BBC Music Magazine Awards 2007

Now in its second year, the BBC Music Magazine Awards have already established themselves as one of the UK's most important celebrations of recorded classical music.

A few weeks ago, a panel of experts narrowed down over 1500 of the year's new releases to a shortlist of 18 - three per category. These were then subjected to a public vote, resulting in the winners announced at a ceremony on 11th April.



For details of the 2008 awards, click here.

Disc of the Year & Vocal Award Winner

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Sibelius - Orchestral Songs

Sibelius - Orchestral Songs


Sibelius:

Kaiutar, Op. 72, No. 4

Luonnotar, Op. 70 (Text: Kalevala)

Men min fågel märks dock icke, Op. 36, No. 2

Säf, säf, susa, Op. 36 No. 4 (Text: Gustav Fröding)

Våren flyktar hastigt, Op. 13 No. 4 (Text: Runeberg)

Under strandens granar (Under the fir-trees) Op. 13 No. 1 (Runeberg)

Den första kyssen, Op. 37 No. 1 (Text: J.L. Runeberg)

Soluppgång, Op. 37 No. 3 (Text: Tor Hedberg)

Var det en dröm? Op. 37 No. 4 (J.J. Wecksell)

Höstkväll, Op. 38:1 (Text: Viktor Rydberg)

På verandan på vid havet, Op. 38 No. 2 (Viktor Runeberg)

Arioso, Op. 3 (Text: J.L. Runeberg)

Lastu lainehilla, Op. 17, No. 7

Souda, souda, sinisorsa (Swim, duck, swim) (A.V. Forsman-Koskimies)

Se'n har jag ej frågat mera, Op. 17 No. 1 (Text: J.L. Runeberg)

En slända, Op. 17, No. 5

Hertig Magnus, Op. 57 No. 6


Soile Isokoski (soprano)

Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra, Leif Segerstam

"A thrilling performance of Luonnotar in which Isokoski’s sonorous soprano is matched by atmospheric playing from the Finnish orchestra. The rest of the disc makes you wonder why Sibelius’s orchestral songs occupy one of the most unjustly neglected corners of his output." Erik Levi BBC Music Magazine

“Soile Isokoski's voice has matured into a powerful instrument without losing its distinctively plangent expressiveness and intense way with words… Segerstam… provides spacious yet vividly dramatic support, with superb orchestral playing.” BBC Music Magazine, July 2006 *****

“Sibelius wrote his songs originally for voice and piano and in that form they are most often recorded. Some he later orchestrated, while others were arranged by Jussi Jalas (his son-in-law), Ernest Pingourd, Ivan Hellman and Nils-Eric Forgstadt. All produce good results and none of the songs appear over-dressed. On the contrary, they are, as it were, fulfilled: orchestral textures are so strongly implicit that the full range of instruments brings out their coloration and renders them complete.
Soile Isokoski has recorded a number of the songs previously with piano, part of a fine recital on Finlandia in 1989, which was about the time we first learned of the radiant Finnish soprano who five or six years later would receive the international acclaim she deserved. The voice then sounded fuller and was entirely pure in tone: today it is a little more worn but still lovely, firm and ample in range. Above all, she has a rare command of the legato style which makes her singing a delight to the ears when others, more subtle and expressive, may frustrate the full satisfaction their efforts would otherwise offer. There are limitations even so, some of them technical. The Dragonfly ('En slända') cannot really be sung without a genuine trill, and Isokoski's trill is a very sketchy, rudimentary one compared with, say, Elisabeth Söderström's. The popular Was it a Dream? ('Var det en dröm?') sounds well enough until Schwarzkopf is produced for comparison, her voice emerging magically out of the dreamy, murmurous introduction and minting afresh developments that are too nearly predictable and routine in Isokoski.
Yet the recital always gives pleasure, and the challenge of Luonnotar itself is joyfully met. The orchestra play with full appreciation of the richly coloured scores, and since Flagstad in the 1950s there have been few recordings which provide these genuinely enhancing accompaniments as an alternative to the piano.”
Gramophone Classical Music Guide, 2010

CD Review

Critics Disc of the Year - December 2006

BBC Music Magazine Awards 2007

Disc of the Year & Vocal Award Winner

Super Audio CD

Format:

Hybrid Multi-channel

Ondine - ODE10805

(SACD)

$17.49

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Other Category Winners

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Dvorak: Piano Trios Nos. 3 & 4

Dvorak: Piano Trios Nos. 3 & 4


Dvorak:

Piano Trio No. 4 in E minor, Op. 90 (B166) 'Dumky'

Piano Trio No. 3 in F minor, Op. 65 (B130)


Smetana Trio

'A vital ingredient in the Smetana Trio’s success is the quality of their string sound, its variety of tone and the handling of vibrato. Certainly, there are many details to admire in these performances, but in the end it is the Trio’s unrivalled feeling of ensemble that generates results unmatched in the catalogue.' Jan Smaczny - BBC Music Magazine

“…the Smetana Trio, excellently recorded, deliver landmark performances of both trios. The developmental intensity of the F minor Trio's first movement has rarely seemed more incandescent or the slow movement more winningly lyrical… it is the Trio's unrivalled feeling of ensemble that generate results unmatched in the catalogue.” BBC Music Magazine, September 2006 *****

“Not surprisingly, the performance by the Smetana Trio is thoroughly idiomatic, with the many dumka speed-changes sounding totally natural and spontaneous. What instantly strikes the ear is the delicacy, the piano relatively light to bring out the filigree textures of much of the writing.
They also play with a hushed concentration, keeping the different sections tautly woven together. In the fifth of the six movements, there is a delightful pay-off at the end, and the finale is taken at a thrillingly fast tempo, though light textures bring complete clarity.
In No 3 there is an apt if subtle shift in the recording balance, with the piano weightier, reflecting the Brahmsian quality of much of the writing. Though in the conventional four movements instead of the six of No 4, it is a work on a bigger scale. Not surprisingly, the Czech flavours are brought out strikingly. The Supraphon sound is excellent.”
Gramophone Classical Music Guide, 2010

BBC Music Magazine

Disc of the month - September 2006

BBC Music Magazine Awards 2007

Chamber Award Winner

Supraphon - SU38722

(CD)

$17.99

Usually despatched in 4 - 5 working days.

