Gramophone Award Winners 2017 – up to 30% off

We're thrilled to be able to offer some great discounts on the twelve category winners at this year’s Gramophone Awards, including (of course) the Record of the Year, Isabelle Faust's set of Mozart Violin Concertos with Il Giardino Armonico and Giovanni Antonini.

2017 has indeed been an excellent year all round in the classical recording industry, and it’s worth checking out the full shortlist to see what other great recordings these twelve beat to secure this award.

This offer will end on 6th November 2017.

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Haydn 2032 Volume 4 - Il Distratto - Vinyl Edition

Haydn 2032 Volume 4 - Il Distratto - Vinyl Edition


Cimarosa:

Il maestro di cappella

Haydn:

Symphony No. 60 in C major 'Il distratto'

Symphony No. 70 in D major

Symphony No. 12 in E major


The fourth volume of the Haydn2032 project thrusts into the limelight one of the most important stock characters in the theatre of sounds and words, the Kapellmeister, and explores some glamorous and (in)glorious moments in the career of Maestro Haydn. It features three symphonies by the "Shakespeare of Music" - one of which is even associated with ana ctual play. This bears teh title "Sinfonia in C per la commedia intitolata il distratto" and consists of an overture, four entra'actes, and a finale to be played at the end of the performance. Also on this release is a large-scale buffalo scene by his colleague Cimarosa. Il maestro di cappella is a witty and ironic parody, in which a member of the "old school" of musicians tries to improve the ensemble playing of his orchestra. To his chagrin, the players do react, but in extremely undisciplined fashion: they are distracted, make false entries and disagree musically...

“As in the previous volumes, the orchestral performance is breathtaking in its accuracy – the sort of Haydn-playing you dream of…this may well become the period-instrument Haydn cycle by which all others are measured” Gramophone Magazine, May 2017

Released or re-released in last 6 months

Gramophone Award Winners

Alpha Haydn 2032 project - ALPHA675

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The Italian Job

The Italian Job

Baroque Instrumental Music from the Italian States


Albinoni:

Concerto Op. 9 No. 3 for two oboes & strings in F major

Caldara:

Sinfonia for 2 oboes, 2 bassoons, 2 trumpets, timpani, violin, strings & continuo in C

Corelli:

Sinfonia, WoO 1, to the oratorio Santa Beatrice d'Este

Tartini:

Concerto in E major, D51

Torelli:

Sinfonia for 4 trumpets, timpani, 2 oboes, 2 bassoons, 2 violins, 2 cellos, strings & continuo in C, G 33

Vivaldi:

Concerto RV151 in G major for strings & basso continuo 'Alla rustica'

Bassoon Concerto, RV 467 in C major


Gail Hennessy, Rachel Chaplin (oboes) & Peter Whelan (bassoon)

La Serenissima, Adrian Chandler

Gramophone Award-winning Adrian Chandler and his period-instrument ensemble La Serenissima present The Italian Job, a feast of instrumental colour featuring oboes, bassoons, trumpets, trombone, timpani, strings and continuo, by some of the finest composers of the Italian baroque. The music on this recording comes from four cities, each with a rich musical heritage: Venice (Albinoni, Caldara, Vivaldi), Bologna (Torelli), Padua (Tartini) and Rome (Corelli).

“'The Italian Job' has all their [La Serenissima's] hallmarks: a fresh, zinging tone alive with vitality and enjoyment, an effortless easy panache from both ensemble and soloists, and the whole underpinned by a scholarly attittude to programming and performance style which is yet worn with a light grace.” Gramophone Magazine, May 2017

“The highlight of the disc for me is Chandler’s performance of a seldom-played E major Violin Concerto by Tartini: he explores fully the rich poetic content of its slow movement while projecting crisply articulated vitality to the faster ones. Peter Whelan brings fluent virtuosity to Vivaldi’s Bassoon Concerto in G.” BBC Music Magazine, August 2017 ****

GGramophone Awards 2017

Winner - Baroque Instrumental

GGramophone Magazine

Editor's Choice - May 2017

Gramophone Award Winners

Avie - AV2371

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JS Bach: Cantatas Nos 54, 82 & 170

JS Bach: Cantatas Nos 54, 82 & 170


Bach, J S:

Cantata BWV170 'Vergnügte Ruh, beliebte Seelenlust'

Cantata BWV54 'Widerstehe doch der Sünde'

Cantata BWV82 'Ich habe genug'

Sinfonia: Cantata BWV174

Cantata BWV52 'Falsche Welt, dir trau ich nicht': Sinfonia


Ich habe genug is a timeless, transcendental masterpiece: a profound expression of Christian faith at the very end of life. It demands artistry of a special order, and Iestyn Davies now joins the likes of Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau and Lorraine Hunt Lieberson in the work’s distinguished discography. The couplings are equally ravishing performances of two other great solo cantatas, while the two orchestral sinfonias which complete the album will prove refreshingly familiar.

