martes, 31 de diciembre de 2013

Lisa Batiashvili JOHANNES BRAHMS / CLARA SCHUMANN


Lisa Batiashvili begins by working on the notes on the printed page. It is as pure and simple as that. “I prefer scores that contain as little additional information as possible,” she says. “Ideally, no fingering, no commentaries – I want to work on a new piece myself; it has to grow and eventually to become a part of me.”
For the Georgian violinist, notes are the most perfect language, a language in which emotions, desires and states of mind are revealed, none of which can be expressed in words. Such thoughts take us beyond our historical knowledge of the works’ composers and their lives. “Only when you accept their music as art”, she says, “does it become possible to create a link between the composers and our own day – only then can you fill your own work with thoughts and ideas and associations.”
From a historical point of view, it is, of course, very tempting to speculate about Brahms’s Violin Concerto and Clara Schumann’s Three Romances. What was the relationship between their two composers? Did they use music to express their love for each other? What is beyond doubt is that Brahms and Clara Schumann were close. At least from the time that Robert Schumann was immured in an asylum at Endenich, their contacts grew more intense, and the formal “Sie” that they had previously used when addressing each other gave way to the informal “Du” used to imply greater tenderness between them. But most of their letters were destroyed by mutual consent. “We can only speculate on the details of their relationship,” says Batiashvili, “and perhaps this explains the appeal of the whole affair, namely, that we can only surmise what happened and must use their music to enter their emotional worlds.”
For Batiashvili, who herself combines the demands of a career and a family, Clara Schumann is an altogether exceptional figure in the history of music: “Clara is hard to fathom. On the one hand, she was a modern woman who loved her art and her family – an emancipated artist. On the other hand, I do not think that she was happy. She sacrificed her life to Robert Schumann.”
It makes sense to Batiashvili that Brahms should have been infatuated with Clara, who was 14 years older than he was: “Clara was a consummate artist, a corrective to his work and a self-evident part of the life of Robert Schumann, who was Brahms’s great model and champion.” The fact that Clara was inspired by Brahms is something that the violinist attributes to Brahms’s genius: “Living with Schumann, Clara saw how he struggled to produce every note and found the compositional process a source of torment. And suddenly Brahms came along, a musician for whom composition was terrifyingly straightforward and for whom music was not a struggle but a joy. She must have been fascinated by the facility and ease that she discovered here.”
And Batiashvili naturally feels that Brahms’s Violin Concerto reflects its composer’s emotional state: “First and foremost there is this very long opening movement in which Brahms finds room for so many different ideas and thoughts. The difficulty of interpreting it lies in the fact that this kind of composition follows the German language: every note must be held to its full length and played with a singing tone, nothing can be swept under the table. At the same time it is important to create a single overarching structure and maintain an epic approach to the work, rather than moving step by step from one piece in the mosaic to the next. This movement requires great physical and intellectual effort.” The second movement reveals even more about the composer and his longings: “For me, it is an incredibly impassioned declaration of his love – and the violin seems like a woman’s voice here.”
 (Axel Brüggemann)

lunes, 30 de diciembre de 2013

Sir Neville Marriner / Academy of St. Martin in the Fields MOZART Eine Kleine Nachtmusik - PACHELBEL Canon - L. MOZART "Toy" Symphony

Sir Neville Marriner here collects a miscellaneous group of popular classical and Baroque pieces in characteristically polished and elegant performances. The only roughness – and that deliberate – is in the extra toy percussion of Leo­pold Mozart’s Cassation, with its long- misattributed Toy Symphony. The anonymous extra soloists enjoy themselves as amateurs might, not least on a wind machine, but what’s very hard to take is the grotesquely mismatched cuckoo-whistle, an instrument which should readily be tunable. 
Eine kleine Nachtmusik brings a performance plainly designed to caress the ear of traditional listeners wearied with period performance. The second-movement Romanze is even more honeyed than usual on muted strings. The oddity of the Pachelbel item is that the celebrated Canon – taken unsentimentally if sweetly at a flowing speed – is given a reprise after the Gigue. The recording is warm and well balanced. (Gramophone)

Sir Neville Marriner / Academy of St. Martin-in-the-Fields MOZART Eine Kleine Nachtmusik - PACHELBEL Canon - L. MOZART "Toy" Symphony

Sir Neville Marriner here collects a miscellaneous group of popular classical and Baroque pieces in characteristically polished and elegant performances. The only roughness – and that deliberate – is in the extra toy percussion of Leo­pold Mozart’s Cassation, with its long- misattributed Toy Symphony. The anonymous extra soloists enjoy themselves as amateurs might, not least on a wind machine, but what’s very hard to take is the grotesquely mismatched cuckoo-whistle, an instrument which should readily be tunable. 
Eine kleine Nachtmusik brings a performance plainly designed to caress the ear of traditional listeners wearied with period performance. The second-movement Romanze is even more honeyed than usual on muted strings. The oddity of the Pachelbel item is that the celebrated Canon – taken unsentimentally if sweetly at a flowing speed – is given a reprise after the Gigue. The recording is warm and well balanced. (Gramophone)

domingo, 29 de diciembre de 2013

Jaroussky / Emmanuelle Haïm / Le Concert d'Astrée CARESTINI The Story of a Castrato


French countertenor Philippe Jaroussky astonishes once again with a program of arias associated with castrato Giovanni Carestini. At the peak of Carestini's career, his supremacy was challenged only by that of Farinelli, the other reigning castrato of the era. Frédéric Delaméa's extremely informative booklet note relates that contemporary opinion, while it held that Farinelli had more technical facility, was that Carestini used his voice more expressively than Farinelli. Charles Burney wrote, "Carestini gratified the eye as much by the dignity, grace, and propriety of [his] action and deportment, as the ear by judicious use of a few notes within the limits of a small vocal compass."
Carestini, who was born in 1700, enjoyed a 38-year career, which is impressive even by modern standards. As a teenager, he acquired the patronage of Cardinal Agostino Cusani of Milan. From his debut in Milan, he traveled to Rome, Parma, Naples, and the other major musical cities in Italy. When he was 32, he went to London, where he spent two seasons singing roles written specifically for him by Handel, and creating a sensation. He then returned to the European mainland, and conquered new territory, including Dresden, Berlin, and, near the end of his career, St. Petersburg. Apparently, by 1758, his voice, heretofore carefully preserved, gave out, and his last appearance in Naples was a failure. "He withdrew immediately from public life," writes Delaméa, "and died two years later."
This program is in chronological order, from Porpora's Siface, in which Carestini appeared in 1725 or 1726, to Graun's Orfeo, which was premièred a quarter-century later. Most of these areas are unfamiliar, but certainly worth any listener's attention. I was particularly drawn to the two closing areas from Orfeo. For the most part, the Baroque revival has not yet caught up with Graun. We are due for major new productions of his operas, particularly the outstanding Montezuma (to which Joan Sutherland and husband Richard Bonynge briefly turned their attention in the 1960s). The first aria presented here, "Mio bel nume," is profoundly moving, and "In mirar la mia sventura" is a fiery virtuoso piece.
And Jaroussky … well, what a voice! No other countertenor at work today produces a sound of such beauty and touching clarity. It isn't a masculine sound, to be sure, but neither is it disconcertingly feminine – it's really in its own category. (His speaking voice, by the way, is clearly male.) As such, it might take some getting used to, but once you do, I expect that you'll find yourself often moved to tears by its purity, and also impressed by its range. Also moving is the effortless manner in which he deploys it, even in the most complicated music. It would be wonderful to know what Carestini sounded like, but given Burney's description, is it not possible that Jaroussky would have given Carestini a run for his money?
Emmanuelle Haïm and Le Concert d'Astrée provide Jaroussky with stylish and scholarly support, as does the engineering team. In addition to the aforementioned booklet note, there are complete texts and English translations. In the last aria, though, surely stigi should be translated as "Stygian" not "Scythians," no? (Copyright © 2008, Raymond Tuttle