Sibelius: Kullervo, Op. 7

Sibelius: Kullervo, Op. 7


Peter Mattei (baritone) & Monica Groop (mezzo-soprano)

Gentlemen of the London Symphony Chorus & London Symphony Orchestra, Sir Colin Davis

"If any performance is needed to convince anyone of the early mastery of Sibelius, it is this one … this is a great performance. I have no doubt that the LSO at present is the greatest orchestra in the world" International Record Review

“Sir Colin is a Sibelian of commanding stature and the LSO and Chorus give of their finest. Monica Groop… and Peter Mattei… are in fine voice here.” BBC Music Magazine, March 2006 *****

BBC Music Magazine

Choral & Song Choice - March 2006

BBC Music Magazine Awards 2007

Choral Award Winner

LSO Live - LSO0074

(CD)

$7.99

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George Enescu - Piano Works Volume 2

George Enescu - Piano Works Volume 2


Enescu:

Piano Sonata No. 1 in F sharp minor, Op. 24/1

Nocturne

Prelude and Fugue

Pièce sur le nom de Fauré

Scherzo

Piano Sonata No. 3 in D major, Op. 24/3


Luiza Borac (piano)

Luiza Borac caused a sensation with her debut disc for Avie, of Enescu’s Three Piano Suites. The disc garnered unanimous critical acclaim and secured her place on the musical map. Luiza is the greatest living exponent of her compatriot’s endlessly revelatory piano music. For her second offering of Enescu’s solo piano music she has unearthed two works, the Nocturne and the Scherzo, making her survey the most complete available set on the market. George Enescu was “the greatest musical phenomenon since Mozart” according to Pablo Casals. He was boundlessly prodigious yet only 33 works are known to survive, probably the result of his staggering capacity to maintain entire musical creations in his mind without committing them to manuscript. Hence, of his three piano sonatas only Nos. 1 and 3 exist today! Luiza’s empathetic interpretations are themselves a revelation making this an outstanding contribution to the catalogue.

“A most valuable CD … One hopes that it might be the first instalment of a second Enescu piano music survey.” – The Gramophone

“…a set to place Enescu among the great piano composers, superbly played and recorded.” BBC Music Magazine, May 2006 *****

BBC Music Magazine

Instrumental Choice - May 2006

BBC Music Magazine Awards 2007

Instrumental Award Winner

Super Audio CD

Format:

Hybrid Multi-channel

Avie - AV2081

(SACD - 2 discs)

$27.49

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Vivaldi: Griselda, RV718

Vivaldi: Griselda, RV718

Opera in three acts

world première recording


Griselda: Marie-Nicole Lemieux (contralto), Costanza: Veronica Cangemi (soprano), Ottone: Simone Kermes (soprano), Roberto: Philippe Jaroussky (countertenor), Gualtiero: Stefano Ferrari (tenor) & Corrado: Iestyn Davies (countertenor)

Ensemble Matheus, Jean-Christophe Spinosi

3 CDs for the price of 2

'Spinosi’s intuitive and vital direction achieves rewarding results. His instrumentalists are firstrate and the choice of cast well nigh impeccable. Marie-Nicole Lemieux gives a fine account of the contralto title role and further outstanding contributions come from Veronica Cangemi as Costanza.' Nicholas Anderson - BBC Music Magazine

“…one of Vivaldi's strongest and most cohesive operas. Jean-Christophe Spinosi's intuitive and vital direction achieves rewarding results. His instrumentalists are first-rate and the choice of cast well nigh impeccable.” BBC Music Magazine, October 2006 *****

“ Griselda was first performed at Venice's Teatro di San Samuele during spring 1735. Apostolo Zeno's libretto, based on a tale from Boccacio's Decameron, was adapted for Vivaldi by Carlo Goldoni: Gualtiero is forced by political unrest and public criticism of his common-born wife Griselda to prove her noble worth by subjecting her to a torrent of cruel tests.
Marie-Nicole Lemieux's passionate performance of the title-role has vivid handling of text and emotive singing. Stefano Ferrari gets around Gualtiero's fiendish coloratura competently, and 'Tu vorresti col tuo pianto' is a rarity among Vivaldi's operas: a bona fide first-class tenor aria of real distinction, beauty and dramatic subtlety. Simone Kermes navigates Ottone's wide leaps in the slow aria 'Vede orgoglosia' with immaculate poise and tenderness, and in 'Dopo un'orrida' gleefully represents Ottone's premature exultation with some outstanding pyrotechnics. Veronica Cangemi provides some relaxed, attractive coloratura.
Philippe Jaroussky's arias are consistently gorgeous but he is also surprisingly strong at the tempestuous 'Che legge tiranna'. Iestyn Davies is impressive in the colourful hunting aria 'Alle minaccie'.
Spinosi's pacing of the arias suggests sensible interpretation of Vivaldi's instructions. In extrovert arias one occasionally hears some contrived clattering bows from the strings but there is a substantial problem throughout the performance caused by underwhelming, pale playing from the lower strings. Three cellists and two basses play quietly most of the time, making the hushed basso continuo far too thin and rarely giving enough depth and texture to the dynamic width of Vivaldi's harmonic writing. One imagines the stronger musical sense that Alessandrini, Dantone or Sardelli might have brought to Griselda. Despite reservations about the topheavy instrumental textures, this finely sung recording unveils another inventive opera.”
Gramophone Classical Music Guide, 2010

