX4144



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Grieg & Saint-Saëns: Piano Concertos

Grieg & Saint-Saëns: Piano Concertos


Piano Concerto in A minor, Op. 16


Piano Concerto No. 2 in G minor, Op. 22

Vadym Kholodenko (piano)

The Norwegian Radio Orchestra, Miguel Harth-Bedoya

2013 Cliburn Gold Medalist Vadym Kholodenko is the featured piano soloist in this recording of the Grieg Concerto in A minor and the Saint-Saëns Concerto No. 2 with the Norwegian Radio Orchestra under the baton of Miguel Harth-Bedoya.

[He] “matches his impressive keyboard prowess with probing emotional depth and daring individuality.” San Diego Story Grieg’s mission to promote the national music of Norway gave him a distinctive edge among his contemporaries, and the premiere of his Piano Concerto in A minor earned him the widespread success he had long been seeking.

While Grieg’s concerto is the work of a composer just beginning to find his place on the international cultural stage, Camille Saint-Saëns’ Piano Concerto No. 2 in G minor, written just a year earlier, has all the hallmarks of an artist who has already reached maturity.

When the great Russian pianist Anton Rubinstein came to Paris in the spring of 1868 to perform in a series of concerts with Saint-Saëns conducting, Saint-Saëns found the perfect opportunity to impress the public with another remarkable musical feat. Rubinstein decided it would be fun to round off his trip with a role reversal: he would make his Parisian conducting debut with Saint-Saëns at the piano and Saint-Saëns had just 17 days to write a new concerto for the occasion. The Concerto in G minor was premiered as planned just three weeks later to huge critical acclaim, particularly for Saint-Saëns’ facility at the keyboard in what is an especially virtuosic work and one of Saint-Saëns’ most witty and imaginative. Vadym Kholodenko captured the attention of jury, audience, and critics alike, taking home prizes for best performance of the chamber work and best performance of the commissioned work. He further demonstrated his artistry with a stunning cadenza in Mozart’s Concerto No. 21 – which he composed himself on the plane from Moscow to the 2013 Van Cliburn Competition. Since then, Kholodenko has continued to build an international reputation, appearing with major orchestras and in recital in the United States, UK, France, Germany, Japan and Singapore. Last season marked the beginning of his three-year association with the Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra as its first ever artistic partner. The collaboration includes performances of the complete Prokofiev concertos, which are being recorded for harmonia mundi USA, as well as chamber music projects and international touring in 2016.

“For a truly outstanding recording of the Grieg, turn to Vadym Kholodenko, Miguel Harth-Bedoya and the Norwegian Radio Orchestra, with its notably eloquent horn, cello and flute soloists making their presence felt alongside a pianist who allows the big tunes to breathe, knows exactly how to shape each movement and yet injects the urgency of a live performance into proceedings. The slow movement is as moving as any I've heard…but the companion piece, Saint-Saens's Second Concerto, is even better, perhaps the most consistently accurately observed reading on disc.” Gramophone Magazine, September 2015

“There's steely-fingered technique aplenty but the 2013 Van Cliburn Gold winner brings a heaviness, dulling Grieg's ethereal Adagio and Saint-Saëns fly-away moments.” BBC Music Magazine, October 2015

“These are persuasive, personable performances of two much-loved piano concertos. Vadym Kholodenko (2013 Cliburn Gold Medalist) conjures a likeable warmth from his instrument, which is never harsh; his phrasing is affectionate without becoming mawkish; and his technical armoury is well-nigh infallible.” Classical Ear, 13th October 2015

GGramophone Magazine

Editor's Choice - September 2015

Harmonia Mundi - HMU907629



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Saint-Saëns: Symphony No. 3 in C Minor 'Organ'

Saint-Saëns: Symphony No. 3 in C Minor 'Organ'

and other works


Introduction & Rondo capriccioso, Op. 28

Noah Geller (violin

La Muse et le Poète, Op. 132

Noah Geller (violin), Mark Gibbs (cello)

Symphony No. 3 in C minor, Op. 78 'Organ Symphony'

Jan Kraybill (organ)

Kansas City Symphony, Michael Stern

Composed at his artistic peak, Camille Saint-Saëns said of his Symphony No.3 “With it I have given all I could give, what I did, I could not achieve again.”

