Gramophone Magazine Editor's Choice

June 2016

Disc of the Month

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Rachmaninov: Etudes-Tableaux & Moments Musicaux

Awards:

Gramophone Magazine

Disc of the Month - June 2016

BBC Music Magazine

Instrumental Choice - August 2016

Label:

Naxos

Catalogue No:

8573469

Discs:

1

Release date:

29th April 2016

Barcode:

0747313346974

Length:

70 minutes

Medium:

CD (download also available)
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Rachmaninov: Etudes-Tableaux & Moments Musicaux


Rachmaninov:

Etudes-Tableaux, Op. 39

Moments Musicaux, Op. 16


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Pianist Boris Giltburg sees Rachmaninov’s Études-tableaux, Op. 39 as cinematic short stories or colourful tone paintings. In contrast, the unashamedly beautiful Moments musicaux are concentrated explorations of a single idea or mood, from struggle and pain towards light and genuine joy. In these collections, which contain some of the composer’s most affecting music, Rachmaninov shows himself to be a master of the meticulously crafted short-form genre.

Pianist Boris Giltburg’s recordings for Naxos continue with some of Rachmaninov’s best loved solo repertoire. Giltburg’s 2015 Schumann program (8573399) was widely acclaimed, BBC Music Magazine stating that “His tone is pure velvet, cushioned and almost vocal in quality with never a hint of harshness—and complemented here by excellent recording—and the phrasing is always eloquent.” This was followed soon after by a program of Beethoven sonatas (8573400), admired by Gramophone: “Giltburg’s highly articulated fingerwork… gives appropriate variety and character to the gnarly writing… Naxos provides superb, full-bodied and detailed sound.”

These works are always popular on record and we have of course visited this repertoire before, notably in highly regarded recordings made in the 1990s by the remarkable Idil Biret. With multiple award-winning artist Boris Giltburg we have the opportunity of bringing a freshly imaginative view onto some of the 20th century’s finest Russian piano music, and introducing it to Companion Titles – his growing cohort of fans in the 21st.

Sergei Rachmaninoff: Études-tableaux, Op. 39

No. 1 in C Minor: Allegro agitato

No. 2 in A Minor: Lento assai

No. 3 in F-Sharp Minor: Allegro molto

No. 4 in B Minor: Allegro assai

No. 5 in E-Flat Minor: Appassionato

No. 6 in A Minor: Allegro

No. 7 in C Minor: Lento

No. 8 in D Minor: Allegro moderato

No. 9 in D Major: Allegro moderato

Sergei Rachmaninoff: 6 Moments musicaux, Op. 16

No. 1 in B-Flat Minor: Andantino

No. 2 in E-Flat Minor: Allegretto

No. 3 in B Minor: Andante cantabile

No. 4 in E Minor: Presto

No. 5 in D-Flat Major: Adagio sostenuto

No. 6 in C Major: Maestoso

Gramophone Magazine

June 2016

“[Giltburg] is that genuine rarity: a pianist whose Rachmaninov is entirely idiomatic yet intensely personal in a way that yields fresh perspectives on this well traversed repertory...His originality stems from a convergence of heart and mind, served by immaculate technique and motivated by a deep and abiding love for one of the 20th century’s greatest composer-pianists.”

The Observer

5th June 2016

****

“Each of the nine jewel-like miniatures in the cycle – mostly under five minutes in length – possesses a beguiling ambiguity, from brooding to pitch black, interrupted by flashes of light. Giltburg, a natural Rachmaninov interpreter, plays with technical fluidity and honed musicality.”

BBC Music Magazine

August 2016

“Giltburg has impressed with the intelligence and colouristic magnificence of his playing…[his] range of expression is wide.”

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Editor's Choice

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Verdi: La forza del destino

Verdi: La forza del destino


Anja Harteros (Leonora), Jonas Kaufmann (Alvaro), Ludovic Tézier (Carlo), Nadia Krasteva (Preziosilla), Vitalij Kowaljow (Padre Guardiano), Renato Girolami (Fra Melitone)

Bayerisches Staatsorchester & Chor der Bayerischen Staatsoper, Asher Fisch (conductor) & Martin Kušej (director)

Martin Kušej’s thrilling contemporary interpretation of Verdi’s late period opera proved the perfect vehicle for the Bavarian State Opera’s dream team of Jonas Kaufmann and Anja Harteros. The imposing sets’ references to terrorism and the implosion of modern civilization bring the opera’s inherent drama to a breathtaking pinnacle. Specialist promo & marketing activity.

