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Classical - Released January 1, 1990 | Ondine

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Classical - Released January 1, 2000 | Ondine

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Opera - Released January 1, 2000 | Ondine

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Classical - Released January 1, 2001 | Ondine

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Classical - Released January 1, 2002 | Ondine

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Vocal Music (Secular and Sacred) - Released January 1, 2002 | Ondine

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Classical - Released January 1, 2003 | Ondine

Booklet
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Vocal Music (Secular and Sacred) - Released January 1, 2006 | Ondine

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Classical - Released January 1, 2007 | Ondine

Pairing Camille Saint-Saëns' Symphony No. 3 in C minor, "Organ," and Francis Poulenc's Concerto for organ, strings, and timpani in G minor is common enough in practice, but the growing popularity of Samuel Barber's Toccata Festiva for organ and orchestra, Op. 36, may signal a change from the usual way of programming these works. The arrangement on this splendid release from Ondine seems ideal, starting with the Barber work, which provides a rousing opening, and then continuing on to Poulenc's darkly scored, brooding concerto and Saint-Saëns' brilliantly scored symphony. Christoph Eschenbach led the Philadelphia Orchestra in these exciting performances at Verizon Hall in May 2006 before a live audience, and Olivier Latry, organist of Notre Dame de Paris, played the 100-stop Fred J. Cooper Memorial Organ with admirable skill and subtlety. Because this SACD offers impressive 5.0 surround sound and presents the organ and orchestra with sensational timbres and finely shaded dynamics, it's tempting to think that the greatest attention was paid to making this album a showcase for audio buffs; however, the clarity of tone and sensitivity of expression that come from Latry, Eschenbach, and the Philadelphians demonstrate a strong commitment to the music that belies a purely technical approach and it's hard to imagine how these excellent interpretations could ever be surpassed in technique or feeling. Highly recommended.
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Classical - Released January 1, 2007 | Ondine

Booklet
With the title A Five-Star Sibelius Celebration, the Ondine label is not providing a critical estimation of the quality of the disc. Rather, it indicates that five different soloists are performing five sets of works by the great Finnish modernist. Whether or not those soloists are in fact stars is left up to the listener. The best-known name here is undoubtedly Karita Mattila's. The clarion soprano has appeared in opera houses around the world, and her set of six songs accompanied by pianist Ilmo Ranta are as strongly sung and powerfully characterized as her Jenufa and Salome. Perhaps the next-best-known name is Monica Groop's. The warm-toned mezzo-soprano has endeared herself to international listeners with her many excellent lieder recordings, and for them, her group of Ariel's five songs excerpted from the music for The Tempest with the Opera Festival Chorus and Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra under Jukka-Pekka Saraste, while wonderfully sung, may be regarded as too little of a good thing. Some collectors might recall pianist Olli Mustonen's terrific series of recordings for Decca, particularly his fire-breathing romp through Hindemith's Ludus Tonalis, but fewer might remember his stylish yet soulful all-Sibelius disc from which these 10 charming Bagatelles, Op. 34, are taken. Avid fans of Finnish opera will recognize Jorma Hynninen's name from the baritone's many recordings of operas by Merikanto, Rautavaara, and Sallinen, and they may likewise already know his commanding recording of Sibelius' songs accompanied by Leif Segerstam leading the Tampere Philharmonic from which these seven songs are excerpted. Few, maybe, will recognize Pekka Kuusisto's name, but since the young violinist has only been making records since the turn of the millennium, that situation is understandable. His recording here of the two Serenades with the Tapiola Sinfonietta is beautifully played and may serve to introduce Kuusisto to a larger audience. Although recorded between 1994 and 2005, Ondine's digital sound is uniformly crisp, clean, and colorful.
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Concertos - Released August 25, 2009 | Ondine