sábado, 28 de diciembre de 2013

Heinz Holliger / I Musici CONCERTI PER OBOE

This is not a record for the purists but, accepted for what it offers, it is an enjoyable one. The Marcello has long topped the baroque-oboe pop charts and has plenty of recordings, even on CD: Holliger's embellishment of its famous slow movement is fluent but perhaps over-elaborate for a melody whose lines are beautiful enough in their own right. The booklet tells us about Sammartini's ''Concerto No. 1 in F'', in four da chiesa movements, but not the fine Concerto (three movements, in D) on the recording, a newcomer to the catalogue. The Albinoni is a new recording not taken from the CD of six concertos from his Op. 9 by the same artists which are remasterings of originals from 1968. Lotti's small corpus of instrumental works includes only one concerto—for the oboe d'amore his preoccupation with vocal music is reflected particularly in the delightful affetuoso, a gentle siciliana and by far the longest single movement on the record. The change of instrument also brings some variety of tone-colour.
The odd man out is Cimarosa, who didn't write an oboe concerto: Arthur Benjamin it was who adapted some of his keyboard sonatas to compile one of four movements. The resultant hybrid makes agreeable listening but not more. Holliger's oboe sings beautifully and not, as the modern oboe is wont to do, down its nose. I Musici are in good form, light in touch and decently in touch with baroque style where it is called for, the harpsichord is nicely audible in the well-engineered recording.
(John Duarte, Gramophone_4/1988)

viernes, 27 de diciembre de 2013

Elīna Garanča ELINA

Elīna Garanča’s personal choice of her greatest tracks, released to coincide with her receiving an Echo Award (6 October) & the publication of her memoirs in December
Ten years ago she made her sensational début at the Salzburg Festival, singing the role of Annio in Mozart’s Clemenza di Tito. Since then Elīna Garanča has become one of the greatest, most sought-after mezzo-sopranos in the world. As an exclusive Deutsche Grammophon artist, she has made four solo albums for the label, and collaborated on many CD and DVD releases.
Now, with the artist’s help, we have brought together favourite tracks from her discography – the Seguidilla and Habanera from Carmen, the Flower Duet from Lakmé (with Anna Netrebko), the Barcarolle from The Tales of Hoffmann and many more, including Annio’s aria from Clemenza di Tito, some of her great bel canto roles and the touching Lullaby (Nana) by de Falla.
The CD booklet includes a newly-commissioned interview with Elina, where she reflects on her career and indicates where she is headed artistically. Her complete discography is also given there.

lunes, 23 de diciembre de 2013

Rachel Podger GUARDIAN ANGEL Works by BIBER, BACH, TARTINI, PISENDEL


The music on this recording demonstrates how composers in Germany, Italy, Austria and England responded to the challenges of writing for violin senza basso. Music for violin senza basso had a distinguished history before Bach and was widely cultivated by his contemporaries.
Violinistic virtuosity was extraordinarily experimental in the late seventeenth century, with novelties in the tuning of the strings (scordaura), bowing techniques, chordal playing and contrapuntal textures (with the development of sophisticated double-, triple- and quadruple-stopping techniques) and playing in high positions. This disc of solo violin music is a real mixture of some of Rachel's favourite pieces.
Rachel Podger is one of the most creative talents to emerge in the field of period performance. Over the last two decades she has established herself as a leading interpreter of the music of the Baroque and Classical periods. After beginnings with The Palladian Ensemble and Florilegium, she was leader of The English Concert from 1997 to 2002 and in 2004 began a guest directorship with The Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment with whom she appeared in a televised BBC Prom in 2007. As a guest director and soloist she has collaborated with numerous orchestras including Arte dei Suonatori (Poland), Musica Angelica and Santa Fe Pro Musica (USA), The Academy of Ancient Music, The European Union Baroque Orchestra, Holland Baroque Society and the Handel and Haydn Society (USA).
Rachel directs her own ensemble, Brecon Baroque and is Artistic Director of her own festival: the Brecon Baroque Festival. Rachel is an honorary member of both the Royal Academy of Music (where she holds the Michaela Comberti Chair for Baroque Violin) and the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama (where she holds the Jane Hodge Foundation International Chair in Baroque Violin) and teaches at institutions throughout the world. (Gramophone Magazine: Editor's Choice - November 2013)

viernes, 20 de diciembre de 2013

Choir of Westminster Abbey / Simon Preston CHRISTMAS CAROLS

At Westminster Abbey there are three Carol Services each year. The first takes place on Advent Sunday (at the end of November), the next on the Feast of St. Stephen (26 December), and the last on the Feast of the Holy Innocents (28 December). On these occasions, Evensong is replaced by a special liturgy which retells the events surrounding the birth of Our Lord. The choir of twenty-two boys and twelve men, led by their choirmaster, begins the service by singing at the west end of the Abbey church. Then it moves in procession throughout the building, performing pieces whose words reflect the Christmas story.
The custom of performing carols in this way dates back to the 15th century. The carol, which was originally a song for dancing to, had gradually become a religious song, and had begun to replace some of the ancient processional hymns which were sung in church on feast days. Because the most important feasts of the church year were those at Christmastime, the carol became particularly associated with that season.
Simon Preston, the Organist and Choirmaster of Westminster Abbey, chooses carols of all types for these services. He is particularly attracted by some of the modern carols which British composers have written in recent years, among them settings of traditional words, but also others with verses by contemporary poets. They take their place alongside arrangements of older carols, as well as some of the medieval settings in their original form. (John Buttrey)

jueves, 19 de diciembre de 2013

Dorothee Mields / Hille Perl / Lee Santana LOVES ALCHYMÏE

Hille Perl is widely regarded as one of the leading viola da gambists in the world. Because of the prominence of her instrument in the Baroque era, her repertory is rich in works from that period, with the names, J.S. Bach, Telemann, Marin Marais, Sainte-Colombe, and other 17th and 18th century composers headlining her concert programs and recordings. Perl also plays the treble viol, the seven-string bass viol, Baroque guitar, Lirone, and Xarana. She often performs with her husband, lutenist Lee Santana, in duo repertory, and together the pair have formed two other ensembles: Los Otros, with guitarist Steve Player, and the Age of Passions, with violinist/conductor Petra Müllejans and flutist Karl Kaiser. Perl has also appeared with some of the leading Baroque ensembles in Europe, like the Freiburger Barockorchester and the Harp Consort. She has made numerous recordings, many of them available from Deutsche Harmonia Mundi (DHM). 
Hille Perl was born in Bremen, Germany, in 1965. Her father Helmuth was a harpsichordist, organist, and musicologist. Hille began playing the viola da gamba at five. She had studies with Niklas Trüstedt (Berlin) and with Pere Ros and Ingrid Stampa (Hamburg). Perl earned a degree in 1990 at Bremen's Academy for Early Music, where she studied with Sarah Cunningham and Jaap ter Linden. Perl steadily built her career, and soon began appearing on recordings. Among the earliest was a 1997 Deutsche Harmonia Mundi CD, Spanish Gypsies, with Santana, Player, Andrew Lawrence-King, and other notables. Perl and Santana formed Los Otros (The Others) in 2001 and their first recording, Tinto, a collection of works by Kapsberger, Corbetta, and others, appeared on RCA Special Imports in 2003. From 2002, Perl has taught viola da gamba at the University of the Arts in Bremen, while remaining busy both in the concert hall and recording studio. 
In 2004 Perl appeared on one of her most acclaimed recordings, Marais' Pour La Violle, with Santana, on DHM. Perl and Santana's daughter, Marthe Perl, is also an acclaimed viola da gambist. She joined her parents on a highly praised 2010 DHM CD entitled Loves Alchymie.
Perl's busy concert schedule includes appearances at many of the major Baroque festivals. She performed with Santana and harpsichordist Patrick Ayrton to great acclaim at the May 2011 Lufthansa Festival of Baroque Music, held at St. John's Smith Square in London. Their performances in an all-J.S. Bach program were later broadcast over BBC Radio 3. (Robert Cummings)

