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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Purcell King Arthur
Sols; Gabrieli Consort & Players / Paul McCreesh

"A fascinating opera, one which vividly takes listeners to late 17th-century Britain – Dryden’s text and Purcell’s music are brought spectacularly and stirringly to life by conductor Paul McCreesh." (Gramophone) 

The great patriotic opera of the 17th century, recorded here in a lively new performing edition after two decades in the Gabrieli’s touring repertoire. Notoriously difficult to present on disc or in concert, this version presented by Gabrieli was created to allow an obvious musical narrative, despite Purcell’s music often being completely dislocated from much of the original theatre context. Gabrieli have been performing the music from King Arthur for nearly a quarter of a century, evolving their interpretation over time. With the score having to be pieced together using separate versions (due to Purcell’s originals being lost), and with Gabrieli’s evolved interpretation of the music, the end product of this recording is truly unique. Their next release on Signum will be with the semi-opera by Purcell, Fairy Queen, in April next year, which is an adaptation of A Midsummer Nights Dream.

kr 259
Image #2 NOVEMBER 2019
Falla El amor brujo; El sombrero de tres picos
Mahler CO / Pablo Heras-Casado

"A centenary celebration of El sombrero de tres picos, infused by Pablo Heras-Casado with all the Spanish spirit you could ask for, and an equally outstanding El amor brujo." (Gramophone) 

kr 159
Image #5 NOVEMBER 2019
‘Time & Eternity’
Patricia Kopatchinskaja vn / Camerata Bern

"As adventurous in her programming as in her playing, Patricia Kopatchinskaja offers an album whose meeting of music and words, of eras and traditions, is musically and spiritually powerful." (Gramophone) 
Time and Eternity. Always in search of powerful musical experiences, the violinist Patricia Kopatchinskaja and Camerata Bern – of which she has just taken over the artistic direction –here juxtapose Hartmann’s Concerto funebre, composed in 1939 to express his indignation at the Nazis’ terror, and the Polyptyque for violin and orchestra that Frank Martin wrote in 1973 for Yehudi Menuhin, a work inspired by six scenes from the Passion of Christ painted by Duccio di Buoninsegna around 1310. The Kyrie from Machaut’s Messe de Nostre Dame, composed half a century after the altarpiece and heard here in an arrangement for strings, is interspersed between the movements, along with Bach chorales, ‘as an invocation of eternal consolation’. A Polish folksinger interprets the Jewish song ‘Eliyahu hanavi’, which expresses the hope of salvation and which Hartmann quotes in his concerto. Six hundred years of music to ‘make the victims’ voices heard’, says Patricia Kopatchinskaja. The album opens with Kol Nidrei by John Zorn (born 1953), in response to the eponymous prayer spoken by a representative of the Jewish community. A Catholic priest and an Orthodox priest also say a short prayer.

kr 159
Image #6 NOVEMBER 2019
Alkan Symphony & Concerto for solo piano
Paul Wee pf 

"Astonishing virtuosity defines this hugely impressive recording, whose story behind it – the soloist is a lawyer, not a professional pianist – makes it all the more extraordinary." (Gramophone) 

Charles-Valentin Alkan made his name as pianist in nineteenth-century Paris and seemed poised for a glittering career. But following a series of setbacks he withdrew into a life of relative seclusion, and as he receded from the public eye, so too did his music. It was never entirely forgotten, but it was not until the 1960s and 1970s that Alkan’s works began to emerge from obscurity. To quote the liner notes by Paul Wee, ‘Alkan’s music exhibits a formidable grasp of form and structure, a strong command of melody, a high sense of drama and an unprecedented exploitation of the capabilities of the piano.’ Combined here on one disc – possibly for the first time – are the Symphony and the Concerto for Solo Piano, two pinnacles of Alkan’s legacy. Unusually, the four movements of the Symphony and the three movements of the Concerto are included as seven etudes within Alkan’s Douze etudes dans tous les tons mineurs (Twelve studies in all the minor keys), in 1857 as his Op.?39. As to why Alkan composed these epic works and then hid them away in a set of etudes, Wee suggests that they are to be seen as ‘a celebration of the piano and its capabilities.’ Paul Wee is a barrister specialising in commercial law and appears regularly before courts and tribunals on behalf of clients including governments, corporations, financial institutions and individuals. Born in Australia, he began his piano studies at the age of four, continuing them in New York City at the Manhattan School of Music. Going on to study law at the University of Oxford, he attempts to balance his love for the piano alongside the demands of a busy international career in law.

kr 159
Image #10 NOVEMBER 2019
Gounod Faust
Sols; Les Talens Lyriques / Christophe Rousset 

"Another new take on another otherwise familiar work reveals new dramatic depths; rising star Benjamin Bernheim leads an excellent cast, conducted with flair by Christophe Rousset." (Gramophone) 

Gounod contemplated a Faust opera as early as his residence in Rome in the 1840s. But almost twenty years were to elapse before one of the most famous works of French Romanticism was premiered at the Théâtre-Lyrique (1859). Its debut at the Opéra in 1869 propelled the work into theatres all over the world, but numerous modifications were the price of achieving that fame. Between the Faust of 1859 and its counterpart of 1869, some of the spirit has evaporated: the spontaneity of the spoken dialogue and melodrama, the pawky humour of Dame Marthe, the cynicism of Méphistophélès. We have forgotten the charm of the first tenors who sang ‘Salut, demeure chaste et pure’ with the timbre typical of the voix mixte of opéra-comique. Moreover, a large number of pieces were consigned to oblivion by these modifications. To discover this first Faust is to gain a deeper insight into the French aesthetic of demi-caractère, so specific to Paris in the 1850s.

kr 359
‘This is Rattle’
London Symphony Orchestra / Sir Simon Rattle

"The beginning of Sir Simon Rattle’s tenure as the LSO’s Music Director, captured on film, bodes impressively well for the years ahead for Londoners." (Gramophone) 
Sir Simon Rattle's arrival in London heralded a new era for the LSO, and the ten day festival that opened his inaugural season as the Orchestra's Music Director wowed critics and audiences alike, going on to win the prestigious Royal Philharmonic Society award in the 'Concert Series & Festivals' category.
This film captures Rattle's very first performance as Music Director; a programme in which British composers took centre-stage. The world-premiere of Helen Grime's Fanfares, which became the first movement of the work Woven Space, opened the concert before violinist Christian Tetzlaff took to the stage to perform the concerto written for him in 2010 by Harrison Birtwistle. Two more works close to Rattle's heart followed: Thomas Adès' Asyla and the pocket-sized Symphony No 3 by the late Oliver Knussen. Finally, Rattle's stunning interpretation of the Enigma Variations brought the concert to a close and then the audience to its feet, filling the Barbican Hall with rapturous applause.

kr 189
Sols; Le Poème Harmonique / Vincent Dumestre

"An extraordinary new performance of Allegri’s Miserere which encourages us to rethink a familiar work; the wider programme adds a beautifully performed wider context." (Gramophone) 

Allegri’s Miserere, its heartbreaking harmonies, its verses alternately chanted and ornamented, its seraphic voices: sheer Baroque magic. Since its composition in Rome in 1630, the work has constantly been transformed. Le Poeme Harmonique approaches the score through the prism of its metamorphoses, the ornaments and transpositions added since the time when Mozart himself transcribed the piece, then jealously guarded by the Vatican, which punished publication of it with anathema.From the Renaissance onwards, musicians dressed up the finest secular tunes of their time in sacred words. The most famous example of all, the Pianto della Madonna, in which Monteverdi transferred to the Virgin Mary the mournful strains of his Lamento d’Arianna, illustrates these exchanges between repertories. Similarly, his famous Sì dolce e ’l tormento is here transformed into Sì dolce e ’l martire with the help of the mysterious Virgilio Albanese. Other masters of the period, such as Rossi, Mazzocchi and Marazzoli, also adapted their works to sacred texts. With this programme, which builds on the experience of the album Nova Metamorfosi (ALPHA 039), one of Le Poeme Harmonique’s major triumphs, Vincent Dumestre celebrates the twentieth anniversary of his ensemble.

kr 159
Image #2 AWARDS ISSUE 2019
Braunfels. Pfitzner ‘The Romantic Piano Concerto, Vol 79’
Markus Becker pf Berlin Radio Symphony Orchestra / Constantin Trinks

"A fascinating new addition to Hyperion’s consistently rewarding series."

The Braunfels—a concerto in all but name—and Pfitzner make an apt pairing, two works dating from the twilight of German Romanticism. Both are heroically dispatched by Markus Becker, with Constantin Trinks and his Berlin Radio Symphony forces providing idiomatic support.

kr 159
Image #4 AWARDS ISSUE 2019
Smalley Chamber Works
Taryn Fiebig sop Darryl Poulsen hn James Cuddeford vn Scott Davie, Daniel Herscovitch pf Roger Smalley tam-tams 

"Roger Smalley’s music could hardly have stronger advocacy than from these players." (Gramophone) 

Roger Smalley (1943–2015) made his mark, first in his native Britain and then in Australia, as composer, pianist, conductor, writer, academic and teacher. Although as performer and commentator he was at the forefront of musical modernism, he was also very fond of nineteenth-century Romanticism, and much of his music bridges the gap between old and new, retaining its roots in the past while reflecting the concerns of his own time, as the works on this album demonstrate.

kr 159
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JS Bach Cello Suites
Emmanuelle Bertrand vc

"In a crowded catalogue, it takes something special to really stand out, and this compellingly committed, full-bodied Bach cycle from Emmanuelle Bertrand does exactly that." (Gramophone) 

To record Bach’s Six Suites was Emmanuelle Bertrand’s most cherished dream; it has now become reality thanks to her encounter with an exceptional instrument. Built by Carlo Tononi in Venice in 1730, this cello with its deep and generous sound, set up in ‘Baroque’ style (with gut strings and bow to match), has proved to be the most faithful of partners for tackling one of the most impressive monuments in all western music.

kr 219
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Schubert. Brahms Schwanengesang, etc
Gerald Finley bar Julius Drake pf 

"Gerald Finley is an eloquently communicative, and powerful, interpreter of Schubert’s late songs, united with an equally thoughtful Julius Drake; the Brahms songs are just as moving." (Gramophone) 

An inspired coupling of two contrasting yet complementary sets of ‘swansongs’. Despite the three decades separating Brahms’s and Schubert’s ages at the time of writing, both are among their composers’ very final works, poignant reflections on the transience of life.

kr 159
Image #10 AWARDS ISSUE 2019
The Choir of St John’s College, Cambridge / Andrew Nethsingha 

"Take one of today’s finest collegiate choirs, experiencing a truly golden period, and music that sits at their very heart, and the result is an album which embodies Evensong’s sublime power." (Gramophone) 

Magnificat & Nunc Dimittis was recorded to explore the breadth of imagination with which composers have approached the texts, which have been sung in Christian worship for over 1000 years. Stanford’s starting point was the Germanic symphonic tradition; Howells took his inspiration from the architecture and acoustics of the Cathedral in Gloucester; Tippett was inspired by the unique Spanish trumpet stop at St John’s. The Evening Cantincles chosen for this record relate to a particular period of music making in the life of St John’s conductor, Andrew Nethsingha; his time at the Royal College of Music; at Truro and Gloucester Cathedrals, and lastly his time at St John’s. Founded in the 1670s, The Choir of St John’s College, Cambridge, is one of the finest collegiate choirs in the world – known and loved by millions for its rich, warm and distinctive sound, expressive interpretations and ability to sing in a variety of styles.

kr 159
Rossini L’italiana in Algeri
Sols; Philharmonia Chorus, Vienna; Ensemble Matheus / Jean-Christophe Spinosi 

"‘A production of this opera that’s as good as any of us is ever likely to see’, writes RO." (Gramophone) 

