Gramophone Magazine Editor's Choice

May 2017

Disc of the Month

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Macmillan: Stabat Mater

Awards:

Gramophone Awards 2017

Shortlisted - Contemporary

Gramophone Magazine

Disc of the Month - May 2017

Label:

Coro

Catalogue No:

COR16150

Discs:

1

Release date:

3rd March 2017

Barcode:

0828021615023

Length:

59 minutes

Medium:

CD (download also available)

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Macmillan: Stabat Mater


 

Stabat Mater (plainsong)

MacMillan:

Stabat Mater

world premiere recording


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Read our exclusive interviews with James MacMillan and Harry Christophers about the project.

Includes the world premiere recording of James MacMillan's Stabat Mater.

Few living composers communicate with the emotional directness of Sir James MacMillan, and performances of his new Stabat Mater are eagerly anticipated. The Sixteen gave the world premiere of this work at a series of concerts in October 2016 as well as recording the work for their own record label, CORO. For MacMillan, 'beauty is at the heart of our Christian faith' and the Stabat Mater is sure to be profoundly shaped by his beliefs. But this is a work with deep roots and a universal message, a celebration of both tradition and radical renewal.

James MacMillan: Stabat Mater (Plainsong)

Stabat Mater (Plainsong)

James MacMillan: Stabat Mater

Stabat Mater dolorosa

Quis non posset contristari

Sancta Mater, istud agas

Fac, ut portem Christi mortem

classicalsource.com

February 2017

****

“his Stabat Mater is both moving and original in its word-setting and especially in its creation of atmosphere”

The Guardian

12th March 2017

****

“It’s a devastatingly powerful evocation of Mary’s agony, balancing impassioned choral writing with equally intense, occasionally violent, work for the strings of the Britten Sinfonia...Wonderfully sung; profoundly moving.”

The Scotsman

10th April 2017

*****

“There is deference to the power of plainsong in the chanted opening, the timelessness of which feeds into the sublime harmonic journey of the ensuing movements. MacMillan’s unfolding of the text and its instrumental halo are masterfully judged. I defy any atheist not to be moved by such a profound musical interpretation of religious belief.”

Gramophone Magazine

May 2017

“…without doubt the work's impact is immeasurably heightened by the exceptional performance it receives here…Christopher's adoration of MacMillan's Stabat Mater radiates out of every moment of this compelling performance…the Britten Sinfonia have tremendously incisve rhythmic bite.”

Classical CD Review

April 2017

“This is an amazing high emotion choral masterpiece in MacMillan's distinctive style, incredibly difficult for the singers and the string orchestra. The recording was made October 31 / November 1, 2016 in London's St. Augustine's Church, and engineers have captured the rich sounds of the venue in proper perspective…An important issue!”

Choir & Organ

May 2017

*****

“Macmillan’s visceral approach to word-setting can generate genuine and immediate emotional involvement in his listeners…Warmly recommended.”

BBC Music Magazine

June 2017

****

“His vivid, trenchant string writing is realised with striking clarity by the Britten Sinfonia in this recording, made just a fortnight after the same performers gave the world premiere last October in London. The Sixteen’s singing is predictably high in quality. Cries, shouts, whispers, glissandos, episodes of ululating melisma, all feature…in [MacMillan’s] quest to render musically the visceral emotional content of the Stabat Mater”

MusicWeb International

30th May 2017

“Even though I am sure there is much more in this Stabat Mater than I have yet discerned I am already confident that it is a masterpiece. It should be heard by anyone who values eloquent contemporary music.”

Classical Ear

21st June 2017

*****

“Its stark but searing beauty is brilliantly illuminated by the powerfully nuanced voices of The Sixteen and the poetically rich accompaniment of the Britten Sinfonia, by turns cosseting and excoriating.”

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Verdi: Un ballo in maschera

Verdi: Un ballo in maschera


Piotr Beczala (Riccardo), George Petean (Renato), Anja Harteros (Amelia), Okka von der Damerau, Sofia Fomina (Oscar)

Bayerisches Staatsorchester, Zubin Mehta

Staged by Johannes Erath

Munich’s new Ballo in maschera has received much critical acclaim: ‘This production shows what a utopia opera can be’ (Abendzeitung). Ten years after stepping down as music director of the Bavarian State Opera, Zubin Mehta returned to Munich in March 2016 to celebrate his 80th birthday conducting Verdi’s masterpiece for the first time in a staged production. His cast features some of today’s finest Verdi singers: soprano Anja Harteros, singing Amelia for the first time and ‘filling every note with Verdian intensity’, tenor Piotr Beczala as a ‘visually and vocally dashing Riccardo’ and George Petean as an ‘exemplary’ Renato (Neue Musikzeitung). In director Johannes Erath’s super-sensitive new production, this historically-based tale of illicit love, conspiracy and betrayal unfolds in a surrealistic, shadowy setting transformed by lighting and projections. Special praise was showered by the enthusiastic critics on Maestro Mehta, whom ‘creates concentrated musical connections, miraculously guiding his orchestra and unsurpassable voices the way a thermal lifts a paraglider... Musically the performance was a dream‘ (Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung).

