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GRAMOPHONE 2018

Best new classical albums



Martin Cullingford's pick of the finest recordings from this month's reviews.
Here are the titles available from Naxos Direct.
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Image #2 NOVEMBER 2018
Langgaard Symphonies Nos 2 & 6 Gade Tango jalousie 
Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra / Sakari Oramo

"Unfamiliar but deeply rewarding music played by a great orchestra clearly relishing the opportunity to engage with this composer’s fascinating sound world." (Gramophone) 

Rued Langgaard – Symphonies Nos. 2 & 6 including Jacob Gade's Tango Jalousie

Rued Langgaard (1893–1952) was the major Danish late-Romantic composer who did not
gain recognition in his mother country. His greatest successes took place in Germany and Austria, where his Symphonies Nos. 2 and 6 were met with considerable acclaim. Back
home, he never received that kind of backing. He died a careworn and despairing individual. On this recording with one of the world’s leading orchestras, the traditionconscious Vienna Philharmonic, one is therefore able to hear Langgaard's music 'return
home' to a central European musical culture. At the same time things were going swimmingly for his colleague Jacob Gade (1879–1963) whose Tango Jalousie has become the absolutely most frequently played piece of Danish music for almost a century

kr 159
Image #3 NOVEMBER 2018
Mahler Symphony No 5
Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra / Daniel Harding

"Proof that the Swedish RSO is on fine form under Daniel Harding who gives a superb performance of this popular and great symphony." (Gramophone)

For the second installment in his Mahler cycle for harmonia mundi, Daniel Harding revisits a symphony which clearly represents a turning point in the composer’s output. The years following Mahler’s early period (marked by Des Knaben Wunderhorn) saw the production of works of ever greater complexity and sardonicism, which show no trace of naïveté. Within a framework of utmost intricacy, the themes, musical gestures, and building blocks (for instance, the interval of a minor third which opens the Fifth Symphony’s famous Adagietto) trace a journey from darkness to light which culminates in the striking modernity of the finale.

kr 159
Image #4 NOVEMBER 2018
Tchaikovsky Swan Lake
State Academic SO of Russia ‘Evgeny Svetlanov’ / Vladimir Jurowski
 
"Familiar – and glorious – music given a fresh approach under Jurowski who explained his thoughts on the score in last month’s ‘Musician and the Score’." (Gramophone)

Swan Lake is the first of the three great ballets that Tchaikovsky wrote, and arguably the most famous. The piece is mainly known in the shape it obtained in 1895, when it became a classic in the choreography of Marius Petipa and Lev Ivanov. That “imperial” version strayed from Tchaikovsky’s world premiere score, with several cuts, abridgments and displacements. This high definition recording presents the work as it was heard during the 1877 world premiere performance, highlighting the extraordinary symphonic qualities of Tchaikovksy’s original conception. Swan Lake is performed by the State Academic Symphony Orchestra of Russia “Evgeny Svetlanov” led by its Artistic Director Vladimir Jurowski. Jurowski has recorded extensively for PENTATONE and has received enthusiastic critical acclaim. In July 2017, he signed a long-term, multi-album agreement with PENTATONE including a new complete cycle of the symphonies of Sergei Prokofiev with the State Academic Symphony Orchestra of Russia “Evgeny Svetlanov”. Other releases by Jurowski for PENTATONE include violin concertos by Britten and Hindemith with Arabella Steinbacher, and tone poems by Mahler and Strauss, performed with the Rundfunk-Sinfonieorchester Berlin where he is Chief Conductor and Artistic Director.

kr 319
Image #6 NOVEMBER 2018
Debussy Les Trois Sonates – The Late Works
Various artists

"Top-notch French players explore three sonatas from Debussy’s final years in a series – from our Label of the Year – that’s turning out to be impressive indeed." (Gramophone)

A century after his death on 25 March 1918, many harmonia mundi artists are eager to pay tribute to Claude Debussy, the magician of melody and timbre, the great ‘colourist’ and father of modern music. In the three chamber sonatas, here combined with the composer’s final pieces for solo piano, we attain the purity, the absolute concision, the distant and mysterious world that give these works a testamentary dimension.

kr 159
Image #7 NOVEMBER 2018
Schubert String Quartets Nos 9 & 14 ‘Death and the Maiden’
Chiaroscuro Quartet

"Two Schubert string quartets, early and ‘late’, played with enormous conviction and power by this very stylish ensemble." (Gramophone)   

One of the truly iconic works in the repertoire for string quartet, Franz Schubert’s Death and the Maiden is named after the song which has lent its theme to the second movement. At the end of Matthias Claudius’s poem, which Schubert had set as a 20-year-old in 1817, Death cradles the Maiden in his bony embrace. And her fear, in the first verse, of encountering his tomb-cold touch is mirrored by his desire for her in the second. In Schubert’s life time, death was a constant presence in everyday life and even a young person like himself would have encountered it at close quarters – in fact, his own mother had passed away when he was only 15. When Schubert returns to the song in 1824 and starts work on the string quartet, death has nevertheless grown even more real: in the meantime he has become acquainted with pain and disease during the bouts of the syphilis that he knows will kill him. He turns the song into a set of variations, preceding it with a ferocious Allegro, and following it with a Scherzo and a Finale that have been described as ‘the dance of the demon fiddler’ and ‘a dance with death’. The acclaimed Chiaroscuro Quartet performs the work on gut strings, which brings out the vulnerability and desperation even further. The players then let us down gently with the youthful String Quartet No. 9 in G minor, a work in which the minor key offers Schubert the opportunity to play with light and shadows, rather than full-scale drama.

kr 159
Image #10 NOVEMBER 2018
Duparc. Ravel ‘Aimer et mourir – danses et mélodies’
Magdalena Kožená mez DSO Berlin / Robin Ticciati

"A wonderfully heady programme of French music that shows Ticciati’s developing relationship with his Berlin orchestra. Lovely singing from KoOená." (Gramophone)

September 2018 marks the start of Robin Ticciati’s second season as Music Director of the Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin and the release of his second recording with his new orchestra. The partnership’s critically acclaimed debut of Debussy and Faure led MusicWeb International to comment: '[this] certainly whets the appetite for future releases from Robin Ticciati with the DSO Berlin.' This second all-French programme sees Magdalena Kožena return to perform a selection of songs by Henri Duparc alongside orchestral music by his fellow countryman Maurice Ravel. The popular Suite No. 2 from Ravel’s epoch-making ballet Daphnis et Chloe showcases Ticciati’s flair for highlighting intricacies of detail and colour; listen as the beautifully descriptive sunrise ('Lever du jour') bursts into vivid, multi-hued life. In Ravel’s Valses nobles et sentimentales Ticciati creates a well-paced, yet graceful, Impressionist swirl with clearly defined textures and shimmering orchestral colours. Duparc’s melodies, which Ravel himself described as 'works of genius', sound particularly opulent in their orchestral scoring; the warm tones of Kožena’s ravishing voice provide a perfect match.

kr 159
Image DVD/BLU RAY: NOVEMBER 2018
‘Through the eyes of Yuja’ 
Yuja Wang pf Camerata Salzburg / Lionel Bringuier

"A disarmingly honest, and fascinating, glimpse into the life of one of today’s leading virtuosos, complete with performances of Gershwin and Ravel caught live in Salzburg." (Gramophone)

This film is a journey with the famous pianist Yuja Wang. With more than 120 performances a year, she lives a nomadic lifestyle. The exploration of Yuja’s wanderings is a travelogue of exciting venues, glitzy cities and encounters with extraordinary artists, such as Gustavo Dudamel, Gauthier Capucon and Leonidas Kavakos and personalities of other professional horizons but there is also a downside: fatigue, jet lag, pressure, doubts, hostilities, disorientation, and loneliness. With a bittersweet reference to the transience of life, the film reveals the invisible that complements the visible and shows us this artist in a very personal way. “Pianists have to be alone all the time, and it’s hard, it’s lonely. Being a musician is almost like a very isolated life, and the only time you actually get to communicate is on stage with music. It’s not a bad thing. I think being solitary, it really allows us to think about life and to think about why people write this music. [...] It makes you start to wonder about things that are beneath the surface.” Yuja Wang BONUS: Gershwin: Rhapsody in Blue & Ravel: Piano Concerto in G Major

kr 239
Image REISSUE/ARCHIVE: NOVEMBER 2018
Wagner Die fliegende Holländer 
Sols; Bayreuth Festival / Wolfgang Sawallisch

"Forget the mono sound, this is a superb performance of the Dutchman from 1959." (Gramophone)

1959 was a special year in 'New Bayreuth': Wieland Wagner had now presented all ten works under his own direction, in the first 'Ring-free' year since the 1951 reopening – an abomination to hard-bitten old-school Wagnerians, for whom only the Ring and Parsifal genuinely belonged on the 'green hill' of Bayreuth. There was once again heated discussion over the guiding principles governing the presentation of the festival. But Wieland confounded and convinced his critics yet again with a 'rediscovery' of his directorial idiom, described by him as 'magic realism'. Musical success was achieved on the grand scale by the brilliant exponents of Senta (dubbed by Wagner 'the woman of the future') and the Dutchman – and by the musically modern slim-line conductor, who had made his successful Bayreuth debut not long before in the new production of Tristan (just released by Orfeo - C951183D). Leonie Rysanek, whose singing gave vivid meaning to all the drama’s emotional aspects, also had the figure for the part – in her own words, she was the 'slimmest Senta in the world'.

kr 318
Image RECORDING OF THE MONTH - OCTOBER 2018
Steven Isserlis vc Dénes Várjon pf 

"From the infectious joy that opens the disc, to the more reflective and intense works and movements, this is music-making that just feels wonderfully instinctive and personal." (Gramophone)

Cellists have cause to be thankful for the impracticality and swift demise of the arpeggione, which allowed the appropriation of Schubert’s wonderful sonata for their own instrument. Dénes Várjon’s 1851 Érard lends characterful zest both here and in Chopin, while bonuses include Steven Isserlis’s own transcriptions of songs by both composers.

kr 159
Image #3 OCTOBER 2018
Haydn Cello Concertos Schoenberg Verklärte Nacht 
Alisa Weilerstein vc Trondheim Soloists 

"The inspired Alisa Weilerstein pulls off an unusual and illuminating pairing – but then as someone who has paired Elgar and Carter concertos, what do you expect?" (Gramophone)

Transfigured Night brings together two outstanding composers associated with Vienna: Joseph Haydn and Arnold Schoenberg. The former is often seen as the oldest representative of the “First Viennese School”, whereas the latter founded the “Second Viennese School”, using the classicism of his predecessors to explore new, atonal musical paths into the twentieth century. By combining Haydn’s two cello concertos (in C-major and D-major) and Schoenberg’s symphonic poem Verklärte Nacht – in the 1943 edition for string orchestra – this album sheds a new, fascinating light on both Viennese masters. The connection between the stylistically contrasting pieces on this album is further enhanced by the inspired playing of American cellist Alisa Weilerstein and the Trondheim Soloists. For Weilerstein, this album is not only a fascinating exploration of the rich Viennese musical heritage, but just as much a confrontation with the dark history of a city her grandparents had to flee in 1938. Transfigured Night is Weilerstein’s first album as an exclusive PENTATONE artist, as well as the first album recorded with the Trondheim Soloists since her appointment as Artistic Partner of the ensemble in 2017.

kr 189
Image #4 OCTOBER 2018
Vaughan Williams A Sea Symphony 
Sols; BBC Symphony Chorus and Orchestra / Martyn Brabbins 

"Critic Andrew Achenbach couldn’t praise more highly the intelligence and control with which Martyn Brabbins approaches this work, caught in excellent sound." (Gramophone)

One of the mightiest of first symphonies, Vaughan Williams’s setting of Walt Whitman creates a very special sense of occasion. The coupling is more Whitman: RVW’s later, virtually unknown Darest thou now, O soul for chorus and strings.

kr 159
Image #6 OCTOBER 2018
Janson The Wind Blows – Choral Works 
Norwegian Soloists’ Choir / Grete Pedersen 

"A fascinating presentation of the music of the contemporary Norwegian composer Alfred Janson, given compelling advocacy by the Norwegian Soloists’ Choir." (Gramophone)

