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GRAMOPHONE 2018

BEST NEW CLASSICAL ALBUMS


Martin Cullingford's pick of the finest recordings from this month's reviews.
Here are the titles available from Naxos Direct.
Selailu 44 tuotteet
Image RECORDING OF THE MONTH - JUNE
Crusell Clarinet Concertos
Swedish Chamber Orchestra / Michael Collins cl

"These three early-19th-century concerto showpieces delightfully bring out the best of the clarinet as an instrument, and Michael Collins as a player of real virtuosity and character. Enjoy!" (Gramophone)

Michael Collins OBE embraces the double role of conductor and soloist in this thrilling revelation of clarinet treasures by the Finnish composer Bernhard Henrik Crusell, masterly supported by the fresh and spontaneous Swedish Chamber Orchestra. A clarinettist and composer, Crusell wrote works that were altogether more ambitious than any by his contemporaries. He achieved fame for his melodic inflection, his highly nuanced technique, and his beautiful sound, for which the three concertos, featured here, interpreted by one of today’s most internationally respected clarinettists, are an ideal vehicle. The level of virtuosity indeed makes severe technical demands on the soloist, as in the Introduction et air suédois, featured in the revised version published in 1829. But in the roundness of tone and evenness in quality throughout the range of the instrument produced by Collins lies the lasting attraction of a compelling musical discourse that has ensured Crusell’s recent widespread revival way beyond the world of the clarinet and its devotees.

19,95 €
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Beethoven Symphonies Nos 4 & 5
Vienna Symphony Orchestra / Philippe Jordan

"This is turning out to be a cycle well worth following; as with January’s Nos 1 and 3, this pairing reveals maestro and musicians in a perfectly shared vision." (Gramophone)

The Road to Beethoven. For the first time in their history, the Wiener Symphoniker will release a complete Beethoven symphonies cycle on CD. The Wiener Symphoniker wrote music history with the first performances of works by Bruckner, Ravel and Schoenberg. And under the baton of such illustrious music directors as Wilhelm Furtwängler, Herbert von Karajan, Carlo Maria Giulini or Georges Prêtre they acquired worldwide fame for their unique Viennese sound. Considering its rich, more than a century long history, it comes as a surprise that the orchestra has never before recorded a full cycle of the nine symphonies by Ludwig van Beethoven which are widely considered to constitute the apex of the symphonic repertoire. This shortcoming is about to be remedied: Starting in autumn 2017, the Wiener Symphoniker will release the full cycle on 5 CDs. With a new CD of the series to be released every 6 months, the full cycle will be completed just in time for the 250th anniversary of the birth of Beethoven in 2020. The symphonies were recorded live during a critically acclaimed concert cycle in Spring/Summer 2017 in the Great Hall of the Musikverein Wien. At these concerts, the international press specifically praised Jordan’s approach to combining a traditional Viennese sound with a more contemporary, slimmed down interpretation of the material, original tempi and insights from the historically informed performance practice. Through a close reading of the score and by focusing on the content of the works, Jordan aimed to create – in his words – a “more natural, direct, humanised“ image of the famous composer.

19,95 €
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Bernstein Orchestral Works
Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra / Christian Lindberg

"Anyone looking to discover Leonard Bernstein’s own music in his anniversary year would do very well to start here: an album full of rhythm and life." (Gramophone)


1944 saw the premiere of the ballet Fancy Free, 25-year old Leonard Bernstein’s first major composition as well as the first in a string of scores for the stage and film. In order to celebrate the centennial of Bernstein’s birth in 1918, Christian Lindberg has gathered music from five different productions spanning a period of 13 years – from Fancy Freeto the iconic musical West Side Story, premiered in 1957. The disc is bookended by the sparkling and witty Overture to Candide and Three Dance Episodes from the musical On the Town.

Also included is the substantial Symphonic Suite from ‘On the Waterfront’, developed by Bernstein from the score he wrote for Elia Kazan’s classic film. The drama of this tale of love and betrayal set amid the docks of Hoboken in New Jersey is brought out by Bernstein’s music, which seethes with dramatic tension. Making its first appearance on BIS in these flamboyant and life-enhancing scores, the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra clearly relishes the opportunity to let its collective hair down. The players are egged on by Lindberg, known for his ability to energize both orchestras and audiences.

19,95 €
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Walton Viola Concerto. Orchestral Works
James Ehnes va BBC Symphony Orchestra / Edward Gardner

"Edward Gardner’s Walton journey continues with another superb release, and another superb soloist – this time James Ehnes in the Viola Concerto." (Gramophone)

In this third volume of Edward Gardner’s Walton series with the BBC Symphony Orchestra, James Ehnes leaves his violin to tackle the taxing soloist role in the Viola Concerto.In a recent Strad interview, Ehnes confesses: ‘This is a piece I have loved since I was a teenager, so it is wonderful that the opportunity has come my way to record it... With Walton’s Viola Concerto, none of the writing is impossible but a lot of it is close. And in a way that is exactly where you want it to be: on the edge of technical limitations. There’s a tremendous amount of excitement in that.’This album in surround sound also features two much later works: the 1957 Partita for Orchestra and the Sonata for String Orchestra, adapted in 1971 from the String Quartet in A minor of 1945 – 47. There is a striking contrast between the uncomfortable modernism of the up-and-coming young composer’s Viola Concerto and the relaxed brilliance of the mature Partita. But the Sonata shows Walton late in his life re-engaging as an arranger with his earlier manner, and so with the characteristic vein of restless unease that runs through most of his output.

19,95 €
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Haydn Piano Trios
Trio Wanderer

"When our resident Haydn advocate – David Threasher – suggests I listen to a new recording of the composer’s piano trios, it would be remiss not to! Played and recorded with great clarity throughout; a wonderful release." (Gramophone)

The great popularity of the piano trio enabled Haydn to explore countless formal and harmonic experiments; while the keyboard remains the central element in the musical structure, the strings give the discourse a subtle colouration, and the violin is often assigned independent musical ideas. This elegant three-way dialogue, conducted here by the Trio Wanderer, is as impressive for its originality as for its supreme stylistic virtuosity. Haydn was a past master at this little game, and still remains so centuries later!

