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GRAMOPHONE 2020

BEST NEW CLASSICAL ALBUMS


Martin Cullingford's pick of the finest recordings from this month's reviews.
Here are the titles available from Naxos Direct.
Visar 62 artiklar
Image RECORDING OF THE MONTH - JULY 2020
"Elegantly sweeping Strauss, an excellent Prokofiev Third, a stylish up-scaling of Beethoven’s Op 132 String Quartet – and more – this set reflects an orchestral partnership of the first rank." (Gramophone) 

Widely regarded as one of the world’s finest orchestras, in 2018 The Cleveland Orchestra celebrated the 100th anniversary of its founding by pianist and impresario Adella Prentiss Hughes. Today, as the Orchestra looks forward into a new century, the ensemble launches its own record label with a deluxe box set conducted and curated by Franz Welser-Möst, their Music Director of almost two decades. Recorded in concert within the legendary acoustic of Severance Hall, A New Century features recordings of landmark works by Beethoven, Varèse, Richard Strauss, and Prokofiev alongside new works by Austrian composers Johannes Maria Staud and Bernd Richard Deutsch. The set is presented in a luxurious box set featuring artwork inspired by the Orchestra’s architecturally stunning home in Cleveland. The album is accompanied by a 150-page book filled with photographs and notes exploring the music within and the history of this great American orchestra.

799 kr
Image #2 JULY 2020
Shostakovich Violin Concertos Nos 1 & 2
Alina Ibragimova vn State Academic Symphony Orchestra of Russia ‘Evgeny Svetlanov’ / Vladimir Jurowski

"An extraordinary performance from Alina Ibragimova, visceral and strongly personal." (Gramophone) 

The prospect of hearing Alina Ibragimova in two
of the most important concertos written for the
violin is in itself irresistibly enticing, but
Shostakovich aficionados will also welcome an
opportunity to hear the rarely performed original
opening to the Burlesque of No 1, subsequently
made less fearsome for the soloist at the request
of the work’s dedicatee, David Oistrakh.

169 kr
Image #3 JULY 2020
Beach. Elgar Piano Quintets
Garrick Ohlsson pf Takács Quartet

"Deeply reflective playing of these beautiful and emotionally crafted quintets from the ever-impressive Takács Quartet, joined by a perfect partner in pianist Garrick Ohlsson." (Gramophone) 

Amy Beach’s piano quintet proved a deservedly
popular success in its early years. It makes a
compelling—and surprising—match for Elgar’s
own piano quintet: a late work contemporary with
the cello concerto, and which inhabits the same
emotional landscape.

169 kr
Image #4 JULY 2020
Beethoven Violin Sonatas Nos 4, 5 & 8
James Ehnes vn Andrew Armstrong pf

"With the quality of musicianship and the captivating rapport between players every bit as a compelling as on the previous two instalments, this series gains another Editor’s Choice." (Gramophone) 



159 kr
Image #5 JULY 2020
JS Bach Six Solo Cello Suites
Alisa Weilerstein vc

"Alisa Weilerstein embraces the full emotional and technical range of Bach’s Solo Cello suites with open-hearted devotion – richly coloured playing held aloft in a lovely acoustic." (Gramophone) 

After her acclaimed PENTATONE debut with Transfigured Night, Alisa Weilerstein returns with a complete recording of Bach’s Cello Suites. These pieces present the highest mountain to climb for any cellist, and one of the most transcendent and rewarding experiences for listeners alike. With his suites, Bach crafted — essentially without direct precedent — a body of solo cello music that forever defined the genre and brought the Baroque cello on par with its more popular cousin, the viola da gamba. Since Pablo Casals put them in the limelight again after 150 years of relative oblivion, Bach’s suites have become the alpha and omega for generations of cellists. To Weilerstein, the joy of this music — vibrant, contemporary, unquestionably alive — is the joy of discovery. Having heard and studied these pieces for years, she now entrusts her interpretation to the listener. Since signing an exclusive contract PENTATONE, Alisa Weilerstein has released Transfigured Night (2018), and featured on Inon Barnatan’s Beethoven Piano Concertos Part 1 as well as Old Souls, an album with music for flute and strings (both released in 2019).

