Presto News - 17th November 2014

Maurizio Pollini completes his cycle of Beethoven Piano Sonatas

It was in 1975 that Maurizio Pollini recorded his first Beethoven piano sonatas, with Gramophone Award-winning accounts of op. 109 and op. 110. Over the years he has gradually recorded more of them, and almost forty years later he has finally completed the cycle with a new disc out today of the op. 31 and op. 49 sonatas. To mark this milestone, Deutsche Grammophon has also released an 8-CD set of the complete sonatas.

Maurizio Pollini
Maurizio Pollini

Pollini is without a doubt one of the pianists I love listening to the most, as he combines a fearsomely formidable technique with unfailingly intelligent interpretations. His impressive technical mastery can often lead to some rather fast tempos, and this is certainly in evidence on the new disc: the last movement of op. 31 no. 3, often known as The Hunt, goes at quite a pace, but it never comes across as being flashily virtuosic just for the sake of it.

Similarly, the last movement of perhaps Beethoven’s most famous sonata, op. 27 no. 2 (commonly referred to as the Moonlight) is despatched at a breakneck pace, but always with the utmost clarity. One of the things that for me puts Pollini at the top of the heap is his always thoughtful use of the pedal; he often uses it surprisingly sparingly, which ensures that textures don’t get smudgy and thereby allows you to hear with pristine precision every single one of the quickfire semiquavers. This is also the case in, for example, the op. 79 sonata, where there is a refreshing crispness to Pollini’s playing, with extremely clear textures and flawless passagework.

It’s not all about how quickly Pollini can play all the fast bits, though. He excels in Beethoven’s slow movements too, with the most beautiful tone in, for instance, the slow movements of the Hammerklavier and the Pathétique, or with the gentle way he shapes the opening phrases of the last movement of the Waldstein. The range of sounds and colours that Pollini can draw from the piano is really quite extraordinary. Listen to the Appassionata to hear how he can move with ease from the softest touch in the second movement to a furiously stormy third movement, or the way he seems almost to stop time at the beginning of op. 81a (Les Adieux), and you’ll see just what I mean.

It was Pollini’s accounts of the three late sonatas that first introduced me to his recordings several years ago, and it’s always a pleasure to return to them, particularly a most impressive performance of the final sonata, op. 111 in C minor. The second movement is a set of nine variations on a theme, and is a test of any pianist’s ability to maintain interest over such a long structure (performances of this movement alone frequently last upwards of seventeen minutes). The celebrated third variation (a jaunty, up-beat variation which has led several commentators to point out that Beethoven has here seemingly invented boogie-woogie music!) is an absolute joy in Pollini’s hands.

I’ve included links below to both the new disc of the op. 31 and op. 49 sonatas, as well as the 8-CD set of the complete sonatas. Of course there are so many sets of Beethoven piano sonatas out there, and everyone will have their own favourites from amongst the many fine interpretations available, but now that Pollini has plugged the remaining gaps in his Beethoven sonata discography, for me personally there’s no contest, and I can’t recommend this set highly enough. Buy it!

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Beethoven: Piano Sonatas Nos. 16-20 (opp. 31 & 49)

Maurizio Pollini (piano)

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Beethoven: Piano Sonatas Nos. 1-32 (Complete)

Maurizio Pollini (piano)

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Presto CD – Argo

Chris introduces some more Presto CDs – this week we’ve been trawling the vaults of Argo to bring you vintage performances from The Choir of King’s College Cambridge and Stephen Cleobury, landmark organ recitals from Peter Hurford and Thomas Trotter, and music from composers including Roger Sessions, Peter Maxwell Davies, Kevin Volans and Paul Schoenfield.

You can browse through them all here, or you can have a look through the full range of Presto CDs here.

Presto Interview – Ton Koopman at 70

The Dutch keyboard player Ton Koopman has been at the forefront of the early music movement for several decades, and has committed several major period-instrument cycles to disc (for instance a complete set of Bach’s cantatas). His most recent project, the Opera Omnia (complete works) of Dieterich Buxtehude, has just reached its final volume.

With his seventieth birthday having recently passed, David caught up with Dr Koopman to talk about his long and illustrious career, about Buxtehude and about where he might be heading next!

You can read the full interview here.

James Longstaffe - james@prestoclassical.co.uk

New Releases

17th November 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.

Prokofiev: Symphonies Nos. 1 & 2

Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra, Kirill Karabits

Volume Two in Kirill Karabits and the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra’s Prokofiev Symphony cycle charts Prokofiev’s development as a symphonist through the charming but undervalued Sinfonietta, a close cousin to the First Symphony, to the modernistic Second, composed in Paris in 1924.

