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GRAMOPHONE 2020

BEST NEW CLASSICAL ALBUMS


Martin Cullingford's pick of the finest recordings from this month's reviews.
Here are the titles available from Naxos Direct.
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Image RECORDING OF THE MONTH - APRIL 2020
JS Bach St Matthew Passion
Sols; Bach Collegium Japan / Masaaki Suzuki 

"A supremely moving and eloquent performance of this most profound of works, drawing on the insight and instinct of conductor Masaaki Suzuki’s lifetime of immersion in Bach’s music." (Gramophone) 

Masaaki Suzuki and his Bach Collegium Japan made their first recording of the St Matthew Passion in March 1999. Twenty years later, in April 2019, it was time once again, as the singers and players gathered in the Concert Hall of the Saitama Arts Theater in Japan. ‘A profound joy’ is how Masaaki Suzuki describes his emotion at the opportunity to record Bach’s great fresco of Christ’s Passion for a second time. And this time, he and his ensemble have brought with them into the concert hall a profound and collective familiarity with Bach’s choral music, after having recorded more or less all of it in the meantime, including the complete sacred cantatas. For his Evangelist, Suzuki has selected the young German tenor Benjamin Bruns, making his first appearance on BIS. Among the other soloists are familiar names including Carolyn Sampson, Damien Guillon, Makoto Sakurada and Christian Immler.

kr 199 (kr 299)
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Shostakovich Symphony No 13
Chicago Symphony Orchestra / Riccardo Muti 

"Riccardo Muti’s understanding of this score brings out its depths, a steady control strengthening the impact throughout; a live recording of an evidently powerful occasion." (Gramophone) 

Riccardo Muti leads the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, men of the Chicago Symphony Chorus and bass soloist Alexey Tikhomirov in this poignant performance of Shostakovich’s Symphony No. 13, Op. 113 (Babi Yar). Recorded live in September 2018, the ensemble shines throughout—from passages requiring the sheer sonic force of the first movement to the indelible moments provided by single instruments, reminding the listener that despite the enormity of its theme, this is, after all, a symphony of individuals. Muti and musicians expertly navigate the intricacies of the five movements, each set to the poetry of Yevgeny Yevtushenko and expressing themes that were dear to Shostakovich—revolution and war, the individual’s role in society, idealism in the face of easy compromise, prejudice and intolerance. Yevtushenko said, “Over people like Shostakovich death has no power. His music will sound as long as humankind exists. . . . When I wrote ‘Babi Yar,’ there was no monument there. Now there is a monument.”

kr 159
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Vasks Piano Trios
Trio Palladio

"From the exquisite opening arrangement of Lonely Angel – fragility and strength poignantly forged – to the drama and drive of Episodi e Canto perpetuo, this is a compelling insight into Vasks’s musical world." (Gramophone) 

Latvian composer Peteris Vasks(b. 1946) has earned much international acclaim through his deeply spiritual works of choral music, symphonies and concertos. Vasks’ list of works also includes several pieces of chamber music. This album by Trio Palladio from Latvia includes Vasks’ works for the piano trio. Trio Palladio is a chamber music ensemble of three established Latvian soloists, avid chamber musicians and acclaimed recording artists Eva Bindere, Kristina Blaumane and Reinis Zarinš. Each of them is the laureate of the Grand Music Award of Latvia, and in 2019 they were nominated for this prestigious award as a trio. Recently the trio had its debut recital at the London Wigmore Hall and the trio’s interpretations have been broadcast live on the BBC Radio 3,as well as the Polish and Latvian radio. Trio Palladio creates conceptual programmes with rich variety of classical, romantic and contemporary chamber music, with particular focus on works by Latvian and Baltic composers.

kr 159
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‘Complices’
Jean-Guihen Queyras vc Alexandre Tharaud pf 

"A brilliant example of how an album of encores can – when performed with such style as by these perfectly matched soloists, and programmed so thoughtfully – become a captivatingly crafted through-listen." (Gramophone) 