19,95 €
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‘1700’ 
Concerto Italiano / Rinaldo Alessandrini 

"The strong sense of ensemble generated by Rinaldo Alessandrini and his impeccable colleagues makes for a delightful, elegant and thrilling visit to the musical world of 18th-century Italy." (Gramophone)

Following on from the noteworthy album ‘1600', released in 2012, ‘1700' is a vibrant homage to Italian Baroque, in which Rinaldo Alessandrini has brought together the most outstand-ing Italian composers of the first half of the eighteenth century: Locatelli, Mascitti, Vivaldi, Caldara, Durante, Ga-luppi and Pugnani. All of these com-posers went into exile, serv-ing prestigious foreign courts. They each evolved the ‘Italian style,’ based either on their own tastes or those of the country in which they had taken refuge. Each composer created his own share of wonders, to which Maestro Alessandrini’s intelligent and re-fined interpretation brings a passionate fresh perspective.

“Throughout the eighteenth century, and to a considerable extent, the fate of many Italian composers was to emigrate, and serve at courts and chapels far from home. Many of them broke away from the rules governing the legato style of their home country, developing a completely independent personality through the mingling of musical languages and the superimposition of tastes and fashions. Accordingly, in their works national styles lose their sharply-defined con-tours, as they undergo a process of personal and subtle assimilation of the most striking aspects of their host country’s musical culture.

In particular, the Italians exported their taste for melodic cantabile, their elegance, and a certain kind of histrionic individualism inherited from the opera stage and the great instrumental virtuosi. The encounter with musical Europe often caused a realignment of those elements, though they remained one of the multiple components of the composers’ personalities.”

19,95 €
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Schubert Piano Sonata No 21. Four Impromptus 
Marc-André Hamelin pf 

"All new recordings by Marc-André Hamelin, one of our most inquisitive and virtuosic pianists, are eagerly anticipated; that this Schubert set should earn our critic’s high recommendation demonstrates why." (Gramophone) 

The heavenly lengths of Schubert’s last piano sonata and second set of impromptus: Marc-André Hamelin captures the other-worldliness of these sublime, quintessentially ‘late’ works as do few other pianists.

19,95 €
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M Lambert Leçons de Ténèbres
Marc Mauillon bass et al

"Marc Mauillon’s interpretation lends a strongly personal and communicative power and intimacy to a recording of these contemplative works written for the darkening days of Holy Week." (Gramophone)

'None of us knew what to expect when we took the plunge into the first cycle of the Leçons de Ténèbres by Lambert. The secular work of this great master of the French XVII Century – one of the great singers and pedagogues of his time – was known to us, each one of us having performed many times his wonderful court airs. We thereupon thought that we were on known territory and able to adapt ourselves to suit his religious music, even though it seemed odd to us that these Leçons were not better known or often performed and even less recorded – this first cycle being the very first recording. But from the first working session, we understood why. It took a good three hours just to read the first Leçon – for about ten minutes worth of music! Indeed, the vocal line, abundantly ornamented with Gregorian ‘plainchant ’, is not rhythmically rigorously organised in relation to the basso continuo line. We therefore had to put in place both parts, melodic and harmonic, with a very careful and well thought out approach. Nonetheless, once we got over these initial hurdles, the music revealed itself to us in all its beauty and its singular depth, the sobriety and the expressivity of the plain-chant comes through almost as a kind of watermark behind the genius and endlessly renewed inventiveness of the ornamentation. We took on the huge task of adapting this score, which had always remained a puzzle for musicologists who in actual fact were very interested in hearing our interpretation in the light of the latest research. Several stages were necessary in order to find the best solution for performing this work whilst remaining as faithful as possible to the original source. Faced with ornamentation both prolific and virtuosic, equally precise as it is mysterious, conserving moments of unexpected liberty in the middle of a very restrained form, one of the major challenges was to find a specific vocality and an adapted continuo, taking us back to the very heart of our artistic research. It is rare, that as a musician we are to such a point interrogated by a score and each one of us by bringing his stone to the edifice, truly lived this adventure as a gift. According to witnesses at the time, we know that these Leçons by Michel Lambert were performed by three singers during the Tenebrae services but we chose the option in this recording of providing a version for male voice, to take into account the fact that our composer himself must have sung these pieces – the score, even if we know that it is not autographed, leads us to believe that it is more of an ‘aide-mémoire’ rather than a ready to be performed version – and that he sang his own court airs, even though they were written for soprano. He also played the accompaniment, probably on the theorbo – in the company of the gambist and theorbist Nicolas Hotman, of whom we have chosen a few instrumental pieces made use of as preludes, postludes, meditations and phrases in between these Leçons, which at the time were placed in the middle of liturgical services, three days before Easter... If the experience suggested here differs from that which was originally anticipated for these pieces, it’s nevertheless worth being listened to notably for the meditative state into which it plunges us. Now we can share with you our gift!'

23,50 €
Image DVD/BLU RAY: JUNE
Mahler Symphony No 1
Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra / Riccardo Chailly

"An opportunity to hear Riccardo Chailly’s insight into Mahler’s First Symphony, both from the perspective of the podium through this filmed performance of 2015, and in interview." (Gramophone)

Gustav Mahler. Symphony No. 1 in D major. Gewandhausorchester Leipzig. Riccardo Chailly. Including bonus: Interview with Riccardo Chailly on Gustav Mahler‘s Symphony No. 1. Gustav Mahler‘s Symphony No. 1 is an incomprehensible wonder of music history, rigorously peculiar, disturbingly new, and timelessly modern. “Wie ein Naturlaut” („Like a sound of nature“) is indicated above the frst notes of the symphony. It is both the prelude and the key to his symphonic cosmos as a whole. Mahler‘s music captures this music of the world, transforms it into a symphony in the old, comprehensive sense of the word and uses it to create his master-piece of harmony. From the connotation of militarily marches to folk songs, from dance and popular music to animal sounds: everything has its place in Mahler‘s symphonic world.Composed over the course of just a few months at the beginning of 1888 in Leipzig, Gustav Mahler’s Symphony No. 1 is a true musical awakening. Riccardo Chailly and the Gewandhausorchester Leipzig bring Mahler’s sounds of nature to life in a riveting performance. Recorded at the Gewandhaus zu Leipzig, January 2015