BBC Music Magazine

Disc of the month - October 2006

BBC Music Magazine Awards 2007

Opera Award Winner

Naive Vivaldi Edition - OP30419

(CD - 3 discs)

$31.99

This item is currently out of stock at the UK distributor. You may order it now but please be aware that it may be six weeks or more before it can be despatched.

Shostakovich: Symphony No. 7 in C major, Op. 60 'Leningrad'

Shostakovich: Symphony No. 7 in C major, Op. 60 'Leningrad'


Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, Mariss Jansons

"This was a performance, played with the Concertgebouw's phenomenal spectrum of colouring, phrasing and dynamic subtlety, that asserted the symphony's organic structural credentials and spoke of deep-seated, human feelings throughout its ample 80-minute span. It was wonderful to have past reservations about the symphony swept aside with such authority." The Daily Telegraph

BBC Music Magazine Awards 2007

Orchestral Award Winner

Super Audio CD

Format:

Hybrid Multi-channel

RCO Live - RCO06002

(SACD)

$17.99

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Handel: Giulio Cesare in Egitto
listen:
Watch video trailerplay

Handel: Giulio Cesare in Egitto

Recorded live at the Glyndebourne Opera House, East Sussex, on 14th & 17th August 2005.


Sarah Connolly (Cesare), Danielle de Niese (Cleopatra), Angelika Kirchschlager (Sesto), Christophe Dumaux (Tolomeo), Patricia Bardon (Cornelia), Christopher Maltman (Achilla) & Rachid Ben Abdeslam (Nireno)

The Glyndebourne Chorus & Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, William Christie (conductor) & David McVicar (stage director)

David McVicar’s production of Giulio Cesare manages to combine serious insight with entertainment, bringing Handel’s masterpiece to life in a powerful, convincing and highly intelligent way. In every line of the complex narrative the subtle nuances are apparent, reflecting perfectly the transparent and exquisite nature of Handel’s musical expression. Filmed in High Definition and recorded in true surround sound, the outstanding singing of the all-star cast, led by a superb Sarah Connolly, and the vivid playing of the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment under the energising baton of William Christie reveal the colour and dramatic character of Handel’s music in a most delightful manner.

‘…a production with performances to savour, led from the pit by William Christie and the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment on stylish form. Sarah Connolly… gave a ‘complete’ performance full of intelligence and subtlety. Danielle de Niese stole the show as a wily, fun-filled sex kitten who renders men helpless with her irresistible charms.’ Opera Now

Specials:

"Entertainment is not a Dirty Word" - documentary about the opera including interviews with William Christie, David McVicar and the cast.

"Danielle de Niese & the Glyndebourne experience" - an informal portrait of Danielle de Niese in her first-ever Glyndebourne season.

PICTURE FORMAT: 16:9
LENGTH: 295 Mins
SOUND: DTS SURROUND / LPCM STEREO
SUBTITLES: EN/FR/DE/ES/IT

“David McVicar's 2005 staging, revived the following summer, provoked a deal of contrasting views among the critical fraternity but was adored by the Glyndebourne public. Chief cause of their delight was the overtly sexual, high-hoofing performance of Cleopatra by the irrepressible Danielle de Niese (who is accorded a delightful 22-minute narra- tive on her Glyndebourne experience among the extras here). Her vocal command and stage presence are spectacular in every sense, and from her first aria she utterly seduces her audience.
McVicar took advantage of her attractive skills to build the opera around her personality.
We are here in the high noon of British imperialism and the Ottoman Empire, with Caesar more like a late-19th-century English general than a Roman emperor, and with the Egyptian milieu heavily underlined by milling extras, now always a not-altogether welcome feature of a McVicar production. They clutter the stage and draw attention away from the principals, although one has to admit that the highly disciplined and often captivating choreography is brilliantly executed within Robert Jones's exotic sets. McVicar does at least allow the moments of serious drama to be played out without undue interference – such as the deeply moving duet that closes Act 1 and Cleopatra's 'Piangerò'.
Finally it has to be said that only Glyndebourne allows for the rehearsal time to prepare such a complex and ingenious staging.
The musical side of things is equally well prepared and thought-through under William Christie's knowledgeable and commanding direction. He manages to balance with the same finesse and care the light and serious parts of the score, even if his love for Handel leads him to a few self-indulgently slow tempi. The OAE play lovingly and with period skills for him. By the time of this DVD recording, near the end of the run, the whole thing moves with eloquence matched by elegance.
De Niese sings her airy numbers as to the manner born, seconded by expertly erotic dancing.
She manages most of the emotional substance of her sadder arias, but they sometimes seem wanting in the tonal weight ideally required. Sarah Connolly's thoroughly believable Caesar is sung with her firm tone and well schooled mastery of Handelian style, including subtle embellishments.
This wilful and imperial Caesar manages to change moods as his music demands.
Some of the most accomplished and tender Handelian singing comes from Patricia Bardon's moving Cornelia and Angelika Kirchschlager's concerned Sesto, although the latter does slightly overplay the character's seemingly neurotic state of mind following his father's brutal death. The young countertenor Christophe Dumaux playing Tolomeo is suitably brat-like and spoilt. He, like most of the cast, fulfils all the stringent demands of this very physical staging. Christopher Maltman makes Achilles as nasty as he should be. The sense of teamwork all round is confirmed in the interviews included in the extras. Robin Lough's DVD direction is faultless.”
Gramophone Classical Music Guide, 2010

