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Grandissima Gravita

Grandissima Gravita

Music by Pisenel, Tartini, Verachini & Vivaldi


Pisendel:

Sonata for Violin and harpsichord in C

Tartini:

Sonata for Violin and continuo in A minor, Op. 2 No. 5

Veracini:

Sonata for violin and continuo in G minor, Op. 2 No. 5

Sonata accademica in D minor, Op. 2 No. 12

Vivaldi:

Violin Sonata, Op. 2 No. 2 in A major, RV 31


This CD brings together the compositions by four violinist-composers.

United by a reverence for Arcangelo Corelli (1653-1713), and in particular his Opus 5, these works explore the imagination of form that was the Sonata for violin and continuo.

Weaving together stylised dances and the preludic tradition, we are transported to a world of musical alchemy - the violinist creating ex nihilo textures and melodies that entrance and amaze.

Rachel Podger: “The four composers’ connections read like a popular comedy! Violin virtuosos Francesco Maria Verachini andJohann Georg Pisendel had an argument which resulted in Veracini flying into a rage and throwing himself from first floor a balcony, damaging his foot and limping forever after. Verachini amazed Giuseppe Tartini with his astonishingly smooth bowing technique, whereupon Tartini locked himself away to practice. Pisendel studied with Tartini and Antonio Vivaldi...”

Released or re-released in last 6 months

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Scheduled for release on 22 September 2017. Order it now and we will deliver it as soon as it is available.

Mahler: Symphony No. 3

Mahler: Symphony No. 3


"Gustav Mahler’s Third Symphony, lasting one and a half hours or more, is not only his longest work but at the same time an exuberant and sunny ode to nature, mankind, the world and indeed life itself. And for this song of praise the composer requires both room and lavish means. No less than six movements, the richest of orchestral forces, and a contralto soloist and boys’ and women’s choirs whose sung texts help to bring across the symphony’s message, as in the Second Symphony and later in the Fourth and Eighth as well." (From liner notes by Clemens Romijn)

“As vivid a performance as one would expect. That stylishly lazy trombone, a dying monster, is emblematic of the characteristic licence the conductor gives to his splendid Budapest players…the flowers of the field and the beasts of the forest have never been more vividly characterised, while Nietzsche's midnight ode is graced by the contralto of choice for Mahler symphonies, Gerhild Romberger…always alive, always interesting, vivid in sound” BBC Music Magazine, July 2017 ****

“Fischer isn’t afraid to let go in the music’s wilder episodes...Mostly importantly, [he] conducts with a plasticity of line, a natural rubato, that maximizes expressivity without excess sentimentality.” Classics Today, June 2017

“Every player seems to have thought about his part afresh and emotional power grows out of countless small moments, not the usual grandstanding. Some may find the performance too calculated. Others will admire its restraint, its eloquence, its distinctive voice.” Financial Times, 16th June 2017 ****

“Here for once is a Mahler symphony release that feels different from the outset...I doubt whether there has ever been a more precisely focused, more sheerly beautiful recording of any Mahler work...Reluctant to parade its roughest edges and disinclined to hurry, Fischer instead elicits a range of pristine, jewel-like colour that leaves its fabric refreshed...This Third is a must-have.” Gramophone Magazine, June 2017

“[Fischer] is a challenge, inviting listeners to rethink and recalibrate their responses to the piece. Not everyone will be prepared to make the leap, but those who do will be handsomely rewarded. Without question, the finest instalment in Fischer’s Mahler cycle to date; and what breathtaking sound.” MusicWeb International, May 2017

“If you’ve enjoyed it as much as I have then you’ll need no encouraging to head for the second disc” Record Review, 20th May 2017

“Fischer’s unique orchestra always presents music afresh. Never has the clarity of the orchestral textures shone more vividly. Maybe a fractionally slower tempo would have made the first movement’s climax more overwhelming — but along the way, what delights, what insights.” Sunday Times, 4th June 2017

