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Shostakovich & Gubaidulina: Violin Concerto & In tempus praesens

Shostakovich & Gubaidulina: Violin Concerto & In tempus praesens


Gubaidulina:

In tempus praesens - Concerto for violin and orchestra

Reinbert de Leeuw

Shostakovich:

Violin Concerto No. 1 in A minor, Op. 99

James Gaffigan


The structure of Shostakovich’s First Violin Concerto is particularly original, with a sequence of four movements – slow, fast, slow, fast – entitled Nocturne, Scherzo, Passacaglia and Burlesque. The opening movement (Nocturne) is a beautiful song, blossoming from a single melodic fragment.

The Scherzo is biting and dazzlingly virtuosic, like a carousel gone wild. The ensuing Passacaglia is, quite simply, the pinnacle of this concerto; a masterpiece – mature, elegiac and highly lyrical. The passacaglia theme is repeated nine times with contrapuntal elaborations. This is followed by a large-scale cadenza that forms a bridge to the finale. The concerto closes with a Burlesque, in which the theme from the Passacaglia has one final, piercing reappearance.

Shortly after the première of Gubaidulina’s Offertorium (1981), the Swiss patron of the arts Paul Sacher asked her to compose a further violin concerto for the German soloist Anne-Sophie Mutter, but nothing came of this due to lack of time. It was only in 2007, eight years after Sacher’s death, that Gubaidulina completed In tempus praesens, which was given its première by Mutter at the Lucerne Festival. It is a work of extreme contrasts in which very deep, infernal passages are juxtaposed with extremely high, celestial episodes. Much more so than Offertorium, In tempus praesens is a spectacular work for the violinist, who plays virtually from start to finish and barely has a chance to pause for breath. The virtuosity demanded by the work is never an end in itself.

Pizzicato on Lamsa’s first release on Challenge Classics (CC72677): "The surround recording from Challenge Classics stands out due to especially brilliant and powerful interpretations and a finely coordinated dialogue between the instruments. This is perfect harmony."

Released or re-released in last 6 months

Super Audio CD

Format:

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Challenge Classics - CC72681

(SACD)

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Mozart: Piano Concertos Nos. 11-13

Mozart: Piano Concertos Nos. 11-13


Mozart:

Piano Concerto No. 11 in F major, K413

Piano Concerto No. 13 in C major, K415

Piano Concerto No. 12 in A major, K414


Sigiswald Kuijken (first violin), Veronica Kuijken, Marie Kuijken (fortepiano)

La Petite Bande

Mozart conceived the 3 piano-concerti KV 414, 413 and 415 in 1782, one year after he had settled in Vienna as a more or less free-lance musician. From onset, his idea was to get these works (KV 414, 413 and 415) published; he obviously expected a positive response from the public, not only on the financial level but also as a composer and piano virtuoso. In order to enhance the attraction for his publication, he decided to write these concertos in such a way that they could be performed not only with full orchestra (i.e. strings and winds), but also with a reduced accompaniment of only string quartet. Clearly, Mozart did not consider this strategic starting point as an artistic limitation, but rather as a challenge: in fact, already the score without the wind parts should leave nothing to be desired. This resulted in a very careful and beautiful string writing, matching the solo part in the most effective and intimate way. The wind parts were then conceived to accentuate and “colour” certain passages in the accompaniment with even more depth.

Although Mozart in his announcements and the print of these concerti always mentions the “normal” composition of the string quartet (2 violins, viola and violoncello), I took the liberty to replace the violoncello by a double bass in our performances and our recording of these concertos. My reason was purely musical. Looking and listening to these works, we find a clear difference concerning their string-bass writing compared with Mozart’s own quartets for violin, viola, violoncello and piano, or also his trios for violin, violoncello and piano.

In these piano concertos the string bass is only playing the essential bass-line of the whole texture, thus very often doubling in simplified way the soloist’s left hand. Therefore, in fact this so called “violoncello” part shows exactly what the usual “basso” parts show in orchestral works or generally in the more conventional divertimento-style: offering and strengthening the (highly necessary) fundamental bass on which the whole of the construction is resting. So replacing the violoncello by a double bass in this reduced version of these concertos seems to me an obvious choice.

