Tenebrae join the Aurora Orchestra with mezzo soprano Dame Sarah Connolly and narrator Simon Callow for ‘A Walk with Ivor Gurney’, an album of choral music celebrating the works of Ivor Gurney whose promising career as a composer was interrupted by World War I. Alongside four pieces of Gurney’s own music are works by his contemporaries, Ralph Vaughan Williams and Herbert Howells. The recording features a new piece by Judith Bingham commissioned by Tenebrae in 2013 for the choir with Dame Sarah Connolly.[Dame Sarah Connolly] brings a great warmth here, vocally but also in terms of her response to the poetry - BBC Radio 3 Record Review
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Founded in 1973 by Trevor Pinnock, The English Concert has been a leading light in the performance of Baroque and Classical music for for over 40 years. Under their present Artistic Director Harry Bicket and with distinguished guest artists they continue to perform with the passion, sophistication and technical mastery established at their creation.
Such is the commitment and passion that their players bring to every performance. Drawn not only from home-grown talent, The English Concert can boast a truly international cast of musicians. Soloists in their own right, and backed-up by scholarly knowledge of style and genre, the close-knit relationship between their musicians makes for a truly special blend of sound. This new recording features the talents of these soloists in performances of Concertii by Telemann, Marcello, Dall’Abaco, Tartini and Porpora.
Continuing their complete Mozart opera recording cycle, The Mozartists’ latest release shines a light on two early opera works by Mozart. Grabmusik was reported to be the product of a test set by the prince of Salzburg, who: “... not crediting that such masterly compositions were really those of a child, shut him up for a week, during which he was not permitted to see any one, and was left only with music paper, and the words of an oratorio ... During this short time he composed a very capital oratorio, which was most highly approved of upon being performed.” Performed for Holy Week the title can be translated as ‘Cantata on Christ’s Grave’ (literally ‘Grave Music’), and the anonymous text takes the form of a dialogue between a tormented soul, who is desperately lamenting the tragedy of Christ’s death, and an angel. Bastien und Bastienne is the only one of Mozart’s operas to have been written for performance in a private house rather than a theatre. Commissioned at some point in mid-1768 by the renowned and controversial German physician Franz Anton Mesmer, it tells the tale of two young shepherds, Bastien and Bastienne, being reconciled in love by the fortune teller and magician Colas after Bastien has briefly been lured away by the attractions of a noble lady from the city. This new recording uses Mozart’s original 1768 setting of the libretto by F. W. Weiskern & J. H. F. Müller, the provenance of which was only established in the 1980s. Page’s Classical Opera project goes from strength to strength - The Sunday Times If you are looking for a superb performance of one of Mozart’s young productions then this is very much the best place to invest - Music Web International A little jewel not to be missed! - Crescendo (France) Heavenly! - Stretto (Holland) Ian Page's subtle and dynamic gesture makes all the difference, and places his musical output among that of the best Mozartian interpreters of today - Classique News (France)
Following her debut release of Baroque works by Vivaldi and Handel earlier this year, Grace Davidson returns to disc on Signum with an intimate disc of Dowland’s first book of lute songs, accompanied by David Miller. Blending melancholy with wit in his writing for both lute and voice, John Dowland’s songs have continued to enchant audiences and singers for nearly 400 years. The ‘First Booke’ includes some of Dowland’s less well-known works, and was recorded in the sensitive acoustic of Ascot Priory in Berkshire, UK.
Julian Bliss joins the Carducci String Quartet in performances of two seminal works – Weber’s Clarinet Quintet in B flat Major, Op. 34 and Mozart’s Clarinet Quintet in A Major, K.581.
