jueves, 30 de junio de 2016

Hagen Quartett MOZART String Quartets K. 387 & 458

Vienna, 1782. Mozart had not composed a string quartet for almost ten years, a remarkably long period within such a short lifespan. The two string quartets K.387 and K.458 belong to the group of six so-called “Haydn Quartets”. Mozart dedicated the work to his fatherly friend Joseph Haydn, who was in many cases also his great model.To dedicate such works to Haydn in his prime genre, testifies on the one hand to Mozart’s appreciation of his older colleague, and on the other to a high degree of self-confidence. Neither did he refrain from mentioning that these compositions were the “fruit of long and laborious task”.
After an extended tour performing Mozart quartets, the Hagen Quartet went into the recording studio for this new rendition of the two works for myrios classics. This is also the Hagen’s first recording using the ‘Paganini Quartet’ – the only complete set of Stradivarius instruments known to exist today. All four were once owned by Niccolò Paganini (1782-1840).

“I think it’s wonderful quartet playing; very warm and romantic in approach to Mozart … it’s very stylish … it’s very natural and relaxed, there’s a lot of warmth and affection in it I think, they really care about this music.” CD Review, 16th January 2016

“these players bring an astonishing variety of vibrato, nuance and colour. These are, indeed, distinctly Romanic readings that could have more doctrinaire authenticists tut-tutting.” BBC Music Magazine, April 2016

“compelling Hagen accounts…of…elevated quality. This release is well worth adding to any chamber music collection.” MusicWeb International, March 2016

Thomas Demenga / Hansheinz Schneeberger / Tabea Zimmermann JOHANN SEBASTIAN BACH - SÁNDOR VERESS

Under Demenga’s bow, Bach’s Suite No. 1 for Solo Cello in G Major flickers with candlelit intimacy, honed like the wood from the instrument through which it emotes in that distinct and mineral tone. One imagines the room where it was first practiced, walls dancing in a quiet play of light and shadow: the player’s arched head, swinging hands, lithe fingers curling about the neck of the one who sings. As to the later suites, Demenga brings a unique mix of fluidity and rusticity to his sound, but above all pays attention to negative spaces in a way that any accomplished Bach interpreter must. We hear this in the pauses of the Courante and in the substantial attentions of the Sarabande, which he suffuses with a downright soulful air. And through the subtle dramatic shape he imparts to the Menuets he dances his way to a reflective brilliance in the Gigue.
With this perfect tetrahedron so thoughtfully folded before us, Veress’s 1935 Sonata for Violin may seem to break the symmetry. Yet the sonata, among Veress’s first published works, more importantly reveals an economy of notecraft on par with the Baroque master. Its slow-fast-slow structure betrays a more complex and organic geometry that begins with a jig of Bartókian proportions and seeps through the Adagio’s quicksand, only to rise again, grabbing the tail of gorgeous gypsy air into the fresh air of the final leap. Violinist Hansheinz Schneeberger, who made his ECM debut with Demenga on the latter’s first Bach pairing, plays this jewel with an intensity and focus familiar to anyone who enjoys Kim Kashkashian’s take on solo Hindemith. Despite the meager comparisons I’ve attempted to draw to other such composers, this music thrives with a forward-looking robustness all its own.
The light at the end of this tunnel comes in the form of Veress’s Sonata for Cello. Composed in Baltimore, the 1967 piece also takes a three-movement structure, this time marked “Dialogue,” “Monologue,” and “Epilogue,” which, as Holliger notes in an accompanying essay, takes us through an inner turmoil on the path toward self-liberation. For me, the most solitary movement is the Dialogue. Its dirge-like density betrays an ecstatic turmoil while keeping a hand cupped to the ear of some cherished and unrecoverable stillness. By contrast, the Monologue seems almost resolute as it traces fingers blindly through the ashes, from which the final movement rises in its own agitated way with assertion on the tongue. As a student of Veress, Holliger no doubt took on some of his mentor’s quirks, and the influence of said Epilogue rings clearly in Trema.
Violist Tabea Zimmermann joins the roster for the Trio for Violin, Viola and Cello, backing us into 1954. The 20-minute piece takes two movements, the first of which moves like molasses into a dulcet and spectral territory ahead of its time, while the second brings the patter of urgency to a journey of immense detail and brilliance.
Of this journey the lowly reviewer can make no definitive claims. Naysayers of the modern may make a delightful discovery or two along the way, even as they cling to Bach, while defenders of the twentieth century will immediately recognize that its music would be nowhere without him. Either way, I can only commend Demenga and ECM for an ongoing commitment to bring their programming alive with the benefits of (im)possibility. (ECM Reviews)

martes, 28 de junio de 2016

Hai-Kyung Suh / Academy of St. Martin In The Fields / Sir Neville Marriner MOZART Piano Concertos 19 - 20 - 21 - 23

Hai-Kyung Suh transfixes audiences with her passionate musicality and dramatic expressiveness rarely seen (Asahi Shimbun, Japan) and her hair-raising virtuosity (Der Tagesspiegel, Berlin) having resoundingly made the difficult transition from prodigy to self-confident Old Master (New York Concert Review). Ms Suh endures as one of the most sublime interpreters of 19th century virtuoso piano repertoire and the classic works of Bach, Mozart, Beethoven, Schubert, Chopin, Liszt, Schumann, Brahms and Rachmaninoff.
A soloist of international acclaim, Ms. Suh has toured as a recitalist in Germany, Australia, Japan, China, and the U.S., appearing yearly at Lincoln Center in New York City, as she continues annual tours in Korea.
The Juilliard School-educated pianist has also toured with the world's most celebrated orchestras, appeared on television and radio, and is also an established recording artist. She was also invited to perform with the Three Tenors at their concert in Seoul.

lunes, 27 de junio de 2016

Alina Ibragimova / Cédric Tiberghien MOZART Violin Sonatas

Call me a killjoy, but my pulse rate rarely quickens at the prospect of Mozart’s pre-pubescent music. The three childhood works on these discs—essentially keyboard sonatas with discreet violin support—go through the rococo motions pleasantly enough. But amid the music’s chatter and trickle, only the doleful minore episode in the minuet finale of K30 and the carillon effects in the corresponding movement of K14 (enchantingly realised here) offer anything faintly individual. Still, it would be hard to imagine more persuasive performances than we have here from the ever-rewarding Tiberghien-Ibragimova duo: delicate without feyness, rhythmically buoyant (Tiberghien is careful not to let the ubiquitous Alberti figuration slip into auto-ripple) and never seeking to gild the lily with an alien sophistication.
The players likewise bring the crucial Mozartian gift of simplicity and lightness of touch (Ibragimova’s pure, sweet tone selectively warmed by vibrato) to the mature sonatas that frame each of the two discs. It was Mozart, with his genius for operatic-style dialogues, who first gave violin and keyboard equal billing in his accompanied sonatas; and as in their Beethoven sonata cycle (Wigmore Hall Live), Tiberghien and Ibragimova form a close, creative partnership, abetted by a perfect recorded balance (in most recordings I know the violin tends to dominate). ‘Every phrase tingles,’ I jotted down frivolously as I listened to the opening Allegro of the G major Sonata, K301, truly con spirito, as Mozart asks, and combining a subtle flexibility with an impish glee in the buffo repartee.
Tiberghien and Ibragimova take the opening Allegro of the E minor Sonata, K304, quite broadly, emphasising elegiac resignation over passionate agitation. But their concentrated intensity is compelling both here and in the withdrawn—yet never wilting—minuet. Especially memorable are Ibragimova’s chaste thread of tone in the dreamlike E major Trio, and Tiberghien’s questioning hesitancy when the plaintive Minuet theme returns, an octave lower, after the Trio.
In the G major Sonata, K379, rapidly composed for a Viennese concert mounted by Archbishop Colloredo just before Mozart jumped ship, Tiberghien and Ibragimova are aptly spacious in the rhapsodic introductory Adagio (how eloquently Tiberghien makes the keyboard sing here), and balance grace and fire in the tense G minor Allegro. In the variation finale their basic tempo sounds implausibly jaunty for Mozart’s prescribed Andantino cantabile, though objections fade with Tiberghien’s exquisite voicing of the contrapuntal strands in the first variation. I enjoyed the latest of the sonatas, K481, unreservedly, whether in the players’ exuberant give-and-take in the outer movements or their rapt, innig Adagio, where Ibragimova sustains and shades her dulcet lines like a thoroughbred lyric soprano. Having begun this review in grudging mode, I’ll end in the hope that these delightful, inventive performances presage a complete series of Mozart’s mature violin sonatas, with or without a smattering of childhood works. (Gramophone)

sábado, 25 de junio de 2016

Mathieu Dufour / Stéphane Denève / Brussels Philharmonic GUILLAUME CONNESSON Pour Sortir au Jour

