Archive for November, 2012

Tallis Scholars: Renaissance Giants

Posted in Choral, Medieval | Renaissance with tags , , , , , , on November 29, 2012 by orinococds

Tallis Scholars: Renaissance Giants | Peter Phillips | Gimmell CDGIM 207 | nz$36 | 2 cd – 2hr 31 m

Tallis Scholars directed by Peter Phillips featuring Tallis, Taverner, Victoria, Byrd, Palestrina and Josquin des Pres on this superb mid priced Gimmell double set.

The renaissance is well known for its cultural giants. Leonardo da Vinci, Raphael, and above all Michelangelo epitomise a period when the human spirit seemed to grow and gain in confidence. This collection of complete works celebrates the musical geniuses who contributed to this astonishing period in European history – Peter Phillips

This world famous choir, which has given hundreds of concerts from Siberia to Australia over the past 30 years, are finally headed to our shores. Details can be found on the Chamber Music New Zealand website – it’s sure to be a sellout event. Click here for the Tallis Scholars’ website

Works: Tallis – Spem in allium; Taverner – Western Wind Mass; Josquin – Missa pangue lingua; Palestrina – Missa Brevis; Byrd – Mass for four voices; Victoria – Requiem.


Strauss: Alpine Symphony | London Symphony Orch | Bernard Haitink (cond)

Posted in Orchestral, symphony with tags , , , on November 24, 2012 by orinococds
Cover Image

Strauss: Alpine Symphony | London Symphony Orch | Bernard Haitink (cond) | LSO Live 0689 | SACD | $NZ25

In his Alpine Symphony Strauss recounts an attempt to conquer the summit of an Alpine mountain. He infuses the score with numerous instrumental colours and rich combinations of sounds, evoking the images and events that take place on the trek. It was to be one of his final large-scale orchestral works and shows the last great German Romantic composer at the pinnacle of his art.

‘Even among some of the finest and classic recordings this new one has something special about it … Haitink and the LSO offer us a reading that unfolds with an almost effortless logic … a fine recording’ CD of the Week BBC Radio 3 CD Review

‘Another of those superb LSO Live recordings … gloriously atmospheric 5.1-channel DSD sound … The finest detail, colour and texture is apparent among the massed forces … the big, rich bass is just as thrilling as the scintillating resolution in the upper frequencies. The brass, in particular, sounds quite amazing … no one has quite Haitink’s sense of the piece as a rational symphonic argument … Admirers should not hesitate to acquire an archetypal example of Haitink’s unobtrusive podium manner’ Editor’s Choice & Disc of the Month Gramophone UK

‘Mastery is the word. This depiction of a mountain climb achieves the peak of orchestral expertise … it has immense grandeur.’ The Times, UK

Recorded live  June 2008, Barbican, London

American Mavericks | San Francisco Symphony Orchestra | Michael Tilson Thomas

Posted in Orchestral with tags , , on November 18, 2012 by orinococds

American Mavericks | San Francisco Symphony | Michael Tilson Thomas | Avie SFS0056 | $NZ33

Forthcoming release from Michael Tilson Thomas and the San Francisco Symphony
of live recordings from their memorable 2012 American Mavericks festival, featuring seminal works by Henry Cowell, Lou Harrison and Edgard Varèse, in Hybrid SACD format.

Features stunning live recordings from their wildly successful American Mavericks festival, a slate of concerts and special events focusing on the compositional voices who created a new American sound for the 20th century and beyond. Following two weeks of concerts in March 2012 in San Francisco, MTT and SFS took to the road to present these concerts throughout the US, attracting international attention.

Presented in premium audio Hybrid SACD, the recording captures performances of four works by three influential but seldom heard 20th century masters. Henry Cowell’s Synchrony and his Piano Concerto, with Jeremy Denk, combine Cowell’s distinctive musical language with exceptionally expressive playing. Lou Harrison’s eclectic compositional style and organ soloist Paul Jacobs’ spectacular virtuosity are on full display in the Concerto for Organ with Percussion Orchestra. This unique recording concludes with Edgard Varèse’s monumental Amériques and the orchestral siren that influenced generations of composers.

“Michael Tilson Thomas’s time at the helm of the San Francisco Symphony has been marked by a courageous dedication to modernist American outsiders, and American Mavericks bears out the orchestra’s experience with such outré material.” Independent, 3 Nov 2012.

WORKS:- Cowell:  Synchrony; Piano Concerto, HC 440 Jeremy Denk (piano);  Harrison, L: Concerto for Organ with Percussion Orchestra Paul Jacobs (organ); Varèse: Amériques

JS Bach: Sonatas and Partitas Vol 1 and 2

Posted in Chamber music, Instrumental, Violin with tags , , , , on November 14, 2012 by orinococds

JS Bach: Sonatas & Partitas Vol. 1 | Isabelle Faust | Harmonia Mundi HMC902059 | $NZ 33

JS Bach: Sonatas & Partitas Vol. 2 | Isabelle Faust | Harmonia Mundi HMC902124 | $ NZ 3

“Isabelle Faust completes her recordings begun in 2010 of Bach’s Sonatas and Partitas for solo violin. “These works are the daily bedrock of my approach to the entire violin literature,” says the Faust. Based on on a careful survey of the original manuscripts as well as a lifetime of study, these are exceptional performances.

