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Pettersson: Symphony No. 14

Pettersson: Symphony No. 14

and bonus DVD with a 2-hour film about the composer; Norrköping SO/ Christian Lindberg


In their series of Allan Pettersson’s symphonies, Christian Lindberg and the NorrköpingSymphony Orchestra have arrived at the Fourteenth Symphony, completed in 1978 and given its first performance in 1981, one year after the death of the composer. As several of its predecessors, No. 14 is in one extended movement and is scored for large forces, including an expanded percussion section. But there are also important traits that set it apart. Pettersson, who had studied twelve-tone composition for René Leibovitz in the early 1950’s, never adopted the technique fully but in the present work the traces are more evident than in his other symphonies: the opening few bars contain all of the notes of the chromatic scale, and throughout the work Pettersson makes extensive use of compositional techniques associated with twelve-tone music.

In several earlier works, Pettersson had alluded to his song cycle ‘Barefoot Songs’, but in the present symphony he quotes himself extensively –the melody of Klokaroch knythänder(Wise Men and Clenched Hands) appears no less than five times in its entirety and becomes crucial to the structure of the symphony. The present disc is the sixth instalment in a series that has received distinctions such as Empfehlung (Klassik-Heute.de), Clef d’or2011(ResMusica.com),Disco exceptional(Scherzo) and Critics’ Choice(Gramophone). Included with the new recording is a bonus DVD containing a film produced by Swedish Television after the death of the composer. In the course of the film, here provided with English subtitles, we meet the composer himself, members of his family, colleagues from his time as an orchestral player and musicians uch as the violinist Ida Haendel.

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BIS - BIS2230

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Scheduled for release on 31 March 2017. Order it now and we will deliver it as soon as it is available.

Haochen Zhang plays Schumann, Liszt, Brahms & Janacek

Haochen Zhang plays Schumann, Liszt, Brahms & Janacek


Brahms:

Intermezzi (3), Op. 117

Janacek:

Piano Sonata 1.X.1905 in E flat minor, JW VIII/19 'From the Street'

Liszt:

Ballade No. 2 in B minor, S171/R16

Schumann:

Kinderszenen, Op. 15


Haochen Zhang (piano)

In 2009, at the age of 19, Haochen Zhang became one of the youngest musicians ever to win the Van Cliburn International Piano Competition. Since then he has had a busy concert schedule, primarily in his native China and in the U.S.A. but also in Europe where he made his début at the BBC Proms in 2014. Recording has been less of a priority for Zhang, and it is only now that he releases his first studio album, recorded at the Reitstadel, the well-known audiophile venue in Neumarkt in Germany. For this recital, Haochen Zhang has devised a programme made up of works that he feels particularly close to. As he writes in his own liner notes, they ’not only speak to me in a very intimate way, but also connect with one another at a corresponding level of intimacy: as a whole they form a unique musical narrative.’ The pieces all share a reflective and introspective quality, albeit reflective in different ways. Opening the disc Schumann’s Kinderszenen were described by the composer as ‘reflections of an adult for adults’ and in the closing Op. 117 Intermezzi, Brahms also seems to be looking backwards – but with resignation rather than intimate tenderness. Framed by these two, the works by Liszt and Janá?ek contain overtly dramatic episodes, but contemplative interludes form a recurrent feature of the Ballade, and in Presentiment, the first movement of Janá?ek’s Sonata, the dark forebodings seem to rise up from the composer’s own soul.

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BIS - BIS2238

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Scheduled for release on 31 March 2017. Order it now and we will deliver it as soon as it is available. (Available now to download.)

Mozart: Serenades Volume 1

Mozart: Serenades Volume 1


Mozart:

Serenade No. 9 in D major, K320 'Posthorn'

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

Marches (2) in D major, K335

String Quartet No. 1 in G major, K80: Minuet


Die Kölner Akademie, Michael Willens

Die Kölner Akademie and Michael Willens have previously recorded Mozart’s complete piano concertos with Ronald Brautigam, earning praise for their fresh and colourful contributions to the series. The team now releases the first of four projected discs with further Mozart scores, beginning with two of the composer’s best-loved serenades. Serenades were a characteristic feature of Salzburg musical life: opening with a march and continuing with as many as eight or nine separate movements on an orchestral scale, such works will have been ringing in Mozart’s ears from childhood. Thirteen serenades of varying scope and scorings are included in Mozart’s catalogue of works, and of these the well-known ‘Posthorn Serenade’ is the ninth. It is also the last serenade that Mozart composed before leaving Salzburg for Vienna. The nickname stems from Mozart’s inclusion of a solo for post horn (‘cornodi posta’) in one of the movements, but the wind instruments play an important role throughout the serenade, with extended solos for flute and oboe.

