miércoles, 30 de septiembre de 2015


In 1968 the choreographer George Balanchine made a ballet from two works by Xenakis Metastaseis and Pithoprakta and the following year he commissioned Xenakis to compose an original score for New York City Ballet. Antikhthon turned out to be one of the great might-have-been collaborations: Xenakis completed the score in 1971, but the work was never staged. The concept of Antikhthon Anti-Earth or Counter-Earth was first proposed by the Pythagorean philosopher Philolaus of Croton around 400 BC. He speculated that there was a Counter-Earth a hypothetical heavenly body that revolved with the earth around a Central Fire. This led to Philolaus being credited as one of the first to propose that the Earth was not the centre of the universe, but that it was in an orbit around the Sun (Central Fire), with the other planets.
This idea clearly appealed to Xenakis as the basis for a stage work, though his score has no programme and no scenario. Presumably he intended the notion of the Counter-Earth, and the Central Fire (which he called a beneficial source of creative energy ... a mysterious and unknown source which is still beyond mans conception) as something that would stimulate Balanchines choreographic imagination. Certainly, he regarded music as having something of the same intangible qualities as then Central Fire, but he was more pragmatic about what he thought ballet could achieve: being based on what it was possible for the human body to do, he believed that it was limited to the movements we can make with our limbs, our trunk and our head and thats all. The vocabulary of ballet ... is not rich.
The work plays continuously but falls into five distinct sections perhaps reflecting its original intention as a ballet. The first is dominated by sustained clarinet notes and clusters, interrupted by rapid brass chords, a side drum, and nervous, energetic woodwind chords. The second section is driven by rhythmic string patterns (often played col legno), interrupted by increasingly urgent and extended outbursts from woodwind, brass and timpani, which then gradually fizzle out. The short third section (with wind and brass to the fore) prepares the way for the fourth, and longest, section in which initially delicate glissandos in the strings are periodically disturbed by the wind and brass, the strings seeming to feed off these interruptions, becoming increasingly animated and frenetic. The final section is more sustained, leading to a magical, evanescent close.

martes, 29 de septiembre de 2015

Dinara Alieva & Aleksandrs Antonenko VERDI - PUCCINI - TCHAIKOVSKY

After building a career in the former U.S.S.R., the Azeri soprano Dinara Alieva has had engagements at major European houses in Berlin, Vienna, Munich and Dresden. Her voice offers warmth, vibrancy (occasionally too much) and a fundamentally handsome tone color. (Alieva has upped her game since her last Delos disc.) The beefy-voiced Latvian dramatic tenor Aleksandrs Antonenko rose to international prominence when Riccardo Muti chose him to sing Otello at Salzburg in 2008. The Met secured him the next year for Rusalka; striking successes in new Met productions of Il Tabarro and Boris Godunov followed, along with strong work in revivals of Norma and Carmen, plus Otello with the Chicago Symphony. Antonenko opens the 2015–16 Met season as Verdi’s Moor in a new production directed by Bartlett Sher and conducted by Yannick Nézet-Séguin. 
This often exciting joint recital was recorded in Kaunas, Lithuania, in July 2014. The track order is a bit bizarre — Aida, Tosca, Trovatore, Queen of Spades, with the Tosca Act I love duet following the opera’s three most famous arias. Perhaps, as CDs yield to downloads, such factors matter less. As Radamès, Antonenko is certainly better than solid, though his voice in midrange at middle volume can take on a tonal bluntness and undue tremolo; the warrior’s testing aria more than passes muster, but it’s not exactly the desired “romanza.” Alieva gets more character and dynamic variety into a warmly sung “Ritorna vincitor!”; she deploys her characteristic tremolo to good effect here. Besides these Act I arias, the program includes the entire final scene, which is very accomplished by contemporary standards. Antonenko starts sensitively, and Alieva follows his lead in honoring soft dynamic markings. We hear a good chorus and a capable and, unbelievably, unidentified Amneris. One would welcome hearing these artists paired in this opera. 
The competence and (relative) nuance of Antonenko’s “Recondita armonia” reflects his experience as Cavaradossi in London, Milan, Frankfurt and elsewhere; the hushed Act III aria occasions too much unsteadiness. The soprano’s B-flat at “Le voci delle cose” doesn’t quite cut it, and while feeling is plentiful — even generous — her words could be more sharply articulated. But Alieva sounds like she might develop into a sonorous, charged Tosca. Il Trovatore has already figured in her repertory, and she presents a very creditable Act IV scena, including a verse of “Tu vedrai.”
Antonenko’s power singing sounds better suited to Gherman than to Manrico. The Tchaikovsky excerpts unsurprisingly bring forth more detailed verbal commitment from both artists: this is another joint casting one would welcome. Conductor Constantine Orbelian knows his métier, offering considerate support, if occasionally rhythmical indulgence. He cuts several bars off the beautiful “Celeste Aida” postlude. Delos supplies neither Sacristan for Tosca nor Ruiz for Il Trovatore. The booklet presents Cyrillic transliterated (not a problem) but misstates the title of the final Aida duet as well as that of Gherman’s arioso. (David Shengold)

