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Ravel: La valse, M. 72 & Other Works

Royal Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra

Classical - To be released February 4, 2022 | BIS

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J.S. Bach: Sonatas & Partitas, Vol. 1

Frank Peter Zimmermann

Classical - To be released February 4, 2022 | BIS

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Rachmaninoff: Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom, Op. 31 (Excerpts)

Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir

Classical - To be released February 4, 2022 | BIS

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Beethoven: Piano Sonatas, Op. 31

Andreas Haefliger

Classical - Released January 7, 2022 | BIS

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Since 2004, Andreas Haefliger has been presenting "Perspectives", a series of recital programmes, in concert and on recordings. Each programme focusses on one or two Beethoven Sonatas, juxtaposed with works by other composers which in some way interact with Beethoven’s music and with each other. Now, for this release on BIS, Haefliger has instead opted for an all-Beethoven recital, choosing to present the composer’s three sonatas Op. 31 as a group. In his introduction, Haefliger describes the set as occupying "a very special place in the Beethoven sonata cycle: It preserves a link to the past but gives us also a vision of the works to come, exploring humour and tenderness, nature and the psychology of the human mind". The recording took place in the Salle de Musique in La Chaux-de-Fonds, celebrated for its superb acoustics, on a Bechstein concert grand which Haefliger describes as "a piano which, while a modern instrument, retains a nostalgic quality in its sound world and was a constant source of inspiration during the sessions". © BIS Records
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Ombres: Women Composers of La Belle Époque

Laetitia Grimaldi

Classical - Released January 7, 2022 | BIS

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Devised by Laetitia Grimaldi and Ammiel Bushakevitz, "Ombres" brings together songs by nine women composers whose lives span the years 1821-1964. Many of the songs were written during the so-called "Belle Époque", at a time when women might be accepted as performers - especially in domestic settings - but struggled to be recognised as composers. And even in the cases when their music was heard - for instance in the fashionable salons of Paris - or published, it soon fell into oblivion. Several of the songs included here were discovered by Grimaldi and Bushakevitz in libraries and archives, having gone out of print long ago. With "Ombres", the performers liberate the nine composers from their shadowy existence, and demonstrate the wide range of their music, from Cécile Chaminade’s bustling Villanelle to Pauline Viardot’s nocturnal Les étoiles or the ghostly Les lavandières by Augusta Holmès, about the Midnight Washerwomen from Celtic mythology. © BIS Records
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Beethoven: Symphony No. 9 in D Minor, Op. 125 "Choral" (Live at Bayreuth Festspielhaus, Germany, 7/29/1951)

Bis

Classical - Released January 7, 2022 | BIS

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Seventy years ago, on the 29th July 1951, Wilhelm Furtwängler conducted Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 at a concert marking the reopening of the Bayreuth Festival after seven years of silence following the Second World War. It was a momentous occasion, and the concert was broadcast by Bavarian Radio and transmitted across the world, for instance by Swedish Radio. Using the analogue mono tape as digitized by Swedish Radio, the present release reproduces the broadcast as it would have been heard by listeners in Sweden: we have chosen to not change anything, not to "brush up" the sound, not to clean and shorten the pauses or omit audience noises within the music, but to keep the original as it was. In this way we hope to recreate the feeling of actually sitting in front of an old radio in 1951, listening to this important concert – a true historical document. © BIS Records
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Eliasson: Symphonies Nos. 3 & 4

Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra

Classical - Released January 7, 2022 | BIS

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Born into a working-class family, Anders Eliasson’s earliest musical experiences originated from within himself: "they were my own singing, and tunes I heard on the radio". At the age of nine he began to play the trumpet, and soon after he became the leader of a jazz band for which he wrote arrangements. Aged 14, he found a local organist to teach him harmony and counterpoint, and at 16 he left his hometown for Stockholm to study privately. In 1966 Eliasson enrolled at the Royal College of Music in Stockholm, studying the various techniques and trends of modernism, from dodecaphony to musique concrete. But in the end he found it impossible to "break away from more than a thousand years of tradition", as he put it: "Music is like H2O: melody, harmony and rhythm are a single entity. And it has to flow". The three works recorded here - all for the first time - are examples of the highly personal idiom he developed as a consequence. © BIS Records
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Renewal

