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Haydn: String Quartets Opp 54 & 55

Haydn: String Quartets Opp 54 & 55

performed from the 1789 London edition published by Longman and Broderip


Haydn:

String Quartet, Op. 54 No. 1 in G major

String Quartet, Op. 54 No. 2 in C major

String Quartet, Op. 54 No. 3 in E major

String Quartet, Op. 55 No. 1 in A major

String Quartet, Op. 55 No. 2 in F minor 'The Razor'

String Quartet, Op. 55 No. 3 in B major


Read Presto's complete review of this disc here

The London Haydn Quartet reaches the six great quartets published in 1788 as Opp 54 & 55 in another unmissable two-for-the-price-of-one set. Is it possible to have too much Haydn? The only sensible answer is ‘no’, especially when the music is performed with such intelligence and humanity as here.

“These period instrument players, whose very name declares their affinity for Haydn, excel in the latest in their Hyperion series. Ever spry in fast movements, faultless in dexterity and intonation, they find a special warmth of feeling in the slower moments…too many pleasures to enumerate. Try for yourself.” The Observer, 22nd January 2017 *****

“It should come as no surprise that the London Haydn Quartet, who have after all made it their mission to perfect the period performance of Haydn’s quartets (with gut strings as well as a historically-informed mindset), handle all the twists and turns with aplomb.” David Smith, Presto Classical, 27th January 2017

“The London Haydn Quartet engage both head and heart from the very first bar…Catherine Manson wrings aching portamentos out of her swirling phrases. Yet it’s all, somehow, kept within a logical rhythmic framework…these performances offer more with each listening” Gramophone Magazine, February 2017

“With their virtuoso first violin parts, the London Haydn Quartet perform with period ebullience” Financial Times, February 2017

“The London Haydn Quartet are perhaps at their best in the presto finales, where their unflagging energy is exhilarating. Their deeply-felt account of the Largo from the E major last quartet in the Op. 54 triptych is also impressive, as is the way they make the aching dissonances of the minuet’s trio in Op. 54 No. 2 sound like cries of despair” BBC Music Magazine, March 2017 ***

“In all, it’s an impressive achievement…the ensemble plays with unwavering unanimity…there’s an eloquence in the overall playing that shines through…A clean yet warm recording aptly captures the purity of the largely vibratoless tones.” The Strad, April 2017

Presto Disc of the Week

27th January 2017

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The Romantic Piano Concerto 70 - Beach, Chaminade & Howell

The Romantic Piano Concerto 70 - Beach, Chaminade & Howell

Beach, Chaminade & Howell: Piano Concertos


Beach, A:

Piano Concerto, Op. 45

Chaminade:

Concertstück for Piano and Orchestra, Op. 40

Howell, D:

Concerto for Piano and Orchestra in D minor


International Women’s Day falls on 8 March, celebrating the ‘social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women’. Volume 70 in our Romantic Piano Concerto series champions three female composers, and three works whose in-the-face-of-it-all joie de vivre makes them irresistibly worthy of our attention.

“Pick of the bunch is the Concerto by Amy Beach…Danny Driver is a highly accomplished soloist, if occasionally lacking in Romantic flexibility; the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra under Rebecca Miller makes a telling contribution” BBC Music Magazine, March 2017 ****

“If Driver offers a robust, muscular view of the Beach, he is certainly in touch with his feminine side in the highly attractive single-movement Concerto by Dorothy Howell...but even more appealing is Cécile Chaminade’s Concertstück in the same key as the Beach...In Driver’s hands it is enchanting.” Gramophone Magazine, March 2017

“[Beach's] Piano Concerto has the heft and torrent of music that needs to be written and Danny Driver plays it with clarity and steel, absolutely unsentimental but flecked through with empathy...the sturdy weft Rebecca Miller gets from the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra generally suits Beach’s broad-stitch writing.” The Guardian, 2nd March 2017 ***

“Its exotic features anticipate Saint-Saëns’s ‘Egyptian’ Concerto, and overall it is colourful, capricious and charming.” classicalsource.com, May 2017 ****

GGramophone Awards 2017

Finalist - Concerto

GGramophone Magazine

Editor's Choice - March 2017

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Bruch: String Quintets & Octet

Bruch: String Quintets & Octet


Bruch:

String Quintet in E Flat, Op. posth (1918)

Octet in B flat major, Op. post. (1920)

String Quintet in A minor, Op. posth (1918)


Read Presto's complete review of this disc here.

