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Brahms: String Quintets

Brahms: String Quintets


Brahms:

String Quintet No. 1 in F major, Op. 88

String Quintet No. 2 in G major, Op. 111


WDR Symphony Orchestra Cologne Chamber Players

Radiant, expansive, lyrical and utterly compelling, Brahms’s richly rewarding string quintets are exuberantly unleashed by the WDR Symphony Orchestra Cologne Chamber Players in this album.

These technically demanding works contain everything one could wish for from the mature Brahms: searching melodies woven into glowing, luxuriant textures, lyrical introspection with subdued sonorities, to youthful abandon in breathless, rhythmic passages.

“You have never before had such a beautiful work from me”, Brahms told his publisher about his Quintet No.1 in F major, Op. 88. This was no idle boast. The amiable and leisurely first movement with its warmly inviting opening melody is followed by a haunting second movement based on a sarabande with exquisite interplay between the instruments. In a nod to Beethoven, the energetic final movement is a masterly combination of fugue and sonata form but the result is pure Brahms.

The WDR Symphony Orchestra Cologne was formed in 1947. It has recorded extensively and is renowned for its interpretation of 20th century and contemporary music in addition to the standard classical repertoire. Its chief conductor is Jukka - Pekka Saraste. The WDR Symphony Orchestra Cologne Chamber Players are all members of the orchestra as well as pursuing their own international careers: Ye Wu (violin, Leader), Andreea Florescu (violin), Tomek Neugebauer (viola), Mischa Pfeiffer (viola) and Susanne Eychmüller (cello). The WDR Symphony Orchestra has, as part of the season, its own regular chamber music subscription series. The concerts take place in the WDR Radio Hall and all concerts are recorded and broadcast on the radio. This is their first recording for PENTATONE.

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Pentatone - PTC5186663

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Scheduled for release on 21 April 2017. Order it now and we will deliver it as soon as it is available.

Haydn: Symphonies Nos. 53, 64 & 96

Haydn: Symphonies Nos. 53, 64 & 96


Haydn:

Symphony No. 53 in D major 'The Imperial'

Symphony No. 64 in A major 'Tempora Mutantur'

Symphony No. 96 in D major 'Miracle'


The Oregon Symphony, Carlos Kalmar

This is Carlos Kalmar’s fourth album for PENTATONE with the Oregon Symphony. Their album ‘Music for a Time of War’, earned two Grammy nominations (Best Orchestral Performance and Best Engineered Album, Classical) and was widely praised by music critics. Gramophone said of their album This England “Kalmar’s Oregon performance certainly pulls no punches … a total success, gripping in mood and hot on specific instrumental detail,” adding, “sound - wise, you couldn’t ask for more; nor could anyone expect finer recording from PENTATONE.” And in 2016, their critically acclaimed album of 20th century American orchestral works The Spirit of the American Range earned a Grammy nomination for Best Orchestral Performance. Carlos Kalmar, a Uruguayan national, is in his fourteenth season as Music Director of the Oregon Symphony. He is also the artistic director and principal conductor of the Grant Park Music Festival in Chicago.

Whether it’s a confident swagger or a balletic grace, a beguiling folk - melody or a quicksilver rondo, there is always something new to discover in the endlessly inventive symphonies of Haydn, especially in these firm favourites played by the Oregon Symphony under Carlos Kalmar in this new release. While Haydn wrote only one “Surprise” symphony, there are surprises to be enjoyed aplenty here. From the bewildering Largo in Symphony No. 64 with its unexpected turns and derailments, to the ceremonial elegance and ear - tickling melodies of Symphony No. 53 or the mock - heroics and propulsive rhythms of Symphony No. 96, Haydn’s irrepressible and dazzling ingenuity constantly delights and astonishes. “There is no one who can do it all,” wrote Mozart, “to joke and to terrify, to evoke laughter and profound sentiment – and all equally well, except Joseph Haydn.”.

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Pentatone - PTC5186612

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Scheduled for release on 21 April 2017. Order it now and we will deliver it as soon as it is available.

AKOKA: Reframing Messiaen’s Quartet for the End of Time

AKOKA: Reframing Messiaen’s Quartet for the End of Time


Messiaen:

Quatuor pour la fin du temps


David Krakauer (clarinet), Matt Haimovitz (cello), Jonathan Crow (violin), Geoffrey Burleson (piano) & Socalled (electronics)

This release fits into the PENTATONE Oxingale series, which was established when PENTATONE and Oxingale Records joined forces in February 2015.