28,95 €
Image RECORDING OF THE MONTH - MAY
Bartók Violin Concertos
Christian Tetzlaff; Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra / Hannu Lintu

"From the fierce rhythms to the moments of great fragility, Christian Tetzlaff, a supreme soloist, and Hannu Lintu take us on a thrilling journey through Bartók’s two violin concertos." (Gramophone)

Star violinist Christian Tetzlaff performs Béla Bartók’s (1881–1945) two masterpieces in a new recording with Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra conducted by Hannu Lintu. This recording continues both artists’ highly successful series of recordings on Ondine. The two violin concertos of Béla Bartók (1881–1945), completed thirty years apart in 1908 and 1938 respectively, celebrated relationships with two Hungarian violinists: the first romantic, with Stefi Geyer and the second artistic, with Zoltán Székely. Bartók’s 1st Violin Concerto was published posthumously after the composer’s death in 1956, but Bartók reused the opening movement as the first of his Two Portraits for orchestra. He remarked in a letter written in late 1907 or early 1908 that ‘I have never written such direct music before’. Bartók completed two movements that portray the character of Stefi Geyer to whom the work was written to. Completed towards the end of 1938, Bartók’s three-movement 2nd Violin Concerto was a much more substantial concerto than his first essay in the medium and it was dedicated ‘to my dear friend Zoltán Székely’. Székely’s name can also be found in the of his Second Rhapsody. Bartók adopted a rather unusual approach to the overall form of the Second Violin Concerto and the impact of both rural folk music and urban verbunkos on his language can be found in the Second Violin Concerto. Christian Tetzlaff is considered one of the world’s leading international violinists and maintains a most extensive performing schedule. Musical America named him ‘Instrumentalist of the Year’ in 2005 and his recording of the violin concertos by Mendelssohn and Schumann, released on Ondine in 2011 (ODE 1195-2), received the ‘Preis der deutschen Schallplattenkritik’. Gramophone Magazine was choosing the recording of the Schumann Violin Sonatas with Lars Vogt (ODE 1205-2) as ‘Disc of the Month’ in January 2014. In addition, in 2015 ICMA awarded Christian Tetzlaff as the ‘Artist of the Year’. His recordings on Ondine with Brahms’ Trios (ODE 1271-2D) and Violin Concertos by Dvorák and Suk (1279-5) released in 2015 and 2016 earned GRAMMY nominations. Recordings by the Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra under Hannu Lintu on Ondine have gathered excellent reviews in the international press. Their most recent release with orchestral works and songs by Jean Sibelius (ODE 1289-5) won an ICMA Award in January 2018. The same album was also Editor’s Choice in Gramophone Magazine and Orchestral Choice in the BBC Music Magazine.

19,95 €
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EDITOR'S CHOICE MAY 2018
"An enjoyable cycle reaches its conclusion in considerable style - the rapport between Lars Vogt and his Nortern Sinfonia feels natural and joyous after a rewarding journey."
Gramophone


This recording is the final volume in Lars Vogt’s new cycle of Beethoven’s Piano Concertos on Ondine. This recording includes Piano Concertos Nos. 2 and 4, two outstanding examples of Beethoven's writing. Conducting Royal Northern Sinfonia from the keyboard, Vogt’s fresh interpretations of Beethoven concertos have been widely welcomed, and recently he was nominated for Artist of the Year 2017 by the Gramophone magazine. Beethoven’s 2nd Piano Concerto was, with the exception of its last movement, largely written before 1789, and it predates the 1st Piano Concerto by several years. The work was premiered in 1795 with Beethoven debuting as piano soloist. The composer used this work as his visiting card but the work remained unpublished until 1801. This early work shows the influence of Mozart but at the same time it is a powerful evidence of Beethoven’s development as a composer towards maturity. This is manifested clearly in the beautiful slow movement of the concerto. Beethoven’s 4th Piano Concerto, considered by many as his best achievement in the field of piano concerto, was first publicly premiered in Vienna in 1808 in a concert together with the premieres of his 5th and 6th Symphonies and the Choral Fantasy. Beethoven opens this work in a revolutionary way by means of a calm dialogue between the piano and the orchestra. Throughout the work the soloist often has a supportive role while majority of themes are introduced by the orchestra. The second movement includes some of the most dramatic music that Beethoven ever wrote – only to be contrasted by the boundless joy and freedom of the final movement. Lars Vogt was appointed the first ever “Pianist in Residence” by the Berlin Philharmonic in 2003/04 and enjoys a high profile as a soloist and chamber musician. His debut solo recording on Ondine with Bach’s Goldberg Variations (ODE 1273-2) was released in August 2015 and has been a major critical success. The album’s tracks have also been streamed online over 6 million times. Lars Vogt started his tenure as Music Director of the Royal Northern Sinfonia in September 2015.

19,95 €
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EDITOR'S CHOICE MAY 2018
"One is left feeling that the hugely impressive Elias Quartet have thought about every nuance and detail of these works; add in the rich sound, and it's a very fine release indeed."
Gramophone


The Elias Quartet has already recorded a complete cycle of Beethoven quartets at Wigmore Hall that was extremely well received by the critics. Now Sara Bitlloch, Donald Grant, Martin Saving and Marie Bitlloch present on Alpha an album devoted to Schumann: ‘We have always had a special affection for Robert Schumann’s Third Quartet. It’s one of the first works we played together. Since then we have often come back to it, as if to a splendid and familiar region that we think we know thoroughly, but which yields up new secrets with each visit. The Second Quartet, on the other hand, was a much later and more complicated discovery for us. The writing is so personal, so unidiomatic for the instruments, so full of nuances, that to begin with we found it hard to come up with a unanimous voice for this work. The enthusiasm of the first movement can easily turn into anxiety if you push it a bit too far. In the slow movement, the texture is sometimes so bare that to convey its tenderness you have to sustain it with great fervour. The capricious Scherzo is bristling with rhythmic pitfalls and requires a diabolical mastery of the instruments, while the Finale is an endless explosion of joy!’

