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Francis Poulenc (1899-1963)

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Poulenc - Gloria and Motets

Poulenc - Gloria and Motets


Poulenc:

Gloria

Salve Regina

Quatre motets pour un temps de pénitence

Quatre motets pour le temps de Noël

Exultate Deo


Stephen Layton and Polyphony continue to blaze a trail as great interpreters and dazzling performers of a wide range of choral music. Their recent disc of Bruckner’s Mass in E minor and motets was acclaimed as a benchmark recording. For their latest Hyperion disc they turn to some of the most bewitching and unusual, yet well-loved, choral works of the twentieth century.

Poulenc’s choral music is a deep expression both of his faith and of his unique musical language. In the various motets, the music responds to the composer’s studies of Bach, Monteverdi, Palestrina and Gabrieli, but is always stylistically progressive. Prominently featured are Poulenc’s distinctive and often ingenious chord progressions. Each motet has its own delightfully etched personality.

Poulenc’s Gloria is one of his most enduringly appealing works. In some ways straightforwardly pious, it is also tinged with mischievous irreverence and a sense of rollocking enjoyment. ‘When I wrote this piece’, Poulenc famously recalled, ‘I had in mind those frescoes by Gozzoli where the angels stick out their tongues; and also some serious Benedictine monks I had once seen revelling in a game of football.’ This recording by the Britten Sinfonia, The Choir of Trinity College, Cambridge, Polyphony and the soprano soloist Susan Gritton under Stephen Layton brings out all these aspects in a classic performance.

“From the very outset of the Gloria its clear that this is a performance of real distinction. …the scintillating choral entry, the basses starting the ball rolling with the kind of pent-up energy which you just know is going to explode in the most spectacular way. In the final chorus of the Gloria, after the boisterous start, we have a moment of profound sanctity and another, crowned with incredible delicacy by Susan Gritton, of mouth-watering enchantment.” Gramophone Magazine, April 2008

“Stephen Layton's tight control of his forces, both choral and orchestral, lends impeccable ensemble and heart-thumping excitement - has the opening tutti ever had such punch? Soprano Susan Gritton is superb, too, in her committed, soaring performances. The combined choirs of Trinity College, Cambridge and pro group Polyphony are astounding as a virtuoso choral unit...” BBC Music Magazine, April 2008 *****

“Poulenc’s riotously wild, spiky and humorous Gloria is given a marvellously fresh interpretation here by Polyphony … but perhaps the real interest in this disc lies in the more unfamiliar motets. Each is an exquisite example of Poulenc’s daring choral writing, handled here by Polyphony with the same subtlety and skill they brought to their Bruckner Hyperion disc last year” The Observer

“From the very outset of the Gloria it's clear that this is a performance of real distinction. The gloriously pompous opening orchestral fanfare has a swagger and a self-satisfied strut which is one of those rare moments on disc where you would wish it were tracked separately so that you could just play it over and over again. But to do that would miss the scintillating choral entry, the basses starting the ball rolling with the kind of pent-up energy which you just know is going to explode in the most spectacular way. Other recordings have a pleasant, smiley quality here; Stephen Layton's crew has an almost piratical swagger, buoyantly breasting Poulenc's turbulent waves of barely restrained exuberance.
The 38 voices of Polyphony are augmented by 31 from Trinity College, Cambridge, while an unusually hefty contingent of orchestral players makes up the Britten Sinfonia on the disc. What results is not only music-making of immense power and vibrancy – take the riveting declamation 'Qui sedes ad dexteram Patris', hardly subtle or even particularly refined (the men shout and the brass blares) but unbelievably spine-tingling – but also an ability, brilliantly directed by Layton, to capture Poulenc's 'half hooligan, half monk' musical persona (in Claude Rostand's oft-quoted aphorism). Thus, in the final chorus of the Gloria, after the boisterous start, we have a moment of profound sanctity and another, crowned with incredible delicacy by Susan Gritton, of mouth-watering enchantment.
Not everything is quite so enticing: Gritton wallows a little too much perhaps in the 'Domine Deus', mischievously abetted by Layton's almost kitsch romanticism. But it is the vivid sense of unfettered joy in the Gloria and the matchless intensity of feeling revealed in the motets that make this such a gloriously distinguished disc.”
Gramophone Classical Music Guide, 2010

