Mar 31

Nelson Freire – Bach (2016)
FLAC (tracks) 24-bit/96 kHz | Time – 01:21:34 minutes | 1,33 GB | Genre: Classical
Studio Master, Official Digital Download – Source: | Digital Booklet | © Decca
Recorded: Friedrich-Ebert-Halle, Harburg, 17–21 August 2015

Nelson Freire brings a lifetime’s experience to his first-ever album devoted to the music of J.S Bach. It was recorded in Freire’s 70th birthday year and provides a superb overview of Bach on the piano: towering original works such as the Fourth Partita and Chromatic Fantasy & Fugue; one of Bach’s own keyboard transcriptions (the sublime slow movement of Marcello’s Oboe Concerto) plus a selection of transcriptions by Busoni, Siloti and Myra Hess.

. . . exquisite playing . . . some of the finest ever transcriptions of Bach’s most enticing keyboard music . . . After listening to this album you will surely wonder, as I did, why Freire has left it so late to produce his first all-Bach album. Some purists sniff at Bach on the grand piano. Hearing this, I cannot understand why.
Record Review / David Mellor, Classic FM (London) / 20. February 2016

. . . a superb overview of Bach’s works played on the piano, from towering original works such as the Fourth Partita or the Chromatic Fantasy and Fugue, through to a selection of transcriptions. In lyrical mood, as in his version of Myra Hess’s arrangement of “Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring”, Freire’s Bach is soft, flowing and atmospheric; elsewhere, especially in the Chromatic Fantasy, his fingerwork is dazzlingly fast, accurate and pin-sharp in its attack.

Record Review / Paul Drive, Classic FM (London) / 29. February 2016


Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750)

Partita No.4 in D major, BWV 828
01 | I. Overture (4:30)
02 | II. Allemande (6:11)
03 | III. Courante (3:14)
04 | IV. Aria (1:26)
05 | V. Sarabande (3:29)
06 | VI. Menuet (1:21)
07 | VII. Gigue (2:42)
08 | Toccata in C Minor, BWV 911 (10:24)

English Suite No.3 in G minor, BWV 808
09 | I. Prélude (2:55)
10 | II. Allemande (2:44)
11 | III. Courante (1:49)
12 | IV. Sarabande (2:54)
13 | V. Gavotte I – Gavotte II ou la musette (3:22)
14 | VI. Gigue (2:45)

Chromatic Fantasia and Fugue in D minor, BWV 903
15 | I. Fantasia (5:26)
16 | II. Fugue (4:34)
17 | Concerto in D minor, BWV 974: Adagio (3:27)
18 | Choral: ‘Ich ruf zu dir, Herr Jesu Christ’, BWV 639 (3:03)
19 | Choral: ‘Komm Gott Schopfer heiliger Geist’, BWV 667 (2:11)
20 | Choral: ‘Nun komm der Heiden Heiland’, BWV 659 (5:01)
21 | Prelude in G Minor, BWV 535 (4:32)
22 | Jesu, Joy Of Man’s Desiring, BWV 147 (3:41)

Nelson Freire (piano)

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Mar 31

Music from Kurt Vonnegut’s ‘Slaughterhouse-Five’ feat. Glenn Gould (1972/2015)
FLAC (tracks) 24 bit/44,1 kHz | Time – 38:28 minutes | 371 MB | Genre: Classical
Studio Masters, Official Digital Download – Source: Qobuz | © Sony Classical

Gould was an enthusiastic moviegoer. All the more regrettable, then, that his film work is so meagerly documented. To create the soundtrack for George Roy Hill’s film version of Kurt Vonnegut’s novel, Gould used his own Bach recordings as well as the Fourth Brandenburg with Pablo Casals conducting the Marlboro Festival Orchestra.


Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750)

Concerto for Piano and Orchestra No. 5 in F Minor, BWV 1056
1 I. Allegro 3:36
2 II. Largo 02:56
3 III. Presto 03:45

Goldberg Variations, BWV 988 – Highlights
4 Variation 18 – Canone alla Sesta a 1 Clav. 00:46
5 Variation 25 a 2 Clav. 06:28

Brandenburg Concerto No. 4 in G Major, BWV 1049
6 III. Presto 04:33

Concerto for Piano and Orchestra No. 3 in D Major, BWV 1054
7 I. Allegro 07:47
8 II. Adagio e piano sempre 05:52
9 III. Allegro 02:45

Glenn Gould, piano (#1-5,7-9)
Columbia Symphony Orchestra (#1-3,7-9)
Vladimir Golschmann, conductor (#1-3,7-9)
Alexander Schneider, violin (#6)
Rudolf Serkin, piano continuo (#6)
Marlboro Festival Orchestra (#6)
Pablo Casals, conductor (#6)

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Mar 31

Felix Mendelssohn – Songs without Words – Javier Perianes (2014)
FLAC (tracks) 24 bit/96kHz | Time – 01:16:55 minutes | 1,44 GB | Genre: Classical
Studio Masters, Official Digital Download – Source: eClassical | Digital Booklet | © Harmonia Mundi

“If Javier Perianes was setting out to show the full range of Mendelssohn’s genius as a writer for the piano, he has certainly succeeded with this disc…Perianes’s singing right hand moulds the melodies with great affection…[he] has not only impeccable technique but the sharpest of ears for textures and for nuances at the lower end of the dynamic range.” –BBC Music Magazine, Christmas 2014

“There’s nothing small-scale about his conception of this music and, where need be, climaxes are bold…He can charm without trying to, thanks to a haloed sound well caught by Harmonia Mundi’s engineers…There’s great clarity to Perianes’s fugal textures and handled.” –Gramophone Magazine, December 2014

“a player of rare talent, whose particular strengths suit Mendelssohn very well … Perianes releases considerable power…his depth of tone combining with an all too human resonance to make a necessary statement, not just a dazzling one. What a thrilling sound he creates in the final pages, with a superbly resonant bass, although he always adds shading so it doesn’t feel like an onslaught.” –International Record Review, January 2015

“here is romantic musical poetry, rivalling Chopin’s at times, which Perianes taps into with sensitivity, affection and unaffected artistry, bringing out the picturesque nature of each one … When something niftier and more-agitated is needed, Perianes is quick-witted and agile, never forced or pushy. This is wonderful music, beautifully played … Perianes here makes a wholly positive impression on behalf of himself as a devoted musician and reveals the fullest fraternity with Mendelssohn’s muse.” –, March 2015

Felix Mendelssohn (1809-1847)
1. Andante con variazioni op.82 7’54
Lieder ohne Worte
2. op.19/1. Andante con moto 3’08
3. op.19/6 “Venetianisches Gondellied”. Andante sostenuto 2’08
4. op.30/6 “Venetianisches Gondellied”. Allegretto tranquillo 3’06
5. op.38/6 “Duetto”. Andante con moto 3’09
6. Rondo capriccioso op.14 6’37
Lieder ohne Worte
7. op.53/1. Andante con moto 3’38
8. op.53/3. Presto agitato 2’52
9. op.62/5 “Venetianisches Gondellied”. Andante con moto 2’50
10. op.67/1. Andante 2’40
11. op.67/2. Allegro leggiero 2’20
12. op.67/3. Andante tranquillo 2’55
13. op.67/6. Allegretto non troppo 2’23
Präludium und Fuge e-Moll op.35/1
14. I. Präludium. Allegro con fuoco 2’10
15. II. Fuga. Andante espressivo 6’36
Lieder ohne Worte
16. op.85/4. Andante sostenuto 2’43
17. op.120/1. Andante, un poco agitato 2’43
18. op.102/4. Andante un poco agitato 2’20
19. op.102/6. Andante 2’37
20. 17 Variations sérieuses op.54 11’57

Javier Perianes, piano

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Mar 31

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart – Sinfonia Concertante & Concertone – Camerata de Lausanne, Pierre Amoyal (2013)
FLAC (tracks) 24 bit/88,2 kHz | Time – 56:01 minutes | 982 MB | Genre: Classical
Studio Masters, Official Digital Download – Source: Qobuz | © Warner Classics

