martes, 31 de octubre de 2017

Javier Perianes ...les sons et les parfums DEBUSSY meets CHOPIN

The piano pieces of Frédéric Chopin and Claude Debussy may be regarded as coming from either side of the great Romantic divide, conceived in reaction against the movement's excesses yet often embodying its ideals. Chopin never considered himself a Romantic, and Debussy struggled to eradicate its influence. Both composers had a common interest in avoiding the grandiose forms and sweeping gestures of Liszt and Wagner, and instead sought beauty in intimate forms, such as miniatures and character pieces. Yet, insofar as they were both poets of the piano, they expressed the Romantic passion for evoking moods and love of tone painting, and in terms of expression, Chopin and Debussy have much in common. Javier Perianes perceives the way Debussy absorbed Chopin's refined musical language and shaped it into his own, without overtly borrowing or quoting, and this accounts for many of their shared sonorities, effects, and mannerisms. For this Harmonia Mundi album, Perianes alternates tracks between Chopin and Debussy, so listeners can draw their own conclusions about the many similarities as well as the obvious differences, and appreciate Perianes' subtle treatment of such diaphanous and iridescent music. (

lunes, 30 de octubre de 2017

Olivia Belli LUDOVICO EINAUDI Stanze

It is said that in 1992 when the BBC Radio 3 broadcasted Stanze in the harp version, the phones of the radio station were buzzing with callers asking for the name of the composer. Since then the fame of Stanze and of Ludovico Einaudi has continued to grow. 
This is not surprising if we consider the appeal and communicative spirit of these pieces. Even today they represent a model for the post-classic genre, still loved and imitated, which Einaudi - uncontested maestro - was able to imprint with an all Italian original and refined tenor. 
After 25 years from the first recording, I present Stanze, here for the first time, in the original piano version composed by Einaudi himself. The score, published by Ricordi in 1992, is made up of 14 numbers: two less than the 16 of the harp recording. Calmo and Attesa are in fact missing. All the other ones are almost the same, just a few changes due to the dissimilar techniques of the two instruments. Only one, Moto perpetuo, in the piano version is so completely dif- ferent and much longer (12 pages versus 4 of the harp), as to be considered a new one. 
Stanze was the ancient name of the strofe in the Canzone, the first Italian poetic form. Stanza means room. Dante Alighieri defined the poetic meaning of stanza as “dimora capace e ricettacolo di tutta l’arte” [a capacious storehouse or receptacle for the art in its entirety], suggesting the place, real or unreal, where the artist isolates himself to think, to collect strength and find the words (or notes) to create. 
Actually we all have a stanza where we easily find our inner self. It can be a place in our home where, alas at the end of the day, we retire to listen to some music or read a book; it could be our car cabin, or a train compartment, where, while the landscape flies past, we think back on the past, dream of our future: it can even be just a space in our head, a place not in a place, where we stand alone in front of ourselves. 
Even though, as the composer affirms, there is not a general idea that unifes the pieces of this album, they are all conceived in the same stanza, in that unique place which offers to the artist the peace of loneliness and meditation.


Winners of the Grand Prix at the Bordeaux International String Quartet Competition in 2001, the Psophos Quartet was founded by students of the Conservatoire national supérieure de Paris. Trained and mentored in Basel by the great Walter Levin, the quartet was strongly influenced by his passion commitment and musical rigour.
The Quartet was the first French quartet chosen to be part of the prestigious BBC Radio 3 ‘New Generation Artists’ scheme from 2005-2007 and was also named ‘Best Ensemble of the Year’ at the 2005 Victoires de la musique.
The quartet has performed in prestigious halls and festivals all over Europe including the Concertgebouw Amsterdam, the Wigmore Hall, London and its trajectory has been further enriched by appearances at the Folle Journée festivals in Nantes, Tokyo, and Lisbon, at the BBC the Proms and many other renowned festivals. These performances have given the quartet the opportunity to share the stage with musical personalities including Renaud and Gauthier Capuçon, Nicholas Angelich, Bertrand Chamayou, Cédric Tiberghien, Vladimir Mendelssohn, Emmanuelle Bertrand and Nemanja Radulovic.
In 2009 the quartet welcomed two new members, Eric Lacrouts (violin) and Guillaume Martigne (cello), a change that has proved to be enriching both artistically and on a human level. The balance provided by these new forces gives the ensemble a new serenity that perpetuates its maturity and its high standards.
Driven by a wide-ranging artistic curiosity, the quartet works with leading artists from diverse fields. A collaboration with Jean-Marie Machado and Dave Liebman brought them to the jazz world with Painting notes in the air and they have performed at Théâtre National de Chaillot in Paris and Lyon Opera with choreographer Philippe Decouflé.
For three years the Psophos Quartet was Quartet in Residence at the Theatre Athénée Louis Jouvet in Paris, where is presented its own series of chamber music concerts inviting such artists as Bertrand Chamayou, Vladimir Mendelssohn, Jean-Marc Luisada, Nils Moenkemayer et Jörg Widmann.

sábado, 28 de octubre de 2017

Sistine Chapel Choir / Massimo Palombella / Cecilia Bartoli VENI DOMINE

The music collections of the Vatican Library (Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana) are among the largest and most significant in the world, and have since the late 18th century been an essential resource for the study of music history and for musicolo- gical research. The finest polyphonic works of the Renaissance and Baroque periods, most of which are to be found in the Cappella Sistina and Cappella Giulia collections, have long been studied by scholars from around the world, but have become even more popular since they were transferred from the Sistine Chapel and St Peter’s to the Vatican Library itself (the Cappella Giulia material was moved in the 1930s and 1940s, the Sistine Chapel material a few decades earlier), when new indices and catalogues made them more easily accessible. The director of the Sistine Chapel Choir is in the fortunate position of having access to all the music resources of the Vatican Library. With that good fortune, however, comes a two-fold responsibility: firstly, that of rescuing long-forgotten works from neglect; and secondly, that of trying out performance practices that translate the notes on the page into patterns of sound, by comparing manuscripts and early print editions, and using all the studies and other information available to us today. 
Given the immense quantity of material housed in the Library, any search of it has to be narrowed down. For this album, for which our primary source was the Vatican Library’s Sistine Chapel collection, we decided to focus on the liturgical period of Advent and Christmas, further refining our search by consulting the various sources that describe papal celebrations over the centuries and the use of music therein. As a final search criterion, we looked at the frequency with which different works were performed as part of these papal celebrations.

Wiener Philharmoniker / Riccardo Muti BRUCKNER Symphony No. 2 - RICHARD STRAUSS Der Bürger als Edelmann

Riccardo Muti chose to celebrate his 75th birthday with a programme at the 2016 Salzburg Festival featuring two masterworks from the Austro-German tradition that had both been premiered by the Wiener Philharmoniker under the direction of their respective composers: Bruckner’s Symphony No.2 and R. Strauss’ Orchestral Suite Der Bürger als Edelmann. Alongside celebrated pianist Gerhard Oppitz is violinist Rainer Küchl, on the eve of his retirement from the Wiener Philharmoniker following a remarkable 45 years of service.

viernes, 27 de octubre de 2017

Isabelle Faust / Alexander Melnikov BEETHOVEN Complete Sonatas for Piano & Violin

