Sharon Bezaly plays Flute Concertos by Khachaturian & Rautavaara (2016)
FLAC (tracks) 24-bit/44,1 kHz | Time – 01:19:10 minutes | 976 MB | Genre: Classical
Studio Masters, Official Digital Download – Source: eClassical | Digital Booklet | © BIS Records
Recorded: [1–3] February 2010 at the Sala São Paulo, Brazil; [4–11] November 2014 at the Sibelius Hall, Lahti, Finland
On close to 40 discs, flutist Sharon Bezaly has impressed and delighted critics and listeners worldwide, earning the description ‘God’s gift to the flute’. Her wide-ranging discography naturally includes the core repertoire, such as the concertos by Mozart, Nielsen, Rodrigo and Reinecke, but also a large number of works written especially for her. The works on the present disc owe their existence to two other flutists, however: Jean-Pierre Rampal, who transcribed Aram Khachaturian’s violin concerto for his own instrument, and Gunilla von Bahr, for whom Einojuhani Rautavaara composed his ‘Dances with the Winds’ in 1974. Khachaturian wrote his concerto in 1940, dedicating it to David Oistrakh, who also gave the first performance. The composer always had a particular liking for the work, and when Rampal in 1968 asked him to compose a concerto for the flute, Khachaturian instead suggested that he should transcribe it. Rampal was given carte blanche when it came to making the necessary changes, and thus reworked the solo part completely. The orchestral score – here performed by the São Paulo Symphony Orchestra conducted by Enrique Diemecke – was left unaltered, however. In a manner of speaking, Rautavaara’s concerto is not a solo concerto, as it is written for all the four instruments of the flute family. In the first and the last of the four movements the soloist plays the normal ‘flauto grande’ and the bass flute, while the second movement is written for piccolo and the third for alto flute. After completing the work, the composer made a revised version in which the most unusual of these instruments, the bass flute, was replaced by the alto flute. The present disc provides a unique opportunity to compare the two versions, as Sharon Bezaly includes both of them, supported by the Lahti Symphony Orchestra under Dima Slobodeniouk, the orchestra’s new principal conductor.
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Joseph Haydn – Piano Concertos – Ronald Brautigam, Concerto Copenhagen, Lars Ulrik Mortensen (2004)
FLAC (tracks) 24-bit/44,1 kHz | Time – 01:15:54 minutes | 688 MB | Genre: Classical
Studio Master, Official Digital Download – Source: eClassical | Digital Booklet | © BIS Records
Here is a jewel of a record. Fresh from his triumphant reading of Haydn’s entire output for the fortepiano Ronald Brautigam now brings us four concertos for piano and orchestra by the great composer. The piano concerto of this period naturally means Mozart. No one would dispute his pre-eminence in the genre. But when we actually listen to Haydn, as opposed to nodding at his technical ability, breadth of application and so on, we are always surprised; his music is not just brilliantly skilful but deeply impassioned and full of delightful surprises. Lars Ulrik Mortensen is also a musician to bring out these elements. Widely recognized as a harpsichord player of unusual insight and personality he directs the period ensemble Concerto Copenhagen from the continuo bench. Surely no one can fail to respond to this heart-warming disc?
Continue reading Ronald Brautigam plays Joseph Haydn Piano Concertos with Concerto Copenhagen & Lars Ulrik Mortensen (2004) [eClassical 24-44.1]
Johann Sebastian Bach – The Brandenburg Concertos and Orchestral Suites – Bach Collegium Japan, Masaaki Suzuki (2009)
FLAC (tracks) 24 bit/96 kHz | Time – 03:21:02 minutes | 2,66 GB | Genre: Classical
Studio Masters, Official Digital Download – Source: eClassical | Digital Booklet | © BIS Records
Recorded: June 2008 at the MUZA Kawasaki Symphony Hall, Japan (Brandenburg Concertos) and October 2003 at Kobe Shoin Women’s University, Japan (Orchestral Suites)
Bach Collegium Japan was first noticed internationally for undertaking the huge project of recording the complete church cantatas of J. S. Bach. Although the ensemble’s discography consists of predominately vocal works, the participating instrumentalists have attracted acclaim ever since the outset. On the present offering, it is Bach’s two great sets of orchestral works that form the programme and the choir of the BCJ is silent. Bach Collegium Japan and Masaaki Suzuki first recorded the Brandenburg Concertos in 2000, but now return to these great works. The new recording took place in the recently completed MUZA Kawasaki Hall, a venue that is highly suitable to an approach focussing on the chamber music qualities of this music. In four of the concertos Masaaki Suzuki has chosen to replace the traditional cello with the violoncello da spalla – a smaller instrument played horizontally on the shoulder or held against the breast. The instrument has already featured in the BCJ Cantata series, and opens for new possibilities in timbre, for instance in Concerto No. 6, where the violoncello da spalla blends particularly well with the two solo violas and the viola da gambas.
