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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
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Duets - Released March 13, 2020 | EnPhases

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 5 étoiles de Classica
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Symphonies - Released March 6, 2020 | Warner Classics

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Diapason d'or
Following directly upon Shostakovich's triumphal and triumphant Symphony No. 7 in C major, Op. 60 ("Leningrad"), the Symphony No. 8 in C minor, Op. 65, was a much more troublesome work. Even Prokofiev criticized it, while the Soviet government attempted to make the best of it by promoting it as a "Stalingrad symphony" in memoriam of the dead in that city. Certainly it is a gloomy work that poses immense challenges to the performers, and probably, for this reason, it is one of the less-often performed of the Shostakovich canon of 15. Conductor Tugan Sokhiev, leading the Orchestre National du Capitole de Toulouse, surmounts these challenges, even if he doesn't have the smooth strings and sharp-edged brass of, say, Bernard Haitink's Concertgebouw Orchestra. He may remind one of the work's originator, Evgeny Mravinsky, who also recorded the symphony and coaxed a half-hour ovation out of the audience. The Adagio of the 28-minute opening movement (slower than average here) is so long and takes up so much of the movement that it may be taken as an expression of how normal procedures no longer applied. Sokhiev brings out the long line and never flags even as the mood continually darkens. The emotionally complex finale is another strong point. The music never quite makes it to triumphant but manages a kind of lyricism, and contains one of Shostakovich's most beautiful melodies. This reading captures the tentative quality of the music, and even if there are greater displays of pure instrumental virtuosity among other recordings of the symphony, there are few that seem to embody so much reflection on what the music is about. © TiVo
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Symphonic Music - Released March 6, 2020 | Decca

A kaleidoscopic collection of orchestral Prokofiev in the 1950s, as recorded by Decca engineers in London, Paris and Copenhagen, featuring both rarities and classics.Once upon a time Peter and the Wolf was the best known of them, with six recordings to its credit in the days before LP. On this Kingsway Hall recording from 1949, the BBC announcer Frank Phillips told the story, with the experienced Prokofiev conductor Nikolai Malko making a rare appearance on Decca. Nowadays the Fifth Symphony is far more frequently heard in concert; this taut and thrilling 1952 account is the work of the Danish conductor Erik Tuxen, a legendary interpreter of Sibelius and his fellow countryman Nielsen. Three years later in June 1955, Sir Adrian Boult made his first stereo recording, of the Love for Three Oranges Suite with the Paris Conservatoire Orchestra. This was originally issued in mono with the Lieutenant Kijé Suite played by the Philharmonia Orchestra because the latter recording was mono only – whereas the present reissue now presents Oranges in its stereo version. Boult’s dry wit points up the sardonic qualities of both suites. Despite its title, Russian Overture from 1936 does not straightforwardly conform to principles of Soviet nationalism in music with its abrupt cuts from comic capers to sweeping Russian melody. Written like so much of Prokofiev’s music with tongue in cheek, it makes an apt companion on disc for his final symphony, the Seventh. These were recorded in November 1957 (and originally issued on the RCA ‘Living Stereo’ label) by the Paris Conservatoire Orchestra conducted by Jean Martinon, who had done much to promote the conductor’s music outside his Russian homeland. The Seventh is a deceptively simple work, imbued with a melancholy and nostalgia somewhat obscured by the ‘fake’ ending contrived to the symphony for it to win official approval (and which is played here). (© Decca Music Group Limited / Universal Music Australia Pty Ltd.)
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Violin Concertos - Released February 28, 2020 | harmonia mundi

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Diapason d'or / Arte - 5 étoiles de Classica
Almost forty years separate Verklärte Nacht from the Violin Concerto – the former still influenced by the idiom of Brahms and Wagner, the latter deriving from the richness of that later period when Schoenberg managed to combine a multiplicity of approaches within his twelve-note system. Between post-Romantic twilight and ‘classical’ rigour, Isabelle Faust and her most faithful partners offer us an extraordinarily lively interpretation of some of the most remarkable pages in twentieth-century musical literature. © harmonia mundi
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Mélodies (French) - Released February 21, 2020 | Aparté

