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Symphonic Music - Released May 5, 2014 | Channel Classics Records

Iván Fischer and the Budapest Festival Orchestra have recorded a series of exceptional audiophile recordings for Channel Classics, focusing on orchestral works of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. This is their first foray into the symphonies of Anton Bruckner, and the choice of the Symphony No. 7 in E major is sure to be popular, since this is a perennial favorite with audiences. Fischer's approach is straightforward and uncontroversial, and he observes tempos that are only a shade slower than usual, while applying a healthy amount of rubato to give the pacing some welcome flexibility. But the outstanding characteristic of this performance is the strong emphasis on the counterpoint, and Fischer is careful to bring out the secondary and tertiary parts that some conductors tend to mute or simply overlook. Because Bruckner's lines are clarified and the orchestral textures are skillfully balanced, this Seventh is remarkably transparent and organic, and the music's tension actually grows from the counterpoint, instead of being imposed by interpretation. The DSD recording and the hybrid SACD format contribute greatly to the recording's success, giving the orchestra's sonorities clear separation in the multichannel reproduction and creating dimensions that are breathtaking in their spaciousness. © TiVo
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Classical - Released October 1, 2013 | Channel Classics Records

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Classical - Released September 14, 2013 | Channel Classics Records

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Classical - Released June 10, 2013 | Channel Classics Records

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Classical - Released June 5, 2013 | Channel Classics Records

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Classical - Released January 1, 2013 | Channel Classics Records

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Classical - Released January 1, 2013 | Channel Classics Records

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Classical - Released January 1, 2013 | Channel Classics Records

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Classical - Released January 1, 2013 | Channel Classics Records

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Classical - Released January 1, 2013 | Channel Classics Records

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Classical - Released October 1, 2011 | Channel Classics Records

By virtue of its definitive-sounding title, one might expect The Mahler Album to be a compilation of excerpted movements from the symphonies or song cycles, or at least to contain music only by Gustav Mahler. As it is, this SACD from Channel Classics presents the famous Adagietto from the Symphony No. 5, a string orchestra arrangement by Mahler of Ludwig van Beethoven's String Quartet No. 11 in F minor, "Quartetto Serioso," and Hans Stadlmair's 1971 string arrangement of the Adagio of the unfinished Symphony No. 10. While it is indeed music composed or arranged by Mahler, almost 22 minutes out of the album's hour length is of interest mostly to specialists, because the string quartet arrangement is more of a curiosity than an essential part of the Mahler experience. Performed only once in 1899 and essentially forgotten until it was published in 1990, this version of the "Quartetto Serioso" is controversial because the intimate nature of the chamber piece is dramatically changed in the thickened textures and greater volume of a string orchestra. It is a rarity for Mahler buffs, and it is not representative of the composer's output and characteristic expression, so the average listener might be a bit confused by its inclusion. More helpful are the two selections that bookend the program, and conductor Candida Thompson and the Amsterdam Sinfonietta deliver them in full-throated expression, in a manner that is quite lush and passionate. Newcomers to Mahler who seek a more representative compilation might try EMI's Mahler: Adagios, but this album is best appreciated by more experienced Mahlerians. © TiVo
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Classical - Released April 1, 2011 | Channel Classics Records

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Classical - Released July 3, 2009 | Channel Classics Records

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Classical - Released January 1, 2005 | Channel Classics Records

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Florilegium, the English early music ensemble founded by flutist Ashley Solomon in 1991, has been picking up the pace since the turn of the century occasioned some changes in personnel. Although the fortunes of the early music movement have been kind of up and down in the meantime, Florilegium has remained a constant, releasing at least one disc per year on the Channel Classics label and touring round the world. The 2005 release Bolivian Baroque was a gamble that has paid off handsomely in good reviews and renewed interest in the group. Subsequently, Florilegium has resumed, and with this volume presumably completes, its series of Georg Philipp Telemann's Paris Quartets, begun in 1999 when Florilegium was an almost completely different group. Those who love Telemann will be pleased that Florilegium waited, as these performances are about as ideal as possible for the Paris Quartets. Leader Kati Debretzeni's violin seamlessly intertwines with Solomon's Baroque flute in ensemble passages, and the pacing provided by the continuo is just right. While the group never strays far, if at all, from expected Baroque performance practice, there is nothing cold or mathematical about Florilegium's rendering of the Telemann -- it is conceived with the maximum emotional response in mind. Just listen to the "Modéré" movement within the Quatour No. 6 in E minor and you'll be hooked -- it is a moving interpretation, sort of like experiencing a cool, light rainstorm from the front porch at night. Florilegium's responsiveness to the pastoral and naturalistic tendencies in Telemann's music helps it speak with an eloquence that it clearly has, yet remains invisible on the printed page. That is what made the Paris Quartets so enormously popular in their day; playable by amateurs, and most of the people able to shell out for such a publication were aristocratic amateurs at that, but still containing a spark of inspiration that raised the nature of the music above the combined abilities of the players. Florilegium has captured that very quality, and the DSD Super Audio CD has radiant sound that will place the group right in the living room. If you are someone who loves Baroque music but "hates" Telemann, this disc is good enough to turn you around. Nonetheless, Florilegium's Telemann: Paris Quartets, Vol. 3, should be sought out by anyone who has an interest in high-quality chamber music playing at its finest -- one wonders if it is humanly possible for it to be better than this. © TiVo
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Classical - Released January 1, 2005 | Channel Classics Records