lunes, 28 de septiembre de 2015

BBC Symphony Orchestra / Jayce Ogren RUFUS WAINWRIGHT Prima Donna

Dear friends,
We are about to embark on an exciting project which will fulfill a powerful desire of mine – to properly record my first opera, “Prima Donna” with a fabulous orchestra and release a double CD and vinyl of that recording. I would love for you to be a part of this journey as we move through the process and create a magnificent product.
“Prima Donna,” was written and performed during the most dramatic period of my life to date, and considering my life, that’s pretty dramatic! New arrivals, death, terrible defeat and glorious triumph line the tale of this work both on stage and off, a tale that is still unfolding and that I would both like you to know and even more importantly, be a part of.
From the early rocky days with the Metropolitan Opera, the valiant premiere at the Manchester International Festival, sold out shows in London and Toronto and finally the firestorm involvement with the New York City Opera at BAM, the tale of “Prima Donna’s” coming to life is already well deemed for a grand opera legend and seems to be growing still.
This is where you come in, the final great chorus!
It is vitally important to me that “Prima Donna” be properly recorded and released so that I can tour a concert version of it in the coming year, and I have decided to do this with the help of both PledgeMusic and the incredible BBC Symphony Orchestra which in turn requires your generous support. Quality studio opera recordings are extremely expensive and too time consuming to pull off these days, and it seems that a once vibrant recording industry is no longer what it was and new methods are needed to get the music out. Though sad, the upside is that everyone in the field agrees that this is a great time to bring the audience into the wonders of the creative process and the myriad of stages the recording of an opera requires. Exciting rehearsals, deep conversations, strange and colorful characters, not to mention many a silly moment, all of this I’m truly excited to experience with you until that glorious moment when the conductor, myself the composer, the orchestra, the singers and the recording crew turn on the red light and put down for posterity my first magnum opus, “Prima Donna.”
For those who don’t know, the opera is a two act affair set on the day in the life of a great diva who is deciding whether or not to continue her career. With Paris as a backdrop, the opera both borrows from operatic myth and legend as well as my own very contemporary personal experiences as a singer. The themes of loss, fear, hope and ultimately acceptance are deeply explored in this work by both the soloists and the orchestra, and I’m very proud that for a first venture into the operatic world I love so much, though not a masterpiece perhaps (that will come much later in my life), “Prima Donna” is a solid and viable offering that both people love performing in and audiences enjoy watching and listening to. It’s vitally important we get a quality recording for generations to come.
Thanks for taking the time to consider this unique offer and rest assured that if you decide to come along for the ride, it’s gonna be a blast, opera style….which is big.

domingo, 27 de septiembre de 2015

Anne Akiko Meyers SERENADE The Love Album

Serenade: The Love Album was recorded on the celebrated 'Ex-Vieuxtemps' Guarneri del Gesu violin, dated 1741, which is considered to be the finest sounding violins in existence, and is known to be most valuable violin in the world, having last sold for over $16 million. Anne Akiko Meyers has been awarded exclusive lifetime use of this instrument. This year, she was featured in a story with the violin on CBS Sunday Morning.
Anne Akiko Meyers was Billboard's top-selling classical instrumentalist in 2014, a year in which she released two critically-heralded and popular albums. The Four Seasons: The Vivaldi Album, released in February 2014, debuted at #1 on the classical Billboard charts, and American Masters, released in September, was named one of the Best of 2014 by Google Play and called "the most noteworthy new music encounter" of the year by the Chicago Tribune.
 On Serenade, Anne Akiko Meyers -- a champion of living composers -- commissioned seven renowned composer-arrangers to create ten works for violin and orchestra from love-inspired music from stage and film to pair with Leonard Bernstein's "Serenade", which was recorded in anticipation of the composer's upcoming 100th birthday celebration. New arrangements on the album include orchestrations of modern classics such as Brad Dechter's versions of "Laura," Gershwin's "Someone to Watch Over Me," and a bluesy, honky-tonk iteration of "Summertime." "Gabriel's Oboe," arranged by J.A.C. Redford, with its acrobatic, high notes, is juxtaposed poignantly with the solemn beauty of Steven Mercurio's take on "Emmanuel." Matthew Naughtin's tongue-in-cheek "Jalousie," bookended by elements of the Tchaikovsky Violin concerto, energetically flows into Astor Piazzolla's soul-busting "Oblivion," arranged by Peter von Weinhardt, and to the magical luster of Leigh Harline's "When You Wish Upon a Star," arranged by father-son composing duo Steven and Adam Schoenberg. Dechter's soaring reworking of "I'll Be Seeing You" and Bernstein's "Somewhere" from West Side Story close out the album.

sábado, 26 de septiembre de 2015

ARVO PÄRT MUSICA SELECTA A Sequence by Manfred Eicher

Of all the longstanding relationships built between its artists and Manfred Eicher, the musical partnership of ECM Records' founder/primary producer and Estonian composer Arvo Pärt—who turned 80 years old on September 11, 2015—has to be one of the label's most important and fruitful. Certainly, amidst ECM's more composition-focused New Series imprint, there are few others whose collaborations with Eicher have proven to be so personally meaningful, so groundbreaking and so emotionally resonant. While Eicher worked in the classical world prior to launching the label's New Series imprint with Pärt's Tabula Rasa in 1984—specifically, beyond being double bassist in a symphony orchestra before starting the label in 1969, his work with early minimalist trendsetter Steve Reich, whose Music for 18 Musicians (1978), Octet; Music for Large Ensemble; Violin Phase (1980) and Tehillim (1982) would later be reissued on CD within the New Series sphere—it was Pärt's early, innovative work that both captured Eicher's ear and drove him to reach out to the composer, beginning a musical partnership that has yielded a baker's dozen of exceptional recordings under the composer's name over the past three decades, and a further two that bring Pärt compositions together with the likes of Philip Glass, Peter Maxwell Davies, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Werner Bärtschi and others whose music spans three centuries and only serves to demonstrate the sheer timelessness of Pärt's work. 
There are others who have released recordings of Pärt's music, but none have benefitted from the composer's collaboration with a producer who stands out as a rare entity, actively involved in the artists' process of making music. Eicher also stands out as a producer with the rare gift of being able to sequence music in a way that makes a recording more than a collection of separate pieces; instead, Eicher's sequencing ensures that ECM recordings—whether for the more improv-centric regular series or form-based New Series—possess an arc that makes them best experienced as a whole: stories, then, with a most distinct beginning, middle and end.
It's a skill that was particularly on display when Eicher personally selected and sequenced music for a series of listening stations at Munich's Haus der Kunst, which curated the ECM: A Cultural Archeology exhibition and series of concerts that ran from November, 2012 through to early February, 2013, and was documented in a lavish and informative book by the same name, along with the six-disc Selected Signs III-VIII (ECM, 2014), which collected Eicher's playlists into a revelatory box set of music that drew connections between seemingly disparate musics that few but someone intimately involved in their creation would hear...but which become perfectly clear upon listening.
Celebrating Pärt's 80th birthday and three decades of shared collaboration , Musica Selecta: A Sequence by Manfred Eicher is a well-stocked two-CD set the brings together eighteen pieces from twelve recordings released under Pärt's name, along with one previously unreleased composition, all selected and sequenced by Eicher to be, as the producer says in suitably sparse liner notes, "heard and experienced in a sequence. Each episode offers an insight into our shared journey. Together they evoke new associations, as the journey goes on. From long ago thus singing... begins the Clemens Brentano poem whose setting by Arvo introduces my sequence on this album. Like Brentano's nightingale, the music continues to sing."
And sing the entire 140-minute program does, whether literally on tracks like the referenced opener, "Es sang vor langen Jahren," which features soprano Susan Bickley, sparsely but sublimely supported by violinist Gidon Kremer and violist Vladimir Mendelssohn and first heard on Arbos (1987), or on wholly instrumental pieces like "Festina Lente," from 1991's Miserere—which, like all of the music on Musica Selecta, is founded on Pärt's tintinnabulism, a self-developed and continually honed compositional technique rooted in (and can thus be considered as) minimalism, but which shares little of the strong pulses that so often defined minimalist works by Steve Reich, Philip Glass and Terry Riley.
Instead, tintinnabulism—initially inspired by chant music—is exquisitely meditative music largely predicated on slow tempi and typified by two voices: one, the tintinnabular voice, which arpeggiates the tonic triad; and the second, which moves diatonically in a stepwise motion. Pärt's early exploration of this technique reveals tintinnabulism perhaps most clearly on "Für Alina," first performed in Tallinn in 1976 but only released on Alina in 1999, where pianist Alexander Malter performs the piece twice, the two versions both bookended and separated by three versions of the similarly sparse "Spiegel im Spiegel," where the pianist is joined by clarinetist Vladimir Spivakov. Musica Selecta includes the first version of "Für Alina," a piece that almost defies possibility by starting out very quietly...and becoming even quieter as it develops, until there's barely anything left at all.
"Für Alina" perfectly exemplifies the description that Pärt's wife, Nora, has provided to explain the foundation of tintinnabulism, being "born from a deeply rooted desire for an extremely reduced sound world which could not be measured, as it were, in kilometres, or even metres, but only in millimetres....By the end the listening attention is utterly focused. At the point after the music has faded away it is particularly remarkable to hear your breath, your heartbeat, the lighting or the air conditioning system, for example." (John Kelman)