miércoles, 18 de diciembre de 2013

J.S. BACH Weihnachts-Oratorium


Although German composer Johann Sebastian Bach entitled his work Weihnachtsoratorium (Christmas Oratorio), it is in fact closer to a cantata cycle than an oratorio. Composed and compiled for the Christmas season as celebrated in Leipzig in 1734 and early 1735, the six parts of the Christmas Oratorio were intended to be performed on the six major feast days over that 13-day period from December 25 through January 6: the "First Day of Christmas," the "Second Day of Christmas," the "Third Day of Christmas," the "Feast of the Circumcision," the "First Sunday of the New Year," and the "Feast of the Epiphany." Furthermore, each part of the work is designed to function as an independent musical unit; each part (except the second, which starts with a "Pastoral Symphony") begins and ends with choruses in the tonic key, and each part tells a separate part of the Christmas story. However, Bach also clearly intended the music to be heard as a unified work: not only does the oratorio tell a single story based on Biblical texts, but it is musically organized around the key of D major. The musical content of the oratorio is, for the most part, drawn from three secular cantatas: Herkules auf dem Scheidewege, BWV 213; Tonet, ihr Pauken! Erschallet, Trompeten!, BWV 214; and Preisse dein Glücke, gesegnetes Sachsen, BWV 215. In addition, portions of the music were drawn from the lost St. Mark Passion, and the sixth part of the oratorio was later given an independent existence as a separate cantata (BWV 248a). So skillful is Bach's adaptation that listeners at the time would have been unlikely to be disturbed by Bach's self-plagiarism (which was a common procedure for him anyhow). In the manner of Bach's Passions, the text of the Christmas Oratorio is drawn from the Gospel interspersed with meditations on the meaning of the Gospel texts. While scholars conjecture that these meditations were written by Bach's usual collaborator, Christian Friedrich Henrici (known as Picander), some also suspect that Bach might have written or rewritten many of them himself because Picander did not include the text of the oratorio among his collected works. A joyfully celebratory work, the Christmas Oratorio is one of the peaks in Bach's compositional oeuvre. The story is related in recitative by an Evangelist, or narrator, thus placing the work within the long-established tradition of religious drama. However, unlike earlier oratorios and unlike Bach's own settings of the Passion story, there is virtually no dramatic dialogue, The only named characters are the Angel in Part Two and Herod in Part Six. Scored for the usual four-part vocal forces, the oratorio is given is own distinctive character through the varied orchestration featured in each section. Thus, Part One, largely a joyous celebration of Christ's birth, is adorned by brilliantly festive trumpets and timpani. The following cantata stands in complete contrast, its gentle pastoral mood reflected in scoring that includes pairs of oboes d'amore and their more rustic cousin, the oboe da caccia. Bach then gives symmetry to the first three cantatas by bringing the trumpets and timpani back for Part Three, which opens with an exultant chorus before proceeding to the arrival of the shepherds at the manger. Part Four introduces a pair of horns into the orchestra; their resplendent tones dominate an opening chorus celebrating the glory of God. Part Five, for the lesser feast of the Sunday after New Year, calls for smaller orchestral forces — just a pair of oboes supporting the usual strings and continuo, perhaps as a counterpart to the second cantata. Finally the full majesty of trumpets and drums returns in Part 6, the topic of which is God's power over evil, here personified by Herod and his dealings with the three Magi. (James Leonard )

martes, 17 de diciembre de 2013

Paul McCreesh / Gabrieli Consort & Players A VENETIAN CHRISTMAS music by G. GABRIELI & DE RORE


Here's another of Paul McCreesh's "as it might have been" reconstructions, this time of the First Mass of Christmas in Venice's St. Mark's church "around 1600". McCreesh's customary focus on bringing to life the pomp and ceremony of a huge celebratory occasion offers huge rewards for the listener as musicology, the finest performing forces, and first-rate sound engineering combine to deliver a bold and beautiful "you are there" experience. The whole thing centers around Cipriano de Rore's seven-part mass Praeter rerum seriem, a parody on a six-part motet by Josquin. It's a gorgeous setting, and McCreesh's vocal ensemble really digs into the emotional and spiritual heart of this music. The Sanctus and Agnus Dei are particularly affecting, but the entire mass has a rich textural voluptuousness and structural grandeur that certainly would be enough to make any music lover glad to attend church the day that mass was sung! The rest of the program features music by Giovanni Gabrieli, including some terrific instrumental pieces that literally fill the room with the richly resonant sound of cornetts, sackbuts, and organ, played with impressive clarity and virtuoso style by members of the Gabrieli Players.
As for the singers, at several points I felt that I could be listening to a Tallis Scholars recording--the tone quality and particularities of expression and ensemble are very similar. Not surprisingly, when I looked at the list of performers several Tallis Scholars names appeared--and I mention this only to inform those listeners who know and love that fine early music ensemble that they certainly will enjoy what they hear on this recording. The choral sound is largely affected by the absence of sopranos and the presence of male altos as the highest voice part, which imbues their music with a darker, mellower, reedier quality than we're used to in most mixed choir configurations. Although purists will be disappointed that the recording wasn't actually made in St. Mark's, the acoustics of England's Brinkburn Priory in Northumberland prove an amazingly suitable substitute. The concluding Quem vidistis pastores by Gabrieli (in an arrangement by H. Keyte for voices and instruments) is stunning. I haven't always been impressed with McCreesh's projects--but don't miss this one. (David Vernier, ClassicsToday.com)

lunes, 16 de diciembre de 2013

Anne Sofie von Otter / Drottningholm Baroque Ensemble HANDEL - MONTEVERDI - TELEMANN - ROMAN


I'm very proud of the first solo disc that I did which was recorded for Proprius, a Swedish label, with songs and arias by Telemann, Monteverdi, Roman and Handel. It was in 1983, and I was comparatively young - 27, I think - and I was so inexperienced. But I was sort of in charge. It was all done rather instinctively. I'd never sung a whole Handel opera but one of the coaches at the Guildhall said I should look at the aria "Where shall I fly" from Hercules, and then I heard on the radio Piangerò from Giulio Cesare and I thought that was divine. We had no conductor, no rehearsals: we just got on with it. I stood in front of the ensemble and made signs with my pencil where they should play faster or slower or stop. Miraculously, it all worked very well and this disc is still on sale. It was used by my agent as a sort of business card. That's how Georg Solti, for instance, heard of me and why he booked me. (Anne Sofie von Otter / BBC Music)

domingo, 15 de diciembre de 2013

Les Paladins GEORG-FRIEDRICH HAENDEL Cantates & Duos Italiens


In 1760, Rameau composed Les Paladins, a lively, witty and imaginatie comédie lyrique. In taking its name from a work by the greatest French composer of the eighteenth century, Les Paladins its aim: to explore lesser-known works of this operatic repertoire, which it performs in chamber versions. The ensemble has presented L'Europe Galante by Campra at the Festival du Haut-Jura, Iphigénie en Tauride by Desmarest at versailles, La Grotte de Versailles by Lully in Paris (tercentenary of the death of the great French landscape gardener Le Nôtre), as well as Grands Motets by Bernier at the Ambronay Festival and in Geneva, and Cantatas by Bach and Telemann at the Musicales d'Oppède and at the Lourdes Festival. Jérôme Correas and Les Paladins are very interested too in the virtuoso Italian repertoire of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, and have performed cantatas and serenades by Handel, Stradella, Cesti, Carissimi and Bononcini at Chartres ("Samedis Musicaux"), Paris (Théâtre Grévin), Ambronay, Saint-Michel-en-Thiérache... The programme presented on this recording has already been given in concert at many festivals.

sábado, 14 de diciembre de 2013

Elin Manahan Thomas ETERNAL LIGHT


The Welsh soprano won a choral scholarship to Clare College, Cambridge where she read Anglo-Saxon, Norse and Celtic. Thomas joined the Monteverdi Choir in 2000 and has sung with The Sixteen, Polyphony, Cambridge Singers and the Gabrieli Consort. Increasingly she is in great demand as an international soloist. Thomas has specialised in performing early music especially with the choral group The Sixteen. Her release titled Eternal Light on Universal covers music from the Renaissance and the Baroque period. The release titled Byd Y Soprano - Soprano World comprises mainly music from the Romantic period with some Classical and a Baroque piece. Late-Romantic music is not repertoire that one usually associates with Thomas in solo performance. It is not surprising that this highly talented singer will want to show her versatility by singing a wide range of repertoire. This stance will naturally invite comparisons with the finest singers in world. I cannot think of a finer exponent of early music around today than Thomas. Her soprano voice has an exceptional purity, with a silky smooth tone and light creamy fluidity. The voice isn’t heavy but neither is it over-bright and piercing. When listening to The Sixteen I was easily able to distinguish her voice owing to its clarity and carry yet I wouldn’t describe it as being over-distinctive. On the disc Eternal Light Thomas’s performance was a revelation, revealing a glorious voice of elevated quality which wonderfully suited to Renaissance and Baroque music. I believe it to be superior to Emma Kirkby in her prime. Of the sixteen well chosen tracks not one disappoints. In addition there are two ‘killer’ tracks that are so exceptional, containing a special element of spirituality that one rarely encounters. Those ‘killer’ tracks are Eternal Source of Light Divine and When I am laid in earth (Dido's Lament) from Purcell’s opera Dido and Aeneas. Eternal Light is worth obtaining for those two tracks alone. I have played selections from this release at several Recorded Music Societies and Thomas’s performances have drawn considerable attention.(Michael Cookson)

viernes, 13 de diciembre de 2013

Dorothee Oberlinger / Sonatori de la Gioiosa Marca FLAUTO VENEZIANO



Dorothee Oberlinger trained to become a music teacher and also attended a course in German studies before studying the recorder in Cologne, Amsterdam and Milan. Having won the first prize in the Moeck/ SRP Solo Recorder Competition in London, she made her professional début in the capital’s Wigmore Hall in 1997, subsequently winning many other prizes, including an Echo Klassik Award.
Since 2004 Dorothee Oberlinger is teaching at the Universität Mozarteum Salzburg, where she runs the Institute for Early Music.
In the concert hall she has appeared as a soloist with such distinguished Baroque ensembles and orchestras as I Sonatori de la Gioiosa Marca, Musica Antiqua Köln, the Akademie für Alte Musik in Berlin, the Academy of Ancient Music and Zefiro.
In 2002 she formed Ensemble 1700, a specialist group that performs chamber music of the 17th and 18th centuries. Within the context of numerous concert projects and CD recordings, Ensemble 1700 has worked with many leading figures from the world of early music.