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Schubert Lieder Volume 9: Winterreise

Matthias Goerne (baritone) & Christoph Eschenbach (piano)

This Winterreise is the long-awaited conclusion to Matthias Goerne’s Schubert Edition, which began in 2008. This winter landscape expects no spring to come; nor will the Hurdy-Gurdy Man give any answer. In the intimate atmosphere offered by this recording, the path to oblivion finds its echo in our innermost selves.

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Verdi: Requiem

Krassimira Stoyanova (soprano), Marina Prudenskaja (mezzo-soprano), Saimir Pirgu (tenor) & Orlin Anastassov (baritone), Chor & Symphonieorchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks, Mariss Jansons

A live recording from October 2013, with Mariss Jansons conducting the Symphonieorchester and Chorus of the Bayerischer Rundfunk, together with soloists Krassimira Stoyanova, Marina Prudenskaya, Saimir Pirgu, and Orlin Anastassov. The chorus received special praise from the press for its tonal versatility.

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Mendelssohn: Songs without Words

Javier Perianes (piano)

This programme illustrates four essential qualities of the music of Felix Mendelssohn: music stripped of all superfluity, including the literary aspect; a gift for creating magical atmospheres; unconditional admiration for classical order; and, finally, a genuine veneration for Bach. The whole radiant universe of Mendelssohn is encapsulated here.

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Debussy: Orchestral Works

Singapore Symphony Orchestra, Lan Shui

Prélude à l’après-midi d’un faune – possibly Debussy’s most popular work for orchestra – is framed by two of his greatest achievements in the medium, La Mer and Images. The present disc combines new recordings by Singapore Symphony Orchestra and Lan Shui with the team’s acclaimed performance of La Mer, first released in 2007.

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Messages: Chamber Music for Strings

Brodsky Quartet

The Brodsky Quartet marks the centenary of Polish-British composer Andrzej Panufnik with this recording of works both by him and his daughter Roxanna.

Along with Andrzej's string quartets are the two movements of Memories of My Father. Commissioned by the Brodsky Quartet especially for the centenary, it represents a highly personal reflection from Roxanna on the life and music of her father.

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Renata Tebaldi: Voce d'Angelo

The Complete Decca Recordings

A special 66-CD edition to mark the 10th anniversary of the passing of one of the most beloved singers of all time – the incomparable Renata Tebaldi.

This set marks the first comprehensive overview of Tebaldi’s recorded legacy, and includes Tebaldi’s complete opera recordings (two versions of La Bohème, Madama Butterfly, Tosca and Aida), as well as her only recording of Verdi’s Requiem from 1951, conducted by Victor de Sabata.

Poulenc: Dialogues des Carmélites

Sophie Koch (Mère Marie), Patricia Petibon (Blanche), Véronique Gens (Madame Lidoine), Sandrine Piau (Soeur Constance), Rosalind Plowright (Madame de Croissy), Philharmonia Orchestra, Jérémie Rhorer (conductor)

At the end of 2013, the year that marked the 50th anniversary of Poulenc’s death, his operatic masterpiece was staged in Paris by director Olivier Py with a cast featuring some of France’s finest female singers. The stark, monochrome decor makes use of sliding panels that open and close to create the acting space or reveal expressionist vistas, while the costumes evoke the first half of the 20th century rather than the era of the Revolution itself.

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Radio 3

BBC Radio 3 CD Review

Saturday 15th November 2014

Building a Library - Rossini: William Tell

First Choice

Gabriel Bacquier (Guillaume Tell), Montserrat Caballé (Mathilde), Nicolai Gedda (Arnaud), Gwynne Howell (Melchtal), Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, Lamberto Gardelli

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Disc of the Week

Haydn: The Seasons

Christina Landshamer, Maximilian Schmitt & Florian Boesch, Collegium Vocale Gent & Orchestre des Champs-Elysees, Philippe Herreweghe

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23-Apr-2012 -Kathleen Ferrier
16-Apr-2012 -Berlioz’s Symphonie Fantastique from Ticciati and the SCO
09-Apr-2012 -New and forthcoming Opera DVDs
02-Apr-2012 -Claude Debussy
26-Mar-2012 -Wagner - Klaus Florian Vogt and a new Parsifal
19-Mar-2012 -Haydn from Thomas Fey and the Heidelberger Sinfoniker
12-Mar-2012 -Jules Massenet - Werther & Don Quichotte
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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