instrumental music

IL CEMBALO DI PARTENOPE       CARPE DIEM RECORDS CD-16312

Il Cembalo di PartenopeAward-winning musician, Catalina Vicens, a native of Chile and now resident in Basel, Switzerland. By age 20, she had already played in the main concert-halls of more than ten countries in North and South America, including Argentina, the USA and Brazil. She studied harpsichord with Lionel Party in Philadelphia, and during her graduate studies undertook research on harpsichord and organ literature from Renaissance Italy, England and Switzerland. Her fascination for sound and rhythm also led Catalina to study percussion and her desire to explore the sound possibilities of the instruments she plays. She has performed as a soloist and with renowned ensembles around the world, specialising in Medieval, Renaissance, Baroque and new music. Besides her busy performing career, she holds a position as organist and teacher in Switzerland. This new album, Il Cembalo di Partenope, is a unique, multifaceted musical and poetic project. It features the world’s oldest playable harpsichord, a priceless treasure that dwells today in the National Music Museum of Vermillion, South Dakota, USA. Catalina Vicens plays music from Naples, Italy from around 1525, the year when the instrument was built there. She conceived an imaginary tale of the life and story of that very instrument, partly based on historical facts, partly on poetic inspiration emerging from her encounter with this priceless treasure of a historical harpsichord. The beautifully produced CD comes with a free audiobook download of that same story, narrated by Ms Vicens herself and accompanied with original music from the CD. These captivating performances show Catalina Vicens’s profound understanding and impeccable technique. Combined with the warm tone of the magnificent Neapolitan instrument, she offers rare and revelatory insights into this sensuous, elegant and mesmerising music. Watch video Also highly recommended is Catalina Vicens’s previous solo album, PARTHENIA Parthenia(CARPE DIEM CD-16298), a collection of pieces for harpsichord and virginal written by the three eminent keyboard composers, William Byrd, John Bull and Orlando Gibbons, printed in London in 1613 and dedicated to the marriage of Maria Stuart and King Frederick V. Catalina Vicens celebrates the 400-year anniversary of this unique edition of English renaissance keyboard music on her debut album and makes this already diverse collection even more colourful by using six different instruments, three of which are 17th century originals. This delicate boquet of early keyboard pieces is played on virginals, harpsichords, spinettino and Muselaar, just as the royal couple may have enjoyed it for relaxation and amusement in good company. ‘Her ability to maintain a basic metrical pulse, while still creating a sense of improvisation in her highly free treatment of running passages and her uninhibited way with ornamentation... is magical.’ - Fanfare Magazine.

MUTTERISSIMO       DEUTSCHE GRAMMOPHON 479 6834

MutterissimoThe beautiful German violinist Anne-Sophie Mutter was born in Rheinfelden in Baden in 1963 and embarked on her sensational career aged only 13 as a soloist in 1976 at the Lucerne Festival. A year later she made her Salzburg debut at the Whitsun Concerts under Herbert von Karajan and has gone on to have a glittering international career both in concert and in the recording studio, making her first with Deutsche Grammophon at the age of 14 with Mozart’s Violin Concertos nos. 3 and 5. Mutterissimo: The Art of Anne-Sophie Mutter is a double-CD release that celebrates one of the greatest violinists of our time. Her stunning and multi-faceted music-making extends across masterworks from the full breadth of the violin repertoire reflected in this selection of highlights from her discography. Personally picked by Mutter herself, the recordings are mostly from the last twenty years. The first CD explores the highways and byways of the core repertory and features well-known works for violin and orchestra by Dvořák and Schumann alongside less familiar pieces such as Korngold’s lush Violin Concerto. The second disc, often with Mutter’s long-standing American piano partner, Lambert Orkis, combines virtuosity and light-heartedness; the popular and the surprising; and emotion and rhythmic energy.

JUNKO UKIGAYA - FLUTE MUSIC      BELLA MUSICA BM312463

Flute MusicAside from the voice, the flute is the earliest known musical instruments, dating back at least 40,000 years. With its beautiful mellow tone, often as a lead instrument, the flute continues to be one of the most popular instruments today, with flute solos are among the most magical moments in orchestral music. Unlike woodwind instruments with reeds, a flute is an aerophone or reedless wind instrument that produces its sound from the flow of air across an opening. A musician who plays the flute can be referred to as a flute player, flautist, flutist or, less commonly, fluter or flutenist. As well as being capable of extreme virtuosity the flute can create beautiful sustained melodies and blends perfectly with other instruments, providing background colour to foreground activity elsewhere in the orchestra. On this new CD the Japanese flutist Junko Ukigaya, with Miyuki Motoi on piano, plays a selection of flute music, including French composer Francis Poulenc’s delightful Sonata for Flute and Piano. Although only thirteen minutes long, Poulenc’s sonata has everything a flautist could wish for: clear and accentuated themes in the first movement, tender and soulful melodies in the second one and virtuoso runs and passages in the final movement that permit the soloist to sparkle and shine. As well as this main work, the CD includes charmingly old-fashioned virtuoso pieces such as the Hungarian pastoral variations by Doppler, Cécile Chaminade’s Concertino and George Hüe’s Fantaisie composed in 1913 as a set piece for the flute competition of the Paris conservatoire. Michio Miyagi’s Haru no Umo (The Sea in Spring) is a work by a traditional Japanese composer which was originally written for Koto and bamboo flute. The koto is a zither with a domed sound board, sounding more like a western harp than a zither. This is a melancholy piece that takes its inspiration from the composer’s remembrances of the sea in spring. Junko Ukigaya and Miyuki Motoi both trained first in their native Japan, later on both artists went on to Europe where they finished their training at some of the best conservatories of Europe, where both women have been longtime residents of Germany.

BAROQUE MARIMBA     STONE RECORDS ST8057

Baroque MarimbaThis debut release from marimba virtuoso Stanislao Marco Spina is a wonderful selection of Bach’s most popular works reinterpreted on the marimba, a percussion instrument consisting of a set of wooden bars struck with mallets to produce musical tones. Resonators attached to the bars amplify their sound and the bars are arranged as those of a piano. The result here is an unusual Bach recital that intoxicates and astonishes both in terms of the sheer technical brilliance of the performer and also in the illuminating effect that this new instrumentation has on these baroque masterpieces. Stanislao Marco Spina casts new light on these old masters in a way that is constantly entertaining, and a wonder to behold. The bonus track by Mozart (Fantasia in D) is the icing on the cake that completes a beautiful and imaginative performance.

THE LEGEND OF HAGOROMO          STONE RECORDS ST8056

HagoromoAccording to a famous Japanese legend, a fisherman is walking with his companions at night when he finds the Hagoromo, the magical feather-mantle of a tennin (an aerial spirit or celestial dancer) hanging on a bough. The tennin sees him taking it and demands its return as she cannot return to Heaven without it. The fisherman argues with her, and finally promises to return it, if she will show him her dance or part of it. She accepts his offer and in the finale, the tennin disappears like a mountain slowly hidden in mist. The evocative Legend of Hagoromo is a modern musical masterpiece written by Keigo Fujii and based on a melody by Okinawan composer H Yamanoha. A substantial addition to the classical guitar repertoire that uses guitar techniques in an innovative way, it is the longest work on this outstanding album of Japanese-influenced music played by the gifted American virtuoso guitarist Aaron Larget-Caplan. Comprising an intoxicating mixture of Japanese and American music, this fusion-recital is brilliantly conceived and performed and the disc includes a number of première recordings (Ken Ueno’s Ed è subito sera, Kota Nakamura’s Sui-hou and Martin Max Schreiner’s Two Japanese idylls). Other works include Tora Takemitsu’s Equinox as well as his arrangements of Harold Arlen’s Wizard of Oz and George Gershwin’s Summertime (from Porgy and Bess). Some of the music was written specifically for Larget-Caplanas and he performs here with stunning vitality, especially on Keigo Fujii’s mesmerising single movement tour-de-force. ‘Aaron Larget-Caplan is a riveting artist. His classical guitar performance was a treasure.’ - The Washington Post.

HANDEL: SUITES FOR HARPSICHORD, VOL. 3        DIVINE ART DDA 21225

HANDEL - SUITES FOR HARPSICHORDGeorge Frideric Handel began his life in Germany, the son of a barber-surgeon, and died an English citizen, the most renowned musical figure of his day and a national treasure. Whereas his contemporary and fellow countryman, Johann Sebastian Bach, composed for the church and his patrons, Handel composed for the general public. Acknowledged as the greatest composer working in England in the 18th century, Handel continues to be revered as a master composer and his Harpsichord Suites are among the finest instrumental works of the period. When the thirty-five year old composer set about making an authorative edition of his finest harpsichord music in London, he claimed he was ‘obliged to publish ...because surrepticious and incorrect copies ...had got abroad’ - referring to a pirate edition which had appeared in Amsterdam. Handel’s new 1720 publication of Suites was drawn from a stock of work going back in some instances to his teenage years in Hamburg, where he had received his early training from the organist Zachau at his birth place, Hallé. From the manuscript it is clear that most of the music was composed by 1717/18, and that after 1720 Handel virtually abandoned solo keyboard composition. In the first biography of the composer, published in 1760, John Mainwaring wrote that ‘Handel had an uncommon brilliancy and command of finger, but what distinguished him from all other players who possessed these same qualities was that amazing fullness, force and energy which he joined with them. And this observation may be applied with as much justness to his compositions, as to his playing.’ This latest double-CD release in Divine Art’s excellent recordings of Handel’s unjustly neglected harpsichord suites features exquisite performances by veteran musician Gilbert Rowland. Glasgow-born Rowland is one of Europe’s foremost harpsichordists and the first two volumes of his series received excellent reviews. The third and final instalment does not disappoint in the splendid playing and outstanding instrument, a two-manual French harpsichord ‘after Goermans’ of Paris (1750) copied and built by Andrew Wooderson in 2005.

