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The Romantic Violin Concerto 17 - Bruch

The Romantic Violin Concerto 17 - Bruch


Bruch:

Violin Concerto No. 3 in D minor, Op. 58

Scottish Fantasy, Op. 46


Award-winning violinist Jack Liebeck brings his impassioned tones, fulsome emotional display and formidable technique to the first of three albums of music by Max Bruch.

This programme presents one of Bruch’s most popular pieces for violin and orchestra, the Scottish Fantasy, alongside one of his least known, the Violin Concerto No 3 in D minor, Op 58. Anyone hearing Jack Liebeck’s performance may well wonder why this concerto has languished in the lumber room for so long—it has never been heard at the BBC Proms, for example. It was written for Joseph Joachim who gave the premiere in Düsseldorf and subsequently played the concerto in Hamburg, Berlin, Frankfurt, Strasbourg, Breslau, Leipzig, Cologne and London (for the Philharmonic Society).

The Scottish Fantasy in E flat major, Op 46 (or more correctly ‘Fantasia for the violin with orchestra and harp, freely using Scottish folk melodies’), was written in Berlin during the winter of 1879–80 for Sarasate and reflected the Spaniard’s more colourful personality. Although Bruch never visited Scotland, he was typical of German Romantics in having a fascination with the picture of the country painted by such writers as Walter Scott. For the Scottish Fantasy he drew on James Johnson’s voluminous folk-song collection The Scots Musical Museum.

“Jack Liebeck and conductor Martyn Brabbins work hard to make the music come alive. Liebeck’s playing is consistently fresh and his phrasing always imaginative” The Guardian, 23rd October 2014 ***

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The Romantic Piano Concerto 64 - Oswald & Napoleão dos Santos

The Romantic Piano Concerto 64 - Oswald & Napoleão dos Santos


Oswald, H:

Piano Concerto in G minor, Op. 10

Santos, A:

Piano Concerto No. 2 in E flat minor, Op. 31


Portuguese virtuoso Artur Pizarro makes a welcome return to the Romantic Piano Concerto series with the outpourings of two brilliant pianist-composers. Their names may not be familiar to listeners today. The Brazilian Henrique Oswald and the Portuguese Alfredo Napoleão were born in the same year, less than three months apart, when Schumann, Brahms and Liszt were alive and Chopin recently deceased. Both were of mixed European heritage: Oswald with a Swiss-German father and Italian mother, Napoleão with an Italian father and Portuguese mother. Both were child prodigies who became widely travelled concert pianists, pedagogues and composers. In 1868 Oswald gave his ‘farewell recital’ and left Rio de Janeiro to study in Europe; Napoleão went to Brazil.

Oswald’s Piano Concerto in G minor, Op 10, dates from about 1886, the year he met Liszt. Although influences of Fauré can be detected in the second theme, the overall character of the first movement owes more to the late Romantic German style. The orchestration is rich and full, but the Tchaikovskian athleticism and virtuosity of the piano-writing keep the soloist to the fore.

Napoleão’s Piano Concerto No 2 in E flat minor, Op 31, is undated but was probably composed around the same time as Oswald’s Piano Concerto. Although Napoleão performed the concerto in a solo piano version, the first performance with orchestra had to wait until 12 February 1941. This was given by Evaristo de Campos Coelho (1903–1988)—with whom Artur Pizarro, the pianist on the present recording, studied as a young child. He played the work numerous times, and performed it for Portuguese radio. Dinorah Leitão (who was Ivo Cruz’s daughter in law, and also a student of Campos Coelho) then played it, and Artur Pizarro is only the third pianist to champion this work.