“Davies’s singular gifts of open-hearted expression, reined in to perfection and with no excess or indulgence, are expertly balanced by Arcangelo’s prominent solo musicians. Early in the year, a favourite disc already.” The Observer, 8th January 2017 *****

“The dominant virtue in this fine collaboration between the outstanding Davies and Arcangelo lies in an unsentimental perspicacity, reassuring in its intelligence and deep sensitivity.” Gramophone Magazine, January 2017

“The main pleasure in this album is the partnership between the eloquent soloist and the tangy playing of Arcangelo, wonderfully led by Jonathan Cohen, who doubles as a fizzing organist...Davies’s cool concentration heats up for a compelling Ich habe genug, finely weighted between religious ecstasy and resignation.” The Times, 13th January 2017 ****

“Iestyn Davies [gives a] poised, sober performance…Arcangelo’s strings have a beautifully firm sound, with plenty of bow and intelligent details from the lute, while oboist Katharina Spreckelsen plays elegantly” BBC Music Magazine, January 2017 ****

“If his German is not entirely idiomatic, his words are invariably clear and he relishes the interplay with the Arcangelo ensemble’s soloists...Best of all is the rapt singing of Schlummert ein (Go to sleep), in the well-known BWV82…Overall, a lovely disc.” Sunday Times, 15th January 2017

“Iestyn Davies is intently communicative with the words in the much-loved ‘Vergnügte Ruh’ and ‘Ich habe genug’” Financial Times

“A simply outstanding Bach disc.” MusicWeb International, 12th January 2017

“Davies sails serenely on through all vocal obstacles” Early Music Today, May 2017 *****

GGramophone Awards 2017

Winner - Baroque Vocal

GGramophone Magazine

Editor's Choice - January 2017

Gramophone Award Winners

Hyperion - CDA68111

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Mozart: Mass in C minor, K427 'Great'

Mozart: Mass in C minor, K427 'Great'


Mozart:

Mass in C minor, K427 'Great'

Olivia Vermeulen (mezzo), Makoto Sakurada (tenor), Christian Immler (bass)

Exsultate, jubilate, K165

from the revised Salzburg version of K165


Following on from the 2015 release of Mozart’s Requiem, Masaaki Suzuki and his Bach Collegium Japan have gone on to record the composer's Mass in C minor, K427 – the ‘Great Mass’. As the nickname indicates, it is a work of unusual proportions for a mass of the Classical period – or would have been so, had Mozart completed it. It is not known, for what occasion Mozart intended the work, but a letter to his father Leopold, dated 4 January 1783, indicates that he may have committed himself to writing it in connection with his marriage to Constanze and a planned visit to Salzburg. A performance of parts of the Mass did take place in Salzburg in October 1783, with Constanze performing the prominent soprano part. Two years later Mozart reused the music from the Kyrie and Gloria sections in the sacred cantata Davidde penitente, K 469, but the Mass itself was left incomplete. The present performance includes the sections completed by Mozart himself, as well as those sections, for which extensive sketches by Mozart provided a basis for completion (by Franz Beyer in 1989). Three of Suzuki’s soloists also took part in the recording of the Requiem, while the Dutch mezzo-soprano Olivia Vermeulen makes her first appearance on BIS, shining in the aria ‘Laudamus te’. The disc closes with the celebrated cantata Exsultate, jubilate in which the soprano Carolyn Sampson glitters in the virtuosic solo part. As an appendix to the programme, she and the Bach Collegium Japan orchestra also repeats the initial aria, in a less well-known later version with a slightly different text and with flutes replacing the oboes of the original.

“The Mass survives as one of the great unfinished works. Suzuki’s famed period forces are significantly enlarged here (24 choristers), but are quite small for this work. His tempi are surprisingly spacious, but the dramatic impact of the double-choir Qui tollis in the Gloria comes across with full force.” Sunday Times, 13th November 2016

“Period-instrument C minor Masses get better and better. ...The choir are well drilled and the two female soloists are matched as well as any on disc...Suzuki is no speed merchant, and maintains the through line in more strenuous movements.” Gramophone Magazine, December 2016

“Stripping the score right back, Suzuki makes musicianship dominate. He taps into the subtle arts of his fellow performers, especially Carolyn Sampson, to create a benchmark performance…Sampson arabesques effortlessly up to the stratosphere in a slow dance with solo woodwinds…the three other vocal soloists equal Sampson’s elegance, forging a blissful euphony in their ensembles” BBC Music Magazine, January 2017 *****

“A tremendous achievement.” MusicWeb International, 10th January 2017

“playing and singing are excellent throughout, especially from the vocal soloists, all giving florid and characterful performances. The Exsultate, Jubilate makes an ideal filler, not least for the further opportunity it provides to hear soprano Carolyn Sampson, here on excellent form. The SACD audio is atmospheric and clear, giving an ideal audio image for the orchestra and soloists” Classical Ear, 27th March 2017 ***

GGramophone Awards 2017

Winner - Choral

GGramophone Magazine

Editor's Choice - December 2016

BBC Music Magazine

Disc of the month - January 2017

Super Audio CD

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Gramophone Award Winners

BIS - BIS2171

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In War & Peace

In War & Peace

Harmony Through Music


Handel:

Scenes of horror (from Jephtha)

Svegliatevi nel core (from Giulio Cesare)

Pensieri, voi mi tormentate! (from Agrippina)

Lascia ch'io pianga (from Rinaldo)

Augeletti che cantate (from Rinaldo)

Crystal streams in murmurs flowing: Susanna

Da tempeste il legno infranto (from Giulio Cesare)

Jommelli:

Sprezza il furor del vento (from Attila Regolo)

Par che di Giubilo (from Attilio Regolo)

Leo:

Prendi quel ferro, o barbaro! (from Andromaca)

Monteverdi:

Illustratevi, o cieli (from Il ritorno di Ulisse in patria)

Purcell:

They tell us that your mighty powers, Z630

When I am laid in earth (from Dido and Aeneas)

O lead me to some peaceful gloom (from Bonduca or The British Heroine, Z574)

Why should men quarrel? (from The Indian Queen, Z630)


Watch or read our exclusive interview with Joyce DiDonato about the project here.

“Perhaps my most personal project to date,” is how American mezzo-soprano Joyce DiDonato describes In War and Peace: Harmony through Music. Her ambitions for this collection of arias from Baroque operas are substantial. Surrounded as we are by instability, she hopes it will help us find an answer to a vitally important question: “In the midst of chaos, how do you find peace?”

