Liszt Années de Pelerinage Complete Louis Lortie (piano) CHANDOS | CHAN10662 | CD2 | 95115166222
Virtuoso Canadian pianist Louis Lortie has recorded all three books (‘Years’) of the Années de Pèlerinage (Years of Pilgrimage) on this 2-disc set. It is rarely recorded in its entirety and Chandos' collection includes the supplement to Year 2, ‘Venezia e Napoli’. Liszt was deeply affected by external influences and he was a master at translating these feelings into music. The first of the Années is a reworking of pieces from his earlier Album d’un Voyageur, which was inspired by his travels in Switzerland as a young man. The second Year was inspired by the art and literature encountered during his travels in Italy, and evokes famous paintings and sculptures. The third and last Year was written much later, when Liszt was in his sixties and at a time when both the man and the style of his music had undergone a vast change.
Brahms Violin Concerto, String Sextet No 2 Isabelle Faust (violin), Mahler Chamber Orchestra, Daniel Harding (conductor) HARMONIA MUNDI | HMC902075 | CD | 794881984428
Two masterpieces on one CD: Isabelle Faust goes back to the roots of one of the most famous Romantic concertos, which is also one of the most difficult from a technical point of view: Hans von Bülow called it a 'concerto against the violin'. Born of close collaboration between Brahms and the violinist Joseph Joachim, the work is a fine testimony to friendship – whereas the Sextet op.36 is directly linked to the love affair between the composer and the beautiful Agathe von Siebold. Isabelle Faust and conductor Daniel Harding are ideal collaborators on this disc.
Ravel Complete Solo Piano Music Steven Osborne (piano) HYPERION | CDA677312 | CD2 | 34571177311
New releases of Steven Osborne’s best-selling discs have become some of the most eagerly-awaited events in the pianophile diary. This most delicate and subtle of musicians also displays a pyrotechnical deployment of digital acrobatics, mesmerising colour control and breathtaking articulation. All these qualities are visible in this two-disc set of some of the most important piano music of the early twentieth century. Ravel’s works have been central, too, to Steven Osborne’s performing repertoire throughout his career, making this set a perfect marriage of composer and performer. ‘Steven Osborne, ever a poised, technically impeccable virtuoso, combines clarity with heart. All a shimmering pleasure.' -The Guardian
Rossini Opera Arias Julia Lezhneva (soprano), Sinfonia Varsovia, Marc Minkowski (conductor) NAÏVE | V5221 | CD | 822186052211
Alex Ross, music critic of the New Yorker who tours Australia with the ACO in March, has praised this young Russian soprano on his popular blog (www.therestisnoise.com). At just 21 years old, Julia Lezhneva has made an impression on Marc Minkowski, who conducts on this dazzling recording. The youngest competitor in last year’s Paris Opera International Competition, she won First Prize with two Rossini arias.
Australian Guitar Music Aleksandr Tsiboulski (guitar) NAXOS | 8570949 | CD | 747313094974
‘Add another name to Australia’s thriving classical guitar scene…Tsiboulski is the complete guitarist. His playing possesses a highly controlled, honed refinement, but he rises above the technical demands to reach a new level of concentrated, inner thought…The standout is Koehne’s rhapsodic A Closed World of Fine Feelings and Grand Design, which Tsiboulski plays with exquisite, perfectly judged phrases and aching tenderness. He is excellent, too, with Edwards’ Guitar Dances and Blackwattle Caprices…Sculthorpe’s ruminative From Kakadu and Djilile acquire an almost spiritual power.’ (The Australian, 5-star review)
Mozart Violin Concertos Richard Tognetti, Christopher Moore, ACO BIS | BISSACD1754 | SACD | 7318599917542
Undoubtedly one of the most popular and accessible classical albums by any Australian artist this year, this is the Australian Chamber Orchestra's much-anticipated first release dedicated solely to Mozart following a national tour featuring one of his violin concertos. It's set to rival Tognetti’s recordings of Bach which won three consecutive ARIA awards. Watch footage from the recording sessions, interviews with Tognetti and more on the dedicated mini-site: www.savd.com.au/aco
March 2011 Grainger Edition BBC Philharmonic Orchestra, Richard Hickox, Penny Thwaites (piano) CHANDOS | CHAN10638 | CD19 | 95115163825
Beloved Australian composer Percy Grainger is honoured with Chandos Records’ reissue (at last!) of its Grainger Edition volumes 1—19, collected together in a lavish box. Many of the discs are no longer available separately.
The set demonstrates the extraordinary range of Grainger’s compositional styles, including works for orchestra, wind orchestra, chorus and orchestra, chamber ensemble, solo songs, and solo piano, the latter performed by Australian pianist Penelope Thwaites, who edited The New Percy Grainger Companion.
