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Puccini: La fanciulla del West

Puccini: La fanciulla del West


Carol Neblett (Minnie), Plácido Domingo (Dick Johnson), Sherrill Milnes (Jack Rance)

Orchestra of the Royal Opera House & Chorus of the Royal Opera House, Zubin Mehta

This classic recording dating from 1977 is Gramophone magazine’s top choice for the opera and can now be enjoyed for the first time in full SACD hybrid multichannel sound.

Puccini’s late opera La fanciulla del West bristles with drama and intrigue in this newly remastered classic recording with Zubin Mehta conducting the Orchestra and Chorus of the Royal Opera House and starring Plácido Domingo, Sherrill Milnes and Carol Neblett.

“Carol Neblett is a strong Minnie, vocally distinctive and well characterised, while Plácido Domingo and Sherrill Milnes make a good pair of suitors …. Zubin Mehta conducts with real sympathy for the idiom” (Gramophone). And the Penguin Guide to Compact Discs and DVDs (2003/4) enthused “Domingo sings heroically … but the crowning glory of a masterly set is the singing of Carol Neblett … Full atmospheric recording to match.”

Although recorded in multi-channel sound, these memorable performances have previously been available only in the conventional two-channel stereo format. Using state of the art technology which avoids the need for re-mixing, our engineers have remastered the original studio tapes to bring the performances to life as originally intended: in compelling and pristine multi-channel sound.

GGramophone Awards 1978

Record of the Year

Released or re-released in last 6 months

Super Audio CD

Format:

Hybrid Multi-channel

40 Years of the Gramophone Awards

Pentatone Remastered Classics - PTC5186243

(SACD - 2 discs)

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Concertos for Lute and Orchestra & Rodrigo: Concierto de Aranjuez

Concertos for Lute and Orchestra & Rodrigo: Concierto de Aranjuez


Kohaut:

Concerto in B flat major for Lute, 2 Violins, Viola & Bass

Rodrigo:

Concierto de Aranjuez

Vivaldi:

Concerto for Lute and 2 Violins in D major, RV 93

Concerto for 2 Mandolins, Strings and Continuo in G, R.532


Julian Bream (guitar)

The Monteverdi Orchestra, John Eliot Gardiner

Building a Library

Also Recommended - February 2017

Super Audio CD

Format:

Hybrid Multi-channel

Dutton Epoch - CDLX7333

(SACD)

$14.00

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Telemann, Corelli & Bach: Chamber Music

Telemann, Corelli & Bach: Chamber Music


Bach, J S:

Keyboard Concerto No. 6 in F major, BWV1057

Corelli:

Concerto grosso Op. 6 No. 8 in G minor 'fatto per la notte di Natale'

Concerto grosso Op. 6 No. 4 in D major

Telemann:

Overture (Suite) TWV 55:C3 in C major for wind, strings & b.c. 'Hamburger Ebb und Fluth' ('Wassermusik')

Concerto TWV 54:B2 in B flat major for 2 recorders, 2 oboes, strings & b.c.


Emelie Roos (recorder), Anna Paradiso (harpsichord), Dan Laurin (recorder)

Höör Barock, Dan Laurin

The young period band Höör Barock, based in the south of Sweden, has chosen a colourful programme for its début disc. With recorder virtuoso Dan Laurin at the helm, the twelve musicians steer a course through Telemann’s celebrated Wassermusik (also known as Hamburger Ebb’ und Fluth) with its sea gods and goddesses dancing bourrées and gavottes before a rowdy crowd of seamen closes the suite with an energetic Canarie. The centre piece of the programme is Bach’s Harpsichord Concerto in F major, the composer’s arrangement of his own Brandenburg Concerto No. 4. Soloist here is Anna Paradiso, who also plays continuo in the other works of the disc. Bach is flanked on either side by two of the Op. 6 concerti grossi by another Baroque heavyweight, Arcangelo Corelli. His Concerto No. 4 and No. 8 – the much-loved Christmas Concerto – appear here in a slightly unusual guise. They are usually performed by strings alone, but inspired by recent research, Dan Laurin and his recorder-playing colleague Emelie Roos here take on the solo parts, and the tutti ensemble is joined by oboes and bassoon – while a baroque harp adds to the angelic atmosphere of the closing Christmas Pastorale of Concerto No. 8. The disc closes as it began, with Telemann, whose Concerto in B flat major for winds, strings and basso continuo is a perfect example of the composer’s art, involving playful juggling of different instrumental combinations and musical ideas.