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 5 de Diapason - 5 étoiles de Classica
After the very recent publication by tenor Nicolas Phan and pianist Myra Huang, this is another album dedicated to sisters Lili and Nadia Boulanger that sheds more light on their talent. If Lili Boulanger’s work has been starting to emerge from obscurity in recent years, that of her sister Nadia’s has remained largely unknown, partly her own fault as she stopped writing after the premature passing of her sister, whose talent for writing she thought was superior. Nadia Boulanger instead forged a name for herself through education and the discovery of new works. This new recording produced in 2018 by the Cyrille Dubois and Tristan Raës duo in the enchanting Palazzetto Bru Zane in Venice presents an altogether different programme and is opposite to the previous publication: with an emphasis on Nadia. There are nine of her melodies on offer here, as well as the Heures claires cycle that she wrote for four hands with pianist-composer Raoul Pugno to whom she was very close. The Quatre chants by Lili Boulanger reflect the infinite sadness which permeates the entire catalogue, small though it may be but intensely expressive nonetheless. Two new figures of French music in the wake of Gabriel Fauré that are rising in prominence. © François Hudry/Qobuz
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Keyboard Concertos - Released January 31, 2020 | Odradek Records

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Solo Piano - Released January 17, 2020 | La Dolce Volta

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Solo Piano - Released January 17, 2020 | Melism

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Symphonies - Released January 17, 2020 | CSO Resound

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 5 de Diapason
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Violin Concertos - Released January 3, 2020 | Chandos

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Symphonic Music - Released December 13, 2019 | Naxos

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 5 étoiles de Classica
Pancho Vladigerov is considered by many to be the most influential composer that Bulgaria has yet produced, gaining fame between the World Wars and earning the admiration of Shostakovich. The three works recorded here are a testament to Vladigerov’s mission to bring Bulgarian music to international attention, successfully combining elements of folk music with European classical tradition. The Vardar-Rhapsody has been called ‘the Bulgarian equivalent of Chopin’s Polonaise in A-flat’, and the lively and exotic Seven Symphonic Bulgarian Dances is among the most notable of a series of works that fuse joyous regional melodies with sophisticated Western orchestration. © Naxos
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Classical - Released November 1, 2019 | Warner Classics

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Diapason découverte
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Vocal Music (Secular and Sacred) - Released November 1, 2019 | Chandos

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 5 de Diapason - 5 étoiles de Classica
Bliss composed The Enchantress in 1951, the year of his sixtieth birthday, for Kathleen Ferrier. The text is a free adaptation of the Second Idyll of Theocritus, made by Henry Reed, and well suited to Bliss’s love of classical Greek authors. Meditations on a Theme by John Blow, from 1955, was written for the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra (CBSO), the first in a number of commissions from the John Feeney Trust. Inspired by John Blow’s Coronation Anthems, the work is a set of variations on a Sinfonia from that collection, each variation reflecting the text of a verse from Psalm XXIII. Described as a sacred cantata, Mary of Magdala was Bliss’s second Feeney Trust Commission, composed during 1962 and 1963. For a libretto, Bliss turned to Christopher Hassall, his collaborator on three previous works, including The Beatitudes. Bliss conducted the premiere at the Three Choirs Festival in 1963, and wrote in his programme note: ‘One of the loveliest stories in the New Testament is that in the 20th chapter of St John’s Gospel, telling of how Mary Magdalene, lingering at the sepulchre, was the first to see the risen Christ. She, supposing him to be the gardener.’ The BBC Symphony Orchestra and Chorus give of their best under their former chief conductor Sir Andrew Davis, and the contributions from the soloists, Dame Sarah Connolly and James Platt, are outstanding. © Chandos
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Symphonic Music - Released November 1, 2019 | Chandos

