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Solo Piano - Released June 25, 2021 | ARTALINNA

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A multi-faceted array of Prokofiev is Cuban pianist Marcos Madrigal's offering for this second solo recording of his for Artalinna/Academy Productions. First, the Visions fugitives Prokofiev composed between 1915 and 1917 when still in his mid-twenties – fleeting, blink-and-you've-missed-it character pieces, many of whose multifarious moods (not least irony and ambiguity) and styles would reappear in his music over the ensuing decades. Then the Piano Sonata No. 5 in C major, Op. 38/135, heard here in its original 1923 version rather than its more often-performed 1953 revision. Then finally the famous Piano Sonata No. 7 in B-flat major, Op. 83, completed in the early 1940s. Marcos Madrigal has a poetry and delicacy to his voicing, and a flexibility to his tempi, that makes for a very attractive set of Visions fugitives. Actually it's Debussy who springs very clearly to mind with his opening Lentamente, and he brings a lovely bell-like, silvery sonority to No. 2 (Andante)'s upper register chimes, helped by the brightly immediate capturing. If there's one element which comes out slightly less strongly, then it would be Prokofiev's more acerbic side. Then, as the Visions fugitives could be seen as the trailer for the Prokofiev to come, so it is with Madrigal's interpretations. Sonata No. 5 opens highly attractively, with gentle radiance and satisfying clarity of touch, and the work as a whole sees him bring out the music's gentle lyricism and whimsy without ever veering off course into the land of self-indulgence. As for Piano Sonata No. 7, while its first movement comes in at a comparatively expansive 9'13, this isn't so much because Madrigal hasn't given us forwards drive where the score suggests it, but more because he's made the most of the more mystical moments where time really can be made to stand still, constructing a narrative that hooks the listener in, and offsetting a Precipitato final movement that perhaps lacks the sharp, inner tension you hear from Pollini. © Charlotte Gardner/Qobuz
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Operettas - Released June 25, 2021 | B Records

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With a cover illustrated by Simon Bailly, which looks like something out of a Blake and Mortimer comic, this production from the Frivolités Parisiennes, under the direction of Dylan Corlay, presents Le Diable à Paris by Marcel Lattès, a pleasant operetta which was written as a cynical, biting satire on Faust. All the characters are idiots and villains, and the devil himself is ridiculed by human perfidy.Unfortunately the devil undoubtedly got the better of the series of shows planned at the Théâtre de l'Athénée in Paris in the wake of the global pandemic. For this recorded version, the long passages of dialogue which didn't make the grade have been cut out and replaced with a narrator summarising the action.Although he is now forgotten, Marcel Lattès was a French composer who died in 1943 after being arrested as a Jew by the police of his own country and languishing for several months in the transit camps of Compiègne and Drancy. Initially released thanks to Sacha Guitry's intervention with the German authorities, he was arrested a second time, deported and gassed upon his arrival in the Auschwitz extermination camp. We owe him a dozen operettas and the music for about thirty films by Pabst, Abel Gance, Maurice Tourneur and Marcel L'Herbier.His melodic and light sound, worthy of the best pages of André Messager, bursts forth in Le Diable à Paris, an operetta first performed in 1927 with Dranem and Raimu and reproduced here in a version full of verve, by a troupe of singers with perfect diction, in a resolutely contemporary and natural style that blows away any cobwebs that might be clinging to the work. © François Hudry/Qobuz
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Solo Piano - Released June 25, 2021 | RUBICON

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The extreme social trauma that followed the Great War of 1914-1918 engulfed Europe. In this context, English composer Frank Bridge is an intriguing figure: his musical language transformed to embrace a radically new harmonic style. Consequently, his popularity waned and it was not until the end of the century that his importance as a leading modernist was appreciated. The programme of this album seeks to illuminate the position of Bridge’s monumental Piano Sonata, by setting it alongside works by the composers who influenced it - Berg and Ravel - and his most famous pupil, Britten. Both the sonata and each movement of Ravel’s Suite were dedicated to those who fell in the war. Whilst the repertoire on this recording conveys strikingly varied tones, the title, "Threnodies" – a song of lamentation – reflects the essence of these memorials. Alexander Soares’ debut album "Notations and Sketches", a recital of works by Boulez, Messiaen and Dutilleux was a Gramophone Magazine editor’s choice : "Although most of these pieces have been collated on various anthologies of French piano music, few of them can match this new release in its balanced conception or consistency of execution…Soares has their measure in abundance, resulting in what could hardly be a more auspicious debut album". To be discovered. © Rubicon Classics
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Classical - Released June 11, 2021 | Kings College Cambridge