viernes, 25 de septiembre de 2015

Anne-Sophie Mutter / Lambert Orkis THE SILVER ALBUM

Chemistry is one of the most mysterious aspects of the performing arts, especially when it comes to music. In athletics, the chemistry among teammates is almost always right before us. When Larry Bird made eyes-closed, over-the-head, backwards passes to Kevin McHale or Robert Parish, we had the benefit of watching slow-motion replays. And even before television, when the early 20th Century Chicago Cubs turned a double play, going from "Tinkers to Evers to Chance" (as a famous poem says), the North Side crowd in the stands could see that unspoken understanding among the three players at work before their eyes.
Musical chemistry, when right, is almost impossible to discern. Two musicians with an innate, natural understanding of interpretation and expression meld together seamlessly when that chemistry is at its best.
Such is the case with violinist Anne-Sophie Mutter and pianist Lambert Orkis. To be clear, either one of these two raises the level of any collaboration to new heights. But when combined, their vision is as one, reaching a transcendence few other duos can match.
They first worked together in 1988, and to mark the occasion of a quarter-century of shared musical experiences, they've released The Silver Album.
Over the course of two discs, the duo treats us to sonatas by Beethoven, Brahms, Mozart, and Fauré. A few of the lovely encores by Fritz Kreisler make for a sweet palette cleanser, including Schön Rosmarin, Caprice viennois, and Liebeslied. And a dose of spice kicks in with a few Hungarian Dances by Brahms.
Two recent works, both dedicated to Anne-Sophie Mutter, give the collection a variety only music of our time can provide. La Follia was written by Krzysztof Penderecki last year as the composer celebrated his 80th birthday (which included a visit to the Boston Symphony Orchestra). And André Previn's Sonata for Violin and Piano No. 2, completed in 2011, received its first performance only six months ago.
According to Gavin Plumley at Sinfini Music, The double-disc survey opens with a punchy rendition of Beethoven’s Seventh Violin Sonata, in which the pair offers fiery counterpoint and lustre in more lyrical passages. It’s an approach that pays equally impressive dividends in Brahms’s Second Sonata and Hungarian Dances, as well as Penderecki and Previn’s new works for the duo. The solo La Follia, by the Polish composer, is full of Baroque flash and finesse, while Previn’s Second Violin Sonata bridges past and present with considerable panache. (WGBH)

jueves, 24 de septiembre de 2015

Shani Diluka / Orchestre National Bordeaux Aquitaine / Eivind Gullberg Jensen GRIEG Concerto por Piano - Pièces Lyriques

Revelatory’, ‘depth of sound’, ‘soaring virtuosity’ are among the terms that have been used todescribe this ‘extraordinary interpreter’ (sources: Diapason-Classica-Le Figaro).
Between her two cultures, western and eastern, Shani Diluka pursues an international career, championing a wide repertoire but always mindful of passing on the rigorous standards of the great thinkers of music (from Schnabel to Kempff , to whom critics regularly refer when discussing her playing).
She is a regular guest at leading venues such as the Amsterdam Concertgebouw, the Salle Pleyel and Cité de la Musique in Paris, the Teatro La Fenice in Venice, the Festival de La Roque d’Anthéron of which she is one of the most loyal visitors, the Arsenal de Metz, the Grand Theatre de Bordeaux, the Menton International Festival, La Folle Journée in Tokyo (where she gave the opening concert), Zubin Mehta’s Bombay Festival where she was principal pianist, and the Verbier Festival at which she gave the closing concert in 2013.

martes, 22 de septiembre de 2015

Tamsin Waley-Cohen / Huw Watkins HAHN & SZYMANOWSKI Works for Violin & Piano

Thoughtfully programmed and original in conception, Tamsin Waley-Cohen's recordings for Signum Classics are far from the usual recital fare. Following the albums 1917: Works for Violin & Piano by Debussy, Respighi, Sibelius, and Elgar, and Soli: Works for Solo Violin by Bartók, Penderecki, Benjamin, Carter, and Kurtág, Waley-Cohen explores pieces by Karol Szymanowski and Reynaldo Hahn, two composers whose styles are quite different. While Szymanowski and Hahn share some biographical similarities, the main point of their pairing here is the influence of César Franck, whose popular Violin Sonata in A major affected both composers. Hahn's refined and cheerful Violin Sonata in C major stands in contrast to the exoticism and brooding mystery of Szymanowski's Violin Sonata in D minor, but both works reflect the Franck sonata in form, development of themes, and the shifting chromaticism of the harmony and underlying tonal framework. The performances are sympathetic and true to the expressions of the respective pieces, yet while Waley-Cohen's playing of the Szymanowski sonata is sometimes gritty and harsh, she is uniformly polished in the Hahn work, and accompanist Huw Watkins follows her every shift of mood. Signum Classics provides a clean studio recording, and both artists have close-up presence in the mix. (