GGramophone Awards 2006

Best of Category

GGramophone Magazine

DVD of the Month - July 2006

BBC Music Magazine

DVD Choice - June 2006

BBC Music Magazine Awards 2007

DVD of the Year

DVD Video

Region: 0

Format: NTSC

Opus Arte - OA0950D

(DVD Video - 3 discs)

$48.49

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Janacek & Haas: String Quartets No. 2

Janacek & Haas: String Quartets No. 2


Haas, P:

String Quartet No. 2, Op. 7 'From the Monkey Mountains'

Janacek:

String Quartet No. 2 'Intimate Letters'


Pavel Haas Quartet

“…what is immediately striking about the present performance is its boldness and originality in terms of tempo contrasts, rhythmic emphasis and textural variety. Not only the playing beyond reproach on technical grounds, but also, more importantly, it conveys with almost graphic immediacy the searing passion the 74-year-old composer felt for Kamila Stösslová. The performers demonstrate a similarly convincing capacity to bring imagery to life in the remarkable Second Quartet by the Janácek pupil Pavel Haas.” BBC Music Magazine, October 2006 *****

“The catalogue is not short of recommendable versions of Janácek's IntimateLetters Quartet. But there are any number of ways of bringing its hyper-passionate declarations off the page, and this young Czech quartet have plenty of ideas of their own about that. Once or twice that leads them into an overcalculated delivery. But try the third movement at 2'58" where, having fined the texture down to a whisper, Janácek gives the first violin an electrifying outburst: it's hard to imagine if that contrast has been made more emotionally real on record.
But then there is the 1925 Second Quartet by the composer whose name the players have adopted. This is the kind of piece that may make you wonder why you haven't heard it before.
After a first movement that tellingly redeploys a number of patent Janácekisms, Haas slips into the grotesque humour of Stravinsky's ThreePieces for String Quartet and once again fashions a structure that transcends reliance on its model.
In the finale whackiness goes a step further, with a rollicking jazz-folk fusion, brilliantly caught here together with the original drum-kit accompaniment that Haas suppressed following adverse criticism at the premiere. The PHQ's streamlined but full-blooded playing is more than welcome, and if they are lining up the first Janácek and the first and third Haas for a followup CD, bravo! Superb recording quality too.”
Gramophone Classical Music Guide, 2010

“Yet these young players stamp their authority on the piece with a technical precision and a searing immediacy that’s rarely if ever been equalled...You’d be disappointed if the quartet that named itself after the composer couldn’t make it a special recording, and it has. Great performances, an imaginative programme, and a superb recording as well. This couldn’t be better.” Andrew McGregor, bbc.co.uk, 18th December 2006

GGramophone Awards 2007

Best of Category - Chamber

BBC Music Magazine

Chamber Choice - October 2006

BBC Music Magazine Awards 2007

Best Newcomer

Supraphon - SU38772

(CD)

$17.99

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Zemlinsky: Lyric Symphony Op. 18

Zemlinsky: Lyric Symphony Op. 18


Christine Schafer & Matthais Goerne

Orchestra de Paris, Christoph Eschenbach

“Zemlinsky’s music is so much more complex, gorgeous and painful than any verbal resume can convey. Yet Eshenbach makes it all come together beautifully… (he) is joined by two superb soloists, on finest form, both with as strong a feeling for the greater melody as the conductor…Strongly recommended.” BBC Music Magazine

“…Christoph Eschenbach has such an acute feeling for the musical line - whether it is carried by the voices or the orchestra - and such a fine ear for aural perspective, that it all comes together beautifully. Matthias Goerne is majestic and tender, and thrillingly true on every note. ...Christine Schäfer... sings with such character, passion and tender sensitivity that I feel faintly guilty for mentioning the odd tiny fault.” BBC Music Magazine, July 2006 *****

“There have been several memorable recordings of Zemlinsky's masterpiece and this one, the first for many years, can be placed in their company.
Christoph Eschenbach and his soloists clearly agree that the Lyric Symphony is not simply an orchestral song-cycle but a symphonic music-drama: the resulting performance has all the vividness and immediacy of a live event yet – equally importantly – excessive histrionics are avoided. This is music that needs no nudging or special pleading to exercise its power and poignancy.
Matthias Goerne has the combination of vocal heft and lyric mellifluousness necessary to sustain the demanding lines of the work's four oddnumbered episodes. Perhaps the third section, with its particularly sumptuous orchestral backcloth, could have taken a degree or two more of sheer vocal refinement, but overall Goerne does full justice to the heart-rending finale.
Christine Schäfer is especially convincing in the dramatic final stages of the second movement, and also in the expressionistic sixth. Ideally, the fourth movement's gentle lover's plea might be even more rapt, more other-worldly than it is here. But this reading fits well with the interpretation as a whole. The voices are forwardly placed without loss of orchestral detail, and only in the brief, turbulent fifth movement might one feel that the instrumental sound needs more edge. Even so, the orchestral playing throughout is superb.”
Gramophone Classical Music Guide, 2010

GGramophone Magazine

Editor's Choice - July 2006

CD Review

Critics Disc of the Year - December 2006

BBC Music Magazine

Disc of the month - July 2006

BBC Music Magazine Awards 2007

Award for Technical Excellence in Recording

Super Audio CD

Format:

Hybrid Multi-channel

Capriccio - CAP71081

(SACD)

$18.49

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Other Finalists

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Mendelssohn: Octet in E flat major, Op. 20, etc.

