MEGA has deleted a lot of my files and it's hard for me to know which ones that need to be re-uploaded.
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Saturday, June 25, 2016

Antonio Vivaldi - The Four Seasons; 3 Violin Concertos (Giuliano Carmignola)


Information

Composer: Antonio Vivaldi
  • (01-03) Concerto in E major, Op. 8, No. 1, RV 269 "La Primavera"
  • (04-06) Concerto in G minor, Op. 8, No. 2, RV 315 "L'estate"
  • (07-09) Concerto in F major, Op. 8, No. 3, RV 293 "L'autunno"
  • (10-12) Concerto in F minor, Op. 8, No. 4, R. 297 "L'inverno"
  • (13-15) Concerto in E flat major, RV 257
  • (16-18) Concerto in B flat major, RV 376
  • (19-22) Concerto in D major, RV 211

Giuliano Carmignola, violin
Venice Baroque Orchestra
Andrea Marcon, conductor
Date: 1999
Label: Sony Classical


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Review

As sharply focused as any Four Seasons in the catalogue and better played than most. But be sure to batten down the hatches for Carmignola’s ‘Winter’

Vivaldi’s Four Seasons, like nature’s, come and go in their various moods and meteorological vicissitudes. We’ve had ochre sunsets from Louis Kaufmann, Harnoncourt’s Breughel-style rusticity and the provocative Nigel Kennedy, to mention but a scant few. Giuliano Carmignola’s primary claim on our attentions (this is his second shot at the piece) is, aside from a delightfully woody-sounding baroque instrument, a keen narrative flair. Furthermore, he knows the musical period, understands principles of embellishment and doesn’t hesitate to enrich his performances with added colour and rhythmic thrust.

‘Spring’ arrives in rude high spirits, toying with birdsong (slowly at first then speeding up) and with thunder thrashing between violin desks. The violas’ ‘barking dog’ is worryingly prominent (that is if you don’t like dogs) and the finale contrasts a swelling legato against sparkly solo passagework. The ‘impetuous weather’ of ‘Summer’ has power enough to keep the National Grid up and running and I loved the diverse winds of the multi-faceted opening Allegro of ‘Autumn’ and the way the harpsichord holds its own in the second and third movements. The cruel weathers of ‘Winter’ inspire the expected bursts of virtuosity while the Largo’s raindrops unexpectedly seep through to the busy bass line (most versions don’t allow for the leak). Varieties of plucked continuo help fill out textures and Carmignola himself plays with immense brilliance.

The three additional violin concertos are all said to be first recordings and reveal a rather different aspect of Vivaldi’s style. Generally speaking, they sound more formal than the Four Seasons, almost pre-classical in RV257’s opening Andante molto e quasi allegro and with sideways glances at Rameau in the opening of RV211 (which also includes a brief first-movement cadenza). Dance rhythms again predominate.

Great sound, by the way, full and forward and with every instrumental strand given its proper due. Thinking in terms only of the Four Seasons, good rivals are so plentiful that comparative discussion becomes less a question of ‘who gets it right’ than how you like your birds and storms. There are countless period-instrument options and almost as many that use modern instruments but take heed of period performing practice. Up to now, my own favourites have been Il Giardino Armonico and Harnoncourt’s Concentus Musicus Wien, but I see no reason why this new version shouldn’t join their hallowed ranks. It certainly deserves to.

-- Rob Cowan, Gramophone

More reviews:
ClassicsToday, reviewed by David Vernier ARTISTIC QUALITY: 10 / SOUND QUALITY: 10
ClassicsToday, reviewed by David Hurwitz ARTISTIC QUALITY: 10 / SOUND QUALITY: 10
https://www.amazon.com/Antonio-Vivaldi-Concertos-Carmignola-Orchestra/dp/B000051Y3D

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Antonio Vivaldi (4 March 1678 – 28 July 1741) was an Italian Baroque composer, virtuoso violinist, teacher and cleric. He is recognized as one of the greatest Baroque composers, and known mainly for composing many instrumental concertos, for the violin and a variety of other instruments, as well as sacred choral works and more than forty operas. His best-known work is a series of violin concertos known as The Four Seasons.

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Giuliano Carmignola (born 1951 in Treviso) is an Italian violinist. He studied with his father, and then with Luigi Ferro, Nathan Milstein, Franco Gulli and Henryk Szeryng. In 1973, he was awarded a prize in the International Paganini Competition in Genoa. His recording releases have won many important awards such as Diapason d'Or and Choc du Monde. He plays the Stradivarius Baillot of 1732.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Giuliano_Carmignola

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Arcangelo Corelli - Concerti Grossi Op. 6 (Trevor Pinnock)


Information

Composer: Arcangelo Corelli

CD1:
  • (01-07) Concerto grosso in D major, Op. 6, No. 1
  • (08-11) Concerto grosso in F major, Op. 6, No. 2
  • (12-16) Concerto grosso in C minor, Op. 6, No. 3
  • (17-20) Concerto grosso in D major, Op. 6, No. 4
  • (21-24) Concerto grosso in B flat major, Op. 6, No. 5
  • (25-29) Concerto grosso in F major, Op. 6, No. 6
CD2:
  • (01-06) Concerto grosso in D major, Op. 6, No. 7
  • (07-12) Concerto grosso in G minor, Op. 6, No. 8 - "fatto per la notte di Natale"
  • (13-18) Concerto grosso in F major, Op. 6, No. 9
  • (19-24) Concerto grosso in C major, Op. 6, No. 10
  • (25-30) Concerto grosso in B flat major, Op. 6, No. 11
  • (31-35) Concerto grosso in F major, Op. 6, No. 12

The English Concert
Trevor Pinnock, conductor
Date: 1987
Label: Deutsche Grammophon
http://www.deutschegrammophon.com/en/cat/4594512


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Review

Here is a wish—recently expressed in these pages come true! The English Concert have followed their superb recording of Corelli trio sonatas ( 419 614-2AH, 6/87) with an equally definitive CD of the Concerti grossi. By now this group must qualify as veterans of the early-music revival—they have made many important recordings (not least of which is the recent Gramophone Award-winning Haydn Nelson Mass), toured widely and through it all maintained a relatively stable personnel of the very best English players. This recording represents yet another important brick in the edifice of the revival of early orchestral music.