NICOLA BENEDETTI - HOMECOMING: A SCOTTISH FANTASY      DECCA 4786690

Nicola Benedetti - HomecomingNicola Benedetti, from West Kilbride in Ayrshire, explores the music of her native Scotland, combining the traditions of both classical and folk music. Featuring songs such as Ae Fond Kiss, Auld Lang Syne and My Love is Like a Red Red Rose (Robert Burns was also born in Ayrshire), the album also includes collaborations with leading Scottish folk musicians such as fiddlers Aly Bain and Phil Cunningham and singer Julie Fowlis. The album opens with Max Bruch’s much loved Scottish Fantasy, a work in four movements for violin and orchestra that was inspired by Scottish folk songs. Rory Macdonald conducts the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra. As Nicola Benedetti says, ‘For someone who has never visited Scotland, Bruch’s exploration of the landscape during this introduction is astonishingly clear. The solo violin line beckons the listener to join a journey through brooding terrain and heavy weather – rising and falling, wild and tumultuous.’ This is a thoughtful and imaginative selection of music, lovingly and impeccably performed, that will delight Nicola Benedetti’s legion of fans. Her website is at www.nicolabenedetti.co.uk

MASTERS OF THE VIOLIN, VOL. 1 - LOCATELLI      DYNAMIC CDS7690

Masters of the Violin 1Italian composer and virtuoso violinist Pietro Antonio Locatelli was born in 1695 in the city of Bergamo. His astonishing talent for playing the violin revealed itself and when he was very young and he joined the Bergamo Cathedral instrumental ensemble while still a boy. He left at the age of sixteen to study in Rome, probably under Giuseppe Valentini and Arcangelo Corelli. By 1714, Locatelli was a member of the compita accademia di varj instrumenti, the household musicians of Prince Michelangelo I Caetani, and of the congregazione generale dei musici di S. Cecilia. In 1731 he moved for good to Amsterdam, where he would live for over thirty years and die in 1764. Pietro Locatelli’s published only a small number of works as a composer and most of these were written for his favourite instrument, the violin. In 1733 he published his most significant work, the Arte del violino, a collection of twelve concertos for the instrument which incorporate twenty four technically demanding capriccios (or caprices). The most famous of the Caprices is undoubtedly No. 23, which acts as a cadenza for the initial Allegro of the Concerto No. 12 in D major, entitled Il labirinto armonico (‘The Harmonic Labyrinth’). Subtitled ‘Facilis aditus, difficilis exitus’ (it is easy to enter, but difficult to exit), this well describes the progressive Masters of the Violin 2technical difficulties of this piece. On this recording, violinist Luca Fanfoni performs four Locatelli concertos with the ensemble Reale Concerto. Founded in Genoa in 1978, Dynamic has long specialised in violin music, starting with recordings of music by the great Paganini, and this welcome new series features other maestros of the instrument. MASTERS OF THE VIOLIN, VOL. 2 (DYNAMIC CDS7691) features music by Giovanni Battista Viotti (1755-1824), another Italian musician famous for his virtuosity. Born at Fontanetto Po in the Kingdom of Sardinia (today in Piedmont), he later joined the household of Principe Alfonso dal Pozzo della Cisterna in Turin, where he received a musical education. After serving at the Savoia court in Turin, he toured as a soloist and became an instant sensation when he played in Paris and London, where he moved in 1792 and went from success to success. As well as being an outstanding violinist and teacher he as an accomplished composer, most of his works including a prominent violin and an appealing lyrical tunefulness. He wrote twenty-nine concertos, which were an influence on Ludwig van Beethoven, and No. 22 in A minor (1792) is still frequently performed by students. The others, though of similar quality, are rarely heard. Acclaimed violinist Franco Mezzena and Symphonia Perusina here perform Viotti’s Violin Concertos No. 22, 25 and 26.

EDOARDO CATEMARIO - ESPANA    DECCA 476 3935

EspanaRecuerdosAcclaimed Italian guitarist Edoardo Catemario was born in Naples and started learning the guitar aged 5, giving his first solo recital at only 11. He won first prize in the Andrés Segovia guitar competition in Almuñécar (Spain) in 1991 and went on to win the Michele Pittaluga International Classical Guitar Competition in Alessandria in Italy the following year. He has performed in major concert halls across Europe, the United States and South America, featuring as a guest soloist with major orchestras and collaborating with many of the world’s leading chamber musicians. His remarkable range is from the romantic works (played on original instruments) to the baroque, twentieth century and contemporary music. As well as many solo works his repertoire includes almost all the chamber repertoire and 33 Concertos for guitar and orchestra. This new recording of quintessential Spanish music by Albeniz, Torroba, De Falla, Turina, Segovia and Federico Mompou demonstrates Edoardo Catemario’s engaging spirit, virtuosity and marvellous technique. He can also be heard in exciting form on RECUERDOS (DECCA 476 3924) in a collection of guitar works by Alonso Mudarra, Luis De Narvaez, Gaspar Sanz (Suite Espanola), Fernando Sor, Francisco Tarrega, Daniel Fortea and four catalan folksongs by Miguel Llobet.

THE CHRISTMAS STORY    DYNAMIC CDS7681

The Christmas StoryBin Huang began her violin studies at age four in China, and entered the Central Conservatory of Music in Beijing at the age of nine. After graduating, she went to the United States to continue her music study and endeared herself to the musical world when at age fourteen she won the Junior Wieniawski International Violin Competition in Lublin, Poland, sharing First Prize with Maxim Vengerov. She has maintained international prominence by winning both the Paganini International Violin Competition in Genoa, Italy in 1994, and the Munich (ARD) International Music Competition in 1999 and has been universally praised for her interpretive and technical skills, hailed as ‘a talent that leaves a listener flabbergasted’ - The Baltimore Sun. Pianist Hyun-Sun Kim made her début concert in 1997 in Seoul, Korea. This led to performances throughout the US, Europe and Asia. She has appeared as a guest artist with the Seoul Arts Orchestra and as a chamber musician has performed with artists such as Bin Huang. Together here they perform sprightly arrangements of Christmas favourites such as Silent Night, It Came Upon a Midnight Clear, Away in a Manger, O Little Town of Bethlehem and We Three Kings. Perfect music for wrapping presents and setting the mood on Christmas Eve.

PASSION YSAYE - SIX VIOLIN SONATAS    WARNER CLASSICS 2564-68385-5

Passion YsaÿeEugène Ysaÿe, brother of pianist and composer Théo Ysaÿe, was a composer and conductor as well as one of the greatest violinists who ever lived. Born in Liege, Belgium, in 1858, started violin lessons at the age of five and made his first public appearance at seven. He went on to become the leading violinist of his time, combining beauty of tone with great technical ability and depth of musical expression. he was also an accomplished composer, whose Six Sonatas for Solo Violin, Opus 27 (1924) are masterpieces of the genre and opened the way to the later sonatas by Bartók and Prokofiev, those by Hindemith and the preludes and fugues by Reger. Ysaÿe’s sonatas also set a new standard by which to judge a violinist’s technical prowess, as demonstrated on this recording by the beautiful Rachel Kolly d’Alba, playing a superb Stradivarius violin made in 1727. Rachel Kolly d’Alba was born 1981 in Lausanne, Switzerland, and co-incidentally also had her first lessons on the violin and piano when she was five years old. She débuted as a violin soloist at the age of twelve and is now one of the most talented Swiss violinists, performing in numerous international venues and winning many international competitions. On this recording she gives exuberant and passionate performances of brilliant music by the man acclaimed as ‘The King of the Violin’.

SPANISH GUITAR MUSIC - ALEJANDRO SALADIN COTE    ARTEK AR-0045-2

Spanish Guitar MusicInstruments similar to the guitar have been popular for at least 5,000 years and the ancestry of the modern guitar can be traced back to central Asia. Guitar like instruments appear in ancient carvings and statues recovered from the old Iranian capital of Susa, and contemporary Iranian instruments such as the tanbur and setar are distantly related to the European guitar. During the Middle Ages, guitars with three, four, and five strings were already in use and the Guitarra Morisca was brought to Spain by the Moors. From the late 18th century, when the six string guitar became popular in Spain and during the 19th century Antonio de Torres gave the modern classical guitar its definitive form for the accompaniment of song and dance called flamenco. The American guitar virtuoso Alejandro Saladin Cote is quickly establishing himself as an exciting new face in the classical guitar scene, performing throughout the United States and Caribbean. An avid performer of contemporary music who frequently collaborates with modern composers, he has premiered new works at the Brooklyn Conservatory’s New Music Collective. His excellent debut CD features a collection of ravishing Spanish guitar music by Joaquin Turina, Francisco Tarrrega, Isaac Albeniz, Emilio Pujol and Miguel Llobet. Cote’s accomplished playing is soulful yet always precise and in sympathy with the composers’ intentions. Highly recommended.

