Presto News - 6th September 2010

Puccini's forgotten masterpiece - La Rondine

It seems strange that a mature masterpiece from one of the world’s most celebrated operatic composers could be largely unknown, but that is the opinion of soprano Angela Gheorghiu and tenor Roberto Alagna on Puccini’s La Rondine, whose 2009 production from the Metropolitan Opera is due to be released on DVD next Monday on EMI. I’ve been watching it myself this weekend and I have to say I tend to agree with them - it is full of fabulous music and dramatic tension and it is hard to understand why it was ignored for most of the twentieth century.

Angela Gheorghiu in La Rondine
Angela Gheorghiu in La Rondine

The opera had a difficult start. It was commissioned by Vienna’s Carltheater and the idea was for Puccini to write an operetta. Puccini instead agreed to write a comic opera in the style of Richard Strauss’s Der Rosenkavalier, only “more entertaining and more organic”. It is an unusual story, particularly for Puccini, with no great tragic ending, and no deaths, but it is still very dramatic and there is plenty of musical colouring to get you drawn into the emotions of the characters.

Puccini’s major publisher Ricordi had wanted the composer to write a national epic rather than what he considered “Viennese whipped cream” and as a result wanted nothing to do with the work. It turned out to be the only Puccini opera which Ricordi didn’t publish and the early reception is likely to have suffered from the lack of the publisher’s significant publicity machine behind it. Furthermore the outbreak of the First World War made a Viennese premiere impossible and the subsequent switch to Monte Carlo certainly didn’t help the opera receive a sympathetic response - the French press hammered it and the Italians didn’t like the fact that it was all happening outside Italy anyway.

After this poor start the opera quickly fell out of the standard repertoire, but thankfully over the past ten years or so it has started to make a comeback. Gheorghiu and Alagna’s studio recording in 1996 proved a launch pad and since then most of the world’s major opera houses have raised productions. One of the last to do this was the Metropolitan Opera in New York which gave its first staging for 70 years on New Year’s Eve 2009. The new DVD mentioned earlier was recorded 11 days later and it is hard to imagine a better version. Gheorghiu is at her sumptuous best and is undoubtedly the star of the show but the orchestra, under Marco Armiliato are also superb, and again I find myself praising Roberto Alagna, who like in his Don José from Carmen (which I talked about two weeks ago), in Ruggero finds a role which he performs both highly musically and utterly convincingly.

Much to recommend this then, and also at a really excellent price. I’ve put a short video trailer on the website to give you an idea.

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Puccini: La Rondine

Angela Gheorghiu, Roberto Alagna, Lisette Oropesa & Marius Brenciu, Orchestra & Chorus of the Metropolitan Opera, New York, Marco Armiliato

play Watch a short promo video

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

New Releases

6th September 2010

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.

Mahler: Des Knaben Wunderhorn & Symphony No. 10 (Adagio)

Magdalena Kožená (mezzo-soprano) & Christian Gerhaher (baritone), Cleveland Orchestra, Pierre Boulez

Pierre Boulez adds the two last missing bricks to complete his Mahler discography on Deutsche Grammophon. Recorded live in concert with the Cleveland Orchestra, the program brings together the early orchestral song cycle from Des Knaben Wunderhorn, featuring mezzo-soprano Magdalena Kožená and baritone Christian Gerhaher, with the late Adagio of Mahler’s fragmentary Symphony No. 10.

The concert took place only a few months before Gustav Mahler’s 150 Birthday. The concert is also part of the celebrations of Pierre Boulez’ 85th birthday this year.

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Bartók: Piano Concertos Nos. 1, 2 & 3 (complete)

Jean-Efflam Bavouzet (piano), BBC Philharmonic, Gianandrea Noseda

This is the first concerto recording by Jean-Efflam Bavouzet for Chandos. Following the tremendous success of his complete Debussy piano music edition (‘This could well be the finest and most challenging of all Debussy piano cycles’ – Bryce Morrison, Gramophone) which scooped awards from both Gramophone and BBC Music, and the launch of his ambitious Haydn Piano Sonatas series, the pianist now turns his attention to some of the mightiest concertos of the twentieth century.

The three Bartók Piano Concertos on a single CD represents superb value for money.

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reVisions

Steven Isserlis (cello), Tapiola Sinfonietta, Gábor Takács-Nagy

Steven Isserlis has earned a reputation as one of the foremost cellists of our day. At the same time he has become known for his ingenuity and innovation in programming, something of which this disc is the perfect example. It combines four works for cello and orchestra all arranged at his personal request, and each of them by the arranger of his choice.