United Strings of Europe

Classical - Released January 7, 2022 | BIS

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Having released their debut album "In motion" in 2020, the musicians that make up United Strings of Europe return with another innovative programme, "Renewal". The title refers in part to the fact that the majority of the works included are heard in arrangements and adaptations tailormade for the ensemble by Julian Azkoul, who also directs it from the violin. In Winter’s House by Joanna Marsh and Caroline Shaw’s and the swallow are both originally choral works while a second work by Shaw, Entr’acte, was conceived for string quartet, but is here heard in the composer’s own version for string orchestra. A similar treatment has been given Mendelssohn’s F Minor String Quartet, one of the composer’s final works, written in reaction to the unexpected death of his beloved sister Fanny. For the centrepiece, Osvaldo Golijov’s Three Songs, United Strings of Europe is joined by soprano Ruby Hughes. The three songs were written for different occasions, but were rearranged by the composer to form a single work, capturing various strands of his immigrant identity as well as specific moments of inspiration, both felicitous and tragic. © BIS Records
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Harrison Birtwistle: Chamber Works

Nash Ensemble

Classical - Released January 7, 2022 | BIS

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Born in 1934, Sir Harrison Birtwistle is one of the leading European figures in contemporary music. He first made his mark in 1965 with the decet Tragoedia, a work whose ambience of something at once ancient and modern, with stark juxtapositions of strident violence and fragile lyricism, presented a sound and sensibility quite new in British music. The Nash Ensemble was formed around the same time and over the decades that have followed, a close relationship has developed between Birtwistle and the ensemble. Among the several commissions made by the ensemble are the closing two movements of the Oboe Quartet as well as the Duet for Eight Strings, described by the composer as "a string quartet for two players". Composed in 2018, the Duet is the most recent work on this recording, which also includes the Trio for Violin, Cello and Piano from 2011. The only work of an older date is Pulse Sampler from 1981, originally for oboe and claves, but here heard in a recent version for a more varied array of percussion. © BIS Records
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Johannes Brahms: Piano Sonata N°3 - Chaconne (Bach) - Four Ballades

Alexandre Kantorow

Classical - Released December 3, 2021 | BIS

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In 2019, when Alexandre Kantorow, at the age of 22, became the first French pianist to win the Gold Medal at the Tchaikovsky competition, his programme included no less than three works by Johannes Brahms. Two of these, Piano Sonata No. 2 and the Rhapsody in B Minor, he went on to record for release on his previous, highly praised recital programme, which was awarded distinctions. The Brahms interpretations won Kantorow particular praise – the Guardian (UK) described them as "magisterial" while the website ResMusica placed his sonata "among the great reference recordings of the piece – if not the modern one". There is much to look forward to, then, when Kantorow releases an all-Brahms album with a playing time of no less than 85 minutes. He opens with music by a composer of a similar age as himself: Brahms wrote the Four Ballades in 1854 while only 21 years old, taking up a fashionable genre introduced by Chopin as late as 1840. The set is followed by the even earlier Sonata No. 3 in F minor which forms the centre of the programme. The sonata is of almost symphonic dimensions and it was indeed, along with its predecessors, famously described as a disguised symphony by no one less than Robert Schumann. To bring this stormy, impassioned album to a close, Kantorow has chosen a later, and contrasting work: with a lifelong admiration for Bach, Brahms in 1879 made a piano arrangement, for the left hand alone, of the iconic Chaconne from Partita No. 2 for Solo Violin – a composition that Brahms himself described as "a whole world of the deepest thoughts and most powerful impressions". © BIS Records
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Purcell: Fantazias

Chelys Consort of Viols

Classical - Released December 3, 2021 | BIS

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At the age of 20, Henry Purcell entered his 14 Fantasias and two In Nomines into an autograph bearing the title "The Works of Hen; Purcell, A.D. 1680". Despite his youth Purcell was already making his mark as a composer, writing music for the London theatres and holding posts at Westminster Abbey and at court. But unlike his works for the theatre and the church, which were intended for specific occasions, very little is known about the impulse behind fantasias. Composed for between three and seven parts they are a consciously anachronistic distillation of an old style at a time when the reigning taste was for more modern sounds – for dance-based music with lively rhythms and hummable tunes. It isn’t even clear what kind of ensemble they were intended for: given the association with older music, one might assume that Purcell had viols in mind, but the distribution of the parts is not always in keeping with the standard sizes of the viol consort – nor for that matter those of the violin consort. Were the fantasias in fact ever performed? None of these questions has a satisfactory answer, and in this respect the Purcell Fantasias resemble Bach’s The Art of the Fugue, because of their quality and inventiveness but also owing to the mysteries that surround them. The collection is here performed by Chelys Consort of Viols, following up on three previously released recordings featuring the music of Michael East, John Dowland and Christopher Simpson (BIS). © BIS Records
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Brahms: 3 Sonatas