Building a Library

Also Recommended - June 2017

Super Audio CD

Format:

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BIS - BIS2235

(SACD)

$14.50

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Giaches de Wert: Divine Theatre

Giaches de Wert: Divine Theatre

Sacred Motets


Wert:

Gaudete in Domino

Hoc enim sentite in vobis

Saule, Saule

Vox in Rama

Amen, amen dico vobis

Egressus Jesus

Peccavi super numerum

O crux ave

Ascendente Jesu

Virgo Maria hodie ad coelum

Quiescat vox tua

Deus iustus, et salvans

O altitudo divitiarum


Read our exclusive interview withStile founder-member Will Dawes about the project here.

Franco-Flemish composer Giaches de Wert wrote a considerable amount of sacred music during the late Renaissance, but little of it was published during his lifetime. Only three books of motets were released in 1566 and 1581. Stile Antico's new album introduces us to another side of this composer who, though Flemish-born, spent most of his life in Italy, primarily in Mantua, where he was to remain for the rest of his life, though not without maintaining connections (both musical and, during the mid-late 1580s, romantic) with the court at Ferrara, where the lively musical life must have been a welcome distraction from his not-always-happy existence at the Mantuan court. The unique and dramatic style of these remarkable motets cannot fail to ravish explorers of this 'divine theatre'.

“This selection of motets, mostly for five or six voices, is unexpectedly rich in imagination, variety, and often sheer joyful energy, and the performances boast a high-quality technical brilliance.” Financial Times, 20th January 2017 ****

“The rewards of this outstanding disc are double. On one hand, one is presented with the marvel of High Polyphony performed to perfection. On the other hand, there is a feeling that new doors have been opened...Monteverdi and all the magnificence of the new worldly celebration of the Baroque is just around the corner, and yet we still have our bearings in a splendid world that makes perfect sense.” Audiophile Audition, 11th February 2017

“It is a testament to Werts's emotional immediacy that this album is one of their (Stile Antico's) most engaging recording; polyphony to grab one's attention rather than to carpet a devotional daydream” Gramophone Magazine, April 2017

“Stile Antico brings experience and a steady technique to these pieces…in the joyous opening motet ‘Gaudete in Domino’ they are fresh and exuberant…[and] their ‘Quiescat vox’ is beautiful as is their affective portrayal of the rich, mannerist dissonances of ‘Amen, amen dico vobis’” BBC Music Magazine, June 2017 ****

GGramophone Awards 2017

Shortlisted - Early Music

Super Audio CD

Format:

Hybrid Multi-channel

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Harmonia Mundi - HMM807620

(SACD)

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Sibelius: In the Stream of Life

Sibelius: In the Stream of Life

Songs by Sibelius


Sibelius:

Pohjola's Daughter, Op. 49

In the Stream of Life

Seven Songs orch. E. Rautavaara. Premiere recording

Koskenlaskijan morsiamet (The Rapids-Rider’s Brides), Op. 33

Romance in C major for strings, Op. 42

Hymn to Thaïs (Text: Arthur H. Borgström)

Demanten på marssnön, Op. 36 No. 6 (Wecksell)

Hertig Magnus, Op. 57 No. 6

The Oceanides, Op. 73

På verandan på vid havet, Op. 38 No. 2 (Viktor Runeberg)

I natten, Op. 38 No. 3

Kom nu hit, Död, Op. 60 No. 1 (Bertel Gripenberg after Shakespeare)


Read Presto's complete review of this disc here

The exceptional collaboration and friendship between the late Einojuhani Rautavaara and the internationally acclaimed bass-baritone Gerald Finley culminates in this unique album of orchestral songs by Sibelius, on which the Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra is conducted by Edward Gardner.

The album offers orchestrations, by Sibelius and others, of songs which Sibelius originally wrote for voice and piano, and includes the premiere recording of In the Stream of Life, seven songs orchestrated by Rautavaara for his friend. Throughout, the poetry perfectly reflects the instinctively felt relation between Finnish nature and Sibelius’s music.