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Classical - Released January 1, 2005 | Channel Classics Records

You know what's cool about Dejan Lazic's Schubert B flat major Sonata? He doesn't try to beat the masters at their own game. He doesn't try to out-drama Schnabel or out-intensity Richter or out-slick Brendel or out-think Pollini or out-sing Kovacevich. Dejan Lazic, a young Croatian pianist, doesn't have to. He's got his own way of doing things, his own point of view, and his own way of singing Schubert's great song of life and love and death. It's passionate, sure, but Lazic's a young man and can't help himself. More importantly, it sounds completely thought through. Lazic knows that no matter how long the heavenly lengths of the work, the performer has to know exactly how he or she is going to get from one end of it to the other. More importantly yet, it sounds completely improvised. Lazic knows that no matter how familiar he is with the work, its bottomless depths and endless heights will always confound the traveler through its heavenly lengths and the performer always has to be ready to go with the inspiration of the moment. But most importantly of all, Lazic sounds like he's completely at one with the music. Length, height, depth: all these are measurements. In the end, Lazic knows that it was the qualities beyond them, Schubert's heart and soul and spirit, that make the B flat Sonata one of the most precious of all piano sonatas. Lazic's "filler," the set of Six Moments Musicaux, are nearly in the same league: sweet, bitter, funny, quaint, coy, and utterly endearing. A terrific performance, especially as preserved in Channel Classics' clear and translucent sound. © TiVo
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Classical - Released January 1, 2004 | Channel Classics Records

There can never be too many great recordings of Rachmaninov's Second Symphony. While not perhaps his greatest work -- surely either The Bells or the Vespers has that honor -- Rachmaninov's Second is a superbly composed, brilliantly colorful, and directly affecting work of Russian late romanticism and anyone who responds to Tchaikovsky's later symphonies will respond to Rachmaninov's Second. But while there can never be too many great recordings of the Second, most great recordings of the Second tend to sound alike. After all, what else can you do with the fuliginous depths of the opening Largo or the dramatic heights of the following Allegro moderato or the passionate twin climaxes of the Adagio except surrender to the inevitable? Thus, while this superlative recording of the Second with Iván Fischer leading the Budapest Festival Orchestra is surely a great recording of the work, it is not an especially memorable recording of the work. Fischer is an outstanding conductor with terrific baton technique and knack for choosing just the right tempo and the Budapest Festival Orchestra is a first-class ensemble with a warm blend and a shimmering tone and together they do everything they should to make this a great performance. The Largo glowers, the Allegro moderato soars, the Adagio achieves ecstasy twice. In all things, in all places, and at all the right times, this is a great Rachmaninov Second. Whether it's a memorable Rachmaninov Second is up to the individual listener. It should be added that the Vocalise as an encore is sweet, deep, and round and that Canal Grande's sound is clean, clear, and close. © TiVo
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Classical - Released January 1, 2004 | Channel Classics Records

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Classical - Released January 1, 2004 | Channel Classics Records

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Audiophiles may desire this CD of Tchaikovsky's Symphony No. 4 and the Romeo and Juliet Overture for its splendid sound quality, but music lovers may curb their enthusiasm because there is little here to rave about. From the opening fanfares, it is immediately apparent that Channel Classics has employed state-of-the-art technology to best advantage, and the listener may settle in for a real sonic feast. However, the thrill of hearing the vivid timbres and extraordinary orchestral depth soon changes to a combination of dutiful listening and distracted boredom. The Budapest Festival Orchestra, directed by Ivan Fischer, delivers fairly standard performances of these familiar warhorses: not especially magnificent or terrible, but merely routine and competent renditions that neither enthrall nor offend. The restraint and predictability are perhaps due to the needs of the project; the emphasis on vivid sound quality seems to overshadow the music-making and inhibits the musicians from truly expressive playing. Yes, they can bring the roof down in spectacular climaxes -- the symphony's Finale makes that abundantly clear -- but the quieter music, say, in the Andantino and the Scherzo, is uncompelling and lacks inspiration. Romeo and Juliet is decent filler, but like the symphony, it only makes a splash in the loudest passages. Channel Classics released this recording in both CD and SACD formats, with exceptional reproduction. © TiVo
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Classical - Released January 1, 2003 | Channel Classics Records