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In this their third volume of orchestral works of Antheil, John Storgårds and the BBC Philharmonic present a collection of scores spanning the whole of Antheil’s compositional life. Written in the early 1920s, the First Symphony is full of Antheil’s enthusiasm for the mechanical, and takes strong leads from the prevailing sound of the jazz era as well as a nostalgic look back to its predecessor, ragtime. Antheil regarded this work as ‘a young symphony with the feeling of summertime in eastern America in it’. For it he drew heavily on his experiences of his home town of Trenton, and the nearby Delaware River. His ballet score Capital of the World dates from the mid-1950s, and was based on a short story by Hemmingway. The Golden Bird was originally conceived as a solo piano piece, and in his translation of the piece from piano to orchestra Antheil demonstrates an ability equal to Ravel’s to think simultaneously in two musical media. The concert overture McKonkey’s Ferry is based on a painting of George Washington and his continental army crossing the Delaware River at Christmas 1776 at McKonkey’s Ferry, near Trenton – an event that proved a turning point in the Revolutionary war. © Chandos
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Symphonies - Released November 1, 2019 | Chandos

Booklet Distinctions Diapason découverte
In his homeland, Avet Terterian is regarded, alongside Aram Khachaturian, as the other giant of twentieth-century Armenian music, and as the founder of his nation’s progressive school of composers. Born in July 1929, Terterian began his musical education at the Baku Music College. Returning to his native country, he studied at the Komitas State Conservatory in Yerevan, latterly becoming a composition pupil of Edvard Mirzoian. His early works follow in the tradition of Khachaturian. From his opera The Ring of Fire (1967) onwards, he developed an advanced musical language embracing atonality, chance elements, and electronics. Another significant influence was the music of Giya Kancheli, and important, too, was the way in which he absorbed aspects of Armenian folk and ancient liturgical music into his personal voice. The backbone of Terterian’s achievement is enshrined in his eight symphonies. In summing them up he wrote: ‘We are all living on the threshold of a terrible apocalyptic judgement. It has always seemed to me that my symphonies are a cry of the soul for salvation and for the forgiveness of sins.’ © Chandos
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Duets - Released November 1, 2019 | Arion

Ten, fifteen years ago, only connoisseurs knew who Mieczysław Weinberg was. The likes of David Fanning, Per Skans, Tommy Persson, Martin Anderson or Robert Reilly (in Surprised by Beauty : A listener's Guide to the Recovery of Modern Music) introduced him passionately to a small but growing audience. Now Weinberg has become the poster-boy for a truly great but neglected composer enjoying a renaissance. Posthumous, alas: Weinberg died, largely forgotten and ignored and suffering from Crohn's disease on January 3, 1996. Pithily described, Weinberg is "like Shostakovich, but without the smile". The quip plays on the grim and dark image of Dmitri Shostakovich's music, which Weinberg could redouble at the push of a button. By those who didn't know how truly mutual Weinberg's relationship with his 13-year older friend and colleague was, the former was dismissed as a lesser clone of the latter. Weinberg contributed to the easy misperception, stating that "...although I have never had lessons from him, I count myself as his pupil, as his flesh and blood". But Weinberg was capable of humor and wit, not just grimness. (© Arion / Jens F. Laurson)
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Sacred Vocal Music - Released November 1, 2019 | Decca