We are proud to present conductor Michael Stern’s interpretations of these great works, captured in brilliant HDCD sound by Grammy award winners Keith O Johnson (engineer) and David Frost (producer).

The Kansas City Symphony is the region’s only full-time professional symphony orchestra. Led by Music Director Michael Stern since 2005, the orchestra has experienced impressive artistic growth, garnering national and international acclaim. Its 80 full-time musicians are area residents, and each season they reach more than a million people through their concerts, educational programs and community outreach performances. They also serve as the orchestra for the Lyric Opera and the Kansas City Ballet.

“This beautifully produced release is a pleasure to own” MusicWeb International, July 2015

“There is an appealing family feel to this disc…Geller exudes lyrical warmth and a perky rhythmic spirit in the first work, and in the second he uses the violin's wily flights of fancy to engage Gibbs's poetic cello in an intimate dialogue…even in a competitive market, this version has a distinct edge.” Gramophone Magazine, September 2015

GGramophone Magazine

Editor's Choice - September 2015

Reference Recordings - RR136



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Schumann: Piano Concerto & Piano Trio No. 2

Schumann: Piano Concerto & Piano Trio No. 2


Piano Concerto in A minor, Op. 54


Freiburger Barockorchester, Pablo Heras-Casado

Piano Trio No. 2 in F major, Op. 80

with Isabelle Faust (violin) & Jean-Guihen Queyras (cello)

Alexander Melnikov (fortepiano)

Schumann: Violin Concerto (with Isabelle Faust) and Piano Trio No. 3 available here.

Read Presto's complete review of this disc here.

This second volume of the complete recording of the concertos and trios of Schumann shows just how badly we needed an interpretation that respects the subtleties and the transparency of Schumann’s writing. Here is a different stylistic approach to one of the finest concertos in the repertoire, which will undoubtedly open the way to the rediscovery of music as poetic as it is moving. The final installment will be of the Cello Concerto and Piano Trio No. 1 with Jean-Guihen Queyras.

"The idea for this CD project arose during a tour on which we performed Robert Schumann’s Trio Op.80. As passionate admirers of the composer, we conceived the desire to place his works for piano, violin and cello in a broader context and to illuminate them mutually in order to allow listeners to gain a deeper understanding of his music. We soon agreed to play the pieces for this recording on a historical piano and stringed instruments with gut strings, using orchestral forces to match. Thanks to this, we expected our playing to be better balanced, better articulated, and more open-minded. Pablo Heras-Casado and the Freiburger Barockorchester sprang spontaneously to mind as the ideal partners for a project of this kind. And indeed they took up our idea enthusiastically and were keen and irreplaceable fellow-conspirators in the world of Schumann. Our shared journey into the magical world of this incomparable composer will remain with us as an exceptionally intense, happy and fulfilling experience." Isabelle Faust, Alexander Melnikov, Jean-Guihen Queyras

DVD: The Piano Concerto filmed at Berliner Philharmonie

“Melnikov is a steely player with plenty of ideas and charisma, but even in the finessed company of the Freiburg Baroque and conductor Pablo Heras-Casado, his bracing account of the Piano Concerto is hard to love... All affectations evaporate in the Trio, though, where Faust’s sound is so silvery and expressive, so simultaneously commanding and questioning, that she risks blowing the rest of the disc out of the water.” The Guardian, 30th July 2015 ***

“The 1837 Erard that Melnikov uses, plus the period-instrument Freiburg band, brings a new and revealing clarity to Schumann’s concerto, underlining the fantasy element in the marvellous opening movement...The performance of the rarely heard F major trio is first-rate.” Sunday Times, 9th August 2015

“Melnikov’s decision to use the fortepiano allows him to take the work out of Grieg’s shadow, letting it emerge as Schumann originally conceived it. That’s not to say that his performance lacks power – far from it...but it’s power wielded within historically-accurate boundaries, and it doesn’t upset the balance that is key to Schumann’s newly-reinvented vision of the concerto.” David Smith, Presto Classical, 7th August 2015