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Alfred Schnittke – Twelve Penitential Psalms, Three Sacred Hymns – RIAS Kammerchor, Hans-Christoph Rademann (2016)
FLAC (tracks) 24 bit/48 kHz | Time – 54:35 minutes | 514 MB | Genre: Classical
Studio Master, Official Digital Download | Source: eClassical | Digital Booklet | © Harmonia Mundi
Alfred Schnittke’s Penitential Psalms are not settings of biblical psalms, but of a set of Old Russian texts published not long before Schnittke wrote these a cappella pieces in 1988. They are less eclectic in style than many of this composer’s other works, drawing on the tradition of Russian Orthodox church music, with its dense harmonies, that matches the text. The work was composed for an event marking the 1,000th anniversary of the advent of Christianity in Russia, and it has a nifty double structure. Its central text is that of the sixth psalm (sample track 6), describing the martyrdom of Boris and Gleb, the sons of the baptized founder Grand Prince Vladimir during the Kievan Rus. The other texts are gloomy meditations circling around this event, but also gaining in inner intensity. The second trajectory emerges at the end in mostly hummed Pslam No. 12, as if the spiritual experience involved has transcended language. The performances by the RIAS Kammerchor under Hans-Christoph Rademann are wonderful throughout, but in this demanding piece, with high notes sustained at very low volumes, they’re sublime. The simpler Three Spiritual Songs at the end of the album bring down the considerable tension effectively, and Harmonia Mundi’s engineering at Berlin’s Jesus-Christus-Kirche is impressive indeed. Schnittke fans have an added attraction here: Rademann contributes a note explaining how the performers have revised the commonly used score in favor of dynamics they believe more closely match Schnittke’s own intentions. But this is a worthwhile Schnittke album for anyone interested in the composer or in contemporary choral music in general. ~~ AllMusic Review by James Manheim
Continue reading Alfred Schnittke – Penitential Psalms – RIAS Kammerchor, Hans-Christoph Rademann (2016) [eClassical 24-48]
Yevgeny Sudbin plays Medtner & Rachmaninov (2015)
FLAC (tracks) 24-bit/96 kHz | Time – 60:00 minutes | 783 MB | Genre: Classical
Studio Master, Official Digital Download – Source: eClassical | © BIS Records
Recorded: February & June 2009, April 2012, July, October & November 2014 at St George’s Bristol, England
Having previously released recordings of Medtner’s three piano concertos as well as three of Rachmaninov’s five concertante works, Yevgeny Sudbin on the present disc combines solo pieces by the two friends and fellow-composers. From Sergei Rachmaninov’s rich and varied production he has chosen six of the celebrated preludes, including the celebrated ‘Alla marcia’ in G minor (Op.23 No.5) as well as the much-loved Prelude No.12 in G sharp minor from the Op.32 set. But Sudbin, who is a great admirer of Nikolai Medtner, opens his new disc with a generous selection of that composer’s solo piano music. This section begins with the Prologue from Stimmungsbilder, the eighteen-year-old composer’s Opus 1, and closes with Sonata tragica, composed shortly before Medtner left Russia in 1921, never to return. It also includes three of the thirty-some Fairy Tales that Medtner composed throughout his life. ‘No one tells such tales as Kolya’, Rachmaninov used to joke affectionately, and with these pieces Medtner created his own, unique genre. He himself used the Russian word skazka or German Märchen to describe them, and in his liner notes Yevgeny Sudbin suggests that the creative impulse came not only from folklore but also from such diverse sources as Pushkin, Shakespeare and even the Bible. As an interpreter of both these composers, Sudbin has proven himself both in concert and on disc, with previous recordings being named Disc of the Month in Gramophone, ‘Essential Recording’ in BBC Music Magazine and ’10/10′ on ClassicsToday.com, to mention just a few of the distinctions awarded them.