This little Swiss release is not a state-of-the-art recording of Mozart’s Sinfonia Concertante in E flat major for violin and viola, K. 364, and that, perhaps, is its charm. There are big-name, big-orchestra performances of this work, and there are bristly historical-instrument readings. But there was a type prevalent a couple generations ago, with a very sensitive European chamber group and soloists who represented the best of the old European tradition, and these recordings made this awe-inspiring work breathe. In 1965 you might have bought this reading by violinist Pierre Amoyal, violist Yuko Shimizu, and the Camerata de Lausanne on the Nonesuch label, perhaps, or from the Musical Heritage Society. The musicians are confident enough in their ensemble work — impressive indeed for a group without a conductor — to apply just enough tempo flexibility to bring out the sentimental French sweetness that is at the heart of the sinfonia concertante genre, even the vast K. 364, and the work here receives a uniquely attractive, affecting reading. One bonus is the inclusion of the little-recorded Concertone in C major for two violins, cello, and oboe in C major, K. 190, another Mozart work in a sinfonia concertante-like genre; the musicians get the work’s unique balances and slightly experimental quality. Another is the sound, recorded in the famed Salle de Musique in La Chaux de Fonds, Switzerland, in 2012. A highly satisfying outing from the revived Warner Classics label. –AllMusic Review by James Manheim


Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756-1791)

Sinfonia concertante in E-Flat Major, K. 364
1. I. Allegro maestoso 13:27
2. II. Andante 09:38
3. III. Presto 06:39

Concertone in C Major for 2 Violins, K. 190
4. I. Allegro spiritoso 08:25
5. II. Andantino grazioso 09:53
6. III. Tempo di menuetto – Vivace 08:04

Pierre Amoyal, violin, conductor
Yuko Shimizu, viola (#1-3)
Ami Oike, violin (#4-06)
Andrey Cholokyan, oboe (#4-6)
Fulvia Mancini, cello (#4-6)
Camerata de Lausanne

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Mar 31

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart – Requiem – Arnold Schoenberg Chor, Concentus Musicus Wien, Nikolaus Harnoncourt (2004)
FLAC (tracks) 24 bit/44,1 kHz | Time – 50:15 minutes | 466 MB | Genre: Classical
Studio Masters, Official Digital Download – Source: | © Deutsche Harmonia Mundi
Recorded: Großer Musikvereinssaal Wien, Austria, November 27-December 1, 2003

This new recording of Mozart’s Requiem (in the edition I prefer, by Franz Beyer), has everything going for it. The soloists are all excellent–really excellent. Soprano Christine Schäfer leads the group with lovely tone and a total commitment to expressing the text through her singing. She’s seconded by the magnificent Bernarda Fink (whose Dvorák song recital for Harmonia Mundi became a Disc of the Month selection), while Kurt Streit’s bright tenor has none of the insipid “church choir has-been” aura that leads so many performances to make do with second raters just because the actual part isn’t very large. Gerald Finley delivers a truly dignified Tuba mirum, aided in no small measure by Nikolaus Harnoncourt’s Concentus Musicus Wien, which sports a trombone player who actually makes his solo sound both lyrical and imposing rather than merely awkward.
The Arnold Schoenberg Choir sings its collective heart out in the opening movements, but especially in the Dies irae, Confutatis, Lacrimosa, and Sanctus. Combine this with Harnoncourt’s determination to wring every last bit of drama from the music and with orchestral playing that’s the last word in commitment, and the result is pretty astounding. I can’t remember a performance of the Lacrimosa that so graphically evokes the sound of actual weeping, or a Confutatis so vicious at its opening and so vividly contrasted thereafter. Usually Süssmayr’s contributions leave me somewhat cold, but when played and sung with such conviction, there’s little reason to question their authority and aptness.