“The role of Isabella is sung to perfection by Cecilia Bartoli – a clever, independent woman with an adventurous streak” (New York Times). Bartoli’s superb performance in Gioachino Rossini’s L’Italiana in Algeri (The Italian Girl in Algiers) at Salzburg Festival, directed by the BAFTA-winning stage director duo Moshe Leiser and Patrice Caurier, is a highlight among the Rossini celebrations on the occasion of the 150th anniversary of the composer’s death. The DVD captures Bartoli’s excellent performance in a rare audiovisual recording of the Italian superstar, who is one of the most successful opera singers of our time. In this vibrant comedy, every look, every hand gesture brings Isabella to life: Bartoli presents the spirited Italian woman with fire, finesse and extraordinary acting abilities – “a Rossini masterclass” (Bachtrack). Her Isabella is a strong, independent woman who has no intentions of accepting the advances of the powerful Mustafà. In the staging by Leiser/Caurier, which plays with preconceived notions about clashing cultures, Mustafà is no longer an Ottoman bey, but a kind of local gangster who smuggles electronics at the port of modern-day Algiers. In the colourful sets of Christian Fenouillat, Ildar Abdrazakov sings the leering macho, looking for a love affair with the beautiful Italian, with delight and “great comic talent” (Salzburger Nachrichten). Edgardo Rocha’s bright tenor climbs up without effort, making his performance as Isabella’s lover Lindoro flowing and highly emotional. The conductor Jean-Christophe Spinosi, showing sensitivity to the intricacies and sparkle of Rossini’s score, leads the excellent Ensemble Matheus in a “beguiling performance” (The New York Times).

kr 419
Beethoven. Sibelius Violin Concertos
Christian Tetzlaff vn Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin / Robin Ticciati

"The engaging, ever- communicative artistry of Christian Tetzlaff led us to focus on him this issue – a quality perfectly demonstrated in these questing, excellent concerto performances." (Gramophone) 

kr 159
Image #2 OCTOBER 2019
Korngold Symphony, etc 
Sinfonia of London / John Wilson 

"You can read the story behind this orchestra in our news pages, but suffice to say this remarkable group of players gathered by John Wilson offer a Korngold Symphony of striking beauty." (Gramophone) 

ohn Wilson and his Sinfonia of London shine in an all-Korngold programme full of wit, romanticism, sensitivity, and virtuosity – an orchestral tour de force!

kr 169
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Bartók Piano Quintet Veress String Trio
Vilde Frang vn et al 

"This superb collection of artists bring an almost palpable rapport to these works; youthful Bartók and, perhaps the really intriguing work here, the fascinating String Trio from Sándor Veress." (Gramophone) 

The Lockenhaus International Chamber Music Festival is regarded as one of Austria’s most prestigious festivals: it was created by the violinist Gidon Kremer to offer a new vision of chamber music and the opportunity to create musical exchanges in an intimate setting. The cellist Nicolas Altstaedt succeeded Gidon Kremer in 2012 and now continues the spirit of the festival. For this first recording in partnership with Lockenhaus, he is joined by experienced partners, including the Norwegian violinist Vilde Frang, the Hungarian violinist Barnabás Kelemen, the German pianist Alexander Lonquich – whose Schubert double album was recently released on Alpha (Alpha 433) – and the British violist Lawrence Power. Together they have selected two works, the Piano Quintet of Béla Bartók, a demanding composition, rarely performed even though it is considered an intensely personal work, and the String Trio of Sándor Veress, a former student of Bartók. Nicolas Altstaedt has joined Alpha for several recording projects that will illustrate the full range of his talents, in a highly eclectic range of music.

kr 159
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Nørgård Whirl’s World 
Ensemble MidtVest 

"Different facets – or rather, perhaps, a broad portrait – of this Danish composer’s beguiling music, performed with passion and complete affinity with his sound world by Ensemble MidtVest." (Gramophone)

Per Nørgård is one of the most frequently played composers of his generation. He has written more than 400 works in all genres and inspired innumerable colleagues in Denmark and abroad. This album presents all of Nørgård’s music for the Oscarwinning Babette’s Feast film version by Gabriel Axel of Karen Blixen’s short story – not just the snatches of it one can hear in the film. One can also get to know the hypnotic Spell, the ripples and bubbles in Whirl’s World and Trio Breve, which according to the composer himself are to be regarded as three as short expressive phrases – dream-like pictures – that change between light and dark, fast and slow but with introvert melodic features in common.

kr 159
Image #5 OCTOBER 2019
‘Silk Baroque’
Wu Wei sheng Holland Baroque 

"The sheng, masterfully played by Wu Wei – the soloist who introduced the Chinese mouth organ to readers in our February issue’s Artists & their Instruments – fits movingly into this Baroque programme." (Gramophone)

Silk Baroque presents a musical encounter between Wu Wei and Holland Baroque, performing a programme that ranges from Baroque greats such as Bach, Vivaldi, Telemann and Rameau to Chinese traditional tunes, all tied together by the musicians’ openness to improvisation, experimentation and cultural exchange. Wu Wei plays the sheng, an extraordinary ancient Chinese mouth organ, which looks like a bundle of bamboo reeds cased in a metal bowl. It is a miracle of harmony, melody and rhythmic possibilities, and Wu Wei’s abilities fully bring out the sheng’s beauty: whispering, charming, and compelling. Age-old traditions come together in performances that sound fresh and contemporary. Silk Baroque carries listeners into a lively, enticing and fascinating sound world. Holland Baroque is an original and innovative baroque orchestra that approaches baroque repertoire through a fresh and contemporary approach, with a focus on improvisation and collaborations with outstanding artists from different traditions. On their first PENTATONE release, they work together with Wu Wei, who dazzles audiences worldwide with his virtuosic sheng playing.

kr 189
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JS Bach Organ Works 
Masaaki Suzuki org 

"Masaaki Suzuki’s superb new Bach instalment – on organ, lest you think there are further cantatas on offer here! – is also a gloriously atmospheric demonstration of the Freiberg Cathedral instrument." (Gramophone)

Born within a couple of years of each other, Gottfried Silbermann and Johann Sebastian Bach were acquainted, and we know that Silbermann in 1736 invited the composer to inaugurate the new organ that he had built in Dresden’s Frauenkirche. That instrument was destroyed during the bombing of Dresden in 1945, but some thirty of Silbermann’s organs are still extant. From robust pedal stops providing a sturdy bass fundament to silvery flute stops, his instruments were famous for their distinctive sound and contemporary sources often made use of a play on the name of their maker as they praised their ‘Silberklang’. Silbermann was based in Freiberg with his workshop only a stone’s throw away from the cathedral, where he built his first great organ in 1714. One of the finest and best preserved examples of his art, this is the instrument which Masaaki Suzuki has chosen for the third instalment in his traversal of Bach’s organ music, following acclaimed recitals recorded in Groningen (the Netherlands) and Kobe (Japan). The programme takes us through various forms of organ compositions, including one of Bach’s most imposing preludes (BWV 546) with its intricate fugue, the multi-sectioned Toccata in C major (BWV 546a), examples of chorale preludes and partitas. Suzuki closes his recital with the famous Passacaglia and Fugue in C minor, probably composed during the same years that Silbermann was busy building the organ on which it is performed here.

kr 159
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Kapsperger ‘Intavolatura di chitarone’
Jonas Nordberg theorbo 

"Jonas Nordberg really relishes the richly resonant colours of his theorbo throughout this recital of music by the 17th-century composer Kapsperger, dance themes played with delight and a gentle virtuosity." (Gramophone)

At the end of the 16th century, the pursuit of greater, more vivid expressivity dominated music-making all across Italy, taking madrigals and other vocal ensemble forms as its starting point but soon going on to explore the possibilities offered by solo singing. For some decades the theorbo (or chitarone, as it was also called) was regarded as the ideal instrument for accompanying singers, but as a leading exponent of the instrument Giovanni Girolamo Kapsperger soon also established it as a solo instrument in its own right. Of German descent, Kapsperger published his first book of solo pieces for the theorbo in 1604 and went on to enjoy a successful career in Rome, contributing to the monumental cultural programme of Pope Urban VIII. There he moved in intellectual circles, particularly that of the scientist Galileo Galilei. During the 1630s things became quiet for Kapsperger, possibly a side effect of Galilei’s conviction for heresy in 1633. Not until 1640 did his last known volume of theorbo pieces appear, the number four in its title indicating that two books have been lost. A particularly attractive aspect of Kapsperger’s music for the theorbo is the marked contrasts between dramatic and impetuous toccatas, straightforward, ‘no-nonsense’ passacaglias and rhythmically refined but simply constructed dance movements such as galliards. These are here all made to sound under the fingers of Jonas Nordberg, sought-after as soloist as well as ensemble musician, performing on a wide range of plucked instruments including the lute, guitar and theorbo. On BIS he has previously appeared on the acclaimed album Heroines with soprano Ruby Hughes and in chamber works with recorder player Dan Laurin.

kr 159
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‘Iberia y Franca’
Imogen Cooper pf 
"Imogen Cooper’s characterful performances lend a heady and charming air to these works evocatively exploring the links between France and Spain, including music from Albéniz, Debussy and Ravel." (Gramophone)

Imogen Cooper explores the links between French and Spanish styles in a programme ranging from Albéniz to Mompou via Debussy, Ravel, and Falla.

kr 159
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Machaut ‘The Single Rose’ 
The Orlando Consort 
"The Orlando Consort’s brilliant, and acclaimed, Machaut series continues. Songs, and indeed poems, over six centuries old, given vivid life by this first-class quartet of singers." (Gramophone)

The rose as symbol of both the beloved and of love itself: the ‘fleur des fleurs’ of the Roman de la rose is paid due homage by The Orlando Consort in this latest instalment of their essential series.

kr 159
R Strauss Salome 
Sols; Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra / Franz Welser-Möst 

"‘The staging that haunted me most last year’, writes MP of this intriguing Salome, praising the fine performances too." (Gramophone)

Richard Strauss’s opera at the Salzburg Festival, staged by Romeo Castellucci at the Felsenreitschule, was nothing short of a sensation! Debuting in the title role, Asmik Grigorian propelled herself to international stardom with her mesmerizing singing and acting abilities. The exceptional soprano recently won the International Opera Award as best singer. To witness Maestro Franz Welser-Most performing together with the Wiener Philharmoniker and an outstanding cast “makes you think you are hearing the piece in its most perfect incarnation yet” (Financial Times). “Asmik Grigorian sweeps all in her wake in the title role of Strauss’s opera. […] Here is a Salome to end all Salomes. […] In total, it is stunning…" (Financal Times) “thrilling” (Spiegel Online) “A breathtakingly dense, musically epoch-making […] Salome, which brought the house down!” (Neue Zurcher Zeitung)

kr 299
‘Hans Rosbaud Conducts Brahms’
"A well-recommended chance to immerse yourself in conductor Hans Rosbaud’s exploration of the music of Brahms." (Gramophone)

This is a new installment of SWR CLASSIC-series dedicated to Hans Rosbaud. It contains all the recordings the Austrian conductor made for the SWR, some of them being for the first time released on CD. The recordings were made shortly (days!) before his death. Both Piano Concertos are interpreted by famous pianists of the 20th century: Walter Gieseking and Géza Anda,

kr 359
Grieg Lyric Pieces Mendelssohn Songs without Words 
Denis Kozhukhin pf

"A beautifully played, personal selection of piano miniatures from Denis Kozhukhin touchingly captures the poetic nature of the form – that immediate summoning of a single emotion or mood." (Gramophone) 

On his new solo album, Russian star pianist Denis Kozhukhin presents a personal and colourful collection of character pieces taken from Mendelssohn’s Lieder ohne Worte and Edvard Grieg’s Lyric Pieces. Combing these miniature gems by two outstanding poets of music, Kozhukhin provides a shining example of how disarmingly touching and penetrating a simple song or a vision of nature captured in sound can be. The programme features classics such as Mendelssohn’s Venetian Gondola Song and Grieg’s Wedding Day at Troldhaugen, as well as less famous but equally enchanting pieces. Kozhukhin lifts out the noble simplicity of these works with his delicate playing. Denis Kozhukhin has established himself as one of the greatest pianists of his generation. He now presents the fifth chapter to his exclusive collaboration with PENTATONE, after albums with the piano concertos of Grieg and Tchaikovsky (2016), Brahms Ballades and Fantasies (2017), Ravel and Gershwin piano concertos, as well as Richard Strauss’ Burleske (both 2018).