Her aim is to “steer conversation and discourse … to help all of us find peace in our lives in a dynamic way … As I have tried to convey in this selection of music, the power to bravely tip the scales towards peace lies firmly within every single one of us.”

DiDonato, an opera singer who certainly does not live in an ivory tower, was motivated to assemble the programme after the terrorist attacks in Paris in November 2015. She had been planning an exploratory album with an emphasis on rare arias, but in the light of the tragic events she rethought her approach, giving it wider and deeper implications.

In War and Peace: Harmony through Music was recorded with Il Pomo d’Oro under its principal conductor Maxim Emelyanychev. The programme comprises 15 arias divided into two sections: ‘War’ and ‘Peace’. Both contain music by Purcell and Handel – including, to close ‘War’, Dido’s dignified, but searing lament from Dido and Aeneas and Almirena’s haunting and heartbreaking ‘Lascia ch’io pianga’ from Rinaldo. An excerpt from Monteverdi’s Il ritorno d’Ulisse is included in ‘Peace’, which concludes with Cleopatra’s spirited and defiantly optimistic ‘Da tempeste il legno infranto’ from Giulio Cesare.

A further aria from Giulio Cesare is the bonus track for the album; it is Sesto’s touching apostrophe to hope, ‘Cara speme’, which Joyce DiDonato sings unforgettably on a floating whisper of breath.

In her search for peace and harmony, the American singer did not entirely desert her musicological quest, and the album also contains no fewer than three world premiere recordings: a ‘War’ aria from Andromaca by the Neapolitan composer Leonardo Leo (1694-1744), and two ‘Peace’ arias, from the operas Attila and Attilio Regolo, by another Neapolitan, Niccolò Jommelli (1714-1774).

When Baroque opera was at its height, the highly stylised art form was famously described by the English writer Dr Samuel Johnson as “an exotic and irrational entertainment which has always been combated, and always has prevailed”. It is nearly three centuries since he made that judgement, but opera has continued to prevail – by impassioning performers and thrilling and moving audiences: nothing rivals it in giving intense, compelling expression to matters of life, love and death. Over recent decades, opera of the Baroque era has gained a new and vigorous life, with frequent revivals of works by such masters as Handel, Monteverdi, Vivaldi and Purcell, and the rediscovery of operas by composers who had fallen into obscurity.

Fuelled by these arias, Joyce DiDonato is fervently committed the cause of engaging the hearts and minds of music-lovers around the world. As she leads the way forward, long may opera – and peace – prevail.

“DiDonato brings technical security and a variety of tonal colours to each aria. Il Pomo d’Oro offer bristling accompaniment under principal conductor Maxim Emelyanychev. Purists may quibble here and there, but it’s hard to resist DiDonato’s heartfelt message.” The Guardian, 30th October 2016 ****

“DiDonato is always a force to be reckoned with and there is plenty of dramatic gusto here, as well as vocal fireworks...I found her at her most fiery and persuasive — the same goes for the orchestra — in the three world-premiere recordings, taken from Niccolò Jommelli’s Attilio Régolo and Leonardo Leo’s Andromaca.” The Times, 4th November 2016 ***

“In War & Peace’ finds DiDonato back on Baroque ground for the first time in a while, and it’s a joyful musical homecoming. ...Drama, as ever with DiDonato, is everything. Ornamentation serves narrative first, ego second.” Gramophone Magazine, November 2016

“[In 'Lascia ch’io pianga'] she washes just enough color out of her voice to achieve a purity that enhances the composer’s signature formula of gut-wrenching despair set to music of extraordinary beauty...DiDonato also can rage with the best, hurling words like knives in an aria from Leonardo Leo’s long-forgotten “Andromaca.”” Washington Post, 16th November 2016

“DiDonato kicks up a storm in the war arias and soothes the spirit with lambent tone when she turns to peace. The American mezzo is at the peak of her career. This disc is worth hearing for her radiant singing in Handel’s Susanna alone.” Financial Times, 4th November 2016

“Though the top of her voice is wiry under pressure, her coloratura is tightly sprung, her diction is flawless, and her phrasing of the often underrated poetry is sympathetic and sophisticated…Il Pomo d’Oro plays with Handelian zip under its new director, Maxim Emelyanychev” BBC Music Magazine, Christmas 2016 ****

“[DiDonato is] a singer not afraid to let simplicity speak for itself…she takes her programme beyond the obvious binary opposition into a series of contrasts and emotional conflicts…[her] vocal attack is fearless, her range of vocal colours immense – not many singers would risk such extremes of dynamics and manipulation of vibrato without sounding mannered, but somehow she pulls it off” Opera Now, January 2017 *****

Presto Discs of 2016

Finalist

GGramophone Awards 2017

Winner - Recital

GGramophone Magazine

Editor's Choice - November 2016

Gramophone Award Winners

Erato - 9029592846

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In War & Peace - Vinyl Edition

In War & Peace - Vinyl Edition


Handel:

Scenes of horror (from Jephtha)

Svegliatevi nel core (from Giulio Cesare)

Pensieri, voi mi tormentate! (from Agrippina)

Lascia ch'io pianga (from Rinaldo)

Da tempeste il legno infranto (from Giulio Cesare)

Crystal streams in murmurs flowing: Susanna

Augeletti che cantate (from Rinaldo)

Cara speme (from Giulio Cesare)

Jommelli:

Sprezza il furor del vento (from Attila Regolo)

Par che di Giubilo (from Attilio Regolo)

Leo:

Prendi quel ferro, o barbaro! (from Andromaca)

Monteverdi:

Illustratevi, o cieli (from Il ritorno di Ulisse in patria)

Purcell:

They tell us that your mighty powers, Z630

When I am laid in earth (from Dido and Aeneas)

O lead me to some peaceful gloom (from Bonduca or The British Heroine, Z574)

Why should men quarrel? (from The Indian Queen, Z630)


Watch or read our exclusive interview with Joyce DiDonato about the project here.

