Archive for December, 2012

Elgar: Cello concerto | BBC Philharmonic | Paul Watkins (cello), Sir Andrew Davis, cond.

Posted in Concerto, Orchestral with tags , , , , on December 30, 2012 by orinococds
Elgar: Cello concerto | Chandos |

Elgar: Cello concerto | Chandos | BBC Philharmonic |Paul Watkins, Sir Andrew Davis, cond. | NZ$ 33

BBC Review Graham Rogers 2012-07-25

A sumptuously recorded new Elgar collection which is impressive throughout.

Chandos offers a generous 75-minute helping of Elgar’s best-loved orchestral works in this new album. Elgar specialist Sir Andrew Davis has recorded most of these pieces at least once before – but this collection benefits from his by-now vastly experienced wisdom in the field, and the sumptuously recorded (in studio) BBC Philharmonic on top form.

The meatiest work here is the brooding Cello Concerto from 1919 – the last major piece Elgar completed. Paul Watkins is a sensitive soloist, and he and Davis clearly have a special rapport, presumably dating back to the years they worked together at the BBC Symphony Orchestra as, respectively, Principal Cellist and Chief Conductor. The melancholic opening bars are imbued with a plaintiveness that permeates the whole performance.

Following the magically hushed orchestral entrance, the fateful tread of the tutti main theme is powerfully portentous. Watkins is brilliantly nimble-fingered in the scampering scherzo, displaying delightfully Mendelssohnian charm; his achingly sweet, song-like tone in the soulful Adagio is utterly mesmeric. This is not a heart-on-sleeve account of the concerto, in the manner of the famous Jacqueline du Pré recording with Barbirolli (EMI, 1965); but what it lacks in extrovert drama it makes up for with intensity and considered fidelity to the score.

The BBC Philharmonic strings are richly full-blooded and rhythmically taught in the Introduction and Allegro. There is a wonderful ebb and flow to the lighter passages, which radiate warmth and geniality, but it is let down slightly by the emotional coolness of the big-boned moments. By contrast, the miniature Elegy, also for strings, is entrancingly tender.

Davis has conducted the first Pomp and Circumstance March many a time at the Last Night of the Proms. This latest studio version may be missing the unbridled exuberance of those occasions, but it compensates with remarkable nuance and clarity – every detail of Elgar’s orchestration can be heard in all its glory. And Davis gets the famous “Land of Hope and Glory” theme just right: noble and majestic, but with a fluidity that avoids overblown pomposity. With the four other Marches equally impressive, all in all this is an excellent collection.


Felix Mendelssohn: Hebrides overture; Violin Concertos | Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment | Alina Ibragimova, violin

Posted in Concerto, Orchestral, Violin with tags , , , , , on December 30, 2012 by orinococds
Mendelssohn Violin concertos |

Mendelssohn Violin concertos; Hebrides | Hyperion | NZ$33

BBC Review Graham Rogers 2012-10-29

Ibragimova’s svelte, unforced violin tone is just right.

Felix Mendelssohn was, famously, one of the most extraordinarily precocious composing talents the world has ever seen. Presented in this new Hyperion release, alongside his well-loved mature Violin Concerto in E minor, is the earlier D minor concerto, written when he was just 13.

The soloist is young Russian star Alina Ibragimova, 2007 graduate of BBC Radio 3’s New Generation Artists scheme, partnered by the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment (on period-instruments) under Vladimir Jurowski.

Ibragimova adopts a historically-informed style on her 1775 Anselmo Bellosio violin, the sound lighter than we are used to hearing in Mendelssohn’s mid-19th century E minor masterpiece. But her svelte, unforced tone is just right in this context – and, with sparing use of vibrato, she conjures some beguilingly sweet tones. In the brooding opening movement she is marvellously fleet-footed, never underpowered.

Clear orchestral textures and crisp articulation heighten the intensity of the romantic sweep. The first movement brims with fervent passion – Jurowski driving forward excitingly, but also allowing space for reflection. Refreshingly, Ibragimova takes the sumptuous Andante at a genuine, gently flowing, “walking pace”, her violin singing eloquently and tenderly, followed by a daringly fast finale that she’s never in any danger of not pulling off.

