Gramophone Magazine Editor's Choice

February 2016

Disc of the Month

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Britten & Korngold: Violin Concertos


Gramophone Awards 2016

Winner - Concerto

Gramophone Magazine

Disc of the Month - February 2016

Catalogue No:




Release date:

26th Feb 2016




58 minutes


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Britten & Korngold: Violin Concertos


Violin Concerto in D minor Op. 15


Violin Concerto in D major, Op. 35



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Both concertos on this new disc were written when their composers were in the USA around the time of World War II: the Korngold was completed in 1945, the Britten in 1939. In the course of the 1930s Korngold, an Austrian Jew, had become a prominent Hollywood composer, but could not return to his homeland after 1938; the young Britten, a pacifist, left the UK for New York shortly before the declaration of war in 1939. Both composers had been child prodigies and both concertos are centred around the key of D, the most ‘natural’ key on the violin and the tonal focus for the violin concertos of Beethoven, Brahms, Tchaikovsky and Stravinsky

Erich Wolfgang Korngold: Violin Concerto in D Major, Op. 35

I. Moderato nobile

II. Romanze

IIII. Allegro assai vivace

Benjamin Britten: Violin Concerto in D Minor, Op. 15

I. Moderato con moto - Agitato - Tempo primo -

II. Vivace - Animando - Largamente - Cadenza

III. Passacaglia - Andante lento (Un poco meno mosso)

Gramophone Magazine

February 2016

“These are urgently communicative, potentially transformative accounts of scores which, if no longer confined to the fringes of the repertoire, have yet to command universal admiration…playing with almost intimidating dexterity and polish, not to mention impeccable intonation [Frang’s] music-making still manages to project an impression of honesty and naturalness”

The Guardian

January 2016


“[Frang's] sound is superb – icy, fiery, whispered, ultra-rich – and her phrases pour out fearlessly, urgently. It’s a fresh and convincing performance. She couples the Britten with the 1945 wartime concerto by Erich Korngold and doesn’t apologise for its syrupy contours, but also brings out interesting nuances of doubt and fragility. James Gaffigan and the Frankfurt Radio Symphony are robust backers”

Sunday Times

31st January 2016

“Frang is unfazed by the difficulties of both works (Britten had to simplify the solo part for its dedicatee, but later restored its technical pyrotechnics), and her keen, penetrating tone never wallows in Korngold’s Rachmaninovian melodies. Indeed, she brings an astringency to the music that one associates with the Stravinskyan piquancy of Britten’s writing. A bold coupling, superbly executed.”

BBC Music Magazine

April 2016


“Frang has a beautiful tone and superb intonation, and in both concertos applies a satisfying range of colour - there's much to enjoy, technically speaking. The spiky, lonely atmosphere of the Britten comes of slightly better than the Korngold…the transparency of the textures controlled by James Gaffigan with sensitive exactitude, everything emerging lustrous, intense and vivid”

The Strad

February 2016

“Though she imbues [the Britten] with searing passion, the expression never seems exaggerated. She reveals the work’s purposeful, steely form yet produces sounds that are as beguiling as her technique is astonishing...Frang’s view of the Korngold Concerto is no less persuasive.”

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Editor's Choice

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Vilsmayr: Six Partitas for Solo Violin

Vilsmayr: Six Partitas for Solo Violin


Passacaglia for violin solo in G minor (from Mystery Sonatas)


Sonata for Violin Solo in A minor


Six Partitas for Solo Violin

Vaughan Jones (violin)

A fascinating, joyous set of rare works by the 18th century Austrian composer/violinist Vilsmaÿr, published it its entirety for the first time here, 300 years after its first publication. Many of the Partitas adopt what is called Scodatura, where open strings are tuned differently to standard tuning, adding some interesting colours to the music. Pisendel was a famous Baroque violinist and composer. His fiendishly difficult Solo Violin Sonata in A minor is an unpredictable, tempestuous and capricious work, showing great scope and ambition in the development of the violin. To round of the recording, the famous Passaglia in G minor by Biber, a sombre, moving work and a perfect end to this noteworthy 2CD set.

