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Symphonies - Released July 10, 2020 | harmonia mundi

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Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach was much admired by Haydn, Mozart, as well as young Beethoven, who piously treasured his Essay on the True Art of Playing Keyboard Instruments. The two men never met (Beethoven was eighteen when Johann Sebastian’s son passed away), but there are many affinities between them. Both of their works span the transition between two eras of music, and both shared a passion for harmonic exploration and formal studies, combined with a love of the bizarre. It was therefore only right to bring them together on the same album. In his first two symphonies, Beethoven created a world of his own, drawing on the relatively recent history of the musical form that Carl Philipp Emanuel and Joseph Haydn had helped to shape and develop fifty years earlier. Although the works of Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach and Beethoven presented here have little in common, they have a similar air of audacity and novelty about them, traits which have been wonderfully showcased by the musicians of the Akademie für Alte Musik Berlin under the baton of their “konzertmeister”, Bernhard Forck. An exciting example of mirroring works released by Harmonia Mundi as part of its monumental Beethoven edition commemorating the composer’s birth and death dates (2020 and 2027). © François Hudry/Qobuz
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Symphonies - Released June 19, 2020 | Accent

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Composed in 1761, the year Joseph Haydn became the court musician for the Esterházy Family (with whom he stayed for more than thirty years), Symphonies No. 6, 7 and 8 form a unique trilogy in the history of music and are, according to musicologist Marc Vignal, Haydn's first masterpieces in this field and probably even for symphonies in general. Haydn put all his theory and know-how into the compositions, at a time when he was still being tested by the Prince, having to meet overwhelming specifications that would give any musician today nightmares. In these three gems of concise, virtuosic composing, Haydn distributes solos to all the musicians of the orchestra, including the double bass and bassoon, instruments which were not accustomed to this kind of exercise. It is a fiesta of sonic garlands, as found in the ancient baroque "concerto grosso", alternating with dark, deeply moving passages. The subtitles, the only ones Haydn himself gave to his symphonies, "Le Matin", "Le Midi", "Le Soir", were suggested and even commissioned by Prince Paul Anton to describe an allegory of the "Hours of the Day" and, above all, the three stages of life. Recorded in 2019 in the splendid Apollo Hall of Eszterháza Castle in Fertöd, where Haydn wrote many symphonies (though not these ones), this recording by the Orfeo Orchestra of Budapest - not to be confused with the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra - conducted by György Vashegyi obviously has an undeniably authentic feel. © François Hudry/Qobuz
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Symphonies - Released June 5, 2020 | Ondine

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How intriguing! American conductor Robert Treviño has dedicated his debut release with Ondine to Beethoven’s symphony cycle. This is the first time the Finnish label has visited these landmarks of Western symphonic culture with a traditional Scandinavian orchestra, namely the Malmö Symphony Orchestra, which will celebrate its centenary in 2025. With a rather faded palette of sound-colour and a smooth legato, this is undoubtedly a traditional version of the nine symphonies that transports us back to an era of discographies from Herbert von Karajan and Otto Klemperer. But by no means does it belong in the past…Treviño has worked closely with the likes of Leif Segerstam, David Zinman and Michael Tilson Thomas, the two latter conductors having, incidentally, made many interventions of their own in the Beethovenian symphonies as each attempted to produce worthy reinterpretations. Tilson Thomas drastically reduced the number of musicians in his complete cycle for CBS, whilst David Zinman based his work on Jonathan Del Mar’s Barenreiter edition which restored many of the lost accents and phrases that had been altered from one hundred and fifty years of, at times, rather unscrupulous interpretations. Here, Robert Treviño’s interpretations are lyrical and rich, precise as regards polyphony and mindful of the need to find a balance rather than overstress the text. Treviño ensures that each section finds its proper place and doesn’t get lost in the overall composition, creating dialogues with a chamber-like aesthetic. The unusual “concertato” at the beginning of the last movement of Eroica is the prime example of this. © Pierre-Yves Lascar/Qobuz
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Symphonies - Released March 6, 2020 | BR-Klassik