Over the years The English Concert have developed an unmistakable 'sound', probably quite inseparable from their Englishness. The courtly traditions of Purcell that Handel later assimilated and projected—a curiously successful mixture of gravitas and wit—are central to their approach to other repertory of the era, just as echoes of the French court—the delicacy and dance-like qualities so revered—colour the interpretations of La Petite Bande (Deutsche Harmonia Mundi/EMI). There is, I suppose, a case to be made for the internationalism (and hence the adaptability of the music to different interpretations) of Corelli's Op. 6 in that it was a selection of orchestral movements assembled posthumously and first published in Amsterdam rather than in his native Italy. But the sophistication and discernment of the original auditors, the Roman aristocracy, is reflected in every movement irrespective of whether they were ever performed in the order we know them today. And the grandeur and fire, not to mention the conviction and precision, with which The English Concert imbue their performances seems to me ultimately more resonant of Corelli's conception of these works than the highly mannered and often almost mincing rendition by La Petite Bande.

Of course, listening to 12 concertos, one after another, is hardly what the composer expected or intended—just as Monteverdi probably would have been quite astounded that anyone would wish to perform or listen to his entire Marian Vespers cycle in a sitting—but the exercise does forcefully drive home the powerful sense of the composer's breadth of imagination and technique. In the course of these works one encounters a rich panoply of concertino and ripieno ensemble textures—simple alternation of the same phrase between forces, orchestra accompaniments that are sometimes sustained and at other times function as musical punctuation (and, indeed glosses on the concertino text), polyphonic and homophonic tutti textures and often in quick succession. Trevor Pinnock at the harpsichord is always alert to the exigencies of Corelli's palette of ensemble colour—not to mention those of metre and tempo—and Simon Standage, the leader and first violin soloist, is adept at taking his cues.

The concertino playing of Standage, Micaela Comberti and Jaap Ter Linden (whose cello obbligatos in Nos. 1, 8 and 11 fairly fly!) is technically and stylistically never in question. Standage's cadential elaborations (as in the Grave of No. 3 and at the end of the first Allegro of No. 5) and transitional ones (for example, the Adagio of No. 12)—indeed those of Pinnock and the theorbist Nigel North in the Grave of No. 2 and elsewhere are extremely tasteful, as too is his ornamentation in the Adagio of No. 9, if a trifle cool by Italian standards. Standage and Comberti play, as always, in complete mutual sympathy, giving moments of exhilaration such as in the electrifying upward bariolage of the first Allegro of No. 4. In fact, the second, dancing Allegro of this D major Concerto contains the most marvellous passages of written-out trills, chromatically suspended one from the other between the two violins, and exquisitely placed by the players. The fashion now—to many listeners' delight and relief—is towards using more vibrato, though (as in the Preludio of No. 10) it is applied with great discernment.

These performances have a wonderful sweep, conveying a grandeur of conception that too often eludes other ensembles. One of Pinnock's greatest strengths is his ability to fuse a large-scale conception with perfection of detail. Even his command of silence (as in the opening Adagio of No. 4) is eloquent. If the fast movements often seem almost too fast (as in the Vivace of No. 3), they are never messy, and so powerful is their energy that the listener is occasionally catapulted headlong to the end of what are relatively short movements. The English Concert never descend to sentimentalism (of the sort one encounters in modern performances such as that of the Cantilena ensemble on Chandos) and instead project a lively and sincere love of the music. These are truly inspired performances that should give great pleasure to all who listen to them and which surely merit the commendation of their peers.

-- Gramophone


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Arcangelo Corelli (17 February 1653 – 8 January 1713) was an Italian violinist and composer of the Baroque era. . His music was key in the development of the modern genres of sonata and concerto, in establishing the preeminence of the violin, and as the first coalescing of modern tonality and functional harmony. Corelli composed 48 trio sonatas, 12 violin and continuo sonatas, and 12 concerti grossi. His concerti grossi have often been popular in Western culture.

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Trevor Pinnock (born 16 December 1946) is an English harpsichordist and conductor. He is best known for his association with the period-performance orchestra The English Concert which he helped found and directed from the keyboard for over 30 years in baroque and early classical music. Since his resignation from The English Concert in 2003, Pinnock has continued his career as a conductor, appearing with major orchestras and opera companies around the world.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trevor_Pinnock

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Thursday, June 23, 2016

Aram Khachaturian; Camille Saint-Saëns; Ernest Chausson - Works for violin & orchestra (Leonid Kogan; David Oistrakh)


Information

Composer: Aram Khachaturian; Camille Saint-Saëns; Ernest Chausson
  1. Khachaturian - Violin Concerto in D minor: I. Allegro con fermezza
  2. Khachaturian - Violin Concerto in D minor: II. Andante sostenuto
  3. Khachaturian - Violin Concerto in D minor: III. Allegro vivace
  4. Saint-Saëns - Havanaise, Op. 83: I. Allegretto e lusinghiero
  5. Saint-Saëns - Havanaise, Op. 83: II. Allegro
  6. Saint-Saëns - Havanaise, Op. 83: III. Allegro, ma non troppo
  7. Chausson - Poème, Op. 25
  8. Saint-Saëns - Introduction & Rondo capriccioso in A minor, Op. 28: Andante
  9. Saint-Saëns - Introduction & Rondo capriccioso in A minor, Op. 28: Allegro, ma non troppo
  10. Saint-Saëns - Introduction & Rondo capriccioso in A minor, Op. 28: Più Allegro

(1-6) Leonid Kogan, violin
Boston Symphony Orchestra
Pierre Monteux, conductor

(7-10) David Oistrakh, violin
Boston Symphony Orchestra
Charles Münch, conductor

Recording Dates: 1958 (1-6), 1955 (7-10)
Label: RCA


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Monday, June 20, 2016

Aram Khachaturian; Dmitri Kabalevsky - Masquerade Suite; The Comedians (Kirill Kondrashin)


Information

Composer: Aram Khachaturian; Dmitri Kabalevsky; Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky; Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov
  1. Khachaturian - Masquerade suite: Waltz
  2. Khachaturian - Masquerade suite: Nocturne
  3. Khachaturian - Masquerade suite: Mazurka
  4. Khachaturian - Masquerade suite: Romance
  5. Khachaturian - Masquerade suite: Galop
  6. Kabalevsky - The Comedians, Op. 26: Prologue
  7. Kabalevsky - The Comedians, Op. 26: Comedian's Galop
  8. Kabalevsky - The Comedians, Op. 26: March
  9. Kabalevsky - The Comedians, Op. 26: Waltz
  10. Kabalevsky - The Comedians, Op. 26: Pantomime
  11. Kabalevsky - The Comedians, Op. 26: Intermezzo
  12. Kabalevsky - The Comedians, Op. 26: Little Lyrical Scene
  13. Kabalevsky - The Comedians, Op. 26: Gavotte
  14. Kabalevsky - The Comedians, Op. 26: Scherzo
  15. Kabalevsky - The Comedians, Op. 26: Epilogue
  16. Tchaikovsky - Capriccio italien, Op. 45
  17. Rimsky-Korsakov - Capriccio espagnol, Op. 34: Alborada
  18. Rimsky-Korsakov - Capriccio espagnol, Op. 34: Variazioni
  19. Rimsky-Korsakov - Capriccio espagnol, Op. 34: Alborada
  20. Rimsky-Korsakov - Capriccio espagnol, Op. 34: Scena e canto gitano
  21. Rimsky-Korsakov - Capriccio espagnol, Op. 34: Fandango asturiano

