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Mahler: Symphony No. 4

London Philharmonic Orchestra

Classique - Released July 19, 2019 | London Philharmonic Orchestra

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Ah yes, glissandos galore! How we have missed them. While it sometimes seems as though every contemporary conductor, both young and old, feels obliged to bring their own ideas to Mahler’s work, Vladimir Jurowski, already a highly-distinguished conductor who has often explored the works of the “Czech” composer (Symphony No. 1, Symphony No. 2, Totenfeier), is not afraid of relying on expressive phrases that seem somewhat questionable today. It is strange, because such joy, performed with such style, is hard to resist... And what a Ruhevoll he delivers on this album! Jurowski continues his Mahlerian journey here with Symphony No. 4. He offers a completely original touch, mingling influences from Dvořák and Janáček with those of Bruckner and Strauss. Is this what Mahler would have wanted? In any case, he is modern precisely for that reason, and Jurowski knows it. It all seems like a game to him. Don’t bother looking for the ethereal (found in Abbado’s interpretation) or eternity (Haitink). Instead, the flutes gargle, the clarinets growl, the bassoons blush, the timpani roar, and above all this bohemian commotion, the violins sing with their “pricking” technique. The fluctuating poetics of Bedächtig have rarely sounded so alive, natural or radiant. The scordatura of the second movement conjures up an image of hell, acting as an appetiser for the Burleske from the Ninth. Finally, the horn continues resounding and, even in the middle of hell, lyricism triumphs. In the final lied (Sehr behaglich), Sofia Fomina, with her perfect voice, performs a light dance with a childish spirit that transcends the lyrics “No music on earth is comparable to ours” (Kein’ Musik ist ja nicht auf Erden die unsrer verglichen kann werden). It begs the question: were Seefried and Walter the inspiration for this enchanting interpretation by Jurowski? And when will Symphony No. 6 be released?! © Pierre-Yves Lascar/Qobuz
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Romance – The Piano Music of Clara Schumann

Isata Kanneh-Mason

Classique - Released July 5, 2019 | Decca

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Tchaikovsky: Piano Concerto No.1 - Prokofiev: Piano Concerto No. 2

Haochen Zhang

Classique - Released July 5, 2019 | BIS

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Winner of the 2009 Van Cliburn competition, Haochen Zhang is no stranger to a challenge. On this début concerto recording he proves this once more, boldly jumping in at the deep end as he takes on Sergei Prokofievs Piano Concerto No. 2. The demands posed by Prokofievs concerto are famous, starting with a huge cadenza already in the first movement. This may explain why the concerto was for a long time relatively unknown and, unlike the First and Third Piano Concertos, has only recently taken its rightful place in the repertory. The work was premièred by the composer himself in 1913, shocking the audience with its modernistic sounds and jagged rhythms. But even though Prokofiev was happy to nurture a reputation for badboy modernism, there is also a rich seam of Russian tradition which underlie his music from the beginning to the end of his career. It is therefore fitting that Haochen Zhang has chosen to complete the album with one of the best-loved concertos from that tradition: Tchaikovskys Piano Concerto in B-flat minor. In both works, Zhang is supported by the Lahti Symphony Orchestra under the baton of its principal conductor, Dima Slobodeniouk. © BIS Records
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Chopin, Liszt & Ravel : Works for Piano

Jean Doyen

Piano solo - Released July 5, 2019 | APR

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Tchaikovsky : Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom (Excerpts) - 9 Sacred Pieces, TH 78

