Gioachino Rossini – Il barbiere di Siviglia – Maria Callas, Philharmonia Orchestra, Alceo Galliera (1957/2014)
FLAC (tracks) 24 bit/96 kHz | Time – 2:10:09 minutes | 2,63 GB | Genre: Classical , Opera
Studio Master, Official Digital Download | Source: highresaudio.com | Artwork: Front cover , Booklet | © Warner Classics
Recorded: 7–14.II.1957, Kingsway Hall, London
Although the bel canto roles of Rossini, Bellini and Donizetti, which Maria Callas had studied in depth with Elvira de Hidalgo at the Athens Conservatory, would form the heart of her repertoire at the turn of the 1950s, Rossini was to come a distant third compared to Bellini (Norma was the role she played most often on stage) and Donizetti (Lucia di Lammermoor being fourth in that list). The first Rossini opera in which Callas took part was Il turco in Italia (Rome, 1950), in which she, a singer known for her portrayals of tragic heroines, revealed a comic gift that left its mark. After that came the 1952 revival in Florence of a forgotten opera seria, Armida. There, pitted against four tenors, she gave the most breathtaking demonstration of bravura singing imaginable. 1955 saw a reprise of Il turco, at La Scala, in a new production by Franco Zeffirelli, and that was followed in February 1956 by a much-criticised staging of Il barbiere di Siviglia.
A range of problems beset Il barbiere – to begin with, it was a stock, old-fashioned production. Then, on a programming level, the five performances of Barbiere were in effect smothered by the revival of Luchino Visconti’s celebrated 1955 production of La traviata: just imagine Callas making her debut as Rosina having sung Violetta the night before! Preserved on disc, the premiere of Barbiere reveals an acrobatic and highly charged Callas, at the heart of a cast where everyone seems to be overplaying – Carlo Maria Giulini was apparently in command of his orchestra but not, perhaps, his singers. In a London studio the following year, by contrast, Alceo Galliera conducted Callas in a version exemplary for its discipline. EMI producer Walter Legge considered this recording one of the singer’s best. Brimming with charming impudence (‘Una voce poco fa’) or anger (a heartbreaking ‘Indietro, anima scellerata!’), Callas’s lively Rosina has a lightness of touch and perfect musicality, the singer here truly finding her place within the role and within the cast, while the drama unfolds with irresistible humour and sparkling wit: a miracle of freshness, harmony and balance. –MICHEL ROUBINET
Renee Fleming – Christmas In New York (2014)
FLAC (tracks) 24 bit/96 kHz | Time – 1:03:37 minutes | 1,21 GB | Genre: Classical , Jazz
Studio Master, Official Digital Download | Source: HDTracks | Artwork: Front cover , Booklet | © Decca
Recorded: MSR Studios & Avatar Studios, NYC
American soprano Renee Fleming’s first-ever holiday album celebrates the beloved and iconic Christmas season in New York City. From Rockefeller Center to the holiday windows lining 5th Avenue, the essence of the city at the most wonderful time of year is captured on Christmas in New York.
With guests representing such genres as jazz, pop and classical, this album will appeal not only to Fleming’s core classical fan base but also to a broader, music savvy consumer.
Joining Fleming for the Christmas celebration are guest artists ranging from Rufus Wainwright and Gregory Porter to Wynton Marsalis and Kurt Elling.
Fleming’s elegant persona along with the intimate arrangements of holiday classics makes this album perfect for holiday parties, stocking stuffers and as a treasured holiday gift. This sophisticated album is sure to be a perennial favourite.
Jean-Philippe Rameau – Pieces de clavecin – Mahan Esfahani (2014)
FLAC (tracks) 24 bit/96 kHz | Time – 02:08:22 minutes | 2,67 GB | Genre: Classical
Studio Master, Official Digital Download | Source:hyperion-records | Artwork: Front cover , Booklet | © Hyperion Records
Recorded: February 2014 at The Music Room, Hatchlands Park, Surrey, United Kingdom
Gramophone-Award-winning harpsichordist Mahan Esfahani has recorded Rameau’s Pièces de clavecin in the historic setting of the Music Room at Hatchlands Park in Surrey. This is a masterclass for the instrument, confirming this young artist as a truly great player: in the words of International Record Review ‘his technique is beyond criticism and his inherent musicianship goes far deeper than mere surface understanding … it is difficult not to warm to such a musician’.