February 2011 Liszt New Discoveries Vol 3 Leslie Howard (piano) HYPERION | CDA67810 | CD2 | 34571178103
Liszt was born 200 years ago in 1811, and to begin his bicentenary birthday celebration, Hyperion presents a disc of works that have been recorded, and indeed heard here, for the first time. Australian pianist Leslie Howard has long been acknowledged as the foremost Liszt scholar and performer in the world today, and this disc is a perfect example of his tireless work on behalf of the composer.
February 2011 Italian Intermezzo - Music Without Words BBC Philharmonic, Gianandrea Noseda (conductor) CHANDOS | CHAN10634 | CD | 95115163429
This unique program of intermezzi comprises orchestral mood-painting interludes found in the great Italian operatic repertoire of the nineteenth and early twentieth century, usually connecting acts in the opera.
The music is powerfully atmospheric, designed not only to create the right mood for the ensuing action of the opera, but also to provide some respite from the drama itself. The items on this CD range from the well-known and haunting Prelude to Act III of La traviata to the sparkling items from Wolf-Ferrari’s The Jewels of the Madonna. The great verismo composers Leoncavallo, Puccini, Giordano, and Cilea composed some richly romantic intermezzi, and the rarely heard pieces by Catalani are no less enjoyable. Italian maestro Gianandrea Noseda is in his element in this native repertoire.
November 22, 2010 Love Songs Anne Sofie von Otter (vocals), Brad Mehldau (jazz piano) NAÏVE | V5241 | CD2 | 822186052419
In the most exciting classical crossover project of the year, Anne Sofie von Otter has chosen to make her first recording for Naïve with the jazz pianist Brad Mehldau, who has previously recorded with Renée Fleming.
Their meeting at Carnegie Hall in 2009 gave rise to a cycle of 7 Love Songs, settings by Brad Mehldau of poems by Sara Teasdale (1884-1933). Together Anne Sofie and Brad have assembled some of the greatest songwriters, including Jacques Brel, Léo Ferré, Michel Legrand, Leonard Bernstein, Paul McCartney, Joni Michell and others.
See a personal message from Anne Sofie announcing her signing to Naive
Naxos’s recordings of the charismatic Vasily Petrenko’s interpretations with the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra of Shostakovich’s symphonies have gained critical acclaim both for their subtlety and revelatory power as well as for their brilliant audio quality. Shostakovich’s First Symphony propelled the teenage composer to international prominence, its emotional range and evocative orchestration marking him as a brave new voice on the scene. His festive, single-movement Third Symphony, ‘The First of May’, celebrates the Soviet victory over the Tsarist regime. Perhaps recalling the examples of Beethoven, Berlioz or Mahler, Shostakovich marshals his forces to reach a triumphant choral fnale. ‘Petrenko’s Shostakovich cycle goes from strength to strength’ –Gramophone
‘The frst book of The Enchanted Garden was composed in 1992; the five preludes in that cycle were musical responses to dreams that I had and had eventually written about. This second book, written nearly seventeen years later in 2009, includes seven preludes that are based on true-to-life experiences and memories. The fine line between dreams and memories, between reality and fantasy has always intrigued me. The ancient Greeks believed that the “real” world was the unseen world. Each title in Book 2 refers to memories and personal experiences in my life. Some are from long ago, others refer to recent experiences.’ –Richard Danielpour
Drawing upon Alan Walker’s monumental three-volume biography of the composer, the outcome of many years of research into French, German, Hungarian and Italian sources, which has set a new standard of accuracy in Liszt scholarship, Malcolm Hayes presents a vivid new perspective on the life and music of Franz Liszt. ‘This was needed, given the amount of biographical misinformation, wilful or otherwise, that had bedevilled so much earlier writing on Liszt – the aberrations of which reach back to the composer’s own lifetime (sometimes, it must be said, with his misguided consent),’ notes Malcolm Hayes
The most striking and original of the minimalists, Steve Reich celebrates his 75th birthday in 2011. In Phase to Face we follow Reich from Normandy to Rome, Tokyo, New York and Manchester for the world premiere of 2x5, which will be performed at the Perth International Arts Festival in March.
This year, April is Hamelin month at Hyperion; not content with giving us another blockbuster addition to the Romantic Piano Concerto series, the pianist offers up his contribution to the Liszt bicentenary. The Liszt Sonata is undoubtedly one of the peaks of the repertoire, and recordings are suitably copious, but when an artist of Hamelin’s virtuoso pedigree wishes to tackle it no excuse need be made for an additional version. The recital opens with a lesser-known masterwork, the Fantasy and Fugue on B-A-C-H, and for light relief there is Liszt’s scintillating supplement to his Italian Année de Pèlerinage, the three pieces of Venezia e Napoli, but perhaps the emotional core of the recital is Liszt’s intensely spiritual Bénédiction du Dieu dans la solitude. This is a major Liszt recital from one of today’s most admired recording artists.