239 kr
Image #6 JULY 2020
‘The Beethoven Connection’
Jean-Efflam Bavouzet pf

"From an acclaimed Beethoven pianist, a delightfully imaginative, and gloriously performed, contribution to the composer’s anniversary year – an exploration not of him, but of his contemporaries." (Gramophone) 

In the 250th Beethoven anniversary year, Jean-Efflam Bavouzet has chosen this programme of works by contemporary composers to illuminate and contextualize Beethoven’s extraordinary output for piano. In his explanatory note for the album, the pianist writes: ‘Just as a mountain peak is always surrounded by other perhaps less lofty but no less fascinating summits, the major works of Beethoven are not isolated rock formations rising from the desert, but, as it were, “Himalayas”, forming part of a range in which other mountains might be the best pieces by contemporaries such as Clementi, Hummel, Dussek, and Wölfl. These composers all knew Beethoven well and were in contact with one another. It is essential to know and to make known their music in order better to understand and more thoroughly appreciate the lingua franca of the music of the time, which in turn is part and parcel of the “spirit of the age”, and to be aware of that which unites them, as well as to recognize that which differentiates them and renders each unique. In this year of plentiful Beethovenian commemorations, it appears to me natural, indeed essential, to pay admiring and enthusiastic homage to these composers, each of whom, in his own way, followed his route to the summit.’

169 kr
Image #8 JULY 2020
Elgar The Music Makers. Sea Pictures
Kathryn Rudge mez Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra / Vasily Petrenko

"The catalogue gains stunning new interpretations of two of Elgar’s finest vocal works, Sea Pictures and Music Makers." (Gramophone) 


159 kr
Image #9 JULY 2020
Kreek The Suspended Harp of Babel
Vox Clamantis / Jaan-Eik Tulve

"A beautiful, mesmeric recording of music by Estonian composer Cyrillus Kreek, weaving a poignant path through music of faith and folk origins, and exquisitely performed." (Gramophone) 

The Suspended Harp of Babel features revelatory performances of the choral music of Estonian composer Cyrillus Kreek (1889-1962). Kreek’s pieces, incorporating graceful settings of psalms and folk hymns, are juxtaposed here with instrumental fantasias and interludes created for this recording by Marco Ambrosini. Under the direction of Jan-Eik Tulve, the Vox Clamantis choir - whose previous ECM recordings have addressed works of Arvo Pärt, Erkki-Sven Tüür and Helena Tulve as well as Gregorian chant- prove to be ideal interpreters of a music poised between old and new. The Suspended Harp of Babel was recorded in Tallinn’s Transfiguration Church in August 2018.

169 kr
Image #10 JULY 2020
‘Arion’
Natalya Romaniw sop Lada Valešová pf

"Welsh soprano Natalya Romaniw possesses a truly beautiful soprano, rich and deeply communicative, as she explores her Slavic roots with a passionately performed selection of songs." (Gramophone) 

Soprano Natalya Romaniw and pianist Lada Valešova take us on a journey through Slavic song on this sumptuous album. Welsh-born soprano Natalya Romaniw is of Ukrainian descent, roots she explores in this recital, which is dedicated to her Ukrainian grandfather. The generous programme encompasses a wealth of music by Russian and Czech composers. Dvorak’s Love Songs, Op.83, are at the heart of the album, and his idiomatic Czech style influenced Janacek, from whom we hear a selection of Moravian folk songs. Novak in turn was fascinated by Moravian folk music and was influenced by Janacek; Novak’s gift for melody shines in Romaniw’s interpretations of his songs. From Russia, meanwhile, we hear magical, almost operatic music from Rimsky-Korsakov, powerful passion from Tchaikovsky, and some of Rachmaninov’s most exquisite songs. Natalya Romaniw is often noted for the Slavic character of her voice, a quality heard to full effect on this recording.