jueves, 12 de diciembre de 2013

Anne Sofie von Otter / Bengt Forsberg JOHANNES BRAHMS Lieder


There have been recordings where I've had terrible colds and gone ahead anyway - you have to. But I still wouldn't want to redo them because once it's done I don't want to look back. And being me, I quickly look forward to getting my teeth into the next project! After so much time spent on preparation, rehearsal, getting my creative mind round the specific repertoire, I truly don't feel the desire to go back. When I did my Brahms Lieder recording in the early 1990s, I had a nasty cold and you can hear a sort of nasal twang. I was also coughing the whole time which is extremely bad for the voice. It was hard and we had to do many retakes because of it. But again, once it's done it's done. I don't quite understand why one would want to re-record an already familiar work when there is so much wonderful music left to sing. There have been rare occasions where the mood has been tense which is not good for recording, but you just have to get through it unfortunately. "I let the music speak" would be my inner mantra on such an occasion. (Anne Sofie von Otter / BBC music)

miércoles, 11 de diciembre de 2013

Angela Hewitt / Orchestra Da Camera Di Mantova MOZART Piano Concertos No 17 K453 - No 27 K595


Angela Hewitt turns to two of Mozart’s greatest and most popular concertos for her latest album. Together with her frequent collaborators, the Orchestra da Camera di Mantova and brilliant Finnish conductor Hannu Lintu, she presents these works in performances which are both elegantly stylish and profoundly felt. This release is completed by a personal reflection on the music by Hewitt herself in the accompanying booklet.

'The sound is wonderfully clean and focused, with an ideal balance between Hewitt's customary Fazioli piano and the orchestra. … [K453 finale] Here Lintu starts the movement with light-footed grace, using minimal vibrato on the strings, Hewitt taking her cue with playing of elegance and buoyancy … The attention to musical contrast and stylistic integrity is similar throughout. Hewitt's own illuminating notes in the booklet are a bonus, making this a Mozart release to cherish' (The Daily Telegraph)

The success of her performances of K595 and the G major, K453, rests in part on Hewitt's feeling for Mozart's remarkable harmonic and tonal range in both works … Mozart gives us plenty more surprises … Hewitt relishes these, as if freshly exploring and delighting in them … These characteristics of intelligent delight in the music also mark Hewitt's performance of the G major Concerto … It is brilliantly done, and this is a brilliant performance all round' (International Record Review

martes, 10 de diciembre de 2013

Angela Hewitt / Orchestra Da Camera Di Mantova MOZART Piano Concertos No 6 K238 - No 8 K246 - No 9 K271

 A brilliant specialist in the keyboard works of Johann Sebastian Bach, which she has recorded to great critical acclaim, Angela Hewitt proves herself equally attuned to the music of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart in this first installment of the complete piano concertos. While beginning with the Piano Concertos No. 6, No. 8, and No. 9 might be an unusual opening gambit, jumping ahead of the earliest and least compelling concertos, they are still youthful works and more than competent examples of Mozart's budding mastery. Indeed, the Piano Concerto No. 9 in E flat major, "Jenamy" ("Jeunehomme"), is his "coming of age" work, though it shows only the beginnings of Mozart's mature concertante style and promises much greater things to come. Hewitt performs with Orchestra da Camera di Mantova, demonstrating her polished skills and exquisite taste in refined and robust strokes with full-sounding accompaniment. Even though she plays a modern piano and the group isn't a period ensemble, the playing is certainly informed by historical practice and is a delightful mixture of Classical balance, modern instrumental colors, and consummate musicianship. Hyperion's reproduction is first-class, so the sound is clean, fresh, and vibrant, with crisp details and credible presence. (

lunes, 9 de diciembre de 2013

Lise de la Salle / Staatskapelle Dresden / Fabio Luisi CHOPIN Ballades - Piano Concerto No. 2


France's Naïve label has heavily promoted the career of the young pianist Lise de la Salle, who was 22 when this recording was made. Her fashion-spread good looks fit with Naïve's design concepts, and she has the ability to deliver the spontaneous, unorthodox performances the label favors. How does she fare in a field extremely crowded with Chopin recitals? Her performances certainly aren't derivative of anyone else, and this live recording from the Semperoper in Dresden (you get a one-minute track of just applause at the end) has a good deal of attention-getting flair. The standout feature of De la Salle's performance, in the four ballades at least, is her orientation toward slow tempos, inventively deployed. The ballades are somewhere between moderately slow and much slower than normal, but De la Salle is not trying to create a deliberate mood. Instead the operative adjective is "dreamy." She applies a good deal of rubato in the quieter passages, and against this backdrop the big tunes emerge as bright colors flitting across the landscape -- as dreams of the sun, perhaps -- rather than as lyrical anchors of the music. De la Salle does not lack power, but she applies it sparingly and explosively. It's undeniably an odd treatment of the ballades, but it's quite absorbing, and hearers' reactions may well be as idiosyncratic as the readings. The Piano Concerto No. 2 in F minor, Op. 21, is more conventional and benefits from sensitive accompaniment from the Staatskapelle Dresden under Fabio Luisi. Naïve's live production values are very high. (James Manheim)

domingo, 8 de diciembre de 2013

Carmen Thierry OBOEMIA Música Mexicana Para Oboe Solo


In the early 1980s Pauta magazine (Journal of Theory and Musical Criticism) appeared in Mexico, thanks to the interest and initiative of composer Mario Lavista. Pauta provided, for the first time in Spanish, access to information on contemporary techniques of instrumental performance. As a result of the work of a group of young Mexican musicians who decided to specialize in contemporary music, articles devoted to the oboe, the flute, the clarinet, the double bass, the guitar, the harp and strings were published in Pauta during the early years.
In 1982, along with Pauta magazine, the Da Capo Quartet was founded. With Maria Elena Arizpe on the flute, Leonora Saavedra on the oboe, Lilia Vazquez at the piano and Aaron Bitran on the cello, they recorded Between 1982 and 1984 three albums of music by Mario Lavista, Manuel Enriquez, Federico Ibarra, Daniel Catan, Joaquín Gutiérrez Heras, Rodolfo Halffter, Stephen Montague, Lilia Vazquez and George Crumb. Throughout personnel changes in the quartet, Roberto Kolb continued Leonora's work with the oboe, even after the Quartet ceased performing.
In early 1989, Guillermo Portillo created at UNAM's National School of Music the "Camerata" group, inviting Carmen Thierry to participate, since then, Carmen has premiered in Mexico and worldwide numerous works, many of them especially composed for her and for the group. For decades she was practically the only oboist performing contemporary music in Mexico. In the 2000s talented young musicians appeared continuing the work of Leonora, Roberto and Carmen.
This album is a compilation of music written for solo oboe from 1957 to 2008. The program includes works composed in a traditional language by Antonio Navarro, Carlos Chavez and Maria Granillo, compositions using contemporary techniques by Gonzalo Macias, Mario Lavista, Manuel Enriquez, Horacio Uribe and Manuel de Elías, and works utilizing new techniques and electronic sounds by Luis H. Arevalo, Manuel Rocha and Jorge Calleja.
This is an invitation to a fifty years' journey through the beautiful and extraordinary sounds of a fascinating musical instrument, the oboe.