These are the most stimulating and fascinating accounts of the Beethoven violin sonatas I have heard in many years. Isabelle Faust and Alexander Melnikov bring out the full quirkiness of the earlier works as well as their beauty, and their playing is remarkably accomplished throughout. Faust reflects the Viennese taste in Beethoven’s day for light, strongly articulated bowing, much of it ‘off-the-string’, with sparing vibrato.
Particularly fine is their account of the profoundly original last sonata, Op. 96. Melnikov and Faust allow its opening movement to unfold in leisurely fashion, and in an atmosphere of hushed lyricism, though their decision to append a ‘turn’ to the ubiquitous trill that forms such an integral part of the main subject’s melodic line may not be to everyone’s taste.
As for the Kreutzer Sonata, their performance of the opening movement contains a welcome detail that’s seldom heard. Shortly after the start of the presto main section the music’s momentum is momentarily halted by two fermatas (notated pauses), the second of which is filled in here with an improvisatory flurry of arpeggios from the piano.
When Beethoven himself rehearsed the piece with George Augustus Polgreen Bridgetower, the violinist for whom he originally wrote it, Bridgetower took it upon himself to imitate the piano when the same point was reached in the repeat, to Beethoven’s apparent delight. Bridgetower subsequently wrote down his improvisation in his copy of the printed violin part, and Isabelle Faust incorporates it into her performance.
I’m not so sure, however, that Beethoven would necessarily have approved of the occasional spontaneous change Faust and Alexander Melnikov make to some of the other sonatas: a few little melodic ornaments and alterations, the occasional exaggerated pause between phrases, the mannerism of ‘rolled’ left-hand piano chords, the reversal of dynamics in the repeats.
But nonetheless these stimulating performances demand to be heard. (Misha Donat / BBC Music Magazine)

Camille Berthollet / Julie Berthollet # 3

Camille & Julie are the Berthollet sisters, two extraordinarily gifted musical siblings from the idyllic Rhône-Alpes region in France. Camille (18) plays violin and cello and Julie (20) violin and viola. They became celebrities in France when the then 15-year-old Camille won Prodiges, a TV show for classical virtuosos under the age of 16. 
After captivating more than four million viewers on the France 2 network with her searing rendition of ‘Summer’ from Vivaldi’s Four Seasons, Camille was immediately signed to Warner Classics, her debut album (featuring her older sister as duo partner) achieved Gold status with more than 80,000 copies sold in France alone and more than 1.7 million streams. This is their third album and the expectation of their fans is already high!
The Berthollet sisters: “On our third album we play a variety of styles from Bach to Sinatra, from Rachmaninov to soundtracks. We picked these pieces as they allow us to express ourselves freely. We have had a fantastic time doing this recording and really hope our fans will enjoy the result!” (Warner Classics)

Francesca Dego PAGANINI - WOLF-FERRARI Violin Concertos

Celebrated for her sonorous tone, compelling interpretations and flawless technique, Francesca Dego is quickly becoming one of the most sought after young violinists on the international scene. Signed in 2012 by Deutsche Grammophon, her debut album of Paganini’s 24 Caprices and a subsequent complete survey of Beethoven’s Violin Sonatas received critical acclaim. Autumn 2017 sees the release of her highly anticipated first concerto disc featuring works by Paganini and Wolf-Ferrari.
This album marks Italian violinist Francesca Dego’s debut orchestral recording on the Deutsche Grammophon label.
It features two Italian masterpieces: Wolf-Ferrari’s seldom-performed Violin Concerto and Paganini’s renowned Violin Concerto Number 1, which celebrates its 200th anniversary this year.
Francesca recorded Wolf-Ferrari’s Violin Concerto live in March 2017, when she gave the UK premiere of the piece at Symphony Hall with the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra and the renowned Italian conductor Daniele Rustioni.
Francesca regularly appears with the world’s leading orchestras, performing both the Paganini and Wolf-Ferrari concertos extensively in the future.

jueves, 26 de octubre de 2017

Cédric Tiberghien BARTÓK

'An admirable performance of the Sonata for two pianos and percussion, where Tiberghien is both goaded and kept in check by fellow pianist François-Frédéric Guy, with sensitive support from the percussionists Colin Currie and Sam Walton. Superb sound sees to it that every kicking syncopation and drum tap is clearly focused' (Gramophone)

Cédric Tiberghien’s Bartók series has been an ear-opener—expressive and sharp-witted performances that clinch the music’s essence in original terms. The French pianist has saved some of Bartók’s most straight-up tuneful material for last, and this instalment includes the Three Hungarian Folksongs from the Csík District (melodies Bartók learned in summer 1907 from a Transylvanian flute player), the Three Rondos on Slovak Folk Tunes and the slight, blithe Sonatina. Tiberghien balances these with the knotty Études and the thick-set Sonata—and through it all, the angular and the earthy, he has a way of making Bartók’s rhythms sound simultaneously stretchy, precise and personal. He’s joined by fellow pianist François-Frédéric Guy and percussionists Colin Currie and Sam Walton for the Sonata for Two Pianos and Percussion from 1926—jostling, gracious, deft playing to round off the disc. (Kate Molleson / The Guardian)

Cédric Tiberghien BARTÓK

Cédric Tiberghien's first CD for Hyperion of Bartok's piano music was brilliant from start to finish (reviewed in June 2016). The 47 tracks of this new one are of the same standard, barring just one: his account of Allegro barbaro is polite, neatly controlled and utterly lacking in anything remotely 'barbaric'. For the rest, his approach is admirably responsive as he explores, one by one, the enticing little abodes of Bartók's great compositional experiment. Who would dream that a piece entitled 'Major seconds broken and together'—and lasting less than two minutes—could constitute a uniquely beautiful sound world?
Bartok described his 4 Bagatelles—with their implicit nod back to Beethoven—a representing 'a new piano style… a reaction to the exuberance of Romantic piano music of the 19th century; a style stripped of all unnecessary decorative elements, deliberately using only the most restricted technical means.' Those words could apply to almost everything on this disc.
As David Cooper observes in his illuminating liner note, the first of these Bagatelles—to be played in four sharps in the right hand, and four flats in the left—was one of the earliest essays in bi-tonality by a European composer, and in Tiberghien's hands it becomes both simple-seeming and profoundly challenging. He gives the Folk Dances and the Eight Improvisations a relaxed and full-blooded sound evoking courtships and comic mock-fights through their furious or flirtatiously irregular, tempos.
He's sparing with the pedal, but on occasions uses it to make simple figurations sound bewitching, most notably in Bagatelle No 12, which prefigures the 'night music' style of later works. Intimate and poetic, this is pianism which delicately suggests rather than making statements. A lovely hour and a quarter. (Michael Church / BBC Music Magazine)

Cédric Tiberghien BARTÓK

Bartók's piano music has the appearance of simplicity, and many of its notes are mere grace-notes, so the games which Bartók plays with rhythm and counterpoint, and with moments of impressionism, make very special demands on the pianist. Possessing an instinctive feel for that impressionism, and for the ebb and flow of those rhythms with their little hesitations and sudden rushes forward, Cédric Tiberghien is ideally fitted for this task. Moreover the selection of works on this CD makes a very satisfying survey of the Bartókian piano œuvre.
Every piece here is in one way or another an experiment, including the unassuming little Suite, whose Allegretto and Scherzo reflect the composer's researches into Romanian and North African styles respectively, while its concluding Sostenuto floats and dreams in a very Debussian manner. Out of Doors brings one of Bartók's most magical piece of night-music with softly-whirring hover-flies, croaking frogs and chirruping birds: here Tiberghien is in his element, as he is with the bagpipe-evocations via vibrating trills and slammed chordal dissonances. He wittily brings out the drunkenness in the second Burlesque—you can visualise the stumbling belching figure—and for 'Quarrel' he turns on some effortless virtuosity.
But the chief glory of this recording lies in what Tiberghien does with the Peasant Songs and the sixth book of Mikrokosmos. Each of the songs is sharply characterised and the pulse throughout follows the heartbeat. Meanwhile Mikrokosmos is delivered with charm, each note perfectly weighted, and with the concluding display of Bulgarian rhythms making a brilliant envoi to the record as a whole. (Michael Church / BBC Music Magazine)