This double album comprises the whole of Rameau’s output of keyboard suites, and Esfahani rejoices in its wealth of genius, its excitement and drama. Rameau is a composer whose revival is ongoing, and his unique combination of the witty and the cerebral, the light and the curmudgeonly, abounds throughout his harpsichord music.
Jean-Philippe Rameau – Concerts en sextuor – Les Dominos, Florence Malgoire (2014)
FLAC (tracks) 24 bit/88.2 kHz | Time – 01:17:44 minutes | 1,4 GB | Genre: Classical
Studio Master, Official Digital Download | Source: Qobuz | Artwork: Front cover , Booklet | © Ricercar , Outhere Music
Recorded: April 2014, church Notre-Dame de Centeilles
Ricercar could not help but participate in celebrating Rameau Year. It is Florence Malgoire’s ensemble LES DOMINOS that pays this tribute with a very rarely played repertoire. This is what Camille Saint-Saëns called Concerts en Sextuor in the edition of Rameau’s works that he undertook at the end of the 19th century. To carry out this monumental project, he started from a manuscript executed, it would seem, by a certain Monsieur Decroix in 1768, i.e., four years after the composer’s death. These Concerts de Monsieur Rameau are, in fact, transcriptions in six parts of the Pièces de Clavecin en Concert that Rameau had conceived at the outset from his harpsichord pieces with accompaniment by violin or flute and bass viol. This adaptation by M. Decroix is quite enigmatic, and Les Dominos give us a colourful reading of it, combining with the strings two emblematic instruments of Rameau’s orchestra: flutes and bassoon.
Richard Strauss – Eine Alpensinfonie, Op. 64 – Saito Kinen Orchestra, Daniel Harding (2014)
FLAC (tracks) 24 bit/96 kHz | Time – 00:51:47 minutes | 919 MB | Genre: Classical
Studio Master, Official Digital Download | Source: prestoclassical.co.uk | Artwork: Front cover , Booklet | © Decca
Recorded: August 2012 at Kissei Bunka Hall, Matsumoto, Japan
This sonically spectacular recording of Richard Strauss’ Alpine Symphony was made with the internationally hand-picked players of the Saito Kinen Orchestra and recorded at the Saito Kinen Festival, Matsumoto, at the heart of the Japan Alps. Daniel Harding was specially invited to conduct the orchestra in the absence of Seiji Ozawa who, at that time, was still recuperating from treatment for cancer.
Voted among the World’s Greatest Orchestras by Gramophone magazine, the Saito Kinen Orchestra boasts the best Japanese players from the leading orchestras of Europe and North America as well as selected wind and brass principals from Berlin, Vienna, Philadelphia and Boston among others. It is one of the world’s elite festival orchestras
Demanding an unprecedented orchestra of 125 players, the Alpine Symphony was the last of Strauss’ great series of tone poems. Specially released to celebrate the 150th anniversary of Richard Strauss’ birth and the centenary of the symphony’s composition, this is the first Decca recording since 1988 and utilizes the latest 24 bit 96khz technology for a truly spectacular sound.
Spark – Wild Territories (2015)
FLAC (tracks) 24 bit/44.1 kHz | Time – 01:00:02 minutes | 624 MB | Genre:Classical
Studio Master, Official Digital Download | Source: highresaudio.com | Artwork: Front cover , Booklet | © Edel Germany GmbH
Recorded: Kleine Audiowelt, Sandhausen between september 2013 and august 2014
The ECHO-winning group Spark pursues the logical development of its wholly personal sound in the space between Post Classical, Minimal music and Avant-garde. Virtuosic and unfettered, the five young musicians move between the poles of contrasting musical worlds and eras and forge tradition and innovation into a thrilling new sonic experience attuned to the zeitgeist. The album title tells a story. These are five young artists determined to chart virgin musical territory, confound convention and give free rein to their imagination. Together they conjure up a luxuriant rainforest that spreads its fronds from baroque times to the present day.
