Gramophone Magazine Editor's Choice

October 2016

Disc of the Month

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Transcendental: Daniil Trifonov plays Franz Liszt

Awards:

Presto Disc of the Week

7th October 2016

Gramophone Awards 2017

Finalist - Instrumental

Gramophone Magazine

Disc of the Month - October 2016

Label:

DG

Catalogue No:

94795529

Discs:

2

Release date:

7th Oct 2016

Barcode:

0028947955290

Length:

1 hour 57 minutes

Medium:

CD (download also available)
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Transcendental: Daniil Trifonov plays Franz Liszt


Liszt:

Transcendental Studies, S139 Nos. 1-12

Two Concert Studies, S145/R6: Gnomenreigen; Waldesrauschen

Three Concert Studies, S144/R5: Un lamento; La leggierezza; Un sospiro

Grandes Études de Paganini (6), S. 141


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Read Presto's complete review of this disc here

Daniil Trifonov has been described by The Times as "the finest young pianist of our age".

After his successful "Rachmaninov Variations" last year, he has now created another statement to define his extraordinary and growing legacy. It is dedicated to the greatest pianist of his own century: Franz Liszt.

The repertoire is Liszt’s Complete Concert Etudes. These Etudes remain amongst the most challenging piano pieces ever composed – and are rarely recorded or performed. This is the first time that the Complete Liszt Etudes have been recorded as a whole for DG. And Daniil Trifonov is one of the few pianists to have recorded them all in one go – in an unbelievable five days.

Beyond his phenomenal technique, Daniil Trifonov is a distinctly Russian artist: an intense, soulful musician in the great Russian tradition whose presentation and repertoire set him apart from all other young piano stars of today.

Franz Liszt: 12 Etudes d'exécution transcendante, S.139

No.1 Prélude (Presto)

No.2 Molto vivace

No.3 Paysage (Poco adagio)

No.4 Mazeppa (Presto)

No.5 Feux follets (Allegretto)

No.6 Vision (Lento)

No.7 Eroica (Allegro)

No.8 Wilde Jagd (Presto furioso)

No.9 Ricordanza (Andantino)

No.10 Allegro agitato molto

No.11 Harmonies du soir (Andantino)

No.12 Chasse neige (Andante con moto)

Franz Liszt: 2 Etudes de Concert, S.145

No.1 Waldesrauschen

No.2 Gnomenreigen

Franz Liszt: 3 Etudes de Concert, S.144

No.1 In A Flat "Il lamento" (A capriccio - Allegro cantabile)

No.2 In F Minor "La leggierezza" (A capriccio - Quasi allegretto)

No.3 In D-Flat Major "Un sospiro"

Franz Liszt: Grandes Etudes de Paganini, S.141

No.1 In G Minor

No.2 In E Flat Major

No.3 In G-Sharp Minor "La Campanella"

No.4 In E Major

No.5 In E Major

No.6 In A Minor

The Guardian

21st September 2016

*****

“Trifonov is already an exceptionally thoughtful interpreter, with musicianship that more than matches his technical gifts...while there is never any doubting the brilliance of Trifonov’s playing, that is only the starting point; the delicacy and transparency of his performances are often more striking than their moments of rampaging virtuosity.”

Sunday Times

2nd October 2016

“These two enthralling discs show exactly why the 25-year-old Russian Klaviertiger is the current darling of the piano world...Trifonov leaves one open-mouthed at the Mendelssohnian wit and dexterity of Gnomenreigen, and at the sheer playfulness of Liszt’s homages to Paganini. A young player, yes, but already a master.”

Wall Street Journal

3rd October 2016

“Trifonov’s set possesses a wonderful lightness of being. Lyrical works like “Il lamento,” one of Liszt’s most beautiful “Concert Études,” are characterized by understated simplicity and tender feeling...And his “Transcendental Études” are a wonder of seeming spontaneity and breathtaking ease.”