SOUND FORMAT: BluRay: PCM 2.0, DTS-HD MA 5.1

PICTURE: 16:9, HD

SUBTITLES: Italian (original language), German, English, French, Spanish, Chinese, Korean, Japanese

BOOKLET: English, German, French

TOTAL RUNNING TIME: 149 mins

“Musically things are more than fine. Beczała pulls off this one hell of a tenor role…with style and confidence. Harteros gives her usual tightly focused emotional performance. With good sound and helpful shot selction the release is strongly recommended.” Gramophone Magazine, May 2017

“Eminently enjoyable, this marvellous if underrated Verdi opera Un Ballo in maschera is compellingly performed with Piotr Beczała in masterly form.” MusicWeb International, May 2017

“Nigh on unimpeachable, Beczala’s Riccardo is sung throughout with clean edges and unforced lyricism… he gives a marvellous performance. There’s excellent work from Fomina’s brilliantly sung, female cross-dressing Oscar, and grand vocal depths from Okka von der Damerau’s glamourous soothsayer. Working with top-quality forces, Zubin Mehta provides motivational conducting” Opera, July 2017

“The foregrounding of Oscar’s character is fascinating. It’s a striking performance amid a clutch of stellar turns…The ensembles are expertly balanced by Zubin Mehta, and the orchestra plays with a reliably silky tone.” BBC Music Magazine, August 2017 ****

GGramophone Magazine

Blu-ray of the Month - May 2017

Blu-ray Disc

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C Major - 739504

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$35.75

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Verdi: Un ballo in maschera

Verdi: Un ballo in maschera


Piotr Beczala (Riccardo), George Petean (Renato), Anja Harteros (Amelia), Okka von der Damerau (Ulrica), Sofia Fomina (Oscar)

Bayerisches Staatsorchester, Zubin Mehta

Staged by Johannes Erath

Munich’s new Ballo in maschera has received much critical acclaim: ‘This production shows what a utopia opera can be’ (Abendzeitung). Ten years after stepping down as music director of the Bavarian State Opera, Zubin Mehta returned to Munich in March 2016 to celebrate his 80th birthday conducting Verdi’s masterpiece for the first time in a staged production. His cast features some of today’s finest Verdi singers: soprano Anja Harteros, singing Amelia for the first time and ‘filling every note with Verdian intensity’, tenor Piotr Beczala as a ‘visually and vocally dashing Riccardo’ and George Petean as an ‘exemplary’ Renato (Neue Musikzeitung). In director Johannes Erath’s super-sensitive new production, this historically-based tale of illicit love, conspiracy and betrayal unfolds in a surrealistic, shadowy setting transformed by lighting and projections. Special praise was showered by the enthusiastic critics on Maestro Mehta, whom ‘creates concentrated musical connections, miraculously guiding his orchestra and unsurpassable voices the way a thermal lifts a paraglider... Musically the performance was a dream‘ (Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung).

SOUND FORMAT:DVD: Dolby Stereo, DTS 5.1

PICTURE: 16:9, HD

SUBTITLES: Italian (original language), German, English, French, Spanish, Chinese, Korean, Japanese

BOOKLET: English, German, French

TOTAL RUNNING TIME: 149 mins

“Musically things are more than fine. Beczała pulls off this one hell of a tenor role…with style and confidence. Harteros gives her usual tightly focused emotional performance. With good sound and helpful shot selction the release is strongly recommended.” Gramophone Magazine, May 2017

“the production looks glamourous and slick…As Riccardo, Piotr Beczala is a dashing and vocally elegant protagonist…” Opera Now, May 2017

“Nigh on unimpeachable, Beczala’s Riccardo is sung throughout with clean edges and unforced lyricism… he gives a marvellous performance. There’s excellent work from Fomina’s brilliantly sung, female cross-dressing Oscar, and grand vocal depths from Okka von der Damerau’s glamourous soothsayer. Working with top-quality forces, Zubin Mehta provides motivational conducting” Opera, July 2017