Her absolute unanimity with the woodwind, which joins her in the scampering main theme, is breathtaking, and her occasional discrete use of portamento feels completely apt. This is a delightful, compelling performance from beginning to end, the equal of any in the catalogue.

The early D minor concerto, scored for string orchestra, is less distinctively Mendelssohnian, displaying, unsurprisingly, the juvenile composer’s classical heritage. But it is also forward-looking – there are shades of Weber in the cloak-and-dagger stalking motif that opens the first movement.

An attractive work in its own right, Ibragimova approaches the concerto with no less commitment than the E minor, and the result is a rewarding experience. With rhythmically taught OAE strings, the folk-like dancing finale is an exhilarating ride.

Sandwiched between the two concertos is an atmospheric account of the famous Hebrides overture, Jurowski tangibly evoking romantic Highland mists and an adventurous spirit with pungent woodwind, churning cellos and majestic brass.

Mozart and Haydn Duo Sonatas – Rachel Podger and Jane Rodgers

Posted in Chamber music, Instrumental, Violin with tags , , , , on December 29, 2012 by orinococds
Mozart and Haydn Duo Sonatas | Channel Classics | NZ $33

Mozart and Haydn Duo Sonatas | Channel Classics | NZ $33

BBC Review  Graham Rogers 2012-01-25 (BBC Radio 3 website:
A warm ambience pervades this highly recommended album.

Following her excellent series of Mozart’s sonatas for violin and piano for Channel Classics, expert period-instrument violinist Rachel Podger now turns to the lesser-known duo sonatas for violin and viola. The two sonatas’ relative unfamiliarity can mainly be put down to rarity of opportunity of performance; for musical invention and sunny appeal they rival many of Mozart’s best chamber works. Podger and her violist partner Jane Rogers say they have long been favourite pieces of theirs (not least because the sonatas always ensured them double takings when busking as teenagers!) and their enthusiasm is borne out by these lively and committed performances.

Written in 1783, after Mozart had been settled in Vienna for a couple of years, the sonatas were actually the product of a return visit to his native Salzburg. His friend and fellow composer Michael Haydn (younger brother of Joseph) was still employed by the Archbishop of Salzburg, for whom he was struggling to complete a commission for six violin and viola duos. Haydn had finished four sonatas; Mozart stepped in to complete the set with two more.

Haydn’s sonatas are attractive pieces that are certainly worth hearing, but it is no great shame that Podger and Rogers include only two of them on this album: his affable but classically conformational style pales beside the extrovert originality of Mozart’s contributions. Building on the masterfully engineered relationship between solo violin and viola in his Sinfonia concertante K.364, Mozart revels in the operatic opportunities offered by – as Podger and Rogers put it, with only slightly fanciful exaggeration – “soprano diva” and “heroic tenor”. Anyone imagining that the works might lack depth, without piano or cello accompaniment, need only listen for a few minutes to be convinced by the richness and extraordinary variety of Mozart’s writing – especially in such vibrant and beguiling performances.

The splendid recording has a warm ambience without compromising clarity – but, listening on headphones at least, there is a disturbing amount of traffic noise from outside All Saints Church, East Finchley. This is a pity but, once adjusted to, doesn’t detract too much from an otherwise delightful and highly recommended album.

Prokofiev: Violin Concerto No. 2 | Rachmaninov: Symphonic Dances, Op 45 | Orchestre National du Capitole de Toulouse | Geneviève Laurenceau (violin)

Posted in Concerto, Orchestral, Violin with tags , , , on December 23, 2012 by orinococds

Prokofiev: Violin Concerto No. 2 | Rachmaninov: Symphonic Dances, Op 45 | Orchestre National du Capitole de Toulouse, Tugan Sokhiev cond.Geneviève Laurenceau (violin) | Naive V5256 | $NZ33

Following two highly praised recordings of Russian orchestral music (V5068 and V5073), this is the third recording by the Orchestre National du Capitole de Toulouse and Tugan Sokhiev for Naïve. The CD includes two more great Russian masterpieces, Rachmaninoff’s Symphonic Dances and Prokofiev’s Second Violin Concerto. The latter features the orchestra’s new leader, the talented soloist Geneviève Laurenceau.

