SHOSTAKOVICH, D.: Symphonies, Vol. 9 - Symphony No. 4 (Royal Liverpool Philharmonic, Petrenko)
Shostakovich’s opening – super-high woodwinds, strings and xylophone – in Petrenko’s hands puts one in mind of an Edvard Munch scream; stylised expressionism, chilling to the marrow. And everything about this performance, from its marshalled rhythms and breathless, nervy pace to its lurid, nothing-behind-the-eyes orchestral colours, feels like hyped-up realism, which, of course, also means its slant on reality is artificial and twisted – a powerful metaphor indeed for trying to live a true artist’s life under the cosh of Stalin.
- By Philip Clark © 2013 Sinfini Music
RESPIGHI, O.: Tryptique romain (Le) (Russian Federation Academic Symphony, Svetlanov)
(Warner Classics: 643443655064)
It is quite simply one of the most exciting collections of anything ever released. Svetlanov always was a rough and ready character, and the Russian Federation State Symphony Orchestra, as it was then called, could peel the paint off the concert hall when going at full tilt, and they certainly run true to form here.
More to the point, with fine sonics to encompass the huge dynamic range, the music sounds just as thrilling as we expect from old-school Russian forces, but a lot less crude.
How Warner France got its hands on all of these Japanese-produced Svetlanov recordings I have no idea (they’ve got the Rachmaninov and Scriabin cycles too), but get them while you can.
- By David Hurwitz © 2013 ClassicsToday.com
Vocal Duo Recital: Invernizzi, Roberta / Prina, Sonia - MONTEVERDI, C. / MARCELLO, B. / HANDEL, G.F. / LOTTI, A. (Amore e morte dell'amore)
With their pure, almost instrumental timbres, musical intelligence and acute yet unexaggerated feeling for verbal sound and sense, Invernizzi and Prina make well-nigh ideal partners. Their precision and blend are uncanny.
Throughout the disc the continuo battery of Ensemble Claudiana provides colourful support, while violinist Riccardo Minasi relishes both the inwardness and percussive boldness of a rare sonata by Domenico Scarlatti. But the disc belongs to Invernizzi and Prina, who aptly cap a feast of glorious Baroque singing with volleys of delighted Handelian virtuosity.
- By Richard Wigmore © 2013 Gramophone
Choral Concert: Stile Antico - BYRD, W. / GIBBONS, O. / TALLIS, T. / WHITE, R. / MORLEY, T. / TAVENER, J. (The Phoenix Rising)
(harmonia mundi: HMU807582)
This magical disc was conceived as a tribute to a charitable trust. That it succeeds so triumphantly is mostly a tribute to the music and to the commitment of the artists who give their all in performing it.
Now that we are so familiar with Tallis, Byrd and, to a lesser extent, Taverner and Gibbons, it is easy to forget how surprising their music must have sounded when it was rediscovered by so many elements of the British choral tradition. However, Stile Antico’s performances do an outstanding job of reawakening your ears to how beautiful and how exciting this music can be. At the very opening of the disc, Byrd’s magical setting of Ave verum corpus sounds fresh and clear. The quality of the performance, as well as the perfectly judged recorded sound, reminded me of just how daring and exciting…Byrd’s harmonic progressions sound. That composer’s Mass for Five Voices provides the backbone of the disc, its movements interspersed among the other pieces to provide both variety and consistency at the same time.
Tallis’s Salvator Mundi and In ieiunio unfold with gentle majesty, while the two Gibbon extracts flow with mellifluous beauty that brings no loss of clarity.
Throughout the disc the clarity of each individual vocal line is superbly evident, helped by the brilliantly captured sound in the acoustic of St Jude’s church. The Harmonia Mundi engineers have done a great job of ensuring that everything is audible…The clarity of the choir’s diction is also first rate; both in English and in Latin every word is audible.
- By Simon Thompson © 2013 MusicWeb International
PROKOFIEV, S.: Violin Concertos Nos. 1 and 2 / Violin Sonata in D Major, Op. 115 / 5 Melodies / Violin Sonatas Nos. 1 and 2 (Ehnes)
However fierce the competition in the concertos, which have been strongly represented on record since the days of Joseph Szigeti and Jascha Heifetz (in the First and Second respectively), James Ehnes’s particular combination of matchless virtuosity, sweet tone, flowing tempi and interpretative restraint suits all this music down to the ground.
You sense that we are in for a special performance of the D major Concerto (No 1) even before the soloist enters, Noseda eliciting a special quality of fairy-tale unreality from its opening shimmer. In fact the contribution of the BBC Philharmonic is distinguished throughout, the reading taut as well as pure.
- By David Gutman © 2013 Gramophone