Presto Classical

Katherine Cooper

7th October 2016

“What’s striking about this collection is the tangible absence of egoism in the playing...the focus is squarely on the breathtaking complexity of the music itself rather than the skill and mechanics involved in bringing it to life, and there are moments which genuinely seem to tap into that much-ballyhooed idea of ‘the Romantic Sublime’.”

Gramophone Magazine

October 2016

“Trifonov’s is the best kind of virtuoso playing, where one is hardly aware of the notes being played, allowing one to simply bask in the genius of Liszt’s musical narrative and the transcendant execution of an awesomely gifted pianist.”

BBC Music Magazine

November 2016

****

“Trifonov’s approach is to search out through rounded and constantly beautiful piano tone the music’s pre-Debussyian side – a legitimate take on Liszt’s radical streak, keeping any risk of meretricious display at arm’s length and bringing rich rewards in the atmospheric mood-pieces”

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Europakonzert 2016 from Røros, Norway

Europakonzert 2016 from Røros, Norway


Beethoven:

Symphony No. 3 in E flat major, Op. 55 'Eroica'

Brustad:

Veslefrikk

Grieg:

Lyric Pieces Op. 68: No. 4 - Evening in the mountains

Mendelssohn:

Violin Concerto in E minor, Op. 64

Vilde Frang (violin)


The Berliner Philharmoniker celebrate their founding day (May 1st, 1892) in a European city of cultural significance every year. In 2016, they travelled to Røros in Norway, to play in the town’s beautiful baroque church. Norwegian violinist Vilde Frang made her debut with the Berliner Philharmonker at this year’s concert, joining them for Mendelssohn’s Violin Concerto in E minor.

“[Frang] is predictably fine in the Mendelssohn, technically accomplished and emotionally engaged. And what a joy it must be to play this concerto with the Berliners, whose sensitivity to Mendelssohn’s instrumental imaginings is second to none...the performance [of the Eroica] yields nothing to Rattle’s recent Berlin recording.” Gramophone Magazine, October 2016

GGramophone Magazine

DVD/Blu-ray of the Month - October 2016

Blu-ray Disc

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EuroArts Europakonzert - 8024261484

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Beethoven: Piano Sonata No. 29 'Hammerklavier' & Bagatelles, Op. 126

Beethoven: Piano Sonata No. 29 'Hammerklavier' & Bagatelles, Op. 126


Beethoven:

Piano Sonata No. 29 in B-flat major, Op. 106 'Hammerklavier'

Bagatelles (6), Op. 126


He is nicknamed ‘the poet of the piano’, an epithet confirmed by each of his appearances in concert or on record, most recently with his multi-award-winning Debussy and Chopin CDs. Nelson Goerner already has an imposing discography, but this is the first time he has tackled Beethoven on a recording: he has chosen the ‘Hammerklavier’, a work of unparalleled dimensions, complexity and profundity . . . But is this artist, whom a Buenos Aires newspaper praised after a recital at the famous Teatro Colón for his ‘ability to combine intellectual lucidity, undeniable depth, and a technical ease that enables him to express his ideas’, not the perfect interpreter for that monumental composition?

‘Here is a sonata that will make pianists work hard’, said Beethoven to his publisher after labouring on it for almost three years, at a time when his deafness was constantly worsening. Forty-five minutes of immense difficulty for the performer (and also the listener?): between a first movement as fiery as Beethoven ever wrote and a finale that seems to foreshadow jazz improvisations, comes a splendid and deeply moving slow movement that Goerner renders with deep emotion. He then invites us to move from the monumental to the miniature, with the Six Bagatelles op.126, subtle gems of late Beethovenian style, constructed with formidable skill.