Born in 1937, Alfred Janson was a key figure among the young Norwegian composers who emerged in the beginning of the 1960s. With a background in jazz and popular music he seemed to represent a new era, and this was confirmed by works such as Construction and Hymn and Nocturne. And ever since then Janson has continued to write his own music, seemingly independently of the current ‘-isms’. One of the cornerstones of his production has been vocal music, and this disc from the Norwegian Soloists’ Choir and Grete Pedersen presents an opportunity to listen to his choral works from five decades. These reveal to the listener his free melodic gift and original approach to harmony, but also his keen instinct for good texts – the programme includes settings of poems by Shakespeare (Sonnet No. 76), Nietszche and Emily Dickinson, but also a lyrical hymn to Mother Earth and politically charged texts by contemporaries of the composer. The Norwegian Soloists’ Choir and Janson have collaborated on numerous occasions, and two of the works recorded here were commissioned by the choir: the wind blows … from 2016 and Sonnet No. 76 (2000). Janson often allows for the possibility of including instruments in his works, and joining the choir are musicians from Oslo Sinfonietta, as well as Alfred Janson himself, playing his beloved plastic melodica.

kr 159
Image #7 OCTOBER 2018
Kastalsky Memory Eternal 
The Clarion Choir / Steven Fox 

"‘The rehabilitation of a major work’ writes Ivan Moody; this is music powerfully rooted in the Russian sound world, sung with passion, and beautifully recorded." (Gramophone)

A pivotal figure in Russian musical life – he was a student of Tchaikovsky and acclaimed as the founder of a new, national church music – Kastalsky composed a choral-orchestral Requiem for the concert stage, working simultaneously on the a cappella version heard on this recording that could be sung in Russian Orthodox churches. This work and the short sacred pieces that end the programme reveal his masterful use of choral sonority and colour, his weaving of complex polyphonic textures, and his graceful use of ancient chant melodies. World premiere recording.

kr 89
Image #8 OCTOBER 2018
Monteverdi Vespro della Beata Vergine 
Collegium Vocale Gent / Philippe Herreweghe 

"A superb performance of Monteverdi’s Vespers – three decades after Herreweghe’s first – which feels fresh and bursting with delightfully collaborative musicianship." (Gramophone)

Philippe Herreweghe and Collegium Vocale Gent present a highly accomplished version of one of the masterpieces of seventeenth-century sacred music. Composed shortly after L’Orfeo and dedicated to Pope Paul V, Monteverdi’s Vespers constantly surprise us with their audacity and their great emotional power. Stile antico and stile moderno combine here to wonderful effect, with Renaissance-style polyphony, accompanied monody and concertato style coexisting harmoniously. The importance accorded to the text (a key feature in Monteverdi), the virtuosity of the vocal writing and the independence of the part-writing are among the characteristics of this astonishing work. Philippe Herreweghe and Collegium Vocale Gent prove themselves to be Monteverdi interpreters of the first rank. Their lively, refreshing reading, enhanced by the presence of eight internationally renowned soloists, will ensure the success of this release.

kr 289
Image #9 OCTOBER 2018
Stravinsky Perséphone 
Sols; Finnish National Opera Orchestra / Esa-Pekka Salonen 
 
"Esa-Pekka Salonen’s grasp of Stravinsky’s score and control of the musical forces lends this recording a gripping sense of drama and drive." (Gramophone)

Stravinsky’s Perséphone (1934) is a dynamic music-theatrical narration of the myth of Persephone’s abduction to the underworld and return to earth. The transparent, sober but evocative music epitomizes Stravinsky’s sensuous take on Neoclassicism, and the piece showcases Stravinsky’s eclectic, original and highly personal approach to music and musical drama through a playful mixture of several genres – melodrama, song, chorus, dance and pantomime. Ultimately, Perséphone offers Stravinsky’s second ode to spring, albeit without the brutal excesses of Le Sacre.

This album was recorded live during the Helsinki Festival 2017 with a star cast featuring English tenor Andrew Staples and French actress Pauline Cheviller. They join forces with the Finnish National Opera’s chorus, children’s chorus and orchestra, conducted by Esa-Pekka Salonen, in a breath-taking performance that lifts out the piece’s transformative power.

kr 189
Image #10 OCTOBER 2018
‘Melancholia’ 
Les Cris de Paris / Geoffroy Jourdain 

"Les Cris de Paris offer a very exciting choral sound – individual voices balanced with moments of dramatic blend – as they delve into the darkness and introspection of a 16-/17th-century programme." (Gramophone)

A most unusual cabinet of curiosities: “Finding pleasure even in meditating on what causes one’s pain”: that neatly defines the theme of this album of music from the cusp of the Sixteenth and Seventeenth centuries. Here Italian and English madrigals rub shoulders with motets and Tenebrae responsories.

A melancholic poetry that provided endless nourishment for musical creativity in the late Renaissance and which Geoffroy Jourdain presents in his first recording for harmonia mundi.

kr 159
Image DVD/BLU RAY: OCTOBER 2018
Lehár Das Land des Lächelns 
Sols; Philharmonia Zurich / Fabio Luisi 

"The focus is very much on the music here in Fabio Luisi’s presentation of this Lehár operetta, one highly praised by reviewer Richard Bratby, who hopes this ‘genuinely moving masterpiece’ will find new friends." (Gramophone)

Franz Lehár Das Land des Lächelns Prince Sou-Chong_Piotr Beczala Lisa_Julia Kleiter Mi_Rebeca Olvera Count Gustav v. Pottenstein_Spencer Lang Tschang_Cheyne Davidson Chief Eunuch_Martin Zysset Fabio Luisi, musical direction Andreas Homoki, stage director Klaus Grünberg, set and lighting designer Silke Willrett, costume design Kathrin Brunner, dramaturgy Philharmonia Zürich Chor der Oper Zürich “Always smile and always be cheerful, always satisfied, no matter what happens, smile in spite of your sorrows and a thousand aches and pains,” sings Prince Sou-Chong, thus introducing the fundamentally melancholic tone of Das Land des Lächelns (The Land of Smiles), which even has a tragic ending in store. For the new production of this operetta, world class tenor Piotr Beczala returned to the Opernhaus Zürich as Sou-Chong. He has an equal partner in Julia Kleiter, who plays the role of Lisa. Fabio Luisi and Andreas Homoki also know that the genre of operetta requires particular care – which is why they have assumed personal responsibility for this production. Homoki lets the plot take place in a Paris Variété theater from the 1920s, complete with show staircase and heavy curtains. To emphasize the operatic elements, he condensed the piece, cutting several secondary roles and shortening dialogues. Recorded at the Opernhaus Zürich June 2017

kr 299
Image #4 SEPTEMBER 2018
JS Bach Suites for lute
Thomas Dunford archlute

"Performances rich in elegance and personality are wrapped in an acoustic of calming warmth, all of which makes for a wonderful journey through these Bach arrangements." (Gramophone)

Thomas Dunford continues to expand his discography on Alpha with a programme of solo lute works by J.S. Bach, recorded in the ideal surroundings of the Salle de Musique of La Chaux-de-Fonds in Switzerland. He performs an original composition by Bach for lute, the Suite in G minor BWV 995, as well as his own arrangements of the Suite BWV 1007 and the famous Chaconne from the Partita BWV 1004 – the latter piece has a notorious reputation for being (virtually) unplayable, at least on the violin!

kr 159
Image #5 SEPTEMBER 2018
Haydn Piano Sonatas, Vol 7 
Jean-Efflam Bavouzet pf 

"What more to say that hasn’t been said about Volumes 1-6 of this hugely enjoyable Haydn sonata series? Playing of grace and playfulness, all bursting with affection for this music – a superb series continues." (Gramophone)

Alongside an internationally acclaimed celebration of Debussy’s centenary, Jean-Efflam Bavouzet continues his sumptuous journey through Haydn, the instalments consistently praised for their intelligent approach and clear and vivid interpretations. Recorded on a modern Yamaha CFX in the warm acoustic of Potton Hall in Suffolk, the series has now reached Volume 7, which showcases several rarely heard sonatas, some of which have been considered of dubious authenticity or outright apocryphal. With the exception of No. 13 (Hob. XVI: 6), absolutely and unarguably authentic, these sonatas survive only in the form of copies, and to establish a chronology is difficult, even impossible. But through Jean-Efflam Bavouzet’s playing, all these pieces are revealed in their purest essence and diversity, from the energetic, witty, and ironic to the graceful, tender, and intimate.

kr 159
Image #6 SEPTEMBER 2018
Liszt Scherzo und March. Ballades. Légends
Leonardo Pierdomenico pf 

"A truly impressive debut from this Italian pianist: well-chosen works, to which he brings compelling colour and mood, as well as – of course – thrilling virtuosity." (Gramophone)
  
Leonardo Pierdomenico was a finalist at the Van Cliburn International Competition held in May 2017 in Fort Worth, Texas. Six months later he made this, his debut studio album, which is sure to be listened to eagerly by pianophiles across the world. Pierdomenico played the Second Concerto of Liszt in the Van Cliburn competition final, and his performance won him the Raymond E. Buck Jury Discretionary Award; his semifinal performance of Chopin’s First Ballade was included on the internationally released CD of highlights from the competition. At 24 years of age, Pierdomenico has also been a first-prize winner at the 2011 Premio Venezia Piano Competition held in La Fenice in Venice, and a semifinalist at the 2016 Queen Elisabeth International Piano Competition. Born in Pescara, he has performed across Italy having graduated from his local conservatoire, as well as giving recitals in major venues in Berlin and Brussels. Liszt is a natural choice for his debut recital. However, Pierdomenico has largely chosen the path less well trodden in his selection from Liszt’s vast oeuvre. He has concentrated on the brooding, melancholic and introverted sides of the composer’s multifaceted personality. The Csardas macabre is one of Liszt’s most radical conceptions, with sequences that push at the boundaries of tonality. The two are Legendes based on the miracles of two of the composer’s namesake Saints, St. Francis of Assisi, who allegedly preached a sermon to an attentive flock of birds, and St. Francisof Paola who, legend has it, crossed the Strait of Messina fashioning a vessel from his cloak and staff after a ferryman refused him passage. As well as the justly ubiquitous Second Ballade, Pierdomenico gives a rare outing to the ‘crusader’s song’ of the First; another rarity is the single-movement Scherzo und Marsch which finds the composer in heroic vein, replete with demanding fugato sections and rapier-like arpeggios. This new recording is further distinguished by booklet notes on the individual pieces by a slightly older Liszt pianist of distinction, Mark Viner, who has also made several critically acclaimed recordings for the Piano Classics label. Young Italian pianist Leonardo Pierdomenico drew the international spotlights on him winning the Jury Award at the recent Van Cliburn Competition. Having already won the prestigious Premio Venezia in Italy he steadily builds his career, playing recitals and with prominent orchestras. His debut CD on Piano Classics features an impressive selection of piano works by Franz Liszt: the demonic and fiendishly difficult Scherzo und Marsch (still rarely played), the two dramatic Ballades, the two famous Legendes with their religious references, and a late work, the Csardas Macabre, an astonishing and spine-tingling work featuring a remorseless sequence of parallel fifths. The booklet contains excellent liner notes written by the Chairman of the English Liszt Society: Mark Viner.

kr 159
Image #7 SEPTEMBER 2018
Rachmaninov Études-tableaux
Steven Osborne pf 

"This remarkable pianist talked Gramophone readers though the score last month, whetting our appetite for a performance of deeply reflective individuality: he doesn’t disappoint." (Gramophone)
    
Steven Osborne, whose Rachmaninov has already been praised for its synthesis of ‘modesty, inner fire and virtuosity’ (The Observer) here turns his attention to the wonderful Études-tableaux. This is a major addition to Osborne’s discography, and repertoire in which he has few peers.

kr 159
Image #8 SEPTEMBER 2018
Buxtehude ‘Abendmusiken’
Vox Luminis / Lionel Meunier 

"Another wonderful recording from our 2012 Recording of the Year winners, the blend, beauty of line and sense of atmosphere and drama making for a riveting listen." (Gramophone)