In their “brilliantly inventive” (The New York Times) live recording, clarinetist David Krakauer and cellist Matt Haimovitz’s AKOKA lift Messiaen's transcendent 1940 - 41 work Quartet for the End of Time out of the polite context of a chamber music performance, placing it in a dramatic 21st century setting that drives home its gravity and impact.

AKOKA was inspired by the wartime experience of Jewish clarinetist Henri Akoka, who premiered the Quartet for the End of Time with Messiaen himself at the German prisoner - of - war camp in which they were both interred. Henri Akoka's vibrant personality and the story of his survival, with all its twists and turns, is the inspiration for this recording, which brings out the human aspect of this composition, seen through the eyes of one individual caught up in terrifying events beyond his control.

Messiaen’s Quartet for the End of Time is bookended by Akoka, Krakauer’s highly improvisational, Sephardic - tinged piece, and meanwhile are - mix by hip - hop/klezmer artist Socalled, who joins the ensemble on electronics. As the forces of fundamentalism, intolerance and violence intensify in today's world, this mounting of Messiaen’s great work is all the more timely.

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Pentatone Oxingale Series - PTC5186560

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Scheduled for release on 21 April 2017. Order it now and we will deliver it as soon as it is available.

Elgar & Tchaikovsky: Cello Works

Elgar & Tchaikovsky: Cello Works


Elgar:

Cello Concerto in E minor, Op. 85

Tchaikovsky:

Variations on a Rococo Theme, Op. 33


The profoundly moving, elegiac lyricism of Elgar and the wistful charm and brilliance of Tchaikovsky are on full display in this irresistible new release from PENTATONE played with consummate virtuosity by the German-Canadian cellist Johannes Moser with the Orchestre de la Suisse Romande under Andrew Manze.

Composed at the end of the FirstWorldWar, Elgar’s powerful Cello Concerto in E minor is one of his best-loved and most deeply-felt works. The soloist’s wrenching chords which open the work announce a mood of profound resignation and loss; gone is the youthful swagger of his earlier works, replaced instead with lonely introspection and longing, especially in the sublimely beautiful Adagio. The cello is given free rein in the vigorous final movement but the opening mood prevails as an anguished outburst from the cello brings the work to a close.

No such dejection hangs over Tchaikovsky’s delightful Variations on a Rococo Theme which ooze elegance, ineffable charm and daring displays of technical brilliance. While the Pezzo capriccioso finds Tchaikovsky in a more restrained mood, with the Nocturne and Andante Cantabile he wears his romantic heart full on his sleeve.

The cellist Johannes Moser is no stranger to these works. Winner of the top prize at the 2002 Tchaikovsky Competition, he was also awarded the Special Prize for his interpretation of the Variations on a Rococo Theme.

Described by Gramophone as “one of the finest among the astonishing gallery of young virtuoso cellists” and by the LA Times as a musician who “…connects with the audience in a way that only great artists do”, this is Moser’s third outing for PENTATONE.

His first album of concertos by Dvořák and Lalo was widely praised for his “performance of enormous flair and effervescence” (BBC Music Magazine) and “his dazzling virtuosity, free, passionate phrasing and immense energy … that recalls Pablo Casals’ iconic 1937 recording” (Strings)

“Moser plays the composer’s original version [of the Variations], and sets off at a brisk trot – rococo is not going to be a byword for prissy. But the lightness is balanced by a gently yearning lyricism, and he shapes the minor-key variation into one long, seamless line...throughout, Andrew Manze and the Orchestre de la Suisse Romande are supportive at every turn.” The Guardian, 23rd March 2017 ***

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Pentatone - PTC5186570

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Mendelssohn: Symphonies Nos. 1 & 3

Mendelssohn: Symphonies Nos. 1 & 3


Mendelssohn:

Symphony No. 1 in C minor, Op. 11

Symphony No. 3 in A minor, Op. 56 'Scottish'


Mendelssohn's warmly lyrical and evocative Scottish symphony is paired with his confident and precocious first symphony for the first in a series of recordings in multi-channel surround sound for PENTATONE by the conductor Andrew Manze and the NDR Radiophilharmonie.