As Finley reveals: ‘the recording of [In the Stream of Life] became a very personal project when the sessions took place only a few weeks after [Rautavaara’s] death, in the same week as his funeral... and I am so thankful that a final addition was made possible when in the last months of his life [Rautavaara] agreed to orchestrate “Hjärtats morgon” and include it in the group.’

“Rautavaara's orchestrations are so convincingly Sibelian that on first hearing I completely forgot I wasn't listening to the The Real Thing...Finley is in magnificent voice throughout: though it's relatively uncommon to find non-Finnish singers tackling this repertoire, he seems completely at home with both the sound-world and the texts.” Katherine Cooper, Presto Classical, 30th December 2016

“Finley sings them all with his usual finesse and careful shading, reserving his full power for the few genuinely climactic moments...The subtle, respectful orchestrations wrap around his voice like a glove...Gardner and his orchestra include very fine performances of three orchestral works.” The Guardian, 4th January 2017 ****

“The measured beauty of Gerald Finley’s singing in subdued songs conjures impressive wintry vistas” Financial Times, January 2017

“An impressive if idiosyncratic programme” Gramophone Magazine, February 2017

“these new versions perfectly capture and amplify the spirit of Sibelius’s songs. Gerald Finley, a close friend of Rautavaara, makes an ideal case for the new settings, and his approach to the Swedish language of the texts is flowing and lyrical.” Classical Ear, 16th February 2017

“This haunting disc is as much a tribute to the Canadian singer’s close friendship with the late Finnish composer Einojuhani Rautavaara as it is a declaration of love for Sibelius’s songs...Dark and brooding, they are a fitting memorial.” Sunday Times, 19th February 2017

“A disc of songs and orchestral works for all devotees of Sibelius.” MusicWeb International, 3rd March 2017

“a highly memorable disc.” BBC Music Magazine, May 2017 ****

Presto Disc of the Week

30th December 2016

GGramophone Awards 2017

Shortlisted - Solo Vocal

Super Audio CD

Format:

Hybrid Multi-channel

Chandos - up to 40% off

Chandos - CHSA5178

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Mozart: Mass in C minor, K427 'Great'

Mozart: Mass in C minor, K427 'Great'


Mozart:

Mass in C minor, K427 'Great'

Olivia Vermeulen (mezzo), Makoto Sakurada (tenor), Christian Immler (bass)

Exsultate, jubilate, K165

from the revised Salzburg version of K165


Following on from the 2015 release of Mozart’s Requiem, Masaaki Suzuki and his Bach Collegium Japan have gone on to record the composer's Mass in C minor, K427 – the ‘Great Mass’. As the nickname indicates, it is a work of unusual proportions for a mass of the Classical period – or would have been so, had Mozart completed it. It is not known, for what occasion Mozart intended the work, but a letter to his father Leopold, dated 4 January 1783, indicates that he may have committed himself to writing it in connection with his marriage to Constanze and a planned visit to Salzburg. A performance of parts of the Mass did take place in Salzburg in October 1783, with Constanze performing the prominent soprano part. Two years later Mozart reused the music from the Kyrie and Gloria sections in the sacred cantata Davidde penitente, K 469, but the Mass itself was left incomplete. The present performance includes the sections completed by Mozart himself, as well as those sections, for which extensive sketches by Mozart provided a basis for completion (by Franz Beyer in 1989). Three of Suzuki’s soloists also took part in the recording of the Requiem, while the Dutch mezzo-soprano Olivia Vermeulen makes her first appearance on BIS, shining in the aria ‘Laudamus te’. The disc closes with the celebrated cantata Exsultate, jubilate in which the soprano Carolyn Sampson glitters in the virtuosic solo part. As an appendix to the programme, she and the Bach Collegium Japan orchestra also repeats the initial aria, in a less well-known later version with a slightly different text and with flutes replacing the oboes of the original.