TRONDHEIMSOLISTENE - IN FOLK STYLE       2L 2L-068-SABD

TRONDHEIMSOLISTENE02In Nordic Melodies we find Grieg in passionate play with folk songs. The work sparkles with harmonies and expression, developing a whole story from just a few short stanzas. The Holberg Suite, or ‘Suite from Holberg’s Time’, is loved for its beauty and feared for its challenges - a fusion of European musical tradition and a genuine Norwegian sound palette. The Trondheim Soloists, one of the best chamber orchestras in the world, follow up with two brilliant soloists, Emilia Amper on nyckelharpa (a Swedish under-arm fiddle with a chromatic keyboard) and Gjermund Larsen on fiddle, in newly commissioned music characterised by the same energy and tenderness. Emilia Amper’s spirited Abrege, a folk suite for nyckelharpa and string orchestra, was originally written for a folk band and later orchestrated by Johannes Leonard Rusten, a member of the The Trondheim Soloists. Gjermund Larsen’s melodic Diplom, a folk suite for fiddle and string orchestra, is a more stately affair in which the music nevertheless bursts sometimes into moments of fiery passion. Wild nature and Nordic light are essential elements of the folk style and lies at the core of the Trondheim Soloist’s soul, a meeting between the musical playfulness and passion. These Hybrid SACD + Pure Audio Blu-ray recordings provide outstanding surround-sound, especially on the Blu-ray disc, and this beautifully produced release is highly recommended.

A SONG WITHOUT WORDS     DIVINE ART DDA21371

TaffanelThe French flautist, conductor and inspirational teacher Paul Taffanel started learning the flute from his father at the age of nine and gave his first concert aged just ten. After studying at the Paris Conservatoire - where he would later become a professor himself - he enjoyed a successful career as both soloist and orchestral player, becoming known as the outstanding flute player of his time and establishing the instrument in the mainstream of music. In addition to teaching, Taffanel was a fine opera and orchestra conductor, directing French premieres of several Wagner operas and Verdi’s Otello at the Paris Opéra. At the Societe des Concerts he championed Camille Saint-Saëns and other contemporary French composers and gave the world premiere of Verdi’s Quattro Pezzi Sacri. He also founded the Société de musique de chambre pour instruments à vent (Society of Chamber Music for Wind Instruments) and was a fluent composer for the flute and wind quintet. He suffered from a physical breakdown in 1901, perhaps caused by overwork, and died in Paris on November 22, 1908. Elegance, expressiveness and sensitivity marked Taffanel’s artistry, and the same qualities can be found in this 3-CD set of recordings by one of Britain’s leading flute players, Kenneth Smith. Most of these works were written and performed during Paul Taffanel’s lifetime, several being written especially for him, and some appeared regularly in his own recital programmes. Having lain dormant for too long, some of these imaginative compositions are recorded for the first time revealing, to ‘modern’ ears, a rich treasury of music which typifies much of the music heard in the chamber music salons and concert halls of Paris at the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries. This tribute to the Taffanel’s legacy opens and concludes with some of his favourite works programmed as two recitals in a way that he himself might have presented them. Rather than trying to emulate Taffanel’s sound, the recordings aim primarily to shed more light on the influence of a remarkable musician and to introduce these interesting and often beautiful pieces to the attention of flute players of today. Kenneth Smith is accompanied on piano by the excellent Paul Rhodes, a musical partnership now almost in its twentieth year.

MAYA BEISER - PROVENANCE     INNOVA 778

Provenance is the latest release from Maya Beiser, hailed by the New Yorker as a ‘cello goddess’ and by the San Francisco Chronicle as ‘the queen of post-minimalist cello.’ The title means ‘origins,’ referring to both Maya Beiser’s personal history and the intertwining cultural traditions that run through the music. Raised on a kibbutz in Israel by her French mother and Argentinean father, Beiser has performed on some of the world’s most prestigious stages, from Lincoln Center to the Sydney Opera House, and has collaborated with composer James Newton Howard as featured soloist on his soundtracks to films such as M. Night Shyamalan’s The Happening. She has also been acclaimed for her multimedia concerts and the same adventurous spirit is evident on this new album. The rich sound of her cello is heard solo or accompanied by Lebanese-American master musicians Jamey Haddad and Shane Shanahan (percussion), Bassam Saba (oud), with vocalist Etty Ben Zaken. The culminating track is a dazzling arrangement of Led Zeppelin’s Kashmir for multi-tracked cello and drumkit, featuring Jerry Marotta. Provenance brings together music by contemporary composers from Armenia, Kurdish Iran, Israel, the US and the UK. Exotic, reflective and strongly rhythmic, this sensuously beautiful music was inspired by the Golden Age of Medieval Spain, when Muslims, Christians and Jews lived together and gave rise to a centuries-long flowering of commerce, culture, art and architecture. Significantly, Maya Beiser grew up near the foothills of the Galilee Mountains, co-existing harmoniously with Muslim and Christian Arab neighbours. Provenance is inspired by that experience, celebrating a multi-religious, multicultural civilisation and the hope of lasting peace. ‘The hot, young, cello-diva of the avant-garde.’ - Washington Post.

VOLUPTE - MUSIC FOR VIOLA AND PIANO   MELBA MR 301126

VolupteCharles Kœchlin and Joseph Jongen are two little known composers of the twentieth century who followed their own path and composed some wonderful and distinctive music. The viola music of Belgian born Jongen has an unashamed focus on the melodic line, driving the drama of his pieces forward, projecting it headlong through episodes of rapture and exquisite beauty, often interspersed with passages of great bravura display and virtuosity. The harmonic colour of his music shows a love of the French impressionist palette but is always applied with his own brush. As a communist and passionate Frenchman, Charles Kœchlin felt deeply the responsibility that he write music that was within the reach of everyman, at the same time offering pieces that were of uncompromised artistic merit and emotional truth. His mighty viola sonata bleeds with the tragedy of war-time horror and is unexpectedly gripping for a work written for the seemingly polite ensemble of viola and piano. His skill with textures, harmony and colour creates a piece of enormous emotional impact, from its initial numb desolation through cries of anguish then the desperate morse-code tap-tapping of its moto-perpetuo. Listening to this piece is a truly remarkable emotional journey. The wistful beauty of his petites pieces for Horn, Viola and Piano, show that the playful mood of pieces written in his youth can coexist with the exquisitely painful yearning for a time lost. The excellent soloists on this recording are Roger Benedict (viola) and Timothy Young (piano), with guest Ben Jacks (horn).

TONY WOOLLARD - CELLO JOURNEY    WELLHARD WWRCJ1

This debut album by British cellist Tony Woollard opens with first recording of Theme for a Prince, a short but immaculate work written by Sir William Walton for Prince Charles in 1970 and subsequently lost for 40 years. It’s a little known fact that every Prince of Wales has to play the cello, which is an English tradition that stretches back over 300 years. Prince Charles played the cello and this piece was commissioned for him to play the year after his investiture as the Prince of Wales. The piece has a timeless beauty and elegance, which is matched by this soulful performance by Tony Woollard. The album also features world premiere recordings of music by Jonathan Rathbone (When All Is Said and Done), Robert Saxton (a brilliant Sonata for Solo Cello, inspired by Walton’s work and incorporating its theme), Ivan Hussey (three Interludes), Yvonne Parsons (Dove l’anima riposa) and Andrew Holdsworth (the dreamily impressionistic Lost Time). Tony Woollard studied the cello with David Smith at Surrey University and with Raphael Wallfisch the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, then four years studying with Robert Cohen in Switzerland. He was a member of the Alba String Quartet for five years and as a soloist gave the premiere performances of the rare works played with great warmth and style on this album.

PROKOFIEV AND SHOSTAKOVICH - MUSIC FOR VIOLA AND PIANO   NIMBUS NI6117

Prokofiev & ShostakovichThis CD of Russian music brings together Prokofiev’s extraordinary musical depiction of young romantic love (Six Pieces from his ballet Romeo & Juliet) with Shostakovich’s deeply touching musical farewell (Sonata for Viola, written during his final illness. The character of the viola provides a compelling voice for both. Who would have thought that Prokofiev’s huge orchestral score could find such convincing expression in a version for viola and piano? What is lost in orchestral colour is gained through the personal voice and warmth that the viola brings to this much-loved music. The piano writing is equally superb and must surely have been influenced by Prokofiev’s own version for solo piano, made in 1937. When Shostakovich was writing his Sonata for Viola, the composer wrote an open letter to the musicians of the world: ‘By building bridges into the future we must take care not to burn the bridges connecting today’s culture to its immortal past’. The Sonata, which received its premiere after the composer’s death in 1975, has a hypnotic power and is brilliantly played here by Robin Ireland and Tim Horton. The album also includes seven short preludes by Shostakovich, transcribed by Vadim Borisivsky. Robin Ireland is well known as the violist of the Lindsay String Quartet and also plays with the Primrose Piano Quartet and the Anton Stadler Trio (piano/clarinet/viola). Tim Horton performs with Ensemble 360 and has another duo partnership with cellist Adrian Brendel.

