Presto News - 31st July 2015

Andris Nelsons conducts Shostakovich's Tenth Symphony

Welcome to the first of our Friday newsletters! As a result of the record industry's standardising of release-dates, we've decided to change the day of our weekly newsletter so that we can tell you about all the latest releases on the day they come out.

So, with that in mind...

Today sees the launch of a major new project from Andris Nelsons and the Boston Symphony Orchestra on Deutsche Grammophon: Shostakovich Under Stalin’s Shadow will explore the volatile relationship between dictator and composer over a period of some fifteen years of conflict. Recorded live in Boston this April, this first instalment consists of two works which book-end that conflict: the Passacaglia from Lady Macbeth of the Mtsensk District (the opera which became notorious for precipitating Shostakovich’s first denunciation by the Party) and the mammoth Tenth Symphony, premiered nine months after Stalin’s death in 1953. It’s an inspired pairing: not only does the Passacaglia segue into the opening of the Symphony so seamlessly that we found ourselves checking the track-listing in the office, but both works depict the reaction to the death of a hated oppressor (in the opera, the Passacaglia occurs just after the anti-heroine has murdered her brutal father-in-law).

Andris Nelsons
Andris Nelsons

They may not have been together long, but both Nelsons and his new orchestra have serious form when it comes to Shostakovich: he has recorded symphonies with the CBSO and Concertgebouw, among others, and Boston championed his music under Koussevitsky. This is already their second recording together, and many of the virtues which James located in their earlier disc of Sibelius are also in evidence this time round: Nelsons’s masterful grasp of the architecture of the work (particularly the epic 20-minute first movement, which almost feels like a symphony in its own right here), the slow-burn climaxes and the searing brass-playing all make their mark, but there’s something quite special going on here which transcends the technical side of things.

It’s always interesting (she says euphemistically) to compare opinions on new recordings in the editorial office, and James and I had quite different reactions to this one: whilst he found the orchestral playing almost ‘too good’ (and I will say that I’ve heard scratchier strings, raspier brass and screechier woodwind in this music), what intrigued me was the impact of Nelsons’s relatively restrained energy and his resistance to caricature.

It may sound perverse to praise an interpretation of this particular work for its introspectiveness, but bear with me: the nightmarish scherzo (viewed by some as an Enigma Variations-like depiction of Stalin) somehow speaks of internalised, psychological terror rather than Terror With A Capital T here, and the manic exchanges of the ‘DSCH’ motto (often read as Shostakovich’s frustrated attempts to assert his identity) come across as all the more futile for not being driven too hard.

It was only afterwards that I discovered just how all of this fits in with Nelsons’s own perspective on the composer. Coasting around for footage of his earlier Birmingham performances, I came across a short YouTube video of Nelsons talking to the CBSO’s Michael Seal back in 2012, where he speaks with his customary animation about his conviction that Shostakovich’s music (and this symphony in particular) are better understood as depictions of an intensely personal struggle between two men rather than what he calls ‘global political’ portraits of the conflict between artist and state. Much journalistic ink has been spilled about Nelsons’s closeness to Shostakovich in these ‘global political’ terms (he was born in Soviet Latvia, just three years after the composer’s death), but the man himself seems to see this affinity as something that’s almost uncannily personal: in the booklet-note he empathises with his shyness and naivety, and refers to a quite mystical connection between them.

Like many Midlands-based music-lovers, I can’t help feeling a certain degree of envy towards the Bostonians at the moment: each time I’ve walked past Birmingham’s Symphony Hall this month, it’s set me off musing on the miracles Nelsons worked there. Will the relationship with Boston yield similar magic? On this evidence, I’m pretty certain that it will.

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Shostakovich Under Stalin's Shadow

Boston Symphony Orchestra, Andris Nelsons

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Presto Interview – Pablo Heras-Casado on 'Praetorius'

Spanish conductor Pablo Heras-Casado has enjoyed a string of successes recently, with critically-acclaimed discs of Mendelssohn and Schumann. For his latest album – and his debut on DG – he turns to the late German Renaissance with a selection of motets and Magnificats by Hieronymus, Jakob and Michael Praetorius.