“The Mass survives as one of the great unfinished works. Suzuki’s famed period forces are significantly enlarged here (24 choristers), but are quite small for this work. His tempi are surprisingly spacious, but the dramatic impact of the double-choir Qui tollis in the Gloria comes across with full force.” Sunday Times, 13th November 2016

“Period-instrument C minor Masses get better and better. ...The choir are well drilled and the two female soloists are matched as well as any on disc...Suzuki is no speed merchant, and maintains the through line in more strenuous movements.” Gramophone Magazine, December 2016

“Stripping the score right back, Suzuki makes musicianship dominate. He taps into the subtle arts of his fellow performers, especially Carolyn Sampson, to create a benchmark performance…Sampson arabesques effortlessly up to the stratosphere in a slow dance with solo woodwinds…the three other vocal soloists equal Sampson’s elegance, forging a blissful euphony in their ensembles” BBC Music Magazine, January 2017 *****

“A tremendous achievement.” MusicWeb International, 10th January 2017

“playing and singing are excellent throughout, especially from the vocal soloists, all giving florid and characterful performances. The Exsultate, Jubilate makes an ideal filler, not least for the further opportunity it provides to hear soprano Carolyn Sampson, here on excellent form. The SACD audio is atmospheric and clear, giving an ideal audio image for the orchestra and soloists” Classical Ear, 27th March 2017 ***

GGramophone Awards 2017

Finalist - Choral

GGramophone Magazine

Editor's Choice - December 2016

BBC Music Magazine

Disc of the month - January 2017

Super Audio CD

Format:

Hybrid Multi-channel

BIS - BIS2171

(SACD)

$14.50

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Handel: Messiah

Handel: Messiah

New Concert Edition by Sir Andrew Davis


Erin Wall (soprano), Elizabeth DeShong (mezzo-soprano), Andrew Staples (tenor), John Relyea (bass-baritone)

Toronto Mendelssohn Choir, Toronto Symphony Orchestra, Sir Andrew Davis

Experience the transcendent glory of Messiah in Sir Andrew Davis’s new, majestic, must-hear edition of Handel’s beloved classic.

Recorded live for SACD release in surround sound, this unique version makes use of all the colours available from the modern symphony orchestra to underline the mood and meaning of the individual movements. Without detracting from the innate power of the original, the conductor’s score calls for moments of drama, pathos, and even, sometimes, whimsicality. It is supported by substantial brass and woodwind forces, and several percussion instruments (including marimba!). As he explains in a very personal booklet note, this leading British conductor brings immense dedication to what is probably the most famous piece of British sacred music ever composed, this version being one which he has conducted live only a few times, including on this recording. He confesses: ‘Everything I have done instrumentally stems from the enormous respect, even awe, which I feel towards this supreme masterpiece’.

“Davis has thrown every resource of the modern symphony orchestra at the task. The result is rather as if the Disney Corporation had bought the rights to the show...The Toronto Symphony Orchestra plays with terrific spirit, especially the brass, and there are four excellent soloists.” The Times, 2nd December 2016 ****

“A performance I will return to often and with great pleasure.” MusicWeb International, 13th December 2016

“Davis’s new orchestration of Messiah is either, depending on your point of view, an act of unpardonable musical blasphemy or a gloriously tongue-in-cheek tribute to a well-loved masterpiece...the overall effect is just of a lush, Romantic orchestration rather than of forced aural gimmickry.” David Smith, Presto Classical, 2nd December 2016

“This is obviously not a basic ‘Library ‘ Messiah but can be cautiously recommended as a curiosity for those enjoy arrangements and transcriptions.” Gramophone Magazine, January 2017

“Astonishingly well controlled…the solo voices are rich and weighty…[the] flute provides a charming obbligato to ‘How beautiful are the feet’, while the tenor’s ‘Thy rebuke…’ is intensely moving…a remarkable choral achievement” BBC Music Magazine, January 2017 ****

Presto Disc of the Week

2nd December 2016

Presto Discs of 2016

Finalist

BBC Music Magazine

Choral & Song Choice - January 2017

Super Audio CD

Format:

Hybrid Multi-channel

Chandos - up to 40% off

Chandos - CHSA5176

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Schoenberg: Gurrelieder

Schoenberg: Gurrelieder


Alwyn Mellor (soprano), Anna Larsson (mezzo-soprano), Stuart Skelton (tenor), Wolfgang Ablinger-Sperrhacke (tenor), James Creswell (bass) & Sir Thomas Allen (speaker)

Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra, Bergen Philharmonic Choir, Choir of Collegiûm Mûsicûm, Edvard Grieg Kor, Orphei Drängar, Students from the Royal Northern College of Music, Edward Gardner

Recorded live on SACD in the sumptuous acoustic of Grieghallen in Bergen, this mind-blowing interpretation of Schoenberg’s Gurre-Lieder involves 350 performers: large choral forces, six exceptional soloists, and the legendary Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra – extended for the occasion – all conducted by Edward Gardner.

