Albums

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Symphonies - Released August 24, 2018 | Deutsche Grammophon (DG)

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The Second Symphony by Leonard Bernstein, The Age of Anxiety, based on a poem of the same name by W. H. Auden, is a work of the composer-conductor's relative youth, dating from 1948-1949, when he was just turning thirty. The symphony is presented as a series of variations, but not variations around an initial theme. No: each variation takes on elements of the previous variation, varies in turn, and so on. It brings to mind an unbroken metamorphosis. As one might imagine, Bernstein mixes classical symphonic elements with jazz, in particular in the solo piano passage – tackled here by Krystian Zimerman, who had the good fortune to perform with Bernstein several times. In its own way, it is a kind of homage to the centenary of the composer's birth: as Zimerman mentions in the liner notes, Bernstein asked him if he wanted to play this symphony with him for his hundredth birthday. And he almost keeps the promise, although the orchestra is the Berlin Philharmonic, under Sir Simon Rattle. © SM/Qobuz
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Symphonic Music - Released April 13, 2018 | harmonia mundi

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Recording Ravel's music on period instruments is the kind of thing that might raise a smile... until you realise just how much the production of instruments has changed in less than a hundred years: it's the return of catgut strings, skin drum heads, the French basson (and not the German system bassoon which is used across all the world's orchestras today), shaper tips, trumpets and trombones of French manufacture. At the head of his orchestra Les Siècles, François-Xavier Roth gives a new, orthodox, historically-informed version of Ma Mère l’oye (complete ballet), the Tombeau de Couperin and Shéhérazade, the long-neglected "ouverture de féérie" [Fairy Overture] which is pure Ravel. This return to the roots is clearly easier and more straightforwardly authentic for this period of music history, because, unlike earlier works, we possess recordings which date back to the 1920s, and even earlier, which can tell us about the style, the colours, the phrasing and the tempo. But it isn't enough just to have all this historical information to hand to make something interesting. What makes this record thrilling is that all the musicians in the Siècles are excellent, and François-Xavier Roth is a talented artist himself, who knows this music inside out. At which point, his complete recording of Stravinsky's Firebird has already struck us with its quality. This rediscovery of Ravel resounds with clarity and finesse; it is a feast of well-defined timbres which cuts against the "beautiful sound" which prevails in orchestras around the world today. © François Hudry/Qobuz
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Symphonic Music - Released February 9, 2018 | Alpha

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One of the big events of 2017 was the opening of the Hamburg Philharmonie. Krzysztof Urbański and the NDR Elbphilharmonie Orchestra gave inaugural concerts there that made a lasting impact on audiences and critics alike. On this occasion, the Polish conductor chose to record one of the works closest to his heart, The Rite of Spring: "Stravinsky invented a new language. For me, The Rite is not a score, but a painting: on each page, I see Matisse, Gauguin, the Fauve painters . . . It’s an explosion of colours, emotions, and surprises too: if you don’t know the piece, you never know what’s going to happen. It’s so suggestive that you don’t need to do all that much with the orchestra, the magic is written into the music. . . . When I conduct The Rite, I don’t think: the music penetrates your backbone, it’s inside you . . . It’s a ballet, and perhaps it’s because I was a dancer when I was younger that I can’t control my body when I hear and conduct this piece. It’s a mystical experience for me!". © Alpha Classics
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Symphonies - Released October 27, 2017 | Sony Classical

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An album, a symphony: you would think that we had returned to the days of the Long Play, and the era of Mravinsky, Doráti, Markevitch, Karajan as well as many other performers and interpreters who have marked the discographic history of the last symphony from Piotr Ilitch Tchaikovsky. The album cover also seems to confirm it: it brings to mind the old RCA covers from the 50s and 60s. Sony Classical, being very supportive of the artistic endeavours of the Greco-Russian master, didn't hesitate to bring out a roughly 45-minute album - they had done better with the Rites of Spring (2015), which was feted in the press. Here, Teodor Currentzis continues his exploration of Tchaikovsky's world, with the Pathétique, putting the accent on the dynamic contrasts, sometimes naturally, sometimes by technical means (adagio lamentoso), and bringing to bear some methods that are normally specific to pop music. He exploits the sombre tone of the work, even above its rhythmic energy, and looks to create atmospheres that one could often call morbid. For record-lovers, this release is a great opportunity to revisit his discography, and for all other ardent Qobuz users it is an opportunity to rediscover this true emblem of the orchestral repertoire. © TG/Qobuz
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Symphonic Music - Released October 27, 2017 | ECM

