Daniel Barenboim conducts Elgar

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Elgar: The Dream of Gerontius, Op. 38

Elgar: The Dream of Gerontius, Op. 38


Catherine Wyn-Rogers (Angel), Andrew Staples (Gerontius), Thomas Hampson (Priest/Angel of the Agony)

Staatskapelle Berlin, Staatsopernchor, RIAS Kammerchor, Daniel Barenboim

Read Presto's complete review of this disc here.

‘Barenboim's long association with, and love for, Elgar has effectively made it part of his musical DNA’ Gramophone

‘Barenboim made this a Gerontius of transcendental splendour’ Financial Times concert review

‘If anyone can make a case for Elgar outside Britain, and without special pleading, it's Daniel Barenboim, returning to conduct this British composer's works’ New York Times

“Staples is a young-sounding and affecting Gerontius…he uses his vulnerability to good effect…Wyn-Rogers sings with great feeling and intensity and an always vivid response to text…Hampson is hugely authoritative in his priestly exhortations…Barenboim’s Berlin choirs are both sensitive and impressive, and refreshingly true in intonation…So plenty to savour…I know I shall be returning to if often and with great pleasure.” Gramophone Magazine, August 2017

“A Gerontius of staggering power and terrible beauty...Barenboim’s reading plays up the work’s affinity to Parsifal, and even to the fire-and-brimstone sound-world of Verdi’s Requiem - the apocalyptic vision of God is the most terrifying and transcendent I’ve ever experienced...The sweetness of Staples' timbre doesn't preclude the strength needed for the work’s climactic moments.” Presto Classical, 14th July 2017

“a must-hear release thanks to his big-boned, romantic conducting and the magnificent playing and singing of his Berlin forces...this is Barenboim’s set, which places Gerontius as a mainstream European masterpiece.” Sunday Times, 20th August 2017

“The best parts of this recording are exactly those passages when this superb orchestra gives the impression of floating into celestial regions...Even when his pacing is unconvincing, there’s a gripping integrity and intensity to Barenboim’s approach...Barenboim’s account will takes its place alongside Elder’s (Hallé) and Britten’s (Decca) on my shelf marked “essential deathbed listening”.” The Times, 21st July 2017 ****

Presto Disc of the Week

14th July 2017

Released or re-released in last 6 months

Decca - 4831585

(CD - 2 discs)

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Elgar: Symphony No. 1 in A flat major, Op. 55

Elgar: Symphony No. 1 in A flat major, Op. 55


Daniel Barenboim continues his acclaimed Elgar series with the landmark First Symphony. These new issues mark the first time that indefatigable maestro Barenboim has returned to recording Elgar’s symphonic works since the 1970s.

This recording is the latest step in maestro Barenboim’s Elgarian journey with the Berlin Staatskapelle, following on from well-received performances of Elgar’s Dream of Gerontius, the Cello Concerto (recorded live with Alisa Weilerstein for Decca), and Elgar’s Second Symphony – about which the Guardian wrote: “The surging, unquenchable energy of this account is obvious from the opening bars, which are borne on an irresistible flood of sound from the Berlin Staatskapelle…”

This album was recorded live at Berlin’s renowned Philharmonie, with the Berlin Staatskapelle and leading Elgarian record producer Andrew Keener.

Barenboim is a passionate Elgarian, counting The Dream of Gerontius as one of his favourite works. As a young man he worked regularly with Sir John Barbirolli, one of the greatest of all Elgar conductors and who was Jacqueline du Pré’s partner in the classic EMI recording of the Cello Concerto.

Barenboim’s latest Decca release follows his hugely successful Beethoven project of 2012, 2013’s Verdi Requiem, and Elgar’s Second Symphony in 2014.

“Barenboim sets subtly different tempos for passages that often run directly on from each other, but he also pushes round corners at which other conductors linger…the Staatskapelle Berlin sustain it convincingly. The detail is always audible, even through the flowing full orchestra…Barenboim has certainly made this symphony his own” BBC Music Magazine, July 2016 *****

“Barenboim’s long association with, and love for, Elgar has effectively made it part of his musical DNA...And because he is a master he has somehow communicated all of that, both in practical and spiritual terms, to an orchestra for whom it is relatively unfamiliar. That is the really startling achievement here and it manifests itself in playing that is as exciting as it is nuanced.” Gramophone Magazine, May 2016

“In its voicings and especially in its gradations of string tone, the performance seems to fix Elgar’s orchestral writing even more firmly into the context of post-Wagnerian romanticism than before... while the slow movements sometimes acquire a Brucknerian spaciousness.” The Guardian, 23rd March 2016 *****

GGramophone Awards 2016

Finalist - Orchestral

GGramophone Magazine

Disc of the Month - May 2016

Decca - 4789353

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Elgar: Symphony No. 2 in E flat major, Op. 63

Elgar: Symphony No. 2 in E flat major, Op. 63


Following his critically-acclaimed Elgar Cello Concerto recording with Alisa Weilerstein, Barenboim turns to the symphonies. The Second Symphony is released first, in a 2013 recording with the Staatskapelle Berlin. The First Symphony will follow in 2015.