domingo, 20 de septiembre de 2015


Four-time Grammy nominated Anoushka Shankar is one of today´s most distinguished and versatile classical cross-genre sitar performers and composers. Her unique approach to classical music and world music genres is both highly artistic and commercially appealing to a wide audience.
After Traveller and Traces of You this pure Indian classical album is Anoushka´s third release on Deutsche Grammophon and 8th solo album recorded right at her HOME studio in London.
Inspired by her classical upbringing and teaching by her legendary father, Maestro Ravi Shankar this album offers both meditative and virtuoso Indian classical raga for Solo Sitar with ensemble.
With Home Anoushka continues her journey exploring modern and fresh ways to reinterpret and keep alive the beautiful musical traditions of India, as taught to her by her father Ravi Shankar.

There is an intimate warmth and bloom about this classical sitar album, which is largely thanks to Anoushka Shankar's sublime playing, but is also due to the beautiful sound quality. . . ["Raga Jogtshwad"]: In the slow opening "alap" there's a tangible feeling of the warm evening air, scents and heightened emotions. It's something to bask and revel in . . . [on "tabla" Shankar is joined by Tanmoy Bose, who] plays a gentle and un-showy seven-beat rupaktaal. Even when it gets elegantly nimble towards the end, it feels like a performance among friends, rather than a display . . . "Khamaj" is thought of as a sensual raga and she brings out its arabesque-like qualities with delicate tracery in a shimmering conclusion. (Record Review / Simon Broughton, Songlines / 01. August 2015)

sábado, 19 de septiembre de 2015

Alexandre Tharaud MOZART - HAYDN Jeunehomme

French pianist Alexandre Tharaud is known for programs that hold together only marginally, and so it is here: Mozart's French piano student who went by the name of Mademoiselle Jeunehomme (or Jenamy or Jénomé) is associated with only one of these works, and possibly not even with that one: she is said to have given the premiere of the sprawling Piano Concerto No. 9 in E flat major, K. 271, but the work has all the hallmarks of music Mozart wrote for himself. What you have here is a rather random collection of classical piano-and-orchestra music, with a neglected aria thrown in for good measure. This said, Tharaud stands out from the crowd of other pianists who have played this concerto. It's not so much the rest of the program: the rather plain Piano Concerto in D major, Hob. 18/11, of Haydn, or the two smaller obscure Mozart works. It's that the E flat concerto is really different. He performs with a well-established historical-instruments group, Les Violons du Roy under Bernard Labadie, but his approach on the piano is reminiscent of the old days with the major symphony orchestras: his sound is big, his phrasing expansive, his use of the pedal liberal. What makes this news is that he manages both to hold the music together and to make it fresh; Mozart recordings of this kind have a strong family resemblance, but Tharaud, as so often, is both spontaneous and logical. A novel and successful Mozart release, with strong sound from Quebec's Domaine Forget concert hall.

viernes, 18 de septiembre de 2015

Sergey & Lusine Khachatryan MY ARMENIA Dedicated to te 100th Commemoration of the Armenian Genocide

Like for every nation, the space in which the musical Armenian culture developed corresponds to the nation’s development itself. According to some scientists, Armenians’ attested origins are dated from the second millenary B.C. The history of musical Armenian culture can be divided in two big categories: traditional and artistic music. Until the middle of the 19th century, traditional Armenian music used to be monodic in its whole. This monadic Armenian music can also be divided in three other categories: popular traditional music, traditional professional music, known as the Gusans’ or Aschughens’ art (Armenian equivalent for troubadours), and at last the artistic professional Middle Ages music, spiritual music or religious vocal art in Armenia. In the middle of the 19th century appear the first musical artistic works from Armenian composers. In the second half of this century, bases and specificities of the artistic Armenian music start to become important, freed from the European influence and reinforced through Armenia’s wish to be independent. These problems touching the Armenian culture have been resolved by Komitas Vardapet, who made traditional and religious Armenian music the frame of the artistic Armenian music. Komitas Vardapet (1869 – 1935) is therefore considered the founder of the national Armenian composition school.
Komitas Vardapet (his religious name; his civil name was Soghomon Soghomonian) was a composer, musician, ethnologist, music specialist, pedagogue, choir leader, singer and poet. He was formed at the Georgian seminary of Edchmiatzin (the siege of the Armenian Church). He then studied from 1896 to 1900 in Berlin in the Richard Schneider conservatory and at the imperial Friedrich Wilhelm University (now Humboldt University). He is one of the founders of the Berlin branch of the Internationale musicology society. In Berlin, Paris, or Vienna, he played several times for concerts and scientific conferences. In 1915 starts the Armenian genocide and Komitas Vardapet is deported with a group of intellectual Armenians from Istanbul to the Syrian Desert. Through the intervention of foreign artists and intellectuals he escapes deportation; but right after, abominations he saw during the deportation and he felt with his whole body, started a very hard crisis for him. He dies in 1935 in Paris. (naïve)