kr 189
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Prokofiev. Tchaikovsky Piano Concertos
Haochen Zhang pf Lahti Symphony Orchestra / Dima Slobodeniouk 

"Haochen Zhang – a Van Cliburn winner – performs these works with imaginative command of their required virtuosity." (Gramophone) 

Winner of the 2009 Van Cliburn competition, Haochen Zhang is no stranger to a challenge. On this début concerto disc he proves this once more, boldly jumping in at the deep end as he takes on Sergei Prokofiev’s Piano Concerto No. 2. The demands posed by Prokofiev’s concerto are famous, starting with a huge cadenza already in the first movement. This may explain why the concerto was for a long time relatively unknown and, unlike the First and Third Piano Concertos, has only recently taken its rightful place in the repertory. I The work was premièred by the composer himself in 1913, shocking the audience with its modernistic sounds and jagged rhythms. But even though Prokofiev was happy to nurture a reputation for bad-boy modernism, there is also a rich seam of Russian tradition which underlie his music from the beginning to the end of his career. It is therefore fitting that Haochen Zhang has chosen to complete the disc with one of the best-loved concertos from that tradition: Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto in B flat minor. In both works, Zhang is supported by the Lahti Symphony Orchestra under the baton of its principal conductor, Dima Slobodeniouk.

kr 159
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Croes La sonate égarée

"A debut disc – the result of success at the York Early Music Competition – from a young Baroque ensemble possessed of all the flair, creative rapport and passion required to make the music of this era such a thrilling listen." (Gramophone)

BarrocoTout makes its recording debut following a prize-winning performance at the highly respected biennial York Early Music International Young Artists Competition. After a hard-fought competition Philip Hobbs, Chairman of the Judges and Linn’s Chief Producer, said: “The level of musical performance has been exceptional… BarrocoTout are an extraordinary ensemble.” Formed at the Royal Conservatoires in Brussels, the ensemble has chosen to champion the music of a hitherto neglected Belgian composer: Henri-Jacques de Croes. Treading a path between French, Italian and German influences, de Croes produced music that was courtly yet with enlightenment aspirations. The trio sonatas of Op. 5 were written with a touch of Rococo in mind and a strong Italianate flavour. With only one copy in existence the Six Sonates have hitherto led only a shadowy existence and were regarded as ‘lost’ for many years. With this recording BarrocoTout aims to quash the myth that ‘unknown is unloved’.

kr 159
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Holliger. Kurtág Zwiegespräche
Heinz Holliger ob et al 

"A celebration of a fascinating figure for his 80th birthday: composer, conductor and oboist Heinz Holliger. Works and performances of sometimes breathtaking immediacy and intimacy." (Gramophone) 

Zwiegespräche is a meeting of spirits. “We compose the same way,” said György Kurtág to Heinz Holliger on hearing this recording, which emphasises works for oboe by these two major composers. Both of them reference the entire history of music in their pieces, both incorporate dedications and messages to friends and colleagues in the fabric of their work, and both draw upon literature as an inspirational source. Both, moreover, love the miniature as an expressive form; short pieces by Kurtág and Holliger are interwoven. Holliger’s sequence Airs (2015/6) is inspired by seven texts by Swiss poet Philippe Jaccottet, whose voice is heard here. The release of Zwiegespräche is timely. Heinz Holliger turns 80 on May 21, his creativity as composer and his resourcefulness as instrumentalist undimmed. The album concludes with Holliger’s Sonate für Oboe solo, composed in 1956, and still played by its author with absolute authority.

kr 169
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Finzi Choral Works
The Choir of Trinity College, Cambridge / Stephen Layton 

"Uplifting, moving, poignant, triumphant – this gloriously, lovingly performed recital of Finzi’s music fully reflects the breadth of the composer’s masterly skill at writing for choir." (Gramophone) 

A cluster of choral miniatures culminating in one of Finzi’s most intense, visionary masterpieces: this is some of the most exquisite English choral writing of the last century.

kr 159
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Tchaikovsky Liturgy of St John Chrysostom
Latvian Radio Choir / Sigvards Klava 

"The atmosphere and context – music as extraordinary religious expression – is magisterially conveyed here by a choir on top form, with sound engineering that captures them perfectly." (Gramophone) 

In 1877, Tchaikovsky wrote in a letter to Nadezhda von Meck: “I often go to the public worship; in my opinion, the liturgy of St. John Chrysostom is one of the greatest works of art… Oh, I love all that terribly, it is one of my greatest pleasures.” Tchaikovsky enjoyed attending worship services, visited them regularly and was always interested in sacred music, especially in the music of the Orthodox Church. At a relatively early point in his career, in 1875, he issued “A short textbook of harmony, adapted to the reading of spiritual and musical compositions in Russia”, which in 1881 was approved as a textbook of church singing in theological seminaries and colleges. The same year, Tchaikovsky even started editing the works of Dmitry Bortnyansky, a pioneer of sacred Orthodox music. However, he encountered problems with various institutions – the Imperial Chapel, the censorship authorities, as well as some conservative church officials who were more comfortable with smaller-calibre composers, since they could be manipulated if necessary. Tchaikovsky wished to reform sacred Orthodox music but at the same to draw inspiration from the traditions of past centuries. Prime example of this is Tchaikovsky’s monumental work in sacred Orthodox music, the Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom, Op. 41. The Nine Sacred Choruses, which date to 1884–1885, is not a cycle in the basic meaning of the word, but rather a collection, and another affirmation of Tchaikovsky’s skills as one of the greatest composers of Orthodox sacred music. In this album these works are being performed by the award-winning Latvian Radio Choir under the direction of Sigvards Klava.

kr 159
‘The Young Debussy’
Edgar Moreau vc London Symphony Orchestra / François-Xavier Roth

"François-Xavier Roth’s first concert as principal guest conductor of the London Symphony Orchestra captured for film." (Gramophone) 
The evocative music of Claude Debussy has been described as the foundation of modern music. But how did the composer come to develop his unique style? One of today's most charismatic conductors, with a reputation for enterprising programming, LSO Principal Guest Conductor François-Xavier Roth presents the UK premiere of a previously lost work by the young Debussy, alongside some of his earliest inspirations.

Debussy’s newly-discovered Première Suite gives a rare insight into just that – the mind of a young composer on the cusp of innovation. It’s a work filled with Romantic and Eastern influences, with glimpses of the unexpected harmonies that came to define Debussy’s work. Paired alongside the composer’s role models, from Wagner’s powerful intertwining motifs, the abundant Spanish influences in Lalo’s rarely-heard Cello Concerto, performed by Edgar Moreau, and Massenet’s majestic Le Cid, François-Xavier Roth gives a fresh perspective on the much-loved composer.

kr 139
Janácek The Diary of One Who Disappeared 
Nicky Spence ten Julius Drake pf

"Nicky Spence’s superb performance of Janácek’s cycle veers from soaring strength to touching vulnerability, sometimes within songs, the drama imaginatively underscored by Julius Drake on piano." (Gramophone) 

Like many of Janácek’s late masterpieces, the genesis of the ‘Diary’ is inseparable from its composer’s intense, obsessional love for Kamila Stösslová. A song-cycle like no other, here it’s the main work in a recital which showcases the extraordinary talents of Nicky Spence, Václava Housková and the vocal trio Voice.

kr 159
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Parry Piano Trio No 2. Piano Quartet
Leonore Piano Trio 

"Just months after the impressive earlier instalment of the Leonore Piano Trio’s Parry survey, a set to confirm the atmospheric inventiveness of his chamber music, and of these players’ mastery of it." (Gramophone) 

After a successful rehearsal of his piano quartet in 1879, Parry declared that he was ‘wild with delight’. He would have been no less enthusiastic on hearing this dynamic account from the Leonore Piano Trio with violist Rachel Roberts.

kr 159
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Bach family Cantatas
Vox Luminis / Lionel Meunier 

"Lionel Meunier’s deeply reflective shaping of all these works – each Bach given his own individual voice – allows the distinct personalities within the choir to bring this music beautifully to life." (Gramophone) 

Having recorded the complete motets composed by the ancestors of Johann Sebastian Bach (RIC 347), Vox Luminis now tackles their complete spiritual concerts and sacred cantatas, in which the instruments – particularly the strings – play a highly important role. In the cantata for the Feast of St Michael the Archangel by Johann Christoph Bach, trumpets and drums are enlisted to evoke the battle of the archangels in heaven. To round off this programme, Vox Luminis presents the cantata Christ lag in Todesbanden by Johann Sebastian Bach, in its original version dating from his Arnstadt period, containing copious elements linking it to the music of his forebears.

kr 159
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Landini ‘L’occhio del cor’
La Reverdie / Christophe Deslignes

"This superb Italian group is perfectly placed to bring the music of 14th-century Italian composer Landini to life for modern ears: richly, atmospherically engaging throughout." (Gramophone) 

Francesco Landini was the most famous Florentine Trecento composer, known to being a multi-instrumentalist, notably a virtuoso on the organ. As known, he lost his sight at the age of 7 but, despite his disability, he excelled in the study of music and all liberal arts.Might the condition of blindness have affected the poetic production of Landini? LaReverdie together with Christophe Deslignes, investigate this hypothesis, with a new project that presents both well known masterpieces and pieces never recorded before, searching signs that might be eventually impressed in the verses and the music of Magister Coecus by the loss of his sight. The reference to the eyes from literary topos becomes in many Landini’s texts a melancholic poetic expedient to express the distance, the absence or the loss of the beloved woman, that only “the heart’s eye” (L’Occhio del Cor) is able to imagine. A project which fills the recent recording void on a fundamental author at the sunset of the Middle Ages, reread through a perspective never explored until now. A passionate work on the strict bond between poetry and music, well explained by Davide Daolmi, is associated to a necessary musicological research about sources.

kr 169
Barber Vanessa
Sols; Glyndebourne Opera; London Philharmonic Orchestra / Jakub Hruša 

"A strongly recommended staging of Barber’s Vanessa from Glyndebourne which has challenged perceptions of the opera." (Gramophone) 

Abandoned by her lover Anatol, Vanessa retreats from the world, waiting and hoping with only her mother and her niece Erika for company. But when, 20 years later, Anatol’s handsome young son arrives unexpectedly, he shatters the calm of this shuttered household of women. Past and present love collides, and the aftershocks threaten to destroy them all. Samuel Barber’s Pulitzer Prize-winning first opera boasts one of the 20th century’s most beautiful scores. Poised constantly on the edge of song, Vanessa unfolds in generous swathes of melody, rich in filmic strings and soaring brass, with echoes of Puccini, Berg and Strauss. It climaxes in a final quintet of Mozartean poignancy – one of the great ensembles of the contemporary repertoire.

kr 299
Beethoven Symphony No 9. Missa solemnis
Sols; Bavarian Radio SO / Rafael Kubelík 

"A second Missa solemnis, this time from the archives, paired with an equally fine Ninth." (Gramophone) 

As the head of the Symphony Orchestra of Bavarian Radio, Rafael Kubelik was one of the major personalities of post-war German music life. His proverbial modesty and his creed of absolute faithfulness to the original work earned him many admirers, especially during his years in Munich as principal conductor of the Symphony Orchestra of Bavarian Radio (1961–79). Let it be noted that it was less the person Kubelik that was venerated, but rather his interpretation of music: uncompromising concentration on what was essential, unadulterated and relevant in the best sense of the word. Examples of this can be shown by these audio recordings of two of Ludwig van Beethoven’s best-known works, the Missa Solemnis, in which Beethoven like in no other work thematized his life-long struggle with faith, and the famous Symphony No. 9, which by including a choral movement broke with the conventions of Viennese Classicism like no other symphony of the time and was viewed as a ground-breaking work. With Helen Donath, Brigitte Fassbaender, Peter Schreier, John Shirley-Quirk and other voices from the very top ‘league’ of the concert and song guard of the 1970s and 1980s, these Munich recordings also go far beyond the status of historical sound documents – they are veritable reference recordings!

