Penguin Guide Rosette Winners

Orchestral

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Szymanowski: King Roger & Symphony No. 4

Szymanowski: King Roger & Symphony No. 4


Szymanowski:

Król Roger

Thomas Hampson (King Roger), Elzieta Szmytka (Roxana), Philip Langridge (Edrisi), Ryszard Minkiewicz (Shepherd), Robert Gierlach (Archbishop), Jadwiga Rappé (Deaconess)

City of Birmingham Symphony Chorus & City of Birmingham Symphony Youth Chorus

Symphony No. 4, Op. 60 (Sinfonia Concertante)

Leif Ove Andsnes (piano)


Simon Rattle’s luminous reading of Szymanowski’s philosophical opera King Roger won a Gramophone Award for opera on its first release in 2000. ‘A vibrantly dramatic account, revealing potent theatricality from the outset and sustaining its grip throughout’ (Gramophone), Rattle’s recording is coupled with Szymanowski’s colourful Fourth Symphony, with the solo piano part assuredly performed here by Leif Ove Andsnes.

GGramophone Awards 2000

Winner - Opera

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Warner Classics - 2564620051

(CD - 2 discs)

$8.75

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Fritz Reiner conducts Rimsky Korsakov & Stravinsky

Fritz Reiner conducts Rimsky Korsakov & Stravinsky


Rimsky Korsakov:

Scheherazade, Op. 35

Stravinsky:

Le Chant du Rossignol


“Reiner's magnificent (1956) Scheherazade stands out among the many superb RCA recordings made in Chicago in the 1950s...Sidney Harth, the orchestral leader, naturally balanced, plays most seductively...The Stravinsky coupling also shows the conductor and orchestra at their finest, and this is a CD that should be in everyone's collection.” Penguin Guide, 2011 edition

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Sony Originals - 88697700362

(CD)

$8.75

(also available to download from $10.00)

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Tchaikovsky: The Nutcracker Suite

Tchaikovsky: The Nutcracker Suite


Tchaikovsky:

The Nutcracker, Op. 71

Suite No. 3 in G major, Op.55

Suite No. 4 in G major, Op.61 'Mozartiana'


L'Orchestre da la Suisse Romande, Ernest Ansermet

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Australian Eloquence - ELQ4800557

(CD - 2 discs)

$12.75

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Beethoven - Symphony No. 4

Beethoven - Symphony No. 4


Beethoven:

Symphony No. 4 in B flat major, Op. 60

Strauss, R:

Ein Heldenleben, Op. 40

Leon Spierer (solo violin)


The concert which Karajan and the Berlin Philharmonic gave in London’s Royal Festival Hall on the evening of Saturday 27 April 1985 was their first in England for four years. In May 1981 they had played Bruckner’s Fifth Symphony in the Royal Festival Hall and given an unforgettable concert of music by Bach, Mozart and Richard Strauss in Oxford’s Sheldonian Theatre. London had not been included in the orchestra’s itinerary in its centenary year in 1982 and for much of 1983-84 Karajan and the orchestra had barely been on speaking terms. Since the centenary year had been something of a high water mark in this hitherto sensationally successful 27-year partnership, the breakdown in relations came as something of a shock to the musical world. There were times in 1984 when it looked as if the two parties would go their separate ways; finally, a reconciliation was effected in the late summer of that year ahead of a scheduled tour of Japan and South Korea. The Krach was ostensibly over the appointment of a new clarinettist but there were other factors too, not least Karajan’s advancing years and stirrings among a contingent of mainly younger players keen to assert their independence and exploit the financial strength which the orchestra’s sky-high reputation now conferred on them. Throughout his life, Karajan had been noted for his extraordinary mental and physical prowess. Now in his mid-70s, he was troubled by a painful and ultimately irreversible spinal condition that had nearly cost him his life in the winter of 1975-76. He had soldiered on but even his energies were finite. In April 1985, he had invited Klaus Tennstedt to share the conducting burden at the Salzburg Easter Festival. ‘It was good to have Karajan and the Berlin Philharmonic, happily reunited after a prolonged disagreement, pay their first visit to the Festival Hall – an event said to have caused prices of black market tickets to reach astronomical heights,’ wrote Peter Stadlen in the Daily Telegraph. The audience was clearly shocked to see how frail Karajan had become as he edged towards the rostrum. (He himself likened his experience of walking unaided in his later years to stepping on sheet ice.) The Times reported a slight stumble in the advance, at which point ‘the applause hiccupped in a breathless unison’. Yet once settled on the podium, Karajan was, as ever, fully in control, master of all he surveyed. Extract from the booklet note © Richard Osborne, 2008

