Presto News - 27th February 2012

Vivaldi: Sacred vocal works and concertos

I have a lovely Vivaldi disc to tell you about this week, and it’s one I’ve been looking forward to since last April, when I heard some of it live at one of the three days of recording sessions at St John the Evangelist Church in South London. Containing a mixture of instrumental concertos and sacred vocal works for solo soprano, it provides welcome variety and contrast that you don’t always get on discs of Vivaldi.

Florilegium
Florilegium

It also mixes the familiar with the virtually unknown. Of the former category is the beautiful motet Nulla in mundo pax sincera, most famously used in the film Shine, and as soprano Elin Manahan Thomas explains on the short video trailer below, this was her first real introduction to singing Baroque music. Of the unknown variety is the flute concerto named Il Gran Mogol, which was only rediscovered in 2010 and here receives only it’s second ever recording. With flautist Ashley Solomon and his superb period instrument ensemble Florilegium, this whole disc represents music making of the highest calibre.

The vocal works are undoubtedly two of Vivaldi’s finest works of the genre, and the pure and fresh sounding voice of Elin Manahan Thomas provides a highly persuasive account. An agile technique and perfect intonation are key requirements for this repertoire with its mixture of florid vocal lines and tender expressive ones, and it is hard to imagine anyone better in this respect. The Laudate Pueri is a memorable performance, not least for the beautiful duet with Ashley Solomon’s flute in the Gloria Patri. It is a very moving account and you can see and hear much of it on the video trailer below.

Elin Manahan Thomas
Elin Manahan Thomas

Elin Manahan Thomas has a further opportunity to demonstrate her impressive technique and unmannered natural sound in Nulla in mundo pax which after a touchingly simple opening movement is followed by a quasi-operatic recitative and two faster movements full of flourishes and ornamentation. Ravishingly sung, and superbly supported and accompanied by the conductorless Florilegium, my only disappointment is that they couldn’t find time to record the lovely Salve Regina as well!

The most eye-catching piece here is probably the recently discovered Flute Concerto Il Gran Mogol, which received considerable mainstream press coverage when it was discovered about eighteen months ago. It isn’t the world premiere recording (that honour went to Katy Bircher and La Serenissima on a disc released a few months ago), but will still be new to most people. It was believed to be written by Vivaldi in the late 1720s or early 1730s and was one of four short concertos on a ‘national’ theme – in this case the Gran Mogol referring to India or the Mogul Empire. To date this is the only one of the four to have been located, and was discovered by musicologist Andrew Woolley in Edinburgh. It is a short, and well-crafted work, and receives a sensitive reading from Ashley Solomon with carefully thought out ornamentation and a lovely blending of his sound with that of the ensemble. If anything it comes across perhaps more like a piece of chamber music for flute and ensemble rather than the concerto in the traditional sense. I think this is intentional and works very well.

The disc is concluded with one of Vivaldi’s numerous double concertos – for two solo instruments and string orchestra. In this case the solo instruments are violin and cello with Bojan Cicic (violin) and Jennifer Morsches (cello) providing stylistic and entertaining performances.

There is much to enjoy on this disc, and if you only know Vivaldi from the Four Seasons then this is an ideal introduction to some of the other much more varied (and in some respects more interesting) repertoire that he composed.

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Vivaldi: Sacred works for soprano & concertos

Elin Manahan Thomas (soprano), Ashley Solomon (flute), Florilegium

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play Watch: A short video trailer (in French, but with lots of music!)

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

New Releases

27th February 2012

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.