Friends and frequent recital partners
Jean-Guihen Queyras and Alexandre Tharaud are reunited here for an album conceived as a collection of short stories, presenting both
celebrated and little-known masterpieces of the repertory. If the art of transcription is the hallmark of great performers, it must be said that
our two partners are past masters at it! Throughout this lyrical yet virtuosic
program music lovers will meet
one surprise after another.

kr 149
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Feinberg Piano Sonatas Nos 1-6
Marc-André Hamelin pf 

"Samuil Feinberg was a great Russian pianist perhaps best known for his Bach, but his compositions are less familiar. Marc-André Hamelin’s overwhelming advocacy of these sonatas comes highly recommended." (Gramophone) 

One phenomenal composer-pianist’s homage to another. Samuil Feinberg’s music is here championed by Marc-André Hamelin, whose
performances are sensitive to all its shadows and anxieties while being—of course—fully equal to the prodigious technical demands.

kr 169
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Ešenvalds There Will Come Soft Rains
Pacific Lutheran Choir of the West / Richard Nance

"The tender grace – and sometimes drama – of Latvian composer Ešenvalds’s music here meets a choir in very fine form indeed, caught in a rewardingly resonant acoustic." (Gramophone) 

The Choir of the West is the premier choral ensemble of the Department of Music at Pacific Lutheran University, located in Tacoma, Washington. The choir was founded in 1926, and was the third Lutheran college choir to tour extensively throughout the United States. Choir of the West has toured to Europe, Scandinavia, Japan and China, and has been selected to appear at several regional and national conferences of the National Association for Music Education and the American Choral Directors Association. In November of 2015 the choir was a featured ensemble at the National Collegiate Choral Organization Conference, held in Portland, Oregon, performing with renowned conductor Simon Carrington. During the summer of 2011, Choir of the West competed among choirs from 47 nations at the prestigious Harmonie Festival in Lindenholzhausen, Germany, winning two gold certificates and one silver. In 2015 the choir competed in the Anton Bruckner Choir Competition, held in Linz, Austria. This record celebrates the music of Latvian composer Eriks Ešenvalds. One of the most sought-after composers of today, Ešenvalds studied both in Latvia and the UK. He has had works premiered by the Boston Symphony Orchestra and the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, which have won him many awards.

kr 159
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Parry Judith
Sols; London Mozart Players / William Vann

"That a recording – or even a revival – of Parry’s oratorio (from where the beloved Repton hymn tune originates) has taken until now seems additionally remarkable when one hears this delightful performance." (Gramophone)  

An instant success, Charles Hubert Hastings Parry’s oratorio Judith premiered in Birmingham in August 1888. The work consolidated his reputation as a composer of large-scale orchestral and choral writing. With its vigorous choruses and dramatic solo roles, the work is of persistent quality. Yet somehow, the work has been largely neglected for the last century. On this release, the work is presented by the Crouch End Festival Chorus and the London Mozart Players led by William Vann. Soloists Sarah Fox, Kathryn Rudge, Toby Spence and Henry Waddington round out the recording with enthusiastic performances.

kr 318
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‘Fading’
The Gesualdo Six / Owain Park

"The third album from this young and extraordinarily gifted group, led by composer Owain Park, is not only fascinatingly programmed but performed with exhilarating excellence." (Gramophone) 

From the twelfth century (Saint Hildegard) to the twenty-first, the voices of The Gesualdo Six weave a meditative reflection around the ancient Office of Compline in a moving sequence of music from fourteen composers.

kr 169
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‘Brillez, Astres nouveaux!’
Chantal Santon Jeffery sop Orfeo Orchestra / György Vashegyi 

"A thrillingly diverse trip, emotionally and dramatically, through French Baroque opera (with excerpts from no fewer than 17 works), performed with captivating zeal." (Gramophone) 


kr 159
Image DVD/BLU RAY: APRIL 2020
Thomas Hamlet
Sols; Orchestre des Champs-Élysées / Louis Langrée 

"An alternative take on Hamlet, staged to mark the opera’s 150th anniversary, and starring some wonderful soloists." (Gramophone) 