Michael Collins

Chamber Music - Released December 3, 2021 | BIS

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Friends of long standing as well as regular partners in chamber music, Michael Collins and Stephen Hough bring their combined musical insights and expertise to bear on Johannes Brahms’s Sonatas for Clarinet and Piano. Together with the composer’s Trio for Clarinet, Cello and Piano and Clarinet Quintet, the sonatas are among the most treasured works in the repertoire of the instrument – but it is partly down to good luck that we have them at all. When Brahms in 1891 heard the clarinettist Richard Mühlfeld, principal clarinet of the Meiningen Court Orchestra, he had already announced his retirement. He was enraptured by Mühlfeld’s playing and its vocal qualities, however, and made a "comeback": during the following couple of years he composed all four of his clarinet works. These were written especially for Mühlfeld, whose spirit does seem to pervade the two Sonatas – we hear an unusually sunny and lyrical Brahms, with plenty of opportunity to sing for both instruments. When the Sonatas were published, they appeared with alternative viola parts to replace the clarinet, and soon violin versions prepared by the composer were also brought out. For the opening work here, Michael Collins has therefore taken a leaf out of Brahms’s book, by adapting the composer’s Violin Sonata No. 2, another late work. The amount of adaptation needed is small: a lot of the violin writing fits the clarinet well, and the Sonata share much of the songlike quality of the two "real" clarinet sonatas. © BIS Records
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Mendelssohn: Symphonies Nos. 1 & 3

Swedish Chamber Orchestra

Classical - Released December 3, 2021 | BIS

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Having begun their collaboration in 1997, the Swedish Chamber Orchestra and its conductor laureate Thomas Dausgaard have developed an unusually tight partnership. Nowhere is this demonstrated more clearly than in their cycles of the symphonies of Schumann, Schubert and, most recently, Brahms – performances which have been characterized by reviewers as variously "fresh", "vivid", "transparent" and "invigorating". Of Mendelssohn the team has previously recorded the incidental music to A Midsummer Night’s Dream, a release described as "capturing Mendelssohn’s inimitable spirit" (Crescendo). The same album included The Hebrides, and now the SCO and Dausgaard return to Scotland, with Mendelssohn’s "Scottish" Symphony. This was begun in 1829, after a stay in London during which the composer conducted his Symphony No. 1, also included here. Mendelssohn’s imagination was often fired by impressions from nature, and Scotland was the Romantic landscape par excellence, celebrated for its rugged Highland scenery and melancholy tunes. "I think that today I found the beginning of my Scottish" Symphony", he wrote to his parents after a visit to the ruined chapel at Holyrood Palace in Edinburgh. It took more than a decade for him to complete the symphony – but ever since its first performance, in 1842, it has been a staple of the symphonic repertoire. © BIS Records
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Piazzolla: Tango Works

ESCUALO5

Tango - Released December 3, 2021 | BIS

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With his tango nuevo, Astor Piazzolla has been welcomed into the world of classical music in a way that no other "non-classical" composer has experienced. His music is played in concert halls around the world, and has been arranged for the most varied forces: symphony orchestra, string quartet, brass ensemble, mandolin orchestra, harpsichord... Taking their name from Piazzolla’s Escualo ("Shark"), written in 1979 for his Quinteto Tango Nuevo, the five musicians that make up Escualo5 have a different approach, replicating the formation that Piazzolla performed with for much of his career: bandoneon, violin, piano, guitar and double bass. The aim isn’t to recreate Piazzolla’s own performances, however – based in Munich but hailing from respectively Brazil, Germany, Greece and Belarus, the members are soloists in their own right, bringing their individual talents as improvisers and arrangers to the recordings. The programme that Escualo5 have devised for their first album includes some much-loved as well as less familiar pieces for the quintet setup – Primavera Porteña, Soledad, Adiós Nonino, Fracanapa – as well as arrangements of Tango Suite and Histoire du Tango, originally for two guitars and flute and guitar, respectively. © BIS Records
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Kalevi Aho: Double & Triple Concertos