“The foregrounding of Oscar’s character is fascinating. It’s a striking performance amid a clutch of stellar turns…The ensembles are expertly balanced by Zubin Mehta, and the orchestra plays with a reliably silky tone.” BBC Music Magazine, August 2017 ****

GGramophone Magazine

DVD of the Month - May 2017

DVD Video

Region: 0

Format: NTSC

C Major - 739408

(DVD Video)

$29.75

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Clementi: Symphonies Nos. 1-4

Clementi: Symphonies Nos. 1-4


Clementi:

Symphony No. 1 in C WoO 32, reconstructed Casella

Symphony No. 2 in D WoO 33

Symphony No. 3 in G major ‘The Great National’

Symphony No.4 in D


Muzio Clementi (1752 - 1832) was an Italian-born English composer, pianist, pedagogue, conductor, music publisher, editor, and piano manufacturer. This release features the four symphonies (C Major, G Major, and two in D Major) over 2 discs conducted by the orchestra's esteemed principal conductor Ivor Bolton.

“There's plenty to intrigue and delight in these four symphonies...Bolton brings out both the opera buffa sparkle and the dramatic surprises of the Allegros, gives a lively kick to the rhythms in the minuet-scherzos...and combines affectionate phrasing with a sense of forward motion in the Andantes...warmly recommended.” Gramophone Magazine, May 2017

GGramophone Magazine

Editor's Choice - May 2017

Sony - 88985305392

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Elgar & Tchaikovsky: Cello Works

Elgar & Tchaikovsky: Cello Works


Elgar:

Cello Concerto in E minor, Op. 85

Tchaikovsky:

Variations on a Rococo Theme, Op. 33


The profoundly moving, elegiac lyricism of Elgar and the wistful charm and brilliance of Tchaikovsky are on full display in this irresistible new release from PENTATONE played with consummate virtuosity by the German-Canadian cellist Johannes Moser with the Orchestre de la Suisse Romande under Andrew Manze.

Composed at the end of the First World War, Elgar’s powerful Cello Concerto in E minor is one of his best-loved and most deeply-felt works. The soloist’s wrenching chords which open the work announce a mood of profound resignation and loss; gone is the youthful swagger of his earlier works, replaced instead with lonely introspection and longing, especially in the sublimely beautiful Adagio. The cello is given free rein in the vigorous final movement but the opening mood prevails as an anguished outburst from the cello brings the work to a close.

No such dejection hangs over Tchaikovsky’s delightful Variations on a Rococo Theme which ooze elegance, ineffable charm and daring displays of technical brilliance. While the Pezzo capriccioso finds Tchaikovsky in a more restrained mood, with the Nocturne and Andante Cantabile he wears his romantic heart full on his sleeve.

The cellist Johannes Moser is no stranger to these works. Winner of the top prize at the 2002 Tchaikovsky Competition, he was also awarded the Special Prize for his interpretation of the Variations on a Rococo Theme.

Described by Gramophone as “one of the finest among the astonishing gallery of young virtuoso cellists” and by the LA Times as a musician who “…connects with the audience in a way that only great artists do”, this is Moser’s third outing for PENTATONE.

His first album of concertos by Dvořák and Lalo was widely praised for his “performance of enormous flair and effervescence” (BBC Music Magazine) and “his dazzling virtuosity, free, passionate phrasing and immense energy … that recalls Pablo Casals’ iconic 1937 recording” (Strings)

“Moser is an unfailingly elegant soloist…the Tchaikovsky Variations have a suitably Rococo grace and spirit” BBC Music Magazine, May 2017 ***

“Moser offers an interpretation of the splendid Elgar Cello Concerto that is dense and very personal, almost severe. His playing is more eloquent than elegiac, with a warm sonority. Above all, his mastery of articulation and of nuances has the ability to capture the attention of the most distracted of listeners.” Diapason, April 2017 *****

“The first minutes command immediate attention, Johannes Moser's handling of the opening chords confident and tonally full-bodied, the ascending solo scales that lead to the principal melody haltingly tiered, the melody itself tenderness personified, slowing subtly before the strings take the lead and Moser rises boldly to the crest of the phrase. The full orchestra's response is both heroic and uplifting. [Rococo Variations] Again Moser offers a performance that conbines sensitivity, agility and brilliance, while Manze and the Suisse Romande Orchestra are consistently on the ball.” Gramophone Magazine, May 2017