159 kr
Image BLU RAY: JULY 2020
Respighi La bella dormente nel bosco
Teatro Lirico di Cagliari / Donato Renzetti

"Respighi’s take on the Sleeping Beauty story is a ravishing, magical delight for both ears and eyes in this excellent production from Teatro Lirico di Cagliari." (Gramophone) 

Ottorino Respighi’s La bella dormente nel bosco (‘The Sleeping Beauty’) was originally commissioned by the renowned puppeteer Vittoria Podrecca. The revised version we hear today preserves much of the kaleidoscopic approach and magnified characters and emotions of that original; now enhanced by the composer’s matchless orchestration. This famous story in which the Princess pricks her finger on a spindle and sleeps for centuries until kissed by her Prince is given a magical atmosphere through director Leo Muscato’s colorful staging, and the superb cast of this Teatro Lirico di Cagliari production truly inhabits an enchanted realm.

239 kr
Image DVD: JULY 2020
239 kr
Image REISSUE/ARCHIVE: JULY 2020
Beethoven. Mozart Piano Concertos
Friedrich Gulda pf

"There’s much to admire in these performances by Friedrich Gulda, made for radio between 1959 and 1962, united on this SWR Classic set." (Gramophone) 

This is the second installment of the SWR CLASSIC series dedicated to Friedrich Gulda. It contains the piano concertos he recorded for the SWR between 1959 and 1962. Although most famous for his L.v. Beethoven interpretations, Friedrich Gulda also performed the music of J.S. Bach, W.A. Mozart, Schubert, Frédéric Chopin, Debussy and Ravel. From the 1950's on he cultivated an interest in jazz, writing several songs and instrumental pieces himself and combining jazz and classical music in his concerts at times. In 1982, Gulda teamed up with jazz pianist Chick Corea, who found himself in between the breakup of Return to Forever and the formation of his Elektric Band. Issued on The Meeting (Philips, 1984), Gulda and Corea communicate in lengthy improvisations mixing jazz (Someday My Prince Will Come and the lesser known Miles Davis song Put Your Foot Out) and classical music (Brahms' Wiegenlied). It was this unorthodox practice that, among other things, earned him the nickname "terrorist pianist"; Friedrich Gulda had a strong dislike of authorities like the Vienna Academy, the L.v. Beethoven Ring of which he was offered in recognition of his performances but which he refused, and even faked his own death in the late 1990's, cementing his status as the enfant terrible among pianists. Nevertheless, Gulda is widely regarded as one of the most outstanding piano players of the 20th century.

259 kr
Image RECORDING OF THE MONTH - JUNE 2020
‘Vincerò!’
Piotr Beczala ten Orquestra de la Comunitat Valenciana / Marco Boemi

"Tenor Piotr Beczala sings this delightful selection of arias with an engagingly openhearted spirit of humanity and drama, and most importantly a beautifully weighted, richly coloured voice." (Gramophone) 

Global star tenor Piotr Beczala presents Vincerò!, the first fruit of his exclusive collaboration with PENTATONE. Vincerò! is a collection of heart-wrenching opera arias by Puccini, Mascagni, Leoncavallo, Giordano and Cilea. For Beczala, this recording documents his vocal transition from the lyrical tenor repertoire to the more dramatic roles of Verismo, and thus simultaneously marks a significant new chapter in his stage career. Beczala is accompanied by the Cor de la Generalitat Valenciana and the Orquestra de la Comunitat Valenciana, led by maestro Marco Boemi; an extraordinary singer’s conductor who has worked with the greatest vocalists of our age. “Piotr Beczala has the kind of voice you want to hang medals on. Its luminosity makes many of his fellow lyric tenors, past and present, sound by comparison like flickering candlewicks. Beczala’s clarity and cleanliness of tone are the essence of his appeal.” (Opera News Awards, 2015)

189 kr
Image #6 JUNE 2020
JS Bach Guitar Works
Sean Shibe gtr

"The superb young guitarist – and this month’s cover artist – Sean Shibe’s devotion to drawing a rich tapestry of colours from every impeccably played phrase makes this a Bach recital worthy of adding to everyone’s collection." (Gramophone) 

Three years as a Delphian artist have seen Sean Shibe record music from seventeenth-century Scottish lute manuscripts to twenty-first-century works for electric guitar, picking up multiple editor’s choices and award nominations for each release, as well as the Royal Philharmonic Society’s prestigious Young Artist of the Year accolade. Now he turns to the music of J. S. Bach, with three works whose obscure early performance history belies their status as repertoire staples for modern guitarists. The musicological questions that have arisen over what instrument Bach intended for these works – questions encapsulated for Shibe by the phrase ‘pour la luth ò cembal’, which appears in the composer’s hand at the head of the manuscript of the Prelude to BWV 998 – are here answered by the unshakeable assurance of Shibe’s performances.