“What a finale: Fischer's flowing speeds avoiding any hint of bombast, the final cadence unforced and radiant. Everyone needs multiple recordings of this symphony. Add this new one to the pile.” The Arts Desk, June 2017

““Like a sound of nature. That's the description that Mahler wrote above an oboe's cry in his epic Third Symphony from the 1890s. And it's a tag that Ivan Fischer has clearly taken to heart in this most eloquent and immersive performance…cuckoos, nightingales and birds galore; furry forest creatures; the anxiety call of the contrabassoon: they're spotted all over the bulk of this massive hymn to life in all forms. I've never heard a performance that captures nature's canvas so well” The Times, 16th June 2017 *****

GGramophone Magazine

Editor's Choice - June 2017

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Iván Fischer conducts Borodin & Tchaikovsky

Iván Fischer conducts Borodin & Tchaikovsky


Borodin:

Prince Igor: Polovtsian Dances

Czech Philharmonic Choir Brno

Tchaikovsky:

Symphony No. 6 in B minor, Op. 74 'Pathétique'


When Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky stepped onto the stage in Saint Petersburg on 28 October 1893 to introduce his Sixth Symphony to the public, he was received with a roar of applause. Three quarters of an hour later the astonished audience was dumbfounded. How could a symphony begin so softly and end even more so? And what about the second movement with its undanceable waltz, and the third with its unstoppable march? Nine days after the premiere, Tchaikovsky died in a city ravaged by cholera.

The truly Russian mood that we associate with Tchaikovsky is also felt in the music of Borodin. His opera ‘Prince Igor’ remained incomplete when he died, but the Overture, the Chorus and Dance of the Polovtsian girls, the Polovtsian March and the on this recording added well-known Polovtsian Dances, gained a place of its own in orchestral repertoire.

“Fischer once again doesn’t disappoint; indeed, he’s brought to light elements of this work, in particular textural detaileven during the loud brass-led sections, the strings can still be heard over the top with a clarity that seems barely believable.” David Smith, Presto Classical, 23rd September 2016

“The sheer natural musicality of Fischer’s Budapest players is, as always, refreshing...the March is poised and brilliant, and if the finale could be even darker, it is eloquently played.” Sunday Times, 2nd October 2016

Presto Disc of the Week

23rd September 2016

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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

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Channel - CCSSA38316

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Francois Devienne: Quartets

Francois Devienne: Quartets


Devienne:

Flute Quartet in A minor, Op. 66 No. 1

Flute Quartet in D, Op. 66 No. 3

Bassoon Quartet in C, Op. 73 No. 1

Bassoon Quartet in G minor, Op. 73 No. 3


Musica Reale

Until about 1960 he was one of the best-kept secrets of French music hhistory: François Devienne, celebrated in late-eighteenth-century France as a bassoonist and flautist.The reputation of this bassoon and flute virtuoso, and prolific composer, slowly faded in the shadow of his Austrian contemporaries Haydn and Mozart. And with his reputation were forgotten no less than 7 concertante symphonies, 14 flute and 5 bassoon concertos, 25 quartets and quintets for a variety of ensembles, 46 trios, 147 duos and 67 sonatas; not to mention more than a dozen comic operas and some 50 songs. All this had been put to paper in the relatively few years in which Devienne devoted himself to composition, for he died at the early age of forty-three.

Musica Reale is an initiative formed to bring together members of the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, in a variety of formations, for the performance of chamber music in all its aspects. All instruments being available in the orchestra, the choice of programming is enormous. Our aim is to bring the world of chamber music to a wide international audience, at the highest level of performance and in an informal, welcoming atmosphere.

This is Vol. 5 in the First Chairs of the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra series.

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Brahms: Symphony No. 4

Brahms: Symphony No. 4


 

Instrumental folk music from the region of Sic (original melody used by Brahms in his 3rd Hungarian Dance)

István Kádár (violin), András Szabó (viola), Attila Martos (bass)

Brahms:

Symphony No. 4 in E minor, Op. 98

Hungarian Dance No. 3 in F major

Hungarian Dance No. 7

Hungarian Dance No. 11


"What a wonderful start: a fragmented melody like a hovering leaf blown up and down by the wind. Never has tenderness been composed more movingly. And what a magnificant ending of the same movement: extreme tenderness is matched by extreme drama which grows and grows to gigantic expression. Brahms is not restrained anymore in his last symphony.