Bruch:

Octet in B flat major, Op. post. (1920)

Mendelssohn:

Octet in E flat major, Op. 20


Zsolt Fejérvári (double bass)

Kodaly Quartet & Auer Quartet

'Featuring two of Hungary’s finest quartets, this performance [of the Mendelssohn] captures all the youthful fervour of the opening Allegro moderato, the brilliant delicacy of the Scherzo and the driving perpetual motion of the Finale, while also finding an air of mystery and unexpected darkness in the slow movement.' Erik Levi - BBC Music Magazine

“Featuring two of Hungary's finest quartets, this performance captures all the youthful fervour of the opening Allegro moderato, the brilliant delicacy of the Scherzo and the driving perpetual motion of the Finale, whilst also finding an air of mystery and unexpected darkness in the slow movement.” BBC Music Magazine, July 2006 *****

BBC Music Magazine Awards 2007

Chamber Finalist

Naxos - 8557270

(CD)

$6.99

In stock - usually despatched within 1 working day.

Pilgrimage to Santiago
listen:
Morales: Parce mihi Domineplay
Mouton: Nesciens Materplay

Pilgrimage to Santiago


 

Music from the twelfth-century Codex Calixtinus

O virgo splendens

from the Llibre Vermell

Clemens:

O Maria vernans rosa

Sanctus

Dufay:

Rite majorem

Lasso:

Justorum Animae

Morales:

Parce mihi domine

Mouton, J:

Nesciens Mater

Palestrina:

Jesu Rex admirabilis

Victoria:

Missa O quam gloriosum

O quam gloriosum, motet

Vadam et circuibo


The Monteverdi Choir, John Eliot Gardiner

recorded: All Hallows, Gospel Oak, London - May 2005

“Unaccompanied, the Monteverdi Choir goes back to its roots in a programme which harnesses scholarship and singing of breathtaking beauty.” Gramophone Magazine, October 2008

“This is a staggeringly sung disc of some staggeringly beautiful music … an act of rapt devotion, be it religious or simply musical” Sunday Times

“This is an anthology that has been compiled with scrupulous care. It’s beautifully varied and exquisitely sung” The Guardian

GGramophone Magazine

Editor's Choice - February 2007

BBC Music Magazine

Choral & Song Choice - December 2006

BBC Music Magazine Awards 2007

Choral Finalist

20% off SDG

SDG - SDG701

(CD)

Normally: $16.99

Special: $13.59

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Baltic Voices 3

Baltic Voices 3


Augustinas:

The Flax-picking song

Bergman, E:

Vier Galgenlieder Op. 51b

Gorecki:

Five Kurpian Songs, Op. 75

Gudmundsen-Holmgreen:

Statements

Martinaitis:

Alleluia

Mazulis:

The dazzled eye lost its speech

Saariaho:

Nuits, adieux

(CD premiere)

Tüür:

Meditatio

with Raschèr Saxophone Quartet


The Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir, Paul Hillier

“Once again Paul Hillier and his Estonian choir provide a varied programme of new choral works by Baltic composers. Despite a wide gamut of styles, each composition has an immediacy that is not always found in contemporary music.” BBC Music Magazine

“Harmonia Mundi's recording is unimpeachable...A quality issue this, and a high priority, surely, for anyone interested in the contemporary choral repertoire.” Gramophone Magazine

“Paul Hillier continues his top–class 'Baltic Voices' series with a compilation that embraces Denmark, Finland, Estonia, Lithuania and Poland. It is an attractive, stylistically wide– ranging programme, one that carefully avoids the obvious in its choice of pieces. The styles range from pseudo–medievalism (Augustinas) through 'sculptural minimalism' (Gudmundsen– Holmgreen) to modernism (Saariaho, with a version of Nuits, adieux that transfers its original electronic effects to the choir), by way of 'spiral canon' (MaOulis), elaborated Sprechstimme (Bergman), new spirituality (Martinaitis), ascetic ritualism (Tüür, whose Meditatio strikes me as the intellectually toughest yet most rewarding music on the disc and least deserves having a label pinned on it), and straightforward folksiness (Górecki, in soft–grained but undeniably memorable form).
Not all of the works are on an especially exalted level but they are well chosen as vehicles for displaying the versatility and polish of Hillier's fine Estonian singers. Harmonia Mundi's recording is unimpeachable and the disc comes with a thoughtful background essay as well as notes on composers and works, all by Hillier, plus texts and translations presented with scrupulous care. A quality issue this, then, and a high priority, surely, for anyone interested in the contemporary choral repertoire.”
Gramophone Classical Music Guide, 2010

“Letters posted to friends at home: that's how Paul Hillier describes the three volumes of choral music which have resonated far and wide as Baltic Voices - voices of both a wide range of composers, and of his Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir. You couldn't wish for more varied and more endlessly absorbing letters home, nor for one premiere more thrillingly different from another.” BBC Music Magazine, January 2006 *****

GGramophone Magazine

Editor's Choice - February 2006

BBC Music Magazine Awards 2007

Choral Finalist

Up to 25% off Harmonia Mundi

Harmonia Mundi - HMU907391

(CD)

Normally: $17.49

Special: $13.11

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Hamburg 1734

Hamburg 1734


Böhm, G:

