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Classical - Released June 19, 2020 | Channel Classics Records

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The young violist Dana Zemtsov is a versatile player who has recorded music of her native Mexico as well as from various European traditions. Here, she and pianist Anna Fedorova weave English, Dutch, French, and Romanian pieces into an evocative sequence in which all the music falls generally into the French sphere and is informed by the inimitable way the French have with nostalgia. Debussy is represented in venerable transcriptions, and much of the music derives from the retrospective strands of his personality. The program opens with the Viola Sonata of Rebecca Clarke, influenced by the Violin Sonata in G minor of Debussy but a more tense and exacting work. It receives a precise performance here, but the real fun begins when Zemtsov relaxes into some more purely neoclassic works. There is a fine sonata by the little-known composer Arne Werkman and a lovely rendition of George Enescu's Concert Piece for viola and piano. However, the real highlight is the fairly obscure Viola Sonata No. 1, Op. 240, of Milhaud, written during World War II but redolent of the gentle hillsides of California, to which the composer fled. The work brings out Zemtsov's best quality: her remarkable way with lyrical melodies, which are abundant in this work. The whole thing is highly listenable in music that's generally unfamiliar, except for the Debussy, and it's beautifully recorded. © TiVo
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Classical - Released April 24, 2020 | Channel Classics Records

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Classical - Released March 27, 2020 | Channel Classics Records

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In 2002 Florilegium became involved with Bolivian Baroque and since 2003 Ashley has been training vocalists and instrumentalists there. Initially solo singers, he formed Arakaen – dar Bolivia Choir in 2005. In 2008 Ashley was the first European to receive the prestigious Bolivian Hans Roth Prize, given to him in recognition of the enormous assistance he has given to the Bolivian indigenous people, their presence on the international stage and the promotion and preservation of this music. For the last 28 years of collaboration with Channel Classics my main inspiration for recording has always been repertoire, either to convey our individual interpretation of known pieces I am passionate about or to present otherwise unknown repertoire for the very first time. This recording, however, came about through a chance encounter with a remarkable private collection of flutes, held in Frankfurt. This collection includes several hundred historical flutes, spanning the history of the instrument from one of the earliest surviving 3-piece French flutes made by Chattillion in c.1680. Many of these are baroque and other one-keyed flutes and most of them have not been used in recordings before. The collection includes some of the finest examples of playable baroque flutes anywhere in instruments at the time of their manufacture. © Channel Classics
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Classical - Released March 6, 2020 | Channel Classics Records

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Low-key might not be what listeners, imagining the great composer-pianist with the giant hands, come to Rachmaninov for, but it's worth hearing this interpretation from pianist Anna Fedorova, and letting it sink in. These readings, with the little-known Sinfonieorchester St. Gallen under Modestas Pitrenas, might qualify as offbeat in more ways than one. Compare Fedorova's tempos in the Piano Concerto No. 1 in F sharp minor, Op. 1, with those of Denis Matsuev, to take a muscular Russian reading from the years before this one, and the contrast is striking: Fedorova is more than two full minutes slower in the first movement, and in general, she favors not only slow tempos but quiet dynamics. Her playing is elegant, and in the upper registers, it has an unusual sparkling quality deployed to excellent effect in the four Preludes that form the central act of the program. She is also attractively reflective in the quieter passages of the Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini, Op. 43. Again, Fedorova is not for everybody: the appearance of the "Dies irae" melody toward the end of this work is here more a passing mood than a warning, but her playing grows on the listener. Myra Hess rarely played the Russians, but if she had, it might have come out something like this. © TiVo
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Classical - Released November 8, 2019 | Channel Classics Records

