Gramophone Awards 2006

Record of the Year

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Mahler: Symphony No. 6 in A minor 'Tragic'

Mahler: Symphony No. 6 in A minor 'Tragic'


GGramophone Awards 2006

Record of the Year

GGramophone Magazine

Editor's Choice - September 2005

DG - 4775573

(CD)

$16.50

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Other Finalists

(See below for other Best of Category winners.)

Schubert - Lieder

Schubert - Lieder


Schubert:

Bei dir allein, D866/2

Abendbilder, D650

Himmelsfunken, D651

Dass sie hier gewesen! D775 (Rückert)

Drang in die Ferne, D770

Am Fenster, D878

Auf der Bruck, D853

Des Fischers Liebesgluck, D933 (Leitner)

Der Winterabend (Es ist so still), D938

Das Zugenglocklein D871 (Seidl)

Alinde, D904

Fischerweise, D881 (Schlechta)

Im Abendrot, D799

Der Musensohn, D764 (Goethe)

Du bist die Ruh D776 (Rückert)

Greisengesang, D778

Willkommen und Abschied, D767


Christian Gerhaher (baritone) & Gerold Huber (piano)

“An exhilarating recital from this superb lieder singer” Gramophone

“Christian Gerhaher is one of the most exciting German baritones on the Lieder scene at the moment, with his outstanding natural voice, immaculately groomed to enable a powerful musical sculpting of all he sings. …Gerhaher and Huber are at their riveting and rhythmic best in the trotting gait of 'Drang in die Ferne', the canter of 'Auf de Bruck' and the break-neck gallop of 'Wilkommen und Abschied'.” BBC Music Magazine, August 2006 ****

“Eschewing the eccentricities and exaggerations of some of his contemporaries, Gerhaher wonderfully exhibits the verities of Schubert interpretation in this well-planned and absorbing programme. Everything he does evolves from the song in hand and so accords with all that is needed in performing some of the composer's greatest Lieder.
The title, 'Abendbilder', is interpreted freely but almost all the pieces have some relevance to the dreams and moods of evening. Gerhaher enters into these nocturnal moods with unerring artistry where line, tone and word-painting are concerned. He is at his very best in the three settings of Rückert. That quirky, equivocal piece Dass sie hier gewesen, prophesying the style and harmony of Hugo Wolf, is sung with a full understanding of its inner meaning. Du bist dieRuh is delivered with the fine line and intense concentration such a great song deserves, and the thoughts of an elderly man in Greisengesang are as meaningful as they should be.
Highly appealing throughout is the mellifluousness and breath control, a feature prominent throughout the recital, of the quietly contemplative Im Abendrot, and the appropriate dreaminess brought to the hypnotic barcarolle that is Des Fischers Liebesglück. As a nice contrast, Gerhaher brings virile energy to the fierce riding of Auf der Bruck – and here Gerold Huber deserves as much praise as his partner for portraying the insistent beat of horse's hooves in the piano part so vividly – and the familiar Der Musensohn has just the right verve as does another Goethe setting, the ecstatic Willkommen und Abschied, that brings a rewarding recital to an exhilarating close with Huber – as throughout – seconding the singer with his discerning contribution. The recording is ideally balanced.”
Gramophone Classical Music Guide, 2010

“Gerhaher enters into these nocturnal moods with unerring artistry where line, tone and word-painting are concerned. He is at his very best in the three settings of Rückert. Du bist die Ruh is delivered with the fine line and intense concentration such a great song deserves, and the thoughts of an elderly man in Greisengesang are as meaningful as they should be. ...Gerhaher brings virile energy to the fierce riding of Auf der Bruck - and here Gerold Huber deserves as much praise as his partner for portraying the insistent beat of horse's hooves in the piano part so vividly and the familiar Der Musensohn has just the right verve as does another Goethe setting, the ecstatic Willkommen and Abschied, that brings a rewarding recital to an exhilarating close with Huber - as throughout - seconding the singer with his discerning contribution.” Gramophone Magazine, July 2006

GGramophone Awards 2006

Record of the Year Finalist

GGramophone Magazine

Editor's Choice - July 2006

RCA - 82876777162

(CD)

$14.00

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Wagner: Siegfried

Wagner: Siegfried

Recorded live at the 1955 Bayreuth Festival


Wolfgang Windgassen (Siegfried), Astrid Varnay (Brünnhilde), Hans Hotter (Der Wanderer), Gustav Neidlinger (Alberich), Paul Kuen (Mime), Maria von Ilosvay (Erda)

Bayreuth Festival Chorus and Orchestra, Joseph Keilberth

These 'live' Bayreuth performances were taped by a Decca team led by Peter Andry and including the noted engineers Kenneth Wilkinson and Roy Wallace, with Gordon Parry as assistant. Using a new six-channel mixer designed by Wallace, the team made both stereo and mono recordings of each opera. Three microphones were placed in the sunken orchestra pit and three hung from a lighting bridge about 20 feet above the stage. "This was brilliant; it worked beautifully", remembers Wallace. The company prepared for an expected release, but John Culshaw, recently returned to Decca, vetoed the project. He disliked 'live' recordings and already had plans for a studio Ring with Solti which began four years later.

