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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.

Recording of the Year 2017
Mozart ‘Violin Concertos’ - Isabelle Faust

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Image Recording of the Year 2017
Violin Concertos

The five most brilliant concertos for violin, all penned before the age of 19! Mozart was not even 15 years old when he began composing violin concertos that would serve as a backdrop at Salzburg receptions. An insatiable drive for independence would however lead the young Konzertmeister to overtly challenge musical forms, innovate with genres, humour and frivolity, all of which can be heard in this delightful first collaboration between Isabelle Faust and the musicians of Il Giardino Armonico.

189 kr
Image 4) DECEMBER 2017
Bach Magnificat
Monteverdi Choir; English Baroque Soloists / Sir John Eliot Gardiner

"Sir John Eliot Gardiner’s new recording celebrates music Bach wrote for Christmas in Leipzig – a release stamped with his hallmark of musical excellence." (Gramophone) 

The Monteverdi Choir and English Baroque Soloists celebrate Christmas with a mixed programme of J.S. Bach’s sacred choral works. As we approach the 500th Anniversary of the Lutheran Church, these works transport listeners to 18th-century Leipzig for a tr

159 kr
Image 6) DECEMBER 2017
The King’s Singers

"What better way for the ever-impressive King’s Singers to mark their half century than by new recordings exploring the rich diversity of repertoire – modern, early, sacred and secular – for which they are known?" (Gramophone) 

The King’s Singers celebrate their 50th anniversary with a celebratory 3-CD set, combining three complete programmes of Close Harmony, Spiritual and Secular pieces. The King's Singers write: The current incarnation of King’s Singers approached this 50th Anniversary release with great excitement – albeit with some trepidation! How could we possibly create an album (or, as it turned out, three albums!) that would reflect all the group’s work over five decades, honouring its history and the achievements of our predecessors? In the end, we decided to go back to basics. We spent months trawling through programmes and recordings to finalise this selection of music: old favourites that the group has performed for decades jostle for position with more recent additions (both classical and pop), and compete with brand new works commissioned especially for this project. A long-list of well over a hundred pieces has been whittled down to a final track-list of around sixty that, we feel, represents all the styles and musical epochs that The King’s Singers have championed across five decades of performance and recording. Regarding recording style and technique, we again looked to our archives. By modern standards, the technology the original six King’s Singers used when they made their first album in 1971 was pretty basic. Huddled around three microphones in a small studio, they had very little of the control and barely any of the special effects we expect from most commercial recordings today. Fifty years ago, recording capabilities extended to little more than adding reverberation and some basic editing. Most tracks had to be put down in a few long takes, unlike today’s modern computerised recording process where hundred of short bursts may be spliced together to create a track. Yet, despite the original group’s primitive tools, they produced something extraordinary: an album bursting with energy and executed with laser-like precision. Listening today, we literally hear the excitement in their voices, and perhaps even the realisation that what they were doing hadn’t really been done before (although of course they can have had no idea what was to become of the group)! That Debut Album has been the benchmark for each and every recording The King’s Singers have made since. Trying to put our finger on what exactly made this album so special, we concluded that it could be summed up by one word: honesty. Those six singers wanted nothing other than to send their craft into the world, simply and elegantly. And so, honesty became our watchword. We want to honour the formidable skill of those original six King’s Singers – indeed, every singer who has been a member of the group throughout its history – by releasing a 50th Anniversary recording that’s as honest as that very first album. The result is that when you listen to GOLD, you hear exactly what you’d experience at a live King’s Singers performance. We sang every piece exactly as if there was an audience in front of us (which, in some sessions, there was), relying heavily on acoustic microphones rather than individual, close-set ones – and of course there’s no auto-tuning or multi-tracking! We knew we had to channel the raw purity of our six individual voices if we hoped to recapture the joy the very first King’s Singers album still brings to us. And so, here it is: a set of three GOLD albums that aims to let all the music we’ve chosen shine as brightly as possible. We hope you enjoy listening to GOLD as much as we’ve enjoyed making it, and that you also find it represents the very best of The King’s Singers. Onwards and upwards: here’s to the next 50 years!

229 kr
Image 7) DECEMBER 2017
‘Parle qui veut’
Sollazzo Ensemble

"This album emerged from the York Early Music Young Artists Competition – and the competition’s 2015 winners here offer vivid, charismatic and skilful performances of this 14th-century music." (Gramophone) 

Sollazzo Ensemble makes its recording debut following its prize-winning performance at the highly respected biennial York Early Music International Young Artists Competition. Comprising sopranos Perrine Devillers and Yukie Sato, tenor Vivien Simon, medieval fiddles Anna Danilevskaia and Sophia Danilevskaia, and harpist Vincent Kibildis, this vibrant young ensemble offers a fresh perspective on mediaeval repertoire. On Parle qui veut the performers embrace the exuberant style of flourishing melodies which was fashionable in the north of Italy in the fourteenth century. In contrast, a different kind of expressivity is required for the sober and succinct aesthetic of the works with French provenance. Sollazzo creates a pure, bright sound, enhanced by the songs’ incredibly open textures and the use of the rarely heard Pythagorean temperament. All in all, this represents a remarkable debut.

159 kr
Image 9) DECEMBER 2017
Debussy Pelléas et Mélisande
Sols; London Symphony Chorus and Orchestra / Sir Simon Rattle

"Expectations are high for Sir Simon Rattle’s new partnership with the LSO; this is a work he clearly loves, and the result bodes well for all that lies ahead." (Gramophone)

"Watch out for the live recording on LSO Live’ Richard Morrison, The Times ‘Irresistible...the performance was being recorded for LSO Live. I shall be first in the queue to buy it.’ Rupert Christiansen, The Telegraph ‘Roll on the recording...’ BachTrack ‘Rattle’s relationship with this score is a long one, and it unfolds here in spontaneous, giddy arcs...picked out in gilded detail by the musicians of the LSO.’ Alexandra Coghlan, The Arts Desk ‘Rattle’s moving statement of intent. Simon Rattle and Peter Sellars go headstrong into a bright future with the London Symphony Orchestra...’ The Guardian ‘Rattle draws shimmering beauty from the forest...’ The Standard ‘Rattle’s conducting was immaculate... the performance has made me think about the work again, wondering how far I should prod that glorious surface to see what lies beneath.’ The Spectator ‘A magnificent achievement.’ Seen and Heard International Sir Simon Rattle leads an all-star cast in this highly anticipated new recording of Debussy’s evocative opera Pelleas et Melisande. It was captured in January 2016 during performances of an innovative collaboration between Rattle and Peter Sellars, two of the boldest creative minds in music and theatre today. Supported by the London Symphony Chorus, prepared by renowned choral director Simon Halsey, it is a moving statement of intent for Rattle’s tenure as LSO Music Director. The plot, a love triangle between Prince Golaud, his wife Melisande and his brother Pelleas, is shrouded in mystery and full of gripping twists and emotion-filled turns, ultimately ending in Pelleas’s untimely death. The sensuous score contains some of Debussy’s most exquisite music and perfectly crystalises the atmosphere of Maeterlinck’s original play. Debussy himself explained the appeal of the work: ‘The drama of Pelleas which, despite its dream like atmosphere, contains far more humanity than those so-called “real life documents”, seemed to suit my intentions admirably. In it there is an evocative language whose sensitivity could be extended into music and into the orchestral backcloth.’

229 kr
Image 1) NOVEMBER 2017 - Recording of the month
Rameau Pygmalion 
Sols; Arnold Schoenberg Choir; Les Talens Lyriques / Christophe Rousset 

"Christophe Rousset is consistently one of today’s most brilliant Baroque conductors, unfailingly alive to the rhythm, drama and beauty of the music, as wonderfully demonstrated here. " (Gramophone)

Rameau's 'acte de ballet' 'Pygmalion', was the composer's first work to bear that designation. The term denotes a one-act opera with the usual solo numbers, duets, and choruses, interspersed with dance episodes and is generally more pageant-like than plot-driven! The opera was performed 30 times in 1748 and was revived to rapturous acclaim three years later.

The story of Pygmalion dates back to Greek and Roman mythology: the sculptor of the title forswears marriage, but then falls in love with his own perfect representation of a woman, beseeching Aphrodite (or Venus) to bring her to life. In Rameau's hands, the story became a sunny romantic comedy and one of his best-loved works. Like Ovid's Love, Christophe Rousset gives life to this score and leads a new and essential reading.

159 kr
Image 2) NOVEMBER 2017
Beethoven Violin Concerto. Romances SchubertRondo 
James Ehnes vn Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra / Andrew Manze 

"Recording Beethoven’s Concerto is a milestone for any violinist, and one James Ehnes here achieves in superb style. " (Gramophone)

Beethoven’s Violin Concerto represents the supreme challenge for violinists. Far from being a virtuoso display piece, this is chamber music on a large scale, the last and greatest ‘classical’ violin concerto, giving the soloist no place to hide with a solo part that is often very exposed against sparse orchestral accompaniment. A lukewarm reception at the concerto’s premiere in 1806 led to it being forgotten until Joseph Joachim resurrected it in the 1850s and restored to its rightful position as one of the greatest and most popular concertos for the instrument. This is James Ehnes’ first recording of this concerto, and he is supported sensitively by the award winning RLPO and fellow violinist-turned-conductor, Andrew Manze. The combination of soloist, orchestra and conductor on this recording is a dream team.

159 kr
Image 4) NOVEMBER 2017
Sibelius Tapiola. Songs 
Anne Sofie von Otter mez Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra / Hannu Lintu 

"Hannu Lintu proves himself a conductor able to explore and embody Sibelius’s sound world with great awareness of its mysteriousness and power; a very impressive release. " (Gramophone) 

This new release by the Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra conducted by Hannu Lintu is an all-Sibelius programme featuring internationally acclaimed mezzo-soprano Anne Sofie von Otter. The album includes two major tone poems by Jean Sibelius (1865–1957), Tapiola and En Saga, combined with a set of songs orchestrated by Aulis Sallinen (b. 1935) in 2015.

Sibelius’ tone poem Tapiola, written shortly after the 7th Symphony, may be regarded as the culmination of a period that began with the Fifth Symphony, a period where Sibelius created music that grew organically out of tiny germs into huge processes. It was completed in 1926 and remained Sibelius’s last great orchestral work. In Tapiola, Sibelius appears to equate the primacy of nature with the value of art for its own sake, the unattainable truths of which remain uneroded by time or by the shifting ideals of mankind. Sibelius stated to his private secretary: “My inspiration for Tapiola came wholly from nature, or even more accurately from something inexpressible in words.”

The genesis of En Saga, originally premiered in 1892, is also shrouded in mystery, and even later in life Sibelius was reluctant to go into any detail regarding its content. It is among Sibelius’ earliest orchestral works, and its original title in Swedish, En saga, refers to ancient Nordic tales of heroes and gods. Although En saga is among the most popular works by Sibelius today, the premiere of the work was not a success and Sibelius revised the score in 1902.

On the occasion of the 150th anniversary of Sibelius’s birth in 2015 composer Aulis Sallinen (b. 1935) orchestrated a cycle of songs for mezzosoprano Anne Sophie von Otter. This cycle of eight songs contains several less known songs in a cavalcade juxtaposing human emotions and innermost thoughts with the natural environment and experiences in nature.

159 kr
Image 5) NOVEMBER 2017
Vaughan Williams A London Symphony 
BBC Symphony Orchestra / Martyn Brabbins 

"A wonderful addition to the catalogue both of the work and of Martyn Brabbins, without doubt one of today’s most insightful advocates of British repertoire." (Gramophone)

Vaughan Williams’s London Symphony (the composer’s favourite of the nine) makes a rare appearance in its 1920 first publication. Three lesser-known works complete a highly desirable programme, while Martyn Brabbins and the BBC Symphony Orchestra understand how this music should be played like few others. This is mandatory listening.

