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Violin Concertos - Released November 16, 2018 | Channel Classics Records

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The Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra has played Edward Elgar's Violin Concerto in B minor, Op. 61, many times, but the work gets new dashes of flavor here from Chinese violinist Ning Feng and Mexican conductor Carlos Miguel Prieto. Regardless of your reaction to them, this release from Channel Classics is worth your time for the inclusion of the delightful little Violin Concerto by Gerald Finzi, which did not have its premiere until 1999. Few recordings are available. The blame for the work's suppression lies with Finzi himself, who considered it an imperfect youthful effort. Perhaps the middle movement lacks the concision of the other two (this was his objection), but it's an exceptionally attractive little neoclassical work, and Finzi was 26 when he wrote it, no teenager. Sample the vigorous hornpipe rondo finale. In the Elgar, Feng studiously avoids the work's reputation for sentimentality, and one could wish for a bit more expression to be applied, say, in the lower register at the beginning of the first movement. The slow movement is ethereal, however, with Prieto keeping the energy moving in an even flow and Feng handling the abundant technical challenges with ease. You may favor his interpretation, and with the Finzi you will be getting in almost on the ground floor.
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Violin Concertos - Released September 10, 2018 | Channel Classics Records

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Diapason d'or de l'année - Diapason d'or - Exceptional sound - Hi-Res Audio
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Concertos - Released September 10, 2018 | Channel Classics Records

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Diapason d'or - Choc de Classica - Exceptional sound - Hi-Res Audio
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Classical - Released September 10, 2018 | Channel Classics Records

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Diapason d'or - Gramophone Editor's Choice - Exceptional sound - Hi-Res Audio
Given that the aim of this recording, announced in the booklet notes, is to "[demonstrate] how composers in Germany, Italy, Austria, and England responded to the challenges of writing for the violin senza basso, it's a bit odd to begin the proceedings with a work that's not for violin at all. However, the transcription for solo violin of Bach's underplayed Partita for flute in A minor, BWV 1013, by violinist Rachel Podger herself, is quite idiomatic to the violin, and Podger's performance is lively and attractive. From Bach, Podger looks outward to other solo violin works rather than back to the tradition immediately preceding Bach's unaccompanied sonatas and partitas. The works don't have anything directly to do with one another, but they are united in part by being Podger's favorites, and there are some fascinating offbeat pieces that do indeed seem to have counterparts in Bach's magisterial compendia. Consider the very nice pair of solo sonatas by Giuseppe Tartini. In the Giga movement of the first one, the violin takes its solo and is answered by itself in the role not only of harmonic accompaniment but of orchestral figure. The pieces by Nicola Matteis, who inaugurated the entire migration of Italian musicians to Britain, have a fantastic spirit, while the sonata by Pisendel, which may have preceded or followed Bach's pieces, is at least similar to them in language, although less deep. A selection from Biber's Rosary Sonatas works well as a finale. One minor flaw is that notes describe a sonata by Antonio Montanari that is not actually included; a more serious problem is overresonant church sound inconsistent with the chamber purposes of the music.
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Violin Concertos - Released March 23, 2018 | Channel Classics Records

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Diapason d'or - Gramophone Editor's Choice - Exceptional sound
After the volumes dedicated to Vivaldi's great instrumental cycles, La Stravaganza (2004), La Cetra (2012) and L’Estro armonico (2015), English violinist Rachel Podger continues her work with her Brecon Baroque ensemble to bring out this version of the Four Seasons, which is rounded off with three violin concertos. Brecon Baroque is an offshoot of the festival of the same name that takes place every year at the end of October, in Wales. A magical place at the confluence of two rivers, where the spectacular countryside draws visitors every year in their hundreds. A passionate fan of the music of Vivaldi and Biber, Rachel Podger, who studied in Germany, demonstrates through her performances just how much the Red Priest's music (and her herself, following Biber) can cloak itself in the mysterious and bizarre, to the point that Vivaldi appears here as a distant descendant of the mannerists from the late Renaissance and early Baroque period. This is a particularly interesting and successful take.
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Chamber Music - Released September 27, 2015 | Channel Classics Records

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Choc de Classica - 5 Sterne Fono Forum Klassik
The Rosary Sonatas of Heinrich Ignaz Franz von Biber (1644-1704), a cycle formed of fifteen sonatas for violin with basso continuo and a passacaglia for solo violin, are part of a creative movement that took place during the seventeenth century which forged daring, experimentation, exploration, and a deepening of difficult instrumental technique. This current was made possible by the proliferation of advanced instruments being exported from Italy, and it found fertile ground in central Europe with Schmelzer, amongst others, and a next generation that included Westhoff and, of course, Biber. The Rosary Sonatas require a soloist with a serious capacity for abstraction: indeed, most of them are written according to the principle of the scordat[t]ura, meaning that one or more strings of the violin are tuned differently from the usual sol-la-re-mi. The tuning, then, does not accord with what is usually intended in violin scores, since the detuned strings become transposed. In other words, certain notes sound like what is written, whilst others resonate differently, depending on the particular chord imposed by the composer. The instrumentalist should, therefore, do the same thing that you do when keys on your computer keyboard provide different letters than those signalled, that is, act as if nothing has happened! And, in the piece, in order to change the tone of the instrument, and to permit the creation of some different chords, open strings are used. What Biber offers us here is an infinitely confusing piece of music, manipulating unheard-of sounds and incongruous harmonies – both melodic and harmonic – in an amazing musical journey that puts him quite apart from the rest of the Baroque world. In the late 1670s the work was not fully understood, so much so that the score was almost forgotten, before experiencing a brilliant resurrection in the early twentieth century. This version was recorded by the English violinist Rachel Podger, a true star of the baroque instrument. Here, after her excursions in Mozart, Bach, Vivaldi, and some other important composers of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, which were all heralded by awards and other successes, she reveals the buried treasures of this true masterpiece. Accompanied by some fantastic instrumental friends (including Marcin Świątkiewicz on the keyboards, distinguished by his brilliant Müthel opus which was published by BIS a few months back, the violist Jonathan Manson, who regularly collaborates with the violonist and Trevor Pinnock), Rachel Podger expertly exploits this narrative poetry collection, distilling phrases of great elegance, and deploying a haunting sound. A truly mystical experience! © Qobuz
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Concertos - Released January 1, 2004 | PentaTone

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Hi-Res Audio