“Time and again, as I listened enraptured to this overwhelming performance, I felt as though as I was sitting in the Bayreuth stalls. …Keilberth's… command of every aspect of this vast score is unerring in balance, detail and overall Schwung. No opera house or recording has since rivalled the cast assembled here, not even the Decca set, by which time Hotter Windgassen and Neidlinger were all some 10 years older. In 1955 all three are at the peak of their form and - singing live rather than in the studio - are that much more involved and involving. Don't take my word for it: buy the discs and experience Wagner as he was supremely performed in those special days...” Gramophone Magazine, March 2006

“[Windgassen] is in gloriously fresh voice...Neidlinger too is clear and incisive as Alberich, with Josef Greindl darkly majestic as Fafner...The duetting of Varnay and Windgassen as Siegfried and Brunnhilde then makes a thrillingly passionate conclusion in Keilberth's thrustful reading.” Penguin Guide, 2010 edition ****

GGramophone Awards 2006

Record of the Year Finalist

Penguin Guide

Rosette Winner

Building a Library

First Choice - January 2008

Testament - SBT41392

(CD - 4 discs)

$66.25

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Lindberg, M: Clarinet Concerto, etc.

Lindberg, M:

Clarinet Concerto

Gran Duo

Chorale


(World première recording)

“Lindberg composed his Clarinet Quintet for Kriikku in 1992, and it is hard to imagine that this fabulously attractive work would ever have appeared without him to play it so brilliantly.” The Guardian Classical CD of the Week*****

“The clarinet has featured prominently as a solo instrument in Magnus Lindberg's output throughout his career, though it was only in 2002 that he set about writing a concerto for his longtime colleague Kari Kriikku. The finished article, however, is really very different from 1980s pieces such as Ablauf and Linea d'ombra.
Running for 25 minutes, the work's four sections play continuously, if not seamlessly. Beautifully written for the instrument, there are hints of Debussy in the opening pages and – in the orchestration – of Barber and Copland later on, but the Concerto is in no way derivative. It proceeds with ineluctable momentum through a varied tonal landscape (including some decidedly jazz-like passages) to an ecstatic peroration that is deeply moving and uplifting, before closing out serenely: Rautavaara meeting Gershwin, perhaps.
There is something of Rautavaara's manner in the modest Chorale (2001-2), written to precede Berg's Violin Concerto (both use the chorale Esist genug). The larger Gran Duo for winds and brass (1999), with its suggestions of Stravinsky's Symphonies of Wind Instruments, is utterly different though no less impressive. The duo is between the woodwinds and brass en masse, the work a bracing dialogue across some 20 minutes with fascinating incidents along the way, not least where the textures pare down to chamber proportions, though the dark-hued coda has considerable cumulative power. Very strongly recommended.”
Gramophone Classical Music Guide, 2010

“Magnus Lindberg's Clarinet Concerto has enjoyed phenomenal success since its 2002 premiere… A marvellous vehicle for the amazing virtuosity of clarinettist Kari Krikku, this is a shiny, sophisticated, nostalgic cultural artefact, indubitably contemporary in language yet sensuously easy (tuneful, even) on the ear. ...is a stunning disc.” BBC Music Magazine, September 2005 *****

GGramophone Awards 2006

Record of the Year Finalist

GGramophone Magazine

Editor's Choice - October 2005

Contemporary Music - up to 25% off

Ondine - ODE10382

(CD)

Normally: $18.00

Special: $14.40

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Sergei Taneyev - Chamber Music

Sergei Taneyev - Chamber Music


Taneyev:

Piano Quintet in G minor, Op. 30

Piano Trio in D major, Op. 22


“Sergey Taneyev composed his three piano chamber works in the years 1902-11, on either side of his 50th birthday, when his days as director of the Moscow Conservatoire were well behind him but when he still commanded nationwide respect for his gifts as pianist, administrator and craftsman-composer. These pieces were in the first instance vehicles for his own concert performances, and the piano parts are accordingly massive. Compositionally the writing is unfailingly well wrought and resourceful: by no means entirely confined to middle-ofthe- road tastefulness, yet rarely, if ever, touched by the kind of distinction evinced by his great pupils, Rachmaninov and Scriabin.
At times, especially in the Piano Quartet, it is like being in the presence of a very large and likeable student, who has never quite found his own voice but who remains intent on getting higher and higher marks for the same type of exercise. Yet at the same time the music has an undeniable sweep, and some of the ideas evidently lodged in the minds of future generations – compare the opening bars of the Quintet with Prokofiev's First Violin Sonata, for instance, or the opening of the Piano Trio with the third movement of Shostakovich's First Violin Concerto.
There is a certain Elgarian gruffness here and there, and a liking for fulminating, lowlying textures that may be off-putting at first encounter but which exerts its own particular charm on closer acquaintance.
The Piano Quintet is the latest and grandest of the three works, its structural layout and textures being indebted in just about equal measure to Tchaikovsky and César Franck.
The initially consoling second subject is destined for heroic things in a grandstand résumé at the end of the finale, and on repeated hearings it's a pleasure to discover its unassuming beginnings. In between, the Scherzo has that touch of fairytale magic that came so naturally to most of the great Russians while the slow movement daringly strips down to a passacaglia theme on the cello before dressing up impressively again. Pletnev and his dream-team string colleagues are passionate advocates, as they are for the more classically conceived (or at least more Schumannesque) Trio.
The strings are placed rather far forward, and the acoustic is a fraction too dry for comfort. It's a tribute to the Barbican Piano Trio that they hardly ever find themselves outdone in crusading passion, or indeed outplayed technically, by their bigger-name rivals. James Kirkby is as sensitive as Pletnev to the oases of calm in the slow movement of the Trio, where the piano holds the stage in moments of quiet rapture. By contrast, the Piano Quartet launches immediately into its ecstatic stride, risking anticlimax but rescuing itself by constant renewed initiatives. Violist James Boyd makes his presence strongly felt in the dark-hued slow movement. The Dutton recording strays a fraction the other side of the ideal from DG by giving us a little too much of the room acoustic of St George's, Brandon Hill, Bristol; but once again it is perfectly serviceable.”
Gramophone Classical Music Guide, 2010