“For anyone lucky enough to have secured a ticket few orchestral concerts have remained so vividly in the memory as the one given by Karajan's incomparable Berlin Philharmonic in London's Royal Festival Hall on April 27, 1985.
The surprises began with the conductor's own physical frailty. Edging unsteadily towards the rostrum and propping himself up against the railing, he adopted the peculiar posture that enabled him to remain upright and in command notwithstanding a debilitating spinal condition.
In truth the Beethoven was and is a gift to his many detractors. With the maestro unwilling or unable to lift his arms, the band turns in its patented imitation of a gramophone record. Surfaces are immaculate but it's like being trapped in a pudding without air in the texture. Phrases, even whole sections glide by with no intake of breath and the first two movements in particular may induce feelings of claustrophobia in younger listeners. They should persevere.
No superlatives can convey the inevitability, conviction and sweep of Karajan's Heldenleben which makes even this notoriously shrill-sounding venue resound in glory. The original BBC sound team of producer Misha Donat and balance engineer John McCulloch capture a paradoxical sonority, rich yet transparent, 'lambent in its beauty, never cloying or opaque' as described by Richard Osborne in his characteristically generous booklet-notes. The battle scene may be slow but was it ever more incisively chronicled? The Strauss at least is indispensable.”
Gramophone Classical Music Guide, 2010

“Karajan's Beethoven Fourth was recorded when the Berlin Philharmonic came to London in 1985. Its excellent speaks for itself and the coupling is equally memorable.” Penguin Guide, 2011 edition

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Testament - SBT1430

(CD)

$14.00

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Tchaikovsky: Souvenir Russe

Tchaikovsky: Souvenir Russe


Tchaikovsky:

Violin Concerto in D major, Op. 35

Souvenir d'un lieu cher, Op. 42

Swan Lake, Op. 20 (excerpts)


Latvian violinist Baiba Skride proffers a collection of works for violin and orchestra by Tchaikovsky, the composer for which she feels the greatest affinity. Featuring the Violin Concerto, the album also includes Skride's interpretation of Tchaikovsky's triptych Souvenir d'un lieu cher, Op.42 in this rarely-heard version for violin and orchestra. She completes her musical souvenir album of the great Russian composer with two pieces from Swan Lake

“To subdue the inevitable scepticism as to whether yet another version of Tchaikovsky's Violin Concerto is really necessary, Nelsons responds with an orchestral canvas that is full of drama, lively with nuance and injected with bravura and also with sensitivity. His fellow Latvian, Baiba Skride, similarly rejects any ideas about just digging over old ground, and her interpretation, at once maturely considered and spontaneous, has a freshness and vivacity.” The Telegraph, 17th May 2008 (on Tchaikovsky's Violin Concerto)

“A natural musicaon to the ends of her fingertips.” Classic FM Magazine

“Baiba Skride is arguable the most exciting violin talent to have emerged since Elisabeth Batiashvilli a few years back… she weaves her way through the Tchaikovsky as though she is unfolding a poetic narrative.” BBC Music Magazine, July 2008 ****

“…the Tchaikovsky Concerto has rarely sounded more lyrical, more "feminine". The wintry colours of the slow movement are lovely, with Skride's many shades of pale elegantly dovetailed into flute and clarinet adornments.” Gramophone Magazine, August 2008

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Sony - 88697214232

(CD)

$9.50

(Sorry, download not available in your country)

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Vaughan Williams

Vaughan Williams

Anniversary Collectors Edition


Vaughan Williams:

On Wenlock Edge

George Maran, Ivor Newton (piano)

London String Quartet

Old King Cole

London Philharmonic Orchestra, Sir Adrian Boult

A Song of Thanksgiving

Betty Dolemore (soprano), Robert Speaight (narrator), Harry Gabb (organ)

Luton Choral Society, London Philharmonic Orchestra, Sir Adrian Boult

Serenade to Music

BBC Symphony Orchestra, Sir Henry Wood


“Massachusetts-born George Maran's 1955 Decca recording of On Wenlock Edge… an uncommonly sensitive and intimate rendering… there's no disputing the intoxicating spell cast by dedicatee Sir Henry Wood's October 1938 Columbia recording of the sublime Serenade to Music.” Gramophone Magazine, July 2008