kr 119
Charpentier Histoires sacrées
Ensemble Correspondances / Sébastien Daucé 

"The ability of Sébastien Daucé and his Ensemble Correspondances to bring Baroque drama vividly to life is well proven: this selection of sacred works is compellingly performed and superbly recorded." (Gramophone) 

Marc-Antoine Charpentier is the only composer of the age of Louis XIV to have distinguished himself so remarkably in the genre of the ‘sacred history’: he wrote more than thirty such works, all composed after his residence in Italy. Sébastien Daucé and the Ensemble Correspondances have carefully extracted from this outstanding corpus a number of gems that reflect both his experience in Rome (probably studying with Carissimi, the master of the oratorio) and the humanist concerns of an entire period. Like a miniature opera, each piece relates an exemplary destiny, including several strong-willed women (Judith, Cecilia, Mary Magdalene) and a deep friendship put to the test (Mors Saülis and Jonathae).

kr 219
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Mozart Piano Concertos, Vol 4 
Jean-Efflam Bavouzet pf Manchester Camerata / Gábor Takács-Nagy

"Bavouzet inspires, entertains and embodies the playfulness and grace of Mozart’s much-loved works. A very fine recording." (Gramophone) 

Jean-Efflam Bavouzet’s first three volumes of Mozart concertos with the Manchester Camerata and Gábor Takács-Nagy have been received with widespread acclaim, and so it’s with some excitement that we release the keenly anticipated fourth instalment in the series. Composed within just one month in early 1785, these two concertos are among the most popular of all of Mozart’s piano concertos. No. 20, K 466, was his first concerto in a minor key, and it’s dark and stormy nature contrasts the light and sunny feeling of concerto no.21. As with so many of his piano concertos, both works were composed for the Vienna concert series, and given their premiere performances with Mozart at the keyboard. The two concertos are interspersed on this recording with a vivid performance of the Don Giovanni Overture, which further demonstrates the exemplary playing of the Manchester Camerata.

kr 159
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Sibelius Lemminkäinen Suite 
BBC Symphony Orchestra / Sakari Oramo 

"Sakari Oramo has a wonderful command of the majestic sweep and inner detail of Sibelius’s music, this Lemminkäinen evocatively suggestive of mysterious legend." (Gramophone) 

Chief conductor of the BBC Symphony Orchestra since 2013, Finnish conductor Sakari Oramo has a special affinity with the music of his compatriot Sibelius which this recording admirably demonstrates. Sibelius’ ever-popular ‘Lemminkäinen Suite’ is coupled here with ‘Spring Song’, and the lesser-known Suite from ‘Belshazzar’s Feast’. Sibelius composed the ‘Lemminkäinen Suite’ (also called the Four Legends, or Four Legends from the Kalevala), Op. 22, in the 1890s. Originally conceived as a mythological opera, Veneen luominen (The Building of the Boat), the suite is based on the character Lemminkäinen from the Finnish epic, the Kalevala. Sibelius’ music for ‘Belshazzar’s Feast’ was originally composed as incidental music for a play (by Hjalmar Procopé), in 1906. First performed in the Swedish Theatre in Helsinki in November of that year, conducted by the composer. The following year, Sibelius extracted four of the eight movements to form the more widely known orchestral suite we hear in this recording.

kr 159
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Tavener The Protecting Veil 
Sinfonietta Riga / Matthew Barley vc 
"The opening poetry sets the tone – intimate, achingly personal – that pervades Matthew Barley’s beautiful recording of one of the later 20th century’s most beloved and moving works." (Gramophone) 

“Transcendent With Awesome Majesty”. John Tavener wrote these words above the opening cello notes of The Protecting Veil, immediately communicating the scale of this universal, timeless, structurally perfect and emotionally powerful work. In the composer’s words “The cello represents The Mother of God and never stops singing”. Indeed, the cello sings without stopping for the entire 46 minutes of the piece, requiring huge mental and physical stamina. Matthew Barley leads Sinfonietta Riga in this exploration of Tavener’s musical works and inspirations, interspersing performances with readings of WB Yeats and Frithjof Schuon by renowned actors Julie Christie and Olwyn Fouéré. The influence Tavener drew from Indian music in The Protecting Veil is also explored further in Barley’s performance with tabla player Sukhvinder ‘Pinky’ Singh in The Song of Separation and Waiting by Pandit Sultan Khan. Matthew Barley is known internationally as a cellist, improviser, arranger, music animateur, and as Artistic Director of Between The Notes. His musical world is focused on projects that connect people in different ways, blurring the boundaries that never really existed between genres and people.

kr 159
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Mozart Piano Sonatas 
Lars Vogt pf 

"Perfectly controlled drama is paired with moments of deeply moving fragility by the pianist Lars Vogt throughout this beautifully played selection of spirited sonatas by Mozart." (Gramophone) 

After a cycle of Beethoven Piano Concertos, solo albums of works by Bach and Schubert in addition to a number of award-winning recordings of piano chamber music on Ondine label, pianist Lars Vogt releases an album of Piano Sonatas by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756–1791). In this album, two baroque-influenced and virtuosic early sonatas are coupled together with a touching A minor Sonata K. 310 – written at the time of the composer’s mother’s death – and a delightful, Haydnesque Sonata K. 333. Mozart wrote Piano Sonatas K. 280 and K. 281 (Nos. 2 & 3) most likely in 1774, at the age of 18. The elements of Baroque influence are clearly evident in the K. 280 Sonata. A prominent feature in the K. 281 Sonata is, besides its virtuosity, the beautiful slow-movement, “Andante amoroso”. The K. 310 Sonata (No. 8) was written four years later, during the summer of 1778, and is written in a minor key: a rarity among Mozart’s Sonatas. The K. 333 was published in 1784, but the time of its composition might have been earlier. This joyful work with virtuosic passages can be described almost as a Piano Concerto for the solo piano. 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. Lars Vogt was nominated for Gramophone’s Artist of the Year award in 2017. His most recent recordings on Ondine, Beethoven’s Piano Concertos Nos. 2 & 4 (ODE 1311-2) and Dvorák’s Piano Trios (ODE 1316-2), received Gramophone’s Editor’s Choice in May 2018 and in December 2018.

kr 159
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Buxtehude Membra Jesu nostri
Ricercar Consort / Philippe Pierlot 

"Voices of rich brilliance and moving personality, captured perfectly in a vivid recording: a poignant performance of Buxtehude’s reflections on the body of Christ." (Gramophone) 

kr 159
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‘Locus iste’ 
The Choir of St John’s College, Cambridge / Andrew Nethsingha 

"The contribution of St John’s to choral music is immense, and on this joint celebration (150 years of the chapel and their 100th recording) they are in superb form under Andrew Nethsingha." (Gramophone) 

Locus Iste celebrates two milestones for the Choir of St John's College, Cambridge: as well as 2019 marking the 150th anniversary of the consecration of the college chapel, this release is coincidentally the choir's 100th recording – 60 years on from George Guest’s iconic first recording of ‘Hear my prayer’ for Argo, released in 1959. Directed by Andrew Nethsingha, the programme makes great use of the chapel's renowned acoustic, and celebrates the choirs past, present and future – including an anthem by a former director of music, a motet by one of their recent student composers and the cello-playing of a current undergraduate. The Choir of St John’s College, Cambridge is one of the finest collegiate choirs in the world – known and loved by millions from its broadcasts, concert tours and recordings. Founded in the 1670s, the Choir is known for its rich, warm and distinctive sound, its expressive interpretations and its ability to sing in a variety of styles.

kr 159
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Wagner Siegfried 
Sols; Hallé Orchestra / Sir Mark Elder 

"The focused drama of this Siegfried, concluding Mark Elder’s Hallé Ring, makes for a gripping listening experience, the cast collectively bringing strong characterisation to their roles." (Gramophone) 

The Hallé completes its highly regarded Ring cycle, with the live recording of its acclaimed Bridgewater Hall performance under Sir Mark Elder. “Roaring jubilation and radiant beauty from Elder and the Halle…. Elder is a superb Wagnerian, acutely conscious of the complex relationship between tempo and pace, and immaculate in his judgment both of the span of each act and the ebb and flow of detail within it. Thrilling climaxes alternated with moments of astonishing beauty and quiet, almost exquisite terror.” The Guardian on the Halle’s performance of Siegfried The third element of Wagner’s Ring cycle contains humour, drama and a concluding ecstasy as the eponymous hero meets his heroine Brünnhilde, setting up the explosive finale of the concluding opera. With enormous orchestral forces and dramatic use of leitmotiv themes the music portrays the full gamut of emotions and provides a perfect vehicle to display the heights of the Hallé’s powers under Elder. Recorded at the Bridgewater Hall, capturing all the drama of the acclaimed live performance.

kr 359
Vaccaj Giulietta e Romeo 
Sols; Orch of La Scala, Milan / Sesto Quatrini 

"A discovery for many, I’d imagine – the little-known opera revealed, says critic Hugo Shirley, to be ‘an excellent, highly effective piece’." (Gramophone) 

Nicola Vaccaj belonged to the Neapolitan school: pupil of Paisiello and contemporary of Rossini, whose fame somehow obscured his own, he was well known and appreciated at his time, to the point that an extract from the last Act of his Giulietta e Romeo was chosen to substitute the same aria in Bellini’s I Capuleti e I Montecchi for an 1832 performance and this shift has remained common practice until the end of the 19th century. Therefore it’s hard to believe that Vaccaj’s most notable success was neglected for such a long time as it “is an opera that could easily hold its own among the better-known works in the bel canto canon. It has taut plot, with a strong libretto, written by Romani, and is full of well-constructed ensemble pieces”(Alan Neilson – Operawire) Within a traditional, 16th century setting, director Cecilia Ligorio choses to convey a sense of doom and tragedy which the entire work is imbued with, from the choice of costumes and settings to the stage lighting. “It really was a well-paced, and visually pleasing production that successfully captured the love and hatred which drives the narrative forward.” (Alan Neilson – Operawire

kr 379
Wilhelm Backhaus

"Big-hearted, powerful, grand performances of Beethoven and Brahms from a past master of the piano." (Gramophone) 

This release contains the complete recordings Wilhelm Backhaus did for the SWR. Part of them are first releases.

kr 319
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Gounod Symphonies Nos 1 & 2
Iceland Symphony Orchestra / Yan Pascal Tortelier

"These works are rarely recorded – or indeed, performed – which makes this coupling, full of wit, charm and fine playing, all the more valuable." (Gramophone) 

After winning the Prix de Rome for his cantata Fernand in 1839 and spending two years in Rome, Gounod should have gone on to study in Germany, but he managed in 1842 to persuade the authorities that he should remain in Rome to work on a symphony. In 1843 he visited Mendelssohn who (while trying to dissuade him from wasting his time on Goethe’s Faust!) urged him to write another symphony. We do not know how much of the First Symphony Gounod had completed by then, but it is not surprising that Mendelssohn figures as one of the key influences on both symphonies. After performances of individual movements in 1855, premieres were given of the First on 4 March that year and of the Second on 13 February 1856. Yan Pascal Tortelier and his Iceland Symphony Orchestra demonstrate outstanding precision and musicality in these unjustly neglected works. Recorded in SS.

kr 169
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Saint-Saëns Piano Concertos Nos 3-5
Alexandre Kantorow pf Tapiola Sinfonietta / Jean-Jacques Kantorow

There’s tough catalogue competition for these works, but this virtuoso’s fabulous performances more than make the case for a new addition." (Gramophone) 
Composer, piano virtuoso, conductor, teacher – Camille Saint-Saëns was all of these things, but also a keen archaeologist, astronomer, botanist, historian, illustrator, poet, playwright… A seasoned traveller, he was the most famous French musician in his own lifetime, acclaimed in North and South America, the Middle East and across Europe. It is ironic, then, that his extensive and varied output isn’t better known today – except for a few works of which the most famous, Carnival of the Animals, is one Saint-Saëns himself had little affection for. Now often regarded as old-fashioned or even reactionary, we tend to forget that Saint-Saëns during his lifetime was sometimes heckled for the boldness of his works. Furthermore, he defended the music of the revolutionaries Wagner and Liszt, earned the admiration of figures as Berlioz, Debussy and Ravel and – in 1908 – composed one of the first original scores for a film!