sábado, 7 de diciembre de 2013

Franco Fagioli ARIAS FOR CAFFARELLI


Franco Fagioli is one of the leading countertenors of the new generation. His performances as Handel heroes have been unanimously acclaimed. Born in San Miguel de Tucumán (Argentina) in 1981, he studied the piano in his home town, then singing at the Instituto Superiore de Arte of the Teatro Colón in Buenos Aires. In 1997 he founded the choir of San Martín de Porres for the adolescents of his region. He then began to specialise in the countertenor register.
In 2003 Franco Fagioli won the prestigious Bertelsmann singing competition Neue Stimmen in Germany, which marked the start of his international career. Since then, he has appeared at the Teatro Colón, the Karlsruhe, Bonn, Essen, and Zurich operas, the Teatro Carlo Felice in Genoa, and the Théâtre des Champs-Élysées, among others. He has enjoyed immense success with his interpretation of the title role of Giulio Cesare in Zurich, Helsinki, Oslo, and Karlsruhe. In 2011 he was awarded the Premio Abbiati in Italy and the Italian magazine L’Opera named him best countertenor of the year for his performance as Bertarido in Rodelinda.
Notable appearances in the past few seasons have included Handel’s Teseo (Staatsoper Stuttgart), Ariodante (Karlsruhe Handel Festival), and Bertarido (Martina Franca), Telemaco/Il ritorno d’Ulisse in patria (the work’s Argentinian premiere), Gluck’s Orfeo (Teatro Colón), Cavalli’s Giasone with Chicago Opera Theater, and the world premiere of Osvaldo Golijov’s Ainadamar at the Teatro Argentino de La Plata. During the 2010/11 season, he sang Nerone/L’incoronazione di Poppea in Cologne and Dresden and Arsace/Aureliano in Palmira at the Festival della Valle d’Itria. His engagements in 2011/12 included revivals of L’incoronazione di Poppea, a new production of Giulio Cesare in Helsinki, Poro in Halle and Basel, and Arbace/Artaserse (Hasse) at Martina Franca.
In November 2009, his first solo recital in Europe, at the Staatsoper Stuttgart, ended with a standing ovation. He has also appeared with Cecilia Bartoli in London and Brussels as the special guest of the prima donna. Franco Fagioli works regularly with such conductors as Rinaldo Alessandrini, Alan Curtis, Diego Fasolis, Gabriel Garrido, Nikolaus Harnoncourt, Michael Hofstetter, René Jacobs, Konrad Junghänel, Jose Manuel Quintana, Marc Minkowski, Riccardo Muti, and Christophe Rousset.
His discography includes Gluck’s Ezio, Handel’s Teseo and Berenice, the solo album Canzone e cantate, and Vinci’s Artaserse with Philippe Jaroussky, Max Emanuel Cencic, Daniel Behle, and Concerto Köln.

jueves, 5 de diciembre de 2013

Hélène Grimaud BACH

For Tolstoy, love meant preferring others to oneself. That notion also sheds light on Bach, another of those who, in the deepest sense, entrusted their heart to love. He loved so fully, with all his being, in the most carnal, indeed incarnate way, that his self-effacement has caused us forever to perceive in that something resembling a revelation of life, something that explains his universality: it is as though Bach’s music were the awareness of music itself, its assurance and its promise. Perhaps no one –Shakespeare excepted – was comparably able to transform every atom in the universe, every particle of the world into such profound yet also intimate emotion. Bach is the composer who unites, in their truest sense, the plenary tenderness of prayer with the solitary echo of the divine. He grasps space and makes it an infinite curve; he takes time and makes it a possibility of the future; he seizes a dance and it becomes a betrothal to celebrate. For those of us who see so dimly, he restores a vision: the belief that with Bach there is no limit, that he enjoins us to rediscover that to the full, in this practice of love that has an obligation to the living to expand their lives, to restore love to the epicenter of their hearts. There is no longer any dispute over the urgency of our situation today. But one would be mistaken in regarding Bach as no more than a man of his time bearing witness to ours – because Bach is always in the process of becoming. Even in his own lifetime, he eluded his contemporaries who saw in him a relic of the past, not a prophet for all times and all people. What could then be more natural than to find him at the source of Liszt, Busoni or Rachmaninov? Bach was such an island in the middle of the river, free and unwavering in the midst of the currents and counter-currents, fed from the shore of the source and carried to the shore of hope. Between these two markers is a symbolic path which is the signature of all existence. Bach was not at all torn: he knew how to build bridges. He is always showing us, in a flash of transparent clarity, how to reconcile the pain in our days with the burst of light. (Hélène Grimaud)

miércoles, 4 de diciembre de 2013

Robert King / The King's Consort HANDEL Deborah


Handel was a prolifically ‘green’ composer who constantly recycled much of his best music. For Deborah he borrowed movements and themes from numerous compositions including the Brockes Passion, the Coronation Anthems, the Chandos Anthems, the Birthday Ode for Queen Anne and a number of early Italian works including Dixit Dominus. Many of these would have been new to London audiences. The scoring of Deborah was splendidly expansive, requiring an eight-part choir (all the more novel to eighteenth-century audiences who were used to operas with little ensemble work) and a large orchestral body of strings, oboes, bassoons, flutes, three horns, three trumpets, timpani, harpsichord and two organs. The scoring was unusually detailed, often providing ripieno lines for cellos and bassoons (rather than combining them all on the continuo line), and giving clear instructions for the disposition of keyboard instruments.
Reports from the first performance on 17 March 1733 state that among the hundred performers were ‘about twenty-five singers’. The three chorus singers that this figure allocated to each line would have made for a heavy evening’s singing (even with the soloists joining in the choruses), especially as no other oratorio except Samson gives the choir so much music to sing: such an imbalance in numbers between choir and orchestra would sound strange to our twentieth-century ears. In later performances Handel was able (as we are) to increase the scale and size of his choir. With this double choir, a large string section and six brass players the climaxes, scored in as many as twenty-four parts, are thrilling: to an eighteenth-century audience they must have been revelatory. Lady Irwin’s genteel ears, attuned to the single-voice arias of the opera, found it all a bit too much and wrote to her friend Lord Carlisle that she thought the choruses in Deborah to be ‘in music what I fancy a French ordinary in conversation’!
For the first run of Deborah Handel had an all-star cast. The title role was taken by Anna Strada (the only member of Handel’s former opera company who didn’t desert him later in the year to join the rival Opera of the Nobility), Barak was sung by the quarrelsome alto castrato Senesino, Abinoam by the famous bass Antonio Montagnana, Sisera by the contralto Francesca Bertolli (renowned both for her performances of male roles and for being courted later that year by the Prince of Wales), and Celeste Gismondi sang the roles of both Jael and the Israelite Woman. In July 1733 Handel repeated the work in the Sheldonian Theatre, Oxford (where he also presented the first performance of Athalia): the subsequent popularity of Deborah ensured that it was presented in another five oratorio series between 1734 and 1756. (Robert King)

'Deborah contains some of the most glorious music Handel ever wrote. Even if many of the numbers have been recycled from earlier works, the invention is still staggering. Handel devotees can thus amuse themselves spotting the tunes while everyone else can revel in the sumptuous scoring and the sheer vitality and humanity of the piece, all superbly conveyed in Robert King's recording'
(BBC Music Magazine Top 1000 CDs Guide)

martes, 3 de diciembre de 2013

Andor Foldes WIZARD OF THE KEYBOARD


Andor Foldes was born in Budapest on Dec. 21, 1913, and began his studies privately with his mother, Valerie Ipolye, and with Tibor Szatmari. He made his public debut performing a Mozart concerto with the Budapest Philharmonic when he was 8 years old. The next year he entered the Budapest Academy of Music to study the piano, composition and conducting, but he continued to perform publicly.
During his student years, Mr. Foldes worked with several important Hungarian composers, among them Ernst von Dohnanyi, with whom he studied until 1932, and Bartok, whom he met in 1929. Bartok's music became a central part of his repertory. He gave the New York premiere of Bartok's Second Piano Concerto at Carnegie Hall in 1947. His 1948 recording of the work, prized by collectors, was recently reissued on compact disk, as was a set of Bartok works he recorded for Deutsche Grammophon, which won the Grand Prix du Disques and other prizes. A New York Premiere.
Mr. Foldes made his American orchestral debut in a radio concert in 1940 and his recital debut at Town Hall in 1941. He met his wife, a Hungarian journalist, in New York, and they became American citizens. In the 1950's, when Mr. Foldes's European concert engagements were more plentiful than his American ones, he and his wife moved to Europe, settling in Switzerland in 1961.
Besides a large discography, which includes not only the Bartok recordings but also works by Mozart, Beethoven, Brahms, Falla, Debussy, Poulenc, Liszt, Schubert and Rachmaninoff, Mr. Foldes was the author of "Keys to the Keyboard" (1948).
Among his awards are the Grand Cross of Merit, given by Germany in 1959 for his help in raising money to have the Beethoven Halle in Bonn rebuilt, and the Silver Medal of the City of Paris, given in 1969. (Allan Kozinn, The New York Times)