Born in 1970, Guillaume Connesson is too young to have had to submit to the ideological and aesthetical diktats imposed on the previous generation of composers.
His music, always well-sounding and often spectacular, has absorbed all sorts of multiple influences. His very personal world is a work in progress, growing out of the mix of pragmatism and naïveté which is the trademark of all great creators. Over time and along a great diversity of compositions, Guillaume Connesson’s inspiration follows, in the composer’s own words, “the complex mosaïc of the modern world”.
His first steps were guided by a need to open up to other influences, like pop music - as evidenced in Night Club for orchestra (1996), Double Quatuor (1994) and Disco-Toccata (1994). This primarily rhythmic and hedonist vein, so rare in contemporary ‘serious’ music, reached its peak with the brilliant Techno-Parade for flute, clarinet and piano (2002). As in the works of American composers of the repetitive school (Reich, Adams) - another decisive influence, to wit Sextuor (1998) - the spirit of dance is omnipresent in Connesson’s music. It is therefore not surprising to learn that the cinema also inspired him : L’Aurore (1998) was composed as soundtrack to Murnau’s eponymous silent movie. Guillaume Connesson’s orchestral writing tries to create strong images, that will have a long-lasting effect on the listener. Yet he likes the uncertain, the unpredictable, the meandering melodies which find their resolution in a rich, dense, sometimes thick-woven yet always intell(e)gible writing. L’Appel du feu, a suite from L’Aurore, Enluminures (1999) or Triptyque symphonique (1997-2007) demonstrate his unequalled know-how as an orchestrator, whose harmonic twists and turns are always at the service of expression. In other words, the composer’s luminous compositional language is never the result nor the starting point of vain experimentation. Pragmatism vs idealism ? Yes indeed, if that means giving the pleasure of the ear precedence over fruitless speculation. Connesson - how revolutionary - writes music for the knowing musician. With all the means at his disposal, he also tries to adress a wider public by capturing its attention and sharpening its curiosity.
Add to his love of opera the fact that he is not afraid of lyrical outbursts, and it logically follows that Guillaume Connesson would write for the voice. Liturgies de l’ombre, Le Livre de l’amour and Medea, for female voice, all composed between 2000 and 2004, certainly mark a shift, if not a turning point in his career. The pieces reveal a more tormented, anguished inner world. Elegies fraught with emotion (De l’espérance, on a poem by Charles Péguy, or the complete Liturgies de l’ombre cycle ; My Sweet Sister on a poem by Lord Byron in Le Livre de l’amour and even in an orchestra piece from the same period : Une lueur dans l’âge sombre, 2005) or desperate, passionate scenes (the fierce Medea after a text by Jean Vauthier) let new interrogations show through.
His cantata for solo voice, choir and orchestra Athanor (2003) - an ambitious, striking, flamboyant piece - synthetizes all these influences and inspirations. The title is a reference to the alchimist’s furnace. A symbol, not to say an emblem for an artist in ceaseless pursuit of the miracle that would let music instantly turn the next minute into eternity. (Bertrand Dermoncourt)

viernes, 24 de junio de 2016

Jan Mráček / Czech National Symphony Orchestra / James Judd DVORÁK Violin Concerto - Romance - Mazurek - Four Romantic Pieces


Dvořák was an expert string player. For nearly ten years he played viola in the Prague Provisional Theatre orchestra and was well known as one of the city’s most reliable string players, to the extent that he took part in the private premiere of Smetana’s first string quartet in 1878. He was also a violinist who, by his own account in an interview with The Sunday Times, had played the instrument as a boy. If he rarely played the violin in later life, he left an estimable handful of works for the instrument, including the violin concerto.
According to a composition pupil, Dvořák preferred his violin concerto to the great B minor cello concerto. While posterity has favoured the cello concerto, the violin concerto, with its passionate virtuosity and abundant lyricism, has always appealed. Dvořák wrote the work in the summer of 1879 when his reputation was fast acquiring an international dimension. Moreover, the friendly intervention of Brahms found him a Berlin publisher of standing and introductions to influential musical supporters outside Bohemia. One of the most important was Brahms’s close friend, the violinist Joseph Joachim. Dvořák visited Joachim in Berlin in July 1879 to discuss his new concerto; whatever the subject of their conversation, the concerto was eventually dedicated to Joachim.
This was not, however, the end of the story. While praising Dvořák, understanding of the violin, Joachim suggested numerous changes which the composer, an avid reviser of his own works, undertook meticulously. Even these alterations were not enough for Robert Keller, an adviser to Dvořák, publisher, who wanted him to change the ending of the first movement rather than letting it lead straight into the slow movement. Dvořák wisely rejected the advice and retained the passage, one of the loveliest in the concerto, linking the first two movements. The concerto was published in 1883 and premiered the same year by the Czech virtuoso, František Ondříček.
Even by Dvořák, standards the concerto is a richly lyrical work. The work begins boldly with a forceful orchestral statement answered by a bitter-sweet melody from the violin before the main part of the movement in which the soloist is rarely silent. A miniature cadenza introduces the exquisitely crafted link into the slow movement whose rapt melodic lines are interrupted by a stormy minor-key episode – a direct anticipation of the slow movement of the cello concerto composed fifteen years later. The Finale is close to the world of the Slavonic Dances composed the year before; it opens with a main theme imbued with the cross-rhythms of the Czech furiant. This ear-catching melody is the frame for a number of memorable episodes, including a reflective interlude in D minor, before an exhilarating rush to the close.
Exactly when Dvořák wrote the Romance for Violin is unknown, but its main theme was taken from a quartet in F minor (op.9, B37) composed in 1873. The stimulus for composing the Romance was a composition request for a benefit concert for the pension fund of the choir and orchestra of the Prague Provisional Theatre on 9 December 1877. The soloist at the premiere was Josef Markus, but Dvořák later dedicated the work to Ondříček. The Romance is a great improvement on the string quartet slow movement. A delicately orchestrated introduction leads to a lovely main theme played by the solo violin. A second melody, the gentle accompaniment of which closes the work, leads to heart-stopping modulations and heralds some exquisite virtuoso figuration for the soloist.
Dvořák originally wrote the Mazurek for violin and piano early in 1879; it was premiered on 29 March by the violinist Ferdinand Lachner and the composer Zdeněk Fibich, and published that year with a dedication to the famous Spanish virtuoso Pablo de Sarasate. The orchestral version, like that of the Romance for a modest ensemble, was made at the same time. Simple in outline, the opening of the Mazurek is full of passionate melody for the soloist, while the gentler, secondary material inclines toward Dvořák’s ‘Slavonic’ manner.
Dvořák was often quite as happy working on small-scale pieces as composing symphonies, quartets and opera. In January 1887, shortly after he had completed the substantial oratorio, St Ludmila, for the Leeds Festival, he wrote a Terzetto to play with friends. The performers in question were Dvořák himself on the viola, an amateur violinist called Josef Kruis and his teacher, Jan Pelikán.
In the event, the Terzetto proved too difficult for Kruis, but Dvořák made rich amends with four utterly charming Miniatures, completed on 18 January 1887. Located very much in the melodic ‘comfort zone’ Dvořák had forged in the mid-1870s, the Miniatures give the first violin, presumably the aspiring Kruis, the lead where the tunes are concerned; this made the set ideal for arrangement for violin and piano, which Dvořák did as soon as he finished the original. The opening movement, rich in harmonic incident, veers between major and minor keys in bitter-sweet reverie. The vigorous second movement – a kind of scherzo – has a modal, almost Janáček-like vigour; again the first violin leads, but later takes on an accompanying role. Aspiring melody characterises the brisk third movement leading to the finale, an extended, soulful meditation on the opening phrase.

martes, 21 de junio de 2016

Duo Pace Poli Cappelli CASTELNUOVO-TEDESCO Complete music for Two Guitars

Florentine composer Castelnuovo-Tedesco contributed a vast array of music to the guitar literature, and this engaging release celebrates his output for two guitars, drawing focus to what isperhaps the repertoire’s most awe-inspiring collection: the cycle of 24 preludes and fugues known as Les guitares bien tempérées. The unique nature of this work lies in the composer’s great ability to use ‘raw’ materials, polishing them with an almost unparalleled skill to create smll, perfect and autonomous scenes that draw on light and extremely effective use of counterpoint; appending them is the Fuga elegiaca, a work that functions as the perfect conclusion on account of its original key of G minor, the same key in which the series opens.
The Fuga was to be Castelnuovo-Tedesco’s parting gift to the world, and the Sonatina canonica that follows takes us back to his first composition for two guitars, one which the composer himself described as a ‘modest’ little piece. Once again drawing on a hugely diverse range of material, it’s an engaging conclusion to a set for which the artists have paid especial attention to the original manuscripts, determined to achieve performances worthy of the great Italian maestro. “This they certainly attain; Pace and Poli Cappelli, whose duo has in little over a year become one of the most sought-after of its kind, marry virtuosic display with sensitive, intelligent readings” (Brilliant Classics)

viernes, 17 de junio de 2016

Vladimir Ashkenazy / Zsolt-Tihamer Visontay / Mats Lidström / Ada Meinich SHOSTAKOVICH Piano Trios 1 & 2 - Viola Sonata

