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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)

“[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

“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’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

“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 ****

“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

“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

““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 *****

“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 ****

GGramophone Magazine

Editor's Choice - June 2017

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Channel Iván Fischer Mahler Symphonies - CCSSA38817

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à la russe

à la russe


Balakirev:

Islamey - Oriental Fantasy

Rachmaninov:

Piano Sonata No. 1 in D minor, Op. 28

Stravinsky:

The Firebird: Danse infernale du roi Kastchei

Berceuse from The Firebird

Finale from The Firebird

Tchaikovsky:

Méditation (No. 5 from Morceaux, Op. 72)

Passé lontain (No. 17 from Morceaux, Op. 72)

Scherzo à la Russe, Op. 1 No. 1


Alexandre Kantorow (piano)

Read Presto's complete review of this disc here.

Alexandre Kantorow released his first disc for BIS in 2016, performing Liszt’s piano concertos to critical acclaim: ‘I’m here to tell you that Alexandre Kantorow is Liszt reincarnated’ wrote one impressed reviewer, in Fanfare Magazine. Not yet 20 years old, the French pianist and son of violinist and conductor Jean-Jacques Kantorow now explores his Russian roots, in a recital that opens with Rachmaninov’s weighty First Piano Sonata, inspired by Goethe’s play Faust, and its three main characters, the scholar Faust, his beloved Gretchen and Mephistopheles, the Devil’s emissary. The nostalgic intimacy of Méditation and Passé lointain, from Tchaikovsky’s Op. 72 collection, offers respite from the drama, but tension returns with Guido Agosti’s virtuosic piano arrangement of three extracts from Stravinsky’s Firebird.

Kantorow closes his Russian recital with Mily Balakirev’s ‘oriental fantasy’ Islamey, one of the iconic works of the piano literature. Fiendishly difficult, the piece famously inspired Ravel to write something that would be even harder to play (his Gaspard de la nuit). A committed Russian nationalist, Balakirev himself found the inspiration for Islamey during a journey to the Caucasus when he was introduced to the local music tradition.

“The speed-of-light excursions from one end of the keyboard to another, the density of the writing, and the sheer range of colours (you’ll barely miss the orchestration) which Kantorow conjures from the instrument in the Stravinsky initially had us wondering whether he'd enlisted an extra pair of hands to help out...A recording to treasure.” Katherine Cooper, Presto Classical, 8th June 2017

“an outstanding young artist at work...the early Tchaikovsky Scherzo brims over with panache and relish; and Islamey rivals even Berezovsky for the title of cleanest and most exhilarating account. If Kantarow's Stravinsky and Balakirev show that his fortissimo can shake the chandeliers from the ceiling when he chooses, his Rachmaninov is notably more classical.” Gramophone Magazine, July 2017

Presto Disc of the Week

9th June 2017

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Vaughan Williams: Scott of the Antarctic – complete score

Vaughan Williams: Scott of the Antarctic – complete score


Scott of the Antarctic: the complete score (1947-48 ed 2016)

Including numbers excluded from the final cut of the film

Transcribed and edited from the original manuscripts by Martin Yates (2016)

1. Main Title [“Heroism”] (Andante maestoso)

2. Antarctic Prologue (Lento)

3. Oriana [Wilson’s wife] (Lento movimento – Andante)

4. Doom [Oriana’s first meeting with Scott] (Lento)

5. Sculpture Scene Part 1 [Kathleen Scott and her husband]

Kathleen 1 (Andante sostenuto – Lento – Adagio)