RCA Victor Symphony Orchestra
Kirill Kondrashin, conductor

Date: 1958
Label: RCA


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Sunday, June 19, 2016

Aram Khachaturian - Symphony No. 2; Ballet Music


Information

Composer: Aram Khachaturian
  1. Symphony No. 2 in E minor "The Bells": 1. Andante maestoso - Allegro agitato
  2. Symphony No. 2 in E minor "The Bells": 2. Allegro risoluto
  3. Symphony No. 2 in E minor "The Bells": 3. Andante sostenuto
  4. Symphony No. 2 in E minor "The Bells": 4. Andante mosso - Allegro sostenuto, maestoso
  5. 3 fragments from ballet "Gayane"
  6. Adagio from ballet "Spartacus"
  7. Lezginka from ballet "Gayane"

USSR State Symphony Orchestra
Aram Khachaturian, conductor

Date: 1977
Label: Melodiya

More info & reviews:
http://www.amazon.com/Khachaturian-Conducts-Symphony-Fragments-Spartacus/dp/B003TY14MW


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Friday, June 17, 2016

Antonín Dvořák - Violin Concerto; Romance; Mazurek; Humoresque (Anne-Sophie Mutter)


Information

Composer: Antonín Dvořák
  1. Violin Concerto in A minor, Op. 53: 1. Allegro ma non troppo - Quasi moderato
  2. Violin Concerto in A minor, Op. 53: 2. Adagio ma non troppo
  3. Violin Concerto in A minor, Op. 53: 3. Finale (Allegro giocoso, ma non troppo)
  4. Romance in F minor, Op. 11
  5. Mazurek, Op. 49
  6. Humoresque, Op. 101, No. 7 (arr. Fritz Kreisler)

Anne-Sophie Mutter, violin
Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra, cond. Manfred Honeck (1-5)
Ayami Ikeba, piano (6)
Date: 2013
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Review

ARTISTIC QUALITY: 10 / SOUND QUALITY: 10

Anne-Sophie Mutter has developed into an artist of striking and controversial individuality. Her recent recordings have been the subject of widely divided critical opinion, both within these pages and elsewhere, and that’s a healthy thing. Whatever one’s personal view of her highly subjective approach to matters of timbre, phrasing, and accentuation, virtually everyone agrees that she remains a violinist of remarkable technical ability whose interpretations stem from a sincere engagement with the work, and the ability to get exactly the results that she intends.

This performance of Dvorák’s Violin Concerto is a case in point, and I have no issue acclaiming it as the finestversion yet to appear outside of the classic Czech tradition. Mutter treats the work in the grand style, turning in a performance of bold gestures, hugely contrasted in tone, tempo, and dynamics. She’s assisted in no small degree by Manfred Honeck, a conductor of genius who plays the accompaniment for all it’s worth, with the Berlin Philharmonic sounding magnificently committed. One need only compare the opening of the piece in this performance to the reference edition by Suk/Ancerl with the Czech Philharmonic to appreciate the difference in approach (sound clips). Listen to Honeck attack the opening gesture, and to Mutter’s big, husky tone and wide range of dynamics. Suk’s by no means inexpressive approach sounds positively demure in comparison.

Mutter also has a habit, very noticeable in the slow movement, of beginning a soft phrase non-vibrato and then adding quite a bit later on, and in less sensitive hands this could turn into a mannerism–but not here. It’s all a function of a heightened expressivity that typifies her approach to the music, and when the melodies themselves are so full of feeling it works extremely well. It’s also important not to get the impression that the performance is in any way droopy or sloppily self-indulgent. The finale is one of the friskiest and rhythmically sharp on disc (Honeck and Berlin stupendous here), with a coda that truly does offer the last word in physical excitement (sound clip). There are times when Mutter sounds so luscious and over-the-top that you feel guilty liking her so much, but the love that she radiates has its roots firmly in the musical phrase, and in her joy in the work.

The couplings are also marvelous, and so very intelligent: Dvorák’s remaining pieces for violin and orchestra. The Romance is made to sound touchingly profound, the Mazurek simply a blast from start to finish, and the Humoresque, in Kreisler’s arrangement with piano, surprisingly delicate and witty. Ayami Ikeba provides sensitive keyboard support in this last item. Whatever your final view of the interpretations, Mutter truly “speaks” through her instrument, and what she says sheds an entirely new light on Dvorák, and repays the closest attention.

-- David Hurwitz, ClassicsToday


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Antonín Dvořák (September 8, 1841 – May 1, 1904) was a Czech composer. Following the nationalist example of Bedřich Smetana, Dvořák frequently employed aspects, specifically rhythms, of the folk music of Moravia and his native Bohemia. He wrote nine symphonies, ten operas, three concertos, several symphonic poems and more than 40 works of chamber music.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anton%C3%ADn_Dvo%C5%99%C3%A1k

***

Anne-Sophie Mutter (born 29 June 1963) is a German violinist. Supported early in her career by Herbert von Karajan, she has built a strong reputation for championing contemporary music with several works being composed specially for her. She owns two Stradivarius violins (The Emiliani of 1703, and the Lord Dunn-Raven Stradivarius of 1710), a Finnigan-Klaembt dated 1999 and a Regazzi, dated 2005.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anne-Sophie_Mutter

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Antonín Dvořák; Franz Schubert - Piano Concerto; "Wanderer" Fantasy (Sviatoslav Richter)