The three works on this album encompass an entire composing life. The first piano trio was written by a 17-year-old for his girlfriend in 1923. The mastery is already undeniable and the thumbprints instantly recognisable: pathos, scepticism and the juxtaposition of polar opposites. This is not the way most of us would go about wooing the love of our life. Shostakovich was always an original, even at his most eclectic. Everything he writes can be interpreted equally as its opposite, a device that became the key to the composer’s survival in Soviet Russia.
The second piano trio, written in 1943, contains a morbid klezmer dance that some consider to reflect news reaching Russia of Hitler’s destruction of the Jews while others understand it as a coded protest against Stalinist persistent anti-semitism. Whichever way you approach it, the caustic rhythms sear into the listener’s conscience. This composer is overtly on the side of the victims.
The viola sonata, opus 147, is a deathbed work, written in July 1975. Unexpectedly, given the alternations of gloom and manic frenzy in his final string quartet, the sonata emanates an unruffled, tranquil beauty reminiscent of Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata, which it quotes explicitly. Each section ends with the score marking ‘morendo’, dying away. There is no regret to be heard.
The pianist on this recording, Vladimir Ashkenazy, played for Shostakovich and grew up in his world. The other artists are Hungarian (Zsolt-Tihamer Visontay), Swedish (Mats Lidström) and Norwegian (Ada Meinich). The blend of subjective and objective knowledge works well. Narrative tension is taut as a Scandi-noir TV series. Empathy abounds. There are few more comprehensive portraits of Shostakovich on record. ()

Manuel Barrueco / Orquesta Sinfónica de Galicia / Víctor Pablo Pérez CONCIERTO BARROCO

Here are five excellent works for guitar and orchestra. The longest are the pair by Roberto Sierra (b. 1953), each a few seconds over 13 minutes. Folías is a modern set of variations on that tune most of us first met in Corelli’s variations (La folia). Concierto barroco combines Afro-Cuban and Baroque elements. It also contains some modern dissonances or polytonalities along with its neo-Baroque passages. Folías sounds rather like Richard Strauss combined with Manuel de Falla and seasoned with a dash of Joaquín Rodrigo. Sierra’s pieces begin and end the concert, while Vivaldi’s typically vigorous—and genuinely Baroque—concertos are second and fourth on the disc. Arvo Pärt’s mesmerizing Fratres serves as centerpiece.
Pärt wrote Fratres for violin, string orchestra, and percussion, but suggested this arrangement when Manuel Barrueco approached him about writing a work for guitar. I have compared the guitar version with the original on a Deutsche Grammophon disc with violinist Gil Shaham, conductor Neeme Järvi, and the Gothenburg Symphony; either version holds my attention very well indeed.
As expected, Barrueco plays splendidly, and so does the Symphony Orchestra of Galicia, based in La Coruña—yet another provincial band capable of world-class performance. Koch delivers deliciously warm and vivid sound. This disc will be high on my list of potential holiday presents. (Robert McColley, FANFARE)

martes, 14 de junio de 2016

Yulianna Avdeeva / Orchestra of the 18th Century / Frans Brüggen CHOPIN Piano Concertos 1 & 2

The National Institute Frederyck Chopin has already released a massive box set of Chopin's complete works performed on instruments of the composer's time, and that included recordings of both of these concertos with Frans Brüggen and the Orchestra of the 18th Century; the Dutch musicians have become regular visitors to the Chopin and His Europe festival in Warsaw each summer. The institute has now released another period-instrument disc of the concertos with the same conductor and orchestra, but the soloist this time is Yulianna Avdeeva, the highly rated winner of the most recent International Chopin Piano Competition, which took place in the Polish capital in 2010.
For the recordings Avdeeva plays a renovated Erard piano built in Paris in 1849, reckoned to be practically identical to instruments that Chopin knew and played. For its sound alone, it's a fascinating document; the Erard, with its lean, incisive lower register and a crisply defined treble that has just a hint of percussive edge, is wonderfully profiled against the vibrato-free string textures of the orchestra so that not a single detail is missed. But these performances are much more than exercises in historical reconstruction, however intriguing the soundworld they create. Avdeeva's recital appearances in Britain have yet to demonstrate why her competition victory created such a stir, but there's no doubt of the quality of the artistic imagination at work here.
Whether it's in the bold, dramatic shapes that she creates in the first movements of both works, the energy with which she propels the two finales, or the spellbinding beauty of her playing in the central Larghettos, their tracery delicately crystalline and their lyricism airy and unfettered, there seems to be a real spontaneity about Avdeeva's approach. It's as if by performing these works on a very different instrument from the usual modern concert grand she's discovering a new range of possibilities, a new palette of keyboard colours. Her performances may not quite rival the all-time classic versions on record, but they do offer fresh and hugely rewarding alternatives. (The Guardian)

Yulianna Avdeeva CHOPIN Preludes Op. 28 SCHUBERT Three Klavierstücke D. 946 PROKOFIEV Piano Sonata No. 7

Four years after winning the 2010 International Chopin Competition in Warsaw – the first woman to do so since Martha Argerich in 1965 – Yulianna Avdeeva makes her debut solo recording (she has recorded both Chopin concertos on an Erard piano for the Fryderyk Chopin Institute). She begins with Schubert’s Drei Klavierstücke, D946, surely intended to be a third set of four Impromptus had not death intervened; Brahms entitled them Klavierstücke when his edition was published in 1868. Alternatively, one could see them as a three-movement sonata. Whatever your view, from the first bar Avdeeva makes you sit up and take note. Here is an artist who can truly make the piano sing – and to no greater effect than in the A flat minor Trio of No 2. In the opinion of the pianist this is ‘one of the most personal and moving statements in all classical music’. The way she plays this, you might find yourself agreeing.
The second of Prokofiev’s three ‘War Sonatas’ opens with a movement marked Allegro inquieto (‘restless’, ‘nervy’). Avdeeva sacrifices its unsettling character for beauty of tone and exemplary voicing, its spikier passages seeming almost jaunty. The central movement, with its cello-like main theme, is captivating. Where she is less than persuasive is in the finale, among the most electrifying of the genre. Precipitato Prokofiev instructs, implying danger – I think of it as someone fleeing from an implacable foe with its relentless, threatening quaver B flat/crotchet C/quaver B flat motif. Richter, who gave the first performance in 1943, is still supreme (his 1958 recording). Avdeeva gives us Prokofiev-lite, a smooth ride in a fast machine.
Disc 2 has just the 24 Preludes. There is much to commend here, not least Avdeeva’s consistently clear singing quality, a joy to hear and very well captured by Mirare in a natural acoustic. It’s a fine account but in some of the quieter Preludes (eg Nos 4 and 6) her asynchronous melody and accompaniment becomes faintly irritating. In the end others have something more personal to say, not least Cortot (1926) and the forgotten Robert Lortat, whose 1928 recording for Columbia (now on Doremi) deserves to become far better known. (Gramophone)

Yulianna Avdeeva CHOPIN - MOZART - LISZT

Yulianna Avdeeva rose to fame when she won First Prize in the Chopin Competition in 2010. She has since embarked on a world-class career and her artistic integrity is rapidly ensuring her a place amongst the most distinctive artists of her generation.
A regular performer throughout Asia, this autumn Yulianna Avdeeva embarks on a major concert tour of Japan, performing concerts with the Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin and featuring in solo recitals in Korea, Taiwan and China. Avdeeva will also undertake tours of North and South America, including her debut with Montreal Symphony Orchestra and engagements with Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra and Orquestra Sinfônica do Estado de São Paulo. Other orchestra highlights include international debuts with leading ensembles such as the Chamber Orchestra of Europe at the Lucerne Festival and the Aalborg Symphony Orchestra, both under the baton of Anu Tali. 
Recent orchestral highlights have included engagements with NHK Symphony Orchestra, Rundfunk-Sinfonieorchester Berlin, Royal Stockholm Philharmonic, Finnish Radio Symphony, London Philharmonic and Bournemouth Symphony orchestras, Orchestra dell'Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia, Tchaikovsky Symphony Orchestra of Moscow Radio and concerts at the Vienna Festival. 
Yulianna Avdeeva began her piano studies at the age of five with Elena Ivanova at Moscow’s Gnessin Special School of Music and later studied with Konstantin Scherbakov and with Vladimir Tropp. At the International Piano Academy Lake Como, she was taught among others by William Grant Naboré, Dmitri Bashkirov and Fou Ts’ong. In addition to her Chopin prize, she has won several other prizes including the Bremen Piano Contest in 2003, the Concours de Genève 2006 and the Arthur Rubinstein Competition in Poland.
Booklet.pdf

Olga Peretyatko ROSSINI!