“it’s only a matter of seconds after the initial shock of Alexander Melnikov’s unsentimentally triumphant opening piano flourish...before the buoyant energy and translucence of his interpretation, and the equally vivid presence of the Freiburger Barockorchester under Pablo Heras-Casado, make their gripping mark on music you thought you knew well. It is tasteful, exuberant and revelatory.” The Scotsman, 9th August 2015

“Melnikov’s performance of possibly the best-loved of the concertos takes one by the scruff of the neck and gives a good shake – there is nothing nostalgic about his reading...The sound worlds are so different, and yet the calibre of performance is maintained. It is impossible [for me] to fault a splendid achievement.” Early Music Review, 3rd August 2015

“Melnikov is able to ripple along as part of an ensemble when providing accompaniment to orchestral lines, rather than dominating as a Steinway might, although the instrument can still roar when called upon to do so…repeated listening has persuaded me that this is a valid alternative to the glittering virtuosity displayed by pianists from Lipatti to Andsnes and beyond.” Gramophone Magazine, September 2015

“What is especially striking in this charismatic and illuminating interpretation is Alexander Melnikov's capacity to muster such a wide dynamic range and varied palette of timbres from his 1837 Érard fortepiano…if anything the Piano Trio No. 2 is even more compelling. Again, the use of an early 19th-century fortepiano, here a Streicher of 1847, brings textual clarity, enhanced by the exceptionally subtle and sensitive dialogue between the two superb string players.” BBC Music Magazine, October 2015

“[Melnikov] uses both instruments’ lean tonal profiles to provide balances and colours that are still rare in this repertoire. Some of his personal touches in the concerto, especially the leisurely tempo for the finale, seem bound to divide opinion. On the other hand, in the trio there’s an uncluttered openness, a spaciousness that’s got nothing to do with speed and a clarity, that places everything in perfect perspective.” The Irish Times, 4th September 2015

“the orchestra are the immaculate Freiburg Baroque Orchestra, whose playing embodies the words “light and lucid”...Melnikov play[s] a superb version of the Piano Concerto which rather redefines, on his 1837 Erard piano and in the measured tempo of his finale, just how to get round Schumann’s treacherous, mercurial minefield without loss of momentum. This is super-articulate, sparkling and revelatory, with a blistering performance of the Second Piano Trio.” Herald Scotland, 20th September 2015

“[Melnikov] plays an 1837 Erard, its marvellously full tone suiting the music admirably as well as the period instruments of the Freiburg Baroque Orchestra, sensitively marshalled by Pablo Heras-Casado … there is plenty of life in the playing... Their mutual understanding is audible throughout: top-quality chamber playing in a reference recording.” International Piano, November-December 2015

“There is no shortage of recordings of the popular Schumann Piano Concerto, but this period instrument version is notable for its textural transparency and for Alexander Melnikov’s deeply expressive playing on fortepiano.” New York Times, 11th December 2015

“a finely judged interpretation, as much heart as head, with little to suggest ‘authentic’ didacticism, and the leisurely tempo for the finale is entirely convincing, with time for detail and shape. In the Second Piano Trio, Melnikov (now presiding on an 1847 Streicher), Isabelle Faust and Jean-Guihen Queyras display admirable teamwork in a lean yet meaningful account of concisely composed yet copious chamber music that is bountiful in ardour and poetry.” Classical Ear

Presto Disc of the Week

7th August 2015

GGramophone Magazine

Editor's Choice - September 2015

Harmonia Mundi - HMC902198

(CD + DVD Video - 2 discs)


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Irmgard Seefried Volume 5: Schubert

Irmgard Seefried Volume 5: Schubert


Im Frühling, D882

First release on CD

Litanei auf das Fest Allerseelen, D343

First release on CD

Auf dem Wasser zu singen, D774

First release on CD

Ave Maria, D839

First release on CD

Die Liebe hat gelogen D751 (Platen)

Fischerweise, D881 (Schlechta)

First release on CD

Die junge Nonne, D828

Nur wer die Sehnsucht kennt, D877/4

Heiss mich nicht reden, D877/2

So lasst mich scheinen, D877 No. 3

Kennst du das Land (Mignons Gesang), D321

First release on CD

Wiegenlied, D498

First release on CD

Seligkeit D433 (Holty)