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Super Audio CD

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Challenge Classics - CC72752

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Chopin: The Four Ballades

Chopin: The Four Ballades


Chopin:

Ballades Nos. 1-4

Piano Sonata No. 2 in B flat minor, Op. 35 'Marche funèbre'

Fantasia in F minor, Op. 49


Bryce Morrison: Today it is difficult to appreciate the impact Chopin’s music had on his first listeners. His mix of Slavonic passion and Gallic precision (his father was of French ancestry) created a world of such imaginative daring that it left his audiences bewitched, bothered and bewildered. Enigmatic to the last Chopin held aloof from such comments and left the more fancifully inclined to draw their own subjective conclusions. Like Faure after him, Chopin disdained his published tempting tell-tale additions. More pragmatically, Piano Sonata No.2 is Chopin’s darkest, large-scale masterpiece, ranking among the composer’s supreme creations. Remarkably you are left with a work of an astonishing, if wholly novel coherence. The shock of the new continues with the Four Ballades. Finally, the F minor Fantaisie.

I should add that Chopin’s stature is sometimes questioned by those who claim he composed no operas, symphonies or oratorios. But the answer by this ‘dreamer in strange places’ is that he wrote all of these, but for the piano. As he himself put it, ‘the piano is my solid ground, on that I stand the strongest.’

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Super Audio CD

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Challenge Classics - CC72728

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Heartfelt - Romantic Works for Horn

Heartfelt - Romantic Works for Horn


Brahms:

Horn Trio in E flat major, Op. 40

Mathieu van Bellen (violin)

Pilss:

Three Pieces in the Form of a Sonata for Horn and Piano

Schubert:

Auf dem Strom, D943, Op. post. 119

Karin Strobos (mezzo)

Schumann:

Adagio and Allegro in A flat major, Op. 70


Rob van de Laar (horn), Thomas Beijer (piano)

The young Dutch horn player Rob van de Laar, Principal Horn of the Mozarteum Salzburg, has just been awarded the Dutch Music Prize, The Netherlands’ highest state accolade in classical music. He makes his solo recording debut with ‘Heartfelt’ on Challenge Classics, an SACD of Romantic music by Brahms, Schumann, Schubert and the little-known Austrian composer Karl Pilss.

The disc opens with two of the great pieces of the German Romanticism for Horn. Brahms’ Horn Trio was composed in 1865, during a peaceful summer at Clara Schumann’s house in the Black Forest. Schumann wrote his Adagio and Allegro in 1849, one of a series of miniatures for different solo instruments and piano that he composed that year in Dresden. Schumann was among the first to explore the expanded possibilities offered by the new valve horn.

Schubert wrote his song ‘Auf dem Strom’ in 1828, the final year of his short life, to a text by Ludwig Rellstab. It was composed for a concert, at the Vienna Musikverein, marking the first anniversary of the death of Ludwig van Beethoven on 26 March. Schubert, who was a great admirer of Beethoven, saw his opportunity to compose a special song as an ode to the master, adding a dazzling part for the French horn.

The Viennese composer Karl Pilss (1902-1979) is perhaps best known among brass players, having written concertos for trumpet, horn and bass trombone, as well as a number of works for brass ensemble. The influences of Richard Strauss, Gustav Mahler and his composition teacher Franz Schmidt can be clearly heard in his music. The ‘Tre pezzi in forma di sonata’ date from 1924.

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Super Audio CD

Format:

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Challenge Classics - CC72745

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Mendelssohn: Violin Concerto & Octet

Mendelssohn: Violin Concerto & Octet


Mendelssohn:

Violin Concerto in E minor, Op. 64

Liza Ferschtman (violin)

Octet in E flat major, Op. 20


Het Gelders Orkest, Kees Bakels

One of the leading Dutch violinists, Liza Ferschtman is especially known for her passionate performances, and here she pairs Mendelssohn’s famous masterpieces – the Violin Concerto and Octet for strings – in lively and highly communicative accounts.

With conductor Kees Bakels and the Arnhem Philharmonic Orchestra (Het Gelders Orkest), Ferschtman’s chamber-like approach to the Violin Concerto helps in making this performance lighter than usual and able to convey some seldom heard details of the score. When performing it with the orchestra last year she says “I really was all of a sudden struck by a distinct feeling that I can only describe as falling in love all over again with this magical piece. Certain details in the score seemed to appear completely new to me and the idea of approaching the work with the same collaborative energy as in chamber music made me experience it completely afresh.”

“The combination of passion, grand emotions and at the same time lightness and elegance, such characteristic traits for Mendelssohn, fell completely into place. To feel this way about such a familiar piece was revelatory and I knew I wanted to share these discoveries.”