GGramophone Awards 2008

Finalist - Choral

GGramophone Magazine

Editor's Choice - April 2008

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Poulenc: Mass in G and other works

Poulenc: Mass in G and other works


Poulenc:

Quatre petites prières de Saint François d'Assise

Quatre motets pour un temps de pénitence

Quatre motets pour le temps de Noël

Salve Regina

Exultate Deo

Litanies à la Vierge noire


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Poulenc - The Complete Chamber Music

Poulenc - The Complete Chamber Music


Poulenc:

Sextet for piano and wind quintet, Op. 100

Violin Sonata, FP 119

Sonata for Two Clarinets, Op. 7

Sonata for Horn, Trumpet & Trombone, Op. 33

Cello Sonata, Op. 143

Clarinet Sonata, Op. 184

Sarabande for solo guitar, Op. 179

Villanelle for piccolo (pipe) and piano

Elégie for horn and piano, Op. 168

In memory of Dennis Brain

Trio for piano, oboe and bassoon

Sonata for Clarinet and Bassoon, Op. 32

Flute Sonata, Op. 164


'Entrancing. It's hard to select the choicest treasures from this jewel box of Poulenc's most witty and vivacious, hauntingly melodic and touchingly heartfelt music, especially when it is played with such effervescence and devotion as here. The two masterpieces are the Sextet for Piano and Winds (1932) and the delectable "Mozartian" Trio for Piano, Oboe and Bassoon, played with dashing elan and soulful lyricism by the pianist Ian Brown and the Nash's brilliant wind principals. Richard Watkins's long-breathed account of the moving Elégie in memoriam Dennis Brain (1957) and Paul Watkins's noble-toned playing of the Cello Sonata (1940/48) are exceptional. But there is rapture, elation, zany high spirits in all of this music, dazzlingly played by the Nash Ensemble. Buy, buy, buy!' (The Sunday Times)

“Invidious as it may seem to pick out just one of these excellent artists, special mention must be made of Ian Brown, who plays in nine of the 13 works included and confirms his standing as one of the most admired and musicianly chamber pianists of our day. He knows, for example, how to control Poulenc's boisterous piano writing in the Sextet without sacrificing the sparkle, and as a result the work coheres better than ever before. Like the Trio (whose opening reveals Stravinskian influence), it's a mixture of the composer's madcap gamin mood and his predominantly melancholy bittersweet lyricism.
The latter characteristic is most in evidence in his most enduring chamber works: the solo wind sonatas with piano, all three of which were in the nature of tombeaux , the Flute Sonata for the American patron Mrs Sprague Coolidge, that for clarinet for Honegger, and that for oboe for Prokofiev. All are given idiomatic, sensitive and satisfying performances by the Nash artists.
The Elégie for Dennis Brain was a not altogether convincing experiment in dodecaphony: Poulenc had earlier dabbled in atonality and polytonality in the little sonatas (really sonatinas) for, respectively, two clarinets and for clarinet and bassoon. There's a touching reading of the little Sarabande for guitar. A hint of the guitar's tuning at the start of the second move- ment is almost the only Spanish reference in the Violin Sonata, which was composed in memoriam the poet Lorca, whose loss is bitterly suggested in the angry finale. In this work Poulenc allotted to the piano (his own instrument) rather more than equal status in the duo – a situation rather paralleled in the lighthearted Cello Sonata, over which the composer dallied longer than any other of his works – but balance in both is finely judged by the performers and the recording team.
The whole issue wins enthusiastic recommendation: it bids fair to become the undisputed yardstick for the future.”
Gramophone Classical Music Guide, 2010

“A superb two-disc overview of the sonatas and larger ensemble-works from The Nash Ensemble here, with pianist Ian Brown doing particularly sterling work; Philippa Davies's pellucid account of the Flute Sonata is an especial highlight.” Katherine Cooper, Presto Classical, 21st November 2014

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Poulenc: The Complete Songs

Poulenc: The Complete Songs


Poulenc:

Trois Poèmes de Louise Lalanne

Ailish Tynan (soprano)

Quatre chansons pour enfants

Dame Felicity Lott (soprano)

Trois poèmes de Louise de Vilmorin

Ailish Tynan (soprano)