“Napoleão’s concerto No 2 in E flat minor grips with a first movement worthy of Chopin, and delights with a sparkling central scherzo but the wandering, occasionally twee third movement is disappointing, despite the dedicated playing of Artur Pizarro.” The Observer, 26th October 2014 ***

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JS Bach: The Art of Fugue

JS Bach: The Art of Fugue


Bach, J S:

The Art of Fugue, BWV1080

Wenn wir in höchsten Nöten sein, BWV668a


‘Angela Hewitt’s performance on the piano over two recitals brought this apogee of musical thought to vivid life through sound … Hewitt’s achievement is to bring its abstract purity to memorable tonal embodiment by providing an emotional context that audiences connect with’ (Sydney Morning Herald)

‘Hewitt’s eloquent exposition of each fugue’s “formula”, the result of a lifetime’s immersion in Bach’s music, could hardly be bettered’ (Financial Times)

Angela’s much-awaited recording of Bach’s ultimate masterpiece, The Art of Fugue, is destined to be the crowning achievement of her Bach cycle for Hyperion—a revelatory recording and performing project which has taken her all over the world and won her international acclaim and millions of dedicated fans. With decades of experience behind her, she breathes fresh air into the most complex keyboard-writing of Bach, bringing it to life with crystalline clarity and thoughtful sincerity.

“I won’t mince words. This Art of Fugue is marvellous. The variety and beauty of tone alone make compelling listening, bringing contrasts, clarity and warmth to Bach’s intellectual marvels...Yet her fingers never make the results dry triumphs of engineering.” The Times, 3rd October 2014 *****

“how does one sustain interest and concentration without compromising the music's structure and character? Contrapunctus I alone reveals not only Angela Hewitt's solution to these challenges but also the extent of her evolution as a Bach player...Hewitt's expressive and dynamic range is both expanded and strategically deployed.” Gramophone Magazine, October 2014

“Hewitt admits she was daunted by this music...She only took The Art of Fugue into her repertoire in 2012, but it crowns — magnificently — her acclaimed Hyperion recordings of the complete keyboard works, reaffirming her position as the outstanding Bach pianist of her generation.” Sunday Times, 26th October 2014

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Brahms: The Complete Trios

Brahms: The Complete Trios


Brahms:

Piano Trios Nos. 1-3 (Complete)

Horn Trio in E flat major, Op. 40

Stephen Stirling (horn)

Clarinet Trio in A minor, Op. 114

Richard Hosford (clarinet)


Here are all of Brahms’s Trios assembled on one album. The three Piano Trios date from the extremes of the composer’s life—Opus 8 from 1853/4 when he was about twenty years old (though here performed in its revised version of 1889), and Opus 101 from 1886, written when he was fifty-three. The Clarinet Trio was one of his very last works, written for the clarinettist who also inspired the Clarinet Quintet and the two Opus 120 Sonatas, Richard Mühlfeld. The marvellous Horn Trio is a middle-period work, composed when the composer was in his early thirties. The five works are presented chronologically and all are immaculately played by the acclaimed Florestan Trio.

“A clear first recommendation for any of the five works. I find these fully the equal of any other versions of any of the trios in the catalogs, whether by present-day or ‘golden age’ performers. Wonderful music-making” Fanfare

“These are very desirable recordings … enriching performances that make one aware of Brahms’s stature first and the superb musicianship of the executants second—which is exactly as it should be!” Gramophone Magazine

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Hyperion Dyads - CDD22082

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Debussy Songs Volume 3

Debussy Songs Volume 3


Debussy:

Musique

Romance

La romance d'Ariel

Regret

L'Archet

Chanson triste L24

Jonathan McGovern (baritone)

Les baisers d'amour L23

Jonathan McGovern (baritone)

Les Elfes

Aimons-nous et dormons L7

Souhait

Sérénade L29

Rêverie

La Belle au bois dormant

Jonathan McGovern (baritone)

Il dort encore (Hymnis)

Les Roses

Pierrot

Les baisers L9

Dans le jardin

Jonathan McGovern (baritone)

Le Lilas

Caprice

Zéphyr (Triolet a Philis)

Fête galante

Le promenoir des deux amants

Jonathan McGovern (baritone)

Paysage sentimental


Jennifer France (soprano), Malcolm Martineau (piano)

Hyperion presents a third volume in its acclaimed Debussy songs series, accompanied and curated by Malcolm Martineau, with booklet notes by French music expert par excellence Roger Nichols. Young soprano Jennifer France, winner of the Song Prize at the 2014 Kathleen Ferrier Awards and making her debut on the label, has a thrillingly expressive voice of diamantine beauty and is an ideal performer of these songs. Baritone Jonathan McGovern performs Le promenoir des deux amants and other songs with warm tone and great musical sensitivity.