“Goerner’s Hammerklavier is about flight, variety of shapes, sounds, ideas and precision of communication...Phrases are imbued with life and meaning but, equally importantly, they are separated by breath, lending them intelligibility...If ever there were an effortless Hammerklavier finale, this is it.” Gramophone Magazine, October 2016

“[the Hammerklavier] has received several amazing recordings in recent years, and Nelson Goerner’s is one of them. It is also a highly individual though never quirky account” BBC Music Magazine, November 2016 *****

GGramophone Magazine

Editor's Choice - October 2016

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Schoenberg: Gurrelieder

Schoenberg: Gurrelieder


Alwyn Mellor (soprano), Anna Larsson (mezzo-soprano), Stuart Skelton (tenor), Wolfgang Ablinger-Sperrhacke (tenor), James Creswell (bass) & Sir Thomas Allen (speaker)

Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra, Bergen Philharmonic Choir, Choir of Collegiûm Mûsicûm, Edvard Grieg Kor, Orphei Drängar, Students from the Royal Northern College of Music, Edward Gardner

Recorded live on SACD in the sumptuous acoustic of Grieghallen in Bergen, this mind-blowing interpretation of Schoenberg’s Gurre-Lieder involves 350 performers: large choral forces, six exceptional soloists, and the legendary Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra – extended for the occasion – all conducted by Edward Gardner.

Marking the pinnacle of the Orchestra’s 250th anniversary celebrations, the same forces offered two evening concerts that met with unanimous acclaim in the press, including a five-star review from The Daily Telegraph praising the ‘sweep of Gardner's conducting, by turns luminous and incisive’. It added, ‘He unleashed the piece’s volcanic passions while never becoming mired in its high-calorific density, and somehow avoided drowning the singers’, and also congratulated the ‘heroic’ Stuart Skelton, ‘warm’ Alwyn Mellor, ‘ethereal’ Anna Larsson, and ‘powerful’ Thomas Allen.

“Gardner’s grasp of scale and momentum is as strong as Stenz’s, and his cast is more balanced...Gardner has the thrillingly heroic Stuart Skelton in the work’s most prominent solo part, pouring out his love for Tove in ringing tones...The playing and singing of Gardner’s Bergen forces are as intoxicating as any I know on disc.” Sunday Times, 23rd October 2016

“The playing of the Bergen Philharmonic is rich, seductive and sensuous...Gardner’s operatic experience means he’s alive to the lyricism and drama of the piece in equal measure: there’s ardent longing aplenty and a real willingness to explore the sheer gorgeousness of the score.” Gramophone Magazine, October 2016

“although this account was recorded over four days, it rolls onwards with the dynamism of a single live performance...for luminous atmosphere and edge-of-the-seat excitement, Gardner’s Bergen forces offer something special.” The Times, 30th September 2016 ****

“The hero is Edward Gardner, under whose wonderfully flexible beat this hyper-Romantic music positively breathes in long lyrical phrases and paragraphs. Nor are the excitements lacking: the coda to the Klaus episodes fizzes with crazy virtuosity and the final sunrise is as grandly summatory as any” BBC Music Magazine, Christmas 2016 *****

“There is an amplitude of tonal richness, against which Alwyn Mellor and Stuart Skelton sing on a heroic scale” Financial Times, 2nd December 2016

“A top class performance and magnificent recording of this vast piece.” MusicWeb International, 20th January 2017

Presto Discs of 2016

Finalist

GGramophone Magazine

Editor's Choice - October 2016

Building a Library

Also Recommended - March 2017

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Shakespeare Songs

Shakespeare Songs


anon.:

When that I Was but a Little Tiny Boy

Britten:

Fancie

Byrd:

Callino casturame

Finzi:

Let Us Garlands Bring, Op. 18

Gurney:

Under the greenwood tree

Haydn:

She Never Told Her Love, Hob. XXVIa:34

Johnson, R:

Where the bee sucks

Full fathom five

Korngold:

Desdemona' Song (No. 1 from Four Shakespeare Songs Op. 31)

Adieu, good Man Devil (No. 2 from Songs of the Clown Op. 29)

Morley:

It was a lover and his lass

O mistress mine

It was a lover and his lass

Poulenc:

Fancy

Quilter:

Come away, death

Schubert:

An Sylvia, D891

Stravinsky:

Three Songs from William Shakespeare

Adam Walker (flute), Lawrence Power (viola), Michael Collins (clarinet)

Tippett:

Songs for Ariel

Warlock:

Pretty Ring Time

Sweet and twenty

Wilson, John:

Take, O take those lips away


Grammy® Award winners Ian Bostridge and Sir Antonio Pappano have been working together on the stage and in the recording studio for over 20 years. Together they have produced award-winning recordings and played sold out concert halls all over the world to huge critical acclaim. Now they embark on a project marking the 400th anniversary of the death of William Shakespeare with a new album out in September. Shakespeare Songs celebrates the four centuries of music and performance that his plays and sonnets have inspired.

Shakespeare’s peerless feeling for the music of the English language has inspired countless composers, from those who set the Bard’s verse during his lifetime to musicians as diverse as Britten, Finzi, Korngold and Stravinsky. Ian Bostridge and Sir Antonio Pappano, together with four outstanding chamber musicians, delve into the rich Shakespeare legacy for this brand new recording, marking the playwright’s quarter-centenary with a delectable programme of works written for Jacobean productions, Restoration revivals and the modern concert hall. As guests Ian has invited his friends the lutenist Elizabeth Kenny, and for Stravinsky’s Three Songs flautist Adam Walker, violist Lawrence Power and clarinetist Michael Collins.

“Five songs from Finzi’s incomparable Let us Garlands Bring see the tenor’s head voice floating sympathetically through the melismatic vowels and ever-shifting metres of Finzi’s most sensitive inflection of Shakespeare’s verse…Pappano’s accompanying [is] as vigorous as Bostridge’s rhythmic definition. I particularly enjoyed their partnership and Bostridge’s nicely understated ‘Desdemona’s Song’ from Korngold’s still undersung setting” BBC Music Magazine, November 2016

“As anniversary tributes go, this is a good one...Bostridge’s sensitivity to text and ability to spin a line right through even the densest of consonant clusters makes for a compelling collection that is strongest in contemporary repertoire.” Gramophone Magazine, October 2016

“he is one of the rare singers who really relish their own language...His range is immense: he is at his best in settings with lute accompaniment...Nothing is lovelier, or more touching, than When That I Was and a Little Tiny Boy, which he closes with an exquisite diminuendo.” Sunday Times, 24th September 2016

“This is worth having for the first track alone: an impeccable account of Finzi’s Come Away, Death, with Ian Bostridge blending melancholy and nonchalance, Antonio Pappano accompanying with tender reticence...[Bostridge] squeezes every nuance of meaning from these Shakespeare settings.” The Guardian, 28th August 2016 ****

“The music is never less than rich, and is often pleasingly strange...Bostridge is beautifully accompanied by the lutenist Elizabeth Kenny, and the two reach a peak of intensity in the Johnson’s Full Fathom Five.” The Times, 9th September 2016 ***

Presto Discs of 2016

Finalist

GGramophone Magazine

Editor's Choice - October 2016

Warner Classics - 9029594473

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Tharaud plays Rachmaninov

Tharaud plays Rachmaninov


Rachmaninov:

Piano Concerto No. 2 in C minor, Op. 18

Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra, Alexander Vedernikov

Morceaux de Fantaisie, Op. 3

Vocalise, Op. 34 No. 14

Sabine Devieilhe (soprano)

Pieces (2) in A major for piano 6 hands - Waltz & Romance

Aleksandar Madžar (piano) & Alexander Melnikov (piano)


French pianist Alexandre Tharaud takes on the blockbuster ‘Rach 2’ concerto in a thrilling performance with the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra and Russian maestro Alexander Vedernikov. It is coupled with more intimate Rachmaninov for piano six-hands (for which Alexandre is flanked by Alexander Melnikov and Aleksandar Madžar) and the icing on the cake: a sublime Vocalise in the original version for voice and piano, with pure-voiced French soprano Sabine Devieilhe.