159 kr
Image 8) NOVEMBER 2017
Compère ‘Music for the Duke of Milan’ 
Odhecaton / Paolo Da Col 

"Renowned in his day, Loyset Compère – whose 500th anniversary of death falls next year – was part of a rich musical court life in Milan. Odhecaton recreate the splendour gloriously. " (Gramophone)

During the reign of Duke Galeazzo Maria Sforza (1444-76), Milan experienced an extraordinary musical era. In the 1470s, the Duke set out to form a ‘famous and worthy choir’, recruiting a ‘goodly number of singers from beyond the Alps and from various countries’. He soon assembled a musical ensemble that boasted some of the most celebrated musicians in the Franco-Flemish polyphony of the day, from Italy and beyond.

The Duke brought into being a new kind of polyphonic mass, a cycle of motets called missales to replace the traditional ordinarium, with texts attributing special importance to the worship of Our Lady of Grace and Mercy, much beloved by the Sforza family.

A masterpiece of the genre is the so-called Missa Galeazescha for five voices, composed by Loyset Compère and performed here by an ensemble inspired by the impressive size of Galeazzo Maria Sforza’s cappella. This recording brings together four vocal instrumental groups.

159 kr
Image 9) NOVEMBER 2017
Ešenvalds ‘The Doors of Heaven’ 
Portland State Chamber Choir / Ethan Sperry 

"Ešenvalds’ music is given a splendidly evocative and heartfelt performance by this clearly very fine American choir, who seem alive to the music’s colours, directness and beauty." (Gramophone)

Latvian Eriks Ešenvalds is one of the world’s most performed choral composers. This album is the first of his music to be recorded by an American choir.

89 kr
Image 10) NOVEMBER 2017
‘Lost is my quiet’ 
Carolyn Sampson sop Iestyn Davies counterten Joseph Middleton pf 

"Take two star singers and a praised pianist, and the result is a recital as delightful as it is skillful. The joy they take in making music together is clear from the outset. " (Gramophone) 

Carolyn Sampson and Iestyn Davies have collaborated on many occasions in the field of Baroque opera and oratorio, but on this occasion they venture into a somewhat different territory. In the company of Joseph Middleton, they have been exploring the Lieder for one and two voices of Mendelssohn and Schumann, combining them with songs and duets by Roger Quilter. And even though the disc actually opens with a set of Purcell songs – repertoire which both singers have previously made their mark in – they are here performed with the piano accompaniments realized by Benjamin Britten, turning them into something quite new and different. ‘Creamy’, ‘luminous’ and ‘supple’ are words that often appear in reviews about both Carolyn Sampson and Iestyn Davies, and in these duets they achieve a marvellous blend as well as the utmost precision. They are aided in this by Joseph Middleton, described in The Telegraph (UK) as an ‘unfailingly sensitive accompanist’.

159 kr
Image 2) OCTOBER 2017
Mendelssohn Symphony No 2, ‘Lobgesang’
Monteverdi Choir; London Symphony Orchestra / Sir John Eliot Gardiner 
"This uplifting performance concludes Gardiner’s rewarding cycle of the composer’s symphonies: a fitting end. " (Gramophone)

Bringing his acclaimed Mendelssohn cycle to a rousing conclusion, Sir John Eliot Gardiner presents the composer’s symphony-cantata, 'Lobgesang', in his first ever performance of the work. Three world-class soloists join the LSO and his own Monteverdi Choir for this recording for LSO Live. Mendelssohn wrote that the piece "lies very near my heart", and with its stately grandeur and religiosity, plus its sheer magnitude, twice the length of any of his other symphonies, it stands amongst his most impressive works. Posthumously categorised by editors as his second symphony, it is also known as ‘Hymn of Praise’.

In an interview for The Arts Desk, John Eliot said: "It’s a piece I’ve been looking at for years, and I’ve never conducted it. I was a bit sceptical at first, thinking that it was the torso of a symphony with a cantata bolted on. But it isn’t. It’s a delight. It has a lot of the inventiveness and sheer melodic flow of the young Mendelssohn and it’s perfectly calibrated and constructed."

Presented as a Pure Audio Blu-ray and SACD Hybrid package - which includes master quality audio and downloadable content - this is the perfect end to Gardiner's exploration of Mendelssohn. Summing up his feelings at the end of the project, he said: "My admiration for Mendelssohn has gone up enormously, as a result of really digging deep into these’s so rewarding with this group of players, they’re willing to go to the nth degree, in terms of detail of phrasing and articulation, and that’s a joy."

159 kr
Image 3) OCTOBER 2017
Rachmaninov Piano Concerto No 2
Boris Giltburg pf Royal Scottish National Orchestra / Carlos Miguel Prieto

"That such familiar music can sound this thrilling is testimony to both the work’s enduring appeal and its soloist’s skill." (Gramophone) 

The second of Boris Giltburg’s Rachmaninov releases features the perennially popular Piano Concerto No. 2 as well as the Etudes-tableaux, Op. 33. The Etudes-tableaux Op. 39 and Moments musicaux can be heard on 8.573469.

89 kr
Image 4) OCTOBER 2017
CPE Bach Fantasias & Sonatas
Alexei Lubimov tangent pf 

"An absolutely fascinating release, both for the unusual instrument and for what Alexei Lubimov, highly tuned to its unique sound world, achieves with it. " (Gramophone)

Russian pianist Alexei Lubimov is the rare artist who has been a trailblazer in two directions, both a champion of new music (from Cage to Silvestrov) and a dedicated interpreter of Baroque music with a passion for period instruments. In this remarkable reading of music by CPE Bach, Lubimov responds to the inventiveness of the composer’s fantasies, sonatas and rondos by making full creative use of the sonorities of the tangent piano. Briefly popular in the early 18th century, the tangent piano (whose strings are struck from beneath by wood or metal “tangents” and allowed to vibrate) offered greater expressiveness and intensity than the harpsichord.

169 kr
Image 5) OCTOBER 2017
Debussy Piano Works 
Steven Osborne pf 

"Steven Osborne explores some of Debussy’s most sublime, poetic and painterly music with a real sense of its intrigue, drama and beauty. A very fine recording, from a very fine pianist." (Gramophone)

Steven Osborne’s unerring command of the elusive ambiguities of Debussy’s piano-writing has already been amply confirmed by his earlier recording of the two books of Préludes; these lustrous new accounts of the Images, Estampes and Children’s Corner are every bit their equal.

159 kr
Image 6) OCTOBER 2017
Blow An Ode on the Death of Mr Henry Purcell
Arcangelo / Jonathan Cohen 

"Arcangelo under Jonathan Cohen go from strength to strength; on this latest album they offer expert and engaging advocacy of the music of Purcell’s teacher, John Blow. " (Gramophone)

An album of music for the connoisseur—of extraordinary singing as much as of the English Baroque. This wonderful recital ranges widely across Blow’s vocal and instrumental music, Arcangelo again demonstrating their versatility in repertoire which will be a real discovery for many.

159 kr
Image 7) OCTOBER 2017
David ‘Portraits, Vol 4’
Various artists 

"19th-century French composer Félicien David couldn’t be better served than by this exploratory presentation of his music on a label earning a real reputation for being at all times high quality and thought-provoking. " (Gramophone) 

Each volume in the ‘Portraits’ series is devoted to a French composer who has now largely been forgotten. With performances by many talentes artists, it presents a panorama of his works. The ‘Portrait’ of Félicien David aims to complement the discography already available with world premiere recordings of the composer’s works.

Among these are a glimpse of his orchestral output, with the Symphony no. 3 and the Overture to his opéra comique La Perle du Brésil, the work that really launched David on his operatic career. But it is above all Christophe Colomb (1847) that deserves mention, for this ode-symphonie with speaker was an ambitious follow-up to the success of Le Désert, performed at the Théâtre Italien some years earlier. Nevertheless, this anthology does not forget that Félicien David was also a figure of the salons, admired for his intimate music and especially his songs. The programme therefore offers a chance to

discover excerpts from the Mélodies orientales for solo piano, a selection of romances in the style of the 1840s, and the very rare early motets for chorus in varied scorings. The culmination of this Portrait is the restoration of Le Jugement dernier, which was intended as the concluding apotheosis of the opera Herculanum, but was finally deleted and has never been published until today.

359 kr
Image 8 ) OCTOBER 2017
‘Ein feste Burg ist unser Gott’ 
Luther and the Music of the Reformation
Vox Luminis / Lionel Meunier 

"As we mark 500 years since the Reformation, Vox Luminis offer a wonderfully performed – and packaged – survey of its impact on music. " (Gramophone)

A two-CD set devoted to the Lutheran liturgical repertory from Martin Luther himself to Heinrich Schütz. The first disc comprises compositions specific to the Lutheran liturgy: Deutsche Messe, Deutsches Magnificat, Deutsche Passion (the first German polyphonic Passion, by Joachim von Burck) and even a reconstruction of a Deutsches Requiem drawn from polyphonic works that set the same texts as those Brahms was later to use for his Deutsches Requiem. The second disc presents a selection of motets arranged according to the liturgical calendar, from Advent to Trinity. These polyphonic pieces were written by a wide range of composers including Martin Luther, Andreas Hammerschmidt, Michael Praetorius, Joachim von Burck, Christoph Bernhardt, Heinrich Schütz, Thomas Selle, Melchior Franck, Caspar Othmayr, Michael Altenburg, Samuel Scheidt, Johann Hermann Schein and Johann Walter. The organist Bart Jacobs completes the programme with a few organ pieces by seventeenth-century composers.

269 kr
Image 10) OCTOBER 2017
Mozart Il sogno di Scipione
Chorus and Orchestra of Classical Opera / Ian Page 

"Early Mozart gets a characteristically committed and compelling performance from the ever-impressive Ian Page and his Classical Opera group. " (Gramophone)

Classical Opera continue their continuing complete Mozart opera recording series with the one-act dramatic serenade Il sogno di Scipione, K. 126. Composed in 1771 as a celebratory homage to Prince Archbishop Sigismund Schrattenbach of Salzburg, the Archbishop died before the piece could be performed. In the spring of 1772 Mozart amended the work so that it could be used in honour of Schrattenbach’s successor, Hieronymus Colloredo – the only necessary change was to alter the name of the dedicatee in the final recitative. The story of Scipio’s Dream takes place in c.148 BC, while the celebrated Roman general is a guest in the palace of his ally Massinissa, King of Numidia (in modern day Tunisia). As Scipio falls into a deep sleep, he dreams that the allegorical figures of Fortuna (Fortune) and Costanza (Constancy) appear to him in Elysium and demand that he should choose one of them to follow for the rest of his days.

229 kr
Image 1) Recording of the month - Awards issue 2017
Haydn. CPE Bach. Boccherini Cello Concertos 
Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie Bremen / Steven Isserlis vc 

"Isserlis’s ever-questing career is one we have all gained much fulfillment from following – and in revisiting repertoire, as here, he offers an even greater insight into his journey."  (Gramophone) 

If the two Haydn concertos are the most accomplished contributions to the cello’s burgeoning repertoire written in the eighteenth century, the CPE Bach coupling is scarcely less fine. Two charmingly rococo encores complete this latest essential release from Steven Isserlis.