GGramophone Awards 2006

Record of the Year Finalist

GGramophone Magazine

Editor's Choice - September 2005

DG - E4775419

(CD)

$16.50

(Sorry, download not available in your country)

Usually despatched in 8 - 10 working days.

 Other Best of Category Winners

Handel: Giulio Cesare in Egitto

Handel: Giulio Cesare in Egitto

Recorded live at the Glyndebourne Opera House, East Sussex, on 14th & 17th August 2005.


Sarah Connolly (Cesare), Danielle de Niese (Cleopatra), Angelika Kirchschlager (Sesto), Christophe Dumaux (Tolomeo), Patricia Bardon (Cornelia), Christopher Maltman (Achilla) & Rachid Ben Abdeslam (Nireno)

The Glyndebourne Chorus & Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, William Christie (conductor) & David McVicar (stage director)

Note: This Blu-ray Disc (BD) is not compatible with standard DVD players

David McVicar’s production of Giulio Cesare manages to combine serious insight with entertainment, bringing Handel’s masterpiece to life in a powerful, convincing and highly intelligent way. In every line of the complex narrative the subtle nuances are apparent, reflecting perfectly the transparent and exquisite nature of Handel’s musical expression. Filmed in High Definition and recorded in true surround sound, the outstanding singing of the all-star cast, led by a superb Sarah Connolly, and the vivid playing of the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment under the energising baton of William Christie reveal the colour and dramatic character of Handel’s music in a most delightful manner.

‘…a production with performances to savour, led from the pit by William Christie and the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment on stylish form. Sarah Connolly… gave a ‘complete’ performance full of intelligence and subtlety. Danielle de Niese stole the show as a wily, fun-filled sex kitten who renders men helpless with her irresistible charms.’ Opera Now

Bonus material/features:

Illustrated synopsis & cast gallery.

Entertainment is not a Dirty Word - documentary including interviews with William Christie, David McVicar and the cast.

Danielle de Niese & the Glyndebourne experience - an informal portrait of Danielle de Niese in her first-ever Glyndebourne season.

Production photo gallery & rehearsals photo gallery.

PICTURE FORMAT: 1080i
LENGTH: Approx 305 Mins
SOUND: 5.0 & 2.0 PCM
SUBTITLES: EN/FR/DE/ES/IT

“David McVicar's 2005 staging, revived the following summer, provoked a deal of contrasting views among the critical fraternity but was adored by the Glyndebourne public. Chief cause of their delight was the overtly sexual, high-hoofing performance of Cleopatra by the irrepressible Danielle de Niese (who is accorded a delightful 22-minute narrative on her Glyndebourne experience among the extras here). Her vocal command and stage presence are spectacular in every sense, and from her first aria she utterly seduces her audience. McVicar took advantage of her attractive skills to build the opera around her personality. We are here in the high noon of British imperialism and the Ottoman Empire, with Caesar more like a late-19th-century English general than a Roman emperor, and with the Egyptian milieu heavily underlined by milling extras, now always a not-altogether welcome feature of a McVicar production. They clutter the stage and draw attention away from the principals, although one has to admit that the highly disciplined and often captivating choreography is brilliantly executed within Robert Jones's exotic sets. McVicar does at least allow the moments of serious drama to be played out without undue interference – such as the deeply moving duet that closes Act 1 and Cleopatra's 'Piangerò'. Finally it has to be said that only Glyndebourne allows for the rehearsal time to prepare such a complex and ingenious staging. The musical side of things is equally well prepared and thought-through under William Christie's knowledgeable and commanding direction. He manages to balance with the same finesse and care the light and serious parts of the score, even if his love for Handel leads him to a few self-indulgently slow tempi. The OAE play lovingly and with period skills for him. By the time of this DVD recording, near the end of the run, the whole thing moves with eloquence matched by elegance. De Niese sings her airy numbers as to the manner born, seconded by expertly erotic dancing. She manages most of the emotional substance of her sadder arias, but they sometimes seem wanting in the tonal weight ideally required. Sarah Connolly's thoroughly believable Caesar is sung with her firm tone and well schooled mastery of Handelian style, including subtle embellishments. This wilful and imperial Caesar manages to change moods as his music demands. Some of the most accomplished and tender Handelian singing comes from Patricia Bardon's moving Cornelia and Angelika Kirchschlager's concerned Sesto, although the latter does slightly overplay the character's seemingly neurotic state of mind following his father's brutal death. The young countertenor Christophe Dumaux playing Tolomeo is suitably brat-like and spoilt. He, like most of the cast, fulfils all the stringent demands of this very physical staging. Christopher Maltman makes Achilles as nasty as he should be. The sense of teamwork all round is confirmed in the interviews included in the extras. Robin Lough's DVD direction is faultless.” Gramophone Classical Music Guide, 2010

