Sunday, December 27, 2015

Friday, December 18, 2015

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart; Franz Schubert - Sonata for 2 pianos; Fantasia for 4 hands (Murray Perahia; Radu Lupu)


Information

Composer: Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart; Franz Schubert
  1. Mozart - Sonata for 2 pianos in D major, K. 448/375a: I. Allegro con spirito
  2. Mozart - Sonata for 2 pianos in D major, K. 448/375a: II. Andante
  3. Mozart - Sonata for 2 pianos in D major, K. 448/375a: III. Allegro molto
  4. Schubert - Fantasia for piano 4 hands in F minor, D. 940

Murray Perahia, piano
Radu Lupu, piano
Date: 1985
Label: Sony Classical

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Review




Murray Perahia and Radu Lupu first teamed up on disc in 1984 with the Mozart D major sonata and Schubert Fantasia, setting benchmark standards for sharply honed and tonally cultivated piano ensemble playing. The gorgeous engineering gains warmth and amplitude in this new transfer for Sony's Masterworks Expanded Edition series. Likewise, the not-inconsiderable Mozart-Busoni and unhyphenated Mozart fillers yield sonic improvement. My list of all the wonderful things that transpire through the pianists' sublimely synchronized fingers, minds, and hearts would take longer to read than for you to listen to this disc all the way through.

Where do I start? The effortless, impeccably calibrated runs tossing back and forth in the Mozart sonata's first movement? The exquisitely scaled dynamics, acute harmonic and linear cogency, and split-second timing of transitions and phrase endings in the Schubert? Or the pianists' mutual sixth sense for divining perfect tempos? Two-piano mavens familiar with Busoni's retooling of the Mozart F minor Fantasia for Mechanical Organ will notice that Perahia and Lupu rightly restore passages from Mozart's original score that Busoni cut (notably in the finale). If you love the piano, you need this disc. [2/21/2004]

-- Jed Distler, ClassicsToday

More reviews:
http://www.gramophone.co.uk/review/mozart-piano-sonata-k448-schubert-fantasie-d940
http://www.amazon.com/Mozart-Sonata-K-448-Schubert-Fantasia/dp/B00000260M

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Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (27 January 1756 – 5 December 1791) was a prolific and influential composer of the Classical era. Born in Salzburg, Mozart showed prodigious ability from his earliest childhood and composed from the age of five. Till his death in Vienna, he composed over 600 works, many acknowledged as pinnacles of symphonic, concertante, chamber, operatic, and choral music. Mozart is among the most enduringly popular of classical composers.

***

Murray Perahia (born April 19, 1947 in New York to a family of Sephardi Jewish origin) is an American concert pianist and conductor. Since 1973, Perahia has recorded exclusively for Columbia Masterworks, now Sony Classical. He is loved for his warm, gentle, smooth and lyrical qualities of playing.

***

Radu Lupu (born November 30, 1945) is a Romanian concert pianist. Lupu's concert appearances and recordings for Decca, though not frequent, consisting of a limited repertoire, have been consistently acclaimed. Although trained in the Russian pianistic tradition, he is particularly noted for his interpretations of the great 19th century German and Austrian composers.

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Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart; Joseph Haydn - Great Mass in C minor; Te Deum (Ferenc Fricsay)


Information

Composer: Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart; Joseph Haydn
  1. Mozart - Mass in C minor, K. 427 - "Große Messe": 1. Kyrie
  2. Mozart - Mass in C minor, K. 427 - "Große Messe": 2a. Gloria: Gloria in excelsis Deo
  3. Mozart - Mass in C minor, K. 427 - "Große Messe": 2b. Gloria: Laudamus te
  4. Mozart - Mass in C minor, K. 427 - "Große Messe": 2c. Gloria: Gratias agimus tibi
  5. Mozart - Mass in C minor, K. 427 - "Große Messe": 2d. Gloria: Domine Deus
  6. Mozart - Mass in C minor, K. 427 - "Große Messe": 2e. Gloria: Qui tollis
  7. Mozart - Mass in C minor, K. 427 - "Große Messe": 2f. Gloria: Quoniam tu solus
  8. Mozart - Mass in C minor, K. 427 - "Große Messe": 2g. Gloria: Jesu Christe
  9. Mozart - Mass in C minor, K. 427 - "Große Messe": 2h. Gloria: Cum Sanctu Spiritu
  10. Mozart - Mass in C minor, K. 427 - "Große Messe": 3a. Credo: Credo in unum Deum
  11. Mozart - Mass in C minor, K. 427 - "Große Messe": 3b. Credo: Et incarnatus est
  12. Mozart - Mass in C minor, K. 427 - "Große Messe": 4a. Sanctus: Sanctus
  13. Mozart - Mass in C minor, K. 427 - "Große Messe": 4b. Sanctus: Benedictus qui venit
  14. Haydn - Te Deum in C major, Hob. XXIIIc/1

Maria Stader (soprano); Hertha Töpper (soprano); Ernst Haefliger (tenor); Ivan Sardi (bass); Chor der St. Hedwig's-Kathedrale; Radio-Symphonie-Orchester Berlin (1-13)
NDR Chor; RIAS Kammerchor; Radio-Symphonie-Orchester Berlin (14)
Ferenc Fricsay, conductor
Date: 1959 (1-13), 1961 (14)
Label: Deutsche Grammophon
http://www.deutschegrammophon.com/en/cat/4636122

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Review

ARTISTIC QUALITY: 9 / SOUND QUALITY: 8

These performances, now 40-ish years old, are still delightfully fresh; and frankly, despite all of the scholarship that has gone on since and the subsequent recordings to come out of all that study, these remain at the top of the list. Ferenc Fricsay’s Classical sense was unbeatable and he leads with elegance, appropriate lightness, and weight (when needed), and commits no gaffs of overused rubato or other such “Romantic” ideas. This Mass is arguably Mozart’s greatest–left unfinished at his death, the edition used here is H.C. Robbins Landon’s 1956 reconstruction. The “Kyrie” has great piety, the “Gloria” exults. The “Quoniam” trio–a great show-off piece–practically dances. One might argue that the chorus and orchestra are a bit hefty, but Fricsay only plays on their heft when he wants to. The soloists are very fine, with Maria Stader’s perfect oratorio style and bright sound just right for her big solos. The Haydn Te Deum is presented in a live performance; this nine-minute piece is too little-known. It’s a joyous work from late in Haydn’s life (1800), beginning with what sounds like a college football fight-song and ending with a fabulous double-fugue–and it receives a rousing performance. This CD is a must-own. 

-- Robert Levine, ClassicsToday

More reviews:
http://www.amazon.co.uk/Mozart-Mass-No-18-Great-Minor/dp/B00004R7X3
http://www.amazon.com/Mozart-Great-Mass-minor-Haydn/dp/B00004R7X3

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Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (27 January 1756 – 5 December 1791) was a prolific and influential composer of the Classical era. Born in Salzburg, Mozart showed prodigious ability from his earliest childhood and composed from the age of five. Till his death in Vienna, he composed over 600 works, many acknowledged as pinnacles of symphonic, concertante, chamber, operatic, and choral music. Mozart is among the most enduringly popular of classical composers.

***

Ferenc Fricsay (9 August 1914 – 20 February 1963) was a Hungarian conductor. From 1960 until his death, he was an Austrian citizen. He was known for his interpretations of the music of Mozart and Beethoven, as well as that of his teachers Bartók and Kodály. He conducted without a baton, but with extreme clarity and precision. From the 1950s until his death, he recorded for the Deutsche Grammophon.