miércoles, 25 de octubre de 2017

Antoine Tamestit / Cédric Tiberghien BEL CANTO

Going well beyond mere historical interest, this album unveils the charms of a repertoire that delighted Parisian concert halls and salons throughout the 19th century. It demonstrates how the viola finally emerged from the violin’s shadow thanks to virtuoso playing, now resuscitated by the talent of Antoine Tamestit and Cédric Tiberghien in pieces which offer much more than the exquisite languors of bel canto. Italian for 'beautiful singing' or 'beautiful song', the term remains vague and ambiguous but is commonly used to evoke a lost singing tradition; in this case the famed singing tone of Antoine Tamestit's viola, a 1672 Stradivarius, loaned by the Habisreutinger Foundation.
Born in Paris, Antoine Tamestit studied with Jesse Levine at Yale University and with Tabea Zimmermann. He has won several coveted prizes including the William Primrose Competition, first prize at the Young Concert Artists (YCAT) international auditions, a place on BBC Radio 3’s New Generation Artists Scheme and a Borletti-Buitoni Trust Award.
Antoine Tamestit’s distinguished discography includes Berlioz’s 'Harold en Italie', which was recorded with the London Symphony Orchestra and Valery Gergiev and released in 2015 by LSO Live. For Naïve he has recorded three of the Bach Suites, Hindemith solo and concertante works recorded with the Frankfurt Radio Symphony Orchestra and Paavo Järvi, and an earlier recording of 'Harold' with Marc Minkowski and Les Musicians du Louvre.
This particular diva is the viola; its servant is Antoine Tamestit, here making his first solo recording for harmonia mundi. (Presto Classical)

martes, 24 de octubre de 2017

Michael Tilson Thomas / San Francisco Symphony ADAMS Harmonielehre - Short Ride in a Fast Machine

By 2012, the San Francisco Symphony had played about two dozen of John Adams' works, about half of them world premiere or U.S. premiere performances, including seven pieces it commissioned, so it has easy claim on the title of being THE orchestra for Adams performances. Adams wrote the massive Harmonielehre for the orchestra while he was its Composer in Residence, and Edo de Waart led the premiere in 1985. This live 2010 performance with Michael Tilson Thomas leading the orchestra marks the 25th anniversary of the piece. This performance is so extraordinarily fine that it would be pointless to quibble over whether or not it surpasses the terrific original recording with de Waart, but it certainly gives it a run for its money, and may for some listeners have an edge. In any case, it is incalculably superior to its only other real competition with Simon Rattle leading the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra. The extraordinarily clear, lively sound of SFS Media's sonically spectacular SACD allows details of orchestration to be heard with fresh brilliance and makes this a version no one who loves the piece will want to be without. Harmonielehre is an exhausting, exhilarating work in the way a late Romantic symphony can be, and Tilson Thomas masterfully conveys the complex score's emotional volatility with appropriately startling ferocity. The explosive, pounding chords of the opening of the first movement are viscerally shocking, and Tilson Thomas maintains a sense of the music's urgency though its extended roller coaster of mood shifts. The second movement, "The Anfortas Wound," is a ferocious howl of pain and frustration that Adams said characterizes his anguish over the extended period of writer's block that finally gave way to the composition of Harmonielehre. Tilson Thomas brings catharsis in the shimmering, luminous final movement, "Meister Eckhardt and Quackie." The orchestra's playing throughout is superb: absolutely secure technically, with a luscious, vibrant tone, and with the interpretive and idiomatic depth that comes from intimate familiarity with the music. The album includes a sparkling, propulsive reading of Short Ride in a Fast Machine from a live 2011 performance. Highly recommended. (

Accademia del Piacere / Fahmi Alqhai / Arcángel LAS IDAS Y LAS VUELTAS

It is race-mixing and the exchange of ideas that normally start the process of music innovation. In this sense, the colonization of America by the Spaniards, which encouraged the meeting of European, American and African cultures, boosted the birth, evolution and breeding of brand new music styles. The exchange of different kinds of rhythms, tunes and cadences which, centuries later, would give birth to jazz, had already been the origin of flamenco.
All over the Andalusian and American towns people could hear songs and dances that had been originated here and had gone there to come back again, sometimes to eventually travel overseas anew. From the Guinean Gulf to the Caribbean, then to Triana and the Bay of Cádiz, these tunes continually melt, overlapped, in a delocalized, bubbling melting pot, where jácaras, folías and chaconas existed as a common heritage both to popular and educated music. It is normal then, for instance, to listen to Guarachas de Zéspedes which remind us of Cádiz tanguillos, or to discover medieval romances which had been preserved in the oral tradition, fandangos of yore and today, siguiriyas set to the chords of a passacaglia. In short, pieces of music that were written down centuries ago which can be brought to life today thanks to the spontaneous intuition of good musicians and, of course, good flamenco.
The inspired souls of Fahmi Alqhai and Arcángel have set their minds to walk up the still-unexplored paths that result of the fertile combination of flamenco and Baroque music. Arcángel and Alqhai keep a dialogue which enables them to delve into a common past and present with the help of music, a universal vehicle to brotherhood between nations and cultures. With strong, difficult to classify personalities, these artists combine a strict, academic music education along with a restless, experimental spirit. Therefore, they will let themselves be freely driven by their sheer music instinct. Who knows? Maybe, in a natural, unexpected, intuitive way, they will bring back the original sources of the remote flamenco, that Paradise Lost which no musicologist ever found before. (Juan Ramón Lara / Seville, January 2012)

Schumann Quartett LANDSCAPES

 “Four fundamentally different works merge into a musical whole by virtue of our deep and personal relationship with them – like a quartet.” (Schumann Quartet)

When the Schumann Quartet took stock of the selection of works for this recording, they realised that they had, completely intuitively, put together a concept album, without ever having planned to do so. The pieces had to be ones that are close to their hearts, ones that they often play. (...) Ultimately, they are works from four different parts of the classical-music world: an Estonian piece, a Japanese piece, a Hungarian piece and an Austrian-German piece. And contrasts, differences and contradictions also dominate within the works themselves. This is what Christopher Warmuth relates in the booklet text, after a conversation with the quartet. 
This recording thus represents the kind of pure antithesis that gives life to every great whole. Alongside Joseph Haydn's “Sunrise Quartet”, op. 76, No. 4, a homage to “the father of the string quartet”, Béla Bartók's String Quartet No. 2, a ne plus ultra of the quartet repertoire, provides a striking contrast with its “imaginary folklore” flavour. It is set off in its turn by Arvo Pärt's evocative, meditative “Fratres”, which exists in versions for very different instrumental combinations, including, as here, for string quartet. The composer – who like violist Liisa Randalu comes from Estonia – has clearly formulated what he sees as the task of music: “For me, the greatest value of music goes beyond its tone colours (...) Music must exist through itself (...) Mystery must be there, whatever the instrument.” The Schumann Quartet prepared this work together with him and recorded it in a church in Viimsi, near Tallinn. And finally, with the title composition, “Landscape I” by Tōru Takemitsu, the Schumanns (who incidentally speak fluent Japanese) forge a connection to their mother's native land – an exotic sound-landscape of noble delicacy that sets wonderful contrasts.

