BARTÓK Violin Concerto No 2 LIGETI Violin Concerto

Gramophone write: Patricia Kopatchinskaja performs these three concertos by composers born in Hungary with her trademark panache and the recorded balance gives her all due prominence. The importance of the orchestral contribution can’t be denied, however, and there’s an impressive sense of common purpose and collaborative zeal throughout. Bartók’s Second Violin Concerto has long since […]

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My first Gramophone review, by Jeremy Nicholas

Leading critics recall their Gramophone debuts:  I was busily writing for three music magazines when early in 2003 I got a call out of the blue from Michael Quinn. Would I like to review a disc for Gramophone? A new work by Wynton Marsalis called All Rise, conducted by Esa-Pekka Salonen, on Sony Classics. I […]

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WAGNER Parsifal (Fischer)

‘I was not thinking of the Redeemer when I created Parsifal’, wrote Wagner. In ceremonial moments stage director Pierre Audi and his team – including artist Anish Kapoor as set designer – rightly eschew any Christian symbolism deriving from latter-day Mass rituals, opting instead (in the first Grail scene) for images of blood and sacrifice. […]

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STRAVINSKY Rite of Spring. Concerto for 2 Pianos

In August 2015 I assessed a clutch of new recordings of the four-hands version of The Rite of Spring and noted that Guy and Bavouzet were far superior to all their rivals, not least – but also not only – because they were performing their own arrangement on two pianos rather Stravinsky’s for a single […]

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BACH: Bach Unaccompanied Violin Sonatas-Johanna Martzy

The thread starts …. Both TAS and Stereophile have published articles about the vinyl reissue of these recordings by The Electric Recording Company at the staggering price of $470 per disc (yes, you read that correctly). Is anyone aware of CD reissues of these recordings in high quality sound? If so, could you please reply […]

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PROKOFIEV; STRAVINSKY Violin Concertos

In the last movement of Prokofiev’s Second Violin Concerto, Patricia Kopatchinskaja takes the composer’s ben marcato seriously, using heavy accentuation to produce the effect of a pungent danse macabre. Even the contrasting legato melody is presented with a sinister, flautando sound. Janine Jansen’s performance (also with Jurowski and the LPO) is less extreme, with plenty […]

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KARAJAN: 1960s box and remastered editions

I have just acquired the big DG Karajan box and it highlights a dilemma I find increasingly in the era of multiple reissues. How do you know which remastered version of the recording you are getting? For example, a while back I saw the Galleria issue of HvK’s Beethoven overtures cheap on a resale website […]

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BENJAMIN BRITTEN: Biography extract – was the composer’s death caused by syphilis?:

“In the history of art,” observed the philosopher Theodor Adorno mischievously, “late works are the catastrophes.” Not disasters: catastrophes — a spectacular subversion of an artist’s oeuvre, all within the context of a sense of mortality overtaking the individual. The final period is necessarily ruptured from the earlier: carefully sculptured works of youth and maturity make […]

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Christopher Breunig / Elgar’s Symphony No.2

A 1964 BBC Symphony Orchestra performance of Elgar’s Symphony No.2, conducted by Sir Malcolm Sargent, has recently been issued on CD Killing two birds with one stone, as it were, Sir Thomas Beecham once described Karajan as ‘like Malcolm Sargent, only musical’. There’s a moment at the end of a BBC Symphony Orchestra performance of […]

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Christopher Breunig / Britten and Shostakovich. Rudolf Kempe and the BBC Symphony Orchestra

Internationally respected authority on classical music, Mr. Christopher Breunig returns to this site. First, a little about him: Christopher trained and practiced as an architect, but over the years contributed music reviews to various publications, including the Sunday Times, Guardian and other specialist journals including International Piano and Classic Record Collector. Britten and Shostakovich It’s […]

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Milhaud: L’Orestie d’Eschyle review – an operatic curiosity worth investigating

Andrew Clements writes: Though Aeschylus’s triptych of tragedies has influenced opera composers from Wagner to Birtwistle, relatively few of them have been tempted to fashion a stage work of their own from the Oresteia plays. There is Sergei Taneyev’s ambitious, evening-long version, while Iannis Xenakis’s Oresteia compresses the whole drama into just 50 minutes, with […]

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SCHUMANN: Fantasiestücke; Kreisleriana; Brahms: Theme and Variations in D minor – review

Andrew Clements writes: Imogen Cooper sets out on her survey of Schumann’s complete piano music for Chandos with two of his greatest cycles. Alongside Carnaval and the Davidsbündlertänze, the eight pieces of the Fantasiestücke Op 12 and the eight of Kreisleriana Op 16 perhaps define Schumann’s special qualities as a composer for the piano better than […]

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How do you solve a problem like Mario?

C. Davis Remignanti writes: During the heyday of the Hollywood studio system, there were any number of notable figures who parlayed early success outside the film industry into curious careers as movie stars. Sonja Henie comes to mind. Carmen Miranda. Johnny Weissmuller, Esther Williams and others. All names we’re familiar with. They all made (and […]

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What’s the point of pop-up opera?

The enthusiasm of singers who perform pop-up opera is great – but is there any point to it, asks Rupert Christiansen. Opera’s resilience is nowhere more evident that in its current habit of popping up in pub theatres, abandoned warehouses and back gardens, staged and performed by people doing it for love rather than the […]

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Shostakovich: Symphony No 15, CD review Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, cond Bernard Haitink.

Geoffrey Norris of The Daily Telegraph writes as follows: “This performance of Shostakovich’s final symphony testifies both to Bernard Haitink’s searching way of interpreting the Russian composer and to the orchestra’s ready appreciation of the emotional range that the Fifteenth embraces. We might not fully understand the allusions that Shostakovich weaves in, but, when it […]

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The Debussy Edition – review Various Artists (Deutsche Grammophon, 18 CDs)

Of the compilations released to mark the 150th anniversary of Claude Debussy’s birth this year, this is the most treasurable. As a survey of the music of perhaps of the greatest 20th-century composer it could hardly be bettered, especially within recordings from a single label, or rather, a single group of labels, for as well […]

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