Alexandre Tharaud’s recorded catalogue is large and eclectic, but this is the first time he has devoted an entire album to Russian repertoire – specifically to the music of Sergei Rachmaninov. “I was still quite young when I first played this concerto,” explains Tharaud. “I adored it … Rachmaninov’s virtuosity really appeals to young pianists. Today, of course I’m still enthralled by the concerto’s virtuosity, but now I’m more interested in its dark shadows: the sense of despair, of staring into the abyss. My interpretation of Rachmaninov has changed a lot over the years.”

“After the famous introductory bars – following the score rather than the composer’s recording – the sweeping first subject enters faster, thankfully, than Richter’s celebrated account but with the same majestic assurance.” Gramophone Magazine, October 2016

Presto Discs of 2016

Finalist

GGramophone Awards 2017

Shortlisted - Concerto

GGramophone Magazine

Editor's Choice - October 2016

Erato - 9029595469

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Bach, J S: Goldberg Variations, BWV988

Bach, J S: Goldberg Variations, BWV988


Mahan Esfahani (harpsichord)

Read Presto's complete review of this disc here

Harpsichord star Mahan Esfahani approaches one of the greatest masterpieces of the Baroque repertoire with fresh eyes: Bach’s incomparable Goldberg Variations, which he presents in a unique virtuosic way.

“It’s an enormously colourful, varied journey, and “journey” definitely seems like the right term to use. When the Aria da capo comes round to finish the set, there’s a sense somehow that Esfahani is returning home, tired but happy after a long and scenic walk...whatever your go-to recording of the Variations, I think this one can give it a run for its money.” Presto Classical, 26th August 2016

“Everyone wants to record Bach’s Goldbergs, but not many show as much piercing insight as harpsichordist Mahan Esfahani...Esfahani shows amazing rhythmic freedom at times, sometimes teasing us with a long pause before a repeat starts...A hugely stimulating account of one of the peaks of western music.” The Guardian, 18th September 2016 *****

“you sense Esfahani mastering an intractable instrument for which Bach fashioned a masterpiece.” Sunday Times, 9th October 2016

“The first thing you notice about this remarkable recording is the unusual warmth and tonal vibrancy of the harpsichord...Esfahani obviously revels in its capabilities...His sophisticated virtuosity, stylistic aplomb and strong personal profile give fresh and meaningful voice to this well-travelled score.” Gramophone Magazine, October 2016

“Esfahani's contributions are the extraordinary range and delicacy of his touch and his scrupulous attention to matching phrasing.” BBC Music Magazine, November 2016

Presto Disc of the Week

26th August 2016

Presto Discs of 2016

Finalist

GGramophone Awards 2017

Shortlisted - Baroque Instrumental

GGramophone Magazine

Editor's Choice - October 2016

BBC Music Magazine

Instrumental Choice - November 2016

BBC Music Magazine Awards 2017

Instrumental Winner

DG - 4795929

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The Tchaikovsky Project Vol. 1

The Tchaikovsky Project Vol. 1


Tchaikovsky:

Symphony No. 6 in B minor, Op. 74 'Pathétique'

Romeo & Juliet - Fantasy Overture


“What is this music that we love so deeply if not our beloved friend? I’ve loved Tchaikovsky’s music ever since I can remember. Like all first loves this one never died” [Semyon Bychkov]

Cementing their new relationship with Decca Classics, the Czech Philharmonic embark on a cycle of Tchaikovsky’s Symphonies under the baton of Semyon Bychkov.

This first release showcases Tchaikovsky’s greatest Symphony, the Pathétique. Tchaikovsky himself felt that his Sixth Symphony, a confident and dramatic work, was “the best thing I have composed”. This outstanding recording is paired with Tchaikovsky’s magical Fantasy Overture, Romeo & Juliet.