Music which belies the date and circumstances of its composition. All three works were written in the immediate aftermath of World War I, yet inhabit a sound world of Brahmsian richness and warmth—very much the product of the composer of the famous Violin Concerto. The Nash Ensemble are ideal interpreters.

“The always rewarding Nash Ensemble add warmth and grace to the sprightly String Quintet in E flat major and bring verve and attack to its edgier A minor companion, but it is in the magnificent String Octet that the players finally allow the sun to truly shine. Recommended.” The Observer, 26th March 2017 ****

“they have a yearning lyricism that harks back to the G minor Violin Concerto...and the rich texture of five and eight parts gives the sound a depth and mellowness. Although all three are in the ‘concertante’ style, ensuring that first violinist Stephanie Gonley enjoys the majority of the limelight, there’s no shortage of interplay between the parts as well as some delightful melodic turns of phrase.” David Smith, Presto Classical, 31st March 2017

“The Nash ensemble have a natural feeling for the music's ebb and flow, and while they're not afraid of big gestures and the bite of horsehair and rosin, they play beautifully as an ensemble...Together, these performances go to the top of a not exactly crowded field; in fact his disc needs to be heard by everyone who loves German Romantic chamber music.” Gramophone Magazine, May 2017

“These three very likeable chamber offerings by Max Bruch…receive joyously assured treatment from the distinguished members of The Nash Ensemble on this truthfully engineered Hyperion release…Tully Potter supplies a personable and authoritative booklet-essay, and collectors with a sweet tooth will find the disc as a whole well worth seeking out.” Classical Ear, 14th April 2017 ****

“The Nash Ensemble members (including Stephanie Gonley, Laura Samuel, Lawrence Power and Adrian Brendel) play superbly and devotedly and are tangibly recorded. Highly recommended.” classicalsource.com, May 2017 *****

Presto Disc of the Week

31st March 2017

GGramophone Awards 2017

Finalist - Chamber

GGramophone Magazine

Editor's Choice - May 2017

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The Romantic Piano Concerto 71 - Czerny

The Romantic Piano Concerto 71 - Czerny


Czerny:

Piano Concerto in F major, Op. 28

Piano Concerto in A minor, Op. 214

Rondo brillant in B flat major, Op. 233


Active in every genre other than opera, Czerny is now remembered largely for the numerous piano studies he wrote as pedagogical aids. Which makes Howard Shelley’s advocacy of the three virtuoso works for piano and orchestra recorded here, two of them for the first time, all the more welcome: this is music which cannot fail to appeal.

“Howard Shelley and the Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra are, by now, firm friends, and it’s thanks to his intimacy with every note of the orchestral score, as well as that of the piano part, that makes these readings so rewarding” Gramophone Magazine, May 2017

“in the later Piano Concerto in A Minor Czerny’s limpid writing emulates Chopin in its attractive, early romanticism — an unexpected delight…” Financial Times, 5th May 2017 ***

“They certainly require a formidable keyboard technician such as Shelley” The Observer, 14th May 2017 ***

“His brilliant technique and musicianship, bearing in mind that he is usually conducting from the keyboard, finally allows the listener the fullest appreciation of what it was that made such composer-pianists famous in their own time and allows the music to speak for itself.” MusicWeb International, May 2017