Dimitri Mestdag

Classical - Released December 3, 2021 | BIS

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Concertos for cor anglais are few and far between, and harp concertos aren’t very common either. In combining the two, Kalevi Aho has come up with a true rarity – possibly the only double concerto in existence for these two instruments. Composed in 2014, the work was commissioned by the Antwerp Symphony Orchestra for two of its solo players: Anneleen Lenaerts and Dimitri Mestdag, who also perform it here. The work is characteristically eclectic, making the most of the sonic possibilities of the solo instruments, but also of the orchestral palette. The Antwerp Symphony Orchestra is no newcomer to Aho’s music, having previously recorded his concertos for trombone and trumpet. Here, it also provides support for the Storioni Trio, in the Triple Concerto for Violin, Cello, Piano and Chamber Orchestra, a joint commission by the trio and the orchestra. In 2017, as Aho started work on the concerto, his granddaughter was born. Having written a lullaby for her, he decided to use that as the core melodic material of the piece. The lullaby is heard several times in the first movement, which is quite tonal and very dreamlike. It also features in the movements that follow, while the harmonic language becomes more complex. Aho himself describes the work as having "a general atmosphere full of joy and positive (sometimes quite virtuosic) energy". © BIS Records
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Bach on the Rauwolf Lute

Jakob Lindberg

Classical - Released November 5, 2021 | BIS

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Bach was renowned as a keyboard player as well as being an accomplished violinist, but as far as we know he didn't play the lute. He seems to have been fascinated by the instrument’s special sound qualities, however, and was clearly inspired by the possibilities of the "Lautenwerk". This was a gut-strung harpsichord designed to imitate the sound of the lute and at least some of the works usually referred to as "the Bach Lute Suites" were probably composed for this instrument. Jakob Lindberg recorded the complete suites in 1992. Returning to the composer almost three decades later, he does so in the company of his Rauwolf lute, an instrument built in Augsburg around 1590 and "modernised" in 1715, during Bach’s lifetime. But this time, only two of the works belong to the standard lute repertoire – the Prelude, BWV 999 and the Suite BWV 1006a, which in fact is the composer’s own arrangement of his Partita No. 3 for Solo Violin. For the remaining works recorded here, Lindberg has taken the cue from Bach, making arrangements of Cello Suite No. 1 and Sonata No. 1 for Solo Violin in full. He has also chosen individual movements from other solo works, including the highly complex fugue from Sonata No. 3, BWV 1005. This amply filled album closes with the iconic Chaconne from Partita No. 2 in D minor. © BIS Records
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Schubert: Winterreise, Op. 89, D. 911 (Arr. for Baritone & Piano)

James Rutherford

Classical - Released November 5, 2021 | BIS

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“Come over to Schober's today, and I will sing you a cycle of horrifying songs. I am anxious to know what you say about them. They have cost me more effort than any of my other songs”. These were the words with which Schubert coaxed his friends to come listen to Winterreise – 24 settings for tenor voice and piano of poems by Wilhelm Müller, mostly cast in minor tonality, which chart a rejected lover’s bleak trudge through a snow-covered landscape. It was 1827, and the following year he would die from syphilis, aged 31. So, while a preoccupation with death and loneliness had been a constant theme in Schubert’s music, with Winterreise those themes reach their ultimate expression. This reading sees Wagner specialist James Rutherford join colleagues such as Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau and Matthias Goerne in transposing them down to the baritone range, and Gute Nacht makes for a highly satisfyingly start: a nice, rounded weight to Eugene Asti’s trudging piano chords, and from Rutherford himself the balance of warm fullness with lighter-voiced delicacy. Onwards, and it’s all highly expressive, but never overblown. In fact, while their outbursts pack punch – Rutherford’s heartrending final shout of Da ist meine Liebsten Haus (“That’s where my beloved’s house is”) at the close of Wasserflut, or Asti’s colouristic range at the centre of Frühlingstraum, from menacing lower register growls to devilishly sharp, upper register stabs – it’s often the delicacy that most strikes; the impression they create of bleak, surrounding silence, thanks as much to Asti’s lightness on the pedal as to Rutherford. Most effective of all is the desolate quiet hanging over their Der Leiermann as each crisply, rhythmically imitates the hurdy gurdy grind, before the elegant, anguished curve of Rutherford’s final question, “Strange old man, Should I go with you? Will you to my songs Play your hurdy gurdy?” © Charlotte Gardner/Qobuz
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Scenes from the Kalevala

