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Featuring the best reviews from our loyal ClassicsOnline members.
 (4 August – 17 August)

SHOSTAKOVICH, D.: String Quartets (Complete) (Quatuor Danel)
(Fuga Libera: FUG512)

Reviewer: xmayeur
Date Reviewed: 07/31/11
SHOSTAKOVICH, D.: String Quartets (Complete) (Quatuor Danel)

Great ! Superb!

This is one of the most interesting and superbly interpreted recording of the Shostakovitch string quartets. I had the opportunity to listen to the Quatuor Danel in a live recital and I immediately decided to buy their recording the day after. I also spoke with Marc Danel, the first violin, and I was seduced by his sensitivity, his musical intelligence and his sense of humor. They are simply great artists making fine jewels when they are playing.

Guitar Recital: Kulikova, Irina - BACH, J.S. / SOR, F. / CASTELNUOVO-TEDESCO, M. / GALLARDO DEL REY, J.M. / TARREGA, F.
(Naxos / Laureate Series: 8.572717)

Reviewer: RM79852
Date Reviewed: 07/25/11
Guitar Recital: Kulikova, Irina - BACH, J.S. / SOR, F. / CASTELNUOVO-TEDESCO, M. / GALLARDO DEL REY, J.M. / TARREGA, F.

A sumptuous, physical beauty of sound

I hardly know where to begin. There are so many fine guitarists on the Naxos label alone that it is difficult to stand out from an ever expanding crowd. And yet on my first hearing of Irina Kulikova on her first Naxos recording featuring the music of Ponce, Tansman, Brouwer, and Jose, I was immediately struck by a sumptuous physical beauty of sound like no other I've heard.

On this, her latest effort for Naxos, the party continues unabated. The first cut, the prelude of Bach's first Cello Suite, is a perfect example. So often Bach played on the guitar sounds like an effort to set the new Guinness book of world records for fastest arpeggios, which usually leaves me feeling like I've had way too much coffee. Ms. Kulikova chooses a pace that is literally refreshing, finishing with a dynamic crescendo that leaves me feeling exhilarated in the healthiest sense. Her playing of the entire suite is so melodic, so musical, that it borders on the astonishing, considering she is playing it on the guitar.

And for those listeners who find string squeaks, fret buzzes and any other assorted guitar noises objectionable, not to worry, her sound is near perfect. I say near perfect because even though I haven't actually heard any squeaks, there must be a least a few in there!

That is only the beginning. The rest of the album is equally delightful on so many levels that words could never truly convey, so I won't even attempt it.

I would also like to offer kudos to another magnificent production by Norbert Kraft, whose body of work on the Naxos Guitar Series is nothing short of spectacular.

Irina Kulikova is a treasure. Treat yourself. You'll be the better for it. The world will be the better for it.

- Richard Mitarotonda

HANDEL, G.F.: Opera Arias (La Diva) (Kermes)
(Berlin Classics: 0016422BC)

Reviewer: Besseling
Date Reviewed: 07/24/11
HANDEL, G.F.: Opera Arias (La Diva) (Kermes)

La Diva!

This album is an absolute must for all lovers of baroque opera arias. I haven't heard a more stunning performance before of these arias that Handel wrote for Cuzzoni.  Simone Kermes, 'The Queen of Baroque', is completely in control, her voice perfectly suits these lovely arias. She brings out all emotions both exuberantly and subtly. A glorious example is her rendering of 'Piangero la sorte mia' in which she balances the more intimate passages with the exuberant.

In all the songs, you hear a wonderful balance between orchestra and singer.

I highly appreciate this album; I hope many more albums like this by Simone Kermes will follow.

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