Presto News - 7th February 2011

Simon Rattle's new Mahler 2

The symphonies of Gustav Mahler have been a central theme in Simon Rattle’s career, and the Second Symphony (the Resurrection) has been particularly important. He says it was this piece, when aged 12, which made him take up conducting in the first place. He opened and closed his tenure at the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra with it and during his time there made a critically acclaimed recording with Arleen Augér & Janet Baker the two soloists. That recording became the Gramophone Record of the Year, the Building a Library First Choice, and a Penguin Guide Rosette winner. But it was 24 years ago now and while the quality of that first recording remains, a new recording with the Berlin Philharmonic (the orchestra which premiered the work back in 1895 under the baton of the composer) is a very welcome new release this week.

Sir Simon Rattle
Sir Simon Rattle

The Symphony, scored for large orchestra, soloists and chorus, tackles the great mysteries of life and death and was one of the most successful and popular of Mahler’s symphonies during his lifetime. Rattle explained:

Mahler aimed to put the entire world into a symphony and this world goes from the death rights of some unnamed hero through a memory of what life was in both its beauty and its horror and final resurrection and redemption. It’s on a vast canvas with many, many performers and, for me, it is one of the most moving of all orchestral works.

The new recording comes from live performances in Berlin’s Philharmonie in late October last year with soloists Kate Royal and Magdalena Kožená. I’ve listened to it about a dozen times now and it is fabulous. I grew up with the earlier CBSO recording so couldn’t really stop myself to some degree comparing them. The first thing to say is that, despite the twenty-four year gap, Rattle’s interpretation hasn’t actually changed much, and that is a good thing as there were so many wonderful things about that earlier recording like drama and playfulness which are still ever-present here.

Rattle’s tempos have broadened slightly, but crucially they never feel self-indulgent, and indeed these broad tempos add to the majesty and grandeur of the performance, which was perhaps the only thing that I found slightly lacking in the earlier CBSO recording. And while there is still the incredible attention to detail which Rattle’s Mahler is renowned for – with intricate balance, careful phrasing and stunning dynamic contrasts (ranging from the quietest pianissimos to almost deafening climaxes) – I think Rattle lets his Berlin players ‘play’ a little more than he did the CBSO, where occasionally things sounded slightly too micro-managed.

Magdalena Kožená's ‘Urlicht’ is rich and beautiful but while I’ve written enthusiastically about her in these newsletters in the past I have to admit I did find myself yearning for Janet Baker a bit. It may just be me though as I love the Janet Baker reading of this movement (as I do her Mahler recordings generally) and when you have such an affinity with one performer I do find it hard not to compare all others unfavourably! Kate Royal sings beautifully, as do the impeccable Rundfunkchor Berlin, and the orchestra are lyrical, poetic and dramatic – exactly as required.

A splendid start to this second successive year of Mahler celebrations and a recording which I’m sure you’ll enjoy and cherish for years to come.

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Mahler: Symphony No. 2 in C minor 'Resurrection'

Kate Royal (soprano), Magdalena Kožená (mezzo), Berliner Philharmoniker & Rundfunkchor Berlin, Sir Simon Rattle

play Watch: A short video of the concluding bars from the live performance in October 2010

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

New Releases

7th February 2011

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.

Kate Royal: A Lesson in Love

Kate Royal (soprano) & Malcolm Martineau (piano)

A Lesson in Love tells the universal story of a love won and lost, and contains some beautiful and emotional German lieder, English and American songs and French mélodies. Kate leads us through her own personal choice of song, and her innate sense of drama and her passion for musical storytelling brings a fresh and youthful interpretation of the disc repertoire.

play Watch - Video available for this item

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Monteverdi: Vespro della beata Vergine (1610)

L'Arpeggiata, Christina Pluhar

L’Arpeggiata, the multi-faceted ensemble led by Christina Pluhar, celebrates its 10th birthday by marking the 400th anniversary of Monteverdi’s Vespro della beata vergine, one of the supreme masterpieces of music history.