159 kr
Image #8 JUNE 2020
Beethoven An die ferne Geliebte Schubert Schwanengesang
Roderick Williams bar Iain Burnside pf

"The excellent Roderick Williams’s ability to convey meaning with a personal touch makes for a memorable Schwanengesang." (Gramophone) 

Roderick Williams writes: “Although only twelve years separate the composition of Beethoven’s An die ferne Geliebte and Schubert’s Schwanengesang, the ethos and sound world of the two works are markedly different. Pairing them on the concert platform seemed an obvious choice on one hand, but I was reminded not to try to perform Beethoven in the way I perform Schubert. For one thing, the former still has the ring of the late classical, while the latter explores the darkness of the early romantic. For this reason, we decided to record the two works in slightly different soundscapes. In An die ferne Geliebte, the inventiveness of Beethoven is best expressed in the piano writing, while the vocal part is deliberately simple, strophic (the music is repeated for each stanza), and folk-like. ...the sixth song states that these songs are offered ‘ohne Kunstgepräng’. And so we have set the voice slightly more distantly in the balance, giving the piano due prominence; the effect is almost as if I were singing over Iain’s shoulder. Schwanengesang is recorded more traditionally: in these most extraordinary and progressive songs the vocal line is supported by the piano, in equal partnership. Roderick Williams.”

169 kr
Image #9 JUNE 2020
Stradella San Giovanni Battista
Le Banquet Céleste / Damien Guillon

"The intense drama of this 17th-century Biblical oratorio is vividly conveyed by an impressive line-up of singers and players under the astute direction of Damien Guillon." (Gramophone) 

A composer who led a dissolute life and ended up stabbed to death in Genoa, Stradella nevertheless left a distinctive stamp on the history of music. He is situated at the intersection of several stylistic paths and periods, at the crossroads between opera and sacred drama, since his output, and especially San Giovanni Battista (St John the Baptist), marks the encounter of the great Roman oratorio inherited from Carissimi with the Venetian opera of Cavalli. Stradella is also close to the next generation, that of Scarlatti and Handel. His music is characterized by liveliness, expressiveness and profound humanity. Although San Giovanni Battista enjoyed genuine success when it was premiered in 1675, it was only in 1949 that the work was exhumed from the libraries where its score lay slumbering. That event took place in Perugia, and the role of Salome was sung by Maria Callas.

169 kr
Image #10 JUNE 2020
Purcell The Fairy Queen
Gabrieli Consort and Players / Paul McCreesh

"Paul Mcreesh often offers thrillingly performed projects, and doesn’t disappoint here: elegantly played, characterfully sung, Purcell’s Shakespeare-inspired music is a joy." (Gramophone) 

Purcell’s The Fairy Queen is based on Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, a play not frequently performed in the late 17th century, nor very well regarded (“the most insipid ridiculous play that ever I saw in my life” - Samuel Pepys’ diary, 1662). Despite this, the play would go on to work well within an opera, as the characters of Pyramus and Thisbe could conjure up singing and dancing accomplices. Purcell’s masterful composition, Gabrieli’s first-class performance, and McCreesh’s superb interpretation demonstrate why their recordings are seen as some of the best in classical music today. Gabrieli are world-renowned interpreters of great vocal and instrumental repertoire, from the Renaissance to the present day. Founded by Paul McCreesh in 1982, Gabrieli have both outgrown and remained true to their original identity: whilst the ensemble’s repertoire has expanded beyond any expectation, McCreesh’s ever-questioning spirit, expressive musicianship and a healthy degree of iconoclasm remain constant and are reflected in the ensemble’s dynamic performances. Gabrieli’s repertoire includes major works of the oratorio tradition, virtuosic a cappella programmes and mold-breaking reconstructions of music for historical events. Above all, Gabrieli aims to create thought-provoking performances which stand out from the crowd.