19,95 €
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EDITOR'S CHOICE MAY 2018
"If last month's interview with Paul Lewis whetted your appetite for what we hope may be a long Haydn sonata journey, this well chosen first set won't disappoint!"
Gramophone


Haydn’s relationship with the keyboard was so intimate and inspirational that it enabled him to develop any number of ideas of the most varied character, from the most whimsical to the most dramatic: highly attractive music – in general dedicated to ladies – that combines mischievousness, ingenuousness, eloquence and lyricism. A whole art of contrast, interpreted with unique grace by Paul Lewis!

19,95 €
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EDITOR'S CHOICE MAY 2018
"There's a sensitive, beguiling grace to Julien Brocal's playing throughout this recital, which seems to effortlessly convey a captivating world of colour and mood."
Gramophone


Julien Brocal’s debut album of Chopin Preludes and the 2nd Sonata was praised by critics when released last year, and he was rewarded the prestigeous BBC Music Magazine Awards 2018 as Newcomer of the Year. ‘A protégé of Maria Joao Pires, Julien Brocal has a lot to live up to, and this disc the first for both him and the new label Rubicon – does so beautifully’ Guardian, *****

‘You can hear the qualities Pires admires in his playing, there is a kind of meditative poetry to the Op. 28 Preludes, wrapt stillness, restraint and intensity and they emerge as an absorbing set making sense as a whole. […] An impressive Chopin recital debut for this protege of Maria João Pires, triumphantly vindicating her faith in Brocal, and the faith of this brand- new label Rubicon, something you shouldn’t have to cross to hear Chopin playing of this quality’ BBC Radio 3 Record Review

This is great Chopin, transparent and warm at the same time, fabulously played in both the left and the right, dosed with masterful touch and filled with an inexpressible longing for something that is impossible and yet lets it materialise somehow. In short, we are in the unfathomable realm of a Lipatti, Pollini, Blechacz … sometimes even Cortot.’ OpusKlassiek

‘Spellbinding Chopin’ BBC Music Magazine – Instrumental choice double 5 star rating Julien’s new album takes us to the border country between Spain and France – the Basque region and the two great pianist composers from that area, Spaniard Frederico Mompou and Frenchman Maurice Ravel. The two composers never met but it is unlikely the shy, somewhat timid Mompou would have enjoyed the more flamboyant Ravel’s company.

19,95 €
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EDITOR'S CHOICE MAY 2018
"The Tenebrae Responsories are full of poignant inner drama, something Victoria's music well embodies, and which Stile Antico powerfully capture in this highly communicative performance."
Gramophone


Born in 1548, Tomás Luis de Victoria received his early musical training as a chorister of Avila Cathedral under the tutelage of Gerónimo de Espinar and Bernardino de Ribera – the latter of whom can be counted amongst the greatest Spanish composers of his generation. Victoria was probably around seventeen when he travelled to Rome to continue his education at the Collegio Germanico. It was a city rich in opportunity for him, for he stayed there for the first half of his adult life, working as a singer, teacher, organist and maestro di cappella for several institutions including the Collegio Germanico, and taking holy orders. It was not until 1587 that, returning to his native Spain, Victoria settled in Madrid, serving as chaplain to the Dowager Empress Maria, and as maestro de capilla in the chapel of the Convent of Las Descalzas Reales, where she resided, until her death in 1603. After this he remained as chapel organist and one of the convent chaplains until his own death eight years later.

The Tenebrae Responsories come from a larger collection of polyphonic music for Holy Week, the Officium Hebdomadae Sanctae, which Victoria published in 1585, assembling a number of pieces he had written during his years in Rome. The responsories set here are part of the much longer office of Tenebrae, which essentially combined the monastic hours of Matins and Lauds for each of the last three days of Holy Week, the triduum sacrum.

19,95 €
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Raphaël Pichon has invited Stéphane Degout to make his recording debut for harmonia mundi in a multifaceted exploration of the Underworld. The French baritone reincarnates the figure of Henri Larrivée, the famous tragedian of Rameau and Gluck. Around a reconstruction of an imaginary Mass of the Dead, sacred and secular merge, revealing some of the most extraordinary pieces from the operatic repertory of the Enlightenment. Music of death and mourning on an epic scale that inspires Pygmalion to overwhelming heights of pathos.

A graduate of the Conservatoire National Supérieur de Musique de Lyon and member of the Atelier Lyrique de l’Opéra de Lyon, Stéphane Degout quickly came to international attention in his debut as Papageno at the Festival d’Aix-en-Provence. Since then, he has appeared on the world’s major operatic stages, namely the Opera de Paris, Théâtre des Champs-Élysées, Opéra Comique, Berlin Staatsoper, La Monnaie, Theater an der Wien, Royal Opera House, Lyric Opera Chicago, Metropolitan Opera, the Teatro alla Scala and the Bayerische Staatsoper. His numerous festival appearances include Salzburg, Glyndebourne, Aix-en-Provence, Edinburgh, Tokyo and Los Angeles.

Raphaël Pichon began his musical training at the Maîtrise des Petits Chanteurs de Versailles and went on to study singing, the violin and the piano at the Paris Conservatoires (CRR, CNSMDP). As a young countertenor he sang under the direction of Jordi Savall, Gustav Leonhardt, Ton Koopman, and Geoffroy Jourdain with whom he performed contemporary works. In 2006 he founded the ensemble Pygmalion, which combines a choir and a period instrument orchestra. The ensemble’s repertoire is nurtured by the filiations that link Bach to Mendelssohn, Schütz to Brahms, and Rameau to Gluck and Berlioz. Along with this group – now an associate ensemble at the Opéra de Bordeaux – he is invited to appear at leading festivals, where he has attracted attention with his interpretations of the sacred music of Bach and the tragédies lyriques of Rameau.