Lachen und Weinen, D777

First release on CD

Das Lied im Grünen, D917

Die Forelle, D550

Liebhaber in allen Gestalten, D558

First release on CD

An die Musik D547

Der König in Thule, D367

Gretchen am Spinnrade, D118

Gretchens Bitte D564 (Goethe)

First release on CD

Szene aus Faust D126 (Goethe)

First release on CD

Irmgard Seefried (soprano ) & Erik Werba (piano)

After Irmgard Seefried’s death in 1988, her contemporary Elisabeth Schwarzkopf – never one to dish out compliments lightly – commented: ‘All of us envied her, because what we had to achieve laboriously worked for her so naturally and as a matter of course, because she knew how to sing from the heart’.

Freshness, spontaneity, natural warmth of feeling, allied to a voice of gleaming beauty and a delightful stage presence: these were the hallmarks of a much-loved soprano who for three decades charmed and moved audiences in the theatre and concert hall, her face as expressive as her voice. As John Steane memorably put it in Gramophone, ‘it was as though she wore her own spotlight’.

Born in the Swabian town of Köngetried in 1919, Seefried was ‘discovered’, aged twenty, by Herbert von Karajan in Aachen, where she made her operatic debut as the Priestess in Aida. In 1943 she sang Eva in Die Meistersinger for the Wiener Staatsoper, initiating an association that lasted until 1976. It was in Strauss and Mozart that Seefried was most admired.

Issued over eleven single-disc volumes, Deutsche Grammophon / Eloquence pays tribute to Irmgard Seefried, bringing back to circulation several recordings that have never previously been issued on CD. The music ranges through opera and oratorio, with an especially generous offering of art song from a range of composers, including Schubert, Schumann, Wolf, Hindemith and Egk. The notes for the series have been written by that leading connoisseur of the voice, Richard Wigmore.

Like few other operatic sopranos of her generation (Schwarzkopf an obvious exception), Seefried was equally cherished as a Lieder singer: for her incomparably vital stage personality, and the charm, immediacy and imaginative strength of her interpretations. As John Steane put it, recalling her many appearances at London’s Wigmore Hall, ‘when she was on the concert platform it was impossible to look down at your program’.

Something of Seefried’s famed animation comes across even on disc, when she must perforce sing for a ‘blind’ audience. Her vernal timbre, unaffected charm and liveliness of response were, of course, ideal for Schubert. And as these recordings with Erik Werba (her pianist of choice from the mid-1950s) recorded in stereo reveal, she ventured well beyond the core of Schubertian favourites to embrace such rarities (even today) as ‘Die Liebe hat gelogen’ and the quasi-operatic ‘Szene aus Faust’.

GGramophone Magazine

Re-issue of the Month - September 2015

Australian Eloquence Irmgard Seefried - ELQ4807231



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Krystian Zimerman & Sir Simon Rattle: Lutoslawski

Krystian Zimerman & Sir Simon Rattle: Lutoslawski


Piano Concerto

Krystian Zimerman (piano)

Symphony No. 2

This album follows up Krystian Zimerman and Sir Simon Rattle’s award winning DG recording of Brahm’s Piano Concerto No. 1 with the Berliner Philharmoniker. Lutosławski’s Piano Concerto, written in 1988, is dedicated to Krystian Zimerman and was presented by him the first time to audiences in Salzburg in the same year.

The piece features extremely virtuosic demands, its dense pianistic gestures at times recall the piano concertos of Bartók and Prokofiev. The Symphony No. 2, created with techniques of “limited aleatoricism” (Lutosławski), fascinates with its orchestral surfaces that offer an insight into their creator’s ability to organize sounds in a very precise way and their iridescent and colorful vitality.