In stereo the engineers capture the excitement and impact of a live concert. The multi-channel format, depending on your preferences, is either thrilling as a “surround” experience, or a travesty of what real music sounds like–Chacun á son gout! The disc also can be used as a CD-ROM containing a facsimile of Mozart’s original manuscript, which I found a fascinating and intelligent addition because it encourages listeners to discover just how much Mozart there is in the work, and to think about the music anew. Of course, Harnoncourt’s performance does that all by itself, but it’s nice to have the option to carry the investigation further. In short, this is a first-class production all the way, and the performance is simply a knock-out. –David Hurwitz, ClassicsToday

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756-1791)
Requiem In D Minor, K.626 (Unfinished)
I Introitus
1 Requiem (Chor, Sopran) 4:57
II Kyrie
2 Kyrie (Chor) 2:56
III Sequentia
3 Dies Irae (Chor) 1:50
4 Tuba Mirum (Sopran, Alt, Tenor, Bass) 3:52
5 Rex Tremendae (Chor) 1:58
6 Recordare (Sopran, Alt, Tenor, Bass) 6:19
7 Confutatis (Chor) 2:35
8 Lacrimosa (Chor) 3:07
IV Offertorium
9 Domine Jesu (Chor, Sopran, Alt, Tenor, Bass) 3:50
10 Hostias (Chor) 3:02
V Sanctus
11 Sanctus (Chor) 1:19
VI Benedictus
12 Benedictus (Chor) 5:20
VII Agnus Dei
13 Agnus Dei (Chor) 3:25
VIII Communio
14 Lux Aeterna (Chor, Sopran) 5:45

Christine Schäfer, soprano
Bernarda Fink, alto
Kurt Streit, tenor
Gerald Finley, baritone
Arnold Schoenberg Chor
Concentus Musicus Wien
Nikolaus Harnoncourt, conductor

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Mar 31

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart – The 5 Violin Concertos – David Grimal, Les Dissonances (2015)
FLAC (tracks) 24 bit/48 kHz | Time – 01:43:19 minutes | 1,11 GB | Genre: Classical
Studio Masters, Official Digital Download – Source: | © Les Dissonances
Recorded: Cité de la musique Paris, 1 March 2014 (live)

David Grimal and les Dissonances sign a modern, lively and authentic interpretation of the Complete Violin concertos by Mozart.

« Researching sources, scores, instruments, historical, aesthetic and political contexts, and any other kind of clue, is fascinating. But in spite of everything I still find it insufficient and incomplete (…) How can we make this music which is already remote from us resonate, or rather ‘re-sound’, within us? » –David Grimal
Violinist David Grimal continues his fascinating musical trip with Les Dissonances, an unique musicians collective he founded in 2004.

They publish under their own label, a new version of Mozart complete violin concertos. They brightly enlight the modernity of these vivid masteworks by melting period and modern instruments, for a renewed approach of authenticity in this repertoire.

For this recording, David Grimal offered composer and harpsichordist Brice Pauset to compose orginial cadenzas for all the concertos. In the book joined to the CD-DVD box, they share their views about authenticity in musical interpretation.

The spirit of Les Dissonances is one of bringing together disparate worlds – there lies its specificity. The ensemble creates a link between those involved in the various different aspects of music (composition, solo performance, orchestral music, chamber works) and it includes not only musicians from the greatest French and international orchestras, but also talented young artists who are just embarking on their careers.


Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756-1791)

Violin concerto No. 1 in B flat major, K 207
1. Allegro moderato 6:45
2. Adagio 7:04
3. Presto 5:14

Violin concerto No. 2 in D major, K 211
4. Allegro moderato 7:53
5. Andante 6:23
6. Rondo, Allegro 3:25

Violin concerto No. 3 in G major, K 216
7. Allegro 8:03
8. Adagio 6:52
9. Rondo 5:40

Violin concerto No. 4 in D major, K 218
10. Allegro 7:59
11. Andante cantabile 5:56
12. Rondo 6:07

Violin concerto No. 5 in A major, K219
13. Allegro aperto 8:33
14. Adagio 8:08
15. Rondo 7:24

David Grimal, violin
Les Dissonances

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Mar 31

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart – Symphony No. 35 ‘Haffner’; Posthorn-Serenade – Concentus Musicus Wien, Nikolaus Harnoncourt (2013)
FLAC (tracks) 24 bit/44,1 kHz | Time – 01:11:26 minutes | 692 MB | Genre: Classical
Studio Masters, Official Digital Download – Source: Qobuz | © Sony Classical
Recorded: June 9,10 & december 1,2 2012, Goldener Saal, Musikverein, Wien

Recorded at the Golden Hall in the Musikverein Vienna in 2012, this is two of the most important works of Mozart’s ‘middle’ period that Harnoncourt has never recorded with a period-instrument orchestra before. Harnoncourt is well known for his unique interpretation of Mozart and this is reflected by the highly flexible playing and phrasing from the orchestra. This album marks the 60th anniversary of the collaboration between Nikolaus Harnoncourt and the Concentus Musicus Wien.