lunes, 2 de diciembre de 2013

Michele Marelli KARLHEINZ STOCKHAUSEN Harlekin


HARLEKIN is a remarkable, and successful, extreme of variation form. A great deal of the long-lasting fascination of Stockhausen's music is produced by its exploration of the extreme boundaries of music, of what music can be. This work explores the extremes of music within a seemingly traditional framework, extensive variation of melody, a feature that provides a special fascination of its own.
Over a span of 45 minutes, the listener is confronted with nothing but one single melodic formula, with innumerable variations (in its original form the formula lasts about one minute, but mostly it is contracted to a much shorter duration). Broadly speaking and a little simplified (as will become clear later), the entire work consists of just a single chain of successive, yet varied, repetitions of this formula, connected like pearls on a string.
This alone would be remarkable enough, yet even more striking is the variation technique employed in relation to the duration of the entire work. Even though the work is so extended in duration, no complete transformation of melody takes place, as found for example in some late works by Beethoven, such as the Diabelli variations or the fourth movement of the String Quartet op. 131 (where the transformations of the material during the variation process are so huge that they amount to magical transfigurations).
On the contrary, in HARLEKIN the basic shape of the melody is mostly preserved, only slightly bent or furnished with different accents during variations, and there are wide stretches of the work that do not even split the formula melody up into motives. A similar kind of variation technique is often heard in slow movements of the Classical period. Among the better-known examples from this period, there are very successful ones, but also some where the music merely drags itself from one little 'neat' variation to another, inevitably producing some boredom on the part of the listener.
Such boredom is not inherent in the proceedings of HARLEKIN: What is so astonishing is that the small variations presented in the composition can hold the listener's attention during the entire duration of 45 minutes, a much longer duration than that of any variation movement in previous music.
An experience of this nature, however, can only take place once the listener has 'locked into' the formula, and therefore becomes able to follow all the alterations in a state of suspense. Given both the unusually expansive breath for this kind of music and the fact that the formula only slowly is 'un-wound', 'locking into' the formula may prove challenging for the listener. This may be why some listeners, even Stockhausen fans, do not initially find the work very compelling. Reasonable appreciation of the musical processes may require repeated listening.
The humour so central to the work, audibly and – in a live performance – visibly (keep in mind that this is very much a theatrical work), is an important vehicle for adding interest to the variation processes. It often contributes to special vividness and meaning of changes in accentuation of the formula.
HARLEKIN can be considered a showpiece of Stockhausen's solid compositional craft. Few composers could have accomplished this kind of composition with such evident mastery, and it becomes abundantly clear from listening to this and many other works that Stockhausen is not one of the dubious cases of contemporary composer whose music's 'fancy weirdness' conceals a lack of basic compositional technique and skills.
It should not be overlooked that without these skills in "traditional" craft of composition also phenomena like the organic transformations found in even more radical works such as HYMNEN would be impossible. This is an important reason why achievements such as HYMNEN cannot be emulated by electronic-studio wizards who are less sure-footed in basic compositional technique.

domingo, 1 de diciembre de 2013

René Jacobs / Akademie für Alte Musik Berlin JOHANN SEBASTIAN BACH Matthäus-Passion

"For the love of Bach and the glory of God," René Jacobs states in a sleevenote for his recording of the St Matthew Passion. A performance of overwhelming sincerity, it's not without controversy. Jacobs argues that at the first performance in Leipzig's Thomaskirche, the two groups of musicians were placed, not side by side as originally thought, but at opposite ends of the building, and that the second group was smaller than the first. The recording itself accordingly aims to approximate the spatial sound as it might have been heard by someone sitting near the front of the church. Not everyone will care for it, and some might also be surprised its sensuous immediacy and by Jacobs's ornate way with the recitatives. But the mix of drama and meditation is breathtakingly sustained and the choral singing astonishing in its beauty. Werner Güra is the impassioned Evangelist, Johannes Weisser the noble, charismatic Jesus. The classy lineup for the arias includes Bernarda Fink, Topi Lehtipuu and Konstantin Wolff, all at their absolute best. (Tim Ashley / The Guardian)

Among the finest early music conductors, René Jacobs has recorded many of the great choral works and operas of the Baroque and Classical eras, almost exclusively for Harmonia Mundi. Yet he has waited decades to record J.S. Bach's towering masterpiece, the St. Matthew Passion, despite having studied and performed it many times throughout his career, first as a boy soprano, then years later as a countertenor and conductor. Fortunately, this 2013 release is well worth the wait, and Jacobs has produced a magnificent multichannel version that is a treasure for audiophiles and connoisseurs of this hallowed work. The large box set houses two SACDs and a DVD, along with a thick booklet, so the St. Matthew Passion is given a thorough presentation, and the recording offers clear instrumental details, rich choral textures, and full presence for the soloists. The RIAS Kammerchor and the Akademie für Alte Musik Berlin deliver majestic performances of the choruses in authentic period style, and tenor Werner Güra as the Evangelist and bass Johannes Weisser as Jesus are well-matched in their fluid vocal quality and intense dramatic feeling. But the whole feels much greater than the sum of its parts, and the experience of hearing this extraordinary performance is overwhelming, both intellectually and emotionally. This set is highly recommended as one of the best recordings of 2013. (Blair Sanderson)

The Florestan Trio SCHUBERT Piano Trio in B flat major, D898 - Trio movement in B flat major, D28 - Notturno in E flat major, D897

Hyperion is thrilled to be able to unite the remarkable talents of The Florestan Trio, deemed by Classic CD as 'among the finest chamber ensembles of the present day', with one of Schubert's greatest masterpieces, the magnificent Piano Trio in B flat major, D898. Of all the large-scale works of his last years, D898 is one that reflects the popular image of the carefree, companionable Schubert, pouring out a stream of spontaneous melody. From its soaring opening theme to the sublimated echoes of Viennese popular music in the finale, the music exudes life-affirming energy.
The 'Notturno' (so titled by the publisher) in E flat was the original slow movement of the B flat trio. Schubert's reasons for its eventual replacement remain unclear, but the work now stands alone most effectively as an entity of sustained melody and tranquillity.
The last work, the single-movement 'Sonate' (the composer's designation) was written when the composer was just 15. He was in self-consolatory mode and D28 was his immediate response to losing his treble voice, and with it his place in Vienna's Imperial Chapel Choir. An early work with apparent influences from Mozart, it is a work of great insight, lyricism and charm that reflect the despondent teenager's determination to lift his spirits.

'This stands out among modern recordings of this fine work [and] the Movement in B flat makes a freshly endearing bonus. This will be hard to beat and one eagerly awaits the E flat major Trio' (Gramophone) 

sábado, 30 de noviembre de 2013

The Florestan Trio SCHUBERT Piano Trio in E flat major D929

The estimable Florestan Trio completes its "cycle" of Schubert Piano Trios with this recording of the E-flat major trio, a performance as wonderfully incisive as its earlier rendition of the trio in B-flat major. While the present recording was made in late December 2001, a full year after the first, Hyperion still managed to secure the services of the same engineer (Tony Faulkner) to work his magic with these terrific players, so there is a uniformity to the sound that is comforting and will smoothly pave the way for a two-disc set at some point. In the meantime, anyone who loves this work may still want to shell out full price for this disc, as it represents Schubert performance at the highest level.
While the Florestan members play with impeccable unity, pianist Susan Tomes still stands out slightly, thanks largely to her amazingly graceful phrasing. Listen to the way she manages a pianissimo in the feather-light background triplets in the development of the first movement while gradually increasing the intensity of the bass line. Of course, her partners are no slouches either. Violinist Anthony Marwood's playful, lilting phrasing of the main theme in the Andante negates any sense of lethargy, and cellist Richard Lester's observance of dynamics (especially in the opening of the first movement) is letter-perfect. Besides the group's over-arching feel for this music, the unanimity of attack and the fastidious, carefully measured attention to dynamics marks their performance as being truly special and consistent with their fine account of the B-flat trio, offering a sort of reference model for avid score readers. For instance, in the second movement, they reserve enough power to distinguish the double- and triple-forte passages in a way that indicates without doubt the climactic moment, even if there is a tendency to want to bang out the earlier accented parts with some abandon.
As a filler item, the Florestans offer the first version of the finale, which was cut by Schubert most likely at the urging of performers and publishers concerned about the length of the work (itself already more than 43 minutes with all the repeats, as presented here). Ninety-eight bars in the development section have been restored, representing two cuts and adding about two minutes of music starting at 6:00 on track 5. Some of it is repetitive (the staccato eighth-note "cimbalom" passages) and while the rest adds some drama to the whole event, it doesn't alter the overall view that its exclusion makes little difference. A case against performing this original version at all is found in the liner notes, quoting a letter from Schubert to his publisher exhorting performers (and the publisher) to "scrupulously" observe the cuts in the last movement. So, to justify this full-price release, the Florestans perhaps had to push their luck and buck their muse's wishes. (Michael Liebowitz, ClassicsToday.com)