This is the third album from Russian soprano Olga Peretyatko, whose first two releases included a variety of unusual repertory choices. Here she plays to what has emerged as her undisputed strength with a set of Rossini arias, each with its full complement of introductory material. A few might qualify as rarities, although Peretyatko has been a staple of the Rossini Opera Festival in Pesaro, Italy, which has been doing a pretty good job of remaking the Rossini canon: the likes of Matilde di Shabran, which supplies a barnburner here (track three), are making increasingly frequent appearances on stages thanks to this festival. At any rate, Peretyatko is an ideal Rossini soprano. Each of these scenes builds dramatically over its ten minutes or so, and you feel that she's in such complete control that the precise coloratura comes as no surprise. And the high notes...they're a marvel, with power, uncanny pitch accuracy, and just a little bit of smoke. Peretyatko gets idiomatic support from the Orchestra e Coro del Teatro Comunale di Bologna under Alberto Zedda, and idiomatic sound, if one can call it that, from Sony's engineers, working in that same theater. This is state-of-the-art Rossini, and Peretyatko is not just another pretty Russian soprano. (

lunes, 13 de junio de 2016

Christina Landshamer / Gerold Huber ULLMANN - SCHUMANN Lieder

Christina Landshamer was born in Munich and initially went to the Academy of Music and Performing Arts in the city, where she studied under Angelica Vogel, following which she studied in Konrad Richter’s singing classes and in Dunja Vejzović solo classes at the State University for Music and Performing Arts in Stuttgart.
Following initial guest performances at the Stuttgart State Opera, she sang at the Opéra du Rhin in Strasburg under Marc Albrecht (Fidelio/Marzelline) as well as at the Komische Oper in Berlin (Susanna). In 2009 ‘the triumphant and virtuoso Christina Landshamer’ had her very successful debut at the Theater an der Wien in Vienna as Clarice in Haydn’s Il mondo della luna under Nikolaus Harnoncourt. This was followed by performances at the Paris Théâtre du Châtelet (with a stage version of the Messiah) and at the Salzburg Festival in Frau ohne Schatten (Hüter der Schwelle – Stage direction: Christof Loy) under Christian Thielemann in 2011. She performed at the Salzburg Festival again the following year as Frasquita in Carmen, this time under Sir Simon Rattle with the Berlin Philharmonic. Also in 2012 she had her debut at the Baden-Baden Festival, again under Christian Thielemann (Ariadne auf Naxos, Najade). Later that year, Christina Landshamer made her highly acclaimed debut as Pamina in Simon McBurney‘s celebrated new production of Mozart’s Magic Flute at the Amsterdam Opera under Marc Albrecht. In 2014 she can be seen in Handel’s Rinaldo as Almirena in Glyndebourne. In 2015 she will collaborate again with Christian Thielemann (Freischütz/Ännchen), this time at the Semperoper in Dresden.
She is particularly fond of singing lieder: a recital of duets with Maximilian Schmitt at the Vienna Konzerthaus marks her first collaboration with Gerold Huber, with whom she had several guest performances in 2013 with a number of recitals, such as at the ‘Musik im Riesen” in the Essen Philharmonic and the Rheinvokal, with lieder by Schumann, Ullmann and Brahms. This season’s programme will be recorded on CD.

Svetlin Roussev / Elena Rozanova / François Salque DVORAK - MENDELSSOHN Piano Trios

Elena Rozanova created the Rachmaninov Piano Trio in 1998 with Svetlin Roussev and Andrej Melik to perform at the prestigious International Chamber Music Competition in Melbourne in 1999. They were awarded the prize for best interpretation of a contemporary piece. The Trio had already impressed various directors of European festivals, during the preliminary trials in Paris.
They performed during various musical seasons, for example at the Midis Musicaux du Théâtre du Châtelet. After the concert they gave at La Roque d'Anthéron, L'Humanité wrote "with the arrival of this new Trio, the Wanderers and Guarneri will have to push themselves!" In January 2005, François Salque joined the Trio because Andrej Melik's career in Germany had become too demanding. The trio changed its name to Roussev/Salque/Rozanova Trio.
Between 1993 and 1998, Svetlin Roussev was awarded more than ten prizes in international competitions and played with many orchestras such as the Orchestre Philarmonique de Radio France and the Philharmonic Orchestra of Indianapolis. He gave recitals in China, South Corea, Taiwan as well as in Europe and the United States. Svetlin Roussev is concert solo of the Orchestre de Radio France and teaches at the CSNM in Paris.
Runner-up in many international competitions such as Lausanne (first prize unanimously), Munich, Geneva, Tchaikovsky, François Salque was awarded the most important prizes ever given to a French cellist in these competitions. For five years, he was part of the Ysaÿe Quartet but left them in December 2004. He plays regularly with artists such as Jean-Claude Pennetier, Brigitte Engerer, Barry Douglas, Itamar Golan, Emmanuel Pahud, Alexandre Tharaud...

sábado, 11 de junio de 2016

Raquele Magalhaes / Sanja Bizjak PATCHWORK

Raquele Magalhaes is an eclectic musician, fascinated by the chamber music, displaying her musical talents in classical, improvised or interdisciplinary performances. 
She owes her current momentum to the confidence of the French state who awarded her a grant throughout her years at the National “Conservatoire” of music (CNSMD) in Paris and in Lyon. Raquele Magalhaes received the first prize for flute in Alain Marion’s class in Paris and successfully undertook a PhD with Philippe Bernold in Lyon. She was a pupil of Celso Woltzenlogel in Brazil and Philippe Pierlot in France, Great Masters of the flute advised her, such Jean-Pierre Rampal, Paula Robison, Felix Renggli, Ransom Wilson, Michael Faust, Keith Underwood, Benedek Csalog. 
She was a prizewinner at the Maria Canals international competition in Barcelona, at “Jeunesses musicales” in Bucarest, and five times first prizewinner at Brazilian National Competitions. She began her career as a soloist at the age of eleven with the Brazilian Symphony Orchestra, the Rio de Janeiro University Symphony Orchestra and the Piracicaba Symphony Orchestra (Brazil). She pursued her soloist career with the National Orchestra of Lyon, the Pays de Savoie Orchestra and the Conservatoire Prizewinners’ Orchestra (France), the Shanghai Philharmonic Orchestra (China), the Ensemble Link Together (Germany) and the Galicia Symphonic Orchestra (Spain). 
Raquele Magalhaes was appointed Pricipal Flute with the Shanghai Philharmonic Orchestra in China in 2005-2007 and with the Conservatoire Prizewinners’ Orchestra in France from 2002 to 2005. She worked with Myung Whun Chung, Zsolt Nagy, Yo‐Yo Ma, Daniele Gatti, Josep Pons, Ilan Volkov, Lionel Bringuier, Leon Fleisher, Stefan Blunier, Mark Foster, Stefan Asbury, Pascal Rophé, Rumon Gamba, François-Xavier Roth. 
 Her great interest for chamber music has led her to participate in a variety of Festivals in Europe, Brazil and the Far East, such as : Croisement Festival (China), Martinu Festival (Czech), Classique au Vert Festival, Boucard Festival, Louberon Festival, Toulouse les Orgues Festival (France), International Brazilian Flute Association Festival, Londrina Festival (Brazil), Mednarodni Cikel Kocertov (Slovenia). She has performed in the Cité de la Musique, Salle Cortot, Orsay Museum Auditorium, Théâtre Mogador and the Salle Gaveau in Paris, Auditorium de Lyon in Lyon the Oriental Arts Center in Shanghai, the Orgelpark in Amsterdam, the Salla Cécilia Meireles and the Centro Cultural do Banco do Brasil in Rio de Janeiro, the Shiodome Hall and the Kobe Arts Center in Japan. At these venues, she has shared the stage and played chamber music with Maurice Bourgue, Sergio Azzolini, Wu Wei, Kenneth Weiss, Davitt Moroney, Karina Sabac, Alain Planès, Lise Berthaud, Philippe Bernold, Ariane Jacob, Xu Zhong, Emilie Gastaud, Theodor Comann, Romain Garioud and Alain Meunier. 
 In 2011 Raquele Magalhaes obtained her CA teaching Diploma and European Masters in Musical Education at the CNSMD in Paris. She worked with the composers Hugues Dufourt and Jérôme Combier for her research program entitled: “The contribution of plastic arts to musical interpretation”. She is professor at Fontenay-sous-Bois and Savigny-sur-Orge Conservatories. 
Raquele Magalhaes is the artistic director of the association “A Fleur de Notes” which develops Chamber music projects all over Europe. She is a member of the Orchestre Divertimento conduncted by Zahia Ziouani, as Principal Piccolo. 
In January 2013 she recorded for Naïve with the Choeur Accentus works of Janacek – a recording which received the highest recommendations from the cultural magazines Diapason d’Or and Telerama.
The composer Pierre Farago has dedicated his piece Borée to Anne-Gaëlle Chanon and Raquele Magalhaes who gave the world premiere performance in March 2014 at the Orgelpark in Amsterdam.
For the 2015-2016 season will welcome one new CD by evidence classics label from Raquele Magalhaes, Patchwork, gathers eastern-european composers from the XXth century.