The Abendmusiken were a legendary concert series organised by Buxtehude in Lübeck. Even Johann Sebastian Bach travelled a long way to attend these concerts of sacred and instrumental music and met the master Dietrich Buxtehude, the most famous organist in Europe. To mark the 500th anniversary of the Lutheran Reformation, Vox Luminis and the Ensemble Masques have come together to perform a programme of cantatas (Gott hilf mir, denn das Wasser geht mir bis an die Seele, BuxWV 34 | Befiehl dem Engel, dass er komm, BuxWV 10 | Jesu, meine Freude, BuxWV 60 | Herzlich lieb hab ich dich, o Herr, BuxWV 41) and instrumental pieces (Sonatas BuxWV 255 and 261). The recording assembles leading specialists of this repertory, with the expert voices of Vox Luminis combining with the vitality of the instrumentalists of Ensemble Masques.

kr 159
Image #9 SEPTEMBER 2018
‘Come to me in my dreams’ 
‘120 years of song from the Royal College of Music’
Dame Sarah Connolly mez / Joseph Middleton pf  

"As communicative as always, Connolly celebrates, in this programme, song composers associated with the RCM." (Gramophone)

Dame Sarah Connolly’s exceptional nocturnally inspired recital spans over 120 years of British song from Stanford to Turnage, and includes world premieres of two songs by Benjamin Britten. Marking Sarah Connolly’s Proms recital debut, the centenary of Sir Hubert Parry’s death, and British composers in general, who studied or taught at the Royal College of Music, this album is an astonishing collection not to be missed.

kr 159
Image #10 SEPTEMBER 2018
Halévy La reine de Chypre
Sols; Flemist Radio Choir; Paris Chamber Orchestra / Hervé Niquet

"A less familiar opera – but what delightful advocacy it gets here! Characterful singing from a superb cast, all shaped perfectly by Niquet." (Gramophone)

Berlioz wrote of Halévy’s La Reine de Chypre (1841): ‘Its success will at least equal that of La Juive.’ And Wagner added: ‘It is in La Reine de Chypre that Halévy’s new style has appeared with the most brilliance and success.’ So several voices – and those by no means insignificant – have declared this work, written six years after La Juive, to be its composer’s masterpiece. Premiered on 22 December 1841, Halévy’s opera offered the limelight to Rosine Stoltz in the title role: she was the only woman in the cast, for it had been found preferable to isolate her, following her incessant disputes with the other female singers in the company. Alongside her, the tenor Gilbert Duprez shone in the role of Gérard. The story takes the spectator on a voyage from the palaces of Venice to those of Cyprus. But despite an initial success confirmed by several translations and adaptations that appeared shortly after the first run (notably Lachner’s Caterina Cornaro in 1841 and Donizetti’s in 1843), the work gradually vanished from European opera houses.

kr 359
Image RECORDING OF THE MONTH - AUGUST
Bizet Les pêcheurs de perles
Sols; Lille National Orchestra / Alexandre Bloch

"For all the fame of its renowned duet, Bizet’s The Pearl Fishers hasn’t been so well represented on record. This changes that, with a superb cast and brilliantly spirited playing throughout." (Gramophone)

Les Pêcheurs de perles is best known for its glorious duet, but Georges Bizet’s opera has much more to offer. This live recording more than ever brings out the brilliance of this oriental story about love, duty and friendship. In the last 150 years, Bizet’s piece has mainly been heard in editions that stray from the composer’s original composition. This album – on the contrary - offers the first recording in history of the 1863 premiere version, reconstructed and published by Bärenreiter in 2015. Les Pêcheurs de perles contains a quintessentially French blend of lyricism, exoticism and drama, and the four soloists (Julie Fuchs as Leïla, Cyrille Dubois as Nadir, Florian Sempey as Zurga and Luc Bertin-Hugault as Nourabad) belong to today’s best performers for this specialist repertoire. Their vocal excellence is matched by the choral contributions of Les Cris de Paris. The rich sound palette of Les Pêcheurs is fully brought to life by the inspired playing of the Orchestre National de Lille under the baton of its new Music Director Alexandre Bloch.

kr 319
Image #3 AUGUST 2018
Byrd ‘One Byrde in Hand’
Richard Egarr hpd

"An outstanding celebration of Byrd as one of the first keyboard greats’ from a harpsichord player who holds the greatest love and respect for the composer’s music in all its forms." (Gramophone)

Richard Egarr’s impressive career, both as a solo keyboardist and conductor (notably with the Academy of Ancient Music), has cemented his reputation as one of the UK’s most compelling musicians. In his debut solo recording for Linn, Egarr charts the extraordinary breadth of invention at play in works by William Byrd. One of English music’s most influential figures, Byrd’s innovative style is evident throughout this well-chosen program of preludes, grounds and fantasies. The Fantasia in A minor, MB13, demonstrates the unlimited scope of Byrd’s imagination; intricate rhythms, surprising modulations and changing textures precede a finale requiring a previously unequalled level of dexterous virtuosity. Egarr similarly relishes the technical demands of Byrd’s descriptive masterpiece, The bells. This incredible composition begins with a single toll before developing into an elaborate and thrillingly complex showpiece of pealing bells. Egarr’s elegant phrasing, infectious enthusiasm and rich embellishments result in insightful performances.

kr 159
Image #4 AUGUST 2018
Vivaldi String Concertos. Viola d’amore Concertos
Accademia Bizantina / Ottavio Dantone

"To see Naïve’s excellent Vivaldi Edition powering ahead once more is cause for celebration, and this disc is another hugely enjoyable addition." (Gramophone)

Certainly, there are the Four Seasons and all the violin concertos which are more famous and virtuosic than other works. But it is here, in his concertos for solo strings, that Antonio Vivaldi showcases his writing talent at its highest and purest level: concise, vivacious, deep and immediately emotional. A Vivaldi in the firmament, served here with passion and excellence by Accademia Bizantina.

The Concerti for strings take you on a journey of feelings, diverse landscapes, and histories. Here we have thirteenmusical miniatures in which emerge the influence of neighbouring and distant lands, and of the sea surrounding Venice. This is clear in concerto RV 163, entitled Conca, inspired by the sound of the conch shell (or Wettertrompete), which Vivaldi had the chance to hear in Bohemia, and to which sailors attributed the power to appease or unleash the storms.

The Concerti for viola d'amore are of a more mysterious character. Notably because this fascinating instrument has strings which vibrate independently when the melodic strings are rubbed. Vivaldi, like some of his students - and like Alessandro Tampieri! - was a great virtuoso of the instrument, which has incidentally only been used on and off since the 19th century. The soft, evocative sounds of the viola d'amore, reminiscent of Oriental worlds, here reach their climax in the poignant Largo of concerto RV 393, the lively finale of concerto RV 394 and the delicate Andante in D minor of concerto RV 395.

kr 229
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Debussy Préludes, Book 2. La mer
Alexander Melnikov pf

"Once again, a superb release from Alexander Melnikov which encourages us to listen to the music afresh, in part thanks to his choice of instrument, but mostly due to his remarkable artistry." (Gramophone)

A century after his death - 25 March 1918 - many harmonia mundi artists are eager to pay tribute to Claude Debussy, the magician of melody and timbre, the great ‘colourist’ and father of modern music.

Alexander Melnikov is among those pianists increasingly committed to playing the works of the past on the instruments on which they came into being (or could have done so) and so it is on a ‘period’ piano (an Érard piano) that he breathes new life into Book II of the Préludes but also, with the help of Olga Pashchenko, the extraordinary transcription of La Mer by the composer himself.

kr 169
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Prokofiev Violin Sonatas
Alexandra Conunova vn Michail Lifits pf

"From the bleak opening onwards, Alexandra Conunova and Michail Lifits convey complete immersion in this music’s range of force, colour and beauty." (Gramophone)

From shadow to light, this is the emotional curve of Sergei Prokofiev's Sonatas for violin and piano, published in the 1940s. this was an intense period of creation for the Russian musician who was also working on his ballet Cinderella and his Fifth Symphony.

The violinist Alexandra Conunova, winner of the prestigious Tchaikovsky competition in 2015, and the pianist Michael Lifits are engaged in reading these two Prokofiev scores. A true synthesis of his style, these sonatas are characterized by a formal classicism subverted by a flamboyant virtuosity. Their lyricism, gnawed by the tasty and biting irony of a modern language, fruit of a critical vision of the world, is all the more poignant.

kr 169
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Suk Piano Works
Jonathan Plowright pf

"Jonathan Plowright once again reminds us what a brilliant pianist he is, communicating at every stage of this recital of early works by Suk his evident affection for this music. Another fine addition to Hyperion’s piano catalogue." (Gramophone

The early works of Josef Suk channel something of the same life-affirming Czech spirit also characteristic of Dvorák, his teacher and father-in-law. Jonathan Plowright makes a persuasive case for a composer whose music is at last emerging from the shadows.

kr 159
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Benevolo Missa Si Deus pro nobis
Le Concert Spirituel / Hervé Niquet

"The sheer scale of this richly textured 17th-century music, captured in a perfectly spacious acoustic, is compelling from the very beginning. A fascinating project." (Gramophone)

Hervé Niquet possesses two constant character traits: he is an indefatigable excavator of forgotten music, and he loves polyphony and ‘large forms’. A few years ago, he caused a sensation by exhuming the monumental music of Striggio. To mark the thirtieth anniversary of his ensemble, Le Concert Spirituel, he now tackles a new peak of polyphony: a mass by Orazio Benevolo (1605–72) performed by eight choirs of four singers, accompanied by fifteen continuo players. In concert, the choirs are spread out around the nave, with the audience in the middle. Benevolo was born to a Burgundian confectioner father who had emigrated to Rome. Educated at the choir school of San Luigi dei Francesi, he became one of the greatest geniuses of polychorality, a prolific composer who represented the splendours of French art in Rome. He ended his career as maestro di cappella at the Vatican. This music has been resurrected thanks to the work of the great musicologist Jean Lionnet, who spent many years copying out by hand the music of numerous Italian composers in the Vatican archives, from which it was impossible to borrow documents. As a result of his labours the Missa ‘Si Deus pro nobis’ has now been recorded, accompanied by vocal and instrumental pieces by Monteverdi, Frescobaldi and Palestrina.

kr 159
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Handel ‘Finest Arias for Base Voice, Vol 2’
Christopher Purves bar Arcangelo / Jonathan Cohen

"Five years on since Vol 1, another well-deserved Editor’s Choice for a singer whose versatile and characterful voice is perfectly matched to this Handelian feast." (Gramophone)

Christopher Purves is renowned for both the powerful sense of dramatic conviction he brings to everything he undertakes, and for a vocal technique which must be heard to be believed. From Handel’s early cantata to selections from Italian opera and English oratorio, this is a recital from a very special singer indeed.

kr 159
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Mozart Lucio Silla
Sols; Teatro Real, Madrid / Ivor Bolton

"It’s primarily for the fascinating staging by director Claus Guth that Hugo Shirley recommends that all interested in Mozart’s early operas should seek out this release." (Gramophone)

Mozart was not yet seventeen when Lucio Silla was created in Milan one December evening of 1772, yet we can still distinguish in this youthful composition some of the elements that established the exceptionally-gifted child musician as the greatest composer of all times. Indeed, with Lucio Silla, although a neoclassical “opera seria” in every way, it seems that Mozart was already learning to deconstruct and to free the traditional forms of musical drama from archaic conventions. We can also identify in this work an aesthetic premise that Mozart didn’t formulate until ten years later : it falls to music only to express and to reveal the psychological depths of the characters; and the poetry in the libretto should only be its “obedient daughter”. The opera is centered around the love roman dictator Lucio Silla bears for his enemy’s daughter Giunia, who favours the exiled senator Cecilio as the object of her affection. After many twists and turns, the lovers are united in marriage and Silla renounces his crown. Tenor Kurt Streit is Lucio Silla, and soprano Patricia Petibon is Giunia for the last time, after having gained international recognition thanks to her numerous performances in this role, while mezzo-soprano Silvia Tro Santafe is the ardent Cecilio. In this monumental production, Claus Guth finds a way to respect both the classical setting and the formal innovations that make the opera so interesting. Ivor Bolton conducts the Orchestra and Chorus of the Teatro Real.