RED PRIEST - JOHANN, I’M ONLY DANCING  RED PRIEST RECORDINGS RP007

Johann I'm Only DancingThe irreverent early music group Red Priest have been compared to the Rolling Stones, Jackson Pollock, the Marx Brothers, Spike Jones and the Cirque du Soleil. This extraordinary acoustic quartet, founded in 1997, was named after the flame-haired priest, Antonio Vivaldi, and has gone on to give hundreds of concerts at many of the world’s top festivals. The group has also featured in a TV profile for ITV’s South Bank Show, which documented the launch of the Red Hot Baroque Show, an electrifying marriage of old music with the latest light and video technology. The group’s regular line-up comprises recorder player Piers Adams (‘the reigning recorder virtuoso in the world today’ - Washington Post), violinist Julia Bishop, cellist Angela East and harpsichordist Howard Beach. The musicians have redefined the art of period performance, creating a virtual orchestra through their creative arrangements, performing with swashbuckling virtuosity, heart-on-sleeve emotion and compelling stagecraft. The group’s repertoire ranges from obscure 17th century sonatas to the most famous works of Bach and Vivaldi. Their latest project is the exhilarating Johann, I’m Only Dancing, which turns the spotlight onto the most revered master of the era, Johann Sebastian Bach. Performed with Red Priest’s legendary blend of creativity, wit and virtuosity, the repertoire includes epic transcriptions of Brandenburg Concerto No. 3 and the great Toccata and Fugue in D minor, alongside a host of dazzling allegros, whirling dances and some of the most sublime adagios ever composed. Red Priest’s arrangements are inspired by Bach’s own improvisatory zeal, and they play with astonishing energy, creating a virtual orchestra from their four instruments. Previous recordings by Red Priest include PIRATES OF THE BAROQUE (RP004), an irresistible collection of stylishly performed Baroque music, with added sound effects in the case of Vivaldi’s sonata ‘Il Tempesta di Mare’ (The Storm at Sea). There is a high-speed performance of Vivaldi’s Concerto Grosso in D minor as well as pieces by Leclair, Simonetti, Albinoni/Giazotto, Couperin, Vitali and Tartini. Red Priest have also re-released their acclaimed back-catalogue of recordings, including Priest on the Run, Nightmare in Venice, and a sensational re-interpretation of Vivaldi’s popular masterpiece, The Four Seasons. ‘Red Priest puts the viva in Vivaldi’ - Strings Magazine. See here for details of the Johann I’m Only Dancing tour.

BAROQUE CELLO ILLUMINATIONS - ANGELA EAST     RED PRIEST RECORDINGS

Angela East is a versatile musician whose activities embrace music from the beginning of the 17th century, solo repertoire from the 20th century, classical and romantic chamber music and educational projects. Born into a musical family, she began tuition at the age of four and at fourteen was awarded the Arts Council’s prestigious Suggia Award to study with Muriel Taylor. She went to the Royal Academy of Music to study with Derek Simpson and afterwards with André Navarra and Christopher Bunting. In 1979, after a number of years of performing on the modern cello, she was inspired by the new early music movement to acquire a baroque instrument and became co-principal cello with the English Baroque Soloists under Sir John Eliot Gardiner. With this orchestra she appeared in many inspiring venues, including La Scala Milan, the Palace of Versailles and the ruins of Pompeii. She also performed as a continuo player and soloist with leading baroque orchestras in London, including the first performance on original instruments at Glyndebourne with the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment under Sir Simon Rattle. She plays five different instruments, including the viola da gamba and the bass violin, and often performs as part of the theatrical and surrealist group, Red Priest. Her latest CD, Baroque Cello Illuminations, sheds new light on old favourites, bringing together some of the best baroque works popular with young cellists. The album, which also features Ruth Alford (cello) and Howard Beach (harpsichord), is an inspiring collection of music by Henry Eccles, Willem De Fesch, Vivaldi, Couperin (Pièces en Concert), Sammartini/Berteau and J S Bach (Suite no 1 in G major). Angela East plays with all the verve and technical mastery of one of the world’s finest baroque cellists.

ENGLISH MUSIC FOR VIOLA - ENIKO MAGYAR     NAXOS 8.572407

Viola RecitalPraised by violists such as Yuri Bashmet and Atar Arad for her technique, musicality and passion, Eniko Magyar is the most prolific violist to have emerged from Hungary in recent years. She gave her solo debut with orchestra performing Hidas’s Violin Concerto at the age of 13, and since graduating from the Franz Liszt Academy of Music in Budapest she has enjoyed a varied career as a soloist and chamber musician as well as performing as soloist with major orchestras. Now based in London, her debut CD features a recital of English music written for the viola by Sir Arthur Bliss, Frederick Delius and Frank Bridge. The viola, with its plangent tone, subtle sonority and lyrical qualities, is often overshadowed by its more brilliant-sounding sibling, the violin. An accomplished violist himself, Frank Bridge wrote little solo music for this instrument; only the Pensiero and Allegro appassionato were published in his lifetime, the other five works of his on this disc being the composer’s own arrangements of some of his charming violin pieces. Similarly, Delius’s Third Violin Sonata is heard here in an arrangement by the celebrated violist Lionel Tertis, the dedicatee of Bliss’s expressive Viola Sonata, in which Magyar’s gorgeous Giovanni Grancino instrument is heard to particularly wonderful effect. She is accompanied on these recordings by the award-winning Japanese concert pianist Tadashi Imai and plays throughout with superb musicianship and sensitivity to the English style. Highly recommended.

BACH SONATAS & PARTITAS - DAVID GRIMAL    NAIVE AMBROISIE AM181

David Grimal was born in Paris in 1973 and started to play the violin at the age of five. He won the First Prize in violin and chamber music at the Paris Conservatory in 1993 and went on to study with Regis Pasquier, Philipp Hirschhorn (to whom this new recording is dedicated), Shlomo Mintz and Isaac Stern. This release is his third recital for Ambroisie featuring Bach’s iconic solo sonatas and partitas interspersed with the world premiere recording of Kontrapartita, a piece by the exciting young French composer, Brice Pauset, born in Besançon in 1965 and cited by Grimal as a key influence in his understanding of Bach’s music. Kontrapartita was inspired by the ‘morphology and the metaphorical strength’ of Bach’s music. Pauset says this led him to transfer his ‘impressions of the relationship of the bow to the violin strings into a piece in which bow and violin are treated as found objects’. Bach composed his six Sonatas and Partitas for solo violin in 1720, at around the time he wrote such other works as the Brandenburg Concertos and solo cello suites. The Sonatas each consist of four movements in a slow-fast-slow-fast pattern; the Partitas are suites of dance movements. This double CD release also includes a bonus DVD of David Grimal playing Bach’s stunning Partita No.2 in D minor, featuring the monumental and hugely popular ‘Chaconne’. These are exceptional recordings by one of the leading French violinists of his generation.

PURCELL EDITION, VOL. 4 - INSTRUMENTAL MUSIC  WARNER 2564 69139-0

Born in London in 1659, Henry Purcell incorporated Italian and French stylistic elements into his music, devising an original and particularly English style of Baroque music. Although he lived a very short life (he died in 1695) he benefitted from the renewed flowering of music after the Restoration of the Monarchy. As the son of a musician at Court, a chorister at the Chapel Royal, and the holder of continuing royal appointments until his death, Purcell worked in Westminster for three different Kings over twenty-five years. In addition to his royal duties he wrote operas, most notably Dido and Aeneas, as well as incidental stage music and chamber music in the form of harpsichord suites and trio sonatas. There is hardly a department of music to which Purcell did not contribute with great distinction and his epitaph in Westminster Abbey reads, ‘Here lyes Henry Purcell Esq., who left this life and is gone to that blessed place where only his harmony can be exceeded.’ This 5-CD box set features some of the composer’s finest instrumental music, including Nikolaus Harnoncourt conducting Concentus Musicus Wien in The Viol Fantasias. Six harpsichord suites and other keyboard works are played by Olivier Baumont, and the other outstanding soloists here include Max van Egmond (bass), David Blackadder (Sonata for trumpet and strings in D major), Christophe Coin (bass viol) and Christopher Hogwood (chamber organ and spinet). This is the fourth volume in Warner’s excellent Purcell Edition series - see the earlier releases here.

SZYMANOWSKI - MUSIC FOR VIOLIN AND PIANO   HYPERION CDA67703

This CD contains some of Polish composer Karol Szymanowski’s most overtly sensual and vividly gestural music; his lush, exotic textures intensified and crystallized in miniature. From his early Violin Sonata in D minor onwards, evidence of the composer’s unusual brilliance in writing for solo violin is paramount. The Romance in D major, first performed in in 1913, already reveals a considerable advance towards the exotic, strangely inward exaltation of mature works. In the extraordinary Mythes (1915) Szymanowski reaches the zenith of his artistry, creating ‘a new mode of expression for the violin’ and through this an intoxicating, other-worldly musical language. The other works on this recording are Szymanowski’s Nocturne and Tarantella, Three Paganini Caprices and La Berceuse d’Aïtacho Enia. The gifted young Russian violinist Alina Ibragimova plays this intense music with verve, technical skill and remarkable maturity, accompanied by the equally youthful and talented French pianist, Cédric Tiberghien.

