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Classical - Released July 2, 2021 | BIS

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Throughout his career, Ilya Gringolts has devoted himself to performing contemporary music as well as the great concert repertoire, while also developing a keen interest in historical performance practice. The focus of his latest recital recording is therefore quite logical: music of our own time and its inspiration: Johann Sebastian Bach. The album title is "Ciaccona" and besides Bach’s iconic composition, Gringolts plays a further two chaconnes – or three if one counts the Ciacconina which opens Heinz Holliger’s brief cycle, composed for Isabelle Faust in 2014. The Spanish composer Roberto Gerhard wrote his Chaconne using his own take on twelve-tone technique. In his introduction to the album, Gringolts describes its twelve movements as including "everything from chorale to ländler … probably the most Viennese music ever written by a Catalan". The programme closes with Kontrapartita by the French composer Brice Pauset, "a kind of through-the-looking-glass Bach partita" to quote Gringolts once again. Pauset composed his work in 2008 – seven movements, each written with a particular movement from Bach’s Partitas for Solo Violin in mind. For this work (and the interwoven movements by Bach) Gringolts has chosen to use a violin with a baroque setup, finding that the instrument seemed to respond to the "historically informed avant-garde" of the writing. © BIS Records
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Classical - Released March 5, 2021 | Deutsche Grammophon (DG)

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No one would guess it from its flowery cover photo. But Hilary Hahn's opus 'Paris' takes us into the heart of three of the most extraordinarily moving moments written for the violin between the end of the 19th century and the early years of this century. Einojuhani Rautavaara's Two Serenades, were written in 2015 and 2016 for the American violinist. They are splendid, and exalt her origins, enhanced by memories of impressionist music and the mark of the inescapable Shostakovich – the latter from the first violin theme. The work is often reminiscent of Barber and Vaughan Williams, as if the Finnish composer had immersed himself in his patron's recordings of Barber's Concerto (Sony Classical) and the Briton's Lark Ascending (Deutsche Grammophon). In the first of the two pieces, Serenade to my Love, Rautavaara best captures the particularities of Hilary Hahn's sonority, more dark than radiant, warm in the mediums, never quite bright. A great connoisseur of his compatriot's music, Mikko Franck conducts these two pages with élan. In his hands the orchestral writing resembles shimmering garlands: there is often a hint of melancholy, a fully Finnish feeling, especially in its more dour aspects.Interiority rather than brilliance is also the hallmark of this performance of Prokofiev's First Concerto (1916-1917). From an equally luminous perspective, Lisa Batiashvili's violin, for example, (with Yannick Nézet-Séguin, Deutsche Grammophon 2018) seemed more radiant, and varied in accentuation, at the risk of sounding slightly lurid at times. In 2009, for his first album, released by EMI Classics, Vilde Frang had proposed an exciting recording. It is magical, with a ghostly spirit and lunar poetry. Here, with the perhaps more unique tones of the Radio France Philharmonic Orchestra, Hilary Hahn offers a rather restrained expression. It is never distant, but rather melancholic! ... It is a pity, however, that this recording is only coming out just now. She has performed this work everywhere, and in a more luminous and superlative style (Lorin Maazel, with the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra). Finally, Chausson's Poem remains more convincing. It is performance as prayer. © Pierre-Yves Lascar/Qobuz
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Classical - Released January 15, 2021 | Accentus Music