Information

Composer: Antonín Dvořák; Franz Schubert
  1. Dvořák - Piano Concerto in G minor, Op. 33: I. Allegro agitato
  2. Dvořák - Piano Concerto in G minor, Op. 33: II. Andante sostenuto
  3. Dvořák - Piano Concerto in G minor, Op. 33: III. Allegro con fuoco
  4. Schubert - Fantasy in C major "Wandererfantasie", D. 760: I. Allegro con fuoco ma non troppo
  5. Schubert - Fantasy in C major "Wandererfantasie", D. 760: II. Adagio
  6. Schubert - Fantasy in C major "Wandererfantasie", D. 760: III. Presto
  7. Schubert - Fantasy in C major "Wandererfantasie", D. 760: IV. Allegro

Sviatoslav Richter, piano
Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra (1-3)
Carlos Kleiber, conductor (1-3)
Date: 1976 (1-3), 1963 (4-7)
Label: EMI

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Review

The Dvorák Piano Concerto, dating from 1876, has always been overshadowed by its later and more celebrated, more often performed Violin and Cello Concertos. On the suface it shares non of the glittering showmanship bravura passages of so many other late nineteenth century piano concertos; and its themes do not linger in the memory as indelibly as those in Dvorak's other two concertos. Yet it has that kind of subtle, more restrained beauty and fascination that reveals itself more and more on repeated hearings. A work that has grown beautifully insidiously on this listener. This piano concerto certainly held a fascination for Richter and it was chosen by him, much to the surprise of his many admirers, for a Royal Albert Hall concert given during the heyday of his early celebrity. This recording followed soon after and it demonstrates his affection for the work. He is joined by Carlos Kleiber who did not make excessive numbers of visits to the recording studios but when he did it was often an occasion (One remembers his monumental recording of Beethoven's Fifth Symphony for instance). The collaboration of Richter and Kleiber lifts this work so that we can fully appreciate its strengths. It is a genial, high-spirited concerto; few shadows cross its path. Folk material is a strong element in its make-up. The long first movement (nearly 19 minutes duration) is consistently delightful with a lovely lyrical main theme that skips and dances along through the movement and reaches a very affecting climax at about 14:36. The Andante is very appealing with its misty, dreamily introspective pages, contrasting with faster more extrovert, sometimes wry, observations. Richter's reading, throughout, is a model of lucidity, poetic eloquence and glittering dexterity.

Schubert's 'Wanderer Fantasia' is monumental and monumentally difficult. Quoting from Bryce Morrison's notes: "Few pianists have been more closely associated with the Fantasie's alpine challenge than Richter, first amongst an élite able to subdue even the most ungrateful difficulties (including a notorious passage in running semiquaver octaves and shuddering tremolandi in the first movement, and final pages which pile Pelion on Ossa) leaving him free to concentrate on Shubert's purely musical quality. Implacable rhythm, a capacity to switch dynamic extremes without any loss of impetus, an almost viscereal force and manic propulsion offset by an uncanny conjuring of lyricism and stillness, are merely a few of the characteristics that make Richter a supreme master of the 'Wanderer' Yes, indeed; this performance had me sitting on the edge of my seat in awe and wonder, what more need I say?.

-- Ian Lace, MusicWeb International


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Antonín Dvořák (September 8, 1841 – May 1, 1904) was a Czech composer. Following the nationalist example of Bedřich Smetana, Dvořák frequently employed aspects, specifically rhythms, of the folk music of Moravia and his native Bohemia. He wrote nine symphonies, ten operas, three concertos, several symphonic poems and more than 40 works of chamber music.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anton%C3%ADn_Dvo%C5%99%C3%A1k

***

Franz Schubert (31 January 1797 – 19 November 1828) was an Austrian composer who was extremely prolific during his short lifetime. His output consists of over six hundred secular vocal works (mainly Lieder), seven complete symphonies, sacred music, operas, incidental music and a large body of chamber and piano music. Today, Schubert is ranked among the greatest composers of the late Classical era and early Romantic era and is one of the most frequently performed composers of the early nineteenth century. His music is characterized by pleasing tunes while still has "a great wealth of technical finesse".

***

Sviatoslav Richter (March 20 [O.S. March 7] 1915 – August 1, 1997) was a Soviet pianist known for the depth of his interpretations, virtuoso technique, and vast repertoire. He is considered one of the greatest pianists of the 20th century. Richter probably had the largest discography but he disliked the recording process, and most of Richter's recordings originate from live performances.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sviatoslav_Richter

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Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Antonín Dvořák; Bedřich Smetana; Franz Liszt - Orchestral Works (Ferenc Fricsay)


Information

Composer: Antonín Dvořák; Bedřich Smetana; Franz Liszt
  1. Dvořák - Symphony No. 9 in E minor, Op. 95 - "From the New World": 1. Adagio - Allegro molto
  2. Dvořák - Symphony No. 9 in E minor, Op. 95 - "From the New World": 2. Largo
  3. Dvořák - Symphony No. 9 in E minor, Op. 95 - "From the New World": 3. Molto vivace
  4. Dvořák - Symphony No. 9 in E minor, Op. 95 - "From the New World": 4. Allegro con fuoco
  5. Smetana - "Má vlast" (My Country): II. Vltava (Moldau)
  6. Liszt - "Les préludes" (Symphonic Poem No. 3)

Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra (1-5)
Radio-Symphonie-Orchester Berlin (6)
Ferenc Fricsay, conductor
http://www.deutschegrammophon.com/en/cat/4636502


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Reviews

ARTISTIC QUALITY: 10 / SOUND QUALITY: 8

A classic! Fricsay’s “New World” remains one of the most passionate and spontaneous available. Its noteworthy features include a really dramatic opening movement, a gorgeously sung Largo, a sharply rhythmic scherzo, and a grandly imposing finale sporting a couple of hugely exciting climaxes. Like few others, Fricsay had the secret of communicating a very wide-ranging flexibility of tempo without compromising rhythmic security or the long melodic line. You can hear this very clearly in the symphony’s first movement, from the second subject on through the development and up to the recapitulation. This performance hasn’t dated a bit, either interpretively or sonically, and there have been quite a few competitors since.

The couplings, a swiftly flowing Moldau and a spectacularly virile and cogent Les Préludes, have held up equally well. Few stereo recordings emanated from the baton of this genuine giant of the podium, and that makes what little we have all the more precious. I truly hope that DG gives “originals” treatment to his remaining Beethoven symphony recordings, and also to his stereo Tchaikovsky Sixth Symphony. They should be permanent fixtures in the catalog. Until then, enjoy this marvelous taste of Fricsay’s immortal art.

-- David Hurwitz, ClassicsToday

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This is Ferenc Fricsay at his brilliant best conducting music from the Slav masters with unlimited passion and magnificence.

