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Hindemith & Schoenberg: String Trios

Hindemith & Schoenberg: String Trios


Hindemith:

String Trio No. 1, Op. 34

String Trio No. 2

Schoenberg:

String Trio, Op. 45


Following their acclaimed recordings of the works for string trio by Mozart and Beethoven, Trio Zimmermann make a great leap in time. Arnold Schoenberg and Paul Hindemith were both at the avant-garde epicentre of the 1910s and 1920s, but their future paths could hardly have been more different. Whereas Schoenberg would go on to have a decisive influence on twentieth-century modernism with his dodecaphonic music and the Second Viennese School, Paul Hindemith gradually renounced his rebellious early music, eventually becoming something of an anachronistic loner.

The relatively early String Trio No. 1 (1924) already betrays the composer's interest in the forms and textures of baroque music. It opens with a flittering Toccata, going on to offer a contrapuntal web in its slow movement and ends with a double fugue. The contrapuntal textures are present also in the Second String Trio, but the neotonal language and general atmosphere point forward to later, large-scale works such as Mathis der Mahler.

In 1933, the year Hindemith composed his second trio, the political developments in Germany caused Arnold Schoenberg to leave Europe for the U.S.A. (Hindemith would follow in 1940.) It took him considerable time before he found his feet in this new environment and continuing financial and professional worries probably contributed to a serious heart attack that struck him down in August 1946. The String Trio, Op. 45, begun shortly before the heart attack and completed a month after it, is the disturbing expression of this extreme near-death experience. It also presents one of the greatest challenges in the entire string repertoire – in fact Schoenberg considered easing the technical difficulties by expanding the trio into a quintet.

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BIS - BIS2207

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Scheduled for release on 29 September 2017. Order it now and we will deliver it as soon as it is available.

Ives: Piano Sonata No. 2 & Violin Sonata No. 4

Ives: Piano Sonata No. 2 & Violin Sonata No. 4


Ives, C:

Piano Sonata No. 2, Op. 19 'Concord, Mass., 1840-1860'

Sonata for Violin and Piano No. 4, 'Children's Day at the Camp Meeting'


Pekka Kuusisto (violin), Joonas Ahonen (piano), Sharon Bezaly (flute), Pekka Kuusisto (viola)

Charles Ives’s ‘Concord Sonata’ is often described as one of the greatest of American piano works. Published in 1920, at the composer’s own expense, it contains radical experiments in harmony and rhythm and would have to wait until 1939 for its first public performance. In the course of its four movements, Ives depicts some of the famous inhabitants of the small town of Concord in Massachusetts, a centre of the mid-19th century transcendentalism movement. Luminaries of the movement such as Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau are alluded to in various ways in music that includes references to Beethoven, religious and patriotic hymns and circus marches, as well as brief ‘guest appearances’ by a viola and a flute.

Lasting 47 minutes on the present recording, Ives’s second piano sonata is a massive work of a staggering complexity, and a true challenge for any performer – a challenge more than readily accepted by the young Finnish pianist Joonas Ahonen, who has previously recorded Ligeti’s piano concerto for BIS.

For the opening work on the disc, the much shorter Violin Sonata No. 4, Ahonen is joined by his compatriot, the celebrated violinist Pekka Kuusisto. Composed during the same period as the Concord Sonata, this piece also has an extra-musical background, namely the composer’s memories as a child of the so-called camp meetings held during the Christian revivalism of the late 19th century.

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BIS - BIS2249

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A Pleasing Melancholy: Works by Dowland & Others

A Pleasing Melancholy: Works by Dowland & Others


Danyel:

Eyes, look no more

Dowland:

Lachrimae, or Seaven Teares

George Whitehead's Almand

Paduana Lachrymae

Flow my teares (Lacrimæ)

Volta

If floods of tears

Mourne, mourne, day is with darknesse

Sorrow, come

Holborne:

My heavy sprite

Hume, T:

What greater griefe


James Akers (lute), Emma Kirkby (soprano)

Chelys Consort of Viols

‘A pleasing melancholy’ is how Robert Burton described the feeling that certain music can give rise to, in his The Anatomy of Melancholy from 1621. Some 20 years earlier John Dowland, melancholic par excellence, had expressed a similar idea in the dedication of his Lachrimae, or Seven Tears: ‘pleasant are the tears which music weeps’.

During this period in England, melancholia had become fashionable, especially in cultural and literary circles, and spawned countless poems, paintings and songs. When Dowland’s lute song Flow My Tears was published in 1600, the instrumental Lachrimae Pavan on which it was based had been in circulation for several years and was the composer’s ‘number one hit’ both in England and on the continent – and four years after the song, he returned to the music and varied it in the ‘seven tears’ for viol consort and lute.