6. Sculpture Scene Part 2 [Kathleen 2] (Andante – Lento)

7. Nansen (Andante misterioso – Allegretto)

8. Scott and Oates in the Rain (Lento)

9. Office (Allegro)

10. Queen’s Birthday March (Tempo di marcia)

11. Ship’s Departure from Cardiff (Lento ma non troppo – Pochiss. meno mosso)

12. Amundsen (Lento)

13. Ice Floes (Allegretto – Moderato)

14. Iceberg (Lento)

15. Penguin Dance (Molto moderato)

16. Ross Island (Lento)

17. The Ship’s Departure from Ross Island (Allegro con marcia)

18. Base Camp (Moderato)

19. Aurora 1 (Molto lento)

20. Pony March [Baltic Fleet] (Allegretto alla marcia)

21. Pony March 2 (Andante con marcia – Allegro)

22. Pony March and Aphelion (Moderato alla marcia)

23. Blizzard (Andante con moto – Poco piu lento)

24. Distant Glacier (Andante misterioso)

25. Climbing the Glacier (Lento)

26. Scott on the Glacier 1 [Version 1] (Risoluto – Andante)

27. Scott on the Glacier 2 [Version 2] (Andante maestoso)

28. Snow Plain [Scott’s decision] (Lento)

29. Kathleen 3 (Andante sostenuto)

30. Polar Party Departs 1 (Moderato alla marcia e pesante)

31. Polar Party Departs 2 (Moderato alla marcia e pesante)

32. No. 101 March (Alla marcia)

33. Black Flag (Andante moderato)

34. The Return (Andante alla marcia – Allegro)

35. Descending the Glacier (Lento)

36. The Death of Evans [Extended Version] (Lento – Lamentoso)

37. The Death of Oates (Lento – Maestoso)

38. Aurora 2 (Maestoso)

39. Only Eleven Miles (Lento)

40. The Discovery of the Tent and the Bodies (Lento moderato)

41. End Music (Andante sostenuto – Maestoso)


Ilona Domnich (soprano), Christopher Nickol (organ), Women of the Scottish National Orchestra Chorus (chorus)

Royal Scottish National Orchestra, Martin Yates

It is a revelation to hear every note that Vaughan Williams wrote, late in 1947, for the then unmade film Scott of the Antarctic. There have been previous attempts to revisit some of the unused music he sketched for the film, but now conductor Martin Yates, with the support of the composer’s estate, has transcribed from the original manuscripts all the music, comprising some 41 beautifully rounded numbers. Vaughan Williams subsequently reworked some of this material in the Sinfonia Antartica, but on this recording we are able to hear for the first time his vivid reaction to the story, before the film was even shot. Standing independently beside the Sinfonia Antartica, this is a gripping symphonic experience in its own right.

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Vaughan Williams: Job & Symphony No. 9

Vaughan Williams: Job & Symphony No. 9


Vaughan Williams:

Job - A Masque for Dancing

Symphony No. 9 in E minor


Read Presto's complete review of this disc here

The projected complete cycle of Vaughan Williams’s symphonies started by the late Richard Hickox has left a precious heritage in the discography of the composer.

Now, conducting the Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra, that other expert in British repertoire, Sir Andrew Davis, takes on the challenge of completing the series with idiomatic interpretations of two masterpieces: the final Symphony (No. 9) and the ballet Job.

The score of Job places an emphasis on tableau-like scenes, dances, and mime, linking it to a tradition of English ballet with dances from the seventeenth century, including the saraband, pavane, and galliard. In this masterly score, Vaughan Williams captures the conflict between good and evil, between the spiritual and the material. Job shows a strength, beauty, nobility, and visionary power which unite the many different facets of Vaughan Williams’s musical style. The poignant and musically enigmatic Symphony No. 9 marks ‘the end of Ralph’s life and [is] a turning point. It is leading out into another place. It is extraordinary’, as the composer’s wife stated after one of the early performances.

The subtle direction of Sir Andrew Davis combined with the pure sound quality of this SACD does full justice to Hickox’s great enterprise and promises a powerful conclusion of this already acclaimed recorded cycle.

