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Finzi, Britten & Holst: Works for Choir and Orchestra

Finzi, Britten & Holst: Works for Choir and Orchestra


Britten:

Deus in adjutorium meum (Psalm 70)

Chorale after an Old French Carol

Cantata Misericordium, Op. 69

Finzi:

Requiem da Camera

Holst:

Psalm 86

Psalm 148


Alison Barlow (soprano), John Mark Ainsley (tenor), David Hoult (baritone), Stephen Varcoe (baritone), John Alley (organ)

The Britten Singers, City of London Sinfonia, Richard Hickox

Gerald Finzi dedicated his Requiem da camera (1924) to the memory of his teacher, Ernest Farrar, who was killed on active service in September 1918. Finzi was devastated by the loss, and here in the second and fourth movements, in particular, he offers his own sedate impression of the war, in which ploughboys-turned-soldiers glimpse their last of England before the music, landscape, and innocence are lost in the gathering darkness. Finzi later rewrote the third movement, but the instrumentation of the new version was left incomplete. With the blessing of the Finzi family, the orchestration was completed by Philip Thomas on the basis of extensive surviving sketches, and the complete work was first performed in 1990.

Also on this disc are three works by Benjamin Britten. In Deus in adjutorium meum, the composer sets Psalm 70 in Latin for unaccompanied mixed voices. The work was written for the 1945 production of Ronald Duncan’s play This Way to the Tomb. During the 1980s, many short pieces which Britten had originally written as part of his extensive music for radio and theatre, and which were subsequently forgotten, reclaimed their place in the limelight. The Chorale after an Old French Carol is one such work, the words deriving from A Christmas Oratorio which W.H. Auden had written for Britten to set. Cantata misericordium marked Britten’s fiftieth year, Britten premiering it in 1963.

Gustav Holst wrote Psalm 86 and Psalm 148 in 1912 before he achieved his breakthrough as a composer. As Director of Music at the St Paul’s Girls School, Holst wrote this work for the inauguration of the school’s new organ in 1910, using a favourite hymn tune from Cölner Gesangbuch of 1623, set to a Biblical paraphrase of Psalm 148.

Hi-Fi News wrote of this disc when first released: ‘The choice of a small choir gives these pieces a sense of intimacy and yet one of intensity; there’s a feeling that Richard Hickox had inspired everyone to enthusiasm for his mixed programme.’

“An example of Holst’s ability to achieve powerful effects with the sparest of means.” BBC Music Magazine, July 2017

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Chandos Classics - The Hickox Legacy - CHAN10783X

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Finzi / Britten / Holst - Choral Works

Finzi / Britten / Holst - Choral Works


Britten:

Deus in adjutorium meum (Psalm 70)

Chorale after an Old French Carol

Cantata Misericordium, Op. 69

Finzi:

Requiem da Camera

Holst:

Psalm 86

Psalm 148


Alison Barlow (soprano), David Hoult (baritone), John Alley (organ), John Mark Ainsley (tenor), Stephen Varcoe (baritone)

Britten Singers, City of London Sinfonia, Richard Hickox

Building a Library

First Choice - December 2006

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Chandos - CHAN8997

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Vaughan Williams: Orchestral Works

Vaughan Williams: Orchestral Works


Vaughan Williams:

The Poisoned Kiss Overture

Two Hymn-tune Preludes

The Running Set

Flos Campi

Suite for viola and orchestra

Sea Songs

The Wasps Overture

The House of Life: three songs

Six Studies in English Folksong

Romance for strings, piano and harmonica

Linden Lea

Fantasia on Greensleeves

Serenade to Music


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Chandos 241 - CHAN241-9

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Haydn - The Complete Mass Edition

Haydn - The Complete Mass Edition


Haydn:

Mass, Hob. XXII: 4 in E flat major 'Große Orgelmesse'

Mass, Hob. XXII: 8 in C major - Missa Cellensis 'Mariazellermesse'

Mass, Hob. XXII:10 in B flat major 'Heiligmesse'

Mass, Hob. XXII: 6 in G major 'Nicolaimesse'

Mass, Hob. XXII:12 in B flat major 'Theresienmesse'

Mass, Hob. XXII: 7 in B flat major 'Kleine Orgelmesse'

Mass, Hob. XXII:11 in D minor 'Nelsonmesse'

Ave Regina (Hob. XXIIIb:3)

Mass, Hob. XXII: 1 in F major 'Missa brevis'

Te Deum, Hob. XXIIIc:1

Mass, Hob. XXII: 9 in C major 'Paukenmesse'

Incidental music to Alfred, König der Angelsachsen, oder der patriotische König, Hob.XXX:5

Te Deum, Hob. XXIIIc:2 'Grosses Te Deum'

Mass, Hob. XXII:14 in B flat major 'Harmoniemesse'

