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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

Super Audio CD

Format:

Hybrid Multi-channel

BIS Osmo Vänskä Sibelius Symphonies - BIS2006

(SACD)

$14.00

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Mozart: Mass in C minor, K427 'Great'

Mozart: Mass in C minor, K427 'Great'


Mozart:

Mass in C minor, K427 'Great'

Olivia Vermeulen (mezzo), Makoto Sakurada (tenor), Christian Immler (bass)

Exsultate, jubilate, K165

from the revised Salzburg version of K165


Following on from the 2015 release of Mozart’s Requiem, Masaaki Suzuki and his Bach Collegium Japan have gone on to record the composer's Mass in C minor, K427 – the ‘Great Mass’. As the nickname indicates, it is a work of unusual proportions for a mass of the Classical period – or would have been so, had Mozart completed it. It is not known, for what occasion Mozart intended the work, but a letter to his father Leopold, dated 4 January 1783, indicates that he may have committed himself to writing it in connection with his marriage to Constanze and a planned visit to Salzburg. A performance of parts of the Mass did take place in Salzburg in October 1783, with Constanze performing the prominent soprano part. Two years later Mozart reused the music from the Kyrie and Gloria sections in the sacred cantata Davidde penitente, K 469, but the Mass itself was left incomplete. The present performance includes the sections completed by Mozart himself, as well as those sections, for which extensive sketches by Mozart provided a basis for completion (by Franz Beyer in 1989). Three of Suzuki’s soloists also took part in the recording of the Requiem, while the Dutch mezzo-soprano Olivia Vermeulen makes her first appearance on BIS, shining in the aria ‘Laudamus te’. The disc closes with the celebrated cantata Exsultate, jubilate in which the soprano Carolyn Sampson glitters in the virtuosic solo part. As an appendix to the programme, she and the Bach Collegium Japan orchestra also repeats the initial aria, in a less well-known later version with a slightly different text and with flutes replacing the oboes of the original.

“The Mass survives as one of the great unfinished works. Suzuki’s famed period forces are significantly enlarged here (24 choristers), but are quite small for this work. His tempi are surprisingly spacious, but the dramatic impact of the double-choir Qui tollis in the Gloria comes across with full force.” Sunday Times, 13th November 2016

“Period-instrument C minor Masses get better and better. ...The choir are well drilled and the two female soloists are matched as well as any on disc...Suzuki is no speed merchant, and maintains the through line in more strenuous movements.” Gramophone Magazine, December 2016

“Stripping the score right back, Suzuki makes musicianship dominate. He taps into the subtle arts of his fellow performers, especially Carolyn Sampson, to create a benchmark performance…Sampson arabesques effortlessly up to the stratosphere in a slow dance with solo woodwinds…the three other vocal soloists equal Sampson’s elegance, forging a blissful euphony in their ensembles” BBC Music Magazine, January 2017 *****

“A tremendous achievement.” MusicWeb International, 10th January 2017

GGramophone Magazine

Editor's Choice - December 2016

BBC Music Magazine

Disc of the month - January 2017

Released or re-released in last 6 months

Super Audio CD

Format:

Hybrid Multi-channel

BIS - BIS2171

(SACD)

$14.00

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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

Presto Disc of the Week

10th February 2017

GGramophone Magazine

Editor's Choice - March 2017

BBC Music Magazine

Recording of the month - April 2017

Released or re-released in last 6 months

Super Audio CD

Format:

Hybrid Multi-channel

20% off Andrew Davis

Chandos - CHSA5180

(SACD)

Normally: $14.00

Special: $12.60

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Sibelius: In the Stream of Life

Sibelius: In the Stream of Life

Songs by Sibelius


Sibelius:

Pohjola's Daughter, Op. 49

In the Stream of Life

Seven Songs orch. E. Rautavaara. Premiere recording

Koskenlaskijan morsiamet (The Rapids-Rider’s Brides), Op. 33

Romance in C major for strings, Op. 42

Hymn to Thaïs (Text: Arthur H. Borgström)

Demanten på marssnön, Op. 36 No. 6 (Wecksell)

Hertig Magnus, Op. 57 No. 6

The Oceanides, Op. 73

På verandan på vid havet, Op. 38 No. 2 (Viktor Runeberg)

I natten, Op. 38 No. 3

Kom nu hit, Död, Op. 60 No. 1 (Bertel Gripenberg after Shakespeare)


Read Presto's complete review of this disc here

The exceptional collaboration and friendship between the late Einojuhani Rautavaara and the internationally acclaimed bass-baritone Gerald Finley culminates in this unique album of orchestral songs by Sibelius, on which the Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra is conducted by Edward Gardner.