“a performance of striking composure, lustre and palpable dedication. Not only do the Bergen Philharmonic respond with notable poise and eagerness (solo contributions are of the highest quality throughout), Davis conducts with unobtrusive authority as well as a sure hand on the structural tiller, uncovering a wealth of telling harmonic and textural detail along the way.” Gramophone Magazine, March 2017

“Davis, vastly experienced as a conductor of this composer, is every bit as idiomatic as the score’s dedicatee and finds the Bergen Philharmonic in virtuoso and sensitive form.” classicalsource.com

“While the loss of Hickox was, and remains, a huge loss to fans of this music, there could be no finer conductor to receive the baton than Andrew Davis...Davis seems to avoid some of Handley’s showmanship – giving less of a punch to some of the more impassioned outbursts – but conversely there’s a clarity here in some of the more intricate contrapuntal passages that Handley sometimes fails to match.” David Smith, Presto Classical, 10th February 2017

“A mandatory purchase for all Vaughan Williams enthusiasts.” MusicWeb International, 1st March 2017

“The versatile Bergen band clearly revel in the expansive, unmistakably “English” tunes and the sometimes exotic orchestration...Davis today has no peers in this repertoire, which, added to Chandos’s brilliantly “present” sound engineering, makes this a self-recommending issue.” Sunday Times, 19th March 2017

“a searing performance of the enigmatic ninth symphony…Even better, though, is Job: a tremendous, Blake-inspired score whose challenges are triumphantly met here. It is one of Vaughan Williams’ most dramatic works and the sheer power of the Bergen forces (that organ!) contrast perfectly with sections of great textual beauty. Superb SACD sound” Classical Music, April 2017 *****

Presto Disc of the Week

10th February 2017

GGramophone Magazine

Editor's Choice - March 2017

BBC Music Magazine

Recording of the month - April 2017

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Wagner: Lohengrin

Wagner: Lohengrin


Klaus Florian Vogt (Lohengrin), Camilla Nylund (Elsa), Katarina Dalayman, (Ortrud), Evgeny Nikitin (Friedrich von Telramund), Falk Struckmann (Heinrich der Vogler)

Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, Netherlands Radio Choir, Dutch National Opera Chorus, Mark Elder

After the enormous success of the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra's 2013 production of Wagner's Der fliegende Holländer (RCO14004) a follow-up was inevitable. With the eminent Wagnerian Mark Elder leading the RCO and a cast of internationally acclaimed soloists the production of Lohengrin in December 2015 was a complete triumph. The beginning of another RCO tradition?

“From the opening bars of the first-act prelude, the refinement and transparency of the string textures that play such an important role in the unfolding drama of Lohengrin are a constant wonder; the brass is utterly secure without ever becoming too assertive, the woodwind instantly responsive, whether colouring its moments of ceremony and jubilation or adding dark hues to the plotting of the central act.” The Guardian, 5th April 2017 ****

“It’s a spacious account, gloriously played. Katarina Dalayman’s spiteful yet beautifully sung Ortrud stands out.” Sunday Times, 22nd May 2017

“The biggest hurrahs go to Elder, the choruses…and the orchestra in its own home. Add Nylund’s vocally fearless heroine…Youn’s imposing Herald and Struckmann’s textually so clear and more baritonal-sounding than usual King, and that’s nearly enough…a valuable and mostly compelling document” Gramophone Magazine, June 2017

“The light-voiced Vogt sounds genuinely other-worldly in the title role of the swan-knight...Katarina Dalayman is a real powerhouse of an Ortrud, and Camilla Nylund a womanly Elsa. The Concertgebouw brass really rattle the rafters in the big third-act fanfares.” Katherine Cooper, Presto Classical, April 2017

“This is in some ways the finest modern recording of Lohengrin, in the first place on account of Sir Mark Elder’s superbly detailed, passionate and large-scale conducting of the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra…[Vogt] is persuasive in the role [of Lohengrin]…Camilla Nylund is ideal, pure of tone but not insipid, and capable of always beautiful passionate outbursts” BBC Music Magazine, July 2017 ****

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Sibelius: Symphonies Nos 3, 6 & 7

Sibelius: Symphonies Nos 3, 6 & 7


Sibelius:

Symphony No. 3 in C major, Op. 52

Symphony No. 6 in D minor, Op. 104

Symphony No. 7 in C major, Op. 105


Read Presto's complete review of this disc here

The long-awaited final disc in the Sibelius cycle from Minnesota Orchestra and Osmo Vänskä