“He takes an emotional, nostalgic view of the Elgar — broadly phrased, with light relief in his scurrying account of the “scherzo”. The Tchaikovsky Variations are elegant Mozart pastiche, dashed off with scintillating virtuosity. Manze elicits superb playing from Geneva’s orchestra.” Sunday Times, 16th July 2017

“Moser plays the composer’s original version [of the Variations], and sets off at a brisk trot – rococo is not going to be a byword for prissy. But the lightness is balanced by a gently yearning lyricism, and he shapes the minor-key variation into one long, seamless line...throughout, Andrew Manze and the Orchestre de la Suisse Romande are supportive at every turn.” The Guardian, 23rd March 2017 ***

GGramophone Magazine

Editor's Choice - May 2017

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The Italian Job

The Italian Job

Baroque Instrumental Music from the Italian States


Albinoni:

Concerto Op. 9 No. 3 for two oboes & strings in F major

Caldara:

Sinfonia for 2 oboes, 2 bassoons, 2 trumpets, timpani, violin, strings & continuo in C

Corelli:

Sinfonia, WoO 1, to the oratorio Santa Beatrice d'Este

Tartini:

Concerto in E major, D51

Torelli:

Sinfonia for 4 trumpets, timpani, 2 oboes, 2 bassoons, 2 violins, 2 cellos, strings & continuo in C, G 33

Vivaldi:

Concerto RV151 in G major for strings & basso continuo 'Alla rustica'

Bassoon Concerto, RV 467 in C major


Gail Hennessy, Rachel Chaplin (oboes) & Peter Whelan (bassoon)

La Serenissima, Adrian Chandler

Gramophone Award-winning Adrian Chandler and his period-instrument ensemble La Serenissima present The Italian Job, a feast of instrumental colour featuring oboes, bassoons, trumpets, trombone, timpani, strings and continuo, by some of the finest composers of the Italian baroque. The music on this recording comes from four cities, each with a rich musical heritage: Venice (Albinoni, Caldara, Vivaldi), Bologna (Torelli), Padua (Tartini) and Rome (Corelli).

“'The Italian Job' has all their [La Serenissima's] hallmarks: a fresh, zinging tone alive with vitality and enjoyment, an effortless easy panache from both ensemble and soloists, and the whole underpinned by a scholarly attittude to programming and performance style which is yet worn with a light grace.” Gramophone Magazine, May 2017

“The highlight of the disc for me is Chandler’s performance of a seldom-played E major Violin Concerto by Tartini: he explores fully the rich poetic content of its slow movement while projecting crisply articulated vitality to the faster ones. Peter Whelan brings fluent virtuosity to Vivaldi’s Bassoon Concerto in G.” BBC Music Magazine, August 2017 ****

GGramophone Awards 2017

Winner - Baroque Instrumental

GGramophone Magazine

Editor's Choice - May 2017

Gramophone Award Winners

Avie - AV2371

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Beethoven: Violin Sonatas Nos. 6 & 9

Beethoven: Violin Sonatas Nos. 6 & 9


Beethoven:

Violin Sonata No. 6 in A major, Op. 30 No. 1

Violin Sonata No. 9 in A major, Op. 47 ‘Kreutzer'


James Ehnes (violin), Andrew Armstrong (piano)

The duo of old friends James Ehnes and Andrew Armstrong has established itself as one of the most exciting of our times. Their albums of violin sonatas by Franck & Strauss, and Debussy, Elgar & Respighi have been praised by critics worldwide. For this new album they turn to Beethoven and two A major sonatas with very different moods. The 9th, ‘Kreutzer’ sonata, is a huge work, heroic and turbulent in character – a kind of concerto for violin and piano. It is middle period Beethoven at its most dramatic. By contrast, the 6th sonata is a serene, introspective work of great beauty which has tended to be overlooked by its more outward-looking siblings. The intimacy of this sonata – especially the slow movement - is all the more surprising as the original finale was removed by the composer, to become the finale of the ‘Kreutzer’. Beethoven wrote the gentle variations to conclude the 6th sonata.