J S BACH - BACH ON THE ITALIAN LUTE      GUILD GMCD 7321

Johann Sebastian Bach was a virtuoso organist and served as court musician and composer in Arnstadt, Weimar, Köthen and as cantor and director of music at Leipzig. His fame during his lifetime was due at least as much to his ability as an organist as to his reputation as a composer, but since the 19th century he has been hailed as a genius whose work represents the peak of the Baroque era. As well as famous works such as The Brandenberg Concertos, Well-Tempered Clavier and Art of the Fugue, Bach wrote a wide range of other music, including several suites for the lute. Modern lutenists have for years been faced with the challenges of adapting Bach’s lute suites for the German baroque lute. On this album, the excellent Peter Croton sheds new light on these works by presenting them on an Italian Lute, an instrument also used in Germany during Bachs lifetime. The selected works are performed without modification and in the original keys. This is a recording of intimate timbres and subtle expression, evoking the Lautenwerk, a keyboard instrument for which J.S. Bach apparently composed these works. In addition to performing three original lute works, Peter Croton has transcribed Bach’s delightful first cello suite for the Italian lute. The CD closes with his arrangement of Bist du bei mir, one of the most beautiful and popular songs of the Baroque era. These are intelligent, sensitive and lyrical performances of some of the most challenging and expressive music ever written for the lute. The beautifully recorded pieces are wonderfully calming and prove beyond doubt that ‘Bach teaches us how to be pious’.

LATE ROMANTIC       HARMOS RECORDS HAR 101

Harmos Records is a new recording company that aims to promote a fresh approach to the classical music CD, exploring and establishing a variety of new performers and composers. The releases will be varied in style and mood, and there is an intention to promote both new and forgotten works with artists representing a mix of upcoming young talents and seasoned musicians. The label’s first release is an innovative collection of works for flute and piano from the late Romantic period. The flute has enjoyed great popularity and inspired many fine compositions over the course of its history, though it has not always provoked equal passions in all periods. The Baroque saw a surge of interest, with prolific writing from Vivaldi, Telemann, Bach, Händel and many others, and in the 20th Century the flute’s possibilities as a solo instrument were taken to new levels by avant–garde composers. Assembled, transcribed and performed by the renowned Portuguese flautist Luis Meireles, this disc features an original suite for flute and piano by Charles-Marie Widor, and transcriptions of violin sonatas by Pierne and Richard Strauss. Luis Meireles has long felt an affinity with this period of musical expression, and brings dedication and passion in this new and unusual recording, partnered with sensitivity and style by Maria Jose Souza Guedes at the piano. This is an unusual exploration of the sumptuous instrumental repertoire of the late Romantic period, played on a modern wooden flute which allows for an illuminating interpretation of these lyrical masterpieces. Luis Meireles and Maria Jose Souza Guedes perform this delectable music with spirit, expressiveness and true feeling.

FORTMAN - SAX MUSIC    METIER MSV28512

Thomas Fortmann was born in Switzerland and became a successful songwriter during the 1970s. He studied composition and music theory in Bern, Switzerland, and wrote his first hit at the age of 16. He subsequently released over a hundred other titles in more than 27 countries, working with artists such as Alexis Korner, Love Generation, Dieter Dierks, Cockpit, Su Kramer, Italian singer Daniela Davoli and many others. He also wrote a successful musical, Wilhelm Tell, featuring German rock star Udo Lindenberg in the lead. After ten years, Fortmann turned his back on rock music and dedicated himself to further studies in composition and instrumentation. This album gathers together for the first time all of his works composed for the saxophone, in various combinations. All were written between 1984 and 2008, and show Fortmann’s development as a key composer for the instrument. The outstanding performers include Marco Falaschi (soprano and alto saxophones) and the Berlioz Saxophone Quartet, and the pieces have such intriguing titles as Catholic Blues, Three Piggies in Clover, Pop Oh Kakapitl and A Whale in the Circus (from the stage production ‘Collidis Pinocchio’, with soprano Ruber Marani).

TERRA NOSTRA – CONSTANTINOPLE   ATMA ACD2 2567

Terra nostraConstantinople is a Montreal-based early music ensemble inspired by the ancient musical traditions of Persia, the Middle East and the Mediterranean. Their ninth recording for ATMA, Terra Nostra is a musical journey into the sounds of 17th century Mexico. Joining Constantinople are Mexican guests and son Jarocho specialists José Angel Gutiérrez (requinto, voice) and the wonderful Teresita de Jesus Islas (jarana, voice). The line-up also includes Kiya Tabassian (setar - a plucked stringed instrument from Persia), Ziya Tabassian (percussion), Betsy McMillan (viola da gamba) and Matthew Wadsworth (baroco guitar). Masters of improvisation, Constantinople revisits the Xacaras, the Fandango and La Bamba and other traditional forms as they were performed almost 400 years ago. Terra Nostra was inspired by a meeting of musical minds during a tour to Veracruz, Mexico. A random encounter with Gutiérrez and Jesus Islas in their village, Lerdo de Tejada, resulted in an exchange of musical traditions and ideas. Jarocho is an old Spanish language word which meant ‘disordered’, and which evolved in Mexico to become a term for a person, item or music from Veracruz. Jarochos, the plural word, is often used to describe wandering bands of minstrel musicians, operating similar to mariachis, who dress and play in the Veracruz style. Jarochos are visually distinguished from mariachis by their traditional white suits and white cowboy hats and the music played is known as Son Jarocho. The heritage and depth of the ‘old world’ combined with the effervescence and openness of the 17th century ‘new world’ gave birth to the Mexican Baroque, resulting a new form of music with extraordinary rhythmic vitality and stunning melodic virtuosity. By turns mystical, effervescent, heartbreaking and emotional, this music from colonial Mexico is a revelation. Highly recommended.

SIMPLY ANNE-SOPHIE - CD & DVD   DEUTSCHE GRAMMOPHON 4777166

The German violinist virtuoso Anne-Sophie Mutter was born in 1963 and began playing the piano at the age of five before later taking up the violin. When she was just thirteen years old, conductor Herbert von Karajan invited her to play with the Berlin Philharmonic and in 1977 she made her debut at the Salzburg Festival and with the English Chamber Orchestra under Daniel Barenboim. At fifteen, she made her first recording of the Mozart Third and Fifth violin concerti with Karajan, and in 1980 she made her American debut with the New York Philharmonic under Zubin Mehta and ever since has been in demand as a soloist and chamber musician, giving concerts in Europe, North America and Asia. Since her debut with Deutsche Grammophon at the age of fourteen, Mutter has received innumerable prizes for her recordings. Though her repertoire includes many classical works, she is particularly known for her championing of contemporary music. A number of pieces have been especially written for or dedicated to her, including Henri Dutilleux’s Sur le Même Accord, Witold Lutoslawski’s Partita, and Krzysztof Penderecki’s Second Violin Concerto. ‘Simply Anne-Sophie’ features the glamorous violinist’s personal selections, with excerpts from Vivaldi’s The Four Seasons, two Mozart Concertos, Beethoven’s Romance Massenet’s Meditation from Thaïs, Fritz Kreisler’s Liebesleid, Previn’s Song from Tango Song and Dance, Brahms’ Hungarian Dance No. 6, George Gershwin’s Summertime, and Pablo de sarasate’s Fantaisie de Concert based on Carmen. The DVD includes an excerpt from Vivaldi’s Four Seasons, the rondeau from Mozart’s Concerto No. 3, part of the first movement of Beethoven’s Violin Concerto and a wonderfully intimate performance of Song with Andre Previn, as well as a picture gallery and discography.

MOZART VIOLIN SONATAS – ANNE-SOPHIE MUTTER  DEUTSCHE GRAMMOPHON 00289 477 5801

Anne-Sophie Mutter started playing the piano at the age of five and violin shortly afterwards. When she was only 13, Herbert von Karajan invited her to play with the Berlin Philharmonic and the following year she made her debut at the Salzburg Festival. At 15, she recorded Mozart’s Third and Fifth Violin Concertos with the Berlin Philharmonic and was named Artist of the Year. She has since enjoyed a highly successful international career with a repertoire that includes many classical works as well as much modern music. This superb four-CD box set of violin sonatas is part of Anne-Sophie Mutter’s ambitious Mozart Project, timed to celebrate the composer’s 2006 anniversary as well as the 30th anniversary of Mutter’s stage debut in Lucerne. The CD recording, with pianist Lambert Orkis, took place live in concert in Munich in February 2006. The Sonatas featured are for Piano and Violin in F, K.376; E flat, K.302; G, K.379; B flat, K.454; A, K.305; B flat, K.378; G, K.301; E flat, K.481; C, K.296; E flat, K.380; F, K.547; D, K.306; C, K.303; F, K.377; E minor, K.304; A, K.526. Anne-Sophie Mutter’s playing is always elegant and pure, yet filled with colour and shade, and Lambert Orkis’s piano technique is superbly sympathetic throughout. Highly recommended.