The first disc in the Sibelius cycle from Osmo Vänskä and Minnesota Orchestra made the reviewer in Gramophone speculate about a 'benchmark cycle for the 21st century' whilst the second instalment received a Grammy for 'Best Orchestral Performance'. The long-awaited final disc in the cycle, with a playing time of 82 minutes, combines the Finnish master's third symphony, completed in 1907, with his two final works in the genre, composed more or less in tandem between 1922 and 1924. Symphony No. 3 in C major is Sibelius's most classical symphony, a radical change in direction after the opulence of its predecessor. It has been claimed that the mastery of form in its first movement is comparable only to the greatest Viennese masters – and at the same time the conductor Koussevitzky, one of the composer's strongest champions, spoke of it as ‘music far in advance of its time’. Fifteen years later, and after the heroic Fifth Symphony, Sibelius again presented a symphony which surprised those admirers who expected more of the same. Sibelius gave Symphony No. 6 a refined modal flavouring, avoiding both virtuoso orchestral writing and massive climaxes, and likened it to an offering of 'pure spring water'. This he followed up immediately with what would become his symphonic swan song – the stern and majestic Seventh Symphony. A one-movement work, it was at first billed as ‘Fantasia sinfonica’ but it is indeed a true symphony, its single movement portraying elements of all four movements of symphonic practice.

“With these recordings, Vanska confirms his status as our greatest living Sibelian. Irreplaceable.” Sunday Times, 10th July 2016

“The orchestra's sound under Vänskä has a kind of sharp-focus richness that's never cloying.” BBC Music Magazine, August 2016

“Despite wonderful brass moments...I think it’s the string playing that impressed me most. Their sound is always remarkable, not least in the Sixth Symphony, where the very opening allows them to show off their enormous dynamic range...Even if you already own Vänskä’s earlier cycle with the Lahti Symphony Orchestra, I think that these new performances are simply unmissable. An outstanding achievement in every way.” James Longstaffe, Presto Classical, 29th July 2016

“Vänskä’s Sibelius is all about clarity – of rhythm, of texture, of intention. It is zealously unfussy and entirely without exaggeration. But it can stop you in your tracks...The Third and Sixth Symphonies feel even more closely related than usual...One just knows that the ear-pricking clarity throughout these performances is of Vänskä’s and not the balance engineer’s making.” Gramophone Magazine, September 2016

“The playing is polished and detailed, now springy and buoyant, now occluded and chilling. Tempi are slightly broad but convincingly so. From the plunging energy of the opening of the Third Symphony to the bleak, raw ending of the Seventh, this is a gripping listen.” The Guardian, 17th July 2016 *****

“Outstanding Sibelius performances, outstandingly recorded” MusicWeb International, October 2016

“Vänska crowns his second Sibelius cycle with gripping renditions of the third and last two symphonies.” The Times, December 2016

Presto Disc of the Week

29th July 2016

Presto Discs of 2016

Winner

GGramophone Magazine

Editor's Choice - September 2016

BBC Music Magazine

Orchestral Choice - August 2016

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BIS Osmo Vänskä Sibelius Symphonies - BIS2006

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Elgar: Symphony No. 1 & Introduction and Allegro

Elgar: Symphony No. 1 & Introduction and Allegro


Elgar:

Introduction & Allegro for strings, Op. 47

Doric String Quartet

Symphony No. 1 in A flat major, Op. 55


This new Elgar surround-sound recording brings together some of Chandos’ finest exclusive British artists for the first time.

The Doric String Quartet – highly praised for its series of Haydn and Schubert quartets – joins the BBC Symphony Orchestra under Edward Gardner in the Introduction and Allegro, one of Elgar’s masterpieces. Gardner here captures the subtle contrast between the solo quartet and the string ensemble, while also reconciling a wide variety of musical ideas and tempo fluctuations, not least the ever-popular ‘Welsh’ solo viola melody. The full Orchestra then appears in a passionate account of the majestic Symphony No. 1, a much-loved work ever since its premiere in 1906. As well as highly praised Walton and Britten recordings, the enduring relationship between Edward Gardner and the BBC Symphony Orchestra has seen successful series of works by non-British composers such as Szymanowski and Lutosławski. Edward Gardner is also involved in recording projects with many other orchestras, including the Bergen Philharmonic, the CBSO, and the National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain, his latest new collaboration.