Jean-Jacques Kantorow and the Tapiola Sinfonietta have championed the music of Saint-Saëns on a series of acclaimed discs, and are now joined by the young Alexandre Kantorow – son of the conductor – for a survey of his works for piano and orchestra. In 1858, Saint-Saëns became the first major French composer to write a piano concerto, but on this first disc of two the Kantorows present the three last concertos. Composed over a period of almost 30 years (1868 – 1896), these are highly individual works: Piano Concerto No. 3 is a bold attempt to reconcile Classical form with a Lisztian pianistic brio, No. 4 employs an unusual formal scheme in which themes are reused in a cyclic manner and, finally, the ‘Egyptian’ (No. 5), named after the second movement, which in the composer’s own words describes ‘a sort of Eastern journey that goes all the way to the Far East’

kr 159
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Reich ‘Live at Fondation Louis Vuitton’
Colin Currie; Steve Reich; Synergy Vocals; Colin Currie Group 
"Colin Currie is at the summit of percussion performance today, and an interpreter of great instinct of the music of Steve Reich." (Gramophone) 

The third release from Colin Currie's label celebrates the percussionist's artistic relationship with American cultural icon, Steve Reich. Programed at the composer's request and performed under his supervision, it captures a group of truly world-class performers at the peak of their powers. On this live recording, Currie conducts and performs with the Colin Currie Group and their long-standing collaborators Synergy Vocals. He is joined on stage by Steve Reich for a performance of Clapping Music. This album is essential for any Reich fan.

kr 129
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JS Bach ‘Bach to the Future’
Olivier Latry org 

"Given the devastating fire in April there’s an added poignancy to this astonishing sonic spectacular from Paris’s Notre-Dame, by an organist clearly in love with both the repertoire and the instrument." (Gramophone) 
For his first CD with La Dolce Volta, Olivier Latry has chosen a programme devoted to the music of Johann Sebastian Bach. This recording, made on the massive Cavaillé-Coll organ of Notre-Dame de Paris, of which he is titular organist, raises a number of fascinating questions. ‘My approach highlights several paradoxes: the notion of performing these key works of Protestantism in one of the most emblematic centres of Catholicism, first of all, but also of playing them on an instrument that is, to say the least, far removed from the Baroque and Classical style of organ building. It’s quite true, all of this raises questions.

kr 159
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Schubert Piano Sonatas Nos 19 & 20; Impromptus; Klavierstücke
Sir András Schiff pf 

"There’s a profound and moving intimacy to these Schubert performances, stemming both from the fortepiano and András Schiff’s interpretations themselves." (Gramophone) 

In the latest chapter in András Schiff’s ongoing documentation of Franz Schubert’s music, the great pianist plays the Four Impromptus D 899, and compositions from 1828, the last year of Schubert’s too brief life: The Three Pieces D 946 (“impromptus in all but name” notes Misha Donat in the CD booklet), the C minor Sonata D 958 and the A major Sonata D 959. Schiff again chooses to use his fortepiano made by Franz Brodmann in Vienna, around 1820. “It is to me ideally suited to Schubert’s keyboard works,” he has said. There is something quintessentially Viennese in its timbre, its tender mellowness, its melancholic cantabilità.” Critics have agreed, unanimous also in their praise of Schiff’s interpretations: “I cannot think of anyone of his calibre who has mastered the fortepiano as well as the modern piano and shown such distinction on both,” wrote Stephen Plaistow in an Editor’s Choice review in Gramophone. “In Schubert Schiff has a claim to be considered sovereign among today’s players, carrying forward the reading and interpretation of him into areas that others have not fully explored.”

kr 289
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Chausson Poème de l’amour et de la mer. Symphony
Véronique Gens sop Lille National Orchestra / Alexandre Bloch

"Véronique Gens brings her characteristic poetic elegance to these beautiful performances of Chausson." (Gramophone) 

Ernest Chausson is a most unusual figure in French music, positioned at the crossroads where the romanticism of Berlioz and Franck meet the language of Wagner and the symbolism of the young Debussy. His Poème de l’amour et de la mer is a unique score for the period and certainly his greatest work; simultaneously a profane, naturistic cantata, a monologue, and a song cycle, it was composed between 1882 and 1892 to poetry by Maurice Bouchor, a longstanding friend of Chausson. (Already in 1886 its final section, ‘Le temps des lilas,’ was published on its own as a song for voice and piano.) Véronique Gens is recording this cycle for the first time, although she has already issued ‘Le temps des lilas’ with Susan Manoff at the piano for her disc Néère (ALPHA 215), about which Ernst Van Bek wrote in Classiquenews: ‘Chausson’s “Le temps des lilas” mesmerises with the nuancing of its colours, the allusive precision of every sung word: this ecstatic, depressive prayer represents another peak of French post-Wagnerianism. The song uninterruptedly expresses the profound, accursed languor of overcharged spirits. The tact and sense of style that Gens displays, is proof of her remarkably acute understanding of the veiled references.’ Clément Taillia, in Forum Opera, spoke of ‘all the art of a song that desires to express itself…’ Véronique Gens’ talent is equally on display in this recording too, with the Orchestre National de Lille – an orchestra she already knows well – under Alexandre Bloch, its new chief conductor, whose appointment and first concerts and recordings have already caused a sensation. We can confidently predict that these two artists will be collaborating again in the near future… The Symphony in B flat major completes this programme: a summit of French symphonic writing, for some a milestone as important as the Symphony in D of Chausson’s teacher César Franck!

kr 159
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‘An English coronation, 1902–1953’
Gabrieli Consort & Players / Paul McCreesh

"A fascinating project, which brilliantly showcases the sort of thing the English choral tradition does best: stirring music performed with a great sense of occasion." (Gramophone) 

The four coronations of the twentieth century were enormous and extravagant. Replete with festive pageantry, these ceremonies were joyful celebrations of British music, employing tremendous forces. Choirs from across London and beyond were marshalled to provide a chorus of over 400 voices; a full-size symphony orchestra was squeezed into Westminster Abbey, whilst bands of fanfare trumpeters led the pomp and celebration. EDWARD VII 1902 | GEORGE V 1911 | GEORGE VI 1937 | ELIZABETH II 1953 In the imposing surroundings of Ely Cathedral, Paul McCreesh and Gabrieli bring the history, ceremony and liturgy of these extraordinary events to life. With his renowned creative flair, McCreesh’s painstaking research will provides the springboard for their latest ground-breaking recreation project. The result will is a joyful celebration of five centuries of choral music, performed with the same vast forces as were heard at the coronation services. Alongside an orchestra of rare early-twentieth century instruments, an extended Gabrieli Consort is amplified by the energetic sound and fresh faces of several hundred young singers from Gabrieli’s choral training programme Gabrieli Roar. The music is interspersed by the coronation liturgy, with Simon Russell Beale speaking the part of the Archbishop of Canterbury.

kr 259
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Handel/Leo Rinaldo
Sols; Orchestra La Scintilla / Fabio Luisi

"Handel’s Rinaldo – though not as we know it. This film of a Neapolitan reworking is an intriguing and fascinating addition to the opera catalogue." (Gramophone) 

For the first time in modern times, Festival della Valle d'Itria stages the Neapolitan version of Handel's Rinaldo, a pastiche with a mediterranean allure which Leonardo Leo assembled in 1718 and which was considered lost until a few years ago. The story behind this most rare opera is captivating: the score of Handel’s masterpiece was illegally brought to Naples by the castrato singer Nicolò Grimaldi, who first interpreted Rinaldo in London. Once in Italy, the work was rehashed by Leo as well as other local composers, who adapted it to the taste of the local Neapolitan public, adding some intermezzos and amusing characters. Director Giorgio Sangati turns this work into a “ba-rock” opera set in the 1980’s, where the struggle between Christians and Turks becomes a battle between pop-rock singers (the Christians) and dark-metal ones (the Turks). These two factions represent two opposite perspectives on love and life. Conductor Fabio Luisi is at the head of the baroque Ensemble La Scintilla, a group of specialists in the baroque repertoire. Excellent reviews for the vocal cast who endured an almost 4 hour performance, special mentions to Carmela Remigio (Armida) who was defined “vocally majestic and most convincing in her acting skills”, whereas Teresa Iervolino (Rinaldo) impressed the critics for her vocal and acting skills en travesti and her ability “to convey all the melancholic shades of Handel’s music” (Luca Ciammarughi, - World Première Recording - Modern staging and setting - Available in CD, DVD, Bluray. Subtitles: Ita, Eng, Fre, Ger, Jap, Kor

kr 379
Beethoven Piano Sonatas Nos 30-32
Steven Osborne pf

"Outstanding piano-playing from Steven Osborne – from extreme delicacy to energetic drama, everything in these late Beethoven sonatas feels newly thought-through." (Gramophone)

Beethoven’s three final sonatas constitute one of music’s great spiritual journeys, one which only a very few pianists are qualified to undertake. Steven Osborne, whose Beethoven has been widely acclaimed, need fear no comparisons.

kr 159
Image #2 MAY 2019
Mendelssohn Piano Concerto No 2. First Symphony
Kristian Bezuidenhout fp Freiburg Baroque Orchestra / Pablo Heras-Casado

"Kristian Bezuidenhout is on superb form here, a real period keyboard delight." (Gramophone)

Mendelssohn’s first symphonic work scored for full orchestra, the Symphony op. 11 in C minor paved the way for even greater examples of the genre he was soon to produce. The concert overture Die schöne Melusine and the sparkling Piano Concerto No. 2 rely on the type of orchestration and harmonic language which are best served when played on period instruments, as heard here. Devoid of the atmosphere of Romantic doom and gloom, nearly every page of both scores is marked by an exuberant cheerfulness, youthful drive, and irrepressible energy.

kr 159
Image #3 MAY 2019
Nepomuceno Orchestral Works
Minas Gerais Philharmonic Orchestra / Fabio Mechetti

"An auspicious way to start a 30-disc survey of Brazilian music from Naxos – hopefully one full of discoveries just like this." (Gramophone)

Alberto Nepomuceno was a herald of Brazilian musical nationalism and was active in the promotion of Villa-Lobos’ music. This is the first in a new series devoted to 19th- and 20th-century Brazilian composers with the Minas and Goiás orchestras.

kr 89
Image #4 MAY 2019
Britten String Quartets
Doric Quartet

"Two decades since forming on the Suffolk coast, and here even playing the composer’s own viola, this is an understandably personal, powerful journey through Britten’s quartets for the Dorics." (Gramophone)

Founded in 1998 at Pro Corda, Suffolk, the multi-award-winning Doric String Quartet describes recording Britten’s quartets as a significant milestone: ‘In our recording we have endeavoured to tread a line that brings out the humanity in these works but also recognises the need for distance and fragility. This is very personal and intimate music, yet also world-encompassing and timeless.’ The Quartet continues: ‘Another feature of this recording is that Hélène Clément, our violist, is playing on Benjamin Britten’s own viola. This instrument (on loan from the Britten-Pears Foundation) was made in 1843 in Milan by Francesco Guissani. It was previously owned by the composer Frank Bridge who gave it to Britten, as a departure gift when Britten and Pears set sail for the USA in 1939.’ Hélène Clément writes: ‘To be able to explore the music of Britten with the very sound that the composer had in his ears is the greatest honour and joy I could have imagined.’

kr 159
Image #5 MAY 2019
Boulez. Dutilleux. Messiaen ‘Notations & Sketches’
Alexander Soares pf