VIOLIN SONGS - MADELEINE MITCHELL    DIVINE ART DDA25063

Madeleine Mitchell has been described by the Glasgow Herald as ‘a violinist in a million’ and is one of the most celebrated and accomplished violinists in the UK. She has performed in over 40 countries as a soloist in a wide repertoire in major venues and frequently broadcasts for television and radio, including the BBC Proms. As well as being an acclaimed violinist, Madeleine Mitchell is also the mastermind behind ‘Red Violin’ - a festival celebrating the violin running in Cardiff from 1-9 October 2007 (it was first organised in 1997 under the patronage of Lord Menuhin). For full details please visit www.redviolin.co.uk Accompanied by her regular pianist partner Andrew Ball on this new CD, Madeleine Mitchell presents a selection of personal favourite music for violin and piano - classic songs, salon pieces and music from 1920s Paris. The works are by Elgar (Salut d’Amour, Chanson de Matin and Chanson de Nuit), Berg (Die Nachtigall), Bridge (Mélodie, Amaryllis, Romanze, Spring Song, Moto Perpetuo, Berceuse and a world première recording of Morceau Caracteristique), Copland (Nocturne), Prokofiev (Cinq Mélodies), Massenet (Méditation from Thaïs) , Boulanger (Nocturne), Poulenc (Violon), Ravel (Berceuse sur le nom de Fauré), Schubert (Ave Maria, arr. Palaschko) and Strauss (Morgen). The score for Frank Bridge’s lyrical Morceau Caracteristique, thought to have been lost, has only recently been rediscovered, so this is the piece’s first performance for over 100 years. This is an album of charming music, brought to shimmering life by Madeleine Mitchell’s spirited yet sensitive virtuosity.

RENOUNCEMENT – CHRISTIAN FORSHAW     INTEGRA ING1001

Christian Forshaw is a gifted musician who works in many different musical worlds. Born in North Yorkshire, he graduated from London’s Guildhall School of Music & Drama in 1995. He was the featured soloist with the (BT) Scottish Ensemble in a series of critically acclaimed performances of Richard Rodney Bennett’s Concerto for Alto Saxophone and Strings, and was soloist with the London Sinfonietta for the premiere of Aquas Liberas by Pedro Rebelo. As well as being Professor of Saxophone at the Guildhall School, Forshaw plays soprano saxophone with the Delta Saxophone Quartet and orchestras such as the Chamber Orchestra of Europe, the London Sinfonietta, the Philharmonia, CBSO and the Britten Sinfonia. Renouncement, the first release on his own record label, Integra, is an intriguing venture into the imaginative world of church music. The pieces fall into two categories: Song based material derived from Hymn tunes and other simple melodies, and the more developed works with extended ideas. Highlights include Hereford, Not So Bad (with music by J. S. Bach), Renouncement (music by Christian Forshaw to Alice Meynell’s moving sonnet), Mortal Flesh (dedicated to Jenny Nicholson, who was killed in the London bombings on 7th July 2005), The Suite from Les Boreades by Rameau, and Songs of Sadness and Piety, with music commissioned from Gary Carpenter. The musicians are Christian Forshaw (saxophones), Grace Davidson (soprano), Sieve Lodder (church organ), and Jolty Burgess (percussion), with The Sanctuary Voices directed by James Weeks. The diverse and contemplative music on this album imaginatively combines Forshaw’s saxophone with an ethereal soprano voice, sonorous organ and mixed voice choir to create a haunting and evocative sound world.

VADIM REPIN     WARNER CLASSICS 2564632632

Russian violinist Vadim Repin was born in Western Siberia in 1971 and was acclaimed throughout Russia as a child prodigy. At the age of 17 he became the youngest ever winner of the prestigious and demanding Queen Elisabeth competition in Brussels, since when he has played under such leading conductors as Yehudi Menuhin, Pierre Boulez, Kurt Masur, Simon Rattle and Mstislav Rostropovich. He specialises in Russian music and French music, particularly the great Russian violin concertos, and is a strong advocate of new music, receiving accolades for his performances of John Adams’ Violin Concerto with the Chicago Symphony and the San Francisco Symphony conducted by the composer. He performed Gubaidulina’s Offertorium in his Boston Symphony debut, and shortly thereafter with the City of Birmingham Symphony. Vadim Repin has been a frequent guest at festivals such as the Hollywood Bowl and Tanglewood and at the BBC Proms. This splendid ten CD box set includes Nel cor piu and Caprice No.24 (Paganini), Polonaise Brillante and Variations on an original theme (Wieniawski), Sonata - excerpt Blues, Sonata for Violin and Piano No.2, and Tzigane (Ravel), Violin Concerto Nos. 2, 3 and 5 (Mozart), and Concertos for Violin and Orchestra by Tchaikovsky, Sibelius, Shostakovich and Prokofiev. Vadim Repin plays his Stradivarius ‘Ruby’ violin, made in 1708 and previously played by Pablo de Sarasate, with great elegance and virtuosity, giving substance to the claim that he is the finest violinist of his generation. ‘His playing is breathtaking’ - Classic FM Magazine.

SZYMANOWSKI - NICOLA BENEDETTI   DEUTSCHE GRAMMOPHON 987 057-7

Szymanowski BenedettiViolinist Nicola Benedetti’s much anticipated debut album features recordings made with the London Symphony Orchestra, conducted by 29 year old phenomenon Daniel Harding soon after he was appointed Principal Guest conductor of the London Symphony Orchestra, and Music Director of the Mahler Chamber Orchestra. As well as polished performance of the Szymanowski Concerto, which won her the title of BBC Young Musician of the Year in 2004, she plays a new John Tavener work (Fragment for the Virgin) written especially for her, and music by Saint-Saens (Havanaise for Violin and Orchestra), Chausson, Massenet (Meditiation from Thais) and Brahms (a wonderfully sonorous Wie Melodien zieht es mir). A novel feature of the album is a special backing track of the Meditation from Thais, giving listeners the chance to play along with the LSO.

SCINTILLATION – YOLANDA KONDONASSIS     TELARC CD-80361

Yolanda Kondonassis has been acclaimed by the New York Times as a harpist with ‘powerful playing and musicianly energy’, and has established herself as one of the world’s leading harpists, performing both as a concerto soloist and recitalist throughout the United States, the Far East and Europe. Since making her debut aged 18 with the New York Philharmonic and Zubin Mehta, she has appeared as soloist with other major orchestras such as the Cleveland Orchestra, the English Chamber Orchestra, the Detroit Symphony and the Hong Kong Philharmonic. She has also made many outstanding recordings, including much of the standard repertoire as well as her own transcriptions and compositions for harp, such as the first-ever transcription of Vivaldi’s The Four Seasons. Scintillation is a collection of mostly standard, mostly French pieces, including Ravel’s Introduction and Allegro, Debussy’s Danses sacrée et profane, and the wonderful title piece by Carlos Salzedo. More unusual are Marcel Grandjany´s Fantaisie and arrangements of solo arrangements of works by Debussy (Bruyeres, La fille aux cheveuz de lin), Ravel (Pavane pour une infante defunte) and George Gershwin (Prelude No. 2). The virtuosic harp-playing of Yolanda Kondonassis is complemented by a group of gifted accompanists, including Joshua Smith (flute), Franklin Cohen (clarinet) and Richard Weiss (cello). Her flawless harp technique is allied with great musical sensitivity to captivating effect on this highly recommended album.

TANGO FOR ONE - WILLIAM WILSON      GUITARSOUNDS GSCD3010

The accomplished American guitarist William Wilson’s professional career includes performing, composing, and recording in a variety of settings. As a soloist he brings Latin and world music influence to classical guitar, capturing an alive, passionate and refined sound for a diverse audience. His compositions range among works for symphony, opera, voice, piano, and guitar. On this atmospheric CD he plays vibrant and sometimes melancholy music by Astor Piazzolla, the great Tango revolutionary, and Alberto Ginastera. Tango for One is the music of solitude, reflecting the great fields of Argentina, the Pampas, and the legacy of the lone gaucho. Tango music draws on all aspects of the Argentinian people, combining the lyrical melodies of the Italians, the rhythmic intensity of the Spanish, and the lush harmonies of the French. Drama, passion and intensity can be heard in the music and seen in the dance. Highlights among the 17 tracks include three brilliant Danza Criollas, Adios Nonino (Piazzolla’s moving tribute to his father), Ginastera’s Milonga (aternatively titled ‘Song of the Tree of Forgetfulness’) and the evocative Chiquilin de Bachin.