kr 299
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‘Mozart in London’ 
The Mozartists / Ian Page 
 
"A wonderful exploration of the musical life of London during Mozart’s visit as an eight year old, all beautifully and engagingly performed by Ian Page and his Mozartists. A true delight!" (Gramophone)

The Mozartists present an unprecedented survey of Mozart’s childhood stay in London from 1764-65. The wide-ranging programme includes Mozart’s remarkable first symphony (composed when he was eight years old), along with his two other London symphonies and his first concert aria. The repertoire also explores music that was being performed in London during Mozart’s stay, including works by J. C. Bach, Thomas Arne, Abel, Pescetti, Perez, George Rush and William Bates, many of which have not previously been recorded. The album features an outstanding line-up of soloists comprising sopranos Ana Maria Labin, Anna Devin, Rebecca Bottone, Martene Grimson and Eleanor Dennis, mezzo-soprano Helen Sherman, tenors Ben Johnson and Robert Murray and harpsichordist Steven Devine. The album was recorded live during a weekend of performances at London’s Milton Court in February 2015 as part of the opening season of MOZART 250, and includes over a dozen world premiere recordings (marked † below).

kr 229
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Pettersson Symphonies Nos 5 & 7 
Norrköping Symphony Orchestra / Christian Lindberg 

"These two Allan Pettersson symphonies are given powerful advocacy, the urgency of the Seventh palpable, the music, as Guy Rickards puts it, in the musicians’ blood." (Gramophone)

A characteristic trait in Allan Pettersson’s music is the use of strong contrasts – shifts between an enormous intensity and calm relaxation, between complex and violently dissonant passages and peaceful, simple melodies and harmonies. This certainly applies to both works recorded here by the Norrköping Symphony Orchestra and Christian Lindberg – the composer’s Fifth and Seventh Symphonies. Premièred in 1963 and 1968 respectively, these two symphonies contributed substantially to Pettersson’s public standing during the 1960s. The Fifth earned him the music prize of the newspaper Expressen, while at the same time Pettersson’s extensive use of traditional harmony, particularly in the slow ending of the work, caused a number of commentators to criticize it as ‘outmoded’. In 1964, the symphony probably contributed to Pettersson being selected as one of the first recipients of a public remuneration scheme for composers which guaranteed them a lifelong minimum income. Four years later, the first performance of Symphony No. 7 was conducted by Antal Doráti, the dedicatee of the work. The event is often described as Pettersson’s ‘breakthrough’, and Doráti’s recording of the work in 1969 with the Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra earned the performers and the composer a ‘Swedish Grammy’ Award each. Pettersson’s Seventh remains the most recorded and most frequently performed of all of his works. It is heard here in a performance from what are widely regarded as the leading Pettersson interpreters of our time.

kr 159
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Rachmaninov Piano Concerto No 3. ‘Corelli’ Variations 
Boris Giltburg pf Royal Scottish National Orchestra / Carlos Miguel Prieto 

"A fiendish but fabulous piano concerto performed with a glorious blend of technical prowess and lyricism." (Gramophone)

The previous concerto disc in this series was the Second Concerto on 8.573629 of which Gramophone wrote: ‘The fusion of freshness with generous spirit and soul lends an enthralling dynamism to this familiar repertoire. Boris Giltburg faithfully observes Rachmaninov’s marks of expression in the concerto and the Op 33 Etudes, but there is a fluid imagination at work here tied to an enquiring musical intelligence.’

kr 89
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‘Stephen Hough’s Dream Album’ 
Stephen Hough pf 

"A personal programme – both in terms of content, but also delivery – which charms, engages and fascinates, and highlights again just what a gifted and rounded musician Stephen Hough is." (Gramophone)

Few pianists today could devise such a recital—their own transcriptions and variations on well-known classics included as a matter of course—and seldom can these graceful, delightful pieces have had such consummate musicianship lavished on them. Such stuff as dreams are made on …

kr 159
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‘The Dufay Spectacle’ 
Gothic Voices 
 
"Voices and instruments alike swiftly entice the listener with their excellence and evocative atmosphere, Gothic Voices magnificently transporting us to their 15th-century sound world." (Gramophone)

Following its Linn debut which saw the ‘revitalisation of an iconic group’ (Choir & Organ), Gothic Voices presents The Dufay Spectacle, featuring special guest Andrew Lawrence-King. In a pageant of versatility featuring France’s greatest pre-Renaissance composer we enter the world of a grand New Year’s Day wedding feast, full of optimism and vision, tempered by playful emotional hardship, the music teasingly exploring the relationship between both, solemnized with some of Guillaume Dufay’s greatest motets and a festive use of instruments to mark the splendour of the occasion. From this final flourish of the mediaeval era we hear in Dufay’s quintessential Burgundian virtuosity how its musical richness has reached the point when it is about to burst into the new artistry and ideas of the Renaissance. The Dufay Spectacle celebrates this artist’s genius with an eclectic show of frolicking and passionate robustness, plaintive devotional ardour, now with slow, dark rhythms, now upbeat cascades of melody, and thrilling complex rhythms. As the central chanson rings out its New Year’s promise ce jour de l’an is indeed a day to celebrate.

kr 159
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‘Chimère’ 
Sandrine Piau sop Susan Manoff pf

"Brilliantly and compellingly communicative as ever, Sandrine Piau’s latest recital draws on an eclectic series of songs, and again benefits from a wonderful rapport with Susan Manoff." (Gramophone)

After a number of appearances in Alpha productions (notably as a sublime Alcina in the DVD conducted by Christophe Rousset and staged by Pierre Audi at La Monnaie), Sandrine Piau now joins the label for several recordings. With Chimère, she invites us on a voyage into the intimate and infinite territory of dreams. ‘Chimera: an illusory, unsatisfied quest, the graveyard of our illusions...’ She and her longstanding partner, the pianist Susan Manoff, have thought up a programme combining the German lied (Hugo Wolf, one of Schumann’s Mignon songs, a scene from Goethe’s Faust by Carl Loewe), Mélodies by Debussy and Poulenc (his Banalités), and Art Songs by Barber along with discoveries of more rarely heard composers like Ivor Gurney and the Dickinson Songs of André Previn – the celebrated American conductor is less well-known for his compositions, which include this magnificent cycle written for Renée Fleming. Equally at home in French, German and English, Sandrine Piau is at the peak of her artistry. Fantoches, Clair de Lune, Solitary Hotel, Will there really be a morning?: set out for the world of dreams following this unique poetic itinerary. ‘The land of chimeras is the only one in this world worth living in’ (Jean-Jacques Rousseau).

kr 159
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‘A Rose Magnificat’ 
Gabrieli Consort / Paul McCreesh 

"This album contains some deeply moving singing, of music both ancient and modern – a well-crafted journey leading to the exquisitely performed contemporary title track from Matthew Martin." (Gramophone)

Paul McCreesh leads the Gabrieli Consort in a collection of works that explores the diverse and extensive body of works dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary over the centuries. Music by Tallis, MacMillan, Howells and Leighton frames the world premiere of a new work by the young British composer, Matthew Martin: a setting of the Magnificat, interpolated with verses from the atmospheric medieval poem ‘There is no rose’. Gabrieli are world-renowned interpreters of great vocal and instrumental repertoire from the Renaissance to the present day. Formed as an early music ensemble by Paul McCreesh in 1982, Gabrieli has both outgrown and remained true to its original identity through live performances and award-winning recordings for their Winged Lion label.

kr 159
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Dohnányi Chamber Works 
The Nash Ensemble 
 
"A superb set of Dohnányi’s chamber music from The Nash Ensemble, which Andrew Farach-Colton rightly suggests should both win over discoverers, and please aficionados of his music." (Gramophone)

The music of Dohnányi (admired by figures as disparate as Brahms and Bartók) embodies virtues of taste, humour, impeccable control of form and beauty of style; all qualities relished by The Nash Ensemble in wonderful new recordings which can only assist with this composer’s continuing rehabilitation.

kr 159
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Donizetti Il borgomastro di Saardam 
Sols; Donizetti Opera Chorus and Orchestra / Roberto Rizzi Brignoli  

"‘Great fun,’ says Richard Lawrence, offering his nod of approval to this Donizetti rarity from Bergamo’s Festival devoted to the music of the composer." (Gramophone)

This opera, which had fallen into oblivion, was revived in 1973 in the Dutch city of Zaanstad (the Saardam of the libretto) and staged at Bergamo’s Teatro Sociale as part of the Donizetti Festival in a new critical edition made for the Donizetti Foundation by Alberto Sonzogni. In the plot, the Tsar Peter the Great works in incognito as a carpenter at the shipyard of Sardaam to acquire technical knowledge to carry back home. On the podium, the knowledgeable Roberto Rizzi Brignoli leads the orchestra of the Donizetti Opera, assisted by the internationally-renowned cinema director Davide Ferrario. In the cast, Andrea Concetti (a successful artist who has sung throughout the world) is joined by singers who are emerging in the belcanto repertoire, such as Giorgio Caoduro, Juan Francisco Gatell, Irina Dubrovskaya and Aya Wakizono. Available in CD, DVD and Bluray, with subtitles in Italian, English, German and French. A rare title in première video recording

kr 239
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Crusell Clarinet Concertos 
Swedish Chamber Orchestra / Michael Collins cl 

"These three early-19th-century concerto showpieces delightfully bring out the best of the clarinet as an instrument, and Michael Collins as a player of real virtuosity and character. Enjoy!" (Gramophone)    

Michael Collins OBE embraces the double role of conductor and soloist in this thrilling revelation of clarinet treasures by the Finnish composer Bernhard Henrik Crusell, masterly supported by the fresh and spontaneous Swedish Chamber Orchestra. A clarinettist and composer, Crusell wrote works that were altogether more ambitious than any by his contemporaries. He achieved fame for his melodic inflection, his highly nuanced technique, and his beautiful sound, for which the three concertos, featured here, interpreted by one of today’s most internationally respected clarinettists, are an ideal vehicle. The level of virtuosity indeed makes severe technical demands on the soloist, as in the Introduction et air suédois, featured in the revised version published in 1829. But in the roundness of tone and evenness in quality throughout the range of the instrument produced by Collins lies the lasting attraction of a compelling musical discourse that has ensured Crusell’s recent widespread revival way beyond the world of the clarinet and its devotees.

kr 159
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Beethoven Symphonies Nos 4 & 5 
Vienna Symphony Orchestra / Philippe Jordan 

"This is turning out to be a cycle well worth following; as with January’s Nos 1 and 3, this pairing reveals maestro and musicians in a perfectly shared vision." (Gramophone) 

The Road to Beethoven. For the first time in their history, the Wiener Symphoniker will release a complete Beethoven symphonies cycle on CD. The Wiener Symphoniker wrote music history with the first performances of works by Bruckner, Ravel and Schoenberg. And under the baton of such illustrious music directors as Wilhelm Furtwängler, Herbert von Karajan, Carlo Maria Giulini or Georges Prêtre they acquired worldwide fame for their unique Viennese sound. Considering its rich, more than a century long history, it comes as a surprise that the orchestra has never before recorded a full cycle of the nine symphonies by Ludwig van Beethoven which are widely considered to constitute the apex of the symphonic repertoire. This shortcoming is about to be remedied: Starting in autumn 2017, the Wiener Symphoniker will release the full cycle on 5 CDs. With a new CD of the series to be released every 6 months, the full cycle will be completed just in time for the 250th anniversary of the birth of Beethoven in 2020. The symphonies were recorded live during a critically acclaimed concert cycle in Spring/Summer 2017 in the Great Hall of the Musikverein Wien. At these concerts, the international press specifically praised Jordan’s approach to combining a traditional Viennese sound with a more contemporary, slimmed down interpretation of the material, original tempi and insights from the historically informed performance practice. Through a close reading of the score and by focusing on the content of the works, Jordan aimed to create – in his words – a “more natural, direct, humanised“ image of the famous composer.

kr 159
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Bernstein Orchestral Works 
Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra / Christian Lindberg 

"Anyone looking to discover Leonard Bernstein’s own music in his anniversary year would do very well to start here: an album full of rhythm and life." (Gramophone) 


1944 saw the premiere of the ballet Fancy Free, 25-year old Leonard Bernstein’s first major composition as well as the first in a string of scores for the stage and film. In order to celebrate the centennial of Bernstein’s birth in 1918, Christian Lindberg has gathered music from five different productions spanning a period of 13 years – from Fancy Freeto the iconic musical West Side Story, premiered in 1957. The disc is bookended by the sparkling and witty Overture to Candide and Three Dance Episodes from the musical On the Town.