“A large part of the characterisation comes from the sheer quality of Harteros’s singing, poised and perfectly shaped, with an impeccable sense of style, the voice itself slightly hazy in colour but totally focused. This is a wonderful performance...Tézier is hardly less stylish, and sings with thrillingly rich and generous tone.” Gramophone Magazine, June 2016

“Munich had managed to assemble the finest Verdi cast available to sing the opera. It is crowned by a magnificent Leonora from Anja Harteros, perhaps the best thing she has done on disc...and in Jonas Kaufmann she is matched with an Alvaro who is the finest we’ve had since Domingo...For anyone who isn’t entirely allergic to a bit of Regietheater, this is now the one to go for.” MusicWeb International, June 2016

Presto Discs of 2016

Finalist

GGramophone Awards 2017

Shortlisted - Opera

GGramophone Magazine

DVD of the Month - June 2016

Blu-ray Disc

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Sony - 88875160659

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Franck: Piano Quintet & Debussy: String Quartet

Franck: Piano Quintet & Debussy: String Quartet


Debussy:

String Quartet in G minor, Op. 10

Franck, C:

Piano Quintet in F minor, Op. 14

Marc-André Hamelin (piano)


Franck’s Piano Quintet and Debussy’s String Quartet make an apt and unusual coupling, each work its composer’s only, unsurpassable, contribution to the genre. Both receive authoritative performances from Marc-André Hamelin and the Takács Quartet.

“When the seasoned artistry of the Takács Quartet blends with the thoughtful brilliance of Marc-André Hamelin, a rare alchemy occurs...To Debussy’s luminous and under-appreciated String Quartet of 1893 the Takács bring all their intelligence, skill, taste and virtuosity.” Gramophone Magazine, June 2016

“[The Franck has] the same big, romantic sound and emotional intensity of the violin sonata, beautifully brought out here by Marc-André Hamelin and the Takács in a stirring, virtuosic recording...there’s no questioning the Takács’s ability to play the Debussy String Quartet wonderfully. Something less corporeal, a little more elusive and vaporous, would have made it even better.” The Observer, 22nd May 2016 ***

“An exemplary performance” Financial Times, June 2016

“Highly charged and passionate performances. The Takács Quartet goes from strength to strength.” MusicWeb International, 19th July 2016

Presto Discs of 2016

Finalist

GGramophone Magazine

Editor's Choice - June 2016

Hyperion & Helios - up to 50% off

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Rachel Barton Pine: Testament

Rachel Barton Pine: Testament


Bach, J S:

Sonatas & Partitas for solo violin, BWV1001-1006


'Testament' is Rachel Barton Pine's very personal homage to the music of J. S. Bach, on which she performs the composer's complete Sonatas and Partitas for Solo Violin in the acoustic of her hometown St. Pauls Church in Chicago, where she first heard and fell in love with Bach's music.

Best-selling violinist Rachel Barton Pine's relationship with the music of Bach runs deep. She first heard and fell in love with Bach's music in her hometown St. Pauls Church in Chicago, which had a stained glass window of the composer in the sanctuary. That church is where Rachel first played Bach's music, at the age of four, and where she returned to record Bach's Six Sonatas and Partitas in its beautiful yet clear acoustic. Rachel says, "I'm so pleased to have recorded the Six Sonatas and Partitas in my favourite sound space for these works, the place that I consider to truly be my emotional home for playing them."