“Perhaps my most personal project to date,” is how American mezzo-soprano Joyce DiDonato describes In War and Peace: Harmony through Music. Her ambitions for this collection of arias from Baroque operas are substantial. Surrounded as we are by instability, she hopes it will help us find an answer to a vitally important question: “In the midst of chaos, how do you find peace?”

Her aim is to “steer conversation and discourse … to help all of us find peace in our lives in a dynamic way … As I have tried to convey in this selection of music, the power to bravely tip the scales towards peace lies firmly within every single one of us.”

DiDonato, an opera singer who certainly does not live in an ivory tower, was motivated to assemble the programme after the terrorist attacks in Paris in November 2015. She had been planning an exploratory album with an emphasis on rare arias, but in the light of the tragic events she rethought her approach, giving it wider and deeper implications.

In War and Peace: Harmony through Music was recorded with Il Pomo d’Oro under its principal conductor Maxim Emelyanychev. The programme comprises 15 arias divided into two sections: ‘War’ and ‘Peace’. Both contain music by Purcell and Handel – including, to close ‘War’, Dido’s dignified, but searing lament from Dido and Aeneas and Almirena’s haunting and heartbreaking ‘Lascia ch’io pianga’ from Rinaldo. An excerpt from Monteverdi’s Il ritorno d’Ulisse is included in ‘Peace’, which concludes with Cleopatra’s spirited and defiantly optimistic ‘Da tempeste il legno infranto’ from Giulio Cesare.

A further aria from Giulio Cesare is the bonus track for the album; it is Sesto’s touching apostrophe to hope, ‘Cara speme’, which Joyce DiDonato sings unforgettably on a floating whisper of breath.

In her search for peace and harmony, the American singer did not entirely desert her musicological quest, and the album also contains no fewer than three world premiere recordings: a ‘War’ aria from Andromaca by the Neapolitan composer Leonardo Leo (1694-1744), and two ‘Peace’ arias, from the operas Attila and Attilio Regolo, by another Neapolitan, Niccolò Jommelli (1714-1774).

When Baroque opera was at its height, the highly stylised art form was famously described by the English writer Dr Samuel Johnson as “an exotic and irrational entertainment which has always been combated, and always has prevailed”. It is nearly three centuries since he made that judgement, but opera has continued to prevail – by impassioning performers and thrilling and moving audiences: nothing rivals it in giving intense, compelling expression to matters of life, love and death. Over recent decades, opera of the Baroque era has gained a new and vigorous life, with frequent revivals of works by such masters as Handel, Monteverdi, Vivaldi and Purcell, and the rediscovery of operas by composers who had fallen into obscurity.

Fuelled by these arias, Joyce DiDonato is fervently committed the cause of engaging the hearts and minds of music-lovers around the world. As she leads the way forward, long may opera – and peace – prevail.

“DiDonato brings technical security and a variety of tonal colours to each aria. Il Pomo d’Oro offer bristling accompaniment under principal conductor Maxim Emelyanychev. Purists may quibble here and there, but it’s hard to resist DiDonato’s heartfelt message” The Guardian, 30th October 2016 ****

“DiDonato is always a force to be reckoned with and there is plenty of dramatic gusto here, as well as vocal fireworks...I found her at her most fiery and persuasive — the same goes for the orchestra — in the three world-premiere recordings, taken from Niccolò Jommelli’s Attilio Régolo and Leonardo Leo’s Andromaca.” The Times, 4th November 2016 ***

“In War & Peace’ finds DiDonato back on Baroque ground for the first time in a while, and it’s a joyful musical homecoming. ...Drama, as ever with DiDonato, is everything. Ornamentation serves narrative first, ego second.” Gramophone Magazine, November 2016

“[In 'Lascia ch’io pianga'] she washes just enough color out of her voice to achieve a purity that enhances the composer’s signature formula of gut-wrenching despair set to music of extraordinary beauty...DiDonato also can rage with the best, hurling words like knives in an aria from Leonardo Leo’s long-forgotten “Andromaca.”” Washington Post, 16th November 2016

“DiDonato kicks up a storm in the war arias and soothes the spirit with lambent tone when she turns to peace. The American mezzo is at the peak of her career. This disc is worth hearing for her radiant singing in Handel’s Susanna alone.” Financial Times, 4th November 2016

Gramophone Award Winners

Erato - 9029592841

(Vinyl - 2 discs)

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Bach, J S: French Suites Nos. 1-6, BWV812-817

Bach, J S: French Suites Nos. 1-6, BWV812-817


Murray Perahia has always felt a great affinity with the music of Bach, having played some of his pieces since childhood and been powerfully influenced by a performance he attended at the age of fifteen of the St Matthew Passion conducted by Pablo Casals. He also found solace in studying the composer on a daily basis during a period in which illness prevented him from playing. He sees the French Suites as “Bach on the highest level,” adding, “I don’t think Bach wrote one note that didn’t have wider meanings and that wasn’t to be tackled with all one’s heart and soul.” His recording revels in the music’s diverse moods, from melancholy tenderness to out-and-out joy, and brings out every nuance of its elegant phrasing and expressive dance rhythms.