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In 1905, when Josef Suk composed Asrael, his funeral symphony, he was mourning. He had recently lost both his father-in-law, Antonín Dvořák, and, a few months later, his beloved wife, Otilie. Deeply wounded by his loss, Suk turned Asrael into a rich and dense five-movement piece, lasting more than an hour. Of course, Josef Suk was mainly influenced by Dvořák. Nevertheless, he managed to find his own language, partly inspired by Richard Strauss and always playing with the boundaries of tonality. The Asrael Symphony is a long dance of death. It features the angel of death (Azraël in the Hebrew, Muslim and Sikh traditions) conceptualized as a recurring obsession. The piece’s structure is complex but various traditional styles are recognizable, such as a fugue and a scherzo. The music is dark and comforting, at the same time. The double basses, trombones, tubas, and bass drums dominate the low sound of its large symphonic orchestra. Asrael also includes a traditional soloist violinist playing a genuine and seductive part throughout the piece. Josef Suk’s extensive repertoire remains largely obscure outside of his home country but, since 2004 young Czech conductor Jakub Hrůša has been promoting his work with great dedication. In 2004 already, Hrůša performed Asrael for his graduation ceremony at the Rudolfinum in Prague. He was 23. In 2015, he recorded a first version of this masterpiece with the Tokyo Metropolitan Symphony Orchestra. The record was released on independent label Exton. Hrůša knows the music by heart and conducts with care and determination. He often includes the piece in his programs when he is invited to perform with the three orchestras that he regularly leads: the Bamberg Symphonic Orchestra where he stands as artistic director, the Czech Philharmonic and the Philharmonia Orchestra, as guest conductor. This record was made in October 2018 at the Gasteig in Munich, where Hrůša gave two concerts with the excellent Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra. © François Hudry/Qobuz
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Symphonies - Released March 6, 2020 | Decca

The Decca Sound in Hamburg and Paris: a trio of 1950s Tchaikovsky albums, including a pair of symphony recordings previously unpublished on CD. This supple and beautifully proportioned 1952 mono account of the Fifth Symphony marked the debut on disc of the NDR Sinfonieorchester under its founding conductor Hans Schmidt-Isserstedt, the focus of two other recent Eloquence releases (symphonies by Mozart, 484 0353, and Dvořák, 484 0366). ‘Like most of the great European conductors,’ wrote the critic Harold C Schonberg, ‘[Schmidt-Isserstedt] has been brought up in a tradition that insists on selflessness before great music. The aim of conducting, as he sees it, is to bring out the message of the composer and not the skill.’ The other performances on this compilation have a French accent which particularly suits the brilliance of Tchaikovsky’s orchestration. Albert Wolff (1884-1970) had begun recording for Decca in 1951 – Massenet’s Manon with the Opéra Comique – and he continued to make albums of French and Russian music throughout the 50s, with this combustible stereo account of Tchaikovsky’s Fourth being his envoi to the label. Carl Schuricht (1880-1967) was a no less welcome guest to the podium of the Paris Conservatoire Orchestra at that time. For EMI they made an admirably unfussy cycle of Beethoven symphonies, preserving the French Beethoven tradition at its most fleet and balletic, while their Decca recordings displayed the same virtues in the music of Schumann, Wagner and Tchaikovsky. These mono recordings of the Capriccio Italien and the Theme and Variations finale of the Third Orchestral Suite have only previously been available on CD as part of a larger box; their extrovert temperament makes them a fine complement to Wolff in the Fourth Symphony. (© Decca Music Group Limited / Universal Music Australia Pty Ltd.)
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Symphonies - Released February 28, 2020 | deutsche harmonia mundi

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Symphonies - Released February 7, 2020 | LSO Live