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Anna Fedorova embraces the Russian and, more generally, romantic repertoires. Her performances with the Nodwestdeutsche Philharmonic Orchestra - given to the Great Hall of the royal Concertgebouw and watchable on her YouTube channel - prove it. The concertos by Tchaïkovski and Rachmaninoff, among others, show a passionate and talented musician of irrefutable technique. On the record, Anna Fedorova adopts the role of a storyteller, the name of her record, her second for the label Channel Classics Records. Her previous record, Four Fantaisies, had already embraced the power of the romantic imagination. Placed under the tutelage of Chopin, Liszt and Scriabin, the Ukrainian pianist acts like a poet making music out of stories. The ballads and sonnets are of epic charm and are sometimes danceable; they are often contemplative and are always filled with a strong poetic nature. The “pages” that Anna Fedorova has lifted from these three composers are episodes of great accomplishment where the piano acts as their herald. While the epic aspect of these works is particularly prevalent, the pianist by no means ignores the more poetic dimensions. For the Sonate No.4, Op.30 by Scriabin, she delivers a version that is both thrilling and fanatic. In less than 9 minutes of music, an entire new world is created (Andante) that unravels into a formidable storm (Prestissimo volando). Anna Fedorova owns this complex score: the melodies break out in surges of great clarity that listeners can delightedly move with. From Chopin to Scriabin, we are observers of a language that continually verges more and more on abstraction and harmonic invention all while witnessing the story of a musician’s development. © Elsa Siffert/Qobuz
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Classical - Released November 8, 2019 | Channel Classics Records

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Classical - Released October 25, 2019 | Channel Classics Records

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Integral collections of Beethoven’s work are coming thick and fast in the runup to 2020, the 250th anniversary of the immortal composer loved by all. Admittedly, when one is a fan, enough is never enough. But one wonders what the editors and labels will do in 2027 for the bicentenary of Beethoven’s death with a selection of musicians which is more or less the same as today’s… Since the invention of the CD, every conductor wants to leave their mark on history with their very own interpretation of the Nine Symphonies. There is nothing more exciting for critics and music lovers alike than following the different styles of each different interpretation. The path chosen by Arthur Nikisch is passionate but challenging; there is no linearity and apart from from the sound quality, there is no sense of evolution, a strange concept in art as everyone knows. Each recording is the reflection of its time period with its stars, its unfairly overlooked artists and its followers of an exacerbated romanticism or a decanted, intellectual even abstract vision. Ivan Fischer’s version (Symphonies 1 & 5 here) is remarkable first and foremost thanks to the exceptional standard of the Budapest Festival Orchestra, founded in 1983 with his fellow countryman, the late Zoltan Kocsis. Made up of the best young musicians from the distinguished Hungarian conservatoires, this orchestra has quickly made a name for itself as a top tier European ensemble thanks to rigorous hard work, which involves the practice levels of an orchestra with the stringency of chamber music. The expert versatility of the strings, the character of the wind section, the power of the brass and the dancing, rhythmic bounce give this part of an integral work a very particular charm. © François Hudry/Qobuz
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Classical - Released September 27, 2019 | Channel Classics Records

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Tchaikovsky’s Serenade is one of the most beautiful of all works for string ensemble, and it has been frequently performed by Amsterdam Sinfonietta since its establishment in 1988. Arensky wrote his Second String Quartet in memory of the composer, with whom he was befriended. His homage overflows with melancholy and dark tone colours. The middle movement, based on a song by Tchaikovsky, was later arranged by Arensky for string orchestra. Amsterdam Sinfonietta took upon itself to arrange and perform the entire Second Quartet. In Tchaikovsky’s footsteps, Arensky made use here of religious chant and motifs from Russian folk music. © Channel Classics
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Classical - Released September 27, 2019 | Channel Classics Records

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Symphonic Music - Released September 20, 2019 | Channel Classics Records

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Classical - Released September 13, 2019 | Channel Classics Records