sábado, 21 de octubre de 2017

Jeanette Köhn / Capella de la Torre NEW EYES ON MARTIN LUTHER

In “New Eyes on Martin Luther” the ensembles have focused on the similarities instead of the differences, and have scrupulously avoided attempts at parody or postmodern extravagance.
Everyone is just doing what they’re best at, and with the open tonality of the renaissance music, they have found the perfect meeting place and playground for it. Swedish soprano Jeanette Köhn together with a small ensemble (Johan Norberg guitar, Magnus Lindgren, flute and clarinet, Eva Kruse, bass) fronted by Nils Landgren, recorded their album “New Eyes On Baroque” with Swedish Radio Choir under the baton of Gustaf Sjökvist (2013) released on ACT: “… how well the timbres of soprano saxophone, trombone and guitar suit the original melodies. The effect in Handel's ’Gia nel seno’ and Purcell's ’When I Am Laid in Earth’ is gorgeous” (The Observer, GB). ”A strong direct quality about the music which is distinctly Nordic in character…a superb piece of music making on the part of all involved” (Euan Dixon, Jazzviews).
Jeanette Köhn is one of Sweden's most versatile sopranos. She has been an established concert- and oratorio- singer for a long time with engagements all over the world. Jeanette Köhn was soloist at the Royal Wedding of H.R.H. Crown Princess Victoria with Mr Daniel Westling on the 19th of June in Stockholm. She is also a member of Nils Landgren's highly coveted and successful touring ensemble "Christmas With My Friends”.
Nils Landgren has one of the leading profiles on the European jazz scene, easy recognizable with his red trombone and tasteful tenor voice. With “Funk Unit”, the Swede gives full rein to his grooving side, whereas the highly sentimental Nils Landgren can be seen during Advent with his ensemble “Christmas With My Friends”. When looking for a new challenge he decided to see if it was possible to combine baroque music with Swedish traditional music and jazz.
After the success of the first album “New eyes on Baroque” it was an easy choice to dig even deeper into the history of classical music. In 2016 there was an opportunity to perform a concert with the Capella de la Torre and Knabenchor Hannover conducted by Jörg Breiding at the 500th anniversary of the reformation, an event at NDR's Funkhaus in Hannover.
Capella de la Torre have specialized in historical performance practice with a repertoire of mediaeval and renaissance music. Their instruments are similarly old, from shawms, slide trumpets and sackbut to lute, cow horn and percussion. In 2016 their critically acclaimed album “Water Music – Tales of Nymphs and Sirens” won an ECHO Klassik award in the best recording ensemble/orchestra category.
Jörg Breiding took over as conductor of the Knabenchor Hannover in 2002. Together they have made several recordings and in 2003 released a new CD with Georg Friedrich Handel’s “Messiah” with “Barockorchester L’Arco”. In 2006 the Knabenchor Hannover was awarded “ECHO Klassik” in the category “Choral Work Recording of the Year”
”New Eyes on Martin Luther” is an experiment based on Nils Landgren's relentless conviction that “music is music” and “nothing is impossible”. With those words serving as a motto, the three ensembles just dived into the music without pre-conceptions. The traditional German folksong “Die Gedanken sind frei” is here performed with a percussive flute solo, and Landgren’s smooth voice on top of a funky rhythm. Sometimes he joins Capella de la Torre with a trombone solo and when all musicians play together it sounds as if the music was originally written with this in mind. It moves seamlessly between genres and what you can hear is the sound of really skilled musicians together - and just having fun.

Johanna Rose / Javier Nuñez C.P.E. BACH 3 Sonatas for Viola da Gamba

Composed during his time at the court of Frederick the Great in Berlin, Bach’s sonatas provided the court gambist with ample opportunities to display both virtuosity and sensitivity. The viola da gamba was going out of fashion when the forward-looking C.P.E. Bach composed these works, however, they represent some of the finest and most expressive music in the instrument’s repertoire.
German Viola da Gambist Johanna Rose is a member of Accademia del Piacere and has worked with many ensembles including La grande Chapelle, La Orchesta Barroca de Sevilla. She has performed throughout Europe, South America and Japan. Johanna studied at the Schola Cantorum in Basel with Paolo Pandolfo and later in Vittorio Chielmi in Lugano and Venturo Rico in Seville where she now lives. The recording of the three CPE Bach Viola da Gamba sonatas with Javier Nuñez is her debut solo album. (Rubicon Classics)

viernes, 20 de octubre de 2017

Chloe Mun ROBERT SCHUMANN Piano Sonata No. 1 - Fantasie

The overall winner of the Geneva Competition (unanimously awarded First Prize) and the Busoni Competition (first Asian pianist to win First Prize since it began in 1949), Jiyeong Mun – known in the music world as Chloe Mun – seems to be following in the footsteps of Martha Argerich, who won both awards in 1957, launching a brilliant international career. Thanks to her absolutely genuine and natural approach to the instrument, the young South Korean pianist, who was born in 1995, has earned the appreciation of the public and prestigious international juries alike in recent years. Jörg Demus, president of the 60th International Busoni Competition jury, said about her: “I have rediscovered in her a naturalness of musicality that I thought had disappeared.”
Chloe Mun began studying piano at the age of five. Raised under disadvantaged conditions, since both parents are disabled and receive only a state subsidy, she began studying the instrument at her own initiative. Because she did not have a piano at home in the early years, she practiced either at school or in a neighborhood church for several hours a day. Despite her family's economic hardships she soon decided that she wanted to take her piano career seriously, refusing to be discouraged by anything that stood in the way of bringing her dream to fruition. In fact, she discontinued traditional schooling in order to spend more time at the piano and subsequently graduated on her own – well ahead of her peers. In 2012 she won Germany's Ettlingen International Youth Music Award Competition, selected for her “amazing musical imagination, so rich and full for a seventeen year old.” In 2009 she won First Prize in her category at the Art Dream Competition organized by the Korean Business Council, which allows people in the lower echelons of society access to higher artistic education. It was on that occasion that she met her teacher, Daejin Kim, who has since been her teacher and mentor. She is currently studying at the Korean National University.

Angela Gheorghiu ETERNAMENTE

For Eternamente, her first studio recording in six years, soprano Angela Gheorghiu focuses on Italian composers of the generation that followed Verdi and predominantly on repertoire she has not sung before – including some fascinating rarities. Joining her for duets from Mascagni’s Cavalleria rusticana and Giordano’s Andrea Chénier is another star of today’s opera stage, tenor Joseph Calleja.
Eternamente is described as a collection of verismo – the term used generically for Italian opera of the immediate post-Verdi era. No matter when they were composed, and no matter what their subject matter, all these operas demand great passion and commitment from their performers – and they get it from Angela Gheorghiu. “It is like my soul, it is something different, it is not the voice,” she explained in an interview with Opera magazine. “The voice is also there, it has to be there, and it has had to be prepared – but at that moment of the performance, there is more. The response is never a conscious exaggeration – it is a natural expression. I am never pretending. It is just how I am at that moment.” The character and impact of her voice was summarised thus in Gramophone: “With her smooth and dark-toned soprano, a voice at once powerfully firm and vulnerable, Gheorghiu stands out from an entire generation of talented singers. Her sound is convincingly Italianate in the great tradition; her voice, once heard, is never forgotten.”


Olga Scheps frequently performs recitals in venues such as the Berlin Philharmonie, the Great Hall of the Laeiszhalle Hamburg, Munich’s Prinzregententheater, Alte Oper Frankfurt, Liederhalle Stuttgart, Musikverein Wien, and Cologne’s Philharmonie. Highlights of this seasons include tours with Staatskapelle Weimar and the Russian State Symphony Orchestra.
An exclusive artist of SONY Classical/RCA, Olga Scheps’ debut CD “Chopin” was released in January 2010; she received the ECHO Klassik award as “Newcomer of the Year” in October 2010.
After the success of her Satie album, Olga Scheps is back with a new recording of beautiful music from Tchaikovsky. The Russian-born pianist grew up in Cologne, but still retains a connection to Tchaikovsky’s music. The album mixes his famous first Piano Concerto with solo works such as the popular piano arrangement of the Nutcracker Suite from Mikhail Pletnev, as well as music from “The Seasons”, “Chanson Triste” and more!

