Presto News - 23rd February 2009

The world's most celebrated violins

Antonio Stradivari was undoubtedly one of - if not the - greatest violinmakers ever. The instruments he made, known by the colloquial term 'Strads', are highly prized, and only one other maker, Giuseppe Guarneri del Gesù, commands a similar respect amongst professional violinists. Apart from violins, Stradivari also made violas and cellos, as well as guitars and at least one harp — more than 1000 instruments in all. Approximately 650 of these instruments survive today and they are spread throughout the world - many in the hands of professional musicians, plus some in museums and private collections.

James Ehnes
James Ehnes

The retired software magnate David Fulton has built up one such private collection. Instruments either formerly or currently in his collection have sustained some of the great careers of the 20th century, including those of Yehudi Menuhin, Itzhak Perlman and Isaac Stern. Personally, I’ve got mixed views about whether any of these instruments should be sitting un-played in private collections, but when you consider the outstanding condition of some of his instruments - his Stradivari ‘La Pucelle’ for example has no cracks, retouching or worn-out corners, and apparently looks like it has just left the makers hands - then there is certainly an argument to preserve a few of these instruments in such perfect condition.

My inspiration this weeks comes from the fact that he’s let Canadian violinist James Ehnes loose on his collection, and after spending years trying to decide what music best suited each instrument, Ehnes has now produced a fantastic CD/DVD featuring performances on 12 of them. On the CD, you can hear a hugely impressive recital of short pieces followed by ‘comparison tracks’ in which he plays the same brief passage from Bruch’s Scottish Fantasy. On these tracks you really hear the differences between the instruments, and it is remarkable how different they actually are – whether it be the purity of sound of something like the Stradivari ‘Pucelle’ or the vitality of the same maker’s ‘Baron d’Assignies’.

On the accompanying DVD you get the complete performances as well as the opportunity to see them as well. Close up shots include scrolls, fronts, backs and revolving shots to get a good idea of arching. The photography is fine and gives a real appreciation for the original varnish and wood quality. You also get to hear James Ehnes thoughts and an interview with David Fulton.

It is a unique and fascinating document which gives an insight into the world of these multi-million pound instruments. Really quite remarkable.

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James Ehnes - Homage (CD/DVD)

A tribute to 12 of the world's finest instruments

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Chris O'Reilly - chris@prestoclassical.co.uk

New Releases

23rd February 2009

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.

Bellini: I Capuleti e I Montecchi

Anna Netrebko, Elina Garanca, Joseph Calleja, Robert Gleadow & Tiziano Bracci,
Wiener Singakademie & Wiener Symphoniker, Fabio Luisi

Bringing true youth to an archetypal tale of youthful passion, Anna Netrebko as Juliet and Elîna Garanèa as Romeo blow the dust off Bellini’s bel canto classic.

Recorded under studio conditions in conjunction with concert performances at Vienna’s Konzerthaus, Anna’s and Elîna’s voices match like pearls from one oyster.

Their duets from Lakmé and Norma electrified the Festspielhaus Baden-Baden during an unforgettable evening released by Deutsche Grammophon as Opera Gala. Further collaboration was – and is – clearly in the cards.

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Handel: Faramondo

Max Emanuel Cencic, Philippe Jaroussky, Sophie Karthäuser, Marina de Liso, ,Xavier Sabata, Terry Wey, In-Sung Sin & Fulvio Bettini, Choeur de la Radio Suisse, Lugano & I Barocchisti, Diego Fasolis

'Composed towards the end of Handel's long operatic career, Faramondo has enjoyed few modern revivals – a neglect which the Handel scholar Jonathan Keates ascribes to the weakness of its tortuous libretto and pallid characterisation rather than any musical shortcomings. This lively and attractive recording certainly reveals an invigorating score, swiftly paced with a wealth of incisive, tuneful arias and a welcome absence of dry recitative. The cast is notable for the flamboyant contributions of the impressive young countertenors Max Emanuel Cencic (in the title role) and Philippe Jaroussky. Strongly recommend' The Telegraph, 18th February 2009