Stravinsky: The Rite of Spring & Firebird Suite

Budapest Festival Orchestra, Ivan Fischer

"Ivan Fischer's new Rite of Spring is lean and hungry, razor-sharp and matches his description of it: "fresh, pagan, scary, new and beautiful". The Observer

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The Romantic Piano Concerto 56 - Kalkbrenner 2 & 3

Howard Shelley (piano & conductor), Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra

If the name Friedrich Kalkbrenner is familiar at all, it’s probably for his famous suggestion that Chopin would benefit from three years of study with him (a bold offer the Pole wisely turned down). But, as Hyperion’s ever-expanding Romantic Piano Concerto series has repeatedly shown, received historical opinion and musical quality don’t always go hand in hand. With Volume 56 we reach the second and final instalment of Kalkbrenner’s concertos, dazzlingly played by Howard Shelley, directing the Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra from the keyboard.

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Sibelius: Symphonies Nos. 2 & 5

Minnesota Orchestra, Osmo Vänskä

BIS present a new recording of Jean Sibelius’s Symphonies 2 and 5 from the Minnesota Orchestra and their Finnish conductor Osmo Vänskä.

Beginning in the early 1990s, seminal recordings with Vänskä and the Lahti Symphony Orchestra of tone poems and the seven symphonies stood at the forefront of a new interpretative approach to the composer’s music.

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Brahms: Works for chorus and orchestra

Collegium Vocale Gent & Orchestre des Champs-Elysées, Philippe Herreweghe

Ann Hallenberg, whose voice won over the public of some of the world’s most prestigious concert halls, takes on the Rhapsody for contralto solo and men's chorus by Brahms while the rest of the programme leads the listener through his essential works for chorus and orchestra.

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Stravinsky: The Firebird

Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra, Andrew Litton

Following the success of their recordings of Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring and Petrushka, the Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra and Andrew Litton here perform The Firebird. The disc also includes arrangements of pieces by Tchaikovsky and Sibelius, ending with Stravinsky’s tongue-in-cheek 1955 Greeting Prelude for the 80th birthday of Pierre Monteux.

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Spohr: Symphonies Nos. 7 & 9

Orchestra della Svizzera Italiana, Howard Shelley

We talk of the nine symphonies of Beethoven and Bruckner but what about the ten of Spohr? Howard Shelley and the Orchestra della Svizzera Italiana conclude their survey of his symphonies with two that push the boundaries of the genre itself. Both Nos. 7 and 9 are programmatic works, something that Spohr along with Berlioz did much to champion.

In the Seventh, titled ‘The earthly and divine in human life’ and inspired by a holiday in Switzerland, he uses not one but two orchestras to great colouristic effect. His Ninth explores that perennial favourite theme of composers from Vivaldi to Glazunov, the Seasons (though Spohr starts with winter rather than spring).

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Rautavaara: Modificata, Towards the Horizon & Incantations

Truls Mørk (cello), Colin Currie (percussion), Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra, John Storgårds

This new recording couples Finnish composer Einojuhani Rautavaara’s latest concerto works with an orchestral piece from his early Modernist period (Modificata; 1957/2003)

The virtuoso Percussion Concerto Incantations (2008) features the Scottish percussion soloist Colin Currie, who is the dedicatee and première performer of this work. Currie wrote himself the virtuoso cadenza to the final movement.

Rautavaara’s Second Cello Concerto Towards the Horizon (2009) was written for cellist Truls Mørk and plays continuously in one 20-minute movement.

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Medtner: Arabesques, Dithyrambs, Elegies

Hamish Milne (piano)

‘Write one such piece and one can die.’ So pronounced Rachmaninov, no less, after hearing the second of Medtner’s Arabesques. This is just one of the delights in the enticing selection box offered by Hamish Milne, a long-standing and ardent champion of Medtner’s music. These two discs explore the many miniatures – in size though not in ambition – that he wrote throughout his life.

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Radio 3

BBC Radio 3 CD Review

Saturday 25th February 2012

Building a Library - Gershwin: Piano Concerto in F major

First Choice

(coupled with Rhapsody in Blue and An American in Paris)

Andre Previn (piano), Uan Rasey (trumpet), Andre Kostelanetz & His Orchestra

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Disc of the Week

Dénes Várjon: Precipitando

Works by Berg, Janacek and Liszt

Dénes Várjon (piano)

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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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