viernes, 10 de junio de 2016

Manuel Barrueco BACH & DE VISÉE

Robert de Visée The so-called 'baroque' guitar is a recognizable ancestor of today's classic instrument, but whereas the modern instrument has six single strings, the earlier one had five octave- or unison-tuned pairs of strings. These latter usually stood in some form of re-entrant tuning i.e. the lowest-placed strings were not always the lowest-pitched ones, and this produced ambiguous textures (which, if any, are the bass notes) that the modern guitar cannot imitate. At the same time it is possible to produce adaptations that are satisfactory in their musical effect, and the unidentified arranger of the items by Visee in this recording has done just that. Visee, court guitarist to Louis XIV of France, and one of the most refined composers of music for the five-course guitar (all those who composed for this idiosyncratic instrument also played it), left 12 suites of 'baroque' constitution, some clearly inviting the player to choose his movements (as Francois Couperin did in his ordres), as well as a number of other separate pieces. Suite No. 11 may be and here is played in its entirety. Lully was Visee's superior at court but the tribute paid in the arrangement of the Ouverture from Lully's ballet La grotte de Versailles was a sincere one. Barrueco delivers this ornament-encrusted music in magnificent style.
The items of Bach deserve no lesser encomium, for Barrueco is one of the most cultured guitarists on the present world stage. The annotator, Matthias Henke, bypassing the ambiguity of its inscription, avers that ''[BWV998] can be termed an original work for the lute'', a view not widely shared even by lutenists, who believe it to have been intended for the lute-harpsichord. Indeed, the scholar Eugen Dombois considers the allegro to be the least likely of the three movements to have been meant for the lute, but according to Henke ''[it] takes us entirely back into the world of the lute''. Fortunately, no such doubts attend the quality of Barrueco's performance of either this (probably assembled, rather than originally written in that form) triptych or BWV1004, borrowed from the violin and much in vogue with guitarists at the moment. However, few are likely to match the poise, style and comprehensive command that Barrueco brings to the music in this finely engineered recording, one of the best I have heard for a long time.' (Gramophone)

Manuel Barrueco / Plácido Domingo RODRIGO Concierto de Aranjuez - Fantasia para un Gentilhombre

This CD contains the umpteenth recordings of the Concierto de Aranjuez and Fantasia para an gentilhombre, of which there are already so many versions that the nomination of an all-time best defies my humble capacities. Suffice it to say that these are amongst the very best and, if these works are absent from your collection then [this] will serve you very well. Barrueco and [David] Russell are members of the guitar's top-drawer elite - giving performances of crystalline clarity - and they are both excellently supported by their orchestras... Barrueco adds two solos, neither one yet dulled by overfamiliarity. The Zarabanda lejana, Rodrigo's first solo work for the guitar, is given with the utmost expressivity, and Un tiempo rue Italica famosa, a tribute to the history of a once-famous Roman city near Seville, is delivered with panache; rapid passages in Rodrigo's guitar works are almost invariably scales, here (and elsewhere) appropriately testifying to the influence of flamenco.
Barrueco has one more trump card to play - his partnership with Plácido Domingo in four songs, selected from those for which Rodrigo himself has made adaptations for the guitar of the original piano accompaniments (the texts are given in four languages). Their coming together was no public relations exercise, for both are longstanding devotees of Rodrigo's music, and it shows. The partnership extends through the whole of this recording, in which Domingo also conducts the orchestra, an exercise in which both parties demonstrate their happy meeting of minds. (Gramophone)

Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra / John Storgards ZEMLINSKY Die Seejungfrau - Sinfonietta, Op. 23

Zemlinsky’s Die Seejungfrau has been recorded at least seven times, but this newcomer has some special qualities. It is without question the most gorgeously played and opulently engineered, which is saying a lot. After all, Chailly and the Concertgebouw (Decca) aren’t exactly slouches, and neither for that matter is Zemlinsky authority Antony Beaumont with the Czech Philharmonic (Chandos). It was Beaumont, in fact, who produced this new critical edition, restoring some five minutes of music to the central movement, including perhaps the work’s most convincing climax and interesting harmonies. So for that reason alone this performance, conducted by Storgards with 100% conviction and confidence, is worth having.
The work itself
remains problematic. Thematically it owes quite a bit to Tchaikovsky–Francesca da Rimini in its “motto” theme, and the slow movement of the Fifth Symphony elsewhere. Its three movements can very easily come off as relatively undifferentiated sonic blobs due to Zemlinsky’s habit of immediately resorting to lyrical noodling just as things start to get moving. Each part seems to end five or six times before it actually stops, with the loud closing bars of Part Two sounding especially gratuitous. But the music is so beautiful from moment to moment, and so brilliantly scored, that in a performance like this one the defects hardly matter. If you’re a fan of Seejungfrau, this is now the version to own, and if you aren’t a fan, this one might make you one.
As to the coupling, well, here’s a story. At least two other very good recordings of Seejungfrau come in tandem with the Sinfonietta–Dausgaard’s and Conlon’s. This version, though, is the premiere recording of a recent rescoring for chamber orchestra by one Roland Freisitzer. I am not going to accuse Freisitzer of parasitically attaching himself to the coattails of the great (like Anthony Paine, for example, with his abominable Elgar Third Symphony), because no one is making a living creating alternate versions of works by Zemlinsky. On the other hand, the justification offered for disfiguring a late masterpiece by claiming to make it more playable by chamber orchestras just won’t wash, for several reasons.
First of all, there’s plenty of great music already written for chamber orchestra. No one needs Zemlinsky’s Sinfonietta any more than we need the recent silly, pint-sized arrangement of Mahler’s Second Symphony and other such curiosities–especially on recordings. Second, Zemlinsky’s Sinfonietta is scored for a fairly modest ensemble as it is–basically only double winds and standard brass, with no tuba. Freisitzer eliminates the three percussion parts, but adds a piano, pointlessly. His choices beg the question of just what constitutes a “chamber orchestra.” After all, if the Tapiola Sinfonietta under Mario Venzago can play Bruckner’s Fifth Symphony, then Zemlinsky’s Sinfonietta certainly stands squarely within the realm of possibility. Finally, it seems singularly strange, not to say conceptually confused, to couple a carefully prepared critical edition of Seejungfrau with a mongrel deconstruction of the Sinfonietta. Do Zemlinsky’s own ideas matter or not? The scoring of the Sinfonietta, even more than with Seejungrau, constitutes one of the most telling and original aspects of the work. This was a bad idea, despite the fact that the arrangement is excellently played by Storgards and members of the Helsinki Phil.
So because the recording of Seejungrau is so terrific, and perfectly fine recordings of the Sinfonietta are not that hard to find (including Beaumont’s, differently coupled), I am going to base the rating for this release mostly on the former, and largely ignore the latter. Seejungfrau really is that good. (ClassicsToday.com)

Cameron Carpenter ALL YOU NEED IS BACH


Sony Classical is pleased to announce the release of Cameron Carpenter's new album All You Need is Bach available June 3, 2016. Bach's great keyboard masterpieces provide an ideal platform for Carpenter's formidable creative gift and the seemingly limitless possibilities of his dream instrument – his signature International Touring Organ (ITO). 
Bach's complete organ music has been central to Carpenter's immense and multi-faceted repertoire. For his first all-Bach release, Carpenter has created a stimulating and wide-ranging program that reveals the scope of Bach's genius. Works included on the album are Contrapunctus IX from The Art of Fugue, Organ Sonatas in D minor and E-flat major, Prelude and Fugue in B minor, French Suite No. 1, Invention No. 8, the Chorale Prelude to "O Mensch, bewein dein Sünde groß" and, as a centerpiece, the great Passacaglia and Fugue in C minor. The album title All You Need Is Bach not only refers to the immense popularity of Bach, but also to The Beatles' classic 1967 recording All You Need Is Love, where Bach's Invention No. 8 in F major rises out of the coda's collage-like texture.
In creating the ITO, the organ building team of Marshall & Ogletree apply sophisticated computer technology to digitally reproduce the sounds of many diverse American pipe organs without any of their mechanisms. Carpenter can access these sounds with unprecedented immediacy and flexibility. The ITO also draws upon the scientific findings relating in the field of historically informed performance practice. For example, Bach's Passacaglia and Fugue uses the Werckmeister III in a transposition centering the Werckmeister "sweet key" on C and the Trio Sonatas are presented in Kirnberger and Kellner temperaments in D and D#. While O Mensch, bewein dein Sünde groß and the Prelude and Fugue in B minor both feature equal temperament.
Most importantly, Carpenter's virtuosity, the musical potential of the International Touring Organ, and their meeting through the lens of the unique relationship between an instrument and its designer, allow him to delve unusually deep into Bach's emotional world.
The album was recorded in Berlin's historic Jesus-Christus-Kirche, one of the world's most prestigious recording venues, often used by Herbert von Karajan and the Berlin Philharmonic for their recordings during the 1950s until the 1980s. The ITO comes alive with the venue's renowned acoustics that offer a focused clarity at all dynamic levels - a harmonious bridging of an illustrious past and a promising future. (PR Neswire)