Volume 1 marks the start of Decca’s first Tchaikovsky cycle for nearly 40 years (and the first in high-definiton 96k/24bit sound). Future recordings – covering all Tchaikovsky’s Symphonies, Piano Concertos, and other orchestral works – will follow as Maestro Bychkov delves deeper into the composer’s life and music, supported by innovative concert programming in major cities across the world.

The first of three Tchaikovsky Project concerts takes place in London in October 2016. In January/February 2017, Bychkov takes the project to New York.

Bychkov will continue to champion Tchaikovsky’s music over the next few years, with further Tchaikovsky residencies planned in London, New York and Prague, plus Tchaikovsky Project concerts in Vienna and Paris.

“Bychkov’s Russian roots make him mindful of Tchaikovsky’s classicism, the emotion always ‘contained’ until it can be contained no more. The explosive development section is a controlled panic attack, classical in form, neurotic in nature…a very fine performance…and supplemented by a Romeo and Juliet of similar qualities – keen and articulate in strife, rich in romance. And it feels personal in a way that the warm, homespun playing of the Czech Philharmonic only accentuates” Gramophone Magazine, October 2016

“these are musically intense and illuminating readings superbly played and clearly and openly recorded...There is no doubt in my mind however that this beginning to Semyon Bychkov’s Tchaikovsky Project series whets the appetite for further recordings.” classicalsource.com, October 2016

Presto Discs of 2016

Finalist

GGramophone Awards 2017

Shortlisted - Orchestral

GGramophone Magazine

Editor's Choice - October 2016

Decca - 4830656

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Fin de siècle

Fin de siècle

Music for viola and piano


Büsser:

Appassionato, Op. 34

Chausson:

Pièce Op. 39

Debussy:

Beau Soir

Durosoir:

Vitrail pour alto et piano

Enescu:

Concertstück for viola & piano

Hahn, R:

Soliloque et Forlane for viola & piano

Honnoré:

Morceau de concert

Hüe:

Thème varié

Ravel:

Deux mélodies hébraïques: Kaddisch

Vierne, L:

Deux Pièces Op. 7


Lawrence Power (viola) & Simon Crawford-Phillips (piano)

That the names of Hüe and Büsser are now largely forgotten is no reflection on their ability to write music which cannot fail to delight (and did not fail to win the Prix de Rome). Lawrence Power and Simon Crawford-Phillips present a wonderful recital which sets Ravel and Debussy in the context of their lesser-known contemporaries.

“Most of these pieces by Paris-based composers may be unfamiliar...but they merit rediscovery thanks to this duo’s superb playing. They make Henri Büsser’s Appassionato seem like the viola’s miniature answer to Franck’s Violin Sonata.” Sunday Times, 11th September 2016

“The players’ enthusiasm is self-evident, and Power tempers his sweet, full-throated tone...with a lovely inwardness in the quieter music. Crawford-Phillips is very much on the same page; the pair phrase naturally together... consistently enjoyable way to discover some unexpectedly rewardAing music.” Gramophone Magazine, October 2016

“Power and Crawford-Phillips are a superb duo, matching their depth and richness of tone with an energetic, passionate approach, and the warm sound lets them shine.” BBC Music Magazine, December 2016 ****

“There is more than enough in this beautifully played disc to attract viola aficionados and Francophiles alike.” MusicWeb International, 19th December 2016

GGramophone Magazine

Editor's Choice - October 2016

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Berlioz: Symphonie Fantastique & Rameau: Suite de Hippolyte et Aricie

Berlioz: Symphonie Fantastique & Rameau: Suite de Hippolyte et Aricie


Berlioz:

Symphonie fantastique, Op. 14

Rameau:

Hippolyte et Aricie: Orchestral Suite


A world might seem to divide the unbridled Romanticism of Berlioz from the highly controlled art of Rameau, standard-bearer of the French Late Baroque. And yet, at a distance of less than a century ('Hippolyte' was premiered in 1733, the 'Fantastique' in 1830), the same passion links two works more similar than their stylistic divergence might suggest. There is the same audacity in the orchestration, combined with an innate sense of drama that springs repeated rhythmic and harmonic surprises. The Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra performs here a task requiring unusual versatility under their Music Director, Daniel Harding, establishing a dialogue between two very different pioneers.