“To hear an orchestra with such a distinctive central European sound playing Elgar, and relating his music so securely to the wider late-romantic tradition, is one of the disc’s great pleasures.” Andrew Clements, The Guardian (of the Cello Concerto recording)

“This is a superb, in fact I feel justified in calling it a great, Elgar Two. It's difficult to know where to start in listings its excellences...But one must start and finish with Barenboim's interpretation...this is a marvellously full-blooded reading of the Symphony, full of drama and passion...This must be one of the finest performances currently on offer.” BBC Music Magazine, June 2014 *****

“The gorgeous, silken string playing is something exceptional for Elgarians, but there is also plenty of Edwardian swagger in the brilliant rondo and majestic finale. A glorious disc” Sunday Times, 29th June 2014

“The surging, unquenchable energy of this account is obvious from the opening bars, which are borne on an irresistible flood of sound from the Berlin Staatskapelle...Every department of this fabulous orchestra seems to make a telling contribution to this performance at some point or other, and it's as much a triumph for the Staatskapelle as it is for its conductor” The Guardian, 22nd May 2014 *****

“Barenboim and the musicians plunge into the Second’s ardours and wistful ways as if to the manner born. We quickly realise we’re not listening to a British orchestra: the timbre of the horns alone transports us far from Elgar’s Malvern hills. Yet the central European sounds only help to link the symphony with the European traditions that nurtured Elgar’s art.” The Times, 9th May 2014 ****

Building a Library

First Choice - March 2015

Decca - 4786677

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Elgar & Carter: Cello Concertos

Elgar & Carter: Cello Concertos


Bruch:

Kol Nidrei, Op. 47

Carter, E:

Cello Concerto

Elgar:

Cello Concerto in E minor, Op. 85


The much-anticipated album from a brilliant young American cellist marks one of the most exciting Decca Classics debuts in many years.

The conductor Daniel Barenboim has been a fervent supporter of Alisa Weilerstein’s extraordinary talent since he accompanied her in Elgar’s Concerto as part of the 2010 Europa Concert in Oxford, broadcast on TV across Europe. Together, they have made a recording of searing intensity.

Elgar’s Concerto is paired with a contemporary masterpiece by the doyen of American composers, the late Elliott Carter, who passed away on November the 5th at the age of 103, whose work has often been championed by Barenboim.

Read Presto's complete review of this disc here.

“Weilerstein avoids nostalgia [in the Elgar] and produces instead an account that is full of passion, grief and nobility of feeling...Her interpretation [of the Carter], at once remarkably expressive and a continuous display of headlong, high-pressure virtuosity, seems to me to outrank the existing recorded versions...a thoughtfully-constructed and thought-provoking programme.” BBC Music Magazine, February 2013 *****

“Her Elgar is not as wayward as du Pre...but it's still remarkably impressive...[in the Carter] Weilerstein, who starts on her own, as in the Elgar, brings the same immaculate tonal control to bear...Kol Nidrei is a fine vehicle for Weilerstein's gorgeous tone.” Gramophone Magazine, February 2013

“within the first seconds [of the Elgar], we know that Weilerstein speaks with her own voice. The muscular bowing, the sound’s depth and warmth in the opening bars: you couldn’t ask for a more characterful beginning...[The Carter] might seem as removed from Elgar as the man in the moon. Not so...with Weilerstein giving her heart and soul to Carter’s constantly evolving filigree line we’re always aware of the concerto’s singing voice.” The Times, 1st February 2013 ****

“To hear an orchestra with such a distinctive central European sound playing Elgar, and relating his music so securely to the wider late-romantic tradition, is one of the disc's great pleasures. Weilerstein's approach is impressively bold and big-boned, even if she seems – for now – more comfortable with the concerto's rhetoric than its intimacy” The Guardian, 14th February 2013 ****

“This is a precious disc, and certainly not in the pejorative sense. Weilerstein plays with robust vigour, but a heart-stopping moulding of phrase. She brings to the Elgar concerto... a portamento beautifully judged and asserted in a brand-new, old-fashioned way (no contradiction!).” Sunday Times, 17th February 2013

“Very ably accompanied, it is very much Weilerstein’s ascendant star which will sell this performance [of the Elgar] to you...[the Carter] is indeed a work which demands focus to appreciate, but the flow of the music has its own sense of inevitability and architectural logic, and there are plenty of magical moments to prickle the senses.” MusicWeb International, 29th April 2013

“Technically Weilerstein is flawless throughout...what a fine work [the Carter] is! Carter’s ear for sonorities and harmonies is endlessly inventive, but what surprised me was how lyrical the work is: he really enables Weilerstein to show off the cello’s capacity for beautiful, elegiac phrases.” James Longstaffe, Presto Classical, 4th February 2-13

Presto Disc of the Week

4th February 2013

GGramophone Magazine

Editor's Choice - February 2013

BBC Music Magazine

Disc of the month - February 2013

BBC Music Magazine Awards 2014

Recording of the Year & Concerto Award Winner

Decca - 4782735

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