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Josef Suk: Orchestral Works

BBC Symphony Orchestra, Jiří Bělohlávek

Following the success of his Serenade in E flat, Suk wished to take up the challenge of writing a symphony, influenced as he was by the contributions to the genre of his own teacher, and of Brahms. Suk’s First Symphony was actually begun in London in 1897 and completed two years later. This new CD provides an excellent opportunity to hear the rarely recorded early work, with its fresh melodic appeal and inventive orchestration.

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Korngold: String Quartets Nos. 1, 2 & 3

Doric String Quartet

Most famous for his lushly romantic film scores, Erich Wolfgang Korngold wrote a quantity of music for the concert hall, the stage, as well as three highly individual string quartets between the years 1920 and 1945. Korngold was one of the great prodigies in the history of classical music, and by the time he started work on his First String Quartet (completed 1923), he had already written what many consider to be his magnum opus, the opera Die tote Stadt.

The three quartets range widely in style and are all very appealing. The First is notable for its strikingly adventurous harmony, the Second (1933) for its sheer wealth of melodic appeal, whilst the Third (1945) uses material from his film scores, and is as varied and dramatic as many of the films which he scored.

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Mozart: Mass in C minor, K427 'Great'

Gillian Keith (soprano), Tove Dahlberg (mezzo soprano), Thomas Cooley (tenor) & Nathan Berg (bass-baritone), Handel and Haydn Society, Harry Christophers

Mozart’s Mass in C minor is one of the best-known and most widely performed of the composer’s mass settings and is generally considered to be one of his greatest works and, as such, is often referred to as the ‘Great Mass’. Unlike many of his other works the Mass was not a commission and Mozart wrote it purely for his own pleasure. It is a remarkable union of musical vision and religious text and draws on Mozart’s skill for drama that made his operatic works such a phenomenal success.

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Respighi: Concerto in Modo Misolido

Olli Mustonen (piano), Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra, Sakari Oramo

This new recording features star conductor Sakari Oramo and the Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra with two Italian masterpieces by the late-Romantic composer Ottorino Respighi (1879-1936).

The symphonic poem Fontane di Roma remains one of Respighi’s most popular works and forms part of his Roman Trilogy. Each movement depicts one of Rome’s fountains during different periods of the day and night, while the work as a whole showcases the centuries-old Italian marriage of culture, art, and worldly pleasure.

The discovery piece on this disc, the monumental Concerto ‘in the Mixolydian mode’, deserves more widespread introduction into the standard repertoire; its title refers to the work’s majestic main theme that is derived from medieval plainchant.

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Mahler: Songs with Orchestra

Susan Graham (mezzo-soprano) & Thomas Hampson (baritone), San Francisco Symphony, Michael Tilson Thomas

Michael Tilson Thomas and the San Francisco Symphony bring their historic Mahler recording cycle to a close with the composer’s three song cycles.

Michael Tilson Thomas and the San Francisco Symphony, who launched their historic Mahler recording cycle in 2001, complete the best-selling, critically acclaimed and award winning project with the composer’s atmospheric song cycles. The live recordings, taken from concerts in the orchestra’s Davies Symphony Hall, features two of America’s most lauded singers, mezzo-soprano Susan Graham in Rückert-Lieder, and baritone Thomas Hampson in Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen, and selections from Das Knaben Wunderhorn.

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16-Apr-2012 -Berlioz’s Symphonie Fantastique from Ticciati and the SCO
09-Apr-2012 -New and forthcoming Opera DVDs
02-Apr-2012 -Claude Debussy
26-Mar-2012 -Wagner - Klaus Florian Vogt and a new Parsifal
19-Mar-2012 -Haydn from Thomas Fey and the Heidelberger Sinfoniker
12-Mar-2012 -Jules Massenet - Werther & Don Quichotte
05-Mar-2012 -Brahms choral discs from Gardiner and Herreweghe
27-Feb-2012 -Vivaldi: Sacred vocal works and concertos
20-Feb-2012 -Aleksandra Kurzak and Renée Fleming
13-Feb-2012 -Schoenberg and Berg
06-Feb-2012 -Alison Balsom
30-Jan-2012 -Britten Violin Concerto
23-Jan-2012 -Beethoven Symphonies from Thielemann and Chailly
16-Jan-2012 -New Year’s Concert from Vienna
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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