‘Wild Territories’ is the plunge into cold water, the playing with fire, the lust for adventure. Abounding energy and unbounded delight in music-making characterize the way in which flautists Andrea Ritter and Daniel Koschitzki, violinist Stefan Glaus, cellist Victor Plumettaz and pianist Mischa Cheung attack their pieces, performing without a safety net or a false floor. They are constantly driven to the verge of the technically possible. But that is the very attraction for these five musicians. They want to do what the album title says: go wild, strike sparks, set new frontiers and make intensive contact with themselves and their listeners. Welcome to the wild territories of Spark, the classical band!
Sonny Clark – Leapin’ and Lopin’ (1961/2014)
FLAC (tracks) 24 bit/192 kHz | Time – 00:41:16 minutes | 1,62 GB | Genre: Jaz
Studio Master, Official Digital Download | Source: acousticsounds.com | Artwork: Front cover | © Blue Note Records
Recorded: November 13, 1961 at Van Gelder Studio in Englewood Cliffs, NJ.
Sonny Clark is not often heralded as one of hard bop’s great talents, but albums like Leapin’ And Lopin’ should rectify that oversight. An excellent pianist, composer, and bandleader, Clark demonstrates all three capacities on this 1961 date, turning in a host of fine originals and even better performances.
The personnel includes tenor saxophonist Charlie Rouse and drummer Billy Higgins, among others, and there’s fine playing all around, including Clark’s elegant skills on the keys. This album was the artist’s last as a leader (he died two years later), and it’s a fitting swansong, as well as a thoroughly satisfying listen.
Dmitri Shostakovich – Piano Concertos 1 Op. 35, 2 Op. 102, Violin Sonata Op. 134 – Alexander Melnikov, Isabelle Faust, Mahler Chamber Orchestra, Teodor Currentzis (2012)
FLAC (tracks) 24-bit/44.1 kHz | Time – 01:14:09 minutes | 628 MB | Genre: Classical
Studio Master, Official Digital Download | Source: highresaudio.com | Artwork: Front Cover , Digital Booklet | @ Harmonia Mundi
Recorded: novembre-décembre 2010, Rathaus-Prunksaal, Landshut (DE) (Concertos) | mars 2011, Teldex Studio Berlin (Sonate)
The programming of this recording by Alexander Melnikov seems to be no accident. The two large, witty, outward-looking piano concertos surround the more grave, inward-facing Violin Sonata the way a sonata’s or concerto’s two fast movements surround a slow movement. It’s also a real reflection of Melnikov as a performer, schooled in the Russian tradition and mentored by Richter (the pianist of the first public performance of the Violin Sonata), who is as comfortable as a soloist as he is as a collaborative pianist playing chamber music. In that regard, Melnikov and Faust make their parts of the sonata equal partners in the music, bringing out the smallest details. It is generally held that the sonata is about death, and these two handle it with intensity and seriousness, but do not make it grim or frightful. In the concertos, Melnikov and conductor Teodor Currentzis are also well matched. In the slow movements, especially of the Concerto No. 2, Melnikov’s touch is so soft and phrasing so lyrical as to give the music a sweetness normally associated with a Rachmaninov or Ravel concerto, and Currentzis follows his lead. The animation in the fast movements, where Shostakovich likes to use rapidly repeated notes, is not pointedly sharp, but is impressive and extremely engaging nonetheless. The finale of Concerto No. 1, when everyone — including the very precise trumpeter Jeroen Berwaerts — gets going together is almost precipitously exciting. Yet it is Melnikov’s sensitivity of touch that distinguishes his performance of these works from others’.