The album offers orchestrations, by Sibelius and others, of songs which Sibelius originally wrote for voice and piano, and includes the premiere recording of In the Stream of Life, seven songs orchestrated by Rautavaara for his friend. Throughout, the poetry perfectly reflects the instinctively felt relation between Finnish nature and Sibelius’s music.

As Finley reveals: ‘the recording of [In the Stream of Life] became a very personal project when the sessions took place only a few weeks after [Rautavaara’s] death, in the same week as his funeral... and I am so thankful that a final addition was made possible when in the last months of his life [Rautavaara] agreed to orchestrate “Hjärtats morgon” and include it in the group.’

“Rautavaara's orchestrations are so convincingly Sibelian that on first hearing I completely forgot I wasn't listening to the The Real Thing...Finley is in magnificent voice throughout: though it's relatively uncommon to find non-Finnish singers tackling this repertoire, he seems completely at home with both the sound-world and the texts.” Katherine Cooper, Presto Classical, 30th December 2016

“Finley sings them all with his usual finesse and careful shading, reserving his full power for the few genuinely climactic moments...The subtle, respectful orchestrations wrap around his voice like a glove...Gardner and his orchestra include very fine performances of three orchestral works.” The Guardian, 4th January 2017 ****

“The measured beauty of Gerald Finley’s singing in subdued songs conjures impressive wintry vistas” Financial Times, January 2017

“An impressive if idiosyncratic programme” Gramophone Magazine, February 2017

“these new versions perfectly capture and amplify the spirit of Sibelius’s songs. Gerald Finley, a close friend of Rautavaara, makes an ideal case for the new settings, and his approach to the Swedish language of the texts is flowing and lyrical.” Classical Ear, 16th February 2017

“This haunting disc is as much a tribute to the Canadian singer’s close friendship with the late Finnish composer Einojuhani Rautavaara as it is a declaration of love for Sibelius’s songs...Dark and brooding, they are a fitting memorial.” Sunday Times, 19th February 2017

“A disc of songs and orchestral works for all devotees of Sibelius.” MusicWeb International, 3rd March 2017

Presto Disc of the Week

30th December 2016

Released or re-released in last 6 months

Super Audio CD

Format:

Hybrid Multi-channel

Chandos - CHSA5178

(SACD)

$14.00

(also available to download from $10.00)

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Handel: Messiah

Handel: Messiah

New Concert Edition by Sir Andrew Davis


Erin Wall (soprano), Elizabeth DeShong (mezzo-soprano), Andrew Staples (tenor), John Relyea (bass-baritone)

Toronto Mendelssohn Choir, Toronto Symphony Orchestra, Sir Andrew Davis

Experience the transcendent glory of Messiah in Sir Andrew Davis’s new, majestic, must-hear edition of Handel’s beloved classic.

Recorded live for SACD release in surround sound, this unique version makes use of all the colours available from the modern symphony orchestra to underline the mood and meaning of the individual movements. Without detracting from the innate power of the original, the conductor’s score calls for moments of drama, pathos, and even, sometimes, whimsicality. It is supported by substantial brass and woodwind forces, and several percussion instruments (including marimba!). As he explains in a very personal booklet note, this leading British conductor brings immense dedication to what is probably the most famous piece of British sacred music ever composed, this version being one which he has conducted live only a few times, including on this recording. He confesses: ‘Everything I have done instrumentally stems from the enormous respect, even awe, which I feel towards this supreme masterpiece’.

“Davis has thrown every resource of the modern symphony orchestra at the task. The result is rather as if the Disney Corporation had bought the rights to the show...The Toronto Symphony Orchestra plays with terrific spirit, especially the brass, and there are four excellent soloists.” The Times, 2nd December 2016 ****

“A performance I will return to often and with great pleasure.” MusicWeb International, 13th December 2016

“Davis’s new orchestration of Messiah is either, depending on your point of view, an act of unpardonable musical blasphemy or a gloriously tongue-in-cheek tribute to a well-loved masterpiece...the overall effect is just of a lush, Romantic orchestration rather than of forced aural gimmickry.” David Smith, Presto Classical, 2nd December 2016

“This is obviously not a basic ‘Library ‘ Messiah but can be cautiously recommended as a curiosity for those enjoy arrangements and transcriptions.” Gramophone Magazine, January 2017

“Astonishingly well controlled…the solo voices are rich and weighty…[the] flute provides a charming obbligato to ‘How beautiful are the feet’, while the tenor’s ‘Thy rebuke…’ is intensely moving…a remarkable choral achievement” BBC Music Magazine, January 2017 ****

Presto Disc of the Week

2nd December 2016

Presto Discs of 2016

Finalist

BBC Music Magazine

Choral & Song Choice - January 2017

Released or re-released in last 6 months

Super Audio CD

Format:

Hybrid Multi-channel

20% off Andrew Davis

Chandos - CHSA5176

(SACD - 2 discs)

Normally: $27.25

Special: $21.80

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Copland: Orchestral Works, Vol. 1 - Ballets

Copland: Orchestral Works, Vol. 1 - Ballets


Copland:

Fanfare for the Common Man

El Salón México

Billy the Kid - Suite

Appalachian Spring - Suite

Rodeo (Four Dance Episodes)


Read Presto's complete review of this disc here.