With Shakespearian operas all the rage in Paris during the 19th century, Ambroise Thomas and his librettists Michel Carre and Jules Barbier adapted Hamlet to create a romantic spectacle in which the character of Ophelie shines with a haunting radiance. With its virtuosic arias, stunning ensembles and vivid orchestration – with the colourful addition of the newly invented saxophone – Thomas composed one of the most successful operas in the French repertoire. This is further enhanced by director Cyril Teste’s multi-layered production, reinstating its powerful original ending, and including cinematic techniques to create ‘a very palpable hit’ (bachtrack.com).

kr 239
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kr 239
Image REISSUE/ARCHIVE: APRIL 2020
‘A Tribute to Ysaÿe’
"From Rob Cowan’s box-set focus this month comes a fascinating tribute to the Belgian violinist and composer Eugène Ysaÿe from the Fuga Libera label." (Gramophone) 

Eugène Ysaÿe, a violin virtuoso admired by all his contemporaries, was an inheritor of what has justly been considered as the Belgian school of violin, whose ascendancy can be traced back to the beginning of the 19th century. His work as a composer, however, is much less well known today and it is this facet of his extraordinarily active life that we will explore here. He composed many different types of works; here we present his works for solo violin and orchestra, including two movements of violin concertos which are now available on record for the first time, and his chamber music. A great champion of the music of his time, Ysaÿe gave the first performances of a great number of works, many of which were dedicated to him as well as having been commissioned by him; the most well-known of these pieces are also included here. This fascinating boxed set from the Queen Elisabeth Music Chapel is a fine example of the work of this important musical institution: it features the Chapel’s masters and the young soloists who trained there alongside two Belgian orchestras of international renown.

kr 389
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Dvorák String Quartets Nos 8 & 10
Albion Quartet 

"When a critic concludes a review, in March, with ‘I can already see this being my pick of the year’, you really do have to listen for yourselves. Detail and collegiality throughout make for a superb album." (Gramophone) 

Formed in 2016, the Albion Quartet unites four outstanding young string players, brought together by a shared belief in the visceral power of the string quartet. The upcoming season sees the quartet returning to the Wigmore Hall and Aldeburgh Festival, as well as continuing residencies at Sainte-Mère Festival in France and RWCMD in Cardiff. They will be making a number of broadcasts for BBC Radio 3, whilst continuing their recording projects for Signum Records, for whom they are exclusive artists. Performances in the 2019-20 season include their US debut at the Phillips Collection in Washington, alongside appearances at several festivals including the Oxford Lieder, Stratford International, Belfast International, Cheltenham, Presteigne, and Lichfield, and participating in Beethoven cycles in the UK and Portugal. Here, the quartet continue their Dvorák series on Signum with spectacular renditions of his 8th and 10th quartets.

kr 159
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Litolff Piano Trios Nos 1 & 2. Serenade
Leonore Piano Trio 

"If you ever need persuading to explore the lesser-known byways of the chamber repertoire, let this album do so: engaging music, played with striking advocacy from the outset, and beautifully recorded. (Gramophone) 

If the name of Henry Charles Litolff is familiar
today only through the scherzo of his Concerto
symphonique No 4, the absurdity of that ‘one-hit
composer’ tag is clearly demonstrated by this
release. These are among the finest examples of the
piano trio genre still inexplicably absent from the
standard repertoire.

kr 169
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Mozart Violin Sonatas, Vol 2
Isabelle Faust vn Alexander Melnikov fp 

"While the catalogue boasts several inspired collaborations in this repertoire, forming here is another exquisite series from two key members of Harmonia Mundi’s formidable artist family." (Gramophone) 

Using period instruments, Isabelle Faust and Alexander Melnikov breathe new life into these ‘sonatas for keyboard with violin accompaniment’, a tradition Mozart renewed from within, blazing the trail for Beethoven, Schubert and Schumann.
The first volume (HMM902360) was widely praised: "The greater similarity of tone between Faust’s sparkling violin and Melnikov’s glittering fortepiano (within an airier acoustic) results in a sound more akin to the jingling of small bells. It’s delicious" (Gramophone).
"In a world full of star violinists, all with technical facility and individual style, it’s rare to find one that everyone agrees is just – brilliant. Isabelle Faust is that violinist." (The Strad).