Review by Patsy Morita
Dmitri Shostakovich – Piano Concertos 1 Op. 35, 2 Op. 102, 24 Preludes Op. 34 – Andrei Korobeinikov, Mikhail Gaiduk, Lahti Symphony Orchestra, Okko Kamu (2011)
FLAC (tracks) 24-bit/44.1 kHz | Time – 01:18:08 minutes | 625 MB | Genre: Classical
Studio Master, Official Digital Download | Source: highresaudio.com | Artwork: Front Cover , Digital Booklet | @ Mirare , Harmonia Mundi Label Group
Recorded: du 26 au 28 mai 2011 au Sibelius Hall à Lahti en Finlande
The program of this album of music by Shostakovich (or, since you are dealing with a French release here, “Chostakovich”) is heterogenous, consisting of the two piano concertos plus the 24 Preludes, Op. 34. So, too, are the performances. You may or may not like the album from start to finish, but Russian pianist Andrei Korobeinikov deserves credit for covering some well-trodden ground and blazing fresh paths. Herewith: one listener’s ranking. Korobeinikov’s recording of the Piano Concerto No. 2 in F major, Op. 102, is one of the very best available, and for this he shares the credit with conductor Okko Kamu and Finland’s superbly agile Lahti Symphony Orchestra. Shostakovich himself disparaged this work, which was written for his son, Maxim. Due to that criticism (which really ought not to be trusted any more than other statements by composers subject to moods of the moment) and to its rather conservative language, this concerto has often gotten short shrift from performers, who take very fast tempos and tend to treat it as a kind of technical exercise. This is one of the few performances (Leonard Bernstein’s classic reading with the New York Philharmonic is another, but this one is perhaps even more detailed) to slow down and let the music’s considerable sprightly grace emerge. The Concerto No. 1 for piano, trumpet, and orchestra in C minor, Op. 35, is hardly less satisfying, with an expansive reading and some very fine trumpet tone from Mikhail Galduk. In both of these performances Korobeinikov and Kamu execute fine realizations of models that, while not exactly common, have been done before. The 24 Preludes, Op. 34, are another story entirely. Part of the genius of these pieces from the early 1930s, and of the later 24 Preludes and Fugues, Op. 87, is that they pay tribute to the past without being “neo-classic” works; they contain elements of Chopin’s preludes and of Bach’s without really resembling either one. Korobeinikov, however, pushes them into the Chopin mold, with massive tempo fluctuations, heavy use of the pedals, and in general a heavily Romantic approach. The reading somehow seems not of a piece with the rest of the album, which suggests the degree of the excellent Okko Kamu’s influence, and it doesn’t quite fit with the rest of the musical personality of the young Shostakovich. But it is fresh, and it merits consideration, especially where there is a very compelling reason, in the form of the Piano Concerto No. 2, to add this well-recorded album to one’s Shostakovich shelf.
Review by James Manheim
Scriabin & Medtner – Piano Concertos – Yevgeny Sudbin, Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra, Andrew Litton (2014)
FLAC (tracks) 24-bit/96 kHz | Time – 01:02:42 minutes | 981 MB | Genre: Classical
Studio Master, Official Digital Download | Source: eClassical.com | Artwork: Front Cover , Digital Booklet
@ BIS Records AB | Recorded: November 2013 at Grieghallen, Bergen, Norway
Yevgeny Sudbin has already demonstrated his great affinity with the music of the composers united here: in 2007, his Scriabin solo recital (BIS-1568) garnered universal acclaim – ‘the most well-chosen, brilliantly played single-disc selection of Scriabin’s piano music currently available’ wrote ClassicsToday.com – and his recordings of Nikolai Medtner’s first and second piano concertos (BIS-1588 and BIS-1728) were likewise widely admired, with the first disc receiving a Gramophone Award nomination and the second being dubbed an ‘Essential Recording’ in BBC Music Magazine. For the present disc, Sudbin has written his own liner notes, stating with conviction his opinion that both concertos are ‘absolute masterworks – unjustly underperformed and constantly underappreciated’. He goes on to make a fascinating comparison of the two ‘radically different’ works, composed by near contemporaries, but 45 years apart: Scriabin wrote his one piano concerto in 1896 at the age of 24, while Medtner began his Third Concerto in 1940, at a ripe 60. As Sudbin points out, it would be natural to expect the later concerto to be more ‘modern’, especially given the radical advances that took place during this period. Nothing could be further from the truth, however: ever the visionary, the young Scriabin wrote a concerto which may appear relatively conventional compared to his later works, but still sounds more experimental than Medtner’s Third. With great empathy for, and insights into each composer, Yevgeny Sudbin takes on the great challenges – musical as well as technical – posed by their two works, with the eminent support of the Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra, which under chief conductor Andrew Litton has repeatedly proven itself in Russian repertoire by Rachmaninov, Prokofiev and Stravinsky.
