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Symphonic Music - Released March 1, 2011 | Chandos

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Choc de Classica - Exceptional Sound Recording - Hi-Res Audio
Other than perhaps Shostakovich, cellist Mstislav Rostropovich likely had more of an influence on composer Benjamin Britten than any other. Through their friendship and working relationship, Britten eventually composed a sonata with piano, three suites for solo cello, and the Cello Symphony. This last work began as a concerto, but Britten soon realized that the prominent role the orchestra played was far greater than the mere accompaniment usually found in most concertos. The intricate dialogue and turn-taking worked into the score turned out to be one of the composer's only symphonic works that was not originally part of an opera and later lifted as a suite. The most famous and frequently played of these suites is the "Four Sea Interludes" from the opera Peter Grimes. Another suite was taken from the initially ill-received Gloriana rounds out this Chandos disc. The BBC Philharmonic is led by conductor Edward Gardner in three performances of the utmost technical precision and refinement of sound. So much so, however, that despite the near perfection of the playing, the music itself often sounds sterile and aloof. Listeners after a reliable, accurate reading of the score will not be disappointed here, but those after a bit more reckless abandon in the "Storm Interlude" or solemn beauty in Gloriana's "Moritura" may be somewhat of a letdown. For his part, cellist Paul Watkins brings the same level of technical brilliance, but also a good deal more heart, risk-taking, and musical poignancy. © TiVo
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Symphonic Music - Released October 26, 2010 | Chandos

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 5 de Diapason - Gramophone Editor's Choice - Hi-Res Audio
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Mélodies (Northern Europe) - Released January 27, 2017 | Chandos

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Diapason d'or - Choc de Classica - Choc Classica de l'année
Listeners unaware that Jean Sibelius wrote a song cycle called In the Stream of Life, or that he wrote a large group of orchestral songs, are not missing anything: only one song here, the scena-like Koskenlaskijan morslamet, Op. 33, was originally written for voice and orchestra. The rest are arrangements from voice-and-piano works; those collected under the album's title were not a cycle originally, but were selected and compiled by their arranger, Einojuhani Rautavaara, in one of the last projects before his death. The collection of songs has a few oddballs, including Hymn to Thaïs, the Unforgettable, Sibelius' only song in English. The whole thing might seem pretty obscure, but Sibelius orchestrated several songs himself and was involved with the orchestral treatment of several others. Start sampling with the final Kom nu hit, död, Op. 60, No. 1 (like many of these earlier works in Swedish, not Finnish), which Sibelius orchestrated just before his own death in 1957. Beyond its interest as one of the very few works of any kind Sibelius produced during the last 30 years of his life, it's gorgeous, and it's sung to the hilt by baritone Gerald Finley. The songs as a group, with their brooding nature imagery, have more to do with Sibelius' symphonic world than with the lighter idiom of his theater music, and conductor Edward Gardner and the Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra seem to recognize that by including no fewer than three orchestral pieces. These are not indicated in the graphics anywhere, but the performances may well be worth the price of admission for some buyers: the Bergen Philharmonic under Gardner has turned into an exceptional Sibelius instrument, with a sheen in the high strings that matches much better-known groups. The best-known of the three is Pohjola's Daughter, Op. 49, but Sibelius fans will be equally attracted by the rare Romance in C major, Op. 42, and The Oceanides, Op. 73. On balance this is a strong, offbeat choice, of most interest to Sibelius lovers, but able to stand on its own for anyone. © TiVo
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Symphonic Music - Released January 1, 2013 | Chandos

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 5 de Diapason - Gramophone Editor's Choice - Hi-Res Audio
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Vocal Music (Secular and Sacred) - Released May 3, 2011 | Chandos

Booklet Distinctions 5 de Diapason - 4F de Télérama - Choc de Classica
This collection of vocal and orchestral works by Benjamin Britten span his career, from Two Portraits for string orchestra, written when he was 16, to the solo cantata, Phaedra, one of his last completed works. The music varies in style but even the earliest pieces sound mature and demonstrate the composer's early mastery of his craft. Phaedra, from 1975, sets a selection of monologues from Racine's play that outline the dilemma of the queen who falls in love with her husband's son from an earlier marriage. Written largely as expressive recitative, it doesn't showcase Britten at his most inspired, but it makes an effective vehicle for a dramatic singer and Sarah Connolly brings to it a warm, full mezzo-soprano and plenty of passion. A Charm of Lullabies, a setting of five poems, is heard here in lovely newly orchestrated version by Colin Matthews, who had been Britten's assistant and is a formidable composer in his own right. Violist Maxim Rysanov gives a soulful account of Lachrymae: Reflections on a song of Dowland, and of the gently melancholy second movement of the Two Portraits, of which Britten himself was the subject. Even in this early piece it's possible to hear hints of gestures and melodic trends that prefigure his fully mature work. Britten originally wrote his Sinfonietta, his first published composition, for single winds and strings, but soon after re-scored it for string orchestra with an added horn, and it's that version that's heard here. Edward Gardner leads the BBC Symphony Orchestra in graceful performances that highlight the music's lyricism. Chandos' sound is clean, but big and resonant. © TiVo
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Symphonic Music - Released January 19, 2018 | Chandos

