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Classical - Released November 3, 2017 | CPO

Distinctions 5 Sterne Fono Forum Klassik
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Classical - Released April 7, 2017 | CapriccioNR

Distinctions 4 étoiles Classica
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Classical - Released October 6, 2017 | CapriccioNR

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Classical - Released February 26, 2013 | CapriccioNR

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Classical - Released January 30, 2007 | Mode Records

This CD presents three large pieces for orchestra by reclusive mid-twentieth century Italian composer Giacinto Scelsi, two of which represent his mature period, and one of which is a transitional piece. The composer's mature works seem to have evolved without any connection to the history of western music, except in their use of standard orchestral instruments and voices. There is nothing that could be construed as counterpoint in the traditional sense of the relationship between two or more simultaneously moving independent musical lines. There is nothing that could be characterized as melody, and the harmony, defined only as two or more pitches sounding simultaneously, moves slowly, if at all. Rhythmic pulse is virtually indiscernible. What is left is the use of dynamics and timbre, which, when they are the primary musical element, acquire monumental importance as they shift and evolve. The title Quattro Pezzi (su una nota sola) (1959) is not entirely accurate; while each movement features a single pitch that sounds throughout the movement, it is layered with pitches that depart from it, if only microtonally, and those departures have the significance of major developments. The music consists almost entirely of long, sustained, overlapping tones. Scelsi's timbral shifts require close listening, but once the listener is acclimated to this radically circumscribed frame of reference, those shifts are heard as highly dramatic musical developments. Following the tonally limited world of Quattro Pezzi, Uaxuctum, for ondes martenot, percussion, chorus, and chamber orchestra (1966), seems hugely expressive since all pitches are available here, but it retains the aesthetic of the previous piece. The composer achieves tremendous tension through textural overlays, and the use of the chillingly evocative wordless chorus, whose terrifying or ecstatic outbursts that depart from long-held notes are hugely dramatic. The monumentality of this music is breathtaking. After hearing these works, La Nascita del Verbo comes as something of a shock in its use of melody and counterpoint and its more conventional musical development and structure. Written between 1946 and 1948, it seems positively old-fashioned when heard after the previous works on the CD. Even so, with its heavy reliance on overlapping sustained notes and timbral shifts, it's not hard to discern that this is the work of the same composer. For the Scelsi virgin, it would make sense to listen to this piece before the other two. The performances by the Vienna Radio Symphony Orchestra, the Concentus Vocalis, and the Wiener Kammerchor are stunningly disciplined and atmospheric. The live recordings have some audience noise, which is especially noticeable in the very quiet Quattro Pezzi, but generally the sound is clear and crisp. © TiVo
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Vocal Music (Secular and Sacred) - Released March 25, 2014 | CapriccioNR

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Anne Schwanewilms is one of Germany's leading Wagnerian sopranos, and this 2014 Capriccio album showcases her lyrical voice in three well-known works: Elisabeth's aria, "Dich, teure Halle" from Tannhäuser, the five Wesendonck Lieder, and the Liebestod from Tristan und Isolde. These are key examples of Wagner's vocal writing, emphasizing the long, through-composed line and the soaring lyricism of his most memorable music. Schwanewilms' light, evenly supported tone, controlled phrasing, and clear diction combine in wonderfully expressive singing that compels listening, even though she doesn't possess a loud or especially commanding voice. One may wish for a little more volume or power, but these pieces really don't require a dramatic soprano voice to be effective. The Overture and Bacchanal from Tannhäuser and the Prelude from Tristan und Isolde are played by the ORF Vienna Radio Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Cornelius Meister, and they are appropriate choices, though to make this a proper vehicle for Schwanewilms' talents, those familiar pieces should have been replaced with either more Wagnerian arias or selections from her performances in the operas of Richard Strauss. However, Wagner lovers will be just as happy to have this album as it is, without any substitutions. © TiVo
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Classical - Released November 15, 2005 | CPO

If the name of German composer Walter Braunfels is known at all today, it is through the revival of his 1920 opera Die Vogel, issued in 1996 in a performance led by Lothar Zagrosek in Decca's now defunct Entarte Musik series. Conductor Dennis Russell Davies here returns with a sampling of Braunfels' orchestral music in a CPO offering with the Radio Symphonieochester Wien, Braunfels: Phantastische Erscheinungen. The title work is an expansive and rather long set of 12 variations on a theme of Hector Berlioz and support is provided by the early Serenade, Op. 20, a work dating from 1910. Braunfels' style is typically evaluated as being in the mode of "expanded tonality," but these works, both of which date from before 1920, are in a securely post-Romantic idiom. Additionally, Braunfels' music is conservative even in comparison with Richard Strauss, with certain sections replicating the sound of Wagner's orchestral music with no sense of parody or morphology -- just straight imitation. It is pleasant music, but familiarity breeds contempt, and these pieces sound familiar without feeling particularly ingratiating -- while Braunfels is confident as an orchestrator and in the thematic flow of his designs, in emotional terms the listener is kept at an arm's length. Structurally some of flaws in these pieces result from the youthfulness of the composer; in the "Ruhig" movement, a long development passage á la Tristan und Isolde spins itself forward for several minutes before launching awkwardly into a restatement of the big tune that opens the movement, a seamy detail that will feel like a rip-off to some listeners. During the "Gemessen" movement in "Phantastische Erscheinungen," perhaps meant to represent a thunderstorm, one will be waiting for Flash Gordon to come around the corner, ray pistol at the ready. At this phase in his development, Braunfels sounds like the young Erich Wolfgang Korngold, but not as good, and far more weighed down by the example of the "Master of Bayreuth" than his younger contemporary. Comparatively "Die Vogel" is more interesting and mature as a musical statement, and supports the idea of Braunfels' significance as a composer with considerably less effort than Braunfels: Phantastische Erscheinungen. Dennis Russell Davies and the Radio Symphonieochester Wien play these pieces with efficiency, but not with much character. The recording, made by the ORF, is good but somewhat distant and equally as unremarkable as Braunfels' music. © TiVo
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Symphonic Music - Released May 8, 2014 | Preiser Records

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Opera - Released October 1, 2004 | CPO

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Classical - Released January 1, 2016 | Orfeo

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Classical - Released January 1, 2015 | CapriccioNR

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Classical - Released March 4, 2014 | CPO

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Classical - Released April 7, 2017 | CPO

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Classical - Released December 1, 2008 | CPO

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Classical - Released December 11, 2007 | Naxos

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Weighing in on this album with her 15th symphony, composer Gloria Coates holds the clear record for the most symphonies by a female composer. Those already familiar with her previous 14 contributions will recognize her familiar bag of tricks, most notably her prevalent use of glissandos. As in previous examples of her orchestra writing, Coates' 15th symphony is again concerned more with texture than melody, and this symphony represents her most abstract development and exploration of the textural possibilities of an orchestra. This CD also contains Coates' 1972 Cantata da Requiem. Although many of her trademark compositional techniques are still present, her treatment of vocal music is much more melodically oriented. The text draws from English and German wartime excerpts from everything from weather reports to newspaper articles. Soprano Teri Dunn and the Talisker Players do an exemplary job of capturing the meaning of color of the text. Closing out the album is Transitions, composed in 1984. This work, which is somewhat of a small chamber symphony, was later expanded into what was to become her Fourth Symphony. Here again we see Coates turning to a more textural, exploratory approach to composition, markedly differing from the Requiem. © TiVo