“Justly garlanded with awards aplenty, David McVicar's 2005 Glyndebourne production offers a witty, imaginative post-colonial take on Handel's best-known opera. Sarah Connolly is the definitive Caesar, whilst Danielle de Niese's high-glamour, all-singing-all-dancing Cleopatra catapulted her to stardom. William Christie directs with his customary energy and insight in the pit.” Katherine Cooper, Presto Classical, August 2014

“an account at once scholarly, lively and refreshing...Sarah Connolly sings superbly in the title-role, looking very boyish...Patricia Bardon is an excellent Cornelia and Christophe Dumaux a characterful Tolomeo” Penguin Guide, 2010 ***

GGramophone Awards 2006

Best of Category

GGramophone Magazine

DVD of the Month

BBC Music Magazine

DVD Choice - June 2006

BBC Music Magazine Awards 2007

DVD of the Year

Blu-ray Disc

Region: all

Opus Arte Glyndebourne - OABD7024D

(Blu-ray - 2 discs)

$49.00

In stock - usually despatched within 1 working day.

Mozart: Die Zauberflöte, K620

Mozart: Die Zauberflöte, K620


René Pape (Sarastro), Erika Miklósa (Königin der Nacht), Dorothea Röschmann (Pamina), Christoph Strehl (Tamino), Hanno Müller-Brachmann (Papageno), Julia Kleiter (Papagena), Georg Zeppenfeld (Sprecher), Kurt Azesberger (Monostatos), Caroline Stein (Erste Dame), Heidi Zehnder (Zweite Dame), Anne-Carolyn Schlüter (Dritte Dame), Alexander Lischke (Drei Knaben), Frederic Jost, Niklas Mallmann (Soloists From Tölzer Knabenchor), Danilo Formaggia (Erster Geharnischter Mann), Sascha Borris (Zweiter Geharnischter Mann), Andreas Bauer (Erster Priester), Danilo Formaggia (Zweiter Priester), Tobias Beyer (Dritter Priester), Matthias Bernhold (Drei Sklaven), Martin Olbertz & Tobias Beyer

Mahler Chamber Orchestra & Arnold Schoenberg Chor, Claudio Abbado

“This is certainly the most desirable version using modern instruments to appear since Solti's second recording in 1990. That said, its characteristics are rather nearer William Christie's 1995 period-performance (reviewed above).
Abbado undertook the opera for the first time in performances in Italy in 2005, directed by his son (the production was seen at the 2006 Edinburgh Festival). On this occasion, he conducts a direct, keenly articulated, inspiriting account of the score, obviously aware of what has been achieved in recent times by the authenticists, yet when he reaches the work at its most Masonic – the Act 2 trio and the scene with the Armed Men, Tamino and Pamina – Abbado, directing his beloved Mahler Chamber Orchestra, gives the music its true and wondrous import. The playing throughout is alert and scrupulously articulated.
Casts varied between performances; here Abbado assembled one predominantly chosen from a youngish generation of German-speaking singers, each of whom approaches his or her role with fresh sound and interprets it in impeccably Mozartian style. The Tamino and Pamina are well nigh faultless. Tamino has been taken by many outstanding tenors on disc but Christoph Strehl sings with a Wunderlich-like strength and beauty, and rather more light and shade than his famous predecessor brought to the role. His is a wonderfully virile, vital reading that gives pleasure to the ear, as much in ensemble as in aria. He is partnered by Dorothea Röschmann, who has already appeared as Pamina at Covent Garden, and in many other houses. Her full-throated, positive singing, finely shaped, cleanly articulated, is a true match for Strehl's.
Hanno Müller-Brachmann is a properly lively and amusing Papageno, and delivers the role in a richer bass-baritone than many interpreters provide. He doesn't attempt a Viennese accent in the dialogue (a fairly full version), but brings plenty of simple humour to the part. The high and low roles are well catered for. The Hungarian coloratura Erika Miklósa has been making a speciality of Queen of Night over the past few years and shows just why in a technically secure and fiery account of her two arias. René Pape sings Sarastro: now at the peak of his career, he conveys all the role's gravity and dignity in a gloriously sung performance. Kurt Azesberger is a suitably nasty Monostatos.
Abbado allows a few neatly executed decorations.
The extensive dialogue, spoken in a manner suitable for the theatre, sometimes sounds over-emphatic in the home, with the Papagena as an old woman the worst culprit. The recording is reasonably well balanced. As a whole the performance conveys a welcome immediacy and spontaneity and the daring of Abbado's way with the score is very alluring.”
Gramophone Classical Music Guide, 2010