kr 159
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‘Canadian Organ Music’
Rachel Mahon org 

"The Canadian organist Rachel Mahon offers thrilling advocacy for her country’s music, on a British instrument – Coventry Cathedral’s magnificent Harrison and Harrison organ – she knows expertly." (Gramophone) 

Underpinning 21st-century virtuosity with a moving story of continent-crossings both musical and personal, Rachel Mahon’s debut recital album surveys a century of organ music from Mahon’s native Canada, presenting it on a British instrument which is itself a testimony to the generosity of Canadian music-lovers in the difficult years of post-war reconstruction. In 1952 Healey Willan, an organist and composer born in England in 1880 but resident in Canada since 1913, presented the Provost of Coventry Cathedral with a cheque from the Royal Canadian College of Organists, representing a sizable donation from the College’s members and the Canadian public towards the cost of an organ for the new cathedral, which opened in 1962. Having made the opposite move to Willan, from Canada to the UK, Mahon is now Assistant Director of Music at the cathedral. Her recital opens with Willan’s own, Bachian Introduction, Passacaglia and Fugue and follows it with items by his student Gerald Bales and by Ruth Watson Henderson, before culminating in another work of transcontinental influence, Rachel Laurin’s impressive contribution to the French organ symphony tradition.

kr 159
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‘#CelloUnlimited’
Daniel Müller-Schott vc

"To experience Daniel Müller-Schott’s intimate and instinctive understanding of the cello’s sound world throughout this wide variety of unaccompanied works is a completely compelling musical journey." (Gramophone) 

After the suites by Johann Sebastian Bach in the early 18th century, nothing happened for a long time in the genre of works for solo cello. But the work that put an end to this period of no production was a weighty one: the almost monumental sonata by Zoltan Kodaly of 1915 set high standards for other composers. Indeed, subsequently not only manyworks were written, but also highly differing ones, among which the half-hour work by the Hungarian composer stands there like the “Mount Everest” (Daniel Muller-Schott). Together with works by Prokofiev, Hindemith, Henze, Crumb and Casals, Daniel Muller-Schott here introduces a work composed by himself for the first time: the “Cadenza” is to be understood in the tradition of those compositions that other cellists have always added to their recital programmes. “Here, you can recognize influences of the solo works that have influenced me over the years. In the Cadenza, the contrasting elements of the world of my instrument appear in the closest space – the cello in pure lyricism, just as sequences catapulting themselves into the highest registers in rhythmical savagery and immediately concluding the movement after a final culmination.” (Daniel Muller-Schott)

kr 169
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JS Bach St John Passion
Collegium Vocale Gent / Philippe Herreweghe

"More than three decades on from his first of three recordings of the St John Passion, Philippe Herreweghe offers an affecting new interpretation, clearly drawing on a lifetime of reflection." (Gramophone) 

Bach’s St John Passion, with its famous opening chorus traversed by shadows and light, is a powerful musical and spiritual reflection. Dramatic, grandiose, complex, resolutely theatrical: there has been no lack of superlatives to describe this supreme masterpiece of western music. Philippe Herreweghe and Collegium Vocale Gent present an accomplished reading that reflects their knowledge of the composer, based on extensive research and deepened by countless concerts. Soloists Krešimir Stražanac and Maximilian Schmitt demonstrate the breadth of their talents in the roles of Jesus and the Evangelist.

kr 289
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‘Passions’
Les Cris de Paris / Geoffroy Jourdain 

"Powerful and haunting, this programme of Venetian early Baroque music from Les Cris de Paris, built around five settings of the Crucifixus, is every bit as riveting as it is moving." (Gramophone) 



kr 159
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Verdi Rigoletto
Sols; Vienna SO / Enrique Mazzola 

"The often jaw-dropping drama of Bregenz Festival’s floating stage-sets generally makes for a striking visual feast: a great performance makes this a treat for the ears too." (Gramophone) 