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While Mieczyslaw Weinberg's instrument was the piano, he wrote extensively and wonderfully for the violin, which makes sense both on artistic and personal levels – the violin was both the perfect vehicle for the elegiac, Jewish folk-inspired melodies that flowed from his pen, and also the instrument played by his father, who along with Weinberg's mother and sister perished in a Nazi concentration camps in Polish soil during the Second World War (Weinberg was spared that fate, having fled to the Soviet Union upon the outbreak of war). What's more, it's arguably Weinberg's love for the violin we now have to thank for his music's recent rediscovery, given that this has been spearheaded by violinist and Kremerata Baltica director Kidon Kremer. So on to Kremer's latest Weinberg-shaped offering, and while the symphonic-proportioned, four-movement Violin Concerto of 1959 is actually a rare Weinberg work which isn't too badly underrepresented in the recording studio – its dedicatee Leonid Kogan recorded it in 1961 with Kirill Kondrashin and the Moscow Philharmonic Orchestra, and there's a handful of more recent efforts too – the fact that this one is from Kremer should make us sit up and take note. The concerto recording is a live one, made in February 2020 with the Gewandhausorchester Leipzig under the baton of Daniele Gatti as part of a series of Leipzig Gewandhaus concerts in honour of Weinberg's birth centenary. Those who know the Kogan reading may initially be surprised at the much steadier speed taken by Kremer and Gatti for the opening Allegro molto, because it's a different world to Kogan and Kondrashin's supercharged gallop. However these readings aren't short on drama – angry orchestra fortissimos are suitably shattering, and Gatti also achieves tense, floating magic in the moments when suddenly Weinberg makes time stand momentarily still. Kremer himself meanwhile is as sweet-toned and lyrical as ever, his violin holding its singing quality through the spikiest of moments, and coming across most arrestingly of all in the keening laments, meaning the slow third movement is every bit as strong as you'd hope. Paired with the Concerto is another 1959 violin work of Weinberg's, the Sonata for Two Violins, for which Kremer has been joined by Kremerata Baltica concertmaster Madara Pētersone, and their combined folk flair, range of colours and technical finesse make this perhaps an even more compelling listen than the Concerto – although please read that as praise for the Sonata rather than as criticism of what Kremer and Gatti have given us! © Charlotte Gardner/Qobuz---With 22 symphonies, 17 string quartets, 9 concertos, and 7 operas, the composer Mieczyslaw Weinberg left behind an extensive oeuvre. Musically, one can hear the composer's close friendship with Dmitri Shostakovich, although Weinberg's music is more lyrical and romantic in nature. Nevertheless, the composer was long forgotten and his music has only been rediscovered in the last ten years. Gidon Kremer has dedicated himself to the rediscovery and cultivation of Weinberg's music. In February 2020, he performed Weinberg's Violin Concerto, Op. 67 with the Gewandhausorchester Leipzig under the musical direction of Daniele Gatti as part of a series of concerts in honor of the composer's 100th birthday at the Leipzig Gewandhaus. Weinberg completed the concerto in 1959, the culmination of one of his most creative and successful phases of the 1950s. The work captivates with its large symphonic structure and its four movements, which are rather atypical for a concerto. Also in 1959, Weinberg composed the Sonata for Two Violins, Op. 69, which Kremer recorded with the Latvian violinist Madara Petersone, concert master of the Kremerata Baltica. © Accentus Music
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Classical - Released November 6, 2020 | BIS

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Diapason d'or / Arte
When there is so much to love about Bohuslav Martinů's two Violin Concertos, it's surprising that we hear so little of them from the top artists of today. So the first thing to say here is simply that it's very good news indeed to have the pair now being championed on BIS by the likes of Frank Peter Zimmermann and acclaimed Martinů interpreter Jakub Hrůša. Then, the further good news is that what they've produced is every bit as good one would have hoped. Concerto No. 2 opens the programme. Written in 1943 for Mischa Elman, and premiered the same year, it was swiftly taken up by other violinists of the period, who were no doubt instantly beguiled by its romance and lyricism, and its by strong Czech folk echoes. Here, the Bamberger Symphoniker's opening orchestral tutti fabulously sets the tone: full, wide and trembling; glossily rich and rhythmically sharp, followed by Zimmermann himself displaying all his usual polish and precision (the silkiest of double-stops), while occasionally spicing his sweetly silvery and singing tone with just the right dose of folk edge. The central Andante doesn't hang around — it's a good 2'20” faster than Isabelle Faust's exquisite reading on harmonia mundi — but the overriding impression is simply one of airy movement, with an infectious sense of carefree pastoral joy from everyone. The third movement is then nothing short of a joyride, and indeed one over which it's often the high-octane orchestra that shines most brightly, for its technical pizazz, and chameleon-like reinventions over the score's constantly shifting shapes, colours and moods. Next comes Concerto No. 1, and if ever a concerto were a wronged Cinderella then it's this one. Penned in 1931 while Martinů was living in Paris, it's again alive with Czech folk inflections, but this time sitting within a neoclassical language no doubt inspired by his fellow Paris-based émigré, Stravinsky. It was also written for the dedicatee of Stravinsky's own Violin Concerto of 1931, Samuel Dushkin. However, unlike with Stravinsky, Dushkin refused to play ball with Martinů — demanding successive revisions, delaying performing it, and refusing other violinists to premiere it in his place, until eventually the work was put to one side. The manuscript was eventually rediscovered in 1968, nine years after Martinů's death, and premiered in 1973 by Josef Suk. It's hard to know for sure whether the violin part's virtuosities were more a result of Dushkin's penchant for display, or of Martinů flexing his own violinistic muscles (it was as a violinist that he first entered the Prague Conservatory). Either way, Zimmermann dispatches its fiendish acrobatics with vim-filled perfection, matched over every hop, skip and jump by the crisply fleet-footed and exuberant orchestra. Frankly, all the above would be enough to sell this recording. However Zimmermann then also gifts us with a compellingly impassioned reading of Bartók's Hungarian folk and Bach-influenced Sonata for Solo Violin of 1944. © Charlotte Gardner/Qobuz
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Classical - Released October 16, 2020 | Warner Classics

