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Sunday, December 23, 2012
Opera Arias (Soprano): Gauvin, Karina - HANDEL, G.F. / VIVALDI, A. / VINCI, L. (Prima Donna)

Opera Arias (Soprano): Gauvin, Karina - HANDEL, G.F. / VIVALDI, A. / VINCI, L. (Prima Donna)
ATMA Classique: ACD22648
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10/10 Artistic and Sound Quality

By now Canadian soprano Karina Gauvin has appeared on a couple of dozen recordings and she always impresses. Aside from some Mozart, Britten, Barber, and another composer or two, her repertoire has been solidly based in the Baroque. We've come a long way from the HIP sounds of Emma Kirkby and Judith Nelson—not that I'm criticizing or denigrating them—and Gauvin's rich sound has nothing of the boy treble in it; it is a full lyric soprano. It isn't merely that she sings with vibrato—she simply has vibrato that she will occasionally eschew for effect; it is her echt womanliness that comes across so vividly.

Except for Meleagro in Handel's Atalanta, a male role written for soprano castrato, all of the arias on this CD are women's roles. And "Care selve" from that opera has been sung by everyone, from Leontyne Price to Pavarotti, with Kiri Te Kanawa in between. This CD pays homage to Anna Maria Strada del Po, who sang works by Vivaldi and Vinci before moving to London and performing in no less than 24 of Handel's operas beginning in 1729 and until 1737. (The composer was relieved not to have... (read more)

- Robert Levine, © 2012 ClassicsToday.com
 
Orchestral Music - ELGAR, E. / VAUGHAN WILLIAMS, R. / BRITTEN, B. (This England) (Oregon Symphony, Kalmar)

Orchestral Music - ELGAR, E. / VAUGHAN WILLIAMS, R. / BRITTEN, B. (This England) (Oregon Symphony, Kalmar)
PentaTone: PTC5186471
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This week, in an event guaranteed to lighten the burden of Portland's early winter drizzle, the Oregon Symphony releases their second album with music director Carlos Kalmar at the helm. Entitled This England, the all-British record kicks off in grand style with Sir Edward Elgar's euphoric and energetic Cockaigne Overture. Essentially an urban tone poem, the street-smart music serves as a snappy appetizer of percussion and brass, painting many vivid images of a merrily bustling London.

What follows is a respite from city life in the form of Ralph Vaughan Williams' lush Symphony No. 5. Rather surprisingly, every single impressionistic movement begins and ends in gentle smoothness, a musical watercolor where melodies and chords and entire orchestral sections blend and bleed into each other with bittersweet beauty. Double-basses provide an undercurrent of warmth throughout the performance, as well as a solid foundation for the higher strings to sing and soar, especially for concertmaster Sarah Kwak, whose brief but dreamy solo in the gorgeous third movement is a single candle atop a dense, rich cake.

The album concludes with instrumental selections from Peter Grimes, the most successful opera... (read more)

- Brian Horay, Huffington Post
 
MIGNONE, F.: String Quartets Nos. 1 and 2 / 3 Spanish Songs / 2 Essays (Brasileiro: Works of Francisco Mignone) (Cuarteto Latinoamericano)

MIGNONE, F.: String Quartets Nos. 1 and 2 / 3 Spanish Songs / 2 Essays (Brasileiro: Works of Francisco Mignone) (Cuarteto Latinoamericano)
Dorian Sono Luminus: DSL-92147
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Latin GRAMMY winner

Mignone was a secondary composer, exhibiting all the good points of that species, such as highly refined craftsmanship, a working knowledge of instruments, and a solid sense of form. His music for string quartet is by no means groundbreaking, either technically (Bartók) or expressively (Shostakovich—or, nearer to home, Revueltas), yet while it may lack individuality, the composer's incorporation of Latin American rhythms and bluesy harmonies into his work does give it a distinctively nationalistic voice. A breeziness to his music invokes an idealized Brazilian countryside...

The masterpiece is the Second Quartet, which opens the disc. Its first movement contains flowing melodic writing, with a cheeky use of portamento, while the concluding third movement has a bracing rhythmic zest. The slow movement, however, is the real gem; beginning with a soulful Villa-Lobos type theme from the cello, it progresses to an agitated middle section (featuring slithery chromatic harmony) to close on a beguiling jazz-flavored cadence.

The Latinoamericano plays this program to perfection. We owe the group so much for its tireless... (read more)

- Phillip Scott, Fanfare, September 01, 2012
© 2012 Fanfare
 
JANACEK, L.: Taras Bulba / Lachian Dances / Moravian Dances (Warsaw Philharmonic, Wit)

JANACEK, L.: Taras Bulba / Lachian Dances / Moravian Dances (Warsaw Philharmonic, Wit)
Naxos: 8.572695
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Here we have Lachian and Moravian dances…all played with evident exhilaration by a Polish conductor and orchestra. The sound in general is warm and vivid, and Antoni Wit has a sure hand with all Janácek's demands.

The six Lachian Dances (1924) are a selection from an earlier set of Valachian Dances (1889–91), music from neighbouring regions, and are vivid arrangements for full orchestra; the six Moravian Dances…have much to indicate the direction Janácek's thoughts were taking with the folk music of his native region. Fascinating to hear as versions of material that was feeding into his mature idiom, they are in their own right colourful and highly enjoyable pieces, relished here by the Polish players.

- John Warrack
© 2012 Gramophone

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