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 4F de Télérama - 5 étoiles de Classica
The second album in Sir John Eliot Gardiner's Schumann series with the London Symphony Orchestra travels from glorious fanfare to dream-like passages with the lively 'Spring' and 'Rhenish' symphonies. From the dramatic first trumpet-call which awakens the frozen landscape, the First Symphony is a celebration of spring. It moves through the season and a gruff folk-song Scherzo until finally a jubilant conclusion dances into summer. Desperate, heartfelt and elegant, the "Manfred" Overture opens with an urgent impetus that only increases through the work, displaying the intense strife which lies ahead for its protagonist. Schumann’s Third is one of the composer’s most impressive, painting a euphoric picture of the German Rhineland in broad Beethovenian style and closing with an exhilarating finale. © LSO Live
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Symphonies - Released February 7, 2020 | Decca

Newly remastered and gathered under one roof for the first time, the Decca recordings of Hans Knappertsbusch conducting Bruckner: a legendary combination. For record collectors in the 1950s and 60s, the names of Bruckner and Knappertsbusch (‘Kna’) were practically synonymous. At a time when the composer’s symphonies were routinely compared to Gothic cathedrals, the rough grandeur, steady pulse and towering climaxes of these readings marked out the conductor as an architect of symphonic majesty. Record companies did not have to work hard to cultivate this image, thanks to Knappertsbusch’s craggy visage, imposing presence on the podium and decades of Wagnerian experience at Bayreuth. At a time when Wagner’s Parsifal was still experienced as a primarily sacred music drama, the major works of Bruckner were likewise understood in semi-sacred terms as concert-hall rites, and who better to pierce their mysteries than Parsifal’s pre-eminent interpreter? Knappertsbusch began recording Bruckner for Decca in 1954, with the Third. The Fourth and Fifth quickly followed, also from Vienna, and then the Eighth arrived as an appendix from Munich, first issued on the Westminster label in 1963. By then the conductor’s readings of Romantic repertoire had become less impulsive, even more monumental in concept, but still lightened by a natural feeling for the dance rhythms in Bruckner’s scherzos and Ländler themes. Knappertsbusch persisted in conducting from editions prepared by Bruckner’s pupils, notably the Schalk brothers, with their liberal re-scorings and cuts, to the finales in particular – all outlined in a perceptive booklet essay by Antony Hodgson. In the light of recent scholarship and a more nuanced perspective on Bruckner’s evolving intentions with the composing and revising of his symphonies, these performances gain a certain, compelling authenticity of their own. No Brucknerian can afford to be without them. (© Decca Music Group Limited / Universal Music Australia Pty Ltd.)
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Symphonies - Released January 31, 2020 | Sony Music Labels Inc.

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 5 de Diapason
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Symphonies - Released January 17, 2020 | CSO Resound

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 5 de Diapason
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Symphonies - Released December 6, 2019 | BIS

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Choc de Classica
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Symphonies - Released November 15, 2019 | Aparté

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 5 de Diapason
If we take a closer look at the first symphonic attempts by the young Mozart, we can see that they are motivated by a lot more than mere curiosity, musicologist Henning Bey, the author of the texts that accompany this new recording, points out. He shows how the young boy, without the presence of his bedridden father, managed to set down on paper his first symphony after a few efforts for the clavier and violin. The manuscript still bears the traces of the young composer's experimentations and difficulties with ink and an ill-cut quill. The lesson of this first orchestral outing is that "form develops from content". Mozart came to composition when his father taught him to write minuets. And it was also with dance that he would finish his oeuvre, writing the 5 Contredanses, K. 609, just a few days before his death, for the imperial balls in the Redoute. They are presented here by way of closing the circle, interspersed between each of the five youthful symphonies which make up the substance of this album. The excellent performance from Gottfried von der Goltz and the musicians of the Freiburger Barockorchester whom he directs with his violin, have a mature take on this childish music, written before Mozart the traveller starts taking in everything he sees and hears to elaborate his own unique language. What's troubling about it is the assuredness of the writing from a child of nine years old, who seems already to know exactly where he will go and what he will become. © François Hudry/Qobuz
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Symphonies - Released November 8, 2019 | Aparté

