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GRAMOPHONE 2018

Best new classical albums


Martin Cullingford's pick of the finest recordings from this month's reviews.
Here are the titles available from Naxos Direct.
Visar 6 artiklar
Image #2: JANUARY 2018
Beethoven Symphonies Nos 1 & 3 
Vienna Symphony Orchestra / Philippe Jordan 
Wiener Symphoniker 

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

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

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

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

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

159 kr
Image #4: JANUARY 2018
Haydn. Kraus ‘Symphonies, Vol 5’ 
Basel Chamber Orchestra / Giovanni Antonini 
Alpha 

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

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

159 kr
Image #6: JANUARY 2018
Saint-Saëns Works for Cello and Orchestra
Gabriel Schwabe vc Malmö Symphony Orchestra / Marc Soustrot 
Naxos 

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

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

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

89 kr
Image #8: JANUARY 2018
‘A Lute by Sixtus Rauwolf’ 
Jakob Lindberg lute 
BIS 

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

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

159 kr
Image #10: JANUARY 2018
R Strauss Salome 
Sols; Frankfurt Radio Symphony Orchestra / Andrés Orozco-Estrada 
Pentatone 

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

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

229 kr
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