Le Portrait

Geraldine McGreevy (soprano)

Fiançailles pour rire, FP101

Ailish Tynan (soprano)

L'histoire de Babar, le petit éléphant

Pierre Bernac (narrator)

Metamorphoses, FP 121

Geraldine McGreevy (soprano)

Nuage from Deux Mélodies (No. 2)

Geraldine McGreevy (soprano)

La courte paille

Ailish Tynan (soprano)

Cinq Poèmes de Paul Éluard

Ben Johnson (tenor)

Tel jour telle nuit

Sarah Fox (soprano)

Miroirs brûlants

Christopher Maltman (baritone)

Ce doux petit visage

Ailish Tynan (soprano)

Les chemins de l'amour

Sarah Fox (soprano)

Deux poèmes de Louis Aragon

Ben Johnson (tenor)

Le Disparu

Christopher Maltman (baritone)

Main dominée par le coeur

Geraldine McGreevy (soprano)

…mais mourir

Christopher Maltman (baritone)

Calligrammes

Christopher Maltman (baritone)

La Fraîcheur et le feu

Christopher Maltman (baritone)

La Travail du peintre

Geraldine McGreevy (soprano)

Dernier poeme

Christopher Maltman (baritone)

Une chanson de porcelaine

Geraldine McGreevy (soprano)

Le Toreador

Ivan Ludlow (baritone)

Le Bestiaire ou Cortege d'Orphee

Brandon Velarde (baritone)

Deux Mélodies inédites du Bestiaire

Brandon Velarde (baritone)

Cocardes

Robin Tritschler (tenor)

Airs chantés

Ailish Tynan (soprano)

Quatre poemes de Guillaume Apollinaire

Ivan Ludlow (baritone)

Pierrot

Brandon Velarde (baritone)

Mélodies (2) de Guillaume Apollinaire

Robin Tritschler (tenor) & Ivan Ludlow (baritone)

La grenouillère, Op. 5

Sarah-Jane Brandon (soprano)

Bleuet

Robin Tritschler (tenor)

Banalités

Ivan Ludlow (baritone) & Sarah-Jane Brandon (soprano)

Colloque

Robin Tritschler (tenor) & Geraldine McGreevy (soprano)

Deux poèmes de Guillaume Apollinaire

Ivan Ludlow (baritone)

Paul et Virginie

Geraldine McGreevy (soprano)

Parisiana

Brandon Velarde (baritone)

Rosemonde

Brandon Velarde (baritone)

La souris

Brandon Velarde (baritone)

La Puce

Brandon Velarde (baritone)

La Dame de Monte Carlo

Nicole Tibbels (soprano)

Poèmes de Ronsard

Susan Bickley (mezzo-soprano)

Chansons gaillardes

Ashley Riches (bass)

Vocalise

Geraldine McGreevy (soprano)

Épitaphe sur un texte de Malherbe, FP55

Neal Davies (bass)

Cinq Poèmes de Max Jacob

Nicole Tibbels (soprano)

Huit Chansons polonaises

Agnieszka Adamczak (soprano)

A sa guitare

Geraldine McGreevy (soprano)

Priez pour paix

Susan Bickley (mezzo-soprano)

Chansons villageoises

Christopher Maltman (baritone)

Trois Chansons de F.Garcia-Lorca

Susan Bickley (mezzo-soprano)

Hymne

Neal Davies (bass)

Mazurka

Neal Davies (bass)

Fancy

Geraldine McGreevy (soprano)


Graham Johnson is simply the greatest living authority on French song; an artist whose innate feeling for the music is combined with prodigious scholarship. He also has the ability to discover and nurture singers who here prove to be matchless performers of this repertoire.

Following his many wonderful recordings in Hyperion’s French Song Edition, Johnson turns to the complete songs of Francis Poulenc, released also to mark the fiftieth anniversary of the composer’s death. Each of the four CDs presents a programme of songs in an order that is chronological for that disc alone—signifying four different journeys through the composer’s career. Disc 1 features a substantial appearance, recorded in 1977, of Pierre Bernac (Poulenc’s long-term collaborator)—narrating L’histoire de Babar, a story known to children throughout the world. The singers include Dame Felicity Lott, acclaimed as one of the foremost performers of Poulenc, and many other stars from previous recordings.