Colleagues of Dowland such as Robert Jones and John Danyel explored similar moods and emotions in their own songs, sometimes – as in Danyel’s Eyes look no more – making clear allusions to Dowland’s famous pavan. The Chelys Consort of Viols released their first disc in 2015 to critical acclaim. For the present recording they are joined by lutenist James Akers, and Emma Kirkby, the English soprano who has long been a leading figure in the field of early music.

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BIS - BIS2283

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Scheduled for release on 29 September 2017. Order it now and we will deliver it as soon as it is available.

Mozart: Serenata notturna, 3 Divertimenti & Eine kleine Nachtmusik

Mozart: Serenata notturna, 3 Divertimenti & Eine kleine Nachtmusik


Mozart:

Adagio & Fugue in C minor for Strings, K546

Serenade No. 13 in G major, K525 'Eine kleine Nachtmusik'

Serenade No. 6 in D major, K239 'Serenata Notturna'

Divertimento in D major, K136

Divertimento in B flat major, K137

Divertimento in F major, K138


Up to and including Mozart, one important task for every composer not employed by the Church was to entertain. Much of Mozart’s best-loved music consists of occasional works intended for receptions and parties, balls and banquets, ceremonies and celebrations. These pieces are known to us under a number of different names: serenades, divertimenti, Nachtmusik and notturni are just some examples.

In so far as these are genres, the distinctions between them are often blurred and many of them seem to have been used more or less interchangeably. But when the music is so fresh and immediate, labelling it becomes less important. In 1778, Leopold Mozart – who never missed an opportunity to impart his wisdom – wrote to his son describing what characterizes a successful piece: ‘Short, easy and popular… written in a natural, flowing and easy style – and at the same time bearing the marks of sound composition.’

That this recipe was something Wolfgang had already mastered six years earlier becomes obvious when one listens to any of the three Divertimentos recorded here, and it’s equally clear that he hadn’t forgotten it when he composed Eine kleine Nachtmusik ten years later. What Leopold doesn’t mention is playfulness, another quality that Mozart had in spades, and which Terje Tønnesen and his Camerata Nordica explore in their performances, allowing a plaintive Swedish nyckelharpa (‘keyed fiddle’) to be heard in the trio section in Eine kleine Nachtmusik and giving the timpanist an opportunity to rock the party in the closing rondo of Serenata notturna.

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Super Audio CD

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BIS - BIS2326

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Scheduled for release on 29 September 2017. Order it now and we will deliver it as soon as it is available.

Lost Is My Quiet

Lost Is My Quiet


Mendelssohn:

Ich wollt' meine Lieb' ergösse sich, Op. 63. No. 1

Gruss, Op. 63 No. 3

Volkslied, Op. 63 No. 5

Maiglöckchen und die Blümelein, Op. 63 No. 6

Scheidend, Op. 9 No. 6

Neue Liebe, Op. 19a No. 4

Duets (3), Op. 77

Purcell:

Sound the trumpet, beat the drum, Z335

Lost is my quiet for ever, Z502

If music be the food of love, third version, Z379C

Music for a while, Z583

No, resistance is but vain (from The Maid's Last Prayer or Any Rather Than Fail, Z601)

Oroonoko: Celemene, pray tell me, Z584

realised by Benjamin Britten

Quilter:

It was a lover and his lass

Weep ye no more, sad fountains

Music, when soft voices die, Op. 25 No. 5 (Shelley)

Drink to me only

Love's Philosophy, Op. 3 No. 1 (Shelley)

Love calls through the summer night

Schumann:

Drei Duette Op. 43

Nachtlied, Op. 96 No. 1

Stille Liebe, Op. 35 No. 8

Der Einsiedler, Op. 83 No. 3

Aufträge, Op. 77 No. 5

So wahr die Sonne scheinet, Op. 37, No. 12


Carolyn Sampson (soprano), Iestyn Davies (countertenor), Joseph Middleton (piano)

Carolyn Sampson and Iestyn Davies have collaborated on many occasions in the field of Baroque opera and oratorio, but on this occasion they venture into a somewhat different territory. In the company of Joseph Middleton, they have been exploring the Lieder for one and two voices of Mendelssohn and Schumann, combining them with songs and duets by Roger Quilter.

And even though the disc actually opens with a set of Purcell songs – repertoire which both singers have previously made their mark in – they are here performed with the piano accompaniments realized by Benjamin Britten, turning them into something quite new and different.

‘Creamy’, ‘luminous’ and ‘supple’ are words that often appear in reviews about both Carolyn Sampson and Iestyn Davies, and in these duets they achieve a

marvellous blend as well as the utmost precision. They are aided in this by Joseph Middleton, described in The Telegraph (UK) as an ‘unfailingly sensitive accompanist’.

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Super Audio CD

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BIS - BIS2279

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Scheduled for release on 15 September 2017. Order it now and we will deliver it as soon as it is available.