viernes, 29 de noviembre de 2013

Emmanuelle Haïm / Le Concert D'Astrée HANDEL La Resurrezione

Continuing the Handel series from Le Concert d’Astrée and Emmanuelle Haïm is La resurrezione, composed during the young Handel’s period in Rome and first performed there in 1708. The work recounts the events of Easter and the solo singers portray Lucifer, Mary Magdalene, an Angel, St John the Evangelist, and St Mary Cleophas.
It calls upon a large orchestra, led and directed at the first performance by the master violinist Arcangelo Corelli. The role of Mary Magdalene, here performed by the lush-voiced young British soprano (and EMI Classics artist) Kate Royal, was sung at the first performance by the celebrated Margherita Durastanti, even though the Pope had forbidden female singers to perform in public.
In April 2009, Emmanuelle Haïm led a performance of La resurrezione at London’s Barbican Centre, part of a tour which also covered Paris, Dijon, Aix-en-Provence, Lille, Pamplona, Valladolid and Salzburg. The Guardian reported that: “Emmanuelle Haïm's understanding of the relationship between sense and sensuality in Handel has marked her out as one of his finest interpreters, and her performance with her own Concert d'Astrée was notable for its immediacy and expression. The playing had touches of magic as recorders and flutes comforted the uncomprehending saints, and flaring brass heralded the arrival of a new dawn … Camilla Tilling's joyous Angel let fly volleys of flamboyant coloratura … while the great Sonia Prina was vocally spectacular and immensely moving as Mary Cleophas.”
The Salzburg performance led the Salzburger Nachrichten to describe the “springy mastery” of the ensemble, “with sparkling accents from the trumpets, lute and gamba … A Baroque highpoint in an Easter Festival dominated by Romanticism.” Drehpunkt Kultur described Luca Pisaroni’s Lucifer as “dangerously honed” and Toby Spence as “a master of subtle ornamentation”. Overall, the ensemble of singers was “technically and stylistically at the peak of today’s Handel interpretation”, while Haïm herself “knows how to ignite her ensemble to such powerful effect and then to restrain the emotion once more, so that the force of expression never runs wild.”

Anne-Sophie Mutter / Trondheim Soloists / Valery Gergiev BACH / GUBAIDULINA (CD 37 / ASM35)



In February 2007 the Russian composer Sofia Gubaidulina – she was born in Chistopol in Tatarstan in 1931 and has lived in Germany since 1992 – was awarded Hamburg’s prestigious Bach Prize: as a “pioneer of contemporary classical music” who has forged a link between Eastern and Western music.
Her own music has been inspired by that of Johann Sebastian Bach in more ways than one, with the result that it seemed obvious for Anne-Sophie Mutter to record two of Bach’s concertos alongside her worldpremiere recording of Gubaidulina’s most recent violin concerto, a piece dedicated to Mutter. “There is a profound spiritual affinity between Gubaidulina and Bach,” says the violinist. “Like Bach, she too draws not only a great deal of strength from her faith in God, but ultimately also a musical language all of her own.”
Written in 2006 – 07, the violin concerto is the first piece by the Russian composer that Anne-Sophie Mutter has recorded. “I knew about Paul Sacher’s commission and have been waiting patiently for ‘my’ work since the 1980s. Not that this means that I haven’t taken every opportunity to follow Sofia Gubaidulina’s career very closely, although I got to know her personally only just before the first orchestral rehearsal in Berlin, when I played In tempus praesens for her. It was a very moving moment for me. She is undoubtedly one of the most fascinating of all composers, in that every note reveals such great depths of emotion. She truly lives to compose and doesn’t compose to live.”
Sofia and (Anne-)Sophie – the similarity between the two names inspired Gubaidulina. “During this whole time, I was accompanied by the figure of Sophia – divine wisdom. It was all entirely spontaneous: our names are the same – it was this that provided the basis for this association,” the composer explains. For Gubaidulina, Sophia is the figure revered by orthodox Christianity, the personification of wisdom who has laid the foundations for all creativity and intellectual effort in the history of creation, preparing the way for all that develops organically in the world. She is the fountainhead of art and of the artist’s engagement with the lighter and darker sides of human existence. (Selke Harten-Strehk)

jueves, 28 de noviembre de 2013

Angela Hewitt BACH arrangements

This delightful disc offers a selection from the wealth of piano transcriptions of Bach's music. The Bach revival that gathered momentum during the nineteenth century created a climate for many composer-pianists to interpret his works through their own piano transcriptions, whether of chorale preludes, organ works or other instrumental music. Much of Bach's music was made domestically available via such arrangements (and the tradition continued well into the twentieth century, even after Bach originals were well known). Indeed, the practice of such transcriptions was widely used by Bach himself, who freely adapted his own and others' music for different instrumental settings.
One of today's finest Bach pianists, Angela Hewitt concentrates primarily on those arrangements of Bach that keep pianistic elaboration and virtuosity in proportion: whatever instrument his music is played on, Bach should still sound like Bach. Eugen d'Albert's magnificent transcription of the C minor Passacaglia and Fugue for organ, BWV582, is included, as are five beautiful transcriptions by Wilhelm Kempff, and a number of arrangements by English composers that were included in A Bach Book for Harriet Cohen (a collection compiled for the pianist Harriet Cohen, who knew many English composers of the early twentieth century). Angela Hewitt also includes three transcriptions of her own. A fascinating companion to Angela Hewitt's acclaimed Bach recordings for Hyperion, this ravishing disc will appeal to lovers of Bach as much as connoisseurs of the piano.

Anna Netrebko SEMPRE LIBERA

The story of her success requires no further recounting here: beginning with a sensational Salzburg début in 2002 as Donna Anna in Don Giovanni, she's become an almost unrivalled presence among classical artists. Her first aria recital entered the German pop charts, and with the video clips for this album she stands to become the first opera diva for the MTV generation. The clips have already provided her with a key to the gates of Hollywood. It is in the scene from the Traviata that Anna Netrebko will be making her feature film début in Garry Marshall's Princess Diaries II with Julie Andrews.
Anna Netrebko knows what she can do and where (at least for now) her limits lie. Most of all, she knows what the others can, or could, do. With the greatest respect she speaks of Callas (“She is and will remain unique, there's no one else like her"), of Mirella Freni (“After I've listened to her, I sing better"), and of Renata Scotto, from whom she has learned the essentials for interpreting bel canto roles.
The young Russian soprano's new album seems to invoke comparisons with those legendary singers: anyone who takes on roles like Violetta in La traviata, Amina in La sonnambula, Lucia or Desdemona in Otello has to reckon with being measured against Callas, Scotto, and Freni. Initially Anna Netrebko's new recording was to be a pure bel canto recital, but then Claudio Abbado suggested adding Desdemona's great scena. At first she was sceptical: she had never sung the part before, and, moreover, it lies considerably lower than her bravura bel canto roles. On the other hand, she felt so secure with Abbado and the Mahler Chamber Orchestra that she decided to take the plunge. In the recording, it sounds as though Desdemona has been a fixture of her repertoire for years.
Branching out from lyrical parts (like Susanna in Mozart's Figaro), Anna Netrebko has gradually taken on some heavier, prima donna roles. She made headlines in Los Angeles as Lucia (in a new production by Marthe Keller) and in Vienna and Munich as Violetta, which she has called her most demanding part to date: “First of all, in terms of vocal technique it's incredibly demanding, because you basically need four voices - a different one for each act and scene. And dramatically you need to give everything you've got. You have to love with her, suffer with her, and die with her. Whoever does that, however, will always have to pay a price with the voice - just ask anyone who's surrendered her heart and soul to this role."
Every interpreter of the Traviata must also completely surrender heart and soul to the audi-ence - especially in the crucial scene of Act I, the heroine's internal monologue. Violetta is confused. Is it really love that she feels for Alfredo? She yields to the emotion for a moment, but then pulls back. No, it's all an illusion! What's left of her life she will devote exclusively to the pursuit of pleasure. “Sempre libera!" - Ever free, ever free for new adventures.
“Sempre libera", this desperate hymn to sexual freedom, requires much more than a convincing actress: it demands a vocal virtuoso who has mastered all the fine points of classical bel canto. Verdi decorated the whirl of desire that Violetta evokes here with lots of little notes, and many a world-class diva has stumbled over them. Something else that makes this scene such a bugbear for every singer: at the end it goes up to top E flat. Although Verdi didn't actually notate the part with that extreme high note, it quickly became part of the performing tradition and still remains, despite all arguments against it, a “matter of honour".
Anna Netrebko has taken on this challenge as well. “I don't think I've sung as many high Eflats in my whole life as I did in these recording sessions. But Maestro Abbado and the wonderful orchestra helped me to sing better than ever before." (5/2004)