In comparison, Eine kleine Nachtmusik – the last serenade Mozart wrote – is for strings only. It is also shorter than many of the other serenades, and was probably intended for a more intimate occasion. Mozart’s own thematic catalogue lists it as having five movements, but as the first minuet and trio (preceding the slow movement) have been lost, only four are typically performed today. In this recording a minuet from Mozart’s very first string quartet in G major, K. 80, is incorporated by way of completion of the five-movement arch.

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BIS - BIS2244

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Scheduled for release on 31 March 2017. Order it now and we will deliver it as soon as it is available.

JS Bach: Organ Works, Vol. 2

JS Bach: Organ Works, Vol. 2


Bach, J S:

Prelude & Fugue in G major, BWV541

Organ Concerto in D minor (after Vivaldi), BWV596

Chorale Partita BWV768 'Sei gegrusset, Jesu gütig'

Organ Concerto in C major (after Vivaldi), BWV594

Prelude & Fugue in C major, BWV547


Before releasing his first disc of Bach’s organ works, Masaaki Suzuki had recorded the composer’s complete sacred cantatas, as well as the large-scale choral works and much of the music for harpsichord. His achievements in these fields obscured the fact that Suzuki originally trained as an organist, and began working as such already at the age of twelve. So when Volume 1 of this series reached reviewers around the world, it was something of a revelation to many: the disc went on to be named Choice of the Month in BBC Music Magazine, Diapason d’Or in Diapason and Recording of the Month in Gramophone, which then went on to include it on its list of the ‘50 Greatest Bach Recordings’.

Volume 1 featured the celebrated Schnitger/Hinz organ of Groningen’s Martinikerk in the Netherlands. For the present instalment, Suzuki returned to more familiar ground – the chapel of the Kobe Shoin Women's University where the great majority of his recordings with Bach Collegium Japan have taken place. The chapel houses a French classical organ built in 1983 by Marc Garnier, and on it Suzuki performs a highly symmetrical programme with the large-scale chorale partita BWV 768 at its centre. The work is known as ‘Sei gegrüßet, Jesu gütig’, although the chorale text that it is structured upon most probably is that of ‘O Jesu, du edle Gabe’. On either side the partita is flanked by an arrangement by Bach of concertos by Vivaldi, and a chorale prelude on ‘Liebster Jesu, wir sind hier’. The disc opens and closes with a Prelude and Fugue, in G major and C major respectively.

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BIS - BIS2241

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Camilla Tilling sings Gluck and Mozart Arias

Camilla Tilling sings Gluck and Mozart Arias


Gluck:

Qual vita è questa mai...Che fiero momento (from Orfeo ed Euridice)

Che fiero momento (from Orfeo et Euridice)

Enfin, il est en ma puissance (from Armide)

Quel trouble me saisit (from Armide)

Ah! Si la liberté me doit être ravie (from Armide)

O malheureuse Iphigenie! (from Iphigénie en Tauride)

Mozart:

Idomeneo, K366: Overture

Quando avran fine omai ... Padre, germani, addio! (from Idomeneo)

Zeffiretti lusinghieri (from Idomeneo)

Giunse alfin il momento... Deh, vieni, non tardar… (from Le nozze di Figaro)

Temerari!...Come scoglio! (from Così fan tutte)

Ei parte...Per pietà (from Così fan tutte)

E Susanna non vien! … Dove sono i bei momenti (from Le nozze di Figaro)


Camilla Tilling (soprano)

Musica Saeculorum, Philipp von Steinaecker

Love plays a significant part in most operas, but all too often it is frustrated, or entangled with deception, humiliation and betrayal. With her new disc Camilla Tilling presents a near-comprehensive catalogue of the emotions that the vagaries of love can raise in the breast of an operatic heroine. And these emotions are universal and timeless, afflicting servants and countesses, Grecian princesses, a sorceress from Damascus and a young lady of 18th-century Naples alike.