This is the second collaboration on disc between Bliss and the Carducci String Quartet, following the 2016 release of David Bruce’s Gumboots and Brahms’s Clarinet Quintet (SIGCD448):
“Here’s a double delight. First, an engaging new work which deserves a place in the chamber repertory; second, a passionate account of Brahms’s Clarinet Quintet which can hold its head high against starrier competition…Bliss is in his element…for forthright Brahms and a toe-tapping new work, this is strongly recommended.” Gramophone
Bass-baritone Stephan Loges is accompanied by Iain Burnside in a collection that explores concepts of lost youth, the transience of life and the comforting presence of nature. The programme features performances of Schumann’s 12 Gedichte Op. 35 and Brahms’s 5 Lieder Op. 94, as well as in 5 rarely recorded works by Finnish composer Yrjö Kilpinen.
Born in Dresden, Stephan Loges was an early winner of the Wigmore Hall International Song Competition. He has given recitals throughout the world, including regular appearances at Wigmore Hall London and the Oxford Lieder Festival, as well as Carnegie Hall New York and many more.
Hymns are a living link with the past, yet they still find freshness and relevance in the twenty- first century. Saint Thomas Aquinas comments that ‘hymns are the praise of God with song; a song is the exultation of the mind dwelling on eternal things, bursting forth in the voice’ and this explains neatly the vital place that hymnody has enjoyed throughout the ages, and continues to do so today. Praise my soul celebrates this glorious tradition of hymnody and showcases some of the hymns heard in Jesus College Chapel in their own regular pattern of choral services. Some of these, including Drop, drop, slow tears and Glory to thee, my God, this night have been sung regularly for hundreds of years. Others such as All my hope on God is founded or Christ Triumphant have become classics over the last half-century.
The Choir of Jesus College Cambridge return to disc on Signum with their seventh release, and their first under choral director Richard Pinel.
Marking their latest collaboration with their conductor laureate Vladimir Ashkenazy, the Philharmonia return to disc with a stellar live-performance of two late works by Rachmaninov – the Symphonic Dances and Symphony No. 3 in A Minor. This release is third and final in a new series of Rachmaninov’s symphonic works, conducted by Vladimir Ashkenazy in live performances with the Philharmonia Orchestra.
The previous volumes of Symphony No. 1 (SIGCD484) and No. 2 (SIGCD530) were met with critical acclaim:
“Perhaps the most satisfying of all [Ashkenazy’s recordings of the Symphony]…” BBC Music Magazine
“Ashkenazy knows how to shape detail and soar in the big melodic moments. The Philharmonia sound is muscular and alert, from the opening woodwind solos to the mighty, stirring symphonic tutti of the finale.” The Observer
The Calidore Quartet present their first disc on Signum Records – a collection of quartets by Janáček, Prokofiev, Golijov and Mendelssohn.
The pieces were the products of four compelling personal narratives: an escape from the NAZI eastern offensive in WWII, a life caught in the crosshairs of a surge of violence in the Middle East, the sudden death of one’s closest friend and the struggle of being trapped in a loveless marriage. Felix Mendelssohn and Leoš Janáček turned to their art to find an outlet for their personal grief while Sergei Prokofiev and Osvaldo Golijov used their compositions to make sense of a world that was turned upside down by violent conflict.
Because of and despite these origins the works are imbued with emotional potency, and the quartet hope that that these works can provide “a message of hope because they illuminate the human potential to create beauty even in the darkest of circumstances.”Featured & interviewed in The American magazine
Christopher Glynn continues his series of late Schubert song cycles in English, joined by celebrated soloists Sir John Tomlinson, Sophie Bevan, Julian Bliss and Alec Frank-Gemmill.
Titled by the works first publisher following Schubert’s death, Swansong (Schwanengesang) D 957 sets sets the words of poets Ludwig Rellstab, Heinrich Heine and Johann Gabriel Seidl in songs that cover a variety of different emotional states. The lighthearted Love Message (Liebesbotschaft), with its rippling accompaniment, addresses a murmuring brook with the hope of true love. The bone-chilling Doppelgänger with its stark, slowly tolling chords, finds the protagonist crazed with a nocturnal vision of himself agonizing at the empty doorstep of his lost love. Renowned for his clear diction and powerful voice, Sir John Tomlinson brings his insight and nuance to these profound works.