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Dmitri Shostakovich – The Execution of Stepan Razin, Zoya Suite & Suite on Finnish Themes – Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra, Vladimir Ashkenazy (2013)
FLAC (tracks) 24-bit/44,1 kHz | Time – 01:05:37 minutes | 598 MB | Genre: Classical
Studio Master, Official Digital Download – Source: eClassical | © Ondine Oy, Helsinki
Recorded: 2013, Helsinki Music Centre, Finland
Shostakovich’s cantata The Execution of Stepan Razin is a moving and exciting late work audibly related to the Thirteenth Symphony, “Babi Yar”. Both use texts by Yevtushenko, and yet the cantata never has enjoyed the same degree of popularity and critical regard. The reason may be that it’s too long to serve as a coupling with the symphony, and Shostakovich never wrote anything else like it. His previous Socialist Realist choral works, like The Song of the Forests, are too obviously ideological in content, but Razin would make a terrific piece coupled to, say, Prokofiev’s Alexander Nevsky.
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Domenico Scarlatti – 18 Keyboard Sonatas – Yevgeny Sudbin (2016)
FLAC (tracks) 24-bit/96 kHz | Time – 01:14:30 minutes | 1,12 GB | Genre: Classical
Studio Master, Official Digital Download – Source: eClassical | © BIS Records
Recorded: July 2014 (K 9, 141, 159, 213), February 2015 (K 12, 29, 32, 69, 99, 119, 125, 417) and July 2015 (K 56, 208, 318, 373, 425, 479) at St George’s Bristol, England
With the 2005 release of his first recording for BIS Records, Yevgeny Sudbin catapulted into the pages of the international music press. The disc was a Scarlatti recital that prompted reviewers worldwide to compare the then 24-year old pianist in the most flattering terms to Scarlatti experts such as Horowitz and Pletnev. It went on to receive a long list of distinctions, including an Editor’s Choice in Gramophone, where the accompanying review described it as ‘among the finest, certainly most enjoyable of all Scarlatti recitals’. Since then, Sudbin and BIS have enjoyed a highly successful collaboration, resulting in numerous acclaimed recordings of both solo programmes and concertos. To celebrate the past 10 years, a new Scarlatti recording seemed the obvious choice for an anniversary present – to ourselves, and of course to all Sudbin fans and Scarlatti lovers. Said and done: Sudbin met up with Marion Schwebel, the recording producer with whom he has collaborated from the very beginning, for recording sessions in the silken acoustics of St George’s in Bristol. The results can be heard on this new disc: 18 sonatas selected from the total of 555 – a collection of a striking, even bewildering, variety. Through it all, Sudbin guides us with authority but also obvious relish as he brings to life elements which his own liner notes describes as ‘church bells and gunshots (K119), howls in the streets (K479), trumpets appearing on the horizon (K159), head-spinning dances (K425) but also a wonderful sense of humour (K125) – as well scenes as melancholic, lean and desiccated as a sun-baked Mediterranean landscape (K99).
Continue reading Domenico Scarlatti – 18 Keyboard Sonatas – Yevgeny Sudbin (2016) [eClassical 24-96]
Sergei Prokofiev – Piano Concertos Nos.2 & 5 – Vadym Kholodenko, Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra, Miguel Harth-Bedoya (2016)
FLAC (tracks) 24-bit/88,2 kHz | Time – 00:56:55 minutes | 0,99 GB | Genre: Classical
Studio Master, Official Digital Download – Source: eClassical | © Harmonia Mundi
Recorded: October, 2014 (Concerto No. 2) and March, 2015 (Concerto No. 5) at Bass Performance Hall, Fort Worth, Texas
“Lush sonorities … startling precision”. 2013 Cliburn Gold Medalist Vadym Kholodenko became the first-ever “Artistic Partner” with the Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra beginning in 2014/2015. Under the baton of Miguel Harth-Bedoya he opens his complete cycle of Prokofiev piano concertos with the “dark-hued but dazzling” No. 2 in G minor, coupled with the less familiar No. 5 in G major. “He rewarded the audience with a highly varied, consistently interesting and technically amazing performance.”