jueves, 17 de septiembre de 2015

Stéphane Tétreault / Marie-Ève Scarfone HAYDN - SCHUBERT - BRAHMS

In this celebration of Vienna, Stéphane Tétreault and Marie-Ève Scarfone evoke two instruments that are no longer commonly played today. Their performance transports us from the grace of a Haydn divertimento to Schubert’s divine “Arpeggione”, to say nothing of the depth of Brahms’ Cello Sonata No.1.
The baryton, a member of the viola da gamba family, was in use as early as the 17th century but did not gain popularity until the second half of the 18th century. In addition to its seven bowed strings, the baryton has 16 to 20 wire strings that are plucked with the thumb of the left hand, making it particularly diffi cult to master. Joseph Haydn contributed greatly to the baryton’s popularity by writing over 170 works for the instrument, including 126 trios, no doubt at the behest of his patron, Prince Nicolas Esterhazy, who played the instrument himself.
The version heard here of one of Haydn’s many works for baryton, viola and cello was arranged by the Russian-born American cellist Gregor Piatigorsky, a virtuoso who performed chamber music with greats such as Arthur Rubinstein, William Primrose, and Jascha Heifetz. Like most baryton trios, the Divertimento in D begins with a slow movement whose transparency and textures Stéphane Tétreault compares to a watercolour painting, followed by a stately minuet and an exuberant finale. 
A bowed string instrument that is tuned like a guitar, the arpeggione enjoyed limited popularity (over a period of no more than 10 years), likely due to its lack of an end pin, making it diffi cult to handle, and to its six strings, making it tricky to bow the middle strings. Franz Schubert’s Sonata, completed in November 1824, a year after the arpeggione’s invention by Johann Georg Staufer, remains the instrument’s most well-known work. It was published posthumously in 1871, with transcriptions for violin or cello already in addition to the arpeggione part. “The piece is technically very diffi cult,” points out Stéphane Tétreault, “but once on stage, the performer must attempt to transcend these diffi culties. The listener is often transfi xed by the ambiance this masterpiece creates.”

Isabelle Faust / Alexander Melnikov BRAHMS Violin Sonatas op. 100 & 108

This disc, recorded in 2014, completes the whole set of the three Brahms violin sonatas played by Faust and Melnikov. The first sonata, previously issued, is coupled with the Brahms trio and his Op 116 Fantasias for piano. This inevitably makes for difficulties for collectors as the main alternatives for the violin sonatas couple all three on one disc.
This disc also comes with unusual couplings which are the Schumann Three Romances which were published for either violin and piano or oboe and piano. These are very attractive pieces of vintage Schumann inspiration in a particularly gentle and song-like mode. The song-like nature of the music particularly suits the oboe, a wind instrument which phrases like a singer. There is a famous and superb version of these three pieces for oboe played by Holliger and Brendel as part of a Schumann disc of supreme quality. However, Faust and Melnikov make a strong case for the violin version with all the appropriate empathetic phrasing and tonal response.
At this point it is worthwhile to mention that the Faust disc features Melnikov's own Bosendorfer piano from 1875 and Faust’s Stradivarius violin which makes this disc qualify for ‘period’ status. The piano tone and dynamics are far more in line with modern pianos than might be expected and is far fuller than those used for period performances of music of an earlier date. No hint of woodenness’ or shallow tonal response for example and far greater dynamic range by this time. This disc will not cause concern for those interested in a modern instrument sound and who will be more likely to be mildly intrigued by the sound presented here.

martes, 15 de septiembre de 2015

Carmignola / Gabetta / Lazic BEETHOVEN Triple Concerto

Cello superstar Sol Gabetta teams up with the celebrated musicians Giuliano Carmignola, violin, and Dejan Lazić, piano, to form a formidably talented ensemble for this new all-Beethoven recording. They will be joined by conductor Giovanni Antonini and the Kammerorchester Basel, a team who have great pedigree recording Beethoven’s works to critical acclaim.
The centrepiece of this album is Beethoven’s ‘Triple Concerto’, the Concerto for Violin, Cello and Piano in C Major, Op. 56. The choice of the three solo instruments effectively makes this a concerto for piano trio, and it is the only concerto Beethoven ever completed for more than one solo instrument.
The album also includes a number of Beethoven’s most well-known overtures. The famous Coriolan Overture features alongside ‘The Creatures of Prometheus’ and the Egmont overtures.

domingo, 13 de septiembre de 2015

Maurice Steger & Ensemble VENEZIA 1625

Swiss recorder virtuoso Maurice Steger is one of the most exciting specialists on his instrument to come along since the late and lamented David Munrow, and he was already becoming an established touring artist in Europe while still a student. Having previously delivered two fine discs of Telemann and Giuseppe Sammartini chamber works, Harmonia Mundi's Venezia 1625 finds Steger as leader and coordinator of a large group of instrumentalists, though not all play at the same time; larger configurations of the ensemble dominate the first half of the program. What ties it all together is the concept, which centers on the early Baroque chamber sonata (or sinfonia) as practiced in Venice around 1625, a time and place that nearly signify the declaration of independence for Western instrumental music. Publications of that era tend to be so vague in terms of instrumentation that nearly any combination is conceivable to realize a given piece, and Steger takes full advantage of this in making his ensemble choices and taking them apart again, not to mention the observing convention that anything written for violin then could also pass for the recorder. The backdrop supporting Steger is different literally from track to track, and this helps provide variety, though the latter half of the disc is geared more toward pieces of modest of dimensions. 
Steger certainly knows how to pick players; some of these folks are the crême de la crême of the early music movement in Europe; the quality of their playing and inherent ensemble blend would have caused Venetian jaws in 1625 to drop. Hille Perl, whose gamba can be heard on most of the tracks, makes a big difference in the Tarquinio Merula Ciaccona, rolling continuo lines around on her viol in passagework worthy of what's in the solo parts. When Christian Beuse's dulcian comes in on Fontana's Sonata IV, you take notice, for it's a new instrument and picks up ones ears in the wake of the lively Merula Ciaccona. The first half of the disc is great; its balance of pacing and material makes for a terrific spring-summery mix that keeps on moving forward. After about midpoint, however, Venezia 1625 begins to drag, owing to a concentration of slow pieces and small forces; it's rather like the wind got knocked out of it. 
Nevertheless, Steger is a dazzling player, in every way able to match the violin as to flexibility and speed, and for passages requiring double stops he has a couple of additional recorder players to pitch in a little assistance. Venezia 1625 will be a wonderful disc for the car, and for the kids, who respond well to the sweet piping sound of the recorder; if you are looking to take a summer outing and want something other than the Beach Boys to listen to, then at least the first half of Harmonia Mundi's Venezia 1625 will be perfect for that; perhaps the second half is for the drive home. (

sábado, 12 de septiembre de 2015

Julie Fuchs / Samuel Jean / Orchestre de Lille YES!