“There is a surprisingly striking contrast between its crystalline voicing, clear articulation and warm tone that makes the listener feel that it is concerned with the plain and simple beauty of the music as much as with the genius of its counterpoint and relationships between movements.” Gramophone Magazine, June 2016

GGramophone Magazine

Editor's Choice - June 2016

Avie - AV2360

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Verdi: La forza del destino

Verdi: La forza del destino


Anja Harteros (Leonora), Jonas Kaufmann (Alvaro), Ludovic Tézier (Carlo), Nadia Krasteva (Preziosilla), Vitalij Kowaljow (Padre Guardiano), Renato Girolami (Fra Melitone)

Bayerisches Staatsorchester & Chor der Bayerischen Staatsoper, Asher Fisch (conductor) & Martin Kušej (director)

Martin Kušej’s thrilling contemporary interpretation of Verdi’s late opera proved the perfect vehicle for the Bavarian State Opera’s dream-team of Jonas Kaufmann and Anja Harteros. The imposing sets’ references to terrorism and the implosion of modern civilisation bring the opera’s inherent drama to a breathtaking pinnacle.

“A large part of the characterisation comes from the sheer quality of Harteros’s singing, poised and perfectly shaped, with an impeccable sense of style, the voice itself slightly hazy in colour but totally focused. This is a wonderful performance...Tézier is hardly less stylish, and sings with thrillingly rich and generous tone.” Gramophone Magazine, June 2016

“Munich had managed to assemble the finest Verdi cast available to sing the opera. It is crowned by a magnificent Leonora from Anja Harteros, perhaps the best thing she has done on disc...and in Jonas Kaufmann she is matched with an Alvaro who is the finest we’ve had since Domingo...For anyone who isn’t entirely allergic to a bit of Regietheater, this is now the one to go for.” MusicWeb International, June 2016

Presto Discs of 2016

Finalist

GGramophone Awards 2017

Shortlisted - Opera

GGramophone Magazine

DVD of the Month - June 2016

DVD Video

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Sony - 88875160649

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Prokofiev: Symphony No. 5 & Scythian Suite

Prokofiev: Symphony No. 5 & Scythian Suite


Prokofiev:

Symphony No. 5 in B flat major, Op. 100

Scythian Suite, Op. 20


Read Presto's complete review of this disc here.

Prokofiev’s Fifth Symphony was conceived in the Soviet Union as World War II was still raging. He gave out in a statement at the time that he intended it as "a hymn to free and happy Man, to his mighty powers, his pure and noble spirit." He added "I cannot say that I deliberately chose this theme. It was born in me and clamoured for expression. The music matured within me. It filled my soul."

Prokofiev originally wrote the Scythian Suite for the Sergei Diaghilev ballet Ala i Lolli, the story of which takes place among the Scythians. After Diaghilev called for a change of plan before the score was complete, the Prokofiev reworked the music into a suite for concert performance.

“This is an affectionate account, far removed from Gergiev’s full-on intensity with the LSO, but alert, almost balletic, rising to an emotional climax in the great Adagio. The finale is an exhilarating whirlwind of a dance.” Sunday Times, 10th April 2016

“To start with we have the Fifth Symphony, and what a treat it is: the first few bars exemplify everything that I liked about this recording: woodwind playing that is sensitive in places and yet cheeky and raucous when required, glowingly effulgent string playing, and some excellent brass contributions with a pleasingly menacing presence and plenty of bite in the trombones and tuba.” James Longstaffe, Presto Classical, 4th March 2016

“This much sought-after maestro takes the first movement broadly enough to lend credence to what might seem mere ideological posturing...There are a few tank-like manoeuvres en route...but everything works in context.” Gramophone Magazine, June 2016

Presto Disc of the Week

4th March 2016

GGramophone Magazine

Editor's Choice - June 2016

Sony - 88875185152

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Virtuoso: Leonidas Kavakos

Virtuoso: Leonidas Kavakos

Encores


Britten:

Reveille

Dohnányi:

Ruralia hungarica: Gypsy Andante

Dvorak:

Humoresque in G flat major, Op. 101 No. 7

Elgar:

La Capricieuse, Op. 17

Falla:

El sombrero de tres picos

Paganini:

Introduction & Variations on 'Nel cor più non mi sento' by Paisiello

Variations on 'God save the King', Op. 9

Sarasate:

Caprice Basque, Op. 24

Danza Española No. 3: Romanza Andaluza, Op. 22, No. 1

Strauss, R:

Der Rosenkavalier: Waltzes

Stravinsky:

Danse Russe (from Pétrouchka)

Chanson Russe

Tárrega:

Recuerdos de la Alhambra

Tchaikovsky:

Valse sentimentale, Op. 51 No. 6

Wieniawski:

Capriccio Valse in E major, Op. 7


Leonidas Kavakos (violin) & Enrico Pace (piano)

Leonidas Kavakos, one of the world’s finest violinists, showcases virtuoso works for the violin: included on this album are some of the most exciting and challenging violin works ever written, alongside beautiful, lyrical encores.