Arabella Steinbacher / Rundfunk-Sinfonieorchester Berlin / Vladimir Jurowski BRITTEN & HINDEMITH Violin Concertos

Breathtaking virtuosity flows seamlessly with expansive lyrical passages and fiendish passagework in this commanding performance by Arabella Steinbacher of the restless and technically demanding violin concertos of Britten and Hindemith, with the Rundfunk-Sinfonieorchester Berlin conducted by Vladimir Jurowski. 
Britten’s haunting and mesmerising violin concerto is considered one of the century’s finest. The three contrasting movements are replete with grand theatrical gestures, unabashed lyricism, and show-stopping pyrotechnics, and the work closes with an austere passacaglia of other-wordly beauty and power. Following the work’s enthusiastic reception at its premiere in 1940 at Carnegie Hall, Britten declared “So far, it is without question my best piece”. 
“Britten and Hindemith completed their concertos at about the same time,” writes Steinbacher, “both are absolutely bursting with emotional turmoil, persisting precariousness, and latent despair.” Steinbacher feels a particular affinity with the Hindemith concerto. “Every artist introduces his own life experiences and personal feelings into his interpretations ... with the Hindemith concerto, I have an extremely close, even private connection, as my father knew Hindemith rather well.”
Steinbacher’s previous recordings have received widespread praise. For her playing in the Mendelssohn and Tchaikovsky violin concertos, Gramophone commented “one could hardly wish for a more expressive account of both concertos”; for the Korngold and Bruch Violin Concertos, Gramophone noted Steinbacher’s “easy virtuosity with concern to find the right tone and nuance for every phrase”. And BBC Music Magazine said of her last album, Fantasies, Rhapsodies, Daydreams, that it was “recorded in glowing sound that feels astonishingly lifelike ... this recital is something of a triumph”. (PENTATONE)

Lise de la Salle BACH UNLIMITED

In just a few years, through her international concert appearances and her award-winning Naïve recordings, 29 year-old Lise de la Salle has established a reputation as one of today’s most exciting young artists and as a musician of uncommon sensibility and maturity. Her playing inspired a Washington Post critic to write, “For much of the concert, the audience had to remember to breathe… the exhilaration didn’t let up for a second until her hands came off the keyboard.” 
A native of France, Ms. de la Salle first came to international attention in 2005, at the age of 16, with a Bach/Liszt recording that Gramophone Magazine selected as „Recording of the Month.“ Ms. de la Salle, who records for the Naïve label, was then similarly recognized in 2008 for her recording of the first concertos of Liszt, Prokofiev and Shostakovich – a remarkable feat for someone only 20 years old. Recent recordings offered works of Schumann and the Complete Works of Rachmaninoff for Piano and Orchestra with Fabio Luisi and the Philharmonia Zurich. 
The 2017-2018 season will see the release of a Bach-focused disc on Naïve including the Italian Concerto, the Liszt Fantasy & Fugue on the Theme B.A.C.H. and the Bach/Busoni Chaconne.

“Bach…where everything begins.”
Since the 18th century, a number of composers have paid hommage to Jean-Sebastian Bach, often considered the musical touch-stone: the perfect balance between science, form, expression and emotion.
Preludes and Fugues; transcriptions; or the musical motif made from the letters of his name: these hommages have come in many forms. In the captivating and fascinating programme by Lise de la Salle, we find works by Bach himself, Poulenc, Busoni, Roussel and Liszt. And then, like a fresh breath of air from the heart of our current century, interspersed between the works of the masters we find four new pieces commissioned from the pianist Thomas Enhco. The result is an essential, modern recording, an unprecedented journey into the essence of music, in which Lise de la Salle exhibits all her pianistic talent, as well as a profound intellectual knowledge.
It’s a long-considered recording, subtle yet powerful, that marks the 15th anniversary of the rich collaboration between Naïve and Lise de la Salle.

jueves, 19 de octubre de 2017

Amadeus Quartett FRANZ SCHUBERT String Quartets D. 87 & 112

The Amadeus Quartet developed a reputation as one of the finest string quartets from the second half of the twentieth century. Its tradition and style were Viennese and its repertory was largely Austro-German: Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven, Schubert, and Brahms were at the core, though it performed works by Smetana, Franck, Bruckner, Bartók, Britten, Tippett, and other twentieth century composers. They also regularly performed quintets and sextets (Mozart, Brahms, Schubert, etc.), usually adding cellist William Pleeth and/or violist Cecil Aronowitz. The Amadeus was one of the longest-lived quartets, performing for 40 years without a personnel change, and it was also among the most popular string quartets in England, Germany, the United States, and parts of Europe. It made numerous recordings -- many still available -- for several labels, including DG, Decca, and EMI.

Cuarteto Ruso-Americano JESÚS ECHEVARRÍA Suite Huasteca - Suite Tarasca

Both of these suites by Jesús Echevarría constitute a veritable hommage to the baroque music of New Spain, a spledorous period which gave the 17th Century world talents such as those of Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz and Juan Ruíz de Alarcón in the field of literature, and those of Antonio de Salazar and Manuel de Sumaya in music.
The concerto grossi and trio sonatas of the Neapolitan and Venetian schools descended  upon the shores of the New World via the Kingdom of Naples, which was under Spanish rule during the 17th Century. The influence of these genres is felt in both of the Echevarría suites recorded here; passages evoking an Andalucian origin are also denoted in the mixture of Flamenco resources with polyphony, in which the composer's skill is more than evident, and which he proves himself a worthy successor of Corelli and Vivaldi.
As with Mexican colonial architecture - in which the Baroque's more formal elements coexist with more popular influences (witness the Franciscan missions in the Sierra Gorda) - Jesús Echevarría's music represents a melange of popular and "cultured" music, inspired by masters of the concertante style. Thus is the concept of nationalism reinforced, whereby the recognition and rescue of Novohispanic music becomes an essential part of today's Mexican music.
The cultural heritage of New Spain - as evidenced by a plethora of architectural monuments (both civic and religious) from California to Yucatán and all points between - is no less valuable than Mexico's indigenous past, nor less valuable than its more recent history.
With the particular treatment that Echevarría has given to Mexican folkloric music, the "Mester de Juglaría" and the "Mester de Clerecía" go hand in hand , revealing yet another intriguing aspect of Mexican identity. (Aurelio León Ptacnik)

miércoles, 18 de octubre de 2017

Rachel Kolly d’Alba / Christian Chamorel LYRICAL JOURNEY

The two musicians have known each other since an early age and ever since have performed together intensely on every continent across the planet. For their second album together, the violinist Rachel Kolly d’Alba and the pianist Christian Chamorel have chosen two of the most demanding sonatas from the post-romantic repertoire. 
Linking the Belgian Guillaume Lekeu and the German Richard Strauss on the same disc is as captivating as the dialogue between their two inspired interpreters. Richard Strauss wrote his Sonata op. 18 in 1886 and Guillaume Lekeu followed him 6 years later. Besides this chronological proximity, the two composers were both 22 when they composed these works: so it’s natural to ask if these sonatas have other points in common.


Warner Classics' album French Impressions, with Swiss violinist Rachel Kolly d'Alba, is not, as you might initially expect, a survey of French violin works from the so-called Impressionists. Rather, it is an intriguing look at the many different directions French art music was taking in the early part of the 20th century. From the Third Violin Concerto of Saint-Saëns -- a longtime holdout of the Romantic style, although he accepted and encouraged the advancements of his compatriots -- to the exotic, virtuosic, and flashy Tzigane of Ravel, this program has more to offer listeners than just a grouping of Impressionist works. Likewise, d'Alba offers her listeners a breadth of colors and moods that match nicely with the changing characteristics of the scores. The Saint-Saëns concerto is played with invigorating force and drive, yielding a spontaneous, off-the-cuff feeling. Both the Ysaÿe works as well as the Chausson Poème are played with beautifully shaped, long, flowing lines and sensitive, careful application of dynamics. And finally Tzigane, in which d'Alba gets to show off her ample technique, punctuated articulation, and nimble bow arm. D'Alba produces a voluminous sound on her Vuilaume violin, so much so that her sound is almost too big and too present for the somewhat low recorded level of the accompanying orchestra.