“The Kreutzer Sonata is placed first, so we hear James Ehnes and Andrew Armstrong presenting their credentials in turn – Ehnes with effortless accurate double stops, and Armstrong picking up the thread, matching phrasing and mood. The turbulent main section of the movement is absolutely precise in ensemble, and projects a wide gamut of tone and dynamics.” BBC Music Magazine, July 2017 ****

“they converse as equals, underpinned by an irreproachable technique…and imbue the whole with a mixture of youthfulness, energy and radiant maturity…the expressive variety of Ehnes’s playing – perfectly placed and controlled vibrato, impeccable intonation – is elegant and aesthetic; the piano playing of Armstrong is richly fleshed, broad in dynamic but perfectly controlled.” Diapason, April 2017 *****

“[Kreutzer Sonata] Ehnes and Armstrong are ravishing in the slow movement, truly molto espressivo, while a sense of playfulness is apparent in every bar of the finale, setting the seal on a compelling addition to Ehnes and Armstrong's remarkable discography” Gramophone Magazine, May 2017

“An auspicious Beethoven recital by two outstanding musicians whose consonance and synergy are once again to the fore. While their Kreutzer sonata could perhaps do with a little more cut-and-thrust, these are nonetheless impeccably executed performances. Can more Beethoven now be expected from Ehnes and Armstrong? I look forward with interest” MusicWeb International, 18th July 2017

“there is always room for performances as vital and compelling as these... it’s the subtle interplay between the two players, ceding to each other as they “converse” melodically in the central variation movement [of the Kreutzer], that impresses here.” Sunday Times, 12th March 2017

“There’s a clarity of ideas that means they never have to overstate...For some listeners, the featherweight diction won’t be brawny or volatile enough for mid-period Beethoven, but it would be wrong to mistake cleanliness for lack of emotional heft...The uncluttered, conversational generosity of this duo speaks volumes.” The Guardian, 16th February 2017 ****

“[Beethoven’s Sixth Sonata] responds particularly well to James Ehnes’s velvet cantabile and purity of intonation” The Strad, June 2017

GGramophone Magazine

Editor's Choice - May 2017

Onyx - ONYX4170

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Bruch: String Quintets & Octet

Bruch: String Quintets & Octet


Bruch:

String Quintet in E Flat, Op. posth (1918)

Octet in B flat major, Op. post. (1920)

String Quintet in A minor, Op. posth (1918)


Read Presto's complete review of this disc here.

Music which belies the date and circumstances of its composition. All three works were written in the immediate aftermath of World War I, yet inhabit a sound world of Brahmsian richness and warmth—very much the product of the composer of the famous Violin Concerto. The Nash Ensemble are ideal interpreters.

“The always rewarding Nash Ensemble add warmth and grace to the sprightly String Quintet in E flat major and bring verve and attack to its edgier A minor companion, but it is in the magnificent String Octet that the players finally allow the sun to truly shine. Recommended.” The Observer, 26th March 2017 ****

“they have a yearning lyricism that harks back to the G minor Violin Concerto...and the rich texture of five and eight parts gives the sound a depth and mellowness. Although all three are in the ‘concertante’ style, ensuring that first violinist Stephanie Gonley enjoys the majority of the limelight, there’s no shortage of interplay between the parts as well as some delightful melodic turns of phrase.” David Smith, Presto Classical, 31st March 2017

“The Nash ensemble have a natural feeling for the music's ebb and flow, and while they're not afraid of big gestures and the bite of horsehair and rosin, they play beautifully as an ensemble...Together, these performances go to the top of a not exactly crowded field; in fact his disc needs to be heard by everyone who loves German Romantic chamber music.” Gramophone Magazine, May 2017

“These three very likeable chamber offerings by Max Bruch…receive joyously assured treatment from the distinguished members of The Nash Ensemble on this truthfully engineered Hyperion release…Tully Potter supplies a personable and authoritative booklet-essay, and collectors with a sweet tooth will find the disc as a whole well worth seeking out.” Classical Ear, 14th April 2017 ****

“The Nash Ensemble members (including Stephanie Gonley, Laura Samuel, Lawrence Power and Adrian Brendel) play superbly and devotedly and are tangibly recorded. Highly recommended.” classicalsource.com, May 2017 *****

Presto Disc of the Week

31st March 2017

GGramophone Awards 2017

Finalist - Chamber

GGramophone Magazine

Editor's Choice - May 2017

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Bach Reimagines Bach

Bach Reimagines Bach


Bach, J S:

Sonata for solo violin No. 1 in G minor, BWV1001

Lute Suite No. 4 in E major, BWV1006a

Lute Suite No. 3 in G minor, BWV995


William Carter’s exemplary musicianship is showcased to its fullest on this new recording of Bach’s own transcriptions for the lute.

Almost unplayable in parts many musicians take certain liberties with the music so that it flows more naturally, but Carter’s determined approach to authenticity sees the lutenist achieve the near impossible: playing the music as it was originally written.

Carter very subtly enhances BWV 1001, originally for unaccompanied violin, in keeping with Bach’s own perceived style, namely to only add ‘as much harmony as he found necessary.