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Hyperion Debussy Song Series - CDA68016

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Handel: 20 Sonatas ‘Opus 1’

Handel: 20 Sonatas ‘Opus 1’


Handel:

Sonata in D major for violin and continuo, HWV371, Op. 1 No. 13

Sonata in G minor for recorder and continuo, HWV360, Op. 1 No. 2

Sonata in B flat major for oboe and continuo, HWV357

Sonata in F major for recorder and continuo, HWV369, Op. 1 No. 11

Sonata in D Minor for violin and continuo, HWV359a, Op. 1 No. 1

Flute Sonatas HWV 374-376 'Halle' Nos. 1, 2 & 3

Sonata in D minor for recorder and continuo, HWV367a, Op. 1 No. 9a 'Fitzwilliam III'

Sonata in G major for violin and continuo, HWV358

Sonata in E minor for flute and continuo, HWV379, Op. 1 No. 1a

Sonata in A minor for recorder and continuo, HWV362, Op. 1 No. 4

Sonata in C minor for oboe and continuo, HWV366, Op. 1 No. 8

Sonata in B flat major for recorder and continuo, HWV377 'Fitzwilliam I'

Sonata in G major for flute and continuo, HWV363b, Op 1 No 5

Sonata in A Major for violin and continuo, HWV361, Op. 1 No. 3

Sonata in E minor for flute and continuo, HWV359b, Op. 1 No. 1b

Sonata in C major for recorder and continuo, HWV365, Op. 1 No. 7

Sonata in G minor for violin or oboe and continuo, HWV364a, Op. 1 No. 6

Flute Sonata in B minor, Op 1 No 9b, HWV367b


Rachel Beckett (recorder), Lisa Beznosiuk (flute), Paul Goodwin (oboe), Elizabeth Wallfisch (violin), Richard Tunnicliffe (cello), Paul Nicholson (harpsichord)

The twenty sonatas on this recording show Handel writing for the professional musicians of his London opera orchestra; they demand considerable skill and stamina both from the soloist and the continuo. Prominent bass parts give the sonatas a contrapuntal strength and vitality, and Handel keeps the elements of display and purely musical argument in admirable balance in these works. For this reason, they are among the most attractive Baroque solo sonatas and deserve their lasting popularity.

“Here is all the ‘Op 1’ you could ever want, in performances which, in the present state of the art, I cannot see beaten” BBC Music Magazine

“The performances in this attractive set are further distinguished by an interpretive sponaneity that invariably brings the music to life” BBC Music Magazine

“This set gives authoritative readings, impeccable in style, dependable in text” Gramophone Magazine

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Byrd: The Three Masses

Byrd: The Three Masses


Byrd:

Mass for five voices

Mass for four voices

Mass for three voices

Ave verum Corpus


A new recording of the most perfect of Tudor masterpieces, Byrd’s three Mass-settings, from the cradle of their nineteenth-century rehabilitation. Westminster Cathedral Choir is enjoying a vintage period, and here we hear its trademark sound in all its glory: unfettered, natural singing from the trebles underpinned by warm yet clear tones from the gentlemen.