Prelude, Fugue & Postlude in G minor

Buxtehude:

Prelude and Fugue in G minor, BuxWV163

Handel:

Keyboard Suite, HWV 435 (Chaconne) in G major

Mattheson:

Der Ober-Classe Dreizehntes Prob-Stück

Der Ober-Classe Siebendes Prob-Stück

Pauset:

Entrée - for Anthony

Scheidemann:

Pavana Lachrymae in D minor

Telemann:

Ouverture burlesque in D minor (from "Der Getreue Music-Meister")

Aus "Hamburger Ebb und Fluth" TWV 55/C3

Aus der "Alster-Ouvertüre" F-dur TWV 55/F11

Weckmann:

Toccata IV in A minor


Andreas Staier (harpsichord Anthony Sidey after Hass)

Hamburg, 1734. The most extravagant of harpsichord builders, Hieronÿmus Albrecht Hass, created an instrument whose sonority was inspired by the variety and amplitude of the organ. Here, on a copy of this unique harpsichord, Andreas Staier plays pieces by the finest composers who were attracted to the Hanseatic city: a riot of colours!

“a stimulating and at times extravagantly expressive recital” BBC Music Magazine *****

“…in Andreas Staier's own words, 'this programme is a declaration of love to Georg Philipp Telemann, perhaps the wittiest, most charming and most cheerful composer Germany has ever produced'. …a stimulating and at times extravagantly expressive recital.” BBC Music Magazine, February 2006 *****

BBC Music Magazine

Instrumental Choice - February 2006

BBC Music Magazine Awards 2007

Instrumental Finalist

Up to 25% off Harmonia Mundi

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Dukas: Piano Sonata

Dukas: Piano Sonata


Decaux:

Clairs de lune

Dukas:

Piano Sonata in E flat minor


Marc-André Hamelin (piano)

Hamelin is a cult figure to pianophiles, his phenomenal technique matched by an intellectual musicality that’s second to none. Dukas’s gargantuan Sonata, light years away from The Sorcerer’s Apprentice, could seem a white elephant, but Hamelin’s magic touch transforms it into a masterpiece. And the weird world of Decaux is a revelation. Jessica Duchen - BBC Music Magazine

“Dukas's E flat minor Sonata (1900) is a rare (the only?) French example of the form from this period. Lasting more than 45 minutes, each of its four movements is underpinned by almost unremitting motion. The chromaticism of the first owes an obvious debt to Franck; the second has prescient touches of Scriabin and Debussy; the outer sections of the third are an Alkanesque toccata with a haunting mystérieuse central section, while the equally virtuosic finale shows that while Dukas remains firmly his own man, he also knew his Schumann and Liszt.
Hamelin, one needs hardly say, makes light of any difficulty, clarifying complex textures and subtly highlighting different voices with myriad keyboard colours. It is this facility that sometimes leads to a certain coolness and lack of (audible) engagement. Not here: this performance has an expressive power and intense emotional involvement that make it one of his most successful recordings – and that is saying something.
For those who have never previously encountered Dukas's companion on this CD, Abel Decaux (1869-1943) – and you'd not be alone – was a French organist (pupil of Widor and Guilmant) who studied composition with Massenet. What the composer of Manon and Werther would have made of the four pieces that comprise Clairs de lune (note the plural), one can only guess. Written between 1900 and 1907, they were not published till a year after Massenet's death in 1912. Listen blindfold and you might think, as Roger Nichols points out in his informative notes, that you were listening to Schoenberg or Debussy – except that Decaux's pieces pre-date both of them. Not for everyday listening, but fascinating nevertheless and a further example of this great pianist's extraordinary musical savoir-faire and his invaluable, unflagging curiosity.”
Gramophone Classical Music Guide, 2010

BBC Music Magazine

Instrumental Choice - June 2006

BBC Music Magazine Awards 2007

Instrumental Finalist

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Hyperion - CDA67513

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Wagner: Tristan und Isolde

Wagner: Tristan und Isolde


John Treleaven, Christine Brewer, Peter Rose, Dagmar Peckova

BBC Symphony Orchestra, Donald Runnicles

“You would certainly have to go far to hear it better sung in the opera house. Christine Brewer’s Isolde had gleaming power, amplitude and amazing technical security… John Treleaven’s Tristan sang with ringing, clarion tone yet was capable of scaling down the voice in the intimate moments…” (The Times, February 2003)

“…the Tristan of John Treleaven… makes a great deal of the part, and rises to noble heights in Act III. Christine Brewer is quite stupendous, the finest Isolde I have heard for decades… There is no weak link in the cast, even such a small role as the traitor Melot being sung with distinction by Jared Holt. And Donald Runnicles provides a very detailed account of this inexhaustible score. Listening to these discs straight through is a shattering experience.” BBC Music Magazine, October 2006 *****

BBC Music Magazine

Opera Choice - October 2006

BBC Music Magazine Awards 2007

Opera Finalist

Warner Classics - 2564629642

(CD - 4 discs)

$36.49

Usually despatched in 4 - 5 working days.