Tugan Sokhiev became music director of the Orchestre National du Capitole de Toulouse in 2008, following three years as principal guest conductor and artistic adviser. During this collaboration he has conducted many critically acclaimed concerts across Europe and Asia, and their first two discs for Naïve received remarkable reviews. Tugan Sokhiev has just been named music director designate of the Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin and will take up his role as music director from the 2012-13 season.

Born in Strasbourg in 1977, Geneviève Laurenceau was awarded the Grand Prix of the Académie Maurice Ravel at Saint-Jean-de-Luz in September 2001, and later won the fifth ‘Violon de l’Adami’ award, She has performed as a soloist with the leading French and international orchestras under the direction of such conductors as Michel Plasson, Kees Bakels, Walter Weller and Tugan Sokhiev.

Both Prokofiev and Rachmaninoff left Russia following the Revolution of 1917, and both made careers abroad as composer-pianists. However, while Rachmaninoff resolved never to return to Russia so long as it was under Soviet rule, Prokofiev took a more pragmatic approach and, though cautious in his dealings with Soviet authorities, remained on good terms with the Soviet authorities.

“Laurenceau is a seductive envoy of Prokofiev’s opening gambit, drawing the listener in with a poetic and rich-sounding introduction; furthermore she is as technically athletic and tonally acerbic as is required later on…She not only plays marvellously and fantastically but has a distinct and compelling view of the concerto, relishing its contrasts of mood and also its beauty” International Record Review, March 2011

“[Laurenceau] has the measure of the amalgam that goes to make up Prokofiev’s mid-1930s style…Crucial to the overall effectiveness of the performance is Tugan Sokhiev’s sharp-eared conducting of the Toulouse Capitole Orchestra, in which colour is deftly and discerningly applied, impetus strong and the shifts in the music’s temperament seamlessly executed.” Gramophone Magazine, April 2011

“Laurenceau is commanding, ardent, colourful and intonation perfect. She makes some of the passages…sound like they’ve never done before; and the final begins with splendid swagger…The Toulouse Capitole Orchestra has its virtues, not least those bright, caressing woodwind who launch the central reverie of Rachmaninov’s first symphonic dance.” BBC Music Magazine, September 2011 ***

Vivaldi: Concerti per violino V | Dmitry Sinkovsky | Il Pomo d’Oro

Posted in Concerto, Violin with tags , , , , on December 18, 2012 by orinococds
Vivaldi: violin concertos Vol V  'Per Pisendal' |

Vivaldi: violin concertos Vol V ‘Per Pisendal’ | Dmitry Sinkovsky | Il Pomo d’Oro | OP30538 | $NZ 33 | 1 cd, 77min

This will be the 49th title in the Vivaldi Edition and the 5th volume, out of approximately 12, of the series dedicated to the violin concertos whose manuscripts are held in the National Library of Turin
All the concertos selected here are linked to German violinist Johann Georg Pisendel, member of the Dresden orchestra, that spent a long time in Venice in 1716-1717, beside the Electoral Prince of Saxony Friedrich August. Vivaldi and Pisendel became very close friends and the Prete Rosso composed several works for Pisendel. Moreover, Pisendel copied and performed afterwards in Germany several concertos of Vivaldi
This series of 7 concertos is an overview of the complete art of Vivaldi as a composer and violinist: large scale of music, invention, expression, energy, power of evocation, considerable virtuosity
Dmitry Sinkowsky is a fast rising baroque violinist and conductor. He is currently the conductor of the Italian leading baroque orchestra Il Complesso Barocco in Joyce di Donato’s worldwide ‘Drama Queen’ tour. In every concert of this tour, he performs Vivaldi’s violin concerto RV 242, featuring in this new recording.