Santana – Beyond Appearances (1985/2014)
FLAC (tracks) 24-bit/96 kHz | Time – 00:39:49 minutes | 879 MB | Genre: Rock
Studio Master, Official Digital Download | Source: HDTracks | Artwork: Front Cover | @ Columbia Records
Recorded: recording at Plant Studios, Sausalito and Studio 55, Los Angeles between March 28, 1984 to November 1, 1984
Released in 1985, Beyond Appearances is the thirteenth album by Santana. It featured a completely different line-up from the previous album and took seven months to make. It was produced by Val Garay.
Beyond Appearances is the thirteenth studio album by Santana, released in 1985 (see 1985 in music). The album took seven months to make, and (apart from Carlos Santana himself) involved a completely different line-up from Santana’s previous album (released two and a half years earlier). It was firmly in the style of the 1980s, making much use of synthesizers and drum machines. Beyond Appearances performed relatively poorly, reaching only fifty on the Billboard album chart; one of its tracks, “Say It Again”, reached number 46 on the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart (though it performed better on Billboard’s Mainstream Rock Tracks chart, reaching number fifteen).
Alexander Scriabin – The Piano Sonatas – Anna Malikova (2014)
FLAC (tracks) 24-bit/96 kHz | Time – 02:15:22 minutes | 2,13 GB | Genre: Classical
Studio Master, Official Digital Download | Source: highresaudio.com | Artwork: Front Cover , Digital Booklet | @ ACOUSENCE records
Recorded: Campus, Krefeld-Fichtenhain, Germany, 18./19.3.2012; 21./22.2.2013; 28.2./1.3.2014
In 2015, we celebrate the hundredth anniversary of Alexander Scriabin’s death. To commemorate this occasion, Russian pianist Anna Malikova and the ACOUSENCE label is issuing a new complete recording of the composer’s ten piano sonatas, which will surely be regarded as definitive.
Scriabin completed his piano studies at what is today the Tchaikovsky Conservatory and, starting in Moscow, went on to have an international career. He himself was the first champion of his music, followed by Vladimir Sofronitsky, Heinrich Neuhaus and his pupil Lev Naumov. Naumov in turn was Anna Malikova’s mentor for a period of 15 years, so with this background, she brings a high level of authenticity to these works.
Anna Malikova masters these sonatas, which test the very limits of piano technique, with impressive technical prowess and exceptional virtuosity. Not only does she display her deep understanding for the composer’s mystical world, but also presents the incredible development of Scriabin’s unique compositional style in a fascinating way. In his early years, he was still interested in the romantic, virtuosic tradition of Chopin and Liszt, only to break almost every compositional rule over the course of his career and blaze new paths.
Robert Schumann – Complete Chamber Music with Piano – Eric Le Sage (2012)
FLAC (tracks) 24-bit/88.2 kHz | Time – 07:17:31 minutes | 5,88 GB | Genre: Classical
Studio Master, Official Digital Download | Source: Qobuz | Artwork: Front Cover , Digital Booklet | @ Alpha , Outhere Music
Recorded: recording at Plant Studios, Sausalito and Studio 55, Los Angeles between March 28, 1984 to November 1, 1984
With the participation of: Denis Pascal, François Leleux, Victor Julien-Laferrière, Gordan Nikolitch, Lise Berthaud, Paul Meyer, Christophe Coin, Jean-Guihen Queyras, Frank Braley, François Salque, Bruno Schneider, Daishin Kashimoto, Antoine Tamestit
Schumann’s chamber compositions are undoubtedly among the most important European works of the nineteenth century. Robert Schumann (1810-1856) was the archetypal Romantic composer, a man with unbounded imagination, who mastered almost every genre of his time. His chamber music, which may be regarded as an extension of his piano music, enabled him to explore the construction of his works.
This new box-set from ALPHA (seven CDs) presents for the first time Schumann’s complete chamber music with piano, played by one of the great Schumann interpreters, who has been exploring this world with great success since 2005: Eric Le Sage. The pianist is joined here by outstanding musicians Paul Meyer, Francois Salque, Franck Braley, Antoine Tamesit and others, who enable the listener to appreciate to the full these masterful works, written by genius of German Romanticism.