Inspired by his visits to Scotland and the Hebrides and the romantic novels of Sir Walter Scott, his outstanding Symphony No. 3 in A minor ("Scottish") is a colourful reminiscence of its rugged landscapes steeped in history,

and an affectionate homage to the proud Highlanders he met there. It was an instant success on its first performance and rivals the popularity of the overture The Hebrides, also inspired by the splendour of Scotland.

No less impressive is his masterly Symphony No. 1 in C minor, composed when he was just 15 years old. From its noisy and impetuous opening to its triumphant conclusion, this confident and adventurous work shows the influence of Mozart, Haydn and Weber but the effect is unmistakeably Mendelssohnian with fugal passages, unforgettable melodies and busy, inventive scoring.

"Whatever the exceptional Andrew Manze asked for," wrote the Leipziger Volkszeitung, "was delivered in real time: wonderfully delicate strings, spotless, yet warm-sounding woodwind ... the result was detailed and rich in contrast." Renowned for his boundless energy and scholarly knowledge and with many critically acclaimed recordings in a broad repertoire, Manze is celebrated as one of the most stimulating and inspirational conductors of his generation.

"Manze's take is wholly individual," wrote the Guardian. " [Brahms' symphonies] burst with life, by turns wistful, yearning, sharp-edged and blisteringly incisive ... this is the composer reinvented for the 21st century." In September 2014 Andrew Manze became the Principal Conductor of the NDR Radiophilharmonie in Hannover and immediately made headlines.

"If it continues like this," wrote the Neue Presse in November 2014, "the NDR Radiophilharmonie will soon be looked at with envy by the rest of the musical world, as what new Principal Conductor Andrew Manze is brewing up ... can be deemed sensational."

“I can’t imagine it more convincingly played and conducted...Manze, with his early-music training, highlights the vivid woodwind writing, as he and his Hanover players also do in their crystal-clear account of the Scottish.” Sunday Times, 26th March 2017

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Pentatone - PTC5186595

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Dvorak: Symphony No. 9 'New World'

Dvorak: Symphony No. 9 'New World'


Dvorak:

Symphony No. 9 in E minor, Op. 95 'From the New World'

Slavonic Dance No. 3 in A flat major, Op. 46 No. 3

Slavonic Dance No. 5 in A major, Op. 46 No. 5


Dvorak’s New World Symphony is counted among the most successful and distinctive symphonies ever written and it loses none of its drama or appeal on repeated playing. Inspired by American spirituals and Henry Longfellow’s epic poem The Song of Hiawatha, this infectiously tuneful work with its brilliantly colourful orchestration and rhythmic verve has its creative wellspring in Dvorak’s own homesickness. It was condescendingly described by his critics as a “Czech composer’s impression of the country” but its qualities were never in doubt and its inventiveness and warmth radiate from every page. From beautiful, wistful melodies, to unfettered exuberance and glorious, sustained climaxes, this extraordinary symphony has it all.

Dvorak’s evergreen Slavonic Dances Op. 46 (of which two are heard in this recording) are equally popular with audiences. Responsible for establishing Dvorak’s international reputation, these utterly charming pieces overflow with appealing melodies and catchy rhythms, their freshness and simplicity concealing their artful construction.

Andrés Orozco-Estrada is one of the most sought after conductors of his generation. Music Director of the Houston Symphony and Chief Conductor of the Frankfurt Radio Symphony Orchestra, he is also Principal Guest Conductor of the London Philharmonic Orchestra. He has been widely praised for his style and command, Die Presse remarking “The orchestra was on top form, displaying precision and clarity in equal measure … packed with drama and finely balanced under Andrés Orozco-Estrada’s direction.” (August 2016)

This is Orozco-Estrada’s fifth recording for PENTATONE. His earlier discs of Dvořák symphonies were described as “Vivid and colourful, overall well balanced” (Pizzicato) “an interpretation full of theatricality, with a sure sense of the monumental” (Gramophone).

Future releases from PENTATONE with Orozco-Estrada in 2017 include Haydn’s Die Schöpfung with the Houston Symphony, and Richard Strauss’s opera Salome with the Frankfurt Radio Symphony Orchestra.

