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Leos Janacek (1854-1928)

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Janáček & Smetana: String Quartets

Janáček & Smetana: String Quartets


Janacek:

String Quartet No. 1 'The Kreutzer Sonata'

String Quartet No. 2 'Intimate Letters'

Smetana:

String Quartet No. 1 in E minor 'From My Life'


A second new album this year from the much-fêted Takács Quartet presents three popular string quartets from Czechoslovakia. Janáček’s two quartets share with Smetana’s No 1 narrative undercurrents, and draw from our four players performances of gripping engagement.

“For a moment or two in the Smetana one might think that the Takács Quartet's almost Olympian objectivity wouldn't suit music that often seems to well up so directly from the heart. In fact it's a vindication of Smetana as a large-scale dramatic architect. And that 'objectivity' doesn't prevent 'From my life' becoming surprisingly moving at times…the same is true of the Janáček. The music touches, stirs, excites, but at the same time you're aware of how strongly each quartet is shaped as a whole.” BBC Music Magazine, November 2015

“[The Janacek] certainly brings out the best in the Takács, who expertly negotiate the music's paradoxical demands. On the one hand, there's the illusion of wild, rasping abandon, a willingness to embrace the rough-grained sound world without inhibition. On the other, not a note seems to be out of place…this Janacek competes with the finest.” Gramophone Magazine, October 2015

“It’s obvious from the passionate opening [of From My Life] that this will be a rewarding performance, and it never disappoints.” The Wholenote, November 2015

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Janacek: Choral Music

Janacek: Choral Music


Janacek:

Rikadla (Nonsense Nursery Rhymes)

The Critical Band

Sedmdesát tisíc The 70,000 for male voices and tenor soloist

Kašpar Rucký for female voices and soprano soloist

Vlcí stopa The Wolf's Trail for female voices, soprano and tenor soloists and piano

Elegie na smrt dcery Olgy (Elegy on the death of my daughter Olga) for four-part choir, tenor soloist and piano

Hradcanské Písnicky (Songs of Hradcany) for female voices

Ave Maria (Byron, translated by Josef Jurdík) for male voices

Otcenáš (Our Father) for four-part choir, tenor soloist, organ and harp


Amanda Pitt (soprano), James MacDougall & Daniel Norman (tenors)

New London Chamber Choir, James Wood

This recording features a wide variety of works by the Czech composer Leoš Janá„ek, ranging from the mayhem of the “íkadla nursery rhymes and the description of the shameful antics of Mr Kašpar Rucký to the serene beauty of the Lord’s Prayer setting. Several of the pieces are only rarely performed—even today when the composer’s reputation is growing fast—and are little known outside the Slavic choral tradition which so influenced their style.

“These performances strike me as nearly ideal … this enchanting Hyperion disc” Fanfare

“Excellent performances … a well made and enjoyable record” Gramophone Magazine

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Dohnányi & Janácek - Violin Sonatas

Dohnányi & Janácek - Violin Sonatas


Dohnányi:

Violin Sonata in C sharp minor, Op. 21

Ruralia Hungarica for Violin and Piano, Op. 32c

Suite for Orchestra Op. 19 - 3rd Movement

arr. Jascha Heifetz

Janacek:

Violin Sonata

Dumka for violin and piano

Romance for violin and piano

Allegro (discarded movement from Violin Sonata)

On An Overgrown Path (A blown-away leaf)

arr. Jan Štedron


Hagai Shaham (violin) & Arnon Erez (piano)

Hagai Shaham and Arnon Erez have been enthusiastically acclaimed for their dazzling duo performances: their infectiously relaxed bravado and continual flexibility belying their impeccable ensemble. For their latest disc they turn to two composers who are seminal figures in the development of Eastern European music during the early twentieth century.