Reminiscent of the scoring for The Shepherd on the Rock and composed in the same year, On the River (Auf dem Strom) combines soprano and horn in a setting of a poem by Ludwig Rellstab. Originally given to Beethoven who did not live long enough to set it, Schubert took up the words in a work that is a subtle homage to the composer.
The 1828 work The Shepherd on the Rock (Der Hirt auf dem Felsen) sets words by Wilhelm Müller and German playwright Helmina von Chézy, and was composed in gratitude to the soprano Anna Milder-Hauptmann. Here performed by Sophie Bevan and Julian Bliss, it tells the story of a shepherd lamenting the distance between him and his beloved before a reflection on loneliness and grief. The final section celebrates the arrival of spring in a hopeful conclusion.
The Chineke! Orchestra return to disc on Signum in a new live orchestral recording from the Royal Festival Hall, London.
Drawn from exceptional musicians from across the continent, the orchestra is part of the Chineke! Foundation – a non-profit organisation that provides career opportunities to young Black and Minority Ethnic (BME) classical musicians in the UK and Europe. Their motto is ‘Championing Change and Celebrating Diversity in Classical Music’.
The Chineke! Orchestra is the brainchild of Chi-chi Nwanoku OBE, FRAM, who says: ‘My aim is to create a space where BME musicians can walk on stage and know that they belong, in every sense of the word. If even one BME child feels that their colour is getting in the way of their musical ambitions, then I hope to inspire them, give them a platform, and show them that music, of whatever kind, is for all people.’
In this live concert recording under conductor Roderick Cox they perform Sibelius’s 2nd Symphony and Rachmaninov’s Piano Concerto No.3, featuring multi-award-winning pianist Gerard Aimontche.The playing of both works... is most pleasing, the colours vivid, the excitement palatable, while Aimontche's sweeping reading of Rachmaninov's Piano Concerto No 3 astutely combines the intimate and epic, his tone never forced. - The Sunday Times
Composer, musician and broadcaster John Brunning is perhaps best known for his choral work Pie Jesu. The piece was initially recorded by the vocal group ‘All Angels’, and there has since been around a dozen recordings including an acapella arrangement by The King’s Singers.In his introduction to the disc, John Brunning writes: There are probably more euphemisms employed when speaking of death than any other subject. Take a walk around a graveyard and you will see any number of headstones bearing inscriptions such as ‘passed away’, ‘fell asleep’, ‘called to rest’, and so on. Yet death is the one inescapable certainty that each of us must ultimately confront. I have sought to address this issue in as positive a way as possible with my cycle, ‘Swansongs’.
Elin Manahan Thomas is one of the most versatile sopranos of her generation. Since releasing her début album Eternal Light in 2007 with the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, she has performed at many of the world’s most prestigious venues, festivals and events, including the Royal Wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle in May 2018. On this recording she is accompanied by pianist Daniel Grimwood, a performer of international renown who combines an exceptional talent with rare versatility and refinement.
This could well prove to be the organ disc of the decade - Music Web International
Joseph Nolan marks his 10th release on Signum Classics with a recording on the remarkable 1738 Christian Muller organ of St Bavo in the Dutch city of Haarlem. Housed in one of the most spectacular organ cases in the world, the instrument's renowned clarity of tone makes it perfectly suited to Reubke's Sonata on the 94th Psalm, which forms the heart Nolan's programme alongside works by Bach, Buxtehude and Mendelssohn.
British-Australian organist and choral conductor Dr Joseph Nolan has been hailed by ABC Classic FM as ‘an extraordinary musician’, by BBC Radio 3 Record Review as ‘Magnificent’ and by Gramophone as ‘perceptive and intensely musical’. A nominee for Artist of the Year, Limelight Magazine also awarded Joseph its coveted ‘Recording of the Month’ for his ninth disc for Signum Records from St Etienne du Mont, Paris (SIGCD470), the church and organ of Maurice Duruflé – the first time in the history of the magazine that an organ disc has been awarded this distinction.A wonderful accomplishment - Gramophone