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Thursday, December 17, 2015

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart - Violin Sonatas Nos. 18, 21, 24 & 35 (Hilary Hahn; Natalie Zhu)


Information

Composer: Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
  1. Violin Sonata No. 24 in F major, K. 376: 1. Allegro
  2. Violin Sonata No. 24 in F major, K. 376: 2. Andante
  3. Violin Sonata No. 24 in F major, K. 376: 3. Rondo (Allegretto grazioso)
  4. Violin Sonata No. 18 in G major, K. 301: 1. Allegro con spirito
  5. Violin Sonata No. 18 in G major, K. 301: 2. Allegro
  6. Violin Sonata No. 21 in E minor, K. 304: 1. Allegro
  7. Violin Sonata No. 21 in E minor, K. 304: 2. Tempo di minuetto
  8. Violin Sonata No. 35 in A major, K. 526: 1. Allegro molto
  9. Violin Sonata No. 35 in A major, K. 526: 2. Andante
  10. Violin Sonata No. 35 in A major, K. 526: 3. Presto

Hilary Hahn, violin
Natalie Zhu, piano
Date: 2004
Label: Deutsche Grammophon
http://deutschegrammophon.com/en/cat/4775572

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Review

Arthur Grumiaux's elegant and mellifluous readings of Mozart's violin sonatas set one kind of standard for these elegant and mellifluous works. Hilary Hahn, who has come to terms so brilliantly with such diverse repertoire at such an early age proves that, still in her musical youth, she can challenge sterling interpretations of Mozart as well. Her performances with Natalie Zhu reveal a mastery of the bold gesture (as in the first movement of the Sonata, K 376) and the flowing line (as in the slow movement of the Sonata, K 301). The interpretive forest doesn't obscure the trees: nuances abound in the simplest phrases (and occasionally even single notes evoke worlds of expression), without ever seeming the least bit fussy on the contrary, they appear as natural as breathing. Her violin (it's not clear whether she's still playing a Vuillaume) sounds stentorian in the most commanding phrases, occasionally making an almost instantaneous connection between ear and gut. Aggressiveness of this kind might overwhelm the sonatas did not her readings invariably take such sensitive account of the music's subtleties. As it is, her tone simply lifts her to full equality with Zhu's bright and sonorous partnership, and it's captured by the bright and sonorous recorded sound. But the duo explores darker regions as well, darker than Grumiaux may have dared in the Sonata, K 304; and they appear fully prepared to thread their way through the more labyrinthine complexities of the Sonata, K 526. A promotional DVD providing visual as well as auditory fragments of the program (might a full DVD be forthcoming?) reveals that Hahn and Zhu apply their myriad subtle brush strokes with almost none of the swaying and swooning in which other young musicians so frequently indulge, perhaps to create a (disingenuous?) visual impression of the responses their musicianship simply cannot evoke

When all's said and done, though, Grumiaux still lurks disturbingly in the background. His straightforwardness (compare his readings of Bach, for example, to Milstein's later, more nuanced, ones) maintains a standard of purity that Hahn and Zhu may not even have been trying to challenge; in that regard, and in that regard alone, Hahn can't quite match Grumiaux. A critic once referred to Szymon Goldberg's "walking-on-eggs" style in Mozart, and Hahn's isn't that either. But her performances, while wholly her own, equal or surpass any I've heard. And the stirring recorded sound adds an extra measure of urgency to an already urgent recommendation. Essential.

-- Robert Maxham, FANFARE

More reviews:
http://www.gramophone.co.uk/review/mozart-violin-sonatas-k301-k304-k376-and-k526
http://www.musicweb-international.com/classrev/2005/Oct05/Mozart_Hahn_4775572.htm
http://www.classical.net/music/recs/reviews/d/dgg775572a.php
http://www.allmusic.com/album/mozart-violin-sonatas-k-301-304-376-526-mw0001842787
http://www.amazon.com/Violin-Sonatas-301-304-376/dp/B0009JAENU

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Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (27 January 1756 – 5 December 1791) was a prolific and influential composer of the Classical era. Born in Salzburg, Mozart showed prodigious ability from his earliest childhood and composed from the age of five. Till his death in Vienna, he composed over 600 works, many acknowledged as pinnacles of symphonic, concertante, chamber, operatic, and choral music. Mozart is among the most enduringly popular of classical composers.

***

Hilary Hahn (born November 27, 1979) is an American violinist. In her active international career she has performed throughout the world both as a soloist with leading orchestras and conductors and as a recitalist. She also has built a reputation for championing contemporary music. She started her recording career in 1996 and has released 16 albums on the Deutsche Grammophon and Sony labels.

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Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart - Violin Concertos (Arthur Grumiaux)


Information

Composer: Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

CD1:
  • (01-03) Violin Concerto No. 1 in B flat major, K. 207
  • (04-06) Violin Concerto No. 3 in G major, K. 216
  • (07-09) Violin Concerto No. 4 in D major, K. 218
  • (10) Adagio for violin & orchestra in E major, K. 261
  • (11) Rondo for violin & orchestra in C major, K. 373
CD2:
  • (01-03) Violin Concerto No. 2 in D major, K. 211
  • (04-06) Violin Concerto No. 5 in A major, K. 219
  • (07-09) Sinfonia concertante in E flat major, K. 364

Arthur Grumiaux, violin
Arrigo Pelliccia, viola (K. 364)
London Symphony Orchestra, cond. Colin Davis
New Philharmonia Orchestra, cond. Raymond Leppard (K. 261 & K. 373)
Date: 1961-1967
Label: Philips
http://www.deccaclassics.com/us/cat/4383232

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Review

The Belgian violinist Arthur Grumiaux made his debut in 1940 and established himself after the war as a consistently fine player with a wide repertory whose recordings show not only his mastery of the instrument but also unfailingly good taste—and lest anyone thinks that last phrase implies a lack of personality, we should remember that it was one which Haydn chose to praise Mozart. These performances of the five standard violin concertos, the Sinfonia concertante and a couple of other pieces were admired when they came out on LP, and still earn praise for their crispness, lightness and eloquence. Grumiaux was also fortunate in his partner in the Sinfonia concertante, for Pelliccia is also an expert Mozartian and they give a performance of this beautiful piece that is expressive but still avoids self-indulgent romanticism. In the solo concertos, too, Grumiaux plays cadenzas that suit the music in length and style.
Both Sir Colin Davis and Raymond Leppard are sympathetic partners in this repertory, and since the playing of the two London orchestras is no less satisfying, this issue scores all round artistically. The 1960s recordings do not sound their age, and indeed are pleasing save for a little tape hiss and, it must be said, an excess of bass that hardly suits the style of this translucent music. However that is a small price to pay when so much else is admirable, and Grumiaux's fine tonal palette is well caught.

-- Christopher Headington, Gramophone

More reviews:
http://www.amazon.co.uk/Mozart-Complete-Concertos-Wolfgang-Amadeus/dp/B000004166
http://www.amazon.com/Mozart-Concertos-Complete-Wolfgang-Amadeus/dp/B000004166
http://www.classicstoday.com/review/review-6205/
http://www.musicweb-international.com/classrev/2001/Aug01/MozartVC_Grumiaux.htm

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Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (27 January 1756 – 5 December 1791) was a prolific and influential composer of the Classical era. Born in Salzburg, Mozart showed prodigious ability from his earliest childhood and composed from the age of five. Till his death in Vienna, he composed over 600 works, many acknowledged as pinnacles of symphonic, concertante, chamber, operatic, and choral music. Mozart is among the most enduringly popular of classical composers.