“...a triumphant success. René Pape's magnificent Sarastro dominates the opera, just as intended...But most magical of all are the little vocal ensembles, wonderfully warm and refined...this is above all an affectionately relaxed performance, with Abbado continually revelling in the lyrical beauty of Mozart's wonderful score.” Penguin Guide, 2010 ****

“Abbado… conducts a direct, keenly articulated, inspiriting account of the score… The playing throughout is alert and scrupulously articulated. The Tamino and Pamina are well nigh faultless. …Christoph Strehl… sings with a Wunderlich-like strength and beauty... He is partnered by Dorothea Röschmann... Her full-throated, positive singing, finely shaped, cleanly articulated, is a true match for Strehl's. Hanno Müller-Brachmann is a properly lively and amusing Papageno... René Pape sings Sarastro: now at the peak of his career, he conveys all the role's gravity and dignity in a gloriously sung performance.” Gramophone Magazine, June 2006

GGramophone Awards 2006

Best of Category

GGramophone Magazine

Editor's Choice - June 2006

Penguin Guide

Rosette Winner

CD Review

Critics Disc of the Year - December 2006

BBC Music Magazine

Disc of the month - June 2006

DG - 4775789

(CD - 2 discs)

$33.00

(Sorry, download not available in your country)

In stock - usually despatched within 1 working day.

Stanford: Songs of the Sea, Op. 91, etc.

Stanford:

Songs of the Sea, Op. 91

The Revenge: A Ballad of the Fleet

Songs of the Fleet


Gerald Finley (baritone)

BBC National Chorus of Wales & BBC National Orchestra of Wales, Richard Hickox

“Songs of the Sea - which includes the long-popular 'Drake's Drum' and 'The Old Superb' - and the later, texturally richer and more thoughtful Songs of the Fleet are superb baritone vehicles for Gerald Finley… this new Chandos SACD… has impressive presence.” BBC Music Magazine, July 2006 ****

“Two of Stanford's catchiest and most popular settings frame his 1904 Songs ofthe Sea for baritone, male chorus and orchestra: both 'Drake's Drum' and 'The Old Superb' are instantly memorable and have alone justly secured the work's survival. But there's some terrific music tucked away in the three remaining numbers, not least the marvellously serene 'Homeward Bound' with its burnished orchestral palette (Stanford's skilful scoring gives enormous pleasure throughout, in fact), rapt eloquence (nowhere more potent than at the line 'Swiftly the great ship glides') and adventurous harmonic scope.
Six years later, Stanford returned to Henry Newbolt's maritime verse to pen a more reflective sequel entitled Songs of the Fleet. Its spacious centrepiece, 'The Middle Watch', evokes a dusky mystery and sense of awe, while the opening 'Sailing at Dawn' is a gloriously assured and noble essay worthy of Elgar himself...Not so immediately appealing is the 1886 choral ballad The Revenge, one of the composer's biggest early successes. Tennyson's poem depicts how Sir Richard Grenville and his Devonian crew aboard Revenge took on – and inflicted terrible damage upon – the Spanish fleet off the Azores in 1591 (one ship against 53 – believe it or not!).
Stanford's breezy setting proved a hit with Victorian choral societies up and down the land.
Though no forgotten masterpiece, it's most ably served by Hickox and company. Throw in an admirable booklet-essay by Jeremy Dibble and ripe, airy sound from Chandos, and it certainly adds up to a hearty recommendation.”
Gramophone Classical Music Guide, 2010

“…Gerald Finley's firmly focused, ringing tone is a joy. He doesn't possess the salty tang of Benjamin Luxon (a true sea-dog if ever I heard one), but the voice is steadier and he sings with unfailing ardour, intelligence and sensitivity. Hickox and his BBC Welsh forces provide exemplary support.” Gramophone Magazine, July 2006

GGramophone Awards 2006

Best of Category

GGramophone Magazine

Disc of the Month - July 2006

Penguin Guide

Rosette Winner

Super Audio CD

Format:

Hybrid Multi-channel

Chandos - CHSA5043

(SACD)

$16.50

(also available to download from $10.00)

In stock - usually despatched within 1 working day.

Handel: Giulio Cesare in Egitto

Handel: Giulio Cesare in Egitto

Recorded live at the Glyndebourne Opera House, East Sussex, on 14th & 17th August 2005.


Sarah Connolly (Cesare), Danielle de Niese (Cleopatra), Angelika Kirchschlager (Sesto), Christophe Dumaux (Tolomeo), Patricia Bardon (Cornelia), Christopher Maltman (Achilla) & Rachid Ben Abdeslam (Nireno)

The Glyndebourne Chorus & Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, William Christie (conductor) & David McVicar (stage director)

David McVicar’s production of Giulio Cesare manages to combine serious insight with entertainment, bringing Handel’s masterpiece to life in a powerful, convincing and highly intelligent way. In every line of the complex narrative the subtle nuances are apparent, reflecting perfectly the transparent and exquisite nature of Handel’s musical expression. Filmed in High Definition and recorded in true surround sound, the outstanding singing of the all-star cast, led by a superb Sarah Connolly, and the vivid playing of the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment under the energising baton of William Christie reveal the colour and dramatic character of Handel’s music in a most delightful manner.