David talks to Pablo about this apparent change of direction from Romantic orchestral works to early polyphony.

Read the full article...

In the Studio – Prokofiev from Gergiev and the Mariinsky

Fresh from his triumphant Prokofiev marathon at the Proms, Valery Gergiev is set to return to Prokofiev's works for his next release - symphonies 4, 6 and 7 and the Fifth Piano Concerto, due out on the Mariinsky label towards the end of the year.

Read the full article...

Katherine Cooper - katherine@prestoclassical.co.uk

New Releases

31st July 2015

Grieg & Saint-Saëns: Piano Concertos

Vadym Kholodenko (piano), The Norwegian Radio Orchestra, Miguel Harth-Bedoya

2013 Cliburn Gold Medalist Vadym Kholodenko is the pianist in this recording of the Grieg Concerto in A minor and the Saint-Saëns Concerto No. 2. While Grieg’s concerto is the work of a composer just beginning to find his place on the international cultural stage, Saint-Saëns's work, written just a year earlier, has all the hallmarks of an artist who had already reached maturity.

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Beethoven - Piano Sonatas Volume 5

Angela Hewitt (piano)

Angela Hewitt has been much praised in her earlier recordings of Beethoven’s piano sonatas, and now turns to four more works spanning the composer’s career. As ever, Angela’s accompanying notes provide fascinating insights into both the music and her performances.

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Respighi: Metamorphoseon

Orchestre Philharmonique Royal de Liège, John Neschling

Ballata delle gnomidi was composed in 1920, inspired by a poem depicting satanic rituals, sexual abandonment and blood sacrifice. Respighi composed Metamorphoseon in 1930 for the fiftieth anniversary of the Boston Symphony Orchestra. The disc closes with the suite from Belkis, Regina di Saba, depicting the encounter between the Queen of Sheba and Solomon.

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Soile Isokoski sings Chausson, Berlioz & Duparc

Soile Isokoski (soprano), Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra, John Storgårds

Soprano Soile Isokoski sings orchestral songs by three different French composers. The recording includes two major works in the French song repertoire – Ernest Chausson’s Poème de l’amour et de la mer and Hector Berlioz’s Nuits d’été. The disc ends with three finely-crafted miniature songs by Henri Duparc.

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John McCabe: Piano Music

John McCabe (piano)

John McCabe was a composer-pianist who excelled internationally in both fields. For his own instrument he wrote a distinguished series of works in which variation form is a recurrent feature. Seventeen years separate the Variations, Op. 22 and the unorthodox and original Haydn Variations, McCabe’s longest solo piano work. The evocative Bagatelles and Studies are notable for their unceasing exploration of pianistic and compositional techniques.

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Mstislav Rostropovich: A Romantic Portrait

Mstislav Rostropovich (cello)

On this SACD remastering, the legendary cellist 'Slava', Mstislav Rostropovich, performs concertos by Dvorák [Abbey Rd 1957], Schumann [London 1960] and Tchaikovsky's 'Pezzo Capriccioso' [Moscow 1964]. He is supported by the Royal Philharmonic led by Sir Adrian Boult, and the Leningrad Philharmonic led by Gennady Rozhdestvensky.

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The Hickox Legacy - New Releases from Chandos

Richard Hickox (conductor)

Chandos continues its series of reissues celebrating great recordings by the late conductor Richard Hickox with four new releases, including Elgar's The Kingdom and Tippett's A Child of Our Time with the London Symphony Orchestra, Vaughan Williams's one-act opera, Riders to the Sea, and music by Frederick Delius.

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Wagner: Tannhäuser

Torsten Kerl (Tannhäuser), Camilla Nylund (Elisabeth), Michelle Breedt (Venus), Markus Eiche (Wolfram), Kwangchul Youn (Hermann), Lothar Odinius (Walther), Bayreuth Festival Orchestra, Axel Kober (conductor)

Wagner’s tale of the struggle between spiritual and profane love is given a radical visual update in Sebastian Baumgarten’s controversial yet thought-provoking Bayreuth production. This performance plays host to some magnificent performances, among them Torsten Kerl’s robust interpretation of the title role and Camilla Nylund’s wonderfully empathetic Elisabeth.

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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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