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It's a bit surprising that violinist Midori, whose repertory falls squarely in the mainstream, for the most part, waited until 2020 to record her first reading of the Beethoven Violin Concerto in D major, Op. 61. However, listeners will find it worth the wait. Her reading is well-considered and distinctive. Her notes give an idea of what is to come: she emphasizes the fantasy-like qualities of the score, taking a deliberate approach that avoids sweeping virtuosity. Midori does run counter to type, but her playing is coherent and makes sense. It may be the first movement, relatively consistent in tempo and lacking grand gestures even in the Fritz Kreisler cadenza, that will be most difficult for many listeners to accept, but Midori's method becomes clearer in the slow movement, where her relaxed performance blooms into an intense, even revelatory lyricism. The finale is also very strong, with a wonderfully light and lively treatment of the main theme. In Midori's hands, the two rarely performed Romances for violin and orchestra take on new weight as they show elements in common with the violin concerto. Midori is sensitively accompanied by the Lucerne Festival Strings under Daniel Dodds in a generally modest-sized performance that corresponds well to her aims, and the sound from the KKL Luzern Concert Hall is ideal. © TiVo
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Classical - Released September 4, 2020 | Alpha Classics

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Giovanni Antonini and his ensemble Il Giardino Armonico celebrate the composer who made them famous: Antonio Vivaldi. Their recordings of the Four Seasons and Cecilia Bartoli’s famous first Vivaldi recital left an indelible mark on the discography of the Red-haired Priest! Their musical fireworks display continues with a programme of concertos that is bound to provoke strong reactions, since it is the result of a meeting with a musician who is equally adept at shifting boundaries, the violinist Patricia Kopatchinskaja. Together they have devised a programme which interweaves ultra-virtuosic concertos by Vivaldi ("Il Grosso Mogul" RV 208, "La Tempesta di Mare" RV 253, and RV 157, 191, 550 among others) with, between each concerto, short pieces written by much more recent composers, Luca Francesconi, Simone Movio, Giacinto Scelsi, Aureliano Cattaneo and Giovanni Sollima, and mostly commissioned by Patricia Kopatchinskaja especially for this programme. © Alpha Classics
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Classical - Released June 19, 2020 | Sony Classical

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Classical - Released March 13, 2020 | Alpha Classics

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After several recordings with Anima Eterna and Jos Van Immerseel, the French violinist Chouchane Siranossian tackles a programme of extremely virtuosic concertos that few Baroque violinists dare to face. Thanks to her technical gifts and to partners ideally suited to this repertory – the Venice Baroque Orchestra and its conductor Andrea Marcon, a specialist in the Italian Baroque style – she takes up the challenge with brio. This album is released to coincide with the 250th anniversary of Tartini’s death in 2020. Of special interest is a completely unknown and unpublished Concerto in G major, the manuscript of which was recently found by the musicologist Margherita Canale. © Alpha Classics
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Classical - Released March 13, 2020 | EnPhases

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Symphonic Music - Released March 6, 2020 | Decca