Mass, Hob. XXII:13 in B flat major 'Schöpfungmesse'

Mass, Hob. XXII: 3 in G major 'Missa rorate coeli desuper'

Mass, Hob. XXII: 5 in C major 'Cäcilienmesse'

Mass, Hob. XXII: 2 'Missa sunt bona mixta malis'

Schöpfungsmesse - alternative Gloria for Marie Therese

Te Deum, Hob. XXIIIc:1

Mass, Hob. XXII: 7 in B flat major 'Kleine Orgelmesse'


Janice Watson, Susan Gritton, Nancy Agenta, Lorna Anderson, Pamela Helen Stephen, Catherine Denley, Louise Winter, Mark Padmore & Stephen Varcoe

Collegium Musicum 90, Richard Hickox

Period instrument performances

Presto Disc of the Week

1st December 2008

Building a Library

First Choice - December 2007

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Chandos Chaconne - CHAN07348

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An introduction to Percy Grainger

An introduction to Percy Grainger


Grainger:

Country Gardens, version A

Irish Tune from County Derry 'Danny Boy'

Green Bushes

Early One Morning

There was a Pig went out to Dig

Shepherd's Hey

Shallow Brown

Lincolnshire Posy

The Immovable Do (The Cyphering C)

Handel in the Strand

I'm seventeen come Sunday

Blithe Bells

Molly on the Shore

Mock Morris

English Dance


Stephen Varcoe (baritone) / David Archer (trumpet) / Andrew Watkinson (violin) / Jonathan Scott (harmonium) / Penelope Thwaites (piano)

Joyful Company of Singers / BBC Philharmonic / BBC Philharmonic / City of London Sinfonia / Royal Northern College of Music Wind Orchestra, Richard Hickox, Matthias Bamert, Timothy Reynish

"Hickox is very, very good in this repertoire. Each tug at the heart-strings is brought off with taste and style." The Gramophone

Presto Disc of the Week

31st January 2011

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Chandos Intro - CHAN2029

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Hummel: Mass in D minor & Salve regina

Hummel: Mass in D minor & Salve regina


Hummel, J:

Mass in D minor

Salve Regina


“The D minor Mass of 1805 was the second of five that Hummel wrote for Prince Esterházy, carrying on from Haydn's late masterpieces. D minor was the key chosen by Haydn for his Nelson Mass seven years earlier but Hummel's opening could hardly be more different. If its persistent syncopations on repeated notes at the start suggest a curious hesitancy, one can look to Mozart's Piano Concerto No 20 as a direct inspiration; this Kyrie develops from hesitancy into blazing confidence.
Throughout, Hummel seems intent on taking the listener by surprise: the Gloria emerges in a positive D major on a bold unison motif using the notes of the common chord but develops quickly into elaborate counterpoint; the Credo starts lyrically, the opposite of a positive affirmation of belief, though that is developed as the movement progresses. Hummel intended to write a thoughtful rather than a sharply dramatic setting, with the soloists generally treated as a corporate team set against the full choir: the tenor solo for 'Et incarnatus est', sung with honeyed tone by Mark Padmore, is a striking exception. The brief Sanctus is positive with military overtones; the Benedictus in triple time starts with the soloists alone; while the Agnus Dei finally returns us to D minor before the triumphant setting of 'Dona nobis pacem'.
The Salve regina of 1809, the year Haydn died, may have been written for a memorial event to Hummel's great predecessor, but it is anything but elegiac in its operatic style with elaborate coloratura for the soprano soloist, here glowingly sung by Susan Gritton. Richard Hickox again proves an ideal interpreter, drawing superb playing and singing.”
Gramophone Classical Music Guide, 2010

“…the Salve Regina… is an amiable continuation of the Viennese Classical tradition… Susan Gritton sings it with gusto, while she and the other soloists form a well-blended quartet in the Mass, whose performance under Hickox is confident and shapely, as well as delivered in warm, lucid sound.” BBC Music Magazine, October 2005

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Chandos Chaconne - CHAN0724

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Hummel - Masses Volume 2

Hummel - Masses Volume 2


Hummel, J:

Te Deum

Quod in orbe, Op. 88

Mass No. 2 in E flat major, Op. 80


“The second in Richard Hickox's Hummel Mass edition concentrates on works written soon after Hummel was appointed Konzertmeister to Prince Esterházy in 1804. Hummel was keen – the Mass was completed four months before the September deadline. In his booklet-note David Wyn Jones suggests the composer may have been trying to pre-empt his potential rival, Johann Fuchs, who was nominally in charge of church music for the prince. The result has a winning freshness. As in the first disc, Hickox captures the joy of Hummel's inspiration, with clean attack and fine diction from chorus and soloists.
That clarity extends to the superb setting of the Te Deum, written at high speed to celebrate peace with Napoleon in 1805. Each section of the elaborate text is strikingly characterised without holding up the urgency established in the opening fanfares. The graduale Quod quod inurbe is another fine, neglected work. The Blackheath Concert Hall recording is full and clear: this is shaping up to be an outstanding series.”
Gramophone Classical Music Guide, 2010