***

Arthur Grumiaux (21 March 1921 – 16 October 1986) was a Belgian violinist. His playing often brought comparisons to another great Belgian violinist Eugène Ysaÿe and also to Pablo de Sarasate of Spain. Grumiaux's playing was included on over 30 recordings, nearly all under Philips. He owned the "Rose" Guarneri del Gesu of 1744, "Ex-General Dupont" Stradivarius of 1727 and a Jean-Baptiste Vuillaume from 1866 (now known as ex-Grumiaux).


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Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart - Symphonies Nos. 35, 40 & 41 (George Szell)


Information

Composer: Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
  1. Symphony No. 35 in D major "Haffner", K. 385: I. Allegro con spirito
  2. Symphony No. 35 in D major "Haffner", K. 385: II. Andante
  3. Symphony No. 35 in D major "Haffner", K. 385: III.  Menuetto - Trio
  4. Symphony No. 35 in D major "Haffner", K. 385: IV. Finale. Presto
  5. Symphony No. 40 in G minor, K. 550: I. Molto Allegro
  6. Symphony No. 40 in G minor, K. 550: II. Andante
  7. Symphony No. 40 in G minor, K. 550: III. Menuetto. Allegretto - Trio
  8. Symphony No. 40 in G minor, K. 550: IV. Finale. Allegro assai
  9. Symphony No. 41 in C major "Jupiter", K. 551: I. Allegro vivace
  10. Symphony No. 41 in C major "Jupiter", K. 551: II. Andante cantabile
  11. Symphony No. 41 in C major "Jupiter", K. 551: III. Menuetto. Allegretto - Trio
  12. Symphony No. 41 in C major "Jupiter", K. 551: IV. Finale. Molto Allegro

Cleveland Orchestra
George Szell, conductor
Date: 1960-1967
Label: Sony Classical

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Review

ARTISTIC QUALITY: 10 / SOUND QUALITY: 7

After more than 10 years, these 1960s-vintage recordings receive their second incarnation in Sony Classics’ “Essential Classics” series. Listeners who already have the original disc, issued in 1991, will find little reason to “upgrade” to this one, despite the claim of digital remastering. Sure, you get some more “hall” sound (the old Severance Hall was fairly dry anyway) along with the same analog hiss and low-frequency congestion (especially in the timpani rolls in the first movement of the Haffner Symphony), but there is no quantum leap in reproduction quality. However, if you don’t yet own these recordings, you must, for they have long been regarded among the best.

Szell’s readings bridge the old and new “authentic” worlds of classical period performance. Tempos are brisk but not robotic. You get the precision of Toscanini with the warmth of Walter. Note, for instance, how in the first movement of the G minor symphony, when the violins enter with their famous two-note “theme” Szell adds the slightest touch of tasteful ritardando without losing any sense of momentum. The ensemble is literally perfect with elegant solo playing from the vaunted wind section. But pride of place goes to the reading of the Haffner Symphony, especially in the last movement where Szell presides over a true “presto” and absolutely breathtaking string playing. This movement itself is worth the price of this “essential” budget disc.

-- ClassicsToday
reviewing Sony Classical - 89834

More reviews:
http://www.amazon.com/Mozart-Symphony-No-Essential-Classics/dp/B00005YNH6
http://www.amazon.com/Mozart-Symphonies-Nos-Essential-Classics/dp/B00000276J

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Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (27 January 1756 – 5 December 1791) was a prolific and influential composer of the Classical era. Born in Salzburg, Mozart showed prodigious ability from his earliest childhood and composed from the age of five. Till his death in Vienna, he composed over 600 works, many acknowledged as pinnacles of symphonic, concertante, chamber, operatic, and choral music. Mozart is among the most enduringly popular of classical composers.

***

George Szell (June 7, 1897 – July 30, 1970) was a Hungarian-born American conductor, widely considered one of the twentieth century's greatest conductors. He is remembered today for his long and successful tenure as music director of the Cleveland Orchestra, and for his recordings of the standard classical repertoire.

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Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart - Symphonies Nos. 38-41 (Charles Mackerras)


Information

Composer: Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

CD1:
  1. Symphony No. 38 in D major "Prague", K. 504: I. Adagio - Allegro
  2. Symphony No. 38 in D major "Prague", K. 504: II. Andante
  3. Symphony No. 38 in D major "Prague", K. 504: III. Finale (Presto)
  4. Symphony No. 39 in E flat major, K. 543: I. Adagio - Allegro
  5. Symphony No. 39 in E flat major, K. 543: II. Andante con moto
  6. Symphony No. 39 in E flat major, K. 543: III. Menuetto (Allegretto) & Trio
  7. Symphony No. 39 in E flat major, K. 543: IV. Finale (Allegro)
CD2:
  1. Symphony No. 40 in G minor, K. 550: I. Molto allegro
  2. Symphony No. 40 in G minor, K. 550: II. Andante
  3. Symphony No. 40 in G minor, K. 550: III. Menuetto (Allegretto)
  4. Symphony No. 40 in G minor, K. 550: IV. Finale (Allegro assai)
  5. Symphony No. 41 in C major "Jupiter", K. 551: I. Allegro vivace
  6. Symphony No. 41 in C major "Jupiter", K. 551: II. Andante cantabile
  7. Symphony No. 41 in C major "Jupiter", K. 551: III. Menuetto (Allegretto)
  8. Symphony No. 41 in C major "Jupiter", K. 551: IV. Molto allegro

Scottish Chamber Orchestra
Charles Mackerras, conductor
Date: 2008
Label: Linn
http://www.linnrecords.com/recording-mozart-symphonies.aspx

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Review

Thoroughly modern Mozart – cheerful playing under a great interpreter

There is no need to argue the credentials of Sir Charles Mackerras as a Mozart interpreter, so let us just say that this double CD of the composer’s last four symphonies contains no surprises – it is every bit as good as you would expect. Like many modern-instrument performances these days it shows the period-orchestra influence in its lean sound, agile dynamic contrasts, sparing string vibrato, rasping brass, sharp-edged timpani and prominent woodwind, though given Mackerras’s long revisionist track-record it seems an insult to suggest that he would not have arrived at such a sound of his own accord. And in any case his handling of it – joyously supported by the playing of the Scottish Chamber Orchestra – is supremely skilled; rarely will you hear such well judged orchestral balance, such effective marrying of textural transparency and substance. The Jupiter in particular has a wonderful bright grandeur, yet reveals details in the brilliant contrapuntal kaleidoscope of the finale that too often go unheard.

Seldom, either, will you hear such expertly chosen tempi; generally these performances are on the quick side, but rather than seeming hard-driven they exude forward momentum effortlessly worn. Nowhere is this better shown in the slow movements (even with all their repeats they never flag, yet their shifting expressive moods are still tenderly drawn), but also conspicuously successful are the slow introductions to Symphonies Nos 38 and 39 (the former ominous but alert, the latter full of intelligent anticipation with shivery violin lines falling like cold rain down the back of the neck) and the Minuet movements of Nos 40 and 39 (whose cheeky one-in-a-bar lilt does wonders for its tootly clarinet Trio).

These are not Mozart performances for the romantics out there, but neither are they in the least lacking in humanity. No, this is thoroughly modern-day Mozart, full of wisdom and leaving the listener in no doubt of the music’s ineffable greatness.