“As we expect from Perahia, everything sounds natural and inevitable. Ego doesn’t come into it: rather, he acts as a conduit between composer and audience with a purity that few can emulate...I’ve only had this recording for five days but I predict a long and happy future in its company.” Gramophone Magazine, November 2016

“In Perahia’s hands every note of the music sings and its siren beauty is surely impossible to resist.” Financial Times, 4th November 2016

“Perahia is unrivalled in coaxing a subtle dialogue in the dances that resort to the artful pared-back minimalism of the two-part invention. There’s nowhere to hide and Perahia’s effortless variety of touch, love of teasing voice-leading, and conversational affability would have it no other way…this is a set that gets ever more persuasive on repeated listening” BBC Music Magazine, Christmas 2016 *****

“No recording I have heard these past months has sounded as instantly, undefinably right...The piano’s tone is pristine, the articulation clean, the balance between the hands immaculate, the overall tenor both spirited and rapt.” New York Times, 15th December 2016

“Perahia’s innate musicianship, completely free of any mannerisms or distractions, demands repeated listening.” Chris O'Reilly, Presto Classical, 16th December 2016

“When performed as they are here...these works yield nothing in interest and charm...Perahia’s playing is a constant delight — and by not eschewing the sustaining pedal, he paradoxically makes the piano sound more harpsichord-like.” Sunday Times, 8th January 2017

Presto Discs of 2016

Finalist

GGramophone Awards 2017

Winner - Instrumental

GGramophone Magazine

Disc of the Month - November 2016

BBC Music Magazine

Disc of the month

Gramophone Award Winners

DG - 4796565

(CD - 2 discs)

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Musica Viva 22

Musica Viva 22


Benjamin, G:

Palimpsests

Ligeti:

Lontano

Murail:

Le Désenchantement Du Monde. Concerto Symphonique Pour Piano Et Orchestre


When the first concert of the series founded by the composer Karl Amadeus Hartmann (later designated as musica viva) took place at Munich's Prince Regent's Theatre on 7 October 1945, it marked the birth of an important new cultural event in post-war Germany.

Up to the present day, this oldest concert series for New Music still brings together the world's most important artists - conductors and interpreters alike - in the field of new and the newest music, also continuing to set new standards for the interpretation of new classical music with the outstanding Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra.

The SACD presented here is a good example of this: Ligeti's Lontano - a classic! Murail's Piano Concerto completed in 2012 - interpreted by Pierre-Laurent Aimard - and Benjamin's Palimpsests of 2002. All three works conducted by George Benjamin himself - one can't do any better than that!

“This is special. Three utterly captivating, ear-tickling pieces by composers from successive generations in superlative performances…the centrepiece of the disc is the world premiere performance of Tristan Murail’s impressive piano concerto Le désenchantement du monde with the ever-sensational Pierre-Laurent Aimard as soloist…an enthralling masterpiece” BBC Music Magazine, Christmas 2016 *****

“Benjamin leads a superlative performance [of Lontano], one surprisingly visceral for a piece about distance…the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra supply more immediacy, with a richness that they might also deploy in, say, Strauss…Benjamin’s own Palimpsests come off well, too, and again the Bavarians’ playing is special…Aimard is as strong an advocate as always [in Le désenchantement du monde], and Murail devotees should not hesitate” Gramophone Magazine

“Surging and glinting, mystical and meditative, this work [Le Désenchantement du monde] is altogether intriguing.” Sunday Times, 25th September 2016

“Benjamin’s performance of Ligeti’s Lontano, a 20th-century classic, is exceptional for its transparency and its wonderfully controlled sense of mystery...Like all the best music, [Benjamin's] Palimpsests makes up its own structural rules as it goes along, defining its aims and achieving them with total success.” The Guardian, 8th September 2016 ****

GGramophone Awards 2017

Winner - Contemporary

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Gramophone Award Winners

Neos musica viva - NEOS11422

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Bacewicz: String Quartets

Bacewicz: String Quartets


Bacewicz:

String Quartet No. 1

String Quartet No. 2

String Quartet No. 3

String Quartet No. 4

String Quartet No. 5

String Quartet No. 6

String Quartet No. 7


For their very first recording on Chandos, the multiaward winning Silesian Quartet presents the complete string quartets by Grażyna Bacewicz. These lesser known chamber music treasures by the Polish composer are neatly packaged in a slimline jewel case: two discs here offered for the price of one.

The life of Bacewicz, like that of better-known colleagues such as Witold Lutosławski and Andrzej Panufnik, was conditioned by the political and military events of her time. Her works reflected not only these traumas but also the shifting stylistic currents of twentieth-century music.

Her seven string quartets, written between 1938 and 1965, are a telling barometer of these changes. They also stand as a timeline of her resolute compositional outlook and as a testament to her profound understanding of string instruments. String Quartet No. 1 comes after her studies in Paris in 1932 – 35 with Nadia Boulanger (composition), André Touret, and Carl Flesch (both violin), No. 2 was written in Warsaw during World War II, Nos 3, 4, and 5 date from the post-war decade, a time of socialist-realist cultural upheavals, while Nos 6 and 7 were composed during the avant-garde musical explosion that thrust Polish music onto the world stage in the late 1950s.

“These seven works, composed between 1938 and 1965, add up to a compelling portrait of a powerfully original creative spirit...the whole group seem to understand this life-affirming music from the inside.” Gramophone Magazine, August 2016

“their default playing style is springy and fleet-footed, bringing out the idiomatic nature of Bacewicz’s string writing.” The Guardian, 21st July 2016 ****

“The Silesian lend vibrant warmth to [the First Quartet]…[and] handle [the later quartets] with precision and élan: a tremendous achievement” BBC Music Magazine, September 2016 *****

“This remarkable canon of works here receives advocacy of the highest order: equally at home in the instantly approachable early quartets as the more challenging sixth and seventh, the Silesian Quartet brings admirable focus, determination and concentration to every bar” Classical Music, August 2016 ****

“Excellent performances, sound and booklet notes make this a real winner. A clear first choice for the string quartets of Grażyna Bacewicz.” Music Week, October 2016

“This is now the favoured option in this repertoire.” MusicWeb International, 20th October 2016

