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Sunday, June 15, 2014
Respighi, O.: Gli uccelli (The Birds) / Trittico botticelliano / Suite in G Major (K. Brown, Chamber Orchestra of New York, Di Vittorio)

Respighi, O.: Gli uccelli (The Birds) / Trittico botticelliano / Suite in G Major (K. Brown, Chamber Orchestra of New York, Di Vittorio)
Naxos / 19th/20th Century Italian Classics: 8.573168
Preview and Download at ClassicsOnline
9/9 Artistic and Sound Quality

This recording of the Three Botticelli Pictures has got to be the most texturally detailed, luminous, substantial performance yet captured on disc. Conductor Salvatore Di Vittorio makes sure that every strand of Respighi's remarkable orchestration stands out in high relief, from the shockingly vivid violin trills at the start of "Spring" to the gently pulsating but constantly shifting motion of the waves in "The Birth of Venus". It's an amazing achievement, one that elevates a work all too easily dismissed as a sugary-sweet musical bon-bon. You can't help but be impressed.

The Birds is equally well played and lovingly shaped by Di Vittorio and his band.

- By David Hurwitz © 2014 ClassicsToday.com
 
Brahms, J.: Cello and Piano Music (Complete) (Aasgaard, Roscoe)

Brahms, J.: Cello and Piano Music (Complete) (Aasgaard, Roscoe)
Avie Records: AV2300
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Gramophone Choice

There are a few contemporary arrangements on these discs which render the title 'Complete Works for Cello and Piano' possibly a tiny bit of a cheat, but this wonderful disc is far the richer for it. This is especially the case with the Andante from the Second Piano Concerto, arranged by the pianist and conductor Cord Garben, which allows you to hear more than anywhere else on the disc the lyricism in the playing of Jonathan Aasgaard…and Martin Roscoe. It also brings out the side of Brahms the Lieder-writer, summing up just how much of Brahms's musical identity is crystallised in his cello music... (read more)

- By Caroline Gill © 2014 Gramophone
 

Rachmaninov, S.: All-night Vigil, 'Vespers' / In our Prayers, Ever-vigilant Mother of God (Netherlands Radio Choir, K. Putnins)

Rachmaninov, S.: All-night Vigil, 'Vespers' / In our Prayers, Ever-vigilant Mother of God (Netherlands Radio Choir, K. Putnins)
BIS: BIS-2039
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5 Stars

Recently I gave five thumbs-up to the Latvian Radio Choir's performance of this demanding and much-loved work, one which has suffered brilliant and terrible performances over the years, and also gets pegged into the idea that only Slavic singers can properly do justice to the work—which is nonsense.

Then along comes the Netherlands Radio Choir to add their own take to this work, equally as adept and finely-honed, not to say big-boned—which it is—that proves the point.

This is a wide, beautifully paced recording that does full justice to the surround sound concept, using the basses to full effect and a wonderful sense of spatiality and depth that is so lacking on many standard stereo issues.

There are no weak spots here at all, only superbly wrought vocalizations of one of the seminal choral... (read more)

- By Steven Ritter © 2014 Audiophile Audition
 
Bach, J.S.: Lutheran Masses, Vol. 2 (The Sixteen, Christophers)

Bach, J.S.: Lutheran Masses, Vol. 2 (The Sixteen, Christophers)
Coro: COR16120
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Gramophone Choice

One of the most durable virtues of Harry Christophers and The Sixteen is the unfussy fluency of their musical endeavour—and the expressive transparency they bring to repertoire where they feel especially at home.

The Sixteen could not be better suited to the genial abstraction of the sunny Mass in G major…How organically and devotionally Christophers shapes the stile antico of the opening Kyrie; there's also something profoundly patient and measured about the way he embraces Bach's mature contrapuntal fabric in the opening 'Gloria'. Indeed, with such a spacious outlook, Eamonn Dougan delivers a nobly conceived 'Gratias agimus' (underscored lovingly by David Miller's theorbo realisations), allowing us to... (read more)

- By Jonathan Freeman-Attwood © 2014 Gramophone
 
Harpsichord Recital: Esfahani, Mahan - Byrd, W. / Bach, J.S. / Ligeti, G.

Harpsichord Recital: Esfahani, Mahan - Byrd, W. / Bach, J.S. / Ligeti, G.
Wigmore Hall Live: WHLive0066
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Gramophone Choice

While many performances of Ligeti's Continuum barrel their way through the relentless dissonant tremolos, Esfahani's steady rhythm conveys a sense of air between the notes and allows the pitches to register more fully than usual. Also note how Esfahani points up the quirky cross-rhythmic interplay and tart accidentals in Byrd's Fantasia in A minor.

The wild mood contrasts and decorative writing in Byrd's John come kiss me now emerge with more vehemence and inner drama compared to Davitt Moroney's relatively strait-laced recording (Hyperion). And Byrd's Walsingham variations are enlivened by Esfahani's... (read more)

- By Jed Distler © 2014 Gramophone

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