Marking the pinnacle of the Orchestra’s 250th anniversary celebrations, the same forces offered two evening concerts that met with unanimous acclaim in the press, including a five-star review from The Daily Telegraph praising the ‘sweep of Gardner's conducting, by turns luminous and incisive’. It added, ‘He unleashed the piece’s volcanic passions while never becoming mired in its high-calorific density, and somehow avoided drowning the singers’, and also congratulated the ‘heroic’ Stuart Skelton, ‘warm’ Alwyn Mellor, ‘ethereal’ Anna Larsson, and ‘powerful’ Thomas Allen.

“Gardner’s grasp of scale and momentum is as strong as Stenz’s, and his cast is more balanced...Gardner has the thrillingly heroic Stuart Skelton in the work’s most prominent solo part, pouring out his love for Tove in ringing tones...The playing and singing of Gardner’s Bergen forces are as intoxicating as any I know on disc.” Sunday Times, 23rd October 2016

“The playing of the Bergen Philharmonic is rich, seductive and sensuous...Gardner’s operatic experience means he’s alive to the lyricism and drama of the piece in equal measure: there’s ardent longing aplenty and a real willingness to explore the sheer gorgeousness of the score.” Gramophone Magazine, October 2016

“although this account was recorded over four days, it rolls onwards with the dynamism of a single live performance...for luminous atmosphere and edge-of-the-seat excitement, Gardner’s Bergen forces offer something special.” The Times, 30th September 2016 ****

“The hero is Edward Gardner, under whose wonderfully flexible beat this hyper-Romantic music positively breathes in long lyrical phrases and paragraphs. Nor are the excitements lacking: the coda to the Klaus episodes fizzes with crazy virtuosity and the final sunrise is as grandly summatory as any” BBC Music Magazine, Christmas 2016 *****

“There is an amplitude of tonal richness, against which Alwyn Mellor and Stuart Skelton sing on a heroic scale” Financial Times, 2nd December 2016

“A top class performance and magnificent recording of this vast piece.” MusicWeb International, 20th January 2017

Presto Discs of 2016

Finalist

GGramophone Magazine

Editor's Choice - October 2016

Building a Library

Also Recommended - March 2017

Super Audio CD

Format:

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Chandos - CHSA5172(2)

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Bach, J S: The Art of Fugue, BWV1080

Bach, J S: The Art of Fugue, BWV1080


Questions about the implied instrumentation are never going to be answered definitively. Certainly, virtually all the cycle is set out in such a way that it can be played on the keyboard, but the open score format of the original invites interpretation from any potential instrumental combination (or, indeed, even just a soundless reading by the highly trained musician). This question immediately leads on to another how are we expected to listen to this music? Are we meant to hear a sequence of virtual events or is it to be one event in a single span of time? Is it perhaps the filling out of contrapuntal and motivic possibilities that are all potentially simultaneous and which only have to be strung out in time to render them humanly perceivable? Much of this suggest that the work implies a sort of cyclic time, experienced from the point of view of eternity - in other words, the sort of time that we might imagine God experiences, superior to the messy narrative of human linear time. Yet, there are always human, worldly elements, such as the allusions to French style in Contrapunctus 6, the rhetorical pauses in the very first Contrapunctus, or the playful flow of the mirror fugues or some of the canons. This residue of human habitation is perhaps what distinguishes Bachs fugal works from the fugal (or ricercar) tradition of previous composers and in which later composers heard a voice speaking directly to them, a voice that shared at least some aspects of the modern world, even if it was entirely suffused with the sense of an overwhelming and all-embracing godly order.