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On their second duo album, baritone Thomas Oliemans and pianist Paolo Giacometti record the most celebrated of all Lied repertoire: Franz Schubert’s Winterreise. “When I was a child, a number of volumes in my father’s bookcase, too thick and doubtlessly too difficult for me, already exercised an irresistible attraction. They cried out to me from the shelf: intriguing titles which promised a magic mountain, something about a hundred years, loneliness and searching for lost time. I started to read many of them too early, I got through some with goose flesh, while others forced me to throw in the towel in despair. In music I had a predilection for heavy symphonies, huge gestures and extensive forms, and I hunted down repertoire and sound worlds that were new to me. (…) In my hunger to discover repertoire as yet unknown to me, one day I came across Winterreise in the first volume of the Peters edition of Schubert songs. The title intrigued me straightaway, just as much as those books, but it seemed equally unapproachable. (…) As each year passes it has become a work to turn back to again, to measure myself against, to immerse myself in; what is more, as soon as thehurdy-gurdy man has turned his handle for the last time, it seems to invite me to open the score once more at page one and try yet again to conquer this magic mountain of the lied repertoire.” (excerpts from liner notes) © Thomas Oliemans, August 2019/Channel Classics
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Violin Concertos - Released September 13, 2019 | Channel Classics Records

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Ning Feng, 1st Prize Winner of the Paganini Competition 2006, brings you Paganini’s Violin Concerto No. 1 and Vieuxtemps’ Violin Concerto No. 4 on his Stradivari ‘MacMillan’, 1721. ‘Virtuosismo’ is his second recording with OSPA – Orquesta Sinfónica del Principado de Asturias under the baton of conductor Rossen Milanov. The previous album ‘Apasionado‘ received excellent reviews. Paganini, Violin Concerto No. 1 Paganini composed all his pieces for violin and orchestra for his own use, keeping them secretly stowed away. Consequently, most were published only after his death, and some not until recent decades. The first of his six violin concertos is a virtuosic tour de force, demonstrating not only his incredible technical command but also his great talent for melody and drama. It breathes the spirit of Rossini, whose operas were enormously popular at the time. Originally composed in the key of E flat major, Paganini tuned his violin a semitone up so that he could play in D major, as it were, and thus execute complicated double stops that are impossible in E flat while producing a brighter sound from his instrument. It was partly for this reason that contemporaries said the concerto was ‘unplayable’. Today the work is always performed in D major. Vieuxtemps, Violin Concerto No. 4 The next piece was written by the son of a weaver, amateur violinist and violin maker from Belgian Verviers named Henri Vieuxtemps (1820-1882). A child prodigy, he enjoyed an outstanding career as a violinist from the age of six, studying in Vienna and Paris (with Charles de Bériot) and touring Europe, Russia and the USA. From 1871 he was an influential teacher at the Brussels conservatory, where his pupils included Eugène Ysaÿe. But within two years, in 1873, a stroke caused lameness in his right arm, and Vieuxtemps was forced to withdraw from teaching. He spent his final years composing in a sanatorium in Algeria, where his daughter had settled with her husband. Vieuxtemps was greatly admired by contempories such as Berlioz and Paganini, whom he met in London. When Robert Schumann heard him in Leipzig in 1834, he described the fourteen-year-old’s playing as magical and compared him with Paganini. That was during a tour of Germany and Austria, when Vieuxtemps was accompanied by his father. After playing Beethoven’s Violin Concerto in Vienna, he decided to stay there for some time to study composition with Simon Sechter, under whom Anton Bruckner was later to study counterpoint. After his London debut in 1834, Vieuxtemps pursued his composition studies with Anton Reicha in Paris, the fruits of which are particularly evident in his First Violin Concerto, dating from 1836 (and later published as no. 2). The Fourth Violin Concerto in D minor opus 31, on this recording, was Vieuxtemps’ own favourite concerto. He composed it when employed as a court violinist in Saint Petersburg (1846-1851). © Channel Classics
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Violin Solos - Released April 26, 2019 | Channel Classics Records