Erich Kleiber’s major Tchaikovsky recordings, newly remastered and coupled with Ruggero Ricci’s debut recording for Decca. Only a truncated version of the Capriccio Italien from 1933 predates these accounts of the Fourth and Sixth symphonies in the Kleiber discography. They were made in Paris – Decca apparently esteemed the playing of the Conservatoire Orchestra in Russian repertoire – and are precious testaments to the particular attack and vigour he inspired from orchestras in this music. Despite being recorded under 78rpm conditions, in four- or five-minute sections, the Fourth Symphony is marked by a palpable symphonic rigour as well as the edgy brass which lends such intensity to Decca’s Paris recordings of Russian music. This Fourth dates from 1949; four years later Kleiber returned to Paris for the ‘Pathétique’, recorded on tape, with an especially compelling sense of line drawn through the symphony’s tragic finale. After his early death in January 1956, at the age of 65, his friend Jacques Barzun recalled watching Kleiber rehearse and perform in Paris, presumably for these recordings: ‘He did not seem to conduct, that is, to earn his fee on the podium. All his histrionic ability went into rehearsal: there he gestured, danced, chattered, pantomimed his way into the subconscious of his players until the right musical utterance came out of their fingers and lungs.’ In January 1950, when Ruggiero Ricci first recorded the Tchaikovsky Violin Concerto, he was 31 years old and had been performing in public for over 20 years. The sessions marked his debut for Decca, at least in concertos, and he was most sympathetically partnered by Sir Malcolm Sargent – the preferred conductor of Jascha Heifetz on his appearances in London. Two further Decca recordings followed, in 1961 and 1974, both impressive in their ways and technologically advanced but hardly superseding the folksy bravura and legerdemain of his initial efforts. (© Decca / Universal Music Australia Pty Ltd.)
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Classical - 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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Classical - Released February 21, 2020 | naïve classique

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Diapason d'or - Le Choix de France Musique - 5 étoiles de Classica
This is the first time a French violinist has joined the line of prestigious solo virtuosi recording for the Vivaldi Edition. Violinist Julien Chauvin and his Concert de la Loge – founded in 2015, and modelled on one of the most celebrated orchestras of the late 18th century – here reveal all the discreet charms of an inventive concertante style rich in detail, featuring Vivaldi’s favoured instrument. This particular set of concerti highlight the consistently close links between Vivaldi’s instrumental and operatic works. ‘Transcending the difference of genre, the Venetian composer’s unitary conception of language and style allowed him to pass with the deft skill of a juggler from one domain to the other, making them happily converge on common ground,’ writes Cesare Fertonani. In these six concertos we can hear superbly phrased cantabile, with all the players seeming to breathe as one: and above all a sense of dramatic and narrative tension in Vivaldi’s finest vein. Musical quotations, borrowings, reworkings and affinities here bring his instrumental music and operas closer together – two genres of equal virtuosity, on which he lavished his genius in equal measure, and in every expressive register. © naive classique
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Classical - Released February 14, 2020 | Arcana

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After calling it ‘a wonderful album in all respects’, the magazine Diapason concluded its review of "Suite Case. Violin Duos from Vivaldi to Sollima" with the question, ‘When can we look forward to the second volume?’ In this new project, the violin of Stefano Barneschi gives way to the cello of Giovanni Sollima, the multi-talented musician from Palermo featured here not only as a composer. On this new journey, again beginning with Antonio Vivaldi, Giovanni Sollima and Chiara Zanisi travel between early and modern music, between classical and folk (the Old Scots Tunes of Francesco Barsanti), with two previously unrecorded gems by the Roman composer Giovanni Battista Costanzi. The entire recording is punctuated by tracks taken from Suite Case, a cycle composed especially by Sollima for this project. © Arcana
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Classical - Released February 7, 2020 | harmonia mundi

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Using period instruments, Isabelle Faust and Alexander Melnikov breathe new life into these ‘sonatas for keyboard with violin accompaniment’, a tradition Mozart renewed from within, blazing the trail for Beethoven, Schubert and Schumann. The first volume was widely praised: ‘The greater similarity of tone between Faust’s sparkling violin and Melnikov’s glittering fortepiano (within an airier acoustic) results in a sound more akin to the jingling of small bells. It’s delicious’ (Gramophone). ‘In a world full of star violinists, all with technical facility and individual style, it’s rare to find one that everyone agrees is just – brilliant. Isabelle Faust is that violinist’ (The Strad). © harmonia mundi
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Classical - Released February 7, 2020 | Glossa

