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Sunday, August 19, 2012
DELIUS, F.: Mass of Life (A) / Prelude and Idyll (J. Watson, Wyn-Rogers, A. Kennedy, Opie, Bach Choir, Bournemouth Symphony, D. Hill)

DELIUS, F.: Mass of Life (A) / Prelude and Idyll (J. Watson, Wyn-Rogers, A. Kennedy, Opie, Bach Choir, Bournemouth Symphony, D. Hill)
Naxos: 8.572861-62
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Gramophone Choice

(Excerpt)

Alan Opie, who has the lion's share of the solo music in the work, is almost Wotan-like in his performances. From his first Nietzschean dance he is majestic and brings out of the score that vibrant, heady, Teutonic contemporaneity with which Delius had clearly become enthralled at this point in his career. Opie's singing of what is effectively the role of Zarathustra has immense authority and his impressive range (up to high G) is ideal for Delius’s onerous vocal demands.

Andrew Kennedy, Catherine Wyn-Rogers and Janice Watson also offer fine lyrical interpretations of their solo parts and the choral accompaniments are allowed to intermingle subtly as an extension of the orchestra. The BSO are on fine form too, and special mention needs to be made of the haunting horn-playing in the introduction to Part 2 ('On the Mountains'), a sound which sums up so much of Delius's nature music.

This is a must for any Delius Liebhaber and, with the added bonus of the late Prelude and Idyll, a marvellous starting point for anyone new to Delius's unique but compelling art.

© 2012 Gramophone
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Orchestral Music - BACH, J.S. / HANDEL, G.F. / MONTEVERDI, C. / PURCELL, H. / RAMEAU, P. / TELEMANN, G.P. / VIVALDI, A. (The Galileo Project) (Lamon)

Orchestral Music - BACH, J.S. / HANDEL, G.F. / MONTEVERDI, C. / PURCELL, H. / RAMEAU, P. / TELEMANN, G.P. / VIVALDI, A. (The Galileo Project) (Lamon)
Tafelmusik: TMK1003CD
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(Excerpt)

Tafelmusik's The Galileo Project: Music of the Spheres was conceived as a celebration of the work of Galileo for the International Year of Astronomy in 2009 and brings together science and art to show the links between astronomy, music and the mathematical harmonies of the universe.

The company creates an extraordinary production which uses a combination of music, astronomy, theatre, photography, video, mythology, literature and history to build a picture of the growth of music and astronomy in the 17th and 18th centuries.

While this account is entertaining and cleverly presented it is the orchestra which shines. Composed of seventeen players they are all brilliant soloists in their own right. Together they are a stellar act.

They gave the early and baroque music a new sense of liveliness and meaning with their unusual playing. Much of the time the players were in groups of two or three, engaged in musical conversations which brought... (read more)

© 2012 The National Business Review
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BERLIOZ, H.: Herminie / Les nuits d'ete / RAVEL, M.: Sheherazade (Gens, Orchestre National des Pays de la Loire, Axelrod)

BERLIOZ, H.: Herminie / Les nuits d'ete / RAVEL, M.: Sheherazade (Gens, Orchestre National des Pays de la Loire, Axelrod)
Ondine: ODE1200-2
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-- By David Hurwitz, ClassicsToday.com

10/10 Artistic and Sound Quality

Véronique Gens Dazzles in Berlioz and Ravel

This is an absolutely wonderful program. Of course Les Nuits d'été and Shéhérazade are old discmates, most famously on an outstanding disc featuring the late, great Régine Crespin. A dramatic soprano, Crespin's voice was quite a bit larger than the comparative lightness and purity of Gens, but these songs aren't Wagner, and each soloist does the music full justice in her own way. Especially in Les Nuits d'été, which isn't really a song cycle, Gens and conductor John Axelrod team up to produce a performance that actually makes you forget that the work consists of two quick numbers enclosing four long, droopy ones. "Absence" and "Au Cimetière" seldom have sounded more flowing and purposeful.

Gens' deft handling of the poetry also pays major dividends in the long first song of Shéhérazade, a travelogue that all too easily degenerates into a sort of impressionistic, French version of "I've Got A Little List". Not here, with Gens conveying an unexaggerated feeling of wonderment, ably seconded by Axelrod's colorful accompaniments. The brief concluding songs, "La flûte enchanté" and "L'indifférent", are sexy but not smarmy, beautifully capturing Ravel's delicately etched vocal lines. I can't help but think... (read more)
 

MARTIN, F.: Cello Concerto / HONEGGER, A.: Cello Concerto / SCHOECK, O.: Cello Concerto (Christian Poltera Plays Martin, Honegger, Schoeck) (Poltera)

MARTIN, F.: Cello Concerto / HONEGGER, A.: Cello Concerto / SCHOECK, O.: Cello Concerto (Christian Poltera Plays Martin, Honegger, Schoeck) (Poltera)
BIS: BIS-CD-1737
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Swiss cellist Poltéra on home turf in three concertos

Anyone seeking an entry point into Arthur Honegger's unique sound world could hardly do better than the seductive opening of the 1929 Cello Concerto, a gorgeous melodic line, its wistful, even smoky accompaniment harmonised with Gershwin in mind (or so it seems). OK, a couple of minutes in and the mood turns strident, but contrasts abound throughout the Concerto's modest 15-minute time-span and Christian Poltéra connects convincingly with the overall mood of the piece.

Frank Martin's Concerto of 1966 is very different, Vaughan Williams having been quoted as a possible influence on the first movement, though my ears detect–even within the first minute–a very prominent (and unexpected) echo of Shostakovich's Eleventh Symphony. Martin's own voice is at its most characteristic in the relatively austere second movement whereas echoes of jazz (and Bartók) dominate the finale.

Othmar Schoeck's Concerto, the longest work programmed and a product of the late 1940s, was premiered by Pierre Fournier and in many respects inhabits... (read more)

© 2012 Gramophone

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