Dohnányi was one of the pivotal figures in Hungary’s musical life. He composed a number of significant pieces for the violin, including two violin concertos; his most important chamber work for violin and piano is the Violin Sonata in C sharp minor Op 21, composed in 1912. Dohnányi was by then thirty-five years of age, and the Sonata is a fully mature work showing his individual development of stylistic traits of Brahms and Liszt combined with a structural economy which reflects the close study of Brahms’s sonatas. Also recorded here is Dohnányi’s most overtly folk-influenced work, Ruralia hungarica, and a movement from his First Orchestral Suite, in F sharp minor Op 19, Romanza, arranged as a thoroughly idiomatic piece for violin and piano by Jascha Heifetz.

In the first days of World War I Dohnányi’s native Hungary was invaded by the Russian army, which seemed for a time to herald the end of Austrian dominance in the region. This portentous event provided the creative spark for Leoš Janácek’s Violin Sonata (his only surviving violin sonata; two very early ones he composed in Dresden and Vienna in 1880 are lost), at least according to Janácek himself. Other works by Janácek heard in this recital include early pieces from his student years, and an arrangement of the delicate mood study ‘A blown-away Leaf’ from the celebrated piano work On the Overgrown Path.

“Ruralia Hungarica draws the most compelling performance, Shaham negotiating the challenging violin pyrotechnics of the outer movements with powerhouse playing as well as delivering a wonderfully atmospheric Andante rubato alla Zingaresca.” BBC Music Magazine, May 2010 *****

“Shaham is in his element [in the Ruralia hungarica pieces] - the brilliant final piece carefree and dashing in style, the preceding, improvisatory Andante rubato alla zingaresca graceful and stylish...these are all appealing, finely-judged performances.” Gramophone Magazine, July 2010

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Kodály / Janacek - Masses

Kodály / Janacek - Masses


Janacek:

Mass in E flat

(completed by Paul Wingfield)

Kodály:

Missa brevis

Laudes organi


“Janácek began his Mass around 1908, left it to gather dust for 20 years, then turned it into the first draft of the Glagolitic Mass. Paul Wingfield's reconstruction draws substantially on the original draft of the Glagolitic Mass to the extent of including a complete movement (the Sanctus) from it. Clearly Janácek knew best, and the only distinguishing moments are those bits recognisably from the Glagolitic Mass. Unquestionably, though, both the Missa brevis and Laudes organi are among Kodály's most inspired creations. Yet new recordings of favourite works are prone to disappoint. Not this one. If anything, this stunning performance, crowned by Andrew Reid's masterly organ playing, raises this setting of dog-Latin verses in praise of the organ and commissioned by the American Guild of Organists even higher. About 20 years before Laudesorgani, the Missa brevis was first performed in this version for organ and chorus (it was originally an organ solo) in a bomb shelter during the 1944-5 Siege of Budapest. From such an inauspicious start, the work has fared remarkably well on record and this release represents an undoubted climax. It's a simply glorious performance and, in short, should not be missed.” Gramophone Classical Music Guide, 2010

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Leos Janácek - Orchestral Works

Leos Janácek - Orchestral Works


Janacek:

The Eternal Gospel

Legend for soprano, tenor, chorus and orchestra

The Ballad of Blaník

The Fiddler's Child

Ballad for solo violin and orchestra

The Excursions of Mr Broucek – Suite


“Fans of the Glagolitic Mass should definitely make a beeline for Janácek's 1913 cantata The EternalGospel. Radiating a comparable spiritual and theatrical fervour, it's a setting of a text by Jaroslav Vrchlický inspired by the commentary on the Book of Revelation by the 12th-century mystic Joachim of Fiore, that serves up a seductive brew of rapt lyricism and tingling drama. Much of the solo vocal writing possesses a truly operatic scope and there are some memorably ardent choral interjections. The gifted young Israeli conductor Ilan Volkov masterminds a laudably disciplined and full-throated account of this bracing rarity, and the sound has commendable spread and amplitude (especially in its SACD format).
The rest of the programme is no less enticing.
The Fiddler's Child (1913) and The Ballad of Blaník (1919) are compact and often bewitchingly lovely tone-poems with patriotic leanings; and the disc concludes with an orchestral suite from the satirical two-part opera The Excursions of Mr Broucek (1908-17). A thoroughly diverting 21-minute sequence it makes, too: just try the fairground sway of the 'Moon Waltz' or the young lovers' ineffably tender tryst ('Before Dawn') that brings the curtain down on the first half. If it's festive spectacle you're after, the last two movements ('Song of the Hussites' and 'Procession of the Victors') have it by the spadeful.
Performance-wise, there are no real grumbles.
Although the music-making has not quite the irresistible tang you get from native interpreters in this repertoire, Volkov (not yet 30 and with talent to spare) directs with considerable flair and sensitivity. If their string section inevitably can't match up to, say, the Czech PO's for sheer heft or tonal lustre, the BBC Scottish SO play with admirable precision and infectious enthusiasm; leader Elizabeth Layton is a warm-hearted, songful presence in The Fiddler's Child. Hyperion's glowing natural sound-frame sets the seal on a first-rate anthology.”
Gramophone Classical Music Guide, 2010