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 5 de Diapason - Exceptional Sound Recording
This much awaited recording offers keenly idiomatic performances of the most famous works by Grieg, played by the composer’s own orchestra, the Bergen Philharmonic, and its Chief Conductor, Edward Gardner. The drama and passion of such favourite pieces as the incidental music to Peer Gynt and the Piano Concerto are superbly captured in surround-sound with exemplary Chandos sound quality. Unlike most existing recordings, offering only the orchestral suites, this disc presents numerous extra excerpts from Peer Gynt, which follow the sequence of Henrik Ibsen‘s dramatic poem, including sections for the unique Norwegian "Hardanger Fiddle". Having collaborated with the orchestra on several occasions, Jean-Efflam Bavouzet is the soloist in the Piano Concerto, a piece that stands out as a shining example of a single great thought captured and expressed in music. The power of this conception is evident throughout the concerto in the pianist’s faithful, yet highly romantic interpretation. © Chandos
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Classical - Released September 3, 2013 | Chandos

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 5 de Diapason - Hi-Res Audio
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Classical - Released March 5, 2013 | Chandos

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 5 de Diapason - Hi-Res Audio
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Symphonic Music - Released November 6, 2012 | Chandos

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 5 de Diapason - Hi-Res Audio
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Classical - Released February 7, 2012 | Chandos

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 5 de Diapason - Hi-Res Audio
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Masses, Passions, Requiems - Released October 5, 2018 | Chandos

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 5 de Diapason
With this surround-sound recording of Berlioz’s Requiem, Edward Gardner and the Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra tackle the infinite and the immeasurable. All the grandiose, striking beauty of the Requiem’s large-scale ceremonial is encapsulated by first-class vocal and orchestral forces, fully utilising the spatial possibilities of Grieghallen in Bergen. The matching of space and sonority was one of Berlioz’s lasting obsessions, one experience in St Paul’s Cathedral in London throwing Berlioz into a delirium of emotion from which he took days to recover. His Grande Messe des morts, notorious for its requirement of four brass bands in addition to a large orchestra and chorus, taken here from live concerts, has often been seen as one of the most emotionally powerful works of its kind. Setting a solemn and austere, even ascetic text, the music is not that of an orthodox believer but of a visionary, inspired by the dramatic implications of death and judgement. © Chandos
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Symphonic Music - Released February 4, 2014 | Chandos

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Hi-Res Audio
Felix Mendelssohn did visit the city of Birmingham, England, and conduct there, and the sketch on the cover of this Chandos release is by the composer himself. This album, in fact, was recorded in the Birmingham Town Hall, the building at the center of the sketch. The concept doesn't go farther than that, however; the big Mendelssohn pieces recorded here were not composed in Birmingham. Moreover, the Town Hall is not an especially luxurious sound environment. Is there enough in the performances of these well-worn classics to stand out from the large crowd of other recordings? The results are mixed. Conductor Edward Gardner, often associated with operatic repertory, leads the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra in a fine, atmospheric Hebrides Overture, Op. 26. In the Symphony No. 4 in A major, Op. 90 ("Italian"), and Symphony No. 5, Op. 107 ("Reformation"), he seems intent on giving the music quickness and lightness, stripping it of ponderous Victorian majesty. In parts it works, and the orchestra follows Gardner step for step. But the finale of the "Italian" is a tepid tarantella indeed, and the "Reformation" symphony with its chorale-tune quotations, an interesting document in the history of Mendelssohn's relationship to Lutheranism, simply does not engage with the subject matter. This is the kind of recording that suggests new directions but leaves room for future execution. © TiVo
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Classical - Released November 5, 2013 | Chandos

Booklet Distinctions 5 de Diapason
Edward Gardner's 2013 Chandos album of orchestral works by Béla Bartók is a tour de force, displaying some of the most brilliant music written in the early 20th century. The suite from The Miraculous Mandarin is a true showpiece for orchestra, because its incisive rhythms and plangent tone colors are wonderfully varied, and the searing passagework is highly virtuosic and viscerally exciting. On the richer and somewhat gentler side, the Four Orchestral Pieces is an atmospheric set strongly influenced by Richard Strauss and Claude Debussy, and Bartók's orchestration is lush and vibrantly colorful. The high point of the program is the Music for strings, percussion, and celesta, a mature masterpiece that showcases Bartók's many innovations in extended string techniques and offers some of his most memorable and influential effects. Gardner conducts the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra with vigor and attention to detail, and his musicians respond with extraordinary vitality and deliver a marvelous sonic feast. Recorded in multichannel sound and presented in the hybrid SACD format, this program is an excellent introduction to Bartók's orchestral works, both for newcomers and seasoned audiophiles. © TiVo
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Vocal Music (Secular and Sacred) - Released September 6, 2011 | Chandos