Gluck’s Armide glories in having Renaud in her power – until she realizes that her feelings makes it impossible to destroy him as she had planned. Newly raised from the dead, his Euridice is defenceless against the strong emotions of the living, and beset by doubts when Orpheus refuses to acknowledge her on their way back to earth. In the bravura aria Come scoglio, Mozart’s Fiordiligi proclaims her steadfast love for Guglielmo, but in the following act of the opera she regretfully admits to having been enamoured by another. And from The Marriage of Figaro we hear Susanna inviting the loved one to a nocturnal rendez-vous (‘Deh vieni, non tardar’) as well as her mistress, the Countess, wondering in ‘Dove sono’ what happened to the loving marriage she once had.

With a soprano typically described as ‘radiant’, ‘vernal’ or ‘silvery’, Camilla Tilling has performed several of the roles featured here at venues such as Opéra National de Paris, Covent Garden, Salzburg Mozarteum and Drottningholm Slottsteater. On this recording she partnered by Philipp von Steinaecker and his Musica Saeculorum, whose period instruments bring out all the sweetness, pain and regret that Gluck and Mozart magically worked into their scores.

“Tilling sounds at the height of her powers, her voice still limpid, fresh and youthful, her interpretative skills those of a mature artist. She sings long “instrumental” lines unbroken by breaths, yet her textual inflections...illuminate character.” Sunday Times, 12th February 2017

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BIS - BIS2234

(SACD)

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Scheduled for release on 3 March 2017. Order it now and we will deliver it as soon as it is available. (Available now to download.)

Sibelius: Kullervo & Kortekangas: Migrations

Sibelius: Kullervo & Kortekangas: Migrations


Kortekangas:

Migrations

Lilli Paasikivi (mezzo-soprano)

Sibelius:

Kullervo, Op. 7

Lilli Paasikivi (mezzo-soprano) & Tommi Hakala (baritone)

Finlandia, Op. 26 (for male choir and symphony orchestra)


Some 150 years ago what is sometimes called ‘The Great Migration’ of Finns to the United States began. Many of the Finns settled in the Mid-West, and especially in the so-called ‘Finn Hook’, consisting of parts of Minnesota, Michigan and Wisconsin. To celebrate this, the Minnesota Orchestra under its Finnish music director Osmo Vänskä commissioned the composer Olli Kortekangas to compose a work on the theme of migration, of a scale and nature suitable for performance alongside Jean Sibelius’s great Kullervo. Discovering the work of the Minnesota-based poet Sheila Packa, herself of Finnish descent, Kortekangas composed Migrations for mezzo-soprano, male voice choir and orchestra, the same forces as in Kullervo, with the exception of the baritone soloist in that work.

An all-star Finnish cast – soloists Lilli Paasikivi and Tommi Hakala and the celebrated YL Male Voice Choir – joined the Minnesota Orchestra and Osmo Vänskä for three concerts in February 2016, and captured by a recording team from BIS the memorable performances can now be enjoyed by a wider audience. Sibelius began working on Kullervo during his student days in Vienna in 1891, finding his inspiration in the Kalevala, Finland’s national epic. In a letter home to Finland he wrote about ‘a new symphony, totally in the Finnish spirit’ and the work is often regarded as the first successful example of a Finnish national musical language.

In spite of what Sibelius wrote in his letter, the five-movement work is usually regarded as a symphonic poem, but with a duration of c. 80 minutes Kullervo certainly has the scale of a large symphony, and as such the present performance forms a worthy appendix to the highly acclaimed Sibelius cycle which the orchestra and Vänskä brought to a close with the recent release of Symphonies No 3, 6 and 7. As a fitting close to this two-disc set, and to the concerts in Minneapolis’ Orchestra Hall, the orchestra performs Sibelius’s Finlandia, with the YL Male Voice Choir joining in in the famous hymn section.

“Vänskä now revisits Sibelius’s first exercise in large-scale symphonic form...Tempi are more or less the same as before, though perhaps instrumental detail is highlighted more obviously this time; whether that’s down to Vänskä’s conducting or to the balance of the recording is hard to say.” The Guardian, 23rd February 2017

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BIS - BIS9048

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Scheduled for release on 3 March 2017. Order it now and we will deliver it as soon as it is available. (Available now to download.)