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Not yet familiar with Maurice Duruflé's organ music? Listen to the Prélude sur l'Introït de l'Épiphanie, Op. 13 from 1961: in two minutes, the composer gives a full summary of his work. An almost circular melody, wide and generous, unfolds through magical and autumnal registrations. Where are we? This music feels like it is coming at us from out of history. A crumhorn reworking of Couperin? A very chromatic improvisation by Johann Sebastian Bach? No, it is Maurice Duruflé, who blends the melismas and breaths of Gregorian chant into the modern harmony of a Ravel. And this synthesis of genius, which would also produce the Mass cum jubilo Op. 11 (1966), gives this music its timeless charm. The fact that this music is so brief, like the composer's body of work, from which many sketches and completed compositions have been excised, adds to the intensity of the moment. A man of the church and of the Christian tradition, Maurice Duruflé was fiercely demanding of himself, as was Paul Dukas, who taught him composition several decades earlier. Duruflé's work consists of only fourteen pieces, none of which are particularly long!Duruflé's colouristic sense shines through everywhere, and the astonishing Prélude to the wonderful Suite Op. 5 remains one of the most significant examples of this tendency. The terrifying, horror-film opening gradually turns into a psalmodic thriller, ending in a meditation on earthly life as seen from heaven. In a relatively moderate tempo, Thomas Trotter displays a breathtaking feel for gradation in this passage, surely one of the most intense moments in Maurice Duruflé's back catalogue.Throughout this album, Thomas Trotter - an English organist born in 1957, whose imposing Decca discography deserves re-evaluation - displays treasures of musicality and above all of sensitivity. Although his organs do not show off such marvellous timbres as those of the instruments in the Abbey of Saint-Ouen (Rouen) or Saint-Etienne du Mont (Paris), Trotter is truly prodigious, on the one hand in how he works on structure, and on the other hand, and especially, in his sense of narration and breathing, which is so typical of Duruflé. This work is quite simply poignant. © Pierre-Yves Lascar/Qobuz
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Classical - Released April 9, 2021 | Universal Music Australia Pty. Ltd.

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Quartets - Released March 12, 2021 | NoMadMusic

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With this second album on NoMadMusic, the Ellipsos Quartet pays homage to the composer Fernande Decruck, curiously unknown in France, but renowned in the United States. Fernande Decruck wrote many pieces for saxophone and notably for quartet. Her music, very refined and tinged with rhythmic and harmonic audacity, is at the crossroads of the worlds of Ravel, Stravinsky, Gershwin and Debussy. A world of sound to be discovered, thanks to these unpublished pieces, most of which were published for the first time this year by Billaudot. © NoMadMusic

Symphonies - Released February 8, 2021 | Brilliant Classics

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As Rudolf Barshai knew Shostakovich's music on a very intimate level, he rarely puts a foot wrong in the works of his teacher and compatriot. He studied with the composer who became his mentor, and often performed Shostakovich's music with the composer himself at the piano. They became close personal friends. Barshai was asked by Shostakovich to premiere the 14th Symphony, and he came to fame as a master of orchestration when the composer trusted to arrange his quartets into "Chamber symphonies". From the start of this 7th symphony, the tone is set with a tight, taut opening to what will be a smoothly flowing rendition that’s high on feeling which is served by a truly excellent orchestra. There are some stage noises but if there is an audience present they are pretty quiet.Recorded September 1992, Philharmonie, Cologne, by Cologne Radio (Westdeutscher Rundfunk Köln)
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Classical - Released January 15, 2021 | Accentus Music