miércoles, 27 de noviembre de 2013

Jérôme Pernoo / Les Musiciens du Louvre / Marc Minkowski OFFENBACH Romantique

Familiarity with the famous galop from Orphée aux enfers and the finale of La Vie parisienne has tended to obscure Offenbach's early career. Failing to see the wood for the trees, we have all too often forgotten that before creating the French opéra bouffe, Offenbach was one of the greatest cellists of his day, and that far from restricting himself to making his Parisian audiences laugh, he was also an impassioned Romantic gifted with an astonishing melodic vein. His grand opera Die Rheinnixen, the delicate Fantasio, Les Contes d'Hoffmann of course, as well as the works included in the present release should be enough to convince listeners of this claim's validity.
Thanks to his almost fiendish virtuosity, Offenbach was known to his contemporaries as the "Liszt of the cello". Indeed, he even appeared on the same concert platform as Liszt, as well as with Anton Rubinstein and Friedrich von Flotow, both in Paris and in his native Germany. It was Offenbach, too, who introduced Beethoven's cello sonatas to France. But above and beyond the pleasure that he took in performing the music of others, his true passion was composition, and from a very early age he produced an impressive corpus of works for his favourite instrument, writing not only many shorter pieces but also countless studies and fantasias and a number of larger orchestral works, chief among which are a Danse bohémienne, a Grande Scène espagnole and, above all, the tremendous Concerto militaire, here recorded complete for the first time.
Offenbach himself gave the first performance of the concerto's opening movement at the Salle Moreau-Sainti in Paris on 24 April 1847 - it is unclear why the remaining movements were not performed at that time. It is likely that Offenbach played the work on a number of later occasions, although the only fully documented performance took place in Cologne on 24 October 1848. The work then fell into obscurity and it was not until a century later that the composer's grandson, Jacques Brindejont-Offenbach, unearthed it and entrusted the autograph score of the opening movement, together with a number of surviving piano sketches, to the cellist Jean-Max Clément. Clément prepared a new edition of the score based on these various sources, reserving for himself the right to perform the piece in the concert hall. He did what he could to reconstruct the second and third movements, which he orchestrated on the basis of the original piano sketches, while taking certain liberties with the material. In particular, he cut a number of passages in the opening movement that he judged to be too difficult.
In fact, both Clément and Jacques Brindejont-Offenbach were unaware that autograph copies of the Andante and final movement were lodged in the family archives, in both cases completed and orchestrated by Offenbach himself. Admittedly, neither manuscript was meaningfully headed and the introductions to both movements had been substantially developed and changed when compared to the piano sketches, so that it is difficult to detect any connection between the different pieces in the jigsaw without a detailed study of the sources.

The present recording begins and ends with two works - the rhapsodic overture to Orphée aux enfers (1874) and the "Snowflake Ballet" from Le Voyage dans la lune (1875) - that both bear witness to one of the most successful periods in Offenbach's life. By now he had become director of the Théâtre de la Gaîté, one of the most beautiful halls in Paris, and he finally had at his disposal a full-size orchestra with a proper pit and a genuine corps de ballet. He now revised two of his earliest successes - Orphée aux enfers and Geneviève de Brabant - to take account of these magnificent new surroundings and to offer his astonished audiences an entirely new type of opera, the opéra-bouffe féerie, a fairytale light opera in which nothing was too sensational - a work designed to fill his audiences with a sense of genuine wonderment. Pictorial poetry and Bacchian euphoria are combined in these snowflakes, which suffice to prove that the composer had no need of a pseudo-cancan, of a Gaîté parisienne or of assiduous arrangers to create orchestral magic. May the present recording contribute to the revival of an authentic Offenbach. (Jean-Christophe Keck)

martes, 26 de noviembre de 2013

Suzanne Stephens STOCKHAUSEN In Freundschaft / Traum-Formel / Amour

“In Freundschaft” (“In Friendship”) was composed as a birthday gift for Suzanne Stephens in 1977. It was already from the beginning envisioned as a solo piece for different instruments. On this CD Stephens performs on a clarinet, but the piece can also be played on bass clarinet, basset-horn, flute, oboe, bassoon, recorder, saxophone, violin, cello, horn & trombone! This makes it as applicable and easily utilized as, for example, “Tierkreis”, which has also been performed in numerous instrumental versions.
Stockhausen works with three layers in “In Freundschaft”. He calls his method here “horizontal polyphony”, and indicates that it requires “a special art of listening”. This is surely true, but you can also dip into the flow and enjoy without any special preparations. Any set of sensitive ears hooked up to a sensibly sensible brain and mind will open up the world of “In Freundschaft” to the splendor of Stephens’ garlands of spiraling clarinet tones, in waves and vibrations of compressions from the shifting pillar of air inside her instrument.
 The “special art of listening” that you can practice and train, leads to a deepened and furthered act of hearing, though, and is strongly recommended to those who care very much for music and their perception of it - and I suppose you wouldn’t read this if you weren’t one of those! It is rewarding on many levels. As always in Stockhausen’s music, there are many different levels of possible listening, and like the characters in Herman Hesse’s novels you can develop a deeper understanding by evolving through level after level. This quality of Stockhausen’s music, which always inspires to deeper study and more attentive listening, separates it from all other compositional acts that I have come across, and makes his music so much more meaningful, with implications that go well beyond any purely musical border lines that restrain most other composers, making Stockhausen’s music a universal music, opening up unknown worlds and connecting them in intricate, transparent patterns to our immediate local intellectual, emotional and spiritual neighborhood, in experiences wherein the distant and unknown feels familiar, and the familiar and well-known, on the other hand, strange and wonderful. His music is always, in a way, an educative event; a spiritual refining act. This quality immerses his compositional work, his rehearsals with the musicians - and the minds of those who listen!
“Traum-Formel” (“Dream Formula”) for basset-horn is the second work. It is a short piece with its barely 8 minutes. It starts off with a prolonged and elaborated, repeated note, bringing me reminiscences of Klezmer recordings of the 1920s, or the intense soloistic efforts of a Mosaic Central European and Middle Eastern – also Russian – tradition by Dror Feiler on his CD “Celestial Fire”, where Mr. Feiler improvises on different kinds of saxophones in glowing little pieces like “Hallel” and “Sei Yabe”. The fire, the small-scale playfulness is inherent also in Stockhausen’s “Traum-Formel”, brilliantly conveyed by the masterly musicianship and pure identification of Suzanne Stephens. The instrument itself gives off some side-effect-sounds from the valves, and the nearness is stark and naked in this music, which dances blotting-paper-close to your body.
“Amour” is the concluding work. “Amour” is in fact a common name for a whole group of small compositions. The subtitle is “5 pieces for clarinet”. The pieces are: “Sei wieder frölich” (“Cheer up!”) / “Dein Engel wacht über Dir” (“Your angel is watching over you”) / “Die Schmetterlinge spielen” (“The butterflies are playing”) / “Ein Vögelin singt an Deinem Fenster” (“A little bird sings at your window”) / “Vier Sterne weisen Dir den Weg” (“Four stars show you the way”).
The first melody – “Sei wieder frölich” – was presented to Suzanne Stephens in 1974. It’s a tenderly opening miniature, rolling out a carpet of loving music for the sorrowful lady to tread on. I’m sure it did cheer her up when she needed some consolation and inspiration.
The other four pieces were composed as Christmas gifts in December 1976.
“Dein Engel wacht über Dir” was presented to Mary Stockhausen-Bauermeister. She is the mother of two of Stockhausen’s children, and has meant very much to Stockhausen, both privately and professionally (though those two aspects are inseparable in Stockhausen!). We may just remember how “Originale” grew out of animated conversations between Stockhausen and Bauermeister in Erik Tawaststjerna’s summer cottage on Lake Saimaa in a particularly enchanted part of Finland (drawing its spiritual significance on the old myths of the Kalevala) in the summer of 1961, opening the Fluxus movement. (Finland was a haven for all kinds of diligent people of the arts at the beginning of their deeds in the early 1960s. Terry Riley was there, and Folke Rabe, Ken Dewey [Dancer’s Workshop] and others as well.)