-- Lindsay Kemp, Gramophone

More reviews:
http://www.classical-music.com/review/mozart-507
http://www.bbc.co.uk/music/reviews/gxjw
http://www.musicweb-international.com/classrev/2008/Apr08/Mozart_Mackerras_ckd308.htm
http://classicalsource.com/db_control/db_cd_review.php?id=5484
http://www.theguardian.com/music/2008/feb/01/classicalmusicandopera.shopping5
http://www.musicalcriticism.com/recordings/cd-mackerras-mozart-0308.shtml
http://www.audaud.com/2008/03/mozart-symphonies-no-38-41-%E2%80%93-scottish-chamber-orchestra-charles-mackerras-conductor-%E2%80%93-linn/
http://www.allmusic.com/album/mozart-symphonies-nos-38-41-mw0001869842
http://www.amazon.com/Mozart-Symphonies-38-Through-41/dp/B0011J2R0K

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Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (27 January 1756 – 5 December 1791) was a prolific and influential composer of the Classical era. Born in Salzburg, Mozart showed prodigious ability from his earliest childhood and composed from the age of five. Till his death in Vienna, he composed over 600 works, many acknowledged as pinnacles of symphonic, concertante, chamber, operatic, and choral music. Mozart is among the most enduringly popular of classical composers.

***

Charles Mackerras (17 November 1925 – 14 July 2010) was an Australian conductor, known for his broad repertoire, expertise in Czech music, and the use of period performance practices with modern orchestras. He was a specialist in the music of Classical era and an authority on the operas of Janáček and Mozart.

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Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart - String Quintets (Talich Quartet; Karel Řehák)


Information

Composer: Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

CD1:
  • (01-04) String (Viola) Quintet No. 1 in B flat major, K. 174
  • (05-08) String (Viola) Quintet No. 2 in C minor, K. 406
CD2:
  • (01-04) String (Viola) Quintet No. 3 in C major, K. 515
  • (05-08) String (Viola) Quintet No. 4 in G minor, K. 516
CD3:
  • (01-04) String (Viola) Quintet No. 5 in D major, K. 593
  • (05-08) String (Viola) Quintet No. 6 in E-flat major, K. 614

Talich Quartet
Petr Messiereur, violin
Jan Kvapil, violin
Jan Talich Sr., viola
Evžen Rattay, cello
&
Karel Řehák, viola
Date: 1990, 1993, 1995
Label: Calliope

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Review




The five string quintets and clarinet quintet Mozart composed in his final years gush with inexhaustible expressive and structural riches, which is not to slight the earlier, lighter-gaited K. 174 quintet. Of the various Mozart Quintet cycles crowding the catalogs, a 1995 set featuring the Talich Quartet and guest violist Karel Rehak has been reissued on three discs that sell for the cost of one full price disc. The playing is all one could wish for. Listen, for instance, to the perfectly dovetailed solo entrances at the outset of the K. 515 C major Quintet, supported by rock solid yet shapely chording. Notice, too how the ensemble shades the G minor quintet’s aching chromaticism with exquisite color and expressive economy, as well as the head-to-toe clarity of the inner parts. Clarinetist Bohuslav Zahradnik’s vivid phrasing and aromatic timbre achieves a blend with the darkly focused strings that might be akin to a splash of cilantro atop goose liver pâté. Add Calliope’s excellent engineering, and you have a Mozart Quintet cycle that takes its rightful place alongside memorable versions from the Budapest and Danish Quartets. A heavenly bargain, not to be passed up. [11/14/1999]

-- Jed Distler, ClassicsToday
reviewing Calliope - 3231/3

More reviews:
http://www.amazon.com/Mozart-Complete-Quintets-Clarinet-Quintet/dp/B000026CY3

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Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (27 January 1756 – 5 December 1791) was a prolific and influential composer of the Classical era. Born in Salzburg, Mozart showed prodigious ability from his earliest childhood and composed from the age of five. Till his death in Vienna, he composed over 600 works, many acknowledged as pinnacles of symphonic, concertante, chamber, operatic, and choral music. Mozart is among the most enduringly popular of classical composers.

***

The Talich Quartet is a Czech string quartet founded in 1964 by Jan Talich, Sr. (born 1945) while still a student at Prague Conservatory, and named after his famous uncle Václav Talich, the conductor and founder of the Czech Philharmonic. It is widely regarded as a leading chamber ensemble and winner of several Grand Prix du Disque awards. They made many records for Calliope.

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Various Composers - Russian Cello Sonatas (Truls Mørk)


Information

Composer: Sergei Rachmaninov; Nikolai Myaskovsky; Dmitri Shostakovich; Igor Stravinsky; Sergei Prokofiev

CD1:
  1. Rachmaninov - Cello Sonata in G minor, Op. 19: I. Lento - Allegro moderato
  2. Rachmaninov - Cello Sonata in G minor, Op. 19: II. Allegro scherzando
  3. Rachmaninov - Cello Sonata in G minor, Op. 19: III. Andante
  4. Rachmaninov - Cello Sonata in G minor, Op. 19: IV. Allegro mosso
  5. Rachmaninov - Vocalise, Op. 34 No. 14
  6. Rachmaninov - Two Pieces for cello and piano, Op. 2: I. Prélude in F major (Comodo)
  7. Rachmaninov - Two Pieces for cello and piano, Op. 2: II. Danse orientale in A minor (Andante cantabile)
  8. Myaskovsky - Cello Sonata No. 1 in D major, Op. 12: I. Adagio - Andante
  9. Myaskovsky - Cello Sonata No. 1 in D major, Op. 12: II. Allegro passionato
CD2:
  1. Shostakovich - Cello Sonata No. 2 in D minor, Op. 40: I. Allegro non troppo
  2. Shostakovich - Cello Sonata No. 2 in D minor, Op. 40: II. Allegro
  3. Shostakovich - Cello Sonata No. 2 in D minor, Op. 40: III. Largo
  4. Shostakovich - Cello Sonata No. 2 in D minor, Op. 40: IV. Allegro
  5. Stravinsky - Suite Italienne for cello & piano: I. Introduzione
  6. Stravinsky - Suite Italienne for cello & piano: II. Serenata
  7. Stravinsky - Suite Italienne for cello & piano: III. Aria
  8. Stravinsky - Suite Italienne for cello & piano: IV. Tarentella
  9. Stravinsky - Suite Italienne for cello & piano: V. Minuetto e finale
  10. Prokofiev - Cello Sonata in C major, Op. 119: I. Andante grave
  11. Prokofiev - Cello Sonata in C major, Op. 119: II. Moderato
  12. Prokofiev - Cello Sonata in C major, Op. 119: III. Allegro, ma non troppo

Truls Mørk, cello
Jean-Yves Thibaudet, piano (CD1)
Lars Vogt, piano (CD2)
Date: 1994 (CD1), 1996 (CD2)
Label: Virgin

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Review

On first hearing this disk, one is struck by the beauty of the cello tone throughout. On second hearing, one notes that the Rachmaninov and Shostakovich works stand out clearly. On third hearing, this distinction evaporates and one realizes that the quality of all the works on the disk is first rate, that the Miaskovsky, Stravinsky, and Prokofiev works are equally worth the attention, and that the Shostakovich and Rachmaninov works are merely more familiar.

The Rachmaninov work was written at the time of the Second Concerto between the First and Second Symphonies, and is clearly, in my opinion, an unsuccessful sketch for a symphony. As Brahms before him did with his Op. 34, Rachmaninov turned a failed symphony into a successful chamber work. However, in the final analysis the work is a little too symphonic to be great chamber music just as it is not quite symphonic enough to be a great symphony. This performance is somewhat on the crisp side; the Harrell and especially the Ma performances, which are more lyrically Romantic, are more enjoyable in the slower movements, but this only further emphasizes the distance between the original symphonic concept and this sonata arrangement. Both approaches are valid, and the work is fine enough that you’ll want to hear it played several different ways.

