Presto News - 19th May 2014

Sir Simon Rattle conducts Schumann

This coming Friday sees the official launch of the Berlin Philharmonic’s own label – Berliner Philharmoniker Recordings. They’ve decided to launch the label with a lavish set of the complete Schumann Symphonies, conducted by the Orchestra’s Principal Conductor Sir Simon Rattle, and recorded live in concerts at the Philharmonie Hall in Berlin last year.

Sir Simon Rattle
Sir Simon Rattle

The orchestra have a great tradition of performing Schumann, going right back to their very first subscription concert in October 1882. And through Herbert von Karajan, Rafael Kubelik and others, they also have a number of distinguished recordings already in the catalogue, but I was keen to hear Rattle’s take on these symphonies – a musician I much admire, who never fails to conjure a wonderful sound and always has plenty of thoughtful and interesting ideas to portray.

Listening to Rattle’s comments on Schumann in the short video interview (link below), he talks about one of the keys to performing Schumann being that it should sound more like Mendelssohn than like Brahms, as it sometimes does. Listening to these recordings, I have to admit I don’t feel a particularly strong sense of Mendelssohn (especially compared to some of the chamber orchestra versions I’ve heard recently (such as Yannick Nézet-Séguin’s fine recent recording with the Chamber Orchestra of Europe on DG). There is often plenty of weight to the sound and tempos frequently held rather than scampering (as they might in a typical Mendelssohn Scherzo for example). However, I don’t feel that is in any way to the music’s detriment, and where the score calls for real character and humour (such as in the Scherzo of the Second Symphony) the Berliners certainly don’t fail to deliver.

Rattle chooses the first version of the Fourth Symphony dating from 1841, (which in numerical order was actually the second symphony Schumann composed). Interestingly it is the version which Brahms preferred too, and more thinly scored than the later revised version. It works well here, and despite the large orchestra still sounds full of lightness and grace.

Well-thought-out tempo changes and plenty of rubato make for generally very persuasive accounts of all four symphonies. Rattle has clearly thought long and hard about exactly how to bring these works to life with a large symphony orchestra, carefully balancing winds and brass so as not to obscure any other details, but still never afraid to allow them (or for that matter the timpani) to let rip when it is safe to do so – the effect almost blows you away at times.

It is a lovely rich sound, with sumptuous strings and no shortage of impact. The opening of the Rhenish Symphony (No. 3) is stunningly majestic, and there are several moments where I found myself grinning from ear to ear at the sound of the gorgeous singing string section.

In short, there is a huge amount to enjoy here!

The set comes in glamorous packaging, with hardback linen covers. As well as the two CDs, it also contains a Blu-ray disc including both high resolution audio (24-bit, 96kHz), as well as High Definition Video (if you want to watch the performances as well as listen); a download code where you can download ultra-high resolution audio (24-bit, 192kHz); and a free 7-day ticket to the ‘Digital Concert Hall’ – the Berliner Philharmoniker’s video streaming service. With all that in mind, the price (which initially looks a tad pricey when thinking of just two CDs) is actually a pretty great bargain!

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Simon Rattle conducts Schumann

Berliner Philharmoniker, Sir Simon Rattle

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Presto CD – just launched!

We're thrilled to be able to announce the launch of Presto CD – bringing deleted CDs back to life by manufacturing them (under licence from the original record labels) here at Presto. Each disc includes booklets and inlays, and the audio is identical to that of the original CD.

You can read more about Presto CDs, and browse through the first batch of titles, here.

Presto Interview – Chad Hoopes

American violinist Chad Hoopes may be only nineteen years old, but he's already been making his mark and garnering attention. His latest disc juxtaposes the Mendelssohn Concerto with that of John Adams – a less well-known piece but a strikingly original one – and David caught up with him via email to explore the thinking behind this innovative pairing.

You can read the full interview here.

Presto Recommends – Edward Elgar

This week, James has had the pleasant task of selecting the finest recordings of British composer Edward Elgar – perhaps best known for such evergreen favourites as the Enigma Variations, his glorious marches and the Cello Concerto. However, there's a lot more to Elgar than this; mighty symphonies, stirring large-scale choral works, picturesque suites and a small but exquisite chamber output.

You can read James's Elgar recommendations here.

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

New Releases

19th May 2014

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.