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While Mieczyslaw Weinberg's instrument was the piano, he wrote extensively and wonderfully for the violin, which makes sense both on artistic and personal levels – the violin was both the perfect vehicle for the elegiac, Jewish folk-inspired melodies that flowed from his pen, and also the instrument played by his father, who along with Weinberg's mother and sister perished in a Nazi concentration camps in Polish soil during the Second World War (Weinberg was spared that fate, having fled to the Soviet Union upon the outbreak of war). What's more, it's arguably Weinberg's love for the violin we now have to thank for his music's recent rediscovery, given that this has been spearheaded by violinist and Kremerata Baltica director Kidon Kremer. So on to Kremer's latest Weinberg-shaped offering, and while the symphonic-proportioned, four-movement Violin Concerto of 1959 is actually a rare Weinberg work which isn't too badly underrepresented in the recording studio – its dedicatee Leonid Kogan recorded it in 1961 with Kirill Kondrashin and the Moscow Philharmonic Orchestra, and there's a handful of more recent efforts too – the fact that this one is from Kremer should make us sit up and take note. The concerto recording is a live one, made in February 2020 with the Gewandhausorchester Leipzig under the baton of Daniele Gatti as part of a series of Leipzig Gewandhaus concerts in honour of Weinberg's birth centenary. Those who know the Kogan reading may initially be surprised at the much steadier speed taken by Kremer and Gatti for the opening Allegro molto, because it's a different world to Kogan and Kondrashin's supercharged gallop. However these readings aren't short on drama – angry orchestra fortissimos are suitably shattering, and Gatti also achieves tense, floating magic in the moments when suddenly Weinberg makes time stand momentarily still. Kremer himself meanwhile is as sweet-toned and lyrical as ever, his violin holding its singing quality through the spikiest of moments, and coming across most arrestingly of all in the keening laments, meaning the slow third movement is every bit as strong as you'd hope. Paired with the Concerto is another 1959 violin work of Weinberg's, the Sonata for Two Violins, for which Kremer has been joined by Kremerata Baltica concertmaster Madara Pētersone, and their combined folk flair, range of colours and technical finesse make this perhaps an even more compelling listen than the Concerto – although please read that as praise for the Sonata rather than as criticism of what Kremer and Gatti have given us! © Charlotte Gardner/Qobuz---With 22 symphonies, 17 string quartets, 9 concertos, and 7 operas, the composer Mieczyslaw Weinberg left behind an extensive oeuvre. Musically, one can hear the composer's close friendship with Dmitri Shostakovich, although Weinberg's music is more lyrical and romantic in nature. Nevertheless, the composer was long forgotten and his music has only been rediscovered in the last ten years. Gidon Kremer has dedicated himself to the rediscovery and cultivation of Weinberg's music. In February 2020, he performed Weinberg's Violin Concerto, Op. 67 with the Gewandhausorchester Leipzig under the musical direction of Daniele Gatti as part of a series of concerts in honor of the composer's 100th birthday at the Leipzig Gewandhaus. Weinberg completed the concerto in 1959, the culmination of one of his most creative and successful phases of the 1950s. The work captivates with its large symphonic structure and its four movements, which are rather atypical for a concerto. Also in 1959, Weinberg composed the Sonata for Two Violins, Op. 69, which Kremer recorded with the Latvian violinist Madara Petersone, concert master of the Kremerata Baltica. © Accentus Music
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Solo Piano - Released December 4, 2020 | Claves Records

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« One hot summer day, I headed due south from London and crossed France and Spain on my road bike. Challenging it was, yet beautiful, emotional and colourful all at once — while pedalling thousands of kilometres, the journey brought me closer to my innermost core. Upon my return home, I wished to express all the intense feelings and sensations I experienced on the road in my own way — the language of music. The metamorphosis was already underway when I became aware of the duende and after digging a bit deeper, I immediately sensed that it was this feeling which touched me on my journey, giving me strength and letting me connect with people and their land more profoundly ». « There is a duality at play between the repetition of recording and the spontaneity and unpredictability of duende — and to summon duende, the process had to be as free and fluid as possible: all sessions built up to a final complete ‘recital’-take to capture the spirit of live creation. This was masterfully recorded by Jean-Martial Golaz — a magician of sound who effortlessly played the timeless acoustics of La Salle de Musique, La Chaux-de-Fonds to create a soundscape from another time. We intuitively found the golden balance to bring out the whispers of burning wind to the cries of flamenco from the old Steinway dating back to 1966 — the very same piano on which the great chilean pianist Claudio Arrau recorded Debussy’s Images in 1979. The soul of the piano was both conjured up and tamed by Corinne Wieland — a consummate piano technician. My gratitude goes out to both of them — this team gave me the wings to take off and be free.» Teo Gheorghiu / © Claves Records
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Full Operas - Released November 25, 2020 | La discothèque idéale de Diapason