“As always, Johnson matches singers to songs meticulously. There are some outstanding performances...It's a gorgeous collection, and for sometime Poulenc sceptics like me, a real revelation.” The Guardian, 17th October 2013 *****

“The greatest hero of the set remains Graham Johnson himself. As well as writing the booklet notes and organising the whole adventure, Johnson proves himself to be the most sensitive and accomplished of accompanists, ensuring that every single song is a partnership between singer and pianist, with chemistry that flows both ways.” MusicWeb International, December 2013

“Prepared for the fiftieth anniversary of the composer's death last year and curated by pianist and French music expert Graham Johnson, Hyperion's gorgeous 4-CD set divides the complete songs between seasoned performers such as Felicity Lott and Johnson himself, and stylish newcomers including soprano Ailish Tynan and tenor Robin Tritschler.” Katherine Cooper, Presto Classical, 21st November 2014

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Poulenc: Voyage à Paris

Poulenc: Voyage à Paris


Poulenc:

Voyage à Paris

Mélodies (2) de Guillaume Apollinaire

Bleuet

Voyage

Hotel

Trois Poèmes de Louise Lalanne

Tel jour telle nuit

Tu vois le feu du soir

Metamorphoses, FP 121

Colloque

Deux poèmes de Louis Aragon

Priez pour paix

A sa guitare

Toréador - Chanson hispano-italienne

Nous voulons une petite soeur

Les chemins de l'amour


Felicity Lott (soprano) & Graham Johnson (piano)

The Songmakers' Almanac

“This record will enchant you. Best of the Month” Hi-Fi News

“Interpretation of Poulenc's songs never stands still. But this recording reminds us of the impetus these artists gave to this repertoire, both in sound and imagination.” BBC Music Magazine, November 2011 *****

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A Christmas Caroll from Westminster Abbey

A Christmas Caroll from Westminster Abbey


Chilcott:

Shepherd's Carol

Dove:

The three Kings

Gruber, F:

Silent Night

Arranged by Christopher Bowers-Broadbent

Head, M:

The Little Road to Bethlehem

Lavino:

Nativity

Leighton:

A Christmas Carol, Op. 21

Mathias:

Ave Rex, Op. 45

Pearsall:

In dulci jubilo

Poulenc:

Quatre motets pour le temps de Noël

Rutter:

Dormi, Jesu

trad.:

Joys Seven

Arranged by Stephen Cleobury

I saw three ships

Arranged by James O’Donnell

Walton:

All this time


The first of this month’s ‘double bill’ from Westminster presents a delightful and unusual selection of music for Christmas from the Abbey Choir. It encompasses all the diverse themes of Christmas which have inspired composers across the ages: light shining in darkness; the tenderness of mother and child; the fulfilment of promise; and the warm merriment of corporate celebration.

An excellent selection of contemporary carols features the composers Jonathan Dove and Bob Chilcott among others. The richness of twentieth-century church music is illustrated in works by Poulenc, Walton, Mathias and Leighton, and by the heartbreakingly lovely piece The little road to Bethlehem by Michael Head. Skilful arrangements of the traditional carols Silent night, In dulci jubilo and I saw three ships, complete this attractive seasonal release.

“An ambitious and superbly sung programme, sympathetically framed within the choir's spaciously atmospheric home acoustic.” BBC Music Magazine, December 2008 *****

“The Christmas Eve carol service at Westminster Abbey is one of the most warming events in the festive calendar, and this CD captures the atmosphere beautifully … The singing is a constant delight” The Telegraph

Presto Disc of the Week

8th December 2008

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Kaleidoscope

Kaleidoscope


Behr:

Lachtäuben

(trans. Sergei Rachmaninov)

Bentz Woods:

Valse Phantastique

Blanchet:

Au jardin du vieux sérail (Andrianople) Op. 18 No. 3

Blumenfeld:

Etude for the left hand, Op. 36

Casella:

Deux Contrastes, Op. 21

Glazunov:

Petit Adagio (extrait des ‘Saisons')

(trans. Marc-André Hamelin)

Godowsky:

Triakontameron No. 11 'Alt Wien'

Hamelin:

Étude No. 3 in B minor 'after Paganini-Liszt'