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Don't be fooled by the album cover: the music recorded here is NOT Maderna, but Frescobaldi, Gabrieli and a few other composers from the same era, only orchestrated by Maderna. Among these late Renaissance and baroque works, as re-written, can be found, as a kind of pillar whose meaning in the album rather defies comprehension, the Sequenza XII by Berio which was initially conceived for a guitar solo and transcribed by the composer for guitar and chamber orchestra under the name of Chemins V. The whole work is about orchestrations, re-editions, translations from other eras. When it comes to Maderna and other old composers, the interest is neither musicological nor historical, as the orchestrations were done in the 20th Century, with 20th-Century orchestral techniques. Maderna's work, dating from the 1950s to the 1970s, bears witness to the widespread interest in masters from the past, with new editions, exhumations, rediscoveries; and Monteverdi was played without overmuch concern for period instruments - even if Hindemith, for example, tried to perform L’Orfeo with what old instruments he was able to gather... Seen from this point of view, the Maderna orchestrations are almost recompositions, although without ever betraying or travestying the manuscript, as Stravinsky did with Pergolese: it sticks, for example, to a "baroque" orchestra from our times, without instruments which did not exist at the time. A truly interesting recording. © SM/Qobuz

Symphonic Music - Released October 6, 2017 | Chandos

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Vaughan Williams’ seventh symphony (1951), Sinfonia Antartica, reuses numerous materials from the stunning piece the composer wrote in 1948 for the film Scott of the Antarctic. Therefore none will be surprised by the extraordinarily visual orchestration and theme, which any listener – even ignoring the title or cinematographic influence – will immediately associate with vast windy flatlands, scintillating icy lights, Antarctica in all its splendour – and dangers, as Scott’s expedition ended tragically, that’s the least one can say. As a complement to the programme, the Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra (where they are used to the great cold!) and Andrew Davis provide us with Vaughan Williams’s Concerto For Two Pianos: initially created in 1933 for a single piano, the work was adapted to two pianos in 1946 in light of the tremendous difficult piano part, and the composer also took the opportunity to change a few sections. Here it is performed by two Canadians, Louis Lortie and Hélène Mercier. And finally you’ll discover the Four Last Songs sung by Roderick Williams, a kind of Vaughanwilliamsian equivalent to Strauss’ own Four Last Songs, even though Vaughan Williams’ four songs were first orchestrated after his death, by Anthony Payne in 2013 – scrupulously following the composer’s orchestral habits. A beautiful musical testament, created during the last few months of his life. © SM/Qobuz
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Symphonies - Released September 29, 2017 | MUNCHNER PHILHARMONIKER GBR

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Gustav Mahler and the Munich Philharmonic share a very special connection. As a composer he sustainably linked the 19th century Austro-German tradition and the modernism of the early 20th century. The world premiere of his Symphony No. 4 took place under his baton on 25 November 1901 in Munich’s Großen Kaim-Saal with the then called Kaim-Orchester, present day Munich Philharmonic. His works have been a substantial part of the Munich Philharmonic’s core repertoire ever since and the orchestra has excelled on many occasions. After the MPHIL release of Mahler’s Symphony No. 2 in September 2016 now follows the release of the Symphony No. 4 with which the orchestra’s history is so closely intertwined. The live concert recording released on this album took place at the Philharmonie im Gasteig in Munich, the orchestra’s home, with Salzburg soprano Genia Kuehmeier. Valery Gergiev has paid the Austro-German repertoire particular attention throughout his career, which ignited a lasting fascination for Gustav Mahler. Over recent decades he has continued to explore the Austro-German repertoire, garnering adulation, especially for his interpretations of Wagner, Strauss, Mahler and Bruckner – music that is at the very heart of the Munich Philharmonic’s repertoire. © Warner Classics

Symphonic Music - Released May 5, 2017 | Oehms Classics

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Symphonic Music - Released May 5, 2017 | Deutsche Grammophon (DG)

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Symphonies - Released April 7, 2017 | CPO

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Symphonic Music - Released March 18, 2016 | audite Musikproduktion

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Symphonies - Released January 20, 2017 | Sony Classical

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Symphonic Music - Released November 4, 2016 | harmonia mundi

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Symphonies - Released September 23, 2016 | Aparté

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Symphonies - Released June 10, 2016 | Dacapo SACD

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Symphonic Music - Released June 3, 2016 | BIS

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Symphonic Music - Released March 17, 2016 | Sony Classical

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Symphonic Music - Released March 4, 2016 | CPO

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Symphonic Music - Released November 6, 2015 | BR-Klassik

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Symphonies - Released October 2, 2015 | Wiener Symphoniker

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