Continue reading Sergei Prokofiev – Piano Concertos Nos.2 & 5 – Vadym Kholodenko, Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra, Miguel Harth-Bedoya (2016) [eClassical 24-88.2]
Franz Schubert – Symphonies Nos. 8 & 9 – Swedish Chamber Orchestra, Thomas Dausgaard (2010)
FLAC (tracks) 24 bit/44,1kHz | Time – 01:19:17 minutes | 682 MB | Genre: Classical
Studio Masters, Official Digital Download – Source: eClassical | © BIS Records
Recorded: Recorded in October 2006 (Unfinished) and December 2007 (Great C major) at the Örebro Concert Hall, Sweden
In 2008, to great acclaim, Thomas Dausgaard and the Swedish Chamber Orchestra completed their 3-disc cycle of Schumann’s symphonies. Gramophone described it as ‘riveting’ while the German website klassik.com awarded it the claim of reference recording. The reviewer in Fanfare was struck by the excitement Dausgaard and company offered the listener (‘what a ride . with sawing violins smoking down to the bridge and timpani-like rifle shots’) while his colleague in International Record Review called the result ‘the most perceptive Schumann cycle in over three decades’. Together with a recording of Dvorák’s Sixth and Ninth Symphony released in 2007 the Schumann discs belong to a series entitled ‘Opening Doors’, in which Dausgaard makes a case for performing 19th-century symphonic works with a chamber-sized band. The turn has now come to Franz Schubert and his final works in the symphonic genre: the ‘Unfinished’ (Symphony No.8) and ‘the ‘Great C Major’ (No.9). Both of these are also the most celebrated of all Schubert symphonies, which makes it all the more ironic that the composer never had the opportunity to hear them performed. As for the Eighth, with its distinctive, mysterious opening, it is not known why Schubert didn’t complete it: a few jotted-down bars of a third movement is all that we have. The most likely explanation may simply be that Schubert remained unsatisfied with all of his attempts to match the degree of innovation achieved in the first two movements. The Ninth, on the other hand, does run its full course – and most gloriously so, with a Finale of exuberant festiveness. Unfortunately for the composer, the great (or, as Schumann put it: ‘heavenly’) length of the symphony and the technical demands it placed on the orchestra caused the only performance planned in Schubert’s lifetime to be cancelled. In 1839 the score was found among his papers by Robert Schumann, and received its first performance shortly thereafter by Mendelssohn conducting the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra – eleven years after the composer’s death.
Continue reading Schubert – Symphonies Nos. 8 & 9 – Swedish Chamber Orchestra, Thomas Dausgaard (2010) [eClassical 24-44.1]
Basil Poledouris – Conan, the Barbarian – Philipp Pelster (2015)
FLAC (tracks) 24 bit/44.1kHz | Time – 01:04:25 minutes | 518 MB | Genre: Classical
Studio Masters, Official Digital Download – Source: eClassical | © Naxos Rights
Recorded: Glatter-Götz/Rosales organ at Claremont United Church of Christ, Claremont, California, USA, on 19th and 20th May, 2014
Director and co-writer John Milius’s intention with the 1982 adventure Conan the Barbarian was to create an opera in the form of film. With its power, energy and moments of tenderness, Basil Poledouris’s music supports the storyline in a similar way to a work written for the stage. The superb Glatter-Götz/Rosales organ in Claremont, California was designed to inspire creativity and innovation, and Philipp Pelster’s vision in making a complete film-score transcription especially for the unique possibilities of this instrument transforms the orchestral colours of the original to generate a completely new and richly rewarding musical experience.
Continue reading Basil Poledouris – Conan, the Barbarian – Philipp Pelster (2015) [eClassical 24-44.1]