The daughter of Russian musicians, Liza Ferschtman’s worldwide appearances include the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra and Rotterdam Philharmonic, the London Philharmonic and BBC National Orchestra of Wales, Dallas and San Francisco Symphony Orchestras, Schleswig-Holstein Festival Orchestra, Bergen Philharmonic, Yomiuri Nippon Orchestra, and Hong Kong Philharmonic. Amongst conductors with whom she has worked are Frans Brüggen, Christoph von Dohnányi, Neeme Järvi, Gianandrea Noseda, Leonard Slatkin, Thomas Søndergård and Jaap van Zweden.

An avid chamber musician, Liza Ferschtman has collaborated regularly with artists such as Jonathan Biss, Nobuko Imai, Elisabeth Leonskaja, Christian Poltera, Lars Anders Tomter and Alisa Weilerstein, counting as her duo partners Enrico Pace and Inon Barnatan. For Challenge, she has previously made eight recordings, including a critically acclaimed Beethoven Concerto and Romances, the Dvořák Concerto, and solo works by Bach and Ysaÿe (Strad ‘CD of the Month’).

Released or re-released in last 6 months

Super Audio CD

Format:

Hybrid Multi-channel

Challenge Classics - CC72748

(SACD)

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Fischer: From Heaven on Earth

Fischer: From Heaven on Earth

Lute Music from Kremsmunster Abbey


Hubert Hoffmann (lute)

‘From Heaven on Earth’ features a brand new discovery of lute music never published or heard before. Composed by a Benedictine monk who was known as lutenist at the beginning of 18th century: Pater Ferdinand Fischer.

Challenge Classics presents the premier recordings of three highly original suites by Fischer where the listener can hear the knowledge and influence of both French and German lute masters. Ars Antiqua Austria lutenist Hubert Hoffmann is responsible both for the musicological research and for the performance.

When he visited the Benedictine Abbey of Kremsmünster in Upper Austria some years ago to look at the lutes stored in the abbey archives, Hoffman could not guess that this would radically change his life as a lutenist: “I learnt that the writer of tablatures I discovered was a member of the abbey named Pater Ferdinando (Fischer). It soon turned out that much of the music set down by this scribe was not to be found in the numberless lute manuscripts from this period scattered around the world. These were unique manuscripts. Moreover, they contained quite extraordinary works of striking compositional quality: new lute music in the form of cyclical poems of a lute enthusiast at the turn of the 17th/18th centuries.”

Hubert Hoffmann, a member of Austria’s leading early music ensemble Ars Antiqua Austria, pursues a wide-ranging career as a continuo player with numerous period instrument ensembles worldwide. His fascination for the unique blend of lute music for the Habsburg Courts is reflected in his solo projects, in which he aims to shed light upon this neglected niche in baroque lute music. These include the first recording of Wenzel Ludwig Radolt’s important 1701 collection of lute concertos ‘Die allertreueste Freindin’ and the music of the Vienna lutenist Karl Kohaut, both issued on Challenge Classics.

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Super Audio CD

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Challenge Classics - CC72740

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Shostakovich: Violin Concerto No. 2 & Tchaikovsky: Violin Concerto

Shostakovich: Violin Concerto No. 2 & Tchaikovsky: Violin Concerto


Shostakovich:

Violin Concerto No. 2 in C sharp minor, Op. 129

Tchaikovsky:

Violin Concerto in D major, Op. 35


Linus Roth pairs Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto - the world premiere recording of its original version - with the Violin Concerto No.2 by Shostakovich, accompanied by the London Symphony Orchestra conducted by Thomas Sanderling.

This is the first recording of the Tchaikovsky Concerto that takes the new Urtext, published by Henle Edition as a source. There are a few different notes, phrasings and bowings from what is usually played but the most obvious audible difference is that the whole second movement is played with the mute on. While it has become a tradition that violinists remove the mute for the second theme, this was never intended by Tchaikovsky - the mute imparts to this slow movement the feeling and sound of intimacy.

Shortly before composing this work Tchaikovsky married, followed closely by a nervous breakdown and severe depression. His composing was always strongly connected to his personal life, and this work is his coming back to life, a concerto full of optimism and positivity. Linus Roth has played the piece for 20 years and now feels the time is right to record his unique interpretation.