“The sole CD premiere is the 1955 On Wenlock Edge by George Maran, a German-based American tenor - pleasant-toned enough but distinctly previous in enunciation, no match for Pears/Britten, or more recent versions.” BBC Music Magazine, August 2008 ***

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Alto - ALC1025

(CD)

$6.50

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Mozart: Sinfonia concertante, Rondo for violin & Concertone in C

Mozart: Sinfonia concertante, Rondo for violin & Concertone in C


Mozart:

Sinfonia Concertante for Violin, Viola & Orchestra in E flat major, K364

Rondo for Violin and Orchestra in C, K373

Concertone in C for 2 Violins and Orchestra, K190


“Listen to the start of the great Sinfonia Concertante, here replete with an energy which doesn't preclude sensitivity of phrasing or detail of instrumental colour. …Fischer and Nikolic emerge from the opening tutti with a sense of wonder, marking this is one of Mozart's most deeply felt inspirations. ...their interplay in the Adagio is a profound delight.” BBC Music Magazine, January 2008 *****

“In the Sinfonia – one of Mozart’s first masterpieces, written in 1779, on the threshold of his entrance into the pantheon of genius – soloists, orchestra and conductor emphasise the majestic, symphonic dimensions of the opening movement, and they duet rapturously like operatic lovers in the sublime Andante. If you have the solo concerto discs, you won’t want to miss this” Sunday Times, November 2007

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Super Audio CD

Format:

Hybrid Multi-channel

Pentatone - PTC5186098

(SACD)

$15.00

(also available to download from $10.00)

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Under the Sign of the Sun

Under the Sign of the Sun


Ibert:

Concertino da camera for Alto Saxophone

Maurice:

Tableaux de Provence

Milhaud:

Scaramouche, suite for saxophone & piano (or orchestra), Op. 165c

Ravel:

Pavane pour une infante défunte

Schmitt, F:

Légende, Op. 66

Tomasi, H F:

Concerto for Saxophone


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BIS - BISCD1357

(CD)

$15.00

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Finzi: Clarinet Concerto & Cello Concerto

Finzi: Clarinet Concerto & Cello Concerto


Finzi:

Clarinet Concerto, Op. 31

John Denman (clarinet)

New Philharmonia Orchestra

Cello Concerto, Op. 40

Yo-Yo Ma (cello)

Royal Philharmonic Orchestra


“The Cello Concerto was in many ways the composer's swansong… The beautifully slow movement is deeply searching and draws on an Elgarian quality, a poignant nobility. Yo-Yo Ma's wistfully introspective approach - this was his debut recording - captures its gentle intensity and Vernon Handley proves an inspired partner, particularly in the central movement with its exquisite opening and close. There are many recordings of the gorgeous Clarinet Concerto... but John Denman's account is as seductive as any; again Handley is a superbly understanding partner.” Gramophone Magazine, August 2007

“[Ma's] is not a big performance but a greatly inspired one, and many will like his lightness of touch in the finale...John Denman's performance is entirely seductive. And in both works Vernon Handley's sensitive accompaniment brings first-rate playing” Penguin Guide, 2011 edition

GGramophone Magazine

Re-issue of the Month - August 2007

Penguin Guide

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Lyrita - SRCD236

(CD)

$15.25

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Moeran: Sinfonietta, Symphony in G minor & Overture for a Masque

Moeran: Sinfonietta, Symphony in G minor & Overture for a Masque


Moeran:

Sinfonietta

Symphony in G minor

Overture for a Masque


“Boult's affection for the G minor Symphony is in every phrase of this rapt and gloriously warm-hearted performance.
The New Philharmonia are on blistering form and, thankfully for us, captured in a sumptuous recording of stupendous definition, depth and enticing warmth. In Gramophone's original review in 1975, Edward Greenfield was unequivocal in his praise: 'Anyone who loves English music, and who has never heard this heart-warming music, should go at once to this record.'”
Gramophone Classical Music Guide, 2010

“Boult's radiant (mid-1970s) performance is both gripping and spacious, the recording very impressive and cast in the Boult mode. Characteristically he refuses to push too hard too soon, but the ebb and flow of tension are superbly controlled to build the most powerful possible climax.” Penguin Guide, 2011 edition

GGramophone Awards 2007

Best of Category - Historic Reissue

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Lyrita - SRCD247

(CD)

$15.25

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