Haydn: Orlando Paladino

Haydn: Orlando Paladino


Patricia Petibon (soprano), Christian Gerhaher (baritone), Michael Schade (tenor), Malin Hartelius (soprano), Werner Güra (tenor), Johannes Kalpers (tenor), Markus Schäfer (tenor), Elisabeth von Magnus (mezzo-soprano) & Florian Boesch (bass)

Concentus Musicus Wein, Nikolaus Harnoncourt

“The musical adventurer par excellence,… the scholarly conductor with temperament, the thinking musician who makes music with rough edges.” Gramophone

“Orlando paladino is at the summit of Haydn's operatic art, and Harnoncourt's well-cast version is strongly recommended.” BBC Music Magazine, August 2009

“Nikolaus Harnoncourt boldly proclaims that Orlando Paladino 'is one of the best works in 18th-century music theatre'. Written to commemorate a visit by Russian royalty to Eszterháza that never materialised, Orlando Paladino was first performed in 1782, in celebration of Prince Nikolaus's name-day.
Sabine Gruber's conversational essay explains how Haydn's musical portraits show an astute affection for Ariosto's epic poem. Although Haydn's Orlando Paladino seems part-pantomime, part-fantasy, these characters are never conscious that they are not what they protest to be. Like Ariosto, Haydn lets the audience in on the joke but the characters remain blissfully oblivious to the hypocrisy or naivety of their richly ironic statements to themselves and each other.
Harnoncourt's exemplary team of singers deliver deadpan comedy. For instance, Werner Güra takes on an opera seria posture as the romantic 'hero' Medoro in 'Parto, Ma, oh Dio': the glorious musical language suggests he suffers from sincere passion, but his real motivation is cowardice. One imagines that Patricia Petibon's Angelica is merely emulating the heroic fidelity and courage of women like Mozart's Konstanze but during 'Non partir, mia bella face' one suspects that there is sincerity in her after all: Angelica is facing possible abandonment and her vulnerability shows through. Michael Schade's voice is smokier than it used to be but his powerful resonant high notes, expressive weight and authority suggest that Orlando is more victim than villain. Only the comic secondary roles sung by Markus Schäfer and Malin Hartelius get hammed up, but they each sing with élan.
There is a vivid sense of dramatic intensity in this live concert recording. It is historically absurd to employ a lute as part of the continuo team in a late-18th-century opera but Harnoncourt leads Concentus Musicus Wien through a fizzing theatrical performance. This is comfortably among the finest Haydn opera recordings, although the stingy omission of scene numbers and stage directions from the libretto is unhelpful.”
Gramophone Classical Music Guide, 2010

“Harnoncourt's exemplary team of singers deliver deadpan comedy. There is a vivid sense of dramatic intensity in this live concert recording. …Harnoncourt leads Concentus Musicus Wien through a fizzing theatrical performance. This is comfortably among the finest Haydn opera recordings...” Gramophone, October 2006

BBC Music Magazine Awards 2007

Opera Finalist

Deutsche HM - 82876733702

(CD - 2 discs)

$22.99

Usually despatched in 3 - 4 working days.

Bax - Tone Poems Volume 1

Bax - Tone Poems Volume 1


Bax:

In the Faery Hills

The Garden of Fand

November Woods

Sinfonietta


BBC Philharmonic, Vernon Handley

'This recording makes a splendid follow-up to Vernon Handley’s set of the complete Bax symphonies: here some of the composer’s most powerful orchestral writing receives committed, full-blooded performance, the complex textures ideally balanced and recorded.' Calum MacDonald - BBC Music Magazine

“…some of the composer's most powerful orchestral writing receives utterly committed, full-blooded performance, the complex textures ideally balanced and superbly recorded.” BBC Music Magazine, May 2006 *****

“In the Faery Hills and The Garden of Fand are among Bax's loveliest and most loveable creations, and though the windswept November Woods is far less tuneful, its emotional undercurrents run unfathomably deep. Bryden Thomson's shimmering, sensuous interpretations of these scores, recorded for Chandos some 20 years ago, laid bare the music's Impressionist roots; Vernon Handley (in an encore to his Gramophone Award-winning set of Bax's symphonies – see page 115) takes a tougher, more vigorous view. The only place he's notably slower than Thomson is in NovemberWoods, yet how much darker and more ominous are the leaden skies that Handley paints. Indeed, even in such sensitive hands as Boult's, some of the stormier passages sound rather like film music, while Handley's deliberate focus on motivic clarity brings out a Wagnerian grandeur and gravity that strengthen the work's narrative backbone.
In The Garden of Fand and In the Faery Hills Handley adopts brisk tempi, occasionally pushing the music into a kind of giddy ecstasy that makes Thomson's fragrant, graceful readings sound downright languorous. If only the BBC Philharmonic were as flatteringly recorded as Thomson's Ulster Orchestra or, for that matter, the RSNO in David Lloyd-Jones's superb Naxos cycle. Lloyd-Jones's dynamic direction is similar in spirit to Handley's, in fact, and almost as arrestingly characterised – but not quite. This restless, syncopated score may not be top-drawer Bax but the Manchester musicians play it with the fervour of true believers.”
Gramophone Classical Music Guide, 2010

BBC Music Magazine

Orchestral Choice - May 2006

BBC Music Magazine Awards 2007

Orchestral Finalist

Chandos - CHAN10362

(CD)

$17.49

In stock - usually despatched within 1 working day.

Ravel: Boléro, etc.