Schumann – Kinderszenen & Waldszenen / Janacek – On the overgrown path I – Marc-Andre Hamelin (2014)
FLAC (tracks) 24-bit/96 kHz | Time – 01:14:26 minutes | 1,10 MB | Genre: Classical
Studio Master, Official Digital Download | Source: hyperion-records | Artwork: Front Cover , Digital Booklet | @ Hyperion Records
Recorded: March 2013 at Henry Wood Hall, London, United Kingdom
Marc-André presents a fascinating juxtaposition of two composers who are not obviously musically related, but who are proved on this album to be a felicitous combination.
Schumann’s well-loved Kinderszenen (‘Scenes from childhood’) cycle is a masterpiece: each piece is as deftly and exquisitely crafted as anything in his more outwardly sophisticated mode. From the haunting beauty of the opening ‘From foreign lands and people’ (‘Von fremden Ländern und Menschen’), via the spare eloquence of the central ‘Dreaming’ (‘Träumerei’), to the quiet rhetoric of ‘The poet speaks’ (‘Der Dichter spricht’), the listener is taken through nuances of emotion whose effects are heartrendingly poignant.
Waldszenen (‘Forest scenes’) is another collection of miniatures, and Schumann’s last major cycle for solo piano. This deeply ‘Romantic’ work in the most psychological sense of the word is no objective foray into the woods, but a very personal reaction to an imagined landscape; and equally striking is the sense that each piece represents just a shard of a larger experience. On the whole it is the more bucolic aspect that Schumann explores, though these pieces are not without darker shadows. And while they may be technically fairly straightforward, their changeability calls for the quickest of reactions and a wealth of subtle nuance.
Over half a century separates Schumann’s nature-inspired Waldszenen from the first book of Janáček’s On the overgrown path. The subject matter is darker and more oblique and the piano writing is deceptively treacherous, many of the difficulties far from overt. The title of the overall cycle refers to a Moravian wedding song, the bride lamenting that ‘The path to my mother’s has become overgrown with clover’. The sequence of ten pieces that comprises Book 1 constitutes, as the scholar John Tyrrell has written, some of the ‘profoundest, most disturbing music that Janáček had written, their impact quite out of proportion to their modest means and ambition’.
Robert Schumann: Fantasiestucke, Kreisleriana / Johannes Brahms: Theme and Variations – Imogen Cooper (2013)
FLAC (tracks) 24-bit/96 kHz | Time – 01:15:31 minutes | 1,14 GB | Genre: Classical
Studio Master, Official Digital Download | Source: theCLASSICALshop | Artwork: Front Cover | @ Chandos Records
Recorded: Concert Hall, Snape Maltings, Suffolk, 23-26 July 2012
This is Imogen Cooper’s first release on Chandos Records. Recognised worldwide as a pianist of virtuosity and poetic poise, she has established a reputation as one of the finest interpreters of the classical and romantic repertoire. She has dazzled audiences and orchestras throughout her distinguished career, bringing to the concert platform a unique musical understanding and lyrical quality.
‘Duality, intermingling and juxtaposing identities, the dream world, the subconscious, wild humour, the supernatural, disguise, the outsider’. These are all words used by Imogen Cooper to describe the inner world of Robert Schumann. On this recording, she offers her interpretations of two works by this deeply inspired composer: Fantasiestücke and Kreisleriana. Both display in full Schumann’s extraordinary ability to express the gamut of human emotions in a highly imaginative language that draws the best from both piano and performer.
Schumann dedicated his Fantasiestücke to a young Scottish pianist by the name of Roberta Laidlaw, with whom he had a close, if brief, relationship during his eighteen-month-long separation from Clara Wieck, whom he was patiently courting. In one of the most important early studies of Schumann’s music, published in the journal Neue Zeitschrift für Musik, Franz Brendel compared this work to ‘a landscape painting in which the foreground gains prominence in sharply delineated, clear contours while the background becomes blurred and vanishes in a limitless perspective’.