“with playing of this sophistication, the restricted sound palette works wonderfully, supporting a calm, ruminative exploration of the many fugal devices. Rachel Podger’s group manages drama too in the French-style fugue, driven by the bite of the bow on the strings. The end is achingly incomplete, as is Bach’s text.” The Observer, 25th September 2016 ****

“the counterpoint stays clear, you can really follow the lines, and...the character of the individual players becomes an integral part of the way you hear Bach’s music. It never feels dull, academic of dry, and Podger and friends lively musical personalities bring a playfulness and curiosity to the performances that are very welcome.” Record Review, 28th October 2016

“This is not an interpretation that wants to grab you by the lapels…but rather one which by its natural ebb and flow aims to draw you stealthily into the music and have you breathe with it, so that you don’t notice the fugal climaxes coming until your own chest is swelling” Gramophone Magazine, October 2016

“They revel in Bach’s life-enhancing contrapuntal interplay and their relaxed, instinctive approach and ever-changing instrumentarium engender welcome contrasts within his ingenious conception. Particular highlights are the fugues scored for full ensemble, with Contrapuncti nos.7 and 9 the best of all.” The Strad, November 2016

Presto Discs of 2016

Finalist

Super Audio CD

Format:

Hybrid Multi-channel

Channel - CCSSA38316

(SACD)

$15.00

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Kazuki Yamada conducts Roussel, Debussy & Poulenc

Kazuki Yamada conducts Roussel, Debussy & Poulenc


Debussy:

6 Epigraphes antiques

orchestrated by Ernest Ansermet

Poulenc:

Les Biches: Suite

Roussel:

Bacchus et Ariane, Op. 43 - Suite No. 1

Bacchus et Ariane, Op. 43 - Suite No. 2


Vibrant, striking colours, sensuous harmonies and coruscating wit abound in this irresistible collection played by the Orchestre de la Suisse Romande (OSR) under the baton of the young rising star Kazuki Yamada. Hailed by Gramophone magazine as a “gifted, budding maestro” with “interpretative nous, strength of personality and scrupulous attention to detail”, this is Yamada’s fourth outing for PENTATONE following his three critically acclaimed releases of dance music.

The three works featured are firmly rooted in the past, whether in the sources for inspiration or the sometimes neo-classical style. But the musical language is unmistakeably from the 20th century and, above all, quintessentially French.

Featuring incisive rhythms, expressive melodies and daring harmonies realised with a sumptuous orchestral palette, Albert Roussel’s exotic suites for the ballet Ariane et Bacchus are popular showpieces with orchestras and audiences alike, especially the famous Bacchanale an uninhibited romp which closes the work. Debussy’s nod to classical Greece in his beguiling Six épigraphes antiques, sometimes described as a conspectus of his compositional technique, is heard here in luxuriant detail in a rarely performed orchestration by Ernest Ansermet, the founder of the OSR. And Poulenc has never been in more high spirits than in Les Biches, a heady, infectious concoction which bristles with sophistication, charm and irrepressible Gallic wit.

“The BBC SO have found a star in the making,” wrote The Telegraph of Kazuki Yamada “let’s hope we hear more of him.” Winner of the prestigious 51st International Besançon Competition for Young Conductors in 2009, Yamada’s rise on the international stage has been rapid. With his busy schedule, he is one of today’s most sought after conductors and in September 2016, he takes over as principal conductor and artistic director of the Orchestre Philharmonique de Monte-Carlo.

“The playing on this disc from the Orchestre de la Suisse Romande is simply superb: alert, precise strings, scampering woodwind and sparkling brass bring real energy to Roussel’s Bacchus et Ariane ballet suite which comes surging through the speakers in a tumultuous reading from Kazuki Yamada.” The Observer, 9th October 2016 *****

“the OSR plays scintillatingly under Kazuki Yamada, and [Bacchus et Ariane] contrasts well with the exotic orchestration (by Ernest Ansermet) of Debussy’s Six épigraphes antiques, and with the suite from the racy Les Biches.” Sunday Times, 9th October 2016

“Nicely done, with the OSR woodwind and strings playing with poise and Yamada controlling the narrow dynamic range with great skill…Yamada’s way with Roussel is high-voltage if occasionally raw around the edges, which means that the First Suite from Bacchus et Ariane, with its motoric rhythms and relentless momentum, generates considerable excitement” Gramophone Magazine, Awards Issue 2016

Presto Discs of 2016

Finalist

Super Audio CD

Format:

Hybrid Multi-channel

Pentatone - PTC5186558

(SACD)

$14.50

(also available to download from $10.00)

In stock - usually despatched within 1 working day.

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