Debussy – Jeux

Debussy – Jeux


Debussy:

Jeux - Poème dansé

Khamma

La Boite A Joujoux


Several works by Claude Debussy have become ballets ‘after the fact’, so to speak – as early as 1912, Nijinsky and the Ballets Russes used his Prélude à l'après-midi d'un faune, and later choreographers have created ballets based on scores like Printemps, Gigues (from Images) and Nuages and Fêtes (from Nocturnes). Debussy only conceived three works as ballets, however, and those are gathered on this present disc from the Singapore Symphony Orchestra and Lan Shui. All three were written between 1911–1913, during a period when the composer was under some financial pressure, and in the case of Khamma, Debussy himself admitted that ‘considerations of domestic finances’ contributed to him undertaking the commission for this ‘danced legend’ about an Egyptian dancer struck down by the sun-god Amun-Ra. Having finished the piano score, Debussy asked Charles Kœchlin to complete the orchestration under his supervision. He was more enthusiastic about a commission from the highly fashionable Ballets Russes, and did indeed complete Jeux himself – but only two weeks after the first performance, the company’s première of Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring completely eclipsed Debussy’s new work. Jeux had to wait until the 1950s for full recognition, championed not least by Pierre Boulez, who regarded it as one of the most prophetic works of the twentieth century. Of the three works on the disc, it is probably the children’s ballet La Boîte à joujoux (The Toybox) that gave its creator the greatest pleasure. He finished a version for solo piano in 1913 and dedicated it to his daughter Emma. The music includes children’s songs, bugle calls and imitations of musical boxes as well as parodies of well-known operas and quotations from his own and other works.

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BIS - BIS2162

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Scheduled for release on 1 September 2017. Order it now and we will deliver it as soon as it is available. (Available now to download.)

Let beauty awake – English Viola Music

Let beauty awake – English Viola Music


Britten:

Suite No. 3 for cello solo, Op. 87

Lachrymae for viola & piano, Op. 48

Clarke, Rebecca:

Viola Sonata

Vaughan Williams:

Songs of Travel: Five Songs

Romance for viola & piano


Ellen Nisbeth (viola), Bengt Forsberg (piano)

Despite her youth, Ellen Nisbeth has received acclaim both in her native Sweden and abroad and is one of the Rising Stars selected by the European Concert Hall Organisation (ECHO) for the 2017/2018 season. A former student of London's Royal College of Music, she hails from a family of Scottish origin and feels a particular affinity for the landscapes of Scotland, and for the Scottish author Robert Louis Stevenson. For her first recital disc Ellen Nisbeth has devised an all British programme which includes her own transcriptions of selected songs from Songs of Travel – Ralph Vaughan Williams's settings of poems by Stevenson. The songs intersperse the remainder of the programme, and one of them – Let Beauty Awake – has also lent its title to the entire disc. Together with the eminent pianist and chamber musician Bengt Forsberg, Nisbeth goes on to perform the impassioned Viola Sonata composed in 1919 by Rebecca Clarke – a well-known piece among viola players, but deserving of a wider audience. The centrepiece of this amply filled disc is Benjamin Britten’s Third Suite for Cello, transcribed for viola by Ellen Nisbeth herself – composed for Mstislav Rostropovich, the suite is based on Russian themes which Britten only presents in full towards the end of the substantial work. The same method is used in Lachrymae, here in the original version for viola and piano, where John Dowland’s song If my complaints could passions move is presented in full at the very end of the piece.

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BIS - BIS2182

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Scheduled for release on 1 September 2017. Order it now and we will deliver it as soon as it is available. (Available now to download.)

Schoenberg: String Quartets Nos. 2 & 4

Schoenberg: String Quartets Nos. 2 & 4


Schoenberg:

String Quartet No. 2 in F sharp minor, Op. 10

Malin Hartelius (soprano)

String Quartet No. 4, Op. 37


Conceived thirty years apart, both works on the present disc came into being at difficult times in the life of Arnold Schoenberg. Emotional stress caused by a marital crisis around 1907-1908 is often claimed to have contributed to the break with tonality that the Second String Quartet represents – in the course of the work Schoenberg moves from the post-Wagnerian chromaticism of Late Romanticism to atonality, with the final movement lacking a key signature altogether. Another unusual feature is the inclusion of a soprano in the two last movements. Schoenberg himself later wrote: 'I was inspired by poems of Stefan George, the German poet ... and, surprisingly, without any expectation on my part, these songs showed a style quite different from everything I had written before.'

Almost thirty years later, in 1936, the String Quartet No. 4 was one of the first works that Schoenberg composed in the U.S.A. after having been forced into exile by the threat of the Nazi regime in Germany. He had left Europe in 1933, but the first years in his new home country had been taxing, with health problems and a difficult work schedule involving teaching in both Boston and New York. If the second quartet is a key work of musical modernism, pointing towards an as yet unknown future, String Quartet No. 4 rests securely on the principles of twelve-tone composition that Schoenberg had developed during the intervening years – but makes use of these principles in a somewhat freer, more relaxed manner than his previous twelve-tone works. The two works are given full-blooded performances by the Gringolts Quartet, joined by the Swedish soprano Malin Hartelius in the Second String Quartet.