domingo, 15 de octubre de 2017

Jyväskylä Sinfonia / Ville Matvejeff OLLI VIRTAPERKO Romer's Gap

This exciting new release of contemporary music includes three new concertos by Finnish composer Olli Virtaperko (b. 1973). The concertos are combining multiple styles from Baroque to prog jazz as well as different performance practices. Romer’s Gap is a concerto for electrically amplified cello featuring as soloist Perttu Kivilaakso, best known as lead cellist in the multi-million selling rock band Apocalyptica. Ambrosian Delights is a concerto for the knifonium, a vacuum-tube-based analogue synthesiser created by Jonte Knif. Multikolor, written for Joonatan Rautiola, is a single-movement work for baritone sax and small chamber orchestra. All three works are recorded by the Jyväskylä Sinfonia under conductor Ville Matvejeff. 
“The three concertos on this album were written within a relatively short space of time, between 2013 and 2016. They reflect basic themes in my music in different ways, including my relationship to tradition and the problems of combining multiple styles and performance practices”, composer Olli Virtaperko describes in his liner notes, and continues: “What links these three concertos is that the solo parts were customised according to the technical and expressive potential of the soloists who premiered and recorded them. I collaborated closely with the soloist in each case. - - The past four-year period has offered me a fascinating journey into new musical colours and the borderland between acoustic and amplified music – with all the possibilities and challenges that this entails.”
Olli Virtaperko has enjoyed a multi-faceted career. He studied composition, the Baroque cello and early music performance practice at the University of Edinburgh and at the Sibelius Academy, and on the other hand he was also a vocalist in one of Finland’s most popular rock groups, Ultra Bra. Virtaperko’s musical background feeds directly into his work as a composer, which includes heavy-duty solo concertos and orchestral works but also a number of works for Baroque and Renaissance period instruments and for his own early music group, Ensemble Ambrosius. (Ondine Records)

Anne Sofie von Otter / Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra / Hannu Lintu SIBELIUS Tapiola - En Saga - 8 Songs

This new release by the Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra conducted by Hannu Lintu is an all-Sibelius programme featuring internationally acclaimed mezzo-soprano Anne Sofie von Otter. The album includes two major tone poems by Jean Sibelius (1865–1957), Tapiola and En Saga, combined with a set of songs orchestrated by Aulis Sallinen (b. 1935) in 2015. • Sibelius’ tone poem Tapiola, written shortly after the 7th Symphony, may be regarded as the culmination of a period that began with the Fifth Symphony, a period where Sibelius created music that grew organically out of tiny germs into huge processes. It was completed in 1926 and remained Sibelius’s last great orchestral work. In Tapiola, Sibelius appears to equate the primacy of nature with the value of art for its own sake, the unattainable truths of which remain uneroded by time or by the shifting ideals of mankind. Sibelius stated to his private secretary: “My inspiration for Tapiola came wholly from nature, or even more accurately from something inexpressible in words.”
The genesis of En Saga, originally premiered in 1892, is also shrouded in mystery, and even later in life Sibelius was reluctant to go into any detail regarding its content. It is among Sibelius’ earliest orchestral works, and its original title in Swedish, En saga, refers to ancient Nordic tales of heroes and gods. Although En saga is among the most popular works by Sibelius today, the premiere of the work was not a success and Sibelius revised the score in 1902.
On the occasion of the 150th anniversary of Sibelius’s birth in 2015 composer Aulis Sallinen (b. 1935) orchestrated a cycle of songs for mezzosoprano Anne Sophie von Otter. This cycle of eight songs contains several less known songs in a cavalcade juxtaposing human emotions and innermost thoughts with the natural environment and experiences in nature. (Ondine)

sábado, 14 de octubre de 2017

Danish String Quartet LAST LEAF

They are widely recognised as the most exciting young string quartet of the present moment, bringing new insights to contemporary composition and core classical repertoire. In parallel, they have also made surprising and impressive forays into the world of Nordic folk music. Their 2014 album Wood Works (Dacapo Records) was a left-field hit, and audiences around the world have been delighted by concert performances of the music. Now the Danish String Quartet bring their folk project to ECM with a stirring new recording. Last Leaf took its initial inspiration from an unusual Christmas hymn, “Now found is the fairest of roses”, published in 1732 by Danish theologian and poet H.A. Brorson. The hymn is set to a mysterious, dark melody: Brorson had chosen an old Lutheran funeral choral to accompany his Christmas hymn, elegantly showing how life and death are always connected. “From here we embark on a travel through the rich fauna of Nordic folk melodies until returning to Brorson in the end,” say the DSQ. “It is a journey that could have been made in many different ways, but we believe that we returned with some nice souvenirs. In these old melodies, we find immense beauty and depth, and we can't help but sing them through the medium of our string quartet. Brorson found the fairest of roses, we found a bunch of amazing tunes – and we hope you will enjoy what we did to them.” (ECM Records)

Franziska Pietsch / Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin / Cristian Macelaru PROKOFIEV Violin Concertos

The violinist Franziska Pietsch, the “Anne-Sophie Mutter of East Germany”  
(W Dulisch)  

Stupendous stage presence, supreme musicianship and outstanding instrumental prowess; transformation of political repression to a personal musical success: the violinist Franziska Pietsch cuts her own path, away from the standard soloistic career. From promising star of the GDR with a burgeoning solo career to boycott, via a new beginning, chamber music and leading orchestras back to being a soloist, now enriched by a transformed understanding of her own role: with this recording of the Prokofiev Violin Concertos, Franziska Pietsch has come full circle. Thanks to her intensive engagement with chamber music and her experience as a concert master, Franziska Pietsch’s performances as a soloist are not only world­class, but also characterised by an exceptional sense of chamber­like intimacy. 
Born in East Berlin, she received her first violin lessons from her father at the age of five. She made her debut at the Komische Oper Berlin aged eleven, after which she regularly performed as a soloist alongside renowned orchestras of the Eastern Bloc. She entered the Hochschule für Musik Hanns Eisler as a junior student, where she studied with Werner Scholz. As an emerging talent, she enjoyed special state support until her father escaped to the West in 1984. Two years of reprisals by the regime followed, heavily influencing Franziska Pietsch’s understanding of music: deprived of any possibility of playing concerts or taking lessons, her chosen path towards hope – against desperation, refusal, fear and despotism – led inwards. Music became the only language in which she was able to express herself freely and which gave her the necessary strength to withstand external circumstances, continuing to hope for freedom. These were the origins of the intensity and artistic depth which characterise Franziska Pietsch’s playing to the present day.  (Excerpt from the liner Notes)

Lars Vogt / Christian Tetzlaff / Tanja Tetzlaff / Royal Northern Sinfonia BEETHOVEN Triple Concerto - Piano Concerto No. 3

Lars Vogt continues his cycle of Beethovens Piano Concertos with the Royal Northern Sinfonia. On this second volume, the recording also includes Beethovens Triple Concerto where Lars Vogt is joined together with his longtime artistic partners Christian Tetzlaff and Tanja Tetzlaff. Vogts recordings of chamber music with the trio have gathered astonishing reviews and recording awards, including a Grammy nomination for the recording of Brahms Piano Trios (ODE 1271-2D). Beethovens Triple Concerto for Piano, Violin, and Cello in C major, Op. 56 is a work radiant with joy, described by many as a concerto for piano trio and orchestra. The work, completed in 1803, has standed unrivaled in its genre. Beethovens Piano Concerto No. 3 in C minor, Op. 37 is a slightly earlier work and it was premiered together with his Symphony No. 2 in a concert in 1804. It has been noted that the theme in the first movement of the concerto is possibly a quotation from Mozarts Piano Concerto No. 24 written in the same key, and the both works do ressemble each other in formal, rhythmic, and thematic aspects. C minor key is also a key in which Beethoven wrote many of his most important works, including the 5th Symphony, the Pathétique Sonata and Piano Sonata, Op. 111. Lars Vogt was appointed the first ever 'Pianist in Residence' by the Berlin Philharmonic in 2003/04 and enjoys a high profile as a soloist and chamber musician. His debut solo recording on Ondine with Bachs Goldberg Variations (ODE 1273-2) was released in August 2015 and has been a major critical success. The albums tracks have also been streamed online over 6 million times. Lars Vogt started his tenure as Music Director of the Royal Northern Sinfonia in September 2015. In June 2017 Lars Vogt was nominated for Gramophone's Artist of the Year 2017 Award.