The violinist Dmitry Sinkovsky gyrated like a rock guitarist during his gorgeous rendition of Vivaldi’s Concerto in D minor for Violin, Strings and Continuo (RV 242), his virtuosity seeming as effortless as Ms. DiDonato’s, and his soulful, aching rendition of the Adagio holding the audience spellbound.” — The New York Times – November 2012

“Of the four instrumental “fillers” they performed between DiDonato’s arias, Vivaldi’s Concerto for violin and strings RV 242 “per Pisendel” enabled Sinkovsky, who already dominated the ensemble with his dancing, bending, swooping style, to establish himself as DiDonato’s equal in virtuoso technique.” — San Francisco Classical Voice – November 2012

“After an equally virtuosic display by members of Il Complesso Barocco in Vivaldi’s Concerto in D Minor (RV 242), led with flamboyant style and dizzying technical facility by Dmitry Sinkovsky.” — Opera Obsession – November 2012

| naïve, Vivaldi Edition | OP30538 | 32-page booklet (FR, EN, GE, IT) |

Bruckner: Symphony No. 7 | BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra | Donald Runnicles, cond

Posted in Orchestral, symphony with tags , , , on December 6, 2012 by orinococds
Bruckner: Symphony No. 7 | BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra | Donald Runnicles cond | Hyperion CDA67916 | 60 min | NZ $33

Bruckner: Symphony No. 7 | BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra | Donald Runnicles cond | Hyperion CDA67916 | NZ $33

Scotsman Donald Runnicles, chief conductor of the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, in his debut on the Hyperion label, in Bruckner’s most popular symphony—repertoire that is at the heart of his musical life, and in which he has few living equals. Recent concerts of the works of Bruckner and Wagner have received the highest critical praise, acknowledging the orchestra and their conductor as consummate performers of this music.

‘For an orchestra who hadn’t played Bruckner 7 since 1975, the BBCSSO sounded utterly on home territory. From the sumptuous opening cello theme to the finale’s noble fanfares, this was a spacious, tender and beautifully poised performance … it’s not often you hear cries of “encore” after a Bruckner symphony, but I would gladly have heard this one repeated in full’  Guardian

Delius: Orchestral Works | Royal Scottish National Orchestra | Sir Andrew Davis

Posted in Concerto, Orchestral with tags , , , , on December 4, 2012 by orinococds

Delius: Orchestral Works | Royal Scottish National Orchestra | Sir Andrew Davis | Chandos – CHAN10742 | NZ $33

Of the works performed here by the Royal Scottish National Orchestra under the prominent Delius interpreter Sir Andrew Davis, the first three (Paris, the Piano Concerto, and Idylle de printemps) offer a fascinating insight into the early years of the development of Delius as a composer, when he was slowly and painstakingly honing his craft, and assuming the characteristic personal voice that is evident in more mature works such as Brigg Fair.

Paris, sub-titled ‘The Song of a Great City’, is strongly inspired by the composer’s many years of living and working in Paris. With large-scale orchestral forces, Delius paints opulent pictures of a city that he obviously loved. The slow opening portrays the still darkness falling over Paris; then the music changes pace and takes us through the teeming and intoxicating nightlife of the city, with impressions of exuberant dance music coming from the many cafés and music-halls. The opening material returns, culminating in the sounds of the awakening streets.

Until recently Delius’s Piano Concerto has been know exclusively in its final, one-movement form, which was first performed in London in 1907. The version recorded here, however, represents the composer’s earlier thoughts, from 1897. Performed by Howard Shelley, the work is brimming with full-bodied romanticism while showing the influences of Grieg and Liszt throughout.

The airy mood of Idylle de printemps points to later depictions of nature in Delius’s music, as in Brigg Fair, which Delius categorised as ‘An English Rhapsody’. Cecil Gray, the Scottish music critic and composer, described the opening of Brigg Fair as ‘evoking the atmosphere of an early summer morning in the English countryside’. The work is based on a folk-tune which came to light in a competition instigated by Percy Grainger in 1905 to find ‘the best unpublished old Lincolnshire folk song or plough song’. Grainger was immediately taken with the folk-tune, and having arranged it himself for solo tenor and chorus, he approached Delius to write orchestral variations on it – urging him on as the only composer worthy of the task. Delius was soon persuaded, and Brigg Fair became one of his best-loved works.

Review in Dominion Post 4 Dec 2012:-

“…this latest edition in a series of Delius works will have a special appeal for many. … Brigg Fair is a favourite in the English ‘rhapsody’ style. And an even earlier Paris – Song of a Great City is a deeply affectionate, sumptuously scored homage … like everything else on the disk it is superbly played and recorded.”  (abridged) John Button.

5 stars

Works:- Brigg Fair; Piano Concerto in C minor; Idylle de Printemps; Paris, song of a great city