‘…a production with performances to savour, led from the pit by William Christie and the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment on stylish form. Sarah Connolly… gave a ‘complete’ performance full of intelligence and subtlety. Danielle de Niese stole the show as a wily, fun-filled sex kitten who renders men helpless with her irresistible charms.’ Opera Now

Specials:

"Entertainment is not a Dirty Word" - documentary about the opera including interviews with William Christie, David McVicar and the cast.

"Danielle de Niese & the Glyndebourne experience" - an informal portrait of Danielle de Niese in her first-ever Glyndebourne season.

PICTURE FORMAT: 16:9

LENGTH: 295 Mins

SOUND: DTS SURROUND / LPCM STEREO

SUBTITLES: EN/FR/DE/ES/IT

“David McVicar's 2005 staging, revived the following summer, provoked a deal of contrasting views among the critical fraternity but was adored by the Glyndebourne public. Chief cause of their delight was the overtly sexual, high-hoofing performance of Cleopatra by the irrepressible Danielle de Niese (who is accorded a delightful 22-minute narrative on her Glyndebourne experience among the extras here). Her vocal command and stage presence are spectacular in every sense, and from her first aria she utterly seduces her audience.
McVicar took advantage of her attractive skills to build the opera around her personality.
We are here in the high noon of British imperialism and the Ottoman Empire, with Caesar more like a late-19th-century English general than a Roman emperor, and with the Egyptian milieu heavily underlined by milling extras, now always a not-altogether welcome feature of a McVicar production. They clutter the stage and draw attention away from the principals, although one has to admit that the highly disciplined and often captivating choreography is brilliantly executed within Robert Jones's exotic sets. McVicar does at least allow the moments of serious drama to be played out without undue interference – such as the deeply moving duet that closes Act 1 and Cleopatra's 'Piangerò'.
Finally it has to be said that only Glyndebourne allows for the rehearsal time to prepare such a complex and ingenious staging.
The musical side of things is equally well prepared and thought-through under William Christie's knowledgeable and commanding direction. He manages to balance with the same finesse and care the light and serious parts of the score, even if his love for Handel leads him to a few self-indulgently slow tempi. The OAE play lovingly and with period skills for him. By the time of this DVD recording, near the end of the run, the whole thing moves with eloquence matched by elegance.
De Niese sings her airy numbers as to the manner born, seconded by expertly erotic dancing.
She manages most of the emotional substance of her sadder arias, but they sometimes seem wanting in the tonal weight ideally required. Sarah Connolly's thoroughly believable Caesar is sung with her firm tone and well schooled mastery of Handelian style, including subtle embellishments.
This wilful and imperial Caesar manages to change moods as his music demands.
Some of the most accomplished and tender Handelian singing comes from Patricia Bardon's moving Cornelia and Angelika Kirchschlager's concerned Sesto, although the latter does slightly overplay the character's seemingly neurotic state of mind following his father's brutal death. The young countertenor Christophe Dumaux playing Tolomeo is suitably brat-like and spoilt. He, like most of the cast, fulfils all the stringent demands of this very physical staging. Christopher Maltman makes Achilles as nasty as he should be. The sense of teamwork all round is confirmed in the interviews included in the extras. Robin Lough's DVD direction is faultless.”
Gramophone Classical Music Guide, 2010

“an account at once scholarly, lively and refreshing...Sarah Connolly sings superbly in the title-role, looking very boyish...Patricia Bardon is an excellent Cornelia and Christophe Dumaux a characterful Tolomeo.” Penguin Guide, 2010 ***

“…a runaway success at Glyndebourne is turned into a great DVD. David McVicar's 2005 staging… was adored by the Glyndebourne public. Chief cause of their delight was the overtly sexual, high-hoofing performance of Cleopatra by the irrepressible Danielle de Niese... Her vocal command and stage presence are spectacular in every sense, and from her first aria she utterly seduces her audience. McVicar took... William Christie... manages to balance with the same finesse and care the light and serious parts of the score... Sarah Connolly's thoroughly believable Caesar is sung with her firm tone and well schooled mastery of Handelian style, including subtle embellishments. Some of the most accomplished and tender Handelian singing comes from Patricia Bardon's moving Cornelia and Angelika Kirchschlager's concerned Sesto... The young countertenor Christophe Dumaux playing Tolomeo is suitably brat-like and spoilt. He, like most of the cast, fulfils all the stringent demands of this very physical staging. Christopher Maltman makes Achilles as nasty as he should be. The sense of teamwork all round is confirmed in the interviews included in the extras. Robin Lough's DVD direction is faultless.” Gramophone Magazine, July 2006

“Justly garlanded with awards aplenty, David McVicar's 2005 Glyndebourne production offers a witty, imaginative post-colonial take on Handel's best-known opera. Sarah Connolly is the definitive Caesar, whilst Danielle de Niese's high-glamour, all-singing-all-dancing Cleopatra catapulted her to stardom. William Christie directs with his customary energy and insight in the pit.” Katherine Cooper, Presto Classical, August 2014

GGramophone Awards 2006

Best of Category

GGramophone Magazine

DVD of the Month - July 2006

BBC Music Magazine

DVD Choice - June 2006

BBC Music Magazine Awards 2007

DVD of the Year

DVD Video

Region: 0

Format: NTSC

Opus Arte Glyndebourne - OA0950D

(DVD Video - 3 discs)

$49.00

In stock - usually despatched within 1 working day.