“Shelley excels in all departments. He plays with informed authority and class, taking time to shape and place events, his fingerwork and trills glistening at every turn. Responding to the spirit of the page, he conducts with vitality and a rhythmically coiled tension, coaxing the Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra to give beyond their best (they are an outstanding ensemble).” classicalsource.com, June 2017 *****

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The Romantic Piano Concerto 72 - Cipriani Potter

The Romantic Piano Concerto 72 - Cipriani Potter


Potter, C:

Piano Concerto No. 2 in D minor

Piano Concerto No. 4 in E major

Variazioni di bravura on a theme by Rossini


Volume 72 of our Romantic Piano Concerto series comes to the rescue of yet another neglected figure with three first recordings courtesy of Howard Shelley and his Tasmanian forces. Composer, pianist, writer and educator (he was an early Principal of the Royal Academy of Music), London-born Cipriani Potter was encouraged by Beethoven and admired by Wagner.

“Shelley does [Potter] proud in this effervescent recording of two Potter concertos, one a semi-homage to Mozart, the other a much broader and more expansive corker...Another gem from Hyperion’s Romantic piano concerto series.” The Observer, 9th July 2017 ****

“[Potter's concertos] are conservative in style, but distinctively coloured through their prominent use of wind instruments, as well as occasional passages for solo violin and cello...The warmth and fluency of Howard Shelley's playing present the music in the strongest possible light...More distinctive than the concertos are the 'bravura' variations...which couple glittering virtuosity with wit and inventiveness.” BBC Music Magazine, August 2017 *****

“What impressed most immediately – and more than any other element – was Howard Shelley’s playing. Not for the first time, I was lost in admiration by his dazzling dispatch of the fantastically demanding writing in the outer movements of both concertos, the aural equivalent of someone mistakenly igniting a box of fireworks. Add to that his simultaneous and complete control of his fine Tasmanian players, I cannot think of another musician who is Shelley’s equal in this dual role” Gramophone Magazine, August 2017

“Performances and recordings are everything one could wish, and it all adds up to another winner within Hyperion’s ever-enterprising Romantic Piano Concerto series.” Classical Ear, September 2017

“I only hope that Hyperion will be forthcoming in several more editions of Cipriani Potter’s music. It is a treat that is to be relished.” MusicWeb International, September 2017

BBC Music Magazine

Concerto Choice - August 2017

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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: Violin Sonatas Volume 3

Mozart: Violin Sonatas Volume 3


Mozart:

Violin Sonata No. 12 in G major, K27

Violin Sonata No. 16 in B flat major, K31

Violin Sonata No. 17 in C major, K296

Violin Sonata No. 23 in D major, K306

Violin Sonata No. 32 in B flat major, K454

Violin Sonata No. 36 in F major, K547 'For Beginners'


The third of the ongoing series from the ‘nigh-on ideal’ partnership (Gramophone) of Alina Ibragimova and Cédric Tiberghien. As before, the programme mixes the early—two works by the precocious ten-year-old—with the mature, and includes Mozart’s final violin sonata.

“This is developing into a delightful series – Vol 3 sees Alina Ibragimova and Cédric Tiberghien find immense charm and character in these sonatas from across Mozart’s life. Tiberghien and Ibragimova come close to my ideal Mozartian duo, in performances that further whet the appetite for the rest of the series.” Gramophone Magazine, April 2017

“They don’t patronise the 10-year-old’s works — the allegro of No 16 (B flat major) sparkles in their mercurial hands — but they reserve their finest playing for No 23 (D major) and Mozart’s last sonata for this combination in F, No 36.” Sunday Times, 3rd April 2017

“once again it is hard to imagine a better partnership. Each of the six works in this double CD programme is a pure delight, with exquisite playing from these world-class performers – Ibragimova fleet and lithe, Tiberghien playfully delicate.” The Observer, 2nd April 2017 *****

“it is difficult to image this wonderful score more exquisitely played or radiantly engineered.” BBC Music Magazine, May 2017 *****