Martha Argerich & Friends: Live from Lugano 2013

Artists including: Mischa Maisky (cello), Renaud Capuçon (violin), Gautier Capuçon (cello), & Martha Argerich (piano)

The latest instalment of highlights from the Martha Argerich Project at the Lugano Festival. This is the 11th annual 3-CD set celebrating the musical fruits of a project in which young artists join seasoned performers, including Martha Argerich herself, to explore wide-ranging chamber music and orchestral repertoire, both well-known and rarely heard.

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El Maestro: Farinelli

Bejun Mehta (countertenor), Concerto Köln, Pablo Heras-Casado

Pablo Heras-Casado conducts instrumental and vocal music associated with Farinelli, the legendary 18th-century castrato who served as impresario and court musician to the kings of Spain. This new album contains works by Baroque composers and features eight world premiere recordings, including some arias sung by Bejun Mehta.

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Steven Isserlis plays Martinu, Sibelius & Mustonen

Steven Isserlis (cello), Olli Mustonen (piano)

Each of Bohuslav Martinů's three cello sonatas has an entirely distinct character and appears to owe something to extra-musical events. Interspersed with these sonatas are two Finnish works: Jean Sibelius's Malinconia written shortly after the death of his infant daughter Kirsti, and Olli Mustonen's Sonata from 2006. Isserlis and Mustonen have been friends and collaborators for close to twenty years, and now join forces in this exciting and varied programme.

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Gluck: La Clemenza di Tito

Rainer Trost (Tito Vespasiano), Laura Aikin (Vitellia), Raffaella Milanesi (Sesto), Arantza Ezenarro (Servilia), Valer Sabadus (Annio) & Flavio Ferri-Benedetti (Publio), L'arte del mondo, Werner Ehrhardt

Christoph Willibald Gluck's La Clemenza di Tito, first performed in Naples in 1752, is an exemplary 'opera seria' and a masterpiece of the genre. This world premiere recording shows the exceptional skills of one of the most influential opera composers of all time and reveals a rather unknown side of this outstanding visionary.

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Birtwistle: Gawain

Marie Angel (soprano), Anne Howells (mezzo soprano), Francois Le Roux (baritone), John Tomlinson (bass baritone), The Royal Opera Chorus & Orchestra of the Royal Opera House, Elgar Howarth

This production of Gawain for the Royal Opera House, recorded by BBC Radio 3, was originally released on Collins Classics. The re-issue of this recording was made possible thanks to the generosity of trusts, foundations and individuals who donated to the 2013 Opera Appeal.

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Beethoven: String Trios Op. 3 & Op. 8

Frank Peter Zimmermann (violin), Antoine Tamestit (viola) & Christian Poltéra (cello)

Although it is often said that Beethoven's three String Trios Op.9 form the pinnacle of their genre, it would be misleading to dismiss the composer's first attempts as mere preparations. The creative imagination of the young Beethoven is plain to hear in terms of thematic development and formal innovation. This is music which needs a first-class chamber ensemble to be fully realised, and with the Trio Zimmermann that is exactly what is on offer here.

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Ernest Ansermet: Russian Music

L'Orchestre de la Suisse Romande, London Philharmonic Orchestra, Ernest Ansermet

A 33-CD collection of Russian music conducted by Ernest Ansermet. The set includes music by Borodin, Glazunov, Prokofiev, Mussorgsky, Glinka, Rimsky-Korsakov, Stravinsky, Tchaikovsky and several others.

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Mahler: Symphonies 1-9 (complete)

Berliner Philharmoniker, Claudio Abbado

This 11-CD Mahler box brings together Claudio Abbado’s complete Berlin cycle for the first time. It is regarded as one of the crowning achievements of his final years. Soloists include Anna Larsson, Renée Fleming, Cheryl Studer, Sylvia McNair, Anne Sofie von Otter, Peter Seiffert, Bryn Terfel, & Jan-Hendrik Rootering.

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Radio 3

BBC Radio 3 CD Review

Saturday 17th May 2014

Building a Library - Mussorgsky: Songs and Dances of Death

First Choice

Eugene Nesterenko (bass) & Vladimir Krainev (piano)

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Disc of the Week

Shostakovich: Symphonies Nos. 1 & 15

Netherlands Radio Philharmonic Orchestra, Mark Wigglesworth

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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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