The 'New World' comes alive with an unbridled charisma and drive that place it amongst top New World's from Kertész, Kondrashin and Szell. The 'Largo' is indeed very beautiful yet at times it propels forward with an unerring momentum. The Finale is also very exciting indeed with supremely confident playing from the Berliners. 'Vltava' is also very characterful with the glorious orchestral music coming to life in an unerringly fresh manner.

And finally 'Les Préludes', a gem of orchestral magic that is drawn out to almost seventeen minutes, a cataclysmic piece that shows what excitement Fricsay could generate with his own orchestra. This reissue is another superb confirmation of the gifts with which Ferenc Fricsay was endowed as an interpreter and which were robbed from us all too early in his life.

-- Gerald Fenech © 2002, Classical Net

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Fricsay’s performances crackle with excitement. His highly subjective approach to a limited extent resembles Leonard Bernstein, but without ever being self-indulgent or overdone. The Moldau moves quickly in comparison to the slower tempos that are common now. Les Préludes is very exciting without being pompous or bombastic. In fact, the soft, pastoral, middle section with its solo harp and woodwinds is the high point of this performance. Fricsay’s “New World” Symphony is special. The second movement is nearly as slow as Leopold Stokowski’s interpretation (but Fricsay doesn’t meddle with the orchestration). The fourth movement is very dynamic despite a well-chosen middle-of-the-road basic tempo. In fact, Fricsay’s tempos are never excessive, but there are enough personal touches to make his ideas sound very individual. My principal problem with all of these works is the blatty, almost tinny brass that is very aggressive and penetrating, but works against the burnished warmth that would benefit Fricsay’s Romantic approach.

-- Arthur Lintgen, FANFARE


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Antonín Dvořák (September 8, 1841 – May 1, 1904) was a Czech composer. Following the nationalist example of Bedřich Smetana, Dvořák frequently employed aspects, specifically rhythms, of the folk music of Moravia and his native Bohemia. He wrote nine symphonies, ten operas, three concertos, several symphonic poems and more than 40 works of chamber music.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anton%C3%ADn_Dvo%C5%99%C3%A1k

***

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.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ferenc_Fricsay

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Antonín Dvořák - Symphonies Nos. 7-9 (George Szell)


Information

Composer: Antonín Dvořák; Bedřich Smetana

CD1:
  1. Dvořák - Symphony No. 7 in D minor, Op. 70: I. Allegro maestoso
  2. Dvořák - Symphony No. 7 in D minor, Op. 70: II. Poco adagio
  3. Dvořák - Symphony No. 7 in D minor, Op. 70: III. Scherzo. Vivace - Poco meno mosso
  4. Dvořák - Symphony No. 7 in D minor, Op. 70: IV. Finale. Allegro
  5. Dvořák - Carnival Overture, Op. 92
  6. Smetana - The Bartered Bride, opera: Overture
  7. Smetana - String Quartet No. 1 in E minor "From My Life" (orch. Szell): I. Allegro vivo appassionato
  8. Smetana - String Quartet No. 1 in E minor "From My Life" (orch. Szell): II. Allegro moderato alla Polka
  9. Smetana - String Quartet No. 1 in E minor "From My Life" (orch. Szell): III. Largo sostenuto
  10. Smetana - String Quartet No. 1 in E minor "From My Life" (orch. Szell): IV. Vivace - Meno mosso
CD2:
  1. Dvořák - Symphony No. 8 in G major, Op. 88: I. Allegro con brio
  2. Dvořák - Symphony No. 8 in G major, Op. 88: II. Adagio
  3. Dvořák - Symphony No. 8 in G major, Op. 88: III. Allegretto grazioso - Molto vivace
  4. Dvořák - Symphony No. 8 in G major, Op. 88: IV. Allegro, ma non troppo
  5. Dvořák - Symphony No. 9 in E minor "From the New World", Op. 95: I. Adagio - Allegro molto
  6. Dvořák - Symphony No. 9 in E minor "From the New World", Op. 95: II. Largo
  7. Dvořák - Symphony No. 9 in E minor "From the New World", Op. 95: III. Scherzo. Molto vivace
  8. Dvořák - Symphony No. 9 in E minor "From the New World", Op. 95: IV. Allegro con fuoco

Cleveland Orchestra
George Szell, conductor
Date: 1949 (CD1 7-10), 1958 (CD1 6, CD2 1-4), 1959 (CD2 5-8), 1963 (CD1 1-5)
Label: Sony Classical


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Review

ARTISTIC QUALITY: 10 / SOUND QUALITY: 10

With Masterworks Heritage titles going out of print rapidly, it’s good to know that Sony has elected to repackage this landmark set in regular jewel-box format. George Szell’s Dvorák performances feature his customary blend of razor sharp orchestral discipline allied to a wholly idiomatic, singing line. Even more interesting, he takes numerous liberties with Dvorák’s orchestration in the Seventh Symphony, reinforcing the violins and woodwinds with horns at several points in the outer movements. Some of his interpretive touches, such as the pianissimo reprise in the Eighth’s third movement, have even become performance “traditions”, reappearing in many subsequent readings by other artists. In short, you won’t find a more authoritative, urgently exciting, well-played collection of Dvorák’s last three symphonies at any price. The remastering has been managed with great care and is wholly successful. This is particularly gratifying with respect to the mono items, which include the Bartered Bride Overture and Szell’s own surprisingly colorful and uninhibited orchestration of Smetana’s First Quartet. Indispensable!

-- David Hurwitz, ClassicsToday

More reviews:
https://www.amazon.com/Dvorak-Symphonies-Carnival-Overture-Bartered/dp/B000007QCH

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Antonín Dvořák (September 8, 1841 – May 1, 1904) was a Czech composer. Following the nationalist example of Bedřich Smetana, Dvořák frequently employed aspects, specifically rhythms, of the folk music of Moravia and his native Bohemia. He wrote nine symphonies, ten operas, three concertos, several symphonic poems and more than 40 works of chamber music.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anton%C3%ADn_Dvo%C5%99%C3%A1k

***

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.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/George_Szell

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Antonín Dvořák - Early Symphonies (Witold Rowicki)