“Ibragimova introducing some playful interpolations into the Allegro of K31. Both players skilfully characterise its tempo di menuetto variations. Ibragimova adding subtleties of nuance and rubato and occasionally taking some of the limelight. Her silky-toned, lyrical playing in the expressive central movement of K306 is an aural delight, and both protagonists revel in the humour, drama and sheer invention of the ensuing operatic finale.” The Strad, June 2017

GGramophone Magazine

Editor's Choice - April 2017

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Hyperion Ibragimova & Tiberghien Mozart Violin Sonatas - CDA68143

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Ravel: Piano Concertos & Falla: Nights in the gardens of Spain

Ravel: Piano Concertos & Falla: Nights in the gardens of Spain


Falla:

Noches en los jardines de Espana

Ravel:

Piano Concerto in G major

Piano Concerto in D major (for the left hand)


Read Presto's complete review of this disc here.

Steven Osborne’s solo Ravel for Hyperion has invited comparisons with the distinguished interpretations of the past; this new recording of the concertos is certain to win similar plaudits. The Falla is a generous and appropriate coupling, perfectly complementing these wonderful works.

“Full of colour, both Osborne’s poetry and his exceptional touch are to the fore, the sparkling cascades in the final movement being especially breathtaking…strong performances of a programme that bears repeated listening” BBC Music Magazine, June 2017 ****

“Time and again whilst listening I had to dash to my score to check that everything I could hear was actually being played by just the one hand! More importantly, though, Osborne doesn’t just treat it as a series of notes: he always manages to maintain the line, and to bring out each phrase effortlessly, no matter what else may be going on at the same time!” James Longstaffe, Presto Classical, 2nd June 2017

“This performance is atmospheric and suggestive, Osborne and Morlot (Nights is more for orchestra with piano) conjuring an intoxicating impressionism that finds, for me, more in this three-movement score than hitherto, especially the outer ones – the second always makes an immediate appeal – and further recognition that this is an outstanding release in every way.” classicalsource.com, June 2017 *****

“Osborne and the orchestra imbue [the Falla] with fabulous drama, especially in the rambunctious third movement...Broadly speaking, these performers [of the Ravel] make the great Left Hand Concerto in D seem like a traumatic postlude to the war and the much jollier Piano Concerto in G sound like the purest escapism from it.” The Times, 23rd June 2017

“[Morlot] brings stylistic flair to Ravel’s bluesy melodies, and the orchestra and Osborne revel in the cascading chords and cakewalky rhythmic piquancy of the D major’s central section. Falla’s nostalgic evocation of his homeland has fallen out of favour, but Osborne has a great time with the Spanish dance flavour of the piece.” Sunday Times, 25th June 2017

“The Concerto for the Left Hand is done with élan and rhythmic zest, and Osborne flies through the massive challenges of the grand coda. The BBC Scottish SO is a sensitive partner; Ludovic Morlot occasionally drives the players hard but they rarely struggle, with the strings especially producing a mellow supportive tone.” Pianist Magazine, July 2017 ****

“I would go so far as to suggest that this is the finest modern recording of both concertos- and a rival to any predecessor. Osborne and Morlot catch a much more vivid and nicely drawn Iberian feel to the music. This is one to have.” International Piano, September 2017 *****

Presto Disc of the Week

2nd June 2017

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CPE Bach: Cello Concertos

CPE Bach: Cello Concertos


Bach, C P E:

Cello Concerto No. 1 in A minor, Wq. 170 (H432)

Cello Concerto No. 2 in B flat major, Wq. 171 (H436)

Cello Concerto No. 3 in A major, Wq. 172 (H439)


The unpredictable and ‘fantastical’ qualities which are so fundamental to the music of C P E Bach are here given free rein by Nicolas Altstaedt, aided and abetted by Jonathan Cohen and Arcangelo in performances of astonishing brio.