Lahti Symphony Orchestra

Classical - Released November 5, 2021 | BIS

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The Kalevala is a compilation of mostly original folk poetry, arranged into fifty extensive runos ("poems") by the Finnish physician and folklorist Elias Lönnrot. Beginning with the creation of the world, it develops into a series of separate episodes which nevertheless form a rich whole, introducing epic characters such as Väinämöinen, Lemminkäinen and Kullervo. The collection first appeared in 1835, with a final, extended version being published in 1849, and was soon hailed as Finland’s "national epos" – a sensitive matter given that the country had been subjected to Russian rule since 1809. It came to play a major part in Finland’s national awakening and had a massive influence on Finnish art in the late 19th century, but its role in the national consciousness remains important even today. The present album, from the Lahti Symphony Orchestra and Dima Slobodeniouk, brings together Kalevala-related works spanning the period between 1897 and 1943. No such collection could overlook Sibelius, who composed several works inspired by the epos. Included here is a rarity – the first recording of the 1897 version of Lemminkäinen in Tuonela, from the Lemminkäinen Suite. Finnish composers from later generations all had to find a way out from under Sibelius’s shadow – especially so when composing works based on the Kalevala. The portraits of Kullervo which bookend the recording, by Leevi Madetoja and Tauno Pylkkänen, are both compact works in contrast to Sibelius’s large-scale "choral symphony" on the same theme, and when Uuno Klami used bold and primitive colours in his five-movement Kalevala Suite, he was looking towards Stravinsky rather than his countryman. © BIS Records
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Kornauth & Fuchs: Works for Viola & Piano

Katharina Kang Litton

Chamber Music - Released November 5, 2021 | BIS

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In the spring of 2020, the Covid pandemic caused turmoil in the concert diaries of most musicians, including the conductor Andrew Litton and his wife Katharina Kang Litton, principal violist of New York City Ballet. To find an outlet for their musical expression they began to explore the repertoire for viola and piano together. Having played the Sonatas by Brahms they came across the music by two other Viennese composers, Brahms’ near-contemporary Robert Fuchs and his student Egon Kornauth. Fuchs – who the less-than-effusive Brahms called "a splendid musician" – had a long and distinguished career at the Vienna Conservatory where his other students included such composers as Mahler, Wolf, Sibelius, Zemlinsky and Korngold. That the Sonatas recorded here were composed around the same time as Schoenberg’s Second String Quartet can be hard to believe – as is the fact that Fuchs’s Phantasiestücke (composed in his 80th and final year) was contemporary with Bartók’s Piano Concerto No. 1. But if they are not in any way pioneering, all three works are beautifully achieved: formally both strong and flexible, with a subtle, deeply-felt emotional colouring of their own. The Litton Duo close the recital with a piece that has a personal significance for the two – an arrangement of the Korean folk song Arirang which they received as a wedding present from Stephen Hough. © BIS Records
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Crossroads: American Violin Sonatas

Aleksey Semenenko

Chamber Music - Released November 5, 2021 | BIS

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In this transatlantic recording, three American composers born during the first half of the last century rub shoulders with two young musicians from Eastern Europe. A member of the BBC New Generation Artists scheme, the violinist Aleksey Semenenko first met the pianist Artem Belogurov at the Stolyarsky Special Music School in Odessa at an early age. Even if their individual careers have taken to different parts of the world, the two still perform together whenever possible, and here they present three sonatas. Of the composers, the best-known is André Previn who composed his Violin Sonata No. 2 in 2011 for Anne-Sophie Mutter. An improvisatory spirit permeates the work which is in three movements with the markings Joyous, Desolate and Brilliant. Tony Schemmer and Paul Gay are both based in the Boston area and share a background in which jazz and classical genres merge. This is reflected in their Sonatas, composed in the 1980s and here recorded for the first time. © BIS Records

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