Those who hold to the view that Stravinsky retired from composing in 1913 point to the ballet Pulcinella (1920) and the Suite Italienne arranged from it as proof, claiming that the work is not even an arrangement of music (purportedly) by Pergolesi, but simply Pergolesi copied out with wrong notes. What is most amazing is how durable and engaging the Stravinsky work is in its orchestral, cello and piano, violin and piano, and, eventually, violin and cello versions. I have several versions of the originals by Wassenaer, but I’d rather hear the Stravinsky versions any time, wrong notes or no.

Giovanni Battista Pergolesi (1710 - 1736) wrote one sensationally popular opera, then fell ill from consumption. While in hospital he wrote his well known Stabat Mater and then died at the age of 26. To satisfy the market for his scant repertoire of original music, some marvelous sonatas by an amateur musician, one Unico Wilhelm van Wassenaer, published anonymously in Holland after being performed by the violinist Carlo Ricciotti, were ascribed by an Italian publisher to Pergolesi. They sold very well, and only recently has their complicated genesis come to light. Hence, Pulcinella and the Suite Italienne are in fact after Wassenaer, not Pergolesi. The rumor that Suite Italienne was commissioned by Gregor Piatigorsky is, so far as I can discover, not correct.

Prokofiev’s sonata is one of his last works in which his style became very introverted and ruminative. This change in style led to charges that others were writing his music for him, as those who did not understand the music felt it was of lower quality. Due to diminishing energy, Prokofiev relied on students and friends to copy out full scores from his shorthand musical notes, but the power and originality of the music are all Prokofiev. The route to understanding late Prokofiev lies through Mahler.

The Shostakovich work on the other hand is a very early work, melodic and accessible, rich with his pre-war optimism, but not his abrasive quirkiness. From its first performance it was acclaimed a masterpiece, and was even recorded on 78 RPM records, an all-but-unheard of honor for a modern chamber work at the time. In contrast, the Sonata No. 1 was never heard outside Russia.

The composer-approved Rostropovich versions of the Prokofiev and Shostakovich works are in old Soviet-era analogue sound and it is a pleasure to have these excellent digital versions as well.

Prokofiev met Miaskovsky in school and the two men remained fast friends for life. Their music diverged considerably in style with Miaskovsky writing more conservatively, but with an individual flavor. Their music also diverged in quality, with the starkly original Prokofiev clearly the greater talent. Miaskovsky’s music in general suffers from probably unconscious borrowings from other music he has heard, but when he has enough original material, as here, the result is a fine work that can hold its own in this concert, certainly well worth hearing.

-- Paul Shoemaker, MusicWeb International

More reviews:
http://www.gramophone.co.uk/review/rachmaninovmiaskovsky-cello-sonatas
http://www.classical-music.com/review/rachmaninovmiaskovsky
http://www.classical-music.com/review/shostakovichstravinskyprokofiev

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Truls Mørk (born 25 April 1961 in Bergen) is a Norwegian cellist. Mørk's discography includes an award-winning recordings of the Shostakovich Cello Concertos and of Bach's Suites for Solo Cello. He has recorded for such labels as Virgin Classics and Harmonia Mundi. He performs on a rare Domenico Montagnana cello (Venice, 1723), whose scroll was made by Stradivarius.

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Various Composers - Russian Piano Works (Boris Berezovsky)


Information

Composer: Modest Mussorgsky; Sergei Rachmaninov; Anatoly Lyadov; Nikolai Medtner; Mily Balakirev
  1. Mussorgsky - Night on Bald Mountain (transcr. Konstantin Tchernov)
  2. Rachmaninov - Etudes-Tableaux, Op. 39: No. 3 in F sharp minor (Allegro molto)
  3. Rachmaninov - Etudes-Tableaux, Op. 39: No. 4 in B minor (Allegro assai)
  4. Rachmaninov - Etudes-Tableaux, Op. 39: No. 7 in C minor (Lento)
  5. Rachmaninov - Etudes-Tableaux, Op. 39: No. 9 in D major (Allegro moderato. Tempo di marcia)
  6. Lyadov - 3 Morceaux, Op. 57: 1. Prélude (Moderato)
  7. Lyadov - 4 Morceaux, Op. 40: 2. Prélude (Allegretto)
  8. Lyadov - 4 Prélude, Op. 39: 4. Allegro impetuoso
  9. Medtner - 4 Fairy Tales, Op. 34: 2. Allegro cantabile e leggiero
  10. Medtner - 2 Fairy Tales, Op. 20: 1. Allegro con espressione
  11. Medtner - 4 Fairy Tales, Op. 34: 3. Allegretto tenebroso
  12. Medtner - Romantic Sketches for the Young II, Op. 54: 2. Scherzo "Tale" (Allegro vivace)
  13. Medtner - 6 Fairy Tales, Op. 51: 1. Allegro molto vivace al rigore di tempo e sempre leggierissimo
  14. Balakirev - Islamey, oriental fantasy (Presto con fuoco)

Boris Berezovsky, piano
Date: 1995
Label: Teldec

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Review

Following his recent dazzling but provocative – even cavalier – Ravel recital (Teldec, 3/95), Boris Berezovsky makes a formidable return to home territory. And in this most imaginative programme he displays a superabundance of technique in the most comprehensive sense of the term, and, for the greater part, the sort of emotional commitment that is second nature to the greatest Russian pianists.

His selection from the Op. 39 Etudes continues the legend commenced by his two previous Teldec Rachmaninov recitals (9/92 and 7/94) and confirms that he is among this composer’s most powerful and eloquent interpreters. In No. 3 in F sharp minor Berezovsky’s romantic freedom and richness of expression are several removes from other more conventional approaches. His rubato is pained and ecstatic and the music seems to move across an immense emotional and dynamic spectrum within its brief but intricate space. What drama he achieves too, in the great funeral elegy of No. 7 (lugubre and lamentoso), complementing a hair-raising advance to the dissonant and audacious climax with a rare finesse in the central triple piano and legatissimo reminder of the Russian liturgy. And it is this finesse which makes every bar of the Liadov Preludes memorable, whether in the ultra-Russian memory of Chopin in No. 1, or the octave storms of No. 3 (where the parallel with Scriabin’s Etude, Op. 8 No. 9 is remarkably close).

Medtner’s dark-hued Fairy Tales, too, find a potent and ideal interpreter both in malignant antics (the “Wood goblin”, Op. 34 No. 3) and subtle and elusive attributes (the Romantic Sketch: the perfect encore to keep an audience guessing). The recital is framed by two towering feats of virtuoso pianism. Mussorgsky’s Night on the Bare Mountain, arranged by Konstantin Tchernov, is as pulverizing an experience as is was at Berezovsky’s Wigmore Hall recital – allegro feroce, indeed! And Balakirev’s Islamey is tossed off at breakneck speed, its sadistic, madcap difficulties resolved like so much child’s play. I have to admit an occasional longing for a complementary glamour and character here, but in its stunningly imperious way this performance is unrivalled.

The recordings are close and airless, the accompanying notes inadequate, but there are excellent photographs of all five composers, and no piano buff should miss an awe-inspiring addition to this 27-year-old artist’s rapidly expanding discography.