Shostakovich’s Second Violin Concerto is a late work written when the composer was already ill and aware that his life would be soon over. The conductor of this recording, Thomas Sanderling, was a friend who knew Shostakovich well in his late years and provides unique musical insights into a work full of pain and struggle beneath its glittering surface.

The relationship between Roth and Sanderling is very special because they co-founded the international Weinberg Society together. Linus Roth has been an advocate of Weinberg’s music for years. He was the first violinist to record the Complete Works for Violin and Piano (3-CD box, CC72567), receiving great critical acclaim. His next recording, combining the Violin Concertos of Weinberg and Britten (CC72627), was a Gramophone Editor’s Choice. Most recently Roth released Weinberg’s Solo Sonatas for Violin 1-3, also on Challenge (CC72688).

“his delicate, internalised playing is as lovely as his technical dispatch is thrilling. Shostakovich’s second, rarer concerto is a bold coupling, intensely played.” Sunday Times, 11th December 2016

“His tone is strong and dark [in the Tchaikovsky], with plenty of sinew, even if his playing can be over-emphatic…[Shostakovich’s Second Concerto is] given a gritty, deliberate reading” Gramophone Magazine, February 2017

“Roth is stark and uncompromising throughout, drawing you into its claustrophobic world, especially in the central Adagio. Thomas Sanderling and the London Symphony Orchestra provide sturdy support with forwardly placed cellos and double basses in the opening dialogue.” BBC Music Magazine, April 2017 ****

Released or re-released in last 6 months

Super Audio CD

Format:

Hybrid Multi-channel

Challenge Classics - CC72689

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Purcell: Dido and Aeneas

Purcell: Dido and Aeneas


 

The Loves of Mars and Venus: Prologue

John Eccles, Godfrey Finger

Purcell:

Dido and Aeneas

Raffaella Milanesi (Dido), Richard Helm (Aeneas), Stefanie True (Belinda), Iason Marmaras (Sorceress), Michela Antenucci (First Witch, Sailor) & Anna Bessi (Second Witch, Spirit)


La Risonanza & Coro Constanzo Porta, Fabio Bonizzoni

Fabio Bonizzoni, one of the leading Baroque music conductors of our time, and his group La Risonanza make their debut on Challenge Classics with Dido and Aeneas, Purcell’s operatic masterpiece. It is coupled with The Loves of Mars and Venus by John Eccles and Gottfried Finger, Purcell’s near contemporaries.

Henry Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas, composed in the 1680s, is arguably the most beloved and best-known opera in English. Bonizzoni says: “The charm of this opera is in that it contains everything, like Cervantes’ Don Quixote: any life experience is within it. Love, hate, death, dream, despair, the innocent and the wicked play. Purcell’s awareness in portraying such opposite feelings is amazing.” La Risonanza and Fabio Bonizzoni offer a version of Dido and Aeneas that provides a sense of how Purcell’s famous work may first have been heard by London theatre-goers in 1704. Italian soprano Raffaella Milanesi and Austrian baritone Richard Helm take the title roles.

Mars and Venus was composed by Purcell’s near contemporaries, John Eccles and Godfrey Finger, to a text by Peter Anthony Motteux. The songs were published in 1697 and the play text, providing a clear guide to exactly what was performed, in 1696. With these sources, Bonizzoni has reconstructed the Prologue of Mars and Venus by using the published songs, instrumental music by Finger or Eccles from other works, adapting where necessary.

One of the leading Italian harpsichordists and organists of his generation, Fabio Bonizzoni studied with Ton Koopman at the Royal Conservatorium in The Hague. After playing for several years with Amsterdam Baroque, Le Concert des Nations and Europa Galante, since 2004 he has exclusively been a soloist and director, in particular of his own orchestra La Risonanza. He is also harpsichord professor at the Royal Conservatory of The Hague and in Italy at the Conservatory of Novara. With La Risonanza he completed the award-winning recording of all of Handel’s Italian Cantatas with instruments in 2010.

“The real star is the instrumental playing (how the dances swing!); and with less at stake, warmly stylish, The Love of Mars and Venus proves a delightful postscript.” BBC Music Magazine, February 2017 ***

Released or re-released in last 6 months

Super Audio CD

Format:

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Challenge Classics - CC72737

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Brahms: Ein Deutsches Requiem, Op. 45

Brahms: Ein Deutsches Requiem, Op. 45


Renate Arends (soprano) & Thomas Oliemans (baritone)

The Hague Philharmonic & Rotterdam Symphony Chorus, Jan Willem de Vriend

Jan Willem de Vriend conducts The Hague Philharmonic and Rotterdam Symphony Chorus in a superb performance of Brahms’ A German Requiem. Soprano Renate Arends and baritone Thomas Oliemans, both internationally acclaimed with enduring careers in opera, oratorio and song, are the soloists.