Also included is the substantial Symphonic Suite from ‘On the Waterfront’, developed by Bernstein from the score he wrote for Elia Kazan’s classic film. The drama of this tale of love and betrayal set amid the docks of Hoboken in New Jersey is brought out by Bernstein’s music, which seethes with dramatic tension. Making its first appearance on BIS in these flamboyant and life-enhancing scores, the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra clearly relishes the opportunity to let its collective hair down. The players are egged on by Lindberg, known for his ability to energize both orchestras and audiences.

kr 159
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Walton Viola Concerto. Orchestral Works 
James Ehnes va BBC Symphony Orchestra / Edward Gardner 

"Edward Gardner’s Walton journey continues with another superb release, and another superb soloist – this time James Ehnes in the Viola Concerto." (Gramophone)  

In this third volume of Edward Gardner’s Walton series with the BBC Symphony Orchestra, James Ehnes leaves his violin to tackle the taxing soloist role in the Viola Concerto.In a recent Strad interview, Ehnes confesses: ‘This is a piece I have loved since I was a teenager, so it is wonderful that the opportunity has come my way to record it... With Walton’s Viola Concerto, none of the writing is impossible but a lot of it is close. And in a way that is exactly where you want it to be: on the edge of technical limitations. There’s a tremendous amount of excitement in that.’This album in surround sound also features two much later works: the 1957 Partita for Orchestra and the Sonata for String Orchestra, adapted in 1971 from the String Quartet in A minor of 1945 – 47. There is a striking contrast between the uncomfortable modernism of the up-and-coming young composer’s Viola Concerto and the relaxed brilliance of the mature Partita. But the Sonata shows Walton late in his life re-engaging as an arranger with his earlier manner, and so with the characteristic vein of restless unease that runs through most of his output.

kr 159
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Haydn Piano Trios 
Trio Wanderer 
 
"When our resident Haydn advocate – David Threasher – suggests I listen to a new recording of the composer’s piano trios, it would be remiss not to! Played and recorded with great clarity throughout; a wonderful release." (Gramophone)  

The great popularity of the piano trio enabled Haydn to explore countless formal and harmonic experiments; while the keyboard remains the central element in the musical structure, the strings give the discourse a subtle colouration, and the violin is often assigned independent musical ideas. This elegant three-way dialogue, conducted here by the Trio Wanderer, is as impressive for its originality as for its supreme stylistic virtuosity. Haydn was a past master at this little game, and still remains so centuries later!

kr 169
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‘1700’ 
Concerto Italiano / Rinaldo Alessandrini 

"The strong sense of ensemble generated by Rinaldo Alessandrini and his impeccable colleagues makes for a delightful, elegant and thrilling visit to the musical world of 18th-century Italy." (Gramophone)

Following on from the noteworthy album ‘1600', released in 2012, ‘1700' is a vibrant homage to Italian Baroque, in which Rinaldo Alessandrini has brought together the most outstand-ing Italian composers of the first half of the eighteenth century: Locatelli, Mascitti, Vivaldi, Caldara, Durante, Ga-luppi and Pugnani. All of these com-posers went into exile, serv-ing prestigious foreign courts. They each evolved the ‘Italian style,’ based either on their own tastes or those of the country in which they had taken refuge. Each composer created his own share of wonders, to which Maestro Alessandrini’s intelligent and re-fined interpretation brings a passionate fresh perspective.

“Throughout the eighteenth century, and to a considerable extent, the fate of many Italian composers was to emigrate, and serve at courts and chapels far from home. Many of them broke away from the rules governing the legato style of their home country, developing a completely independent personality through the mingling of musical languages and the superimposition of tastes and fashions. Accordingly, in their works national styles lose their sharply-defined con-tours, as they undergo a process of personal and subtle assimilation of the most striking aspects of their host country’s musical culture.

In particular, the Italians exported their taste for melodic cantabile, their elegance, and a certain kind of histrionic individualism inherited from the opera stage and the great instrumental virtuosi. The encounter with musical Europe often caused a realignment of those elements, though they remained one of the multiple components of the composers’ personalities.”

kr 159
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Schubert Piano Sonata No 21. Four Impromptus 
Marc-André Hamelin pf 

"All new recordings by Marc-André Hamelin, one of our most inquisitive and virtuosic pianists, are eagerly anticipated; that this Schubert set should earn our critic’s high recommendation demonstrates why." (Gramophone) 

The heavenly lengths of Schubert’s last piano sonata and second set of impromptus: Marc-André Hamelin captures the other-worldliness of these sublime, quintessentially ‘late’ works as do few other pianists.

kr 159
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M Lambert Leçons de Ténèbres 
Marc Mauillon bass et al 
 
"Marc Mauillon’s interpretation lends a strongly personal and communicative power and intimacy to a recording of these contemplative works written for the darkening days of Holy Week." (Gramophone) 

'None of us knew what to expect when we took the plunge into the first cycle of the Leçons de Ténèbres by Lambert. The secular work of this great master of the French XVII Century – one of the great singers and pedagogues of his time – was known to us, each one of us having performed many times his wonderful court airs. We thereupon thought that we were on known territory and able to adapt ourselves to suit his religious music, even though it seemed odd to us that these Leçons were not better known or often performed and even less recorded – this first cycle being the very first recording. But from the first working session, we understood why. It took a good three hours just to read the first Leçon – for about ten minutes worth of music! Indeed, the vocal line, abundantly ornamented with Gregorian ‘plainchant ’, is not rhythmically rigorously organised in relation to the basso continuo line. We therefore had to put in place both parts, melodic and harmonic, with a very careful and well thought out approach. Nonetheless, once we got over these initial hurdles, the music revealed itself to us in all its beauty and its singular depth, the sobriety and the expressivity of the plain-chant comes through almost as a kind of watermark behind the genius and endlessly renewed inventiveness of the ornamentation. We took on the huge task of adapting this score, which had always remained a puzzle for musicologists who in actual fact were very interested in hearing our interpretation in the light of the latest research. Several stages were necessary in order to find the best solution for performing this work whilst remaining as faithful as possible to the original source. Faced with ornamentation both prolific and virtuosic, equally precise as it is mysterious, conserving moments of unexpected liberty in the middle of a very restrained form, one of the major challenges was to find a specific vocality and an adapted continuo, taking us back to the very heart of our artistic research. It is rare, that as a musician we are to such a point interrogated by a score and each one of us by bringing his stone to the edifice, truly lived this adventure as a gift. According to witnesses at the time, we know that these Leçons by Michel Lambert were performed by three singers during the Tenebrae services but we chose the option in this recording of providing a version for male voice, to take into account the fact that our composer himself must have sung these pieces – the score, even if we know that it is not autographed, leads us to believe that it is more of an ‘aide-mémoire’ rather than a ready to be performed version – and that he sang his own court airs, even though they were written for soprano. He also played the accompaniment, probably on the theorbo – in the company of the gambist and theorbist Nicolas Hotman, of whom we have chosen a few instrumental pieces made use of as preludes, postludes, meditations and phrases in between these Leçons, which at the time were placed in the middle of liturgical services, three days before Easter... If the experience suggested here differs from that which was originally anticipated for these pieces, it’s nevertheless worth being listened to notably for the meditative state into which it plunges us. Now we can share with you our gift!'

kr 189
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Mahler Symphony No 1 
Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra / Riccardo Chailly 

"An opportunity to hear Riccardo Chailly’s insight into Mahler’s First Symphony, both from the perspective of the podium through this filmed performance of 2015, and in interview." (Gramophone) 

Gustav Mahler. Symphony No. 1 in D major. Gewandhausorchester Leipzig. Riccardo Chailly. Including bonus: Interview with Riccardo Chailly on Gustav Mahler‘s Symphony No. 1. Gustav Mahler‘s Symphony No. 1 is an incomprehensible wonder of music history, rigorously peculiar, disturbingly new, and timelessly modern. “Wie ein Naturlaut” („Like a sound of nature“) is indicated above the frst notes of the symphony. It is both the prelude and the key to his symphonic cosmos as a whole. Mahler‘s music captures this music of the world, transforms it into a symphony in the old, comprehensive sense of the word and uses it to create his master-piece of harmony. From the connotation of militarily marches to folk songs, from dance and popular music to animal sounds: everything has its place in Mahler‘s symphonic world.Composed over the course of just a few months at the beginning of 1888 in Leipzig, Gustav Mahler’s Symphony No. 1 is a true musical awakening. Riccardo Chailly and the Gewandhausorchester Leipzig bring Mahler’s sounds of nature to life in a riveting performance. Recorded at the Gewandhaus zu Leipzig, January 2015

kr 239
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Bartók Violin Concertos 
Christian Tetzlaff; Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra / Hannu Lintu

"From the fierce rhythms to the moments of great fragility, Christian Tetzlaff, a supreme soloist, and Hannu Lintu take us on a thrilling journey through Bartók’s two violin concertos." (Gramophone)

Star violinist Christian Tetzlaff performs Béla Bartók’s (1881–1945) two masterpieces in a new recording with Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra conducted by Hannu Lintu. This recording continues both artists’ highly successful series of recordings on Ondine. The two violin concertos of Béla Bartók (1881–1945), completed thirty years apart in 1908 and 1938 respectively, celebrated relationships with two Hungarian violinists: the first romantic, with Stefi Geyer and the second artistic, with Zoltán Székely. Bartók’s 1st Violin Concerto was published posthumously after the composer’s death in 1956, but Bartók reused the opening movement as the first of his Two Portraits for orchestra. He remarked in a letter written in late 1907 or early 1908 that ‘I have never written such direct music before’. Bartók completed two movements that portray the character of Stefi Geyer to whom the work was written to. Completed towards the end of 1938, Bartók’s three-movement 2nd Violin Concerto was a much more substantial concerto than his first essay in the medium and it was dedicated ‘to my dear friend Zoltán Székely’. Székely’s name can also be found in the of his Second Rhapsody. Bartók adopted a rather unusual approach to the overall form of the Second Violin Concerto and the impact of both rural folk music and urban verbunkos on his language can be found in the Second Violin Concerto. Christian Tetzlaff is considered one of the world’s leading international violinists and maintains a most extensive performing schedule. Musical America named him ‘Instrumentalist of the Year’ in 2005 and his recording of the violin concertos by Mendelssohn and Schumann, released on Ondine in 2011 (ODE 1195-2), received the ‘Preis der deutschen Schallplattenkritik’. Gramophone Magazine was choosing the recording of the Schumann Violin Sonatas with Lars Vogt (ODE 1205-2) as ‘Disc of the Month’ in January 2014. In addition, in 2015 ICMA awarded Christian Tetzlaff as the ‘Artist of the Year’. His recordings on Ondine with Brahms’ Trios (ODE 1271-2D) and Violin Concertos by Dvorák and Suk (1279-5) released in 2015 and 2016 earned GRAMMY nominations. Recordings by the Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra under Hannu Lintu on Ondine have gathered excellent reviews in the international press. Their most recent release with orchestral works and songs by Jean Sibelius (ODE 1289-5) won an ICMA Award in January 2018. The same album was also Editor’s Choice in Gramophone Magazine and Orchestral Choice in the BBC Music Magazine.