-- Bryce Morrison, Gramophone

More reviews:
BBC Music Magazine PERFORMANCE: ***** / SOUND: *****
http://www.amazon.co.uk/Boris-Berezovsky-Mussorgsky/dp/B000000SP2
http://www.amazon.com/Plays-Mussorgsky-Rachmaninoff-Liadov-Medtner/dp/B000000SP2

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Boris Berezovsky (born January 4, 1969, in Moscow) is a Russian virtuoso pianist. He studied at the Moscow Conservatory with Eliso Virsaladze and privately with Alexander Satz. Berezovsky works regularly as a soloist with famous orchestras, conductors and chamber partners. He has made a considerable number of records for Teldec, and now Mirare.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boris_Berezovsky_(pianist)

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Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart - String Quartets Nos. 14-23 (Quatuor Mosaïques)


Information

Composer: Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

CD1:
  • (01-04) String Quartet No. 14 in G major "Spring", K. 387
  • (05-08) String Quartet No. 15 in D minor, K. 421 (K. 417b)
CD2:
  • (01-04) String Quartet No. 17 in B flat major "The Hunt", K. 458
  • (05-08) String Quartet No. 16 in E flat major, K. 428 (K. 421b)
CD3:
  • (01-04) String Quartet No. 18 in A major, K. 464
  • (05-08) String Quartet No. 19 in C major "Dissonance", K. 465
CD4:
  • (01-04) String Quartet No. 22 in B flat major "Prussian 2", K. 589
  • (05-08) String Quartet No. 20 in D major "Hoffmeister", K. 499
CD5
  • (01-04) String Quartet No. 21 in D major "Prussian 1", K. 575
  • (05-08) String Quartet No. 23 in F major "Prussian 3", K. 590

Quatuor Mosaïques
Erich Höbarth, violin
Andrea Bischof, violin
Anita Mitterer, viola
Christophe Coin, cello
Date: 2003 (box set)
Label: Naïve
http://www.naive.fr/oeuvre/mozart---les-quatuors-dedies-a-haydn--les-quatuors-prussiens--hoffmeister

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Review

An impeccable end to an outstanding series: precision and instinct perfectly matched

The Mosaïques’ recording of the 10 mature Mozart Quartets is completed by this release‚ so it’s time to salute an outstanding achievement. Apart from the clear‚ rich sound of the period instruments and the precise‚ beautiful tuning‚ what impresses about this Mozart playing is the care for detail‚ the way each phrase is shaped so as to fit perfectly into context while having its own expressive nuances brought out clearly. This often leads the quartet to use more rubato‚ to make more noticeable breathing spaces between sentences than many other groups do.

In the first movements of both these quartets‚ for instance‚ the Mosaïques adopt a very similar tempo and tone to the Quartetto Italiano‚ but the Italians aren’t so rhythmically flexible; though the music is beautifully shaped‚ we move continually onwards at a steady pace‚ drawing attention to the overall effect. But with the Mosaïques we’re made to listen to and appreciate the significance of each detail as it unfolds. With this approach there might be a danger of sounding contrived‚ but even when adopting a mannered style‚ as in the Minuet of K499‚ the Mosaïques retain a strong physical connection with the music’s natural pulse – by comparison the Quartetto Italiano here seem a trifle heavy and humourless. The slow movements of both quartets are taken at a flowing pace‚ making possible an unusual degree of expressive flexibility‚ achieved without any sense of hurry. All repeats are made‚ including those on the Minuet’s da capo in K499. This means that the expansive K499 lasts more than 36 minutes. The longer the better‚ as far as I’m concerned.

-- Gramophone

More reviews:
http://www.amazon.com/Mozart-String-Quartets-Quatuor-Mosaiques/dp/B0000CNTK4

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Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (27 January 1756 – 5 December 1791) was a prolific and influential composer of the Classical era. Born in Salzburg, Mozart showed prodigious ability from his earliest childhood and composed from the age of five. Till his death in Vienna, he composed over 600 works, many acknowledged as pinnacles of symphonic, concertante, chamber, operatic, and choral music. Mozart is among the most enduringly popular of classical composers.

***

Quatuor Mosaïques is an Austrian string quartet, founded in 1987 by four members of the Concentus Musicus Wien, playing on historical musical instruments. The Quatuor’s discography includes works by Arriaga, Beethoven, Boccherini, Boëly, Haydn, Jadin, Mendelssohn, Mozart and Schubert. Their Haydn recordings have received critical acclaim, including several Gramophone Awards.

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Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart - Symphonies Nos. 29, 31, 32, 35 & 36 (Charles Mackerras)


Information

Composer: Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

CD1:
  1. Symphony No. 29 in A major, K. 201: I. Allegro moderato
  2. Symphony No. 29 in A major, K. 201: II. Andante
  3. Symphony No. 29 in A major, K. 201: III. Menuetto
  4. Symphony No. 29 in A major, K. 201: IV. Allegro con spirito
  5. Symphony No. 31 in D major "Paris", K. 297: I. Allegro assai
  6. Symphony No. 31 in D major "Paris", K. 297: II. Andantino
  7. Symphony No. 31 in D major "Paris", K. 297: II. Andante (alternative 2nd movement)
  8. Symphony No. 31 in D major "Paris", K. 297: III. Allegro
  9. Symphony No. 32 in G major, K. 318: I. Allegro spiritoso
  10. Symphony No. 32 in G major, K. 318: II. Andante - III. Tempo I
CD2:
  1. Symphony No. 35 in D major "Haffner", K. 385: I. Allegro con spirito
  2. Symphony No. 35 in D major "Haffner", K. 385: II. Andante
  3. Symphony No. 35 in D major "Haffner", K. 385: III. Menuetto
  4. Symphony No. 35 in D major "Haffner", K. 385: IV. Finale. Presto
  5. Symphony No. 36 in C major "Linz", K. 425: I. Adagio - Allegro spiritoso
  6. Symphony No. 36 in C major "Linz", K. 425: II. Adagio
  7. Symphony No. 36 in C major "Linz", K. 425: III. Menuetto
  8. Symphony No. 36 in C major "Linz", K. 425: IV. Finale. Presto

Scottish Chamber Orchestra
Charles Mackerras, conductor
Date: 2009
Label: Linn
http://www.linnrecords.com/recording-mozart-symphonies-29--31--paris---32--35--haffner----36--linz-.aspx

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Review

Decades of conducting Mozart have led Mackerras to this superb recording

Sir Charles Mackerras and his Scottish players are working backwards through Mozart’s symphonies. This second volume follows their acclaimed (and award-winning) set of the last four symphonies with a group of works mainly from the latter part of his Salzburg period along with two he composed following his relocation to Vienna. Is another complete edition planned? It would be Sir Charles’s second, following his survey with the Prague Chamber Orchestra (Telarc). There are some gaps here: Symphonies Nos 33 and 34, for example, and Nos 28 and 30 which both post-dated No 29. Perhaps they’ll appear on Vol 3 with the “Little” G minor Symphony, K183.

These two discs display all the qualities identified by Lindsay Kemp in his review of the later symphonies (4/08). There’s a clarity to the acoustic as recorded in Glasgow’s City Halls, which Mackerras uses to his advantage, instinctively bringing out telling inner lines: listen especially for the ear-tweaking viola “stabs” in the second subject of No 29’s first movement or the clattering horns at climaxes throughout the symphony. This work, surely Mozart’s first symphonic miracle, is given added weight and import by Mackerras’s decision to take all repeats, demonstrating especially that the fourth movement is far more than a mere chasse finale. Claudio Abbado has also taken the period-informed modern-instrument approach with his hand-picked Orchestra Mozart (A/08; K201 is the one overlap with this selection) but I’m afraid I can’t share my colleagues’ enthusiasm for his joyless way with this music. The Paris is the least convincing of Mozart’s later symphonies but Mackerras knows (and shows) that there’s plenty to be discovered beyond the French-pleasing special effects and brilliant orchestration. He also offers both slow movements: Mozart wrote a replacement to appease a cloth-eared audience who didn’t recognise a genius when he was among them. More fool them, and alleluia that it’s all the more Mozart for the rest of us. In fact there’s so much to enjoy on these discs – armfuls of the humanity and wisdom referred to by LK, and vivacity aplenty too in the Haffner and Linz, advanced wayposts on the march towards the unparalleled mastery of the last three symphonies.