Sigvards Kļava

Musique chorale (pour chœur) - Released June 14, 2019 | Ondine

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 5 de Diapason - Gramophone Editor's Choice - 5 Sterne Fono Forum Klassik
Tchaikovsky's sacred music is not often performed, although he was religious (even if in a somewhat blurry way) and was willing to let himself in for a hassle by writing the Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom, Op. 41, in 1878: it was promptly banned by the Russian Orthodox Church, which considered it too modern. Indeed, Tchaikovsky wrote a textbook on church music composition and seems to have contemplated a kind of reform of church music. That went nowhere, but this gorgeous setting of an Orthodox liturgy was performed quite often during its own time in non-liturgical settings. The abridged version here is quite effective. Sample "Dostoyno yest" ("Hymn to the Mother of God") for an idea of what he was thinking: the work keeps the opening chants and much of the traditional sound, but Tchaikovsky introduces Western harmonies with the intent of a quietly lyrical effect. Big Russian choirs have recorded the work, but the lighter sounds of the 24-voice Latvian Radio Choir under Sigvards Klava seem ideal here, probably resembling the Moscow art societies that first performed the music, and more likely in keeping with the spirit in which Tchaikovsky composed it. Also included are nine a cappella sacred pieces that really let the Latvian Radio Choir show what it can do: this group has a precision and grace that are hardly matched anywhere in the world these days. The choir may be better suited to Tchaikovsky than to Rachmaninov, whom it has also recorded, but check them out, whatever it takes. Ondine's sound engineering, at St. John's church in Riga, is absolutely exemplary. An exceptional choral release. © TiVo

Salieri : Tarare

Christophe Rousset

Classique - Released June 7, 2019 | Aparté

Booklet Distinctions 5 de Diapason - Gramophone Editor's Choice - Choc de Classica
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While Mozart was largely overlooked in the French capital, Antonio Salieri took on the reigns of the Académie Royale de Musique (Paris Opera), a fruitful collaboration that was completely broken up by the French Revolution. After the success of his work Les Danaïdes, composed for Paris in 1784, Salieri worked tirelessly with Beaumarchais, spurred on by the success and scandal of his Figaro, on a new project which would become Tarare. Beaumarchais moved himself shamelessly toward stardom, skillfully self-promoting and attending rehearsals so as to assure that the orchestra played pianissimo to emphasize the primacy of his verse during performances. Beaumarchais found that the music was too overwhelming to “embellish the lyrics”.Created one year after Mozart’s The Marriage of Figaro (which was relatively well-received in Vienna before triumphing in Prague), Tarare was an immense success in Paris maintaining the status of the composer’s repertoire despite the political turmoil of the time before disappearing from view around 1826, thereon ceasing to be played. Beaumarchais’ words were immediately adapted into Italian by Lorenzo Da Ponte to be performed and met with equal success in Vienna. Tarare is half lyrical tragedy, half comic opera with a hint of orientalism.After resuscitating Les Danaïdes and Les Horaces, Christophe Rousset finished off his series of recordings dedicated to Salieri’s French operas for the Parisian public. Tarare is very much of its time, that of the Lumières, and used the power of art to challenge despotism in all its forms. Thanks to Christophe Rousset’s excellent delivery and lively direction, this recording enables one to judge the merits of the composition and the chasm that separates an honest and talented musician from a solitary and impassioned one like Mozart. © François Hudry/Qobuz

Howells: Cello Concerto, An English Mass

Guy Johnston

Classique - Released June 7, 2019 | Kings College Cambridge

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This release is likely to get a good deal of publicity due to its status as the final release of Stephen Cleobury as director of the Choir of King's College, Cambridge. However, as president of the Herbert Howells Society, he may not be through with performing the music of this composer just yet. Cleobury deserves kudos for this rather challenging double album; he might easily have compiled a set of favorites of some kind, and enjoyed general acclaim. Instead, he has chosen to go out with a piece of work that makes a deeper connection with tradition. Even though he did not succeed Howells as an organist at Cambridge, he certainly lived and breathed his music, and is as fine an interpreter of it as anyone alive. So, this music is a little Howells survey as well as a Cleobury valedictory, and it succeeds notably on both counts. In addition to choral music, and a set of organ pieces brilliantly realized by Cleobury, there's the lyrical Cello Concerto, performed by Guy Johnston on cello, with the Britten Sinfonia under Christopher Seaman. It's a fine, somehow intimate reading. For Cleobury in his element, sample around on CD 1: the English Mass of 1956, which represented an intentional simplification of Howells' dense, ornate style, is ideally suited to Cleobury and his boys-and-men choristers, but perhaps the highlight of the whole is the limpid Magnificat, a gloriously lyrical, unique response to that text. A fine bookend to Cleobury's Cambridge career. © TiVo
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Strauss : Four Last Songs - Wagner : Arias from Tannhäuser

Lise Davidsen

Lieder (Allemagne) - Released May 31, 2019 | Decca Music Group Ltd.