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Pentatone - PTC5186574

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Brahms: Ballades and Fantasies

Brahms: Ballades and Fantasies


Brahms:

Theme and Variations in D minor (arr. from String Sextet, Op. 18)

Ballades (4), Op. 10

Fantasies (7 piano pieces), Op. 116


Bold, turbulent defiance sit alongside pained introspection and bittersweet reverie in this penetrating recital of Brahms piano works by the acclaimed young Russian pianist Denis Kozhukhin in his eagerly awaited second recording for PENTATONE.

By turns placid, sparse, restive and impassioned, the highly personal and contemplative late piano pieces of Brahms have been described as "the mirrors of his soul". The seven pieces comprising the Fantasias, Op. 116 are quite different in mood but are nevertheless intricately constructed to produce poetic miniatures of great depth and sonority, requiring sensitive artistry to convey their sense of unity and poignancy.

Brahms is in a more full-bloodied and demonstrative mood with the four character pieces in the much earlier Ballades, Op 10. But these too show moments of transcendent beauty as in the closing ballade where the tenor melody is woven into the mellifluously undulating pianissimo accompaniment. And in the rarely heard Theme and Variations, Op. 18b, Brahms makes a sumptuous and instantly seductive arrangement of the second movement of his own String Sextet, producing an arresting and magisterial work with exquisite tone colorations and a hushed, sublime ending.

Kozuhukin's first recording with PENTATONE of the Grieg and Tchaikovsky's Piano concertos was widely praised. Radio Bremen hailed him as "...already one of the greats of the black and white keys". Gramophone magazine named the release 'Editor's Choice' for May 2016, noting "Above all, [Kozhukhin] is natural ... His inerrant rhythmic sense is pliant yet taut; his sound unalloyed silver. Listening to Kozhukhin, you're left with one thing: the music - incontestable, complete." And The Herald Scotland was unequivocal. "If you want to add these old warhorses to your music library, however, there are few better places to start than here... [PENTATONE] uses the slogan 'Sit back and enjoy', and that is the way to appreciate a recording that could hardly be better for its balanced capturing of the performances."

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Pentatone - PTC5186568

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Brahms: Violin Concerto & Double Concerto

Brahms: Violin Concerto & Double Concerto


Brahms:

Violin Concerto in D major, Op. 77

Double Concerto for Violin & Cello in A minor, Op. 102

Daniel Muller-Schott (cello)


It is impossible to perform either Brahms’ Violin Concerto in D or his Double Concerto in A minor without inviting comparison to Joseph Joachim, the great Hungarian virtuoso for whom Brahms composed nearly all of his violin works. For many years, Joachim and Brahms were inseparable companions and mutual sources of inspiration. It was on Joachim’s urging that Brahms composed his Violin Concerto in D, a masterpiece which quickly entered the standard violin repertoire.

Violin Concerto in D was notable at the time for its return to a style of symphonic concerto which could be traced directly to Ludwig van Beethoven. This gives both conductor and orchestra a great deal of leeway for interpretation, especially during the long periods in which the solo violin doesn’t play at all, such as the orchestral introduction and the beginning of the Adagio movement. Russian-born American conductor Yakov Kreizberg is more than up to the task of bringing these moments to life, as is the Netherlands Chamber Orchestra, for whom Kreizberg had served as chief conductor since 2003.

The titular role of violin soloist is filled masterfully by German violinist Julia Fischer, who throughout her numerous PENTATONE releases consistently brings a maturity and poise well beyond her years. Her interpretation captures both the lightheartedness and joy with which Brahms composed these works and the seriousness of the tradition from which they come. Fischer’s ability to graciously cede the spotlight to the orchestra and emerge in the foreground at just the right moments lends this particular release a level of interaction which truly sets it apart.

For the Double Concerto in A minor, Fischer is joined by fellow Munich native Daniel Müller-Schott on cello. Brahms composed this work as an olive branch to Joachim after a period in which they refused to speak for several years following Joachim’s contentious divorce. The Double Concerto is rife with musical cues and other references to their friendship, particularly in the interplay between cello and violin, and this spirit is perfectly captured by an exceptionally dynamic performance by Fischer and Müller-Schott.