Giuseppe Verdi’s masterpiece Rigoletto – compelling, blood-curdling and beautiful – is being performed for the first time on the Bregenz lake stage. The stage director and designer Philipp Stölzl, known for his successful productions at Salzburg Festival as well as music videos for the German band Rammstein, highlights the striking contrasts between spectacle and intimate chamber drama in his production of Verdi’s opera. “Breathtaking, tight and thrilling arrangement, extremely beautiful. Philipp Stölzl delivers a superlative Rigoletto to Bregenz lake stage.” (Frankfurter Rundschau Online) “The performance of the three main characters has been outstanding.” (Der Standard Online) “Rigoletto becomes a Hollywood spectacle on Lake Constance.” (Handelsblatt) “Nothing but a sensation.” (SWR 2)

kr 299
Image RECORDING OF THE MONTH - FEBRUARY 2020
‘Escales – French Orchestral Works’
Sinfonia of London / John Wilson

"Album after album, our cover artist John Wilson proves his remarkable ability to inspire riveting performances from remarkable players; this album of French music is a stunning delight." (Gramophone) 

John Wilson and his Sinfonia of London release their second album, following widespread and universal critical acclaim for their first recording, of Korngold’s Symphony in F sharp. This new recording explores the unique sound world of French orchestral music of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. The programme juxtaposes well-known favorites, such as Debussy’s Prélude àl’après-midi d’un faune, Massenet’s ‘Méditation’ from Thaïs, with pieces far more rarely heard, for example Duruflé’s Trois Danses and Saint-Saëns’s Le Rouet d’Omphale). Whether specifically evoking the ‘exoticism’ of Spain or North Africa (as was the fashion in French music of this era), or creating a less defined, impressionistic atmosphere, John Wilson and Sinfonia of London capture the mood and spirit of these pieces with consummate skill and outstanding musicianship. Originally formed in 1955, Sinfonia of London was re-established in 2018 by the British conductor John Wilson to devote itself, at least initially, to recording projects, of which this is the second album.

kr 169
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Barber. Tchaikovsky Violin Concertos
Johan Dalene vn Norrköping SO / Daniel Belndulf

"Johan Dalene, winner of 2019’s Carl Nielsen competition and a recent ‘One to Watch’, with a superb concerto coupling." (Gramophone) 

Born in 2000, Swedish violinist Johan Dalene is already making an impact on the international scene. His refreshingly honest musicality, combined with an ability to engage with musicians and audiences alike, has won him many admirers. Johan began playing the violin at the age of four and made his professional concerto debut three years later. A student at the Royal College of Music in Stockholm, he has also worked closely with mentors including Janine Jansen, Leif Ove Andsnes and Gidon Kremer. Johan has been a prize winner at a number of competitions, most recently the prestigious Carl Nielsen Competition at which he won First Prize.

During the finals of the Nielsen competition Johan performed Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto in D major, a work which he had already recorded for BIS two months earlier, in January 2019. On this debut recording, Johan plays with his ‘local band’: Norrköping Symphony Orchestra, known from many acclaimed recordings on BIS . The disc closes with Samuel Barber’s lyrical and contemplative Violin Concerto from 1939.

kr 169
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‘The Lyrical Clarinet, Vol 3’
Michael Collins cl Michael McHale pf

"You know a new album by the clarinet virtuoso Michael Collins is going to impress and charm; his programme here allows his beautiful fluid tone full rein to delve and delight." (Gramophone) 

Michael Collins MBE is one of the most complete musicians of his generation. Continuing his distinguished career as a soloist, he has in recent years also become highly regarded as a conductor and in 2010 took up the position as Principal Conductor of the City of London Sinfonia, and works with leading orchestras around the world both as a soloist and as a conductor. Committed for many years to expanding the repertoire of the clarinet, he has premiered works by some of today’s most highly regarded composers, including John Adams, Elliott Carter, Brett Dean and Mark-Anthony Turnage. In addition to commissioning and supporting new compositions, he is also a champion of well-crafted arrangements of other works for the clarinet. It is this area of his work that is so vividly demonstrated in this Chandos series the Lyrical Clarinet, of which this is the third volume. Most of the arrangements on this album were made by pianist Michael McHale, who accompanies on the recording.