Bach’s own mild refashioning of BWV 1006, originally a solo violin, allows Carter to highlight the relaxed and intimate nature of the music.

The final piece undergoes the most extensive reimagining as Bach expertly transforms the Fifth Cello Suite into a successful is it that Carter considers it to be, in understanding the essential nature and expressive qualities of the lute, ‘the most perfect piece of lute music in existence’.

“Thus there is the soloists suppleness and flexibility of phrase; but there is also the obvious enjoyment of pure sonority and tints and shades of tone. There is a lovely use of 'notes inegales' in the Siciliana and the Courante of both suites as well, while other dance movements benfit from Carter's deceptively subtle, distinctive imagination.” Gramophone Magazine, May 2017

“Played with intimate understanding by William Carter. The introspective quality of his playing makes for some magical moments of stillness and relection and the focus of the recording itself adds to the effect.” Record Review, 17th June 2017

GGramophone Magazine

Editor's Choice - May 2017

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Haydn: The Seasons

Haydn: The Seasons


Carolyn Sampson (soprano), Jeremy Ovenden (tenor), Andrew Foster-Williams (bass)

Wrocław Baroque Orchestra, Wrocław Philharmonic Choir, Gabrieli Consort & Players, Paul McCreesh

Read our exclusive interview with Paul McCreesh about the recording here, and Katherine's full review of the disc here.

The Gabrieli Consort continue their series of award-winning collaborations with the National Forum of Music, Wrocław, Poland with a new version of Haydn’s great oratorio The Seasons. Using a new performing edition by Paul McCreesh this recording is the first to feature the large orchestral forces that Haydn called for, including a string section of 60, 10 horns and a choir of 70. As well as the combined forces of the Gabrieli Consort & Players, Wrocław Baroque Orchestra and National Forum of Music Choir, the recording features solo performances from British singers Carolyn Sampson, Jeremy Ovenden and Andrew Foster-Williams.

All booklet texts are printed in both English and Polish translations.

“McCreesh’s new translation is a triumph, and will surely have an illustrious career beyond this recording...One of the great joys of this set is the huge dynamic and emotional range afforded by the expanded forces – the introspective recitatives are, in their way, as spine-tingling as the 70-strong chorus belting out their lusty paeans to wine, women and weather.” Katherine Cooper, Presto Classical, 24th March 2017

“The opening thunderous wallop on the timpani will warn you that this is a recording of some drama and punch...If you are not familiar with The Seasons, this is the recording to go for. Paul McCreesh's English translation is excellent, the singing and orchestral playing is outstanding.” Early Music Review, 27th March 2017

“What emphatically sets this Seasons apart from all previous recordings, whatever the language, is the scale…the big choruses, toppled by a shining, un-wobbly soprano line, generate a visceral excitement unmatched by any rivals. In the cataclysmic thunderstorm, rasping, minatory brass to the fore, the terrified populace evokes Verdi's 'Dies Irae', while the autumn hunt, raucously fuelled by anarchic natural horns, has never sounded more uninhibitedly exuberant. In the wine harvest, with its final tipsy fugue, McCreesh conjures a Burgenland bacchanalia to rival Jacobs -high praise indeed. McCreesh and his massed Anglo-Polish forces have given us a Seasons that thrillingly catches both the work's bucolic exhilaration and its invocations of the sublime. And for sheer sonic splendour it's in a class of its own.” Gramophone Magazine, May 2017

“This successor to Haydn’s Creation has often felt in the shadow of the earlier masterpiece, but this recording brings it thrillingly to life. Avoiding the early-music tendency to small forces, Paul McCreesh assembles a massive throng of singers and players, the numbers that might have performed the piece in 1801. And what a noise they make!...McCreesh’s fresh new translation animates the top-class solo singing, while the massed choruses blow the roof off. Glorious.” The Observer, 9th April 2017

“Much is splendid: the big hunting, drinking and spinning choruses, for example” Sunday Times, 16th April 2017

“the performance matches the high standards of McCreesh's previous grand choral projects...McCreesh revels in Haydn's masterly skills in writing for orchestra, choir and soloists...The choir's tone is full-bodied yet never heavy...The soloists are expertly chosen...while McCreesh's conducting is responsive to every subtle shade within Haydn's grand spiritual vision.” BBC Music Magazine, June 2017

“the playing is magnificent… eloquence is consistently uppermost, stemming from McCreesh’s singular passion shared with musicians who likewise respond passionately to every facet… superlative, all-encompassing performance” Classical Ear, May 2017 *****

“Some of the most satisfying moments come from the fine orchestral playing, in particular featuring some exquisitely lovely wind playing.” Early Music Today, May 2017