miércoles, 8 de junio de 2016

Martha Argerich CHAMBER MUSIC

This 8 CD boxed set is another in a series to commemorate the art of Martha Argerich in her 70th birthday year. How lucky we all are as music-lovers to have the chance - where we don’t already own them - of obtaining these fantastic performances by a true artist. The title of one of the articles in the accompanying booklet is “The spirit of collaboration”. That sums up this set, for Argerich has, for many years, eschewed solo performances in favour of the collaborative process where she shares the platform with a whole range of world class colleagues, some very well known and some less so. You can be sure that if she wants to play with them they are at the very top of their musical game. I recently reviewed her solo and duos set which I described as “an embarrassment of riches”; this is an even greater one: 8 CDs of performances of the works of 9 composers in which she is accompanied by a total of 23 different musicians! The choice of repertoire cannot be faulted, involves plenty of variety and shows Argerich as a perfect fellow musician whether in duos, trios, quartets, quintets or septet. (Steve Arloff)  

 

Sebastian Bohren / CHAARTS Chamber Artists EQUAL

A singular combination of Beethoven's only violin concerto with Schumann's "Fantasy For Violin & Orchestra" Op. 131. The Fantasy was lauded at its premiere but today it is rarely seen on concert programs. In a letter dated June 2nd, 1853 and accompanied by a score of Beethoven's Violin Concerto - the link to our recording -, Joachim requested Schumann to write a Fantasy for the violin. A few months later in September, within a few short days, Schumann had sketched the Fantasy and sent it to Joachim for review. Joachim performed the Fantasy at the Schumann's home on September 28th and premiered it in Düsseldorf on October 27th with the orchestra under the baton of Schumann himself. The following year, on January 21st, Joachim performed the Fantasy again. On the same program, Schumann's wife Clara also performed Beethoven's Piano Concerto in E-flat major. It would be the last time Schumann heard both of them perform.
French composer Jean Françaix (1912-1997) has been an admirer of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart's genius. He arranged Mozarts Quintet K. 452 for four woodwind instruments and piano for oboe, horn, clarinet, bassoon and string quintet. This particular version allows all the soloists from CHAARTS, to showcase their individuals skills.
With his sensitive and expressive playing, 27 year old Swiss violinist Sebastian Bohren ranks among the most promising talents of his generation. The musician has given solo performances in the Vienna Konzerthaus, the Munich Residenz, the Tonhalle Zurich and the KKL Lucerne. He has played with orchestras such as the Zurich Chamber Orchestra, Lucerne Symphony Orchestra, Camerata Zürich, Chamber Aartists, Lucerne Chamber Orchestra, and the St. Petersburg State Orchestra. Sebastian Bohren plays a Stradivarius (King George 1710) generously lent to him by the Habisreutinger Foundation.

martes, 7 de junio de 2016

Isabelle Faust / Alexander Melnikov / Jirí Belohlávek / The Prague Philharmonia BEETHOVEN Violin Concerto - Kreutzer Sonata

Beethoven described his Kreutzer Sonata as being written ‘in a very concertante style, more like that of a concerto,’ so it makes an apt companion-piece for his actual Violin Concerto. Isabelle Faust and Alexander Melnikov give a bold, sweeping performance with a real sense of spontaneity, and Harmonia Mundi’s engineers have done them proud. Both players find an extra ounce of intensity in the repeats, though it’s a pity Melnikov takes it upon himself to add a decorative twirl to Beethoven’s deliberately plain repeated chords in the interjections where the finale’s tarantella rhythm suddenly changes – a tiny lapse in taste that isn’t shared by Faust in the violin’s answering phrases. If the Violin Concerto fares less well, it’s largely on account of the rather faceless contribution from the Prague Philharmonic and Jirí Belohlávek. Their opening tutti is so metronomic that Faust’s very free first entry comes as a shock; and in the slow movement Belohlávek irons out the main theme’s ‘dotted’ rhythm, diminishing its essential expressive character. The CD booklet is silent on the subject of cadenzas, but like a few other players – among them Wolfgang Schneiderhan, Thomas Zehetmair and Gidon Kremer – Faust has adapted the ones Beethoven himself provided when he hurriedly rewrote the work as a piano concerto. All such versions of the first-movement cadenza feature the timpani, but only Kremer bizarrely has an off-stage piano in addition. The Schneiderhan and Zehetmair performances are still among the best around, with the latter offering a compellingly coherent view of the often over-relaxed opening movement.  (Misha Donat)

Alfred Cortot / Jacques Thibaud / Pablo Casals BEETHOVEN - SCHUBERT - MENDELSSOHN - SCHUMANN - HAYDN Piano Trios BRAHMS Double Concerto

Unlike string quartets, which had behind them a tradition of stable partnership, piano trios were mostly adventitious ensembles until in 1906, at Cortot's instigation, he, Thibaud and Casals got together, rapidly acquiring a unique reputation and an enthusiastic following. Each of the three had already made a name as a soloist but though their characters and temperaments differed widely one from another, they fused together in a way remarkable for the unanimity of their musical thinking and their apparent spontaneity of expression. In the quarter-century of the ensemble's existence, its repertoire, as Jean Loubier's excellent detailed note here reveals, consisted of 30 works, about a third of which however were played once only: the recordings gathered here are of the works the team played most often.
The performance of Schubert's B flat Trio made in 1926 when none of the three artists had yet reached the age of 50, was one of the earliest great classics of the recorded chamber music catalogue (many of us treasured for years those four 78rpm discs), and its present transfer to CD serves to show that one's recollected admiration is not merely nostalgic. This is a vivid recording, with splendid drive in the first movement; and Casals opens the Andante with a beautiful cantabile tone yet avoids sentimentality. The recording, a bit shallow, is nevertheless astonishingly good, considering when it was made. Beethoven's Kakadu Variations, from the same sessions, have an extraordinarily wide dynamic range but there is some obtrusive noise at the start. Has any work except Dohnanyi's Variations on a Nursery Song ever contained such a misleadingly grave long introduction to an ingenuous theme? Thibaud's light, dancing solo variation is a delight.
From the technical point of view the 1927 recordings are much less good. No fewer than four engineers are jointly credited: did they disagree among themselves? At any rate, the Haydn G major Trio is much too closely miked, producing a thin whistle on the violin and edgy tone in the Poco Adagio (the second half of which is affected by scratchy surface noise). Performance-wise too this is disappointing: the famous 'Gipsy' Rondo starts untidily and there are several imperfections of ensemble later in the semiquavers. Mendelssohn's D minor Trio, recorded at the same time, is set a little more distantly, but the string tone in the Andante (which tends to plod) and the Scherzo is unpleasantly wiry. The best things here are the turbulence of the first movement, Casals's gentle calm in its second subject, and Cortot's sensitive shaping of the theme of the Andante. The Mozart/Beethoven variations for cello and piano are marred by gritty, crackly sound.
In 1928 the artists moved into London's Small Queen's Hall for the other two trios here. The sound produced, though variable, shows a distinct improvement; the piano tone is fresher in the Beethoven than the Schumann (where, probably because of the instrument's almost inevitable domination, the engineers seem to have distanced it more). The Schumann is notable for the warm, spaciously romantic reading of the first movement and the vitality of the finale (which should have followed the slow movement immediately, without the gap inserted here): Casals can be heard grunting from time to time. There is some surface noise in the last two movements of the Archduke Trio, and Cortot lets the team down with some wrong notes and untidy trills, but overall this is an impressive performance, particularly in the lightness of the Scherzo and the sense of mystery in its Trio.
Cortot's technical unreliability again becomes noticeable in the Kreutzer Sonata, recorded in Paris in 1929: he is fractionally behind Thibaud in places, and his left hand makes a bad boss-shot at the sonata's final bars. But there is a wonderful sense of urgency and forward impetus in the first movement, and Thibaud brings a gentle grace (despite some portamentos that in the present day may appear exaggerated) to the theme of the Andante's variations. A fortnight earlier the three colleagues had met in Barcelona to record the Brahms Double Concerto with Casals's own orchestra (which he had founded ten years earlier) conducted by Cortot. The start of the recording is dispiriting, with cramped orchestral sound and thin tone from the soloists, but the engineers somehow manage to adjust matters, and for the bulk of the work the sonority and presence worthily reflect Thibaud and Casals's intense fire and emotionalism. These three historically important and well-filled discs valuably document these great artists.' (Gramophone)