“Edward Gardner definitely puts refinement before moment-by-moment impact in his first venture into Elgar on disc. His treatment of the Introduction and Allegro…is notable more for its clarity and carefully graded textures than for its bracing athleticism, though it does finally deliver a real punch in the peroration. Gardner adopts a similar slow-burn approach to the First Symphony” The Guardian, 13th April 2017 ****

“Edward Gardner presides over a dashingly articulate, enviably integrated and deeply-felt account of Elgar's mighty A flat major symphony featuring the BBC Symphony Orchestra at the very top of its game” Classical Ear, 5th April 2017 *****

“The BBCSO under Edward Gardner keeps a grip on the composer’s lavish detail.” Financial Times, 28th April 2017

“Edward Gardiner has been a dedicated Elgarian since the beginning of his career, and this reading, with the BBC Symphony Orchestra, is strikingly mature…traditional in the best sense: brisk, with no exaggerated tempi or dynamics, and especially good at not becoming becalmed in the long first movement, and in the finale” Daily Mail, 23rd April 2017 ****

“[these readings] can and should be applauded for their lucidity and clarity and insightful honesty. There is a major talent at work here – of that there can be no doubt” Gramophone Magazine, May 2017

“Edward Gardner leads a lyrical and bracing account [of the Introduction and Allegro], vying nostalgic reverie with intense drive, Is dotted and Ts crossed yet with plenty of bittersweet ardour and impulsive vitality. The First Symphony is just as impressive. Gardner directs a flowing if flexible account that is very listenable and is particularly revealing of detail, dynamics and sonority.” classicalsource.com, May 2017 *****

“The British conductor is a seasoned Elgarian, and he coaxes playing of special splendour here from the brass and strings, which reveal richer sonorities in the saturated textures and brilliant contrapuntal writing.” Sunday Times, 14th May 2017

“Complex, multi-faceted, subtly changeable Elgar…Gardner is a master of transitions: the gradual transformation of scherzo to slow movement is only the most striking, but there are plenty of others. And what’s most marvellous is the way Gardner, having opened out so many different vistas, draws them all together into a single coherent statement…I’ve rarely heard a performance of this Symphony in which the human triumphs over the monumental so convincingly” BBC Music Magazine, July 2017 *****

BBC Music Magazine

Orchestral Choice - July 2017

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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 First World War, 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 ***

“The first minutes command immediate attention, Johannes Moser's handling of the opening chords confident and tonally full-bodied, the ascending solo scales that lead to the principal melody haltingly tiered, the melody itself tenderness personified, slowing subtly before the strings take the lead and Moser rises boldly to the crest of the phrase. The full orchestra's response is both heroic and uplifting. [Rococo Variations] Again Moser offers a performance that conbines sensitivity, agility and brilliance, while Manze and the Suisse Romande Orchestra are consistently on the ball.” Gramophone Magazine, May 2017

“Moser offers an interpretation of the splendid Elgar Cello Concerto that is dense and very personal, almost severe. His playing is more eloquent than elegiac, with a warm sonority. Above all, his mastery of articulation and of nuances has the ability to capture the attention of the most distracted of listeners.” Diapason, April 2017 *****

“Moser is an unfailingly elegant soloist…the Tchaikovsky Variations have a suitably Rococo grace and spirit” BBC Music Magazine, May 2017 ***

GGramophone Magazine

Editor's Choice - May 2017

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Beethoven: Piano Concertos Nos 1 & 2

Beethoven: Piano Concertos Nos 1 & 2


Beethoven:

Piano Concerto No. 1 in C Major, Op. 15

Piano Concerto No. 2 in B flat major, Op. 19


On two previous discs, Yevgeny Sudbin and Osmo Vänskä have released Beethoven’s three last piano concertos to critical acclaim. Distinctions include Editor’s Choice in Gramophone and the performances have been described as ‘electrifying’ (classicfm.com), ‘absolutely stunning’ (Fanfare) and ‘a Beethoven experience you will not want to miss’ (ClassicsToday.com).