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Chamber Music - Released November 13, 2020 | Alkonost Classic

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Violin Concertos - Released November 6, 2020 | BIS

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When there is so much to love about Bohuslav Martinů's two Violin Concertos, it's surprising that we hear so little of them from the top artists of today. So the first thing to say here is simply that it's very good news indeed to have the pair now being championed on BIS by the likes of Frank Peter Zimmermann and acclaimed Martinů interpreter Jakub Hrůša. Then, the further good news is that what they've produced is every bit as good one would have hoped. Concerto No. 2 opens the programme. Written in 1943 for Mischa Elman, and premiered the same year, it was swiftly taken up by other violinists of the period, who were no doubt instantly beguiled by its romance and lyricism, and its by strong Czech folk echoes. Here, the Bamberger Symphoniker's opening orchestral tutti fabulously sets the tone: full, wide and trembling; glossily rich and rhythmically sharp, followed by Zimmermann himself displaying all his usual polish and precision (the silkiest of double-stops), while occasionally spicing his sweetly silvery and singing tone with just the right dose of folk edge. The central Andante doesn't hang around — it's a good 2'20” faster than Isabelle Faust's exquisite reading on harmonia mundi — but the overriding impression is simply one of airy movement, with an infectious sense of carefree pastoral joy from everyone. The third movement is then nothing short of a joyride, and indeed one over which it's often the high-octane orchestra that shines most brightly, for its technical pizazz, and chameleon-like reinventions over the score's constantly shifting shapes, colours and moods. Next comes Concerto No. 1, and if ever a concerto were a wronged Cinderella then it's this one. Penned in 1931 while Martinů was living in Paris, it's again alive with Czech folk inflections, but this time sitting within a neoclassical language no doubt inspired by his fellow Paris-based émigré, Stravinsky. It was also written for the dedicatee of Stravinsky's own Violin Concerto of 1931, Samuel Dushkin. However, unlike with Stravinsky, Dushkin refused to play ball with Martinů — demanding successive revisions, delaying performing it, and refusing other violinists to premiere it in his place, until eventually the work was put to one side. The manuscript was eventually rediscovered in 1968, nine years after Martinů's death, and premiered in 1973 by Josef Suk. It's hard to know for sure whether the violin part's virtuosities were more a result of Dushkin's penchant for display, or of Martinů flexing his own violinistic muscles (it was as a violinist that he first entered the Prague Conservatory). Either way, Zimmermann dispatches its fiendish acrobatics with vim-filled perfection, matched over every hop, skip and jump by the crisply fleet-footed and exuberant orchestra. Frankly, all the above would be enough to sell this recording. However Zimmermann then also gifts us with a compellingly impassioned reading of Bartók's Hungarian folk and Bach-influenced Sonata for Solo Violin of 1944. © Charlotte Gardner/Qobuz
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Symphonic Music - Released October 23, 2020 | LSO Live

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François-Xavier Roth, Principal Guest Conductor of the London Symphony Orchestra, displays his deep affinity with the music of Debussy and Ravel on his latest LSO Live album. A fascination with his Spanish heritage would be a recurring theme in many of Ravel's creations. Mysterious melodies weave delicately throughout his early work Rapsodie espagnole, punctuated by bursts of Spanish-inspired fanfares and Habanera dance rhythms. The voluptuous flute opening of the Prélude à l'après-midi d'un faune immediately conjures a world of luxurious fantasy, weaving through the music's changing scenes with effortless spontaneity. Every instrument adds something unique, and the whole work appears to float free of form and convention. In La mer, Debussy tells the story of the eternal odyssey of the ocean. He sails through storm and calm, wind and rain, in music that rises and falls with the rhythms of the sea. The score is so vivid that you can almost smell sea salt and see the crests of the waves. © LSO Live
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Quartets - Released September 29, 2020 | Donemus Musicians' Voice