For this new series, the conductor, arranger, and light music specialist John Wilson, a BBC Proms favourite, for the first time joins the BBC Philharmonic on Chandos, in orchestral works by Aaron Copland. This first volume features the suites from the American composer’s most famous ballets. Written in 1938, the hugely successful Billy the Kid is a fine illustration of the limpid orchestration and clarity that Copland achieved in works made famous thanks to their popular accessibility. Similarly, four years later, in Appalachian Spring, he created a lastingly influential American soundworld, firmly rooted in the diatonicism of simple folk melodies. A third ‘nationalist’ ballet, Rodeo, and Fanfare for the Common Man were composed in the same year, 1942, the latter being possibly the most instantly recognizable piece in the history of American orchestral music. The energetic dances and national melodies of El Salón México reveals Copland’s other use of folk material, as a musical souvenir of foreign lands that had made an impression of him.

This album was recorded two months after a highly successful concert broadcast live on BBC Radio 3.

“Wilson is in his element here, coaxing razzmatazzy playing from the BBC Philharmonic in the rhythmically charged Mexican Dance and battle scene from Billy the Kid, and the Buckaroo Holiday and Hoe-Down from Rodeo. There is tenderness, too, even a touch of Leonard Bernsteinesque wallowing in the unforgettable folksy melodies of Appalachian Spring” Sunday Times, 17th January 2016

“Wilson's performances are…impressive, and he secures superb playing from the BBC Philharmonic…the three ballets receive strongly characterised interpretations, as piquant and affecting in the slower passages as they are punchy and ebullient in the faster ones…I enjoyed listening to this disc enormously.” Gramophone Magazine, March 2016

“John Wilson shows an instinctive flair for Copland's syncopated and changing rhythms, and brings out all the music's broad humour and intimate poetry” BBC Music Magazine, March 2016

“His lifelong immersion in the sound-world of 30s and 40s American music is evident from the off, with the distant trumpets in Fanfare for the Common Man glowing with that vibrato-warmed vintage brass sound that’s so distinctive in his recordings of the great musicals...every single phrase of all the works presented here feels truly balletic, and the music never stops dancing.” Katherine Cooper, Presto Classical, 29th January 2016

“The conductor is a natural in Copland’s most celebrated ballet scores: Billy the Kid, Rodeo and Appalachian Spring.” The Times, December 2016

Presto Disc of the Week

29th January 2016

Presto Discs of 2016

Winner

GGramophone Magazine

Editor's Choice - March 2016

BBC Music Magazine

Orchestral Choice - March 2016

Super Audio CD

Format:

Hybrid Multi-channel

Chandos - CHSA5164

(SACD)

$14.00

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Giaches de Wert: Divine Theatre

Giaches de Wert: Divine Theatre

Sacred Motets


Wert:

Gaudete in Domino

Hoc enim sentite in vobis

Saule, Saule

Vox in Rama

Amen, amen dico vobis

Egressus Jesus

Peccavi super numerum

O crux ave

Ascendente Jesu

Virgo Maria hodie ad coelum

Quiescat vox tua

Deus iustus, et salvans

O altitudo divitiarum


Read our exclusive interview withStile founder-member Will Dawes about the project here.

Franco-Flemish composer Giaches de Wert wrote a considerable amount of sacred music during the late Renaissance, but little of it was published during his lifetime. Only three books of motets were released in 1566 and 1581. Stile Antico's new album introduces us to another side of this composer who, though Flemish-born, spent most of his life in Italy, primarily in Mantua, where he was to remain for the rest of his life, though not without maintaining connections (both musical and, during the mid-late 1580s, romantic) with the court at Ferrara, where the lively musical life must have been a welcome distraction from his not-always-happy existence at the Mantuan court. The unique and dramatic style of these remarkable motets cannot fail to ravish explorers of this 'divine theatre'.