This recording celebrates Byrd’s Catholic Masses in two ways simultaneously. Most obviously, it addresses great and timeless works, which themselves address great and timeless liturgical texts. But at the same time it reminds us that the revival of Byrd’s Masses in the late nineteenth century was pioneered by Roman Catholic church choirs. This is a point worth pondering. Since the accession of Queen Elizabeth I in 1558, the choirs of England’s Protestant cathedrals and college chapels have had their own distinctive musical repertory, which has flourished and grown in unbroken tradition. The anthems and services of Thomas Tallis, for instance, have never fallen from cathedral use; they have been the epitome of Choral Evensong and Eucharist for more than four centuries. This Anglican repertory, however, is not what Roman Catholic worship requires. When major Catholic choral foundations were established in late Victorian and Edwardian England, at Downside Abbey, the Brompton Oratory, and above all at Westminster Cathedral, there was a quest for new and more relevant music; and it was at these places that William Byrd’s three Latin Masses were revived. Hence the pertinence of this recording; it celebrates that Catholic revival no less than it celebrates the works themselves.

“unexaggerated performances, occasionally using solo voices for intimate effect.” Financial Times, 27th September 2014

“The Choir of Westminster Cathedral's approach is placid but not overly reverential: the longer-texted movements are formally clear and energetic where required...For the three-voice Mass the top voice is taken by a well-blended combination of boy altos and countertenors, making this the most distinctive interpretation of the three.” Gramophone Magazine, Awards Issue 2014

“Westminster Cathedral Choir may sing them with more splendour and finesse than Byrd himself would have expected, yet the results are uplifting and moving. It's no slight to these musicians to say the disc is worth buying for the Byrd scholar John Milsom's incomparable notes: a masterly encapsulation of Tudor church music history in a few dense pages.” The Observer, 17th August 2014 *****

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Arvo Pärt: Choral Music

Arvo Pärt: Choral Music


Pärt:

Peace upon you

Morning Star

The Woman With The Alabaster Box

The Deer's Cry

Virgencita

Solfeggio

Beter (2)

Rachel Ambrose Evans (soprano)

Tribute to Caesar

Richard Bannan (bass)

Summa

Memento

Alleluja Tropus for choir and string orchestra

Da pacem Domine


Stephen Layton and Polyphony have a long and fruitful relationship with the music of Arvo Pärt. Their recording of Triodion and other choral works (CDA67375) won a Gramophone Award and became a cult classic. The extraordinary purity of Polyphony’s singing is the perfect vehicle for music of such clean, elemental simplicity, such cathartic calm.

This third Pärt album from Stephen Layton and Polyphony reaches right back, intriguingly, to the composer’s youthful modernist phase and spans nearly five decades—from 1963 to 2012—in the process. As with the album Triodion, it reflects an increasingly broad spread of languages and sources in Pärt’s chosen texts. Latin, German and English are joined here by Church Slavonic and Spanish. A range of biblical texts are set alongside ancient prayers.

“this one is something special. In part this is because of the choice of repertoire, which mixes the familiar and the less-often heard, and includes two first recordings, and in part it is because of the exquisite sound produced by Polyphony...Highly recommended.” Gramophone Magazine, October 2014

GGramophone Magazine

Editor's Choice - October 2014

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Music for Remembrance

Music for Remembrance


Duruflé:

Requiem, Op. 9

Roderick Williams (baritone), Christine Rice (mezzo-soprano)

Howells:

Take him, earth, for cherishing

Moore, P:

Three Prayers of Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Tavener:

The peace that surpasseth understanding

Vaughan Williams:

Lord, Thou has been our refuge


This latest album from Westminster Abbey is a programme of memorial music composed in England and France in the shadow of two World Wars.

The main feature is Duruflé’s Requiem, one of the best-loved of all works of the twentieth century, and given an astoundingly beautiful performance here, enhanced by distinguished soloists Christine Rice and Roderick Williams.

The Requiem is many ways a paradoxical work, based on plainsong but with Durufle’s sensuous harmonies suffusing every note with feeling: ‘This Requiem is not an ethereal work which sings of detachment from human concerns’, he said. ‘It reflects, in the unchanging form of Christian prayer, the anguish of man faced with the mystery of his final end.’ It is a work of unimpeachable integrity, a miraculous synthesis of the old and the new.