Brahms: Works for Solo Piano Volume 4

Brahms: Works for Solo Piano Volume 4


Brahms:

Ballades (4), Op. 10

Rhapsodies (2), Op. 79

Klavierstücke (4), Op. 119

Variations on a theme by Paganini in A minor, Op. 35: Books 1 & 2


The theme of Paganini’s 24th Caprice for solo violin has tempted a number of composers to elaborate on it – from Liszt to Lutosławski and Andrew Lloyd Webber. In 1863, Johannes Brahms was one of the first to take on the challenge, with his virtuosic Paganini Variations. Playing the set has famously been described as requiring ‘fingers of steel, a heart of burning lava and the courage of a lion’ and possibly the demands that they place on the performer is the main reason why Brahms organized his 28 variations into two books of 14 each. For the fourth instalment in his series of Brahms’s piano music, Jonathan Plowright has chosen to place the two books at either end of the programme.

Between them we are presented with works spanning almost 40 years of Brahms’s life. Of the four Ballades from 1854, it is only for the first, the so-called ‘Edward’ Ballade, that a model in literature is known – a Scottish ballad about the murder of a father. The set has nevertheless been compared to the slow movements in Brahms’s three piano sonatas, composed around the same time, and all with literary references.

25 years later, Brahms had entered a phase where his works for piano were growing ever shorter and more concise, but with his Op. 79 Rhapsodies he made something of a return to the grandeur and passion of his early piano writing. This development was short-lived, however, and the following works for solo piano, of which the four piano pieces of Op. 119 from 1893 would be the last, have been compared to ‘the golden lustre of parks in autumn and the austere black and white of winter walks’. Previous discs in Jonathan Plowright’s survey have received critical acclaim worldwide, and the series has already been dubbed ‘the benchmark Brahms survey for some time to come’ in Gramophone.

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BIS Brahms: Works for Solo Piano - BIS2137

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Beethoven - Complete Works for Solo Piano Volume 15

Beethoven - Complete Works for Solo Piano Volume 15


Beethoven:

Diabelli Variations, Op. 120

National Airs with Variations (6), Op. 105


Ronald Brautigam (fortepiano)

In 1819 the Viennese music publisher and composer Anton Diabelli sent a short waltz to a long list of composers. These included Schubert, Hummel, a very young Franz Liszt and, as the most prominent composer of the time, naturally Beethoven. Diabelli was proposing to compile an anthology of variations on his own waltz, one from each composer. Beethoven responded in a characteristic manner: first there was nothing, and then there was nothing … and then, in 1823, there was an entire, and monumental, set of no less than thirty-three variations.

There are several possible reasons for this, one being that Beethoven felt that it was below his dignity to take part in a project of this nature. What is certain, however, is that he must have found Diabelli’s theme intriguing material to work with – and against: Beethoven often seems to poke fun at the waltz, starting already in the first variation by turning it into a pompous march. But like all truly great variation works the Diabelli Variations take in the high as well as the low, jokes as well as drama – or serenity, as in Variation 24, a Fughetta, clearly inspired by the Aria in Bach’s Goldberg Variations.

As the last large-scale piano work by Beethoven, the Diabelli Variations form a fitting close to Ronald Brautigam’s traversal of the complete solo piano music. Described in International Record Review as ‘a Beethoven player whose musical discernment is a constant source of wonderment’, Brautigam has through the course of this series performed works composed between 1783 and 1825, using four different fortepianos. On the present disc we hear a copy of a 4-stringed fortepiano by Conrad Graf from 1822 – similar to Beethoven’s own last instrument, which Graf supplied him with in 1826, a year before the composer’s death.