Dunedin Consort & Players / John Butt GEORGE FRIDERIC HANDEL Messiah

For an infinitely more rewarding fresh look at Handel's most familiar music, look no further than the Dunedin Consort's performance of Handel's first version, premiered at Dublin in 1742. Bizarrely under-represented in concert and on disc, the Dublin score contains some fascinating music that Handel never reused, such as the substantial chorus 'Break forth into joy'. The exuberant direction by harpsichordist John Butt is meticulously stylish and utterly devoid of crassly pretentious egotism. The playing is unerringly spontaneous and dramatically integrated with singers who illustrate profound appreciation of text. Clare Wilkinson's 'He was despised' is most moving, Susan Hamilton effortlessly skips through a delicious 'Rejoice greatly', and bass Matthew Brook sings as if his life depends on it.
Butt bravely resolves to use the same forces Handel had at his disposal in Dublin, which means that the entire oratorio is sung by a dozen singers (with all soloists required to participate in the choruses, as Handel would have expected). Where this approach might risk worthy dull solos churned out by stalwart choir members, the Dunedin Consort's exemplary singers produce virtuoso choruses that are theatrically charged, splendidly poised and exquisitely blended. Old warhorses 'For unto us a child is born' and 'Surely he hath borne our griefs' are delightfully inspiring. Butt and the Dunedin Consort marry astute scholarship to sincere artistic expression and the result is comfortably the freshest, most natural, revelatory and transparently joyful Messiah I have heard for a very long time. (Gramophone)

lunes, 6 de junio de 2016

Dunedin Consort & Players / John Butt GEORGE FRIDERIC HANDEL Acis & Galatea

The Dunedin Consort, led by John Butt, has moved into the niche of recording original or obscure versions of Baroque choral masterworks using forces as close as possible to those of the original performances. Its 2006 performance of the Dublin version of Messiah is one of the liveliest and refreshingly intimate recordings of the work, and won a Gramophone Award for Best Baroque Vocal Album of the year. Here the group turns its attention to a much earlier Handel work, the 1718 pastoral oratorio Acis & Galatea. Through ingenious musical detective work, Butt has reconstructed the most likely constitution of the ensemble that originally performed the piece while the composer was employed at Cannons House in Middlesex. Acis & Galatea is a work stronger on charm than substance, but its charms are considerable, from its lively and lyrical solos and ensembles to its inventive and clever orchestration. While Handel is not known for comedy, and this piece is in fact a tragedy (a rejected suitor kills his rival, but the heroine transforms her slain lover into a fountain, so things don't turn out too badly), the librettists and composer treat the subject lightly and with genuine wit. The villain is portrayed as a buffoon, and Butt and his singers play up the work's humor. Baritone Matthew Brook is vocally virtuosic and comically convincing as Polyphemus; his arias "O ruddier than the cherry" and "Cease to beauty to be suing" are among the highlights of the recording. As Galatea, soprano Susan Hamilton sings with purity and unmannered grace. Tenor Nicholas Mulroy as Acis has a somewhat covered sound that keeps him from being truly heroic. Thomas Hobbs, in the secondary role of role of Damon, has a light but bright and clarion tenor. The orchestra plays with exquisite finesse and expressiveness. Butt and his exemplary forces make a strong case for this odd little piece and give it a depth and coherence that make their performance stand out among the recorded versions. (Stephen Eddins )

Ksenija Sidorova CLASSICAL ACCORDION

The accordion is an underexploited resource in western classical music. Like a number of "marginal" instruments it needed a champion before composers began to take it seriously: Andrés Segovia and the guitar is an obvious parallel. Although the concertina, first patented in 1829, could call on a repertoire of classical compositions from the mid-nineteenth century onwards, thanks chiefly to the efforts of Giulio Regondi (1822-72), it was not until the early twentieth century and the invention of the free-bass accordion  "which much expanded the tonal and harmonic resources of the instrument" that the stimulus for a modern concert repertoire was perceived. The musician who picked up that challenge was the Dane Mogens Ellegaard (1935-95), who began to play the accordion when he was eight. In an interview in 1990 he looked back on the conditions with which he initially had to contend: 
When I started, there was absolutely no accordion culture. 
Unless you define accordion culture as "oom-pah-pah", or the Cuckoo Waltz  that sort of thing. The free-bass accordion didn't exist! it was entirely unknown when I was a child. At that time the accordion world was living in splendid isolation. No contact at all with the outside musical world. Concerts for us consisted of Frosini, Deiro1 repertoire or folkloristic music. The possibilities of getting a formal, quality education [on accordion] were nil. The accordion was not accepted at any of the higher music institutions.... The possibilities for a soloist, for the best players, would be variety "night club" work, Saturday night shows.... This is what I was doing when I was very young. 
 In 1953, while still a student, Ellegaard acquired one of the first free-bass accordions in Denmark and within four years the light-music composer Vilfred Kjaer had written a concerto for him: a work of light character, but anyway a beginning. At that concert, also by coincidence, Ole Schmidt [1928-2010] was sitting in the audience. He didn't like Kjaer's composition, but liked the instrument, and told me this bluntly afterwards. So I challenged him to write something better. In 1958 he wrote Symphonic Fantasy and Allegro, Op. 20, for accordion and orchestra, which was the first really serious work for accordion written by a good composer. The search for a modern repertoire for the accordion was now underway, and over the next four decades Ellegaard's commissions built it up from scratch, with his students in turn commissioning further works. Of course, accordionists have also worked backwards, transcribing earlier keyboard works for their instrument  which gives Baroque music in particular a new lease of life. This CD mines both the old and new veins in the modern accordion repertoire.

Ksenija Sidorova FAIRY TALES

What I like about mixing transcriptions with repertoire written specifically for the accordion, is that the audience has a fresh perspective on the so-called "old stuff" after hearing the unexpected and unique sounds of the new. I think it aids an understanding of the contemporary repertoire too. As an accordionist you sort of have to carve your own path, so I consider it my mission in this way to introduce the instrument to a wider audience.
Thus speaks the classical accordion's latest and most passionate knight in shining armour, the rising Latvian star Ksenija Sidorova. And to help her here in her avowed mission of popularization, she has chosen a varied group of pieces to show off the full range and emotional power of her chosen instrument. From the quick- fingered whippy virtuosity of Mendelssohn's familiar Scherzo from A Midsummer Night's Dream, via the pulsing energy of Petr Londonov's Scherzo-Toccata (a popular piece with accordionists, but little-known to wider concert audiences), to the deceptively naive and charming melodies of the Fairy Tales concerto by Vaclav Trojan, Sidorova has devised a programme full of humour and excitement. "I had an enormous amount of fun over the days of recording," says the accordionist. 
Her recital includes two nineteenth-century showstoppers. The first of them, Caprice Espagnol, was composed for the piano in 1885 by Moritz Moszkowski (1854 -1925), and arranged for the accordion by the Russian performer and teacher Friedrich Lips (1948- ). Since, like many of the other arrangers on this disc, Lips writes for the bayan, which has rows of buttons on both sides rather than a piano keyboard for the right hand, Sidorova herself has "transcribed the transcription" for her own preferred piano-accordion.

Ksenija Sidorova CARMEN

Countless artists, authors and other sharp creative minds – from Manet and Peter Brook to Nabokov and Nietzsche – have drawn deep inspiration from Carmen. Ksenija Sidorova is the latest to reimagine the tragic heroine of Bizet’s opera. The Latvian accordionist, a massive musical talent with the blazing energy of a comet, marks her Deutsche Grammophon debut with an album driven by her identification with Bizet’s famously free-spirited femme fatale. Ksenija’s Carmen gives new life to some of the most popular of all classical melodies, presented here in seductively fresh arrangements. She describes the character of Carmen as, above all, “a projection of the heart’s most intimate desires”. In response, her album, influenced by Latin, Asian, European and North American musical styles, offers an intoxicating mix of tone colours and pulsating rhythms.
Ksenija’s Carmen, set for international release on 3 June 2016, presents an authentic reflection of the Riga-born artist’s charismatic personality. “Carmen fascinates me,” she notes. “Of course I wanted to bring something new to this music, to let Carmen speak with a different voice. The accordion doesn’t have to breathe like a singer, so there are no restrictions to what I can do with this music. I could be daring and passionate, just like Carmen, and share in the multicultural musical ideas created by my wonderful collaborators.” There’s much more Carmen to come from Ksenija thanks to a run of performances that opens in Dortmund in April and continues in Latvia and Chicago later in the year. “I feel that people of all ages are ready to connect with Carmen and so I want to take this project on the road.”
Her desire to connect with others clearly runs deep. She has already been crowned the “Princess of Accordion” by one critic and praised by another for her “ability to steal a musical heart”. Accordion aficionados, meanwhile, have hailed her interpretations of everything from original compositions by Piazzolla, Berio and Nordheim to arrangements of pieces by Bach, Mozart and Scarlatti. “I love performing modern works and new commissions,” she says. “But I feel it is my mission now to introduce the accordion to a large audience. My heart enjoys playing many different styles of music and I want to share this experience with as many people as possible.”
On 30 March 2016, Deutsche Grammophon announced Ksenija Sidorova’s exclusive signing to the yellow label. “We are delighted to welcome such a remarkable talent to our roster,” commented Ute Fesquet, DG’s Vice President, Artists & Repertoire. “Ksenija puts heart and soul into every performance. In her hands the accordion becomes more than an instrument – it is her voice and gives expression to her captivating personality. She is one of those genuinely rare performers who can transcend genre boundaries and beguile audiences with the intense beauty and vitality of her music-making.” (Deutsche Grammophon)