19,95 €
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EDITOR'S CHOICE MAY 2018
"A chance to see Aaron Copland conducting his own works - 'a great watch, and a rewarding listen as well' writes our reviewer Christian Hoskins."
Gramophone


This concert film made in the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion in Los Angeles in 1976 captures a memorable performance conducted by the doyen of American composers, Aaron Copland (1900–1990). It includes some of his greatest and most attractive music, from the patriotic flourish of Fanfare for the Common Man and the spirited orchestral fantasy El Salón México, to the colloquial warmth of his suite from the opera The Tender Land. Of particular importance is the collaboration with the great Benny Goodman in the masterwork he commissioned and premiered, the Clarinet Concerto.

19,95 €
Image RECORDING OF THE MONTH - APRIL
SERGEI RACHMANINOV. THE BELLS - SYMPHONIC DANCES. Two large symphonic tone poems by the Russian composer Sergei Rachmaninov can be experienced on the new CD from BR-KLASSIK. The four-movement symphonic poem "The Bells" ("Kolokola") op 35, based on a poem by Edgar Allan Poe, for solo voices, choir and orchestra, composed in 1913, and the three "Symphonic Dances" op 45 from 1940 – the last completed work by the composer, who died in 1943. Konstantin Balmont's free adaptation of Poe's poem "The Bells" impressed Rachmaninov greatly. Bells have a special importance for every Russian: their cathedrals are distinctive for the sound of pealing bells. Hearing them also left a lasting impression on Rachmaninov. The four stanzas of the poem vividly present the sounds of sleigh-bells, wedding bells, alarm bells and funeral bells, and these very different moods are masterfully conveyed in the four movements of the most monumental symphonic poem Rachmaninov ever wrote. The "Symphonic Dances" for large orchestra were written in 1940 on Long Island. The first movement contains a quotation from Rachmaninov's (unsuccessful) First Symphony; the second deals with the years between the turn of the century and the Russian Revolution; and the third connects the "Dies Irae" (representing death) with the "Hallelujah" of the Orthodox Liturgy (symbolising the Resurrection). In the last few bars that Rachmaninov ever wrote, a hopeful hymn of praise triumphs over The Last Judgment - possibly a premonition of the composer's imminent death. The two masterpieces, which Rachmaninov considered to be his best compositions, were recorded at concerts in Munich's Herkulessaal on January 6, 2016 (The Bells) and January 2017 (Symphonic Dances). These outstanding performances of significant compositions of the early 20th-century symphonic repertoire are conducted by Mariss Jansons. • The two most important symphonic poems of Rachmaninov on one CD • Exciting live recordings of Munich concerts of January 2016 and January 2017 • Sung by three authentic Russian soloists • Performed by the Symphonieorchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks under Mariss Jansons

19,95 €
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Marin Marais possesses the grace, elegance and wit so appealing in the goût français of the eighteenth century. The character pieces of his last two books depict portraits, landscapes and little genre scenes in painterly fashion, and are an unsurpassed highpoint of the viol repertory.

19,95 €
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The fifth and final instalment of this landmark series cements both artists’ reputations as two of the leading Mozartians performing today.

19,95 €
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The pianist Martin Helmchen has now joined Alpha for several recordings. Acknowledged as one of the leading pianists of his generation, an eminent interpreter of the German repertoire, Helmchen will explore various periods and composers (including Messiaen!), but Beethoven will have a preponderant place in his forthcoming recording projects. Before the complete concertos, planned for 2020, he tackles the Diabelli Variations, ‘a climax in the life of a pianist’. He sees these variations as ‘a voyage to the very heart of the infinity of human feelings and moods, by turns profound, philosophical, satirical’. He regards the cycle as a visionary work that heralds future developments in music, containing the first stirrings of twentieth-century minimalism, atonality and abstraction. This recording is the end result of a long personal association and numerous concerts; a powerful version in which each variation emerges as a masterpiece in its own right.

19,95 €
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Renowned French pianist Pierre-Laurent Aimard kicks off his exclusive engagement to PENTATONE with a recording of Olivier Messiaen’s Catalogue d’Oiseaux (1956-1958). The pianist had intimate ties to the composer himself and his wife, Yvonne Loriod, for whom Messiaen wrote the Catalogue. Praised by The Guardian as “one of the best Messiaen interpreters around,“ this is Aimard’s first recording of Messiaen’s most extensive, demanding and colourful piano composition. The luxurious CD box set contains an accompanying bonus DVD, on which Aimard shares his vast knowledge of and love for Messiaen’s work from behind the piano. Due to its radical naturalism, the Catalogue d’Oiseaux is exceptional within the repertoire for solo piano. It is the grand hymn to nature from a man who never ceased to marvel at the stupefying beauty of landscapes or the magic of bird song. With his Catalogue, Messiaen tried – in his own words – “to render exactly the typical birdsong of a region, surrounded by its neighbours from the same habitat, as well as the form of song at different hours of the day and night,” suggesting an almost scientific approach to his subjects. The idea of ‘reproduction’ may have been central to Messiaen’s conception of the Catalogue d’Oiseaux, but in the finished work we hear a great composer at work, a master of innovative structures who finds an astonishing range of piano sonorities. In a world that is increasingly being destructed by man, Aimard views this cycle as “a musical refuge that resonates with an audience ever more concerned, expanded and affected.”

54,95 €
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Alexander Melnikov imagined this programme where four monuments from the piano repertoire are interpreted in their original instrumental environment, Graff, Erard, Bösendorfer and Steinway. The four pianos chosen have characteristics corresponding to those of the instruments on which these virtuoso pieces were first performed. A journey where the horizons of sounds expand to dizzying new heights.

19,95 €
Image #10: APRIL 2018
Over 1,000 years, from the Byzantine Empire to the Napoleonic Wars, Venice played a key role in shaping the Western music.

Jordi Savall and his ensembles pay a tribute to a place that fully profited from its priviliged links with the Orient while

hosting geniuses like Monteverdi, Gabrieli and Vivaldi. As you have come to expect from Alia Vox, this CD-book is

lavishly illustrated and documented.