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Diapason d'or - Gramophone Editor's Choice - Qobuzissime
Born in a small Norwegian village in 1987 (and is thus inevitably compared to her long-time compatriot Kirsten Flagstad), soprano Lise Davidsen was almost built to embody Wagnerian and Straussian heroines. For her first record under the label Decca, with whom she has signed an exclusive contract, she has chosen to present several facets of femininity in the vocal stylings of Elisabeth (Tannhäuser), Ariane (Ariane à Naxos) and… Pauline. Pauline being Richard Strauss’ beloved wife to whom he dedicated many Lieder from his opus 27 - the 1894 cycle offered to his wife as a wedding gift - until the last Vier letzte Lieder in 1948.Under the supple baton of Esa-Pekka Salonen, the Philharmonic Orchestra embraces the brassy voice of the Norwegian soprano with finesse and elegance. As you will see, this record, with its carefully devised programme, oscillates between youth and old age, in the presence of ghosts and death. You may wonder how one can express mortality at just 30 years old with such a powerful timbre, radiant health and a whole life ahead of you. The answer lies in Lise Davidsen’s voice, which upsurges as if it were a promise of immortality, the music of the last Strauss piece returning one last time to its past, to a Europe in ruins.Discovered in 1984, after the death of the singer and dedicatee Maria Jeritza, Malven (“The Mallows") is Richard Strauss’ true “last song”. Lighter in tone than the Vier letzte Lieder to which it might have belonged, it is presented here in an orchestration by Wolfgang Rihm. © François Hudry/Qobuz
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Janáček: Piano Works

Jan Bartoš

Classique - Released May 31, 2019 | Supraphon a.s.

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Before he was completely overwhelmed by love for composing, Leoš Janáček pursued a career as a virtuoso pianist. He was closely familiar with the instrument, which served for him to share his innermost emotions and feelings. Janáček wrote his first opus, Thema con variazioni, at the age of 26, when he was studying at the Leipzig Conservatory. The miniature piece A Recollection is one of his last scores. The composer conceived his three essential piano works, 1.X. 1905, On an Overgrown Path and In the Mist, between 1900 and 1912, which was a difficult phase in his life. They are perhaps the most personal, most intimate pieces he wrote. Janáček was inspired by the sound of the cimbalom, an instrument he often heard when collecting folk songs in Moravia. The genes of the pianist Jan Bartoš evidently bear the traces of the ample musical tradition of his ancestors, including his grandfather, a cimbalom player. The legacy of folk music and the Silesian origin is what Janáček and Bartoš have in common. In his account of Janáček's music, the pianist reveals a profound musicological insight, as well as a fascinating intuition - the inspiring integration of the heart and the brain, owing to which Bartoš's previous Supraphon albums have met with such great acclaim. © Supraphon
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Messes de Barcelone et d'Apt

Ensemble Gilles Binchois

Classique - Released May 31, 2019 | Evidence

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 5 de Diapason - Gramophone Editor's Choice
After 40 years of activities, more than 50 recordings and some 1000 concerts, the Ensemble Gilles Binchois still develop its inquiring generosity. Dominique Vellard and his musicians make all eras become contemporary. Indeed, if the core of its concerns is somewhere between the Middle Ages and the Renaissance, the Ensemble sang everything from Gregorian chant to the religious repertoire of the nineteenth century. Today they guide our ears towards the shores of the Mediterranean, where an intense artistic vitality grew between the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries. After Machaut’s model, the composers attached to the court of Avignon, Barcelona and Cyprus, show ingenuity and imagination: their motets and masses are the ground of rhythmic and melodic finds. To draw a complete portrait the Ensemble Gilles Binchois perform pieces of plain-song and instrumental compositions with two vielles and a medieval mandolin. First milestone of its 40th anniversary, this new record lets the South sun shine thanks to the voices of its singers and the timbre of the ancient strings. © Evidence
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Zwiegespräche (Heinz Holliger & György Kurtag)