300th anniversary edition. First recording of complete, original set (Vilsmaÿr 6 Partitas)

“The main event is the first-ever recording of the complete, original set of Six Partitas by Johann Joseph Vilsmaÿr…[these] are challenging polyphonic works, full of double- and triple-stops, arpeggiated chords and implied conversations between musical lines [and] they’re intensely beautiful works that constantly tickle the ear with fresh moods, styles and effects as they dance along. Add the immaculate technical precision and immense musicality of Jones’s playing and you have something of a recording triumph” Gramophone Magazine, February 2016

GGramophone Magazine

Editor's Choice - February 2016

First Hand - FHR38

(CD - 2 discs)


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Mendelssohn: String Quartets ,Op. 44, Nos. 1& 2

Mendelssohn: String Quartets ,Op. 44, Nos. 1& 2


String Quartet No. 3 in D major, Op. 44 No. 1

String Quartet No. 4 in E minor, Op. 44 No. 2

Cecilia String Quartet

The Cecilia String Quartet's performances have been hailed as “powerful” (Chicago Sun- Times) and their Analekta albums were acclaimed for their “deeply felt imperativeness” (The Strad), and applauded for “unleashing the music’s ecstasy and angst” (Gramophone Magazine).

For this new recording, the CSQ chose to record two of the three quartets of Felix Mendelssohn's Op. 44, which are the centrepiece of his mature string quartets. He wrote them in the years 1837-38, starting composition at the age of 28, when his fame in the international musical community was rapidly growing. Elegant and irresistible!

“the Cecilia prove to be compelling advocates. They find a fine balance between the composer’s skittish qualities and his tenderer side, resulting in notably open-hearted readings. Their tremolos…seem to come in 57 varieties, while even at fortissimo textures remain open and airy, thanks to their minutely considered voicings…a terrific achievement” Gramophone Magazine, February 2016

GGramophone Magazine

Editor's Choice - February 2016

Analekta - AN29844



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Brahms: Works for Solo Piano Volume 3

Brahms: Works for Solo Piano Volume 3


Klavierstücke (8), Op. 76

Waltzes (16), Op. 39

Klavierstücke (6), Op. 118

Variations on a Hungarian Song in D major, Op. 21 No. 2

Critical acclaim for Jonathan Plowright's two previous discs in his series of Brahms’s works for solo piano includes distinctions such as ‘10/10’ on the website Classics Today and top marks in Diapason as well as ‘Instrumental Choice of the Month’ in BBC Music Magazine. On his third disc Plowright presents the listener with two seemingly contradictory aspects of Johannes Brahms: the deeply serious, emotionally charged, but also meticulously constructed late Piano Pieces of Op. 118 and their precursor Op. 76 appear side by side with the unapologetic extroversion and scintillating verve of most (if not all) of the 16 Waltzes Op. 39, and the flamboyant Variations on a Hungarian Melody. Brahms’s fascination with Hungarian gypsy music stemmed from his friendship with the violinist Eduard Reményi, and found an outlet in several works, among which the Hungarian Dances are probably the most famous. The composer was also a friend and admirer of Johann Strauss II, and in his Op. 39 trespassed – with great success – into the domains of Vienna's 'Waltz King'. It is tempting to think that Brahms early experience as a pianist in taverns and restaurants induced him to compose this sophisticated light music, but there were also commercial reasons: he composed the waltzes for piano four hands and subsequently made no less than two arrangements for solo piano of the entire set.

“Plowright’s complete Brahms piano music for BIS…has now reached Vol 3, with all its intelligence, subtlety and power in full blossom…[these] sound totally fresh, as though a fully formed, cultured musician, unencumbered by conventional approaches or received wisdom, took up these scores for the first time in maturity. The results are often unexpected, yet always apt and never less than convincing…I have a feeling this is going to be the benchmark Brahms survey for some time to come” Gramophone Magazine, February 2016

“This third volume in Jonathan Plowright’s series of recordings of Brahms’s piano works lives up to the high promise of the first two” BBC Music Magazine, May 2016 *****

GGramophone Awards 2016

Shortlisted - Instrumental

GGramophone Magazine

Editor's Choice - February 2016

Super Audio CD


Hybrid Multi-channel

BIS Brahms: Works for Solo Piano - BIS2127



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Yevgeny Sudbin plays Medtner & Rachmaninov

Yevgeny Sudbin plays Medtner & Rachmaninov


Stimmungsbild Op. 1 (Prologue)