CD1:
  1. Symphony No. 1 in C minor, Op. 3 - "The Bells of Zlonice": 1. Maestoso - Allegro
  2. Symphony No. 1 in C minor, Op. 3 - "The Bells of Zlonice": 2. Adagio di molto
  3. Symphony No. 1 in C minor, Op. 3 - "The Bells of Zlonice": 3. Allegretto
  4. Symphony No. 1 in C minor, Op. 3 - "The Bells of Zlonice": 4. Finale (Allegro animato)
  5. Symphony No. 2 in B flat major, Op. 4: 1. Allegro con moto
CD2:
  1. Symphony No. 2 in B flat major, Op. 4: 2. Poco adagio
  2. Symphony No. 2 in B flat major, Op. 4: 3. Scherzo (Allegro con brio)
  3. Symphony No. 2 in B flat major, Op. 4: 4. Finale (Allegro con fuoco)
  4. Symphony No. 3 in E flat major, Op. 10: 1. Allegro moderato
  5. Symphony No. 3 in E flat major, Op. 10: 2. Adagio molto, tempo di marcia
  6. Symphony No. 3 in E flat major, Op. 10: 3. Finale (Allegro vivace)


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CD1:
  1. Symphony No. 4 in D minor, Op. 13: 1. Allegro
  2. Symphony No. 4 in D minor, Op. 13: 2. Andante sostenuto e molto cantabile
  3. Symphony No. 4 in D minor, Op. 13: 3. Scherzo (Allegro feroce)
  4. Symphony No. 4 in D minor, Op. 13: 4. Finale (Allegro con brio)
  5. Symphony No. 5 in F major, Op. 76: 1. Allegro, ma non troppo
  6. Symphony No. 5 in F major, Op. 76: 2. Andante con moto
  7. Symphony No. 5 in F major, Op. 76: 3. Andante con moto - Allegro scherzando
  8. Symphony No. 5 in F major, Op. 76: 4. Allegro molto
CD2:
  1. Symphony No. 6 in D major, Op. 60: 1. Allegro non tanto
  2. Symphony No. 6 in D major, Op. 60: 2. Adagio
  3. Symphony No. 6 in D major, Op. 60: 3. Scherzo (Furiant. Presto)
  4. Symphony No. 6 in D major, Op. 60: 4. Finale (Allegro con spirito)
  5. Husitská Overture, Op. 67 (Hussite)
  6. Muj Domov Overture, Op. 62 (My Country)

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Information

Composer: Antonín Dvořák

London Symphony Orchestra
Witold Rowicki, conductor
Dates: 1965 (no. 6), 1967 (no. 5), 1970 (nos. 1, 2 &4), 1971 (no. 3 & overtures)
Label: Philips

These two Philips Duo volumes here is out of print. Philips catalogue is now distributed by Decca. You can see more information in Decca website:
http://www.deccaclassics.com/us/cat/4782296

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Review

Rowicki had the misfortune, when his cycle of the Dvorãk was appearing in separate installments some years ago, as the dates indicate—to be following hard on the heels of Kertesz, recording the same works with the same orchestra. Generally at the time I found the Kertesz readings (Decca D6D7, 9/76) the more sympathetic, and on balance I would stick to that view, but sampling these alert and intelligent readings again and comparing them once more with Kertesz I have been much impressed with their freshness. I deliberately did not look back at my earlier reviews, and I found myself much more sympathetic this time with Rowicki's distinctive view of slightly understating the expressiveness of slow movements (usually at a relatively fast tempo) and often in fast movements of adding a touch of fierceness by pressing the rhythms a little more literally, allowing a degree less lilt. Both those qualities combine with recording which in this excellent transfer is very refined for its period with cleaner inner texture than the bright Decca sound provides. An aptly pastoral quality is given to the performances. The opening of No, 6 for example with the accompanying syncopations very clear in their rhythmic support is more individual and fresh than in Kertesz's reading, less than usual like a Czech version of the Brahms Second Symphony. The glorious second theme of the Third Symphony, which Kertesz treats con amore, may sound with Rowicki rather too light and cool, but in context its gently rustic tone is just as convincing as Kertesz's romantic warmth. The slow movement of No. 5, which, when the Rowicki version first appeared I found far too cool and inexpressive, now seems to me an attractive alternative, the more tender in its lyricism for being understated. Conversely Kubelik, habitually more extreme in his use of an espressivo style comes to sound a little indulgent, gilding the lily, though his set too (DO 2720 066, I0/73—nla) provided a valuable alternative with beautiful warm playing from the Berlin Philharmonic.

For Rowicki the London Symphony Orchestra plays if anything with even more crisp ensemble than for Kertesz, though that impression in part may reflect the extra refinement of texture in the recording. The violins in their upper register for example have more bloom here, and the brass is gloriously recorded, the horns in particular, clear and rich without unnatural forwardness. The sound is excellent even on the longest sides, and one of them—containing the first three movements of No. 6—lasts over 36 minutes. Rowicki's relatively fast tempi allow that division of movements, and the benefit is that though all nine symphonies are squeezed on to seven discs (as the Kertesz versions are) there is still room for a makeweight in the I-Iusitskâ Overture. As on the Kertesz set two symphonies have to be spread between individual discs. Here it is Nos. 5 and 8, where with Kertesz it was Nos. 4 and 8. The other currently available set of all nine symphonies, Neumann on Supraphon (110 1621-8, 10/75), adds to its other disappointments in the actual performances the obvious disadvantage that on eight records no fewer than four of the symphonies are spread between different records. It has taken Philips a very long time to get round to issuing Rowicki's alert and refreshing set in direct competition with the still excellent Kertesz, but with more refined sound and a makeweight it makes a very attractive alternative. The Dutch pressings are first rate.

- E.G., Gramophone, (April, 1981)

More reviews:

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Antonín Dvořák (September 8, 1841 – May 1, 1904) was a Czech composer. Following the nationalist example of Bedřich Smetana, Dvořák frequently employed aspects, specifically rhythms, of the folk music of Moravia and his native Bohemia. He wrote nine symphonies, ten operas, three concertos, several symphonic poems and more than 40 works of chamber music.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anton%C3%ADn_Dvo%C5%99%C3%A1k

***

Witold Rowicki (26 February 1914 – 1 October 1989) was a Polish conductor. He was one of the leading Polish conductors of his generation and probably best known as the founder and longtime conductor of the Warsaw National Philharmonic Orchestra. Among his most acclaimed recordings is his Dvorák symphony cycle (recorded from the late '60s to early '70s), with the London Symphony Orchestra.

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Saturday, June 11, 2016

Antonín Dvořák - Piano Works (Radoslav Kvapil)


Information

Composer: Antonín Dvořák
  • 8 Humoresques, Op. 101
  • American Suite in A major, Op. 98
  • Dumka and Furiant, Op. 12
  • Silhouettes, Op. 8

Radoslav Kvapil, conductor
Date: 1998
Label: Regis-Alto
http://altocd.com/alc1044


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Introduction

A unique opprtunity to hear the original piano music of composer Antonín Dvořák played on his own carefully restored and maintained 1879 Bösendorfer piano by Radoslav Kvapil, recognized as one of the world’s finest exponents of Czech piano music.