Hailed for her "generous temperament" and "agile and radiant voice", French soprano Julie Fuchs is a rising star in the operatic world.
Named Opera Artist of the Year at the Victoires de la Musique Awards and 2nd prize winner in Operalia 2013, Ms Fuchs has an exclusive long-term contract with Universal/Deutsche Grammophon, with whom she recorded her first solo disc of French Arias with the Orchestre National de Lille in 2015: "Yes" will be released on the 11th of September 2015, with a second disc planned for 2016. 
Ms Fuchs has several important house and role debuts planned. At the start of the 15-16 season she makes her Paris Opera debut as La Folie in the Laurent Pelly production of Platée (conducted by Minkowski) and later that season makes her Bayerische Staatsoper Munich debut as Musetta in La bohème. In 16-17 Julie will make her debut at the Wiener Staatsoper and sing Marie in La fille du régiment in Lausanne. Other engagements include significant roles at the Opera Comique, Teatro Real Madrid, Opera d'Avignon, as well as returns to the Theatre des Champs Elysees, Aix-en-Provence Festival, to the Paris Opera in a major new production in the 16-17 season, and several major roles at the Opernhaus Zurich.
As a member of the Opernhaus Zurich, Julie's roles have included Musetta, Rita, Marzelline in Fidelio (conducted by Fabio Luisi), Susanna in Le Nozze di Figaro, Morgana in Alcina alongside Bartoli (conducted by Antonini) and Rosane in La verità in cimento
On 14 July 2015 Julie performed to over 700,000 people in " Le Concert de Paris " with the Orchestre National de Paris at the Eiffel Tower  in an all-star line-up for Bastille Day. The concert, which also starred Joyce DiDonato and Bryn Terfel, was conducted by Maestro Daniele Gatti and broadcast live on French TV and transmitted across Paris.

jueves, 10 de septiembre de 2015

Gundula Anders / Sigrun Richter / Hille Perl SIGISMONDO D'INDIA Arie, Madrigali & Lamenti

Sigismondo D'India was an Italian composer. Probably born in Palermo—he described himself as "nobile palermitano" in the prefaces to his works—he spent his adolescence in Naples, where there are recoirds of a Don Carlo D'India, a relative or possibly his father. Following a musical education in that city, he would have done so as part of a musical scene that included Jean de Macque who lived in Naples from 1587 and who counted amongts his pupils Gesualdo, Maione and Trabaci.
During the first decade of the Seventeenth Century, D'India traveled around some of the most important courts of northern and central Italy: Mantua, Florence and Rome. He published his first printed work in 1606: Il primo libro de madrigali a cinque voci. In the preface to his Musiche of 1609, he recounts that in Florence he sang alogside two of the most celebrated figures in music, Giulio Caccini and the acclaimed virtuoso singer Vittoria Archilei.
In 1611 he settled in Turin as director of chamber music at the ducal court of Savoy, in the service of Carlo Emanuele I, devoting himself to composing the music for the sumptuous festivities at court, testimony of which has come down to posterity by way of his Musiche e balli a quattro voci (Venice, 1621). In the spring of 1623, however, he hurriedly left the Savoy court to avoid the exposure by malicious court gossips of a scandal. He found refuge at the court of Alfonso II d'Este, Prince of Modena, who was the son-in-law of the Duke of Savoy, and was thereafter called to Rome to take up service with Cardinal Maurizio of Savoy, the son of Carlo Emanuele I, staying there for two years. In the winter of 1626, he was summoned back to Modena by Alfonso d'Este; however, on the death of Isabella, the wife of Alfonso, he returned to Rome. He thereafter left the service of the Cardinal for good, and returned to Modena, where he spent his last years. His death there in 1629 prevented him from taking up a post offered him by the Prince-Elector of Bavaria, Maximilian I.
There exist no portraits of D'India. A Roman correspondent of Alfonso d'Este describes him as "ugly of body and shabbily dressed," though the Duke himslef noted that he was replete with "good qualities and good manners."
Over the course of twenty years he published three volumes of motets, eight of madrigals and two of villanelle alla napolitana, but he was most notable as a follower of the Florentine monodists, issuing five books of Musiche for one or two voices and continuo, and introducing into the solo madrigal some radical experiments in chromatic writing new to that medium (though well-tried, of course, in polyphonic composition). His O dolcezze amarissime is one of several powerful and distinctive songs, and his longer laments rival Monteverdi in their expressive inventiveness.

miércoles, 9 de septiembre de 2015

Accentus / Enesemble Orchestral de Paris MENDELSSOHN Christus / Cantates Chorales

Conductor Laurence Equilbey continues to broaden the range of repertoire in which the choir Accentus excels. This album presents a sampling of some of Mendelssohn's (relatively) small-scale sacred choral works. Each of them demonstrates the sweet euphony characteristic of so much of the composer's writing. The single-movement cantata Verleih uns Frieden gnädiglich, and the chorus from Christus, "Es wird ein Stern aus Jacob aufgehn" are especially lovely examples of the choral serenity Mendelssohn was so skilled at creating. Christus consists of six movements from the unfinished oratorio, with three movements devoted to the Nativity and three to the Passion. In the cantatas based on Lutheran chorales, O Haupt voll blut und wunden and Vom Himmel hoch, it's easy to hear the influence of J.S. Bach in the music's contrapuntal richness and the grandeur summoned in the choral passages. The soloists, soprano Sandrine Piau, tenor Robert Getchell, and basses Markus Butter and Laurent Slaars are all top-notch, singing with exceptionally pure, warm tone, and unmannered delivery. Accentus sings with its accustomed full, sumptuous blend; immaculate intonation; and shapely sensitivity to the music's nuances. Ensemble Orchestral de Paris capably matches the choir's subtlety and musicality. Naïve's album is beautifully engineered, with absolute clarity and spacious ambience. Highly recommended for fans of Romantic choral music. (

martes, 8 de septiembre de 2015

Anna Vinnitskaya PROKOFIEV - RAVEL

Naturally when one thinks of the words piano concerto and Russian, Rachmaninov comes to mind, but this album proves that Prokofiev is equally adept at composing a masterwork for the piano, the Piano Concerto No. 2, which is made up of four movements. Though the recording quality is a bit too soft at the beginning when the piano enters, the tone is very crisp and bright and perhaps a little too polished-sounding. Prokofiev is less tonal here than in some of his other works, and this certainly makes the concerto a challenge to play. However, Vinnitskaya is more than up to the task, as her elegant, delicate touch moves through runs in the first movement with great precision and handles lively, playful passages in the third movement with great agility. Vinnitskaya's style might be likened to a ballet dancer: supple, strong, but never ungraceful. Sometimes the phrasing in the first movement sounds mostly horizontal; that is, we get the sense of the flow of the melody, with less emphasis of the vertical chords. However, it is clear that, though she has performed since childhood, she is young and there is still exciting promise to see her growth as an artist. Gilbert Varga sets a rapid tempo with the Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin in the fourth movement, but the pianist's blooming, majestic arpeggi never lag behind. Prokofiev himself held Maurice Ravel in great admiration, so it is indeed fitting that Ravel's Piano Concerto in G major is the second work on the album. From its shimmering beginning with the piano and orchestra in a dialogue together, to the ethereal orchestral passages of beautiful tone color that are unmistakably Ravellian, Vinnitskaya captures well the spirit of the composer. Overall, the concerto is less of a showcase of the pianist than it is a tightly knit work between the piano and the orchestra, and once again Varga leads the orchestra with great skill while respecting Vinnitskaya's artistry. (V.Vasan)