Presto Discs of 2016

Finalist

GGramophone Awards 2017

Winner - Chamber

GGramophone Magazine

Disc of the Month - August 2016

Gramophone Award Winners

Chandos - CHAN10904(2)

(CD - 2 discs)

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Berg: Wozzeck

Berg: Wozzeck


Christian Gerhaher (Wozzeck), Brandon Jovanovich (Drum Major), Mauro Peter (Andres), Wolfgang Ablinger-Sperrhacke (Captain), Lars Woldt (Doctor) & Gun-Brit Barkmin (Marie)

Chor der Oper Zurich & Philharmonia Zurich, Fabio Luisi (conductor) & Andreas Homoki (stage director)

The soldier Wozzeck flits through a world that he is unable to decipher. The Doctor torments him with absurd medical experiments; the Captain humiliates and ridicules him. And Wozzeck’s lover, Marie, with whom he has a child, cuckolds him with the Drum Major. Wozzeck becomes a murderer, stabbing Marie to death.

Georg Büchner’s drama fragment, on which Alban Berg based his first opera, is an unflinching case study of social injustice and human suffering. But it is also a grotesque piece that thrives on exaggeration – and in which only a fine line separates the unfathomable from the ridiculous. Accordingly, director Andreas Homoki forgoes all realism. His nightmarishly radical production is inspired by puppet theatre. Christian Gerhaher’s role début as Wozzeck can only be described as sensational: his capacity for vocal and dramatic subtlety is simply breath‐taking. At the rostrum of the Philharmonia Zurich, Fabio Luisi explores both the expressionistic and the more intimate aspects, reminiscent of chamber music, in Berg’s seminal score.

Picture Format: NTSC 16:9, Full HD

Sound Formats: DTS HD Master Audio, PCM Stereo

Region Code: 0 (worldwide)

Running Time: 100:58 min

Disc Format: BD 25

Subtitles: German (original), French, English, Japanese, Korean

“This is a finely honed production that follows its premise to an absurdist conclusion with slick theatricality and dispassionate zeal...All sentimentalism is banished here. So, largely, is the opera’s plea for justice and compassion. It is left to Christian Gerhaher’s Wozzeck to fight that battle, which he does with formidable diction and great lyrical beauty, offering, where he can, a still centre in the tumult.” Gramophone Magazine, November 2016

“While the Lieder-like beauty of Gerhaher’s singing Is matchless – he can act too – this is no star vehicle. It is ensemble work of the highest order…the relationships are brilliantly drawn, and the murder of Marie is more shocking for its surrealism. The string and woodwind solos are incisive, and the blossoming of the orchestral interludes as directed by Luisi is almost indecently lovely” BBC Music Magazine, Christmas 2016 *****

“This is a triumph – gripping and moving. The performance of Christian Gerhaher is outstanding, but there is also much else to admire and recommend.” MusicWeb International, October 2016

“Something of a triumph for all concerned.” Opera, May 2017

GGramophone Awards 2017

Winner - Opera

GGramophone Magazine

DVD/Blu-ray of the Month - November 2016

BBC Music Magazine Awards 2017

DVD/Blu-ray Winner

Blu-ray Disc

Region: all

Gramophone Award Winners

Accentus Music - ACC10363

(Blu-ray)

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Berg: Wozzeck

Berg: Wozzeck


Christian Gerhaher (Wozzeck), Brandon Jovanovich (Drum Major), Mauro Peter (Andres), Wolfgang Ablinger-Sperrhacke (Captain), Lars Woldt (Doctor) & Gun-Brit Barkmin (Marie)

Chor der Oper Zurich & Philharmonia Zurich, Fabio Luisi (conductor) & Andreas Homoki (stage director)

The soldier Wozzeck flits through a world that he is unable to decipher. The Doctor torments him with absurd medical experiments; the Captain humiliates and ridicules him. And Wozzeck’s lover, Marie, with whom he has a child, cuckolds him with the Drum Major. Wozzeck becomes a murderer, stabbing Marie to death.

Georg Büchner’s drama fragment, on which Alban Berg based his first opera, is an unflinching case study of social injustice and human suffering. But it is also a grotesque piece that thrives on exaggeration – and in which only a fine line separates the unfathomable from the ridiculous. Accordingly, director Andreas Homoki forgoes all realism. His nightmarishly radical production is inspired by puppet theatre. Christian Gerhaher’s role début as Wozzeck can only be described as sensational: his capacity for vocal and dramatic subtlety is simply breath‐taking. At the rostrum of the Philharmonia Zurich, Fabio Luisi explores both the expressionistic and the more intimate aspects, reminiscent of chamber music, in Berg’s seminal score.

Picture Format: NTSC 16:9

Sound Formats: PCM Stereo, Dolby Digital 5.1, DTS 5.1

Region Code: 0 (worldwide)

Running Time: 100:58 min

Disc Format: DVD‐9

Subtitles: German (original), French, English, Japanese, Korean

“This is a triumph – gripping and moving. The performance of Christian Gerhaher is outstanding, but there is also much else to admire and recommend.” MusicWeb International, October 2016

“This is a finely honed production that follows its premise to an absurdist conclusion with slick theatricality and dispassionate zeal...All sentimentalism is banished here. So, largely, is the opera’s plea for justice and compassion. It is left to Christian Gerhaher’s Wozzeck to fight that battle, which he does with formidable diction and great lyrical beauty, offering, where he can, a still centre in the tumult.” Gramophone Magazine, November 2016

“While the Lieder-like beauty of Gerhaher’s singing Is matchless – he can act too – this is no star vehicle. It is ensemble work of the highest order…the relationships are brilliantly drawn, and the murder of Marie is more shocking for its surrealism. The string and woodwind solos are incisive, and the blossoming of the orchestral interludes as directed by Luisi is almost indecently lovely” BBC Music Magazine, Christmas 2016 *****

“Something of a triumph for all concerned.” Opera, May 2017

GGramophone Awards 2017

Winner - Opera

GGramophone Magazine

DVD of the Month - November 2016

BBC Music Magazine Awards 2017

DVD/Blu-ray Winner

DVD Video

Region: 0

Format: NTSC

Gramophone Award Winners

Accentus Music - ACC20363

(DVD Video)

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Dowland: Lachrimae, or Seaven Teares

Dowland: Lachrimae, or Seaven Teares


John Dowland’s gifts as an exceptional melodist are evident throughout Lachrimae or Seven Tears, an artistic achievement which has cast a remarkable spell on early music.