Displaying a formidable technique to stunning effect, Leonidas Kavakos is heard here at his very best; his unique style stealing the show in a dazzling, wide-ranging progamme.

Features the devilish and highly demanding violin writing of Italian Paganini alongside the Spanish influences of De Falla and Tarrega, the Czech allure of Dvorak, the elegance of Britten and Elgar, and the Russian spirit of Tchaikovsky and Stravinsky

All the works expertly recorded here are associated with great players of the past – touring virtuosi travelling across Europe, looking to impress. On our European journey we hear flashy showpieces, tender romantic pieces, and everything in-between.

Leonidas Kavakos plays the Abergavenny Stradivarius of 1724 – a violin which itself will almost certainly have known legendary performances of these incredible works, and which sings here as if Kavakos was born to play them on this instrument

Known at the highest level for his virtuosity and superb musicianship, multiple award-winning Leonidas Kavakos has an enviable touring schedule playing with the world’s greatest orchestras and most outstanding chamber music partners; and an exclusive recording contract with Decca Classics

“If there’s a problem with this disc – and it’s a minor problem - it’s that you can’t gawp at a recording. Leonidas Kavakos has put together some of the most demanding showstoppers in a violinist’s box of tricks, and dispatches each with elan.” The Guardian, 14th April 2016 ****

“[Enrico Pace is] a marvellously attentive but far from self-effacing accompanist…[and] I doubt if there is more than a handful of violinists alive who can match Kavakos in the tonal variety, accuract and speed of his harmonics, or in the deft alternation of bowing and left-hand pizzicato. In fact, I wonder if Paganini would have equalled him…I can’t remember when I last enjoyed a violin recital quite as much as this.” Gramophone Magazine, June 2016

Presto Discs of 2016

Finalist

GGramophone Magazine

Editor's Choice - June 2016

Decca - 4789377

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Neglected Works for Piano

Neglected Works for Piano


Almén:

Sonata in B minor, Op. 2

Aulin, L:

Feuille d'Album

Valse élégiaque

Bacewicz:

Sonatina

Beach, A:

Scottish Legend, Op. 54, No. 1

Carwithen:

Sonatina

Crawford Seeger:

Preludes for Piano: No. 6 'Andante Mystico'

Kapralova:

April Preludes, Op. 13

Tailleferre:

Pastorales


Bengt Forsberg, one of Sweden's most outstanding pianists, renowned for his many CDs and awards, releases a sensational solo album with music of composers that most people have never heard of. Why? Because the composers were women, who often had to step back for the men. Their works, however, are brilliant and deserve a better destiny than to be covered with dust in the archives. A few recordings of some composers such as Beach, Tailleferre, Bacewicz and Carwithen do already exist, however in the case of Aulin and Almén their works are world premieres recordings.

“Forsberg has long been a master programme planner...This is no exception...With a recording as fine as the pianism, this is a terrific disc, heartily recommended.” Gramophone Magazine, June 2016

GGramophone Magazine

Editor's Choice - June 2016

dB Productions - DBCD170

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Machaut: Messe de Nostre Dame

Machaut: Messe de Nostre Dame


Graindelavoix, Bjorn Schmelzer

At last! A new recording of Machaut's 'Messe de Nostre Dame' from Björn Schmelzer and Graindelavoix, one of Glossa’s long-standing artistic family members.

Following a trio of discs devoted to music in the spirit of the medieval master draughtsman Villard de Honnecourt, the Antwerp-based ensemble has now turned to the first known composer of an integral mass cycle: Guillaume de Machaut, who was a canon at Reims Cathedral in the 14th century. The work, described as a medieval monstre sacré, is performed by an all-male ensemble from Graindelavoix featuring both sharp high tenors and very low basses.