Super Audio CD

Format:

Hybrid Multi-channel

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Leos Janácek - Orchestral Works

Leos Janácek - Orchestral Works


Janacek:

The Eternal Gospel

Legend for soprano, tenor, chorus and orchestra

The Ballad of Blaník

The Fiddler's Child

Ballad for solo violin and orchestra

The Excursions of Mr Broucek – Suite


“Janáček's 'legend' The Eternal Gospel is a seemingly odd undertaking for its agnostic composer… but its prophecy of a universal kingdom of love inspired him to music of surging lyricism. As Joachim, Adrian Thompson is suitably ardent and Slavic; as the Angel, Gweneth-Ann Jeffers with her slow vibrato is almost too Slavic. Soloists and chorus sing confidently in what's obviously carefully coached Czech. Elizabeth Layton contributes silvery violin solos, and under its young Chief Conductor Ilan Volkov the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra is idiomatic and incisive. The cantata is complemented by orchestral music from the same decade, the 1910s, when Janáček's extraordinary late-flowering genius was approaching its height... The performances are again excellent...” BBC Music Magazine, September 2005 ****

“Fans of the Glagolitic Mass should definitely make a beeline for Janácek's 1913 cantata The Eternal Gospel. Radiating a comparable spiritual and theatrical fervour, it's a setting of a text by Jaroslav Vrchlický inspired by the commentary on the Book of Revelation by the 12th-century mystic Joachim of Fiore, that serves up a seductive brew of rapt lyricism and tingling drama. Much of the solo vocal writing possesses a truly operatic scope and there are some memorably ardent choral interjections. The gifted young Israeli conductor Ilan Volkov masterminds a laudably disciplined and full-throated account of this bracing rarity, and the sound has commendable spread and amplitude (especially in its SACD format).
The rest of the programme is no less enticing.
The Fiddler's Child (1913) and The Ballad of Blaník (1919) are compact and often bewitchingly lovely tone-poems with patriotic leanings; and the disc concludes with an orchestral suite from the satirical two-part opera The Excursions of Mr Broucek (1908-17). A thoroughly diverting 21-minute sequence it makes, too: just try the fairground sway of the 'Moon Waltz' or the young lovers' ineffably tender tryst ('Before Dawn') that brings the curtain down on the first half. If it's festive spectacle you're after, the last two movements ('Song of the Hussites' and 'Procession of the Victors') have it by the spadeful.
Performance-wise, there are no real grumbles.
Although the music-making has not quite the irresistible tang you get from native interpreters in this repertoire, Volkov (not yet 30 and with talent to spare) directs with considerable flair and sensitivity. If their string section inevitably can't match up to, say, the Czech PO's for sheer heft or tonal lustre, the BBC Scottish SO play with admirable precision and infectious enthusiasm; leader Elizabeth Layton is a warm-hearted, songful presence in The Fiddler's Child. Hyperion's glowing natural sound-frame sets the seal on a first-rate anthology.”
Gramophone Classical Music Guide, 2010

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Lieux retrouvés

Lieux retrouvés

Music for cello & piano


Adès:

Lieux retrouvés

with Thomas Adès (piano)

Fauré:

Cello Sonata No. 2 in G minor, Op. 117

with Thomas Adès (piano)

Janacek:

Pohádka (Fairy Tale) for Cello and Piano

with Thomas Adès (piano)

Kurtág:

For Steven - Im Memoriam Pauline Mara

Pilinszky János: Gérard de Nerval

György Kroó in memoriam

Schatten

Liszt:

Romance oubliée, for viola/cello/violin & piano, S. 132

with Thomas Adès (piano)

Die Zelle in Nonnenwerth, S382

with Thomas Adès (piano)

La Lugubre Gondola for cello & piano, S134

with Thomas Adès (piano)


A cello recital with a difference from two maverick geniuses, displaying the fecundity of their collaboration. The world-famous cellist Steven Isserlis, one of the best-loved instrumentalists of today, joins forces with composer and pianist Thomas Adès, described by the New York Times as one of the most imposing figures in contemporary music.

This recording opens with three of Liszt’s arrangements for cello and piano—the dark plangency of Isserlis’s tone emphasizing their elegiac power. Janácek’s Pohádka (‘A Tale’) is based on a story with many magical elements, and it is this particular quality which Isserlis and Adès bring out in their aerial performance. The passionate ecstasy of Fauré’s Cello Sonata No 2 is deeply felt, and the elemental mysterious sadness of Kurtág’s miniatures leads the listener into the 21st century and to the ‘title track’ of this disc which Adès wrote for Isserlis himself. Lieux retrouvés is a characteristically thrilling tour de force, displaying influences from all the composers previously featured and many more. The writing for the cello reaches uncharted levels of difficulty. Isserlis in his thoughtful booklet notes describes it in pictorial terms of rivers and mountains—here’s Anthony Tommasini, again in the New York Times: ‘The rippling figures for piano and cello spin out in crazed, cyclic riffs; the crystalline piano harmonies sound as if the wind were rustling the chimes in the pagoda; the feisty, industrialized propulsive bursts in the finale.’

“Isserlis is furiously lyrical and concentrated [in the Adès], but no less so in the other works, which offer aptly Romantic-modern context for Adès’s inspiration.” Sunday Times, 30th September 2012

“This blissfully unhackneyed and brilliantly executed recital takes memory in all its facets as its theme...the recording throughout gives the players all the space and atmosphere they need to characterise the varied moods and textures of an unusually rewarding programme.” Gramophone Magazine, Awards Issue 2012

“Match [Ades's playing] with the mellow sound and manner of Steven Isserlis's cello, and you have something very special. Their choice of repertory here - devised as an extended upbeat to Ades's Lieux retrouves at the end of the programme - is unusual, memorable, and wonderfully performed from start to finish.” BBC Music Magazine, December 2012 *****

“Isserlis plays with almost tangible intensity and soul, while Adès finds charm and natural expression at every turn – a true musical dialogue.” Financial Times, 3rd November 2012 ****

“an inspired grouping of diverse composers that highlights surprising musical connections between their styles” New York Times, 25th December 2013

GGramophone Magazine

Disc of the Month - Awards Issue 2012

Building a Library

First Choice - January 2013

BBC Music Magazine

Chamber Choice - December 2012

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Organ Fireworks XI

Organ Fireworks XI


Behnke:

Go tell it on the mountain

Copland:

Preamble (For a Solemn Occasion)

Farrington:

Fast Dance from Fiesta!

German, D:

Festive Trumpet Tune

Gigout:

Grand Choeur dialogue

Guilmant:

Choral et Fugue from Sonata No 5 in C minor, Op 80

Janacek:

Organ Solo from Glagolitic Mass

Jongen:

Sonata Eroïca Op. 94

Kiefer, H-M:

Blues Chorale: ‘Die ganze Welt hast du uns überlassen’

Langlais:

Battle Hymn of the Republic from American Folk-Hymn Settings, Op 231

Lemare:

Marche moderne, Op 2

Nagal:

Danke-Swingfüglein

Takle:

Festmusikk from Våg å leve

Widor:

Marche américaine, Op 31

arr. Marcel Dupré


Christopher Herrick (organ). Lay Family Concert Organ (C B Fisk Organ Company Opus 100), Eugene, McDermott Concert Hall, Morton H Meyerson Symphony Center, Dallas, Texas