159 kr
Image 2) Awards issue 2017
Pickard Symphony No 5, etc 
BBC National Orchestra of Wales / Martyn Brabbins 

"A composer with a wonderful grasp of the possibilities for colour from an orchestra, something Brabbins and his colleagues clearly relish in this fine-sounding recording."  (Gramophone) 

Born in 1963, John Pickard is best known for a series of powerful orchestral and instrumental works and previous recordings on BIS of his music have received critical acclaim in reviews such as Gramophone (‘simply stunning’), American Record Guide (‘superb works in wonderful readings’) and BBC Music Magazine (‘an absolute triumph). The present disc brings together some of Pickard’s most recent orchestral compositions, in performances by two of his long-time collaborators: the BBC National Orchestra of Wales and conductor Martyn Brabbins. The opening work is Symphony No. 5, which was composed in 2014 with these performers in mind. Lasting some thirty minutes, the symphony is in a single continuous movement. It requires no less than three timpanists who are placed at the back of the orchestra to the right, left and centre, leading to some dramatic antiphonal exchanges. The symphony is followed by Sixteen Sunrises, the result of the composer’s wish to compose a piece ‘filled with light’. The title of the piece refers to the number of sunrises that can be observed during a twentyfour-hour period from the International Space Station (ISS), as it orbits the earth. Musical depictions of sunrises are normally gradual processes, but viewed from the ISS, a sunrise occurs in a matter of seconds, and it is the idea of suddenly shifting from darkness to light (and back again) that formed the basis of the shape of Pickard’s piece. In contrast to these two works, the Concertante Variations have been described by the composer as ‘a light-hearted divertimento that poses no profound questions’. It is a concise concerto for wind quintet, strings and timpani, cast in the form of a theme and variations. The disc closes with Pickard’s transcription of the well-known Toccata that Monteverdi used first in his opera Orfeo and later in the Vespers.

159 kr
Image 3) Awards issue 2017
Shostakovich Chamber Symphony Strauss Metamorphosen 
Baltic CO/ Emmanuel Leducq-Barôme 

"The Strauss string texture is captured compellingly by the mics; the well-chosen coupling is equally as impressive."  (Gramophone)  

Both the works on this album came about as a reaction to the horrors of war. Shostakovich visited Dresden in 1960 and much of the city still lay in ruins. His 8th String Quartet dedicated to the victims of fascism, is one of his most powerful and deeply personal works, quoting from earlier compositions, and using the composer’s musical motto D Es C H. The composer wept after the first private performance: his son later suggested that the work was actually meant to be dedicated to the victims of totalitarianism. It was later arranged for string orchestra, with the approval of the composer, by Rudolf Barshai and it is this version, known as the Chamber Symphony, that appears here. Richard Strauss, well into his 80s when the war ended, was crushed by the destruction of the great opera houses and places of learning in Germany, as the Allies defeated the Nazis. 'Metamorphosen' for 23 solo strings is a profound and heartfelt lament for the loss of the Germany he knew as a young man; and the news that the Goethehaus in Dresden had been obliterated was the impetus for this late masterwork. The Baltic Chamber Orchestra is comprised of the principal string players of the St Petersburg Philharmonic Orchestra. Under their French music director Emmanuel Leducq-Barôme they are one of the finest chamber ensembles in Russia and together they have made several recordings, most recently for Aparté, and concert tours in Europe. Leducq-Barome studied with conductor Mariss Jansons at the Saint-Petersburg Conservatory. In 1997 he concluded his studies there under the legendary pedagogue Ilya Musin, the mentor of several generations of conductors, including Valery Gergiev, Semyon Bychkov and Yuri Temirkanov. Since then he has held the post of principal conductor at the philharmonic orchestras of Kaliningrad and Irkutsk, in Russia.

159 kr
Image 4) Awards issue 2017
Barsanti. Handel ‘Edinburgh 1742’ 
Ensemble Marsyas / Peter Whelan 

"Proof, if needed, that Baroque music can continue to surprise us, as Lindsay Kemp puts it. A rare outing for some of this repertoire – but why? Perhaps this disc will change that."  (Gramophone)  

The popular Ensemble Marsyas returns with a diverse programme of concerti, wind music and Scottish songs by composers Francesco Barsanti and George Frideric Handel, centred around the music composed for The Edinburgh Musical Society. Horn soloists Alec Frank-Gemmill and Joseph Walters take centre stage in Handel’s Concerto for French horns, exemplifying the extraordinary vogue for horn music at this time. Timpanist Alan Emslie joins them for Barsanti’s Concerti grossi Op. 3, an unusual concertino comprising timpani and natural horns. Barsanti’s four ‘Old Scots Tunes’, notable as one of the first examples of Scottish Traditional music to be faithfully transcribed, introduces fiddle player Colin Scobie. Completing the programme is Handel’s aria ‘Sta nell’Ircana’ from Alcina, featuring mezzo-soprano Emilie Renard, and the March for wind band, HWV 346. The recording, which will be launched at the 2017 Edinburgh International Festival, is a fine addition to the group’s discography. The Edinburgh based chamber group comprises the best of a new generation of musicians specialising in early music across Europe. Ensemble Marsyas has appeared at Wigmore Hall, the Gottingen Handel Festival, the East Neuk and Lammermuir Festivals, the Great Music in Irish Houses Festival and the Zelenka Festival in Prague. Ensemble Marsyas’ previous recordings of Zelenka, Fasch and Handel each received several five star reviews. Peter Whelan is the founder and Artistic Director of Ensemble Marsyas and is in constant demand as both a performer and director. Principal bassoon in both the Scottish Chamber and Mahler Chamber Orchestras, Whelan is equally at home on modern and historical instruments with a diverse repertoire spanning over 400 years.

159 kr
Image 5) Awards issue 2017
Mozart Violin Sonatas, Vol 4 
Alina Ibragimova vn Cédric Tiberghien pf 

"Shaping up to be a cycle destined to define this music for a long time, on disc at least; Ibragimova and Tiberghien again treat later and early works with the same belief and conviction."  (Gramophone) 

This is a series which continues to redefine the standards by which these works should be performed. As before, the music spans most of Mozart’s life, from 1763—when he was just seven years old—to 1782, and (another) unfinished present written for his new wife Constanze.

159 kr
Image 9) Awards issue 2017
‘Carnevale 1729’ 
Ann Hallenberg mez Il Pomo d’Oro / Stefano Montanari vn 

"Step into Venice in full festive flow as Hallenberg offers arias from seven operas you’d have heard if you were there in 1729: historical research bears fabulous fruits for the ears!"  (Gramophone) 

The Carnival of Venice in 1729 was quite unlike any other. Over a period of two months, opera houses went into a frenzy of competition to show off the most famous singers of the day, including the legendary castrato Farinelli who made his astonishing Venetian debut. Several of the most fashionable composers rose to the occasion, writing ravishing music for spectacular productions which often pitted the singers against each other in breathtaking displays of virtuosity. The results were sensational; one tour de force followed another in an atmosphere of fevered excitement and the adoring public lapped it up. The carnival opened with a star-studded cast in Leonardo Leo’s tragedy Cantone in Utica from which the dazzling aria Soffre talor del vento and the more gentle Ombra adorata are taken. Farinelli triumphed in Nicolo Porpora’s opera Semiramide, the perfect vehicle for his extraordinary technique. By contrast Adelaide by Giuseppe Maria Orlandini, another premiere, contains show-stopping displays for Farinelli’s arch rival Faustina Bordoni. And Germiano Giacomelli’s elegant opera Gianguir contains the achingly beautiful aria Mi par sentir la bella. Most of these rediscovered works are recorded here for the first time. “The excellent musicians of the fantastic period-instrument ensemble … get it all perfectly right: every tone, every phrase, coloratura and accompaniment” (Süddeutsche Zeitung). The critically acclaimed Il pomo d’oro is an Italian baroque ensemble founded in 2012 with a special focus on opera with authentic performances on period instruments. They have recorded 15 albums including the world premiere recording of Leonardo Leo’s Cantone in Utica With a repertoire that includes leading roles in operas by Rossini, Mozart, Gluck, Handel, Vivaldi, Monteverdi, Purcell, Bizet and Massenet, Ann Hallenberg is a much in demand Swedish mezzo-soprano and has recorded over 40 CDs, her solo CD Agrippina winning the award for best operatic recital at the International Opera Awards in May 2016. The baroque violinist and conductor Stefano Montanari is a much sought after guest conductor with both modern and period orchestras. He is regarded as one of the finest baroque violin virtuosos of his generation. His recording of Corelli’s Violin Sonatas op.5 won a Diapason d’Or and he was nominated for a Grammy Award for his recording o Purcells’ O Solitude with Andreas Scholl for Decca.

289 kr
Image 10) Awards issue 2017
‘Stravaganza d’Amore!’ 
Pygmalion / Raphaël Pichon

"Praise here for a complete package – performance and presentation alike – that offers a thrilling and fascinating insight into the early days of opera from, appropriately enough, a Gramophone Award-winner from last year."  (Gramophone) 

Late sixteenth-century Florence was a theatre: first and foremost a political one, in the eyes of the dynasties that wished to use the arts to display their power. A humanist one too, as is shown by these intermedi (interludes) that sought to achieve the perfect blend between music and poetry, the ideal of a certain Renaissance. Inserted into plays imitating the ancient writers, these entertainments were presented with lavish visual and musical resources. After reaching an initial peak in 1589 with the intermedi composed for Bargagli’s La pellegrina, this tradition was prolonged in the burgeoning genre of opera by such composers as Peri, Caccini (Euridice, 1600) and, very soon, Monteverdi (L’Orfeo) and Gagliano (Dafne).

Rather than aiming for the impossible ideal of a reconstruction, Raphaël Pichon has devised a sort of imaginary intermedio by selecting the finest gems from this repertory, featuring the figures of Apollo, Orpheus and Eurydice, and above all Cupid: Love, Love, Love!

189 kr
Image 3) SEPTEMBER 2017
Carter ‘Late Works’ 
BBC Symphony Orchestra / Oliver Knussen 

"Carter’s late works – he continued to write beyond his 100th birthday – are given vivid, reflective performances here by some of the composer’s leading champions."  (Gramophone) 

An impressive cast of artists are joining together in this Ondine recording dedicated to the late works by iconic American composer Elliott Carter (1908–2012). The album includes five premiere recordings, including Carter’s final work Epigrams (2012) for piano trio, featuring Pierre-Laurent Aimard, Isabelle Faust and Jean-Guihen Queyras. The album also features percussionist Colin Currie joined together with the Birmingham Contemporary Music Group and the BBC Symphony Orchestra conducted by Oliver Knussen.

159 kr
Image 4) SEPTEMBER 2017
Mozart Piano Concertos Nos 25 & 26 
Francesco Piemontesi pf Scottish Chamber Orchestra / Andrew Manze

"If compelling evidence were needed that Mozart’s K503 concerto is underrated – as Piemontesi asserts in this month’s Musician and the Score – then here it is."  (Gramophone) 

Described as a ‘stellar Mozartian’ Francesco Piemontesi finds a perfect partner in the Scottish Chamber Orchestra whose impeccable Mozartian credentials are widely acknowledged. Piemontesi has performed Mozart extensively over the last year, including a critically acclaimed 2015 BBC Prom, a Mozart cycle at London’s Wigmore Hall which commenced in January and Mozart concertos with the SCO which The Herald awarded five stars. The Swiss pianist enjoys particular insight into Mozart gaining a useful ‘love of detail’ from his teacher Alfred Brendel, who was himself renowned for his masterly interpretations of Mozart. This recording couples consecutive yet contrasting works from Mozart’s Vienna period: K. 503 represents the longest and most substantial of his concert masterpieces and K. 537 provides the soloist with an audience-pleasing cadenza. Conductor Andrew Manze, well known as a HIP pioneer, shares Piemontesi’s approach to creating an authentic performance, making this somewhat of a Mozart dream team. Francesco Piemontesi is a pianist of exceptional refinement of expression, which is allied to a consummate technical skill. Piemontesi is widely renowned for his interpretation of Mozart and the early Romantic repertoire. Andrew Manze has rapidly emerged as one of the most stimulating and inspirational conductors of his generation. Manze’s extensive and scholarly knowledge of the repertoire, together with his rare skill as a communicator and his boundless energy, mark him out. The SCO is a world-renowned orchestra with an outstanding reputation for Mozart; its extensive discography features Robin Ticciati, Charles Mackerras, Elizabeth Watts and Ingrid Fliter.