Booklet
Elgar...viola concerto? Has a previously forgotten work been discovered? Alas, no. The viola concerto referenced on the cover of this Ondine album featuring violist David Aaron Carpenter is in fact a transcription of the famous E minor Cello Concerto. Purists, take a breath and let's proceed. Elgar did in fact give a nod of approval to the arrangement made by violist Lionel Tertis. Carpenter has further refined the original Tertis transcription, keeping the solo part remarkably true to the original cello part. This is not hard to imagine, as the viola possesses the same strings as the cello, just an octave higher. For anyone listening to Carpenter's performance without previous knowledge of the Cello Concerto, it's possible that the "viola version" would make a tremendous impact. Carpenter's playing is amazingly lush and technically superb; his interpretation of the work easily rivals the great cellists who have performed this work. But for those who are familiar with these great cello interpretations, there is something obviously missing here: the depth and darkness achieved by the cello. Adding that extra octave to the viola part brightens the landscape no matter how sultry and provocative Carpenter's tone may be. What is entirely successful is what comes next: Carpenter's performance of the Schnittke Viola Concerto. Without any necessary comparison to an "original" version, listeners can truly focus on the music at hand. Schnittke's concerto, written for Carpenter's teacher Yuri Bashmet, is one of the crown jewels of the viola repertoire. It is filled with dark, despairing passages, perhaps presaging the series of strokes the composer was to suffer immediately after its completion. Carpenter's performance is staggering in its power and intensity. Conductor Christoph Eschenbach and the Philharmonia Orchestra provide an equally dark, mysterious background with careful attention to dynamics to allow the viola to be heard easily throughout.
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Opera - Released April 1, 2010 | Ondine

Ondine's Essential Highlights of Karita Mattila brings together two previous releases, Karita Mattila Live in Helsinki from 2001 and Sibelius: Songs from 1996. Karita Mattila Live in Helsinki begins with riotous opening applause that continues through the orchestral introduction to "Dich teure Halle" from Tannhäuser, greeting Mattila like a rock star, and she performs with the passionate abandon and almost tangible audience rapport characteristic of rock stars. The intensity of her performance is palpable and she is fully invested in this material, holding nothing back. Besides the Wagner, Mattila brings characters from Dvorák, Verdi, and Puccini operas to life with a searing focus. Her powerful, radiant voice in the service of such an intelligent and heartfelt commitment to the music communicates viscerally with her audience. The remainder of the concert is devoted to lighter material, which she delivers with no less understanding and effectiveness. The comic gifts she brings to three arias from Die Fledermaus and her seductive performances of "Falling in Love Again," "Diamonds Are a Girl's Best Friend," and "Summertime" show that she could have made a career as a chanteuse if she'd chosen not to pursue opera. There are a few ancillary noises and some applause, but generally the sound is terrifically clean and present. Mattila's large, focused, warmly expressive soprano is especially well-suited to the music of the Romantic and post-Romantic eras, so it seems natural that she would have an affinity for the songs of her countryman Jean Sibelius. The songs are especially attractive, harmonically lush and melodically gratifying, beautifully constructed, and written to show off the virtuosic possibilities of the voice. Many of them, such as "Fåfäng önskan" and "Svarta rosor," lie very high, but Mattila soars and floats through their punishing tessitura with apparent effortlessness. Her robust soprano is absolutely secure throughout the full extent of her range (as is especially evident in "Arioso"), and it sounds like an advertisement for superb vocal health and grounded technique. That health comes across in the exuberance of her interpretations and her ability to sing with an abandon that never threatens to veer out of control; she never sounds less than fully at ease. Pianist Ilmo Ranta supplies a supportive accompaniment. Ondine's sound is clear, clean, and vibrant. This album should delight Mattila's fans, as well as Sibelius enthusiasts, and anyone who appreciates luminous vocal performances.
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Vocal Music (Secular and Sacred) - Released August 24, 2010 | Ondine

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Classical - Released May 3, 2011 | Ondine

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Chamber Music - Released June 7, 2011 | Ondine

Booklet