After the fun and vitality of the third movement the final passacaglia is much more than a sequence of variations. We experience a huge range of dark emotions: from the lonely lamentation of the flute to the defiant, tragic ending. There is no room for the usual jubilation or the usual modulation to a major key. Brahms finishes his symphonic work with prophetic foreboding heralding Spengler's Der Untergang des Abendlandes (The Decline of the West)."

Iván Fischer

BBC Music Magazine

Orchestral Choice

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Biber: The Rosary Sonatas

Biber: The Rosary Sonatas


Rachel Podger (violin), Marcin Świątkiewicz (harpsichord/organ), Jonathan Manson (cello/viola da gamba), David Miller (theorbo/archlute)

The Rosary (Mystery) Sonatas, even today, are considered the most extensive example of scordatura. From the Italian discordare meaning ‘out of tune’, scordatura is a technique whereby the strings are purposefully tuned differently from their usual arrangement. Here the usual G-D-A-E tuning, where the violin strings are consistently a perfect fifth apart, is only used for the opening Sonata and the closing Passacaglia. The other fourteen sonatas each have a different configuration of tuning. Compositionally this allowed Biber to obtain unusual chords, opening up a whole new spectrum of harmonic and textural possibilities. This fundamentally altered what a violin was and could be; its physicality as well as its voice was transformed.

“Not for nothing is Podger regarded today as queen of the baroque violin...Podger makes light of the virtuosic demands of this profound music, while never losing sight of it’s religious significance.” Sunday Times, 18th October 2015

“it stretches the instrument and the violinist to the limit. For this recording Rachel Podger uses the same instrument throughout, putting it through the pain, as part of the fascination for her was how the sound changed from piece to piece as the violin suffer alongside Christ…It’s searching, absorbing, quietly captivating playing and a moving journey through one of the most imaginative sets of violin sonatas ever composed.” CD Review, 17th October 2015

“They are fantastically complex works, with different violin tunings and multiple stoppings, so that Rachel Podger’s accomplished new recording sounds like a battery of many violins. Fine continuo adds to the variety of sound” The Observer, 18th October 2015

“She can play with grace and beauty – at the opening of ‘The Carrying of the Cross’, for instance...There are also many subtleties of articulation and timing, almost as if there are words and pauses lying behind the notes.” Gramophone Magazine, December 2015

Presto Discs of 2015

Finalist

GGramophone Awards 2016

Winner - Baroque Instrumental

Super Audio CD

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Channel - CCSSA37315

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Sounds & Clouds: Works by Hosokawa & Vivaldi

Sounds & Clouds: Works by Hosokawa & Vivaldi

Holland Baroque meets Jeremias Schwarzer


Hosokawa:

Singing Garden in Venice

Vivaldi:

Concerto in G major, RV101

Flute Concerto, Op. 10 No. 1 in F major, RV 433 'La tempesta di mare'

Flute Concerto, Op. 10 No. 2 in G minor, RV 439 'La notte'

Flute Concerto, Op. 10 No. 3 in D major, RV 428 'Il gardellino'


Jeremias Schwarzer (recorder)

Holland Baroque

After compositions based on Japanese folk music and adaptations of composers such as Bach, Handel and Ives, Toshio Hosokawa - one of today’s leading Japanese composers - has now for the first time written around existing music.

Although the Baroque instruments (particularly the harpsichord and theorbo) formed a new aspect, he was able to build on his experience with traditional Japanese

instruments: “Early western and Japanese music seek the same tonal qualities, mild and strong, light and dark, and so it was not difficult to take this step. What was clear was that I had to go further than mere arrangement, which, by the way, I enjoy doing, for I learn much from original music. I could not touch Vivaldi’s notes, however. And so I entwined elements from his pieces in my prelude, intermezzos and postlude. I dreamed of a spot where the flowers (Vivaldi’s concertos) could blossom at their very finest. My work was that of a gardener, the creation of that musical background, as an exercise in ikebana.”