Graindelavoix’s continuing and vibrantly imaginative aesthetic is described, with customary imagery, by Björn Schmelzer in the accompanying booklet essay, where he declares his passion for “conjuring up the voices of the past” to describe the performance approach taken by Graindelavoix: one that emphasises the individuality of the singers rather than a homogeneous ensemble sound.

Schmelzer’s choice of accompanying Propers for a Lady Mass underscores Machaut’s own devotion to the Virgin Mary, as do two of the composer’s spectacular motets, which are also associated with the city of Reims.

“A new recording of Machaut’s Mass is always an event, and this one is compelling and provocative in equal measure: compelling, because of the beauty of the voices and the evident care that has been lavished on so many details; provocative, because so many of those details will surprise, startle and perhaps infuriate.” Gramophone Magazine, June 2016

“Grandelevoix explore the sacred in Guillaume de Machaut’s Messe de Nostre Dame with portamento and vocal twists and turns, shocking with visceral, stone-ground sonorities in exciting, idiosyncratic, dangerous, Marmite interpretations.” Choir & Organ, January 2017

GGramophone Awards 2017

Shortlisted - Early Music

GGramophone Magazine

Editor's Choice - June 2016

Glossa - GCDP32110

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Satie: Socrate

Satie: Socrate


Satie:

Trois Melodies

3 autres Mélodies

Hymne

Socrate - Drame Symphonique


With 2016 being the 150th anniversary year of the birth of Erik Satie, Barbara Hannigan and Reinbert de Leeuw present with expressive intensity and in a unique way, the fascinating sound world of this leading French composer and pianist. Hannigan and de Leeuw let us discover and experience Satie’s almost forgotten and unique vocal compositions: Trois Mélodies, Trois Autres Mélodies and Hymne. The main work and title of the album is the composition Socrate comprising of three parts - Portrait de Socrate, Les Bords d’Illissus and Mort de Socrate: music which sounds white, transparent and fragile.

“Hannigan sings the songs of Erik Satie as if she’s sitting next to you, whispering and cooing across the kitchen table with sufficient breathiness, soft edges and exquisite spaciousness to match Reinbert de Leeuw’s sweet-melancholy piano chords.” The Guardian, 5th May 2016 ****

“Throughout their album, Barbara Hannigan and Reinbert de Leeuw maintain a very noticeable consistency of mood, atmosphere and colour. The coolly detached house style of Winter & Winter has been respected but an aesthetic decision has clearly been taken to represent Satie as a creative lone wolf.” Gramophone Magazine, June 2016

“Barbara Hannigan proves to be one of the finest interpreters of this music…while Reinbert de Leeuw proves that you do not need the chamber orchestra in Socrate. Indeed, the partnership between Hannigan and De Leeuw shows great intelligence and a true sense of ensemble that opens this music to a greater understanding.” MusicWeb International, July 2016

“Hannigan and De Leeuw perfectly capture the elusive, emotionally detached nature of Socrate” BBC Music Magazine, August 2016

GGramophone Magazine

Editor's Choice - June 2016

BBC Music Magazine

Disc of the month - August 2016

Contemporary Music - up to 25% off

Winter and Winter - 9102342

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Zelenka: Missa Divi Zaveri & Litaniae de Sancto Xaverio

Zelenka: Missa Divi Zaveri & Litaniae de Sancto Xaverio


Zelenka:

Missa Divi Zaveri, ZWV12

Litaniae de Sancto Xaverio, ZWV156


Collegium 1704, Collegium Vocale 1704, Vaclav Luks

After highly acclaimed recordings of his 'Requiem' and 'Responsoriae', Czech conductor Václav Luks and his Collegium 1704 present two major compositions by Zelenka for the feast of St Francis Xavier, Apostle to the Indies, in Dresden 1729. 'Missa Divi Xaverii' ZWV12 was composed to be heard on 3rd December; similar in its scope and aural brilliance, the companion work 'Litaniae de Sancto Xaverio' ZWV156 for 9th December. 'Missa Divi Xaverii', one of Zelenka's most lavishly orchestrated scores, has had a long wait to be rediscovered. Nearly three centuries passed before the work could shine in its original splendour. Zelenka experimented here, particularly in the scoring of unusually large orchestral forces which include the brilliance of four trumpets, transverse flutes, oboes and bassoon. Collegium 1704 is a Czech early music orchestra and choir founded in 1991 by the Czech conductor, harpsichordist and horn player Václav Luks, formerly horn soloist of the Akademie für Alte Musik Berlin. The Collegium specialises in Baroque music, in particular that of Zelenka [see below], Bach and Handel. All the performers are virtuosos, and often perform with other early music ensembles.