play Watch - Video available for this item

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Alexandre Tharaud plays Scarlatti

Alexandre Tharaud (piano)

“I love the extravagance, the sunny glow, the light touch of Scarlatti,” says French pianist Alexandre Tharaud, whose second Virgin Classics release is a collection of the composer’s captivating and adventurous keyboard sonatas. His first release, the Chopin recital Journal intime was described by The Guardian as “altogether breathtakingly beautiful”.

play Watch - Video available for this item

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Echoes of Time

Lisa Batiashvili (violin), Symphonieorchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks, Esa-Pekka Salonen

Lisa Batiashvili’s debut album for DG, ‘Echoes of Time’, is a matter of the heart – Lisa focuses her program on composers whose lives and work have been heavily influenced by the political happenings in former Soviet Union. Inspired by personal experience, Lisa, herself, went into German exile with her family during the political upheaval in Georgia in 1991.

The program spans the whole of the 20th century, classics by Shostakovich ‘Waltz from the Doll’s Dances’ and Rachmaninov’s ever popular ‘Vocalise’, are combined with Georgian composer, Giya Kancheli’s ‘V and V’, and Estonian, Arvo Pärt’s ‘Spiegel im Spiegel’. Spiegel im Spiegel was written shortly before the composer went into exile.

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Philippe Rogier: Polychoral Works

Magnificat & His Majestys Sagbutts and Cornetts, Philip Cave

This recording, celebrating the 450th anniversary of Rogier’s birth, is a kaleidoscope of sound, with up to 12 choral parts plus instrumental forces including His Majestys Sagbutts and Cornetts, organ and harp. One of the last great renaissance composers, Rogier’s music showcases the rich, contrapuntal renaissance style, full of lush textures and colour for which he is renowned.

Bach, J S: Sonatas & Partitas for solo violin, BWV1001-1006

Pavlo Beznosiuk (violin)

Widely acknowledged as one of the most technically and intellectually challenging works in the solo violin repertory, only a musician with the wealth of knowledge and virtuosic prowess that Pavlo Beznosiuk possesses could deliver Bach’s masterpieces with such vitality and insight.

Described as an artist with ‘star quality’ whose ‘playing is full of fantasy’ and ‘whose range of ideas seems every time more amazing', Pavlo is one of the most versatile musicians working on the early music scene today.

Beethoven: Piano Concertos Nos. 4 & 5

Yevgeny Sudbin (piano), Minnesota Orchestra, Osmo Vänskä

After huge success with their cycle of Beethoven Symphonies on BIS, Osmo Vänskä and the Minnesota Orchestra return with the great composer’s Piano Concertos performed by the sensational young pianist Yevgeny Sudbin.

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Rossini: Armida - DVD

Renée Fleming & Lawrence Brownlee, Metropolitan Opera Orchestra & Chorus, Riccardo Frizza

Renée Fleming continues her reign as ‘Queen of the MET’, starring in a bel canto rarity specially staged for her – a showcase for her extraordinary vocal virtuosity.

This four-hour bel canto extravaganza is presented here on 2 DVDs. In addition to the great prima donna title role, Armida uniquely features no fewer than six tenor roles, here led by the acclaimed young American tenor, Lawrence Brownlee.

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Radio 3

BBC Radio 3 CD Review

Saturday 5th February 2011

Building a Library - Berlioz: Roméo et Juliette, Op. 17 (Romeo and Juliet)

CD Choice

Please note: The first choice was the John Eliot Gardiner version which is not currently available on CD. This Toscanini recording was the top CD choice, but dating from 1947 the sound quality isn't great!

Gladys Swarthout (mezzo), John Garrison (tenor), Nicola Moscona (baritone), NBC Symphony Orchestra, Arturo Toscanini

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Disc of the Week

Mahler: Symphony No. 2 in C minor 'Resurrection'

Ricarda Merbeth (soprano) & Bernarda Fink (mezzo soprano), Netherlands Radio Choir & Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, Mariss Jansons

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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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