“the singers are an unmitigated pleasure to hear… top marks for Paul McCreesh’s latest achievement in large-scale Haydn performance” MusicWeb International, July 2017

Presto Disc of the Week

24th March 2017

GGramophone Awards 2017

Finalist - Choral

GGramophone Magazine

Editor's Choice - May 2017

BBC Music Magazine

Choral & Song Choice - June 2017

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Signum Winged Lion - SIGCD480

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Heroines of Love and Loss

Heroines of Love and Loss

vocal chamber music from the 17th century


anon.:

Willow song

O Death Rock me Asleep

Bennet:

Venus' birds whose mournful tunes

Caccini, F:

Lasciatemi qui solo

Kapsberger:

Toccata arpeggiata (1604)

Piccinini:

Chiaccona in partite variate

Purcell:

O lead me to some peaceful gloom (from Bonduca or The British Heroine, Z574)

When I am laid in earth (from Dido and Aeneas)

Sessa:

Occhi io vissi di voi

Strozzi:

L'Eraclito amoroso, Op. 2 No. 14

Lamento

Lagrime mie

Vivaldi:

Cello Sonata in G minor, RV42

Vizzana:

Componimenti musicali (1623): O Magnum mysterium


Ruby Hughes (soprano), Mime Yamahiro Brinkmann (cello) & Jonas Nordberg (lute / theorbo / archlute)

The women appearing before our ears throughout this programme range from the Virgin Mary and Dido, queen of Carthage, to Shakespeare’s Desdemona and the unfortunate Anne Boleyn, waiting for her execution in the Tower of London in 1536. But the disc also features four other heroines–the Italian composers Claudia Sessa, Francesca Caccini, Lucrezia Vizzana and Barbara Strozzi. All active between 1590 –1675, they will have required great courage to rise above the social conventions of the time, but this surprisingly productive period for female composers also offered an opportunity that would disappear in later centuries: the all-female environment provided by the convent. More than half of the women who published music before 1700 were nuns, including Sessa and Vizzana, who are here represented by brief meditations on the suffering and death of Christ.

Caccini and Strozzi, on the other hand, lived very much in the secular world – Caccini at the Florentine court and Strozzi as a free-lance musician and composer in Venice. Unhindered by the restrictions imposed by the church on sacred music they both adhered to the new stile moderno championed by Claudio Monteverdi. Celebrated for their singing, they composed vocal music which makes ‘the words the mistress of the harmony and not the servant’, to quote Monteverdi’s brother Giulio Cesare. The soprano Ruby Hughes has already made her name for herself in a wide-ranging repertoire, but has a special love for the constellation of lute, cello and voice. With Jonas Nordberg and and Mime Yamahiro Brinkmann– who also contribute instrumental solos –she here revels in the dramatic and expressive potential offered by this trio combination, and by the music by these female composers and their English colleagues Henry Purcell and John Bennet.

“[Ruby Hughes] has a warm, almost mellow voice, well suited to this enterprising collection of 17th-century songs…the striking feature of this disc is the array of powerful pieces by Italian women composers…to all them Ruby Hughes brings an exemplary understanding and stylishness.” Gramophone Magazine, May 2017

“Ruby Hughes’s soprano has an effortless beauty: pliant, subtly expressive, never forced. She captures the chaste fervour of the sacred works…Brinkmann and Nordberg proffer aptly spontaneous continuo realisations, varying timbre and texture and adding discreet embellishments according to the poetic moment. Their playing in the instrumental pieces is equally refined” BBC Music Magazine, June 2017 ****

“With the expansive church acoustic, concept and execution alike prove admirable.” MusicWeb International, May 2017

“Hughes has a pellucid soprano of arresting beauty and her phrasing is sophisticated in its very simplicity. The soprano is joined by Mime Ymahiro Brinkmann on cello and Jonas Norbderg, and between the three of them they conjure not just ravishing sounds but a rather magical atmosphere.” Opera Now, June 2017 ****

GGramophone Magazine

Editor's Choice - May 2017

Super Audio CD

Format:

Hybrid Multi-channel

BIS - BIS2248

(SACD)

$15.25

(also available to download from $10.00)

In stock - usually despatched within 1 working day.