Recorded in the Hluboŝ Castle, Czech Republic, October 1998, the album was first issued on Accord 20682 back in 1999, and producer is Zdenĕk Zahradník. The Alto website wrongly said it was record in 1988.

Mastered for Alto by Paul Arden-Taylor and released as ALC 1044.

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Review

In these 1998 recordings, Kvapil—to my mind the leading exponent of Czech piano music—plays the Bösendorfer that Dvorák acquired in 1879, on and for which much of this music was composed. In his program notes, the pianist discusses the instrument’s low pitch (435 hz), its “short-sounding tone,” and its “old Viennese mechanism, which of necessity limits its opportunities for virtuosity.” His theory is that all of this contributed to the nature of the music; that Dvorák, like Chopin, composed for his particular instrument, whereas Beethoven, Schumann, and Liszt composed for an imagined instrument that would only later be built.

This piano is indeed very different from a modern Bösendorfer; its basic tone is dark and dusky, its lack of brilliance suiting the music perfectly. It suggests an aged, mellowed wine. It is not obvious, however, where to draw the line between the instrument and Kvapil’s personal magic, as this is a sound and an interpretive approach that he has cultivated on modern Steinways as well. He knows his music beyond the borders of Bohemia, too; the opening Moderato of the “American” Suite swings like Joplin, and the Allegretto suggests a Gottschalk cakewalk. The more one listens to this disc, the more one is drawn into Dvorák’s world. I am ready to believe that this is 19th-century music-making, and not just for the instrument’s period cachet. Its unfamiliar character, however, does make it difficult to evaluate the quality of the recorded sound.

The problem with this disc lies not with artist, instrument, or engineering. Dvorák was primarily a string-player (viola), and his piano music has always been regarded as a minor corner of his œuvre . Although his ubiquitous Humoresque No. 7 was composed for piano, it is far better known in the arrangements for violin and for orchestra. The “American” Suite, too, is more often heard in its orchestral revision (although the American connection is stronger on the piano), and both sets of Slavonic Dances originated as piano duets. All with good reason. I recommend this disc for its colorful recreation of another world, and for its historical interest, but I would much rather hear Brahms on this Bösendorfer: the intermezzos or the Bb minor Concerto.

-- James H. North, FANFARE

More reviews:
http://www.musicweb-international.com/classrev/2009/Mar09/Dvorak_piano_alc1044.htm
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Antonín Dvořák (September 8, 1841 – May 1, 1904) was a Czech composer. Following the nationalist example of Bedřich Smetana, Dvořák frequently employed aspects, specifically rhythms, of the folk music of Moravia and his native Bohemia. He wrote nine symphonies, ten operas, three concertos, several symphonic poems and more than 40 works of chamber music.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anton%C3%ADn_Dvo%C5%99%C3%A1k

***

Radoslav Kvapil (born March 15, 1934 in Brno, Czech Republic). As well as being a published authority on Czech piano music from all eras, Radoslav Kvapil is also a sensitive and skilled pianist, most comfortable and always at his best in the music of his homeland. As of the new century, into his sixth decade of performing, Kvapil still travels widely to perform in concerts, at festivals, and to teach master classes.

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Saturday, June 4, 2016

Antonín Dvořák - Piano Quintets (Sviatoslav Richter; Borodin Quartet)


Information

Composer: Antonín Dvořák
  1. Piano Quintet No. 1 in A major, Op. 5: 1. Allegro ma non troppo
  2. Piano Quintet No. 1 in A major, Op. 5: 2. Andante sostenuto
  3. Piano Quintet No. 1 in A major, Op. 5: 3. Finale (Allegro con brio)
  4. Piano Quintet No. 2 in A major, Op. 81: 1. Allegro, ma non tanto
  5. Piano Quintet No. 2 in A major, Op. 81: 2. Dumka (Andante con moto)
  6. Piano Quintet No. 2 in A major, Op. 81: 3. Scherzo (Furiant) (Molto vivace)
  7. Piano Quintet No. 2 in A major, Op. 81: 4. Finale (Allegro)

Sviatoslav Richter, piano
Borodin Quartet
Mikhail Kopelman, Violin
Andrei Abramenkov, Violin
Dimitri Shebalin, Viola
Valentin Berlinsky, Cello
Date: 1982
Label: Philips
http://www.deccaclassics.com/us/cat/4757560


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Reviews

This is really a record for specialist collectors of two kinds. Lovers of Dvorak's music will not want to miss the opportunity of adding so rare a work as the early Piano Quintet, Op. 5 to their shelves. What we have is a revision, made just before the more famous work also here recorded, but it is still immature and with glimpses of the true Dvorak only beginning to show through a careful and not always wholly convincing manipulation of form and ideas. Lovers of Richter's art will be sure to want to acquire his wholly characteristic performance of both works, but especially of the Op. 81 Quintet. This is lively, elegant and vivid, not least in the Furiant. Where Bishop-Kovacevich (Philips) plays with a nimble grace, Richter gives the music a more demonic quality that is at the same time deft and sprightly. The opening, which includes some of Dvorak's most beautiful pages, is tenderly handled by both artists, and indeed by Clifford Curzon on his much older record with the Vienna Philharmonic Quartet (Decca).

There are drawbacks, however. One is the actual recording, made at a live performance in the Rudolphinum in Prague. Though the audience is well behaved, with only a stray cough to betray its presence, the sound is rather hoarse and the balance between instruments less good than on the Bishop-Kovacevich record. The other main drawback is that to put music lasting just eight minutes over the hour on two whole records strikes me as on the parsimonious side. Bishop-Kovacevich gets the whole work on one side, with the E flat String Quartet on the other; Curzon takes most of a record but finds rooms for the Schubert Quartettsatz. The Richter gives us just the first movement on the opening side, only a little over 13 minutes. I imagine the problem was that the works are too long to be both fitted on to a single side without some cutting, and there was nothing else suitable to make up the second record. One sees the practicalities, but they make this pair of records rather an extravagance. When it arrives the single CD will obviously be an advantage in this respect.