The first recordings of choral masterpieces by Britten, performed by the dedicatees and newly reissued in a unique compilation.At Christmas in 1958, Benjamin Britten went to hear the boys of the Westminster Cathedral Choir sing his Ceremony of Carols conducted by George Malcolm. He was so impressed by their voices that he wanted to write something for them. Malcolm suggested a short Mass for boys’ voices. The result is the Missa Brevis, composed, performed and recorded by Decca on the occasion of Malcolm’s retirement as organist and choirmaster in July 1959. During the previous decade, Malcolm had reformed the choir following a heritage of excellence established by his predecessor, Sir Richard Terry, while expanding the repertory, commissioning modern works from composers such as Britten and moulding the choral sound in the Continental style, learnt from his own Catholic training, which places much more emphasis than the Anglican tradition on chest voice. . He created a natural and throaty Continental sound – the sound boys make in the playground, as he put it – that suited the great Catholic polyphony choir, much emulated by other English choirs in succeeding generations. Eighteen months earlier, Malcolm had also played the organ for the composer’s own recording of Rejoice in the Lamb, which sets portions of a poem by Christopher Smart extolling the praise of God in terms as touching and quirky as the text. In 1961 he took charge of the first performance at the Royal Festival Hall of the Cantata Academica, another celebratory work written to honour the quincentenary of Basle University, and made this recording for L’Oiseau-Lyre soon afterwards. Here too is a geniality and variety of colour and a wealth of melodic invention, in no way compromised by the use of a twelve-note serial theme. Side B of the L’Oiseau-Lyre album reinforced Britten’s remarkable skill as a writer for unaccompanied chorus, with the Hymns to the Virgin and to St Cecilia, smaller-scale works but even more perfect in their way, and then the more recent Choral Dances in Elizabethan style from his Coronation opera Gloriana; Britten shared with Stravinsky an ability to recreate the past in terms of the present without any sense of pastiche or loss of individuality. (© Decca Music Group Limited / Universal Music Australia Pty Ltd.)
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Classical - Released October 25, 2019 | Warner Classics

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Diapason d'or - 4F de Télérama - Le Choix de France Musique - Choc de Classica - 5 Sterne Fono Forum Klassik
Pianist Beatrice Rana made a sensation as a teen with some strikingly charismatic and virtuosic performances. Yet since then, she has taken a deliberate approach to her career, recording only periodically and not trying to be in the limelight at all times. Her approach has borne fruit in this release of works by Ravel and Stravinsky, all of them well-traveled except for the single-piano arrangement of La Valse, which is less often played due to its sheer difficulty. Rana dispatches the final swirls of notes confidently, but listen around elsewhere for the incredible variety of articulation, all of it well-considered and contributing to the greater musical whole, of which this pianist is capable. "Oiseaux tristes" (sample this) is not one of the more often excerpted movements from Ravel's Miroirs, yet Rana's sharp articulation of the distressed bird calls makes the scene come uncannily alive. The two Stravinsky ballet transcriptions have forward motion tempered by shading that suggests the original ballet music in numerous ways. To top it all off, Rana's penetrating insights in the notes, and the fine Teldex Studio sound from Parlophone/Warner Classics, and you have an album that announces Rana's progression from promising young player to one of the most important of major artists. Brava! © TiVo
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Quartets - Released October 25, 2019 | Supraphon a.s.

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 5 de Diapason - 5 étoiles de Classica
There is no shortage of recordings of Shostakovich's string quartets in general, even if the String Quartet No. 2 in A major, Op. 68, is not one of the more common items. That work was written in 1944, amid a series of furious creative responses by Shostakovich to the war, each one of them fascinatingly different. The String Quartet No. 2 is an out-and-out Beethovenian work, a full-on assertion of the value of the Western tradition in the face of rampant inhumanity, and the Czech Republic's Pavel Haas Quartet delivers the message with unflagging energy even in the long, difficult first movement. In the String Quartet No. 7 in F sharp minor, Op. 108, the quartet shifts gears completely: this was an inward-facing work written in memory of the composer's deceased first wife, Nina, and the Pavel Haas Quartet gives it a fine, shady performance. The String Quartet No. 8 in C minor, Op. 110, is also notable in the group's performance. You can find Russian recordings that play these quartets with greater anger, but sample the fourth-movement Largo, where the group lets the music speak for itself and finds that it does so quite eloquently. There's definitely room in the marketplace for the Pavel Haas Quartet's restrained approach, recorded very close up and very effectively by Supraphon engineers at Prague's Domovina Studio. Recommended, and it makes you want to hear more Shostakovich from this group. © TiVo