Rachmaninov: Piano Concertos Nos. 1 & 2

Rachmaninov: Piano Concertos Nos. 1 & 2


Rachmaninov:

Piano Concerto No. 1 in F sharp minor, Op. 1

(Studio Recording)

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

(Live Recording)


“With no shortage of fine versions of this pairing from which to choose, EMI must rely on the undoubted selling power of its Norwegian star to make this release stand out from the rest. It is certainly a worthy contender for the Top Ten when aided by the world-class Berlin Phil, a conductor who is in the Barbirolli class of adroit accompanists, superb recorded sound and a beautifully voiced piano.
With judicious tempi (though, as is now customary, slightly slower than the composer's) and a well-nigh ideal balance between piano and orchestra, instrumental detail is tellingly observed, such as the bassoon and clarinet counterpoint at the beginning of the second movement of the First Concerto and the triangle in its finale, both well integrated into the sound picture, even if there is a hint of the engineer's hand.
Nor is there anything mannered about the soloist, though some may wish he was slightly less well mannered. Andsnes here gives the lie to those who find his playing on the cool side of emotional but he is always the reliable guest who never gets drunk, no matter how much alcohol he has consumed.
The fiery section of the cadenza to the First Concerto, for example, runs out of steam in the final bars to which Byron Janis, for instance, brings a despairing vehemence.
The Second Concerto (live, as opposed to the studio First, but without any appreciable difference in acoustic and balance) is, similarly, given a Rolls-Royce reading with which only the pickiest could find fault. The last movement, though, is something special and the final appearance of its glorious second subject, greeted with a mighty timpani wallop and braying brass, is heart-stopping. The audience rightly roar their approval.”
Gramophone Classical Music Guide, 2010

“Leif Ove Andsnes applies to these two glorious works all those qualities for which his playing is renowned. It’s nothing short of stunning” Sunday Times *****

“Andsnes studiously avoids barnstorming on the one hand or prissiness on the other: his is an intelligent, alert and at times austere middle road, with lightning reflexes in the First and more reserved touch in the Second” The Independent ****

“Leif Ove Andsnes and Antonio Pappano deliver full bodied and intelligently detailed readings of Rachmaninov…Andsnes and Pappano undoubtedly are world-class contenders in a crowded market, and I hope they plan further recorded collaborations” Classics Today

“As Andsnes observed in interview, the conductor is the one who really drives the Second Concerto, and after spacious opening chords it's over to Pappano's Berliners for opulent sweep. Andsnes lets intensity slacken in the development, but the return of the big tune puts us back on track. The slow movement is beautifully moulded, with plenty of now-unfashionable but ever self-indulgent string vibrato.” BBC Music Magazine, October 2005

GGramophone Awards 2006

Best of Category

GGramophone Magazine

Editor's Choice - November 2005

EMI - 4748132

(CD)

$16.50

In stock - usually despatched within 1 working day.

Tallis - Gaude gloriosa

Tallis - Gaude gloriosa

and other choral music


Tallis:

Jesu salvator saeculi

Gaude gloriosa Dei mater

Sermone blando angelus

Magnificat and Nunc Dimittis for 5 voices

Mihi autem nimis

Absterge Domine

Derelinquat impius

Loquebantur variis linguis

Suscipe quaeso Domine

O nata lux de lumine 5vv


‘This superbly sung selection of some of his finest Latin church music will surely prove to be one of Tallis’s very best 500th birthday presents. It is hard to imagine a better performance of the magnificent six-part votive antiphon Gaude gloriosa’ (The Daily Telegraph)

GGramophone Awards 2006

Best of Category

Hyperion - up to 25% off

Hyperion - CDA67548

(CD)

Normally: $16.50

Special: $13.53

In stock - usually despatched within 1 working day.

JS Bach: Brandenburg Concertos

JS Bach: Brandenburg Concertos


Bach, J S:

Brandenburg Concertos Nos. 1-6 BWV1046-1051 (Complete)

Sinfonia: Cantata BWV174


The May 2012 issue of BBC Music Magazine, the world's best selling classical music magazine, includes a focus on Bach's Brandenburg concertos.

The recording of this work by Rinaldo Alessandrini and Concerto Italiano, released in 2005, has been designated Best recording ever.