Daniel Harding is also Principal Guest Conductor of the London Symphony Orchestra and Music Partner of the New Japan Philharmonic. He takes up the baton at the Orchestre de Paris -the first British maestro in the orchestra’s history - this September, 2016. He is Conductor Laureate of the Mahler Chamber Orchestra for life.

“Harding’s own Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra are stylish in both. There’s some brazen playing to enjoy – the low brass in March to the Scaffold sound like a foghorn – but the impression of a lack of refinement is deceptive: the balance and pace are always tautly in check.” The Guardian, 1st September 2016 ****

“Daniel Harding’s gilt-edged Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra…[find] exceptional detail and expressiveness in these searing readings of Berlioz’s Symphonie Fantastique and Rameau’s Hippolyte et Aricie suite. The Rameau is crisp and precise with venomous fire in its belly…the Berlioz is ripe, explosive and furiously exciting” The Scotsman, 3rd September 2016 *****

“I like the combination; the way it emphasises Rameau’s sense of colour and dramatic daring … an audacious coupling, I enjoyed it a lot, not just the idea but also the execution” CD Review, 27th August 2016

“the performance is a cracker. The Swedes play with a passion, swagger and relish for the grotesque that makes a nonsense of national stereotypes, and Harding’s attention to detail is exemplary without impeding the music’s drama” The Times, 16th September 2016 *****

“This is my new favourite Symphonie Fantastique on modern instruments, and it should be yours too … Everything sounds superb (sample the church bell in the last movement), and Harding knits everything together with an impressive sureness of intent ... Enormous fun.” The Arts Desk, 1st October 2016

“the key seems to lie in the really very surprising string tone that Harding draws from his Swedish orchestra in both works. They have an acidic edge in the Rameau, which reminds you of the period specialists, but Harding’s masterstroke is to carry this on into the Berlioz, creating an utterly distinctive soundworld for the Symphonie Fantastique … fascinating on both a musical and an intellectual level” MusicWeb International, October 2016

“vibrant, pointed, stylish Rameau…more massive than our ears are used to but still quick on its feet … Harding’s Berlioz is resilient, pliant, conducted with a temporal freedom that always seems ambitious but ends up feeling electrifyingly right … Turn from Harding to his current peers – perhaps even to Charles Munch or Igor Markevitch – and it’s like going from IMAX cinema to living-room black-and-white.” Gramophone Magazine, October 2016

“an arresting juxtaposition … Smart work from the uncredited harpsichordist and taut direction by Daniel Harding anchor the Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra’s performance of the suite from Hippolyte et Aricie … With vibrato selectively applied, Harding’s Symphonie Fantastique rivals Philippe Herreweghe’s in its translucency, yet he has a Mahlerian quality, at once highly detailed and expansive.” BBC Music Magazine, December 2016 ****

“The dances from Rameau’s Hippolyte et Aricie are sprightly in rhythm and crisp in articulation. The overall effect is one of highly sculpted music-making, though not without moments of impressive, full-bodied vehemence. The Berlioz is volatile, with Harding relishing the surprises that come from his refusal to smooth out rough edges.” The Irish Times, 19th October 2016

“a crisply enunciated, stylistically credible performance, from artistically deployed harpsichord continuo to the last double dot … be privileged to hear Harding commanding a detailed instrument-by-instrument understanding of Berlioz’s scoring, expressive and dynamic markings meticulously detailed and enthrallingly expounded to form an awesome aural portrait of the ‘heroics’, terrors and ‘poetics’ pervading this extraordinary work.” Classical Ear, 4th November 2016