For the final disc in their cycle, Sudbin and Vänskä have travelled to Helsinki to team up with Tapiola Sinfonietta, one of the top Nordic ensembles, and well suited for these earlier and more classical of Beethoven’s concertos. Of the two, the one we now know as the Second was actually begun several years before Concerto No. 1, and indeed even before Beethoven left Bonn for Vienna. During the following decade, Beethoven returned to the score repeatedly and made substantial revisions – including composing a new final movement – and ultimately the C major concerto reached publication first. Both concertos were conceived long before Beethoven's involvement with the symphonic genre, and the influence of Mozart and Haydn is evident in the interaction between the orchestra and the soloist – but Beethoven's individual spirit is nevertheless unmistakeable.

“For pianist Yevgeny Sudbin and conductor Osmo Vänskä it’s playfulness that prevails in the outer movements [of the Second Concerto]…Sudbin’s cadenzas are highlights: hints of jazz harmonies and the later Romantics, but all done with a light ironic touch that sits elegantly with the performance of a whole” BBC Music Magazine, June 2017 ****

“there are many moments of great beauty, and the performing standards are excellent.” Classical Ear, May 2017 ***

“It is impossible to hold back from admiration for Sudbin in whatever he plays, thanks to his brilliance and hallmark exuberance. He has much to say and he wants us to listen...Carl Czerny remarked that [Beethoven] ‘brings out difficulties and effects on the piano that we could never have imagined’. Yvgeny Sudbin at his best is an artist capable of reminding us of that and there is plentiful evidence in these rondo finales” Gramophone Magazine, May 2017

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Bach, J S: St John Passion, BWV245

Bach, J S: St John Passion, BWV245

in English


Sophie Bevan (soprano), Robin Blaze (countertenor), Benjamin Hulett (tenor), Robert Murray (Evangelist), Andrew Ashwin (Pilate, Peter), Neal Davies (bass-baritone), Ashley Riches (Jesus) & Peter Jaekel (organ)

Crouch End Festival Chorus & Bach Camerata, David Temple

Read our exclusive interview with David Temple here.

For its very first excursion on Chandos, the Crouch End Festival Chorus presents a landmark recording of J.S. Bach’s St John Passion sung in English – the first for over forty-five years.

With communicative zeal, beautiful articulation, and focused energy, this choir of more than 100 voices lends precision and power to the performance alongside the instruments of the Bach Camerata, one of the finest UK baroque orchestras, all under the inspired direction of David Temple.

The essence of the work is the conveying of a human story underpinned by the universal themes of love, betrayal, loss, and hope. The performance in English allows the drama and visceral energy of the work to go straight to the heart of the English-speaking listener.

The narrative is immediately understood, and the power of the storytelling imbues Bach’s music with extra freshness and meaning.

Thanks to an array of superb soloists and orchestral musicians, the new recording brings those qualities together in a performance which will present a well loved piece in a completely new light, and appeal to existing and future generations of music-lovers alike.

“…one will struggle to find more committed, well-balanced, agile and crisp singing than that of the Crouch End Festival Chorus, who are on top form throughout. Frankly none of the soloists could be bettered, nor the superb continuo team. Congratulations to all concerned on producing such a buoyant, absorbing and sonically thrilling recording.” Gramophone Magazine, April 2017

“there’s plenty to recommend a recording – purposefully conducted by David Temple – that also swims against the tide with a hefty 100-plus chorus mustering venom aplenty. The solo line-up is without a weak link; among its glories Sophie Bevan’s deeply affecting ‘Zerfliesse, mein Herze’, Benjamin Hulett’s finely nuanced ‘Erwage’, and Robin Blaze’s exquisitely judged ‘Es ist vollbracht’. Robert Murray’s Evangelist holds everything together with narrative acuity.” BBC Music Magazine, May 2017 ****

“its drama and emotional potency derive from the deeply felt, musically sublime and spiritually ardent performances marshalled with palpable intensity by David Temple. Wholly authentic and immediate, John Jenkins’s eloquent New Novello Choral Edition is, in itself, something of a marvel, prompting richly characterised contributions from all concerned” Classical Ear, June 2017 *****

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