49,95 €
Image DVD/BLU RAY: APRIL
The funeral of Louis XIV mirrored his reign: grandiose and filled with pathos. Raphaël Pichon has chosen the setting of the Chapelle Royale in Versailles, built ‘for the use’ of the Sun King, to present a musical reconstruction of the event, with chiaroscuro lighting designs by Bertrand Couderc. Solemn grands motets like the De profundis and Dies irae of Michel-Richard de Lalande and the poignant Marche funèbre pour le Convoy du Roy by André Danican Philidor are juxtaposed with rarely heard music by Jean Colin, Louis Chein and Charles d’Helfer. An outstanding performance by Pygmalion, filmed on the occasion of the tercentenary of the event, in November 2015.

23,50 €
Image #2: MARCH 2018
A Gershwin Moment is upon us: Rhapsody in Blue and the Concerto in F — not so long ago marginalized repertoire in limbo between classical and popular genres — are now, unapologetically, concert staples. George Gershwin is finally recognized as an early harbinger of musical synergies that we now take for granted. No longer viewed as an "inspired dilettante,” betwixt and between, the new Gershwin is a confident master, versatile and visionary. In this album recorded live, pianist Kirill Gerstein explores the music of George Gershwin. Together with conductor David Robertson and the St. Louis Symphony he plays the Concerto in F as well as the original jazz band version of the Rhapsody in Blue. Program also includes a selection of Gershwin songs in solo piano arrangements by the American pianist Earl Wild. The album features Gerstein’s collaboration with two special guests: vocalist Storm Large sings Gershwin’s “Summertime”. Together with the legendary jazz vibraphonist, Gary Burton, Gerstein plays a jazz standard “Blame It on My Youth” written by Gershwin’s close friend, Oscar Levant.

19,95 €
Image #5: MARCH 2018
"Isabelle Faust has never cultivated the whale-boned red-carpet glamour that many female soloists feel obliged to pursue. On stage and off, the German violinist's manner is relaxed, her style understated. She sports a gamine, Jeanne d'Arc crop and, save for the tell-tale violinist's love-bite just below her jaw, you might guess her to be an architect or an academic. In a way, she is both, for an appreciation of musical structure and an interest in historical research are integral to her work.

The stillness of focus and purity of sound that has distinguished her playing can be heard in a repertoire stretching from Beethoven and Schubert through to Hartmann and Ligeti, on modern and period strings. Where other violinists dazzle, Faust is a thinker. On the subject of her own individual sound, she is hesitant: "Of course, I'm trying to be me in whatever repertoire I'm playing, and I do think that my work is different from that of other violinists – but actually I'm never really trying to keep to this idea of an individual sound. It's always my goal to get a different interpretation and also a different kind of voice particular to the voice of the composer." Anna Picard - The Guardian

23,50 €
Image #6: MARCH 2018
Blagoje Bersa was a major figure in Croatian musical life, his compositions a compound of Mediterranean, Central European and Balkan elements. His piano music, of which this recording is Volume 1, reveals a rich diversity drawn from Classical and Romantic models, encompassing charming Chopinesque barcarolles, a melancholic Notturno, a stirring Liszt-inspired Fantaisie-Impromptu, beautiful balletic miniatures and the Brahmsian grandeur of the powerfully conceived Sonata in F minor.

17,95 €
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Alfred Schnittke and Arvo Pärt lived through times of remarkable change in the last decades of the Soviet Union. From the 1970s, state restrictions on religion were gradually relaxed and this was reflected in the arts and especially in music. Schnittke’s adoption of Christianity was triggered by the death of his mother in 1972, and culminated in his later conversion to Catholicism. Pärt was from a nominally Lutheran background in Estonia, but embraced the Orthodox faith in the 1970s, following intensive study of liturgical music. Both composers began to incorporate religious themes into their work, moving away from the modernist abstraction that had characterized their early careers. Schnittke’s large-scale Psalms of Repentance were composed in 1988 for the celebrations for the millennium of Christianity in Russia. The texts come from an anonymous collection of poems for Lent, written in the 16th century, and in his settings Schnittke engages with the traditions of chant-based Orthodox liturgical music. The Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir and Kaspars Putninš have chosen to combine Schnittke’s Psalms with two shorter works by Arvo Pärt, whose music they are well-known exponents of. Like the Psalms, Pärt’s pieces are composed in a quasi-liturgical style, and with its serene atmosphere, his Nunc dimittis forms a natural counterpart to the Magnificat even though the two were written more than a decade apart.

19,95 €
Image #9: MARCH 2018
A recital of songs spanning Debussy’s entire compositional career, from Tragédie written in early 1881, to his very last song, Noël des enfants qui n’ont plus de maisons from the end of 1915. We bid adieu to this series in company of Lucy Crowe and, of course, Malcolm Martineau.

19,95 €
Image DVD/BLU RAY: FEBRUARY 2018 (DVD)
Former Music Director Mariss Jansons returns to Amsterdam to conduct Pique Dame at the Dutch National Opera with “his” Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra. He encounters a noteworthy cast and under his baton the orchestra sounds “brilliant and splendid“ (Der Tagesspiegel). Renowned director Stefan Herheim staged Tchaikovsky’s much-loved opera about a young man who, for the prospect of earthly wealth, gambles away his chance for love and happiness. Herheim, whose stagings are famous for their multi layered levels of interpretation, attempts to reflect on the composer’s hidden love for men. “The Latvian maestro, the intriguingly performing orchestra, the smartly-chosen soloists, and director Stefan Herheim have succeeded in staging an extraordinary production” (Die Presse). “Stefan Herheim makes a great picture show out of Tchaikovsky’s ‘Pique Dame’” (NMZ). “A masterpiece” (Der Standard).

49,50 €
Image DVD/BLU RAY: FEBRUARY 2018 (Blu-ray)
Former Music Director Mariss Jansons returns to Amsterdam to conduct Pique Dame at the Dutch National Opera with “his” Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra. He encounters a noteworthy cast and under his baton the orchestra sounds “brilliant and splendid“ (Der Tagesspiegel). Renowned director Stefan Herheim staged Tchaikovsky’s much-loved opera about a young man who, for the prospect of earthly wealth, gambles away his chance for love and happiness. Herheim, whose stagings are famous for their multi layered levels of interpretation, attempts to reflect on the composer’s hidden love for men. “The Latvian maestro, the intriguingly performing orchestra, the smartly-chosen soloists, and director Stefan Herheim have succeeded in staging an extraordinary production” (Die Presse). “Stefan Herheim makes a great picture show out of Tchaikovsky’s ‘Pique Dame’” (NMZ). “A masterpiece” (Der Standard).