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Chandos Chaconne - CHAN0712

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Beethoven - Mass in C major

Beethoven - Mass in C major


Beethoven:

Mass in C major, Op. 86

Meeresstille und glückliche Fahrt, Op. 112

Elegischer Gesang 'Sanft wie du lebtest' Op. 118


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Chandos Chaconne - CHAN0703

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The Haydn Mass Edition - Große Orgelmesse

The Haydn Mass Edition - Große Orgelmesse


Haydn:

Mass, Hob. XXII: 4 in E flat major 'Große Orgelmesse'

Mass, Hob. XXII: 8 in C major - Missa Cellensis 'Mariazellermesse'


Susan Gritton (soprano), Louise Winter (mezzo-soprano), Mark Padmore (tenor), Stephen Varcoe (bass), Ian Watson (organ)

Collegium Musicum 90, Richard Hickox

“This concluding issue in Richard Hickox's prize-winning Haydn Mass series follows a similar pattern to earlier discs, offering exhilarating performances which wear their period style lightly. Gardiner for Philips is by a fraction the more crisply incisive, with pinpoint attack and clean textures: Hickox generally prefers slightly broader speeds, with full, immediate sound, more clearly bringing out the joy of Haydn's inspiration as well as the drama.
Both of these Masses are relatively neglected, even on disc. The Great Organ Mass, dating from 1768-9, seems not to have been composed for a special occasion, but, exceptionally, because Haydn wanted to write it. It's a distinctive work, both in its choice of key, E flat, rare for a Mass of the time, and for replacing oboes in the orchestra with two cor anglais.
The role of the organ is far more important, though; its Baroque figuration attractively decorative, while the Benedictus includes a concertante organ part, accompanying the quartet of soloists. Choosing light registration, Ian Watson produces delightful sounds throughout, with delicate organ decorations set in contrast with the relatively plain choral writing. As in the rest of the Hickox series, the singing and playing of Collegium Musicum 90 is most stylish.
Hickox has a special relish for Haydn's rhythmic exuberance, as in the syncopated Amens in the Sanctus and the robust 6/8 rhythms of the 'Dona nobis pacem' at the very end.
The Mariazeller Mass, written much later in 1782, was the last Mass setting that Haydn composed before the final six masterpieces, and already points forward. As in those late Masses, the Kyrie is in a compressed sonata form: a slow introduction leads to a vigorous Allegro, with the 'Christe eleison' as the development section.
Clearly, Haydn was already thinking of his Mass settings in symphonic terms, with striking keychanges also relating to Haydn's symphonic writing.
Even more than in the Great Organ Mass, Hickox brings out the vitality of the writing, as in the extraordinary 'Dona nobis pacem' at the end, so wildly syncopated it's almost jazzy. A splendid culmination to an outstanding series.”
Gramophone Classical Music Guide, 2010

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Chandos Chaconne - CHAN0674

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Haydn: Mass, Hob. XXII: 5 in C major 'Cäcilienmesse', etc.

Haydn:

Mass, Hob. XXII: 5 in C major 'Cäcilienmesse'

Mass, Hob. XXII: 2 'Missa sunt bona mixta malis'


“This is the only current recording of the fragmentary Missa sunt bona mixta malis, consisting only of a brief setting of the Kyrie followed by a more expansive setting of the Gloria, which is cut off after the 'Gratias agimus tibi'. Improbably, the score was discovered as recently as 1983 in a farmhouse in the north of Ireland. Dating from 1768, it's tantalising having only a fragment when the contrapuntal writing presents Haydn at his most striking in this period. It makes a fascinating supplement to Hickox's superb account of the longest setting of the liturgy that Haydn ever composed.
The title of the Missa cellensis – referring to the small Austrian town of Mariazell – is misleading in two ways. It's obviously so when there's another, later Mass also entitled Cellensis, but equally because it seems highly unlikely that so ambitious a work as this was ever designed for such a place as Mariazell: it was more probably written for a grand occasion in Vienna. So it would surely be less confusing to return to the usual title for this work, 'St Cecilia Mass'.
This is a 'cantata-mass' very different from Haydn's usual settings which involve a single movement for each of the six sections of the liturgy.
Here instead, the liturgy is divided into 18 separate movements. Hickox's new version gains over the fine Preston issue from the late 1970s in weight and warmth of expression, helped by the Chandos recording which, while warm, allows ample detail in the many splendid contrapuntal passages. The choir's sopranos are amply bright and boyish and achieve a crisp ensemble. The soloists make an outstanding, responsive team.”
Gramophone Classical Music Guide, 2010

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Chandos Chaconne - CHAN0667

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