miércoles, 11 de octubre de 2017

John Potter JOSQUIN / VICTORIA Secret History

Josquin Desprez (c. 1450/1455-1521) and Tomás Luis de Victoria (c.1548-1611) lived and worked, for the most part, in different countries and perhaps shared little in terms of abstract compositional style. Yet throughout Europe, generations of musicians came to recognize them as kindred spirits, and tablature versions of their masses and motets circulated amongst lutenists. For John Potter, this is “the secret life of the music – in historical terms its real life.” In this characteristically creative project, Potter explores “what happens to music after it is composed.”
As John Potter explains in the liner notes: “We don’t usually think of Josquin being a major influence on Victoria, and for most modern listeners and performers, one is ‘early renaissance’ and the other is ‘late’. But the musicians of four hundred years ago made no such distinction: for them a new choral work by a great master was another source of inspirational material to add to the stream of music from many previous generations which they constantly re-invented. The music of their past was also the music of their present. The original manuscripts, commissioned for purely vocal performance in church, were quickly transformed by lute players into instrumental and vocal pieces that then took on a life of their own, constantly re-worked over many generations. (…) Time and geography meant very little to singers or players who could make the music their own in the moment.”
The project developed out of an idea by Potter and Ariel Abramovich to perform pared-down duet versions of Josquin’s motets, “in keeping with our belief that the pristine ‘early music’ a cappella performance of Franco-Flemish polyphony has misrepresented the way the music was mostly performed. This then evolved into a plan to use two vihuelas and two voices, so we asked Anna Maria Friman and Lee Santana.” Viola da gamba player Hille Perl attended the Josquin sessions in St Gerold, contributing to two pieces. For a session devoted to the music of Victoria, Jacob Heringman, another outstanding lutenist, was drafted in. Heringman also contributes five improvised preludes to the programme. (ECM Records)

martes, 10 de octubre de 2017

Tatjana Ruhland / Radio-Sinfonieorchester Stuttgart des SWR / Alexander Liebreich CARL REINECKE Flute Concertos - Flute Sonatas

Tatjana Ruhland has been described as »the Paganini of the flute.« At the very latest since her debut at New York’s Carnegie Hall she has numbered among the most prominent artists performing on the flute. On the present program she dedicates herself to Carl Reinecke’s chamber and concertante flute compositions, all of which he composed during the second half of his life. Along with the Undine Sonata op. 167 for flute and piano, today his most frequently performed work, the recording features the two concertante works written by him when he was over eighty years old. Here the initial dominance of stylistic elements associated with Mendelssohn has yielded to a tonal language that is both electrifying and highly individual. Reinecke’s music is diatonic in design but so strongly pervaded by semitones and suspensions that it also continues to flow. The »build-up phase« of the concertante last movements is only one of the procedures hardly invented by Reinecke but very much loved by him.

lunes, 9 de octubre de 2017

Anne Akiko Meyers FANTASIA

Last December I travelled to Finland to play Fantasia for Violin and Orchestra, written by the great composer, Einojuhani Rautavaara, which I will be premiering with Michael Stern and the Kansas City Symphony this upcoming season. Sadly with Rautavaara’s recent death, this will be a posthumous world premiere. 
Rautavaara was a legendary Finnish composer who wrote eight symphonies, 14 concertos, and numerous other works for chamber ensembles and choir. He was a protégé of Sibelius, active until age 87, and was best known for writing Symphony No 7, Angel of Light and the beautifully haunting work, Cantus Arcticus: concerto for birds and orchestra, a piece that took my breath away the first time I heard it.
In my early twenties, I regularly went to record and sheet-music stores, looking through items one at a time in the hope of discovering music that would make the hairs on my neck stand up. It was then I first discovered Rautavaara’s music, and for years, dreamed of commissioning him to compose more music for violin. In 2014, I inquired if Rautavaara, with the wonderful support of Boosey & Hawkes, would be interested in writing a fantasy for violin and orchestra. I was beyond elated when he responded that indeed he would and worked quickly. I received a handwritten draft of the score in the fall of last year, and breathlessly ran to my music studio to play through it. 
I think there are similar qualities to the Angel of Light and Cantus Arcticus and Rautavaara’s signature soulful sound permeates throughout the piece, with fluid harmonies and deep moods  -much like flowing large movements of water and majestic scenes from nature. 
In December, I flew to Helsinki to meet Rautavaara and perform the work for him. We met at the apartment he shared with his wife, and the apartment was flooded with a special light that only seems to exist at the edge of the earth, overlooking the sea. He stood with a walker and was incredibly  gentle and kind. Smiling and laughing, we spoke about how Sibelius liked the fact that Rautavaara owned an automobile, as well as his time in New York, studying at the Juilliard School where I also went to school. 
After I played Fantasia, he looked at me and repeatedly said, 'I wrote such beautiful music!' We all laughed and agreed. He apologized for what he felt were his lazy bow markings and was so happy that I took the liberty to change the bowings to punctuate the phrasing the way I thought would bring his poetry out best. I was amazed that he made no changes to any notes or dynamics. Everything was in place just the way he wrote it. 
Fantasia is transcendent and has the feeling of an elegy with a very personal reflective mood. Rautavaara’s music will live on forever and I thank him from the bottom of my heart for writing a masterpiece that makes me cry every time I listen to it. (Anne Akiko Meyers / Gramophone)

domingo, 8 de octubre de 2017

LEE HYLA Riff and Transfiguration

Riff & Transfiguration presents four pieces of truly excellent modern classical music of the strong, dramatic vein. The earliest of Hyla's compositions on this release is "Amnesia Variance," from 1989. It is performed by a small ensemble of strings, clarinet, piano, and hammered dulcimer. Based around the idea of musical memory, or the loss of such, it often leaves out the usual transitions between the active, strongly dramatic sections and the quiet, spacious moments that are led briefly by alternating single instrument solos. The other three compositions -- all composed during the '90s -- are solo piano works, each performed by a different pianist. All of them are extremely accomplished virtuosos, lacking in neither technique nor passion. Judith Gordon and Stephen Drury perform the first two pieces, respectively. It bears repeating that the virtuosic work here is head-turning, not to mention the works' compositional strength. The title piece is a suite for solo piano, and is performed by Mia Chung. The suite's movements range from "very fast, eruptive" (the first movement) to "quietly, con rubato" (the sixth movement), and all are carried off beautifully (


This magnificent programme of three of Bach’s keyboard masterpieces begins with the English Suite no.2 in A minor BWV 807. But why ‘English’? Bach’s first biographer, Johann Nikolaus Forkel, whose source of information was the composer’s two eldest sons, speaks of ‘Six great Suites, consisting of preludes, allemandes, courantes, sarabandes, gigues, etc. They are known by the name of English Suites because the composer wrote them for an Englishman of rank’. Bach’s exchanges with British musicians, ‘of rank’ or otherwise, would seem to have been tenuous in the extreme. Having reflected at length on the question, scholars have come to think that this Englishman of rank might have been the . . . French musician François Dieupart, known as Charles. He lived in London for the greater part of his life, and died there around 1740. The reasoning behind this is that Bach quotes a motif borrowed from Dieupart in the Prélude to the very first suite. He had even copied out in his own hand, among other French and Italian scores, the six Suites de Clavessin of Dieupart, which date from the early years of the century and follow the same scheme as the six English Suites. So could Dieupart have been the ‘Englishman of rank’ to whom Bach was therefore paying tribute, or actually dedicating his work? Or, which seems more plausible, was it the example of Dieupart’s suites that prompted him to write a set of six suites in his turn?... (Excerpt from the liner Notes)

sábado, 7 de octubre de 2017

Pauline Sachse / Andreas Hecker VIOLA GALANTE

„….Original compositions for viola as a solo instrument were quite rare before 1775. There are several reasons for this, and they go back a long way. In ensembles, the viola, as the middle part, usually played a subordinate role. In court and municipal orchestras, the posts of violists were generally poorly filled in terms of both quality and of quantity – also because violists were poorly paid. The first author to highlight the viola’s pivotal role in harmony and voice-leading was Johann Mattheson (1681-1764), who pointed out in 1713 that everything would sound dissonant without the viola. Then, in 1738, Johann Philipp Eisel (1698-1763) described the viola as the “innards of music”. Further statements can be found – for instance, Johann Samuel Petri (1738-1808), in his Manual of Practical Music-Making (1782), exclaimed: “Another mistake! The viola is so mistreated! A beautiful instrument that achieves such great effect is generally put through torture by ignorant apprentices or stupid old men.” 
However, the fact that solo viola parts were generally entrusted to skillful violinists eventually led to the emergence of works written specifically for viola. 
With this recording exclusively featuring world premières (with the exception of Flackton) of original compositions for viola, we are thus able to provide a multi-faceted glimpse of late 18th-century repertoire for viola and keyboard – works that are mostly forgotten today. …..“ (Excerpt from the liner Notes)