48,95 €
Image RECORDING OF THE MONTH FEBRUARY
Shortly before its notorious Paris ballet premiere in 1913, this was essentially how The Rite of Spring first saw the light of day: Leif Ove Andsnes and Marc-André Hamelin recapture the heady, visceral thrill which must have been in the air when Stravinsky sat down at the piano with Debussy to create this landmark of modernism.

19,95 €
Image #3: FEBRUARY 2018
For her third album on Alpha, Patricia Kopatchinskaja is joined by a highly talented pianist whose approach to music is as extremist as hers, Polina Leschenko. Together they explore pieces that have many points in common. The Hungarian violinist Jelly d’Arányi, grandniece of Joseph Joachim, was a ‘muse’ to both Bartók and Ravel. In 1922 and 1923, she premiered the two Bartók sonatas for violin and piano and Ravel dedicated Tzigane to her. He wrote to Bartók: ‘You have convinced me to compose for our friend, who plays so fluently, a little piece whose diabolical difficulty will bring to life the Hungary of my dreams; and since it will be for violin, why don’t we call it Tzigane?’ Of course, Tzigane by Patricia Kopatchinskaja, who has been playing and dancing this music since her childhood in Moldova, does not sound like salon music . . . After a much-fêted recital at Wigmore Hall in 2017, the Financial Times wrote: ‘In another life, Patricia Kopatchinskaja might have been a rock star. This is a violinist who loves taking risks . . . But the final reward was worth waiting for: a denouement of astonishing force.’ Debussy’s Sonata, with its Arab and Javanese influences, completes this voyage, along with a piece for piano solo by Dohnányi, the Valse Coppélia after Léo Delibes, another symbol of the relations between France and Hungary.

19,95 €
Image #7: FEBRUARY 2018
No fewer than three Bachs—father and two sons—and three wonderful versions of the Magnificat written over the course of the eighteenth century: one setting very familiar, the other two much less so.

19,95 €
Image #10: FEBRUARY 2018
A masterpiece born of the collaboration of composer Lully and his librettist Quinault, the “tragédie en musique” called Alceste caused a scandal when it was created in 1674. The tragic register was reserved for the theater, while the music was content with the comic vein. But thanks to the combined talents of Lully and Quinault, the stage of the Royal Academy of Music saw the development of the new tragic and lyrical genre.

The chorus and the nine soloists, directed with energy and delicacy by Christophe Rousset, portray their characters with passions true-to-life. Indeed, the libretto is based on a Cornelian dilemma. This timeless and moving theme of a thwarted love is embodied with accuracy. Moreover, the diction is perfect.

It is a reference version that Christophe Rousset and his Talens Lyriques have recorded. An interpretation where theater and music agree with a jubilatory harmony. It is a reference version that Christophe Rousset and his Talens Lyriques have recorded. An interpretation where theater and music agree with a jubilatory harmony.

33,95 €
Image DVD/BLU RAY: FEBRUARY 2018
As a companion to The Golden Cockerel, Valery Gergiev presents another Rimsky-Korsakov opera on the Mariinsky Label, The Tale of Tsar Saltan. Rarely staged and the only complete performance available on Blu-ray or DVD, this release is part of Valery Gergiev’s mission to showcase the breadth and depth that Russian music has to over, caputuring Rimsky-Korsakov’s exciting, adventurous and magical work for posterity. This production features a cast of the Mariinsky’s finest singers, including soprano Irina Churilova as Tsaritsa Militrisa, contralto soprano Albina Shagimuratova as The Swan-Princess, and bass-baritone Edward Tsanga, who sadly passed away in early 2017, in the lead role. Originally composed to celebrate Pushkin’s centenary, the full title of the work - The Tale of Tsar Saltan, of His Son the Renowned and Mighty Bogatyr Prince Gvidon Saltanovich, and of the Beautiful Princess-Swan - is indicative of the fantastical content of the opera. It is an old-fashioned Russian treat for the eyes and the ears from the country’s most long-standing musical institution. Filled with colourful music that is typical of Rimsky-Korsakov’s style, it is the origin of the instantly recognisable Flight of the Bumblebee, which arrives when the magic Swan-Princess changes Prince Gvidon Saltanovich into an insect.

34,95 €
Image #2: JANUARY 2018
The Wiener Symphoniker wrote music history with the first performances of works by Bruckner, Ravel and Schoenberg. And under the baton of such illustrious music directors as Wilhelm Furtwängler, Herbert von Karajan, Carlo Maria Giulini or Georges Prêtre they acquired worldwide fame for their unique Viennese sound. Considering its rich, more than a century long history, it comes as a surprise that the orchestra has never before recorded a full cycle of the nine symphonies by Ludwig van Beethoven which are widely considered to constitute the apex of the symphonic repertoire. This shortcoming is about to be remedied: Starting in autumn 2017, the Wiener Symphoniker will release the full cycle on 5 CDs. With a new CD of the series to be released every 6 months, the full cycle will be completed just in time for the 250th anniversary of the birth of Beethoven in 2020. The symphonies were recorded live during a critically acclaimed concert cycle in Spring/Summer 2017 in the Great Hall of the Musikverein Wien. At these concerts, the international press specifically praised Jordan’s approach to combining a traditional Viennese sound with a more contemporary, slimmed down interpretation of the material, original tempi and insights from the historically informed performance practice. Through a close reading of the score and by focusing on the content of the works, Jordan aimed to create – in his words – a “more natural, direct, humanised“ image of the famous composer. A key work for this approach constitutes, in Jordan’s mind, the Third Symphony E-flat major op.55 „Eroica“ – which will be included on the first CD of the series along side the First Symphony C Major op. 21. According to Jordan, both works are unified in their portrayal of Beethoven‘s immense, innovative, revolutionary creative will. In its perusal of the Prometheus-myth the “Eroica” has additional meaning for Jordan’s depiction of Beethoven as an essentially modern and human composer: “In the way Beethoven uses the Prometheus theme, the composer reveals his fascination for the eventual failing of mankind not his heroic deeds.”