Between 1865 and 1868 Johannes Brahms composed his masterpiece ‘Ein Deutsches Requiem’. A large scale work of seven movements for orchestra, choir and soprano and baritone soloists, it is Brahms’ longest work. With the death of his mother in mind, Brahms took a totally different path from his predecessors with the idea of a Requiem - his is a requiem to comfort, it is not a work for the dead, it is music for the living! The narrative and energetic style of De Vriend’s conducting gives the Requiem both depth and liveliness.

Dutch conductor Jan Willem de Vriend has received much praise from critics worldwide for his performances and recordings, including, for Challenge Classics, cycles of Beethoven and Mendelssohn Symphonies and the Beethoven Piano Concertos with Hannes Minnaar. In his final season as chief conductor of the Netherlands Symphony Orchestra, he is now one of two principal conductors of the Residentie Orkest (The Hague Philharmonic), along with Nicholas Collon. In its early years, The Hague Philharmonic was conducted by Henri Viotta, who founded the orchestra in 1904, but it soon attracted composers like Richard Strauss, Igor Stravinsky, Max Reger, Maurice Ravel, Paul Hindemith and Vincent d’Indy. Guest conductors included Arturo Toscanini, Bruno Walter, Leonard Bernstein and Hans Knappertsbusch. After World War II, Willem van Otterloo was appointed chief conductor. He led the orchestra from 1949 to 1973 and built a strong reputation by combining high-quality performances with adventurous programming. The chief conductor mantle later passed to Jean Martinon, followed by Ferdinand Leitner, Hans Vonk, Evgeny Svetlanov, Jaap van Zweden and Neeme Järvi.

Released or re-released in last 6 months

Super Audio CD

Format:

Hybrid Multi-channel

Challenge Classics - CC72738

(SACD)

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Visions of Joy - The Chapel of Hieronymus Bosch

Visions of Joy - The Chapel of Hieronymus Bosch


includes

Rue, P:

Missa Cum jocunditate

Introitus - Salve Sancta Parens

Missa Cum jocunditate - Kyrie

Missa Cum jocunditate - Gloria

Graduale: Benedicta et venerabilis es

Alleluia: Ave Maria

Sequentia - Verbum bonum et suave

Missa Cum jocunditate - Credo

O salutaris hostia

Offertorium-motet - Sub tuum presidium

Prefatio

Missa Cum jocunditate - Sanctus with Elevation motet - O salutaris hostia

Pater noster

Missa Cum jocunditate - Agnus Dei

Communio - Beata viscera

Cum jocunditate

Motet: Gaude Virgo


Cappella Pratensi, Stratton Bull

This disc offers a recording of a polyphonic masterpiece, Pierre de la Rue’s ‘Missa cum Jocunditate’, but it’s also an homage to Hieronymus Bosch, whose 500th death anniversary is being marked all over the world. It’s performed by Cappella Pratensis, an experienced ensemble with a rich discography of polyphonic works on Challenge Classics.

Music clearly fascinated the great Dutch artist Hieronymus Bosch: his sketches and painitnings are peppered with closely-observed depictions of music-making and musical instruments. Bosch and de la Rue lived in the same period and both were members of the same Confraternity; it is most likely that the painter attended a performance of this Mass.

The Dutch-based vocal ensemble Cappella Pratensis – literally ‘Cappella des prés’ – champions the music of Josquin Desprez and the polyphonists of the 15th and 16th centuries. The group combines historically informed performance practice with inventive programmes and original interpretations based on scholarly research and artistic insight. As in Josquin’s time, the members of Cappella Pratensis perform from a central music stand, singing from the original mensural notation scored in a large choirbook. This approach, together with attention to the linguistic origin of the compositions and the modal system on which it is based, offers a unique perspective on the repertoire. Founded in 1987, Cappella Pratensis is currently under the artistic direction of singer and conductor Stratton Bull.

Super Audio CD

Format:

Hybrid Multi-channel

Challenge Classics - CC72710

(SACD)

$15.50

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