-- David Threasher, Gramophone

More reviews:
http://www.classical-music.com/review/mozart-symphonies-nos-29-31-32-35-36
http://www.bbc.co.uk/music/reviews/9pq4
http://www.classical.net/music/recs/reviews/l/lin00350a.php
http://www.classicalsource.com/db_control/db_cd_review.php?id=8062
http://www.theguardian.com/music/2010/mar/07/mozart-symphonies-review
http://www.allmusic.com/album/mozart-symphonies-nos-29-31-32-35-36-mw0001968983
http://www.amazon.com/Mozart-Symphonies-Paris-Haffner-Linz/dp/B003153ZEE

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Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (27 January 1756 – 5 December 1791) was a prolific and influential composer of the Classical era. Born in Salzburg, Mozart showed prodigious ability from his earliest childhood and composed from the age of five. Till his death in Vienna, he composed over 600 works, many acknowledged as pinnacles of symphonic, concertante, chamber, operatic, and choral music. Mozart is among the most enduringly popular of classical composers.

***

Charles Mackerras (17 November 1925 – 14 July 2010) was an Australian conductor, known for his broad repertoire, expertise in Czech music, and the use of period performance practices with modern orchestras. He was a specialist in the music of Classical era and an authority on the operas of Janáček and Mozart.

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Various Composers - Romance of the Guitar (John Williams)


Information

  1. Traditional - Romance
  2. Gabriel Fauré - Pavane
  3. Andrew York - Sunburst
  4. Agustín Barrios - Una Limosna por el Amor de Dios
  5. Isaac Albéniz - Asturias
  6. Erik Satie - Gymnopédies: No. 3
  7. Traditional - El cóndor pasa
  8. Stanley Myers - Cavatina (from the film Deer Hunter)
  9. Astor Piazzolla - Estaciones Porteñas (Four Seasons of Buenos Aires): Verano Porteño (Summer)
  10. Manuel Ponce - Scherzino mexicano
  11. Leo Brouwer - Canción de Cuna on a theme of Grenet: Berceuse
  12. Antonio Lauro - Natalia
  13. Manuel de Falla - Dance from opera "La vida breve"
  14. Turlough O'Carolan - Planxty "Madame Maxwell"
  15. Mikis Theodorakis - Epitafios No. 3
  16. Johann Sebastian Bach - Lute Suite No. 4 in E major, BWV 1006a: 1. Preludio
  17. Domenico Scarlatti - Sonata in E major, K. 380
  18. Antonio Vivaldi - Trio Sonata for violin, lute & continuo in C major, RV 82: 3. Allegro
  19. Joaquín Rodrigo - Concierto de Aranjuez: 2. Adagio

John Williams. guitar
Date: 2000 (compilation)
Label: Sony Classical

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Review

The guitar gained international acceptance as a classical instrument only in the 20th century. In that time, however, few musicians achieved a reputation for utter mastery of the instrument equal to that of John Williams. This collection of bright moments from his illustrious career includes music from throughout the world, each highlighting an aspect of Williams' brilliance.

While some of the works included in this album may be novelties for Williams, listeners will no doubt be familiar with them. The traditional tune 'Romance' is often performed by guitar students, but rarely with the delicacy found here. Simon and Garfunkel fans will recognize the Peruvian folksong, "El condor pasa," but will delight in Williams' performance of this arrangement.

Revisiting Williams' classic recordings is an equal treat. The passion of the tango swells in Piazzolla's 'Verano porteño,' and the bright, dexterous fingerwork required in York's 'Sunburst' shows why Williams is recognized as one of the guitar's great masters. Whether performing solo or with a full orchestra, Williams brings out the sweetness, power and lyricism of his instrument.

-- AllMusic

More reviews:
http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00004T0P4?qid=&ref_=tmm_acd_swatch_0&sr=

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John Christopher Williams (born 24 April 1941) is an Australian-born British classical guitarist renowned for his ensemble playing as well as his interpretation and promotion of the modern classical guitar repertoire. Williams is noted for a technique that is often described as virtually flawless.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Williams_(guitarist)

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Various Composers - Polish Romantic Piano Music (Tobias Koch)


Information

  1. Michał Kleofas Ogiński - Polonaise in A minor "Pożegnanie Ojczyzny" (Farewall Homeland)
  2. Karol Kurpiński - Polonaise in D minor
  3. Karol Kurpiński - Polonaise in G minor
  4. Karol Kurpiński - Polonaise in F minor
  5. Karol Kurpiński - Polonaise in C major
  6. Maria Szymanowska - Polonaise in F minor
  7. Maria Szymanowska - Nocturne in B flat major
  8. Maria Szymanowska - Waltz No. 3 in F major
  9. Maria Szymanowska - 20 Exercises & Preludes for Piano: 1. Etude in F major
  10. Maria Szymanowska - Nocturne in A flat major "Le murmure"
  11. Józef Elsner - Rondo à la Mazurka in C major
  12. Frédéric Chopin - Mazurka in A flat major, Op. 7 No. 4
  13. Karol Kurpiński - Mazurka in D major
  14. Maria Szymanowska - 24 Mazurkas: No. 17 in D major
  15. Ignacy Feliks Dobrzyński - Mazurka in A minor, Op. 37 No. 2
  16. Józef Krogulski - Mazurka in E minor "à la Chopin"
  17. Karol Mikuli - Mazurka in F minor, Op. 4
  18. Karol Załuski - Mazurka in D minor, Op. 6 No. 3
  19. Ignaz Friedman - Mazurka in C minor, Op. 49 No. 2
  20. Frédéric Chopin - Mazurka in F minor, Op. 68 No. 4

Tobias Koch, piano
Date: 2014
Label: Fryderyk Chopin Institute

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Review

Powerhouse of the period piano movement, Warsaw’s Chopin Institute under the artistic direction of Stanisław Leszczyński continues to venture where no recordings have gone before. Even by its own high standards, this new release featuring the German pianist Tobias Koch offers something uncommonly fresh and entrancing, a journey through the world of Polish character pieces – principally polonaises and mazurkas – from before, during and even after Chopin’s time. The sentimental tone of these modest works is captured in the dusky, introverted sounds of no fewer than four period pianos: two Erards and two Pleyels dating from between 1838 and c1854 are exquisitely recorded here.

The wide-ranging programme opens with Michał Ogiński’s popular polonaise, ‘Farewell to the Homeland’, written the year before Poland lost her independence in 1795. It takes a musician of Koch’s stature to find its melancholy depth, and he does so too with other unpretentious miniatures by such composers as Józef Elsner (Chopin’s teacher) and Karol Mikuli (a Chopin pupil). Two mazurkas by Chopin himself are included, but it is good to hear more than usual of Maria Szymanowska – a player idiolised by many including Goethe and the mother-in-law of Poland’s arch-poet Adam Mickiewicz – and Karol Kurpin´ski. Koch’s understanding of the simple rhetoric and gesture here allows him to trace the path from these little pieces to Chopin’s masterful mazurkas. An unmissable disc.