GGramophone Magazine

Editor's Choice - October 2016

Harmonia Mundi - HMC902244

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Mendelssohn: Symphonies Nos. 1 & 4 'Italian'

Mendelssohn: Symphonies Nos. 1 & 4 'Italian'


Mendelssohn:

Symphony No. 1 in C minor, Op. 11

Symphony No. 4 in A major, Op. 90 'Italian'


SACD Hybrid + 1 Pure Audio Blu-ray

Read Presto's complete review of this disc here

Constantly in the vanguard of enlightened interpretation, Sir John Eliot Gardiner stands as a leader in today’s musical life. His award-winning Mendelssohn cycle on LSO Live showcases his period performance expertise; the LSO muscians standing to play, highlighting their individual musicianship. As Gardiner notes: "It gives a different type of dynamism and energy... it means that the fiddles are freer in the way that they attack the extremely virtuosic lines and it gives a tremendous sense of occasion to the music making."

Dramatic and harmonically adventurous, Mendelssohn’s Symphony No 1 is presented here in a unique format, with both the original and revised versions of the third movement. As Gardiner said when introducing the work in concert: "It’s not every evening that you get to hear a symphony by a 14-and-a-half-year-old genius and there’s an intriguing complication to this piece. When Mendelssohn came to London in 1829, he performed the symphony and he wrote back to his parents saying: “well, I looked over my symphony and, lord, the minuet bored me to tears! So what I did was to take the scherzo from my Octet and I added a few airy trumpets and it sounded lovely.” Well, actually he did an awful lot more than that; he re-orchestrated absolutely brilliantly. And it’s so good, we thought you should hear that version. But what about the minuet and trio? Why, when he came to publish the symphony did he use that version and leave out the scherzo? I happen to think they’re both really remarkable, as is the whole symphony, and perhaps you’d let us know which you prefer...?"

The Fourth Symphony is inspired by the sights, sounds and atmosphere of Italy and is among the best loved of all the composer’s works. Mendelssohn himself described it as: "the jolliest piece I’ve written so far." Symphony No 1 was broadcast across Europe on Mezzo TV, alongside Mendelssohn’s 'A Midsummer Night’s Dream', and this rich video content will be shared to support the release.

“Gardiner’s Mendelssohn is as genial as it gets.” Sunday Times, 21st August 2016

“Right from the off it's infectiously smile-inducing, with delicately chirping woodwind and rhythmically incisive contributions from the strings...Gardiner is a stickler for Mendelssohn's phrase markings...I’m sure it’s no coincidence that Gardiner’s experience with the music of JS Bach makes Mendelssohn’s own love of Bach more evident than usual.” Presto Classical, 9th September 2016

“the LSO [is] at its most immaculate with Sir John Eliot Gardiner, through his completely fresh view of the [First Symphony, pretty much re-inventing it…this is a glorious disc, along with a breathtakingly all’aperto performance of the Italian Symphony…the best you will hear” Herald Scotland, 9th September 2016

“Gardiner’s real competition is with himself, and the Vienna Philharmonic. But the strings of the LSO display unrivalled agility...Taken at a true presto, the finale [of the Italian] never quite spins out of control but sounds as though it might at any moment. Outstanding.” Gramophone Magazine, October 2016

“Gardiner keeps the LSO on its toes both in the C minor work and the Italian symphony, the winds producing crystal-clear articulation the hair-raisingly fast account of the latter’s concluding saltarello. He also effectively brings out the undercurrent of unease in the C minor work’s slow movement, and the final reprise of its theme is quite beautifully handled.” BBC Music Magazine, December 2016 ***

Presto Disc of the Week

9th September 2016

Presto Discs of 2016

Finalist

GGramophone Magazine

Editor's Choice - October 2016

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