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Knight of the Lute -
Music from The Varierie of Lute Lessons, 1610

Matthew Wadsworth (lute)

"I used to spend hours in the basement of the library, listening to recordings of one of my great idols, Julian Bream – deciding which piece to write out and learn next. Since then, it has always been a burning ambition of mine to one day record the Varietie of Lute Lessons, and some 15 years after my initial forays into this stunning repertoire, it felt right to finally commit the pieces to disc. My choice of pieces for this recording was largely instinctive. It wasn’t possible to record all 42 pieces, so I chose the ones which spoke to me the most at the time, with a view to representing all styles and genres of the book." Matthew Wadsworth

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Moscheles - Symphony & Piano Concerto

Liu Xiao Ming (piano), Brandenburg State Orchestra, Nikos Athinaos

Ignaz Moscheles (1794–1870) was a Bohemian composer, piano virtuoso and a very close friend of Mendelssohn. This recording offers a rare chance to hear the stylish and romantic music of this very prolific composer, well-known and respected in his time but more recently overshadowed by his more famous contemporaries.

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Schubert - Schwanengesang

Ian Bostridge (tenor) & Antonio Pappano (piano)

Following their highly acclaimed Hugo Wolf lieder album, Ian Bostridge and Antonio Pappano have renewed their musical partnership with a recording of Franz Schubert’s Schwanengesang, the third and last of the composer’s song cycles, and literally his swan song, as he succumbed to illness shortly after its completion in 1828.

Two new Simon Rattle Boxes

Stravinsky and Britten

The box of Stravinsky contains works from all parts of his musical life including six ballets; three major ones from his youth – The Firebird, showing the inspired palette for exotic colour learnt from his teacher, Rimsky-Korsakov, Petrushka (in its revised version of 1947) and The Rite of Spring; two in his Neo-Classical style – Apollo and Pulcinella and extracts from Agon.

The box of Britten contains, besides the three great song cycles (Les Illuminations, Serenade for Tenor, Horn & Strings and Nocturne), the “War Requiem”, “Sinfonia da Requiem”, the ever popular “Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra” and the most remarkable set of songs written in French when he was 15, “Quatre Chansons Françaises”.

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Ariosti - The Stockholm Sonatas III

Thomas Georgi (viola d’amore), Lucas Harris (archlute & baroque guitar) & Mime Yamahiro Brinkmann (violoncello)

This disc concludes the journey by Thomas Georgi through the works for viola d’amore by Attilio Ariosti. The 79 movements, falling into groups and forming 21 ‘sonatas’, stem from two different sources – a ‘Collection of Lessons for the Viol d‘Amour’ published in London in 1724, and a manuscript copy made by the Swedish composer Johan Helmich Roman during his student years in London in the late 1710s.

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Radio 3

BBC Radio 3 CD Review

Saturday 21st February 2009

Building a Library - Wagner - Die Meistersinger von Nurnberg

First Choice

Hans Sachs (Norman Bailey), Sixtus Beckmesser (Bernd Weikl), Walther von Stolzing (René Kollo), Eva Hannelore (Bode), David Adolf (Dallapozza), Magdalene (Julia Hamari) & Veit Pogner (Kurt Moll), Wiener Staatsopernchor & Wiener Philharmoniker, Sir Georg Solti

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DVD Choice

Wolfgang Brendel, Gösta Winbergh, Chor und Orchester der Deutschen Oper Berlin, Rafael Frühbeck de Burgos

Disc of the Week

Vivaldi: La Fida Ninfa

Lorenzo Regazzo, Veronica Cangemi, Philippe Jaroussky, Sandrine Piau, Marie-Nicole Lemieux, Topi Lehtipuu & Sara Mingardo, Ensemble Matheus, Jean-Christophe Spinosi