259 kr
Image RECORDING OF THE MONTH - MAY 2020
Górecki String Quartet No 3. Sonata for Two Violins
Tippett Quartet 

"Across the very substantial span of Górecki’s Third String Quartet, the superb Tippett Quartet prove themselves deeply eloquent communicators of this composer’s poignant voice." (Gramophone) 

The Sonata for Two Violins is one of Henryk Gorecki’s earliest acknowledged works- its contrasts, instrumental rivalries and sophisticated technique a worthy rounding-off of his formative period. The Third String Quartet with its evocative subtitle ‘… songs are sung’ represents a culmination of Gorecki’s preoccupations with elaborate and emotive melodic shapes and closely intertwined harmonies, its final minutes recalling the beauty and poignancy of the composer’s Third Symphony. The First and Second String Quartets can be heard on Naxos as well: “a recording deserving of the very highest recommendation.” (Gramophone).

89 kr
Image #3 MAY 2020
Korngold Violin Concerto. Sextet
Andrew Haveron vn RTÉ Concert Orchestra / John Wilson 

"This beautifully personal performance of the Korngold Concerto is tender, touching, sweet-toned and full of humanity. Bravo to both Andrew Haveron and John Wilson." (Gramophone) 

Andrew Haveron and John Wilson deliver a fresh and intensely idiomatic reading of Korngold’s Violin Concerto, coupled with the formidable String Sextet. One of the most sought-after violinists of his generation and a laureate of some of the most prestigious international violin competitions, Andrew Haveron studied in London at the Purcell School and the Royal College of Music. As a soloist, he has collaborated with conductors such as Jirí Belohlávek, Sir Colin Davis, Sir Roger Norrington, David Robertson, Stanislaw Skrowaczewski, and John Wilson, performing a broad range of well-known and less familiar concertos with many of the finest orchestras in the UK. In 1999 he was appointed first violinist of the internationally acclaimed Brodsky Quartet. In 2007 he was appointed leader of the BBC Symphony Orchestra. He joined the Philharmonia Orchestra in 2012, has been the leader of The John Wilson Orchestra since its inception, and in 2013 took up his current post of concert master of the Sydney Symphony Orchestra.

169 kr
Image #4 MAY 2020
Maw Spring Music. Solo Violin Sonata
Harriet Mackenzie vn BBC National Orchestra of Wales / William Boughton

"Three works from British composer Nicholas Maw, from bursts of orchestral spring to exquisitely played solo violin." (Gramophone) 

Nicholas Maw’s most fervent desire was to communicate directly with his audiences and produce material which performers would enjoy playing and Spring Music, written with the express purpose of diverting and entertaining an audience, finds the composer at his most uninhibited and freely expressive. Fresh, colorful and vibrant, this score has the exotic, open-hearted spirit of a curtain-raiser by William Walton or Alan Rawsthorne. In its final, slimmed-down version, it rapidly became one of Maw’s favorite pieces among his own output and he once described the long-breathed cello-led melody as ‘one of the best tunes I think I’ve actually ever written’. In 1995 Maw was commissioned by the BBC to write a work commemorating the 300th anniversary that year of the death of Purcell. Maw soon came to the conclusion that he wanted to round off his tribute piece with an example of a chaconne, a form in which Purcell was pre-eminent. The theme which Maw chose to embellish is derived from the first of his Life Studies for 15 solo strings. Taking his lead from Tchaikovsky, Maw decided that the main title should reflect precisely the reference vocabulary of the piece and so the piece became known for a while as Romantic Variations. Later still the title was altered to its definitive form of Voices of Memory: Variations for Orchestra. Described by Andrew Burn as ‘a major contribution to the genre’, the Sonata for Solo Violin was requested by Jorja Fleezanis, to whom the work is dedicated. In Maw’s Sonata for Solo Violin, the constraints of writing for a single stringed instrument in a four-movement, large-scale work are deftly surmounted by the composer’s gift for melodic lines and rhythmic invention. Each movement has a vivid sense of color, formal logic and onward momentum so that the writing, however demanding it may be, never suggests an arid study or a shallow technical exercise.