Heinz Holliger

Classique - Released May 24, 2019 | ECM New Series

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 5 de Diapason - Gramophone Editor's Choice - 5 Sterne Fono Forum Klassik
"Zwiegespräche" is a meeting of spirits. “We compose the same way,” said György Kurtág to Heinz Holliger on hearing this recording, which emphasises works for oboe by these two major composers. Both of them reference the entire history of music in their pieces, both incorporate dedications and messages to friends and colleagues in the fabric of their work, and both draw upon literature as an inspirational source. Both, moreover, love the miniature as an expressive form; short pieces by Kurtág and Holliger are interwoven. Holliger’s sequence Airs (2015/6) is inspired by seven texts by Swiss poet Philippe Jaccottet, whose voice is heard here. Heinz Holliger turns 80 on May 21, his creativity as composer and his resourcefulness as instrumentalist undimmed. The album concludes with Holliger’s Sonate für Oboe solo, composed in 1956, and still played by its author with absolute authority. © ECM Records
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Haydn - Mozart

Jérôme Hantaï

Classique - Released May 17, 2019 | Mirare

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 5 de Diapason - Gramophone Editor's Choice
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Mozart: Piano Sonatas K280, K281, K310 & K333

Lars Vogt

Classique - Released May 10, 2019 | Ondine

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After a cycle of Beethoven Piano Concertos, solo albums of works by Bach and Schubert in addition to a number of award-winning recordings of piano chamber music on Ondine label, pianist Lars Vogt releases an album of Sonatas by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756–1791). In this album, two baroque-influenced and virtuosic early sonatas are coupled together with a touching A minor Sonata K. 310 – written at the time of the composer’s mother’s death – and a delightful, Haydnesque Sonata K. 333. Mozart wrote Piano Sonatas K. 280 and K. 281 (Nos. 2 & 3) most likely in 1774, at the age of 18. The elements of Baroque influence are clearly evident in the K. 280 Sonata. A prominent feature in the K. 281 Sonata is, besides its virtuosity, the beautiful slow-movement, “Andante amoroso”. The K. 310 Sonata (No. 8) was written four years later, during the summer of 1778, and is written in a minor key: a rarity among Mozart’s Sonatas. The K. 333 was published in 1784, but the time of its composition might have been earlier. This joyful work with virtuosic passages can be described almost as a Piano Concerto for the solo piano. © Ondine
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Tchaikovsky: Symphony No. 6 "Pathétique"

Kirill Petrenko

Symphonies - Released May 10, 2019 | Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra

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Saint-Saëns : Piano Concertos Nos. 3-5

Alexandre Kantorow

Classique - Released May 3, 2019 | BIS

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Diapason d'or de l'année - Gramophone Editor's Choice - Diapason d'or / Arte
There has been a vogue for the music of Saint-Saëns in the late 2010s, which is all to the good, and the piano concertos especially have come in for increased exposure. It turned out that all they needed was some flair and enthusiasm; they're marvelous. This release by pianist Alexandre Kantorow, with the Tapiola Sinfonietta conducted by Jean-Jacques Kantorow (his father), stands out even among strong competition and even considering that it does not include the most popular of the five, the Piano Concerto No. 2 in G minor, Op. 22. Saint-Saëns was paradoxical: he was a classicist who admired Liszt and was in turn admired by him. The delightful effort to reconcile Classical concerto forms with splendid virtuoso effects (the composer was one of the great pianists of his day) can be heard in all these pieces, but sample the second movement of the increasingly popular Piano Concerto No. 5 in F major, Op. 103 ("Egyptian"), where a giant, sweeping Lisztian gesture on the piano fills the role of the first theme, while the second theme is a catchy melody Saint-Saëns supposedly heard from boatmen on the Nile. All the concertos require a pianist of both grace and power, and that is what they receive at the hands of the young Alexandre Kantorow, whose background is as a Lisztian. BIS contributes superior sound from the Tapiola Concert Hall. Highly recommended. © TiVo
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Josef Suk : Asrael Fairy Tale

Jiří Bělohlávek

Musique symphonique - Released April 26, 2019 | Decca Music Group Ltd.