Angela Chun / Jennifer Chun PHILIP GLASS In the Summer House - Mad Rush NICO MUHLY Four Studies - Honest Music

The sister violin duo Angela and Jennifer Chun, originally from Seattle, have blazed new trails for the violin duo (and violin-viola duo) repertoire, commissioning new works by George Tsontakis and Osvaldo Golijov while performing existing rep ranging from Vivaldi to Martinu. Their new album presents music of Nico Muhly with the composer on the keyboards, together with music of Philip Glass, a composer with whom Nico has a close personal and musical relationship.
The synthesized sounds of the Muhly Four Studies that open the recording add an ethereal backdrop to the motion of the two violins, and in general the four short movements are enjoyable to listen to. It’s amazing how much the synth background adds to the character of the violin duo, and the listener hears the various characters and emotions of each movement as if in suspended animation, like walking through a gallery of fossilized amber. Honest Music, and earlier Muhly, takes the duo in even more serious, occasionally dark directions. Angela and Jennifer attack this one with a fervent purposefulness, and display virtuosity with notes that occasionally leap up in high exclamations.
The Philip Glass works on the disc are arrangements, and are considerably less successful. Mad Rush was originally a piano work written for the Dalai Lama visit to New York in 1981, and In the Summer House was incidental music for a play by Jane Bowles based on a short story, originally written for violin, cello, voice, and synthesizer. Presented here solely on their own and navigating tricky arpeggios that would be no sweat on a keyboard instrument, the violin duo struggles throughout both Glass pieces. Inaccuracies of pitch and rhythm occur throughout, showcasing the difficulty of this arrangement of vignettes more than anything else.
Glass’ music is most successful when the repetitive figures are perfectly even and metronomical, with rhythms repeating smoothly and identically. The unevenness of the duo’s playing disrupts the spell, and though the violinists mostly eschew vibrato as they strive to portray the pure simplicity of this music, moments of poor intonation are made all the more obvious. Shaky bow pressure also becomes clearly apparent in softer passages. It’s likely that this music would be much better served in its original instrumentation; it’s also likely that this duo’s performances of Bartok and Shostakovich would be more enjoyable to listen to. (Geoffrey Larson)

sábado, 4 de junio de 2016

Lorenzo Gatto / Julien Libeer BEETHOVEN Violin Sonatas Nos. 9 "Kreutzer", 4 & 2

‘Among all the possible distinctions that can be made between musicians, one might suggest one between the impetuous and the reflective. Between those who, seized by carefree enthusiasm for a piece, programme it all over the world as fast as they can, and those who, conscious of their responsibility towards a composer’s works, hesitate at length before granting themselves the right to try it out for the first time. Our two contrasting temperaments nonetheless both tend towards the reflective side of this divide. So why are we presenting here, at the ripe old age of twenty-eight, our recording of these three Beethoven sonatas, which might seem the most blithely impetuous of undertakings?
In 2012, Gilles Ledure, director of Flagey (Brussels), surprised us by suggesting we should give a complete cycle of the Beethoven violin sonatas there. The kind of offer you can’t refuse.
The music of Beethoven fashioned our culture: this spiritual child of the French Revolution is perhaps the first composer in our history to have embodied, in both his music and his life, the values of the Enlightenment. Which can only make him all the more appealing in these troubled and uncertain times. The opportunity to explore a cycle of this stature promised to be a transformative experience in many respects.
Since then, these sonatas have travelled with us. Naturally – and fortunately – both of us have done other things too. But these ten monuments of musical architecture and expression are always somewhere in the back of our minds.
It’s been three years now since our reunion around these sonatas began to structure our lives as musicians. And what started as a one-off project has turned into a major journey. A fixed period of time has been transformed into something long-term. Our awareness of this stimulated the urge to keep a sort of log. To mark the stages we go through, and to let the public listen.
So that’s what this recording is, no more, no less. A snapshot rather than an absolute statement. A logbook rather than a thesis. We hope that makes it all the more sincere.’ (Lorenzo Gatto & Julien Libeer)

viernes, 3 de junio de 2016

Dunedin Consort & Players / John Butt JOHANN SEBASTIAN BACH Mass in B Minor

Linn Records' recording of Johann Sebastian Bach's Mass in B minor is the first to utilize the revised Joshua Rifkin edition published by Breitkopf and Härtel in 2006. This is a refinement of the 1980s version in which Rifkin pared the instrumentation of the mass down to its barest essentials and rendered the chorus as a one-to-a-part vocal ensemble, and while the texture is a tad fuller here than on the radically skimpy recording made for Nonesuch at that time, it's still pretty minimal, especially in comparison to versions utilizing more traditional forces. This SACD recording by the Dunedin Consort and Players, led by John Butt -- who have enjoyed considerable critical acclaim for their 2007 recording of the Dublin version of Handel's Messiah -- utilizes just 10 singers and a band barely the size of a chamber orchestra. This approach definitely benefits the voices, and these are good singers, though there are no standout performances. Indeed, this recording is at its best in the ensembles, such as "Et resurrexit," "Et expecto," and "Laudamus te," where the flexibility of the small group raises the rhythmic profile of the music to a pitch of excitement and intensity that can be quite engaging. On the other hand, the heft and power that a traditional ensemble can bring to the Mass in B minor is noticeably lacking here and this set will not satisfy listeners for whom a large orchestral/choral rendering is the only viable option for Bach's last great choral work. However, Linn's SACD recording is spectacularly clear and solid and the orchestral playing is terrific; were that the solo singers were more distinctive and memorable in their star turns, then this would be just about perfect for a small potatoes Mass in B minor. (Uncle Dave Lewis)

Polyphony / Stephen Layton ARVO PÄRT Triodion

There's a line in this disc's title track, from an Orthodox ode addressed to Saint Nicholas: "therewithal hast thou acquired: by humility - greatness, by poverty - riches." This might have been written about Arvo Pärt's compositional technique, here liberated from the minimalist strictures of earlier decades, treading a fine line between agony and ecstasy in a way unparalleled since Bach.
In his earlier vein, Pärt often reached spiritual feast through the technical famine of systematic patterning and repetition. In the music on this new CD, all composed between 1996 and 2002 and featuring six première recordings, Pärt instead suggests austerity through the use of a much broader and freer palette. This is particularly palpable in the Nunc Dimittis, where gorgeous textures, harmonies and sonorities conjure a feeling of purity and emptiness.
Elsewhere, Pärt has a couple of surprises up his sleeve. The opening track, Dopo la vittoria, begins in sprightly madrigalian form, entirely appropriate to a commission from the City of Milan. It sets an Italian text describing the conception of the Te Deum by Saints Ambrose and Augustine, an unusually postmodern exercise for Pärt, but one which does nothing to detract from the sincerity of the setting, suggesting instead a celebration of the sanctifying power of centuries of worshipful use.
The weirdest moment on the disc comes with My heart's in the Highlands, a setting of a Burns poem which apparently has a highly personal significance for the composer. It's one of only two tracks on the disc which recall Pärt's earlier, more systematic approach, giving Burns' wistful evocation of the bucolic North to a monotone counter-tenor over a strictly controlled organ accompaniment, and making the text suddenly sound like a mystical allegory of longing for the divine.
There's little of the balletic brilliance that Pärt displayed in such works as the Stabat Mater or Tabula Rasa, and mercifully as little of the thunderous severity of his Passio mode. Instead there's a quiet and cumulative power to these works, given performances of luminous purity by Polyphony and Stephen Layton. By the time we arrive at the Salve Regina, a kind of penitential cradle song which closes the disc, we're ready to fall at the feet of the Maker and beg for forgiveness, simultaneously harrowed and consoled. (BBC Music)