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09-Jan-2012 -Mariusz Kwiecień
02-Jan-2012 -Fritz Kreisler
26-Dec-2011 -The year ahead and our latest new development
19-Dec-2011 -Two legendary performances
12-Dec-2011 -Maurizio Pollini plays Chopin
05-Dec-2011 -Christmas roundup
28-Nov-2011 -Havergal Brian’s Gothic Symphony
21-Nov-2011 -Duetti da Camera: Philippe Jaroussky & Max Emanuel Cencic
14-Nov-2011 -Bruckner and Mahler from Haitink and Pappano
07-Nov-2011 -Haydn from the Takács Quartet
31-Oct-2011 -Sublime Schubert from Paul Lewis
24-Oct-2011 -Franz Liszt
17-Oct-2011 -The Decca Sound
10-Oct-2011 -Pavel Haas Quartet the big winners at the Gramophone Awards
03-Oct-2011 -Berlioz's Grande Messe des Morts from Paul McCreesh
26-Sep-2011 -Handel – Agrippina & Germanico
19-Sep-2011 -Wagner’s Flying Dutchman starts PentaTone’s 10th anniversary celebrations
12-Sep-2011 -Schubert's Schwanengesang from Padmore and Lewis
05-Sep-2011 -Gergiev and the LSO conclude their Mahler cycle
29-Aug-2011 -BIS - Maxim Rysanov, Sibelius and a special offer
22-Aug-2011 -Sublime Ravel from Ibragimova and Tiberghien
15-Aug-2011 -Gustavo Dudamel
08-Aug-2011 -Brahms/Schoenberg from Rattle and the Berliner Philharmoniker
01-Aug-2011 -Lucia from the Mariinsky
25-Jul-2011 -Bayreuther Festspiele
18-Jul-2011 -Benjamin Grosvenor
11-Jul-2011 -Rossini’s William Tell
04-Jul-2011 -Bach Motets from Herreweghe
27-Jun-2011 -Sublime Vivaldi from Nathalie Stutzmann
20-Jun-2011 -Beethoven’s Fidelio from Abbado and Kaufmann
13-Jun-2011 -Byrd’s Complete Consort Music
06-Jun-2011 -Vaughan Williams’s The Garden of Proserpine
30-May-2011 -Beethoven's Diabelli Variations from Paul Lewis
23-May-2011 -New DVDs from Glyndebourne
16-May-2011 -Martha Argerich
09-May-2011 -Handel's Ariodante
02-May-2011 -Daniel Barenboim plays Chopin and conducts Tchaikovsky
25-Apr-2011 -Fliter and Ibragimova excel in Beethoven
18-Apr-2011 -Julia Lezhneva sings Rossini
11-Apr-2011 -Lully’s Bellérophon
04-Apr-2011 -Mining the archives
28-Mar-2011 -Rachmaninov's Second Symphony
21-Mar-2011 -Suk's Asrael Symphony
14-Mar-2011 -Pergolesi's Stabat Mater
07-Mar-2011 -Striggio: Mass in 40 Parts
28-Feb-2011 -Tomás Luis de Victoria
21-Feb-2011 -Lisa Batiashvili - Echoes of Time
14-Feb-2011 -Kate Royal: A Lesson in Love
07-Feb-2011 -Simon Rattle's new Mahler 2
31-Jan-2011 -Percy Grainger
24-Jan-2011 -Arne: Artaxerxes
17-Jan-2011 -Handel and Strauss from Dessay and Damrau
10-Jan-2011 -Nielsen Symphonies from Colin Davis and the LSO
03-Jan-2011 -The Genius of Mozart
27-Dec-2010 -The year ahead
20-Dec-2010 -Sheet Music now online, and other recent developments
13-Dec-2010 -Robert Schumann
06-Dec-2010 -Vivaldi Operas - Ottone in Villa and Ercole
29-Nov-2010 -Christmas Releases
22-Nov-2010 -Bach Cantatas - the Gardiner pilgrimage