The Posthorn Serenade, written in 1779 for the student’s farewell at the end of term at Salzburg University, is one of Mozart’s longest and most varied instrumental works, a plethora of musical characters typical of Mozart’s serenades and a unique blend of elements of dance, solo concerto and symphonic writing. Its rendering here is preceded by a March (KV 335 /1) which, according to Nikolaus Harnoncourt’s musical research, was played in Salzburg in 1779 before the actual performance started.

Mozart’s symphony No. 35, the Haffner Symphony (named after the Salzburg family who commissioned the work in 1782), was originally conceived as a serenade as well. Written in a particularly festive and serene style making best use of the orchestra’s virtuosic possibilities, it’s the shortest of Mozart’s mature symphonies and one of the most popular and effective ones. The new recording marks the first time Nikolaus Harnoncourt revisits the piece after his epoch-making version of 1980 (with Concertgebouw Orkest).

Nikolaus Harnoncourt’s 2014 Sony release offers three of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s compositions, connected to his years in Salzburg. Intended to accompany the university’s summer closing ceremonies, the March in D major, K. 335, was one of two marches used as processional music for the student body, and scholars connect them to the Serenade in D major, K. 320, “Posthorn,” which was composed in 1779 as the ceremonial Finalmusik. While the Symphony No. 35 in D major, K. 385, “Haffner,” is connected to the earlier Serenade in D major, K. 250, “Haffner,” it fits well with the festive style and key of the previous works on the CD and shows the close connection of the multi-movement serenade and the four-movement symphony in Mozart’s mind. Harnoncourt and his longtime ensemble, Concentus Musicus Wien, give impeccable performances in Classical period style, and the robust sound of these recordings is striking for its clarity and penetrating tone, just what would be needed for outdoor performances. Even so, the listener may wonder why the “Haffner” Serenade wasn’t chosen for the program, to correspond to the “Haffner” Symphony, if the purpose is to show the real musical and historical connections between Mozart’s works. One can only hope that Harnoncourt will record it sometime with Concentus Musicus Wien for Sony, because he last recorded it in 1989 with Staatskapelle Dresden for Teldec, and that recording’s availability is limited. –AllMusic Review by Blair Sanderson


Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756-1791)
1. March No. 1 in D Major, K. 335 (K. 320a) 04:00

Serenade in D Major, K. 320, ‘Posthorn-Serenade’
2. I. Adagio maestoso – Allegro con spirito 08:45
3. II. Menuetto. Allegro – Trio 05:25
4. III. Concertante. Andante grazioso 08:36
5. IV. Rondeau. Allegro ma non troppo 06:29
6. V. Andantino 06:27
7. VI. Menuetto – Trio I – Trio II 05:11
8. VII. Finale. Presto 04:24

Symphony in D Major, K. 385 ‘Haffner-Sinfonie’
9. I. Allegro con spirito 06:07
10. II. Andante 08:07
11. III. Menuetto – Trio 03:38
12. IV. Presto 04:11

Concentus Musicus Wien
Nikolaus Harnoncourt, conductor

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Mar 31

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart – Piano Concertos Nos. 22 & 25 – David Fray, Philharmonia Orchestra, Jaap Van Zweden (2010)
FLAC (tracks) 24 bit/44,1 kHz | Time – 01:05:31 minutes | 554 MB | Genre: Classical
Studio Masters, Official Digital Download – Source: Qobuz | © Warner Classics
Recorded: Abbey Road Studios, London, Great Britain, 25-27.VIII.2010

David Fray is a lyricist in a thousand. Yet for all his innate sense of finesse, he seldom misses an opportunity to stress the music’s symphonic breadth. Unobtrusively animating the left hand, he provides structural depth as well as courtly accompaniment, often underlining the rhythmic pillars with sonorously articulated basses, which are sometimes doubled at the octave.