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Beethoven Piano Concertos Nos 2 & 4 
Royal Northern Sinfonia / Lars Vogt 
 
"An enjoyable cycle reaches its conclusion in considerable style – the rapport between Lars Vogt and his Northern Sinfonia feels natural and joyous after a rewarding journey." (Gramophone)

This recording is the final volume in Lars Vogt’s new cycle of Beethoven’s Piano Concertos on Ondine. This recording includes Piano Concertos Nos. 2 and 4, two outstanding examples of Beethoven's writing. Conducting Royal Northern Sinfonia from the keyboard, Vogt’s fresh interpretations of Beethoven concertos have been widely welcomed, and recently he was nominated for Artist of the Year 2017 by the Gramophone magazine. Beethoven’s 2nd Piano Concerto was, with the exception of its last movement, largely written before 1789, and it predates the 1st Piano Concerto by several years. The work was premiered in 1795 with Beethoven debuting as piano soloist. The composer used this work as his visiting card but the work remained unpublished until 1801. This early work shows the influence of Mozart but at the same time it is a powerful evidence of Beethoven’s development as a composer towards maturity. This is manifested clearly in the beautiful slow movement of the concerto. Beethoven’s 4th Piano Concerto, considered by many as his best achievement in the field of piano concerto, was first publicly premiered in Vienna in 1808 in a concert together with the premieres of his 5th and 6th Symphonies and the Choral Fantasy. Beethoven opens this work in a revolutionary way by means of a calm dialogue between the piano and the orchestra. Throughout the work the soloist often has a supportive role while majority of themes are introduced by the orchestra. The second movement includes some of the most dramatic music that Beethoven ever wrote – only to be contrasted by the boundless joy and freedom of the final movement. Lars Vogt was appointed the first ever “Pianist in Residence” by the Berlin Philharmonic in 2003/04 and enjoys a high profile as a soloist and chamber musician. His debut solo recording on Ondine with Bach’s Goldberg Variations (ODE 1273-2) was released in August 2015 and has been a major critical success. The album’s tracks have also been streamed online over 6 million times. Lars Vogt started his tenure as Music Director of the Royal Northern Sinfonia in September 2015.

kr 159
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Schumann String Quartets, Op 41 – Nos 2 & 3
Elias Quartet 
 
"One is left feeling that the hugely impressive Elias Quartet have thought about every nuance and detail of these works; add in the rich sound, and it’s a very fine release indeed." (Gramophone)  

The Elias Quartet has already recorded a complete cycle of Beethoven quartets at Wigmore Hall that was extremely well received by the critics. Now Sara Bitlloch, Donald Grant, Martin Saving and Marie Bitlloch present on Alpha an album devoted to Schumann: ‘We have always had a special affection for Robert Schumann’s Third Quartet. It’s one of the first works we played together. Since then we have often come back to it, as if to a splendid and familiar region that we think we know thoroughly, but which yields up new secrets with each visit. The Second Quartet, on the other hand, was a much later and more complicated discovery for us. The writing is so personal, so unidiomatic for the instruments, so full of nuances, that to begin with we found it hard to come up with a unanimous voice for this work. The enthusiasm of the first movement can easily turn into anxiety if you push it a bit too far. In the slow movement, the texture is sometimes so bare that to convey its tenderness you have to sustain it with great fervour. The capricious Scherzo is bristling with rhythmic pitfalls and requires a diabolical mastery of the instruments, while the Finale is an endless explosion of joy!’

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Haydn Piano Sonatas, HobXVI – No 32; No 40; No 49; No 50
Paul Lewis pf 

"If last month’s interview with Paul lewis whetted your appetite for what we hope may be a long Haydn sonata journey, this well chosen first set won’t disappoint!" (Gramophone)

Haydn’s relationship with the keyboard was so intimate and inspirational that it enabled him to develop any number of ideas of the most varied character, from the most whimsical to the most dramatic: highly attractive music – in general dedicated to ladies – that combines mischievousness, ingenuousness, eloquence and lyricism. A whole art of contrast, interpreted with unique grace by Paul Lewis!

kr 169
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Mompou. Ravel. Brocal Piano works 
Julien Brocal pf 

"There’s a sensitive, beguiling grace to Julien Brocal’s playing throughout this recital, which seems to effortlessly convey a captivating world of colour and mood." (Gramophone)

Julien Brocal’s debut album of Chopin Preludes and the 2nd Sonata was praised by critics when released last year, and he was rewarded the prestigeous BBC Music Magazine Awards 2018 as Newcomer of the Year. ‘A protégé of Maria Joao Pires, Julien Brocal has a lot to live up to, and this disc the first for both him and the new label Rubicon – does so beautifully’ Guardian, *****

‘You can hear the qualities Pires admires in his playing, there is a kind of meditative poetry to the Op. 28 Preludes, wrapt stillness, restraint and intensity and they emerge as an absorbing set making sense as a whole. […] An impressive Chopin recital debut for this protege of Maria João Pires, triumphantly vindicating her faith in Brocal, and the faith of this brand- new label Rubicon, something you shouldn’t have to cross to hear Chopin playing of this quality’ BBC Radio 3 Record Review

This is great Chopin, transparent and warm at the same time, fabulously played in both the left and the right, dosed with masterful touch and filled with an inexpressible longing for something that is impossible and yet lets it materialise somehow. In short, we are in the unfathomable realm of a Lipatti, Pollini, Blechacz … sometimes even Cortot.’ OpusKlassiek

‘Spellbinding Chopin’ BBC Music Magazine – Instrumental choice double 5 star rating Julien’s new album takes us to the border country between Spain and France – the Basque region and the two great pianist composers from that area, Spaniard Frederico Mompou and Frenchman Maurice Ravel. The two composers never met but it is unlikely the shy, somewhat timid Mompou would have enjoyed the more flamboyant Ravel’s company.

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Victoria Tenebrae Responsories 
Stile Antico

"The Tenebrae Responsories are full of poignant inner drama, something Victoria’s music well embodies, and which Stile Antico powerfully capture in this highly communicative performance." (Gramophone)

Born in 1548, Tomás Luis de Victoria received his early musical training as a chorister of Avila Cathedral under the tutelage of Gerónimo de Espinar and Bernardino de Ribera – the latter of whom can be counted amongst the greatest Spanish composers of his generation. Victoria was probably around seventeen when he travelled to Rome to continue his education at the Collegio Germanico. It was a city rich in opportunity for him, for he stayed there for the first half of his adult life, working as a singer, teacher, organist and maestro di cappella for several institutions including the Collegio Germanico, and taking holy orders. It was not until 1587 that, returning to his native Spain, Victoria settled in Madrid, serving as chaplain to the Dowager Empress Maria, and as maestro de capilla in the chapel of the Convent of Las Descalzas Reales, where she resided, until her death in 1603. After this he remained as chapel organist and one of the convent chaplains until his own death eight years later.

The Tenebrae Responsories come from a larger collection of polyphonic music for Holy Week, the Officium Hebdomadae Sanctae, which Victoria published in 1585, assembling a number of pieces he had written during his years in Rome. The responsories set here are part of the much longer office of Tenebrae, which essentially combined the monastic hours of Matins and Lauds for each of the last three days of Holy Week, the triduum sacrum.

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‘Enfers’ 
Operatic excerpts by Gluck and Rameau 
Sols; Pygmalion / Raphaël Pichon

"An intriguing concept, about which our critic had his doubts, though none at all about these thrilling performances, bursting with a gripping theatricality." (Gramophone)

Raphaël Pichon has invited Stéphane Degout to make his recording debut for harmonia mundi in a multifaceted exploration of the Underworld. The French baritone reincarnates the figure of Henri Larrivée, the famous tragedian of Rameau and Gluck. Around a reconstruction of an imaginary Mass of the Dead, sacred and secular merge, revealing some of the most extraordinary pieces from the operatic repertory of the Enlightenment. Music of death and mourning on an epic scale that inspires Pygmalion to overwhelming heights of pathos.

A graduate of the Conservatoire National Supérieur de Musique de Lyon and member of the Atelier Lyrique de l’Opéra de Lyon, Stéphane Degout quickly came to international attention in his debut as Papageno at the Festival d’Aix-en-Provence. Since then, he has appeared on the world’s major operatic stages, namely the Opera de Paris, Théâtre des Champs-Élysées, Opéra Comique, Berlin Staatsoper, La Monnaie, Theater an der Wien, Royal Opera House, Lyric Opera Chicago, Metropolitan Opera, the Teatro alla Scala and the Bayerische Staatsoper. His numerous festival appearances include Salzburg, Glyndebourne, Aix-en-Provence, Edinburgh, Tokyo and Los Angeles.

Raphaël Pichon began his musical training at the Maîtrise des Petits Chanteurs de Versailles and went on to study singing, the violin and the piano at the Paris Conservatoires (CRR, CNSMDP). As a young countertenor he sang under the direction of Jordi Savall, Gustav Leonhardt, Ton Koopman, and Geoffroy Jourdain with whom he performed contemporary works. In 2006 he founded the ensemble Pygmalion, which combines a choir and a period instrument orchestra. The ensemble’s repertoire is nurtured by the filiations that link Bach to Mendelssohn, Schütz to Brahms, and Rameau to Gluck and Berlioz. Along with this group – now an associate ensemble at the Opéra de Bordeaux – he is invited to appear at leading festivals, where he has attracted attention with his interpretations of the sacred music of Bach and the tragédies lyriques of Rameau.

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‘Copland conducts Copland’ 
Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra / Aaron Copland

"A chance to see Aaron Copland conducting his own works – ‘a great watch, and a rewarding listen as well’ writes our reviewer Christian Hoskins." (Gramophone)

This concert film made in the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion in Los Angeles in 1976 captures a memorable performance conducted by the doyen of American composers, Aaron Copland (1900–1990). It includes some of his greatest and most attractive music, from the patriotic flourish of Fanfare for the Common Man and the spirited orchestral fantasy El Salón México, to the colloquial warmth of his suite from the opera The Tender Land. Of particular importance is the collaboration with the great Benny Goodman in the masterwork he commissioned and premiered, the Clarinet Concerto.

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Rachmaninov The Bells. Symphonic Dances
Sols; Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra / Mariss Jansons

"When the author of a Collection article elevates a new recording above his longstanding benchmark version – as reviewer Geoffrey Norris does here – you know it’s something very special indeed." (Gramophone)

SERGEI RACHMANINOV. THE BELLS - SYMPHONIC DANCES. Two large symphonic tone poems by the Russian composer Sergei Rachmaninov can be experienced on the new CD from BR-KLASSIK. The four-movement symphonic poem "The Bells" ("Kolokola") op 35, based on a poem by Edgar Allan Poe, for solo voices, choir and orchestra, composed in 1913, and the three "Symphonic Dances" op 45 from 1940 – the last completed work by the composer, who died in 1943. Konstantin Balmont's free adaptation of Poe's poem "The Bells" impressed Rachmaninov greatly. Bells have a special importance for every Russian: their cathedrals are distinctive for the sound of pealing bells. Hearing them also left a lasting impression on Rachmaninov. The four stanzas of the poem vividly present the sounds of sleigh-bells, wedding bells, alarm bells and funeral bells, and these very different moods are masterfully conveyed in the four movements of the most monumental symphonic poem Rachmaninov ever wrote. The "Symphonic Dances" for large orchestra were written in 1940 on Long Island. The first movement contains a quotation from Rachmaninov's (unsuccessful) First Symphony; the second deals with the years between the turn of the century and the Russian Revolution; and the third connects the "Dies Irae" (representing death) with the "Hallelujah" of the Orthodox Liturgy (symbolising the Resurrection). In the last few bars that Rachmaninov ever wrote, a hopeful hymn of praise triumphs over The Last Judgment - possibly a premonition of the composer's imminent death. The two masterpieces, which Rachmaninov considered to be his best compositions, were recorded at concerts in Munich's Herkulessaal on January 6, 2016 (The Bells) and January 2017 (Symphonic Dances). These outstanding performances of significant compositions of the early 20th-century symphonic repertoire are conducted by Mariss Jansons. • The two most important symphonic poems of Rachmaninov on one CD • Exciting live recordings of Munich concerts of January 2016 and January 2017 • Sung by three authentic Russian soloists • Performed by the Symphonieorchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks under Mariss Jansons

kr 159
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Marais Pièces de viole
La Rêveuse

"This is a truly delightful recording of early 18th-century French viol music, in which beauty of line and collegiality between players make for many exquisite moments, both delicate and joyfully lively." (Gramophone)