--  John Warrack, Gramophone
[1985] Reviewing LP version

More info & reviews:
http://www.allmusic.com/album/release/dvor%C3%A1k-piano-quintets-opp-5-81-mr0002112290
http://www.amazon.com/Dvorak-Piano-Quintets-Opp-81/dp/B000E8N7QC

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Antonín Dvořák (September 8, 1841 – May 1, 1904) was a Czech composer. Following the nationalist example of Bedřich Smetana, Dvořák frequently employed aspects, specifically rhythms, of the folk music of Moravia and his native Bohemia. He wrote nine symphonies, ten operas, three concertos, several symphonic poems and more than 40 works of chamber music.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anton%C3%ADn_Dvo%C5%99%C3%A1k

***

Sviatoslav Richter (March 20 [O.S. March 7] 1915 – August 1, 1997) was a Soviet pianist known for the depth of his interpretations, virtuoso technique, and vast repertoire. He is considered one of the greatest pianists of the 20th century. Richter probably had the largest discography but he disliked the recording process, and most of Richter's recordings originate from live performances.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sviatoslav_Richter

***

\
Borodin Quartet is a string quartet that was founded in 1945 in the then Soviet Union. It is one of the world's longest lasting string quartets, having marked its 70th anniversary season in 2015. The quartet had a close relationship with composer Dmitri Shostakovich, who personally consulted them on each of his quartets. They also performed with the pianist Sviatoslav Richter on many occasions.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Borodin_Quartet

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Antonín Dvořák - Piano Quartet No. 2; Sonatina in G; Romantic Pieces (Emanuel Ax; Isaac Stern)


Information

Composer: Antonín Dvořák
  1. Piano Quartet No. 2 in E flat major, Op. 87: I. Allegro con fuoco
  2. Piano Quartet No. 2 in E flat major, Op. 87: II. Lento
  3. Piano Quartet No. 2 in E flat major, Op. 87: III. Allegro moderato, grazioso
  4. Piano Quartet No. 2 in E flat major, Op. 87: IV. Finale. Allegro, ma non troppo
  5. Romantic Pieces for violin & piano, Op. 75: I. Allegro moderato
  6. Romantic Pieces for violin & piano, Op. 75: II. Allegro maestoso
  7. Romantic Pieces for violin & piano, Op. 75: III. Allegro appassionato
  8. Romantic Pieces for violin & piano, Op. 75: IV. Larghetto
  9. Sonatina in G major for violin & piano, Op. 100: I. Allegro risoluto
  10. Sonatina in G major for violin & piano, Op. 100: II. Larghetto
  11. Sonatina in G major for violin & piano, Op. 100: III. Scherzo: Molto vivace
  12. Sonatina in G major for violin & piano, Op. 100: IV. Finale: Allegro

Emanuel Ax, piano (1-4)
Isaac Stern, violin (1-12)
Jaime Laredo, viola (1-4)
Yo-Yo Ma, cello (1-4)
Robert McDonald, piano (5-12)
Label: Sony Classical
Date: 1996

----------------------------------------------------

Review

Inspired teamwork in the Piano Quartet and a prime sampling of Stern’s ‘Indian summer’ playing style


Although released some 11 months after Teldec’s deservedly praised Andras Schiff/Panocha Quartet recording, this ‘new’ Sony production of the great E flat Piano Quartet actually predates the Schiff CD by 17 months. Whatever the reason for the delay, the end result fully matches its rival, although it is perhaps rather less natural in terms of overall aural perspective: Sony’s close-miked recorded balance is in contrast to the recital-hall sound stage favoured by Teldec.

Schiff is a more colourful player than Emanuel Ax (occasionally to the point of affectation), but Ax’s crisp, dancing pianism is just as effective and his handling of the assertive episodes in the first two movements never stints on drama. The Czech strings are marginally sweeter than their American counterparts, the Americans more gently inflected, whereas Yo-Yo Ma’s handling of the winding melody that opens the second movement has an achromatic, inward quality that is uniquely distinctive. Schiff’s recording honours the finale’s repeat (Ax’s doesn’t) but neither team opts to play the long exposition repeat in the first movement.

Teldec’s near-ideal coupling of Dvorak’s Second Piano Quintet – also the choice of Menahem Pressler with the Emerson Quartet (another fine disc) – will please economy-conscious collectors who require the two masterpieces on the same CD. Domus and Josef Suk offer the likeable but less memorable First Piano Quartet. Both discs feature fine performances (Domus’s is the more intimately stated option), but it would be a great shame to miss out on Stern’s Indian summer recordings of the two violin works, especially as Robert McDonald’s accompaniments are models of discreet musical reportage. I’ve never heard the piano parts of either work more perceptively played, though Stern’s melding of impishness and tonal chastity is no less seductive. A sparing use of portamento signals his vintage pedigree, though expressive overkill is never on the agenda. Only the Sonatina’s Scherzo might have benefited from being pushed up a notch or two in tempo (it is after all marked molto vivace), but the Larghetto is most poetically addressed, and the last of the Romantic Pieces tellingly sustained. True, the tonal grain in Stern’s playing was tougher a few years earlier, but the gain in wisdom and repose more than compensates. Strongly recommended.

-- Rob Cowan, Gramophone

More reviews:
ClassicsToday ARTISTIC QUALITY: 10 / SOUND QUALITY: 8
BBC Music Magazine PERFORMANCE: ***** / SOUND: *****

----------------------------------------------------

Antonín Dvořák (September 8, 1841 – May 1, 1904) was a Czech composer. Following the nationalist example of Bedřich Smetana, Dvořák frequently employed aspects, specifically rhythms, of the folk music of Moravia and his native Bohemia. He wrote nine symphonies, ten operas, three concertos, several symphonic poems and more than 40 works of chamber music.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anton%C3%ADn_Dvo%C5%99%C3%A1k

***

Emanuel Ax (born 8 June 1949) is a Grammy-winning American classical pianist. He is an internationally acclaimed performer, and a teacher on the faculty of the Juilliard School. Ax has been the main duo recital partner of cellist Yo-Yo Ma since 1973. Ax also played quartets briefly with Ma and violinists Isaac Stern and Jaime Laredo before the quartet had to disband in 2001 due to the death of Stern.

***

Isaac Stern (21 July 1920 – 22 September 2001) was an American violinist and conductor. Within musical circles, Stern became renowned both for his recordings and for championing certain younger players. Among his discoveries were cellists Yo-Yo Ma and Jian Wang, and violinists Itzhak Perlman and Pinchas Zukerman. Stern's favorite instrument was the Ysaÿe Guarnerius, one of the violins produced by the Cremonese luthier Giuseppe Guarneri del Gesù. It had previously been played by the violin virtuoso and composer Eugène Ysaÿe.

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