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Classical - Released September 11, 2020 | Warner Classics

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Sabine Devieilhe and Alexandre Tharaud bring their customary clarity, finesse and insight to the works of four composers who defined the path of French art song or "mélodie" from the late 19th to the mid-20th century. In an imaginatively balanced recital, the two French luminaries perform Fauré, Debussy, Ravel and Poulenc. Their programme, built around Ravel's Cinq Chansons populaires grecques and Debussy's Verlaine setting Ariettes oubliées, takes up the themes of love, war and death and offers both favourite songs like Fauré's Après un rêve and some rarer treasures. © Erato
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Full Operas - Released September 4, 2020 | Chandos

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‘The burly Aussie tenor is now even more identified with this ill-fated protagonist than Peter Pears, the first Grimes. And everywhere Skelton has sung the part, whether at English National Opera, the Proms, the Edinburgh festival or now on this international tour of a concert staging mounted by the Bergen Philharmonic, the conductor has been Edward Gardner. Theirs is one of the great musical partnerships, and they continue to find compelling new depths in this tragic masterpiece.’ – Richard Morrison (The Times) This studio recording was made following the acclaimed production at Grieghallen, in Bergen, in 2019 (repeated in Oslo and London and reviewed above). Luxuriant playing from the Bergen Philharmonic and a stellar cast under the assured direction of Edward Gardner make this a recording to treasure. © Chandos
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Solo Piano - Released July 24, 2020 | Mode Records

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Symphonic Music - Released July 3, 2020 | Halle Concerts Society

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A somewhat unusual interpretation of Debussy – more lyrical than rhythmic. Here, Sir Mark Elder presents a slightly melancholic version of Images pour orchestre, which stands out from his other well-known interpretations on disc, such as of those of Monteux (Philips), Martinon (EMI) and Tilson Thomas (Deutsche Grammaphon), in an extravaganza of rhythms and colours. The British conductor always pays close attention to the balance of textures, as evidenced by his excellent version of Sibelius’ complete symphonies (Hallé Concerts Society). Here, he conducts an orchestra that is small but still mindful of the combinations of timbres (Gigues). The Hallé Orchestra delights in the frequent harmonic friction of the music – one may even wonder whether Debussy was an elder cousin who led the way for the great English symphonists… Rondes de printemps remains one of the composer’s most advanced works, a miniature study of the later ballet Jeux – something which Sir Mark Elder’s tremendous expertise alludes to in this interpretation. It’s a shame that the recording technique for the albums by the Hallé Orchestra Concerts Society is always a little fuzzy and lacks clarity of timbre and depth as it could potentially sound rather dull to the listener rather than providing a true reflection of Elder’s live performances with this orchestra – which he has been doing since 1999! Nevertheless, this is a perfect and sublimely lascivious interpretation of Prélude à l’après-midi d’un faune, with two arrangements for piano, one of which is from Et la lune descend sur le temple qui fut, and one of which is from Book II of Images for piano, an undisputed masterpiece of the French master. © Pierre-Yves Lascar/Qobuz
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Classical - Released May 23, 2020 | iMD-Pablo F Bello

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Chamber Music - Released April 24, 2020 | RUBICON

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Dutch cellist Lidy Blijdorp has long been in love with the music of Ravel, the magical sound world, the colours and imagery he conjures. Ravel wrote very little for the cello, so Blijdorp made her own arrangements for cello and piano of Lever du jour from Daphnis et Chloé and two movements from Rapsodie espagnole. Award winning pianist Julien Brocal is her partner in these skilful arrangements. The delightful Sonata for Cello and Volin and Kodaly’s great solo Cello Sonata round off a programme that spans music from France, French music with Spanish dance as its inspiration, and then ending the journey in Hungary with the folk infused masterwork that is Kodaly’s Op. 8. © Rubicon Classics