 … here is perfect technique allied to a faultless sense of rhythm. … Faust points out in accompanying notes that a violinist can only imply the polyphany and harmony, leaving them to be mentally developed by the listener. She provides every clue for this utterly enjoyable task.

 … These are surely award-winning performances. Bach for today” – Peter Shaw, North and South magazine (NZ) 12 Nov, 2012

Previous reviews in UK press of Volume 1:

“Her serious dedication soars from her Stradivarius, a dark-toned beauty but capable of much silver light in its higher reaches…Faust’s wonderfully focused playing pulls you right inside the music, and magically makes you imagine the harmonies that Bach only implies.”The Times, 10th April 2010 ****

“Faust’s account of the music is gently voiced and eloquently inflected. Her lightly articulated bowing, which eschews anything in the nature of aggressive declamation, is a constant pleasure…a poetic player with an irresistably warm sound, a tightly controlled vibrato and an athletic technique.”BBC Music Magazine, May 2010 ****

“Isabelle Faust has made a special impression as a deep, thoughtful, unshowy player, and these qualities make her ideally suited to the great Bach solo works…her command of the big structures, especially the huge C major Fugue and D minor Chaconne, is superb.” The Observer, 27th June 2010

Vivaldi: Bassoon Concerti Vol 1-3

Posted in Baroque, Chamber music, Concerto with tags , , on November 12, 2012 by orinococds

Vivaldi: Concerti per fagotto Vol 1 | Sergio Azzolini | L’Aura Soave Cremona | Naive | $NZ 33

Vivaldi: Concerti per fagotto Vol 2 | Sergio Azzolini | L’Aura Soave Cremona | Naive | $NZ 33

Vivaldi: Concerti per fagotto Vol 3 | Sergio Azzolini | L’Aura Soave Cremona | Naive | $NZ 33

Poetry, virtuosity, melodic melancholy, textural richness: dive into the fascinating and unique atmosphere of Vivaldi’s bassoon concertos
Vol. 1: RV 493, 495, 477, 488, 503, 471 & 484
Vol. 2: RV 499, 472. 490, 496, 504, 453, 470
Vol. 3: RV 485, 502, 474, 480, 494, 475

Reviews of Sergio Azzolini’s first two Vivaldi volumes –
“Azzolini is a consummate master of his instrument and no matter what difficulties Vivaldi puts before the performer, Azzolini will transform it into something wonderful—his virtuosity is astounding, but he is equally gifted in his ability to shape melodies into something approach-ing enchantments.”Early Music Review
“He is a baroque musician on a high level of imagination and inspiration. […] He makes these concertos all the more attractive and fascinating. This is music-making to cherish.”Gramophone
“A tour de force, Azzolini’s command of those concertos is breathtaking, maximising the power of Vivaldi’s music with an expressive palet beyond that often expected of period instruments.”Early Music Today

Sergio Azzolini was born in 1967 in Bolzano, Italy. He first studied the bassoon with Romano Santi at the Claudio Monteverdi Conservatory in his home town and went on to further studies with Klaus Thunemann at the Hochschule für Musik und Theater in Hanover. While finishing his studies he simultaneously held the position of first bassoonist in the European Union Youth Orchestra. Among the numerous awards that Sergio Azzolini has received are prizes at the Carl Maria von Weber, Prague Spring, and ARD (Munich) competitions.
In parallel with his work on modern bassoon he pursued research into Baroque sound and aesthetics, familiarising himself with historically informed performance practices and working not only with copies of historical instruments but also with authentic period instruments, of which he has a large collection.
As a performer on the Baroque bassoon he is a member of the Ensemble Baroque de Limoges, directed by Christophe Coin, and appears regularly as soloist with L’Aura Soave Cremona, Sonatori della Gioiosa Marca, and La Stravaganza Köln. He is also a member of the ensemble Parnassi Musici.
Between 2002 and 2007 he was artistic director of the Kammerakademie Potsdam. With this orchestra he explored and performed music ranging from Baroque to contemporary, including many world premiere performances and four operas: Vivaldi’s La fida ninfa, Le nozze di Dorina by Galuppi, Montezuma by Graun and, in 2011, Mozart’s Le nozze di Figaro. Sergio Azzolini has recorded extensively. His CDs show extraordinary stylistic diversity and have been honoured with many prestigious awards. Since 1998 he has held the post of professor of bassoon and chamber music at the Hochschule für Musik in Basel.