Étude No. 6 in D minor 'Esercizio per pianoforte, Omaggio a Domenico Scarlatti'

Hofmann, J:

Nocturne (‘Complaint')

Kaleidoscope, Op. 40 No. 4

Kapustin:

Toccatina Op. 36

Lourié:

Gigue

Massenet:

Valse folle

Michałowski:

Etude d'après l'Impromptu en la bémol majeur de Fr. Chopin, Op. 29

Moszkowski:

Etude in A flat minor, Op. 72 No. 13

Offenbach:

Concert Paraphrase of ‘The Song of the Soldiers of the Sea'

(trans. Jakob Gimpel)

Poulenc:

Intermezzo in A flat major, FP118

Vallier:

Toccatina


Marc Andre Hamelin (piano)

“A collection of miniature piano rarities and transcriptions put together to fascinating effect.” BBC Music Magazine, September 2007

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L'heure exquise: Alice Coote

L'heure exquise: Alice Coote

A French Songbook


Bachelet:

Chère nuit

Berlioz:

Le Spectre de la rose (from Les nuits d'été, Op. 7)

Chabrier:

Toutes les fleurs

L'ile heureuse

Chausson:

Le temps des lilas

Debussy:

La Grotte

Fauré:

Le secret Op. 23 No. 3

Fleur jetée, Op. 39 No. 2

Gounod:

Sérénade

Au printemps

Hahn, R:

L'heure exquise

Les étoiles (No. 9 of Douze Rondels)

Fumée

La Chère Blessure

Koechlin:

Novembre, Op. 22 No. 2

Poulenc:

Les chemins de l'amour

Voyage à Paris

Hotel

La grenouillère, Op. 5

Voyage

Saint-Saëns:

Aimons-nous

Soirée En Mer

Satie:

Je te veux


Alice Coote (mezzo) & Graham Johnson (piano)

Alice Coote is the darling of the world’s opera stages and recital halls—to the extent that her solo recordings are rare events. In this much-anticipated French Songbook, Graham Johnson lends his incomparable insight to this most remarkable of talents on an emotional rollercoaster through twenty-three songs of Gallic love in all its guises.

“The beauty of Alice Coote’s mezzo-soprano glows with radiance.” Financial Times, 9th May 2015

“Coote is in sumptuous voice, Johnson in his element.” Sunday Times, 10th May 2015

“this is a beautifully formed recital shining different lights on a central theme. It is distinguished by Coote’s thorough absorption in the stylistic character of each song, conveying their individual sentiments and sensitivities with her rich, liquid mezzo and relishing the colouristic potential of the poetic texts. Graham Johnson’s piano accompaniments are, as ever, wonderfully apt and complementary to the voice” Gramophone Magazine, June 2015

GGramophone Awards 2016

Finalist - Solo Vocal

GGramophone Magazine

Editor's Choice - June 2015

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L’Album des Six

L’Album des Six

The complete works of ‘The Six’ for flute and piano


Auric:

Aria

Imaginées 1 (Largo)

Prélude

Andrew West (piano)

Durey:

Sonatine Op. 25

Deux dialogues Op. 114 (solo flute)

Romance sans paroles, Op. 21

Andrew West (piano)

Honegger:

Danse de la chèvre

Romance for Flute and Piano

Sarabande

Andrew West (piano)

Milhaud:

Sonatina for flute and piano, Op. 76

Mazurka

Andrew West (piano)

Poulenc:

Flute Sonata, Op. 164

Valse

Andrew West (piano)

Tailleferre:

Pastorale (Allegretto)

Forlane

Pastorale: Enjoué

Andrew West (piano)


Emily Beynon (flute) & Andrew West (piano)

‘Les Six’ (so named in 1920 by critic Henri Collet) hit the classical music scene with almost the same outrageous force with which the punk movement slammed into popular music in the 1970s and early ’80s. It consisted of a group of six composers working in France: Francis Poulenc, Darius Milhaud, Arthur Honegger, Georges Auric, Germaine Tailleferre and Louis Durey. Their music was largely a reaction against Impressionism and Wagnerism and incorporated the ideas of Satie and Cocteau with the popular styles of the time: French vaudeville, American jazz and café music. The result was a simple blend of sound with more than a dash of whimsical humour, parody and irony. ‘Les Six’ only formally existed across 1920/21 and its members collaborated in two ventures, the wonderfully surreal divertissement of Les Mariés de la Tour Eiffel of 1921 and the miniature Album des Six for piano (1920) featured on this recording.