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 5 de Diapason
Beethoven are both composers and were both born in the year 1770. They met in Bonn and even played together for several years in Bonn’s orchestra pit. The Concert de la Loge takes the opportunity of their 250th birthday to pay them a tribute, with this recording that brings together Beethoven’ Septet op.20 (for an atypical string quartet with violin, viola, cello and double bass, plus clarinet, horn and bassoon) and Reicha’s Grande Symphonie de Salon no.1 (for string quintet, oboe, clarinet, cor and bassoon). These hybrid works are situated at crossroads between chamber music and symphony and reflect the taste of experimentation of their composers. The sophisticated instrumental lines of Beethoven’s work meet here the great orchestral charism of Reicha, whom Berlioz hailed as a “true revolutionary” when he was nominated at the head of the Académie des Beaux-Arts’s music section. © Aparté
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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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Symphonies - Released October 25, 2019 | harmonia mundi

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 5 de Diapason
The large collection of antique instruments at Les Siècles' command makes its recordings more than just speculative period exercises, but something approaching musical time travel. Led since 2003 by its founder, François-Xavier Roth, this singular French orchestra has given thrilling historically-informed recreations of the repertoire of the 18th, 19th, and early 20th centuries on vintage instruments that were available to the musicians of the time, crafted by hand, and possessing the unique sonorities and tunings of different regions. For this 2019 album from Harmonia Mundi, Roth and his musicians play Hector Berlioz's hallucinatory Symphonie fantastique and the dramatic overture Les Francs-Juges with marvelous orchestral colors and a striking textural clarity that almost makes their distinctive characteristics seem especially highlighted. However, this recording isn't meant to be a sonic showcase for audiophiles, because the drama, musicality, and visceral excitement of the performances soon override the novelty of instrumentation, and the overall effect of the presentation is a startling reassessment and a refreshing change from the weightier Berlioz of a Thomas Beecham or a Colin Davis. No one could write for brass more blazingly than Berlioz, and his skillful handling of the woodwinds is even more apparent when heard with early Romantic timbres. The ultimate pleasure of this disc, though, is found in the cohesion, agility, and passion of the group's playing, and Roth's confident leadership comes through in his precision and alert attention to details. Highly recommended. © TiVo
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Symphonies - Released October 4, 2019 | LSO Live

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 5 de Diapason
Shostakovich at one point thought his Fourth Symphony was the best thing he’d ever written. Extravagant and challenging in equal measure, it’s a work of epic proportions, requiring over 100 musicians including large percussion and brass sections. Owing to Soviet censure, the work went unperformed for almost 30 years after it was completed, until in 1961 it was revealed as one of the significant milestones of the composer’s output, the work that solidified him as a master symphonist. © LSO Live
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Symphonies - Released August 16, 2019 | Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra

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Symphonies - Released August 16, 2019 | Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra

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Symphonies - Released August 2, 2019 | BR-Klassik

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Diapason d'or
These concert recordings give the lie in stunning style to the reputation for slowness which has dogged the great Otto Klemperer. The image of a partially-paralysed old man directing Beethoven's symphonies at a deathly slow pace is dispelled by these two concert versions of Symphony No.101 "The Clock" by Haydn and Symphony No.4 by Brahms recorded in Munich in 1956 and 1957, with the excellent Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra, one of Germany's best.Here is a perfectly-balanced Haydn, both biting and joyful. The opening Presto launches with sparkling élan, and sets the tone for the whole album. It reminds us how, in his youth, Otto Klemperer had always been a conductor ready to take to the barricades for contemporary music, and to play the great works of the repertoire with a style whose grandeur was only rivalled by its vivacity.His vision of the Fourth Symphony by Brahms alternates between a sense of immensity (Allegro giocoso) and a versatility in terms of tempo that most conductors today wouldn't dare tackle. He cleverly structures the Finale, to underscore the thread linking Brahms and the contrapuntists of musical history, the crowning summit of which writing being a Bach cantata and the use of a passacaglia that holds together the whole magisterial performance. Starting at a relatively moderate tempo, the movement reaches its climax, as Brahms instructs on the score (Più Allegro), in a fateful and liberating whirlwind. © François Hudry/Qobuz
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Symphonies - Released July 26, 2019 | Editions Audiovisuel Beulah