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      Archive for November, 2013

      November 24, 2013

      Schumann: Gesänge der Frühe, Op 133 (15:14)

      Mitsuko Uchida, piano

      Mitsuko Uchida places Schumann’s turbulent Piano Sonata No 2 in company with his romantic Waldszenen (Forest Scenes) and the Gesänge der Frühe (Songs of Dawn). Her deep understanding of the contrasting character and moods of each work and ability to portray them in sound underline her status among the great pianists of our time.

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      Rating: 4.0/5 (2 votes cast)

      Strauss: Don Juan, Op 20 (18:33)

      Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra / Manfred Honeck

      For more than 116 years, the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra has been known for its artistic excellence. The PSO has a rich history of the world’s finest conductors and musicians. This tradition was furthered in fall 2008, when Austrian conductor Manfred Honeck became Music Director. The orchestra’s new release is planned as the first in a series of multi-channel hybrid SACD recordings from Reference Recordings. It features three tone poems by Richard Strauss: Don Juan, Death and Transfiguration and Till Eulenspiegel’s Merry Pranks.

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      Rating: 4.8/5 (5 votes cast)

      Britten: String Quartet No 2 in C major, Op 36: IV, Chacony (15:06)

      Takács Quartet

      The Takács Quartet has recorded much of the great Classical and Romantic repertoire during their fruitful career. Now they turn to masterpieces of the 20th century – Benjamin Britten’s three quartets. The first was written in America during World War II. The second was composed at the height of Britten’s fame after the premiere of Peter Grimes. It commemorates the 250th anniversary of Purcell’s death – a composer who was a lifetime inspiration to Britten – and the last movement is cast in the form of a huge chacony. The third quartet was written at the end of Britten’s life and refers specifically to his last opera, Death in Venice.

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      Rating: 4.8/5 (4 votes cast)

      Britten: War Requiem, Op 66: Offertorium (9:20); Sanctus (9:28)

      Anna Netrebko, soprano; Ian Bostridge, tenor; Thomas Hampson, baritone; Santa Cecilia National Academy Chorus & Orchestra / Antonio Pappano

      2013 marks the 100th birthday of Benjamin Britten, and Warner Classics pays tribute to this key figure of 20th century music with the release of a new recording of his War Requiem, with a stellar line up of soloists – Anna Netrebko, Ian Bostridge and Thomas Hampson. Considered to be Britten’s crowning choral work, and for some possibly the pinnacle of his entire output, it was commissioned for the festival marking the consecration of the new cathedral at Coventry.

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      Rating: 3.5/5 (2 votes cast)

      Debussy: Sonata for Flute, Viola & Harp (17:06)

      Elizabeth Hainen, harp; Roberto Díaz, viola; Jeffrey Khaner, flute

      Principal Harpist of the Philadelphia Orchestra Elizabeth Hainen’s latest release, Les Amis, features a rare pairing of works by Claude Debussy and André Caplet, exploring the composers’ friendship. The program includes the evocative and rarely heard Le Masque de la mort rouge, a piece by Caplet inspired by Edgar Allan Poe. Rounding out the recording, Hainen solos with a transcription of Debussy’s Petite Suite and Caplet’s Divertissements, and is joined by Jeffrey Khaner and Roberto Díaz in Debussy’s Trio Sonata for Flute, Viola and Harp.

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      Rating: 4.0/5 (3 votes cast)

      Antón García Abril: Third Sigh (3:23)
      Avner Dorman: Memory Games (5:01)
      David Del Tredici: Farewell (5:01)
      Mason Bates: Ford’s Farm (3:19)

      Hilary Hahn, violin; Cory Smythe, piano

      The idea for In 27 Pieces: the Hilary Hahn Encores began to take shape when Hahn noticed that new encore pieces were not being showcased as much as other types of contemporary works. Shorter pieces remain a crucial part of every violinist’s education and repertoire, and Hahn believes that potential new favorites should be encouraged and performed as well. What is unique about the project, though, is the incredible depth that Hahn has gone to. She explored the music of all the composers before personally contacting them and ran a blind online contest with open submissions to find the 27th composer.

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      Rating: 4.7/5 (3 votes cast)

      November 17, 2013

      Schumann: Violin Sonata No 1 in A minor, Op 105 (17:06)

      Christian Tetzlaff, violin; Lars Vogt, piano

      Ondine has released its second chamber music recording with violinist Christian Tetzlaff, featuring his long-time musical partner, pianist Lars Vogt. With the selection of these sonatas for violin and piano by Robert Schumann, the artists show the development of the composer, including the third sonata that was neglected for a long time after Schumann’s death and only premiered in 1956.

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      Rating: 4.5/5 (2 votes cast)

      Beethoven: Symphony No 2 in D major, Op 36 (34:48)

      San Francisco Symphony / Michael Tilson Thomas

      This powerful new recording from Michael Tilson-Thomas and the Grammy Award-winning San Francisco Symphony and Chorus pairs Beethoven’s colossal ‘Cantata on the Death of Emperor Joseph II’ with his playful, upbeat Symphony No 2. Rarely performed or recorded, Beethoven’s gripping and profoundly moving funeral cantata proved a revelation during the Symphony’s May 2013 Beethoven Project concert series. Presented as a premium quality hybrid multi-channel SACD, this album is the latest addition to the San Francisco Symphony’s ongoing series of Beethoven recordings.

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      Rating: 5.0/5 (3 votes cast)

      Beethoven: Piano Sonata No 29 in B-flat major, Op 106, Hammerklavier: IV, Largo-Allegro risoluto (12:05)

      Sean Chen, piano

      Sean Chen captivated audiences and critics at the 2013 Cliburn Competition with concerts “that had the crowd not just standing…but cheering loudly,” (KDHX, St. Louis) earning the crystal award and winning three years of concert tours in the United States—the first American to win a prize since 1997. In his final round performance of Rachmaninoff’s Concerto No 3, “he summoned massive, orchestral sonorities, yet he could also play with enormous delicacy. It was a muscular, impassioned performance, and you felt like he is an artist with something to say” (Cincinnati Enquirer).

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      Rating: 4.4/5 (5 votes cast)

      Ravel: Gaspard de la nuit: III, Scarbo (9:26)

      Beatrice Rana, piano

      With performances heralded as “sheer enchantment, alternately out-of-body and almost fearsome in intensity,” Italian pianist Beatrice Rana drew mass attention during the 2013 Cliburn Competition, capturing second prize, as well as the Audience Award. “Gaspard de la nuit was one of the finest, a spellbinding mix of diaphanous textures, hypnotic pealings and scurries alternately mischievous and menacing” (Dallas Morning News).

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      Rating: 4.5/5 (2 votes cast)