“Nicolas Altstaedt and the sinewy warmth of his 1760 Gigli are a great fit for this often rather wild music…Arcangelo under Cohen breathe the music, capturing the frequent storminess but also bringing substantial dignity, their zing coming from their actual tone and lucid textural balance…a great listen” Gramophone Magazine, September 2016

“Whether intended for cello or harpsichord, these oeuvres are feverishly inventive” Financial Times, September 2016

“This recording captures all the fiery wit of orchestral-soloist banter.” BBC Music Magazine, November 2016

“If not the best introduction to CPE Bach, then surely an important part of a good collection of his work.” MusicWeb International, 23rd November 2016

Presto Discs of 2016

Finalist

BBC Music Magazine

Disc of the month - November 2016

BBC Music Magazine Awards 2017

Concerto Winner

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Donald Swann: Songs

Donald Swann: Songs


Swann, D:

A collection of songs

Roderick Williams (baritone)

Five colourisations of Emily Dickinson

Dame Felicity Lott (soprano)

Two sonnets by Edna St Vincent Millay

Roderick Williams (baritone)

Stopping by woods

Kathryn Rudge (mezzo)

Two poems by Thomas Hardy

John Mark Ainsley (tenor)

Four lyrics from In memoriam

John Mark Ainsley (tenor), Roderick Williams (baritone)

Two poems by Christina Rossetti

Dame Felicity Lott (soprano)

Dark rose of my heart

John Mark Ainsley (tenor)

An invite to eternity

Roderick Williams (baritone)

The harlot’s house

John Mark Ainsley (tenor)

Six songs to poems by William Blake

Roderick Williams (baritone)

Ya vas lyubil 'I loved you once'

John Mark Ainsley (tenor)

She is all harmony, all wonder

John Mark Ainsley (tenor)

Some people's dreams

Kathryn Rudge (mezzo)

Marguerite

Kathryn Rudge (mezzo)

A red, red rose

John Mark Ainsley (tenor)

It was a lover, and his lass

Kathryn Rudge (mezzo)

See, dearest, how the rose

Kathryn Rudge (mezzo)

Arcades

John Mark Ainsley (tenor)

We'll go no more a-roving

John Mark Ainsley (tenor)

Longing

Kathryn Rudge (mezzo)

Oh, why are the roses so pale?

Kathryn Rudge (mezzo)

Old songs of lost love

Kathryn Rudge (mezzo)

In the mist

Kathryn Rudge (mezzo)

Raiders' dawn

John Mark Ainsley (tenor)

The youth of the heart

Roderick Williams (baritone)

He wishes for the cloths of heaven

Dame Felicity Lott (soprano)

Bilbo's Last Song

Roderick Williams (baritone), Dame Felicity Lott (soprano)


Christopher Glynn (piano)

Read our exclusive interview with Christopher Glynn about the recording here.

Swann but no Flanders: this economically priced collection celebrates the unique talents of a gifted songwriter whose settings of poets from Burns to Betjeman are ripe for revival. The quartet of distinguished singers is luxury casting.

“this is a continually fascinating and diverse selection...The real star of the show is Christopher Glynn, for whom the project has evidently been a labour of love. The detail and colour of his playing (to say nothing of the way he meets the many technical challenges Swann presents with a knowing wink) in the more than two hours of accompaniments is a fine achievement.” Gramophone Magazine, July 2017

“There are some surprises: Ainsley delivers a passionate Russian number, I loved you once, a Pushkin setting that wouldn’t disgrace Tchaikovsky or Rachmaninov. The real revelation, however, is the talent shown by the newcomer of the singing quartet: Rudge, a rising mezzo-soprano with rich tone, who brings more ardour and less archness to the material than her more fêted colleagues.” Sunday Times, 6th August 2017

“the quality of Swann’s craft is clear and Glynn points up every careful detail of some colourful piano writing...If there’s a real revelation, however, it’s the talent shown by the newcomer of the singing quartet: Rudge, a rising mezzo-soprano with rich tone, who brings more ardour and less archness to the material than her more fêted colleagues.” The Times, 28th July 2017 ***

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