Throughout the past century the Abbey has been a focus of national remembrance on Armistice Day, and ‘O God, our help in ages past’—the ‘great ceremonial hymn of the English nation’, quoted in Vaughan Williams’ Lord, thou has been our refuge—has been a constant and reassuring presence, from the Burial Service of the Unknown Warrior on 11 November 1920 to the Service commemorating the Passing of the World War One Generation on 11 November 2009. The anthem by John Tavener recorded here was composed for that service, and all the other English music has some special significance in this place: a statue of Dietrich Bonhoeffer stands above the west door of Westminster Abbey (one of the ten twentieth-century Christian martyrs installed in the niches there in 1998), while the ashes of Herbert Howells and Ralph Vaughan Williams are buried in the church where their music has contributed so much to daily services and great state occasions.

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Medtner & Rachmaninov: Piano Sonatas

Medtner & Rachmaninov: Piano Sonatas


Medtner:

Skazki (Fairy Tales), Op. 20

Sonata romantica in B flat minor, Op. 53 No. 1

Rachmaninov:

Variations on a theme of Corelli, Op. 42

Piano Sonata No. 2 in B flat minor, Op. 36


Steven Osborne has become increasingly admired for his performances and recordings of Russian Romantic piano music, playing with a remarkable level of authority and a rare combination of technical ease, tonal lustre and idiomatic identification. Here he presents an impressive selection from two masters who lived and worked contemporaneously. Both were renowned concert pianists, and both wrote superbly for their instrument. Yet their reputations could not be more divergent. Rachmaninov utterly loved; Medtner only now becoming rehabilitated.

Medtner’s ‘Sonata Romantica’ was composed in 1930 in Paris, and first performed by the composer in Glasgow the following year. It was the twelfth of his fourteen piano sonatas. Not only its title but also the expressive content of its four movements, played without a break, make it virtually a manifesto for Medtner’s art. Apart from sonatas, Medtner’s favourite genre was the Skazka (‘Tale’). It has been pointed out that the usual English translation of ‘Fairy tale’ does not do justice to the power and depth of many of these pieces, some of which almost approach Chopin’s Ballades in their expressive scope. The two Skazki of Op 20 recorded here were composed in 1909.

In a recent performance of Rachmaninov’s Piano Sonata No 2, a great Romantic showpiece, Osborne was described by the Washington Post as ‘a master of momentum and color, a wielder of power and a sure navigator through huge landscapes: his Rachmaninov was both coherent and daringly free’.

“[The Sonata Romantica is] not easy to love (unlike his short, charming Skazki which opens this disc) but Steven Osborne puts a persuasive case. In contrast, Rachmaninov's Piano Sonata No 2 in B flat minor, majestic and lyrical, is immediately rewarding... and Osborne's imaginative playing makes [the Variations on a theme of Corelli] seem only too short.” The Observer, 1st September 2014 ****

“Medtner’s harmonic palette and ways of working out the material are his alone. Osborne’s performance is a true wonder of power, clear definition, sensibility and structural sureness. His ability to immerse himself in Medtner’s musical language is outstanding.” The Telegraph, 15th September 2014 *****

“Osborne has made his performing edition out of love for the [Second Sonata], one of his favourite pieces to play, and has created a fantastically thrilling and ultimately enjoyable version of which one feels that Rachmaninov would have thoroughly approved...While the music speaks for itself Osborne plays everything on the disc magnificently” MusicWeb International, 10th October 2014

“What comes across most winningly is the ebb and flow of the work: the more inward passages are allowed to breathe; the extrovert ones are absolutely fiery. It's not a work that could ever be summed up by a single interpretation...But this is another terrific addition to the shelves, and if it helps the continuing rediscovery of Medtner, so much the better.” Gramophone Magazine, October 2014

GGramophone Magazine

Editor's Choice - October 2014

BBC Music Magazine

Instrumental Choice - November 2014

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Hyperion - CDA67936

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