Enescu: Violin Sonata No 1, Op 2 (25:35)
Axel Strauss, violin; Ilya Poletaev, piano
A prodigious talent as a performer, George Enescu was dubbed “the greatest musical phenomenon since Mozart” by Pablo Casals. His compositions occupy a special place among the vast repertoire of works for violin and piano. He wrote the spirited First Sonata at the age of 16, synthesizing the influences of Beethoven and Brahms into a work with rich, symphonic textures. Enescu had a life-long preoccupation with the suite Impressions d’enfance. It exists in several different versions, including his last major creation for violin and piano.
Einaudi: Divenire (7:04)
La Pietà / Angèle Dubeau, violin
‘Portrait’ is a series of recordings presenting contemporary composers with a unique musical signature. Ludovico Einaudi is one of them. Angèle Dubeau says, “This grand and prolific Italian composer creates works that dwell within us for a long time. A music which captivates the listener, a sonic landscape to discover. Starting from the original versions, I wished to explore these works with my violin, surrounded by the wonderful musicians of my string orchestra La Pietà. This is a revisit of his music, changing its texture, rethinking its character while bringing a new sonic dimension.”
New Release of the Week
Walton: Symphony No 2 (28:10)
BBC Symphony Orchestra / Edward Gardner
Edward Gardner conducts the BBC Symphony Orchestra in late music by Walton. It follows the success of his recording of Walton’s Symphony No 1 and Violin Concerto – one of Chandos’ best-selling recordings for 2014. Walton’s Second (and last) Symphony was commissioned for the 750th anniversary, in 1957-58, of the founding of the city of Liverpool, but it was only premiered in 1960. The Cello Concerto was first performed in London in 1957 by the BBC Symphony Orchestra itself. The soloist on this recording is Paul Watkins.
Castelnuovo-Tedesco: Guitar Concerto No 1 in D major, Op 99 (20:14)
Narciso Yepes, guitar; London Symphony Orchestra / Luis Antonio García Navarro
In the 1970s, Deutsche Grammophon realised what amazing results could be achieved by recording with multi-channel tapes, using either four or eight channels. Restrictions in the playback equipment meant that listeners were prevented from enjoying the full potential of these recordings. Now, thanks to the multi-channel Super Audio CD, there is finally a system which permits these albums to be released in the quality they deserve. This collection from 1977 features Spanish guitarist Narciso Yepes in concertos from the 19th and 20th centuries.
Rachmaninoff: Etudes-Tableaux, Op 39: No 5 in E-flat minor (5:04); No 6 in A minor (3:03)
Raffi Besalyan, piano
Thoughts of home dominate much of the music Raffi Besalyan performs here. Rachmaninoff’s B-minor Prelude was inspired by The Return, a painting by Arnold Böcklin. Although it was written before his emigration, the work was a constant companion in his exile, a reminder of his years in Russia. Similarly, the folk-inspired music of Arno Babajanian recalls a distant homeland. Besalyan, an Armenian pianist based in the U.S., brings their music together in a program infused with warm memories and evocations of far off places.
New Release of the Week
Barber: Piano Concerto, Op 38 (28:46)
Elizabeth Joy Roe, piano; London Symphony Orchestra / Emil Tabakov
Deep personal resonances and a profound love for the music of two of the 20th century’s greatest composers connect Elizabeth Joy Roe to the works on her Decca debut. The critically acclaimed American pianist’s new album offers the unique coupling of piano concertos by Benjamin Britten and Samuel Barber. The work by Barber, famed for its fiendish technical demands and neo-Romantic lyricism, enters the Decca catalog for the first time.
Gillespie: Jasper Johns (9:34)
Gillespie Chamber Quartet
‘Paintings Composed’ is the result of a three-year performance and recording project. Most of the album consists of compositions inspired by the work of Chicago artists Sanya Glisic and Chris Silva and the renowned Jasper Johns. It premiered in 2012 in Evanston and was subsequently performed at five other Chicago area venues. A variety of composers contributed to the album, most of whom have a background in jazz or rock in addition to contemporary classical music. The result is a coloristic mix as varied as the paintings that inspired it.
Couperin: Les Nations: Premier Ordre: La Françoise (21:06)
Although Couperin is best known today as a composer of harpsichord music, he remained deeply involved in chamber music throughout his career. Les Nations is a vast project in which the virtues of both the French and Italian styles are set next to each other. Each of the four ordres celebrates a power of Europe: France, Spain, the Holy Roman Empire and the Savoy dynasty of Piedmont. Each work is a combination of an Italianate trio sonata with its free-form virtuosity and a large-scale French dance suite.
Ravel: Daphnis et Chloé: Part III (16:12)
Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra / Yannick Nézet-Séguin
When Maurice Ravel was commissioned in 1909 to write a score based on the ancient Greek legend of Daphnis and Chloe, he decided to compose “a huge musical fresco, concerned less with archaism than with faithfulness to the Greece of my dreams.” Three years later, when Daphnis et Chloé was first performed, it had grown into Ravel’s longest work, requiring a large orchestra with an extended percussion section, not to mention a choir. It’s performed here by the Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra and Yannick Nézet-Séguin, a team with the best possible credentials for realizing the full spectrum of this sumptuous music.
Guerrero: Laudate Dominum (3:27); Maria Magdalene (7:20)
The Sixteen / Harry Christophers
The Sixteen take a trip back to 16th-century Spain and to one of the biggest, richest and most cosmopolitan cities on earth – Seville. It was during this ‘golden age,’ when arts and culture flourished, that Francisco Guerrero and Alonso Lobo made their mark. Between them these two composers captured an astonishing variety of moods within their music, from ecstasy and joy to despair, longing and devotional stillness.