Presto News - 1st April 2013

Julia Lezhneva: Alleluia

It’s almost exactly two years since I made my Presto newsletter debut, reviewing a disc of Rossini arias from a brilliant Russian soprano who was then barely out of her teens: a lot has happened for Julia Lezhneva since then, including debuts at La Monnaie and the Salzburg Festival, and a long-term contract with Decca, for whom she’s already recorded an exuberant, endearing Rossane in Handel’s Alessandro. For her first solo outing on the label, Lezhneva has chosen an all-sacred programme of motets by Vivaldi, Handel, Porpora and Mozart, all of which finish with a florid ‘Alleluia!’ section: she explains in the booklet-note that she’s holding fire on recording more operatic arias until she has more stage experience, and the modesty and sound judgment which underpin this remark are everywhere in evidence throughout the disc.

Julia Lezhneva
Julia Lezhneva

Other than Mozart’s evergreen Exsultate, jubilate (which fits her agile, effervescent voice like a glove), the works on this disc were new to me: indeed Porpora’s pastoral In caelo stele clare fulgescant receives its first outing on disc, having been unearthed from the British Library by Decca after Lehzneva asked for some repertoire suggestions. (She writes touchingly of experiencing ‘a moment of love’ on setting eyes on the score, and her enthusiasm and affection for everything she sings comes across in every bar). Handel’s Saeviat tellus inter rigores (written for the nuns of the Carmelite Order) showcases her breathtaking coloratura facility in the outer movements but the disc’s plum track, for me, is the serene E major ‘sleep-aria’ (O nox dulcis), where her radiant middle register and weightless legato are absolutely mesmerising.

The repertoire on the earlier Rossini disc suggested that Lezhneva was keeping one foot in both the soprano and mezzo camps, but these four works are all very much soprano territory (check out those high Ds in the Handel!). In a recent interview, Lezhneva indicated that she’d started out with ‘in-between’ roles whilst solidifying her technique to avoid taxing her still-developing upper register, but on the evidence here it’s gained in security and sheen, and everything now sits a little higher than her early performances indicated. The purity of her voice has been much vaunted in the press, but this is no vibrato-free, pseudo-treble sound: there’s a warmth and sensuality to the timbre, and she treats repeated text with insight and imagination that never descends into mannerism.

One of the things I found so refreshing about that first disc in 2011 was the disarming lack of precociousness in terms of tone, and if anything that’s even more pronounced here: everything sounds beautifully healthy and secure, and she never digs into chest-voice for low notes or puts undue pressure on the very top of the voice. Just occasionally, I did wish she’d step on the gas a tiny bit in the more dramatic outbursts - for instance in the declamatory opening of the Handel cantata - but it’s heartening to see a singer of this potential (and those advising and working with her) husbanding her resources with such eminent good sense and respect.

I have a hunch, though, that there’s a far larger, more dramatic voice cooking here: the coming years look set to put flesh on the lower register, and the focus and ping that’s already there may well develop into a real metallic blade that will work wonders in bigger bel canto roles and beyond. This is a real Portrait of the Artist as a Young Woman, and I can’t wait to see where she’ll go next!

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Julia Lezhneva: Alleluia

Julia Lezhneva (soprano), Il Giardino Armonico, Giovanni Antonini

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Katherine Cooper - katherine.cooper@prestoclassical.co.uk

New Releases

1st April 2013

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.

Beethoven: Symphonies Nos. 1-9 (complete)

La Chambre Philharmonique & Choeur de Chambre les Éléments, Emmanuel Krivine

Nominated for the Classical Brits in 2012, Emmanuel Krivine's period-instrument set on Naïve is now repressed due to popular demand. La Chambre Philharmonique was formed by Emmanuel Krivine and is made up of instrumentalists from the finest European ensembles. Its structure is original, in that conductor and players enjoy equal status and current members choose new players. The size of the ensemble is flexible, bringing together players, instruments and historical techniques as appropriate for each programme.

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Byron Janis: Complete RCA Album Collection

Byron Janis (piano)

This is a superb, budget-priced box-set from one of the greatest & most recognized American pianists of the 20th century. Totalling eleven CDs and one DVD, this is the entire RCA Red Seal discography, with no fewer than seven 'first time on CD' releases, plus previously unreleased recordings of Mussorgsky's Pictures at an Exhibition, as well as works by Liszt. Each CD is newly remastered and includes facsimile sleeves & labels. The enclosed booklet contains an essay by Richard Dyer based on an interview with the pianist, plus unpublished photos & full discographical notes.

The Romantic Piano Concerto 59 - Zarzycki & Zelenski

Jonathan Plowright (piano), BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, Lukasz Borowicz

This 59th volume of the Romantic Piano Concerto series features Jonathan Plowright, whose brilliant and utterly idiomatic performances of Romantic Polish piano music have confirmed him as a master of this repertoire. Here he collaborates with the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra and Lukasz Borowicz to perform three very obscure but fascinating works.

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Vivarte Collection

Anner Bylsma, Gustav Leonhardt, Tafelmusik, Huelgas Ensemble, L'Archibudelli & others

"VIVARTE" is the 'Sony Classical' period music label, known for producing outstanding recordings on period instruments. The box-set includes recordings with specialists in historically informed performance practice. The CDs are presented in paper sleeves with the original artwork of the former CDs.

Palestrina: Missa Ad coenam Agni & Eastertide motets

The Brabant Ensemble, Stephen Rice

The Brabant Ensemble, better known for uncovering works by forgotten composers such as Dominique de Phinot, turns to a giant of the Renaissance—perhaps the most celebrated name of the period. Each work is, as Stephen Rice states in his typically informative booklet notes, ‘a finely crafted addition to the liturgy’.

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Hidden Handel

Ann Hallenberg (mezzo), Il Complesso Barocco, Alan Curtis

The Handel arias and orchestral pieces on this disc span a narrow spectrum from the comparatively unfamiliar to the practically unknown. Nine of the twelve arias are recorded here for the first time, as is the D major March, HWV 416. Some of these arias have come to light only recently or have previously been inadequately identified.

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Wagner: Complete Piano Music

Pier Paolo Vincenzi (piano)

The collection brings together Wagner’s entire output for solo piano. The works are performed by the Italian pianist Pier Paolo Vincenzi, whose busy concert schedule takes him all over his native country. He is joined for the Polonaise for 4 hands in D by Federica Ferrati.

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Haydn: Piano Concertos Nos. 3, 4 & 11

Marc-André Hamelin (piano), Les Violons du Roy, Bernard Labadie

Marc-André Hamelin has proved himself—in three lauded volumes of Haydn’s piano sonatas—to be a formidable Haydn pianist, combining style, exuberance and dazzling technique with a palpable sense of joy in the music. Now he has recorded the composer’s three most popular concertos.

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Radio 3

BBC Radio 3 CD Review

Saturday 30th March 2013

Building a Library - Bach, J S: Sonatas for Violin & Harpsichord Nos. 1-6, BWV1014-1019

First Choice

Frank Peter Zimmerman (violin), Enrico Pace

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Disc of the Week

Musorgsky & Prokofiev: Pictures, Sarcasms & Visions

Steven Osborne (piano)

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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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