kr 169
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Prokofiev Piano Sonatas Nos 6-8
Steven Osborne pf

"Steven Osborne, a pianist whose playing speaks always of reflective thought, musical instinct and compelling technique, adds these three Prokofiev sonatas to his already extraordinary discography." (Gramophone) 

The challenges of Prokofiev’s ‘War Sonatas’ trilogy
may be fearsome, but Steven Osborne is one of
those rare musicians who can bring light and
clarity (as well as phenomenal reserves of power
and concentration) to bear on some of the most
ferociously volatile and brilliant piano music
written in the twentieth century.

kr 169
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Tchaikovsky Piano Works
Peter Donohoe pf

"Peter Donohoe draws on his affinity with Russian culture to offer ‘perhaps the most consistently enjoyable … recording of Tchaikovsky’s piano solos of recent years’, as our critic Jeremy Nicholas puts it." (Gramophone) 

Tchaikovsky’s contemporaries tell us that he was good enough to become a concert pianist, if he had chosen to follow that path. But he preferred to focus on composition, and rarely performed in public concerts. His interest in the piano is mainly to be found in his many pieces for the instrument, and since most of these were suitable for amateurs with solid skills, they sold well and played an important role in building up his fame. Despite this, some view Tchaikovsky’s solo piano works are not performed as regularly as his orchestral works. Peter Donohoe disagrees with this take on Tchaikovsky’s solo piano works, insisting that all music requires performers to find the right approach, so he does not see Tchaikovsky as any kind of exception. He writes: “It is inexplicable to me that Tchaikovsky’s solo piano music should remain so infrequently performed, containing as it does all of the composer’s characteristic harmony, his wonderful melodic gift, his capacity for majestic gesture, magically beautiful moments, immense sadness, and passages of extreme excitement. His piano writing is often orchestral in texture, but also demonstrates the direct but very diverse pianistic influences of Liszt and Schumann, and incorporates in an almost naive way folk-style dance rhythms and melodies from Russia. This treasure trove is immensely rewarding to play, whether it be a small-scale salon piece such as the Humoresque Op. 10 No 2, or large in scale, such as is the gigantic Grand Sonata in G Major.”

kr 259
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Liszt ‘The Complete Songs, Vol 6’
Julia Kleiter sop Julius Drake pf

"An excellent series continues with a very beautiful recital, this time with Julia Kleiter joining pianist Julius Drake for a section of songs which feel perfectly suited to her characterful voice." (Gramophone) 

A programme of exquisite miniatures, alternative
versions and a wonderful quasi-operatic scena:
this is a tantalizing Lisztian recital to showcase
the artistry of Julia Kleiter.

kr 169
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Mozart Die Entführung aus dem Serail
Soloists; La Scala, Milan / Zubin Mehta

"A modern re-creation of a famous production of half a century earlier: ‘a delight’ writes our reviewer Richard Lawrence of this DVD release." (Gramophone) 

The unforgettable "masterful use of light and silhouettes" (Milano Post) with which Giorgio Strehler interpreted the charm of Mozart’s Singspiel was conceived for the Salzburg Festival, where it was staged in 1965 under the baton of then 29 year old Zubin Mehta, and then regularly revived at La Scala from 1972 onwards. At twenty years since the death of the great director, who from 1951 staged some by-now legendary operas at La Scala, Teatro alla Scala proposed anew this celebrated staging and called to the podium the man who conducted it the first time – Zubin Mehta. "Extraordinary, a wonder …" (Corriere Della Sera). The stage set with magnificent palace architecture and a sea view at centre is a veritable feast for the eyes, which is equally true for the elaborately and lovingly designed costumes. The viewer feels like he‘s being transported into the oriental aura. The fact that the current performance is conducted by Maestro Zubin Mehta, now over 80 years old, builds a bridge to Strehler‘s Salzburg production, which dates back more than half a century, and at the same time provides a touching detail of this timelessly monumental performance.