“Rattle has always been a passionate Lutoslawskian, and his Berliners enjoyed a close relationship with the composer, who recorded his most important orchestral scores with them. The symphony, a dark, brooding work from 1967, has flashes of brilliance in the orchestral writing, which could hardly be better played and conducted today.” Sunday Times, 2nd August 2015

“Zimerman has continued to perform the concerto regularly, living with it, refining his interpretation. The piano part was always perfectly tailored to his supreme technique...the Berlin Philharmonic’s realisation of the flickering, glinting orchestral writing is just as meticulously detailed as the jewel-like precision of the piano playing.” The Guardian, 5th August 2015 *****

“Zimerman injects both delicacy and virtuosity into the dialogue with Simon Rattle's orchestra, and also holds the key, as probably only a Pole could do, to the serious yet wistful undercurrents of this work. Yet Rattle's own input is distinguished…and who better to summon up [the warmth of the work] than the luxurious-sounding Berliners?” BBC Music Magazine, September 2015

“you only have to listen to the Second Symphony’s accelerating terror and cataclysmic climax — particularly as Rattle and the Berliners do it — to realise that Lutoslawski poured much more into his composition than excellent craftsmanship...Zimerman virtually owns [the Piano Concerto]: he premiered it, and recorded it with the composer conducting. Here he finds an even greater profundity.” The Times, 14th August 2015 *****

“Elusive and restless, Lutoslawski’s Piano Concerto is like a siren luring the inquisitive listener. Nothing is obvious in this airborne music, as its ideas gather and disperse at speed, like swarming insects, only touching the ground in the last few minutes.Simon Rattle and the Berlin Philharmonic are inspiring interpreters and the music takes wing.” Financial Times, 14th August 2015 *****

“Partnered with exemplary polish and unstinting dedication by Rattle and the Berliners, Zimerman is at his patrician, dazzingly articulate best, locating even greater reserves of concentration and rapt hush than previously in the slow movement…[the Second Symphony is] delivered with riveting technical mastery here…a very fine issue” Gramophone Magazine, September 2015

Presto Disc of the Week

21st August 2015

Presto Discs of 2015


GGramophone Magazine

Editor's Choice - September 2015

DG - 4794518



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Wartime Consolations

Wartime Consolations

Hartmann, K:

Concerto Funèbre for violin & string orchestra


Unfinished Sonata (1945) for Violin and Piano


Concertino, Op. 42

Rhapsody on Moldavian, Op. 47, No. 3

Linus Roth (violin) & José Gallardo (piano)

Württemberg Chamber Orchestra Heilbronn, Ruben Gazarian

Violinist Linus Roth's thoughtfully composed disc contains four works that span only a decade (1939-1948) by composers whose poetics have great affinities - Karl Amadeus Hartmann, Mieczyslaw Weinberg, and Dmitri Shostakovich. The latter's Unfinished Sonata for Violin and Piano receives its world premiere here.

Shostakovich's Unfinished Sonata for Violin and Piano - the complete and massive double exposition of the first movement of what would have been a grand-scale work along strict classical lines - was composed in June of 1945. Manashir Lakubov writes in the introduction of the score (published by the Dmitri Shostakovich Archive in 2012) that the sonata-movement contains a particularly strong link to the Tenth Symphony.

The 'Concerto funebre' began life in a particularly dark period of Karl Amadeus Hartmann's. Freedom, indeed humanity, seemed under siege in the late summer of 1939. In this climate, Hartmann set out to write a funereal piece for string orchestra in one movement. Just a few months later it had morphed into the four-movement Violin Concerto - the profound and deeply personal 'Concerto funebre'.

Following his acclaimed Britten/Weinberg Violin Concertos release (CC72627), a Gramophone Editor's Choice, Linus Roth continues his survey of Mieczyslaw Weinberg's valuable violin output with two works: the Concertino for Violin and Strings, written during the composer's summer holidays in 1948, and from around the same time the Rhapsody on Moldavian Themes op.47. The lyrical sweep and tender gracefulness of the former are magnificent, offset by the (partially) upbeat and romantic disposition of the latter, reminiscent of the music of Aram Khachaturian.