Booklet Distinctions 5 de Diapason
This Chandos album featuring Edward Gardner leading the BBC Symphony Orchestra is an excellent introduction to the works for solo voice and orchestra that made up an important but sometimes overlooked part of Witold Lutoslawski's output. The earliest piece is a ravishing 1937 Lacrimosa for soprano, the only surviving section of a projected requiem, that demonstrates the composer's mastery of intensely expressive post-Romantic lyricism and his gift for vocal writing. Silesian Triptych, also for soprano and orchestra, was written in 1951, when the composer was subject to the demand for "Soviet realism" imposed by the forces occupying Poland. In his setting of these songs, based on simple folk tunes, Lutoslawski transcends stylistic constraints; this is clearly the work of an exceptional creative imagination, a major composer. The luminous end of the second song for instance, is so unexpected yet so utterly apt, so right, that it almost takes one's breath away. Paroles tissées for tenor and orchestra from 1965 is a work of the composer's maturity. His lyrical treatment of the voice combined with his expanded harmonic vocabulary and an even more refined orchestration create a hauntingly surreal and spare but approachable piece. Les espaces du sommeil, written in 1975 for baritone Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau is acknowledged as one of his most distinguished works. One of the Lutoslawski's last compositions, Chantefleurs et Chantefables for soprano and orchestra, is a suite of gentle, picturesque evocations of flowers and animals. Edward Gardner and the BBC Symphony Orchestra deliver assured, atmospheric performances of all the works, and soloists, soprano Lucy Crowe, tenor Toby Spence, and baritone Christopher Purves, are consistently first-rate, all singing with lovely, secure tone, and insightful understanding. Chandos' sound is clean and detailed. © TiVo
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Opera - Released September 4, 2020 | Chandos

Hi-Res Booklet
‘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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Opera - Released September 4, 2020 | Chandos

Hi-Res Booklet
‘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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Classical - Released April 1, 2014 | Chandos

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Symphonic Music - Released February 24, 2015 | Chandos

Hi-Res Booklet
The City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra's Mendelssohn in Birmingham series, with a drawing of the city's Town Hall by Mendelssohn himself on the cover, rests conceptually on the multiple visits Mendelssohn made to the city, not on actual compositional activity there. Nevertheless, the performances have carried a certain flavor of tradition. The Symphony No. 2 in B flat major, Op. 52 ("Hymn of Praise"), is probably the least often performed of Mendelssohn's five. Loosely modeled on Beethoven's Symphony No. 9 in D minor, Op. 125, with its three instrumental movements plus choral finale, it has never seemed fully coherent. But Mendelssohn was arguably the first to realize the magnitude of what Beethoven had done, and the work deserves the more frequent performances it has been receiving. The strength of this one lies in the soloists: sisters Sophie Bevan and Mary Bevan make a fetching pair indeed (sample track 11, "I waited for the Lord"). Other attractions include the English-language text, probably rarer than the German version; clear, distinctive sonics from Chandos; and the presence of a genuinely underrated Mendelssohn orchestral work, Meeresstille und glückliche Fahrt, Op. 27 (Calm Sea and Prosperous Voyage), with its opening image of the ocean's rest nicely realized. For the orchestral and choral sections of the symphony, particularly the collection of chorales and fugues, the results will be a matter of taste; this is decidedly low-energy Mendelssohn. But there are novel aspects of this recording that will recommend it to most listeners. © TiVo
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Symphonies - Released July 2, 2021 | Chandos

Hi-Res Booklet
Following their acclaimed recordings of Schoenberg with Sara Jakubiak and Britten’s Peter Grimes with Stuart Skelton, Edward Gardner and the Bergen Philharmonic turn their attention to the music of Sibelius. Written in 1913 for the diva Aino Ackté, the tone poem Luonnotar draws on text from the Finnish national epic poem, the Kalevala. Its virtuosic demands are ably met here by award-wining soprano Lise Davidsen, who also feature in the Suite from Pelléas and Mélisande, music re-worked by Sibelius from his incidental music written for the first performances of Maeterlinck’s play in Helsinki, in 1905, in Swedish. The tone poem Tapiola, from 1926, is Sibelius’ last great masterpiece and evokes the forests of his native Finland. The programme is completed by a pair of much earlier works, Rakastava and Vårsång (Spring Song). © Chandos
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Symphonies - Released January 19, 2018 | Chandos

Hi-Res Booklet
This much awaited recording offers keenly idiomatic performances of the most famous works by Grieg, played by the composer’s own orchestra, the Bergen Philharmonic, and its Chief Conductor, Edward Gardner. The drama and passion of such favourite pieces as the incidental music to Peer Gynt and the Piano Concerto are superbly captured in surround-sound with exemplary Chandos sound quality. Unlike most existing recordings, offering only the orchestral suites, this disc presents numerous extra excerpts from Peer Gynt, which follow the sequence of Henrik Ibsen‘s dramatic poem, including sections for the unique Norwegian "Hardanger Fiddle". Having collaborated with the orchestra on several occasions, Jean-Efflam Bavouzet is the soloist in the Piano Concerto, a piece that stands out as a shining example of a single great thought captured and expressed in music. The power of this conception is evident throughout the concerto in the pianist’s faithful, yet highly romantic interpretation. © Chandos