"For his debut album, British pianist Alexander Soares has chosen a fascinating 20th-century programme, with an instinctive grasp of the composers’ sound worlds." (Gramophone)

‘Diamond clarity and authority’BBC Radio 3 Following his debut at Southbank Centre aged 23, British pianist Alexander Soareshas garnered a reputation as an artist whose performances have been acclaimed for their “huge intensity”(The Daily Telegraph) and “diamond clarity and authority” (BBC Radio 3). Since winning the Gold Medal in the prestigious Royal Overseas League Competition, he has regularly performed in major venues and festivals across the U.K., Europe and United States.With the shadow of the Second World War hanging over a fractured Europe, revolutionary musical change was taking place, nowhere more so than in Paris in 1945. At first glance, combining Boulez, Dutilleux and Messiaen in a single disc may seem an uneasy balance, given the tensions between them, in-light of their divergent compositional paths. Nevertheless a great deal of mutual respect and admiration existed between them as they each established themselves as major creative forces. Boulez remained very attached to his former teacher Messiaen, and in his role as a conductor has done much to champion the latter’s music. Dutilleux also revered Messiaen as both a good friend and a musician, and has also praised much of Boulez’s work. It is in this context that this album seeks to illuminate their intriguing development across the second half of the century, by placing major works from each composer alongside shorter sketches.

kr 159
Image #6 MAY 2019
Dufay ‘Lament for Constantinople’
The Orlando Consort

"You’re in expert hands here with The Orlando Consort: if that sounds like a cliché, it’s no less true, and that in-depth understanding of Dufay’s music leads to something very beautiful." (Gramophone)

One of the most immediately accessible of fifteenth-century composers, Dufay and his world are artfully summoned by The Orlando Consort. This is no mere musicological exercise, but a full-blooded realization of a truly great songwriter.

kr 159
Image #7 MAY 2019
Nyman. Purcell ‘If’
Iestyn Davies counterten Fretwork

"Michael Nyman and a viol consort may sound an unlikely pairing, but the result is beautiful – add in Iestyn Davies’s sublime singing, and some glorious Purcell, and ‘If’ is a delight." (Gramophone)

When Michael Nyman started reinventing the English baroque back in the 1980s, one critic described the result as “pump- action Purcell”. This recording combines these two singular musical styles through the stunning voice of countertenor Iestyn Davies and viol consort Fretwork, serving as the bridge across three centuries. The programme combines bold harmonies, wondrous inventions, and melodies that will haunt your dreams – whether from the 17th century or the 21st. Recorded following a concert tour of the programme, the disc includes the premiere recording of a new commission from Michael Nyman, Music after a While – based upon Purcell’s song, or more particularly upon its strikingly original bass-line, with its insidious rising chromatics. This was a near-perfect concert, contrasting two composers whose links are stronger than many people might think and performed by musicians at the top of their profession.” Early Music Reviews, following a concert of the programme.

kr 159
Image #8 MAY 2019
Schubert ‘Heimweh’
Anna Lucia Richter sop Gerold Huber pf

"There’s something movingly communicative about Anna Lucia Richter’s Schubert-singing, all impeccably done, with a strong sense of humanity and engagement." (Gramophone)

On her PENTATONE debut album, young German star soprano Anna Lucia Richter explores the heart-wrenching, timeless and universal feeling of Heimweh (homesickness) through a collection of extraordinary Schubert songs. Richter approaches the notion of Heimweh from several perspectives: from that of queens, young girls and shepherds to that of soldiers, dwarfs and gravediggers. The repertoire consists of the original, German-language version of Ave Maria, three Mignon songs (Nur wer die Sehnsucht kennt, Heiss micht nicht reden and So lasst mich scheinen), the sinister Der Zwerg, the expansive flower ballad Viola and many others. Richter is accompanied by pianist Gerold Huber, with whom she has formed a congenial Lieder tandem in the last years. They are joined by clarinettist Matthias Schorn on the final song of the program, the quasi concert aria Der Hirt auf dem Felsen.

kr 189
Image #9 MAY 2019
Tavener ‘Angels’
Winchester Cathedral Choir / Andrew Lumsden

"Chosen works from John Tavener, whose music reflected both a sense of heaven and our experience of humanity, given uplifting performances by Winchester Cathedral Choir." (Gramophone)

Song for Athene and The Lamb are just two of the highlights in this Winchester collection of some of Tavener’s most enduring—and endearing—choral music.

kr 159
Image #10 MAY 2019
‘Poèmes d’un jour’
Stéphane Degout bar Simon Lepper pf

"French baritone Stéphane Degout moves effortlessly into the German lieder repertoire, with compelling interpretative skill and great beauty of voice." (Gramophone)

Short just as love, life, poetry, and a winter concert given at the Théâtre de l’Athénée, this new B Records album proposes a program of musical miniatures, from Fauré to Schumann and Brahms. An opportunity to hear the baritone Stéphane Degout, one of the best french melodists, and his partner Simon Lepper behind his piano, in a sometimes soft, sometimes stormy, always romantic album.

kr 159
Image DVD/BLU RAY: MAY 2019
Puccini Tosca
Soloists; Staatskapelle Dresden / Christian Thielemann

"A modern setting adds its own atmosphere to this Tosca from Salzburg, led by the superb Anja Harteros in the title role." (Gramophone)

Premiered in 1900 with huge success, Puccini’s “melodramma” Tosca is a political thriller with a heart-breaking love story. With his gripping opening scene, stage director Michael Sturminger sets the tone for a cinematic, richly detailed Tosca which is set in the Mafiosi world of modern day Rome and which is “the perfect thriller … reminiscent of Scorsese’s ‘Goodfellas’” (Kleine Zeitung), a “film noir” (FAZ). In this production soprano Anja Harteros is “a phenomenal Tosca!” (Kurier), “unparalleled in the world” (Der Standard) and Aleksandrs Antonenko is “a Cavaradossi of superlatives” (Kieler Nachrichten). The Staatskapelle Dresden under Christian Thielemann „show again that he is not only a master of German repertoire but also strikes the right note in Italian repertoire.“ (Focus)

kr 299
Mikhail Pletnev Moscow 1979 Recital
Mikhail Pletnev pf

"A thrilling recital from just a year after Mikhail Pletnev’s Tchaikovsky Competition Gold Medal." (Gramophone)

Firma Melodiya presents a unique find from the its sound archive – a broadcast recording of Mikhail Pletnev’s recital at the Grand Hall of the Moscow Conservatory on 31 October 1979. This recording has never been previously released on record or CD. For almost forty years, from his triumphant victory at the VI International Tchaikovsky Competition, the name of Mikhail Pletnev has never disappeared from the playbills in Russia and overseas remaining a subject of disputes and discussions. Pletnev is known today as an outstanding conductor, a creator of one of the best domestic orchestras and a talented composer. Today, looking back from a distance of many years, the musician’s “early” recordings appear to be even more interesting. The recent student of Yakov Flier (Pletnev was the great teacher’s last pupil, his “swan song”) who continued his education at the graduate school with Professor Lev Vlasenko), the 22-year-old Mikhail Pletnev demonstrates his impeccable style and professional skills. The programme includes works by J.S. Bach, Scarlatti, Beethoven and Chopin. The music of each of the composers is showcased in its individual originality (Chopin’s Third Sonata should be mentioned in particular because its interpretation is notable for rare unity and integrity of the large-scale cycle). From his very first steps, Mikhail Pletnev proves to be a mature and independent artist with a fully developed pianistic style.

kr 229
Image #2 APRIL 2019
JS Bach Violin Concertos 
Isabelle Faust vn Akademie für Alte Musik Berlin / Bernhard Forck 

"Isabelle Faust’s Bach is perfectly controlled, both in tone and tempos, everything bursting with a life and liveliness that is utterly delightful." (Gramophone) 

After the double album of the Violin and Harpsichord Sonatas with Kristian Bezuidenhout, a bestseller in 2018, here is the next instalment in a Bach recording adventure that began nine years ago with a set of the Sonatas and Partitas now regarded as a benchmark. Isabelle Faust, Bernhard Forck and his partners at the Akademie für Alte Musik Berlin have patiently explored a multitude of other works by Bach: harpsichord concertos, trio sonatas for organ, instrumental movements from sacred cantatas etc. All are revealed here as direct or indirect relatives of the three monumental Concertos BWV 1041-43. This fascinating achievement is a timely reminder that the master of The Well-Tempered Clavier was also a virtuoso violinist!

kr 189
Image #4 APRIL 2019
JS Bach Six Solo Cello Suites 
Alban Gerhardt vc 

"As our interview this month reveals, cellist Alban Gerhardt is quite the freethinking, independent-minded musician – and that’s all there in this superb and highly engaging survey of the Bach suites." (Gramophone) 
Those elusive qualities of ‘transcendental beauty paired with an enchanting simplicity’, eloquently glossed by Alban Gerhardt in his booklet note, might also be said to characterize his playing in this outstanding new recording.

kr 359
Image #6 APRIL 2019
Prokofiev Piano Sonatas Nos 1 & 2 
Lukas Geniušas pf 

"The beginning of a promised survey of Prokofiev’s piano sonatas – and what a start. Lukas Geniu˜as is a truly playful story-teller, his range of expression compelling throughout." (Gramophone) 

In his first album with Mirare, the pianist Lukas Geniušas offers us a recital featuring two early masterpieces of Prokofiev coupled with the only sonata the composer penned in Western Europe.

Even though the earlier works are four decades distant from the latter, a steady feature remains: Prokofiev’s feelings for his beloved Russia.

kr 159
Image #7 APRIL 2019
Tamara Stefanovich pf 

"An intriguing programme of three 20th-century works by Bartók, Ives and Messiaen, plus Bach, brilliantly presented by Tamara Stefanovich – elegant, thoughtful, probing, and beautifully recorded." (Gramophone)

On her first PENTATONE album, pianist Tamara Stefanovich presents a highly personal selection of solo works by Bach, Bartók, Ives and Messiaen. Influences shows how these extraordinarily original and idiosyncratic composers let themselves be inspired by the exterior world, thereby demonstrating how authenticity comes from looking outside as well as inside. The repertoire spans from Bach’s embrace of Italian musical elements in his Aria variata alla maniera italiana, Bartók’s incorporation of folk elements in his Improvisations on Hungarian Peasant Songs, and Messiaen’s use of Hindu rhythms in Cantéyodjayâ to the collage of marching bands, sounds of trains and machinery, church hymns, ragtime and blues in Ives’ first piano sonata. In all cases, the exterior influences lead to deeply original and personal sonic galaxies. In that respect, the pieces presented here underline how identity results from a constant dialogue with our surroundings, ever changing and enriching our perceptions of ourselves and the world.

kr 189
Image #8 APRIL 2019
Elgar Caractacus 
Sols; Orchestra of Opera North / Martyn Brabbins 

"Elgar’s early cantata reveals – certainly in the hands of such a skilled interpreter of his music as Martyn Brabbins – the genius for symphonic sound that was to define his later masterpieces." (Gramophone) 

The centuries do indeed ‘roll away’ as the libretto addresses questions of empire—Roman and Victorian—and Britain’s place in the world. But that shouldn’t detract from the music; this is simply glorious and worthy of the mature Elgar.

kr 159
Image #9 APRIL 2019
G Jackson The Passion of our Lord Jesus Christ 
Sols; Choir of Merton College, Oxford / Benjamin Nicholas 

"If last month’s in-depth look at Gabriel Jackson’s superb new Passion piqued your interest, you won’t be disappointed: it’s a powerful and moving work." (Gramophone) 
Strikingly coloured and richly imaginative, Gabriel Jackson’s re-telling of the age-old story of Christ’s betrayal and crucifixion interweaves biblical narrative, English poetry and Latin hymns, culminating in a rare setting of poetry by T.S. Eliot – himself an alumnus of Merton College, Oxford, which commissioned the present work as part of its extensive Merton Choirbook project. Shorter items from the Choirbook have featured on previous Delphian releases by the choir; now, The Passion of our Lord Jesus Christ is revealed as one of the project’s crowning glories. Under the direction of longtime Jackson collaborator Benjamin Nicholas, and with soloists and instrumentalists hand-picked by the composer, it receives here a performance to match the work’s own harrowing drama and dark ecstasy.

kr 159
Image #10 APRIL 2019
‘L’Alessandro Amante’ 
Xavier Sabata counterten Vespres d’Arnadí / Dani Espasa hpd 

"These Alexander the Great-themed arias wonderfully delve into the themes of power, passion and politics – and how Baroque composers explored them." (Gramophone) 

The irresistible and warm voice of counter-tenor Xavier Sabata never ends to bewitch us in his new medley of jubilant baroque arias. Alexander The Great inspired him the theme his new album: Porpora, Händel, Bononcini and many other composers were seduced by this character who mingled the strength of the Emperor and the sensibility of a man.