15-Nov-2010 -Henryk Mikolaj Górecki
08-Nov-2010 -Schubert: Piano Duets
01-Nov-2010 -Verdi's Otello from the LSO and Colin Davis
25-Oct-2010 -The Three Baroque Tenors
18-Oct-2010 -Dame Joan Sutherland
11-Oct-2010 -Bach's Violin Concertos from Rachel Podger and Brecon Baroque
04-Oct-2010 -Gramophone Awards announced last Friday
27-Sep-2010 -Jonas Kaufmann: Verismo Arias
20-Sep-2010 -Wagner's Parsifal from the Mariinsky and Gergiev
13-Sep-2010 -Mozart’s Die Zauberflöte from René Jacobs
06-Sep-2010 -Puccini's forgotten masterpiece - La Rondine
30-Aug-2010 -Santiago a cappella
23-Aug-2010 -Elīna Garanča goes Spanish
16-Aug-2010 -Rued Langgaard - Music of the Spheres
09-Aug-2010 -Gramophone Awards - The Finalists
02-Aug-2010 -50 Years of the Grosses Festspielhaus Salzburg
26-Jul-2010 -Gustav Mahler
19-Jul-2010 -Sir Charles Mackerras
12-Jul-2010 -Beethoven - Paul Lewis and the BBC Proms
05-Jul-2010 -A Russian Sibelius cycle
28-Jun-2010 -Ronald Brautigam's Beethoven
21-Jun-2010 -Carlos Kleiber
14-Jun-2010 -Handel's Berenice
07-Jun-2010 -Channel Classics
31-May-2010 -Alfredo Casella
24-May-2010 -Shostakovich Preludes & Fugues from Melnikov
17-May-2010 -The multi-talented Julia Fischer
10-May-2010 -Nimbus
03-May-2010 -Leonard Bernstein's Omnibus Broadcasts
26-Apr-2010 -Frédéric Chopin
19-Apr-2010 -Wagner Lohengrin - BBC Awards
12-Apr-2010 -Berlioz's Symphonie fantastique
05-Apr-2010 -Rossini: Il barbiere di Siviglia and Joyce DiDonato
29-Mar-2010 -Romantic Piano Concertos
22-Mar-2010 -Robin Ticciati and Brahms' Choral Works
15-Mar-2010 -Mozart Symphonies from Mackerras - Volume 2
08-Mar-2010 -Bernard Coutaz and Harmonia Mundi
01-Mar-2010 -Thomas Adès
22-Feb-2010 -Strauss: Alpine Symphony
15-Feb-2010 -Handel: Giulio Cesare and the Brockes Passion
08-Feb-2010 -Debussy and the Prix de Rome
01-Feb-2010 -Testament
25-Jan-2010 -BBC Music Magazine Awards Shortlist
18-Jan-2010 -Prokofiev's Romeo and Juliet
11-Jan-2010 -Bach for Violin and Voice
04-Jan-2010 -A Ring cycle for the 21st Century
28-Dec-2009 -Anniversaries - 2009 and 2010
21-Dec-2009 -Richard Farrell
14-Dec-2009 -Thomas Tallis's Secret Garden
07-Dec-2009 -El Sistema
30-Nov-2009 -Christmas Releases
23-Nov-2009 -Kirsten Flagstad
16-Nov-2009 -Nikolaus Harnoncourt
09-Nov-2009 -Two important Elgar rarities
02-Nov-2009 -Felix Mendelssohn
26-Oct-2009 -Cecilia Bartoli and the world of Castratos
19-Oct-2009 -Winterreise from Padmore and Lewis
12-Oct-2009 -Tchaikovsky's Moscow Cantata
05-Oct-2009 -The Quatuor Ebène and the Gramophone Awards
28-Sep-2009 -Unknown Britten
21-Sep-2009 -Australian Eloquence
14-Sep-2009 -Julia Fischer plays Schubert
07-Sep-2009 -Bach Cantata bargain of the year
31-Aug-2009 -Rattle conducts Brahms
24-Aug-2009 -Bruckner from the Concertgebouw
17-Aug-2009 -Gramophone Awards 2009 - Finalists