Summing up the Renaissance preoccupation with melancholy, this extraordinary collection of dance music for viols and lute includes Dowland’s ‘signature’ piece, Semper Dowland semper Dolens.

Dowland reveals a personal world of sublime sadness, grief, anger and melancholy mollified by moments of joy and gladness.

A skilled lutenist, Dowland’s intricately-worked parts demand perfect synchronicity between Phantasm and Elizabeth Kenny, who rise to the technical and tempi challenges of marrying their instruments.

The popularity of Dowland’s music in his own lifetime continued through the centuries with Lawes, Jenkins and Gibbons all paying homage to Dowland’s ‘Tears’.

Although freed from lyric constraints poetic images linger prompting Phantasm’s Laurence Dreyfus to describe this as ‘the most sensuously tuneful hour of music ever written’.

“At the heart of this disc are the seven variants of the utterly memorable Lachrimae theme, played by Phantasm with their expressive warmth and exquisite subtlety.” The Guardian, 10th July 2016 *****

“The performances are elegant, rich-textured and beautifully phrased. Affecting.” Sunday Times, 17th July 2016

“Phantasm’s performances are totally convincing and absorbing. Drawing richly on their depth, intensity and homogeneity of tone, their acuity to the music’s ever-active emotional flux leaves them unafraid to use forceful gestures of articulation and dynamics to make a point.” Gramophone Magazine, August 2016

“Phantasm here offers the same flawless playing that has earned its members consistent, well-deserved accolades. Despite the brooding nature of the music, their sound is luminous and tempos are fluid, highlighting Dowland’s lyricism” BBC Music Magazine, September 2016 *****

GGramophone Awards 2017

Winner - Early Music

GGramophone Magazine

Editor's Choice - August 2016

Super Audio CD

Format:

unknown

Gramophone Award Winners

Linn - CKD527

(SACD)

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Haydn 2032 Volume 4 - Il Distratto

Haydn 2032 Volume 4 - Il Distratto


Cimarosa:

Il maestro di cappella

Haydn:

Symphony No. 60 in C major 'Il distratto'

Symphony No. 70 in D major

Symphony No. 12 in E major


The fourth volume of the Haydn2032 project thrusts into the limelight one of the most important stock characters in the theatre of sounds and words, the Kapellmeister, and explores some glamorous and (in)glorious moments in the career of Maestro Haydn. It features three symphonies by the "Shakespeare of Music" - one of which is even associated with ana ctual play. This bears teh title "Sinfonia in C per la commedia intitolata il distratto" and consists of an overture, four entra'actes, and a finale to be played at the end of the performance. Also on this release is a large-scale buffo scene by his colleague Cimarosa. Il maestro di cappella is a witty and ironic parody, in which a member of the "old school" of musicians tries to improve the ensemble playing of his orchestra. To his chagrin, the players do react, but in extremely undisciplined fashion: they are distracted, make false entries and disagree musically…

“Il distratto, offers vivid readings of three symphonies in which (as, admittedly, in many a Haydn symphony) the unexpected is constantly expected...Riccardo Novaro immaculately gauges the pendant, Cimarosa’s subversive scena Il maestro di cappella.” Sunday Times, 19th March 2017

“As in the previous volumes, the orchestral playing is breathtaking in its accuracy -the sort of Haydn playing you dream of…this may well become the period-instrument Haydn cycle by which all others are measured.” Gramophone Magazine, May 2017

GGramophone Awards 2017

Winner - Orchestral

Released or re-released in last 6 months

Gramophone Award Winners

Alpha Haydn 2032 project - ALPHA674

(CD)

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Mozart: Complete Violin Concertos

Mozart: Complete Violin Concertos

Cadenzas by Andreas Staier


Mozart:

Violin Concertos Nos. 1-5 (Complete)

Rondo for Violin and Orchestra in B flat, K269

Rondo for Violin and Orchestra in C, K373

Adagio for Violin and Orchestra in E, K261


Read Presto's complete review of this disc here

The five most brilliant concertos for violin, all penned before the age of 19! Mozart was not even 15 years old when he began composing violin concertos that would serve as a backdrop at Salzburg receptions. An insatiable drive for independence would however lead the young Konzertmeister to overtly challenge musical forms, innovate with genres, humour and frivolity, all of which can be heard in this delightful first collaboration between Isabelle Faust and the musicians of Il Giardino Armonico.