lunes, 7 de septiembre de 2015


Hailed as the most influential composer of his generation, electro-acoustic polymath Max Richter defies definition: composer he may be, but he is also pianist, producer, remixer, and collaborator, and beyond argument one of the most prolific of contemporary musical artists.
Inspired equally by Bach, punk rock and ambient electronica, Richter’s sonic world blends a formal classical training (he graduated from the Royal Academy of Music, and was a pupil of renowned composer Luciano Berio) with modern technology. His unique and distinctive brand of heartbroken melodicism bridges the minimalist greats with pioneering electronics and the contemporary digital music production multiverse. Time Out has remarked on the ‘overwhelming emotional power’ of his work, the New Statesman has noted its ‘astonishing depth and beauty’ while Classic FM and Pitchfork have called it ‘stunning’ and The Guardian ‘languorously transcendent’.
Over the years Richter has become best known for his genre defining and highly influential solo albums which have given rise to and are seen as ‘landmarks’ (The Independent, Pitchfork) of the ever burgeoning ‘neo- classical’ movement, but his monumental collaborative output also encompasses concert music, operas, ballets, art and video installations, and multiple film, theatre and television scores.
The over 50 films featuring Max’s work and specifically written scores include Ari Folman’s multiple award-winning and devastating critique of war, Waltz with Bashir (for which Max was awarded the European Film Prize), Martin Scorsese’s Shutter Island and Damon Lindelof ’s first television project post-LOST, HBO’s The Leftovers. Theatre productions include Alan Cumming’s triumphant solo version of Macbeth on Broadway, and the National Theatre of Scotland’s internationally lauded Black Watch. Ballets include his many collaborative ventures with maverick Royal Ballet resident choreographer Wayne McGregor, with his works also being used by, amongst others, The Joffrey Ballet, Nederlands Dans Teatre, Lucinda Childs, New York City Ballet, American Ballet Theatre, Dutch National Ballet, Dresden Semper Oper, Ballet du Rhin, Northern Ballet.
Art Collaborations include work with photographer Darren Almond at the White Cube, with Julian Opie on McGregor’s ballet INFRA, and with visual art collective Random International on Rain Room at the Barbican and MoMA, and Future Self at Lunds Konsthall in Sweden.
Signed as an exclusive artist to Deutsche Grammophon, Max Richter’s projects for 2015 include his new solo album following on from his bestselling ‘Recomposed: Vivaldi’s Four Seasons’ for which he received the ECHO Klassik Award in 2013. In 2015 Max will also see the premiere of Woolf Works his new full length ballet for choreographer Wayne McGregor and The Royal Ballet at Covent Garden on the life and works of Virginia Woolf, which The Independent noted ‘looks set to be one of the most ambitious shows of the year’ and The Guardian forecasted to be ‘one of the highlights’ of the Opera House Season.

. . . the music here is, as expected, played largo and is clarified to the point where it's thoroughly cleansing, plus the string quintet pieces approach bass-heavy ambience in a beautifully organic way . . . This is a landmark project . . . much of which succeeds in being thoroughly bewitching.

viernes, 4 de septiembre de 2015

Trifonov RACHMANINOV Variations

“I was homesick,” he confesses. “I had been in the US for two or three months, I was 18 years old, away from my parents for the first time, so far from home.” Many adolescents experience bouts of melancholy, but Daniil Trifonov, born in Nihzny Novgorod in 1991 and recently arrived in Cleveland, was no ordinary teenager. Trifonov transformed his feeling of longing into musical inspiration and, touched by the “musical poetry” of one of the most beloved composers of his homeland – Rachmaninov – began composing.
The result was an original, five-movement work for solo piano, rich in virtuosity and lyricism, expressing Trifonov’s nostalgia for his roots. Trifonov dedicated the piece to his mentor Sergei Babayan. He called the piece Rachmaniana – “a kind of homage to Rachmaninov”, reflecting the “pianism” and “nostalgic yearn- ings” Trifonov shares with his older compatriot, who also had made a home in the New World. “I like to think,” reflects Trifonov, “that I feel a particular cultural identification with Rachmaninov. I relate to his Russian character, as well as his love for the language of musical Romanticism.” 
More than just a 19th-century aesthetic movement, Romanticism reflected an ethos that placed the artist at the very centre of the creative universe. His emotions became the subject of creativity itself – musical expression turned into a portrait of the artist’s soul. The piano was ideally suited to the expression of Romantic sensibilities, with composer-performers from Chopin to Schumann and Liszt to Scriabin pushing the boundaries of technique, colour and harmony while embarking on ever more intricate journeys of spiritual introspection. Trifonov remarks: “Although Rachmaninov was heir to the 19th-century tradition of great pianist-composers, he lived into a different era. He was the last of the Romantics.” Born on an estate near Veliky Novgorod in 1873, Rachmaninov was an old-school gentleman of refined manner and sensitivity who had trouble adapting to the 20th century’s changing, often brutal Zeitgeist. His sense of loss was compounded in 1917, when he was compelled to flee Russia after the Bolshevik Revolution, eventually settling in the US. His longing for the apolitical rapture of Romanticism and for his homeland was tinged with what Trifonov calls “a Russian sense of melancholy. His music is tender, yet restless – it’s very Russian, this painful but warm nostalgia mixed with a kind of fatalism.”