19,95 €
Image #3: JANUARY 2018
Sir Andrew Davis takes his multi-award-winning Elgar discography to the next level with breathtaking interpretations of Falstaff, Elgar’s most accomplished and characteristic work, and several orchestral songs, with exemplary support from the BBC Philharmonic, all recorded in surround-sound. Owing to its technical challenges and more complex harmonic language, the composer always had a high opinion of Falstaff, saying that he had enjoyed writing it ‘more than any other music I have ever composed and perhaps for that reason it may prove to be among my best efforts’. His earlier music for Grania and Diarmid pays tribute to the Irish legend of Diarmuid and Grainne; the Funeral March is probably Elgar’s noblest creation, and echoes the popular Pomp and Circumstance Marches. The various less well-known songs, given heroic interpretations by the baritone Roderick Williams OBE, span the multiple facets of Elgar’s style, from the stern and dramatic impressions of Op. 60 to the satirical and impish jollity of ‘Kindly do not SMOKE’.

19,95 €
Image #4: JANUARY 2018
Haydn2032, the ambitious project of recording the complete symphonies of Haydn, has been placed from the start under the artistic direction of Giovanni Antonini, with two ensembles, Il Giardino Armonico, which made the first four volumes, and the Kammerochester Basel, to which this fifth volume and the next two are assigned. Another characteristic of the edition is that each time Haydn is set in perspective with another composer; here it is Joseph Martin Kraus (1756-92): ‘Kraus was the first man of genius that I met. Why did he have to die? It is an irreparable loss for our art. The Symphony in C minor he wrote in Vienna specially for me is a work which will be considered a masterpiece in every century’, said Haydn in 1797. Though he long remained forgotten after his death, Kraus made an active contribution to the movement of poetic renewal called ‘Sturm und Drang’ or ‘Geniezeit’ (time of genius) because such artists as the young Goethe broke free of all tradition to follow their hearts alone. When Haydn called Kraus homme de genie, in French, he probably had this context in mind. The two composers had met in Vienna in 1783.

19,95 €
Image #6: JANUARY 2018
This recording of the complete Saint-Saens works for cello, featuring the acclaimed young German cellist Gabriel Schwabe includes both Cello Concertos and the ever popular Le Cygne. This is the sixth recording to date with the Malmo Symphony Orchestra conducted by Marc Soustrot of the symphonies and concertos of Saint-Saens.

9,99 €
Image #8: JANUARY 2018
The lute by Sixtus Rauwolf heard on this recording was probably built in the last decade of the sixteenth century. Some hundred years later, in 1715, it was converted to suit the musical tastes and demands of the baroque period. For this disc, Jakob Lindberg has chosen works that could have formed part of the repertory of the presumably German owner of the instrument at around the time of its final conversion. For German lutenists from about the middle of the seventeenth century, it was France that provided the aesthetic and musical model, and towards the end of the century, when the lute rather suddenly and inexplicably dropped out of fashion in Paris certain French luthistes travelled abroad and met with great success in Germanspeaking lands. With them, they took their music and special traditions of lute-playing, evidence of which can be seen in the music of several of the German composers included here. The disc closes with a suite of pieces by Silvius Leopold Weiss, the most famous lutenist of the baroque era. Weiss, Lindberg and the Rauwolf lute first crossed paths in 2006 on a highly acclaimed all-Weiss disc (BIS-1524): ‘Too good to be true’ was the verdict in International Record Review while the reviewer in Goldberg Magazine wrote ‘As an evocation of the lute's magical qualities, this deserves to achieve cult status.’

19,95 €
Image #10: JANUARY 2018
Desire. Brutality. Lust. Slyness. Anxiety. What a fascinatingly menacing thematic melange is seething in this Salome. Richard Strauss, the “nervous contrapuntalist,” had immediately recognized the potential of Oscar Wilde’s play, and had proceeded to add to it a musical meta-plane, which resulted in Salome becoming the scandalous new point of departure for opera in the 20th century. In its vivid psychological depiction of a corrupt world, Salome is, at the same time, both child of and witness to the dawning of the 20th century – a reflection of a moribund late-bourgeois era, captivated by its own putrefaction. The opera hit the nerve of the times. Strauss poured the Salome catastrophe into a one-act opera lasting a mere 100 minutes. However, these are 100 highly condensed minutes, which demand the listener’s full and uninterrupted attention without any break; first torturing him emotionally and then trickling the venom of sweet, seductive music into his ears and mind; laying his nerves bare, then making him tremble in aroused expectation. The new Pentatone CD featuring the young, up-and-coming conductor Andres Orozco-Estrada leading the hr Symphony Orchestra (= formerly Frankfurt Radio Symphony Orchestra) is a live recording of a concert given on September 10, 2016 in Frankfurt. The critics were enthusiastic: “The title role was wonderfully relaxed, all the essential components were in general harmonious, and Andres Orozco-Estrada emphasized the power of the orchestra.” Indeed, Orozco-Estrada surrounded his Salome with outstanding soloists of the German opera repertoire: Wolfgang Koch (Jochanaan), Peter Bronder (Herod), and Michaela Schuster (Herodias). The American soprano Emily Magee made her debut as Salome in Berlin in 2011. Since then, she has developed into a true Strauss specialist – and not only in this role. The Frankfurter Rundschau praised her “readily appealing, powerful and untiring soprano voice, which never gets drowned, not even in the orchestral tutti. Her face was a fascinating reflection of the slyness, the caprices, the bitchiness of a pampered princess.”

26,95 €
Image DVD/BLU RAY: JANUARY 2018
In its choreographed version of the St. Matthew Passion, the Internationale Bachakademie Stuttgart offers new dimensions to Bach‘s musical drama.

And, for the one hundred schoolchildren who delved into Bach‘s monumental work and learned to dance as an artistic form of self-expression, it was an opportunity to experience the power of his music first hand. The interplay of professional musicians and young amateurs turned into a creative bridge for all involved.

36,95 €
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