10-Aug-2009 -Bartok's Bluebeard's Castle
03-Aug-2009 -The Vivaldi Edition
27-Jul-2009 -Diaghilev and The Ballets Russes
20-Jul-2009 -Sir Edward Downes
13-Jul-2009 -Brilliant Classics
06-Jul-2009 -Tomás Luis de Victoria
29-Jun-2009 -Britten's homage to Purcell
22-Jun-2009 -The Three Tenors
15-Jun-2009 -Penguin Rosettes and Building a Library
08-Jun-2009 -Masterclasses
01-Jun-2009 -Gergiev at the Mariinsky
25-May-2009 -Two recent re-discoveries light up Martinu year
18-May-2009 -Idomeneo from René Jacobs
11-May-2009 -A&R and Kate Royal's Midsummer Night
04-May-2009 -Chandos Records - 30 years young
27-Apr-2009 -Rachmaninov Preludes
20-Apr-2009 -20 Years of NMC
13-Apr-2009 -BBC Music Magazine Awards
06-Apr-2009 -Shostakovich 11 from the RLPO
30-Mar-2009 -BIS and the Sibelius Edition
23-Mar-2009 -Haydn - 'The Father of the Symphony'
16-Mar-2009 -George Frederic Handel
09-Mar-2009 -Bach's Brandenburg Concertos
02-Mar-2009 -Angela Gheorghiu in Puccini's Madama Butterfly
23-Feb-2009 -The world's most celebrated violins
16-Feb-2009 -Copyright to be extended
09-Feb-2009 -A feast of Early Music
02-Feb-2009 -Sarah Connolly gets Purcell year off to a flier
26-Jan-2009 -Monteverdi as you've never heard it before!
19-Jan-2009 -Akademie für Alte Musik Berlin put Platti firmly on the map
12-Jan-2009 -Hamelin proves his real class with Chopin
05-Jan-2009 -Lindsays lead the bargains
29-Dec-2008 -Jerusalem - in search of peace
22-Dec-2008 -Looking ahead - Handel, Haydn and more
15-Dec-2008 -2008 - A great year for DVDs
08-Dec-2008 -Top new Christmas recommendations
01-Dec-2008 -Richard Hickox
24-Nov-2008 -The World's Great Orchestras, and Euros and US Dollars now accepted
17-Nov-2008 -Lost manuscripts continue to be found
10-Nov-2008 -Haydn's String Quartets
03-Nov-2008 -Tchaikovsky's Manfred Symphony
27-Oct-2008 -Contemporary Music
20-Oct-2008 -Sir Peter Moores
13-Oct-2008 -Vivaldi in a new light
06-Oct-2008 -Americans in Pyongyang
29-Sep-2008 -Paul Lewis and the Gramophone Awards 2008
22-Sep-2008 -Songs her mother taught her
15-Sep-2008 -Vernon Handley
08-Sep-2008 -Zig Zag and the Atrium Quartet
01-Sep-2008 -Gramophone Awards nominations
25-Aug-2008 -Beautiful Messiah and Exquisite Morales
18-Aug-2008 -Great Pianists of the Past
11-Aug-2008 -Classical Television Broadcasts on the Internet
04-Aug-2008 -Chloë Hanslip and the unfamiliar
28-Jul-2008 -Leopold Godowsky and the virtuoso pianist
21-Jul-2008 -Linn Records
14-Jul-2008 -Vaughan Williams
07-Jul-2008 -Olivier Messiaen
30-Jun-2008 -Reginald Goodall's revelatory 'Mastersingers'
23-Jun-2008 -The French Baroque - 200 Years of Versailles
16-Jun-2008 -Bach Fugues from Onyx and the Emersons
09-Jun-2008 -New DVD page and Special Offer
02-Jun-2008 -Time to re-evaluate Miaskovsky