“The fascinating find here is an unfinished Sonata for Violin and Piano by Shostakovich, never before recorded: five and a half minutes in which a wistful waltz transforms itself into a brittle pre-echo of the Tenth Symphony. Linus Roth brings to it an intense, deep sonority.” The Observer, 28th June 2015 ****

“Roth gives a compelling performance of four Second World War compositions.” The Telegraph, 11th July 2015 ****

“They make a complementary pair - the Hartmann more angular and unpredictable, the Weinberg more lyrical and whimsical, each one inventive, deeply felt and thoroughly distinctive…Roth shows musical intelligence and violinistic proficiency in equal measure. The accompaniments are excellent, and it all makes for an eminently collectable disc.” Gramophone Magazine, September 2015

“[Weinberg's] delicate Concertino steals the show in Linus Roth's elegant and tender performance. The opening melody is a lyrical gift from God.” BBC Music Magazine, December 2015

GGramophone Magazine

Editor's Choice - September 2015

Super Audio CD


Hybrid Multi-channel

Challenge Classics - CC72680



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D Scarlatti: Piano Sonatas

D Scarlatti: Piano Sonatas

Scarlatti, D:

Keyboard Sonata K13 in G major

Keyboard Sonata K124 in G major

Keyboard Sonata K125 in G major

Keyboard Sonata K144 in G major

Keyboard Sonata K454 in G major

Keyboard Sonata K470 in G major

Keyboard Sonata K284 in G major

Keyboard Sonata K450 in G minor

Keyboard Sonata K4 in G minor

Keyboard Sonata K76 in G minor

Keyboard Sonata K8 in G minor

Keyboard Sonata K35 in G minor

Keyboard Sonata K31 in G minor

Keyboard Sonata K108 in G minor

Keyboard Sonata K476 in G minor

Keyboard Sonata K435 in D major

Keyboard Sonata K140 in D major

Keyboard Sonata K32 in D minor

Keyboard Sonata K491 in D major

Keyboard Sonata K490 in D major

Keyboard Sonata K397 in D major

Keyboard Sonata K278 in D major

Keyboard Sonata K206 in E major

Keyboard Sonata K322 in A major

Keyboard Sonata K135 in E major

Keyboard Sonata K518 in F major

Keyboard Sonata K213 in D minor

Keyboard Sonata K6 in F major

Keyboard Sonata K175 in A minor

Keyboard Sonata K296 in F major

Keyboard Sonata K61 in A minor

Keyboard Sonata K443 in D major

Keyboard Sonata K208 in A major

Keyboard Sonata K29 in D major

Keyboard Sonata K260 in G major

Keyboard Sonata Kdeest in G minor

Keyboard Sonata K146 in G major

Keyboard Sonata K427 in G major

Keyboard Sonata K513 in C major

Claire Huangci (piano)

Asked what music she wanted to play on her second solo album, she shot back: "Scarlatti!". And yet Claire Huangci is known as a consummate interpreter of highly virtuosic music. But even when reviewing her debut CD of tricky Russian ballet transcriptions, Ingo Harden in Fono Forum had this to say: "Over and above the seemingly effortless and euphonious realization of her programme, her playing has an amazingly wide spectrum of nuances in touch. Even a seasoned performer with decades of experience can hardly offer us a more imaginative and colourful 'orchestra on the piano'."

Such nuances are the heart and soul of Scarlatti's sonatas. Each individual piece needs its own pulse, and its own colours, to bring it to life. Then the music reveals a whole world of joyous experimentation, expressed in the composer's 555 sonatas. Written for none other than himself and his pupil Maria Barbara, the Portuguese Infanta, they contain all that the Baroque and Classical idiom of his age had to offer – including the emulation of special guitar techniques. The self-assurance with which all these elements are juggled often leaves the listener agape.

But how is the artist to master this sheer volume of music and give her selection a meaningful structure? The young pianist writes in her introduction: "Building on that general practice, I began wondering if I could create larger music forms from his works, using individual sonatas as movements. And expanding upon that, what if I was able to present the works in a way that would show people clearly how Scarlatti formed the perfect bridge between the Baroque and Classical periods? Using the sonatas, I decided to create Baroquian Suites and Classical Sonatas, congruent with forms from each respective era."

After reviewing all the sonatas, she finalized her concept of two quite distinct CDs: "Each suite on the first CD follows basic form with an opening movement (prelude or toccata), then allemande, courante, sarabande, gigue with additional intermezzo movements such as bourrees, passepieds, gavottes, minuets, etc. CD2 used different criteria. On top of tonal continuity, it was important to show the classical side of Scarlatti, in expression, in harmonic modulation, and particularly in compositional structure (exposition, development, recapitulation)." Not that the aim is to reconstruct works that have never existed in that form. The idea is that the listener will form an impression of how the pieces are related to one another, if they are not heard in isolation. This at once builds logical bridges between movements that were previously an arbitrary sequence of individual pieces. It also demonstrates Scarlatti's versatility as a titan of the miniature, confidently poised between two eras in the creation of his own music.

