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      Archive for May, 2016

      May 29, 2016

      Gál: Piano Concerto, Op 57 (32:51)

      Sarah Beth Briggs, piano; Royal Northern Sinfonia / Kenneth Woods

      Bringing to light another of Hans Gál’s gorgeously melodic and finely crafted scores, Avie presents the world premiere recording of the Austrian émigré’s Concerto for Piano and Orchestra with English pianist Sarah Beth Briggs supported by Gál aficionado Kenneth Woods conducting the Royal Northern Sinfonia. Written in 1948, Gál’s concerto abounds with sweeping phrases and pyrotechnics, yet at the heart of the piece lies the composer’s signature clarity and precision, making the work an ideal coupling for Mozart’s great E-flat major concerto of 1785.

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      Rating: 4.7/5 (6 votes cast)

      Rittler: Sonata a5 in F major (5:16)

      Acronym

      The title of this release, “Wunderkammer,” is named for the “Cabinet of Curiosities” that was frequently found in the home of a 17th-century German aristocrat. For this album, Acronym has found a great deal of previously unrecorded sonatas composed by forgotten composers. Many of these works contain eccentricities, irregularities, and curiosities. Composers featured on this recording include Capricornus, Drese, Krieger, Oswald, Bertali, Eberlin, Rittler, and others.

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      Rating: 5.0/5 (7 votes cast)

      Bach: French Suite No 4 in E-flat Major, BWV 815 (15:34)

      Richard Egarr, harpsichord

      Noted for his idiosyncratic and probing performances, British keyboard player and conductor Richard Egarr continues his traversal of the works of J.S. Bach with the complete French Suites. These captivating readings are full of freshness, vitality and a sense of adventure. BBC Music Magazine said of his recording of the English Suites: “Egarr displays an extraordinary range, from harp-like resonance to transparency.”

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      Rating: 4.7/5 (3 votes cast)

      Handel: Arminio: Overture; Minuet; Act 1, Scene 1 (8:00)

      Layla Claire, soprano; Max Emanuel Cencic, countertenor; Armonia Atenea / George Petrou

      This release marks the first ever complete recording of Arminio, Handel’s opera of political intrigue and dynastic struggle. First staged at the Theatre Royal, Covent Garden, in January 1737, this first-rate opera is brought to life by a superb cast led by Max Emanuel Cencic and the period-instrument players of Armonia Atenea directed by George Petrou. Other cast members include Layla Claire, Ruxandra Dunose, Vince Yi, Juan Sancho, Xavier Sabata and Petros Magoulas.

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      Rating: 3.3/5 (3 votes cast)

      Schumann: Phantasy for Violin & Orchestra, Op 131 (15:02)

      Thomas Zehetmair, violin; Paris Chamber Orchestra

      Founded in 1978, the Paris Chamber Orchestra quickly established its reputation as one of Europe’s leading chamber orchestras. In 2012, Thomas Zehetmair was appointed the orchestra’s principal conductor and artistic advisor. On this recording, made at the Théâtre des Champs-Elysées in February 2014, Zehetmair does double duty as both soloist and conductor. His insightful approach to music of Schumann has already been demonstrated with the Zehetmair Quartet, whose recording of two Schumann string quartets won the Gramophone Album of the Year Award in 2003.

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      Rating: 4.3/5 (4 votes cast)

      Shostakovich: Symphony No 9 in E-flat major, Op 70 (26:38)

      Boston Symphony Orchestra / Andris Nelsons

      For their second release on Deutsche Grammophon, following up on their Grammy-winning recording of the Symphony No 10, Andris Nelsons and the Boston Symphony Orchestra are heard in live performances of Dmitri Shostakovich’s popular, pre-war Fifth Symphony, the darkly compelling mid-war Eighth, and the elusive, post-victory Ninth. Also included are excerpts from Shostakovich’s incidental music for a farcical 1932 Moscow production of Hamlet.

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      Rating: 4.5/5 (4 votes cast)

      May 22, 2016

      Debussy, orch. Ravel: Sarabande (5:12); Danse (5:11)

      Lyon National Orchestra / Leonard Slatkin

      Maurice Ravel’s incomparable skill in orchestration is evident both in his own works and in his orchestrations of music by other composers. His versions of both Chabrier’s Menuet pompeux and Schumann’s Carnaval were commissions for ballet, while new life was given to his late friend Debussy’s Sarabande et Danse at the request of publisher Jean Jobert. Ravel’s iconic orchestration of Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition vividly depicts scenes that range from the playful to the macabre.

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      Rating: 3.3/5 (4 votes cast)

      Ibert: Petite suite en 15 images (17:36)

      Andrey Gugnin, piano

      Andrey Gugnin, the 2014 Gold Medal winner at the Gina Bachauer Competition, presents Mussorgsky’s monumental Pictures at an Exhibition. The album also explores the works of two more contemporary composers on the theme of “Pictures,” with music of Jacques Ibert and Armenian composer Arno Babadjanian.

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      Rating: 3.7/5 (3 votes cast)

      Amanda Maier-Röntgen: Violin Sonata in B minor (19:45)

      Frank Almond, violin; William Wolfram, piano

      The saga of the Lipiński Stradivarius of 1715 continues in this sequel to the critically acclaimed “A Violin’s Life.” The second volume includes compositions that have a connection to this storied violin’s history and pedigree. After a close brush with tragedy when the violin was stolen in 2014 and recovered after a valiant police pursuit, the violin’s story begins another chapter.

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      Rating: 4.8/5 (4 votes cast)

      Elgar, orch. Fraser: Piano Quintet in A minor, Op 84: III, Andante – Allegro (11:18)

      English Symphony Orchestra / Kenneth Woods

      Donald Fraser’s orchestration of Elgar’s Piano Quintet was named a “Premiere of the Year” by Classical Music Magazine. It appears on this new recording alongside Fraser’s choral arrangement of Elgar’s Sea Pictures with Kenneth Woods conducting the English Chamber Orchestra and the Rodolfus Choir. Fraser has frequently orchestrated works by Elgar at the behest of individuals and organizations, including Yehudi Menuhin and the Elgar Society.

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      Rating: 4.8/5 (12 votes cast)