At the other end of the expressive spectrum, some may well find him excessively delicate – almost to the point of mannerism. It seems churlish to complain of too much beauty, but there are occasional hints of costume jewellery that detract, for me, from Mozart’s uniquely subtle brand of virility – nowhere more evident than in these two great works (whose scale transcends their already impressive dimensions).

The pervasive operatic element in Mozart’s Concertos is often presented (here very well indeed) primarily in terms of dialogue – between the soloist and orchestra, and with its constituent families, most notably the wind.
To a certain extent, most of Mozart’s concertos can be seen, dramaturgically, as variations on a theme of Figaro. What these performances with Fray convey quite strongly is a sense that there’s an allegorical subtext in which the individual (the soloist) confronts, and is eventually reconciled with, society at large (the orchestra – presented here with splendid symphonic grandeur).

Fray’s ‘individual’ is of such supreme sophistication and refinement that he could hardly be mistaken for the common man, but then that can hardly have been his intention. All in all, this is sublime entertainment, whose undercurrents of pathos are neither neglected nor exaggerated. –Jeremy Siepmann, BBC Music Magazine


Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756-1791)

Piano Concerto No. 22 K. 482 in E flat major (Cadences Edwin Fischer)
1 i Allegro 13:02
2 ii Andante 9:33
3 iii Allegro 11:45

Piano Concerto No. 25 K. 503 in C major (Cadences Friedrich Gulda)
4 i Allegro maestoso 14:45
5 ii Andante 7:26
6 iii Allegretto 9:00

David Fray, piano
Philharmonia Orchestra
Jaap Van Zweden, conductor

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Mar 31

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart – Gran Partita – Royal Academy of Music Soloists Ensemble, Trevor Pinnock (2016)
FLAC (tracks) 24-bit/96 kHz | Time – 01:00:31 minutes | 1,12 GB | Genre: Classical
Studio Master, Official Digital Download – Source: LINN | Digital Booklet | © LINN Records
Recorded: April 2015, St George’s Church, Brandon Hill, Bristol, United Kingdom

For over four decades Pinnock’s name has been virtually synonymous with the early-music movement and, with a critically acclaimed Deutsche Grammophon discography of almost all the composer’s orchestral works, Mozart.

Pinnock brings his wealth of experience to inspire fantastically insightful performances of two favourites by two Classical masters: Mozart and Haydn.

The ‘Gran Partita’ is Mozart’s largest and arguably his most innovative instrumental work; it demonstrates the sensitivity of the colours of wind instruments in a score of unsurpassed variety. The driving principles are sonority, colour, texture, concertante effects, the juxtaposition of contrasting styles, and the mutability of musical ideas.

The nocturnes of Mozart’s mentor Haydn magnificently blend the timbres of strings and woodwind with unerring dramatic instinct. The work has all the scintillating argumentativeness and wit that one might expect of mature Haydn, whilst the central Adagio is sublime in its fragility.


Wolfgang. Amadeus. Mozart. (1756-1791)
Serenade. in. B. flat. major. ‘Gran. Partita’. K361
1. Largo. –. Allegro. molto[8’00]
2. Menuetto. –. Trio. I. –. Trio. II[8’07]
3. Adagio[5’19]
4. Menuetto:. Allegretto. –. Trio. I. –. Trio. II[4’25]
5. Romance:. Adagio. –. Allegretto[6’46]
6. Tema. con. variazioni:. Andante[9’28]
7. Rondo:. Allegro. molto[3’28]

Joseph. Haydn. (1732-1809)
Notturno. No. 8. in. G. major. Hob. II:27
8. Largo. –. Allegro[5’36]
9. Adagio[6’25]
10. Finale:. Vivace. assai[2’57]. .