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BIS Ronald Brautigam Beethoven - BIS1943

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Heroines of Love and Loss

Heroines of Love and Loss

vocal chamber music from the 17th century


anon.:

Willow song

O Death Rock me Asleep

Bennet:

Venus' birds whose mournful tunes

Caccini, F:

Lasciatemi qui solo

Kapsberger:

Toccata arpeggiata (1604)

Piccinini:

Chiaccona in partite variate

Purcell:

O lead me to some peaceful gloom (from Bonduca or The British Heroine, Z574)

When I am laid in earth (from Dido and Aeneas)

Sessa:

Occhi io vissi di voi

Strozzi:

L'Eraclito amoroso, Op. 2 No. 14

Lamento

Lagrime mie

Vivaldi:

Cello Sonata in G minor, RV42

Vizzana:

Componimenti musicali (1623): O Magnum mysterium


Ruby Hughes (soprano), Mime Yamahiro Brinkmann (cello) & Jonas Nordberg (lute / theorbo / archlute)

The women appearing before our ears throughout this programme range from the Virgin Mary and Dido, queen of Carthage, to Shakespeare’s Desdemona and the unfortunate Anne Boleyn, waiting for her execution in the Tower of London in 1536. But the disc also features four other heroines–the Italian composers Claudia Sessa, Francesca Caccini, Lucrezia Vizzana and Barbara Strozzi. All active between 1590 –1675, they will have required great courage to rise above the social conventions of the time, but this surprisingly productive period for female composers also offered an opportunity that would disappear in later centuries: the all-female environment provided by the convent. More than half of the women who published music before 1700 were nuns, including Sessa and Vizzana, who are here represented by brief meditations on the suffering and death of Christ.

Caccini and Strozzi, on the other hand, lived very much in the secular world – Caccini at the Florentine court and Strozzi as a free-lance musician and composer in Venice. Unhindered by the restrictions imposed by the church on sacred music they both adhered to the new stile moderno championed by Claudio Monteverdi. Celebrated for their singing, they composed vocal music which makes ‘the words the mistress of the harmony and not the servant’, to quote Monteverdi’s brother Giulio Cesare. The soprano Ruby Hughes has already made her name for herself in a wide-ranging repertoire, but has a special love for the constellation of lute, cello and voice. With Jonas Nordberg and and Mime Yamahiro Brinkmann– who also contribute instrumental solos –she here revels in the dramatic and expressive potential offered by this trio combination, and by the music by these female composers and their English colleagues Henry Purcell and John Bennet.

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BIS - BIS2248

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Scheduled for release on 3 March 2017. Order it now and we will deliver it as soon as it is available.

Ligeti: Concertos

Ligeti: Concertos


Ligeti:

Cello Concerto

Christian Poltéra (cello)

Chamber Concerto for 13 instruments

Melodien for orchestra

Piano Concerto

Joonas Ahonen (piano)


BIT20 Ensemble, Baldur Brönnimann

Described as ‘one of the most innovative and influential among progressive figures of his time’, György Ligeti (1923 – 2006) was able to constantly reinvent himself. In his earliest works, written in Communist Hungary, the musical language is often an extension of that of Bartók’s and he kept his most daring compositions to himself. Escaping Hungary in 1956 he was able to revel in the freedom to experiment – with electronic techniques as well as elaborate serialism – but he was forever sceptical of schools and steered his own course throughout life. The 1960s and early 70s were a highly productive period, which saw works such as Lux Aeterna and Lontano, as well as three of the works on the present disc. In the Cello Concerto and the Chamber Concerto, Ligeti in different ways explores the idea of the concerto as something collective, rather than polarised between the one and the many. The Cello Concerto is striking, and even provocative, in that the soloist often seems to aspire to silence and even absence rather than virtuosic display. The Chamber Concerto, on the other hand, dazzles because here all 13 players are unmistakably present, all essential to the design and character of the whole. Like the Cello Concerto – and the Piano Concerto – Melodien can be performed by large orchestra, but also, as on the present recording, with a single string player per part, becoming a natural pendant to the Chamber Concerto. The disc closes with the Piano Concerto from 1988, which Ligeti had begun sketching eight years earlier but was only able to proceed with after having composed his first set of studies for piano solo. Ligeti himself described the five-movement work as a statement of his ‘aesthetic credo’. Performing these complex scores is the Norwegian specialist ensemble BIT 20 under the Swiss conductor Baldur Brönnimann, with soloists Christian Poltéra and Joonas Ahonen, making his first appearance on the BIS label.

“Brönnimann and the ensemble...are vivid advocates of Ligeti’s music. They provide a reminder that even at its most magically elusive it retains a strong rhythmic spine...Poltéra threads his way with great subtlety through the textures that gather around him in the Cello Concerto.” The Guardian, 25th January 2017 ****

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BIS - BIS2209

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