159 kr
Image 5) SEPTEMBER 2017
Bartók Complete String Quartets 
The Heath Quartet 

"A year on from their Gramophone Awards success with Tippett, the hugely impressive young ensemble are equally as convincing in Bartók’s works for string quartet."  (Gramophone) 

The string quartet was of central importance to Bartók throughout his career. His six quartets were written (between 1907 and 1939) at crucial turning points in the composer’s creative development. From the elegiac tone of Quartet no.1 (reflecting an unhappy love affair) to the sadness and wry parody of no.6, composed on the eve of World War II, by way of the mirror forms and atmospheric ‘night music’ of nos.4 and 5, they represent perhaps the biggest interpretative challenge in the genre alongside the Beethoven quartets. A challenge triumphantly met here by the Heath Quartet.

189 kr
Image 6) SEPTEMBER 2017
At the beginning of his Mozart cycle with Mozart Piano Sonatas, Vol 5
William Youn pf 

"Other Mozart series and pianists may attract more profile, but few attract quite the praise that Youn’s beautiful and engaging approach to this music has. This is really worth hearing."  (Gramophone) 

OehmsClassics and the Bavarian Broadcasting Company, William Youn stated in an interview: “I would like to play a Mozart that can be sensed and felt. After all, many say that Mozart always sounds the same, but I don’t feel that way. I would like to show how differentiated and exciting Mozart can describe the most varied emotions and colours of people – through music.” When one has heard all 5 CDs, there is actually nothing more to add to that. His plan has been wonderfully realised.

159 kr
Image 7) SEPTEMBER 2017
‘Dreams & Fancies’ 
Sean Shibe gtr 

"Young guitarist – and like Piemontesi, a former BBC New Generation Artist – Shibe’s rich approach to tonal colour brings evocative depth to these (mainly) 20th-century works for his instrument."  (Gramophone) 

Barely half a century ago, the guitar was such a rarity in the concert hall that even an outstanding player like Julian Bream was remarkable as a pioneer as much as for his exceptional technique and musicality. Today, by contrast, the field is richly populated – thanks not only to Bream’s own inspiring example to younger players but also to the vastly increased repertoire, so much of which he also instigated. Yet even in this new heyday for the instrument, Sean Shibe – whose full album debut here nests among four of those Bream-commissioned works a clutch of Dowland pieces from a previous Elizabethan Golden Age – stands out as a truly uncommon talent. ‘I want to hear his interpretation of Britten’s Nocturnal over and over,’ wrote David Nice in an awed recent concert review. ‘This, for me, is the definitive performance.’ Born in Edinburgh, in 2012 Shibe became the first guitarist to be selected for the BBC Radio 3 New Generation Artists scheme, and the only solo guitarist to be awarded a Borletti-Buitoni Trust Fellowship. He was selected by Young Classical Artists Trust (London) in 2015.

159 kr
Image 8) SEPTEMBER 2017
Rachmaninov Vespers, ‘All-Night Vigil’
Sols; MDR Radio Choir / Risto Joost 

"When the author of our recent Collection feature on Rachmaninov’s All-Night Vigil places this newcomer among ‘the very best available’, admirers of this work need not hesitate."  (Gramophone) 

Sergei Rachmaninoff was a gifted composer not only for his own instrument, the piano, as is abundantly clear in this new GENUIN release featuring Leipzig’s MDR Chorus. The elite choir is already presenting its second recording of Rachmaninoff’s “Great Evening and Morning Praise” to replace their award-winning 2002 version. Choir director Risto Joost himself engaged several Latvian basses for the project, whose exceptionally dark timbre wonderfully enhances the warm and breathtakingly beautiful sound of the choir. A magnificent recording of a magnificent work!

159 kr
Image 9) SEPTEMBER 2017
R Strauss ‘Through Life and Love’
Louise Alder sop Joseph Middleton pf 

"The debut recital album from a very promising singer reveals a wonderful affinity for the songs of Strauss: Alder is very much one to watch."  (Gramophone) 

Hailed as ‘one of the brightest lyric-sopranos of the younger generation’, Louise Alder and pianist Joseph Middleton perform some of the most beautiful Lieder in the repertoire, including Strauss’ Die Nacht, Standchen and Rote Rosen. Louise will be representing England in the BBC Cardiff Singer of the World competition this year, and this will be her debut recital recording.

159 kr
Image Recording of the Month - AUGUST 2017
Dove In Damascus 
Mark Padmore ten Charles Owen pf Sacconi Quartet 
"Two highly engaging chamber works are followed by a moving response to the Syrian conflict. Beautifully performed, it’s a very impressive insight into a distinctive composer." (Gramophone) 

Even though Jonathan Dove is best known as a vocal or choral composer, with operas and works for children forming the backbone of his output, his chamber music reveals similar predilections for narrative, drama, atmosphere and a sense of the personal. His new commission from the Sacconi Quartet In Damascus was inspired by the violinist Hannah Dawson’s suggestion for a work that should reflect aspects of the conflict in Syria; not because music can offer any political solution, but simply as an expression of empathy, sorrow, even outrage at those terrible events. Featuring a performance by tenor Mark Padmore, the text is taken from prose-poems by Ali Safar that draw on his first- hand experiences in Syria, eloquently translated by Anne-Marie McManus. The Sacconi’s present this new work alongside his string quartet work Out of Time, and his Piano Quintet – performed with pianist Charles Owen.

159 kr
Image 3) AUGUST 2017
Dean Dramatis personae Francesconi Hard Pace
Håkan Hardenberger tpt Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra / John Storgårds  

"Two contemporary concertos for trumpet, performed by – as Andrew Mellor puts it – a ‘dream team’ of musicians. "(Gramophone) 

Ever since his very first disc, released by BIS some thirty years ago, Håkan Hardenberger has earned recognition for his performances of the classical repertory, but also as a pioneer of significant and virtuosic new music for the trumpet. Collaborations with composers such as Takemitsu, Pärt, Henze and H K Gruber have resulted in numerous works, of which the two recorded here are among the more recent. Brett Dean’s concerto Dramatis personae is named after the term used for the list of characters in a stage work, and casts the soloist in the role of the ‘Hero’. Dean’s protagonist is a complex one, however, with traits inspired by comic-book super heroes as well as the classical flawed heroes of literature and legend: ‘Soliloquy’, the second movement, is a reference to Hamlet, while Charlie Chaplin’s character in Modern Times has inspired the work’s finale, ‘The Accidental Revolutionary’. If there is a hero in the concerto by Luca Francesconi, it is Miles Davis. In his comments to the work, Francesconi talks of Davis as ‘a musician who transcends all labels’ with ‘a delicate, cracked sound’ and a voice which speaks directly to the listener. Hard Pace, the title of Francesconi’s work, is an allusion to a difficult journey, but it is also a conflation of the names of the performers for whom it was written: Hardenberger, Antonio Pappano and the Santa Cecilia Orchestra. On the present recording it is the Gothenburg Symphony and conductor John Storgårds who provide Håkan Hardenberger with expert support in these demanding, and rewarding, scores.

159 kr
Image 5) AUGUST 2017
Beethoven. Chopin Piano Works 
Elisabeth Brauss pf 

"A really note-worthy debut this. Young German pianist Elisabeth Brauss’s first disc demonstrates impressive assurance, freshness, intelligence and, most of all, talent. A pianist to watch."  (Gramophone) 

In January 2015 Elisabeth Brauß won first prize at the competition “Ton und Erklärung” in Frankfurt and performed with the Frankfurt Radio Symphony in the finale. This prize is awarded annually by the Cultural Society of the German Economy in BDI; OehmsClassics also presents the prize winner CD each year. The 2015 prize winner obviously has a great career before her: she has already given guest performances at the Konzerthaus in Berlin, the Hamburg Laeiszhalle, the Mariinksy Theatre in St. Petersburg, at the Beethovenfest in Bonn, at the Heidelberg Spring Festival and regularly at the Schleswig-Holstein Music Festival and the Mecklenburg-Vorpommern Festival. In October 2016 she also won the KlavierOlymp in Bad Kissingen. If those aren’t reasons for hope, what are?

159 kr
Image 7) AUGUST 2017
JS Bach Secular Cantatas, Vol 8 
Bach Collegium Japan / Masaaki Suzuki 
"So frequent an appearance on this page is Masaaki Suzuki and the Bach Collegium Japan – Bach recording veterans of 22 years – that one can only reiterate past praise again!"  (Gramophone) 

Besides the fact that they both celebrate Augustus III, Elector of Saxony and King of Poland, there is a close connection between the two works included on the eighth volume of Bach’s secular cantatas. On 2nd October 1734, the King and his family made a surprise visit to Leipzig, and in all haste a festive event was planned for three days later, in celebration of the anniversary of Augustus’s ascension to the Polish throne. Bach was asked to provide the musical entertainment, and consequently had to put aside the work he was busy composing… namely BWV 206 Schleicht, spielende Wellen, intended for a celebration of the King’s birthday on 7th October! The new cantata, Preise dein Glücke, gesegnetes Sachsen, BWV 215, is a substantial work, and it is not surprising that Bach, with only a few days to produce it, had recourse to earlier compositions: the only parts that were written completely from scratch were the recitatives, the soprano aria (seventh movement) and the final chorus. In the meantime, BWV 206 – the birthday cantata that Bach had to put on hold – came to good use two years later, when the King’s birthday was celebrated with a concert at Zimmermann’s coffee house in Leipzig. Both works are richly scored with trumpets and timpani, and here receive suitably festive performances from Bach Collegium Japan and Masaaki Suzuki.

159 kr
Image 9) AUGUST 2017
Kurtág Complete Works for Ensemble and Choir 
Netherlands Chamber Choir; Asko|Schönberg / Reinbert de Leeuw 
"A treasure trove of György Kurtág’s compositions, his diversity of approach demonstrated over this three-disc set. " (Gramophone) 

Recorded in Amsterdam’s Musikgebouw and Haarlem’s Philharmonie between March 2013 and July 2016, this 3-CD Set is a milestone in the documentation of Hungarian composer György Kurtág’s work, and also a labour of love. It brings together all of Kurtág’s works for ensemble and for ensemble and choir, and the insightful and precise performances bear witness to extensive preparation by the dedicated Asko/Schoenberg Ensemble.

In an interview in the CD booklet, conductor Reinbert de Leeuw speaks of “learning Kurtág’s oeuvre step by step, and performing these pieces repeatedly over a period of twenty years.” De Leeuw consulted with György and Márta Kurtág before and after each session: “There were moments when I was overwhelmed at first hearing”, says the famously-demanding Kurtág, “and we could embrace the result immediately. But sometimes we were critical. The fact that Reinbert always listened to our remarks and re-recorded fragments or even whole pieces makes this publication authentic.”