ANNA MAGDALENA BACH’S BOOK    MOVE MD 3304

Anna Magdalena Bach-Wilcken was born in 1701, at Zeitz. Her father, Johann Caspar Wilcke, was a court trumpeter and her mother, Margaretha Elisabeth Liebe, was the daughter of an organist. Anna was paid for singing with her father in the chapel at Zerbst, and by 1721 she married Johann Sebastian Bach (age 36) at Cöthen, seventeen months after his first wife Maria Barbara Bach had died. They had thirteen children together, including composers Johann Christian Bach and Johann Christoph Friedrich Bach. Their marriage was a happy one, helped by their common interest in music. Johann Sebastian dedicated several compositions to her, most notably the two Notenbüchlein für Anna Magdalena Bach, and she regularly helped him transcribe his music. Recent research suggests that Anna Magdalena Bach may have written several musical pieces attributed to her husband, including the famous six cello suites. She may also have been involved with the composition of ‘Bist du bei mir’, the aria from the Goldberg Variations, as well as the C major prelude later used by Gounod as the basis of his Ave Maria. This album by the acclaimed Australian harpsichord and organ virtuoso Elizabeth Anderson features music from the Anna Magdalena notebook. For the immortal ‘Bist du bei mir’ and many of the other works here she is joined by her son, the boy soprano Jacob Lawrence. The tuning system used in this recording follows the diagram left by Bach on the cover of the title page of his Well-Tempered Clavier, and this transcendental music is performed with outstanding expertise and expressiveness.

SCHOECK - THREE VIOLIN SONATAS    CLAVES 50-2503

Othmar Schoeck (1886-1957) was a Swiss composer, conductor and piano accompanist, born in Brunnen near Lake Lucerne. He studied with Max Reger and became an internationally recognized artist, particularly for his songs and song cycles. He also composed operas and and instrumental works, including two string quartets and several fine concertos for violin. On this new recording, Simone Zgraggen (violin) and Ulrich Koella (piano) give discerning performances that capture the varying moods in these sonatas. Schoeck’s 1905 sonata was almost certainly inspired by hearing the beautiful violinist Stefi Geyer, with whom he fell passionately in love. Schoeck’s profound love for her is also apparent in his 1908/09 sonata (Op 16) with its wonderfully lyrical first movements (the following two movements are in Beethovenian style). Two weeks after meeting Stefi Geyer in 1908, Schoeck wrote an Albumblatt for violin and piano dedicated to her, and they premièred it together during a concert tour of Central Switzerland soon afterwards. Schoeck’s earliest instrumental work that he still acknowledged in later years was his violin sonata in D major (WoO 22), composed it in 1905, a few months after he enrolled at the Zurich Conservatory. Not as personal as some of the songs that he wrote at the time, it still has youthful and melodic charm. Schoeck’s lyrical compositions (he was dubbed ‘the Swiss Schubert’) deserve to be better know and should please anyone who loves late romantic music of the twentieth century.

SARABANDE - JONATHAN RICHARDS  DIVINE ART DIVERSIONS DDD 24115

Jonathan Richards was born in 1964 and started learning the guitar at the age of eight. Since graduating from Trinity College, London, he has been active as a guitar teacher, concert performer and recording artist, as well as composing prolifically for the guitar. His extensive repertoire includes much of the standard literature of the instrument, from the baroque works of Bach, Rameau and Weiss, through the classical period exemplified by Sor and Diabelli, and the Romantic output of composers such as Mendelssohn, as well as Spanish and South American music by Albeniz, Barrios, Falla, Granados, Llobet, Mompou and Villa-Lobos. He has also championed new and unusual music, giving world premières of works by Judith Bingham, Terence Croucher, John Franklin and John Williamson. This delightful new album features a selection of Jonathan Richards’ own transcriptions for guitar of works originally written by J S Bach for lute, violin, cello or keyboard. He plays these timeless masterpieces with grace and passion, creating music that takes the listener to a peaceful haven far from the hectic pace of life. The recording was made in the music room at Shute House and recreates the ambience of a country house recital, complete with occasional sounds of songbirds in the garden.

MAGNUS GUTKE - TOUCHE II      NOSAG DM902

Touché II is the result of more than ten year’s work by the classical guitarist Magnus Gutke, who studied in Paris with Alberto Ponce, . The pieces on this adventurous album are all by twentieth century composers and include Sainz de la Maza’s Platero y yo and Antonio José’s Sonata (a work with subtle melody and tonality in its beautiful Pavana triste as well as an explosive finale). The other works are by French composers: Maurice Ohana’s Si le jour paraît... (with its exciting virtuoso second movement) and Henri Sauguet’s elegant Solilioque. Magnus Gutke’s debut record was appropriately called Touché I (Nosag DM901) and came out in 1997. This more Spanish-influenced CD features works by composers such as Francisco Tárrega, Villa-Lobos, Frederico Moreno-Torroba, Fernando Sor, Segovia, Mompou and de Falla. The music throughout is romantic and peaceful, by turns fiery and contemplative. Both titles demonstrate musicianship of a very high standard.

YEHUDI MENUHIN - IN MEMORIAM        TAHRA TAH 533

The American violinist and conductor Yehudi Menuhin was born in New York of Russian-Jewish parents. He soon became a child prodigy, his performance of Mendelssohn’s Violin Concerto at the age of seven bringing him instant fame. His playing was a sublime blend of virtuosity and expression, and throughout the 1940s and 1950s he performed and made recordings of many great classical works. Menuhin’s long career also saw him exploring the worlds of jazz and Indian music, as well as conducting and taking part in important humanitarian work. His greatest pride was the founding of the music school in Stoke D’Abernon that bears his name. This new release in Tahra’s ‘Hommage’ series features J S. Bach’s Partita No. 2 for solo violin (recorded in Berne at a public concert in 1968) and Mozart’s Concerto for Violin (recorded in the Jesus-Christus Kirche of Berlin in 1951, with the RIAS Symphony Orchestra conducted by Karl Böhm). These typically passionate performances form a true tribute to one of the twentieth century’s finest musicians.

KINGA! PLAYS FLUTE MUSIC      NOSAG RECORDS NOSAGCD 082

KINGA! CDOn these remarkable recordings the fine young Hungarian-born flutist Kinga Práda, accompanied by her mother Ilona Jánky at the piano, plays a well-chosen selection of Romantic flute music. The Transylvanian duo explore a wide range of classical repertory with works by George Enescu, Albert Franz Doppler (the popular Hungarian Fantasie), Cesar Franck (Sonate, adapted from his Sonata for violin and piano), the splendidly named Jules Auguste Edouard Demerssemann (a Dutch musician who composed many pieces for the flute) and the American Samuel Barber (Canzone, the composer’s own arrangement of the theme from the second part of his piano concerto). This is delightful music played with great skill and expression.

ILLUMINATIONS - JOSEPH ALESSI    SUMMIT DCD-367

The brilliant American virtuoso Joseph Alessi, one of the world’s greatest trombonists, plays works that span more than a century of music written for the solo trombone accompanied by a wind band. On this recording he is joined by the excellent University of New Mexico Wind Symphony, conducted by Eric Rombach-Kendall, in performances of three pieces by trombone pioneer and original Sousa Band member Arthur. Pryor (an early arrangement of Blue Bells of Scotland, Fantastic Polka, and the seductive Love's Enchantment). Also featured on this enjoyable album are Illuminations (written specially for Joseph Alessi in 2002 by the contemporary American composer Joseph Turrin), Bolivar (composed by the mysterious Eric Cook), a technically demanding T-bone Concerto (Johan de Meij) and Atlantic Zephyrs, subtitled Novelette (written in 1915 by Michigan-born Gardell Simons).

HANDEL RECORDER SONATAS - PAMELA THORBY/RICHARD EGARR LINN CKD223

Pamela Thorby (recorder) and Richard Egarr (harpsichord and organ) began their musical partnership as students at the Guildhall School of Music & Drama, leading to acclaimed recitals at the Purcell Rooms and Wigmore Hall in London. On this first recording together as a duo thay play all six recorder sonatas by Handel sonatas, generally considered some of the finest music in the baroque repertory. They were written in the 1720s, when Handel was at the height of his fame as an opera composer. The recorder was little used in the 19th century, but upon its re-emergence in the 20th, the four sonatas from opus one became the first pieces in the new recorder canon. The autograph manuscripts of all six scores finally became known in the 1970s, when it became possible to view the sonatas as a group, rather than as four plus two, as had previously been the case. The enduring appeal of these pieces lies partly in their unpredictability. Stylistically often vocal, the sonatas feature extremely inventive melodic lines with balanced, strong interplay between melody and bass, making them ideal repertoire for this excellent duo. The disc also includes Handel’s brilliant Harpsichord Suite in E major. Highly recommended.

AARON COPLAND - RARITIES & MASTERPIECES      BRIDGE 9145

Steven Richman and the excellent Harmonie Ensemble/New York perform two Aaron Copland masterpieces - the original version of his Appalachian Spring Suite and the jazz-influenced Music for the Theatre. In 1980, in celebration of his 80th birthday, Copland conducted the Harmonie Ensemble in the Appalachian Spring Suite and worked closely with conductor Richman and the Ensemble on a performance of Music for the Theatre. This album also features three less well-known pieces. ‘Two Ballads for Violin and Piano’ started out as a violin concerto but this never reached fruition. The arrangement is played here by violinist Eugene Drucker accompanied at the piano by Diane Walsh. Drucker, together with violist Lawrence Dutton, also plays Copland’s ‘Elegies for Violin & Viola’, composed in response to the suicide of the poet Hart Crane. The other work here is the little-known Toscanini transcription of Copland’s ‘El Salón México for solo piano’, receiving its premiere recording. Altogether, this is a most welcome addition to the recorded repertoire and should prove invaluable to all Copland enthusiasts.