169 kr
Image #6 MAY 2020
‘Sturm und Drang, Vol 1’
Chiara Skerath sop The Mozartists / Ian Page 

"Ian Page and The Mozartists always combine fascinating programming with thrilling music-making, and this first excursion into the dramatic heart of Sturm und Drang is no exception." (Gramophone) 

This is the first project in a seven-volume series exploring the ‘Sturm und Drang’ movement, which swept through all art forms in the between the early 1760s and 1780s. The purpose of this movement was to frighten and perturb through the use of wild and subjective emotional means of expression. This series of ‘Sturm und Drang’ recordings incorporates iconic compositions by Mozart, Gluck and, above all, Joseph Haydn, but it also includes largely forgotten or neglected works by less familiar names. The music featured on this disc was all composed in the 1760s. It includes ballet and opera as well as symphonies, but is drawn together by the hallmarks of the remarkably visceral and dynamic style of music that we now call ‘Sturm und Drang’.

159 kr
Image #7 MAY 2020
Liszt ‘Hommage à Liszt’
Amir Katz pf

"A generously programmed and engagingly performed Liszt recital from Israeli pianist Amir Katz, hugely impressive pianism – particularly in the Transcendental Studies – compelling in its drama, virtuosity and poetry." (Gramophone) 

Liszt’s Études represent a peak in the history of piano writing. Beyond the tremendous technical difficulties, Liszt’s Études are poetic works, études tableaux, suggesting programme music influenced by literature, painting, and folklore as can be identified by titles such as Mazeppa, Wilde Jagd, Gnomenreigen or Feux follets. Similar to Schumann, Liszt added those lyrical appellations as an afterthought to stimulate the fantasy of both the listener and the performer, thus paving the path to modern piano playing as we know it today. “I have chosen to bring here authentic testimonies regarding the Études from the late masterclasses he gave in Weimar, Pest, and Rome in the early eighties of the 19th century, just a few years before his death in 1886. The testimonies are given by his students Carl Lachmund, August Göllerich, Vianna da Motta and Arthur Friedheim. These precious testimonies provide us with an original and inspired illustration that faithfully represents Liszt’s masterclasses and his vocations.” (Amir Katz)

159 kr
Image #8 MAY 2020
‘Homage to Godowsky’
Andrey Gugnin pf 

"All these many and varied works were dedicated to Godowsky, and in Andrey Gugnin’s hands each one emerges ‘fresh and full of vitality and charm’, as our critic Patrick Rucker puts it." (Gramophone) 

An anniversary accolade with a twist: one hundred and fifty years after his birth, this is a wonderful recital of some of the many works dedicated to Leopold Godowsky. It’s difficult to imagine more persuasive performances than these by Andrey Gugnin, who makes a second appearance on Hyperion after his universally— and vociferously—acclaimed Shostakovich.

169 kr
Image #9 MAY 2020
Ešenvalds ‘Translations’
Portland State Chamber Choir / Ethan Sperry 

"More Ešenvalds from America’s West coast, although with no shared works from last month’s recommendation; another deeply moving offering of his music, superbly sung." (Gramophone) 

The multi-award-winning Latvian composer Eriks Esenvalds’ 21st-century choral sound is both exquisite and angular, and in this album he explores ideas of ‘translation,’ legend and the divine. With his expanded tonality and employment of shimmering singing hand bells in ‘Translation,’ and the angelic use of the viola and cello in ‘In paradisum’ he creates music of ravishing refinement. In ‘Legend of the Walled-In Woman’ Esenvalds transcribes and employs an authentic Albanian folk song.