Marin Marais possesses the grace, elegance and wit so appealing in the goût français of the eighteenth century. The character pieces of his last two books depict portraits, landscapes and little genre scenes in painterly fashion, and are an unsurpassed highpoint of the viol repertory.

kr 159
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Mozart Violin Sonatas, Vol 5 
Alina Ibragimova vn Cédric Tiberghien pf 
 
"A superb series, destined to become a benchmark in the repertoire, here closes with a disc that keeps up the exploratory approach and impeccable playing right to the very end." (Gramophone)
  
The fifth and final instalment of this landmark series cements both artists’ reputations as two of the leading Mozartians performing today.

kr 159
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Beethoven Diabelli Variations
Martin Helmchen pf

"The second Diabelli release from the same label in less than a year – but with a performance as virtuoso and imaginative as this from Martin Helmchen, it’s more than justified!" (Gramophone)

The pianist Martin Helmchen has now joined Alpha for several recordings. Acknowledged as one of the leading pianists of his generation, an eminent interpreter of the German repertoire, Helmchen will explore various periods and composers (including Messiaen!), but Beethoven will have a preponderant place in his forthcoming recording projects. Before the complete concertos, planned for 2020, he tackles the Diabelli Variations, ‘a climax in the life of a pianist’. He sees these variations as ‘a voyage to the very heart of the infinity of human feelings and moods, by turns profound, philosophical, satirical’. He regards the cycle as a visionary work that heralds future developments in music, containing the first stirrings of twentieth-century minimalism, atonality and abstraction. This recording is the end result of a long personal association and numerous concerts; a powerful version in which each variation emerges as a masterpiece in its own right.

kr 159
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Messiaen Catalogue d’oiseaux
Pierre-Laurent Aimard pf

"A fascinating work, the demands it makes on performer and listener both great but rewarding, is brilliantly explored by a pianist, Pierre-Laurent Aimard, with a deep knowledge of the music of Messiaen." (Gramophone)

Renowned French pianist Pierre-Laurent Aimard kicks off his exclusive engagement to PENTATONE with a recording of Olivier Messiaen’s Catalogue d’Oiseaux (1956-1958). The pianist had intimate ties to the composer himself and his wife, Yvonne Loriod, for whom Messiaen wrote the Catalogue. Praised by The Guardian as “one of the best Messiaen interpreters around,“ this is Aimard’s first recording of Messiaen’s most extensive, demanding and colourful piano composition. The luxurious CD box set contains an accompanying bonus DVD, on which Aimard shares his vast knowledge of and love for Messiaen’s work from behind the piano. Due to its radical naturalism, the Catalogue d’Oiseaux is exceptional within the repertoire for solo piano. It is the grand hymn to nature from a man who never ceased to marvel at the stupefying beauty of landscapes or the magic of bird song. With his Catalogue, Messiaen tried – in his own words – “to render exactly the typical birdsong of a region, surrounded by its neighbours from the same habitat, as well as the form of song at different hours of the day and night,” suggesting an almost scientific approach to his subjects. The idea of ‘reproduction’ may have been central to Messiaen’s conception of the Catalogue d’Oiseaux, but in the finished work we hear a great composer at work, a master of innovative structures who finds an astonishing range of piano sonorities. In a world that is increasingly being destructed by man, Aimard views this cycle as “a musical refuge that resonates with an audience ever more concerned, expanded and affected.”

kr 429
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‘Four Pieces, Four Pianos’
Alexander Melnikov pf

"Alexander Melnikov talked readers through his choice of piano for the Liszt piece in February; for Chopin, Schubert and Stravinsky he hand-picked three others. The results are hugely enjoyable." (Gramophone)

Alexander Melnikov imagined this programme where four monuments from the piano repertoire are interpreted in their original instrumental environment, Graff, Erard, Bösendorfer and Steinway. The four pianos chosen have characteristics corresponding to those of the instruments on which these virtuoso pieces were first performed. A journey where the horizons of sounds expand to dizzying new heights.

kr 159
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‘Venezia Millenaria’
Hespèrion XXI; Le Concert des Nations / Jordi Savall

"Another compelling and ear-opening historical journey by Jordi Savall, this time a portrait of that most beguiling of cities, Venice, wonderfully portrayed in diverse music from across a millennium." (Gramophone)

Over 1,000 years, from the Byzantine Empire to the Napoleonic Wars, Venice played a key role in shaping the Western music.

Jordi Savall and his ensembles pay a tribute to a place that fully profited from its priviliged links with the Orient while

hosting geniuses like Monteverdi, Gabrieli and Vivaldi. As you have come to expect from Alia Vox, this CD-book is

lavishly illustrated and documented.

kr 429
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DVD/BLU RAY: APRIL

The funeral of Louis XIV mirrored his reign: grandiose and filled with pathos. Raphaël Pichon has chosen the setting of the Chapelle Royale in Versailles, built ‘for the use’ of the Sun King, to present a musical reconstruction of the event, with chiaroscuro lighting designs by Bertrand Couderc. Solemn grands motets like the De profundis and Dies irae of Michel-Richard de Lalande and the poignant Marche funèbre pour le Convoy du Roy by André Danican Philidor are juxtaposed with rarely heard music by Jean Colin, Louis Chein and Charles d’Helfer. An outstanding performance by Pygmalion, filmed on the occasion of the tercentenary of the event, in November 2015.

kr 189
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‘THE GERSHWIN MOMENT’
Kirill Gerstein pf St Louis Symphony Orchestra / David Robertson

"Kirill Gerstein’s famed virtuosity meets his jazz background to produce a thrilling, hugely enjoyable and well thought-out celebration of Gershwin’s music." (Gramophone)

A Gershwin Moment is upon us: Rhapsody in Blue and the Concerto in F — not so long ago marginalized repertoire in limbo between classical and popular genres — are now, unapologetically, concert staples. George Gershwin is finally recognized as an early harbinger of musical synergies that we now take for granted. No longer viewed as an "inspired dilettante,” betwixt and between, the new Gershwin is a confident master, versatile and visionary. In this album recorded live, pianist Kirill Gerstein explores the music of George Gershwin. Together with conductor David Robertson and the St. Louis Symphony he plays the Concerto in F as well as the original jazz band version of the Rhapsody in Blue. Program also includes a selection of Gershwin songs in solo piano arrangements by the American pianist Earl Wild. The album features Gerstein’s collaboration with two special guests: vocalist Storm Large sings Gershwin’s “Summertime”. Together with the legendary jazz vibraphonist, Gary Burton, Gerstein plays a jazz standard “Blame It on My Youth” written by Gershwin’s close friend, Oscar Levant.

kr 159
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JS BACH Sonatas for Violin and Harpsichord, BWV1014-1019
Isabelle Faust vn Kristian Bezuidenhout hpd

"Isabelle Faust and Kristian Bezuidenhout’s experience in performing these works together pays dividends once in front of the mics on this wonderful set." (Gramophone)

"Isabelle Faust has never cultivated the whale-boned red-carpet glamour that many female soloists feel obliged to pursue. On stage and off, the German violinist's manner is relaxed, her style understated. She sports a gamine, Jeanne d'Arc crop and, save for the tell-tale violinist's love-bite just below her jaw, you might guess her to be an architect or an academic. In a way, she is both, for an appreciation of musical structure and an interest in historical research are integral to her work.

The stillness of focus and purity of sound that has distinguished her playing can be heard in a repertoire stretching from Beethoven and Schubert through to Hartmann and Ligeti, on modern and period strings. Where other violinists dazzle, Faust is a thinker. On the subject of her own individual sound, she is hesitant: "Of course, I'm trying to be me in whatever repertoire I'm playing, and I do think that my work is different from that of other violinists – but actually I'm never really trying to keep to this idea of an individual sound. It's always my goal to get a different interpretation and also a different kind of voice particular to the voice of the composer." Anna Picard - The Guardian

kr 189
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BERSA ‘Complete Piano Music, Vol 1’
Goran Filipec pf

"New music to me, but what a delight to discover! This is the opening volume of a series devoted to the Croatian composer Blagoje Bersa’s, and one couldn’t ask for a better champion than Goran Filipec." (Gramophone)

Blagoje Bersa was a major figure in Croatian musical life, his compositions a compound of Mediterranean, Central European and Balkan elements. His piano music, of which this recording is Volume 1, reveals a rich diversity drawn from Classical and Romantic models, encompassing charming Chopinesque barcarolles, a melancholic Notturno, a stirring Liszt-inspired Fantaisie-Impromptu, beautiful balletic miniatures and the Brahmsian grandeur of the powerfully conceived Sonata in F minor.

kr 149
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SCHNITTKE Psalms of Repentance
Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir / Kaspars Putninš

"Possibly the best recording yet of one of the choral repertoire’s most technically challenging works, says critic Ivan Moody of this powerful Schnittke recording." (Gramophone)

Alfred Schnittke and Arvo Pärt lived through times of remarkable change in the last decades of the Soviet Union. From the 1970s, state restrictions on religion were gradually relaxed and this was reflected in the arts and especially in music. Schnittke’s adoption of Christianity was triggered by the death of his mother in 1972, and culminated in his later conversion to Catholicism. Pärt was from a nominally Lutheran background in Estonia, but embraced the Orthodox faith in the 1970s, following intensive study of liturgical music. Both composers began to incorporate religious themes into their work, moving away from the modernist abstraction that had characterized their early careers. Schnittke’s large-scale Psalms of Repentance were composed in 1988 for the celebrations for the millennium of Christianity in Russia. The texts come from an anonymous collection of poems for Lent, written in the 16th century, and in his settings Schnittke engages with the traditions of chant-based Orthodox liturgical music. The Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir and Kaspars Putninš have chosen to combine Schnittke’s Psalms with two shorter works by Arvo Pärt, whose music they are well-known exponents of. Like the Psalms, Pärt’s pieces are composed in a quasi-liturgical style, and with its serene atmosphere, his Nunc dimittis forms a natural counterpart to the Magnificat even though the two were written more than a decade apart.

kr 159
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DEBUSSY ‘Songs, Vol 4’
Lucy Crowe sop Malcolm Martineau pf

"Debussy features heavily in this issue, and if you’re inspired to explore his music further then this, the latest volume in Hyperion’s series of his songs, is an exquisite place to turn." (Gramophone)

A recital of songs spanning Debussy’s entire compositional career, from Tragédie written in early 1881, to his very last song, Noël des enfants qui n’ont plus de maisons from the end of 1915. We bid adieu to this series in company of Lucy Crowe and, of course, Malcolm Martineau.

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TCHAIKOVSKY The Queen of Spades
Sols; Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra / Mariss Jansons

"Tchaikovsky himself becomes a central character in his own opera in this staging from Amsterdam, a ‘terrific memento of a provocative but enthralling production’, writes reviewer Mark Pullinger." (Gramophone)

Former Music Director Mariss Jansons returns to Amsterdam to conduct Pique Dame at the Dutch National Opera with “his” Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra. He encounters a noteworthy cast and under his baton the orchestra sounds “brilliant and splendid“ (Der Tagesspiegel). Renowned director Stefan Herheim staged Tchaikovsky’s much-loved opera about a young man who, for the prospect of earthly wealth, gambles away his chance for love and happiness. Herheim, whose stagings are famous for their multi layered levels of interpretation, attempts to reflect on the composer’s hidden love for men. “The Latvian maestro, the intriguingly performing orchestra, the smartly-chosen soloists, and director Stefan Herheim have succeeded in staging an extraordinary production” (Die Presse). “Stefan Herheim makes a great picture show out of Tchaikovsky’s ‘Pique Dame’” (NMZ). “A masterpiece” (Der Standard).