miércoles, 2 de septiembre de 2015

Anne-Sophie Mutter THE CLUB ALBUM Live from Yellow Lounge

In May 2015 Anne-Sophie Mutter put her noble, impressively named “Lord Dunn-Raven” Stradivarius through more than its usual paces. For a change, rather than standing on stage in one of the world’s renowned grand concert halls, she spent two evenings playing in a tiny graffiti-scrawled nightclub in the Friedrichshain district of Berlin. The name of the club was Neue Hei- mat, or “new home”, and on two evenings in early summer it was jam-packed with hip young people. The atmosphere heated up in the usual way for such clubs, but not in the usual way for Anne- Sophie Mutter’s concerts. As she later put it: “It wasn’t good for the Strad’s wood. I’m the sort of person who usually sweats discreetly beneath my clothes. But it was extremely hot in the club, and in the long run it put a big strain on the varnish. So to prevent the original varnish from becoming damaged we applied a thin protective coat to the Strad where it touches my bare skin. But any instrument over 300 years old is bound to show signs of wear and tear.” 
But what’s a Strad doing in a Berlin nightclub? And how did a world-famous violinist wind up in such a place? What looks at first glance like a mistake is, in fact, nothing more than a logical next step for a musician who has always wanted to move forward and who knows that her genre, so called “classical music”, must explore new venues and fresh strategies lest it be mothballed as yesterday’s art. Where is classical music, whose very name spells tradition, headed in the age of Facebook, Twitter and Instagram? To a posh concert hall or sometines even to a stylish nightclub? “It felt like I was in the lion’s den. But I definitely wanted to put the audience in touch with the music I love and believe in, music that packs such a huge emotional punch. An audience which, sad to say, I’ll never find in the Philharmonie. So I thought to myself: OK, if there’s a bunch of people who’ll never go to the Philharmonie, I’ll have to go to them. I’ll ‘stalk’ them, so to speak, and go to their club.” 
The first challenge was to find a repertoire suitable for a club gig. How demanding should it be? How “easy” should it not be? Difficult questions, to be sure, and no wonder that the choice of repertoire was at the top of Ms Mutter’s agenda: “I looked at a lot of repertoire, and I really mean a lot. The result was a kaleidoscopic view of the variety of music history, and the variety of music for the violin.” Anne-Sophie Mutter was accompanied on both club appearances by pianist Lambert Orkis and her own Virtuosi, young scholarship holders from her foundation for up- and-coming talent: “I definitely wanted to put my Virtuosi on stage. They’re an integral part of my life. They come from Austria, Poland, the United States, South Korea, the Netherlands, France, Germany, Russia and Spain, and they have ideas as to what music can accomplish in society. In the final analysis, the point is to come together with music and to build bridges, not between generations, but between the cultural differences we’ve erected, between the religious and sometimes dogmatic walls that stand between us. As Heine so nicely put it, ‘Beneath our clothes we’re all naked’.” 
And so the Yellow Lounge programme came about, ranging from the Baroque to the present day. Obviously Vivaldi, the master of tone-painting, had to be there with his Four Seasons. Then came the Bach-Gounod Ave Maria, the Jamaican Rumba, Gershwin’s Preludes, Aaron Copland’s country fiddling and the title theme from Schindler’s List. An expertly prepared journey from past to present.
Even so, the world star had butterflies in her stomach when it was about to begin. “I was very tense, and I’m otherwise never nervous. It was perhaps the first time in my life that I had to struggle with expectations.” But as soon as she stepped onto the stage, surrounded by her musicians and an attentive audience, and tucked her trusty Strad under her chin, she seemed completely present and yet remote, engrossed in her playing. The music she otherwise plays behind a sort of cordon sanitaire in the world’s great concert halls acquired an incredible intensity, if only from her proximity to the listeners. She guided her musicians through the programme with passion and sangfroid, chatted and joked with listeners in a manner barely imaginable in the places where classical music is normally at home. All this did the music a good turn, emphasizing its vitality and, yes, it’s modernity. The audience, to Ms Mutter’s great joy, was equally euphoric in its response: “The applause was moving. But the other side of emotionality in a concert is the sharing of silence, listening with subtlety, tension, perhaps even amazement. And that’s something I sensed particularly strongly in the club. It’s precisely what music builds on, what it waits for: to grow from the intimacy of silence, from completely personal and sometimes whispered meaning into a giant flower, a grand message. I will always cherish the enthusiasm of the audience in these two intimate club appearances – that we managed to become truly one in the silence and the sharing of this very intimate moment.” 
And the Strad? It had to be sent for maintenance work to what its owner calls “The Spa”, where everything about the noble instrument would be tidied up to meet the challenges of new centuries and exciting new venues. (Christoph Dallach)

martes, 1 de septiembre de 2015

La Tempête / Simon-Pierre Bestion THE TEMPEST Inspired by Shakespeare

This debut disc from French artistic collective La Tempête and their director Simon-Pierre Bestion is, at first glance, frankly bizarre. Period instrumental and choral works by Locke and Purcell sit alongside music by Frank Martin and living French composer Thierry Pécou.
Divided into a sequence of quasi-dramatic ‘acts’, the music is designed to capture the ‘plural spirit’ of Shakespeare’s The Tempest, mirroring the play’s narrative ‘without restricting itself to works actually written for the play’. It’s hard to shake the impression that this brilliant group of young musicians just wanted an excuse to perform some of their favourite pieces, but they make such a stylish job of it that it’s easy to get swept up in their wide-ranging enthusiasms.
Most exciting are instrumental interludes by Matthew Locke, whose The Tempest opens the disc, and (according to some rather ponderous booklet-notes) was the inspiration for the project. Bass-anchored and percussion-driven, the playing has a real rhythmic kick to it, insisting upon the dances that are then sublimated and dissolved in song and text-settings of Martin and Pécou.
Choral blend and enunciation are immaculate, at their very best in Martin’s Songs of Ariel – lively with inventive textural gestures, and expressively every bit the equal of Vaughan Williams’s better-known Three Shakespeare Songs. Also interesting is Philippe Hersant’s extended Falling Star – the contemporary choral cousin of Purcell’s verse anthems, many of which also feature here. It’s particularly good to see Let mine eyes run down with tears among the more familiar numbers – a neglected gem of rare intensity, performed here with tremendous poise.
La Tempête’s avowed aim here was to ‘disturb the tranquillity’ of their listeners. While I can’t confess to any lasting disturbance of spirit, these young French mavericks certainly inspired plenty of excitement and no little anticipation with their provocative debut. (Gramophone)