28th April 2008
This is just the pick of the recent releases. The New Releases and Future Releases pages are always available for browsing all the new and forthcoming releases.
Bach Cantatas Volume 25
The Monteverdi Choir & The English Baroque Soloists, John Eliot Gardiner
SDG’s spring 2008 release combines Cantatas for the Fifth Sunday after Easter with those written for the Sunday after Ascension Day. The first set of Cantatas were recorded in Dresden. It was here that Bach had been crowned unopposed keyboard champion in 1717, and also where the first two movements of what we now know as the B minor Mass were first performed in 1733. The opening cantata, BWV 86 'Wahrlich, wahrlich, ich sage euch', is a great example of Bach’s skill to reinforce religious texts and their meanings. The final piece in the programme is BWV 97 'In allen meinen Taten', a cantata without liturgical designation first performed in 1734. It uses the haunting Heinrich Isaac hymn tune ‘Innsbruck, ich muss dich lassen’ in both its opening and concluding movements.
Recorded in Sherborne Abbey, BWV 150 'Nach dir, Herr, verlanget mich', has no specified liturgical designation but is particularly apt in the period between Easter and Ascension. The two Leipzig cantatas Bach wrote for Exaudi share the title Sie werden euch in den Bann tun. BWV 44 was composed as part of Bach’s first Leipzig cycle in 1724 and BWV 183 followed a year later. To balance the performance of BWV 150, the disc ends with Johann Christoph Bach’s five-voiced motet 'Fürchte dich nicht'. This is an uplifting programme recorded in a perfect acoustic setting.
Beethoven - Piano Sonatas Volume 4
Paul Lewis (piano)
The final volume in Paul Lewis's highly acclaimed cycle.
"Faced with such excellence a mere critic can only abandon paper and pencil and listen to this heroic but deeply moving young artist with awe and amazement. These are early days but Paul Lewis's superbly recorded and presented Beethoven may well turn out to be the most musically and ultimately satisfying of all recorded Beethoven piano sonata cycles." Gramophone critic Bryce Morrison
Nielsen - String Quartets Volume 2
The Young Danish String Quartet
Carl Nielsen (1865-1931) took Danish music into the 20th century, and his chamber music holds a prominent position in the international repertoire. Following on from the immensely successful first volume released last year (which won an Editor’s Choice and was nominated for a Gramophone Award), this second volume has been eagerly awaited.
Kenneth Leighton - Volume 1
John Scott (organ), BBC National Orchestra of Wales, Richard Hickox
One of the most distinguished post-war British composers, and most frequently performed both in the UK and abroad, Kenneth Leighton wrote music that maintains a compelling balance between the romantic tradition and early serialism. His lyrical and colourfully orchestrated works not only suggest a lively if often dark imagination, but demonstrate a scope explored by remarkably few of his countrymen.
Estampies & Danses Royales - The King's Manuscript
Hespèrion XXI, Jordi Savall
Vigorous and colourful medieval dances revealed by Jordi Savall! The Estampie is a medieval dance consisting of four to seven sections, called puncta, each of which is repeated (in the form aa, bb, cc, etc...). The more widely accepted etymology relates it to stamper, to stamp the feet. Illuminations and paintings from the period seem to indicate that the estampie involves fairly vigorous hopping. The earliest reported example of this musical form is the song "Kalenda Maya" (track 3), supposedly written by the troubadour Raimbaut de Vaqueiras (1180-1207) to the melody of an estampida played by French jongleurs. In this irresistible album, Jordi Savall explores a Royal manuscript from the French National Library.
Debussy - Complete Works for Solo Piano Volume 3
Jean-Efflam Bavouzet (piano)
Jean-Efflam Bavouzet here offers the third volume in his series devoted to the complete works for piano by Debussy. The music now moves to a more playful strand in Debussy’s compositional career, with generally shorter pieces of the salon genre, including the two famous collections Children’s Corner and Suite bergamasque. In addition to these well-known works are several that are more rarely heard. Two such are La plus que lente, which seems to look ahead to the Études of 1915, and Élégie.
Spohr - Clarinet Concertos Nos. 3 & 4
Michael Collins (clarinet), Swedish Chamber Orchestra, Robin O’Neill
This disc is a long-awaited sequel to Hyperion’s disc of Spohr’s Clarinet Concertos Nos 1 & 2, recorded by the same forces.
It was at Gotha in the autumn of 1808 that Spohr met the clarinet virtuoso Johann Simon Hermstedt, and the two men hit it off straight away. Spohr immediately began work on his first clarinet concerto. Hermstedt was so taken by the work that - rather than insisting on the composer modifying some of his more outlandish, and unplayable, demands - he adapted and expanded his instrument to suit the music, thus bringing about important developments in the range and flexibility of the clarinet, expanding it from five keys to thirteen. Of the four concertos Spohr wrote for Hermstedt, the Third is the most overtly virtuosic, with a fiery restless energy supporting grand, sweeping themes of real distinction. The Fourth ranks among Spohr’s finest compositions.
Bizet - L' Arlésienne Orchestral Suites
Les Musiciens du Louvre & Chœur de l’opéra de Lyon, Marc Minkowski
Marc Minkowski, one of the most outstanding conductors of our time, has joined naïve for a long-term collaboration during which he will be surveying the music of Bach, Handel, Haydn and Mozart, among others. The first in this series of recordings features the works of Georges Bizet performed on instruments of the period. It brings an original approach to the music from two of his masterpieces, L’Arlésienne and Carmen.
Gramophone Magazine - Disc of the Month - June 2008
Ambroise Thomas: La Cour de Célimène
Laura Claycomb, Alastair Miles, Joan Rodgers & Sébastien Droy, Geoffrey Mitchell Choir & Philharmonia Orchestra, Andrew Litton
In recent years there has been increased interest in the works of Ambroise Thomas, particularly in his ambitious setting of Hamlet (1868), which has been revived with success at London’s Covent Garden, the New York Met, Barcelona, Paris and elsewhere. His other major success was Mignon (1866), which had more than 1,200 performances at the Opéra-Comique up to the end of the 19th century. Opera Rara now takes a further important step in the rediscovery of this fascinating figure with a new recording of his 1855 opéra-comique La Cour de Célimène (Célimène’s Court).
Mozart: Don Giovanni, K527 (DVD)
Freiburger Barockorchester & Innsbruck Festival Chorus, René Jacobs (musical direction)
After the success of Così fan tutte and The Marriage of Figaro, René Jacobs' CD recording of this centrepiece of the Mozart/Da Ponte trilogy offered us his reflections on Classical opera and garnered serious acclaim worldwide. Performed at the Innsbruck festival in August 2006 and filmed in Baden -Baden, this production is nourished by his thoughts on Don Giovanni as taboo-breaker but still respects Mozart's intentions as closely as possible. In the documentary Looking for Don Giovanni, the director Nayo Titzin follows the creation of this production in the search for musical truth.