Fairy Tale Op. 51/3

Sonata reminiscenza in A minor, Op. 38 No. 1

Skazka (Fairy Tale), Op. 20 No 1 in B flat minor

Skazka (Fairy Tale), Op. 26 No. 1

Canzona matinata in G major, Op. 39 No. 4

Sonata tragica in C minor, Op. 39 No. 5


Prelude Op. 23 No. 4 in D major

Prelude Op. 23 No. 5 in G minor

Prelude Op. 32 No. 5 in G major

Prelude Op. 32 No. 6 in F minor

Prelude Op. 32 No. 12 in G sharp minor

Prelude Op. 32 No. 13 in D flat major

Having previously released recordings of Medtner's three piano concertos as well as three of Rachmaninov's five concertante works, Yevgeny Sudbin on the present disc combines solo pieces by the two friends and fellow-composers. From Sergei Rachmaninov's rich and varied production he has chosen six of the celebrated preludes, including 'Alla marcia' in G minor (Op. 23 No. 5) as well as the much-loved Prelude No. 12 in G sharp minor from the Op. 32 set. But Sudbin, who is a great admirer of Nikolai Medtner, opens his new disc with a generous selection of that composer's solo piano music. This section begins with the Prologue from Stimmungsbilder, the eighteen-year-old composer's Opus 1, and closes with Sonata tragica, composed shortly before Medtner left Russia in 1921, never to return. It also includes three of the thirty-some Fairy Tales that Medtner composed throughout his life. 'No one tells such tales as Kolya', Rachmaninov used to joke affectionately, and with these pieces Medtner created his own, unique genre. He himself used the Russian word skazka or German Märchen to describe them, and in his liner notes Yevgeny Sudbin suggests that the creative impulse came not only from folklore but also from such diverse sources as Pushkin, Shakespeare and even the Bible. As an interpreter of both these composers, Sudbin has proven himself both in concert and on disc, with previous recordings being named 'Disc of the Month' in Gramophone, 'Essential Recording' in BBC Music Magazine and '10/10' on, to mention just a few of the distinctions awarded them.

“A wondrous disc…[Sudbin] seems to have an exceptional affinity with Medtner’s language. He brings both his heart and his head into play when performing these pieces. His head tackles and illuminates textures and harmonies that might seem opaque and knotty on a first study of the scores; his heart is then harnessed to convey the extraordinary sensibility, passion and thoroughly individual cast of melody that courses through the music” Gramophone Magazine, February 2016

“Sudbin offers an attractive selection of solo works…Medtner’s own Prologue to Op. 1, a tintinnabulation of Russian-style bells accompaying Orthodox-style chant, is a charming opener…[he is] compelling in the Rachmaninov [and] plays the well-known G minor Prelude with requisite fire” BBC Music Magazine, June 2016

Presto Discs of 2016


GGramophone Magazine

Editor's Choice - February 2016

Super Audio CD


Hybrid Multi-channel

BIS - BIS1848



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Widor: Master of the Organ Symphony

Widor: Master of the Organ Symphony


Organ Symphony No. 5 in F minor, Op. 42 No. 1

Organ Symphony No. 6 in G minor, Op. 42 No. 2

Daniel Roth (organ), Gerard Brooks (organ)

Charles-Marie Widor (1844-1937), the most famous composer of organ music since Bach, wrote ten revolutionary organ symphonies that established the organ as a rival to the orchestra, pioneered the use of symphonic forms for the instrument, and sublimated influences as diverse as Bach’s fugues, Wagner’s music dramas and medieval plainchant into an original musical language. On top of this, his Toccata is probably the best-loved piece of organ music ever written.

This boxed set provides a complete portrait of this great composer and includes a three-part documentary as well as performances on CD and DVD of his fifth and sixth organ symphonies performed by Gerard Brooks, plus other movements performed by Daniel Roth, all on the Cavaillé-Coll organs of Saint-Sulpice, Orléans Cathedral and Saint-Ouen in Rouen.

Region Code: 0 Region Free

Running Time CDs: 141minutes

Running Time DVDs:297minutes

Sound Format DVD: DTS Digital Surround(TM) 5.1, Dolby Digital 5.1

Original Language: English, French

Booklet Notes: English, French, German, Dutch, Spanish, Italian

Subtitles: English, French, German, Dutch, Spanish, Italian

“a very generous's the performances on the second DVD by Brooks and Roth that make this package so attractive, however – to witness the organs of St-Ouen, Rouen, Ste-Croix, Orléans and St-Sulpice, Paris put through their paces with such fine filming and in majestic 5.1 surround sound, is a treat.” BBC Music Magazine, April 2016

“this is a lavish package indeed, and worthy of its subject...committed Widorians will need no urging to acquire this intelligently compiled, generously assembled paean to a composer who claimed to be 'born in an organ pipe'.” Choir & Organ, March 2016

“[Gerard Brooks] gives dramatic (though impeccable) accounts of the Fifth Symphony (in Saint-Ouen, Rouen) and the Sixth (in Orléans Cathedral)…[Roth teases] coherent and satisfying playing despite the elderly and vulnerable condition of the organ…this first-rate production will probably never be bettered.” Gramophone Magazine, February 2016