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 5 de Diapason
Violinist Fabio Biondi has a singular capacity for finding something new and exciting in the music of Antonio Vivaldi whenever he considers it, a prodigious feat which he demonstrates with "Concerti per La Pietà", a new collection of works calling for a variety of demanding solo challenges, superbly met by Biondi and his colleagues from Europa Galante. In his Venetian years the well-spring of Vivaldian inventiveness was fed by the composer working with one of the leading orchestras of early eighteenthcentury Europe: the one at the Ospedale della Pietà, the charitable institution which took in, cared for – and educated – girls who had been orphaned or abandoned. Within the ospedale were nurtured instrumental virtuosos – known today only by their “sporting nicknames”: Bettina della viola, Margherita del arpa doppia, Lucieta della tromba, etc. Calling variously for solo violin, two violins, lute, cello, organ, or viola d’amore (Biondi plays an unreconstructed 1758 Vinaccia instrument), the concertos recorded here are drawn from across the thirty years in which Vivaldi worked at the ospedale. The freshness and personalness of Fabio Biondi’s musicmaking with Europa Galante has itself now been in evidence for a remarkable three decades and this new Album, conceived as a special 30thanniversary recording, won’t disappoint listeners ready to have their preconceptions challenged yet be stimulated by consummate musicianship. © Glossa
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Classical - Released February 7, 2020 | Deutsche Grammophon (DG)

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The Belle Époque, the era lasting from the end of the Franco-Prussian War to the beginning of World War I (1871-1914), was a diverse period; the name is indicative at best of general tendencies such as peace and prosperity, along with darker trends. Violinist Daniel Hope's Belle Époque album contains music from various countries in a wide range of styles, and it's not quite a concept album. However, it does hang together in interesting ways. Hope's program mixes orchestral pieces and chamber music; this could easily have happened in a late 19th century concert, which might have thrown in some solo piano music as well. His selections from both the salon and the learned studio, pieces like Fritz Kreisler's Liebesleid, bump up against Webern's Four Pieces, Op. 7, with most of the music somewhere in between. What's fascinating is that the light and heavy works seem to have things to say to each other. It helps that Hope unearths some less familiar items and recruits enthusiastic collaborators. The Concerto for violin, piano, and string quartet of Chausson (here played with a string orchestra) is an unusual and moody work, and there are such novelties as Schoenberg's totally tonal Notturno for violin, harp, and string orchestra. Several pieces make use of Jane Berthe's harp, an instrument that doesn't always get its due in 19th century programming. The chamber music disc is full of attractive and rarely played items, such as Alexander Zemlinsky's Serenade and George Enescu's Impromptu concertant, and if the Webern seems to come out of nowhere, an audience of the early 20th century might not have heard it that way. Both enjoyable and innovative, like so much of Hope's work. © TiVo
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Classical - Released February 7, 2020 | CPO

Booklet Distinctions 5 de Diapason
Thirteen years ago, Federico Gugliemo and his L’Arte dell’Arco (The Art of the Bow) already payed tribute to the Florence-born violinist and composer Francesco Maria Veracini. In the 17th century, Veracini was considered as the prime violinist of his time, overpassing Corelli, Tartini or Vivaldi. Veracini achieved outstanding success in London as a violinist for the Queen’s Theatre. He lived in Dresden where, challenged by rival musicians, he jumped out of a window. Arrived lame in Prague where he stayed for a short period, he then moved back to London. But on its way to Britain, Veracini‘s ship sank in the middle of the Channel. The composer was saved and fled to Florence, where he lived a safer life writing sacred music and working as kapellmeister. Conducted by Federico Gugliemo and recorded in 2018 in the dry acoustic of Este’s Cabinet de lecture (library), the album includes series of openings, (suites), sonatas, and a Violin Concerto in D major performed by Gugliemo. © François Hudry/Qobuz
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Classical - Released January 10, 2020 | Sony Classical - Sony Music

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Classical - Released January 3, 2020 | Glossa

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Diapason d'or - Le Choix de France Musique
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Classical - Released November 1, 2019 | CPO

Booklet Distinctions 5 de Diapason