Xavier Sabata focuses on that multifaceted feeling that keeps nourishing music, especially baroque opera. With the Spanish conductor Dani Espasa and his ensemble Vespres d’Arnadí, the singer performs a tailor-made programme: the new exciting chapter of a unique voice and a fascinating artist.

kr 159
Image #3 MARCH 2019
Sibelius Symphony No 1. En saga 
Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra / Santtu-Matias Rouvali 

"The Gothenburg SO’s young conductor Santtu-Matias Rouvali masterminds some truly thrilling Sibelius, performed with a compelling drive and attention to detail." (Gramophone) 

Alpha begins a complete cycle of the symphonies by Sibelius (and of his symphonic poems) with the Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra and its new musical director, Finnish conductor Santtu-Matias Rouvali. Originally a percussionist, the 33-year-old trained at the famous Sibelius Academy. His career took off after he stepped in at the last minute to conduct the Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra. In the great tradition of Finnish conductors, Santtu-Matias Rouvali is known for his extremely physical and organic interpretations: ‘Music unmistakeably flows from him,’ commented The Sunday Times. When Bachtrack asked him how he shapes the orchestral sound, he replied: ‘I sing it, I move my hands the way I want it (…) the conductor should be able to show tempo somewhere in the body (…) I was also a drum kit player, so my feet and hands can do different things at the same time. When you read the score, you sing it in your head (…) I think it’s the sense of inside groove that you get from playing percussion which is very important in Sibelius’s music.’

kr 159
Image #4 MARCH 2019
Beach. C Schumann. Smyth Works for Violin and Piano 
Tasmin Little vn John Lenehan pf 

"Tasmin Little may have announced her retirement, but before then this album – and I hope others still to come – continues her significant contribution to recording." (Gramophone) 

Renowned violinist Tasmin Little returns to Chandos with a line-up of three women composers whose lives share some features but also significant differences that illustrate the complex lives of female musicians. Clara Schumann, Dame Ethel Smyth and Amy Beach all came from families that encouraged their musical interests but balked, in varying degrees, at professional training and engagement. All three composers draw on the influence of Robert Schumann and Brahms; Beach and Smyth in particular were fond of metrical and motivic manipulation.Tasmin Little plays this music close to her heart with her usual warmth and dexterity. The manuscript to Clara Schumann’s final chamber work Three Romances states ‘for piano and violin’, an ordering reflected in the relative complexity of the parts, the florid passagework here played beautifully by long-term collaborator with Little, John Lenehan

kr 159
Image #5 MARCH 2019
Franck. Vierne Violin Sonatas 
Alina Ibragimova vn Cédric Tiberghien pf 

"That Alina Ibragimova offers an interpretation of supreme skill and musicality is a given with anything she turns her hand to; this programme with Cédric Tiberghien is no exception." (Gramophone) 

The Franck sonata—one of the best-loved works in the entire Romantic violin repertoire—is one of a trio of delectable Franco-Belgian treats on offer from the acclaimed pair. A bonne bouche from Lili Boulanger completes a particularly enticing recital.

kr 159
Image #6 MARCH 2019
Myaskovsky. Rachmaninov Cello Sonatas 
Bruno Philippe vc Jérôme Ducros pf 

"Bruno Philippe plays with a beautiful sound (superbly captured), rich in dark tone and colour, while the rapport with pianist Jérôme Ducros is very fine." (Gramophone) 

After a first album as part of the harmonia nova collection, which resulted in a well-deserved Victoire de la Musique Classique (category new instrumental soloist), Bruno Philippe continues his path on the harmonia mundi label. This programme devoted to Rachmaninoff and the unfairly neglected Myaskovsky is a genuine technical and artistic challenge, which the young cellist has taken up in total harmony with his long-term musical partner Jérôme Ducros. How can one not be swept away by the swirling passions of these works, among the most romantic in Russian musical literature?

kr 159
Image #7 MARCH 2019
Haydn Piano Sonatas 
Kristian Bezuidenhout fp 

"Kristian Bezuidenhout makes a wonderful virtue of the unique soundworld offered by his excellent sounding fortepiano, as he takes us through the light and shade of Hadyn’s sonatas." (Gramophone) 

A few years after a complete recording of Mozart’s solo piano works that has gradually come to be regarded as a benchmark, Kristian Bezuidenhout has taken all the time he needed to tackle Haydn, the other towering figure of the Viennese Classical keyboard repertory: ‘Preparing for this recording has been a vivid reminder that it is remarkably difficult to play Haydn’s music well, but that with enough care, and attention to detail, his music has the potential to come jumping from the page. It would be hubris to suggest that I am even close to unlocking any of its secrets, but I am so humbled by the sheer beauty, humanity, wit and delightful irony of this music, that the desire to continue is irresistible.’

kr 159
Image #8 MARCH 2019
Liszt Études d’exécution transcendente 
Andrey Gugnin pf 

"Andrey Gugnin’s playing leaves one somewhat in awe of his complete command over the instrument and his musical vision, whether the music calls for tenderness, power or full-flight virtuosity." (Gramophone) 

A famously demanding summit of the Romantic piano literature performed by a Russian artist of prodigious talents. Having gained the Gold Medal and the Audience Award at the XVI International Gina Bachauer Piano Competition in 2014, Andrey Gugnin (b.1987) is in huge demand as both a concert and recording artist. Following that particular competition success (one of many, including the Sydney International Piano Competition in 2016), Gugnin recorded Pictures at an Exhibition, which has become a tour de force for Gugnin on recent tours of Europe, America and Asia. Glenn Gould, Emil Gilels and Sergei Rachmaninov are Gugnin’s ‘piano heroes’: the last two noted exponents of Franz Liszt in their own right, and among the composer’s vast output, still only a fraction of which is generally known, the Transcendental Etudes are the pre-eminent works to embody the contradictions and contrasts at the heart of the man and his music: ‘transcendent’ both in terms of the demands they make upon the performer and yet, at points, in their spiritual aspirations. ‘Half Franciscan, half gypsy’ was Liszt’s own description of himself, not entirely ironic, and it chimes with the extraordinary variety of these studies, encapsulated by the expressive distance between the last two, the visionary ‘Harmonies du soir’ and the unstoppable force of ‘Chasse-Neige’: ‘a sublime and steady fall of snow which gradually buries landscape and people’ according to Ferruccio Busoni. In Andrey Gugnin these studies find a pianist with both the technique and the sensibility to encompass the precipitous leaps of ‘Wilde Jagd’ and the Mendelssohnian eye for landscape in ‘Paysage’. Andrey Gugnin is one of the most exciting pianists of the younger Russian generation. A pupil of Lev Naumov and the legendary Vera Gornostayeva at the Moscow Conservatory he participated in several international competitions: he is first prize Winner of the Sidney Piano Competition 2016, Gold Medal of the Gina Bachauer Competition 2014 and 2-nd prize of the Vienna Beethoven Competition in 2013. He played in important Festivals like Verbier and Ruhr Klavier, he played with the London Philharmonic Orchestra and all the Russian orchestras with conductors like Valery Gergiev and others. Andrey Gugnin regularly plays the complete set of Liszt’s notoriously difficult Études d’exécution transcendante in public. His performance has a sweeping vision, a grand arch of tension and relaxation, of the wild and furious and of the serene and contemplative. Booklet notes by David Moncur.

kr 159
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Offenbach ‘Colorature’ 
Jodie Devos sop Munich Radio Orchestra / Laurent Campellone 

"This is an absolute delight – Jodie Devos’s soprano, and personality, fizzes, soars and beguiles across this album, with a carefree ease that only comes from supreme skill." (Gramophone) 

Soprano Jodie Devos, who has signed with Alpha for several recordings, here pays homage to Offenbach, whose bicentenary of his birth is celebrated in 2019. This programme shows Offenbach’s fascination with the vocal firewo

kr 159
Image #10 MARCH 2019
Vivaldi Il Giustino 
Sols; Accademia Bizantina / Ottavio Dantone 

"Ottavio Dantone conducts this opera with a powerful grip on the score’s narrative, while Delphine Galou, with her dramatically characterful contralto, leads a strong cast." (Gramophone) 

With this new recording, the madly epic and romantic opera, Il Giustino, finally receives its place in the spotlight, something that the history of music has denied it up until now. The fifty-eighth recording and eighteenth opera in the Vivaldi Edition, which began in 2000, solidifies the status of Vivaldi as the greatest of opera composers - and of composers full stop. It needed the talent, charisma and poetic energy of a great conductor to bring back to life this gem, and it is Ottavio Dantone who assumes this mantle. With an Accademia Bizantina even more virtuosic and passionate than ever, a cast of high-flying soloists (Emöke Baräth, Delphine Galou, Veronica Cangemi, Emiliano Gonzalez Toro, Silke Gaeng…) and instruments as rare as they are precious (such as the dreamlike psaltery that accompanies the breathtaking air by Anastasio), Maestro Dantone brilliantly reincarnates, through this legendary Giustino, the human passions of yesterday and today.

kr 319
Image #2 FEBRUARY 2019
Dutilleux. LutosLawski Cello Concertos 
Johannes Moser vc Berlin RSO / Thomas Søndergård 

"Johannes Moser offer us remarkably visceral and vivid playing in these two 20th-century cello works." 

This album features cello concertos by Witold Lutoslawski and Henri Dutilleux performed by the multiple prize-winning German-Canadian cellist Johannes Moser and the Rundfunk-Sinfonieorchester Berlin, conducted by Thomas Søndergård. These works, premiered in 1970, are two of the biggest gems of the twentieth century, the golden age of the cello. While equally virtuosic and engaging, both pieces showcase different aspects of the musical landscape of the late twentieth century. Lutoslawski’s concerto explores the possibilities of chance composition in the form of a duel between the solo cello and a ferocious orchestral accompaniment, in which the individual ultimately prevails. In comparison, soloist and ensemble work together more smoothly in Henri Dutilleux’ “Tout un monde lontain”. In this “cello concerto”, the composer invokes a mystical “world from afar”, inspired by Baudelaire quotes and full of allusions to French musical greats such as Debussy and Messiaen, while simultaneously sounding unmistakably Dutilleuxian. This is Moser’s fourth album as an exclusive PENTATONE artist, after releases with the cello concertos of Dvorak and Lalo (2015), Elgar and Tchaikovsky (2017) and works for cello and piano by Rachmaninov and Prokofiev (2016, awarded with a diapason d’or and ECHO Klassik 2017). The Rundfunk-Sinfonieorchester Berlin has an even longer track record with PENTATONE, including albums with Vladimir Jurowski (Mahler/Strauss 2017, Schnittke 2015) Jakub Hruša (Bartók/Kodály 2018) and Marek Janowski (complete Wagner operas, 2011-2013).

kr 189
Image #3 FEBRUARY 2019
Shostakovich. Kabalevsky Cello Sonatas 
Steven Isserlis vc Olli Mustonen pf 

"Stylish playing, bursting with character throughout – but then what else would one expect from cellist Steven Isserlis and pianist Olli Mustonen?" (Gramophone) 