kr 359
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Brahms ‘The Final Piano Pieces’ 
Stephen Hough pf 

"A beautiful recital from Stephen Hough, one of today’s leading musicians, of late piano works by Brahms, rich in colours both vivid and delicate, and thoughtful and reflective throughout." (Gramophone) 

A collection of exquisite Brahmsian miniatures: brief meditations on last things before—in Stephen Hough’s own words—‘the light fades and the final cigar is extinguished’.

kr 169
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CPE Bach Oboe Concertos 
Xenia Löffler ob Akademie für Alte Musik Berlin / Georg Kallweit 

"CPE Bach’s orchestral imagination and flair are given full voice here in the symphonies, while Xenia Löffler is exquisite in the oboe concertos." (Gramophone) 


kr 169
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Brahms Piano Concerto No 1 
Lars Vogt pf Royal Northern Sinfonia 

"Leading his Royal Northern Sinfonia from the piano, Lars Vogt offers a bold and brilliant D minor Concerto, paired with finely detailed solo Brahms." (Gramophone) 

Lars Vogt continues his series of concerto recordings with the Royal Northern Sinfonia with this new recording of Johannes Brahms’ (1833–1897) First Piano Concerto together with Four Ballades (Op. 10) for solo piano. As in previous albums, Lars Vogt conducts from the keyboard. The evolution of Brahms’ 1st Piano Concerto took several steps. Originally conceived to become a Sonata for Two Pianos through orchestration it wasdeveloped into a four-movement Symphony until reaching into its final form of a Piano Concerto in three movements. During the process, which lasted from 1854 to 1856, somemovements were also discarded and replaced by new material. This music is packed with much drama. No wonder since these years were particularly tumultuous in Brahms’ personal life: it was during this period when his great mentor Robert Schumann was sent into an asylum and ultimately died. It was also time when Brahms formed a close, lifelong friendship to Clara Schumann. Some of these feelings might well be echoed in the peaceful 2nd movement, Adagio. Brahms’ Four Ballades, Op. 10 are works written in 1854 by a young composer barely in his 20s, yet these pieces are technically mature and profound in such a manner that they could even be compared to his final piano opuses. 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. 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 recordings of Beethoven’s Piano Concertos Nos. 2 & 4 (ODE 1311-2) together with the Royal Northern Sinfonia and an album of Dvorak’s Piano Trios (ODE 1316-2) received Gramophone’s Editor’s Choice in May 2018 and in December 2018. His most recent album on Ondine featuring four Mozart’s Piano Sonatas (ODE 1318-2) was also chosen Gramophone’s Editor’s Choice in July 2019.

kr 159
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Vaughan Williams Symphonies Nos 3 & 4 
BBC Symphony Orchestra / Martyn Brabbins 

"Martyn Brabbins’s instinctive sense of the sweep, grace and drama of Vaughan Williams’s orchestral sound-world results here in a very fine release." (Gramophone) 

Compelling performances of two very different symphonies, the complex visionary pantheism of the ‘Pastoral’ an ideal foil for the unbridled ferocity of No 4. An added incentive, Martyn Brabbins’s idiomatic realization of Vaughan Williams’s choral Saraband 'Helen' (a first recording) is a real discovery.

kr 169
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‘In nomine II’ 
Fretwork 

"Album after album from viol consort Fretwork affirm their status as an ensemble of supreme musicianship, whether immersed in the past or playing music of modernity by the likes of Nico Muhly and Gavin Bryars." (Gramophone) 

Over thirty years ago, Fretwork made its first recording – well, technically speaking it was the second album to be recorded, but the first to be released – and it was called ‘In nomine’, which consisted mainly of 16th-century examples of this remarkable instrumental form. While this isn’t an anniversary of that release, we want to look both back to that first release and forward, to bring the genre up to date. There were several examples of the In nomine and related forms that we didn’t or couldn’t record in 1987, and this album seeks to complete the project. The form was created unwittingly by John Taverner (1490-1545). His 6-part mass, Gloria tibi Trinitas, is based on the plainchant of that name. In the Sanctus, at the words Benedictus qui venit in nomine Domini (Blessed is he that comes in the name of the Lord), the six-part texture is pared down to two and three parts; and then, with the words in nomine Domini, Taverner makes, for the only time in the mass, a complete statement of the cantus firmus, accompanied by three voices. This four-parts section – very beautiful as it is – must have struck contemporaries as some kind of perfection, to be used as a template, to be emulated and copied. And then those copies were copied and changed again.