The popular highlight here is Poulenc’s Sonata of 1957, which is now standard repertoire for flautists.

“An ingenious piece of programming by the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra’s (Welsh) principal flautist and the pianist Andrew West: they have gathered together the complete works for flute and piano by the group of French composers known as Les Six and titled the record after the only work—a set of solo piano pieces—on which all six collaborated. Although the ‘collectivisation’ of these six musical personalities was the brainwave of a music critic in 1920, the flute and piano pieces recorded here date from the early 1920s to the 1970s. Poulenc’s dazzling Sonata (1957), brilliantly played by Beynon and West, is the highlight of an absorbing and hugely entertaining disc” Sunday Times

“Hyperion has enriched the catalogs with far more than its fair share of superb releases, and this is yet another one… urgently recommended to everyone who has even a passing interest in fine flute-playing or works of this period” Fanfare

“Emily Beynon plays quite beautifully throughout. This is a welcome recording” Gramophone Magazine

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Piers Lane goes to town

Piers Lane goes to town


Bach, J S:

Cantata BWV147 'Herz und Mund und Tat und Leben': Jesu, bleibet meine Freude

arr. Dame Myra Hess

Benjamin, A:

Jamaican Rumba

Confrey:

Dizzy Fingers

Delibes:

Naila: Waltz

arr. Ernö Dohnányi

Doheny:

Toccata for Piers Lane

Grainger:

Irish Tune from County Derry 'Danny Boy'

Hopkins, Antony:

Variations on a well-known theme

Ireland:

Ballerina

Karg-Elert:

Arabesque No. 1 in G flat major 'Filigran', Op. 5

Keane, R:

The Tiger Tango (Movement 3 of Save the Animals Suite)

Lane, A:

Toccata (Movement 4 of Suite)

Mayerl:

Marigold

Moore, Dudley:

Beethoven Parody 'And the same to you'

Parker, K:

Down Longford Way

Poulenc:

Nocturne No. 4 in C minor 'Bal fantôme'

Rachmaninov:

Daisies, Op. 38 No. 3

Saya:

Barcarolles

Sherwin, M:

A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square

arr. Regis Danillon

Templeton:

Bach goes to Town


Piers Lane (piano)

Piers Lane gambols delightfully through the twentieth century in this album of encores, party pieces and a few pianophile rarities, ranging from Dame Myra Hess’s unforgettable arrangement of Bach’s Jesu, joy of man’s desiring to Dudley Moore’s equally unforgettable Beethoven pastiche.

This album includes first recordings of, among others, John Ireland’s Ballerina and Mark Saya’s Offenbach/Chopin conflation Barcarolles. A number of these pieces are by Australian composers who wrote for Piers himself. His unbounded virtuosity and joy in the music is clearly an inspiration, and is evident throughout the recording.

Read Presto's complete review of this disc here.

“Lane’s joie de vivre is infectious in the more flamboyant pieces. He loves these pieces, and isn’t coy about telling us that we can, and should, love them too. Flamboyance and poetry are nicely balanced, and Lane attacks the cheesier numbers with such relish that resistance is futile.” The Arts Desk, 12th October 2013

“Although some works are serious, some are dark, and some are very silly, they hang together by dint of the pianist’s personality...Like the disc itself, the notes are amiable, approachable, witty and a pleasure to loaf around with.” MusicWeb International, 1st November 2013

“Lane in wonderful debonair mode here, sparkling through a personal encore selection from Jamaican Rumba to a Toccata by his own father, and from Myra Hess to Dudley Moore.” BBC Music Magazine, November 2013 *****

“A pot pourri of pianistic palate-cleansers and party pieces...there was just the right balance between the flashy pieces and the slower, more contemplative numbers to keep me entertained all the way through...There’s certainly no shortage of impressive virtuosity, including perhaps the best-known item on the disc, Arthur Benjamin’s Jamaican Rumba, which is despatched with great aplomb and panache.” James Longstaffe, Presto Classical, 2nd September 2013

Presto Disc of the Week

2nd September 2013

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