“The rewards of this outstanding disc are double. On one hand, one is presented with the marvel of High Polyphony performed to perfection. On the other hand, there is a feeling that new doors have been opened...Monteverdi and all the magnificence of the new worldly celebration of the Baroque is just around the corner, and yet we still have our bearings in a splendid world that makes perfect sense.” Audiophile Audition, 11th February 2017

“This selection of motets, mostly for five or six voices, is unexpectedly rich in imagination, variety, and often sheer joyful energy, and the performances boast a high-quality technical brilliance.” Financial Times, 20th January 2017 ****

Released or re-released in last 6 months

Super Audio CD

Format:

Hybrid Multi-channel

Early Music

Harmonia Mundi - HMM807620

(SACD)

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Bach, J S: Mass in B minor, BWV232

Bach, J S: Mass in B minor, BWV232


Maria Keohane (soprano), Joanne Lunn (soprano), Alex Potter (countertenor), Jan Kobow (tenor), Peter Harvey (bass)

Concerto Copenhagen, Lars Ulrik Mortensen

The Concerto Copenhagen, the leading Scandinavian ensemble for historical performance practice, is currently regarded worldwide as one of the most remarkable and imaginative orchestras in this field under its artistic director Lars Ulrik Mortensen. The orchestra’s vitality, sense of style, and communicative talent have become its trademarks.

Accordingly, we have decided to release Bach’s Mass in B minor on two SACDS (moreover, in quality surround sound) featuring this extraordinary ensemble and top-class soloists.

“To my mind, Mortensen’s special performance, which is full to the brim with insightful musicianship and has a refreshing avoidance of contrived formulas, comfortably joins Parrott (EMI), Junghänel and John Butt (Linn) as the finest examples of this kind of perspective on performing Bach’s monumental sacred masterpiece.” Gramophone Magazine, March 2016

“I’ll highlight ‘Confiteor’ (Credo) where the solace derived from the ‘remission of sins’ is realised in Mortensen’s performance with translucent tenderness…[Mortensen’s concertino team] is the strongest I’ve yet heard” Early Music Today, August 2016 *****

GGramophone Awards 2016

Shortlisted - Baroque Vocal

GGramophone Magazine

Editor's Choice - March 2016

Building a Library

First Choice - February 2017

Super Audio CD

Format:

Hybrid Multi-channel

Early Music

CPO - 7778512

(SACD - 2 discs)

Normally: $27.75

Special: $22.20

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Edward Gardner conducts Holst & Richard Strauss

Edward Gardner conducts Holst & Richard Strauss


Holst:

The Planets, Op. 32

Strauss, R:

Also sprach Zarathustra, Op. 30


For its very first album on Chandos, the National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain devotes its characteristic energy and musical mastery to an explosive programme that transcends daily life and earthly experience. It is helped by the enthusiastic, encouraging, and experienced baton of Edward Gardner as well as by the sumptuous yet detailed acoustic of Symphony Hall, Birmingham, all fully revealed in this surround-sound recording.

Their performance of Strauss’s Also sprach Zarathustra and Holst’s The Planets is already a point of reference in the UK after the immensely successful Prom concert that preceded the recording. The concert’s five-star review in The Daily Telegraph praised in particular the orchestra’s ‘great attack and complete absence of anything routine’, while The Guardian emphasised the great performance of the orchestra in this ‘graceful and evocative programme’, especially the ‘depth and richness of sound that belied their youth’.

This unique album is a first milestone in what promises to be a superb discography for the NYO.

Special notice: this album will also be released on Vinyl.

“The compulsive fluency of Stanford’s music is part of its charm…Frith’s advocacy is state-of-the-art (does any pianist around draw a lovelier sound from the keyboard, or phrase more naturally?), and the orchestra’s contribution under Andrew Gourlay is excellently vivid and anti-routine.” BBC Music Magazine, November 2016 ****

“Benjamin Frith is fully on top of the solo part's technical demands and brings plenty of poetry and obvious affection to proceedings, and he receives sympathetic support from the BBC National Orchestra of Wales under Andrew Gourlay...a valuable programme that all Stanford fans will want to add to their collection.” Classical Ear

“Gardner’s conducting of Strauss’s Nietzsche-inspired symphonic poem is impressively flowing and direct while still being flexible and also alive to small details; in return the members of the National Youth Orchestra play with confidence, poise and bravura, and a lack of indulgence on Gardner’s part is refreshing to the music as a whole...However, it’s The Planets that takes the bouquets.” classicalsource.com

“occasionally one misses the refinement of a professional outfit, but rarely: more often one is struck by the warmth and intensity of the string sound and the quality of the wind solos. Edward Gardner’s driven, finely balanced conducting ensures this is one for collectors as well as supporters.” The Guardian, 10th February 2017 ****

Released or re-released in last 6 months

Super Audio CD

Format:

Hybrid Multi-channel

Chandos - CHSA5179

(SACD)

Normally: $14.00

Special: $12.50

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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

Released or re-released in last 6 months

Super Audio CD

Format:

Hybrid Multi-channel

Early Music

Channel - CCSSA38316

(SACD)

Normally: $14.50

Special: $11.89

In stock - usually despatched within 1 working day.

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