299 kr
Image 10) AUGUST 2017
‘First Drop’ 
Ars Nova Copenhagen / Paul Hillier 
"Paul Hillier directs a disc of contemporary choral works that offers a beautiful journey through modern music, sung – and recorded – with evident care and passion."  (Gramophone) 

Conducted by Paul Hillier since 2003, Denmark's Ars Nova Copenhagen has built an immovable reputation as one of the world's most versatile and inventive vocal ensembles. First Drop is a testament to that spirit; the choral work of some of the giants in contemporary classical music is represented here, including Steve Reich, Terry Riley, Louis Andriessen, Michael Gordon, David Lang and more. As Hillier himself describes the project, "Almost all the works on this CD are first recordings. The title should ideally remain ambiguous, but the diligent listener will sooner or later notice that it originates with Ralph Waldo Emerson."

159 kr
Image 2) JULY 2017
Brahms Violin Concerto. Violin Sonata No 1. ‘F-A-E’ Scherzo 
Vadim Gluzman vn Angela Yoffe pf Lucerne SO / James Gaffigan  

"Whether in concerto or sonata, Vadim Gluzman proves himself a violinist of fine tone, calm control and virtuosity." (Gramophone) 

One of Johannes Brahms’s sunniest works, the Violin Concerto in D major was conceived during the summer of 1878, which Brahms spent by the idyllic Wörthersee in Kärnten, Austria. By the end of the summer he was able to send the violin part of the first movement, and the beginning of the Finale to his friend Joseph Joachim. Brahms asked Joachim for advice regarding the writing for violin, and also told him that he was planning a work in four movements. By the time Joachim gave the first performance of the work, on New Year’s Day 1879, the two had discussed the work in depth, Brahms had replaced the two projected inner movements with the glowing Adagio, and Joachim had composed a first version of his own cadenza, which still is the one most often performed.

159 kr
Image 6) JULY 2017
Fauré ‘The Complete Songs, Vol 2’ 
Soloists; Malcolm Martineau pf 

"Volume 2 in Malcolm Martineau’s survey of Fauré’s songs pairs some whole cycles with rarities, and follows the first in offering listeners some superb singing." (Gramophone) 

Pianist Malcolm Martineau brings together some of the UK’s finest singers for the second release in a new series charting the complete songs of French composer Gabriel Faure´. This series follows Martineau’s well-received series of The Complete Poulenc Songs, also from Signum Records.

159 kr
Image 7) JULY 2017
Machaut ‘Sovereign Beauty’ 
The Orlando Consort 

"This wonderful disc – the latest in The Orlando Consort’s exploration of Machaut – unites a programme of well-chosen works with performances (and a recording) of great eloquence and clarity." (Gramophone) 

The latest instalment in a series which continues to garner the highest critical plaudits. The Orlando Consort bring their customary virtues of ‘supreme text-sensitivity and beauty of tone’ (Early Music Today) to another recital showcasing the breadth of Machaut’s musical and poetic inventiveness.

159 kr
Image 8) JULY 2017
Stanford Choral Works 
The Choir of Trinity College, Cambridge / Stephen Layton 

"A celebration of Stanford’s link with Trinity – many of his works were written for the chapel – and of this impressive choir under Stephen Layton’s leadership." (Gramophone) 

A programme spanning the variety and sheer emotional range of Stanford’s Anglican choral music (with a notable contribution from Owain Park in the Fantasia and Toccata for organ). You are unlikely to hear quite so stirring a rendition of ‘St Patrick’s Breastplate’ for some time to come…

159 kr
Image 9) JULY 2017
Lully Armide 
Les Talens Lyriques / Christophe Rousset 

"Leading Lully interpreter Christophe Rousset has assembled an excellent cast for a performance rich in exquisite singing, drama and dancelike momentum." (Gramophone) 

Following the huge success of 'Bellérophon', 'Phaéton' and 'Amadis', Aparté presents the highly-awaited rediscovery of 'Armide' by Les Talens Lyriques and Christophe Rousset, served by an impeccable cast, as the grand finale of their Lully recordings.

'Armide' is in the form of a tragédie en musique, a genre invented by Lully and Quinault, and was their last collaboration. It was a new form of opera that combined elements of classical French drama with ballet, French song and a new form of recitative. Critics in the 18th century regarded 'Armide' as Lully's masterpiece and it continues to be well-regarded, featuring some of the best-known music in French baroque opera and being arguably ahead of its time in its psychological interest. The subject, chosen for Lully by King Louis XIV, is the enchantress Armide’s unhappy love for the knight Renaud, drawn from Tasso’s 'Gerusalemme liberata'.

Numbered limited edition!

239 kr
Image 10) JULY 2017
Véronique Gens sop Munich Radio Orchestra / Hervé Niquet 

"Admirers of Véronique Gens will know what to expect: namely powerful characterisation, emotional commitment and singing of deeply moving beauty." (Gramophone)  

After an album of French songs (Néère, Alpha 215) that earned her a Gramophone Award in 2016, Véronique Gens presents her new recital, this time with orchestra, which gives her an opportunity to display the maturity of her ‘Falcon’ soprano, the central tessitura typical of French Romantic opera, which takes its name from Cornélie Falcon, who created the works of Meyerbeer and Halévy staged in the 1830s. She pays tribute here to a number of composers whose unknown operas she was the first to reveal in projects mounted by the Palazzetto Bru Zane (which also coproduced the present recording), including David, Godard, Saint-Saëns and Halévy. The programme selects arias from all the genres in vogue in the Romantic era: opera (Saint-Saëns, Halévy, Godard, Février), opéra-comique (David), oratorio (Franck, Massenet) and the cantata for the Prix de Rome (Bizet, Bruneau). A nod to Wagner and his Tannhäuser – in its French translation of the 1860s – completes this programme conducted by a longstanding colleague of the soprano, one of the leading specialists in French music, Hervé Niquet.

159 kr
Image 2) JUNE 2017
Antheil Orchestral Works, Vol 1
BBC Philharmonic Orchestra / John Storgårds 

"This was new music to me, but performed with such expression and advocacy that I’m delighted to have heard it, and am left eagerly awaiting Volume 2!" (Gramophone)

Alongside its ongoing much-lauded Copland series, the BBC Philharmonic embarks on a new American journey, this time with its chief guest conductor, John Storgårds. Known as the ‘bad boy of music’, George Antheil began his career with a reputation as an enfant terrible, composing shockingly avant-garde works such as his ever-popular Ballet mécanique, inspired by the dynamism and dissonances of Stravinsky’s early ballets. Although he is well-established on the film music scene, too, it is his symphonic output – sampled here – that today survives in the concert hall.

159 kr
Image 4) JUNE 2017
Ravel Daphnis et Chloé 
Les Siècles / François-Xavier Roth 

"Reviews of François-Xavier Roth’s regularly praised recordings in our pages all hint at one thing: there’s never anything routine about his approach, the sound or the vision." (Gramophone)

'Daphnis and Chloé' is conceived as a ballet in one act and three parts, and tells the story of the love between the shepherd Daphnis and the shepherdess Chloé. A warlike tableau is framed by two pastoral ones: in the first, Daphnis and Chloé acknowledge their mutual love following a dance contest that provokes the jealousy of each of them in turn.

The interruption of a group of pirates, who abduct Chloé, puts an end to the rejoicing. The second tableau depicts the pirate camp; the captive girl is commanded to dance for her abductors. In the final tableau, Chloé is restored to Daphnis through a miracle of the god Pan, whom the nymphs have called on for help. After miming the tale of Pan and Syrinx, the young lovers let their joy burst forth in a General Dance of dazzling orgiastic virtuosity.

The orchestral forces are the largest Ravel ever employed and he adds a mixed chorus that sometimes hums and sometimes sings. As we have come to expect, François-Xavier Roth, in his début for harmonia mundi, has gone through Ravel's much-amended score with a fine-tooth comb and subsequently showed himself capable, in a ‘historically informed’ performance, of reproducing with the musicians of Les Siècles all the transparency and stylistic precision one could wish for in Ravel’s masterpiece.

"Daphnis et Chloé is part of the large-scale project we embarked on with Les Siècles in 2009: the odyssey of the Ballets Russes. To celebrate the centenary of that incredible artistic adventure, we wanted to reconstruct the Parisian orchestra that premiered these works in order to restore their original colours...As with each work of the Ballets Russes that we’ve played so far, we noticed just how remarkably the instruments of Ravel’s time, those French-built instruments typical of the early twentieth century, do justice to this music and make it meaningful!" FXR [from the booklet essay]

159 kr
Image 6) JUNE 2017
Haydn Piano Sonatas, Vol 6
Jean-Efflam Bavouzet pf 

"Jean-Efflam Bavouzet continues his Haydn survey as wonderfully as any follower of the series might hope and expect: probing curiosity, technical finesse and love of music-making shine forth throughout." (Gramophone)  

The highly acclaimed series of Haydn’s complete piano sonatas with multi-award winning pianist Jean-Efflam Bavouzet has now reached Volume 6. This set opens with the most imposing of Haydn’s early sonatas, No. 11, and follows it with two lesser-known ones, both from the late 1770s, that were published without the composer’s approval: Nos 34 and 35. Each of Nos 36 and 43, the last two featured here, opens a new group of six sonatas, and a new world in Haydn’s compositional style. Future volumes will continue to explore the huge variety of style and expression found in Haydn’s sonatas.

159 kr
Image 7) JUNE 2017
Liszt/Tausig Eine Faust-Symphonie 
István Lajkó pf 

"My second new discovery this month, and for this I can be forgiven: a remarkable transcription of Liszt’s mighty Faust Symphony, played with astonishing confidence and skill by István Lajkó." (Gramophone)

Liszt was obsessed with the legend of Faust, he also composed several pieces based on literary works by Goethe and Lenau on the same subject. Among these compositions, Liszt’s main symphonic work, the Faust Symphony, which he continued elaborating over several decades, is the most outstanding. In this recording the Symphony is performed on the piano (like the Piano Sonata in B minor, which is related in its poetic programme to the Symphony) in the transcription of Carl Tausig, one of Liszt’s favourite students.

159 kr
Image 8) JUNE 2017
JS Bach Cantatas Nos 54 & 170 Pergolesi Stabat mater
Lucy Crowe sop Tim Mead counterten La Nuova Musica / David Bates

"The first of two Stabat maters this month (following, indeed, James MacMillan’s new setting last issue), and very moving it is too." (Gramophone)

Two of Bach’s finest cantatas, both for solo alto, composed in Weimar (1714) and Leipzig (1726) respectively, are here coupled with the delicious agony of grief that is Pergolesi’s 'Stabat mater', an acknowledged masterpiece by one of the 18th century’s most influential composers. Bach so admired the composition of his Neapolitan colleague that he made his own ‘parody’ of it to a German text. On this recording, La Nuova Musica, in its 10th anniversary year, and its two eminent soloists display equal mastery of both idioms.

Counter-tenor Tim Mead is praised for his “alluring...consistently excellent” interpretations (The New York Times). With his “rich, mellifluous sound” (Guardian), he is recognised as one of the finest across the generations of counter-tenors. Described as having a voice of bell-like clarity with an impeccable vocal technique and powerful stage presence, Lucy Crowe has established herself as one of the leading lyric sopranos of her generation.

159 kr
Image 1) MAY 2017 - Recording of the month
MacMillan Stabat mater 
The Sixteen; Britten Sinfonia / Harry Christophers
"A highly moving setting of this ancient text – James MacMillan’s score embodies Mary’s grief and pain with extraordinary power. The Sixteen respond with singing of searing intensity." (Gramophone)

Few living composers communicate with the emotional directness of Sir James MacMillan, and performances of his new Stabat mater are eagerly anticipated. The Sixteen gave the world premiere of this work at a series of concerts in October 2016 as well as recording the work for their own record label, CORO. For MacMillan, 'beauty is at the heart of our Christian faith' and the Stabat mater is sure to be profoundly shaped by his beliefs. But this is a work with deep roots and a universal message, a celebration of both tradition and radical renewal.