“Antonini conducts, but the music seems to be led from everywhere. Meanwhile, Faust’s touch is light, finespun, pristine – often her bow hardly glosses the strings, but there’s proper robustness to balance in the chunky, sparky cadenzas.” The Guardian, 20th October 2016 ****

“Faust and Il Giardino Armonico bring out the shades of colour in the music and revelling in the characteristic phrases, but never forcing the issue. It goes without saying that Faust's tone is just as sweet here as in her other recordings, and she puts just the right amount of playful rubato into the cadenzas without straying into self-indulgence.” David Smith, Presto Classical, 28th October 2016

“Faust’s spirited tempi in the outer movements of K218 and K219 bring this music as vividly to life as any recording I know, and her sweet singing tone in the andantes and adagio give full expressive value. Lively accompaniments from the Italians.” Sunday Times, 6th November 2016

“The most critical thing is the match between Isabelle Faust and her gut strung Strad and the orchestra; they fit beautifully, she seems almost airborne at times, so light and airy is the sound … everything is so well balanced, soloist with ensemble, cadenzas with original Mozart, the speeds and rhythmic drive of the outer movements with the delicacy and fine sprung lyricism of Mozart’s middle movements.” Record Review, 5th November 2016

“Faust fields a delicate palette of colours, barely touching the strings at times, so airy is her playing. The freedoms she allows herself are well judged and matched by Il Giardino Armonico, conducted by Giovanni Antonini.” Financial Times, 18th November 2016

“These wonderful performances have the air of chamber music, of close listening between soloist, band and director. Faust isn’t spotlit…but seems part of the ensemble, her sound growing out of the corporate entity to glitter, coax, snarl and soar as required…[a] thought-provoking and eminently enjoyable cycle” Gramophone Magazine, December 2016

“Youthful works mainly written between the ages of 17 and 20, but of a maturity that belies those years. Isabelle Faust and Giovanni Antonini are alive to their changing characters, sensing a spirit both impetuous and profound … a richly emotional experience” Classical Ear, 2nd December 2016

“remarkably smooth and sweet toned playing … the ‘Turkish’ episode…is splendidly done, its snarling crescendos well-handled by Giovanni Antonini and Il Giardino Armonico, and the percussive bow-slapping of the double basses adding to the flavour. The cadenzas by Andreas Staier are stylish and inventive.” BBC Music Magazine, February 2017 *****

“Faust plays these concertos as though she has been a specialist in this repertoire all her life, and the results are utterly delightful throughout…she is entirely alive to the period sensitivities of the repertory and the instrument…her performances are lithe, agile and full of air, allowing the music to breathe naturally and totally comfortably” MusicWeb International, January 2017

“there is a lightness of touch, jewel-like precision and, of course, Andreas Staier’s enterprising cadenzas … A very high-quality and enjoyable product overall – recommended.” The Strad, February 2017

“No-one familiar with the 1990’a Il Giardino Armonico/Teldec CDs of Vivaldi, et al, and the outstanding artistry of Isabelle Faust, will be surprised to find their set of the Mozart concertos (With the Adagio K261 and Rondos K269 and 363) so enlightening and enjoyable.” Hi-Fi News, 11th February 2017

Presto Disc of the Week

28th October 2016

Presto Discs of 2016

Finalist

GGramophone Awards 2017

Record of the Year

GGramophone Awards 2017

Winner - Concerto

Gramophone Award Winners

Harmonia Mundi - HMC902230/31

(CD - 2 discs)

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Brahms: Vier ernste Gesänge

Brahms: Vier ernste Gesänge


Brahms:

Lieder und Gesänge (9), Op. 32

Sommerabend, Op. 85 No. 1

Mondenschein, Op. 85 No. 2

Der Tod, das ist die kühle Nacht, Op. 96 No. 1

Es schauen die Blumen, Op. 96 No. 3

Meerfahrt, Op. 96 No. 4

Vier ernste Gesänge, Op. 121


Read Presto's complete review of this disc here.

Brahms wrote a vast number of lieder over a period of 40 years. The 200 or so he permitted to survive show just how important the genre was to his compositional process. The selection presented here illustrates the diversity of a corpus that features Heine (as with so many other composers), but also a wide variety of other poets whom he set to music with the same consummate skill as the ‘Four Serious Songs’ Op.121, the peak of his magnificent and highly individual output.

“No-one broods quite like Matthias Goerne, and if his new recital of Brahms songs makes for a decidedly sombre listening experience, it’s also an absolutely unmissable one...his oaky, sturdy voice has taken on darker and more dramatic hues of late...There’s a special sort of alchemy in his partnership with Eschenbach, too, to the extent that it often feels as if we’re listening to a single performer.” Presto Classical, 17th June 2016

“they suit Brahms’ Vier ernste Gesange, his Four Serious Songs, wonderfully well, that velvety voice seemingly endless reserves of dynamic and expressive power, and a pianist prepared to linger wherever the singer leads, bringing dark shades of his own to the sound...I’ll be listening to this again and again.” Record Review, 11th June 2016

“The finest-grained colours come from the piano: Eschenbach knows when to push and when to linger, and he has a lovely knack of catching Goerne at the crest of a phrase and then adding his own quiet commentary.” The Guardian, 30th June 2016 ***

“Goerne remains a fine lieder singer … he shows a careful attention to text … he finds a contemplative depth for the Four Serious Songs, however, with the sorrow and tenderness of the second beautifully suggested.” BBC Music Magazine, September 2016

“It’s music that’s very well suited to his voice: grainy and gentle and with that characteristic burnished-mahogany tone...this is supremely seductive Lieder singing, with a natural intelligence and ease with the words, matched by playing from Christoph Eschenbach that coaxes and caresses the piano with loving delicacy.” Gramophone Magazine, September 2016

“This is a grown-up disc of grown-up repertoire…it’s superbly done and it’s entirely worthy to stand alongside Goerne’s excellent Schubert recitals for the same label.” MusicWeb International, September 2016

Presto Disc of the Week

17th June 2016

Presto Discs of 2016

Finalist

GGramophone Awards 2017

Winner - Solo Vocal

GGramophone Magazine

Editor's Choice - September 2016

Gramophone Award Winners

Harmonia Mundi - HMC902174

(CD)

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Special: $11.20

(also available to download from $11.00)

Usually despatched in 2 - 3 working days. (Available now to download.)

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