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STRAVINSKY Works for Two Pianos
Marc-André Hamelin, Leif Ove Andsnes pfs

"Even on paper – Hamelin, Andsnes, Stravinsky’s Rite – this sounded thrilling. In the hearing it surpasses even those expectations; characterful, virtuoso, collaborative – and hugely impressive." (Gramophone)

Shortly before its notorious Paris ballet premiere in 1913, this was essentially how The Rite of Spring first saw the light of day: Leif Ove Andsnes and Marc-André Hamelin recapture the heady, visceral thrill which must have been in the air when Stravinsky sat down at the piano with Debussy to create this landmark of modernism.

kr 159
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CPE BACH. JC BACH. JS BACH Magnificats
Sols; Arcangelo / Jonathan Cohen

"This family affair makes for some interesting comparisons – but most of all for some predictably superb music-making from the ever-impressive Arcangelo and Jonathan Cohen." (Gramophone)

No fewer than three Bachs—father and two sons—and three wonderful versions of the Magnificat written over the course of the eighteenth century: one setting very familiar, the other two much less so.

kr 159
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LULLY Alceste
Sols; Les Talens Lyriques / Christophe Rousset

"Rousset in Rameau was our Recording of the Month in November; if anything he’s even more attuned the to rhythmic and dramatic impulse of Lully’s music. A very fine recording." (Gramophone)

kr 289
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RIMSKY-KORSAKOV The Tale of Tsar Saltan
Sols; Mariinsky Orchestra / Valery Gergiev

"A traditional staging, fine cast and excellent playing – Valery Gergiev adds another impressive recording to his growing Rimsky-Korsakov catalogue, and this time on film." (Gramophone)

As a companion to The Golden Cockerel, Valery Gergiev presents another Rimsky-Korsakov opera on the Mariinsky Label, The Tale of Tsar Saltan. Rarely staged and the only complete performance available on Blu-ray or DVD, this release is part of Valery Gergiev’s mission to showcase the breadth and depth that Russian music has to over, caputuring Rimsky-Korsakov’s exciting, adventurous and magical work for posterity. This production features a cast of the Mariinsky’s finest singers, including soprano Irina Churilova as Tsaritsa Militrisa, contralto soprano Albina Shagimuratova as The Swan-Princess, and bass-baritone Edward Tsanga, who sadly passed away in early 2017, in the lead role. Originally composed to celebrate Pushkin’s centenary, the full title of the work - The Tale of Tsar Saltan, of His Son the Renowned and Mighty Bogatyr Prince Gvidon Saltanovich, and of the Beautiful Princess-Swan - is indicative of the fantastical content of the opera. It is an old-fashioned Russian treat for the eyes and the ears from the country’s most long-standing musical institution. Filled with colourful music that is typical of Rimsky-Korsakov’s style, it is the origin of the instantly recognisable Flight of the Bumblebee, which arrives when the magic Swan-Princess changes Prince Gvidon Saltanovich into an insect.

kr 299
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Beethoven Symphonies Nos 1 & 3
Vienna Symphony Orchestra / Philippe Jordan
Wiener Symphoniker

"An impressive statement of intent from Philippe Jordan as he begins a Beethoven cycle with his Vienna Symphony, on its own label." (Gramophone)

The Wiener Symphoniker wrote music history with the first performances of works by Bruckner, Ravel and Schoenberg. And under the baton of such illustrious music directors as Wilhelm Furtwängler, Herbert von Karajan, Carlo Maria Giulini or Georges Prêtre they acquired worldwide fame for their unique Viennese sound. Considering its rich, more than a century long history, it comes as a surprise that the orchestra has never before recorded a full cycle of the nine symphonies by Ludwig van Beethoven which are widely considered to constitute the apex of the symphonic repertoire. This shortcoming is about to be remedied: Starting in autumn 2017, the Wiener Symphoniker will release the full cycle on 5 CDs. With a new CD of the series to be released every 6 months, the full cycle will be completed just in time for the 250th anniversary of the birth of Beethoven in 2020. The symphonies were recorded live during a critically acclaimed concert cycle in Spring/Summer 2017 in the Great Hall of the Musikverein Wien. At these concerts, the international press specifically praised Jordan’s approach to combining a traditional Viennese sound with a more contemporary, slimmed down interpretation of the material, original tempi and insights from the historically informed performance practice. Through a close reading of the score and by focusing on the content of the works, Jordan aimed to create – in his words – a “more natural, direct, humanised“ image of the famous composer. A key work for this approach constitutes, in Jordan’s mind, the Third Symphony E-flat major op.55 „Eroica“ – which will be included on the first CD of the series along side the First Symphony C Major op. 21. According to Jordan, both works are unified in their portrayal of Beethoven‘s immense, innovative, revolutionary creative will. In its perusal of the Prometheus-myth the “Eroica” has additional meaning for Jordan’s depiction of Beethoven as an essentially modern and human composer: “In the way Beethoven uses the Prometheus theme, the composer reveals his fascination for the eventual failing of mankind not his heroic deeds.”

kr 159
Image #3: JANUARY 2018
Elgar Falstaff. Songs
Roderick Williams bar BBC Philharmonic Orchestra / Sir Andrew Davis
Chandos

"A Falstaff full of personality and perceptiveness, Roderick Williams eloquent in orchestral songs … just the highlights from a wonderful Elgar anthology from Sir Andrew Davis." (Gramophone)

Sir Andrew Davis takes his multi-award-winning Elgar discography to the next level with breathtaking interpretations of Falstaff, Elgar’s most accomplished and characteristic work, and several orchestral songs, with exemplary support from the BBC Philharmonic, all recorded in surround-sound. Owing to its technical challenges and more complex harmonic language, the composer always had a high opinion of Falstaff, saying that he had enjoyed writing it ‘more than any other music I have ever composed and perhaps for that reason it may prove to be among my best efforts’. His earlier music for Grania and Diarmid pays tribute to the Irish legend of Diarmuid and Grainne; the Funeral March is probably Elgar’s noblest creation, and echoes the popular Pomp and Circumstance Marches. The various less well-known songs, given heroic interpretations by the baritone Roderick Williams OBE, span the multiple facets of Elgar’s style, from the stern and dramatic impressions of Op. 60 to the satirical and impish jollity of ‘Kindly do not SMOKE’.

kr 159
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Haydn. Kraus ‘Symphonies, Vol 5’
Basel Chamber Orchestra / Giovanni Antonini
Alpha

"Giovanni Antonini’s Gramophone Award for his previous Haydn volume set the bar high – and it’s met here, on a worthy addition to his compelling exploration of the composer." (Gramophone)

Haydn2032, the ambitious project of recording the complete symphonies of Haydn, has been placed from the start under the artistic direction of Giovanni Antonini, with two ensembles, Il Giardino Armonico, which made the first four volumes, and the Kammerochester Basel, to which this fifth volume and the next two are assigned. Another characteristic of the edition is that each time Haydn is set in perspective with another composer; here it is Joseph Martin Kraus (1756-92): ‘Kraus was the first man of genius that I met. Why did he have to die? It is an irreparable loss for our art. The Symphony in C minor he wrote in Vienna specially for me is a work which will be considered a masterpiece in every century’, said Haydn in 1797. Though he long remained forgotten after his death, Kraus made an active contribution to the movement of poetic renewal called ‘Sturm und Drang’ or ‘Geniezeit’ (time of genius) because such artists as the young Goethe broke free of all tradition to follow their hearts alone. When Haydn called Kraus homme de genie, in French, he probably had this context in mind. The two composers had met in Vienna in 1783.

kr 159
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Saint-Saëns Works for Cello and Orchestra
Gabriel Schwabe vc Malmö Symphony Orchestra / Marc Soustrot
Naxos

"Gabriel Schwabe brings a delightful tone to these concertos: as critic Jeremy Nicholas makes clear, a bargain at Naxos prices, but a brilliant buy regardless." (Gramophone)

Andrew Everard, Gramophone's Audio Editor, writes: 'This is a wonderfully focused recording, with a beautiful rendition of the tone and textures of the solo instrument, and a natural balance between cello and orchestra without "spotlighting". The sound is made all the more vibrant and three-dimensional by the added information of the 96kHz/24bit high-resolution download.’

This recording of the complete Saint-Saens works for cello, featuring the acclaimed young German cellist Gabriel Schwabe includes both Cello Concertos and the ever popular Le Cygne. This is the sixth recording to date with the Malmo Symphony Orchestra conducted by Marc Soustrot of the symphonies and concertos of Saint-Saens.

kr 89
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‘A Lute by Sixtus Rauwolf’
Jakob Lindberg lute
BIS

"A beautiful Baroque programme, specially compiled to showcase Jakob Lindberg’s rather unique instrument – possibly the oldest lute in playing condition." (Gramophone)

The lute by Sixtus Rauwolf heard on this recording was probably built in the last decade of the sixteenth century. Some hundred years later, in 1715, it was converted to suit the musical tastes and demands of the baroque period. For this disc, Jakob Lindberg has chosen works that could have formed part of the repertory of the presumably German owner of the instrument at around the time of its final conversion. For German lutenists from about the middle of the seventeenth century, it was France that provided the aesthetic and musical model, and towards the end of the century, when the lute rather suddenly and inexplicably dropped out of fashion in Paris certain French luthistes travelled abroad and met with great success in Germanspeaking lands. With them, they took their music and special traditions of lute-playing, evidence of which can be seen in the music of several of the German composers included here. The disc closes with a suite of pieces by Silvius Leopold Weiss, the most famous lutenist of the baroque era. Weiss, Lindberg and the Rauwolf lute first crossed paths in 2006 on a highly acclaimed all-Weiss disc (BIS-1524): ‘Too good to be true’ was the verdict in International Record Review while the reviewer in Goldberg Magazine wrote ‘As an evocation of the lute's magical qualities, this deserves to achieve cult status.’

kr 159
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R Strauss Salome
Sols; Frankfurt Radio Symphony Orchestra / Andrés Orozco-Estrada
Pentatone

"‘A deeply musical account of the score’, writes critic Hugo Shirley of this dramatic telling of Strauss’s opera; Emily Magee is a ‘compellingly real’ Salome, and all in excellent sound." (Gramophone)

Desire. Brutality. Lust. Slyness. Anxiety. What a fascinatingly menacing thematic melange is seething in this Salome. Richard Strauss, the “nervous contrapuntalist,” had immediately recognized the potential of Oscar Wilde’s play, and had proceeded to add to it a musical meta-plane, which resulted in Salome becoming the scandalous new point of departure for opera in the 20th century. In its vivid psychological depiction of a corrupt world, Salome is, at the same time, both child of and witness to the dawning of the 20th century – a reflection of a moribund late-bourgeois era, captivated by its own putrefaction. The opera hit the nerve of the times. Strauss poured the Salome catastrophe into a one-act opera lasting a mere 100 minutes. However, these are 100 highly condensed minutes, which demand the listener’s full and uninterrupted attention without any break; first torturing him emotionally and then trickling the venom of sweet, seductive music into his ears and mind; laying his nerves bare, then making him tremble in aroused expectation. The new Pentatone CD featuring the young, up-and-coming conductor Andres Orozco-Estrada leading the hr Symphony Orchestra (= formerly Frankfurt Radio Symphony Orchestra) is a live recording of a concert given on September 10, 2016 in Frankfurt. The critics were enthusiastic: “The title role was wonderfully relaxed, all the essential components were in general harmonious, and Andres Orozco-Estrada emphasized the power of the orchestra.” Indeed, Orozco-Estrada surrounded his Salome with outstanding soloists of the German opera repertoire: Wolfgang Koch (Jochanaan), Peter Bronder (Herod), and Michaela Schuster (Herodias). The American soprano Emily Magee made her debut as Salome in Berlin in 2011. Since then, she has developed into a true Strauss specialist – and not only in this role. The Frankfurter Rundschau praised her “readily appealing, powerful and untiring soprano voice, which never gets drowned, not even in the orchestral tutti. Her face was a fascinating reflection of the slyness, the caprices, the bitchiness of a pampered princess.”

kr 359
Image DVD/BLU RAY: JANUARY 2018
JS Bach St Matthew Passion
Sols; Gächinger Cantorey / Hans-Christoph Rademann

"An imaginative, inspiring and choreographed approach to Bach’s St Matthew Passion, movingly performed by players, soloists and 100 children from schools around Stuttgart." (Gramophone)

In its choreographed version of the St. Matthew Passion, the Internationale Bachakademie Stuttgart offers new dimensions to Bach‘s musical drama.

And, for the one hundred schoolchildren who delved into Bach‘s monumental work and learned to dance as an artistic form of self-expression, it was an opportunity to experience the power of his music first hand. The interplay of professional musicians and young amateurs turned into a creative bridge for all involved.

kr 299
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