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BIS - BIS2267

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Mahler: Symphony No. 5

Mahler: Symphony No. 5


As a team, Osmo Vänskä and his Minnesota Orchestra began their collaboration with BIS in 2004. Launching a Beethoven Symphony cycle that made reviewers worldwide sit up and take notice: ‘a modern reference edition’ was the verdict from ClassicsToday.com, while Gramophone described it as ‘a Beethoven reforged for today's world’. Twelve years later saw the release of the third and final disc in the Minnesota-Vänskä cycle of Sibelius's symphonies, with individual discs receiving distinctions such as a 2014 Grammy Award (for Symphonies Nos 1 and 4), Gramophone's ‘Editor's Choice’, ‘Orchestral Choice’ in BBC Music Magazine and inclusion on the annual list of best classical recordings in the New York Times. The present disc launches yet another series, of even more monumental proportions, with Gustav Mahler's Fifth Symphony, recorded by the orchestra under Osmo Vänskä in Orchestra Hall in Minneapolis in June 2016. Composed in 1902, the purely instrumental work followed upon three symphonies that had all included vocal parts. This and the opening trumpet motif, an allusion to the rhythm that begins Beethoven's Fifth have been interpreted as Mahler's return to a more conventional idea of the symphonic genre. Other features are less traditional, however – a sometimes bewildering mixture of musical idioms reminds us of the melting-pot that Vienna was at the time, with allusions to Austrian, Bohemian and Hungarian styles. To an unsuspecting audience, the famous Adagietto for strings and harp – probably the best-known of all of Mahler's music – must also have been surprising, appearing at the heart of a work which is otherwise lavishly scored and orchestrated.

“There’s something admirably unhistrionic about Vänskä’s approach, but there are times when his determination to stop the performance from getting overheated holds things back...Against that, both the funereal opening and the joyous release of energy in the finale are superbly stage-managed, and the orchestral playing is exceptional throughout.” The Guardian, 13th July 2017 ****

“The orchestral playing is crisp, the conductor’s clinical tendencies tempered by an understanding that emotional extremism is an essential part of Mahler’s idiom even if it need not be indulged” Gramophone Magazine, August 2017

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BIS - BIS2226

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Richard Strauss: Oboe Concerto

Richard Strauss: Oboe Concerto


Strauss, R:

Oboe Concerto in D

Alexei Ogrintchouk (oboe)

Andris Nelsons

Serenade in E flat major for Winds, Op. 7

Alexei Ogrintchouk (dir.)

Sonatina No. 2 (Symphony) in E flat major for 16 wind instruments, AV 143 'Fröhliche Werkstatt'

Alexei Ogrintchouk (dir.)


Despite his advanced age and the chaos surrounding him, Richard Strauss remained highly productive well into the 1940s. As the Second World War was coming to an end in 1944-45, the eighty-year-old composer was working on his Oboe Concerto and Sonatina No. 2 for winds, as well as the Metamorphosen for strings. While the latter work was an explicit response to the destruction Strauss was witnessing, in the Concerto and the Sonatina the composer seemed to be turning his mind away from the events surrounding him. There is a pastoral quality to the oboe concerto, with a highly tuneful solo part and more than occasional touches of nostalgia for the 18th century. Similarly, Strauss headed the score of the sonatina with a dedication ‘to the spirit of the immortal Mozart at the end of a life full of thankfulness’.

To an extent, one might say that Strauss at the end of his life returned to the musical models of his youth. It is therefore fitting that these two works frame the Serenade in E flat major for wind ensemble, composed more than sixty years earlier in the tradition of entertainment music by Schubert and Mendelssohn. Alexei Ogrintchouk, one of today’s leading oboists, has proven himself in previous recordings for BIS ranging from Bach to Nikos Skalkottas and Antal Doráti. With sterling support from the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra conducted by Andris Nelsons, he here makes light of the considerable difficulties of the solo part of the oboe concerto, and also directs his colleagues from the orchestra’s wind section in the works for wind ensemble.

“It's an enchanting recording of [the Oboe Concerto]. Ogrintchouk's tone is sweet and yet robust where required, and the Concertgebouw play wonderfully for him. There's a freedom and a flexibility of pulse that is most impressive...Both [chamber works], directed by Ogrintchouk, are full of some extraordinarily refined wind playing. Indeed the whole disc oozes charm, grace and style; an utter delight.” James Longstaffe, Presto Classical, 4th August 2017

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Super Audio CD

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BIS - BIS2163

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