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Pentatone - PTC5186592

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On My Journey Now

On My Journey Now

Spirituals and Hymns


1) Nobody Knows the Trouble I’ve Seen 4.36

2) Sometimes I Feel Like a Motherless Child 3.25

3) Didn’t My Lord Deliver Daniel 1.56

4) On My Journey Now 2.12

5) Give Me Jesus 3.24

6) Kumbaya 2.19

7) Go Down Moses 3.02

8) Deep River 2.55

9) Ain’t-a That Good News 2.28

10) Amazing Grace 4.43

11) Joshua Fought the Battle Of Jericho 2.59

12) De Blin’ Man Stood On De Road An’ Cried 3.23

13) Stand Still Jordan 3.28

14)Wade in theWater 1.30

15) By An’ By 2.11

16) My Lord, What a Morning 4.46

17)Were You There 2.57

18) Every Time I Feel the Spirit 2.31

19) Don’t YouWeepWhen I Am Gone 3.02

20) Battle Hymn of the Republic 4.06

21) Let Us Break Bread Together 2.55

22) My Tribute (To God Be The Glory) 5.08

23) He’s Got theWholeWorld in His Hands 2.37

24) Ride on, King Jesus! 2.10

25) Dream Big Speak Loud 5.16


Lester Lynch (baritone)

Life affirming, defiant and uplifting, there is nothing quite like the extraordinary power and simplicity of American Spirituals to move and inspire, abundantly demonstrated here by the acclaimed American operatic baritone Lester Lynch in this new release from PENTATONE of familiar and well-loved spirituals and hymns.

Conceived under conditions of tremendous hardship, these emotionally charged songs speak of the indomitable human will to live and to triumph over despair against the odds. Defiant and jubilant, they communicate the unquenchable longing for freedom and salvation.

“I have dreamed of recording this album from the inception of my career,” writes Lester Lynch in the accompanying album notes. “To realize that dream at this particular moment in time, to record these songs of freedom … echoes the spiritual tradition and revolutionary act of those who raised their voices in song against brutality and inequality.”Lester Lynch personally chose and arranged the songs in this release, each with a particular accompaniment—piano, organ, acoustic guitar, violin, trumpet, harmonica, drum, and djembe (a West African goblet drum). From the rhythmic By An’ By and Ev’ry Time I Feel De Spirit, to the richly melodic Amazing Grace and Deep River, the 24 songs constantly astonish and delight for their range and depth and their unfailing power to move.

“Music speaks to and heals the human spirit,” writes Lynch. “These songs have had a profound effect on American history. I sing them to honor those who struggled (and died) for freedom, and it is my hope that they will spark the light of freedom anew for every listener.”

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Pentatone - PTC5186571

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Usually despatched in 2 - 3 working days. (Available now to download.)

Mendelssohn: Piano Trios Nos. 1 & 2

Mendelssohn: Piano Trios Nos. 1 & 2


Mendelssohn:

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

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


Julia Fischer (violin), Daniel Muller-Schott (cello) & Jonathan Gilad (piano)

Reissue of the 2006 release.

There are few composers who simultaneously exemplify both restraint and innovation as well as Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdy. Mendelssohn's two piano trios provide some of the finest examples of the balance he was able to achieve between deference to the great masters, in this case Ludwig van Beethoven, and a more Romantic sensibility for chromaticism, harmony and orchestration. A noted pianist in his own right, Mendelssohn performed the piano part on the premieres of both trios, along with Ferdinand David on violin and Carl Wittmann on cello. In this PENTATONE release these roles are filled by violinist Julia Fischer, cellist Daniel Muller-Schott and pianist Jonathan Gilad.

The contrast between the two piano works is striking. The Piano Trio in D minor was written in 1839, during the artistic and personal zenith of Mendelssohn's career. After years of remarkable success all over Europe, his appointment as director of the Leipzig Gewandhaus concerts in 1835 ensured that he could finally began to settle down in Germany, secure in his financial prospects. Two years later, Mendelssohn married and appeared to relish his new life as a husband and father of five. The first piano trio clearly reflects this elated mood, with lively dance movements and joyful, lyrical themes that this release manages to capture perfectly.

In contrast the Piano Trio in C minor, written only five years later, reflects a much more tumultuous period in Mendelssohn's life. His mother had died in 1843 and his health was beginning to turn for the worse, culminating in a fatal stroke on November 4th, 1847. Musically, this contributed to a period of dark timbres, tense tempos and increased chromaticism. Even during this gloomy time the tone is more understated than melodramatic, tending towards a more subtle form of subversion which is even more difficult to pull off, and all the more enjoyable when performed as convincingly as it is by Fischer, Muller-Schott and Gilad.

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Pentatone - PTC5186609

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