“It is difficult to find anything less than wonderful in the whole production, with its splendid organ playing, beautiful cinematography of the several great organs used throughout, and scholarly but always appealing commentary.” Organ Club Journal, March 2016

GGramophone Magazine

DVD of the Month - February 2016

Fugue State Films - FSFDVD010

(2 CDs + 2 DVD Videos - 4 discs)


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Paul Dukas: Cantates, choeurs et musique symphonique

Paul Dukas: Cantates, choeurs et musique symphonique


Les Sirènes

La Fête des myrtes


Pensée des morts

Hymne au soleil

L’Ondine et le Pêcheur

Cantate Velleda



Contents of the book

Alexandre Dratwicki, The Prix de Rome for music (1803-1968)

Paul Dukas, Autobiography

Alexandre Dratwicki, Unknown Paul Dukas

Pauline Ritaine, Paul Dukas’ approach to orchestration

Pierre Sérié, ‘Velléda’ and ‘Sémélé’: final hesitations of the Institut de France prior to making a reactionary choice

Texts of the cantatas and choruses

+ complete libretto in French and English

Flemish Radio Choir & Brussels Philharmonic, Hervé Niquet

Considered one of the finest composers of the late French Romantic period, Paul Dukas was also a brilliant orchestrator, known above all for The Sorcerer’s Apprentice, one of the most frequently performed works worldwide. But four times, between 1886 and 1889, he failed to win the Prix de Rome competition.

He was a severe critic of his own works, many of which he systematically destroyed, but miraculously several ambitious and varied compositions have survived.

“The cantata he wrote for the 1889 [Prix de Rome] competition, Sémélé, is the major curiosity here, performed for the first time, apparently, since it was heard at the competition...These orchestral and choral performances are much more than adequate, and Hervé Niquet brings out every textural point he can in Dukas’s scoring.” The Guardian, 2nd December 2015 ****

“Hervé Niquet and his forces are superb guides through this repertory, little of which has previously appeared on disc…orchestral textures are admirably lucid, the choral singing beautifully focused and the conducting impeccable…the whole thing adds immeasurably to our understanding of Dukas and is a very fine achievement indeed” Gramophone Magazine, February 2016

GGramophone Magazine

Editor's Choice - February 2016

A Musical Picture - up to 40% off

Ediciones Singulares - ES1021

(2 CDs + Book - 2 discs)

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Special: $24.18

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Nielsen: Works for Violin Vol. 2

Nielsen: Works for Violin Vol. 2


Violin Concerto, Op. 33 (FS61)

Helsingborg Symphony Orchestra, Daniel Blendulf

Prelude & Theme with Variations for solo violin, Op. 48 (FS104)

Preludio e Presto for violin solo, Op. 52 (FS128)

Cecilia Zilliacus (violin)

dB Productions celebrate the 150th anniversary of Carl Nielsen with two CD volumes of his music! Featured again on this second volume is one of Sweden’s leading violinists, Cecilia Zilliacus, in Nielsen’s violin concerto. The Helsingborg Symphony Orchestra is conducted by young rising star, Daniel Blendulf.

“Flexible yet sturdy, Zilliacus treats the concerto like a special friend whom she is proud and delighted to share with anyone in her orbit. Daniel Blendulf and his Helsingborgians are sympathetic partners…excellently recorded, and with an intelligent, sensitive essay from the violinist herself, this adds up to a thoroughly recommendable issue” Gramophone Magazine, February 2016

GGramophone Magazine

Editor's Choice - February 2016

dB Productions - DBCD162



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Montanari: Violin Concertos

Montanari: Violin Concertos


Concerto in C major 'Dresden'

Concerto No. 6 in E flat major, Op. 1

Concerto No. 1 in A major, Op. 1

Concerto No. 5 in C major, Op. 1

Concerto No. 7 in E major, Op. 1

Concerto No. 8 in A major, Op. 1

Johannes Pramsohler (violin)

Ensemble Diderot

“[this is] music that would shine through even in merely adequate performances, but Ensemble Diderot’s one-to-a-part readings on original instruments are truly superb, translating what have evidently been intense scholarly labours into a recording that sparkles with enjoyment and understanding of the music…the clean, lyrical virtuosity from principal violinist Johannes Pramsohler, and indeed from harpsichordist Philippe Grisvard, is of the kind that begs you to simply sit back and soak it all up” Gramophone Magazine, February 2016

GGramophone Magazine

Editor's Choice - February 2016

Audax - ADX13704



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