CATRIN FINCH: The harpist who is adding new strings to her bow – by Adam Sweeting

For all its delightful and ethereal tinkliness, the harp suffers from something of an identity crisis. It lacks the versatility of the piano or the piercing qualities of the violin, let alone the brute force of the brass, so if it isn’t careful it can find itself relegated to a soothing, background role. Catrin Finch […]

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BENJAMIN BRITTEN: A Classic interviews from the Gramophone archive

From the archives “This month sees the issue of several records of Britten’s music from Decca including one in the ‘World of…’ series. It also marks the 25th anniversary of the night that transformed the face of British opera – the premiere of Peter Grimes on June 7, 1945, at Sadler’s Wells Theatre. Britten himself […]

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Ian Bostridge on Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau: ‘I’d never have sung without him’ English tenor Ian Bostridge tells Rupert Christiansen how the late Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau came to inspire him.

  Some 30 years ago, a 14-year-old schoolboy called Ian Bostridge was sitting in his first German lesson, when his teacher Richard Stokes had a brilliant idea: he would introduce the class to the glory of the language and the culture it inspired by playing a recording of Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau singing Schubert’s setting of Goethe’s […]

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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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Elgar Rediscovered

Andrew Achenbach writes: Here’s another fascinating haul of historic Elgar recordings from Somm expertly compiled and restored by Lani Spahr. The 77-minute programme is launched in delectable fashion with the first-ever appearance of the composer conducting his own Op 58 Elegy with the strings of Adrian Boult’s magnificent BBC Symphony Orchestra. The April 1933 Abbey […]

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Why is the greatest choral music frequently the most difficult to sing?

‘The composers who break new choral ground are often those who are not so familiar with the medium’ Everyone in our business can identify the composers who ‘write well for voices’ – those who understand the singers’ need for breath, for movement between registers, and for periods of rest. Conventional wisdom maintains that the human […]

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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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Video: complete performance of Dvořák’s Symphony No 9 from Frankfurt

Andrés Orozco-Estrada directs the Frankfurt Radio Symphony Orchestra in Dvořák’s ever-popular New World Symphony It’s one of the most frequently performed symphonies of all, the appeal of Dvořák’s New World Symphony never seems to fade. Andrés Orozco-Estrada and the Frankfurt Radio Symphony Orchestra ….. Please click HERE

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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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Handel: Belshazzar, review

This new recording grippingly responds to Handel’s theatrical genius, says Geoffrey Norris. A new year. A new CD label. A new recording of Handel’s dramatic 1745 oratorio “Belshazzar”, that monumental three-acter lasting just short of three hours and boasting some of Handel’s most inspired, humane, thrilling music. Les Arts Florissants, the specialist Baroque ensemble, ventures […]

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Double-Blind Violin Test: Can You Pick The Strad?

Originally published 2012 Christopher Joyce writes: In the world of violins, the names Stradivari and Guarneri are sacred. For three centuries, violin-makers and scientists have studied the instruments made by these Italian craftsmen. So far no one has figured out what makes their sound different. But a new study now suggests maybe they aren’t so […]

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MENDELSSOHN: Violin Concerto; String Octet CD review – thrilling intensity

Stephen Pritchard writes ….. Oh, not another Mendelssohn violin concerto recording, I hear you cry. Well, yes, but wait: this one is worth exploring. These Dutch musicians treat the piece as a chamber work, the cut-down forces of the Het Gelders Orkest giving light and airy support to Liza Ferschtman’s carefully judged, singing solo line. […]

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Stravinsky: Violin Concerto, Works for Violin & Piano CD review – power and poetry

Fiona Maddocks writes ….. Stravinsky’s Violin Concerto remains puzzlingly underplayed, a neoclassical masterpiece dating from 1931. The composer worried that, as a non-violinist, he wasn’t equipped to write idiomatically. It’s certainly fiercely hard, opening with big, strident chords and exploiting the instrument’s staccato brilliance. The inner movements, Arias I and II, are more song-like, mysterious […]

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Alban Gerhardt: Rostropovich Encores CD review – sparky and apt tribute to a great cellist

Erica Jeal writes ….. Cellists are lining up to pay tribute to Mstislav Rostropovich in what would have been his 90th year, but Alban Gerhardt’s is an especially apt homage, showcasing the Russian master’s commitment to expanding his instrument’s repertoire and popularity, at the same time as celebrating his sense of fun. It’s not a […]

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Why Beethoven tugs at the heart strings: The rhythms of the German composer’s music may have been prompted by a coronary disorder

Roger Dobson writes: Beethoven’s music may really have come from the heart. The composer may have been suffering from a heart rhythm disorder, arrhythmia, which is reflected in his works, researchers say. And the irregular heartbeat sensations he felt – and his increased sensitivity due to deafness – could be literally at the heart of […]

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Elgar, Bax: For the Fallen CD review – a special, spacious inevitability

Andrew Clements writes ….. The latest addition to Mark Elder’s British music series continues his exploration of Elgar with a couple of the works composed during the first world war. A Voice in the Wilderness is one of a triptych of small-scale pieces with narrator that Elgar composed between 1914 and 1917 (all of them […]

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