159 kr
Image 3) MAY 2017
Elgar Cello Concerto. Tchaikovsky Rococo Variations
Johannes Moser vc Suisse Romande Orchestra / Andrew Manze

"We’ve had a number of very fine Elgar Cello Concerto discs of late, and Johannes Moser’s is right up there with them." (Gramophone)

The profoundly moving, elegiac lyricism of Elgar and the wistful charm and brilliance of Tchaikovsky are on full display in this irresistible new release from Pentatone played with consummate virtuosity by the German-Canadian cellist Johannes Moser with the Orchestre de la Suisse Romande under Andrew Manze. Composed at the end of the First World War, Elgar's powerful Cello Concerto in E minor is one of his best-loved and most deeply-felt works. The soloist's wrenching chords which open the work announce a mood of profound resignation and loss - gone is the youthful swagger of his earlier works, replaced instead with lonely introspection and longing, especially in the sublimely beautiful Adagio. The cello is given free rein in the vigorous final movement but the opening mood prevails as an anguished outburst from the cello brings the work to a close. No such dejection hangs over Tchaikovsky's delightful Variations on a Rococo Theme which ooze elegance, ineffable charm and daring displays of technical brilliance. While teh Pezzo capriccioso finds Tchaikovsky in a more restrained mood, with the Nocturne and Andante Cantabile he wears his romantic heart full on his sleeve. The great Russian writer Leon Tolstoy is said to have wept when he heard the Andante Cantabile and its sumptuous theme shows Tchaikovsky's unerring gift for haunting melodies. It remains a special gem in the repertoire. The cellist Johannes Moser is no stranger to these works. Winner of the top prize at the 2002 Tchaikovsky Competition, he was also awarded the Special Prize for his interpretation of the Variations on a Rococo Theme. Described by Gramophone as "one of the finest among the astonishing gallery of young virtuoso cellists" and by the LA Times as a musician who "...connects with the audience in a way that only great artists do", this is Moser's third recording for Pentatone.

159 kr
Image 5) MAY 2017
Beethoven Violin Sonatas 
James Ehnes vn Andrew Armstrong pf 

"James Ehnes, one of today’s most thoughtful and consistently superb solo violinists, and pianist Andrew Armstrong on equally brilliant form, offer their first disc of Beethoven violin sonatas." (Gramophone)

The duo of old friends James Ehnes and Andrew Armstrong has established itself as one of the most exciting of our times. Their albums of violin sonatas by Franck & Strauss, and Debussy, Elgar & Respighi have been praised by critics worldwide. For their new album, they turn to Beethoven, and two A major sonatas with very different moods. The 9th ‘Kreutzer’ is a huge work, heroic and turbulent in character – a kind of concerto for violin and piano. It is middle period Beethoven at its most dramatic. In contrast, the 6th sonata is a serene, introspective work of great beauty which has tended to be overlooked by its more outward looking siblings. The intimacy of this sonata – especially the slow movement is all the more surprising when the original finale was removed by the composer and became the finale of the ‘Kreutzer’. Beethoven wrote the gentle variations to conclude the 6th sonata.

159 kr
Image 6) MAY 2017
Bruch Two String Quintets. String Octet 
The Nash Ensemble

"Compelling immediacy – both in terms of the performance and the vivid recorded sound – allows this disc to make a strong case for Bruch’s chamber music." (Gramophone)

Music which belies the date and circumstances of its composition. All three works were written in the immediate aftermath of World War I, yet inhabit a sound world of Brahmsian richness and warmth—very much the product of the composer of the famous Violin Concerto. The Nash Ensemble are ideal interpreters.

159 kr
Image 7) MAY 2017
‘Bach Reimagines Bach’ 
William Carter lute

"William Carter brings a remarkable depth of artistry to whichever member of the early plucked string family – and whichever composer – he’s playing: here it’s the lute, and Bach, and it’s a beautiful listen." (Gramophone)

Product info William Carter’s exemplary musicianship is showcased to its fullest on this new recording of Bach’s own transcriptions for the lute. Almost unplayable in parts many musicians take certain liberties with the music so that it flows more naturally, but Carter’s determined approach to authenticity sees the lutenist achieve the near impossible: playing the music as it was originally written. Carter very subtly enhances BWV 1001, originally for unaccompanied violin, in keeping with Bach’s own perceived style, namely to only add ‘as much harmony as he found necessary’. Bach’s own mild refashioning of BWV 1006, originally a Partita for solo violin, allows Carter to highlight the relaxed and intimate nature of the music. The final piece undergoes the most extensive reimagining as Bach expertly transforms the Fifth Cello Suite into a ‘new’ lute work; so successful is it that Carter considers it to be, in terms of understanding the essential nature and expressive qualities of the lute, ‘the most perfect piece of lute music in existence’. Artist info A founding-member of the Palladian Ensemble, Carter has a deserved reputation as one of the finest exponents of classical guitar and lute. He is well known as a regular performer at Early Music Festivals with critically acclaimed performances as an orchestral player, chamber musician and soloist. Carter is principal lutenist of The Academy of Ancient Music and The English Concert with whom he has appeared on numerous recordings. Carter’s Linn discography has been widely praised: La Guitarre Royalle was named in Gramophone’s ‘Critics’ Choice’ end of year list, he has been awarded Gramophone’s ‘Editor’s Choice’ accolade twice: for La Guitarra Española and Sor: Early Works, whilst his most recent recording for Linn, Le Calme, was awarded an Opus d’Or.

159 kr
Image 8) MAY 2017
Beethoven Piano Sonatas 
Sunwook Kim pf 

"The familiar is rendered striking in these performances of some of the best-known works in the solo piano repertoire; a disc that confirms Sunwook Kim as a very fine artist indeed." (Gramophone)

After his first CD with Beethoven's Piano Sonatas No. 21 and No. 29, "Waldstein" and "Hammerklavier", Sunwook Kim’s third solo CD with Accentus Music presents an impressive interpretation of Ludwig van Beethoven’s three most well-known piano sonatas: "Pathétique" (No. 8), "Moonlight Sonata" (No. 14), and "Appassionata" (No. 23). Sunwook Kim, who won the first prize at the Leeds International Piano Competition in 2006, has matured to become a subtle and accomplished Beethoven specialist, not least thanks to his partnership with the Beethoven House in Bonn, whose unique collection he often consults in his preparation of Beethoven's works. Sunwook Kim stays close to the original score, yet nevertheless provides a very personal interpretation, which reveals a new and exceptional reading that stands out from the abundance of existing recordings of these three piano sonatas.

159 kr
Image 9) MAY 2017
Haydn The Seasons
Gabrieli Consort & Players / Paul McCreesh 

"Paul McCreesh takes the substantial music forces here gathered, adds energy and a sure sense of the work’s grandeur and moments of beauty, and offers us something really rather special." (Gramophone)

The Gabrieli Consort continue their series of award-winning collaborations with the National Forum of Music, Wroclaw, Poland with a new version of Haydn’s great oratorio The Seasons. Using a new performing edition by Paul McCreesh, this recording is the first to feature the large orchestral forces that Haydn called for, including a string section of 60, 8 horns and a choir of 70. As well as the combined forces of the Gabrieli Consort & Players, Wroclaw Baroque Orchestra and National Forum of Music Choir, the recording features solo performances from British singers Carolyn Sampson, Jeremy Ovenden and Andrew Foster-Williams. All booklet texts are printed in both English and Polish translations.

259 kr
Image 10) MAY 2017
‘Heroines of Love and Loss’
Ruby Hughes sop Mime Yamahiro Brinkmann vc Jonas Nordberg theorbo

"The young British soprano Ruby Hughes brings interpretations of aching beauty to these 17th-century pieces, every song so personal and communicative." (Gramophone)

The women appearing before our ears throughout this programme range from the Virgin Mary and Dido, queen of Carthage, to Shakespeare’s Desdemona and the unfortunate Anne Boleyn, waiting for her execution in the Tower of London in 1536. But the disc also features four other heroines – the Italian composers Claudia Sessa, Francesca Caccini, Lucrezia Vizzana and Barbara Strozzi. All active between 1590 – 1675, they will have required great courage to rise above the social conventions of the time, but this surprisingly productive period for female composers also offered an opportunity that would disappear in later centuries: the all-female environment provided by the convent. More than half of the women who published music before 1700 were nuns, including Sessa and Vizzana, who are here represented by brief meditations on the suffering and death of Christ. Caccini and Strozzi, on the other hand, lived very much in the secular world – Caccini at the Florentine court and Strozzi as a free-lance musician and composer in Venice. Unhindered by the restrictions imposed by the church on sacred music they both adhered to the new stile moderno championed by Claudio Monteverdi. Celebrated for their singing, they composed vocal music which makes ‘the words the mistress of the harmony and not the servant’, to quote Monteverdi’s brother Giulio Cesare. The soprano Ruby Hughes has already made her name for herself in a wide-ranging repertoire, but has a special love for the constellation of lute, cello and voice. With Jonas Nordberg and Mime Yamahiro Brinkmann – who also contribute instrumental solos – she here revels in the dramatic and expressive potential offered by this trio combination, and by the music by these female composers and their English colleagues Henry Purcell and John Bennet.

159 kr
Image 1) APRIL 2017 - Recording of the month
JS Bach St Matthew Passion 
Monteverdi Choir
English Baroque Soloists /
Sir John Eliot Gardiner 

"Sir John Eliot Gardiner’s leadership and vision – from his use of primarily choir soloists to his conveying of the work’s overall journey – make for an immensely moving St Matthew Passion. " (Gramophone)

A new live recording of Bach’s St Matthew Passion (Matthäuspassion BWV 244), recorded in Pisa Cathedral during the Anima Mundi Festival as part of the Monteverdi Choir and Orchestra’s 2016 tour. As well as the full sung texts, the booklet includes both a programme note by Sir John Eliot Gardiner as well as his tour notes: Written both before and during their 6-month international tour – which began in Valencia in March and concluded with this performance in Pisa on 22 September – these include diary entries and notes given during rehearsals or sent in the aftermath of concerts to the performers (who were performing from memory). All notes and texts are included in English, German and French translations.

289 kr
Image 2) APRIL 2017
JS Bach Orchestral Suites 
Zefiro / Alfredo Bernardini ob 

"These Bach overtures grab the listener’s attention with a thrilling theatricality and sense of joyful drama, all wonderfully directed by Alfredo Bernardini." (Gramophone)

Like many German composers of his time, Johann Sebastian Bach also devoted himself to the French style with its characteristic dances and rhythmic ouvertures. His regular contact from an early age with French musicians and dance masters living in Germany made him very familiar and competent with the typical features of French music. Among the results of this interest are his orchestral ouvertures, of which BWV 1066, 1068 and 1069 with large scoring are presented in this recording. German composers occasionally liked to experiment freely with both the French and Italian styles, with the aim to originate that “gemischter Stil” (mixed style) that was so praised by Quantz and others. As an example of a free adaptation of an overture, Bach’s first chorus from Cantata BWV 110 adopts the first movement of the Orchestral Suite BWV 1069 with the addition of a 4-parts choir. Other of his cantatas begin with a chorus in overture form, and it is very likely that they are also his own arrangements of previous instrumental versions which are lost, as happened with many of his Cöthen works. On the basis of this conjecture, Zefiro has included in this recording the reconstruction of instrumental overtures based on the opening choruses of Bach Cantatas BWV 119 and 194.