Belying its young composer’s reputation as the enfant terrible of early Soviet music, ‘the most popular cello sonata of the twentieth century’—Steven Isserlis’s verdict on the Shostakovich—takes its place alongside two other Russian masterpieces, from pre-Revolutionary Prokofiev to Kabalevsky in the Khrushchev era.

kr 159
Image #4 FEBRUARY 2019
"Violinist Rachel Barton Pine brings a compelling and completely convincing power and soul – not to mention virtuosity – to this fascinating programme." (Gramophone) 

Violinist Rachel Barton Pine, “an exciting, boundary-defying performer” (Washington Post) known for her “bravura technique and soulful musicianship” (New York Times), headlines a groundbreaking album of blues-influenced classical works for violin and violin and piano by 20th and 21st century composers of African descent. World-premiere recordings include Noel Da Costa’s A Set of Dance Tunes for Solo Violin, based on American fiddle tunes; Daniel Bernhard Roumain’s Filter, which conjures the sounds of electronic dance music and psychedelic guitar; Errollyn Wallen’s Woogie Boogie, a humorous and inventive reimaging of the boogie woogie blues dance; and Billy Childs’s Incident, a single-movement violin sonata / tone poem written as a response to a fatal shooting by police. Another premiere is Wendall Logan’s violin and piano arrangement of Duke Ellington’s 1935 composition, In a Sentimental Mood. The album’s title track, Dolores White’s improvisational Blues Dialogues, draws on classical, jazz, and country music, as well as African-American vocalizations and a blues harmonic language. David N. Baker’s gospel-tinged Blues (Deliver My Soul) evokes the ecstatic energy of a Black church service. Charles S. Brown’s A Song Without Words was inspired by bottleneck guitar player and gospel blues master Blind Willie Johnson. Each movement of William Grant Still’s Suite for Violin and Piano evokes the work of a different African-American visual artist. Clarence Cameron White’s Levee Dance, Op. 26, No. 2, a favorite of violin virtuoso Jascha Heifetz, surrounds a traditional African-American spiritual with a playful, syncopated dance. Coleridge-Taylor Perkinson’s Blue/s Forms and Louisiana Blues Strut befit a composer with a legacy of achievements in the classical, jazz, modern dance, and pop music worlds.

kr 159
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"The music of French composer Cécile Chaminade, not least as performed by the excellent Mark Viner, possesses charm aplenty. Evocative of an era, it here receives warm and welcome advocacy." (Gramophone) 
Late-Romantic French piano music of unfailing elegance and wit, chosen by a rising piano star and gifted young advocate of under-rated composers. Welcoming Mark Viner’s Piano Classics album of opera fantasies by Sigismond Thalberg (PCL0092), Gramophone wrote: ‘A quite exceptional disc from a blazing young British talent.’ Viner has now made his own selection from the hundreds of piano pieces, some light, others more serious, composed by Cécile Chaminade (1857-1944). Periodically revived in tokenistic ways, Chaminade’s output is now being seen in the round, and it reveals a voice of not only feminine delicacy and charm, but also a melodist of refinement whose gift for a well-turned tune never left her in a career spanning over six decades. The Pierrette, air de ballet Op.41 may be an attractive trifle, but the Six Etudes de concert present a stiffer challenge for the pianist: the first of them, ‘Automne’, was one of her best-loved pieces at a time when her music was ubiquitous in the smart salons of Europe. The brief Les Sylvains gives the impression of having been conceived at a single sitting, so engaging is its suggestive portrait of wood-nymphs. Once described as ‘nearly a genius who knew what and how to write for pianists of moderate ability,’ Chaminade produced countless miniatures of gentle pleasures such as La Lisonjera Op.50, the Arabesque Op.61 and the Songs without Words Op.76. However, the four-movement Poème provençal Op.127 is far more substantial: ‘among Chaminade’s most inspired final productions’ according to Viner in his invaluable booklet essay. His survey concludes with the scintillating Thème varié Op.89 which, like several other works on this album has previously received very few recordings. Mark Viner is chairman of the British Liszt and Alkan Society and has a busy concert schedule. Cécile Chaminade (1857-1944) was a highly successful female pianist and composer. As a pianist she toured the European countries, in 1892 making her debut in England, making acquaintance with one of her biggest fans, Queen Victoria. In 1908 she made her American debut, gaining instant and immense popularity. The reason for Chaminade’s popularity is the charm, tunefulness and general accessability of her music. It touches a ready chord with every music lover, and the fancy titles and not overly virtuosic piano writing made that her works became drawing room favourites of the epoch. British pianist Mark Viner made a generous selection of piano works. He plays with exquisite charm and wit, with deep sentiment which never spills over into sentimentality. Mark Viner is recognized as one of the most exciting British pianists of his generation, and is becoming increasingly well-known for his bold championing of unfamiliar repertoire. His earlier recordings for Piano Classics include an excellent Liszt Transcriptions recital and a remarkable recording of Thalberg Operatic Fantasies, which was enthusiastically hailed by the press: “An exceptional disc from a blazing young British talent” (Gramophone). His recent Alkan recording received rave reviews: 5 star in the Guardian, 5 star and Recording of the Month in BBC Music Magazine, and many more.

kr 159
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Purcell King Arthur 
Sols; Vox Luminis / Lionel Meunier 

"2012’s Recording of the Year winners Lionel Meunier and Vox Luminis bring us highly enjoyable Purcell of, at times elegance and grace, at others a lively spirit, with joyful singing throughout." (Gramophone) 

Vox Luminis already boasts an impressive discography, orientated mainly towards sacred music and German repertoire (its CD devoted to music by Heinrich Schütz won the Gramophone ‘Best Recording of the Year’ Award in 2013). Now this ensemble, founded nearly fifteen years ago by Lionel Meunier, has scaled one of the summits of English music: the legend of King Arthur and his mentor the wizard Merlin inspired one of Henry Purcell’s most popular successes, King Arthur, a semi-opera on which Purcell lavished all his exuberant musical and theatrical inventiveness. In this revelatory new reading, the Vox Luminis vocal sound always perfectly matches the mix of choruses and highly characterized vocal solos. Prior to recording, the group presented the work in many semi-staged concerts, notably in Britain, where this Franco-Belgian ensemble has enjoyed enormous success, becoming one of the most respected European ambassadors for baroque music-making.

kr 289
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Berg Wozzeck 
Sols; Netherlands Philharmonic Orchestra / Marc Albrecht 

"Reviewer Peter Quantrill calls this Marc Albrecht-conducted Wozzeck‘among the most beautifully played and sung accounts on record and film’, praising too the staging." (Gramophone) 

Based on real events and drawing on Georg Büchner’s revolutionary play, Alban Berg’s Wozzeck turns a grimly tragic narrative of violence and murder into one of the most powerful and original operas of the 20th century. Berg’s uncompromising portrayal of brutality and madness generated much controversy, but the significance of Wozzeck was soon recognised; its compelling lyrical expansiveness, large-scale dramatic gestures and remarkable musical structures producing music of overwhelming emotional intensity. The Financial Times declared this to be ‘a beautiful, moving, engrossing production… this is a consummate Wozzeck, blending clarity, lyricism, compassion and crushing force.’

kr 269
kr 269
Monteverdi Il ritorno d’Ulisse in patria 
Sols; Monteverdi Choir; English Baroque Soloists / John Eliot Gardiner 

"The instinctive and thrilling music-making is a given from Gardiner, but it’s the compelling characterisation that really makes this recording stand out. A musical drama, beautifully told." (Gramophone) 

Monteverdi’s great opera is a celebration of unwavering devotion, conveyed in some of the composer’s most poignant, heart-breaking music. After two brutal decades of war, the weary Ulysses is washed up on the rocky shore of his home island of Ithaca. There, he discovers the hordes of depraved admirers who have beseiged his faithful wife Penelope in his 20-year absence – and launches into battle to win back her love. Monteverdi’s opera is a celebration of unwavering devotion, conveyed in some of the composer’s most poignant, heartbreaking music. John Eliot Gardiner leads an exemplary cast of world-class singers alongside the Monteverdi Choir and English Baroque Soloists in this live recording from The National Forum of Music in Wroclaw, Poland – part of their critically acclaimed Monteverdi 450 tour in 2017,

kr 299
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Lyatoshynsky Symphony No 3 
Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra / Kirill Karabits 

"As he discusses in an interview on page 28, Kirill Karabits believes this music should be much better known. An impressive album to mark 10 years with the Bournemouth Symphony." (Gramophone) 

With their second album on Chandos, the highly lauded team of the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra and its Chief Conductor, Kirill Karabits, presents another volume in their surround-sound series ‘Voices from the East’. This is music very close to the heart of the native Ukrainian Karabits: Boris Lyatoshynsky taught orchestration to his father, Ivan Karabits. Having absorbed the music of the Russian tradition and late-nineteenth-century Western European romanticism, Lyatoshynsky shaped his personal voice under the influence of twentieth-century modernist movements such as expressionism, as well as Ukrainian folk music, becoming a self-professed national composer. The premiere of Symphony No. 3 could not be given until Lyatoshynsky had rewritten the finale to accord with Communist Party requirements, the original movement having met with objections from the Soviet authorities. On this recording the symphony is heard as originally conceived. The symphonic ballad Grazhyna was written to mark the centenary of the death of Poland’s greatest poet, Adam Mickiewicz (1798-1855). Both works are confidently played by the BSO under a conductor whose musical decisions have the authority of one who directly embodies the legacy of the composer.

kr 159
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Górecki String Quartets 
Tippett Quartet 

"Powerful music, which in some places packs the punch of much-larger forces than a string quartet, and at others possesses a moving fragility – demands which these players meet brilliantly." (Gramophone) 

"With the belated success of his Third Symphony ‘Symphony of Sorrowful Songs’ (Naxos 8.550822), Górecki emerged in the 1990s as a composer of world stature. Between 1988 and 1995 he wrote three string quartets for the Kronos Quartet that are among his most important mature works. This is the Tippett Quartet’s sixth album for Naxos."

kr 89
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‘The Scene of the Crime’ 
Håkan Hardenberger tpt Colin Currie perc 

"An inspired coupling – trumpet and percussion, that is, and specifically Håkan Hardenberger and Colin Currie – in which poetry and lyricism are wonderfully to the fore." (Gramophone) 

The Scene of The Crime is a collection of the works performed by Colin Currie and Håkan Hardenberger in their duo recitals:

André Jolivet: Heptade
Joe Duddell: Catch
Tobias Broström: Dream Variations
Daniel Börtz: Dialogo 4
Brett Dean: ...the scene of the crime...

"The duo with Hakan Hardenberger is my musical safe space for maximum risk-taking. From my earliest point of connection with this most regal of musicians, what entranced me was the fearless audacity of the endeavour. Envelopes pushed, or simply reinvented, boundaries moved and canvasses recast. Rehearsals are intense; not many words spoken, a glance here or there, a certain type of breath taken, whilst the concerts are zones of feverish intensity, many-coloured and highly emotional. Too many now to pick out - San Fransisco, Seoul, Verbier, London, the Hanover concert with three World Premieres - I want to thank him for his encouragement, daring, humour and above all, friendship." - Colin Currie

kr 129
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Bartók ‘Racines’ 
Florent Boffard pf 

"French pianist Florent Boffard here offers us fascinating and beautifully thought-through performances of solo Bartók piano music, impressively textured throughout and rich in personality." (Gramophone) 

Although he is regarded as a major composer of the Twentieth Century, Bartók himself attached equal importance to his career as a pianist and to his study of folk music.

Bartók’s piano works lie at the intersection of these three activities. These pieces were often the laboratories for his stylistic advances; but every bar of them exudes the folklore of Central Europe and the Hungarian composer’s love for nature.

kr 139
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Beethoven. Liszt Piano Sonatas 
Till Fellner pf 

"Two highly engaging performances, recorded eight years apart, of two monumental works – including Beethoven’s Op 111 drawn from Fellner’s tour of the composer’s sonata cycle." (Gramophone) 

kr 169
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