Ravel:

Boléro

Pavane pour une infante défunte

Rapsodie Espagnole

La Valse

Piano Concerto in D major (for the left hand)

Claire Chevalier (piano)


Anima Eterna (on period instruments), Jos aan Immerseel

'In the Left Hand Concerto, Claire Chevallier’s technique fully matches her musicianship. Whatever recordings you may have of these works, this disc is a must, balancing opulence against clarity in the orchestral sound and respecting the diamond-hard construction on which Ravel lavished so many sleepless nights.' Roger Nichols - BBC Music Magazine

“…the left Hand Concerto Claire Chevallier does not match Krystian Zimerman's brilliance and drive. The point is, she is not trying to. Her interpretation… is more lyrical and reflective and at times more sheerly beautiful - in fact much closer to that of Ravel's chosen interpreter Jacques Février. Whatever recordings you may have of these works, this disc is a must, balancing opulence against clarity in the orchestral sound and respecting the diamond-hard construction on which Ravel lavished so many sleepless nights.” BBC Music Magazine, October 2006 *****

“…the perfect showcase for period instruments from early in the 20th century. …the 1905 Erard piano used in the Left-Hand Concerto, with its rather clangy, clattering tone, gives extra clarity to the flourishes in the piano part. With Claire Chevallier a most sensitive soloist, very French in style, the piano is the more clearly defined over the highly original, generally low-lying orchestration, growling up from nowhere at the start.” Gramophone, October 2006

BBC Music Magazine Awards 2007

Orchestral Finalist

Zigzag - ZZT060901

(CD)

$17.99

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Canciones Argentinas

Canciones Argentinas


Buchardo:

Canción del carretero

Canción de Perico

Si lo hallas...

Vidala

Jujeña

Prendiditos la mano

Fleury, Abel:

Cruzando tu olvido / Camino de tu recuerdo

Gianneo:

Seis Coplas

Gómez Carrillo:

La ofrenda del trovador

Bailecito cantado

Guastavino:

Encantamiento

Campanilla, ¿adónde vas?

Pampamapa

Préstame tu pañuelito

Las puertas de la mañana

Abismo de sed

Mi viña de Chapanay

El Sampedrino

Pueblito, mi pueblo, Cancion Argentina (1957)

Lasala:

Tropilla de estrellas

Piazzólla:

Los Pajaros Perdidos

Jacinto Chiclana

El titere

Williams, A:

Milonga calabacera


Bernarda Fink (mezzo-soprano), Marcos Fink (baritone) & Carmen Piazzini (piano)

Accompanied by a noted specialist in Argentine piano music, brother and sister make a rare appearance together to honour a colourful musical heritage, the ‘chamber song’ born in Buenos Aires around 1900 and passed on from generation to generation right up to Guastavino and Astor Piazzolla. The subject here is love, love of a generous land, and memories: each song subtly distils a serene melancholy which has the flavour of life itself and the consciousness of the passage of time.

“these songs burst with gorgeous, heartbreaking melodies…I can feel CD-of-the-year mode coming on” BBC Music Magazine

“As much as popular Latin American music, these songs burst with gorgeous, heartbreaking melodies… the music is a distinct development Spanish styles, almost larger than life as it responds to works that carry a powerful feeling for place as well as the tragic emotions of failed love. The singers, deftly accompanied by Carmen Piazzini and warmly recorded, delivery with refinement and passion.” BBC Music Magazine, May 2006 *****

BBC Music Magazine

Choral & Song Choice - May 2006

BBC Music Magazine Awards 2007

Vocal Finalist

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Harmonia Mundi - HMC901892

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Wolf Lieder - Eichendorff and Goethe settings
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Wolf Lieder - Eichendorff and Goethe settings


Wolf, H:

Eichendorff-Lieder

Mörike-Lieder

Goethe-Lieder


Ian Bostridge (tenor) & Antonio Pappano (piano)

“Bostridge’s ability to inhabit and dramatise the poetry of Wolf’s settings is extraordinary. This compelling programme has you on the edge of your seat, not least to catch every inflection of Pappano’s superlative musicianship: he has grand designs for these intimate songs, investing them with a supple, simmering passion, and mining their rich seam of expression with magical results.” BBC Music Magazine

“If Hugo Wolf is still something of a distant figure for you, then this latest select anthology of his songs should certainly bring them into close focus… Ian Bostridge and Antonio Pappano bring out the best in each other - and in Wolf himself.” BBC Music Magazine, October 2006 *****

“Recordings of Wolf songs are rare today, ones sung by tenors even rarer, yet here comes one to delight the ear. Ian Bostridge's choice of songs is typically fastidious, his interpretation of them full of the intelligence, understanding and musicality we expect from him.
With Antonio Pappano in wonderfully supportive, positive form, they rise to inspired heights in the central group of Mörike settings – Im Frühling, Auf ein altes Bild, Gebet, An den Schlaf and An die Geliebte. In these contrasting songs of religious insight and deep love, Bostridge performs with a kind of inward concentration and then elatory spirit, coupled with his rapt palpitating tone, that precisely matches with Wolf's masterpieces. He is perhaps even better in the Goethe setting Ganymed, which can seldom if ever have received such a rapturous performance, and brings the recital to a satisfying close.
Against these wonders must be set songs where his syllabic emphasis and tendency to Sprechgesang lead to performances that sound mincing: Begegnung, Nimmersatte Liebe (grossly overdone) and, earlier among the Eichendorff songs, Nachtzauber.
Here the wish to extract something from every word robs the songs of their natural flow, though among the Eichendorff settings, the over-familiar Verschwiegene Liebe receives an unfettered and restorative reading.
Bostridge, with Pappano an always inventive partner, makes you hear the songs – like it or not – anew. One may not always capitulate to the results, but Wolf is a composer who, above all, benefits from two artists willing to live dangerously.
They are helped by John Fraser's well balanced and full-bodied recording.”
Gramophone Classical Music Guide, 2010

GGramophone Magazine

Editor's Choice - Awards Issue 2006

BBC Music Magazine Awards 2007

Vocal Finalist

EMI - 3422562

(CD)

$17.49

(Not available)

Usually despatched in 4 - 5 working days.

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