159 kr
Image 3) APRIL 2017
R Strauss Tone Poems, Vol 5 
SWR Symphony Orchestra, Baden-Baden and Freiburg / François-Xavier Roth 

"Dramatic detail, effervescent energy and excellent sound make this a super addition to François-Xavier Roth’s SWR Symphony Orchestra Strauss series." (Gramophone)

This is the fifth and final installment of the Strauss Complete Tone Poems Cycle performed by the Symphony Orchestra Baden-Baden and Freiburg under their chief conductor Francois-Xavier Roth. The other volumes in this cycle have been positively reviewed all over the world. The orchestra and conductor are a perfect match for Richard Strauss’ lively and ecstatic music. Completed on New Year’s Eve, 1903, Strauss’ Symphonia domestica, like his ensuing final tone poem, Eine Alpensinfonie, are paradoxically termed ‘symphonies.’ Symphonic poems are usually based on an extra-musical programme, while the genre of the symphony embodies the concept of absolute music, intended as a counter-world to reality. Strauss disregarded this separation and designed the Symphonia domestica as a symphony, but with a programme, namely “a symphonic self-and family-portrait.” The composer depicts both himself, his wife, and his son in various musical tableaux. Revolving around the banalities of everyday life, the music has a twinkle in its eye.

159 kr
Image 4) APRIL 2017
D Matthews Complete Piano Trios 
Leonore Piano Trio 

"These are imaginative and captivating contemporary chamber works. Lyrical lines are played with a poignancy and delicacy by an ensemble who thoroughly believe in the music." (Gramophone)

David Matthews (b. 1943) has become one of the UK’s leading composers, both of symphonic and chamber music. One US reviewer described his string quartets as ‘musical thinking of the highest order and quartet writing in the great tradition of Beethoven, Bartók, Britten, and Tippett’ – influences that Matthews readily acknowledges.

These three piano trios evoke two other masters, since they have something of the drama of Shostakovich and the lyrical intensity of Vaughan Williams.

All these elements are drawn together in Matthews’ own voice to make these works some of the most moving chamber music of recent years, in performances that the composer considers exemplary.

159 kr
Image 5) APRIL 2017
Mozart Violin Sonatas, Vol 3 
Alina Ibragimova vn Cédric Tiberghien pf 

"This is developing into a delightful series – Vol 3 sees Alina Ibragimova and Cédric Tiberghien find immense charm and character in these sonatas from across Mozart’s life." (Gramophone)

The third of the ongoing series from the ‘nigh-on ideal’ partnership (Gramophone) of Alina Ibragimova and Cédric Tiberghien. As before, the programme mixes the early—two works by the precocious ten-year-old—with the mature, and includes Mozart’s final violin sonata.

159 kr
Image 7) APRIL 2017
Brahms ‘The Complete Piano Music, Vol 4’ 
Jonathan Plowright pf 

"Jonathan Plowright continues his Brahms series in impressive style – virtuosity and thoughtfulness both to the fore." (Gramophone) 

The theme of Paganini’s 24th Caprice for solo violin has tempted a number of composers to elaborate on it – from Liszt to Lutoslawski and Andrew Lloyd Webber. In 1863, Johannes Brahms was one of the first to take on the challenge, with his virtuosic Paganini Variations. Playing the set has famously been described as requiring ‘fingers of steel, a heart of burning lava and the courage of a lion’ and possibly the demands that they place on the performer is the main reason why Brahms organized his 28 variations into two books of 14 each. For the fourth instalment in his series of Brahms’s piano music, Jonathan Plowright has chosen to place the two books at either end of the programme. Between them we are presented with works spanning almost 40 years of Brahms’s life. Of the four Ballades from 1854, it is only for the first, the so-called ‘Edward’ Ballade, that a model in literature is known – a Scottish ballad about the murder of a father. The set has nevertheless been compared to the slow movements in Brahms’s three piano sonatas, composed around the same time, and all with literary references. 25 years later, Brahms had entered a phase where his works for piano were growing ever shorter and more concise, but with his Op. 79 Rhapsodies he made something of a return to the grandeur and passion of his early piano writing. This development was short-lived, however, and the following works for solo piano, of which the four piano pieces of Op. 119 from 1893 would be the last, have been compared to ‘the golden lustre of parks in autumn and the austere black and white of winter walks’. Previous discs in Jonathan Plowright’s survey have received critical acclaim worldwide, and the series has already been dubbed ‘the benchmark Brahms survey for some time to come’ in Gramophone.

159 kr
Image 9) APRIL 2017
‘Music for the 100 Years’ War’ 
The Binchois Consort / Andrew Kirkman 

"The excellent presentation – both in terms of the Binchois Consort’s very fine performance and the album’s thoughtful packaging – vividly conjure a historical period." (Gramophone) 

Music of predominantly royal association spanning the reign of Henry V, the Battle of Agincourt and its aftermath, and the coronations in England and France of the boy king Henry VI. The Binchois Consort under Andrew Kirkman bring this music vividly to life, while the copiously illustrated booklet is a pleasure in itself.

159 kr
Image 10) APRIL 2017
Mozart Arias 
Anett Fritsch sop Munich Radio Orchestra / Alessandro De Marchi 

"Fully formed characters seems to leap straight out of this delightful recital of Mozart arias, all convincingly portrayed by the German soprano Anett Fritsch." (Gramophone)

It is not often that a young vocal artist releases a debut album that is so "complete" or so convincingly conceived and finished to such a high polish as is the ase with Anett Fritsch. What makes it all the more astounding is that she achieves this by singing arias from the Mozart/Da Ponte trilogy of Figaro / Don Giovanni / Cosi, masterworks by a composer regarded and feared in equal measure for the complexity of his writing. Yet the repertoire focus she has chosen is entirely in keeping with the soprano's career to date. She began in her teens and has progressed in recent years through a series of acclaimed performances on international opera stages.

189 kr
Image 1) MARCH 2017 - Recording of the month
Tchaikovsky Symphonies Nos 3, 4 and 6 
Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra / Vasily Petrenko 

"Tchaikovsky symphonies in this slot, two months in a row? I make no apology (besides, they’re different symphonies) – Petrenko’s now complete cycle is an achievement well worthy of praise." (Gramophone)

Petrenko’s Tchaikovsky promises to be one of the most important orchestral releases of 2017. Universal praise from reviewers for the first volume of Symphonies 1, 2 and 5 bodes well for this eagerly-awaited release: Gramophone gave Volume One an Editor’s choice and it reigned as a top 10 UK Classical chart title for 7 weeks in 2016.

229 kr
Image 3) MARCH 2017 (release 10th of March)
Beach. - Chaminade.
Howell Piano Concertos 
Danny Driver pf BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra / Rebecca Miller 

"A nice parallel to this month’s Specialist’s Guide, three unfamiliar works, by women (a first in Hyperion’s Romantic Piano Concerto series), given strong advocacy." (Gramophone)

International Women’s Day falls on 8 March, celebrating the ‘social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women’. Volume 70 in our Romantic Piano Concerto series champions three female composers, and three works whose in-the-face-of-it-all joie de vivre makes them irresistibly worthy of our attention.

159 kr
Image 4) MARCH 2017
Vaughan Williams - Symphony No 9. Job
Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra / Sir Andrew Davis 

"Two major works, conducted with an authoritative sense of journey; evidence of the wisdom of Chandos’s bond with both Davis and the Bergen Philharmonic." (Gramophone)

The projected complete cycle of Vaughan Williams’s symphonies started by the late Richard Hickox has left a precious heritage in the discography of the composer. Now, conducting the Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra, that other expert in British repertoire, Sir Andrew Davis, takes on the challenge of completing the series with idiomatic interpretations of two masterpieces: the final Symphony (No. 9) and the ballet Job.

189 kr
Image 6) MARCH 2017
Liszt. Saint-Saëns - Works for Two Pianos
Ludmila Berlinskaya, Arthur Ancelle pfs 

"A hugely enjoyable opportunity to hear one of the most familiar and formidable piano sonatas in an unfamiliar form – great virtuosity, with the added challenge of collaboration!" (Gramophone)

Firma Melodiya presents a recording of two-piano transcriptions by Franz Liszt and Camille Saint-Saëns performed by the piano duet of Ludmila Berlinskaya and Arthur Ancelle. Representatives of famous artistic dynasties and alumni of different music performing traditions, they began to jointly perform in 2011 and have won the listeners’ hearts in Russia, France and Switzerland. The programme of this album combines two, at first glance, completely different pianistic styles of the 19th century – Liszt and Saint-Saëns. However, the two great musicians took a genuine interest in each other’s works that was expressed in “mutual” transcriptions. Liszt unintentionally introduced the powerful current of his personality into his arrangements. The Dance of Death is an obvious example that makes the comparison between the two piano versions of this symphonic work, one transcribed by Liszt and the other transcribed by the author, even more interesting. On the other way around, a hint of Saint-Saëns is heard in his transcription of Liszt’s B minor Sonata he made for himself and his friend and outstanding French pianist Louis Diémer. The album also includes Liszt’s Après une Lecture de Dante: Fantasia quasi Sonata arranged for two pianos by Arthur Ancelle.

159 kr
Image 10) MARCH 2017
Berg - Wozzeck
Sols; Houston Symphony Orchestra / Hans Graf 

"Taken from concert performances, but ones which combine a powerful sense of drama and story-telling (so crucial in this work) with a quite intense focus on the music-making." (Gramophone)

Based on real events and playwright Georg Bu¨chner’s starkly vehement text, Alban Berg’s tragic opera Wozzeck is an epoch-making work, in stark contrast to the previous high romantic ideals of the genre, that led Schoenberg to exclaim “now that’s what I call an opera!” Immensely powerful and heartbreakingly moving as a drama, Wozzeck explores the victimisation, despair and madness of a central character who has no place in society, its deeply humane message and sublimely innovative score firmly establishing it as a 20th-century masterpiece.

159 kr
Image 1) FEBRUARY 2017
Recording of the month
Tchaikovsky Symphony No 1, ‘Winter Daydreams’. The Tempest 
Orchestra of St Luke’s / Pablo Heras-Casado 

"Pablo Heras-Casado has emerged as a conductor of perceptive insight and great talent: Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No 1 is not a work usually associated with making a statement, but this is a fascinating listen." (Gramophone)

Pablo Heras-Casado enjoys an unusually varied conducting career—encompassing the great symphonic and operatic repertoire, historically informed performance and cutting-edge contemporary scores. He has served as Principal Conductor of Orchestra of St. Luke’s since 2011, now extended to September 2017. OSL began as a chamber ensemble based at The Church of St. Luke in the Fields in Greenwich Village. Today, St. Luke’s Chamber Ensemble consists of 21 virtuoso artists who perform a diverse repertoire and make up OSL’s artistic core. harmonia mundi are proud to release OSL's debut album for the label featuring two of Tchaikovsky's earliest notable works, both of which are dramatic and vibrant: Symphony No. 1, 'Winter Dreams' and 'The Tempest', a sprawling and turbulent seascape.

159 kr
Image 2) FEBRUARY 2017
Schubert String Quartet No 15, D887. Quartettsatz, D703 
Doric Quartet 

"The Doric Quartet continue to build their impressive catalogue on Chandos with a Schubert disc that well demonstrates the rapport that is this ensemble’s hallmark." (Gramophone)

Alongside its highly praised Haydn series, the Doric String Quartet continues its Schubert journey with this second volume of quartets, which precipitates us into the fraught world of late Schubert. Both composers will be central in the Quartet’s recitals next year, to take place in the highest-profile international venues, from New York’s Carnegie Hall to Berlin’s Konzerthaus, Amsterdam’s Concertgebouw, and London’s Wigmore Hall.

Franz Schubert returned to composing string quartets in the 1820s, after four years of focusing on songs which were beginning to gain him wider recognition.