kr 159
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JS Bach ‘Opus Bach – Organ Works, Vol 1’
Peter Kofler org 

"A major project by Peter Kofler to record all JS Bach’s organ works begins in style, complete with recorded sound which our critic Marc Rochester describes as ‘genuinely awe-inspiring’." (Gramophone) 

In March 2017 organist and harpsichordist Peter Kofler launched his ongoing Bach project: a complete recording of Johann Sebastian Bach’s organ works. Unlike performers of earlier complete recordings, Kofler opted for a “modern” instrument for this enterprise. For not only was J. S. Bach the perfecter of a great polyphonic era, he was an innovator and stimulator as well, particularly in the field of organ music. Be it the introduction of the tempered tuning system, the virtuoso use of the organ pedal or the development of the fortepiano: Bach significantly contributed to each of them and was one of the first to employ the possibilities of these modern developments. The four-manual Rieger organ at the Jesuit church of St. Michael’s in Munich with its 75 stops offers many of the characteristics verifiably valued by Bach. It features an imposing fortissimo and a multitude of characteristic stop timbres that the cantor of Leipzig’s Thomaskirche partly could only dream of in his days.

kr 299
Image #10 JANUARY 2020
Lully Isis 
Les Talens Lyriques / Christophe Rousset 

"Christophe Rousset once again strikes gold with a major Lully project of elegance and drama, his understanding of the atmosphere and rhythms of the French Baroque as instinctive as ever." (Gramophone) 


kr 189
Image DVD/BLU RAY: JANUARY 2020 (DVD)
Gomes Lo schiavo 
Sols; Teatro Lirico, Cagliari / John Neschling 

"Where DVD can excel: offering advocacy to a work rarely performed on stage, and making a good case for its revival in opera houses more widely." (Gramophone) 
 
Brazilian composer Antônio Carlos Gomes was among the many musicians who travelled to Italy to master the language and the rules of operatic works. He studied in Milan and succeeded in having a few operas staged at Italian venues, before returning to Brazil where he was hailed as the most famous living national composer. Gomes felt compelled to commit his work to the country’s anti-slave cause, which was still legal practice then. Lo schiavo was therefore conceived as a politically engaged work. However, the issue was rather volatile and the composer had to change the contemporary time setting to a more distant one. In Brazil the opera was a triumph, but elsewhere it failed to gain popularity and soon fell into oblivion. This recording of the Teatro Lirico di Cagliari’s production documents the opera’s first performance in modern times and reveals Gomes’ flamboyant richness of melodic creativity, his sound grasp of construction, and a technical mastery of the theatrical mechanisms that are always of the highest level. ‘The most popular title of the entire Brazilian repertoire. The most represented and, perhaps, the most loved one.’ – John Neschling, conductor Performance Reviews: ‘Davide Garattini Raimondi has provided simple but effective stage direction… Alessandro Verazzi’s lighting provides the right touch for dawns and sunsets in the Brazilian forest… Massimiliano Pisapia has a strong center register and a vivid volume with impressive high Cs… Svetla Vassileva handles her difficult arias quite well.’ – ClassicalMusicDaily.com - New production of Teatro Lirico di Cagliari, in coproduction with Festival Amazonas de Ópera of Manaus - Filmed in 4 K - WORLD PREMIERE VIDEO RECORDING - Outstanding cast led by Massimiliano Pisapia, Svetla Vassileva and Elisa Balbo. - Extra content for DVD and Blu-ray: Lo Schiavo presentation at the Brazilian Embassy in Rome.

kr 239
Image DVD/BLU RAY: JANUARY 2020 (BLU RAY)
kr 239
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