26-May-2008 -Superb Scholl sings Dowland and his circle
19-May-2008 -Fiesta! - Dudamel and the Venezuelans
12-May-2008 -The Guarneri Piano Trio and the label Praga
05-May-2008 -A La Bohème for all
28-Apr-2008 -Beethoven and Period Instruments
21-Apr-2008 -The Jerusalem Quartet
14-Apr-2008 -Nigel Kennedy
07-Apr-2008 -Paul Lewis's Beethoven
31-Mar-2008 -Ingrid Fliter
24-Mar-2008 -Mel Bonis
17-Mar-2008 -Stunning new Haydn Creation from Paul McCreesh
10-Mar-2008 -Hilary Hahn plays Schoenberg and Sibelius
03-Mar-2008 -Rattle and Gergiev on Mahler
25-Feb-2008 -Handel Organ Concertos
18-Feb-2008 -Late Mozart Symphonies
11-Feb-2008 -Yo-Yo Ma and the Silk Road Project
04-Feb-2008 -Arvo Pärt's Spiegel im Spiegel
28-Jan-2008 -Undeservedly neglected music - John Marsh and Juan de Araujo
21-Jan-2008 -New Bach Cantatas page
14-Jan-2008 -Composers' Own Recordings
07-Jan-2008 -Francis Xavier and Jordi Savall
31-Dec-2007 -50 Years of Harmonia Mundi
24-Dec-2007 -Last thoughts on 2007, first on 2008
17-Dec-2007 -Discs of the Year
10-Dec-2007 -Stockhausen
03-Dec-2007 -25 Years of the Compact Disc
26-Nov-2007 -Pacini and the importance of first performances
19-Nov-2007 -Christmas music worth hearing
12-Nov-2007 -The forgotten Maria
05-Nov-2007 -Why composers marked repeats
29-Oct-2007 -Bach B minor Mass from Suzuki
22-Oct-2007 -New Mahler 8 from Pierre Boulez
15-Oct-2007 -Lucerne Festival Orchestra
08-Oct-2007 -Julia Fischer and the Gramophone Awards
01-Oct-2007 -Mozart - Don Giovanni from René Jacobs
24-Sep-2007 -Natalie Clein and the Elgar Cello Concerto
17-Sep-2007 -Joshua Bell
10-Sep-2007 -Luciano Pavarotti
03-Sep-2007 -Kate Royal
27-Aug-2007 -Gramophone Awards - finalists revealed
20-Aug-2007 -Exciting new baroque rediscovery - Conti's David
13-Aug-2007 -Venezuelan Youth Orchestra the envy of the world
06-Aug-2007 -Music's Best-kept Secrets
30-Jul-2007 -Haydn - the most underrated great composer
23-Jul-2007 -Beethoven Piano Sonatas
16-Jul-2007 -BBC Proms 2007
09-Jul-2007 -Elin Manahan Thomas
02-Jul-2007 -Open minds and superb Bernarda Fink
25-Jun-2007 -Excited by another batch of re-issues?
18-Jun-2007 -Composer Works lists now published
11-Jun-2007 -Padmore and Bostridge sing Handel
04-Jun-2007 -Elgar's Enigma Variations
28-May-2007 -Still suffering some seventy years on?
21-May-2007 -Buying Opera on CD or DVD
14-May-2007 -Debussy's new champion
07-May-2007 -Schütz's Legacy
30-Apr-2007 -Mstislav Rostropovich
23-Apr-2007 -Missed Opportunities
16-Apr-2007 -BBC Music Magazine Awards
09-Apr-2007 -The way we listen
02-Apr-2007 -Too much Mozart?
26-Mar-2007 -Harpsichord or Piano?
19-Mar-2007 -Strauss's Four Last Songs
12-Mar-2007 -The importance of government support
05-Mar-2007 -Do today's musicians all sound the same?

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