His late chamber compositions reveal probably his most characteristic music, full of deep intimacy and profound ambivalence. The ‘Quartettsatz’ (Quartet Movement) presents a turbulent, norm-breaking first movement. Only a fragment survives of a serene Andante in A flat, and nothing for any scherzo or finale. If the 'Rosamunde' and 'Death and the Maiden' (CHAN10737) are the most frequently heard of the quartets of Schubert, his last completed one – in G major – certainly remains his most uncompromising in its vastness, and perhaps his most prophetic of the musical future.

159 kr
Image 4) FEBRUARY 2017
Bloch. Ligeti. Dallapiccola Works for Solo Cello 
Natalie Clein

"A wonderful and compelling recording by Natalie Clein demonstrating the art of cello-playing at its most intimate – physical, lyrical and beautifully recorded. " (Gramophone)

Natalie Clein, whose previous recording of the music of Ernest Bloch was described as ‘inspired’ by The Sunday Times, turns to his three suites for solo cello as part of a recital of works written in the aftermath of the Second World War. The sombre voice of the cello seems especially apposite in music of such deep seriousness, Ligeti’s short sonata providing an energetic and life-affirming finale.

159 kr
Image 5) FEBRUARY 2017
Liszt Complete Hungarian Rhapsodies 
Vincenzo Maltempo pf 

"Already acclaimed in these pages for his performances of Alkan, the young pianist Vincenzo Maltempo offers exceptionally fine interpretations of these virtuoso masterpieces." (Gramophone)

Vincenzo Maltempo, piano

This 2 CD set contains a new recording of the complete 19 Hungarian Rhapsodies by Liszt, an immense achievement of Vincenzo Maltempo, who has established himself as one of the foremost pianists of his generation.

Liszt wrote his Rhapsodies at the peak of his powers as a travelling piano virtuoso. They form his homage to the country of his birth, Hungary, using (quasi) folk melodies in the Hungarian mode. Usually constructed in binary form, a slow melancholy introduction and a fast and furious folk dance finale, they are vehicles of true sentiment, deep passion and blazing virtuosity, a part of the standard concert repertoire of many pianists.

Vincenzo Maltempo has already made his name with his spectacular recordings of the piano music by Alkan for Piano Classics: “exhilarating, a revelation! “ (Guardian, selected among the 10 best CD’s of 2012), “his playing flashes with summer lightning” (Gramophone), “Maltempo puts his phenomenal technique at the service of his poetic vision”(Piano News), “with this passionate performance Maltempo confirms his place in the restricted circle of Alkan’s best performers” (5 star, Diapason) and many more.

159 kr
Image 7) FEBRUARY 2017
‘Encores after Beethoven’ 
András Schiff pf 

"Another recording – serious, engaging and thoughtful throughout – which firmly lays to rest the reputation of the ‘encore’ as a genre of lightweight and light-hearted lollipops." (Gramophone)

Between March 2004 and May 2006 András Schiff performed the complete cycle of Beethoven’s Piano Sonatas at the Tonhalle, Zürich, recorded and released by ECM New Series. This collection presents the encores from these concerts. What does one play after Beethoven sonatas? András Schiff: “For me it's essential not to seek entertainment but rather to look for pieces that are closely related to the previously heard sonatas.” The pianist explores links to Schubert, Mozart, Haydn and Bach. For all the interconnecting strands of musical history, András Schiff’s selection of encores also adds up to a thoroughly enjoyable ‘recital’ disc in its own right.

169 kr
Image 9) FEBRUARY 2017
‘All Who Wander’ 
Jamie Barton mez Brian Zeger pf 

"A significant debut recording from the winner of 2013’s Cardiff Singer of the World, and one which whets appetites for what may lie ahead from this wonderful voice and impressive talent." (Gramophone)

Mezzo-soprano Jamie Barton burst upon the global opera and concert scene in recent years after having won many of the world’s most prestigious prizes for vocal excellenceand accomplishments. Delos has scored a major coup in releasing her debut album.

Jamie’s well-chosen program of late-Romantic repertoire begins with eight of Gustav Mahler’s finest lieder – including his wonderful Five Rückert Songs – before treating us to the rare delights of Antonin Dvorák’s song cycle Gypsy Songs. Her album concludes with even more seldom-heard selections from the many lovely Swedish-language songs of Finnish master Jean Sibelius.

159 kr
Image 2) JANUARY 2017
Beethoven ‘The Solo Concertos’
Vienna Chamber Orchestra
Stefan Vladar pf

"A complete set of Beethoven concertos – given the catalogue – is always a bold offering, but Vladar excels here, with performances full of colour and charm." (Gramophone)

This album is a new studio production of the solo concertos by Ludwig van Beethoven, presented by the Austrian pianist and conductor Stefan Vladar and his own Viennese Chamber Orchestra. "As a pianist and conductor in one person, it is possible to convey a better overall impression of these concertos and I understand this more than expanded chamber music as pure solo concertos with orchestra." - Stefan Vladar "With Beethoven, you have to have stamina as well as perfection and great vision. Actually, you have to be able to perform almost superhuman things." - Isabelle van Keulen

359 kr
Image 3) JANUARY 2017
‘Music for my Love, Vol 1’ 
Kodály Philharmonic Orchestra / Paul Mann 

"A moving project by label founder Martin Anderson to create a series of works in memory of his partner has resulted in this impressive collection of new pieces, with many more to come. " (Gramophone)

When in late 2014 Yodit Tekle was diagnosed with stomach cancer, her partner, Martin Anderson, who runs Toccata Classics, asked a couple of composer friends to write some music to bring her comfort in her illness. As her life slipped away, he had the idea that she could be remembered in music and so he began to commission other pieces for string orchestra in her memory. To his surprise, almost everyone he asked generously accepted, and so the project snowballed: there are now over 100 composers who have written or agreed to write for it – an undertaking unique in the history of music. This first volume presents the first eleven pieces in an initiative which, in effect, transforms love into something you can hear.

159 kr
Image 4) JANUARY 2017
Schubert. Sibelius String Quartets 
Ehnes Quartet 

"An unexpected pairing that works really well, informing the context in which each is heard. The Ehnes Quartet’s Schubert is strong and searing, their Sibelius full of dramatic reflection." (Gramophone)

Death preyed heavily on the minds of both Schubert and Sibelius when they were composing the two string quartets on this new CD from the Ehnes Quartet. Sibelius had undergone several operations to remove a tumour in his throat. The bleak and highly personal 4th Symphony is the masterwork from this period, but the string quartet ‘Intimate Voices’ of 1908 should not be underestimated. Taut and highly concentrated, it has an almost Haydnesque construction, and the quartet’s first movement’s sheer perfection of form approaches that of the 3rd Symphony’s opening movement. "I am the most unhappy and wretched creature in the world…whose health will never be right again" wrote Schubert to a friend in 1824. With his emotions veering from happy memories of earlier years to shuddering terror at the prospect of death, he composed two string quartets and the Octet over a two- month period. The D minor quartet makes ingenious use of his earlier song ‘Death and the Maiden’ from 1817 in the slow movement’s variations. ‘Give me your hand, you fair and gentle creature; I am a friend and do not come to punish’ sings Death soothingly. The music captures Schubert’s fearful state of mind in a remarkable ‘freeze frame’ effect.

159 kr
Image 5) JANUARY 2017
Aquarelle Guitar Quartet 

"This is a real joy to listen to, which isn’t to say it’s not also reflective in places too. But the virtuosity and rapport demonstrated by this guitar quartet is a genuine delight throughout this wonderfully varied recital." (Gramophone)

With this new album, the Aquarelle Guitar Quartet draws a portrait of different aspects of the music they love and perform.

From the baroque to the contemporary, from bluegrass to jazz, from romantic to Latin, the album includes original works for four guitars, arrangements that have been made by members of the group, and even a new work written especially for this project. Aspects is both retrospective and prospective, including favourites which the Quartet has been performing for many years and also pieces which it has learnt specifically for this recording and which will form the basis of new concert programmes in the future.

159 kr
Image 6) JANUARY 2017
Alban Gerhardt vc Markus Becker pf 

"A perfect tribute to Rostropovich, quite biographical in a way, with which to open in style a year which marks a decade since the great cellist’s death, and which would have seen his 90th birthday." (Gramophone)

For the young Alban Gerhardt, Rostropovich was ‘a reason to become passionate about the cello’: in the notes accompanying this release he recalls being ‘blown away’ on first hearing Slava play live in Berlin. This splendid follow-up to Casals Encores sees Gerhardt paying homage to his great predecessor with an eclectic programme of shorter works, including two by Rostropovich himself.

159 kr
Image 8) JANUARY 2017
JS Bach Cantatas 
Iestyn Davies counterten Arcangelo / Jonathan Cohen 

"One of today’s most acclaimed countertenors, Davies demonstrates the art and beauty of voice for which he’s become renowned, working once again with the superb Arcangelo." (Gramophone)

Ich habe genug is a timeless, transcendental masterpiece: a profound expression of Christian faith at the very end of life. It demands artistry of a special order, and Iestyn Davies now joins the likes of Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau and Lorraine Hunt Lieberson in the work’s distinguished discography. The couplings are equally ravishing performances of two other great solo cantatas, while the two orchestral sinfonias which complete the album will prove refreshingly familiar.

159 kr
Image 9) JANUARY 2017
A Scarlatti Missa defunctorum 
Odhecaton / Paolo Da Col 

"Skilled singing from this fine ensemble underpin this fascinating premiere recording of an Alessandro Scarlatti work. The recording is atmospheric and engaging throughout. " (Gramophone)

This release is a discovery of Alessandro Scarlatti’s sacred music, which has been largely unknown until now, in which Renaissance tradition meets Baroque sensibility for a unique and compelling recording. At the core of Odhecaton’s latest offering is the Missa defunctorum for four voices and basso continuo. It is in this magnificent score- recorded for the first time using the critical edition of Luca Della Libera- that primarily contrapuntal writing gives way to Scarlatti’s stylistic choices of great expressivity and rhetorical force, such as in the case of the astonishing Lacrimosa. The Miserere is also recorded for the first time. Written for nine voices for the Sistine Chapel, the score follows Allegri’s model only outwardly; Scarlatti, in fact, moves steadily away from it through his harmonic originality, foral richness, and expressivity. The Magnificat displays a unique synthesis of the Palestrinian model and the expressive language of the eighteenth century. In this score, Scarlatti exploits the great wealth and variety of the Marian text, particularly in the relationship between words and the emotional and descriptive spheres.

159 kr
Image 10) JANUARY 2017
Hérold Le Pré aux Clercs
Sols; Gulbenkian Orchestra / Paul McCreesh 

"Another excellent revival by Palezzetto Bru Zane of a long-lost work – performed and packaged with equal devotion – earns a heartfelt ‘Chapeau!’ from critic Mark Pullinger." (Gramophone)

With Le Pre aux clercs, premiered at the Opera-Comique in 1832, Louis-Ferdinand Herold wrote at once his biggest success and his last opera (he died three weeks after the first performance). From the Overture to the Act III finale, the simplicity of the vocal lines, the impact of the dramatic effects and the effectiveness of the choral writing testify to the flowering of Romanticism and the compose’s assimilation of Rossini, then the paragon of modernity. Following the July Revolution of 1830, it was time to exorcise unfortunate memories: as was its habit, the Paris operatic world did not treat the topic of politics directly but through the fratricidal conflict that began on St. Bartholomew’s Day. The basis for the libretto was a novel by Prosper Merimee published in 1829, Chronique du regne de Charles IX. The immense success of the opera, virtually contemporary with Meyerbeer’s Les Huguenots, shows that it was perfectly in tune with the preoccupations of the time- and with the new ambitions of a supposedly ‘light’ genre.

359 kr
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