“they’re really on top of this unknown music, making the most of some of those unexpected modulations and some slightly spicy harmonies at the beginning.” CD Review, 12th March 2016

“These large-scale works...The orchestration, high natural horns and all, is magnificent, and his theatrical inventiveness shines through.” Sunday Times, 3rd April 2016

“Collegium 1704’s blithe performance conveys a radiant mood in the opening strains of ‘Kyrie eleison’...Hana Blažíková’s limpid singing produces a gorgeous dialogue with a violin and oboe d’amore in ‘Benedictus’.” Gramophone Magazine, June 2016

“Performances are uniformly satisfying under Václav Luks’s sensitive and experienced direction, with strong contributions from Hana Blazíková, Lucile Richardot and the instrument obbligato players” BBC Music Magazine, July 2016 *****

“Reuss and his singers certainly deliver a strong case for these masterpieces by Lassus.” MusicWeb International, June 2016

GGramophone Magazine

Editor's Choice - June 2016

Accent - ACC24301

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Sir Malcolm Arnold: The Complete Conifer Recordings

Sir Malcolm Arnold: The Complete Conifer Recordings


Arnold:

Symphonies Nos. 1-9 (complete)

A Grand Grand Festival Overture, Op. 57

Concerto for 2 Pianos (3 hands), Op.104

Fantasy on a Theme of John Field, for piano & orchestra, Op.116

Sweeney Todd – Concert Suite for Orchestra, Op.68a

Tam O'Shanter, Op. 51

Concertino for Oboe and Strings, Op.28a

Fantasy for Oboe Op. 9

Beckus the Dandipratt, Op. 5 - Comedy Overture

Water Music, Op.82b

Anniversary Overture, Op. 99

Philharmonic Concerto, Op.120

Overture: Peterloo, Op. 97

A Flourish for Orchestra, Op. 112

Symphony for Strings, Op.13

Serenade for Small Orchestra, Op. 26

Larch Trees, Op.3

Concerto for Viola & Chamber Orchestra, Op. 108

Concerto for 28 Players, Op. 105

Concerto for Two Violins & Orchestra, Op. 77

Clarinet Concerto No. 1, Op. 20

Concertino for Flute and Strings, Op. 19a

Horn Concerto No. 2, Op. 58

Clarinet Concerto No. 2, Op. 115

Horn Concerto No. 1, Op. 11

Flute Concerto No. 2, Op. 111

Concerto for Piano Duet & Strings, Op. 32

Four Scottish Dances, Op. 59

Little Suites Nos. 1 & 2

English Dances Op. 27 & 33

Fantasy for Brass Band, Op.114

Four Cornish Dances, Op. 91

The Padstow Lifeboat - March, Op. 94


”One of the most prolific British composers of the 20th century, Sir Malcolm Arnold remains best known for his phenomenal success in film (including an Oscar for his score for David Lean’s 1957 classic The Bridge on the River Kwai) and light music, a broad selection of which is included in Sony Classical’s new 11-CD anthology along with 11 concertos. But the heart of his output, the works he regarded as his testament, are the nine symphonies, composed at fairly regular intervals between 1949 and 1986, with musical influences ranging from Holst and Vaughan Williams to Tchaikovsky, Mahler and Sibelius. Vernon Handley’s recordings from the 1990s, many of them made in the composer’s presence, are a touchstone for this repertoire. As Gramophone declared: “It’s Handley who best conveys the sinewy logic and thrusting cogency of Arnold’s symphonic odyssey.”

“A welcome return to the catalogue for this survey of Arnold’s orchestral music.” Gramophone Magazine, June 2016

GGramophone Magazine

Re-issue of the Month - June 2016

Sony Classical Masters - 88875181702

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