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Still relatively unknown outside of Northern Europe, Rosanne Philippens is one of the best Dutch violinists of her young generation. She has an exclusive recording contract with label Channel Classics. The fifth album of this fruitful collaboration, "Insight", is also the young musician’s very first solo programme, proposing works from Biber, Bach, Enescu and Ysaÿe, as well as a few improvisations, bridging the gap between pieces. Right from the incipit of Biber’s Passacaglia, Rosanne Philippens amazes with the fleshy, woody sonority of her instrument, the brightness of her phrasings and the flow of her conceptions. This programme features a dialogue between centuries, a conversation between wildly diverse aesthetics, and must be approached like a genuine journey, without markers, a dive into the unknown. The works are fragmented; J. S. Bach’s Partita No. 2 for instance is presented in two distinct pieces, and doesn’t even include the final Chaconne − maybe in volume two? Biber’s wonderful Passacaglia (perhaps its most beautiful recorded interpretation on a violin) opens and closes the album. To go along, some fantastic pieces by Enescu, starting with the Sarabande, a clear homage to the Thomaskantor. In the very rare Airs dans le genre roumain, Rosanne Philippens attests her natural insight into Eastern European compositions – she has already recorded many of Bartók and Szymanowski’s works. An artist worth discovering in a particularly bold programme. © Pierre-Yves Lascar/Qobuz
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Violin Solos - Released April 19, 2019 | Channel Classics Records

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Baroque violinist Rachel Podger is right that Bach's output is riddled with transcriptions, and that the same is true of the performance history of his works. Hence, she is on solid historical ground here, with at least the first five of Bach's six Suites for Solo Cello, BWV 1007-1012. The Suite No. 6 for solo cello, BWV 1012, is a different story: the work was written for a five-string cello, giving it a range that puts it out of reach of any violin, Baroque or otherwise. This one was accomplished with studio trickery, which has its place, but is intrusive here. Another complaint is the cavernous recital hall sound in what is manifestly chamber music. For the most part, though, Podger is enjoyable to listen to here. She makes the cello suites, for the most part, into violin music; putting some zip into the faster dances so they avoid the more deliberate mood of the cello. Her vivacious style comes through in movements like the Bourrée from the Suite for solo cello No. 4 in E flat major, BWV 1010. The slower dances are by no means unpleasant, but here the transformation is a bit less successful. Part of the appeal of the cello suites is that they are among those works, like Beethoven's Ninth, that lie at the limits of performers' capabilities. Here those limits are not a question of the voice, or the speed of the fingers, but of the capability of a cello to realize the implied polyphony in Bach's music. On a Baroque violin there is not the same kind of struggle. Nevertheless, Podger fans will find plenty to like here. © TiVo
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Duets - Released April 19, 2019 | Channel Classics Records

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Fans who were blown away by Rachel Podger's acclaimed Bach and Telemann recordings have no doubt waited with baited breath for her to work the same magic on Mozart's sonatas for keyboard and violin. That these sonatas are largely -- though not always -- stacked against the violin is not an impediment to enjoyment, nor is the quirky quality of the fortepiano an obstacle: Podger is clearly the star of this recording, and her vivid playing always draws the listener's attention and admiration. Partly due to her strength and confidence, but also to the fascinating sounds she produces on her 1739 Pesarinius violin, Podger is always at the forefront and a delight to hear, even when Mozart gives her next to nothing to do. Even the tedious staccato arpeggios in the Andante of K. 6 are interesting here, proof positive that Podger can make music out of the flimsiest material. Gary Cooper is an enthusiastic partner to Podger, and his accompaniment is idiomatic and quite expressive; though the sound of the fortepiano may be an acquired taste for some, Cooper controls its timbres well enough to keep it from sounding too tinny or boxy. Channel Classics provides terrific sound on this SACD, though it is not compatible with some CD players, contrary to the label's claim. © TiVo
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Violin Solos - Released April 19, 2019 | Channel Classics Records

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Quintets - Released April 12, 2019 | Channel Classics Records