Royal Academy of Music Soloists Ensemble
Trevor Pinnock, conductor

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Mar 31

Gustav Mahler – Symphony No. 2, ‘Resurrection’ – Berliner Philharmoniker, Sir Simon Rattle (2010/2014)
FLAC (tracks) 24 bit/44,1 kHz | Time – 1:26:32 minutes | 725 MB | Genre: Classical
Studio Masters, Official Digital Download – Source: HDTracks | © Warner Classics International
Recorded: October 28-30, 2010 at Philharmonie, Berlin

For an unknown composer to write one vast symphony with no immediate prospect of performance might be regarded as a misfortune; to begin a second straight after it, as Oscar Wilde might have said, looks like carelessness. This, however, was precisely what Gustav Mahler did in 1888. He was developing a reputation as a conductor – after studies in Vienna and minor jobs in Prague and Kassel he had landed a plum post at the Leipzig Opera – but as a composer he remained a near-nobody. Ironically, his first composing success was with an opera that was not even his own: a reconstruction of Carl Maria von Weber’s Die drei Pintos premiered in Leipzig in January 1888. Thus emboldened, he embarked on his First Symphony. But he faced the same problem as all Austro-German symphonists of the era: how to cope with the legacy of Beethoven.

The problem was for Mahler even more acute, for he was a devoted Wagnerian to boot with a pilgrimage to Bayreuth already behind him, whose later productions of the music dramas would be hailed for both their spirit of innovation and their fidelity to the text. Wagner had famously declared that Beethoven’s Ninth signified the ‘end’ of the symphony, with music drama the only aesthetically valid genre of the future. As a nod to his friend Franz Liszt, however, Wagner had left open a metaphorical door for the symphonic poem, which is perhaps one of the reasons why this is what Mahler first called his new symphony. Upon its completion, he immediately sketched out a further ‘symphonic poem’, entitled Todtenfeier (‘Funeral rite’), though it was not until 1893 that he returned to it, made it the first movement of a ‘Second Symphony’, and finally called it thus.

Critical opinions of Simon Rattle’s Mahler recordings on EMI vary, and it is reasonable to expect that his 2010 live version of the Symphony No. 2 in C minor, (“Resurrection”), will have a mixed reception. Yet while this is not the greatest recording ever made of this revered work, it is a respectable effort, and like most of Rattle’s renditions of the symphonies, it has worthwhile moments. Recorded in concerts between October 28 and 30, 2010, this is Rattle’s second go at the work, since he recorded it with the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra in 1990. This time, he leads the Berlin Philharmonic, a world-class ensemble that has performed the Second so many times under numerous conductors, it could play it blindfolded. What Rattle adds to make an interpretive difference are a few unexpected exaggerations in tempo — sudden slow-downs for emphasis, or rushing to build excitement — so there is a slightly mannered quality to his reading that is unnecessary. However, Rattle delivers a convincing performance of the Scherzo and uses the energy of its return in the finale to propel the rest of the performance, making up for some lethargy in the early movements. The sound of this recording is somewhat variable: excellent in the loud passages, but in need of volume adjustment in the softest sections, such as the brass chorale of “Urlicht” and the distant fanfares in the last movement. This recording is plainly not the only one to hear, because there are several performances on the market that are better, but Rattle fans will want it for the sake of completeness, and it is worth hearing for study purposes. –AllMusic Review by Blair Sanderson

Gustav Mahler (1860–1911)
Symphony No.2 in C minor ‘Resurrection’
1. I. Allegro maestoso 24:21
2. II. Andante moderato 10:14
3. III. In ruhig fließender Bewegung 11:33
4. IV. Urlicht. Sehr feierlich, aber schlicht aus ‘Des Knaben Wunderhorn’ 05:20
5. V. Im Tempo des Scherzos. Wild herausfahrend – 06:49
6. V. Wieder sehr breit – 03:11
7. V. Ritardando… Maestoso – 04:26
8. V. Wieder zurückhaltend – 06:02
9. V. Langsam. Misterioso Klopstock/Mahler – 06:30
10. V. Etwas bewegter – 03:20
11. V. Mit Aufschwung, aber nicht eilen 04:46

Kate Royal, soprano
Magdalena Kožená, mezzo-soprano
Rundfunkchor Berlin
Simon Halsey, chorus master
Berliner Philharmoniker
Sir Simon Rattle, conductor

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