Hanna-Elisabeth Müller / Juliane Ruf TRAUMGEKRÖNT

Hanna-Elisabeth Müller studied with Rudolf Piernay with whom she still closely collaborates. The multi award winning soprano later fine-tuned her skills in masterclasses with Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau, Julia Varady, Elly Ameling and Thomas Hampson.
In March 2017 she made her debut at the MET in New York as Marzelline in Jürgen Flimm’s Fidelio. In May, she will make both a role and house debut at the Scala in Milan as Donna Anna in Robert Carson’s production of Don Giovanni. She will return to the MET, as Pamina, in December 2017, followed by her debut at the Opera Zurich as Ilia in Mozart’s Idomeneo.
In 2014, Hanna-Elisabeth Müller achieved her international breakthrough at the Salzburg Opera Festival with her sensational debut as Zdenka alongside Renée Fleming and Thomas Hampson under the baton of Christian Thielemann and, shortly afterwards, was distinguished by German magazine Opernwelt as Young Artist of the Year. She later resumed the role at Semperoper Dresden and at the Munich Opera Festival. In Amsterdam, she made her house and role debut as Sophie in a new production of Strauss’ Der Rosenkavalier in 2015.
From 2012 to 2016, she was a member of the Bavarian State Opera, where she appeared as Pamina, Zerlina, Susanna, Servilia, Gretel, Zdenka, the Infanta Donna Clara in Zemlinsky’s The Dwarf, Sophie in Massenet’s Werther and Marzelline, amongst others. She made her farewells to the ensemble as much-acclaimed Sophie in Strauss’ Rosenkavalier during the Munich Opera Festival, but will remain associated to the house as a guest. In the 2017-2018 season, she will accompany the Bavarian State Orchestra on tours to Japan (Pamina) and the Carnegie Hall New York (Sophie, Rosenkavalier). She will return to Munich as Zdenka in summer 2018.
The versatile singer is a regular guest on the concert stage. Hanna-Elisabeth Müller celebrated the arrival of 2017 in spectacular style, stepping in at the opening concerts of Elbphilharmonie Hamburg with Beethoven’s 9th symphony. In 2016-2017, she also appeared at the Philharmonie de Paris, Philharmonie Essen, Philharmonie Cologne (with WDR Symphony Orchestra), and the Tonhalle in Düsseldorf.
In the 2017-2018, she will perform Brahms’ Ein deutsches Requiem with the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra under Yannick Nézét-Seguin and Berg’s Sieben frühe Lieder with the Bilbao Orkestra under Erik Nielsen.
With her permanent piano partner Juliane Ruf, she regularly appears at major recital venues such as Heidelberger Frühling, Philharmonie Cologne, deSingel Antwerp and at the Festival RheinVokal.
In summer 2017, she will release her first CD recital Traumgekrönt with songs by Strauss, Berg and Schönberg.

Hille Perl / Dorothee Mields HÄNDEL

Hille Perl is the most successful viola da gamba player of our time. Now she has found a fabulous combination of musician friends for her new Handel album: Dorothee Mields, one of the best baroque sopranos, along with lutenist Lee Santana and the redoubtable La Folia Barockorchester. The repertoire chosen includes Handel’s Cantata “Tra le fiamme,” while the rarely recorded “cantata spagnuola” and the cantata “La bianca rosa” are combined with two chaconnes, the famous hornpipe and other smaller pieces. An impressive recording full of musical colour, dynamism, virtuosity and compositional diversity. (Presto Classical)


Daniil Trifonov’s last release was an impressive and exhilarating two-disc programme of Liszt’s Studies (10/16). It was an Editor’s Choice and shortlisted for this year’s Gramophone Awards. The only prize his latest recording will win is an egg from a curate – and a fairly hard-boiled one at that. There are already commercial releases of Trifonov in both Chopin concertos (No 1 on Dux, No 2 on Medici TV) and goodness knows how many on the DG label alone, but of all the dozens of versions of Op 21 I have listened to over the years, this latest is one of the most lacklustre. Both the orchestral and piano expositions seem devoid of purpose. This, however, is not just any orchestral exposition. This is the world premiere of the re-orchestration of the concerto by Mikhail Pletnev, one of several who, over the years, have felt that young master Chopin needs a lesson in how to use the resources available to the best advantage.
Having raised an eyebrow to the clarinet (instead of strings) as the leading opening voice, the limp first movement crawls home at 15'41" (the average is between 13'00" and 13'30") with little acknowledgement of Chopin’s maestoso. This and several other moments make this performance hors de combat as a recommended recording. Listen to the horn note at 12'24" sounding like a bedside alarm clock, or the piano’s two bars of dolcissimo and legatissimo semiquavers in the slow movement (7'09") resembling the drips from a partially turned-off tap. The brillante passage after the cor de signal measures in the finale help redeem proceedings.
It is with this latter spirit that Trifonov approaches the Variations on ‘Là ci darem la mano’, a rare opportunity to hear this played as a solo and quite possibly the finest ever committed to disc. With the orchestral interludes played on the piano, it turns the piece into a kind of ‘Pictures at a Chopin Exhibition’. The way in which Trifonov executes Var 3 and the contrasting touch and dynamics he brings to the repeat is quite masterly. Some Chopin-inspired morceaux follow – inventive programming – but when you hear two of them (the Grieg and Tchaikovsky pieces) played by Jonathan Plowright on his ‘Hommage à Chopin’ disc (Hyperion, 4/10) you wonder who has the stronger affinity with this music.
On disc 2, after a tremendously vivacious account of the Rondo for two pianos with his erstwhile teacher Sergei Babayan, Trifonov is once more in thrall to Pletnev and his version of Chopin. The opening of the re-orchestrated E minor Concerto has all the energy of someone dragging themselves off the sofa after a heavy lunch. While there are passages thereafter where everything threatens to come to a standstill, things eventually pick up, just as they do in the F minor, and normal service is pretty much resumed. But then compare Trifonov’s reverential Romance (11'06", against Argerich’s 9'24" and Kissin’s 8'26"), in which every note is squeezed dry, with Josef Hofmann’s improvisatory ease and imagination (live in 1936). By and large, Pletnev’s scoring is unobtrusive and does not overly distract, though the woodwind ensemble at the opening of the finale sounds like Chopin hijacked by Tchaikovsky. One thing is constant throughout and that is the sublimely wonderful sound Trifonov produces right through the register. When allied to the clarity and evenness of his fast passagework (2'09" to 4'52" in the finale, for instance) it makes one regret even more the exaggerations and excesses heard elsewhere.
The programme ends in the more intimate world of Mompou’s Chopin Variations (the A major Prelude from Op 28), a consummate, unfussy reading, unlike the remarkably self-indulgent central section of the Fantaisie-impromptu (Op 66, not Op 6 as labelled) quoted in Mompou’s Var 10 and which concludes these evocations. (Gramophone)