Presto News - 7th December 2009

El Sistema

Three decades ago, the visionary Venezuelan musician and politician José Antonio Abreu founded an organisation nicknamed El Sistema (The system). It is a government funded national program of music education designed as a model for social improvement, and its story is truly remarkable.

I imagine a number of readers will have already heard of the Simón Bolívar Youth Orchestra of Venezuela and its conductor Gustavo Dudamel. Their five recordings for DG combined with their performances around the world have already given them worldwide acclaim, but this orchestra includes just the very few top young players from Venezuela and, welcome though it is, the real aim of El Sistema is not this orchestra, but to change the lives of hundreds of thousands of young people, by giving them new hope and leading them out of the vicious circle of poverty which so many of them are in.

Gustavo Dudamel & El Sistema
Gustavo Dudamel & El Sistema

Paul Smaczny, (the director of the 2006 International Emmy Award winning film “Knowledge is the Beginning" about Daniel Barenboim and his West-Eastern Divan Orchestra,) has made a film about how El Sistema really functions by following three young people through their daily lives for a whole year, and it has just been released on DVD and Blu-ray by Medici Arts. The stories of these children are both moving and heartbreaking. The fear that so many of these children live in is hard to comprehend, with violence and guns part of their everyday lives, but then the fire in their eyes and the joy in their faces when they are playing their instruments seems to transport them to another world.

The interviews are all very interesting, both from the children who talk with such passion and conviction about what they are doing, and from Dr. Abreu (whom the kids fondly call ‘grandpa’) who explains his aims and objectives behind the project. I think there is still a common perception in much of the world that Classical Music is an exclusive thing enjoyed only by the minority. In Venezuela, thanks to Dr. Abreu, it is the complete opposite - the one thing regardless of class and wealth which is truly inclusive, and which can be enjoyed by everyone.

This documentary is superbly well put together, portraying the struggles of their everyday lives along with the hope that they find through their music. You can really understand how the experience is changing their lives for the better and it is all really very moving. It is available on DVD and Blu-ray and I have put the trailer of the film on the website to give you an idea.

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El Sistema - DVD

Music to Change Life

play Watch a short trailer

El Sistema - Blu-ray

Music to Change Life

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

New Releases

7th December 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.

Gershwin: Porgy and Bess

Isabelle Kabatu, Jonathan Lemalu, Arnold Schoenberg Chor & Chamber Orchestra of Europe, Nikolaus Harnoncourt

Nikolaus Harnoncourt turns 80 in December 2009, but still has the capacity to surprise! As his birthday present to himself he fulfilled a lifelong ambition to conduct Gershwin’s opera Porgy and Bess, and the performances at the 2009 Graz Festival, where this recording was made, met with unanimous acclaim and delight from critics and public alike.

play Listen to a short extract.

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Thomas Tallis’s Secret Garden

Ensemble européen William Byrd, Graham O'Reilly

More than half Tallis’ life was spent as a musician at the English Chapel Royal. During his time in royal service, four different monarchs sat on the throne: Henry VIII, Edward VI, Queen Mary I and Elizabeth I. The performers here have aimed for the intimate atmosphere of a chamber performance of the works generally with one voice to a part.

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Bruckner: Symphony No. 8 in C minor

Orchestra Métropolitan, Yannick Nézet Séguin

Nézet Séguin has been principal conductor of the Orchestra Métropolitan since March 2000. He is Principal Guest Conductor of the London Philharmonic Orchestra and in May 2009 received the prestigious Royal Philharmonic Society Award.

“Like all good Bruckner interpreters [Nézet-Séguin] made the abrupt changes of gear sound natural and unforced, giving the impression of a mighty planet gradually orbiting around its axis” Sydney Morning Herald

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Poulenc - Secular Choral Music

Norddeutscher Figuralchor, Jörg Straube

This choir’s stylistic versatility is documented in numerous CD recordings and has toured extensively, appearing at many internationally renowned festivals. The disc is a fantastic representation of Poulenc’s a cappella works, performed brilliantly here, despite the technical difficulty.

Vivaldi: Cello Sonatas

Roel Dieltens (cello), Ensemble Explorations

Vivaldi was attracted to the cello for the expression it can produce, and this disc showcases his skills perfectly. Ensemble Explorations make their debut on the Etcetera label in a stunning fashion.

Thomas Hewitt Jones - Under Milk Wood

The Choir of Clare College Cambridge, Court Lane Ensemble, Thomas Hewitt Jones

Following a fruitful two-year collaboration with Welsh ballet company Independent Ballet Wales, Court Lane Music presents a very special debut album of the music of award-winning British composer Thomas Hewitt Jones. BBC Young Composer of the Year 2003, Hewitt Jones’s wistful, thoughtful music has been hailed to great acclaim by audiences and critics alike.

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The Secret Labyrinth

The Paul van Nevel & the Huelgas Ensemble Collection

Paul van Nevel, choirmaster, musicologist, and cultural historian founded the Huelgas Ensemble in the early 1970’s at the Schola Cantorum Basiliensis. The Ensemble has emerged as one of Europe’s main vocal ensembles dedicated to the performance of music from the Middle Ages and the Renaissance.

This 15 CDs boxset includes some of the most prestigious recordings available on the Sony Classical VIVARTE label and sheds light on this long-forgotten music that too often seems to lie in dark corners of European archives and libraries.

Vladimir Horowitz - The Complete Original Jacket Collection

Vladimir Horowitz (piano)

For the first time, in one essential collection – all of Vladimir Horowitz’s recordings from the golden prime of his storied career. Included are all of the pianist’s recordings for RCA Red Seal and Columbia Masterworks/Sony Classical – including 4 discs that feature the first release in any format of two complete live Horowitz recital recordings, from 1951 and 1967. Each recording from the catalogue has been restored to its original LP album format and is presented individually in a sleeve featuring the original album art.

Includes spellbinding performances of essential masterpieces by Beethoven, Chopin, Clementi, Liszt, Rachmaninov, Scarlatti, Schumann, Scriabin and many more.

Radio 3

BBC Radio 3 CD Review

Saturday 5th December 2009

Building a Library - Shostakovich: Symphony No. 15 in A major, Op. 141

First Choice

(coupled with Rayok - satirical cantata)

Cleveland Orchestra, Kurt Sanderling

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Disc of the Week

Schubert: Winterreise D911

Mark Padmore (tenor) & Paul Lewis (piano)

play listen - Schubert - Winterreise : 6. Wasserflut

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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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