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 5 de Diapason
Historical performance recordings and programs established in a specific time and place, or among specific musicians, have become commonplace. Yet those exploring the musical circle of a monarch are not so common, even though the king in question here, Frederick the Great of Prussia, inspired and provided the theme for one of Bach's most famous compositions, the Ricercar from the Musical Offering, BWV 1079. That work opens this double album, which also includes chamber works from other composers associated with Frederick. It may seem to be the kind of release that appeals most to listeners whose pulse quickens when they hear the words historical performance, but the album has enjoyed commercial success for several reasons. There is the presence of several unfamiliar composers, all landing near the increasingly attractive dividing line between Baroque and Classical. Johann Joachim Quantz and the Graun brothers, Carl and Johann, show up mostly on albums devoted to Bach, while Johann Gottfried Müthel and Franz Benda are even rarer. The real find here, and also entirely unfamiliar, is the Andantino con VII Variazioni in G major, Op. 17 by Carl Friedrich Christian Fasch, son of Johann Friedrich Fasch, himself known mostly through Maurice André's advocacy of a single trumpet concerto. Carl Friedrich Christian served for a time as deputy to Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach, and from this variation set it would seem as though some of his bosses iconoclastic ideas rubbed off. This work is unlike any other variation set of the time, with daring moves in both harmony and texture; it's actually a good deal more unorthodox than the flute-violin duet of C.P.E. which closes the album. Another draw for this release, exemplified in the Fasch work, is the variety of instrumentation; this work and the Müthel sonata use a clavichord, which is manifestly appropriate (Frederick the Great certainly owned one or more) and rarely done. Finally, there are the strong performances by the Baroque chamber group Florilegium, which includes some cutting-edge players (check out the very reedy violin played by Bojan Cicic in several works). Florilegium cultivates a warm chamber music sound that would have been even more intimate had the musicians not been placed in an inappropriate church venue. Recommended for fans of the late Baroque. © TiVo
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Quartets - Released April 12, 2019 | Channel Classics Records

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Chamber Music - Released March 27, 2019 | Channel Classics Records

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Alexander Borodin composed one of the most popular pieces in the romantic quartet repertoire, probably because it is a sort of love letter dedicated to Borodin's wife Ekaterina. (...) Dmitri Shostakovich composed an autobiography in music: After twenty-five years of 'inner emigration' he allowed himself once more to be personal, even if only in words to the wise. (...) And the third composer on this recording was was considered a well-kept secret of the Soviet Union for long for the western world: Moisei Vainberg, or (likewise in Russian) Mieczyslaw Weinberg.
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Classical - Released March 1, 2019 | Channel Classics Records

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Gustav Mahler's Symphony No. 7 has been subject to perhaps a greater variety of interpretations than any of his other orchestral works, with a classic version by Hermann Scherchen clocking in at well under 70 minutes but one by Otto Klemperer with the New Philharmonia Orchestra lasting more than 100. Is the work a big orchestral nocturne, as its later nickname, "Song of the Night," suggested? Is it a philosophical statement? An expression of Viennese neurosis? The work seems to spill over its own boundaries in an almost random way, but analysis reveals a careful overall harmonic structure. Hungarian conductor Iván Fischer, with his closely associated Budapest Festival Orchestra, leans toward the quick end of the spectrum (it's just under 75 minutes long), but the overall tone is warm, without the histrionic surprises of Leonard Bernstein's approach to Mahler. Only in the central Scherzo is there a real bite. Sample the finale, where he lets the movement's uneasy shifts of tonality and thematic material speak for themselves rather than putting you on a careening roller coaster ride, and he emerges at the end with real sunniness. In his hands the work is something of a song of the night -- and morning. Fischer, whose younger brother Adam has also recorded this work (how's that for sibling rivalry?), has the kind of control over the orchestra that comes from long acquaintance. This offers an X factor in the recording's favor, as does Channel Classics' fine sound from the Palace of Arts in Budapest and Fischer's own extensive reflections in the booklet. A recommended version of this thorny symphony. © TiVo

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