Presto News - 1st October 2012
Vox Luminis’s Schütz disc wins Gramophone Record of the Year
This year’s Gramophone Awards took place last Thursday at London’s Dorchester Hotel. As usual it was an excellent day, and this year included live performances from Benjamin Grosvenor, Danielle de Niese and Leif Ove Andsnes. However, the big winner this year, scooping the coveted Record of the Year, was the largely unknown Belgian early music group Vox Luminis under the direction of Lionel Meunier for their disc of Heinrich Schütz’s Musikalische Exequien on the Ricercar label.
The work was written for, and first performed at, the funeral of Prince Heinrich Posthumus von Reuss in 1636. He was a personal friend of the composer and the sincerity of Schütz’s setting is clearly apparent. The work is preceded on the disc by other funeral motets and chorales by Schütz and others, setting the stage for the impact of the funeral rite itself, and echoing the order of an actual Lutheran service.
Meunier (who also sings bass in the ensemble) uses just two voices per part, so the contrast between the solos and the ‘tuttis’ isn’t significant, but there is evidence that this is what the composer had in mind, as there is also for the continuo being realised by just chamber organ and bass viol as it is here. In many ways it is a very simple approach – minimum forces, and singing with a purity of tone and spot on intonation, giving a well balanced and perfectly blended sound – but the result is incredibly persuasive and very moving.
Gramophone sums up this recording as follows:
“Impeccably performed, recorded and presented, this extraordinary release of Schütz’s masterpiece embodies everything a Recording of the Year should be.”
Full details, including sound samples and a short video, are via the links below.
Other notable winners at this year’s awards were Benjamin Grosvenor, who picked up both the Instrumental Award for his disc of Chopin, Liszt and Ravel, and the Young Artist of the Year; and Claudio Abbado who picked up the Lifetime Achievement Award as well as featuring on no less than three of the fifteen category winners! – his Bruckner 5 with the Lucerne Festival Orchestra picked up the DVD performance of the year, his Fidelio with Nina Stemme and Jonas Kaufmann won the Opera Award, and he accompanied violinist Isabelle Faust on her disc of Beethoven and Berg which captured the Concerto category.
We’ve set up a special Gramophone Awards page which lists full details of all the winners including all the special awards and the other finalists. Also worth mentioning though is that we’ve managed to negotiate special prices on the Disc of the Year and indeed all the other category winners and with discounts in some cases up to 40%, it is well worth a look! All these are available to browse on our Gramophone Awards Winners Special Offer page.
Schütz: Musikalische Exequien
Masato Suzuki (organ), Vox Luminis, Lionel Meunier
Chris O'Reilly - email@example.com
1st October 2012
Mendelssohn: Violin Concertos
Alina Ibragimova (violin), Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, Vladimir Jurowski
The young violinist Alina Ibragimova is already established as an admired recording artist, standing alongside great artists of the past and present with her versions of Bach and Beethoven’s violin works. She appears on this latest release with the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment and Vladimir Jurowski (in his Hyperion premiere) in a programme which includes a classic of the concerto repertoire: Mendelssohn’s Violin Concerto in E minor, Op 64.
Ibragimova’s is a glittering, knife-edge performance, her playing a portrayal in itself of the music’s passion held in control through exquisite craft.
Mozart: La finta giardiniera, K196
Sophie Karthäuser (Sandrina/Violante), Nicolas Rivenq (La Podesta), Jeremy Ovenden (Il Contino Belfiore), Alex Penda (Arminda), Marie-Claude Chappuis (Ramiro), Sunhae Im (Serpetta), Michael Nagy (Nardo/Roberto), Freiburger Barockorchester, René Jacobs
La finta giardiniera has long been one of the lesser-known operas of the young Mozart, perhaps because the original Munich version, sung in Italian, quickly disappeared from the repertoire until it was revived in German from 1779 onwards.
R Strauss: 3 Hymns & Opera arias
Soile Isokoski (soprano), Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra, Okko Kamu
Ondine is pleased to announce the new release from legendary Straussian soprano Soile Isokoski. A multiple award-winner, her recording of the Four Last Songs won a Gramophone Award in 2002.
The rarely recorded Three Hymns are coupled with arias from Ariadne auf Naxos, Der Rosenkavalier and Capriccio.
Lieux retrouvés – Music for cello & piano
Steven Isserlis (cello), Thomas Adès (piano)
A cello recital with a difference from two maverick geniuses, displaying the fecundity of their collaboration. The world-famous cellist Steven Isserlis, one of the best-loved instrumentalists of today, joins forces with composer and pianist Thomas Adès, described by the New York Times as one of the most imposing figures in contemporary music.
Schubert: Piano Sonata No. 16, Wandererfantasie & Impromptus
Paul Lewis (piano)
English pianist Paul Lewis began a two-year Schubert project to perform and record all the mature piano works from 1822 to 1828, the last six years of Schubert’s life. During this period Schubert produced some of his most powerful work.
This new two-disc collection, the fifth release in his Schubert discography, begins with the earliest of these, the Wanderer Fantasy Op.15 D.760 in C major and is followed by the 4 Impromptus D.935. The great A minor Piano Sonata D.845, the only sonata selection, is programmed with the set of six short pieces Moments Musicaux. The program concludes with the Allegretto movement in C minor D.915.
Bach: Cantatas Volume 51
Hana Blažíková (soprano), Damien Guillon (counter-tenor), Christoph Genz (tenor) & Peter Kooij (bass), Bach Collegium Japan, Masaaki Suzuki
The cycle of cantatas initiated by Masaaki Suzuki and Bach Collegium Japan in 1995 is nearing completion, with four volumes to come. These sacred occasional pieces are independent works and did not form part of his cantata cycles for the Sundays and feast days of the church year. Two of cantatas (BWV 195 and BWV 120a) were intended for wedding ceremonies, and one for a funeral (Ich lasse dich nicht… BWV 157), but the setting for the fourth piece, Nun danket alle Gott, BWV 192, is unknown.
Rachmaninov: Symphony No. 2 & Dances from Aleko
Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra, Vasily Petrenko
The second in this series of releases highlighting the Russian music of our conductor’s heritage. Vasily Petrenko conducts the RLPO for Rachmaninov’s much loved and best known symphony – No. 2 in E minor.
Also included are the Dances from Rachmaninov’s one act opera, Aleko, the work which effectively launched the young composer’s professional career.
Byrd: The Great Service
The Cardinall's Musick, Andrew Carwood
The Cardinall’s Musick are acknowledged as the foremost performers of Byrd’s music. Under their director Andrew Carwood they have recorded the complete Latin church music, the final volume of which won the Gramophone Record of the Year. Now they turn to Byrd’s English church music, a genre which shows the composer treading a path between his own innate Catholicism and the requirements of the reformed Church of England.
Britten’s War Requiem: 50th anniversary in Coventry – DVD
Erin Wall (soprano), Mark Padmore (tenor) & Hanno Müller-Brachmann (baritone), City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, CBSO Chorus & CBSO Youth Chorus, Andris Nelsons
2012 brings the 50th anniversary of the premiere of Britten’s War Requiem, one of the most powerful pacifist statements in music. The first performance took place in 1962 in the newly consecrated Coventry Cathedral, built alongside the ruins of the old cathedral, left as a sombre reminder of the wartime bombings. On 30 May 2012, 50 years to the day, Britten’s masterpiece returned to the cathedral, performed as at the premiere by the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra and vocal soloists from three once warring nations.
Blu-ray version also available here.
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