89 kr
Image DVD: MAY 2020
JS Bach Das wohltemperirte Clavier, Book 1
Sir András Schiff pf 

"Taken together with Book 2 on a separate DVD, a ‘reference video version’ of Bach’s The Well-Tempered Clavier from one of today’s leading interpreters of the work." (Gramophone) 

Johann Sebastian Bach was undoubtedly the greatest musical thinker of his age. Dubbed ‘the Old Testament of music’ by the conductor and pianist Hans von Bülow, the Well-Tempered Clavier is acknowledged to be one of the most significant works ever written for the keyboard. Each of these 24 preludes and fugues encapsulates its own mood, and Bach’s delight in mixing technical strictness with freedom of expression has made this work an indispensable element of Western culture for centuries. Sir András Schiff is heralded as one of the finest Bach interpreters today, and this first complete performance at the prestigious BBC Proms was summed up as ‘stupendous’ by The Independent.

239 kr
Image BLU RAY: MAY 2020
239 kr
Image RECORDING OF THE MONTH - APRIL 2020
JS Bach St Matthew Passion
Sols; Bach Collegium Japan / Masaaki Suzuki 

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

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

299 kr
Image #2 APRIL 2020
Shostakovich Symphony No 13
Chicago Symphony Orchestra / Riccardo Muti 

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

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

159 kr
Image #3 APRIL 2020
Vasks Piano Trios
Trio Palladio

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

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

159 kr
Image #4 APRIL 2020
‘Complices’
Jean-Guihen Queyras vc Alexandre Tharaud pf 

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

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

169 kr
Image #6 APRIL 2020
Feinberg Piano Sonatas Nos 1-6
Marc-André Hamelin pf 

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

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

169 kr
Image #7 APRIL 2020
Ešenvalds There Will Come Soft Rains
Pacific Lutheran Choir of the West / Richard Nance

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

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

159 kr
Image #8 APRIL 2020
Parry Judith
Sols; London Mozart Players / William Vann

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

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

318 kr
Image #9 APRIL 2020
‘Fading’
The Gesualdo Six / Owain Park

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

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

169 kr
Image #10 APRIL 2020
‘Brillez, Astres nouveaux!’
Chantal Santon Jeffery sop Orfeo Orchestra / György Vashegyi 

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


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

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

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

239 kr
Image DVD/BLU RAY: APRIL 2020
239 kr
Image REISSUE/ARCHIVE: APRIL 2020
‘A Tribute to Ysaÿe’

"From Rob Cowan’s box-set focus this month comes a fascinating tribute to the Belgian violinist and composer Eugène Ysaÿe from the Fuga Libera label." (Gramophone) 

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

389 kr
Image #3 MARCH 2020
Dvorák String Quartets Nos 8 & 10
Albion Quartet 

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

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

159 kr
Image #4 MARCH 2020
Litolff Piano Trios Nos 1 & 2. Serenade
Leonore Piano Trio 

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

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

169 kr
Image #5 MARCH 2020
Mozart Violin Sonatas, Vol 2
Isabelle Faust vn Alexander Melnikov fp 

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

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

169 kr
Image #6 MARCH 2020
‘Canadian Organ Music’
Rachel Mahon org 

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

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

159 kr
Image #7 MARCH 2020
‘#CelloUnlimited’
Daniel Müller-Schott vc 

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

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

169 kr
Image #8 MARCH 2020
JS Bach St John Passion
Collegium Vocale Gent / Philippe Herreweghe

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

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

289 kr
Image #9 MARCH 2020
‘Passions’
Les Cris de Paris / Geoffroy Jourdain 

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



169 kr
Image DVD/BLU RAY: MARCH 2020
Verdi Rigoletto
Sols; Vienna SO / Enrique Mazzola 

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

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

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

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

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

169 kr
Image #2 FEBRUARY 2020
Barber. Tchaikovsky Violin Concertos
Johan Dalene vn Norrköping SO / Daniel Belndulf

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

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

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

169 kr
Image #5 FEBRUARY 2020
‘The Lyrical Clarinet, Vol 3’
Michael Collins cl Michael McHale pf

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

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

169 kr
Image #6 FEBRUARY 2020
Prokofiev Piano Sonatas Nos 6-8
Steven Osborne pf

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

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

169 kr
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