“Huangci’s Yamaha piano has a harpsichord-like sound that suits her pert finger staccato: there is some stunning fast playing, and the gem-like brilliance of Scarlatti’s invention shines through.” The Observer, 5th July 2015 ***

“in order for Huangci to maintain balance and proportion within her superimposed larger forms, she understandably omits repeats, which avid Scarlatti connoisseurs might miss. Yet when you consider her instinctive musicality, unflappable technical command and sensitive ear for nuance, repeats hardly matter.” Gramophone Magazine, September 2015

GGramophone Magazine

Editor's Choice - September 2015

Berlin Classics - 0300603BC

(CD - 2 discs)


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Puumala: Anna Liisa

Puumala: Anna Liisa

world premiere recording

Helena Juntunen, Jorma Hynninen, Tanja Kauppinen, Ville Rusanen, Sanna Kurki-Suonio, Juha Hostikka, Anu Hostikka, Jouni Kokora

Tapiola Sinfonietta & Helsinki Chamber Choir, Jan Söderblom

Ondine releases the world premiere recording of Veli-Matti Puumala’s (b. 1965) opera Anna Liisa.

Puumala’s opera features several well-known Finnish opera artists, including Helena Juntunen and Jorma Hynninen. The Tapiola Sinfonietta is conducted by Jan Söderblom.

“This recording from last year feels tight and exciting, no mean achievement for the revival of an evidently difficult score dependent on stage hysteria and tension...Anna Liisa is something special and deserves wide circulation outside its native land.” Gramophone Magazine, September 2015

GGramophone Magazine

Editor's Choice - September 2015

Contemporary Music - up to 25% off

Ondine - ODE12542D

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Special: $22.87

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Da unten im Tale (No. 6 from Deutsche Volkslieder, WoO 33)

Alte Liebe, Op. 72 No. 1

Verzagen, Op. 72 No. 4

Ständchen, Op. 106 No. 1

Nicht mehr zu dir zu gehen, Op. 32 No. 2

Die Mainacht, Op. 43 No. 2

Wiegenlied, Op. 49 No. 4 (Lullaby)


Waldseligkeit, Op. 62 No. 2

Gesänge (5), Op. 198: No. 4. Es schläft ein stiller Garten

Totensprache, Op. 62 No. 12


Der bescheidene Schafer, Op. 97 No. 4


Widmung, Op. 25 No. 1

Aus den östlichen Rosen, Op. 25 No. 25

Schneeglöckchen, Op. 79 No. 26

Volksliedchen, Op. 51 No. 2

Aufträge, Op. 77 No. 5

Der schwere Abend, Op. 90 No. 6

Requiem, Op. 90 No. 7

Strauss, R:

Die Georgine Op. 10 No. 4

Einerlei, Op. 69 No. 3

Die Verschwiegenen, Op. 10 No. 6

Ruhe, meine Seele!, Op. 27 No. 1

Die Zeitlose, Op. 10 No. 7

Befreit, Op. 39 No. 4

Morgen, Op. 27 No. 4

Michaela Schuster (mezzo) & Markus Schlemmer (piano)

"Michaela Schuster, the wonderful singer, explores the beauty of the romantic Lied literature on this programme wiuth sensitivity and enthusiasm, together with the empathetic Markus Sclemmer. This recording was made in the dreamlike atmosphere of the Eppan Lied Summer Festival, in which it is not difficult to sense the inspiration from this location and atmosphere." Brigitte Fassbaender

“It's a sort of voice that we don't often hear on disc in song these days. Which is a shame, because Schuster is an instinctive artist and the interpretations themselves are wonderful. As a native speaker, her way with the German is totally natural and she inhabits the poetry completely.” Gramophone Magazine, September 2015

GGramophone Magazine

Editor's Choice - September 2015

Oehms - up to 25% off

Oehms - OC1833


Normally: $12.50

Special: $10.62

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