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GRAMOPHONE 2019

Best new classical albums


Martin Cullingford's pick of the finest recordings from this month's reviews.
Here are the titles available from Naxos Direct.
Visar 21 artiklar
Image #3 MARCH 2019
Sibelius Symphony No 1. En saga 
Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra / Santtu-Matias Rouvali 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

159 kr
Image #9 MARCH 2019
Offenbach ‘Colorature’ 
Jodie Devos sop Munich Radio Orchestra / Laurent Campellone 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

159 kr
Image #4 FEBRUARY 2019
‘Blues Dialogues’
Rachel Barton Pine vn Matthew Hagle pf 

"Violinist Rachel Barton Pine brings a compelling and completely convincing power and soul – not to mention virtuosity – to this fascinating programme." (Gramophone) 

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

159 kr
Image #6 FEBRUARY 2019
Chaminade Piano Works 
Mark Viner pf 

"The music of French composer Cécile Chaminade, not least as performed by the excellent Mark Viner, possesses charm aplenty. Evocative of an era, it here receives warm and welcome advocacy." (Gramophone) 

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

159 kr
Image #10 FEBRUARY 2019
Purcell King Arthur 
Sols; Vox Luminis / Lionel Meunier 

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

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

289 kr
Image DVD: FEBRUARY 2019
Berg Wozzeck 
Sols; Netherlands Philharmonic Orchestra / Marc Albrecht 

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

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

269 kr
Image BLU RAY: FEBRUARY 2019
269 kr
Image RECORDING OF THE MONTH - JANUARY 2019
Monteverdi Il ritorno d’Ulisse in patria 
Sols; Monteverdi Choir; English Baroque Soloists / John Eliot Gardiner 

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

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

299 kr
Image #3 JANUARY 2019
Lyatoshynsky Symphony No 3 
Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra / Kirill Karabits 

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

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

159 kr
Image #4 JANUARY 2019
Górecki String Quartets 
Tippett Quartet 

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

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

89 kr
Image #5 JANUARY 2019
‘The Scene of the Crime’ 
Håkan Hardenberger tpt Colin Currie perc 

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

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

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

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

129 kr
Image #6 JANUARY 2019
Bartók ‘Racines’ 
Florent Boffard pf 

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

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

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

139 kr
Image #7 JANUARY 2019
Beethoven. Liszt Piano Sonatas 
Till Fellner pf 

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


169 kr
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