“Alessandrini has opened a window on to Bach's music and let a refreshing current of air run through it” BBC Music Magazine, 1st November 2005

“How do you embark on a new addition to the vast pile of Brandenburg Concerto recordings? Do you go for a radical interpretation set to make people jump, laugh or recoil in surprise? Or do you perform them more or less as other good performers have but just try to do it better? Rinaldo Alessandrini and Concerto Italiano have gone for the latter approach and succeeded brilliantly. There is perhaps no Baroque group around today that can do the simple and obvious things to such exciting effect.
This is not to say that their Brandenburgs have no distinguishing features – just that, where they do, they spring from eminent good sense, as, for instance, in No 3 when the two central link chords come attached to a harpsichord flourish which has arisen directly from the first movement's final chord; or the abrupt ending of No 2; or any number of places where an inner part is brought out with the help of a generously drawn legato so that you are left wondering why you never noticed it before.
Indeed, clarity of texture is one of this recording's most glorious virtues, offering a view of the contrapuntal wonders of the music that has not always been available.
This is particularly striking in the potentially murky, homogeneous textures of Nos 3 and 6; but the other, more colourfully scored concertos are just as lucidly done – a triumph of the balancer's art, obviously, but surely just as much a result of clear-headed thinking on the part of the performers.
Equally enlivening is a tight attention to articulative detail and tasteful ornamentation which keeps the music bouyant and forward- moving at all times.
Technically, things are not always perfect: the horn players struggle sometimes to keep up in No 1 and the solo trumpet part in No 2 is a bit harum-scarum. But the performances are so joyous and fresh that, in their straightforward but deeply musical way, they are the most invigorating newcomers to the Brandenburg fold since Musica Antiqua Köln's provocative recording of the mid-1980s.
Bonuses come in the form of the Sinfonia to Cantata 174 (a version of the first movement of Concerto No 3 to which lusty oboes and horns have been added) and a curious 'patch take' of the shorter, swirling first version of the harpsichord cadenza to No 5. There is also a pleasingly unhyperbolic DVD of the sessions including interviews with Alessandrini.”
Gramophone Classical Music Guide, 2010

GGramophone Awards 2006

Best of Category

GGramophone Magazine

Editor's Choice - November 2005

BBC Music Magazine

Disc of the month - November 2005

Naive - OP30412

(CD - 2 discs)

$27.00

(also available to download from $20.00)

This item is currently out of stock at the UK distributor. You may order it now but please be aware that it may be six weeks or more before it can be despatched. (Available now to download.)

Editor's Choice Award

Stanford: Songs of the Sea, Op. 91, etc.

Stanford:

Songs of the Sea, Op. 91

The Revenge: A Ballad of the Fleet

Songs of the Fleet


Gerald Finley (baritone)

BBC National Chorus of Wales & BBC National Orchestra of Wales, Richard Hickox

“Songs of the Sea - which includes the long-popular 'Drake's Drum' and 'The Old Superb' - and the later, texturally richer and more thoughtful Songs of the Fleet are superb baritone vehicles for Gerald Finley… this new Chandos SACD… has impressive presence.” BBC Music Magazine, July 2006 ****

“Two of Stanford's catchiest and most popular settings frame his 1904 Songs ofthe Sea for baritone, male chorus and orchestra: both 'Drake's Drum' and 'The Old Superb' are instantly memorable and have alone justly secured the work's survival. But there's some terrific music tucked away in the three remaining numbers, not least the marvellously serene 'Homeward Bound' with its burnished orchestral palette (Stanford's skilful scoring gives enormous pleasure throughout, in fact), rapt eloquence (nowhere more potent than at the line 'Swiftly the great ship glides') and adventurous harmonic scope.
Six years later, Stanford returned to Henry Newbolt's maritime verse to pen a more reflective sequel entitled Songs of the Fleet. Its spacious centrepiece, 'The Middle Watch', evokes a dusky mystery and sense of awe, while the opening 'Sailing at Dawn' is a gloriously assured and noble essay worthy of Elgar himself...Not so immediately appealing is the 1886 choral ballad The Revenge, one of the composer's biggest early successes. Tennyson's poem depicts how Sir Richard Grenville and his Devonian crew aboard Revenge took on – and inflicted terrible damage upon – the Spanish fleet off the Azores in 1591 (one ship against 53 – believe it or not!).
Stanford's breezy setting proved a hit with Victorian choral societies up and down the land.
Though no forgotten masterpiece, it's most ably served by Hickox and company. Throw in an admirable booklet-essay by Jeremy Dibble and ripe, airy sound from Chandos, and it certainly adds up to a hearty recommendation.”
Gramophone Classical Music Guide, 2010

“…Gerald Finley's firmly focused, ringing tone is a joy. He doesn't possess the salty tang of Benjamin Luxon (a true sea-dog if ever I heard one), but the voice is steadier and he sings with unfailing ardour, intelligence and sensitivity. Hickox and his BBC Welsh forces provide exemplary support.” Gramophone Magazine, July 2006

GGramophone Awards 2006

Best of Category

GGramophone Magazine

Disc of the Month - July 2006

Penguin Guide

Rosette Winner

Super Audio CD

Format:

Hybrid Multi-channel

Chandos - CHSA5043

(SACD)

$16.50

(also available to download from $10.00)

In stock - usually despatched within 1 working day.

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