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Mendelssohn : Piano Concerto No.2 - Symphony No.1

Pablo Heras-Casado

Classique - Released April 19, 2019 | harmonia mundi

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Schubert : Sonatas & Impromptus

András Schiff

Piano solo - Released April 12, 2019 | ECM New Series

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 5 de Diapason - Gramophone Editor's Choice - 5 Sterne Fono Forum Klassik
For a truly great interpretation it’s not enough just to play a historical instrument, the playing also has to be up to scratch. This recording released by the world-renowned label ECM showcases a pianist of the highest calibre playing the wonderful Viennese Brodmann piano. András Schiff captures the convergence of thought and sound remarkably well and seldom before have we been given so much insight into Schubert’s innermost thoughts. The softness and the unmistakable legato that the pianist produces on this Viennese instrument give the Sonatas D. 958 and D. 959 an indescribable feeling of nostalgia. But Schubert’s inward revolt was growing and András Schiff leads us steadily to the edge of the abyss. The crystalline sounds of the Scherzo in the Sonata D. 959 are as enchanting as the sound of ancient harpists who were so often depicted by German Romantics. This exploration into sound is also marvellous in the Impromptus D. 899 and the 3 Klavierstücke D. 946 or “Three Piano Pieces”, which have a very expressive counterpoint that differ from the unfathomable depth of the sonatas. This album is a revelation into a whole new world of sound that is unveiled as András Schiff’s fingers touch the keys. Inspiring. © François Hudry/Qobuz
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Colin Currie & Steve Reich : Live at Fondation Louis Vuitton

Colin Currie

Classique - Released April 12, 2019 | Colin Currie Records

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 5 de Diapason - Gramophone Editor's Choice
The third album on Colin Currie’s label celebrates the percussionist’s artistic relationship with the American cultural icon Steve Reich. Programmed and performed at the composer’s request and under his supervision, this album is essential for any Reich fan, capturing a group of truly world-class performers at the peak of their powers. For this recording, Colin conducts and performs with the Colin Currie Group and their long-standing collaborators Synergy Vocals. Steve Reich himself joined Colin on stage to perform Clapping Music. © PIAS
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Buxtehude : Membra Jesu Nostri

Philippe Pierlot

Oratorios sacrés - Released March 22, 2019 | Mirare

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 5 de Diapason - Gramophone Editor's Choice
Composed by Dietrich Buxtehude in 1680 for the church of Lübeck, where he had been working for ten years, Membra Jesu Nostri describes the scars of the Passion of Christ through a cycle of seven cantatas. The work owes its title to a Latin manuscript written by a relative of Saint Bernard. Typical of the pietism of 17th century Lutheran Germany, the piece is a descent into the darkness of suffering and an ode to the promise of consolation. Grounded in rhetoric, Buxtehude’s music influenced a generation of innovative musicians. It would later be an inspiration to Johann Sebastian Bach, who traveled to Lübeck specifically to meet Buxtehude. Membra Jesus Nostri was written for a five-voice ensemble. It requires a set of soloists with three lower voices and two upper parts, as well as a subtle instrumental accompaniment featuring two violins, five viols, and one basso continuo chose by the musicians. Some authors have seen the influence of the “Versailles Motet,” which Buxtehude knew well, in this setup. The influence of Italian music, especially Monteverdi, which he may have known through his interest in Schütz’s music, is also clear. The work is the testimony to Buxtehude’s incredibly expressive power and deserves to be considered as a masterpiece among other spiritual compositions such as Schütz’s Musikalische Exequien, Bach’s Passions and, on an instrumental level, Biber’s Sonates du Rosaire.According to Philippe Pierlot, who can be heard on the record, “Buxtehude is appealing directly to our senses and making us experience the suffering of Christ. We can feel the wounds, the blows, and the heart when it ceases to beat. Thanks to the genius of his music, the composer not only moves his listener to intense emotion, but also enlightens him, giving him access to the deep meaning of the text it sings” © François Hudry/Qobuz