RARE GOOSSENS       OBOE CLASSICS CC2005

These are all recordings not available elsewhere, and they show Goossens in rare form. Hear, for example, his ability to float a phrase in Pierné's Aubade. Léon Goossens was born in Liverpool in 1897, the son of violinist and opera conductor Eugène Goossens, and brother of the conductor and composer also called Eugène. After war service, during which he was wounded, he became acclaimed internationally as the finest oboist of his day. Many notable English composers wrote pieces specially for him, including Bax, Bliss, Britten, Elgar and Vaughan Williams. Goossens’ refined playing and brilliant technique can be heard to great effect on these early recordings. The performances range from a 1925 pre-electric recording of Charles Colin’s Concertino, to a 1947 reworking of Scarlatti themes. There is a reissue of the wonderful 1927 Bax Quintet (written for Goossens), and a several charming miniatures such as the Londonderry Air and Saint-Saëns’ ‘The Swan’. ‘...a fine after-dinner wine of a recording, worth listening to at leisure, without interruption, so as to marvel over the extraordinary facility and exquisite taste of one of the finest instrumentalists of any age’ - Fanfare.

PAULSSON - A DATE WITH A SOPRANO SAXOPHONE   CAPRICE CAP 21668 SACD

This ground-breaking album featuring Anders Paulsson is a pioneering effort to promote the soprano saxophone as a classical solo instrument. A sensual and poetic relationship between the musician and his instrument, performed on these recordings with great feeling, breaks traditional boundaries and challenges convention. The works included are from many different time periods and often technically demanding, some with electronic sections, and others more lyrical and folk-music flavoured. Anders Paulsson has played and blazed new trails for the this instrument for more than 16 years, having started his playing career with the tenor saxophone. The wide range of music on this adventurous SACD is by Anders Paulsson (Lullaby), Paul Bonneau, Claude Debussy (Syrinx), Benjamin Britten (Six Metamorphoses), Luciano Berio, Fredrik Högberg, Sven-Erik Bäck, Johann Sebastian Bach, Nils Lindberg, Eugene Bozza, Niklas Breman and James Horner (Hymn to the Sea).

QUIET ON THE SET - JAMES GALWAY      RCA RED SEAL  82876579102

This latest album by one of the world's finest flute players, James Galway, is subtitled James Galway At The Movies and features attractive arrangements of a wide range of popular film themes. Among the 13 compositions are James Horner's Braveheart, Ennio Morricone's Cinema Paradiso, Rachel Portman's Emma, John Williams' Far And Away, Alan Silvestri's Forrest Gump, Thomas Newman's The Horse Whisperer and Luis Bacalov's Il Postino. Susprisingly, the CD does not feature any music from the third Lord Of The Rings film, Return Of The King, in which James ‘superflute’ Galway was one of the soloists featured in Howard Shore's score. On this recording he is joined by the excellent London Mozart Players, conducted by Thomas Kochan

WILLIAM PRIMROSE - THE EARLY RECORDINGS     PEARL GEM 0207

This fascinating album gathers together the early recordings, including those on violin, made by the finest British viola virtuoso of the Twentieth Century. Born in Glasgow in 1904, William Primrose earned an enviable international reputation and his first viola recordings ushered in a new era for the instrument. Some of the tracks featured on this CD are rare or unpublished and it is tantalising to wonder whether Primrose might have otherwise gone on to become one of the great violinists if he had not changed instruments. One of his undoubted achievements was to change the way we hear and appreciate the beautiful sonorities of the viola, which profoundly influenced the present generation of virtuosi. Violin tracks include Bach Sonata No. 2 and Purcell's Golden Sonata, and viola tracks include works by Schubert (Ave Maria), Paganini (Two Caprices, arranged by primrose) and Tchaikovsky (None but the weary heart). Among the other artists featured are Gerald Moore, Isolde Menges and Sidonie Goossens.

SOLOVISION - JENNIFER FRAUTSCHI     ARTEK AR-OO16-2

On this exceptional CD the rising star Jennifer Frautschi performs five works for the violin by Fritz Kreisler (Recitativo and Scherzo-Caprice), Eugène Ysaÿe (Sonata for Solo Violin in E minor), Béla Bartók (Sonata for Solo Violin), Mario Davidovsky (Synchronisms No. 9 for violin and electronic sounds) and John Harbison (Four Songs of Solitude). Born in Pasadena, California, Jennifer Frautschi started playing the violin at the age of three and has since won numerous prizes, including the 1999 Avery Fisher Career Grant and first prizes in the Washington and Irving Klein International Competitions. She will give her New York City recital debut at Carnegie’s Weill Hall in April 2004 and will later debut in ten major concert halls in Europe, including Wigmore Hall in London, the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam, La Cite de la Musique in Paris and the Konzerthaus in Vienna. This is Jennifer Frautschi second album for Artek, her first recording for the label of works by Stravinsky and Ravel having received ecstatic reviews. ‘Crystal clear - committed and well played, with good sound to match’ - Fanfare Magazine.

NEW TUNES FOR THE BIG BASSOON - SUSAN NIGRO        CRYSTAL CD843

This impressive CD by the contrabassoon player Susan Nigro is her third solo album and features music written for her by five interesting American composers. The works explore all the beguiling facets of the contrabassoon and Susan Nigro plays her usual consummate ease and virtuosity, accompanied on the piano by Mark Lindblad. The music is by Barton Cummings (Concertino for Contrabassoon and Arioso), Timothy Grassel (Reminiscences), P. Kellaceh Waddle (Broken Icicle Twilight and Severe Thunderstorm Warning), Edward McKenna (Bagatelle), Ann Marie Kurrasch (Ponderings from the Pond) and Graham Powning (Sonata). Susan Nigro lives in Chicago and plays regularly with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. ‘Nigro is a veritable Paganini of the contrabassoon’ - Fanfare. ‘Her musicality simply glows’ - American Record Guide.

EN SONATE - SONIA WIEDER-ATHERTON    RCA RED SEAL 82876552732

This double album features the fine French cellist Sonia Wieder-Atherton performing a series of varied and sometimes little-known sonatas, together with Imogen Cooper (piano), Raphaël Oleg (violin) and Francoise Rivalland (zarb). The composers are Schubert (Litanei), Liszt, Rachmaninov, Gliere (8 Duets for violin and violoncello), Zoltan Kodaly, Maurice Ravel and George Aperghis. Born in San Francisco, Sonia Wieder-Atherton began playing the cello at the age of nine. After meeting Mstislav Rostropovitch, who subsequently guided her progress, she studied at the Paris Conservatory and at the Tchaikovsky Conservatory in Moscow. She is now a film music composer as well as a soloist with leading orchestras, in solo recitals, and in chamber music. ‘Her style is captivating since it combines audacity, purity and mastery’ - Natalia Shakovskia.

VAUDEVILLE ACCORDION CLASSICS        BRIDGE 9138A/B

The Italian-American virtuoso Guido Deiro was a great populariser of the accordion in the early 20th century and was the first accordionist to perform on the Vaudeville stage (1910). He was also the first piano accordionist to make sound recordings (Edison Wax Cylinders, 1911) and became a top attraction at vaudeville houses throughout America and abroad. In 1913, he met and fell in love with the young Mae West while they were both performing in a vaudeville show in Detroit. The couple secretly married and Henry Doktorski's sleeve notes detail their torrid relationship, with early photographs provided by Deiro's son, Count Guido Deiro. On this unique 2-CD set, Henry Doktorski gives dashing and dexterous performances of Deiro's music, with 27 delightful compositions that include Pink Slippers Valse, Hand Grenade Throwers March, Deiro Rag, Lola Fox Trot, Valse Pirouette and The Accordion Girl Waltz. This welcome release is a deliciously diverting glimpse into a world that has long disappeared.

THE FROBERGER EDITION, VOL. 3 - BOB VAN ASPEREN   AEOLUS AE-10064

On this remarkable double CD Bob van Asperen plays a series of suites for harpsichord by the Johann Jacob Froberger. Born in Stuttgart in 1661, Froberger was a choir-boy in Vienna before becoming an organist at the court there. He subsequently moved to Rome, where he studied with Frescobaldi, and later became one of the most highly regarded organists of his day. His compositions, all written for the keyboard, are of great historical importance, and the Aeolus label is to be congratulated for bringing us this latest volume in an outstanding edition of his works.

LES ELEMENS - PALLADIAN ENSEMBLE   LINN CKD 221

The startlingly dissonant opening to Les Elemens was a most shocking and original sound to the audiences of its time (the late 1730s). Amazingly, it was written by 71 year old Jean-Fery Rebel, who had enjoyed a long and productive career as one of Louis XIV’s favoured musicians. He wrote many successful instrumental works, of which this is the most famous. The composer’s introduction explains that it starts with ‘Chaos itself, that confusion which reigned among the Elements before the moment when, subject to immutable laws, they assumed their prescribed places within the natural order’. The suite which follows is filled with imaginative touches, as when the violin and bass portray Earth while the flute - in this case, recorder - imitates the flow of Water over the top. This beguiling album also features fine chamber music by his friend and contemporary at court, Marin Marais. The brilliant Palladian Ensemble consists of Pamela Thorby (recorders), Rodolfo Richter (violin), Susanne Heinrich (bass viol) and William Carter (guitar, lute, theorbo).

 

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