“This poetic hybrid interleaves four programmatic Vivaldi recorder concertos between the five exquisitely coloured movements of Hosokawa’s Singing Garden in Venice.” Sunday Times, January 2016

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Channel - CCSSA37615

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Mendelssohn: Piano Trios Opus 49 & 66

Mendelssohn: Piano Trios Opus 49 & 66


Mendelssohn:

Piano Trio No. 1 in D minor, Op. 49

Piano Trio No. 2 in C minor, Op. 66


Hamlet Piano Trio: Paolo Giacometti (piano), Candida Thompson (violin) & Xenia Jankovic (cello)

Three world-class musicians decided to join forces in 2011. As the Hamlet Piano Trio their reputation grows fast worldwide. All three have earned their stripes, both as soloists and as chamber musicians. The Dutch Italian and Italian Dutchman Paolo Giacometti is known as a soloist playing both modern and period instruments. Candida Thompson has been artistic leader of Amsterdam Sinfonietta since 2003, which under her leadership has developed into one of the most prominent chamber orchestras in the world and Serbian-

Russian cellist Xenia Jankovic has earned praise in recital, performing all over the world.

"We felt an affinity with the Mendelssohn piano trios ever since we first started to play together as a trio. We were also very curious to find as many opportunities to perform them on an Erard piano and with gut strings and bows to discover how this would have sounded to Mendelssohn himself. The first time we sat down to play them in this way we discovered so much, the balance was suddenly so perfectly in harmony between the three instruments and the colours we could find were increased tenfold. It was such an inspiring moment for us as musicians. We very much wanted that this moment could be captured in a cd, hence our choice of these two incredible piano trios for our first cd as the Hamlet piano trio."

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Schubert: String Quintet in C major, D956

Schubert: String Quintet in C major, D956


Amsterdam Sinfonietta soloists: Candida Thompson (violin), Jacobien Rozemond (violin), Daniel Bard (viola), Kaori Yamagami (cello), Rick Stotijn (double bass)

The dynamic range, refinement and versatility so typical of the string quartet are essential to the way in which Amsterdam Sinfonietta functions and performs. Most of the string orchestra’s members play regularly in quartets and trios, piano trios, string sextets and suchlike. Each season they present chamber music programmes under the name Amsterdam Sinfonietta Soloists, often with leading roles for the principals of the string sections. An unusual version of Schubert’s celebrated String Quintet in C major has been chosen for this CD recording. The work is one of the icons of chamber music, and it is therefore all the more painful that Schubert never heard it, since it was not performed until twenty years after his death, and publication came even later. The instrumentation corresponds to the quintets of Luigi Boccherini and George Onslow, who wrote countless works for two violins, viola and two cellos. It is said that, having heard the double bass player Domenico Dragonetti, Onslow provided all his string quintets with an alternative bass part to replace the second cello part. Earlier, Beethoven too had hugged this ‘Paganini of the double bass’ out of pure admiration. Almost ten years before his String Quintet in C major, Schubert wrote the Trout Quintet, in which the double bass features prominently. His interest in the instrument is also illustrated by its important role in works such as the Octet, the Ninth Symphony and the Song of the Spirits over the Waters. What would Schubert have done if he had heard Dragonetti play? With this in mind, the Amsterdam Sinfonietta requested Marijn van Prooijen, a double bass player and arranger, to adapt the second cello part for the double bass. Rick Stotijn plays it on a small double bass with a high tuning in fourths and even a high C string, which allow room for the player to be flexible in using the different registers.

“a fun new version...We forfeit the sweetness of the two cellos crooning their high tenor duets, but instead we get heft, and an added darkness that matches the angst beneath the work’s tuneful surface...The playing is terrific: tasteful phrasing, gracious ensemble intuition and a string sound that’s fibrous, luminous and poised.” The Guardian, 19th November 2015 ****

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