Michael Gielen Edition Volume 4

Michael Gielen Edition Volume 4


Berlioz:

Le carnaval romain Overture, Op. 9

Symphonie fantastique, Op. 14

Grande Messe des Morts, Op. 5 (Requiem)

Dvorak:

Violin Concerto in A minor, Op. 53

Symphony No. 7 in D minor, Op. 70

Cello Concerto in B minor, Op. 104

Mendelssohn:

A Midsummer Night's Dream Overture, Op. 21

Rachmaninov:

The Isle of the Dead - Symphonic Poem, Op. 29

Schumann:

Scenes from Goethe's Faust, WoO 3

Manfred Overture, Op. 115

Overture to Schiller’s Die Braut von Messina, Op. 100

Symphony No. 1 in B flat major, Op. 38 'Spring'

Smetana:

The Bartered Bride Overture

Strauss, J, II:

Kaiser-Walzer, Op. 437

Suk:

A Summer's Tale, Op. 29

Tchaikovsky:

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

Symphony No. 4 in F minor, Op. 36

Wagner:

Lohengrin: Prelude to Act 1

Lohengrin: Prelude to Act 3

Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg: Overture

Tristan und Isolde: Prelude & Liebestod

Weber:

Der Freischütz Overture

Piano Concerto No. 2 in E flat major, J. 155, Op. 32


SWR Sinfonieorchester des Südwestrundfunks, Michael Gielen

This new release is the latest installment in the Michael Gielen Edition, and it brings a sense of climax to the first four volumes. Of all the sets released so far, this latest volume contains the most first releases- 14 of the 23 works have never been released before, including extensive works such as Berlioz’s Requiem and Schumann’s Scenes from Faust. The set also contains recordings with international stars such as Heinrich Schiff (Dvorak Cello Concerto), Josef Suk (Dvorak Violin Concerto), Gunter Reich (Baritone, Faust) and Ludwig Hoffmann (Weber Piano Concerto No. 2). Other outstanding recordings include two particularly splendid interpretations from the Minnesota Music Festival (Weber’s Freischutz Overture and Weber’s Kaiserwalzer), plus Dvorak’s Violin and Cello Concertos, and Berlioz’s Symphonie fantastique. Michael Gielen’s controlled, intense direction is on display in each piece. Gielen was less known for his interpretation of music from the Romantic period. His recordings of such repertoire may form only a small part of his legacy, but they receive outstanding performances here, which will be appreciated not only by fans and collectors of Gielen’s work, but by music lovers in general.

“Most of the works are making first ever appearances or first appearances on CD and the breadth of repertory makes this an insightfully chosen selection that will make a direct appeal to Gielen’s admirers.” MusicWeb International, August 2017

GGramophone Magazine

Re-issue of the Month - May 2017

SWR Music Michael Gielen Edition - SWR19028CD

(CD - 9 discs)

$46.50

(also available to download from $90.00)

In stock - usually despatched within 1 working day.

Beethoven: Piano Sonatas

Beethoven: Piano Sonatas

Pathetique, Moonlight, Appassionata


Beethoven:

Piano Sonata No. 8 in C minor, Op. 13 'Pathetique'

Piano Sonata No. 14 in C sharp minor, Op. 27 No. 2 ‘Moonlight'

Piano Sonata No. 23 in F minor, Op. 57 'Appassionata'


Sunwook Kim (piano)

After his first CD featuring Beethoven's piano sonatas No. 21(“Waldstein”) and No. 29 ("Hammerklavier"), Sunwook Kim’s third solo CD with Accentus Music presents an impressive interpretation of Ludwig van Beethoven’s three most well-known piano sonatas: "Pathétique" (No. 8), "Moonlight Sonata" (No. 14), and "Appassionata" (No. 23).

Sunwook Kim, who won the first prize at the Leeds International Piano Competition in 2006, has matured to become a subtle and accomplished Beethoven specialist – not least thanks to his partnership with the Beethoven House in Bonn, whose unique collection he regularly consults in his preparation of Beethoven's works. Sunwook Kim stays close to the original score, yet nevertheless provides a very personal interpretation, which reveals a new and exceptional reading that stands out from the abundance of existing recordings of these three piano sonatas.

“Kim has an unering sense of underlying harmonic tension and tonal design, plus the skill to apply colour and blend accordingly, which gives his playing both eloquence and architectural solidity and saves him from having to rely on on gimmicky exaggeration to make his mark.” Gramophone Magazine, May 2017

“The adagios are really adagio; the allegros super-speedy; the fortissimos are huge. His overall approach is not subtle, but it’s an enormous amount of fun, and it works up a storm in these three tempestuous sonatas.” Pianist Magazine, August 2017 ****

GGramophone Magazine

Editor's Choice - May 2017

Accentus Music - ACC30409

(CD)

$16.00

Usually despatched in 2 - 3 working days.

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