Bruckner: Symphony No.4 “Romantic”

Posted in Orchestral, symphony with tags , , , on November 11, 2012 by orinococds

Bruckner Sym No. 4 | Philharmonia | Dohnanyi | Signum | $ NZ 33

Bruckner stands out from other 19th-century symphonists; his large-scale works demonstrate a unique fusion of conservative and radical elements, notably influenced by composers such as Wagner and Beethoven. He appended not only the title ‘Romantic’ but even included a programme for the Fourth Symphony, sometime after composition. Though he later withdrew it, the scenario is a mediaeval Romantic ideal, where knights awaken to the sound of horns, rejoice and repair to prayer, before the inevitable hunt and ensuing festivities.

“This is a powerful live account of Bruckner’s Fourth, played in the Robert Haas edition, as heard in 1881. By graduating both dynamics and intensity, von Dohnanyi studiously avoids that sense of periodic hiatus less attentive interpreters can often convey. The result is that the performance possesses a compelling feeling of being a singular rather than a disparate organism. Then there is the sound of the orchestra, opulently warm and satin-like. Von Dohnanyi avoids overplaying both the majestic elements and the religiosity of this music, maintaining the impetus in the opening movement. The finale becomes a vast, thrilling drama of tension and relaxation, and triumph.” The Times

“Recorded live at the Royal Festival Hall in 2008, this CD follows Christoph von Dohnanyi’s acclaimed Cleveland Orchestra Decca release in offering a relatively straightforward account of Bruckner’s Symphony No. 4 that aims for maximum structural cohesion. This strategy is particularly effective in the Finale where Dohnanyi avoids the stop-start approach favoured by some conductors, which brings greater cogency to the movement and making its climaxes, in particular the awe-inspiring coda, all the more overwhelming. Hardly surprisingly the audience responds extremely positively to the adrenaline generated by this coda, and for once the decision to retain applause on a recording doesn’t seem obtrusive.

Despite some wonderfully atmospheric horn playing in the opening passage, the first movement seems more routine and doesn’t really achieve the same level of intensity. Far more impressive is the slow movement. Although Dohnanyi’s tempo is quite slow (somewhat ignoring Bruckner’s marking Andante quasi allegretto), the performance is notable for some really sensitive chamber-music-like interaction between wind and strings and particularly subtle phrasing from the violas in the chorale melody.

The Royal Festival Hall doesn’t perhaps offer the kind of spacious acoustic most suited to Bruckner’s orchestration, and in some of the climaxes the sound is congested with the trumpets predominating at the expense of the horns. Nonetheless, this is a largely enjoyable performance, if not one that ultimately deserves to be considered as a serious alternative to the classic accounts from Karl Bohm (Decca) and Gunter Wand (BMG). “ BBC Music Magazine, Erik Levi


Prokofiev: Romeo and Juliet Ballet music – LSO | Gergiev

Posted in Ballet score, Orchestral with tags , , , , on November 7, 2012 by orinococds

Prokofiev: Romeo and Juliet | LSO | Valery Gergiev | LSO Live 0682 2 cds, 139 min | $NZ 35

London Symphony Orchestra, Valery Gergiev conductor

Disc of the Year & Best Orchestral Recording BBC Music Magazine Awards 2011; Essential Work BBC Music Magazine (UK); Editor’s Choice Gramophone (UK); CD of the Week Sunday Times (UK); Editor’s Choice Classic FM Magazine (UK)
Prokofiev’s Romeo and Juliet has a strong claim to being the greatest ballet. Not only does it contain much of the composer’s finest and most instantly appealing music, it is also considered one of the most exceptional musical realisations of Shakespeare.

Full score

5 stars
RARELY does a new recording supersede all before it, but that is the case with the London Symphony Orchestra’s new performance of Prokofiev’s ballet score, Romeo and Juliet. It uses a reconstruction of the first, 1935 version of the ballet prepared by Princeton scholar Simon Morrison, who discovered additional music the composer had written for its four acts. Comprising dances, variations and bridge passages, much had to be reconstructed from an autograph piano score. There’s a lot more colour in each scene. A scurrying Morning Dance and lively Tarantella add great sparkle to the opening, and strumming mandolins make an extraordinary surprise in the second act. The epilogue, depicting Juliet’s death, is much expanded, with deepened pathos as the main themes return for a final time. Coupled with Morrison’s reconstruction comes a freshly conceived, thoroughly magnificent live performance from the LSO with Valery Gergiev at the helm. Many tempos of the more familiar numbers are different. Some are blisteringly fast while others are considerably slower than usual. But Gergiev has reassessed the mood of each scene and delivers them with heightened pictorial intensity. Tybalt’s funeral march initially sounds very slow, but it gains a huge monumental quality. The LSO plays with warm, tidy spaciousness and a lovely feeling for line. The grace of dance is present throughout. This is an indispensable release.
Graham Strahle, Australian newspaper Arts review