 -- John Allison, BBC Music Magazine

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Tobias Koch (born September 11, 1968 in Kempen) is a German pianist. He attended the Robert Schumann Music College in Düsseldorf, and conservatories Vienna, Graz and Brussels. Koch devotes himself to performing exclusively on authentic period instruments. His discography included more than 20 CD recordings.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tobias_Koch
http://www.tobiaskoch.eu/

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Monday, December 14, 2015

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart - Symphonies Nos. 25, 28 & 29 (Charles Mackerras)


Information

Composer: Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
  1. Symphony No. 25 in G minor, K. 183: I. Allegro con brio
  2. Symphony No. 25 in G minor, K. 183: II. Andante
  3. Symphony No. 25 in G minor, K. 183: III. Menuetto - Trio
  4. Symphony No. 25 in G minor, K. 183: IV. Allegro
  5. Symphony No. 28 in C major, K. 200: I. Allegro spiritoso
  6. Symphony No. 28 in C major, K. 200: II. Andante
  7. Symphony No. 28 in C major, K. 200: III. Menuetto - Trio
  8. Symphony No. 28 in C major, K. 200: IV. Presto
  9. Symphony No. 29 in A major, K. 201: I. Allegro moderato
  10. Symphony No. 29 in A major, K. 201: II. Andante
  11. Symphony No. 29 in A major, K. 201: III. Menuetto - Trio
  12. Symphony No. 29 in A major, K. 201: IV. Allegro con spirito

Prague Chamber Orchestra
Charles Mackerras, conductor
Date: 1987
Label: Telarc

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Review

The Prague Chamber Orchestra do not use period instruments and play at standard modern pitch, but under Mackerras's expert stylish guidance their approach here is about as 'authentic' as could be desired: articulation is pointed and clear all possible repeats (except for the second half of Andantes) are played, including those in da capos of Minuets- first and second violins are placed antiphonally; acciaccaturas replace appoggiatur as (causing some unexpected outlines) in the first movement second subject both of Symphony No. 25 and of No. 29, and a harpsichord continuo is said to be present, though except in the Andante of No. 28 it is undetectable at normal listening level. More importantly, the performances are finely shaped and full of character—the enchanting A major (what a little masterpiece from an 18-year old!) graceful and charming- the C major all bustle and gaiety, with maximum effect produced by those horn summonses in the Andante (but how could the commentator say that none of these three symphonies includes a timpani part?); the G minor impassioned, with a fierce daemonic drive which, together with the second movement's con stant sighs, lends a certain plausibility to the theory that it reflects the grief (mentioned in one of Mozart's letters as well as one of his father's) felt at the death of an old Salzburg friend. (But did external events colour his music?)

The diffuse acoustics of the Hall of Artists in Prague are not ideal for this clean-limbed music: the start of the C major Symphony is noticeably over-resonant, and throughout the A major I kept wishing for the freshness and 'presence' that made the ASMF's Philips mid-price recording so delightful. But, comparisons apart, these are nevertheless very attractive readings.

-- Lionel Salter, Gramophone

More reviews:
http://www.amazon.com/Mozart-Symphonies-No-25-28/dp/B000003CUT

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Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (27 January 1756 – 5 December 1791) was a prolific and influential composer of the Classical era. Born in Salzburg, Mozart showed prodigious ability from his earliest childhood and composed from the age of five. Till his death in Vienna, he composed over 600 works, many acknowledged as pinnacles of symphonic, concertante, chamber, operatic, and choral music. Mozart is among the most enduringly popular of classical composers.

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Charles Mackerras (17 November 1925 – 14 July 2010) was an Australian conductor, known for his broad repertoire, expertise in Czech music, and the use of period performance practices with modern orchestras. He was a specialist in the music of Classical era and an authority on the operas of Janáček and Mozart.

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Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart - Piano Sonatas (Mitsuko Uchida)


Information

Composer: Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

CD1:
  • (01-03) Piano Sonata No. 1 in C major, K. 279
  • (04-06) Piano Sonata No. 2 in F major, K. 280
  • (07-09) Piano Sonata No. 3 in B flat major, K. 281
  • (10-12) Piano Sonata No. 4 in E flat major, K. 282
  • (13-15) Piano Sonata No. 5 in G major, K. 283
CD2:
  • (01-03) Piano Sonata No. 6 in D major, K. 284 - "Dürnitz"
  • (04-06) Piano Sonata No. 7 in C major, K. 309
  • (07-09) Piano Sonata No. 8 in A minor, K. 310
  • (10-12) Piano Sonata No. 9 in D major, K. 311
CD3:
  • (01-03) Piano Sonata No. 10 in C major, K. 330
  • (04-06) Piano Sonata No. 11 in A major, K. 331 - "Alla Turca"
  • (07-09) Piano Sonata No. 12 in F major, K. 332
CD4:
  • (01-03) Piano Sonata No. 13 in B flat major, K. 333
  • (04) Fantasia in D minor, K. 397/385g
  • (05-07) Piano Sonata No. 14 in C minor, K. 457
  • (08) Fantasia in C minor, K. 475
  • (09) Rondo in D major, K. 485
  • (10) Rondo in A minor, K. 511
CD5:
  • (01-03) Piano Sonata No. 15 in F major
  • (04) Adagio in B minor, K. 540
  • (05-07) Piano Sonata No. 16 in C major, K. 545 - "Sonata facile"
  • (08-10) Piano Sonata No. 17 in B flat major, K. 570
  • (11) Eine kleine Gigue in G major, K. 574
  • (12-14) Piano Sonata No. 18 in D major, K. 576 - "Trumpet"/"Hunt"
  • (15) Minuet in D major, K. 355/576b

Mitsuko Uchida, piano
Date: 1983-1989
Label: Philips
http://www.deccaclassics.com/us/cat/4683562

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Review

ARTISTIC QUALITY: 9 / SOUND QUALITY: 9

Early in her international career, Mitsuko Uchida gained renown for playing Mozart, garnering acclaim for her complete recorded cycles of the composer’s concertos and sonatas for the Philips label. The sonatas were recorded between 1983 and 1987 and reissued as part of the label’s 1991 complete Mozart edition. Its present budget-priced incarnation is well worth your consideration. Connoisseurs of rarified Mozart pianism will be pleased to rediscover (as I did) the sparkling symmetry and ultra-precision of Uchida’s fingerwork, the fortepiano-like ping of her sonority, her impeccable tempo choices (the effortless flow between sections in the K. 284 and K. 311 sonatas’ variation movements, for instance), and finely judged balances between hands. The latter quality serves the central slow movements in the earlier sonatas, especially regarding Uchida’s subtle shaping of the left-hand Alberti bass accompaniments.

Cyclical Mozart sonata contenders like Lili Kraus, Andras Schiff, Klara Würtz, and Claudio Arrau might make more of the music’s operatic impulses and dramatic undercurrents (Schiff’s imaginative ornaments remain a strong selling point), however, that takes nothing away from Uchida’s subtle, pinpointed, and stylish mastery, which operates at higher levels of musical and technical refinement than we hear from Ingrid Haebler’s competing space-saving budget-box Mozart sonata cycle on the same label. In short, a solid thumbs up for bargain hunting Mozart lovers and, of course, for Uchida fans.

-- Jed Distler, ClassicsToday

More reviews:
http://www.classical-music.com/review/mozart-17
http://www.allmusic.com/album/mozart-the-piano-sonatas-mw0001842400
http://www.amazon.com/Mozart-Piano-Sonatas-MITSUKO-UCHIDA/dp/B00005QDYG

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Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (27 January 1756 – 5 December 1791) was a prolific and influential composer of the Classical era. Born in Salzburg, Mozart showed prodigious ability from his earliest childhood and composed from the age of five. Till his death in Vienna, he composed over 600 works, many acknowledged as pinnacles of symphonic, concertante, chamber, operatic, and choral music. Mozart is among the most enduringly popular of classical composers.

***

Mitsuko Uchida (born 20 December 1948), is a Japanese naturalised-British classical pianist. She is an acclaimed interpreter of the works of Mozart, Beethoven, Schubert, Chopin, Debussy and Schoenberg. Uchida won Gramophone Awards for her recordings of Mozart's Piano Sonatas and Schoenberg's Piano Concertos (with Pierre Boulez)

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