“As we have come to expect from Christopher Herrick and Hyperion everything is done to the highest standard. The varied and exciting programme is convincingly played, making full use of the extensive tonal spread of the organ, whilst the accompanying programme notes are both comprehensive and interesting … another fine organ firework display, which I’m certain readers will enjoy” Cathedral Music

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Schumann: Kinderszenen & Waldszenen & Janáček: On the overgrown path I

Schumann: Kinderszenen & Waldszenen & Janáček: On the overgrown path I


Janacek:

Along an Overgrown Path, JW VIII/17, Book 1

Schumann:

Waldszenen, Op. 82

Kinderszenen, Op. 15


Marc-André presents a fascinating juxtaposition of two composers who are not obviously musically related, but who are proved on this album to be a felicitous combination.

Schumann’s well-loved Kinderszenen (‘Scenes from childhood’) cycle is a masterpiece: each piece is as deftly and exquisitely crafted as anything in his more outwardly sophisticated mode. From the haunting beauty of the opening ‘From foreign lands and people’ (‘Von fremden Ländern und Menschen’), via the spare eloquence of the central ‘Dreaming’ (‘Träumerei’), to the quiet rhetoric of ‘The poet speaks’ (‘Der Dichter spricht’), the listener is taken through nuances of emotion whose effects are heartrendingly poignant.

Waldszenen (‘Forest scenes’) is another collection of miniatures, and Schumann’s last major cycle for solo piano. This deeply ‘Romantic’ work in the most psychological sense of the word is no objective foray into the woods, but a very personal reaction to an imagined landscape; and equally striking is the sense that each piece represents just a shard of a larger experience. On the whole it is the more bucolic aspect that Schumann explores, though these pieces are not without darker shadows. And while they may be technically fairly straightforward, their changeability calls for the quickest of reactions and a wealth of subtle nuance.

Over half a century separates Schumann’s nature-inspired Waldszenen from the first book of Janáček’s On the overgrown path. The subject matter is darker and more oblique and the piano writing is deceptively treacherous, many of the difficulties far from overt. The title of the overall cycle refers to a Moravian wedding song, the bride lamenting that ‘The path to my mother’s has become overgrown with clover’. The sequence of ten pieces that comprises Book 1 constitutes, as the scholar John Tyrrell has written, some of the ‘profoundest, most disturbing music that Janáček had written, their impact quite out of proportion to their modest means and ambition’.

“Time and again he makes you think vocally, of the range and flexibility of a great singer...the knife-edge between composer and interpreter, between creator and recreator is held in the finest balance.” Gramophone Magazine, June 2014

“Hamelin has already made several fine recordings of Schumann's piano music, focusing on big virtuoso pieces. He proves to be equally adept at exploring the more intimate side of the composer's character and the two Schumann cycles here are absolutely magical.” BBC Music Magazine, July 2014 *****

Presto Discs of 2014

Finalist

GGramophone Magazine

Disc of the Month - June 2014

BBC Music Magazine

Disc of the month - July 2014

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Scriabin & Janacek: Sonatas & Poems

Scriabin & Janacek: Sonatas & Poems


Janacek:

On An Overgrown Path

Piano Sonata 1.X.1905 in E flat minor, JW VIII/19 'From the Street'

Scriabin:

Piano Sonata No. 5 in F sharp major, Op. 53

Deux poèmes, Op. 32

Vers la flamme, Op. 72

Piano Sonata No. 4 in F sharp major, Op. 30


The music of Scriabin and Janacek - contrasting and highly eccentric composers dear to Stephen Hough’s heart - make for a perfect recital. The sensual perfumes of the one intertwine with the disruptive obsessions of the other, and Hough the magician tightens his spell.

“in wave after wave of opulently ambivalent harmony, Hough brings orientation and direction without sacrificing sensuality or mystical aura. He accomplishes this through an almost uncanny variety of touch, tone production and judicious pedalling…Hough's contribution in this release could scarcely be more generous.” Gramophone Magazine, November 2015

BBC Music Magazine

Instrumental Choice

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